Smith Family Cemetery, in Nauvoo, Illinois, is the final resting place of several historical figures in the early LDS Church including the prophet Joseph Smith (1805-1844), his wife Emma Hale (1804-1879), brother Hyrum Smith (1800-1844) and several family members. Additionally their parents are buried there.

Overlooking the Mississippi River, the cemetery is located on Water Street, and is open 24 hours a day to visitors.

Death and Burial of Joseph Smith Jr[]

Gravestone for Joseph, Emma, and Hyrum Smith at the Smith Family Cemetery in Nauvoo IL.

The assassination of Joseph Smith (1805-1844), founder of the Mormon Church on June 27, 1844, marked a turning point for the Latter Day Saint movement, of which Smith was the founder and leader. When he was killed by a mob, Smith was the mayor of Nauvoo, Illinois, and running for President of the United States. He was killed while jailed in Carthage, Illinois, on charges relating to his ordering the destruction of facilities producing the Nauvoo Expositor. The newspaper had reported that Smith was practicing polygamy and claimed that he intended to set himself up as a theocratic king.

Smith voluntarily surrendered to the authorities at the county seat at Carthage to face the charges against him. While he was in jail awaiting trial, an armed mob of men with painted faces stormed the jail; they shot and killed him and his brother Hyrum, Since then, Latter Day Saints generally view the two men as religious martyrs. Five men were indicted for their murders but were acquitted at a jury trial.

Joseph and Hyrum Smith's bodies were returned to Nauvoo the next day. The bodies were cleaned and examined, and death masks were made, preserving their facial features and structures.

Gravestone at Smith Family Cemetery in Nauvoo IL.

A public viewing was held on June 29, 1844, after which empty coffins weighted with sandbags were used at the public burial. (This was done to prevent theft or mutilation of the bodies.) The coffins bearing the bodies of the Smith brothers were initially buried under the unfinished Nauvoo House, then disinterred and deeply reburied under an out-building on the Smith homestead.

In 1928, Frederick M. Smith, president of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS Church) and grandson of Joseph Smith, feared that rising water from the Mississippi River would destroy the grave site. He authorized civil engineer William O. Hands to conduct an excavation to find the Smiths' bodies. Hands conducted extensive digging on the Smith homestead, and located the bodies, as well as finding the remains of Joseph's wife, Emma, who was buried in the same place. The remains—which were badly decomposed—were examined and photographed, and the bodies were reinterred close by in Nauvoo.

Gifford Children[]

Savilla Durfee Gifford (1824-1897) was Emma’s helper for many years; she was a dear friend of Emma’s and when her babies died she was allowed to bury them there in the family cemetery. Savilla was the niece of Edmund Durfee (1788 - 1845) who was murdered on the Morley Settlement by anti-Mormon mobs in Nov 1845.

Notable Internments[]


There are 24 internments here, each one with a personally connected to the early history of the Mormon Church:

  1. Bidamon, Maj Lewis C (1806-1891) - 2nd husband of Emma Smith / Nauvoo militia officer
  2. Smith, Caroline G (1814-1845) - 1st wife of William B Smith, LDS Apostle, 3rd Patriarch and younger brother of the prophet. She is part of the noteworthy Grant family.
  3. Gifford, Celeste (1855-1856) - young child of Savilla Durfee Gifford
  4. Gifford, Edwin J (1863-1865) - young child of Savilla Durfee Gifford
  5. Gifford, Maude A (1871-1871) - infant child of Savilla Durfee Gifford
  6. Gifford, Wilbur W (1853-1853) - infant child of Savilla Durfee Gifford
  7. Smith, Don Carlos (1816-1841) - Brother of the prophet - died one week after nephew of the same name.
  8. Smith, Don Carlos (1840-1841) - died age 14 months, child of Joseph and Emma. moved from Old Nauvoo Cemetery
  9. Smith, Emma Hale (1804-1879) - Wife of the prophet Joseph.  Moved and reburied in 1928.
  10. Smith, Emmeline Griswold (1838-1869) - first wife of Joseph Smith III.
  11. Smith, Evelyn R (1859-1859) - young child of Joseph Smith III.
  12. Smith, Frederick G.W. (1836-1862) - Son of the prophet Joseph, died at age 26 from poor health.
  13. Smith, Hyrum (1800-1844) - Brother of Joseph and martyred on the same day.  Moved from Nauvoo House basement and reburied in 1928.
  14. Smith, Hyrum, Jr (1834-1841) - young child of Hyrum Smith.  Moved from Old Nauvoo Cemetery
  15. Smith, Joseph Sr. (1771-1840) - Father of the Prophet and first patriarch of the church - moved from Old Nauvoo Cemetery
  16. Smith, Joseph Jr. (1805-1844) - The Mormon Prophet and founder of the LDS Church - moved from Nauvoo House basement and reburied in 1928.
  17. Smith, Joseph A (1865-1866) - young child of Joseph Smith III
  18. Smith, Lucy B (1841-1841) - infant child of Samuel H Smith
  19. Smith, Lucy Mack (1775-1856) - Mother of the Prophet
  20. Smith, Mary B (1808-1841) - 1st wife of Samuel H Smith
  21. Thompson, Robert B. (1811-1841) - 1st husband of Mercy Fielding, scribe to Joseph, moved from Old Nauvoo Cemetery.
  22. Smith, Samuel H (1808-1844) - Brother of the Prophet. Moved from Old Nauvoo Cemetery
  23. Smith, Sophronia (1838-1843) - young daughter of Don Carlos.
  24. Smith, Thomas (Stillborn (1842-1842) - Moved from Old Nauvoo Cemetery


Aerial view of Smith Family Cemetery

History Book[]

Lucy Mack Smith is also well known for her biography that she wrote about her famous son - which covers a lot of elements of Smith Family History:

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Smith Family Cemetery. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.