It is historically known that there were several smaller Mormon settlements in Nauvoo’s area. Morley or Morleytown existed from about 1840 until the Mormons left Illinois. They produced goods and serviced Nauvoo. Another disappeared town is Mormontown (Mormon Town), near today’s Griggsville and Pittsfield and only about fifteen miles east of New Philadelphia. We have not yet tried to find it.


When the Mormons were driven from Missouri during the winter of 1839-1840 they temporarily made a settlement they called Mormon Town (or Mormontown), two miles east of Pittsfield, Illinois. The town grew to have as many as 300 voters by 1845 but as the troubles grew at Nauvoo, Illinois to the north, Mormon Town was abandoned and no trace of it remains today.

On February 22, 1839, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, refugees were driven from Missouri under the “extermination Order” of Governor Lilburn Boggs, settled on this site. The property was owned by Thomas Edwards, who later joined the church. Silas Smith, high priest in the church and uncle of Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, was the leader of these Mormon refugees. The community grew to more than 300 members. Silas Smith died on September 13, 1839, at the age of 58 and was buried here near his home. Smith was succeeded by John Lawton and later by Harlow Redfield, who presided over the congregation until it disbanded in 1845.

In October 1842, Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball preached at a church conference held here. The settlement extended on both sides of the road at this location. Cabins were built and wells dug. A schoolhouse and a church were erected on the south side of the road. The cemetery, which measured 60 by 80 feet, fell into disrepair in later years. Gravestones were bulldozed into a ditch and the graveyard plowed over. The church building was relocated to Pittsfield and used as a parish hall by St. Mary’s Catholic Church. The pews and pulpit were moved to a church near Pleasant Hill, Illinois.
Information about Mormontown is also available in a newspaper article from 1966: “Consider excavation of old Mormontown” in the corporate files of Nauvoo Restoration, Inc., Box 13, Folder 17, Reel 10.
An official Illinois State Historical Society marker exists three miles east of Pittsfield on Illinois Highway 106 on the north side of the road, in what today is a  farm field. The marker was dedicated in 2005.  It would be well worthwhile to determine if archaeology can recover anything of the settlement. Moreover, the location of Mormontown is quite close to historically known and archaeologically documented New Philadelphia, which would have been in existence when the Mormons arrived here. It is interesting to consider that as the Mormons were fleeing persecution and looking for a place in which to live in peace, so African American slaves and former slaves sought their own havens, including via the Underground Railroad, which is known to have existed in Jacksonville and Quincy, and likely in New Philadelphia.

a large version of this map is available here.