Nauvoo City Officers, May–August 1842

The following chart identifies holders of significant offices in , Illinois, during the period from May through August 1842. The city charter for Nauvoo, which was enacted in December 1840 and took effect in February 1841, called for a city council consisting of a mayor, four aldermen, and nine councilors, each of whom would be elected and serve for two years. The charter made provision for the city council to add to the number of aldermen and councilors if necessary. Other city officers were appointed or elected by the city council. The first city election was held in February 1841. In October 1841, four additional aldermen and seven additional councilors were added to the council. On 22 January 1842, city officials created the office of vice mayor. When council seats became vacant because of death, resignation, or appointment to another office, the vacancies were filled by election or by an appointment made by the city council. On 17 May 1842, resigned as mayor of . JS was elected to replace him in a 19 May city council meeting. In that same meeting, was elected as vice mayor to replace JS, who had been serving in that office, and and were elected as councilors.
The charter also stipulated that “the Mayor and Aldermen shall be conservators of the peace within the limits of said city, and shall have all the powers of Justices of the Peace therein,” and it granted the mayor “exclusive jurisdiction in all cases arising under the ordinances of the corporation.” The mayor’s court was a justice of the peace court, and appeals could be taken “from any decision or judgement of said Mayor or Aldermen, arising under the city ordinances, to the Municipal Court.” The charter dictated that “the parties litigant shall have a right to a trial by a Jury of twelve men, in all cases before the Municipal Court.” The municipal court had power to grant writs of habeas corpus. The mayor served as the chief justice of the municipal court, the aldermen served as associate justices of the same, and the city recorder served as its clerk. From the municipal court, appeal could be made to the circuit court of .
presided over both the mayor’s court and the municipal court until JS replaced him as mayor on 19 May 1842, at which point JS became the presiding officer of both courts. During the period from May through August 1842, the city council passed ordinances to bolster the jurisdiction of the municipal court and to appoint a president pro tempore to act as chief justice of the municipal court when the mayor could not fill that role. On 8 August, when JS was arrested, alderman was elected as president pro tempore, and he continued to function in that role throughout the remainder of the period.
The chart below represents the offices of city government as they existed as of 1 May 1842 and 31 August 1842, as well as the individuals who held these offices. The aldermen and councilors who were elected before 1 May 1842 are listed in the order in which they most commonly appeared in municipal records. Changes in office that occurred after 1 May are noted in the 31 August column. Individuals who were elected during the period are listed in the column in the order of their election.
1 May 1842 31 August 1842
Mayor and Chief Justice of the Municipal Court Joseph Smith
Vice Mayor Joseph Smith (president pro tempore of the city council 8–31 August)
Aldermen and Associate Justices of the Municipal Court
(president pro tempore of the municipal court 8–31 August)
City Councilors Joseph Smith
City Marshal
City Recorder and Clerk of the Municipal Court
Supervisor of Streets
Lewis Robison Lewis Robison
City Surveyor
Weigher and Sealer
City Assessor and Collector Lewis Robison
City Attorney
Registrar of Deeds Joseph Smith Joseph Smith
City Auctioneer Charles Warner
  1. 1

    Act to Incorporate the City of Nauvoo, 16 Dec. 1840.  

  2. 2

    “Municipal Election,” Times and Seasons, 1 Feb. 1841, 2:309; Act to Incorporate the City of Nauvoo, 16 Dec. 1840.  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  3. 3

    Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, 23 and 30 Oct. 1841, 25–26.  

  4. 4

    Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, 22 Jan. 1842, 46.  

  5. 5

    Letters from John C. Bennett and James Sloan, 17 May 1842.  

  6. 6

    Minutes, 19 May 1842.  

  7. 7

    Act to Incorporate the City of Nauvoo, 16 Dec. 1840.  

  8. 8

    Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, 19 May 1842, 81; Oath, 21 June 1842.  

  9. 9

    Ordinance, 5 July 1842–A; Nauvoo City Council Rough Minute Book, 8 Aug. 1842, 37; Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, 8 Aug. 1842, 99; Petition to Nauvoo Municipal Court, 8 Aug. 1842.  

  10. 10

    Nauvoo City Council Rough Minute Book, 8 Aug. 1842, 37; Nauvoo Municipal Court Docket Book, 6–7 [second numbering].  

    Nauvoo Municipal Court Docket Book / Nauvoo, IL, Municipal Court. “Docket of the Municipal Court of the City of Nauvoo,” ca. 1843–1845. In Historian's Office, Historical Record Book, 1843–1874, pp. 51–150 and pp. 1–19 (second numbering). CHL. MS 3434.

  11. 11

    The office of coroner was created 23 May 1842. (Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, 23 May 1842, 83.)  

  12. 12

    The office of city auctioneer was created 5 July 1842. (Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, 23 May 1842, 87.)