Petition from Albert P. Rockwood and Others, 18 July 1842
and others, Petition, , Hancock Co., IL, to mayor (JS), aldermen, and counselors of the City of Nauvoo, Hancock Co., IL, 18 July 1842; handwriting of ; presumable signatures of 129 individual petitioners; four pages; Nauvoo, IL, Records, CHL.
Two leaves, the first measuring 12 × 7½–7¾ inches (30 × 19–20 cm) and the second measuring 5¾–6¼ × 7⅝ inches (15–16 × 19 cm). The first leaf is ruled with thirty-seven lines (now faded); the second leaf contains nineteen lines. The petition was inscribed in blue ink. The left, top, and bottom edges of the recto of each leaf were unevenly cut, and the right edges of the recto of each leaf were unevenly torn. The leaves were folded together, with the first leaf folded twice horizontally and the second leaf folded once.
This document was presumably kept among city records. In 1845, the city of Nauvoo was disincorporated. Many if not most of the city records were listed in an inventory that was produced by the Church Historian’s Office (now CHL) in 1846, when they were packed up with church records that were taken to the Salt Lake Valley. Subsequent inventories of church records in Salt Lake City indicate continuous institutional custody.
“An Act to Repeal the Nauvoo Charter,” 14th General Assembly, 1844–1845, Senate Bill no. 35 (House Bill no. 42), Illinois General Assembly, Enrolled Acts of the General Assembly, 1818–2012, Illinois State Archives, Springfield.
Illinois General Assembly. Enrolled Acts of the General Assembly, 1818–2012. Illinois State Archives, Springfield.
“Inventory. Historian’s Office. 4th April 1855,” –; “Index of Records and Journals in the Historian’s Office 1878,” ; “Index to Papers in the Historians Office,” ca. 1904, 7, Historian’s Office, Catalogs and Inventories, 1846–1904, CHL.
Historian’s Office. Catalogs and Inventories, 1846–1904. CHL. CR 100 130.
On 18 July 1842, prepared a petition, which he and 128 other , Illinois, residents signed, urging JS as Nauvoo’s mayor, as well as the city councilors and aldermen, to pass an ordinance to remove driftwood from the edge of the . Such driftwood posed potential hazards both to health and navigation. The Nauvoo charter granted the city’s inhabitants the power “to improve and protect” public property. The charter also authorized the city council to make laws for the cleanliness of Nauvoo and the health of its citizens, and it further empowered the council “to make regulations to secure the general health of the inhabitants, to declare what shall be a nuisance, and to prevent and remove the same.” In his inaugural address as Nauvoo’s mayor, given in February 1841, had advised that the “low lands” bordering the Mississippi “should be immediately drained, and the entire timber removed” for the sake of the public’s health.
In the 18 July 1842 petition featured here, the petitioners noted navigational difficulties caused by the driftwood, but they focused their complaint on potential health issues: the wood created stagnant water, which the petitioners linked to effluvium, a substance they viewed as “injurieous to health.” and many of the other petitioners lived in the northwest part of , an area on the curving bank of the that was particularly susceptible to deposits of driftwood.
Although the document carries a date of 18 July 1842, the date it was submitted to the city council is unknown, and extant municipal records do not indicate whether the city council considered, discussed, or acted on the petition.
Dunglison, Robley. Medical Lexicon: A New Dictionary of Medical Science, Containing a Concise Account of the Various Subjects and Terms; with the French and Other Synonymes, and Formulae for Various Officinal and Empirical Preparations, &c. 3rd ed. Philadelphia: Lea and Blanchard, 1842.
Barker, Thomas Collis. Inaugural Dissertation on Typhus Fever. [Giessen, Germany]: G. F. Heyeri, 1842.
To the Mayor, Alderman <Aldermen> and Counselors of the City of .—
The undersigned citisons of the City of — ask leave to represent to your honourable body, that we belive the health of the is verry much impuned, by <in> consequence of the many rafts of logs, Wood, timber &C. that are suffered to lay in the edies, coves and along the for weeks and months; which couses stagnent water, which when stired by hawling or other ways causes produses a verry offensive affluva [effluvia] which injurieous to health— besides it verry much impeads navigation of flat Boats, Skifts &C which are almost constantly passing and repassing——
We therefore request that your honourable body to take immeduate measuers to protest [protect] the against the evle; by passing an Audinense [Ordinance] to that effect. As in duly [duty] bound will ever Pray.
Other Illinois cities had passed laws to remove driftwood for navigational purposes. (See, for example, An Act to Establish and Maintain a General System of Internal Improvement [27 Feb. 1837], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois [1834–1837], p. 359, sec. 18; An Act to Authorize James P. Morris to Remove Obstructions in Cahokia Creek [25 Feb. 1841], Laws of the State of Illinois [1840–1841], p. 214; An Act to Improve the Navigation of the Kaskaskia River [27 Feb. 1841], Laws of the State of Illinois [1840–1841], pp. 215–218; and An Act to Remove Obstructions to the Navigation of the Little Wabash River, and for Other Purposes [27 Feb. 1841], Laws of the State of Illinois [1840–1841], pp. 219–220.)
The Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois: Containing All the Laws . . . Passed by the Ninth General Assembly, at Their First Session, Commencing December 1, 1834, and Ending February 13, 1835; and at Their Second Session, Commencing December 7, 1835, and Ending January 18, 1836; and Those Passed by the Tenth General Assembly, at Their Session Commencing December 5, 1836, and Ending March 6, 1837; and at Their Special Session, Commencing July 10, and Ending July 22, 1837. . . . Compiled by Jonathan Young Scammon. Chicago: Stephen F. Gale, 1839.
Laws of the State of Illinois, Passed by the Ninth General Assembly, at Their First Session, Commencing December 1, 1834, and Ending February 13, 1835. Vandalia, IL: J. Y. Sawyer, 1835.
The next year, in 1843, an English visitor to Nauvoo noted that “the number of flat boats” on the Mississippi River was “almost inconceivable.” (Aitken, Journey up the Mississippi River, 33; see also Hall, The West, 95–104, 166–179, 202–225.)
Aitken, W. A Journey up the Mississippi River, from Its Mouth to Nauvoo, the City of the Latter Day Saints. Ashton-under-Lyne, England: John Williamson, 1845.
Hall, James. The West: Its Commerce and Navigation. Cincinnati: H. W. Derby, 1848.