Quincy, Illinois

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Quincy Riverfront

Quincy, Illinois, known as the "Gem City", is a city in Adams County, Illinois, United States. As of the 2000 census the city had 40,366 people and serves as the county seat of Adams County. The community is a river city along the Mississippi River and was built on top of the bluffs. Quincy serves as the economic and cultural hub of West-Central Illinois and makes up the larger anchor city of the Quincy-Hannibal Micropolitan Area. During the 1800s the city was a stop on the Underground Railroad and sheltered hundreds of fleeing Mormons during their exile from Missouri. Today, Quincy is a thriving mid-sized industrial city that prides itself on its German heritage as well as its artistic expressions; attributes that rival that of Chicago and Alton. [1]

In 1839, persecution in Missouri forced the departure of nearly 10,000 Latter-day Saints into neighboring states and communities. Large groups began leaving in February of that year, headed for various locations in Illinois and Iowa.
Many came to western Illinois. With a population of about 1,500, Quincy was the region’s principal town at the time. In an extraordinary act of humanitarian service, Quincy’s 1,500 residents sheltered and assisted more than 5,000 Latter-day Saint refugees.
Notable among those helped was Emma Hale Smith. Her husband, Church founder Joseph Smith, was imprisoned at the time in Liberty, Missouri. After walking across the frozen Mississippi River with her four children, Emma settled on the outskirts of Quincy.
Arriving refugees needed accommodations and jobs. Quincy citizenry provided both. Despite snowstorms, Quincy citizens repeatedly rescued Latter-day Saints stranded without adequate food or clothing on the Missouri side of the river. One observer at the time noted that the citizens "donated liberally, the merchants vying with each other as to which could be the most liberal."
Local groups in Quincy interacted with Church leaders and representatives to carry out successful philanthropic activities. They provided jobs and donations of cash, clothing and provisions to needy Latter-day Saint refugees. They raised money locally and signed endorsements authorizing fundraisers in St. Louis and New York City.

Wrote the Prophet, Joseph Smith in 1839:

Friday, February 15.—My family arrived at the Mississippi, opposite Quincy, [Illinois], after a journey of almost insupportable hardships. …
A group of citizens in Quincy held a meeting and decided that “the strangers recently arrived here from the state of Missouri, known by the name of the ‘Latter-day Saints,’ are entitled to our sympathy and kindest regard, and that we recommend to the citizens of Quincy to extend all the kindness in their power to bestow on the persons who are in affliction.” The Prophet and some of the other imprisoned brethren escaped on April 14, 1839, and headed for Illinois.
Monday, April 22.—We [the Prophet Joseph and fellow escaped prisoners] continued on our journey, both by night and by day; and after suffering much fatigue and hunger, I arrived in Quincy, Illinois, amidst the congratulations of my friends, and the embraces of my family. …
I have been preserved and delivered out of [my enemies’] hands, and can again enjoy the society of my friends and brethren, whom I love, and to whom I feel united in bonds that are stronger than death; and in a state where I believe the laws are respected, and whose citizens are humane and charitable. [2]
A Latter-day Saint historian has described Quincy’s aid to the beleaguered Latter-day Saints as "a lasting example of benevolent people extending help to those in need.."

A concert by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was presented on July 5, 2002 in honor of the people of Quincy. Then Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley said to those in attendance, "We shall always be grateful for the kindness, the hospitality, the civility with which your people met our people who were exiles from the state of Missouri," President Hinckley said. "I express my gratitude to those who are successors of those who were here long ago and say thank you with all of our hearts." Near the conclusion of the performance that featured sacred and popular songs as well as choral masterworks, choir announcer Lloyd Newell read a moving tribute to the generosity of early Quincy citizens. In part, it said, "Quincy bears a legacy of mercy that ripples down the centuries, reminding us that the milk of human kindness is always more powerful than force or fury." [3]

Mormon Volunteers in Quincy
LDS volunteers fill sandbags in Quincy © Intellectual Reserve

During the summer of 2008, Quincy, along with vast areas of the United States' mid-west, suffered devastating floods. Latter-day Saint volunteers came in by the droves to help the people of Quincy. Missionaries from the Peoria, Illinois, and St. Louis, Missouri, missions arrived in Quincy to help prevent potential damage from a key levee that broke between Quincy and Warsaw, Illinois. [4]


  1. Wikipedia:Quincy, Illinois
  2. History of the Church, vol. 3, pages 191–193, 207, 229, 261–262, 268, 327, 328.
  3. LDS Newsroom article about the Choir's performance in Quincy
  4. LDS Newsroom article, floods in Quincy