Following several months of turmoil in northwestern Missouri, Gov. Lilburn W. Boggs ordered the expulsion of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from the state on October 27, 1838. Many leaders of the Church were arrested, and others fled out of fear for their lives.
Most Latter-day Saints made their way eastward where they were welcomed at Quincy, Adams Co., IL. Some went northward into the newly-organized Iowa Territory, and then east to the Mississippi River. Israel Barlow was among that number, and was charged with locating a new gathering place for the Church. He met Isaac Galland who held title to land on both sides of the Mississippi River.
Latter-day Saint leaders purchased property from Galland, Hugh White (James White’s son), and others in spring 1839, and quickly began settling on both sides of the Mississippi River. The first Mormon home built on the peninsula was a log cabin of Theodore and Frances Turley. The first brick home was that of Philander and Polly Colton.
The land purchases were surveyed and platted. In summer 1839, the expanded settlement was renamed at the suggestion of George W. Robinson, “Nauvoo” (pronounced NAW-voo), a Hebrew word (נאוו) conveying the idea of beautiful, pasture, rest, or repose.