Nauvoo was established in many different ways by many different people. The Sauk and Fox Native American Tribes, who were forced from their eastern homelands, came to the Mississippi Valley and began making many permanent settlements near where Nauvoo is today. The early European explorers and army surveyors established multiple posts in the area and eventually started Nauvoo's precursor towns, Venus and Commerce, in the 1820's and 1830's. In 1839, the Mormons, led by their prophet Joseph Smith, drained the area's swamps and gave Nauvoo its name. They built a town that rivaled Chicago before religious persecution forced them to head out west. The Icarians, a group of mostly middle-class French idealists led by Etienne Cabet, attempted to establish a communistic society in Nauvoo in the 1850's, to varying degrees of success. German-speaking pioneers then brought stability and progress to Nauvoo. They contributed to and preserved much of Nauvoo's culture, as they worked to save many of the Mormon homes and built up much of the business district Nauvoo knows today. Throughout Nauvoo's amazing, storied past, there have been many wonderful people who have kept the city vibrant and beautiful. Take a moment to read some of the links below and discover what makes Nauvoo such a wonderful place to visit.