Family Living Center

Location: Behind Cultural Hall

The Family Living Center is a joint effort between Nauvoo Historic Sites and the state of Illinois. Its purpose is to provide demonstrations about domestic life for visiting school children and families. Many tasks in a frontier community involved all members of the family. Children could be assigned to churn butter, gather stones for candle making, card wool, and more. Apprentices could begin to learn a trade as young as age twelve.

Experience the Family Living Center from your computer or smart phone in two different ways: with our Image Gallery, or schedule a  Live Video Tour. You can even download our Wheat Bread Recipe. Click on the links below to see more.

Image Gallery

Peek inside the Family Living Center as you scroll through our image gallery.

Family Living Center
The demonstration center is situated near the Cultural Hall and also near the departure point for the popular wagon rides that take visitors on a short drive through the historic district.
Rope Making
Hemp twine imported from Kentucky was used to make rope in Nauvoo. In the 1840s, there were at least three rope-making companies that twisted many fibers together to make ropes that were essential in shipping, farm work, and construction. Thick ropes were also needed to lift the heavy stone blocks of the Nauvoo Temple.
Rope Making
In the rope walk demonstration area, visitors can make their own strand of rope from sisal fiber strung on the rope machine. This is a favorite activity for children.
Rope Making
While one participant spins the wheel, which twists the sisal fibers, another guides separate strands of rope together from the other end.
Rope Making
With the rope strands twisted together into one rope, the end is “whipped” together with waxed cotton string and then cut from the machine.
Spinning & Weaving
Although Nauvoo’s position on the river meant that people could import finished clothing, many women also had the skills to spin thread and weave their own cloth. They might spin flax into linen, but that was a two-year process. So most spinning was from sheep’s wool.
Spinning & Weaving
Thread was made from wool that had been “carded,” or stretched into straight fibers, and then formed into a bat for spinning. An edge of the wool was threaded into the spinner. Then the operator would pump the foot pedal to spin the fibers together onto a spool.
Kitchen Setting
In the 1840s, Nauvoo residents would cook in their fireplace, in a brick oven built next to the fireplace, or on a stove. They used Dutch ovens, cast iron kettles, and a variety of tools such as a long-handled spoon. In this demonstration area, volunteer missionaries demonstrate bread baking and then share the fresh bread with visitors.
Pottery Making
Nauvoo had at least three potteries, since clay was abundant in the area. Pottery was essential for storing liquids and serving food, but it also had many other uses in frontier America.
Pottery Making
Visitors learn about how pottery is made from clay and about some of the skilled potters in Nauvoo.
Weaving
This handwoven rug demonstrates something a family might do with rags or leftover cloth. The area in the background features candle making demonstrations. In the 1840s, families worked together to make candles from tallow (purified animal fat mixed with alum) and store them in straw-lined boxes for use in the long winter months.
Weaving
Many of the immigrants who arrived in Nauvoo came with few possessions, but they had skills as weavers, coopers, carpenters, stone cutters, and more. Weavers could make cloth and rugs, among other things. In this area, missionaries use a loom to make rugs that are used throughout the historic sites.
Coopering
Joseph Smith came from a family of coopers. His grandfather, father, uncle, cousins, and brother Hyrum all knew how to make barrels. This respected profession required an apprenticeship of six to eight years to master. Wooden barrels were an essential part of life, and Nauvoo had at least two barrel manufacturers.
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Wheat Bread Recipe

Now you can make the Wheat Bread Recipe you love right in your own kitchen. Click on the PDF link
or the recipe card.