Pioneer’s Descendant to Serve at Site of Family Heritage

Contributed By By Lok Yi Chan, Church News and Events

  • 25 May 2012

Article Highlights

  • The Raymond Clark Store will soon open as the Nauvoo Family History Center.
  • Raymond Clark’s third-great-granddaughter, Joy Price, and her husband, Merlin Price, are living in her ancestral home in Nauvoo, Illinois, USA, where they are serving as family history missionaries in the new Nauvoo Family History Center.

“If they [family history center patrons] have Nauvoo ancestors, chances are pretty good that their ancestors visited the exact same building [Nauvoo Family History Center] 170 years ago on a regular basis when it served as a general mercantile store.”—Paul Nauta, FamilySearch public affairs manager


See a photo gallery of the ribbon-cutting.

When Raymond Clark and his family left their home and their livelihood—a mercantile store—in Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1846 and headed for Winter Quarters, they probably doubted that they would ever return to the place they had loved so much. Perhaps even more doubtful was the possibility of a member of their posterity returning to the home.

But 166 years later, that is exactly what Joy Price, Raymond Clark’s third-great-granddaughter, has done. She has returned to Nauvoo to embrace her family heritage—and, with her husband, Merlin Price, to help others do the same.

The Prices, family history missionaries from Shelley, Idaho, USA, will move in April from their current assignment on Temple Square in Salt Lake City to a new one in the Iowa Des Moines Mission, where they will open the Nauvoo Family History Center in the Raymond Clark Store.

They were overwhelmed when they received the call to serve there.

 “We are so excited,” said Brother Price, who also has ancestral roots in Nauvoo. “We can’t believe it’s actually happening to us.”

Raymond and Louisa Clark, who came to Nauvoo with early Latter-day Saints from Kirtland, Ohio, purchased the property across the street from the Nauvoo Temple in 1842, building a red-brick duplex that functioned both as a home for the family and as a mercantile store. While Raymond farmed and worked on the construction of the Nauvoo Temple, Louisa operated the store. This was also where Louisa coordinated the efforts of the sisters in LaHarpe and Macedonia, Illinois, who collected funds to erect a crane to help with the construction of the Nauvoo Temple.

To Sister Price, serving this new mission carries more significance than just living on the exact spot where her ancestor resided almost 200 years ago.

Before they started serving on Temple Square, the Prices traveled to Nauvoo and visited the Raymond Clark Store, which was then a dormitory for missionaries.

“At that time I said to Merlin, ‘Can you imagine serving a mission and living in the Clark Store?’” Sister Price recalled. “I thought it would never, never happen. It was just a wild dream.”

But it’s a wild dream that has come true. Upon arriving in Nauvoo, the Prices will be living upstairs in the building, just as Raymond and Louisa and their family did nearly two centuries ago.

The new Nauvoo Family History Center is still under renovation; it will open in May and, like all family history centers operated by the Church, will serve both Latter-day Saints and other members of the community. The center will be equipped with about 15 Internet-connected computers and film readers. Patrons will be able to identify their ancestors and Church pioneers, do research for their personal family histories, and prepare names for temple work.

In the past, many visitors to Nauvoo have visited the Nauvoo Lands and Records Office in an effort to identify where in the city their forebears lived. Now, with the opening of the family history center, those who aren’t sure about the names of their ancestors will have a resource for finding that information while they’re in Nauvoo.

“If [visitors] have Nauvoo ancestors, chances are pretty good that their ancestors visited the exact same building [Nauvoo Family History Center] 170 years ago on a regular basis when it served as a general mercantile store,” said Paul Nauta, FamilySearch public affairs manager.

The center will feature a “Why We Do Family History” exhibit, and patrons will be provided with free personal research assistance and free access to premium subscription websites. The center’s volunteers will serve primarily in English. The center can accommodate groups of up to 25, and walk-in patrons are welcome.

An open house will be held before the official opening of the center; details will be announced later in April.

The Nauvoo Family History Center is one of just a few centers located in Church historical sites. Others are located in the tabernacles in American Fork and Logan, Utah, USA.

The Prices hope the opening of the new center will help create interest in the work of family history—a work that has been so meaningful to them personally.