Three miles east of Pittsfield on Illinois Highway 106 visitors can find an official Illinois State Historical marker commemorating the site of old Mormontown. While it is currently only a farm field, Mormontown was once a community of over 300 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). It existed from 1839 to 1845. Latter-day Saints arrived in Pittsfield in 1839 looking for a place to settle. They were fleeing from persecution in Missouri and from an extermination order from the Governor of Missouri, Lilburn Boggs. Thomas Edwards offered a place they could rent, and he also joined them and converted to Mormonism. Mormontown was once an active community with cabins, wells, a schoolhouse, a church, a community stable and cemetery.
Brigham Young and Heber Kimball preached in Mormontown in 1842, and the Prophet Joseph Smith’s uncle, Silas Smith, was the Church leader there in 1839. Most of the settlers left for Nauvoo after Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet made the call for all Latter-day Saints to gather in Nauvoo in 1841.
The Mormontown marker was dedicated in November of 2005 in a ceremony sponsored by the Pike County Historical Society and the Zion’s Camp Trail Committee. The Zion’s Camp Trail Committee marks historic sites along the trail of the 1834 Zion’s Camp March, in which Joseph Smith led 200 Latter-day Saint men from Kirkland, Ohio to western Missouri to assist persecuted Mormons in Missouri who had been driven from their homes.