The Burial Grounds were established in 1842 on the north side of the old Carthage Road. The City Cemetery that was once near the intersection of Durphy and White Streets had reached its capacity. The new burial grounds were used until 1846, when the Mormons left for the West. The site fell into disrepair over the decades until it was cleared and rededicated in 1989 by Gordon B. Hinckley. With many original headstones missing or no longer legible, a kiosk was established to include the names of those known to have been buried in Nauvoo.
About 1,800 deaths were recorded in Nauvoo, almost half of them children and many due to illness like ague (malaria), consumption (tuberculosis), cholera, measles, and whooping cough. Today, a statue of a grieving family watches over the peaceful burial grounds as a reminder of the sacrifices families on the frontier often had to make.