Green Plains Cemetery, Hancock County, Illinois

Green Plains Cemetery near Warsaw, IL. Photo (2017) by Kenneth Mays.

Traveling south some twenty miles from Nauvoo, Illinois, one reaches a site on the prairie that was once the thriving community of Green Plains. For a short while, the Latter-day Saints had a branch of some eighty members established there. It was known as the Prairie Branch. John Smith, uncle of the Prophet Joseph Smith was one of those who settled in Green Plains.

One of the leading citizens of Green Plains was Levi Williams, who served as road commissioner, postmaster, and a colonel in the state militia, commanding the Carthage Greys.

Grave marker of Levi Williams, one of the men who went to trial for the murder of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. Photo (2017) by Kenneth Mays.

Williams was one of the leaders of the opposition focused on members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and their leader, Joseph Smith. Following the murders of Joseph and Hyrum Smith in June 1844, a formal trial was held for the accused murderers of the Prophet and the Patriarch. Levi Williams was one of those formally tried. Thomas C. Sharp, Mark Aldrich and several others were tried alongside Williams. All were acquitted. 

The image seen shows the grave of Levi Williams, who died in 1860. At least one Latter-day Saint family lived in Green Plains on land owned by Williams, the William W. Taylor family. William Taylor died in 1839, early in the Nauvoo period, leaving his wife, Elizabeth, a widow with fourteen children. Elizabeth (Betsy) eventually went west to Utah with most of her children. She died in 1880. Because of a cholera epidemic, Green Plains, Illinois was abandoned in the 1860s. Today all that remains is farmland and a few scattered homes that are now incorporated into the city of Warsaw, the center of which is several miles north on the banks of the Mississippi River.

In 2006 the Ensign Peak Foundation (then Mormon Historic Sites Foundation) sponsored the erection of an interpretive marker at the site that was once Green Plains. This event is noted under the Projects tab on this website.

Kim Wilson (left) and Richard Lambert of the Ensign Peak Foundation visit the site of the Green Plains historic marker. Photo (2017) by Kenneth Mays.

Map and Directions

The site of what was once Green Plains is now a home and cemetery with an address in Warsaw. From Hamilton, go south for eight miles on highway 96 to where it intersects with East County Road 650. The cemetery and farm home are just north of 650 on the west side of 96. The official address is: Green Plains Cemetery, Warsaw, IL 62379. The plaque interpreting the site of Green Plains is situated across the street on the east side of highway 96.

Ownership Status

The Green Plains Cemetery, where Levi Williams is buried, is situated to the south of and immediately adjacent to a private home. Interested persons may view the cemetery, but should respect the privacy of the home owners.


General view of the present-day site that was once Green Plains, Illinois. Photo (2017) by Kenneth Mays.
Close-up view of the grave marker of Levi Williams in the Green Plains Cemetery. Photo (2009) by Kenneth Mays.

Articles & Resources

Articles and Resources

Keith W. Perkins and Donald Q. Cannon, in LaMar C. Berrett, ed., Sacred Places Volume 3: Ohio and Illinois, 214.

Dallin H. Oaks and Marvin S. Hill, Carthage Conspiracy: The Trial of the Accused Assassins of Joseph Smith, 38-39, 118-121, 143-145.

Glen M. Leonard, Nauvoo: A Place of Peace, A People of Promise, 388, 414-415, 531-534.