If you have ever been to Nauvoo, the chances are very good that you have visited the Scovil Bakery. The original owners were Lucius and Lucy Scovil (sometimes written as Scoville), and it is located on the west side of Main Street, south of the LDS visitor’s center. If you were lucky, the missionaries at the bakery gave you a gingerbread cookie.
Lucy died a week before the group that followed Brigham Young began to abandon Nauvoo. Lucius was called to a mission in England, so instead of traveling west, he traveled east. In 1848, most of the new converts from England and Scandinavia were sailing to the port of New Orleans and then up the Mississippi to St. Louis. It became necessary for the church to have an agent in New Orleans to oversee the immigration. When Lucius returned from his mission to England, he was called to serve as the agent/branch president/missionary in New Orleans.
He had a hard job. Most of the new converts were penniless when they arrived, and they needed to find employment, food, and a place to stay. Until they did, they relied on Br. Scovil. Finances were a constant worry for him, and he eventually even sold his watch in order to get money. He records his worries in his diary, as well as the solution he found:
On the 2nd of March, 1849, as I took a walk, I meditated upon my situation. I had been in New Orleans all winter in the midst of death and desolation and was in a state of despondency as the emigration had not yet commenced, and there were but few saints in the city and neighborhood and they were so poor that they had all they could do to sustain their families. My money was nearly gone. While in this mood something spoke to my understanding almost as plain as if I had heard a voice telling me to go down to Callaboo square and when I got there I turned to the right on the south side of the square where I would find an old Frenchman who kept a bookstore. I was told to go into the store and buy a lottery ticket, the number of which should be 9998, and I should get a prize. The thought thus suggested to me was as foreign to my natural feelings as anything could possibly be, yet I walked forward and 15 minutes later I found myself at the bookstore. When I entered the store I felt that I had been very familiar with the Frenchman at some previous time. I therefore inquired if he had lottery tickets for sale. He asked me who told me that he had lottery tickets for sale, as there was no lottery tickets for sale in Louisiana, it being contrary to law, “but” said he, “I have lottery tickets for sale and the drawing is tomorrow.” He then spread out the tickets before me on the counter and I soon discovered a half ticket of the number I wanted, No. 9998. I asked him the price, and he said $2.50. I took the ticket and paid for it and as I put it up I remarked that I should draw a prize on that. The expression brought a hearty laugh from the old Frenchman who said, “My good friend, do you know where to go to find out if you win a prize?” I answered in the negative. He then said: “You go to St. Charles Exchange in Magazine Street and you will find out, for the first steamer that leaves Havana after tomorrow will bring the scheme of the drawing.” He then explained that he had sold tickets for the Havana lottery for 20 years. On the 12th of March I went to the place designated and inquired for a scheme of the drawing of the Havana lottery. I obtained a copy and soon discovered my number on it…I then presented my ticket (which he said was as good as the gold of Havana) for $250.00, but there was a 7% discount on it. He gave me a draft on the bank of New Orleans for the sum of $231.23. I went and drew the cash and felt truly thankful to God for what had happened, for the Lord has promised his Elders who went forth in his name with a contrite heart that he would feed, clothe, and sustain them. On several occasions I have learned that God’s word can be relied on, or when every avenue seemed to be closed for me, the Lord would open the way whereby means would come into my hands.
Lucius Scovil died in Springville, Utah, in 1889.