Interesting conversation going on over at The Foundation For Apologetic Information and Research blog about the issues and challenges over the historic restoration by the Mormon Church of Nauvoo, Illinois, and the deliberate attempt to disguise the 1840s Masonic lodge as a "Cultural Hall." The LDS Church has long sought to play down or even ignore the role of Freemasonry in early Mormonism and Joseph Smith's development of their rituals. Apparently, some modern Mormon Masons have contacted the Grand Lodge of Illinois about the project, but others within the Church want no part of it.
An interesting and little known side note. After the 1826 disappearance of William Morgan in Batavia, New York, and the trial and acquittal of Masons believed to have been involved, Morgan's wife Lucinda went on to marry another Freemason, George Harris in 1830. Remember that Morgan had written an exposé of Masonic ritual shortly before he vanished, and it was presumed by the general public that the Masons had killed him for revealing their secrets.
George and Lucinda moved to Terre Haute, Indiana, and took up with the Mormons who came through on their way west to Illinois and Missouri. Joseph Smith later took Lucinda as one of his plural wives, and was initiated, passed and raised in Nauvoo Lodge, which would become the largest and most prosperous lodge in Illinois, for a while. Smith's brother Hyrum was already a Mason, from a lodge in New York, and transferred his membership to Nauvoo Lodge in the 1840s.
Joseph Smith was shot in Nauvoo. Just before the fatal bullet was fired, he threw open an upstairs window and called out to the crowd below, "Oh Lord My God..." That was not the normal way he started his prayers. Could it have been something else?
So what role did Freemasonry play in the ceremonies of the LDS, which shares some of the same symbolism of the fraternity, dresses its candidates much like Freemasonry does, uses handshakes and passwords, and even a style of apron? And how did Joseph Smith seem to know the rituals of the lodge before he was initiated? Could he have perhaps read about it in Lucinda's former husband's famous book?
Read about Lucinda's curious Masonic and Mormon journeys in a 1985 paper by John E, Thompson.