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In the meantime, the condition of the Saints in the West was becoming rapidly more precarious. They had been well received and kindly treated by the citizens of Clay County, but both the citizens and the Saints understood that the arrangement was to be but temporary. All were looking to a satisfactory readjustment of the Jackson County trouble and the reinstatement of the Latter Day Saints in their homes on the south side of the Missouri. But the months wore into years, and nothing was done. The election returns from Clay County in 1830 show but five hundred and sixty-seven voters. Should the Latter Day Saints settle among them, as it now appeared they might do, the original settlers would be completely outvoted, and that by "Yankees," too, and the Clay County settlers were Southerners to a man, with the exception of "Yankee Smith" and his sons at Smithville.
Considering the circumstances, there were few complaints against the "Mormons," and it is significant that none of them were ever arrested for crime in either Jackson, Clay, or Ray County, although any pretext would have been seized to do that. "The Mormons were in the main, industrious, good workers," said judge Thorpe,1 "and gave general satisfaction to their employers, and could live on less than any people I ever knew. Their women could fix up a good palatable meal out of what a Gentile's wife would not know how to commence to get half a dinner or breakfast. They had a knack of economizing in the larder, which was a great help to the men, as they had mostly to earn their bread and butter by day's work with wages about half what they are now. The women were generally well educated, and as a rule quite intelligent, far more so than the men."2
Alex. W. Doniphan said, "While the Mormons resided in Clay County they were peaceable, sober, industrious, and law-abiding people, and during their stay with us, not one was ever accused of a crime of any kind."3
At length on June 29, 1836, the non-Mormon portion of Clay County population drew up a series of resolutions asking that the Latter Day Saints remove from their midst. The Latter Day Saint population was increasing so rapidly that they already outnumbered the settlers, and although they did not (out of courtesy) attempt to vote, if the time ever came when they should do so, they would gain complete political control of the county.
The settlers cited three reasons for this action:
(1) They are eastern men, whose manners, habits, customs, and even
dialect are essentially different from our own.
(2) They are nonslaveholders, and opposed to slavery, which, in this peculiar period when abolition has reared its deformed and haggard visage in our land, is well calculated to excite deep and abiding prejudices in any community where slavery is tolerated and practiced.
(3) They are charged, as they have heretofore been, with keeping up a constant communication with the Indian tribes on our frontier, with declaring, even from the pulpit, that the Indians are a part of God's chosen people and are destined by heaven to inherit this land, in common with themselves.
The document was courteous. They did not even certainly charge the Saints with these misdemeanors but went on to say:
We do not vouch for the correctness of these statements, but whether they are true or false, their effect has been the same in exciting our community. In times of greater tranquillity, such ridiculous remarks might well be regarded as the offspring of frenzied fanaticism; but at this time our defenseless situation on the frontier, the bloody disasters of our fellow citizens in Florida and other parts of the South, all tend to make a portion of our citizens regard such sentiments with horror, if not alarm.
They admitted "that they had not the least right under the laws of the country and the Constitution to expel them by force," but they did "earnestly urge them to seek some other abiding place where the manners, the habits, and customs of the people would be more consonant with their own. For this purpose we would advise them to explore the Territory of Wisconsin. This country is peculiarly suited to their conditions and their wants."
This action was brought to the attention of the church leaders by a committee. Alexander W. Doniphan, who from the beginning had been their friend, adviser, and attorney, was now a member of the state legislature and sponsored a bill organizing the counties of Caldwell and Daviess from what was then chiefly unoccupied lands in the northern part of the State and part of Ray County. This part of the country was mostly prairie and was popularly supposed to be worthless, the few settlers already there being on the creeks and rivers. Therefore, the proposition was very pleasing to the Missourians. The bill was passed by the House December 23, 1836,4 and by the Senate four days later.5 It was understood that Caldwell was to be occupied and organized entirely by the Latter Day Saints. The county offices were to be in their hands, and they were to have a representative in the General Assembly of the State.6
Everybody thought this a complete and satisfactory solution of the Mormon problem, which then, as often since demanded attention and settlement. The Missourians were satisfied, because they had a poor opinion of the prairie soil of the proposed new county, which they declared was fit only for Mormons and Indians, and doubted whether it could ever be made really valuable. Moreover, they wished to rid themselves of the presence of the despised sect, whose members were clannish and exclusive, as well as unpleasantly peculiar. The Mormons were satisfied, because they wished for peace and security and desired above all to enjoy their religion undisturbed and undismayed.7
John Whitmer and W. W. Phelps had explored the new country and liked it. In the summer of 1836 and the fall of that year the Latter Day Saints flocked from Ray and Clay Counties and took up land, or, in the few cases where the land was already settled, bought out the original owner. "Nothing could have been fairer or more equitable than the acquisition of the territory afterwards called Caldwell County by the Mormons."8
The county seat was located at Far West, and courts were held in the schoolhouse. Justices of the peace were appointed in the different townships, and all the political machinery of the county was controlled by the Mormons. The militia of the county, all or nearly all Mormons, organized and mustered, and a regiment was formed under the laws of the State, of which Lyman Wight was colonel.9
Settlements were now made up and down Shoal Creek and thickly along the southern tier of townships of the county. Mills were built, shops were opened, stores established, and the foundations for a thrifty and successful community were securely laid....
The townsite was entered August 8, 1836. The north half was entered in the name of W. W. Phelps, the south half in the name of John Whitmer; but both Phelps and Whitmer merely held the land in trust for the church. . . . The townsite was a mile square, giving plenty of room for the building of a large city. It was laid out in blocks 396 feet square, and the streets were alike on a grand scale. The four principal avenues were each 132 feet wide, and all the others 82 1/2 feet wide. They diverged at right angles from a public square in the center designed as the site of a grand temple.
Nearly all the first houses in Far West were log cabins. In a few months, however, some frames were built, a portion of the lumber being brought from lower Ray and a portion being whipsawed. Perhaps the first house was built by one Ormsby. This was in the summer of 1836. It is said that John Whitmer's house was built January 19, 1837. In the fall of 1836 a large and comfortable, schoolhouse was built, and here courts were held after the location of the county seat, until its removal to Kingston. The Mormons very early gave attention to educational matters. There were many schoolteachers among them, and schoolhouses were among their first buildings. The schoolhouse in Far West was used as a church, as a town hall, and as a courthouse, as well as for a schoolhouse. It first stood on the southwest quarter of town, but upon the establishment of the county seat it was removed to the middle of the square.10
The whole movement had the endorsement of the church leaders as soon as they heard of the action taken by the citizens of Clay, a letter signed by Sidney Rigdon, Joseph Smith, Junior, Oliver Cowdery, F. G. Williams, and Hyrum Smith, saying among other things:
We are sorry this disturbance has broken out--we do not consider it our fault. . . . We advise that you be not the first aggressors. Give no occasion, and if the people will let you dispose of your property, settle your affairs, and go in peace, go. You have thus far had an asylum, and now seek another as God may direct. Relative to your going to Wisconsin, we cannot say; we should think if you can stop short in peace, you had better. You know our feelings relative to not giving the first offense, and also of protecting your wives and little ones in case a mob should seek their lives. . . . Be wise, let prudence dictate all your counsels; preserve peace with all men if possible; stand by the Constitution of your country; observe its principles, and above all else show yourselves men of God, worthy citizens, and we doubt not the community ere long will do you justice and rise in indignation against those who are the instigators of your sufferings and afflictions.11
They were in general [says Judge Thorpe], quite industrious, working people, and soon a great change was made in the appearance of the country; huts of every description, from a log cabin to a board shanty, with fields and gardens were to be seen in all directions, mostly along the strips of timber which were found along the creeks and branches.12
By far the majority of Mormon settlers in this quarter were poor. Many of them were able to enter and improve but forty acres of land, and nearly all their houses were cabins. Like other pioneers, they had come to the country to better their conditions. To worship as they pleased and to be with their brethren were of course considerations. Every head of a family was guaranteed a home, and if he were unable to buy one, it was given him from the lands held by the trustees of the church. Among so many, however, there could but be those of some wealth, as well as craftsmen of various kinds, skilled mechanics, and artisans. There were many persons of education and accomplishment. Schoolteachers were plenty, and schools were numerous.13
The despised prairie land proved to be wonderfully fertile, and in a short time government land bought before the Mormons came at one dollar and twenty-five cents an acre was held for ten dollars. Caldwell County was fast becoming settled, so there was no room for the incoming tide of converts from the East and South. The Mormon settlements spread into Daviess, Livingston, Clinton, and Carroll Counties.
It is claimed that all the Mormon settlements outside of this county were made with the prior consent of the inhabitants then living where the settlements were made; the consent was obtained, in nearly every instance, by the payment of money, either for the lands of the pioneer Gentiles or for some articles of personal property they owned. Money was scarce at that day, and although the pioneers did not approve of Mormon doctrines, they did approve of Mormon gold and silver, and they were willing to tolerate the one if they could obtain the other. But afterward certain of the Gentiles claimed that the Mormon occupation had been by stealth and fraud, and perhaps in some instances this was true.14
A colony of them entered Carroll County adjoining Caldwell on the southeast and established the little town of DeWitt, which the Saints used as a river port for Far West and their entire community. Still others went into Daviess and Clinton and settled there. In Daviess they established a flourishing colony in Colfax Township and another on the banks of the Grand River, a short distance from the present village of Jameson. Here a city was built and called Adam-ondi-ahman, or shortened, as it generally was by the Saints, to Diahman. Diahman thrived and soon completely outstripped in size the county seat of Gallatin.
Once more, with inextinguishable optimism, the Saints built homes and planted crops. Because of their many misfortunes, many of them were poor "yet they manifested a spirit to share with each other what they did have, and no one felt above any other."15 Those who had cows, gave all their spare milk to their neighbors who had none, and cheerfully ate their corn bread without butter, those who had "dried fruits, wheat flour, or any other luxuries set them aside for the sick and feeble."16 But that summer "good crops of corn and potatoes were raised, and when the following winter came all were well provided for, and the season was passed in comfort and peace."17
Every Thursday evening, prayer and testimony meeting was held in Far West, and every Sunday there were alternately preaching and Communion services. The Saints attended these meetings regularly. But few of them had teams, and those who had were forced to keep them working their crops all week, so rested their horses on the Sabbath day, and walked to church. "Sunday after Sunday," says one of these settlers, "quite a crowd of men, women, and children could be seen wending their way to the Central City."18
The most unfortunate thing that occurred at Far West was a rift in the ranks of the Saints themselves, resulting in the disaffection of some of their best and most honorable and energetic members, including all the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon, several members of the Quorum of Twelve, and others. Many of these came back later; others never did, though most of them, if not all, always retained their faith in the cardinal principles of the church. Examining the papers now after the lapse of nearly a century, it seems truly pathetic that these matters, trivial as they now seem, could not have been amicably adjusted. Instead, however, feeling ran to ridiculously frenzied extremes. Cowdery, in a letter to Joseph Smith, suggests that he thinks, had the President of the church been present, matters could have been adjusted.
The following is from Cowdery's letter to Bishop Edward Partridge dated Far West, Missouri, April 12, 1838, "I could have wished that these charges might have been deferred until after my interview with President Smith; but as they are not, I must waive the anticipated pleasure with which I had flattered myself of an understanding on those points, which are grounds of different opinions on some church regulations, and others which personally interest myself." The letter proceeds to answer in detail the charges preferred against him by Seymour Brunson, that he had sold his lands in Jackson County, which Cowdery reminds him are alodial in the strictest construction of the term, and have not the least shadow of feudal tenures attached to them, consequently ... may be disposed of by deeds of conveyance without the consent or even approbation of a superior.... This attempt to control me in my temporal interests, I conceive to be a disposition to take from me a portion of my constitutional privileges and inherent right .... I only, respectfully, ask leave, therefore, to withdraw from a society assuming they have such right.
"So far as relates to the other seven charges, I shall lay them carefully away and take such course with regard to them as I may feel bound by my honor to answer to my rising posterity."
"I beg you, sir, to take no view of the foregoing remarks, other than my belief in the outward government of this church. I do not charge you, or any other person who differs with me on these points, of not being sincere, but difference does exist, which I sincerely regret."19
The bishop's court sustained his defense on these points, and it is unfortunate that he did not choose to answer the other charges as frankly and freely. Unprejudiced writers now generally agree that the "authorities of the church moved hastily and without proper leniency,"20 and thus lost to the church a man whose character through his entire lifetime stood absolutely unimpeached.
Similar judgment may be passed upon the handling of the case of David Whitmer. David Whitmer did not answer to the charges against him, as he refused to acknowledge the legality of the court. He even refused an appeal, declaring that if he did so he "would be acknowledging the correctness and legality of those former assumed councils, which I shall not do."21
Brigham H. Roberts, a historian of the Utah Church is authority for saying that the minutes of the High Council show:
After reading the above letter (refusing to take appeal for reasons named) it was not considered necessary to investigate the case, as he had offered contempt to the council by writing the above letter. . . . The counselors made a few remarks in which they spoke warmly of the contempt offered in the above letter, therefore thought he was not worthy to be a member in the church. And to this effect was the decision of the council.22
Should this information be correct (and there is no reason for doubting it), David Whitmer was expelled from the church without trial.
These unfortunate evidences of human misunderstanding in high places in the church are a matter of profound and eternal regret to those who revere the memory of these good men. The evil created by differences of opinion over trivial things did not go to their grave with these good men, but still exist, perpetuated by those who came after them.
The difficulties in Missouri were mainly an echo of those in Kirtland, following the bank failure and other financial troubles of 1837. No matter how stringent the times, nor how impossible it is for even the strongest banks to weather a national crisis, some will always be found in every community to accuse the officers of any bank, which has failed, of dishonesty. The men and women who lost money in the Kirtland disaster were no exception. The church made a valiant and courageous effort to meet the indebtedness of the Kirtland Bank, although it burdened the progress of the church for many years, but at the moment there was no safety in the vicinity. The lives of the church leaders were threatened, and they were compelled to go to Missouri.
In Daviess County, the Whig and Democratic parties were almost equally divided. Everyone felt that the "Mormons" would cast the deciding vote, perhaps elect one of their own men, as they well could do. There was no secret balloting. Large sheets of paper were ruled into columns, a broad one for the name of each voter, and as many narrow ones as there were candidates, their names being written at the head of the column. The voter came and declared for whom he wished to vote, and the clerks, one, two, or three, as the necessity of population demanded, recorded the vote. Voting and counting votes was slow business, but the voters were few, and no one was crowded for time. At Gallatin, in Daviess County, there was an election on August 6, 1838, for sheriff. One of the candidates was Colonel William P. Peniston, a strong anti-Mormon, and he well knew that all the Latter Day Saints would cast their vote against him.
Judge Morin, who lived at Millport, told the Saints that an effort was to be made to prevent them from voting, that Peniston might be elected sheriff. He advised them to "stand their ground, and have their rights." But, hoping for better things, the men of the church, some of them, rode into Gallatin to vote on election day, all of them unarmed.
Now election day riots were no novelty in pioneer communities, either before or since the coming of the Latter Day Saints. About eleven o'clock in the morning, when whisky had had time to circulate pretty freely, Peniston mounted a barrel and began a harangue saying that if the Mormons were allowed to vote, others would lose their franchise.
One Dick Welding, properly drunk, added boisterously, "The Mormons weren't allowed to vote in Clay County no more than d--n Negroes." Samuel Brown of the Saints replied with unmistakable pertinency that people who could not read and write should not be allowed to vote. Welding resented the "insult" with a blow, which Brown parried with his umbrella, while Perry Durphy held the arm of his assailant. A general riot followed. Two Canadian boys, Abraham and Hyrum Nelson, were in the crowd. Someone knocked Abraham down, and his brother ran to his defense and began knocking down his attackers with the butt of his riding whip. Riley Stewart struck Dick Welding, and when Stewart was attacked, John Lowe Butler came to his assistance. Butler was a Kentuckian himself, for Apostles Patten and Woodruff had been converting a number of people in Tennessee and Kentucky, and the church now had its share of fighting Kentuckians. Very few of the "Mormons" had voted. They now withdrew a quarter of a mile from town and discussed matters. Butler was still angry. "We are American citizens," he said. "Our fathers fought for their liberty, and we will maintain the same principles." But seeing the mob, armed, approaching them, they bethought themselves of their unprotected wives and children and rode home, collected their families from their small cabins, secreted them in the hazel brush, and stood guard all night in the rain.
Thus was the match set to the fire that was to sweep the country in the next few months.
Report of the riot having been received at Far West in a much exaggerated form, Joseph Smith with two hundred others went on to Adam-ondi-ahman to investigate, but finding all quiet, turned around and called on a justice of the peace, Adam Black. This man had sold his farm to the Saints and had then united with the mobbers to drive the Saints out. Joseph knew this was contrary to his oath as a magistrate and accordingly asked him to sign a statement not to join with their enemies. Black later went before a justice and swore that he had been intimidated and forced to sign the statement, and a warrant was issued for the arrest of Joseph Smith, Lyman Wight, and others. They surrendered, and after a preliminary hearing before Judge Austin A. King were placed under bond to appear for trial September 7.23,24
Continual depredations now ensued, property and crops were destroyed, men were assaulted, women attacked. The Latter Day Saints were afraid of their lives; the other settlers professed to be afraid also. Unfounded rumor on both sides played an important role. The Latter Day Saints appealed to General Atchison, who commanded a division of state militia. The other inhabitants appealed to Governor Boggs. General Atchison came to Far West and Adam-ondi-ahman, and reported to Governor Boggs, who had called out the militia. His report was highly favorable to the Latter Day Saints. He visited Millport, where an armed force was gathered under Austin, and also visited Diahman, where the Latter Day Saints under Wight were camped. He ordered the mob at Millport to disperse, established his camp between Millport and Diahman, and soon as quiet returned sent most of his militia home. Atchison thought the "Mormons" would be all right if they were let alone.
But instead of going home, the mob from Millport went to the little town of DeWitt, on the Missouri River, and besieged it. Joseph Smith and others went to their aid. General Parks was sent to view the situation and reported to General Atchison that two or three hundred "Mormons" were besieged by a much larger
force of Missourians with a fieldpiece, the latter force expecting and receiving constant reinforcements from neighboring counties. The Saints in DeWitt appealed to Governor Boggs by special petition and messenger, but he refused to interfere. Realizing that further resistance would be useless, the Saints agreed to leave DeWitt if they were paid the appraised value of their property. The appraised value was less than the real value but this proved unimportant, since nothing was ever paid for the property thus stolen. The Saints packed their personal effects in wagons and started to Far West. Some were so weakened by hunger and exposure that they died on the way. This was on the 11th of October, 1838.
Encouraged by this success, the mob renewed their attack on Adam-ondi-ahman. General Park hastened to Colonel Wight's home on "Tower Hill," and while in consultation with him, Agnes Smith25 wife of Don Carlos Smith, who was absent upon a mission to the South (for even in the midst of trouble they had not forgotten to send out missionaries), came in with her two crying babies. She had been driven from her home in the night and had waded the river to take refuge at Colonel Wight's. Then it was that General Parks advised Wight to act in his own defense against the mob gathered at Millport. Wight was a regularly commissioned colonel in the militia. General Parks was his superior. The failure of the commanders of the militia sent to Daviess and Carroll Counties, among whom were Atchison, Doniphan, and Parks, was not due to indifference on their part, but to the fact that the troops under their command were bitter against the Mormons, and Atchison said he was afraid, everyday that passed, his men would desert his command and join the mob. From this movement of the "Diahman Boys" against the mob collected at Millport, arose the charge of treason against Lyman Wight and some others.
A Captain Samuel Bogart, of the State Militia of Ray County, had, it is said, obtained permission to police the northern part of Ray County. He and the men with him went from one little cabin home of the Saints to another, intimidating them, ordering them off, and even threatening to attack Far West. Wounded citizens began coming into Far West from that region and the cattle of the Saints were being used to provide food for Bogart's army.
Houses in Far West were soon full to overflowing, and hundreds of refugees were obliged to make their beds on the open prairies near the city. It was November again. One night six inches of snow fell upon the beds of the weary campers.26
At length a messenger brought a report that Bogart's band was to attack Far West the next day. In the general confusion, no one on either side knew who were militia and who were not. The Saints have always declared they thought Bogart was without legal authority for his acts of depredation. At any rate when this report came to Far West, acting under orders from General Park to defend themselves, Captain David W. Patten (one of the twelve apostles), known among the Saints for a long time now as "Captain Fear Not," led a small company of the Far West Militia against the Bogart force, who were subsisting upon the Saints on and near Crooked River. Surprising them at daybreak October 25, they attacked the camp and being fired upon returned the fire. Says Judge Thorpe, "The alarm was so sudden, the camp in such a confused condition, that they made no formidable resistance until the company was right in among them, cutting right and left causing a perfect stampede, every man for himself. A few jumped down the bank of the creek, stopped long enough to fire a few shots back, and then retreated for dear life, each making the best of his way for home."27 It was a costly victory for the Saints. Gideon Carter lay dead on the field, and David W. Patten and Patrick O'Banion, a young Saint, died that day.
As for Captain Samuel Bogart, his interest in the eviction of the "Mormons" waned, and he took no more active part in the struggle. However, he was yet to win distinction for himself in quite another way. By the time another twelve months had passed, the "Mormons" were safely out of Caldwell County, and an election was being held in November, 1839, to re-elect officers of the county to take the place of the evicted "Mormons." Then it was that Bogart remembered the leading role he had played in the "Mormon War," put himself up as a candidate, and was elected, too; the new citizens were not unmindful of services rendered. He never occupied in his office, or perhaps even knew he was elected. Just when the election day fun was reaching its height at the former site of the Saints' Far West, Bogart got into a quarrel with a young Batty, quickly flashed a pistol and shot him dead. Before the crowd could recover enough to apprehend him, he had cut across the country for home, selected his best horse, and reached Crooked River at Dale's Mill just as night fell. The stream was in flood, but he plunged in, holding onto his horse's tail, got safely ashore, and headed south toward Richmond. He visited a friend and borrowed two hundred dollars in gold with which he said he wished to enter a valuable tract of land. Rousing the ferryman at the Missouri River, he told him the same story, gave him a twenty-dollar gold piece, and told him to stay on the opposite side until noon the next day, by which time he would have the land entered in his own name. He never stopped going until he reached the new Republic of Texas, where "he attained considerable prominence," according to Missouri historians. He was indicted by a grand jury at Far West but was never arrested.28
In the meantime, Judge King, who had never forgotten the killing of his brother-in-law, Hugh Brazeale, in the brush with the "Mormons" in Whitmer's cornfield on the Big Blue, seized this opportunity to write to General Park under the date of October 27, two days after Crooked River:
Our relations with the Mormons are such that I am perfectly satisfied the arm of civil authority is too weak to give peace to the country. Until lately I thought the Mormons disposed to act only on the defense, but their recent conduct shows that they are the aggressors and that they intend to take the law in their own hands.29
The letter of Judge King and the reports that reached him from Crooked River now induced Governor Boggs to take action, and he placed General Clark in command over the head of Generals Atchison and Doniphan, General Atchison having refused the command. The instructions of Boggs were as follows:
I have received information of the most appalling character, which entirely changes the face of things and places the "Mormons" in the attitude of an open and avowed defiance of this State. Your orders are, therefore, to hasten your operations with all possible speed. The Mormons must be treated as enemies and must be exterminated or driven from the State if necessary for the public peace.30
General Atchison indignantly left the militia he was commanding at Log Creek upon receipt of the Governor's orders, threw up his command, and returned to his home in Liberty, leaving General Lucas in command of his troops. Doniphan remained with his troops for a few days longer, replying to Governor Boggs that he "disregarded" that part of his order, "as the age of extermination is over."31
But before General Clark could arrive to take over his command, there occurred the most atrocious act of the whole "war," the attack on the undefended mill of Jacob Haun on Shoal Creek. Haun had come from Wisconsin several years before and built a very good mill on Shoal Creek. Clustered around it by the fall of 1838 were a good blacksmith shop and a half dozen small houses. Several families arriving from Ohio had camped there for a day or two, still living in their covered emigrant wagons. The Saints organized themselves for defense in case of an attack, but David Evans who had been put in charge, succeeded in arranging with the mob that they would be unmolested as long as they were peaceable, and life at the mill assumed its customary quiet routine until they were suddenly attacked on the afternoon of October 30 by an armed mob. While the women and children scattered to the timber which skirted Shoal Creek, the men grabbing their guns ran to the blacksmith shop and, though a mere handful, made a last desperate effort at defense. There were not many more than twenty men in the little camp, and the mob, most of them members of the Livingston County Militia (but General Clark insists acting without orders) I numbered two hundred.
David Evans, seeing how completely they were outnumbered, attempted to surrender by running up a white flag. His signal was ignored. The blacksmith shop was surrounded, and the mob commenced firing through the chinks of the logs at the men huddled within. The few rounds of ammunition possessed by the beseiged Saints were soon exhausted. Evans opened the door, and all rushed out, most of them falling from the deadly fire of their enemy as they ran.
Coming upon the field, empty now save for the wounded and dead, the attackers killed their wounded victims. Upon the ground lay Thomas McBride, seventy-eight years of age, who had served under Gates and Washington in the Revolutionary War. A man named Rogers, approaching the old veteran where he had fallen, fatally wounded on his way to the blacksmith shop, asked for his gun. The veteran handed it to him, and the man, finding it loaded, deliberately put it against the old man's breast and fired, then proceeded to cut off his head with a corn knife and otherwise mangle and hack to pieces the body of his victim. William Reynolds (who called himself Runnels) entered the blacksmith shop, and finding only dead bodies, was about to retire when he noticed a ten-year-old boy, Sardius Smith, hiding under the bellows. He drew his rifle and shot the little fellow, and for many years boasted of his exploit, telling how the poor child "kicked and squealed" in agony, and justifying his act by saying, "Nits will make lice." The fate of Charley Merrick hiding under the bellows with the little Smith child was even more cruel. He ran out of the shop, was shot, and lay in agony for three weeks before he finally died.
Says one woman, who was widowed in this massacre, "When they had done firing, they began to howl, and one would have thought that all the infernals had come from the lower region. They plundered the principal part of our goods, took our horses and wagons, and ran off howling like demons."
"We pretty well cleaned the place out," said the victors.
One by one, as night fell, the survivors came out of the woods, looking for their relatives and friends. Three or four men remained, some of them wounded; the rest were women and children. Seventeen lay dead, fifteen wounded. Says Mrs. Amanda Smith, whose husband and 10-year-old boy were with the dead, and whose 7-year-old boy was badly wounded:
It was sunset; nothing but horror and distress, the dogs filled with rage, howling over their dead masters; the cattle caught the scent of blood and bellowed; a dozen helpless widows, thirty or forty fatherless children screaming and groaning for the loss of husbands and fathers; the groans of the wounded and dying.
All gathered at the Haun home, and soon Sister Haun and others of the women had collected what they could to bandage the wounds of those still living and spent the night going from one to another, ministering as they could with their limited supplies. Morning came and it was apparent that something must be done with the dead. They could not lie unburied in the hot October sun, and there were not able-bodied men enough to bury them. There was a dry hole where someone had attempted to dig a well. Assisted by the women, the few able-bodied men placed the bodies one by one upon a plank, carried them to the well and slid them in. Some hay was thrown on top, and a layer of dirt. Meanwhile Colonel Jennings hastened away from the mill as twilight approached, and halted his battalion at Woolsey's where he prepared to pass the night. A few hours later, he imagined he heard cannon and a great tumult in the direction of Haun's Mill, betokening as he thought the advance of a large "Mormon" force against him. Rousing his men, he hastily broke camp, and moved rapidly eastward, never halting till he put the west fork of Grand River between him and his imaginary pursuers.
Two days later the men got up courage enough to return to the scene of their triumph, and taking possession of the mill, gathered the crops of the men they had killed, ground the corn, butchered the hogs and cattle, and a week or more later, when nothing was left for the widows and orphans who were still at the mill for want of any other place to go, they departed.
Olive Ames of San Bernardino, California, well known to the Saints of that State, was a survivor of that massacre. Polly Wood of western Iowa was another. Saints of Michigan, many of them, remember Hiram Rathbun, Sr., of Lansing, who was shot and crippled for life at Haun's Mill, although he was a mere boy at the time. There are doubtless others now in the church, who have heard the story from the lips of their parents or grandparents.
The following day Clark surrounded Far West and upon November 1 secured the leaders of the church as prisoners. It was the general consensus of opinion of the officers that these men would be shot. Judge Thorpe remembers that Colonel Doniphan had said he was prepared to defend the prisoners with his own life if necessary.32 The leaders were given a hasty trial by "court martial" (although some, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon and perhaps others, were not members of the militia) and sentenced to be shot at sunrise in the square of Far West on November 2, the next morning. A messenger was sent to General Doniphan with the following order:
Brigadier-General Doniphan, Sir: You will take Joseph Smith and the
other prisoners into the public square of Far West and shoot them at nine o'clock tomorrow
Samuel D. Lucas,33
Doniphan replied promptly:
It is cold-blooded murder. I will not obey your order. My brigade shall
march for Liberty tomorrow morning at eight o'clock, and if you execute those men I will
hold you responsible before an earthly tribunal, so help me God!34
A. W. Doniphan,
Samuel D. Lucas immediately countermanded the order and entered into a lengthy correspondence with Fort Leavenworth in an attempt to justify his course.
Years after, when Young Joseph attempted to compliment the now famous General Doniphan upon his courage, he disclaimed any special bravery. He was a young man then, just a few months past thirty. He said, "I did not think anything about whether it was brave or not. I came of a long-lived stock and was young, and thought that I could not afford to go through what might be a long life with my hands stained with the blood of my fellow men."35
General Clark proceeded with his work, and having forced the Saints to agree to leave the State by the first of May, 1839, and sent about sixty more prisoners to Richmond, he considered his task well performed.
The Saints memorialized the state legislature to reimburse them for their property, but nothing came of it. Later they sent a delegation to Washington, where with the aid of Judge Richard M. Young, United States Senator from Illinois, the matter was put before Congress, but it received only assurances that the Federal Government could not interfere in state affairs.
There was so much criticism in the public press of the action of the Missouri authorities in expelling in so arbitrary a manner several thousand of the State's citizens that the legislature which met in November, 1838, appointed a joint committee to investigate the Governor's conduct of the "War."36 Governor Boggs, in a communication transmitting papers and information, defended his course.37 After some wrangling, the legislature passed a resolution forbidding the publication of any documents, orders, or correspondence, either printed or copied, in relation to the affair.38 This restriction was in force for two years. The legislature then proceeded to pass an appropriation of two thousand dollars to alleviate suffering in Daviess and Caldwell Counties, but Latter Day Saints had little benefit therefrom. One of the prime movers in their behalf was their old friend Michael Arthur of Clay County, who wrote to the legislature, of which he had once been a member, as follows:
Liberty, November 29, 1838.
M. Arthur, Esq., to the Representatives from Clay County.
Respected Friends: Humanity to an injured people prompts me at present to address you thus: You were aware of the treatment (to some extent before you left home) received by that unfortunate race of beings called the Mormons, from Daviess, in the form of human beings, inhabiting Daviess, Livingston, and a part of Ray County; not being satisfied with the relinquishment of all their rights as citizens and human beings, in the treaty forced upon them by General Lucas, by giving up their arms and throwing themselves upon the mercy of the State and their fellow citizens generally, hoping thereby protection of their lives and property, are now receiving treatment from those demons that make humanity shudder, and the cold chills run over any man not entirely destitute of any feeling of humanity. These demons are now constantly strolling up and down Caldwell County, in small companies armed, insulting the women in any and every way, and plundering the poor devils of all the means of subsistence (scanty as it was,) left them, and driving off their horses, cattle, hogs, etc., and rifling their houses and farms of everything therein, taking beds, bedding, wardrobe, and all such things as they see they want, leaving the poor Mormons in a starving and naked condition.
These are facts from authority that cannot be questioned, and can be maintained and substantiated at any time. There is now a petition afloat in our town, signed by the citizens of all parties and grades, which will be sent you in a few days, praying the legislature to make some speedy enactment applicable to their case. They are entirely willing to leave our State so soon as this inclement season is over; and a number have already left, and are leaving daily, scattering themselves to the four winds of the earth.39
General Clark had in the meantime arrested some forty men, supposed to be implicated in attacks on Millport, Gallatin, and Crooked River, and had taken them to Richmond. These were given some sort of a hearing before Judge King at Richmond. Joseph Smith and six others were remanded to Liberty Jail and others held at Richmond. Here they were held in the most squalid and miserable surroundings all winter, while authorities wrangled over what should be done with them. Chained together, the men slept on the rough stone floor with only straw for a bed, and insufficient blankets to keep them warm. Some of them were quite ill, Joseph Smith with the "face ache," almost too miserable at times to note what was going on, while Sidney Rigdon took a fever and lay in chains, growing steadily worse, until he lost about eighty pounds' weight and was reduced to a state of emaciation. Doniphan, still their attorney, fearful for his life, asked the court for a writ of habeas corpus. Doniphan, noted for eloquence himself, told the story in his old age, "and the remembrance of it lit up his aged face with a glow of animation."
Elder Rigdon had few if any friends there, about one hundred were gathered, the most of them "Mormon caters," as they were called, and terribly excited against those under arrest and in custody. After the counsel had argued the legal conditions of the case, Elder Rigdon desired General Doniphan to inquire of the judge if he might speak in his own behalf. The judge said, "Certainly." Elder Rigdon arose and began; and says the General, "Such a burst of eloquence it was never my fortune to listen to. At its close there was not a dry eye in the room; all were moved to tears.
At its close the judge said, "The prisoner is discharged the custody of the court. Mr. Rigdon is free to go his way."
The effect of Elder Rigdon's words was such that one of the leading men of the crowd picked up his hat, and, turning to the bystanders, said, "We came here determined to do injury to this man. He is innocent of crime, as has been made to appear. And now, gentlemen, out with your money and help the man to return to his destitute family." He circulated the hat, and money was showered into it till he placed a hundred dollars in Elder Rigdon's hands, with the remark, "Now, old gentleman, make the quickest time possible to your family, who need you and your help."40 This was January 29, 1839.
Another incident of those days that Doniphan was fond of relating is vouched for by Leonidas M. Lawson, a former resident of Clay County, Missouri, who says in the American Magazine for December, 1910:
In the year 1863, I visited General A. W. Doniphan in his home in Liberty, Clay County, Missouri. This was soon after the devastation of Jackson County, Missouri, under what is known as Order No. 11. This devastation was complete. Farms were everywhere destroyed, and the farmhouses were burned. During the visit, General Doniphan related the following historical facts and personal incidents.
On one occasion General Doniphan caused the sheriff of the county to bring Joseph Smith from the prison to his law office, for the purpose of consultation about his defense. During Smith's presence in the office, a resident of Jackson County, Missouri, came in for the purpose of paying a fee which was due to the firm of Doniphan and Baldwin, and offered in payment a tract of land in Jackson County.
Doniphan told him that his partner, Mr. Baldwin, was absent for the moment, but as soon as he had an opportunity he would consult him and decide about the matter. When the Jackson County man retired, Joseph Smith, who had overheard the conversation, addressed General Doniphan about as follows:
"Doniphan, I advise you not to take that Jackson County land in payment of the debt. God's wrath hangs over Jackson County. God's people have been ruthlessly driven from it, and you will live to see the day when it will be visited by fire and sword. The Lord of hosts will sweep it with the besom of destruction. The fields and farms and houses will 'be destroyed and only the chimneys will be left to mark the desolation."
General Doniphan said to me that the desolation of Jackson County, forcibly reminded him of this remarkable prediction of the Mormon prophet.
The American goes on to quote from a Mr. A. Saxey:
In the spring of 1862, my regiment went south, and it was during that time that Order No. 11 was issued; but I was back there again in 1864, during the Price raid and saw the condition of the country. . . . I went down on the Blue River. We found houses, barns, outbuildings, nearly all burned down, and nothing left standing but the chimneys.41
Doniphan sometimes remarked, "A nicer lot of men I never knew [speaking of the Saints], kind, neighborly, and upright."
Finally, in April, 1839, the prisoners at Liberty were taken to Gallatin for trial. General Doniphan, after the court had proceeded a few days, became convinced that he could not get a fair trial in Gallatin and secured a change of venue to Boone County. While on the way there in the custody of the sheriff, the prisoners were permitted to escape, probably by collusion with other authorities who had become tired of the contest and did not know what to do with their prisoners.
Those at Richmond were also taken to Boone County and lodged in jail, from whence all but one escaped on July 4, 1839. That one, Luman Gibbs, came to trial and was acquitted.
During all these troubles, missionaries were at work in every nook and corner of the United States, and Saints were pouring into Missouri, only to be turned back as they approached the former home of their friends. Charles Ross, who was a Gentile moving into Missouri, described the method of these guards in his testimony in the Temple Lot Suit:
When I came to Keytesville, I heard there was a wounded Mormon there. After I got there, there was a guard there, and they examined everybody that came up, and if they had wagon boxes on their wagons, they were not allowed to go through without some kind of an examination. We had some niggers and some hounds with us, and they said we were not Mormons and let us go through.42
The trek across the State in the dead of winter by these poor exiles was attended with suffering, privation, and often death. Many families were separated. Some of those widowed in the Haun's Mill massacre were among the number. Mrs. Amanda Smith whose husband and son were killed on that occasion says, "I started the first of February for Illinois without money (mob all the way), drove our own team, slept out of doors. I had five small children; we suffered hunger, fatigue, and cold."
In Far West, preparation was made for the evacuation of the city. They buried their printing press in the night--in the dark of midnight, and piled a straw stack over it. When their prophet was taken prisoner, all his papers were in the hands of his secretary, James Mulholland, a young Canadian and a recent convert. Isaac Russell of Toronto, one of the earliest converts in that city, had become a pioneer missionary in Canada. Shortly before he left the United States as one of the first missionaries to England, Russell had preached in the little village of Churchville, Ontario, where quite a number came into the church, among them William and Wilson Law, Sampson Avard, and an Irish family by the name of Scott. Mulholland had married Sarah Scott, the youngest of the Scotts, and therefore shared their home. The family had just arrived in Far West on September 2, but the young scribe knew the value of the papers entrusted to his care, among which was the precious revision of the Scriptures. He feared he would be assailed by the mob as so many men had been and wished to protect the church papers. Ann, the eldest of the Scott sisters was thirty-three years of age, unmarried and unqualifiedly devoted to the church. To her, Mulholland entrusted the papers, thinking the mob would be less liable to molest her. She took no chances. She made two cotton bags of sufficient size to contain them, and sewing a band around the top ends long enough to button about her waist, carried them under the folds of her dress in the daytime "when the mob was around" and slept with them under her pillow at night. When Emma Smith was leaving Far West for Illinois, Ann Scott gave the papers into her keeping and she carried them in the same way with her across the State of Missouri and over the icebound Mississippi.43
It cannot be denied that there were two sides of the controversy, but an impartial observer [writes a local historian], in the light of history is forced to the conclusion that the expulsion of the Mormons from the State was neither justified nor necessary, and was a mistake of the gravest kind on the part of the authorities.44
1 Thorpe's Early Days in Missouri, Letter No. 15.
2 This statement is doubtful, especially one that follows, saying many of the Mormon men could neither read or write. An examination of the "testimony" given in Richmond in Senate Document 189, although many of the witnesses against the church sign with a mark, none of the Latter Day Saints do. It is well known that many prominent men in early Missouri history could not read or write. Judge Elisha Camron, for instance, "scarcely knew how to read or write." (See History of Clay County, by Woodson, page 85.)
3 Kansas City Journal, June 5, 1881; Saints' Herald, Volume 28, page 197.
4 Missouri House Journal, 1836-37, pages 188, 204.
5 Ibid., page 155.
6 Stevens' Missouri the Center State, Volume 2, page 555.
7 History of Caldwell and Livingston counties, Missouri (1886), Saint Louis National Historical Company, pages 116-118.
9 Lyman Wight held a commission from Lilburn W. Boggs, as colonel of the 59th Missouri Militia.
10 History of Caldwell and Livingston Counties.
11 Messenger and Advocate, Volume 2, pages 353-359; Church History, Volume 2, page 73.
12 Judge Thorpe's Early Days in Missouri.
13 History of Caldwell and Livingston Counties, page 119; Church History, Volume 2, page 112.
14 History of Caldwell County, pages 118, 119; Church History, Volume 2, page 112.
15 "Elder John Brush," Autumn Leaves, Volume 4, page 66.
18 Ibid., page 127. John Brush, Nehemiah Brush, his father, and Faucett, his father-in-law, entered eighty acres of land on Plum Creek. "Several miles on either side of them was neither friend nor foe." They all walked to Far West to church regularly.
19 This letter is contained in full in Americana, September 1910; pages 915-17, in an article by Brigham H. Roberts in which for the first time the papers in these important cases were published.
20 In Journal of History, Volume 4, page 357 seq., Heman C. Smith discusses in detail these cases in "Book of Mormon Witnesses."
21 See Americana, September, 1910, pages 915-17 Article by Brigham H. Roberts.
23 Early Days on Grand River," by R. J. Britton, Missouri Historical Review, January, 1919.
24 The legal papers growing out of Black's complaint and others are in the flies of the Missouri State Historical Society, and were reprinted in the Journal of History, Volume 3, 485, 486. Spelling and punctuation have been reproduced as nearly as possible. They present an interesting commentary on the state of things educational in western Missouri.
25 Mother of Iva Donna Coolbrith, once poet laureate of California.
26 "Elder John Brush," Autumn Leaves, Volume 4, page 130.
27 Judge Thorpe's Early Days in Missouri.
28 History of Clinton and Caldwell Counties, Missouri, by Johnson and McGlumphy, Historical Publication House, Topeka (1923).
29 Missouri General Assembly Documents, Orders, Correspondence, etc., pages 53, 54.
30 "Facts Relative to the Expulsion of the Mormons from Missouri," by J. P. Green, Argus, 1839.
31 Kansas City Journal, June 5, 1881, Saints' Herald, Volume 28, page 197.
32 Thorpe's Early Days in Missouri.
33 History of Caldwell and Livingston Counties, page 137.
35 Church History, Volume 4, page 578.
36 Missouri House Journal, 1838-39, pages 24, 32.
37 Ibid, pages 78, 79.
38 Missouri Senate Journal, 1838-39, page 36.
39 Church History, Volume 2, pages 268, 269.
40 Saints' Herald, August 2, 1884; Volume 31, page 490.
41 American Magazine, December, 1910.
42 Charles Ross testifying in Temple Lot Suit. Plaintiff's Abstract of Evidence.
43 Autumn Leaves, Volume 4, page 18. "Spiritual Experiences," by Ann Davis [nee Scott] of Lyons, Wisconsin.
44 History of Caldwell County, by W. H. S. McGlumphy.
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