, History, Manuscript, ca. 1839; handwriting of ; nineteen pages (several additional leaves missing); CHL.
While incarcerated at , Missouri, in March 1839, JS addressed a letter to the Saints and to “ in particular” in which he called for the Saints to gather up “a knoledge of all the facts and sufferings and abuses put upon them” in that they might publish the records “to all the world” and “present them to the heads of the government.” (JS et al., Liberty, MO, to the church members and Edward Partridge, Quincy, IL, 20 Mar. 1839, in Revelations Collection, CHL [D&C 123:1, 6].) Apparently in response to this assignment, Edward Partridge wrote a history that became the first three installments of “A History, of the Persecution, of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter Day Saints in Missouri,” an eleven-part series published in the church’s newspaper, Times and Seasons, between December 1839 and October 1840.
may have intended to tell the entire story himself, but he fell ill shortly after publication began and died 27 May 1840. Partridge’s manuscript, which he did not title, is provided here. The full text of “A History, of the Persecution,” which necessarily relied on other sources following Partridge’s demise, receives comprehensive treatment in volume 2 of the Histories series of The Joseph Smith Papers and is available on this website.
’s history begins with his account of the conflicts in the early 1830s. Partridge was a bishop of the church in Missouri, first in and then in following the Saints’ expulsion from Jackson County. He also served as bishop in after the Saints relocated there from Clay County in 1836. By the time he drafted his account of the Mormon experiences in Missouri, the Saints had been exiled from the state and had relocated to .
’s narrative is based on firsthand observations and may also have relied on other records he kept. It begins, “In presenting to our readers a history of the persecutions,” indicating that Partridge wrote it for publication purposes. However, there are occasionally significant differences between the manuscript version and “A History, of the Persecution” as published.
The early custodial history of the manuscript is somewhat uncertain. However, the manuscript was presumably among materials in the possession of church historian and recorder Joseph Fielding Smith, who held that office from 1921 to 1970 and who had worked in the Church Historian’s Office many years prior. The manuscript became part of the First Presidency’s papers when Smith became church president in 1970, and, with other records (including Revelation Book 1 and two drafts of JS’s history), was transferred from the First Presidency’s office to the Church History Library in 2005.
all was confusion in the house most were for massacreing the prisoners forthwith but a few more humane than the rest advised them to elect for jail to save their lives which they did and were hurried and <with difficulty pl> protected by those few friends to the jail where they felt happy to be locked in. They were visited by some influential men who told them that the mob was <had> now become desperate and that the whole had become enraged and nothing would stop them from massacreing the whole society but to leave the forthwith. (The body <to come in over the leaf> near town learned <in the evening> that those <the> brn. were shut up in jail and as they supposed for the purpose of being killed <They sent> Word was sent <immediately> to br. who lived about 6 miles off of their situation and requesting help). About midnight the sheriff and two other men went with & to visit their brn. collected near town. <and> after a short consultation it was agreed to leave the immediately <The party> In returning back to jail the party were <met at the jail> by a party of mobbers who were disposed to kill the prisoners in spite of the Sheriff & his assis[t]ants & <seeing their danger> run but were fired at had two guns snapped at him one of which flashed in the pan he was then knocked down but not injured so but that he soon got into the jail where he felt measurably safe
These were times that tried men’s souls to stay where they were was death and to undertake to remove so large a body at once there being about ten or twelve hundred of them looked like destruction any how Property <however> at that time was no object: If they could but have sufficient to live upon they chose rather to wander off into some lonely wilderness or desert <where they could enjoy peace> than to stay where they were <even if they could and not be put to death> and be continually harrassed as they had been for a few month past. But to return to the thread of our story
During the night the mob sent their runners over the to stir up the feelings of the people <by misrepresenting the doings of the saints> so as to have them all turn out and exterminate the<m> saints at once they the people took their arms and flocked to town <> as fast as possible so that early next morning there were hundreds ready for war pretended to call out the militia as he said to quell the mob <and make peace between the parties> but the fact was he put himself <or was put some said by then Lieutenant Gov.> at the head of the mob for the purpose [p. ]