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Introduction to State of Illinois v. Olney

State of Illinois v. Olney
Nauvoo, Hancock Co., Illinois, Mayor’s Court, 10 February 1843
 
Historical Introduction
On 10 February 1843, JS, sitting as mayor of , Illinois, and a justice of the peace, presided at a preliminary hearing held to hear evidence that former Latter-day Saint had committed and the previous month. Olney had been excommunicated from the church nearly a year earlier for “setting himself up as a prophet & revelator.” He had also experienced family challenges. In July 1841 his wife, Alice Johnson Olney, died, and he dispersed their eleven children to other families. In 1842 he began efforts to reunite them, starting with daughters and , but found himself unable to provide for them. On the night of 23 January 1843, Oliver Olney broke into the store of and stole cloth, shoes, a $50 bank note, and sundry other items valued at $1,000.
filed a complaint on 10 February 1843 before JS, who issued a warrant to search the residences of and . The search resulted in discovery of the stolen property. Olney and Nourse were brought before JS, charged with and . Olney confessed to the crime and stated he was the only person engaged in the theft. In response to questions posed by JS, Olney denied that church teachings had influenced his decision to steal. Furthermore, he acknowledged that JS warned him that revelations Olney had been receiving were “false” and would lead him “to destruction.” Olney claimed that the theft was justified because he had “suffered beyond all bounds of reason.” He explained that he did not intend to sell the pilfered goods but to use them to provide clothing for his children and himself. Newell Nourse’s wife, , testified that Olney had brought her cloth and asked her to make dresses for his daughters but that he had not mentioned where the cloth came from, nor had he taught that theft was justified by church teachings. Following the testimony from Harriet Nourse and other witnesses, Newell Nourse was released from custody, “there not appearing any testimony to convict him.”
In his ruling, JS condemned using religion to justify theft, stating that it was “impossible god should have any hand in driving a man to Burglery—Larceny & destruction.” ’s confession and the testimony of the witnesses provided sufficient evidence to bind him for trial. His bail was set at $5,000. As he was unable to provide such an amount, he was placed in the custody of constable , to be taken to the county jail at to await the next term of the circuit court. According to ’s notes of JS’s decision, JS commented, “I would have fed & clothed him if he had come to me,” and went on to state that “this is the most painful thing I ever had to do” and that he had “never sat in such a case befor.” JS’s clerk prepared a detailed account of the hearing, which he inscribed in the mayor’s court docket book around 5 May 1843.
, who was described as “a large, powerful, athletic man,” managed to escape before the was able to safely deliver him to . The handcuffs Parker had made for him were too small to fit around his wrists, and while “getting them altered the prisoner decamped.” Two weeks later Olney turned himself over to the and was taken to Carthage on 26 February. JS forwarded certified copies of Olney’s statement and for the witnesses to the Circuit Court; however, there is no record of proceedings for the case in the circuit court. The minimum punishment for the crime of or was a year imprisonment, but Olney married Phebe Wheeler eight months after the hearing in October 1843, suggesting he had been released by then.
 
Calendar of Documents
This calendar lists all known documents created by or for the court, whether extant or not. It does not include versions of documents created for other purposes, though those versions may be listed in footnotes. In certain cases, especially in cases concerning unpaid debts, the originating document (promissory note, invoice, etc.) is listed here. Note that documents in the calendar are grouped with their originating court. Where a version of a document was subsequently filed with another court, that version is listed under both courts.
State of Illinois v. Olney
Nauvoo, Hancock Co., Illinois, Mayor’s Court, 10 February 1843
 
Historical Introduction
On 10 February 1843, JS, sitting as mayor of , Illinois, and a justice of the peace, presided at a preliminary hearing held to hear evidence that former Latter-day Saint had committed and the previous month. Olney had been excommunicated from the church nearly a year earlier for “setting himself up as a prophet & revelator.” He had also experienced family challenges. In July 1841 his wife, Alice Johnson Olney, died, and he dispersed their eleven children to other families. In 1842 he began efforts to reunite them, starting with daughters and , but found himself unable to provide for them. On the night of 23 January 1843, Oliver Olney broke into the store of and stole cloth, shoes, a $50 bank note, and sundry other items valued at $1,000.
filed a complaint on 10 February 1843 before JS, who issued a warrant to search the residences of and . The search resulted in discovery of the stolen property. Olney and Nourse were brought before JS, charged with and . Olney confessed to the crime and stated he was the only person engaged in the theft. In response to questions posed by JS, Olney denied that church teachings had influenced his decision to steal. Furthermore, he acknowledged that JS warned him that revelations Olney had been receiving were “false” and would lead him “to destruction.” Olney claimed that the theft was justified because he had “suffered beyond all bounds of reason.” He explained that he did not intend to sell the pilfered goods but to use them to provide clothing for his children and himself. Newell Nourse’s wife, , testified that Olney had brought her cloth and asked her to make dresses for his daughters but that he had not mentioned where the cloth came from, nor had he taught that theft was justified by church teachings. Following the testimony from Harriet Nourse and other witnesses, Newell Nourse was released from custody, “there not appearing any testimony to convict him.”
In his ruling, JS condemned using religion to justify theft, stating that it was “impossible god should have any hand in driving a man to Burglery—Larceny & destruction.” ’s confession and the testimony of the witnesses provided sufficient evidence to bind him for trial. His bail was set at $5,000. As he was unable to provide such an amount, he was placed in the custody of constable , to be taken to the county jail at to await the next term of the circuit court. According to ’s notes of JS’s decision, JS commented, “I would have fed & clothed him if he had come to me,” and went on to state that “this is the most painful thing I ever had to do” and that he had “never sat in such a case befor.” JS’s clerk prepared a detailed account of the hearing, which he inscribed in the mayor’s court docket book around 5 May 1843.
, who was described as “a large, powerful, athletic man,” managed to escape before the was able to safely deliver him to . The handcuffs Parker had made for him were too small to fit around his wrists, and while “getting them altered the prisoner decamped.” Two weeks later Olney turned himself over to the and was taken to Carthage on 26 February. JS forwarded certified copies of Olney’s statement and for the witnesses to the Circuit Court; however, there is no record of proceedings for the case in the circuit court. The minimum punishment for the crime of or was a year imprisonment, but Olney married Phebe Wheeler eight months after the hearing in October 1843, suggesting he had been released by then.
 
Calendar of Documents
This calendar lists all known documents created by or for the court, whether extant or not. It does not include versions of documents created for other purposes, though those versions may be listed in footnotes. In certain cases, especially in cases concerning unpaid debts, the originating document (promissory note, invoice, etc.) is listed here. Note that documents in the calendar are grouped with their originating court. Where a version of a document was subsequently filed with another court, that version is listed under both courts.