Sidney Rigdon, Appeal to the American People, 1840
, An Appeal to the American People: Being an Account of the Persecutions of the Church of Latter Day Saints; and of the Barbarities Inflicted on Them by the Inhabitants of the State of Missouri; 1–84 pp.; Cincinnati, OH: Glezen and Shepard, stereotypers and printers, 1840. The copy used herein is held at Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.
While incarcerated at , Missouri, in March 1839, JS addressed a letter to the church “at Illinois and scattered abroad and to in particular,” instructing the Saints to gather up “a knoledge of all the facts and sufferings and abuses put upon them by the people of this .” (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].) Edward Partridge responded with an account that became the three opening 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. “A History, of the Persecution” receives comprehensive treatment in volume 2 of the Histories series of The Joseph Smith Papers and is available on this website.may have intended to tell the entire story himself, but he fell ill shortly after publication of “A History, of the Persecution” began and died on 27 May 1840. Prompted by Partridge’s illness and subsequent death, the editors of the Times and Seasons, and , sought elsewhere for source materials to continue the series. It is probable that they composed the fourth installment to provide a brief transition from Partridge’s account, which ends in 1836, and the conflicts in and adjoining counties in 1838. The fifth and seventh installments reprinted passages from ’s History of the Late Persecutions Inflicted by the State of Missouri upon the Mormons (Detroit: Dawson and Bates, 1839). In May 1840, the sixth installment reprinted passages from ’s eighty-four page pamphlet, An Appeal to the American People: Being an Account of the Persecutions of the Church of Latter Day Saints; and of the Barbarities Inflicted on Them by the Inhabitants of the State of Missouri (Cincinnati: Glezan and Shepard, 1840). More of Rigdon’s work was reprinted in the eighth through tenth installments, published from July to September 1840. The series concluded with an eleventh installment in the October 1840 issue, featuring General ’s callous speech to the Saints after their surrender at , Missouri, in November 1838.A manuscript version of ’s Appeal to the American People, referred to as the “petition draft” titled “To the Publick” and endorsed by JS, Rigdon, and , was read to a conference of Saints in , Illinois, on 1 November 1839. The conference voted to approve its publication in the name of the church. and then collaborated to arrange for publication of the text in late 1839 and early 1840. Though no author is named on the title page, Rigdon was acknowledged as author when the pamphlet was advertised in the Times and Seasons in 1840 and 1841. JS and Elias Higbee had some expectation that funds from the sale of the publication would help defray costs of their trip to in late 1839. In July 1840, a second edition was printed by Shepard & Stearns in to raise funds for Orson Hyde and ’s mission to . (Crawley, Descriptive Bibliography, 103–104, 124.)Although many of the events reported in ’s pamphlet can be corroborated from other sources, his chronology is often inaccurate. (Consult the annotation in Histories, Volume 2 for correction to portions published as part of “A History, of the Persecutions.”) However, his account contains the text of several significant documents. Among these are JS’s 5 September 1838 affidavit concerning the 7 August 1838 visit to and those of and and regarding the massacre. Consequently, though in many respects Rigdon’s document is more advocacy than history, it offers access to some material not readily found elsewhere.
TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE:
AN ACCOUNT OF THE PERSECUTIONS
CHURCH OF LATTER DAY SAINTS;
and of the
BARBARITIES INFLICTED ON THEM BY THE INHABITANTS OF THE STATE OF .
BY AUTHORITY OF SAID CHURCH.
GLEZEN AND SHEPARD, STEREOTYPERS AND PRINTERS.
1840. [p. ]
At a conference of the Church of Latter Day Saints, held in , Illinois, on Friday, the first day of November, 1839, the Manuscript of the following History of said Church was read and approved of, and was duly authorized by a vote of said Conference, to be published.
|JOSEPH SMITH, Jr.,)||Presidents of said Church.|
, Clerk. [p. ]
TO THE PUBLIC.
In presenting the following narrative, to the American People, it was the intention of the , to present facts, and only facts. He does not pretend to be personally acquainted with all the things written in the following account, nor with but few of them, except those which took place from the 4th of April, 1838; but he has documents on hand, from those who were eye witnesses to the whole scene, from the commencement in , until the close.
From these documents, the greater part of which, have been attested under oath; and the remainder will be, as soon as the writers are called on for it, so that the public may rely on its truth. [p. ] It is only an extract from those documents, and a limited one too: If all the account had been detailed in full, it would have made this a large volume.
The was induced to undertake this work, on account of the many inquiries which were making, and the many false reports which had been put in circulation, about our persecutions in .
It is now presented to the public, claiming no merit but truth; but should it disabuse the public mind, and give it a fair understanding of the matters and things therein contained; and gratify the inquirer; the will have accomplished his object.
The work is, therefore, submitted to the public, by their humble servant,
THE . [p. 4]
AN APPEAL TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.
The “Latter Day Saints” commenced their settlements in , in August, 1831. The first settlement was made in , on the west line of the ; not far from the missionary station of the Rev. , a Baptist missionary among the Indians. At this time, was very thinly settled; the quarter part of it, the settlers were what is called in the western country, “squatters;” that is, persons who settle on the public lands without purchasing them. Some considerable part of had not come into market. On these lands considerable settlements had been made; cabins built, and some land cleared.
When the “Latter Day Saints” began to immigrate into the country, there was a good deal of uneasiness manifested by a certain portion of the settlers, at first; principally, by those who had settled on the public lands, lest the new settlers should be disposed to purchase, at the land sales, which were expected to take place that season, the lands on which they had made improvements; or enter such lands as might be subject to entry, that had been taken possession of. But this uneasiness gradually lessened, until it finally died away. The sales came on, purchases were made by every man as suited him; and no difficulty occured: every man went to building on, and improving his land, as seemed good to himself.
Shortly after the first settlement was made, a considerable tide of immigration set in, which continued to increase until the summer of 1833; by this time, the immigration of the saints was far greater than that of all others. This began to create great uneasiness; murmurings, and complainings were heard continually about it, and about the rapid improvements which were making in that . From murmurings they went to holding public meetings, to take measures to put a stop to the immigration, and not only put [p. 5] a stop to the immigration, but drive those out of the , who were settled there.
These meetings were public things, called and held in the face of the government, published in the public papers. At these meetings, they publicly declared that they would put the laws of the at defiance, in order to accomplish their object, as well as justice and humanity, which finally they did.
In order to justify themselves in violating the laws of both God and man, the laws, both of the State of and the , they had recourse to fabricating, and circulating the most foolish and senseless lies, that mortals could invent; thinking, by that means, to justify themselves before the public. Such as, the saints were building strong fortifications; bringing cannon and other military implements into the country; that wagons loaded with coffins were coming in great numbers, and that these coffins were full of ammunition and military stores—that the saints are conniving with the Indians, and stirring up the negroes to rebel against their masters, with a multitude of things of a similar character: which all tend to establish the ignorance and corruption of their authors. To such low and mean subterfuges, were the principal men of and vicinity, driven to accomplish an object at which humanity to the latest ages must recoil. We shall give the names of the principal actors in this scene of abomination, that the American people may hereafter know them.
After having, as they supposed, made a sufficient prepar[a]tion to accomplish their object, and fabricated and circulated through the medium of their public papers, a necessary quantity of lies to blind the public mind, (for they verily supposed, that all the American people were as destitute of truth and humanity, as themselves) they commenced their operations.
These things transpired, between the first of July and the middle of November, 1833. The mob made their attack, by tearing down houses and destroying property. A was torn down, the press broken, the type scattered through the streets; all the book work, papers, and materials that were in the office were destroyed, in all [p. 6] amounting to several thousand dollars. A store was broken open, the goods thrown into the street and trampled under foot. Mr. , one of the Bishops of the church, was taken from his house, with another man, into the public square, and there the mob attempted to strip him naked; to this he objected, and finally they agreed to let him keep on his shirt and pantaloons, and they tarred and feathered him, and the other man, whose name was . , a lawyer, was the leader in this business; and on that occasion boasted that his word was the law of the , and that the saints should leave it, or be put to death. So much for a would be honorable lawyer. A prosecution was entered against one of the men, who was taken in the very act of taking the goods, and trampling them under foot. The writ was obtained at the office of a man by name of , who was a justice of the Peace, or called so. When the man was brought for trial, though it was proven that he was taken in the very act of destroying the goods; he was acquitted, and no cause of action was found; but shortly afterwards, there was a writ issued from the same office, against those who prosecuted the said , for destroying the goods, for false imprisonment, and they were holden to bail for their appearance at the County court; and for the want of bail, they were thrown into jail. This, is a correct sample of the way the laws were administered in .
Before this banditti commenced the destruction of property, they appointed committees to go and wait on the saints, and order them out of the , under pain of death. The object of those warnings was, to make them go and leave all their property as prey to the mob. At which all the authorities of , from the down, winked, as will appear hereafter. While those committees were threatening the saints with death, if they did not leave the forthwith, and leave all their property a prey to them; they kept the public papers teeming with lies, and they found many papers in the country, ready to aid them in their abomination, by giving circulation to their lies and slanders. This, I must say, to the shame and disgrace of the editors, who have devoted their papers [p. 7] to so foul a business. The scheme of lying, so readily supported by the papers of the country, generally, was invented for the purpose of plundering, robbing, stealing, and driving a people from their homes, and taking their property as a prey to the freebooters who were ready to seize upon it, when the public papers had sufficiently aided them, to enable them to obtain their object without being punished for it.
After the mob had gotten all things sufficiently prepared, and the public mind, as they supposed, completely blinded, having been so well assisted by the public prints of the day, they commenced their operations in earnest, in every part of the . Tearing down houses; men were dragged out, and whipped in the most shocking manner, without regard to age: Of this number, were four revolutionary soldiers, over the age of seventy years, who had offered their lives for the liberty that their oppressors were enjoying; but they now, with sorrow, beheld the liberty for which they fought, torn from them, by the violence of those who were enjoying freedom at the expense of their blood and treasure. Widows also, from sixty to eighty years of age, whose husbands were among the number of the revolutionary patriots, were driven violently from their houses in that inclement season, by this ruthless banditti of wretches, worse than savages, and their property made common plunder, to gratify their rapacity; and those females at that advanced age, and at an inclement season of the year, had to wander in the open prairie, to seek a cover under the rocks, without a house to shelter, or a blanket to cover them, and all this, because they dared to differ from these their oppressors in matters of religion, and for no other cause. The was full of armed men, riding in large companies, from house to house, in every place where the saints were settled, abusing, driving and whipping in a most unmerciful manner, and insulting women brutally. After much abuse and destruction of property, and finding that there was to be no end to these outrages, the saints at last, had recourse to arms; but it was not till after they had petitioned the and authorities of the for aid and protection. was Governor and [p. 8] , Lieutenant Governor; the latter lived in , the seat of the mob, and County seat of . But no aid or protection could be had.
Having sought protection of the authorities of the , and obtained none, the saints at last had recourse to arms. After they took up arms in their own defence, several battles were fought, in which one of the saints was killed, and a number wounded. Two of the mob were killed, and several wounded. At last a number of them under the command of marched to , where a great multitude of the mob was collected for the purpose of giving them battle. , hearing of their intentions to give battle to the mob, organized the mob, and called them the Militia under the command of . On the arrival of , he was commanded to surrender his arms and those who were with him. This order, was given by the said ; this, they refused to do, until he, , gave the strongest assurances to and company that if they would, they should be protected, and return home in peace, and none should disturb them. After these assurances were given, they gave up their arms. But now, reader for the sequel!
Did these high-minded and honorable men comply with their covenant? no, indeed, but something very different! They seized on the guns and other arms as a prey; and have kept them as plunder to this day; and having the saints disarmed, they carried their violence to all kinds of shameful lengths; men, women and children, were driven from their houses in the night, barefoot and nearly naked. This was about the middle of November. The men were whipped and abused beyond all descripton. A man, by the name of Benjamin Putnam, was whipped to death; his body was taken up a day or two afterwards and buried. Others were whipped until they had to tie handkerchiefs round them, to keep their bowels from falling out. A man by the name of [Lyman] Leonard was knocked down in his house with a chair, and was beat on the head and other parts of the body, until the blood was running from him on the floor. His wife fearing lest they should kill him, ran and threw herself on him; begging for his life; but the [p. 9] brutal monsters, instead of regarding her tears and supplications, beat her with the same weapon, with which they were beating her husband, and they barely escaped with their lives. The women fled in all directions into the prairies and woods, and a greater part barefoot, and with but little clothing, being driven out in the night, many of them torn from their beds. In a short time, you could track them by the blood which ran from their feet. Wives were weeping and wailing, not knowing but their husbands were murdered; their children, with their lacerated and bleeding feet, were mourning and crying, asking for food but could get none! In this deplorable condition, they had to travel and sleep in the open prairies or under the rocks, in the month of November, without food or covering; and there ask and see what a kind Providence would do for them, while their robbers and plunderers were glutting themselves upon the food they had left in their houses; and gratifying their brutality, by throwing it to the beasts, and carrying it home for their own use, and that of their families, and by destroying the household stuff, or rather stealing it, while the little ones, whose fathers had laid it up carefully for their sustenance, were bewailing their condition in the open prairie without a morsel to comfort, or a blanket to cover them.
However incredible it may appear to a civilized people, it is a fact, that there were at one time, one hundred and ninety women and children, who crossed a prairie of nine miles, aided by three men only; the rest having been driven away by the violence of the mob. The saints being unarmed and the mob armed, they fell an easy prey to them.
The women and children, after crossing the prairie, travelled a number of miles, in all probability from twelve to fifteen, and then stopped and waited until their husbands and fathers found where they were, and got to them. They there built houses to winter in; but before they had continued long, the mob found where they were and went and drove them away, and burned their houses.
A company consisting of about two hundred, nearly all of them women and children, got to the , late in the afternoon, and could not get across that night. [p. 10] It commenced raining and freezing most violently; in this deplorable condition, some of them took shelter under some rocks, and the remainder of them, both small and great, had to lie out in the open prairie, with nothing but the heavens to cover them, while the storm beat upon them with great fury. Among the number, was a Mrs. Higbee, wife of John S. Higbee, from , who was very sick with a fever, and also had an infant at the breast. She was under the necessity of spending this night of storm, exposed to all its violence, having nothing but the earth to sleep on. After spending the night in this distressed situation, early in the morning, another Mrs. [Keziah String] Higbee, the wife of , was delivered of a babe, without any bed but the earth, or covering but the heavens.
There were many sick, who were thus inhumanly driven from their houses and had to endure all this abuse and suffering and seek homes where they could be found. The result was, that a number being deprived of the comforts of life, and the necessary attendance, died; many children were left orphans; wives, widows; and husbands widowers.
The mob, after thus abusing the people; the hundredth part of which is not told here; took possession of the farms of those whom they had thus driven from their homes, and all their cattle, horses, sheep and hogs; which amounted to many thousands; together with all their household stuff of every kind, amounting to many thousand dollars worth; and have forbid, under pain of death, any of them returning to get any of their property; and if any of them did attempt it and were discovered, they were whipped and otherwise abused: one or two who did attempt it, were nearly killed—they escaped with their lives, and no more!
There were in addition to the flocks and the herds which the mob took from the saints, large fields of corn, to the amount of many hundred acres; I might say thousands, all ready to harvest; which they took as their own. There were also many hundred acres of wheat, which had been sown, that they also took possession of; and keep them all to this day. After they had plundered the houses, [p. 11] robbed the henroosts, and carried off everything which was valuable, they burned the houses, amounting in all to upwards of two hundred; and then commenced a general destruction of the timber on the land. Some tracts which were well timbered, were soon stripped of every tree. Such of the farms as they did not occupy, they took all the rails from and used them for their own purposes. There were several thousand acres of land thus seized, on which improvements were made to a considerable extent, and the owners utterly forbid to enjoy them, and they have been compelled to sell them for no valuable consideration, while those usurpers were quietly enjoying the good of them. While these brutalities were going on, the public papers were constantly employed in giving publicity to the foulest lies that could be created.
While this mob was engaged in this course of plunder, for it was altogether a plundering and robbing business; there were outrages of the most extraordinary character committed by them, ever committed by human beings. The plans they laid, in order to plunder, were of the most extraordinary kind. They would serve writs on those whom they wished to plunder and have them thrown into jail, and then rob them of every thing they had about them; watches, money, and other valuables, and bear them off as plunder. In this business were employed some of the leading, (some, did I say) better say all the leading men of the .
Men were caught and tied to trees, and then shot at: but the heart sickens to tell all the abominations of this band of barbarians; for who but barbarians could be guilty of such deeds of cruelty? We wish it to be distinctly understood, that the and all the authorities of the , were acquainted with these cruelties; and no effort was made to bring the offenders to justice, or to have the property, thus taken, returned to the owners. The guns that they ordered to be given up by the authority of the , they keep until this day. In this, the government of the , has identified itself in the number of the plunderers, and become one with those villians. [p. 12]
The following are some of the persons engaged in this robbery:
Richard Fristo[e], County Judge, Judge and General of the Militia, and member of the Presbyterian church; ; Samuel Hale; , Esq.; Jones Flournoy; John Smith; —— Hensley, Esq.; , a lawyer; , Lawyer; Samuel C. Owens, lawyer; Reekman Childs, lawyer; Lewis Franklin; , Lieut. Governor; Rev. , Baptist missionary, and his son-in-law Likins [Johnston Lykins?]; Lovelady, Campbellite; —— Johnson; all of these Reverend divines, were among this band of plunderers. Many others were in the number whose names will be forthcoming at another time; we mention these, because they wished to be called gentlemen, men of humanity and piety, but we leave the public to form their own judgement.
Thus, desolated and robbed, the saints were left to seek homes where they could be found; while their enemies were pouring a flood of abuse after them, for the purpose of justifying themselves and hiding their iniquity from the gaze of that part of the public, who abhor mobocracy. The majority of them sought homes in , where they found rest for a little season, and a little season only. Very shortly after their arrival in , they began to purchase lands—made improvements—build mills and other machinery; and in a very short time, were beginning to enjoy the comforts of life. The immigration continued without any particular interruption, until they began to be numerous in the , and surrounding counties. This order of things continued until 1836, three years; there was no violence offered, but there were threatenings of violence. But in the summer of 1836, these threatenings began to assume a more serious form; from threats, public meetings were called, resolutions passed; and affairs assumed a fearful attitude. They began to arm themselves, and prepare for violence; threatening vengeance and destruction on all who did not leave the forthwith. had been successful; and seeing the authorities did not interfere, they boasted that they would not do it in this instance; and they could drive the saints [p. 13] as they pleased, and take their property; for they could get no law in . They not only said that they would drive them from the , but from the also: and it was seriously talked of in , that the saints must leave the ; and they carried it so far as to publish their intentions in the papers.
While these war-like preparations were going on by the mob; the saints also began to make preparations for defence. But it was then, as before, they did not do it until they had petitioned the for protection; when, instead of receiving the protection sought for, they received for answer, “Vox populi, Vox Dei.” “The voice of the people is the voice of God.” As much as to say, “If the people say you must go, you must go.” The before mentioned was still Governor. The saints, finding they had nothing to expect from the authorities, but a full sanction to the acts of the mob; had no alternative left, but to have recourse to arms.
Both parties began to assume a formidable attitude, so much so, that it gave alarm to some of the other citizens, who did not join with the mob: they interfered, and tried to stop, as they said, the effusion of blood. During this time, there was a body of armed men, from sixty to one hundred, who, in the face of the authorities of the country and all civil law, was ranging the , stopping movers, driving them back, whipping and abusing the saints wherever they could be caught; and threatening the chastity of females. , the circuit judge, was an eye witness to these base transactions, and under the solemnities of an oath, to put a stop to them: so were all the civil authorities of the country, yet, every man of them, regardless of his oath, either took an active part in aiding this band, or else winked at their doings. The operations of this mob, was from the first of May, till the last of August, 1836, from three to four months. They did a great deal of mischief; were the cause of many deaths: many persons were beaten most inhumanly; much property also was destroyed; families that were moving into the country, were sto[p]ped, many of them driven back, and compelled to live in their wagons until houses could be obtained; and when obtained, they were in sickly [p. 14] places; the consequence of which was, that many, not only sickened but died.
In , it was the same as in ; the authorities refused to interfere, and let the mob range uncontrolled, and commit all the outrages they pleased; and so far from any punishment, they were honored and cherished for it, and that by the , the Judges and the Justices of the Peace; many of whom were leaders in it. An attempt was made to prosecute two men, one was by the name of Hayden, the other by the name of Oldham; who met a young man on the road, by the name of Charles Hubbard, and beat him in a most cruel manner! An aged man by the name of Lewis Scott, seeing the abuse, entered a prosecution against them; but when the fellows were brought for trial, the court acquitted them on the ground that there were only two persons engaged in it. The fact of the abuse was never denied; but , yes, reader, the worthy , decided that there was no cause of action; because there were not more than two persons engaged in it. So much for this righteous Judge. I give this as a sample of the manner of which the laws were executed in , under the jurisdiction of , and his faithful satelite and attorney, , who has since, for this, and like acts of legality, been appointed Judge of a circuit court.
The matter being fairly put to the test, that the civil authorities of were destitute of principle—of a sense of honor—of regard to their oaths, and of respect for their laws; the saints had to submit to their fate; while they were whipped, and again driven from their homes.
The mediating party which had risen up, appointed a committee to correspond with a committee of the saints, in order to find a location for the saints to settle, and again remove from the midst of their enemies. Some short time previous to this, a number of them had made some considerable purchases of lands, on a stream called , in the territory of . The two committees started to seek out a place for the removal, when they came to the tract of land which had been purchased. It was agreed that, that should be the place of settlement. So the settlement commenced immediately. This was in the August of 1836. [p. 15]
By this removal, the saints lost nearly all they had obtained during the previous three years, which they had resided in ; besides much abuse at the hand of the wretches who had risen up in arms against them. At the succeeding session of the legislature, there was a new county laid off, embracing the before mentioned tract of land, called . A town was soon laid off and incorporated, called “;” and in one year, there was one hundred and fifty houses built,—besides, nearly the whole was entered, or at least, that part of it, which could be cultivated; as there was a great scarcity of timber in the .
In all these operations, there was no pretence to law, they openly declared that they put the law at defiance, saying, “we are the law, and what we say is the constitution.”
The saints being once more settled; they commenced improving the country, which was so great a contrast to the general idleness and lazy habits of the Missourians, which any person with the least discernment could readily discover. This, soon began to excite the jealousies of the surrounding Counties; for nothing can so much excite the jealousy of that people, nor awaken their indignation so much, as to have an intelligent, industrious, and enterprising people, settle any where in the , where they live. Threatenings were again heard from , , Clinton, Platt and Counties, that they were going to raise another mob and come and drive the citizens out of . The immigration was so rapid, and so great, that in the space of eighteen months after the first settlement in , there was not room enough for the people in that , and they were under the necessity of seeking habitations some where else; and a number went into , which was north of , Soon after the settlements commenced in , a mob made its appearance, forbidding them to settle there under pain of death. However, this was not regarded, and the settlements which were made in different parts of the , were increasing daily, until one or two whole townships were entered, besides large bodies of land, [p. 16] entered in other parts of the , in such parts of the as had come into market; besides, a large number of improvements were bought, under the expectation of getting pre-emption rights. The mob spirit which first made its appearance in , for a season seemed to sleep, and there was no hindrance offered to the settlements, which were increasing very fast. All parties remained quiet; many of those, who had been engaged in the first mob in , came forward and made confession of their wrongs; and all, so far as was concerned, was peace: but , , Clinton and Platt kept up a continual threatening, until it could not be borne any longer: and the saints openly declared that it should cease, for they would suffer it no longer. No person should come into the streets of as they had been accustomed to do, and there threaten the people with mobs. This had the desired effect; it ceased, and no persons ventured to do so any more. But the before mentioned counties kept up a continual threatening at home, whenever they saw any of the people of .
This order of things continued without any violence, until the election which took place in August of 1838. The saints had been in from the Aug. of 1836, making two years.
Threatenings were making that they should not vote at the election. Not only was it threatened that they should not vote in , but there were insinuations thrown out, that there would be a mob in to prevent the people there from voting. There were no great fears, however, entertained that any attempt of the kind would be made. The election at last came on; and the saints went to discharge what they considered, not only a privilege, but a duty also. One of the candidates for representative in , was by the name of , a very ignorant, ambitious creature, who was determined to carry his election if possible, and that at all hazards, whether the people were willing to elect him or not. Those who were not willing to vote for him, he determined by the force of mob law, to prevent from voting.
It may not however be amiss here to give an account [p. 17] of this said ’s maneuvres during the electioneering campaign. He was, at the time, the Colonel of the Militia in , and had been the leader in the first mob which had been raised to prevent the saints from making settlements in , in the first instance, of which mention has been made. When the electioneering campaign had fairly commenced, great exertions were made by the different candidates and their friends, to obtain the votes of the saints; each man, in his turn, making application. , like the rest, made application also. , who was a man of influence among the saints, was the one to whom said made overtures. , knowing that had always been an enemy to the saints, took the liberty to ask about his former hostilities, and his previous attempt to drive them from their homes; as well as many abusive things which he had said. declared that the never had any intention of driving them from their homes; he only tried to scare them, and if he could not, he intended to let them alone: and as to the many abusive things which he had said; he said “they were very wrong; he had been deceived by false reports, without being acquainted with the people; and, since he had become acquainted with them, he found that they were first rate citizens.” And by many such sayings, he attempted to gain votes: but the saints, all the time knowing that he was corrupt man, and every way disqualified for the office after which he was struggling, would not be induced to vote for him at all. This he fully understood before the election, and made his arrangements accordingly: having his satellites at the election, to aid him in executing his purpose, in preventing the saints from voting. In the early part of the day, at the election, made a speech; the object of which was, to excite the indignation of the people, to such a degree, that he could get a sufficient number to join the mob, to keep the saints from voting, if they attempted it. In this speech, he used the most abusive language that he was the master of; denouncing the saints in round terms, in a most ridiculous manner. Having his party ready, at the end of the speech, they began to throw out the their threats, that none of the G—d d—d Mor [p. 18]mons, to use their own language, should vote. These threatenings began to assume a very serious tone, very soon. One kept exciting another, and drinking very freely, until a man by the name of Richard Weldon, commonly called Dick Weldon, attacked a man by the name of , who was but just able to be about, after a very dangerous fit of sickness. The said Weldon, began to insult in a most insolent manner; , very mildly told him, that he did not wish to have any difficulty with him, or any other person; the other swore that the Mormons were no more fit to vote than the d—d niggers, and that he would knock him down; and made an attempt to strike him: A man by the name of Perry Durfee, being near them, caught Weldon’s hand, and kept him from striking . This, was no sooner done, than Durfee was knocked down, and a number of men commenced beating him with clubs, boards, and any thing they could get. Durfee cried for help: several men ran into the midst of the crowd, to get Durfee out of their hands, for the cry was, “kill him, kill him, d—n him.” The names of those who rushed into the crowd, were Jackson Steward; ; Henry Omsted [Harvey Olmsted]; Abram Nelson; and one other man by the name of Nelson. They succeeded in saving the life of Durfee, but not until they had knocked down, some twelve or fifteen men. A large number of from twelve to twenty rushed on to Steward, crying kill him, God d—n him, kill him. They had dirks and clubs, and other weapons; one of them dirked him under the shoulder blade; he called aloud for assistance, as he fled from them; and they were on the very eve of stabbing him. A man named , seized a billet of wood, and ran furiously upon them, knocking down all he came to, until the rest fled before him, and he rescued Steward out of their hands, having with his own hands whipped some twenty men. The total number of the saints in this affray did not exceed ten; that of the mob, from fifty to a hundred.
The mob then despatched a number of their gang to get guns and ammunition, swearing that they would kill all the Saints they could find, or drive them out of , sparing neither men, women, or children. The [p. 19] saints left the ground and went home: few if any of them having voted.
Having in possession several affidavits concerning the election in , we here insert them.
|State of ,)||ss.|
|County of .)|
Before me, , one of the Justices of the County Court, within and for the County of aforesaid, personally appeared , who, being duly sworn, deposeth and saith: That on the 6th day of August, in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and thirty eight, in the town of , in the County of , and aforesaid, that at the election in the aforesaid, one did make a speech, at said election; in the which, he represented the heads of the Church of Latter Day Saints, as being liars, Counterfeiters, and scoundrels; and that the members of said Church, were dupes; and not too good to take a false oath, on any common occasion; that they would steal their property, and that their property he did not consider safe; and that he was opposed to their settling there, and ever would be: And sundry other things, which were calculated to inflame the minds of those present: from which time, there appeared to be much excitement against the saints, and some hard sayings. One Richard Weldon said that the saints were not allowed to vote, in , no more than the damned Negroes: and the said Weldon made an attempt to strike said deponent, who stepped out of the way: In the second attempt to strike, one Mr. [Perry] Durfee, a Mormon, stept in, and prevented him, holding his arm; and immediately, about five or six of those excited against the Mormons, commenced holding and beating said Durfee, with clubs and boards, saying kill him, kill him, God damn him, kill him: immediately after which, the fight commenced on both sides, with, and without clubs. One of the Mormons, so called, by the name of [Jackson] Steward, received a cut with a knife or dirk. And further, the said deponent saith; there was, as he considered, no insult offered to said Weldon before he attempted to strike; and that the conversation immediately previous to his attempting to strike, was, that deponent said [p. 20]
to Weldon, “that we would give no man an insult; we will use every man well, and are determined to be used well.” And further, this deponent saith not.
Sworn and subscribed to, this fifth day of September, A. D. 1838.
(Signed) , One of the Justices of the County Court.
|State of ,)||ss.|
|County of :)|
Before me, , one of the Justices of the County Court, within and for the aforesaid: Personally appeared, and James Nelson; who being duly sworn according to law, deposeth and saith, “that the aforesaid deposition of , relative to the aforesaid transaction, of the affray in , on the day of election; with all the circumstances, and conversation mentioned therein; are substantially true, to the best of our knowledge: and that we, the said deponents, were standing within three or four feet of said , when said conversation took place, and said affray began:” and further, the deponents saith not.
Sworn and subscribed, this 5th day of September, A. D. 1838.
(Signed) , J. C. C. C. C.
|State of ,)||ss.|
|County of .)|
Before me, , one of the Justices of the County Court, within and for the aforesaid, personally appeared , Abraham Nelson, Edmund Nelson, John Daley, and William W. Patten; who being duly sworn according to law, deposeth and saith; that the aforesaid statement made by , in his deposition, of the late affray in , on the day of election, concerning the speech of , and the begin [p. 21]
ing of the said affray; are substantially true to the best of our knowledge.
WILLIAM W. PATTEN.
Sworn to, and subscribed, this 5th day of September, A. D. 1838.
(Signed) , J. C. C. C. C.
After the election, threatenings were made in the most daring manner, declaring that the Saints should leave the ; that they would raise a mob and drive them out, and take all their lands and other property as spoil. Indeed this was the secret which was working in their hearts all the time; and what they were determined to do. It was the property of the Saints, they wanted, and what they were determined to have. They boasted that the authorities of the , would not interfere to assist the Mormons, as they called them. They said it had been fairly proven, in the case of both and counties, that the Government would not assist them; and they said, they might as well drive them off and take their property as not; for they could not help themselves. With such language did they provoke one another, to acts of violence.
It will be seen by the above affidavits, that had prohibited the Saints from voting, when they resided there; and this circumstance tended to encourage others in their wickedness. All these things were done in the face of the authorities; and it will be seen how far they regarded their oaths of office.
, the candidate for senator and who was elected, came to , either the evening before the election commenced, or the first morning of the election. He staid that day, and until the next morning. Early, the second morning of the election, he said that a gentleman, who lived in , had left late the preceding evening, ( was the County seat of , and the place where the election was held) and that there had been a serious affray, at the election in ; that the mob had tried to stop the saints [p. 22] from voting; and in order to accomplish their object, had killed two of them, and their bodies were lying on the ground, and that they would not let their friends have them for burial; and that one other man, had fled into the woods, badly wounded; supposed to be dead, as he had not been heard of, after he had disappeared among the bushes. This created a great feeling, and of course much excitement. A physician, who resided in , by the name of , called for volunteers, declared that he would have the bodies of those persons who had been killed, and bury them; and have the man that was lost, or die in the attempt. The report coming from , a resident of the , and the successful candidate for the State senate, no doubt was entertained of its truth. A company was raised consisting, if we recollect right, of about seventeen persons, who left , for the express object of getting the bodies of the dead. Through the course of the day, there was probably to the number of fifty persons, all going to enquire after their friends, for it was unknown to the people of , who of their friends were killed; for no doubt was entertained, but some of them were dead.
When the company arrived there, they found the report not true: there had been a great difficulty; but no lives lost that was known of. But there was nothing heard but threatening—men were passing through the village, which had been laid off, by the saints, threatening them, that in three days they should all be driven out, and the property taken as spoil. It was reported, and that by themselves, too, that there was a large mob gathering at Millport, a small village in ; and that , formerly a Justice of the Peace, and had at the election, been elected one of the County Judges, was at the head of it. It was thought best, seeing he was a peace officer, to go and inquire into the affair. This said , had, a short time before this, sold his possessions to one of the saints, by the name of , and had received two hundred dollars, as part of the payment. A committee was appointed, consisting of five or six persons; the names of three of them, were , , and ; the names of the [p. 23] others not recollected. They accordingly went to the house of , who received them unfriendly, looked upon their visit as a high insult, and refused to give them any satisfaction. This, tended to confirm the report, that he was head of a mob—it created some uneasiness. Quite a number of persons, in the course of the day, went to a spring of water which was near his house, to drink, and also to get water for their horses. Dr. , and a number of others, went into his house and again interrogated him respecting the mob, and some angry words passed between them. , sent for Mr. Joseph Smith Jr., who was at the spring, to come into the house; accordingly he came in, the matter was talked over; denied having any thing to do with the mob, and said he never would have; and that as a peace officer, he felt himself bound, as much to do justice to the saints, as to other citizens, and he would do it. Mr. Smith then asked him, if he had any objections to signing a paper to that effect, so that it might be had for the benefit of those who entertained fears on this matter. He said he had not, accordingly he wrote the following note. We give it here without any alteration in orthography, or composition.
“I , a justice of the peace of , do hereby sertify to the people coled Mormin, that he is bound to suport the constitution of this , and of the , and he is not attached to any mob nor will not attach himself to any such people. And so long as they will not molest me, I will not molest them.
This the 8th day of August, 1838.
(Signed) , J. P.”
After this transaction, the company returned to the village, where many of the saints lived, called , to the house of Col. . Shortly after their return to the house of , three presons came from Millport—the whole matter was talked over, and it was agreed that there should be a committee chosen from among the people of Millport and vicinity; and also a committee appointed of the inhabitants of , to meet at , and have all the affairs completely understood, and have peace. The committees accordingly met. On the part of the people of Millport, [p. 24] there appeared , senator elect; , representative elect; , clerk of the Circuit Court, and several others, names not known. On the part of the people of , were , , , . At this meeting, the strongest assurances were given by both parties, that there should be no hostilities commenced on either part—that they all would abide the laws, and support them; and that no depredations of any kind should be committed on either part: and after the strongest, possible assurances, each party returned home.
But while these pretended negotiations were going on, a certain portion of the mob of was running into the different Counties, telling the people, that they were driven from their houses, with their families, and that the Mormons were destroying all their property; and calling on them for help. , , and some others, ran to , and there made oath before ; the precise oath, as I have not a copy of it, I cannot here insert; but the substance of it was, that he had been compelled by a body of armed men which had surrounded him, under pain of death, to sign an instrument of writing, which was unlawful for any man to sign. He also said that Joseph Smith Jr., and , were part of the company. The said , immediately issued a writ, for Messrs. Smith and ; it was put into the hands of the Sheriff of to execute, and without his ever attempting to serve it, it was reported that they had refused to be taken; and that the Militia must be called out to take them, for the laws must be kept! But instead of calling out the Militia, they went to raising a mob; and they were gathering into in multitudes, if their own report was to be credited; but without any legal authority whatever. Seeing these unlawful transactions going on, and the pretext, all the time, that the before mentioned persons would not be taken, Messrs. Smith and , sent for and stated to him, the matter as it was, and requested him to come and investigate the whole case. This, agreed to do; and accordingly the case was investigated by him, and [p. 25] the reports found to be false—the fellows themselves, being witnesses.
I here give an affidavit taken during the time of this excitement
|State of ,)||ss.|
Before me, , one of the Justices of the County Court, within and for the County of aforesaid. Personally came, Joseph Smith Jr., who being duly sworn according to law, deposeth and saith, that on the 7th day of August 1838, being informed that an affray had taken place in , at the election in the town of , in which two persons were killed, and one person was badly wounded, and fled to the woods to save his life; all of which were said to be persons belonging to the Society of the church of Latter Day Saints: And further, said informant stated that those persons who committed the outrage would not suffer the bodies of those who had been killed to be taken off the ground and buried. These reports, with others; one of which was that the saints had not the privilege of voting at the polls, as other citizens—another was, that those opposed to the saints, were determined to drive them from : And also, that they were arming, and strengthening their forces and preparing for battle; and that the saints were preparing and making ready to stand in self-defence. These reports having excited the feelings of the citizens of and vicinty, I was invited by and some others, to go out to , to the scene of these outrages; they having previously determined to go out and learn the facts concerning said reports. Accordingly, some of the citizens, myself among the number, went out, two, three, and four in companies, as they got ready. The reports and excitement continued until several of those small companies, through the day, were induced to follow the first; who were all eager to learn the facts concerning this matter: We arrived, in the evening, at the house of , about three miles from , the scene of the reported outrages: Here we learned the truth concerning the said affray; which had been considerably exaggerated; yet, there had been a serious out [p. 26]
rage committed. We there learned that the mob was collected at Millport, to a considerable number; and that was at their head, and were to attack the saints the next day, at the place where we then were, called , this report, we were inclined to believe might be true, as this , who was said to be their leader, had been, but a few months before, engaged in endeavoring to drive those of the society who had settled in that vicinity, from the . This fact, had become notorious from the fact that said had personally ordered several of the said society to leave the . The next morning we despatched a committee to said ’s, to ascertain the truth of these reports, and to know what his intentions were: and, as we understood he was a Peace officer, we wished to know what we might expect from him. The committee returned in a short time, with an unfavorable report—that , instead of giving them any assurance of preserving the peace, insulted them, and gave them no satisfaction. Being desirous to know the feelings of for myself, and being in want of good water; and understanding that there was none nearer than ’s spring; myself, with several others, mounted our horses and rode up to ’s fence. , with one or two others who had rode ahead, went into ’s house; myself and some others went to the spring for water. I was shortly after, sent for by , and invited into the house, being introduced to by , wished me to be seated: We then commenced a conversation, on the subject of the late difficulties, and present excitement. I found quite hostile in his feelings, towards the saints; but he assured us he did not belong to the mob, neither would he take any part with them; but said he was bound by his oath, to support the constitution of the , and the laws of the State of . Deponent then asked him, if he would make said statements in writing, so as to refute the arguments of those who had affirmed that he, () was one of the leaders of the mob. , answered in the affirmative, accordingly he did so, which writing is in possession of the deponent. [p. 27]
The deponent further saith, that no violence was offered to any individual, in his presence, or within his knowledge; and that no insulting language was given by either party; except on the part of Mrs. [Mary Morgan] Black, who, while was engaged in making out the above named writing (which he made with his own hand) gave to this deponent, and others of the society, highly insulting language, and false accusations, which were calculated in their nature, to greatly irritate, if possible, the feelings of the bystanders belonging to said society, in language like this; being asked by the deponent, if she knew any thing in the Mormen people, derogatory to the character of gentlemen, she answered in the negative, but said she did not know, but the object of their visit, was to steal something from them. After had executed the writing deponent asked if he had any unfriendly feelings towards the deponent; and if he had not treated him genteelly. He answered in the affirmative; deponent then took leave of said , and repaired to the house of . The next day we returned to . And further this deponent saith not.
(Signed) JOSEPH SMITH, Jr.
Sworn to, and subscribed, this fifth day of September, A. D. 1838.
(Signed) , J. C. C. C. C.
But the case, having undergone a legal investigation, had no tendency to stop the operations of the mob; but it tended clearly to show how much sincerity there was, in their pretended zeal, for the laws; for in open and vowed violation of them, they went on to collect together, and to gather into , from , Corrill [Carroll], , Clinton, and Platt; and some from : Openly declaring that they would put the law at defiance, and the saints should be driven out. They, in the meantime took their families away from their houses under the pretence of fear: and ran through the country, from County to County, telling how they were driven from their homes—got up County meetings in the surrounding Counties, particularly , , Corrill, and . At these meetings, would be seen preachers of the Gospel, as they called [p. 28] themselve[s], drunkards, profane swearers, and all forming one company, and all declaring their determination, to aid their friends, if necessary. In one of these mob meetings in was seen , States Attorney, and now, one of the Judges: also, , who would wish to be called a respectable lawyer. At these meetings the most slanderous resolutions would be passed, that a people, so basely ignorant as they were could invent. The mob, thus encouraged by judges, lawyers, priests, &c., kept gathering in large numbers. The roads were infested with them; companies of armed men, were passing and repassing in every direction, while a great majority of the principal men of the country, if they did not join the mob, used no exertions, to prevent its operations. Among the rest, that headed a gang of these ruffians, was , who was the same season elected to the State Senate. He had but a short time before, been converted, and united with the baptist church.
The whole body made its way to . On ’s arrival, the saints were summoned to send a flag into his camp, forthwith, and receive terms at his hand. They however, paid no attention to the mandate of this new potentate. After they had, as they supposed, got sufficiently strong, they commenced taking cattle, corn, &c., to feed their army. Cattle, horses and grain, were taken with a liberal hand; and they publicly boasted, that they “lived on Mormon beef, and Mormon corn.” The saints dare not leave their homes, for if they did, they were stopped on the road,—they were shot at—their horses taken from them, and to all appearance, they would be ruined. All the time, the mob had their runners, telling that their wives and children were driven from their homes; that their fences were thrown down, and the Mormons were destroying all they had: Their wives and children, were either in the camp, or else sent off to some of their friends in the adjoining Counties: and all this, they pretended was through fear. But, to certain of their friends, they said their object in so doing was, to keep the public ignorant of their real design; for they did not [p. 29] wish their women and children there, when they drove the Mormons out, lest they might get hurt. The saints were all the time, making application to the authorities of the country, to put down the mob. Messengers after messengers were sent to the Military officers, and to the Judge of the Court to get them to send to the , if necessary, and put an end to the ravages of this banditti: and after much exertion, and much labor, at last, the Judge ordered out the militia. was ordered out as the commander-in-chief; being a Major General. Brigadier Generals, and , were both ordered out with their brigades. They put their forces under orders, and took up their line of march for —the scene of trouble.
On their arrival, they took a position between where the mob was encamped, and . Instead, however, of these generals, which was their duty to have done, going and arresting this band of plunderers and murderers, which they truly were; and having them forthwith brought to justice; they went to tampering with them. The mob complained to them, that their property had been stolen and destroyed, by the saints. The officers went to their houses, which they had evacuated, and found some of them open, and all their property in them, as they left it, and nothing disturbed. They continued the investigation, until they became satisfied that if any of their (the mob’s) property was taken, they took it themselves, to raise a false alarm; or at least, the officers, all said so. The mob openly and fearlessly declared to them that “they lived on Mormon beef and Mormon corn.” The saints required of the officers, that they should be arrested and brought to justice, for plundering their property; unlawfully assembling to drive peaceable citizens from their homes; and for threatening their lives, and keeping them in fear; in open violation of the laws of the . When these things were pressed upon them, they excused the matter, by saying that their troops were so mutinous and rebellious they dare not venture to do it. The course they took, to quell the mob, however, was a singular one: and if those gentlemen think, that in doing as they did, they discharged their duty; and can feel as if their oath of [p. 30] office required no more at their hand; we have no more to say, but will let the sovereign people give their decision, and the God of Eternity dispose of them, and the matter; as seemeth wisdom and justice in his eyes.
After tampering with them as we before stated, and after having the fullest evidence that could be given; even that of their own testimony; that they were a gang of thieves and plunderers, they took , the reputed leader of the gang, and united him and his company with their troops and called the Militia, just as had done with the mob, in : and after this maneuver, disbanded them, and sent them home, as if they had been Militia regualarly called out.
It would take a volume larger than our present purpose will admit to tell all the outrages, committed by this banditti of plunderers; for it was precisely with them, as it had been with the mobs of and counties. Corn fields were laid open by them to the destruction of beasts, and carried off in wagon loads to feed their horses: cattle were killed in multitudes. There were one hundred head of cattle, belonging to the saints, which were missing, and have never been obtained until this day, nor heard of. Horses, also were taken, that belonged to them a great number of them, and have not been obtained since. Some of them have since been heard of but the lives of the owners have been threatened if they offered to take them, or even to go where they were. People passing civilly along the road, were stopped, insulted and abused, out of all bearing; and not only insulted and abused, but plundered. Families that were moving were prevented from going to their places. Bodies of armed men were passing and repassing; not only through , but the adjoining Counties in open violation of the laws; committing depredations, and abusing civil citizens, and that in the face of the authorities of the ; the having full knowledge of it, yet, the transgressors went unpunished. And when the Militia, under the before mentioned generals, went to quell them, all that was done, was to make Milita out of them, and disband them, and send them home to enjoy the plunder which they had taken; and to gratify themselves with rehearsing to their [p. 31] associates, acts of violence and plunder, and boasting of it, and that publicly. There was not the the first effort made to restore the property, they had stolen, nor pay for the cattle they had killed, though the civil authorities were called upon time, and again to do so; and at all times, when called on to do so, replied, that it was in vain to undertake it, for there could not be a jury found that would do the saints justice, and it was in vain to sue, for they would obtain nothing. Thus being put off, from time to time, the saints had to sit down and submit to their fate.
Here, probably, would be as suitable a place as any, to notice one circumstance, which goes far, to prove the the apathy which reigned in the civil authorities, and their unwillingness to do the saints justice. The truth is, the civil officers, were as much to blame for the outrages of the mob, as the mob was; because they gave them lenity to do so.
There was in a quantity of arms, from forty to fifty stand. They were in the care of a man by the name of Pollard, known by the title of Capt. Pollard. While this mob was collecting in , being scarce of arms, they went to the place where those arms were deposited, and took them, whether with, or without the consent of Pollard, we know not, and were carrying them off to . In going from to , they had to pass through a corner of . The civil authorities of , hearing of the circumstance, sent the Sheriff of the , to intercept them in passing through the . This the sheriff effected: arrested the persons carrying the guns, and brought them to , for trial. The trial came on—the facts were all proven, that the guns had been taken by one of the men who was then in custody, and they were taking them to , to arm the mob that was then collecting in : and it was also proven, that the mob was collecting for the purpose of driving the Saints from their homes.
After the arrest and trial, a letter was sent to , the Circuit Judge; informing him of the facts, and asking his advice, how to dispose of both the prisoners and the guns. Accordingly, when ’s [p. 32] army was on their march to , they passed through . demanded the prisoners; they were accordingly given up. He said he had the authority of to do so. They were marched off with the troops and set at liberty, after they had been convicted at a court of inquiry, and holden to bail for their appearance, at the Circuit Court. Thus were the laws of the land put at defiance, to save from punishment, a mob[b]er and plunderer, and that, by the judge of the Circuit Court, who was bound by oath, to do otherwise.— There were three persons arrested, the principal of which was , the others were only hired in his service.
This arrest took place on the 9th day of Sept. 1838, on the first day of the week, and it was in the same week that Generals , and , went with their troops to . It was during the operation of this mob, the saints had a fair opportunity of trying the honesty of the civil officers of . An old gentleman from , by the name of Hoops, was moving into . He had to pass through Millport, the residence of the principal leaders of the mob. , whose name has been mentioned before, stopped his team forcibly in the road, abused and insulted the family. Mr. Hoops, was an entire stranger in the : he was detained a number of hours before he could get away from them. The old man went to a Justice of the Peace, and got a States Warrant for him, gave it to an officer, and had it served on him as they said, and had a day appointed for the trial.— When the day came, was not there, but another man was permitted to answer for him; and after the witnesses were all sworn, and the facts of the unlawful detention proven, the justice pronounced, no cause of action. , in the meantime, had gone to Corrill [Carroll] County, to join another mob, which had met, to drive out a settlement of the saints which had settled in that County. The name of the justice was Covington. It was found that in every County in upper , the law[s] would not be put in force against the mob. The civil officers would not regard their oaths, but in open violation of [p. 33] them, would acquit the mob, notwithstanding, the mob would boast of their crimes in their presence. Up till this time, there was not a military or civil officer in , who had been called upon to quell this gang of plunderers, that would abide by his oath of office; from the down. When the civil officers were called upon, they would give decisions, the most barefaced violations of law, ever given by mortals; so much so, that they knew they were violating their oaths, when they did it. When the military were called upon, instead of bringing the mob to justice; they would call them Militia; which could be for no other purpose, but to keep them from the punishment justly due to their crimes. After the mob had been honorably dismissed as Militia, and ordered home, they took up their line of march directly to , in Corrill County, to drive out a settlement of the saints in that place. The history of which settlement we shall hereafter give.
Part of the mob which was at was from Corrill County. Their principal leader, was , commonly called . He was a Presbyterian Preacher. There was another Presbyterian Preacher with the Corrill County mob, by the name of Hancock. After the mob had departed for Corrill County; the inhabitants of that had belonged to the mob, began to make proposals to the saints, either to sell or buy. Two committees were appointed for this purpose, one on each part: after some arrangements in relation to the matter, the committee on the part of the saints, agreed to buy out all the possessions which the mob had in , and purchases were making of their lands and crops (the land consisted in pre-emption rights, as the land in that part of the had not as yet come into market) every day, and payment made, until there was some twenty-five thousand dollars worth of property bought from the mob, in improvements and crops. While these operations were going on, the mob would occasionally boast, that when they had got payment for their lands and crops, they would rise up, and drive the saints out and keep both their lands and their crops. They also sold a large quantity of hogs, some [p. 34] cattle and sheep and other property. These threatenings were making continually, but the saints did not however, entertain any great fears of their doing so, but the sequel will show, that their threats were real.
While the mob was operating thus in , there were scattering families in other Counties which had to suffer violence also, at the hand of their neighbors. In , a family by the name of Lathrop, who lived on a farm which they had purchased from a man by the name of James Weldon, was attacked, Mr. Lathrop was driven from home: his wife and some of his family were sick: after he was driven away, one of his children died, and his wife was there alone and laying very sick; and there were twenty-five or thirty armed men around the house, threatening her husband’s life, if he attempted to come home. In this situation Mrs. Lathrop lay without attendence, surrounded by a body of armed ruffians: and while in this situation, her child died, and her husband dare not return to comfort her. Her own situation at the time being delicate; and terrified by the mob, her condition was afflicting in the extreme. The mob took and buried her child. A body of armed men was sent by the authorities to relieve her. They arrived at the place and found the mob there, the most of whom fled at their approach. They took the woman and her goods and family which remained, and brought her off with them, with another family by the name of Jackson. Mr. Jackson had also been driven from his family. Mrs. Lathrop survived the abuse but a very short time. There were also scattering families of the saints in , and other Counties, who were severely threatened, and some left the country out of fear, at the sacrifice of much property.
We have already mentioned, that after the mob had been turned into Militia, and disbanded as such, they went to Corrill County to attack a settlement of the saints in that place. The mob in Corrill County, began to assemble on the first of October 1838. We are not able to state the precise day; but it was as early as the first week of the month. We will now leave th[e] affairs of , and the other Counties, to give an acconnt of [p. 35] the settlement in Corrill: for the history of the others which remain, is identified with the history of this settlement, and the things which befel it.
Some time in the last week in March 1838, a man by the name of , who was a large proprietor in the town platt of , on the , arrived at . He was the bearer of a letter from a Mr. , who had been a merchant in Corrillton [Carrollton], the county seat of Corrill County, but at the time he wrote this letter, was living within a few miles of , having purchased a large tract of land at that place; say some fourteen hundred acres. The object of ’s visit, and the letter of which he was the bearer, was to get some of the saints, to go to , and buy a part of the town platt, and aid in building it up. was acquainted with many of the people of . During the first visit of , there was nothing done in the matter. At this time, we were on our way, with our family, to ; going there for the purpose of making a home. On the evening of the 2d day of April, stopped for the night, at the house of a man by the name of Morrison, on Turkey Creek. There was the said , who had also put up for the night, returning home from . He found out who we were, and then told us that he had been to ; and what he had been after; and also solicited our assistance, in getting some of our people to take part in building up the town of . Sometime afterwards, , came on the same errand, and it was not till after repeated solicitations and assurances of all the assistance that we needed in case of any difficulty, that there was any disposition manifested on the part of the people of , to comply with their request: However, after repeated solicitations, and strong assurances given of the advantages of the place, and the facilities which it would afford to the settlements making in the Upper , to have a town, and of course a landing place on the river; at length a man by the name of , and one by the name of , went to examine the place. It was in June 1838, that they went to make the purchase. After examining the place, they purchased one half of the [p. 36] town platt, and agreed with , from whom they purchased, to move there with their families as soon as they conveniently could, in order to commence building up the place. Accordingly in July following, they moved to . Soon after their arrival a settlement began to be made. The saints at the time, were immigrating into the country, in considerable numbers, and a portion of them stopt at . Some, purchased farms in the vicinity, others, bought property in the town, and by the middle of October there were as many as seventy families in the town, and the immediate neighborhood. They had bought and paid, for considerable property, and were making arrangements to erect buildings and other conveniences for their comfort.
Some short time after the settlement first began, there was a mob meeting called at Corrillton, the county seat of Corrill County, and resolutions passed, of a very treasonable character. The proceedings of this meeting, were published in the public papers. They there resolved to drive the saints out of the County, regardless of consequences. A committee was appointed to go and warn them of their danger; and to demand of them, that they leave the County forthwith. All these transactions were public, and perfectly known to the authorities of the country; but not the most distant attempt was made to bring any of them to justice. In consequence of the apathy of the government, the mob went on to holding meeting after meeting—passing resolution after resolution, and threatening the saints with death, unless they would leave their homes and property, and go out of the County. These proceedings were all public and notorious. This mob was led by two Presbyterian preachers; one by the name of , called ; the other by the name of Hancock. They did not attempt to charge the saints with crime, it was their religion, and their religion only, to which they took exception.
This banditti went and joined the mob, when they commenced their operations, after the election; and when they were turned into Militia by , , and ; and disbanded as troops regu [p. 37] larly called out; the whole posse went directly from to attack the settlement of ; as well as the scattering families through Corrill County. It was sometime about the last of Sept. 1838, that they left for Corrill, threatening vengeance to the saints, without regard to sex or age.
for a little season, by this means was free from them. It was during this time, that the people of , made sale of their lands and other property to the saints, all the time saying to their particular friends, that they intended, as soon as they got pay for their lands and other property, to drive the saints off, and take it by force from them. They declared that they were fools, if they did not do so, seeing that the law could not be enforced against them for so doing.
After they had left and got collected at Corrill they set guards; The roads were so infested with them, that travellers were interrupted on the way, as they were peaceably passing along the roads. The more effectually to accomplish their purpose, they sent to and got a cannon. It was said to be a six pounder; they also got balls and ammunition with the cannon, in abundance. Bodies of armed men, gathered in to aid them, from all the adjoining counties, particularly from , Saline, Howard, , Clinton, , Platt, and other parts of the . Among the numbers that came, was a man by the name of Jackson, from Howard, who was appointed their leader. He was called Capt. Jackson, and was among the number of the volunteers, that went to Florida, and cut such a figure there, as reported by Col. Taylor.
The whole band being collected, they closely invested the place; A large portion of the people there, had just arrived, and they were forbidden to go out of the place under pain of death. They were deprived of getting food, or providing houses for themselves. As fast as their cattle, horses, or any other property, got where they could get hold of it, it was carried off, as spoil. If any of the people left the town, on any occasion, they were shot at, by layers-in-wait, who were laying concealed for the purpose. By these outrages the families were compelled to [p. 38] live in their wagons or in tents, or at least, the greater part of them. Application was made to the Judge of the Circuit Court for deliverance; and two companies of Militia were ordered out: One of the companies was commanded by , a methodist preacher. The whole was put under the command of ; but they never made the first attempt to disperse the mob. When the people of , enquired of , the reason of his conduct, he always replied, that and his company were so mutinous and mobocratic, that he dare not venture to attempt a dispersion of the mob; saying that if he did, and his company, instead of dispersing the mob, would unite with them. A messenger was sent with a petition to the , requesting aid from him. The man who took the petition, was by the name of Caldwell. He went and saw the , and received for answer, that the Mormons had got into a scrape, and they might fight it out; for he would have nothing to do with it. This was the return made to the citizens of .
The people finding themselves pressed on every hand wtih difficulties, and a mob threatening their lives, and not only threatening, but using all their efforts to take them; for scouting parties were round in every dirction, stealing cattle, horses, and all kinds of property that they could get. They set fire to a house owned by a man by the name of , and burnt it to ashes; and the man and his family barely escaped with their lives. Numbers of them died for want of proper attendance in sickness; for they had been deprived from making any provision whatever, for their families, many of whom were sick, laying in wagons and in tents without any other shelter. Many females, that were in delicate situations, gave birth to children under these forbidding circumstances: and to crown all, their provisions were getting very low, and they could see nothing but actual starvation before them, by continuing where they were. This, added to the sickness in their midst, made their case deplorable indeed. Parents had to stand still, and witness the death of their children without the means, even to make them comforable in their dying moments: and children had to do the same [p. 39] with parents. The civil authorities, as well as the military had all refused to do their duty, and there were many of them, at least, as deeply engaged in the mob, as any others. In the meantime and , who had been the sole cause of the settlement being made, solicited the saints to leave the place. , said he had assurances from the mob, that if they would leave the place, they would not be hurt, and that they would be paid for all losses, which they had sustained; and that they had come as mediators to accomplish this object; and that persons would be appointed to set value on the property which they had to leave; and that they should be paid for it. They finally through necessity, had to comply, and leave the place. Accordingly the committee was appointed. Judge Erickson was one of the committee, and Major Flory of Rutsville another; the names of the others not recollected. They appraised the real estate; that was all. When the people came to start, their horses, oxen and cows were gone, many of them; and could not be found: It was known at the time, and the mob boasted of it, that they had killed the oxen and lived on them. A great number of cows, oxen, and horses, have never been seen since, which doubtless the mob took and kept. Such wagons as could get off, started. It was in the afterpart of the day, on the 11th of October, 1838, when they left , for , and Counties. They travelled that day about twelve miles, and encamped in a grove of timber, near the road. That evening, a women, who had, some short time before, given birth to a child, in consequence of the exposure occasioned by the operations of the mob, and having to move her before her strength would admit, died, and was buried in the grove, without a coffin. There were a considerable number sick, both grown persons and children, which was principally owing to their exposure, and to their having been obliged to live in their wagons and tents so long, and to being deprived of suitable food. No sooner had they started than , called the mob together, and made a speech to them, saying, that they must hasten to assist their friends in . The land sales (he said) were coming on; and if they could get the Mor [p. 40]mons driven out; they could get all the lands entitled to pre-emptions; and that they must hasten to , in order to accomplish their object—that, if they would join, and drive them out, they could get all the lands back again, as well as all the pay they had received for them. He assured the mob, that they had nothing to fear from the authorities in so doing; for they had now, full proof that the authorities would not assist the Mormons, and that they might as well take their property from them as not. His request was complied with, and accordingly the whole banditti started; taking with them, their cannon, for . In the mean time , was busily engaged in raising a mob, in Platt, and Clinton Counties, to aid in his effort, to drive peaceable citizens, from their homes, and take their property. After the mob had left Corrill [Carroll] County, there was ordered out a part of two brigades of Militia to check their movements. Generals and , were in command of them, as it was part of their brigades that were ordered out. The first knowledge that the people of or , had of the mob, coming against them, was the arrival of a body of troops under the command of Col. Dun, of , in . As the people of , had no knowledge of any troops, designed to come into the place, their appearance caused some excitement. Both the military and civil officers, immediately met them, and enquired into the cause of their sudden appearance in the place, without giving previous notice. Their commander gave for answer, that “they had been ordered out by ; to repair to , to operate against a mob, which was on its march from Corrill County, to .” This was on the first day of the week. We have not the precise date, but it was in October. The evening following which was Monday, arrived in . In consequence of these hostile movements on the part of the mob, the people of had asssembled together to take such measures as the emergency of the case might require.
After the arrival of , the authorities made enquiry of him, concerning the matter, and the oper [p. 41]ations of the mob. He stated that the mob had gone from Corrill County, with their cannon, for the express purpose of driving the saints from ; and that he was going to operate against them; but he said his troops were so mutinous, that there was but little reliance to be placed in them. He then advised the authorities of , to send out two or three hundred men to , to defend the people against the violence intended by the mob; until such time, as effectual measures could be taken by the authorities, to put a stop to their operations: And he also told them, that , was collecting a mob, in Platt, and other places, for the porpose of attacking ; and said that it was absolutely necessary, that there should be a strong guard kept at , to defend the place. In accordance with his representation, the authorities of the , had the militia regularly called out, and a number went to as he had recommended, to await the movement and operations of the mob; and to act accordingly.
The troops that had been ordered out by , went only about a mile and a half, from , and there encamped until he should arrive. After his arrival and giving the instruction he did, he went and ordered his troops home, instead of sending them to .
Immediately after his departure, of , arrived, and reported that he had sent on a number of troops to , from , for the express purpose of stopping the operations of the mob: “part of them,” he said, “were to be relied on, and part of them, were not.” All the officers said that and his company, which in all their expeditions, had formed a part of their army, were not to be depended on, for he was as lawless, if not more so, and as mabocratic, as the worst of the mob.
, on his arrival, expressed some disappointment, at not finding , there as he expected, and also at his having ordered his troops home. It commenced snowing and storming, vehemently; after which, also sent his troops home, and they returned; but [p. 42] himself, went on to . The mob, by this time, felt themselves sufficiently strong, and declaring themselves four hundred in number, and knowing that the troops had returned; they felt all-sufficient to commence their operations; and accordingly, the very night of arrival in , the mob commenced their operations. The first attack, was made on the house of a man by the name of Smith, who had gone on business to . His wife, was there alone with two little children, neither of them able to walk, and withal, Mrs. Smith, a very delicate woman. They drove her out of her house; there was a very heavy snow on the ground—it was about the last of October or the first of November. She took her two children in her arms, and walked three miles through the snow, and waded , to . During the night, they burnt out seven families, and took all their goods and carried them off. They swore vengeance against the Mormons, as they called them, that they should leave , or they would sacrifice them all, and that they would make no terms of peace, but at the cannon’s mouth.
The next morning after this driving out and burning, Mr. , who was an officer in the military, asked , what they should do, he now saw the designs and purposes of the mob; and he wanted to know how to proceed.
Here let us just remark, that the saints had borne the abuse of the people of , without cause or provocation on their part, except their religion, from the summer of 1831, until this time, which was the first of November 1838, during which time, their crops had been destroyed, their goods and chattels plundered, their houses burned, and they, driven off their farms, in the face of the government, and appeal after appeal, made to the authorities for redress; but none could be had, and they had never, in one instance retaliated; but submitted to be thus robbed and plundered; and now they were not disposed to move, until the authorities of the country, said so: and seeing , was there, they appealed to him.— replied, with an oath, “go and give them a complete dressing, for you will never have any peace with them, [p. 43] until you do it; and I will stand between you and all difficulty.
Having the orders of their General, a man by the name of , took one hundred men, and went to give them battle, though they reported themselves four hundred strong, and had a cannon. As gave the chase, the mob fled before him. The pursuit lasted for two or three days, during which time, a general destruction of property took place, burning houses &c. The saints fled into : with what they could carry with them, and the rest of their property was all destroyed. They drove in, such of their cattle, horses, hogs, and sheep as they could get in, as also their geese, chickens &c. Their houses were soon wrapped in flames, and what they had left behind them, made a prey of.
, at last got so near the mob, they left their cannon and fled. He took the cannon, and returned to , and thus ended the scene of destruction. It is necessary for a proper understanding of this matter, about the destruction of property, for the reader to know that the saints had bought a heavy portion of ; for which, there are documents now to show, and were to have possession in a short time. Let it be noticed that the mob, in these burnings, had little to lose; they had got their pay, for both their houses, and their lands, and their whole object was, to drive the saints from them, and keep both their lands and their pay; which by the assistance of , they have been enabled to do. The mob declared, while they were selling their lands, that they would do so, and if they could not accomplish their object any other way, they would burn their houses, and report the saints had done it. This can be proven by Mr. Uriah B. Powel.
After the mob was dispersed, and their cannon taken, the people from , returned home, in hopes of having peace; but this hope proved to be vain, for , who had been very active in the mob, and a commander of one of their companies, that was painted, commenced collecting his painted and scattered forces on a stream, that was called the Grindstone. After he had got as he supposed, a sufficient number of them collected [p. 44] and well painted, he came into , and took cattle and horses &c.; and the people of had to set guards, to protect their property.
Some short time after commenced his operations, messengers came to , reporting, that in the south part of , there was a body of armed men, threatening the lives of the people, and ordering them out of the by 11 o’clock the next morning under pain of death, unless they would renounce their religion: that they had burned, and were burning houses—had set fire to a wagon-load of goods, which a man had not unloaded at his door—that they were breaking into houses—taking their guns, and they had actually taken three prisoners. The same report reached, again about midnight. On the arrival of the second report, the beforementioned , took about sixty men, and went to enquire into the affair. When he got to the place, the mob had moved: he went in pursuit, and unexpectedly, fell in with their guards. The guard fired, and killed one of his men. then ordered a rush: they immediately fell on them; the company fled very soon, but not until was killed, and a man by the name of ; the name of one killed by the guard, was . , reported one killed, and a number wounded.
After this affray, the men returned home. But all peace had fled away; mobbing parties were in every direction: it was dangerous for a man to go any distance from his house; if he did, and was on horseback, a gang of mobbers would take his horse from him; or if with a wagon and team, the wagon and team, would both be taken, and this would be the last of them. These parties, were throwing down fences, and turning creatures into cornfields, turnip, and potatoe patches, &c. Some who were considered first in the , were engaged in this foul business. Such as , senator; Judge Smith, a judge in the Court; and men of this stamp, were not only there, but leaders, and excited others to acts of wickedness.
Matters continued thus, until the 29th of October. On this day, a large army came and halted in a little skirt of [p. 45] woods, about a mile from . Shortly before they reached their place of encampment, they passed by the house of a man by the name of Carey; he was a stranger in the country. One of the army, or rather mob, for such, they truly were, walked up to him, and beat his brains out with his gun. They took him up, and threw him into a wagon, and took him off with them, and refused to let his family see him, or administer to him. After keeping him for a length of time, they finally let his family have him. He expired shortly after.
This cool blooded murder, was passed by, as a matter of no consequence; though it was known to all the officers. The man who committed the murder, was by the name of Donihue.
Who they were, or what they were after, no one knew. It was rumored that such an army had crossed the line; and the authorities sent out men, to enquire who they were; and what they were after; but no information could be obtained, until the army arrived. Shortly after their arrival, a man by the name of Pomeroy, came to the town bearing a white flag; and said he wanted three persons out of the town, before it was massacred, and the rest would all be put to the sword.
The persons they called for, refused to go, saying that if their friends had to be slaughtered, they would die with them. The messenger shed a few crockadile tears, and went back to their camp.
Shortly after he returned, behold! here comes , with his brigade; marching towards the town, in line of battle. To this brigade, was presented a line also, in battle order, consisting of two hundred and fifty persons. The gazed upon them, and thought best to order a halt. He paused and looked, and then ordered a retreat, and went back to the camp.
During these maneuvres, of ’ army, for such the army proved to be, , with his banditti of painted plunderers, was prowling around the plundering all things that they could get their hands on, and carrying them off.
After the before-mentioned maneuvering, sent word to the town that there should not be any [p. 46] harm done to it, that night: but still there were marauding parties, which were threatening to burn it; and in consequence, it was thought best to throw up a little breastwork around the town, and set guards to watch their movements. This, done, it was composed of rails, house-logs, empty wagons, &c.
As their custom had been from the beginning, so it was now; with his banditti of painted ruffians, were incorporated with the army and called Militia; and this was an atonement for all the thefts, robberies, and other outrages, which they had committed against the public peace.
Sometime in the course of the next day, after the arrival of ’ army, we were made acquainted with the fact, that they were there, by the orders of the . Until this time, we supposed that they were a mob. Here follows the ’s order:
Head Quarters of the Militia,)
City of ,)
Oct. 27th, 1838.)
Since the order of the morning to you, directing you to come with four hundred mounted men, to be raised within your Division, I have received, by , Esq., and Wiley C. Williams, Esq., one of my aids, information of the most appalling character, which changes entirely the face of things, and places the Mormons in the attitude of an avowed defiance of the laws, and of having made war upon the people of this . Your orders are therefore, to hasten your operations and endeavor to reach in Ray County, with all possible speed. The Mormons must be treated as enemies and must be exterminated, or driven from the , if necessary for the public peace.
Their outrages, are beyond all description. If you can increase your force, you are authorized to do so, to any extent you may think necessary. I have just issued orders to Major General Wollock of Marion County, to raise five hundred men, and to march them to the northern part of and there to unite with of [p. 47]
—who has been ordered with five hundred men, to proceed to the same point for the purpose of intercepting the retreat of the Mormons to the north. They have been directed to communicate with you by express. You can also communicate with them if you find it necessary. Instead therefore, of proceeding as at first directed to re-instate the citizens of in their houses, you will proceed immediately to , and there operate against the Mormons. of , has been ordered to have four hundred of his Brigade in readiness to join you at . The whole force will be placed under your command.
Governor and Commander-in-Chief.
This order of ’, was given, as he, and the whole band of them pretended, in consequence of the battle: pretending that he had been sent there, by legal authority. Now, for this legal business. came into , without any legal authority whatever, and committed all his outrages: but after he had committed them, he sends a messenger to , for authority. sets down and sends him a writing, authorizing him to guard the line, between the Counties of and . ’s order to , was copied by Samuel Tillary [Tillery] after dark, on the evening before the battle was fought, and that was fought before daylight the next morning, and the letter had to be carried some thirty or forty miles. Here was another piece of legerdemain. was turned into militia, to hide up his wickedness. We had this account from the mouth of Samuel Tillary; he is Clerk of the Circuit Court in and acts as clerk for .
Let the reader particularly notice, that this , was well acquainted with the operations of the mob, for the space of five years; having been the leader of it once himself, at the time it raged in ; and had been petitioned, again and again, after he was Governor, to stop its ravages; and in every instance refused to do it. He now perfectly knew that the whole difficulty, had originated in consequence of its violence [p. 48] and plunder: yet notwithstanding this, he issued the above order. , said, that if it had not been for the vote, which the Mormons gave at the late election, he would have exterminated them before.
After the citizens of were made acquainted with the fact, that was there, by the ’s order, they ceased to take any measures for defence; but submitted immediately.
In the meantime, the army employed itself in destroying the cornfields, potatoes and turnips, and in taking horses, and plundering houses. Houses were searched by them, as closely to find money, as a man would be searched by a set of Arabs after a shipwreck. Every dollar was carried off, that could be found, while the lives of the owners were threatened, if they offered the least resistance. Cattle, hogs and sheep, were shot down, and left on the ground to rot. Men, women and children, were insulted and abused, in a most brutal manner!
We return again to the maneuvering of the Officers. In the evening of the second day after their arrival, they sent a messenger to a number of persons, informing them, that they wanted them to come into their camp; as they wished to have a consultation with them: and they pledged their sacred honors, that they should be at liberty to return to the town, by eight o’clock, the next morning. The persons, called for, were , , , Joseph Smith Jr., and . It was supposed that confidence might be placed in the word of Major and Brigadier Generals; and accordingly, the persons called for, went into their camp.
When they started to go, instead of meeting a white flag, as was expected to conduct them in safety, alone to the camp; here comes the whole army, with a cannon with it, and , at its head! The persons before mentioned, were immediately taken as prisoners of war. The cannon guard, was commanded to take them, and guard them into the camp, as such; and a loaded cannon, drove close behind them.
But to describe this scene, would defy the pen of a [p. 49] Scott. Guns were snapping in every quarter. The yellings, the howlings, the screamings, we think, were never equalled! We thought, at the time, that we might perhaps, hear something like it, if we were at the gates of perdition; hearing the howlings of the miserable; but we think, except that could exceed it, it never was equalled. After they got into the camp, there was a strong guard placed around them. It will be seen by this, how much reliance could be placed in the sacred honor of these Generals. We generally expect to find men of so high office, abide by their word, even at the risk of life. , confessed, that the persons thus betrayed, were to be let return, the next morning. Let so much suffice, for their word and their sacred honor.
The next day after they were betrayed into the camp, ordered all the persons in the County of , to give up their arms. After the arms were given up, the men were kept under guard; and all property holders, compelled to sign a Deed of Trust, signing away all their property, to defray the expenses of the war; and then they were all commanded to leave the , under pain of extermination, between that and corn-planting the next spring.
At the time of giving up the arms, there again followed another scene of brutality. The troops ran from house to house, taking all the arms they could find, from old men, that never thought of going into the field of battle; but there must not be left a single gun in the ; so the troops ran as before described, like a parcel of ravenous wolves; but their great object, in the pursuit of guns, was, to find plunder. They wanted to get into the houses, to see if there was not something they could carry off. Thus they plundered houses until they got satisfied. To secreet their property from their ravages, the people had to go and hide it in the bushes, or any where they could find a place of concealment. The troops found some of the property that had been hid. This, produced another savage operation. Those wild creatures, tearing like mad men through the bushes, ran from place to place, searching under hay-stacks—tearing up floors, hunting, pretendedly after arms; but the abundance of property plundered, testifes that they had another object in view. [p. 50]
While the troops were thus engaged, the officers were busily employed in forming some plan to dispose of those, whom they had betrayed into their camp. Seventeen preachers and nineteen Commissioned officers, met with Generals and and held a Court Martial. The prisoners, were never admitted into it at all: they were not allowed to plead, introduce evidence, or any thing else. Finally, the august body came to a decision; and that was, that at eight o’clock the next morning, they should be taken into the public square, in the presence of their families, and shot. Who among the military characters of the day will not say that is fit to command an army, when he was at the head of such a court martial as this?
At these high handed and lawless measures demurred. He told them, that there was not one of them, in the least degree, acquainted with the Military law, and understood nothing about court Martials; and for his part, if they were going to pursue that course, his hand should be clear of it; and he forthwith ordered his brigade to prepare; and he marched them off. This deterred the others, seeing , was the only lawyer in their number. We presume they would have carried their design into effect had it not been for ’s leaving them. We had this account from the lips of himself.
Our families had been apprised of their intentions, and were waiting in awful suspense, the arrival of the fatal hour. However, they changed their purpose, and it was decreed that we should be carried to .
While these things were carrying on, in and about , scenes still more horrid and soul-thrilling, were going on, in another part of the , at a place called , because a man of that name built a mill there. We will give this account from the pen of eye-witnesses. We will give it from the testimony of three who have testified to it; that is, and his ; and . We also, have the testimony of Mrs. A[manda Barnes] Smith, whose , and a little son of nine years of age, were killed, and also a younger boy wound [p. 51]ed. But wishing to bring our account to as narrow limits as possible, we omit inserting it.
Here follows the testimony of and his transcribed from their own hand writing.
The following is a short history of my travels to the State of , and of a bloody tragedy acted at on , October 30th, 1830 . On the 6th day of July last, I started with my family from , Ohio, for the State of ; the County of , in the upper part of the , being the place of my destination.
On the 13th of October, I crossed the at Louisiana, at which place I heard vague reports of the disturbances in the upper country; but nothing that could be relied upon. I continued my course westward till I crossed , at a place called Compton’s ferry, at which place I heard for the first time, that if I proceeded any further on my journey, I would be in danger of being stopped by a body of armed men. I was not willing, however, while treading my native soil, and breathing republican air to abondon my object; which was to locate myself and family, in a fine healthy country, where we could enjoy the society of our friends and connexions. Consequently, I prosecuted my journey, till I came to Whitney’s Mills, situated on , in the eastern part of . After crossing the creek, and going about three miles, we met a party of the mob, about forty in number, armed with rifles and mounted on horses, who informed us that we could go no farther west; threatening us with instant death if we proceeded any further. I asked them the reason of this prohibition, to which they replied that we were Mormons, and that every one who adhered to our religious faith would have to leave the in ten days or renounce their religion. Accordingly they drove us back to the mills above mentioned. Here we tarried three days, and on Friday the twenty-sixth we recrossed the creek, and following up its banks, we succeeded in eluding the mob for the time being, and gained the residence of a friend, in Myers’ settlement. On Sunday 28th of October we arrived about noon at ; where we found a number of our friends collected together, who [p. 52] were holding a council, and deliberating on the best course for them to pursue, to defend themselves against the mob, who were collecting in the neighborhood, under the command of Col. [Thomas] Jennings of ; and threatening them with house burning and killing. The decision of the council was that our friends there, should place themselves in an attitude of self-defence.
Accordingly about twenty eight of our men, armed themselves, and were in constant readiness for an attack of any small body of men that might come upon them. The same evening, for some cause best known to themselves, the mob sent one of their number, to enter into a treaty with our friends; which was accepted of, on the condition of mutual forbearance on both sides, and that each party, as far as their influence extended, should exert themselves to prevent any further hostilities upon either party. At this time, however, there was another mob collecting on , at William Mann’s, who were threatening us; consequently we remained under arms on Monday the 29th, which passed away without molestation from any quarter. On Tuesday the 30th that bloody tragedy was acted; the scenes of which I shall never forget.
More than three fourths of the day had passed in tranquility, as smiling as the preceding one. I think there was no individual of our company that was apprized of the sudden and awful fate that hung over our heads like an overwhelming torrent, to change the prospects, the feelings and circumstances of about thirty families. The banks of , on either side, teemed with children sporting and playing, while their mothers were engaged in domestic employments, and their father employed in guarding the mills and other property; while others were engaged in gathering in their crops for their winter consumption. The weather was very pleasant; the sun shone clear; all was tranquil, and no one expressed any apprehensions of the awful crisis that was near us, even at our doors.
It was about 4 o’clock, while sitting in my cabin, with my babe in my arms, and my standing by my side, the door being open, I cast my eyes on the oppisite bank [p. 53] of , and saw a large company of armed men on horses, directing their course towards the mills, with all possible speed. As they advanced through the scattering trees that stood on the edge of the prairie, they seemed to form themselves into a three square position, forming a van guard in front. At this moment, David Evans, seeing the superiority of their numbers (there being two hundred and forty of them, according to their own account) swung his hat and cried for peace. This not being heeded, they continued to advance, and their leader, , fired a gun, which was followed by a solemn pause of ten or twelve seconds, when, all at once, they discharged about one hundred rifles, aiming at a black-smith’s shop, into which our friends had fled for safety: and charging up to the shop, the cracks of which between the logs were sufficiently large to enable them to aim directly at the bodies of those who had there fled for refuge from the fire of their murderers. There were several families tented in rear of the shop, whose lives were exposed, and amidst a shower of bullets, fled to the woods in different directions. After standing and gazing on this bloody scene for a few minutes, and finding myself in the utmost danger, the bullets having reached the house where I was living, I committed my family to the protection of heaven, and leaving the house on the opposite side, I took a path which led up the hill, following in the trail of three of my brethren that had fled from the shop. While ascending the hill, we were discovered by the mob, who immediately fired at us and continued so to do, till we reached the summit. In discending the hill, I secreted myself in a thicket of bushes, where I lay till eight o’clock in the evening, at which time I heard a female voice calling my name in an under tone, telling me that the mob had gone and there was no danger. I immediately left the thicket and went to the house of Benjamin Lewis, where I found my family (who had fled there) in safety, and two of my friends mortally wounded, one of whom died before morning.
Here we passed that awful night in deep and painful reflections on the scenes of the preceding evening. After day light appeared, some four or five men with my [p. 54]self who had escaped with our lives from the horrid massacre, repaired as soon as possible, to the mills, to learn the condition of our friend whose fate we had truly anticipated.
When we arrived at the house of , we found Mr. [Levi] Merrick’s body lying in the rear of the house, ’s in front, literally mangled from head to foot. We were informed by Miss Rebecca Judd, who was an eye witness, that he was shot with his own gun, after he had given it up, and then was cut to pieces with an old corn cutter, by a , of , who keeps a ferry on , and who has since, repeatedly boasted of this act of savage barbarity. ’s body we found in the house; and after viewing these corpses we immediately went to the black-smith’s shop where we found nine of our friends, eight of whom were already dead, the other, Mr. [Simon] Cox, of Indiana, struggling in the agonies of death, and soon expired. We immediately prepared and carried them to a place of interment: This last office of kindness due to the relics of departed friends, was not attended with the customary ceremoni[e]s nor decency: for we were in jeopardy, every moment expecting to be fired on by the mob, who we supposed were lying in ambush, waiting for the first opportunity to despatch the remaining few, who were providentially preserved from the slaughter of the preceding day. However, we accomplished without molestation this painful task. The place of burying, was a vault in the ground formerly intended for a well, into which we threw the bodies of our friends promiscuously. Among those slain, I will mention Sardius Smith, son of , about nine years old, who, through fear, had crawled under the bellows in the shop, where he remained until themassacre was over, when he was discovered by a Mr. [Ira] Glaze of Corrill [Carroll] County, who presented his rifle near the boy’s head and literally blowed off the upper part of it. Mr. Stanley, of Corroll, told me afterwards that Glaze boasted of this deed all over the County.
The number killed and mortally wounded in this wanton slaughter was eighteen or nineteen, whose names, as far as I can recollect, were as follows: Levi Merrick, Elias Benner, Josiah Fuller, Benjamin [p. 55] Lewis, Alexander Campbell, , Sardius Smith, George Richards, Mr. [William] Napier, Mr. Harmer [Austin Hammer], Mr. [Simon] Cox, , , Wm. Merrick a boy 8 or 9 years old, and three or four more, whose names I do not recollect, as they were strangers to me. Among the wounded who recovered were Isaac Laney [Leany], who had six balls shot through him, two through his body, one through each arm, and the other two through his hips. Nathan K. Knight shot through the body; Mr. [William] Yokum who was severely wounded, besides being shot through the head, , —— [George] Myers, , , and several others. Miss Mary Stedwell, while fleeing, was shot through the hand and fainting, fell over a log, into which they shot upwards of twenty balls.
To finish their work of destruction, this band of murderers, composed of men from , , , , and Corrill Counties; led by some of the principal men of that section of the upper country, proceeded to rob the houses, wagons and tents, of bedding and clothing; drove off horses and wagons, leaving widows and orphans distitute of the necessaries of life; and even stripped the clothing, from the bodies of the slain!
According to their own account, they fired seven rounds in this awful massacre, making upwards of fifteen hundred shots at a little company of men of about thirty in number!
I certify the above, to be a true statement of facts relative to the above mentioned massacre according to my best recollection.
A short time previous to the massacre at , we made peace with the mob characters living near us, as declaration had been made by the leaders of the band, that all persons who would not take up arms against the society, should, with the Mormons, be driven out of the ; and thus drawing the division line so close that we thought it necessary to ascertain the feelings of our neighbors around us. We met them and an agreement was entered into between us, that we would live in peace, let others do as they would. A large number of our [p. 56] company living at the at that time, were immigrants who had just came into the place. On the first day of November 1838, without apprehending any danger whatever from the mob, we were visited by about three hundred mounted men, coming with great speed, and fell upon us with the ferocity of tigers. They were not discovered until within one hundred and fifty yards of us. They immediately commenced firing upon us, without asking us to surrender, or giving us a chance to surrender, or even giving us to understand what they wanted, only as we were taught by the sound of guns, the groans of the dying, and the screams of the women and children, being only about forty in number, and wholly unprepared to engage in any contest whatever. We were forced to take shelter under cover of an old log building, used as a black-smith’s shop, which was neither chincked or mudded.
When men ran out and called for peace they were shot down; when they held up their hats and handkerchiefs and crying for mercy, they were shot down; when they attempted to run, they were cut down by the fire of guns; and when they stood still, they were shot down by putting their guns through the cracks of the building. After pleading for mercy, and having none shown us, and seeing they were determined to slaughter us en masse, and many of our brethern slain around us, leaving our numbers but few, and seeing it was but death for us, we concluded to sell our lives as dear as possible, and soon commenced firing at the mob who were firing from all directions at us. But few of the mob were injured in consequence of their shielding themselves by trees and logs; women and children were equally brutally treated with the men, and found no place upon the sympathies of these murderers. One woman by the name of Mary Steadwell was shot through the hand while holding it up in the attitude of defence. As she ran from the mob, others pierced her clothes; after running as far as she could, she threw herself behind a log, whilst a volley of balls poured after her, filling the log where she lay, twelve or fourteen of which were taken out and preserved for future generations to witness. Many other women had balls shot through their clothes, while fleeing into the woods with their children [p. 57] in their arms; others were brutally insulted and abused. One small boy was killed, having his brains blown out; and during the affray, two other boys, belonging to , (who was also killed at the time,) hid themselves under the bellows; and when those murderers came into the shop, after killing all within except two men, (one wounded and the other not,) who lay concealed from their view, by being covered with blood and dead bodies of the slain. The elder of the boys, crying for mercy from his hiding place, was immediately put to death by putting the muzzle of a gun to the lad’s ear and blowing off the top of his head. One of these savages who participated in this transaction, accosted his comrade, (while committing this horrid deed,) thus,—“it is a damned pity to kill boys;” but was hushed by having the thought put into his head in reply, that “little sprouts soon become large trees” and that if these boys were suffered to live, they, like their father, would be Mormons—a crime punishable with death even before committed—a faith now extant in , where it is supposed to have its birth, and it is hoped will have its burial. The other lad was supposed to have been killed, but they did not quite accomplish their object the younger received a wound in the hip which carried off his hip bone. While the mob were in the shop, if they perceived life remaining in any of the wounded, while struggling in the agonies of death, they were immediately dispatched, at the same time plundering the pocket of the dead, stripping off their boots, shoes, and clothing. After the mob learned that the two men escaped with their lives they would declare publicly, that if they got into another such affair they would inspect more closely by sticking their knives in their toes. This massacre took place about sun an hour high on Tuesday, and continued until seventeen were killed and fifteen wounded, the remaining few escaping.
Among those who attempted to escape, was a man by the name of , a soldier and Patriot of the revolution and a justice of the peace. While making the best use of his tottering limbs and worn out frame for his escape, he was met in his retreat by a young man from by the name of , who im [p. 58]mediately demanded the old man’s gun, which was delivered up, and was then shot down by said . This not killing the old man, he lifted his hands in the attitude of supplication and begged for mercy, at the same time appealing to his silvery locks as adding still more force, and credit to his cries and tales of suffering, while in the defence of his country and the constitution thereof. But the young man, deaf to every thing but death and murder, regarded not the old man, but seizing an old corn cutter or piece of a scythe, commenced first to hew off the old man’s fingers while holding them up for mercy, and next cutting his hands from his arms, and then severing his arms from his body, and last of all, laying open the skull and beheading the body of the poor sufferer who had fought and spilt his blood for the privileges enjoyed by his murderer.
There not being any men left, or not enough to bury the dead, the women were compelled to bury their own husbands by throwing them into a well close to the black-smith shop. The next day, after the massacre, a large company of them came back, blowing their bugle and firing their guns in an exulting manner. They carried off goods of all description, horses, wagons, and harnesses, stripping the horses and moving wagons of all the goods, furniture and clothing of any value, leaving the widows and orphans to suffer in that inclement season of the year. Cows, hogs, and horses were driven off in droves. They robbed the families of all their beds and bedding, and even took the widow’s cloaks; the dead men stripped of their clothing; also, another of the persons engaged in this horrid affair was a man by the name of Stephen Bunnels [Reynolds], who made his boasts, at public places, that he was the man who killed one of the little boys. This boasting has been made in the presence of the authorities of the at , when innocent men were kept in chains for nothing but defending themselves, wives and children from such savages as these.
After this bloody affray was ended, a young man who had crept from his hiding place and returned to the shop was sent to to obtain assistance to bury the dead. (a distance of about twenty miles.) The young man [p. 59] arrived within two or three miles of , where he met a company of men: he was asked where he was from, and where he was going; and answering them correctly, he was then asked if he knew where the militia were; he told them he did not know of any. They then told him to face about and go with them, and they would lead him where there were five or six thousand of them. He was then compelled to go to , and stopped at Samuel McCriston’s that night. In the morning they robbed him of a fine fur cap, and ordered him to take off his overcoat, telling him it is too fine for a Mormon to wear. They then concluded to shoot him, and disputed among themselves who should do it. And some hard words and threats were used among themselves who should have the fine horse the young man rode. However, they soon quit their dispute, and , (a Presbyterian Preacher of long standing in Corrillton [Carrollton], the county seat of Corrill [Carroll] County,) saddled the young man’s horse and rode him about for some time, as if trying him, to see if he would answer his purpose. This was also the same man who took the young man’s cap, and his boy wears it now, or did the last information received from that quarter. After being thoroughly satisfied with riding the horse, he dismounted and Samuel McCriston mounted and rode for some time while was equally engaged in the trial of another horse, which it appeared had been obtained in the same way in which they intended to get this.
McCriston rode off the horse and the young man was taken to , although he begged to be let loose that he might go and help the widows and children bury the dead at ; still he was kept for many days a prisoner at , in Ray County.
The mobbing party here mentioned, consisted of nine persons, , (Preacher,) Joseph Ewing (Preacher,) Jacob Snorden, Wiley Brewer, John Hills (Preacher,) and four more, their names not mentioned or known. After tormenting the young man all in their power, he was let go, and returned to mourn the loss of friends, without being able or privileged to pay the last debt of honor and respect to his murdered relatives. [p. 60]
A short time after this affair at , Capt. , the same who commanded a Massacre, with forty or fi[f]ty others, took possession of the for two or three weeks, and thus cut off all the resources of the widows and orphans who had survived. During this time they lived on the best the neighborhood could afford, plundering and stealing all the pallatable food which had by the industry and prudence of murdered husbands, been laid in store for themselves and families.
They burned all the books that they could find, they shot the hogs and cattle, it seemed for the pleasure of shooting game, as they did not consume near all they killed.
One day , with a number of men went to , who was at the time laying confined with wounds received in the massacre. They came to question Mr. Fauts, to ascertain where certain of his neighbors were who had escaped the murdering party. Mr. Fauts told them he did not know. I then got up, left the room, but was followed by some of the company, who commanded me not to leave until the could see me. The was accordingly called upon and came out to see me; he very gravely and sternly charged me to be gone or on the act of starting, on Tuesday evening, this being on Sunday evening. He said I must obey at my peril, or renounce Mormonism. I asked him what I must deny; he said deny that Jo. Smith is a prophet. As for moving I told him I thought it quite a short notice to get ready to leave the , and the weather being so cold, and having neither wagon nor team, and being plundered and robbed of all our clothing, &c. I also told him that my wife was quite sick and not able to move so soon, and furthermore the roads are guarded or said to be, so that no Mormon could pass either way without being mobbed. I asked him if I must be driven off by one company, and another lay in wait to murder me as I go. I told him I thought the condition of the treaty was that we could stay until spring: he replied that was the first conclusion, but he had just received new orders from the , and that was, that all Mormons should be driven out of the forthwith. I [p. 61] then asked him if the way was not guarded, so that I would be in no danger in passing the roads. He said he would give me a pass or ticket which would carry me safely through the , provided I continued to travel in an Eastward course, and minded my own business. We soon parted, and on the next day I went to the and received my pass which reads as follows. Having the original in my possession I give it verbatim.
November 13, 1838.
This is to certify that , a Mormon, is permitted to leave and pass through the State of in an eastward direction unmolested during good behaveour.
The next day Hiram Comstock, the ’s brother, with two or three others, brought a prisoner to me to see if I knew him; I told them I had seen him, but did not know his name. After questioning me for some time, they told me to go with them into their camp, and said I might consider myself a prisoner. They kept me until the next day, and set me at liberty charging me to be gone from the forthwith. I was compelled to comply with these orders at the the sacrifice of all I had, and leave the state of agreeably to the order of the of that , a thing unprecedented in the history of the world. I was taught to hold sacred the rights of man in my childhood. I was raised in Kentucky, born in 1814, and lived in that state until April, 1837. Such doctrine as taught and practiced in , by the officers of that was never taught, neither practiced in my native state.
We will now return to the prisoners. They had meanly betrayed us into their hands; we were kept in their camp till the third day of November; we then started for . Let us here observe that they increased our number having added to it Messrs. and . By our special request, they took us into to see our families, whom we [p. 62] found, when we got there, living on parched corn, as the town was so closely invested they could not get out. I will not attempt to describe this parting scene. I will leave every person to place themselves in our situation and then judge for themselves.
In writing this narrative it is no part of our intention to play upon the passions of the public, but give a faithful narrative of facts and then leave it. After we arrived at , the county seat of , we served the same purpose that a caravan of wild animals would for a show, as hundreds of people called to see us. We were put into an old house and left to sleep on some blankets we had with us. Shortly after we had started from , a messenger came riding after us with a demand from , to take us back. With this, would not comply. Upon the whole, we were treated at with respect. We were boarded at a tavern, and soon were taken into the tavern house. A man was appointed to see that we had every thing we wanted. They dispensed with their guards, and we were at liberty to go where we pleased, and return when it suited us. These privileges were not granted us at first, but after we had been there a few days. At first we were put into an old house and closely guarded. While we were there, , a lawyer of celebrity, and leader of the mob, confessed in our presence, and in the presence of many others, that the mob, was a wanton attack upon the saints without cause, and he said he presumed that the attack then made was of the same character.
We state this to shew that the men of intelligence in , knew that they were again engaged in robbing a people of their rights. Indeed, went so far as to say that if ever the mobs attacked us again, he would fight for us. We will here leave the prisoners and relate what took place in . After ’s arrival at , , I think, was the General’s name, that was sent to . On his arrival there, he placed guards around the town, so that no person might pass out or in without permission. All the men in the town were then taken and put under guard, and a [p. 63] court of inquiry was instituted, with on the bench; the said belonged to the mob and was one of the leaders of it from the time mobbing first commenced in . The Attorney’s name I have forgotten, if I ever knew, but belonged to ’s army.
After two or three days’ investigation, every man was honorably acquitted. then ordered every family to be out of in ten days, with permission to go to , and there tarry until spring, and then leave the under pain of extermination. This was on the first of November, the weather was very cold, more so than usual, for that season of the year; and, in keeping this order of ’s they had to leave their crops and houses, and to live in tents and wagons in this inclement season of the year. As for their flocks and herds the mob had delivered them from the trouble of taking care of them, or from the pain of seeing them starve to death, by stealing them. An arrangement was made in which it was stipulated that a committee of twelve, which had been previously appointed, should have the privilege of going from to for the term of four weeks, for the purpose of conveying their crops from to . The committee were to wear white badges on their hats for their protection.
But in a short time after this arrangement was made, withdrew with his army, and the mob rose up as soon as the army had gone, and forbid the Committee from coming again into under pain of death. By this the mob secured unto themselves several hundred thousand bushels of corn, besides large quantities of oats, and the saints were left to seek their bread and shelter where they could find it.
We will now return to the prisoners in . Shortly after our arrival in , Colonel from the army of , came with orders from , who was commander-in-chief of the expedition, to have us forwarded forthwith to . Accordingly, on Thursday morning, November 8th, with three guards only, and they had been obtained with great difficulty, after laboring all the previous day [p. 64] to get them. Between and Roy’s ferry, on the , they all got drunk, and we got possession of their arms and horses. It was late in the afternoon, near the setting of the sun. We travelled about half a mile after we crossed the , and put up for the night. The next morning there came a number of men, some of them armed, their threatenings and savage appearance were such as to make us afraid to proceed without more guards. A messenger was therefore despatched to to obtain them. We started before their arrival, but had not gone far before we met with a guard, if we recollect right, of seventy four men. As to the number, however, we are not certain: and were conducted by them to and put into an old vacant house, and a guard set. Sometime through the course of that day, came in and we were introduced to him. We enquired of him the reason why we had been thus carried from our homes and what were the charges against us. He said that he was not then able to determine, but would be in a short time, and with very little more conversation withdrew. Some short time after he had withdrawn, came in with two chains in his hands, and a number of padlocks. The two chains he fastened together. He had with him ten men armed, who stood at the time of these operations with a thumb upon the cock of their guns. They first nailed down the windows, then came and ordered a man by the name of John Fulkerson whom he had with him, to chain us together with chains and padlocks, being seven in number. After that, he searched us, examining our pockets to see if we had any arms; finding nothing but pocket knives, he took them and conveyed them off.
spent several days in searching the statutes of to find some authority to hold a Court Martial. (The troops said that he had p[r]omised when they left, that there were two or three that they should have the privilege of shooting before they returned.) But he could find none, and after a fruitless search of a number of days he came again to see us and informed us that he would turn us over to the civil authorities for trial [p. 65] Accordingly, the trial commenced; on the bench, and , attorney. This was surely a new kind of Court: it was not an inquisition nor yet a criminal court, but a compound between. A looker on would be convinced that both the judge and attorney were not statisfied that some or all of the prisoners had been guilty of some criminal act or acts, but on the contrary that their object was to try by all means in their power to get some person to swear some criminal thing against us, though they were innocent.
The first act of the court was to send out a body of armed men to obtain witnesses without any civil process whatever; and after witnesses were brought before the court, they were sworn at bayonet point. Dr. was the first brought before the Court. He had previously told Mr. , that if he () wished to save himself, he must swear hard against the heads of the Church, as they were the ones, the court wanted to criminate; and if he could swear hard against them, they would, that is, neither court nor mob, disturbe him. I intend to do it, said he, in order to escape, for if I do not they will take my life. To aid him in this work, there was standing a body of armed men; a part of this armed body stood in the presence of the court to see that the witnesses swore right, and another part was scouring the county to drive out of it every witness that they could hear of whose testimony would be favorable to the defendants. This course was kept up during the whole time of the court. If a witness did not swear to please the court, he or she would be threatened to be cast into prison. They never pleased the Court when their testimony was favorable to the defendants. One instance is all the proof that need be aduced on this head. A man by the name of Allen was called on, he began to tell the story about ’s burning houses in the south part of , he was kicked out of the house and three men took after him with loaded guns, and he hardly escaped with his life. Every witness that the defendants had, (that these creatures knew of, and they made dilligent search to find all they could) were either arrested under pretention of some charge, or else driven off. When a [p. 66] witness did not swear to please the attorney, , he would order them to be taken into custody, and they were immediately cast into prison, and the next morning they would be brought forward and tried again. Such was the course the Court and their armed body pursued during their settings till they got through; by such means they got men to swear for them, and to swear to most unhallowed falsehoods. It was indeed suborning witnesses to swear, to promise a man’s life if he would swear, and death or imprisonment if he did not swear, and not only to swear, but swear to please them.
This matter of driving away witnesses or casting them into prison, or chasing them out of the county, was carried to such a length that our lawyers, and , told us not to bring our witnesses there at all, for if we did there would not be one of them left for the final trial, for no sooner would and his men know who they were, than they would put them out of the County; as to making any impression on , if a cohort of angels were to come down and declare we were clear, said it would all be the same, for he () had determined from the beginning to cast us into prison; we never got the privilege of introducing our witnesses at all; if we had we could have disproved all they swore.
We here must rather go back a little, for after arrived at , he arrested a great many persons, an account of which will be found in the memorial of the citizens of , to the Legislature of . Their trials also went on at the same time. One thing in relatien to ’s proceeding, we forgot to mention—we will insert it here. After he had arrived, some persons made application for a privilege to go and plunder houses for goods; this was readily granted, and, under this authority, houses were plundered, locks broken, and property taken at pleasure; and all this without any civil process whatever.
We will here give a specimen or two of their swearing. We will first introduce . This said was angry at one of the prisoners—, in consequence of a law-suit existing between them. , we suppose, thought he had a fair oppor [p. 67]tunity now, to take vengeance, in swearing against him; so he swore that in he saw have a clock, in his arms. There had been a clock found in some hazel bushes, somewhere in the neighborhood of . This clock, a man in , swore to be his; it was presented to , and swore positively that, that was the clock, he saw have in . Now the truth is, that the clock which said had, belonged to another man; who had it at that time, and has it at this, if he has not sold it; and it is now in . This, could have proven if he could have introduced his witnesses. For this, he was bound over to appear at the Court, in the sum of one thousand dollars. Another by the name of [Andrew] Job, whose mother had gone to the house of and swore a featherbed which was in his house was her’s: After she got away, she said she never had a bed since she lived in ; but she wanted one of “old ’s” beds. Her son came to the court to swear against for stealing; and accordingly swore that his mother’s bed was found in his house. The question was asked, how he knew it was his mother’s bed? He said he had slept upon it and he felt the stripes with his feet: His mother’s bed had a striped tick, and the stripes went two ways; and he felt them with his feet while lying in the bed. He was then asked if there was not a sheet on the bed under him? He said there was, but still he felt the stripes in the tick through the sheet, so distinctly that he knew that they went two ways, and that it was his mother’s bed, and that was the way they found out, his mother’s bed was there. proved, in the mean time, that, that same bed had been in his house for many years. We give these as specimens of men’s swearing. We might multiply them to a great number, but it would swell this narrative beyound the limits allowed it. Let so much suffice.
The court at last closed on the 29th of November, after a session of two weeks, and three days, and during most of the time we were closely confined in chains. At the close of the court, and some few days before it closed, [p. 68] there were a considerable number of those who had been arrested by released. Out of that number was , Esq. who was one of the seven, who had been carried to , and from thence to . They were either all released, or admitted to bail, except , , , , Joseph Smith Jr., and ; who were sent to , Clay County, to , to stand their trial for treason and murder. The treason, for having whipped the mob out of , and taking their cannon from them; and the murder, for the man killed in the battle. Also, , Morris Phelps, , , and Norman Shearer; who were put into jail, to stand their trial, for the same crimes. At this time the Legislature had commenced its session, and a Memorial* was presented to the Senate and house of Representatives; to obtain a committee to investigate the whole affair pertaining to the ’s Order—the operations of the mob, and the conduct and operations of the Militia while at .
After much legislation, disputation, and controversy, and angry speechifying; as the papers of , published at the time, abundantly testify, the Petition and Memorial, were laid on the table, until the July following; thus utterly refusing to grant the memorialists, their request; thereby refusing to investigate the subject; and thus it stands to this day, uninvestigated by any legal authority.
After we were cast into prison, we heard nothing but threatenings, that if any Judge or Jury, or Court of any kind should clear any of us, that we should never get out of the alive. This soon determined our course; and that was to escape out of their hands as soon as we could, and by any means we could. After we had been some length of time in prison, we demanded a Habeas Corpus of , one of the Judges; which, with some considerable reluctance, was granted. Great threatenings were made at this time by the mob,
* See Appendix. [p. 69]
that if any of us were liberated we should never get out of the alive. After the investigation of our number was released from prison by the decision of the ; the remiander were committed to Jail. He also returned with them until a favorable opportunity offered which through the friendship of the Sheriff, Mr. Samuel Hadley and the Jailor, Mr. Samuel Tillery, he was let out of the jail secretly, in the night, and being solemnly warned by them to be out of the with as little delay as possible, he made his escape. Being pursued by a body of armed men, it was through the direction of a kind providence that he escaped out of their hands and safely arrived in , Illinois. This was in February, A. D. 1839.
In the May following, the remainder that were in the , were taken to to be tried by a grand jury of the principal mobbers, in order to see if a bill of indictment, could be found as could be expected from the characters of the jury. Bills were found, they obtained a change of venue to , accordingly the Sheriff of , with guards, started to take them from to . On their way after journeying a day or two, one evening the guard got drunk, they left them, and also made their escape to , Illinois.
Those that were in Jail were brought to trial, but no bill of indictment was found against and Norman Shearer, and they were released and sent home. A bill was found against , Morris Phelps, and for murder, and also a man by the name of for robbery. They also obtained a change of venue to , and were carried thither and put into jail and there remained until the fourth of July. At this time the town was all hilarity and mirth at the celebration. They also made a flag and had it placed over the jail doors. In the evening when the Jailor brought in their suppers, they walked out at the door; that is, , Morris Phelps and ; continued, the others were closely pursued, and was retaken and carried back; but the other two effected their escape to the State of . [p. 70] Some time afterwards had his trial and was acquitted. remains in prison unto this day, 26th October, 1839.
As to those that were left in the Counties of and , they were making all possible exertions to get away all the winter, contrary to the stipulations of and , granting them the privilege of staying until spring. Bodies of armed men were riding through the town of in the County of , threatening death to them if they were not out in the month of February, and otherwise insulting them. They continued however to exert themselves with all possible means in their power; many of them were sick, large numbers of them had no teams nor wagons. Having been robbed, yes, completely robbed of all they had, great exertions therefore, had to be made by those who had means. Through great exertions and timely perseverance they succeeded in getting them safely into the state of , where we all are now, and where we have met with a kind reception.
Public meetings were held in ; contributions raised to assist the suffering, and every exertion which humanity dictated was made for our relief. But still we are, as a people, poor and destitute. We have been robbed of our all, and many of us are without houses, living in tents and wagons. In consequence of our exposure, we have suffered this summer much sickness and numbers have died, and our prospects for the ensuing winter are gloomy. But gloomy as they are, still we are not discouraged. A large majotity of us are farmers, but our teams, as well as our flocks and herds, and all our farming materials, were taken from us. Many who were independent, are now working by days works, to maintain their families, numbers of them old men, sixty years old and upwards. Such is our true situation, and as such we make our Appeal to the American People. [p. 71]
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copy of a memorial to the legislature of .
To the Honorable Legislature of the State of , in Senate and House of Representatives convened.
We, the undersigned petitioners, inhabitants of , Missouri, in consequence of the late calamity that has come upon us, taken in connection with former afflictions, feel it a duty we owe to ourselves and our , to lay our case before your honorable body for consideration.
It is a well known fact, that a society of our people commenced settling in , Missouri, in the summer of 1831, where they, according to their ability, purchased lands and settled upon them with the intention and expectation of becoming permanent citizens in common with others.
Soon after the settlement began, persecution began, and as the society increased, persecution also increased, until the society at last was compelled to leave the . And although an account of these persecutions has been published to the world, yet we feel that it will not be improper to notice a few of the most prominent items in this memorial.
On the 20th of July 1833, a mob convened at , a committee of which called upon a few of the men of our church there, and stated to them that the store, , and indeed all other machanic shops must be closed forthwith, and the society leave the immediately. These propositions were so unexpected, that a certain time was asked for to consider on the subject before an answer should be returned, which was refused, and our men being individually interrogated, each one answered that he could not consent to comply with their propo [p. 73]sitions. One of the mob replied that he was sorry, for the work of destruction would commence immediately. In a short time, the , which was a two-story brick building, was assailed by the mob and soon thrown down, and with it much valuable property destroyed. Next they went to the store for the same purpose, but , one of the owners, agreeing to close it, they abandoned their design. Their next move was the dragging of from his house and family to the public square, where, surrounded by hundreds, they partially stripped him of his clothes, and tarred and feathered him from head to foot. A man by the name of was also tarred at the same time. This was Saturday, and the mob agreed to meet the following Tuesday, to accomplish their purpose of driving or massacreing the society. Tuesday came, and the mob came also, bearing with them a red flag in token of blood. Some two or three of the principal men of the society offered their lives, if that would appease the wrath of the mob, so that the rest of the society might dwell in peace upon their lands.— The answer was, that unless the society would leave “en masse,” every man should die for himself. Being in a defenceless situation, to save a general massacre, it was agreed that one half of the society should leave the by the first of the next January, and the remainder by the first of the following April. A treaty was entered into and ratified, and all things went on smoothly for a while. But some time in October the wrath of the mob began to be again kindled, insomuch, that they shot at some of our people, whipped others, and threw down their houses, and committed many other depredations: indeed the society of saints were harrassed for some time both day and night—their houses were brickbatted and broken open—women and children insulted, &c. The store house of & Co. was broken open, ransacked, and some of the goods strewed in the streets. These abuses, with many others of a very aggravated nature, so stirred up the indignant feelings of our people that a party of them, say about 30, met a company of the mob of about double their number, when a battle took [p. 74] place in which some two or three of the mob and one of our people were killed. This raised as it were the whole in arms, and nothing would satisfy them but an immediate surrender of the arms of our people, and they forthwith to leave the —Fifty-one guns were given up, which have never been returned or paid for to this day. The next day parties of the mob, from 30 to 70, headed by priests, went from house to house, threatening women and children with death if they were not off before they returned. This so alarmed them that they fled in different directions; some took shelter in the woods, while others wandered in the prairies till their feet bled.
In the mean time the weather being very cold, their sufferings in other respects were very great.
The society made their escape to as fast as they possibly could, where the people received them kindly, and administered to their wants. After the society had left , their buildings, amounting to about two hundred, were either burned or otherwise destroyed, and much of their crops, as well as furniture, stock, etc., which if properly estimated, would make a large sum, for which they have not as yet received any remuneration. The society remained in nearly three years; when, at the suggestion of the people there, they removed to that section of country known as . Here the people purchased out most of the former inhabitants, and also entered much of the wild land. Many soon owned a number of eighties, while there was scarcely a man that did not secure to himself at least a forty. Here we were permitted to enjoy peace for a season, but as our society increased in numbers, and settlements were made in and Corrill [Carroll] counties, the mob spirit spread itself again. For months previous to our giving up our arms to ’ army, we heard little else than rumors of mobs, collecting in different places, and threatening our people. It is well known that the people of our church who had located themselves at , had to give up to a mob and leave the place, notwithstanding the militia were called out for their protection. From the mob went towards , and while on their [p. 75] way there they took two of our men prisoners and made them ride upon the cannon, and told them that they would drive the Mormons from to and from to hell, and that they would give them no quarter only at the cannon’s mouth. The threats of the mob induced some of our people to go to to help to protect their brethern who had settled at , on .
The mob soon fled from ; and after they were dispersed and the cannon taken, during which time no blood was shed, the people of returned to their homes in hopes of enjoying peace and quiet; but in this they were disappointed, for a large mob was soon found to be collecting on the Grindstone, from ten to fifteen miles off, under the command of , a scouting party of which, came within four miles of , and drove off stock belonging to our people, in open day light. About this time word came to that a party of the mob had come into to the south of —that they were taking horses and cattle—burning houses, and ordering the inhabitants to leave their homes immediately—and that they had then actually in their possession three men prisoners. This report reached in the evening and was confirmed about midnight. A company of about sixty men went forth under the command of , to disperse the mob, as they supposed. A battle was the result, in which and two of his men were killed, and others wounded. , it appears, had but one killed and others wounded. Notwithstanding the unlawful acts committed by ’s men privious to the battle, it is now asserted and claimed that he was regularly ordered out as a militia captain, to preserve the peace along the line of and counties. That battle was fought four or five days previous to the arrival of and his army. About the time of the battle with , a number of our people who were living near , on , about twenty miles below , together with a number of emigrants who had been stopped there in consequence of the excitement, made an agreement with the mob which was about there, that neither party would molest [p. 76] the other, but dwell in peace. Shortly after this agreement was made, a mob from two to three hundred, many of whom are supposed to be from , some from and also those who had agreed to dwell in peace, came upon our people there, whose number in men was about forty, at a time they little expected any such thing, and without any ceremony, notwithstanding they begged for quarters, shot them down as they would tigers or panthers. Some few made their escape by fleeing. Eighteen were killed, and a number more, severely wounded.
This tragedy was conducted in the most brutal and savage manner. An old man, after the massacre was partially over, threw himself into their hands and begged for quarters, when he was instantly shot down; that not killing him, they took an old corn cutter and literallly mangled him to pieces. A lad of ten years of age, after being shot down, also begged to be spared, when one of them placed the muzzle of his gun to his head and blew out his brains. The slaughter of these people not satisfying the mob, they then proceeded to mob and plunder the people. The scene that presented itself after the massacre, to the widows and orphans of the killed, is beyond description. It was truly a time of weeping, of mourning, and of lamentation. As yet, we have not heard of any being arrested for these murders, notwithstanding there are men boasting about the country, that they did kill on that occasion more than one Mormon, whereas, all our people who were in the battle with against , that can be found, have been arrested, and are now confined in jail to await their trial for murder.
When arrived near , and presented the ’s order, we were greatly surprised, yet we felt willing to submit to the authorities of the . We gave up our arms without reluctance; we were then made prisoners, and confined to the limits of the town for about a week, during which time the men from the country were not permitted to go to their families, many of whom were in a suffering condition for the want of food and fire-wood, the weather being very cold and stormy. Much property was destroyed by the troops in town during their stay there: such as burning house-logs, rails, [p. 77] corn-cribs, boards, &c., the using of corn and hay, the plundering of houses, the killing of cattle, sheep and hogs and also the taking of horses not their own, and all this without regard to owners or asking leave of any one. In the mean time, men were abused, women insulted and abused by the troops, and all this, while we were kept prisoners. Whilst the town was guarded we were called together by the order of , and a guard placed close around us, and in that situation, were compelled to sign a deed of trust for the purpose of making our individual property all holden, as they said, to pay all the debts of every individual belonging to the church, and also to pay for all damages the old inhabitants of may have sustained in consequence of the late difficulties in that .
was now arrived, and the first important move made by him was the collecting of our men together on the square, and selected out about fifty of them, whom he immediately marched into a house, and confined close; this was done without the aid of the Sheriff, or any legal process. The next day 46 of those taken, were driven like a parcel of menial slaves, off to , not knowing why they were taken, or what they were taken for. After being confined in more than two weeks, about one half were liberated; the rest, after another week’s confinement, were most of them, required to appear at court, and have since been let to bail. Since withdrew his troops from , parties of armed men have gone through the country, driving off horses, sheep, and cattle, and also plundering houses. The barbarity of ’ troops ought not to be passed over in silence. They shot our cattle and hogs, merely for the sake of destroying them, leaving them for the ravens to eat. They took prisoner an aged man by the name of , and without any reason for it he was struck over the head with a gun, which laid his skull bare. Another man by the name of [William] Carey was also taken prisoner by them, and without any provocation had his brains dashed out with a gun. He was laid in a wagon, and there permitted to remain, for the space of 24 hours, during which time no one was permitted to administer to him comfort or consolation, and after he was re [p. 78]moved from that situation he lived but a few hours. The destruction of property, at and about , is very great. Many are stripped bare as it were, and others partially so; indeed, take us as a body, at this time, we are a poor and afflicted people, and if we are compelled to leave the in the spring, many, yes, a large portion of our society, will have to be removed at the expense of the , as those who otherwise might have helped them, are now debarred that privilege in consequence of the deed of trust we were compelled to sign, which deed so operates upon our real estate, that it will sell for but little or nothing at this time. We have now made a brief statement of some of the most prominent features of the troubles that have befallen our people since their first settlement in this , and we believe that these persecutions have come in consequence of our religious faith, and not for any immorality on our part. That instances have been of late, where individuals have tresspassed upon the rights of others, and thereby broken the laws of the land, we will not pretend to deny, but yet we do believe that no crime can be substantiated against any of the people who have a standing in our church, of an earlier date than the difficulties in . And when it is considered that the rights of this people have been trampled upon from time to time, with impunity, and abuses heaped upon them almost innumerable, it ought, in some degree, to palliate for any infraction of the law, which may have been made on the part of our people.
The late order of , to drive us from this , or exterminate us, is a thing so novel, unlawful, tyranical and oppressive, that we have been induced to draw up this memorial and present this statement of our case to your honorable body, praying that a law may be passed rescinding the order of the to drive us from the , and also giving us the sanction of the Legislature to inherit our lands in peace—we ask an expression of the Legislature, disapproving the conduct of those who compelled us to sign a deed of trust, and also disapproving of any man or set of men, taking our property in consequence of that deed of trust, and appropriating it to the payment of debts not contracted by us, or for the pay [p. 79]ment of damages sustained in consequence of trespasses committed by others. We have no common stock, our property is individual property, and we feel willing to pay our debts as other individuals do, but we are not willing to be bound for other people’s debts also.
The arms which were taken from us here, which we understand to be about 630, besides swords and pistols, we care not so much about, as we do the pay for them; only we are bound to do military duty, which we are willing to do, and which we think was sufficiently manifested by the raising of a volunteer company last fall, at , when called upon by , to raise troops for the frontier.
The arms given up by us, we consider were worth between twelve and fifteen thousand dollars, but we understand they have been greatly damaged since taken, and at this time, probably would not bring near their former value. And as they were, both here and in , taken by the militia, and consequently by the authority of the , we therefore ask your honorable body to cause an appropriation to be made by law, whereby we may be paid for them, or otherwise have them returned to us and the damages made good. The losses sustained by our people in leaving , are so situated that it is impossible to obtain any compensation for them by law, because those who have sustained them are unable to prove those tresspasses upon individuals. That the facts do exist,—that the buildings, crops, stock, furniture, rails, timber, &c., of the society, have been destroyed in ; is not doubted by those who are acquainted in this upper country, and since these trespasses cannot be proved upon individuals, we ask your honorable body to consider this case, and if, in your liberality and wisdom, you can conceive it to be proper to make an appropriation by law to these sufferers, many of whom are still pressed down with poverty in consequence of their losses, would be able to pay their debts, and also in some degree be relieved from poverty and woe, whilst the widow’s heart would be made to rejoice and the orphan’s tear measurably dried up, and the prayers of a grateful people ascend [p. 80] on high, with thanksgiving and praise, to the Author of our existence, for that beneficent act.
In laying our case before your honorable body, we say that we are willing, and ever have been to conform to the constitution and laws of the , and of this . We ask in common with others, the protection of the laws. We ask for the privilege guaranteed to all free citizens of the and of this to be extended to us, that we may be permitted to settle and live where we please, and worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience without molestation. And while we ask for ourselves this privilege we are willing all others should enjoy the same.
We now lay our case at the feet of your legislature, and ask your honorable body to consider it, and do for us, after mature deliberation, that which your wisdom, patriotism, and philanthropy may dictate. And we, as in duty bound, will ever pray, &c.
A committee appointed by the citizens of to draft this memorial, and sign it in their behalf.