I, Lewis Barney, was born in the state of New York, Cayuga or Chelagian County, on the 8th day of September 1808. At the age of three my father moved to Ohio on the waters of Owl Creek in Knox County, in a little town by the name of Clinton near Mount Vernon. In this place my father rendered his services as a volunteer in the United States Army in the War of 1812 against the powers of Great Britain.
While residing in Clinton a circumstance took place that I think proper to mention. The children were playing around a pond of water that was caused by the water from the rain filling up a pit that was dug out for the purpose of making brick. The pond on the north side was frozen over one third of the way across. Lucien, my brother, was playing on the ice on the opposite side of the pond from where I was. He venturing too near the edge of the ice, it broke through and he was in the act of drowning. No one made a move to rescue him. At that critical moment I was impressed with an overruling and irresistible power. I sprang into the water and was led to my little drowning brother. I took hold of him and took him to a large rock that was in the middle of the pond and got on the rock, holding him out of the water. As soon as we were safe, the power left me standing on the rock with Lucien waist deep in the water. The alarm being given, mother soon came to the rescue. She waded to the rock and took us safely to land. I will here say the water was up to mother’s arms which was deep enough to be over my head. This I consider an intervention of Providence.
We lived in the town of Clinton about four years. From this place we moved to a place nine miles distance. Here my father opened a farm in the heavy beach and sugar-tree timber. In this place we had the misfortune to have our home burned with nearly all its contents. This was a great misfortune as it happened in the winter season. Consequently we were left without a shelter from cold and storms of this inclement season.
From this place we moved about one hundred miles south on the Point Creek in Fayette County, Ohio. In this place we had the privilege of again associating with my mother’s relatives and enjoying their society, for the term of seven years, in which time I commenced my studies at school. In the spring of 1825 father bought a soldier’s patent right to a quarter section of land lying on the waters of Spoon River in the state of Illinois. So we commenced making preparations to move to that land. But my mother took sick and died in October 1825. This circumstance was the cause of much trouble and confusion. I was in my 17th year. Consequently, I felt the shock very sensibly. In consequence of Mother’s death, we changed our arrangement and in place of taking the whole family we left the children and our effects with our relatives.
Father, Lucien and myself fitted up a team, a wagon and three horses and on the 15th day of November 1825 started for Spoon River, in the state of Illinois, to settle on the land that father bought the previous Spring.
We had little or no trouble on our way until we were crossing the grand prairie in Illinois. We passed the Lynn Grove about five miles and encamped for the night, after supper, having secured our horses by tying them to the wagon. We retired to our beds in the wagons. When all of a sudden the horses took a fright by a horse coming galloping to the wagon. The horses snorted and pitched about. Finally, one of them broke loose and ran back on the road with the strange horse with full speed, as far as we could hear their feet clatter on the ground. I got one of the other horses ready and was about to start after them, when I heard them coming back. They ran up to the wagon. I caught our horse and secured him, and was in the act of putting my hand on the strange horse, when he made a spring and ran back again. About this time, father discovered an object on the ground about 3 or 4 rods from the wagon. The horses saw it, and kept looking that way and snorting so I could scarcely hold them. Father called to me to give him his gun and get my revolver ready and defend myself, at this the object rolled off and disappeared in the dark, as a cloud at that time came over the moon. The horses were still uneasy so we could not sleep, so father proposed hitching up and going to the next settlement which was ten miles distance.
This settlement was on the Sangamon River, a few miles above where the town of De Caton now stands. On our arriving at the settlement we found the place vacated, however we tied up and tarried until morning. The next day we traveled on our journey. In the afternoon it commenced raining so we all got in the wagon in order to keep out of the storm. As we had three horses we had a spike team, one horse hitched to the end of the wagon tongue. To this horse we had a single tree by which he was guided. The two young horses had no lines attached to them. The horses being gentle we suspected no trouble. We at length came to a long gradual slope down to the Sangamon River. As the horses started down the hill, I got out of the wagon to get on the saddle horse. While I was on the wagon tongue, the forward wheel of the wagon ran over the end of a log which threw me down between the horses and I became tangled in the harness under the wagon tongue. At this the horses took a fright and started full speed down the hill. They soon straddled a tree which stripped the horses of every particle of harness and broke the wagon tongue and smashed in the end gate of the wagon. How I passed the tree without being literally smashed to pieces has always been a mystery that I could never solve in any other way than to give providence the credit of saving my life. I escaped unhurt with the exception of a slight cut on the head.
We gathered up our horses and fixed up our wagon a little and traveled on our journey. Being under the necessity of having our wagon repaired we stopped at the first blacksmith shop we came to which proved to be an old acquaintance of my father by the name of James Baughn. This being on the Sangamon River in Sangamon County, in the state of Illinois. The country being a rich fertile country and thinly settled. Through the influence of the blacksmith we located ourselves on Lakefork of East Creek. Here father rented a farm of father James Turley. Working through the winter for our horse feed and provisions. The next spring we put in 40 acres of corn and other grain which produced us 2000 bushels of grain, over and above paying the rent of the farm.
On the 16th of July, 1826, father and myself started back to Ohio for the children and the property that we left with our relatives. On the way back we both were taken down with the chills and fever so we were scarcely able to drive our teams. While in this condition, we overtook a man a foot with his feet badly blistered. He requested us to let him ride. Father told him if he would drive the team and take care of it he could ride in welcome. To this proposition he cheerfully agreed, so he took charge of the team and all went on alright for a couple of days, after which he got lazy and stupid, and would get in the wagon and lay down and go to sleep and let the team take care of itself.
So the fourth day father being very sick I took charge of the team. Finally the chill came on but I still managed to drive the team until the fever came on. I could not stand it any longer so I told the man to take charge of the horses which he promised to do. I got in the wagon and lay down, but he neglected to take care of the team and let them travel on without a driver. They soon got a little out of the road and ran over an old chunk and stirred up a yellow-jacket’s nest. They stung the horses. This gave them a scare, and off they went at full speed down the road. This frightened father, he sprang up and jumped out of the wagon, unfortunately his foot caught in the harness and threw him head long on the ground. The wagon ran over both his legs. I ran to the hind end of the wagon and saw him laying on the ground in the road. I supposed he was dead. Fortunately one of the stakes in the hind holster flew out and let the hind end of the wagon bed slide round and lock the wheel of the wagon. This checked the speed of the horses.
I sprang out of the hind end of the wagon and ran around and caught the horses by the bits just as they were starting on a bridge with one wheel on and the other off. One rod farther and the wagon would have been bottom side up. After securing the horses I ran back to see what had become of father. He had gotten up and wandered off into the woods. I was astonished on reaching the place where he lay, in not finding him. Presently he made his appearance, emerging from the thicket in a state of derangement, not knowing what had happened. I then led him to the wagon, and made him as comfortable as circumstances would permit. I then straightened up the team and wagon and resumed our journey. The next morning father having recovered from his derangement discarded the stupid teamster. We then managed the best we could in our sickness. About this time we began to recover so that when we reached the place of our destination we were measurably recovered.
We set to work making the necessary preparations to start on our return journey. There was a young lady of my age that had taken quite a fancy to our family and proposed to go with us. As she was of good reputation and having no permanent home in the country, father told her that it would not be prudent for him to take her with us unless she was married and have some one as protector. So father declined taking her. Upon hearing this she made a solemn appeal to our sympathy not to leave her behind. So after we had our team hitched up and started on our journey through the importunities of the connections, father told the girl if she could make up her mind to become his companion he would take her with us. To this she readily consented. So we stopped the team in the road and father and her went to Uncle Walter Yeoman’s house and was married.
We then resumed our journey, taking up the line of march for Sangamon in County, Illinois. On the 8th day of October, 1826, we arrived all safe and sound at the place of our destination. We found every thing favorable. Lucien that had been left to take care of the crop was well and glad to see us. We then gathered our crop of grain and made preparations for winter. We also located a claim for a farm five miles up the creek called Lakefork of Salt Creek. The next summer we built a house and fenced 25 acres of land on our claim. We sold corn and bought cows and hogs, so we had enough for the use of the family.
The country began to settle up rapidly and it became necessary to secure a government title to our lands. So Luther and myself started for the lead mines on Fever River in the north part of the state of Illinois for the purpose of raising money to secure our lands. This was in the year of 1828. The next summer we returned home with money enough to enter 80 acres of land. By this time we had opened about 80 acres of farm well fenced.
The next fall of 1830 I hired to old Father Turley to feed and take care of his stock. While working for him, one of his daughters became very fond and intimate with me. I also enjoyed her society very agreeably. She was considered the most lovely, handsome and intelligent young lady in the county, and had many admirers of high rank and position, but her choice of all her attendants fell upon myself. She every way managed to court my favor and attention.
About this time I was elected Captain of a company of Infantry which position I held for several years. I enjoyed the society of the young ladies and gentlemen very much. On the 11th day of April, 1832, I married a girl by the name of Elizabeth Turner. I then settled down on my farm and continued making improvements until I had 80 acres of land enclosed with a good substantial fence, a hewed log house eighteen by twenty-two feet, also a frame house, suitable stables, cribs and corrals. I also secured a government patent to 200 acres of good land, one half timber and the other half prairie joining father, who also had the same amount of land and improvements.
About this time I took a job of making rails on the North Fork of the Sangamon River about twenty miles from home. There came a heavy snow storm that stopped me from work. I started home in company with James Baker a foot. We crossed the river and made our way to the edge of the prairie. In the afternoon we started to cross the prairie to the Buffalo Grove, a distance of seven miles. When we got half a mile from the house it commenced snowing. We went about a mile further and the falling snow hid the grove from sight, there being no object to steer by. Baker and myself disagreed in relation to the course to take for the grove. So he took his course and I took mine. We traveled each his own way when we were about a hundred yards apart, I called to him. He stopped, so I went to him. I told him the way we were doing one or the other of us would miss our mark and perhaps both, and we were both liable to be frozen to death, and the best thing we could do would be to take the back tract. Baker was nearly exhausted, so we turned back. I soon was sixty or eighty rods ahead of Baker. So I stopped for him to come up. There was old snow on the ground about eighteen inches deep with a crust over it sufficient to hold up the weight of a man. Sometimes we would break through the crust. So I settled down in the snow. When Baker came up I was so stiff and cold I was scarcely able to travel. When we got back to the house neither of us was able to get over the yard fence and the man of the house came out and helped us over the fence and into the house. Our feet were badly frozen. We stayed with Mr. Cox three or four days. Having recovered we started for home, where we arrived the same day all right.
There is another circumstance in my history I will take the liberty to mention. Having business at Springfield, the County Seat of Sangamon County, about twenty-five miles distance from home, I, in company with John Rogers started on our way for that town. There was a lake of running water half a mile across. This lake was a half a mile from our house and frozen over. So we crossed it on the ice. While we were gone there came up a long heavy rain storm that raised all the streams of water to their highest pitch. During the storm we put up with some old acquaintances on Sangamon River. After the storm was over it turned cold and commenced freezing, and for fear of the waters freezing so we could not cross we set out for home at sunrise. Two and a half miles on the way we came to Wolf Creek. The stream was swimming and we had to break the ice on both sides of the creek. We then swam our horses over and started for home. We had considerable trouble in crossing sloughs and ice on our way. We at length came to a slew of running water about one hundred yards wide. Had I not been acquainted with the bottom of the slew I would not have dared venture to cross it.
I knew it would come very near if not quite swimming our horses. It was also frozen over all but about two rods in the middle. It was fearful to look at. I told Rogers we would cross it at all hazards.
“Well,” he said, “you will have to take the lead.”
So I got a hand spike, got on the mare and started in breaking the ice, as I went, the water getting deeper at every step. When I reached the open space in the middle of the stream the water was within three inches of running over the mares’ weathers and on my knees in the saddle. As soon as the mare struck the ice on the other side she reared up to get on the ice, I slid off behind and plunged head and heel under water. I recovered and grabbed my hand spike and broke for shore. The wind was blowing a perfect gale from the northwest. I took off my overcoat to wring the water out of it and before I could wring the water out of the coat it was frozen so stiff it would stand alone. I put it on again. The mare was all of a shake with the cold. I sprang upon her back. She started off full speed for the distance of three miles where we struck the lake, the waves rolling, and white caps flying in a fearful manner.
I said, “Well John, we have got to the end of our journey, for this lake is swimming for half a mile. We will have to make the best of it. We have no way of making a fire and you know we never can get back to the Buffalo Grove or the North Fork without crossing all those slews again. Besides it is fifteen miles right against the northwest wind that is blowing a fearful gale. We will have to run up and down the lake to keep ourselves from freezing if we can.”
So we turned our horses loose and started up the lake at a good run. This we kept up for two or three hours, until Rogers was nearly exhausted. There being a hut of an old haystack nearby I told Rogers that we would try and dig a hole into it and see if we could make a place to lay down in. The haystack was about two feet high and froze nearly solid through with ice. We commenced our task and worked at it until we wore the nails off from our fingers until they were all blood. We got a small place about large enough for a good sized dog to lay down in. As Rogers was nearly froze I told him to get in first which he did. I lay down to the side and covered up with the frozen hay we had dug out of the stack. In this manner we lay and shook with the cold all night. About one o’clock the wind fell and it was intensely cold.
Rogers muttering, “Oh dear! I shall freeze.”
I said, “Well what do you think of me, I am all wet and my clothes all froze on me.”
He said, “I don’t know what will become of us.”
In this condition we passed the night. As soon as it was light I looked up and saw that the lake was frozen over. I examined it and the ice was strong enough to bear me. I called John and told him to get up and let us go home. He got up and started on the ice and broke through about knee deep in water. He sat down and took off his shoes and socks. We wrung the water out of one sock and lay it down, then he wrung the other sock and lay it down and took up the first one. It was frozen hard so he could not untwist it and the other one was in the same condition, the shoes the same. There he was, barefoot and his shoes and socks froze so hard he could not get them on his feet. I told him to cut his saddle blanket in two and wrap his foot up in it, which he did. This being done, I started off on the ice. I called to Rogers to come on. He started and got about one hundred yards and the blankets came off his feet, and here he came, pat pat pat with his bare feet on the ice. When we came to the other side of the lake we broke through the ice in the water about eighteen inches deep. We waded out and ran home. There was a Baptist preacher there. As Rogers was a very profane man the preacher said, “Well Rogers, did you swear any last night?”
His answer was, “No, by G—, I did not know but I should be in the middle of hell before morning.”
After a few days the weather moderated and the horses had to be gotten home from over the lake. So Rogers and myself made arrangements to go for them. We had a canoe in the lake. We accordingly took an axe and a kettle of fire and started for the canoe. We put the kettle of fire in the canoe, took the axe and commenced cutting ice. In this way we cut a channel across the lake for the canoe to run in. The ice on the surface of the water was three inches thick. On examination we found the old ice was under the water about three feet deep and appeared to be strong, so we concluded to ride the horses back in the channel that we cut for the canoe. I, as usual, was required to take the lead. All things ready I started in, Rogers following after. When I got about two thirds of the way across, my mare broke through the lower ice an commenced swimming. I threw the axe one way and the kettle the other and swam out and got on the upper ice safe.
Rogers being behind, thought himself in a bad condition and said, “Oh God, what shall I do.” I told him to take off the saddle and turn the horse loose, and let him go. He stripped the horse and started on. When he [the horse] came to the place where the ice was broke he plunged in and went under the water out of sight. At this Rogers become excited and stepped back into an air hole and went under the water, I took hold of him and helped him on the ice. I laughed at him and said, “Well John, you have not made much this time by going behind, you are wet this time as well as me.” “Yes, and bless your kind self if it had not have been for your help I would now have been in Hell. In a good deal warmer country than this.”
The horse swam out and ran home and we followed after and arrived all safe once more, very thankful for the good fortune we had.
In the year of 1832 the Sac and Fox Indians broke out and invaded Illinois at Rock island and killed some of the white inhabitants. It would be doing an injustice to the Indian race not to give a statement of the cause of the brake.
At the time the Sac and Fox Indians were the sole proprietors of the Rock River country, which was a beautiful, rich, fertile country. The Indians claimed this portion of Illinois as their hunting ground and home. The whites coveted that land and began to settle on it. The white authorities contrived to get the leading Chiefs together, got them drunk and while in that condition traded them out of their lands. Blackhawk and Keokuck refused to sign the contract and contended it was illegal sale and would not leave their lands. Upon this the whites raised small force and drove the Indians off from the land they and swindled the Indians out of and killed some of them. This caused them to make the brake that originated in the Blackhawk war.
The governor of Illinois called for volunteers to raise an army to drive the Indians from Illinois. I volunteered my services in that campaign under the orders of Captain John Dawson who was under Major James D. Henry of the Spy Battalion who was under General Atkinson. We rendezvoused at Bierets town on the bank of the Illinois River, in the month of April 1832. Here we waited the arrival of the troops from the different counties of the State, and also the arrival of the boats bringing our supplies.
Everything necessary being prepared, we took up the line of march for the Yellow Banks, up the Mississippi River. Here we recruited our supplies and animals from the boats that were sent up the river for that purpose. From here marched across the Dixon on Rock River, and while awaiting the arrival of the boats with provisions about midnight, three men road into camp wounded and bleeding, bringing the word that Stilman’s Company were defeated and all killed, numbering three hundred men. The alarm being given, the Bugle sounded and all hands ordered on parade.
The whole camp, three thousand men were out of provisions and waiting the arrival of the boats up the river, with supplies for the army. General Atkinson ordered Dixons cattle all butchered, they being very thin in flesh and sixteen in number. In fifteen or twenty minutes after the three men came in, four more men rode into camp with word that Stillman’s whole company was massacred and they barely escaped, and all behind them were murdered. In fifteen or twenty minutes seven more men rode into camp with the same lamentable tale. So squad after squad kept dropping in until there were only ninety men missing out of the three hundred. A little before day the beef was rationed out amounting to one and one half pounds to the man. I threw my portion on the coals to roast, saddled my horse, gathered up my beef ready for the work march, which was given in a few minutes after. We then took up the line of march for the battle field.
On arriving at the camp ground we found eleven men all cut to pieces and eighteen or twenty horses dead on the ground. We gathered up the dead and buried them. We then searched the country for ten or twelve miles around. We found two Indians hung up in a tree. We then returned back to Dixon’s having been gone three days. On arriving we found the boats had arrived with the supplies for the camp, which were cheerfully received, as the camp was out of provisions and had been for five days, with the exception of a little parched corn that we had for horse feed.
Major General Henry, having been promoted to the office of general, took 1000 men and started across the country in order if possible to strike the trail of the Indians. After traveling about eighty miles he struck the trail and followed it, over taking the Indians about sundown. We gave them two or three rounds of rifle shot which left about sixty of them dead on the ground. We had one man killed and six wounded. The next morning we took the trail and followed them over a rough country, through Wisconsin and overtook them up the Mississippi at the mouth of Bad Creek. Here they killed about seven hundred fifty of them and took Blackhawk and Keokuck prisoners. This ended the war. Through the means of this war the territory of Iowa was secured for the United States, and the Indian title obliterated. From the close of the war the territory of Iowa began to settle up slowly. Nothing occurred outside of the common avocations of life. As I enjoyed myself very much with the rifle I spent my leisure time in hunting, game being very plentiful, such as deer, turkeys, racoons, wolves, prairie hens, geese, ducks, squirrels and wild pigeons. I continued working in the farm and raising an abundance of grain, pork and stock, also every variety of vegetables, sugar honey, and fruits of all kinds in an abundance.
(Walter b. 18 Sept. 1826 – Lake Fork, Sangamon, Ill.)
(baptized – 1846 – by Orson Hyde)
In 1838 Father and myself took a stroll over into Iowa to see the country. Being well pleased with the country we located a claim of a thousand acres of land each. Timber and prairie joining. So we sold our farms in Illinois and entered our lands in Iowa and secured a government patent for it. In the fall we moved on our land in Iowa and commenced making improvements.
About this time there was heavy persecution in Missouri against the Mormons. All manner of evil reports were put in circulation about them. And the whole country was stirred up against them. And from their reports I, in common with the rest of the people, supposed they were the most outrageous and hardened set of criminals that ever graced the earth. Yet I paid but little attention to it. Finally, the people in Missouri in mass drove them from the state. They scattered out through Iowa. The principle part of them settled in Illinois. They sent out their missionaries preaching to the people, setting forth their grievances and explanation of the trouble between themselves and the people of Missouri.
Upon investigation I found the Missourians were in the wrong and without provocation, had with out legal authority or process of law, driven the Mormons from their own lands and homes, that they bought from the general government.
I also discovered that they were a religious and so far as religions was concerned they were on an equal footing with the other religious denominations. At that time I cared nothing for religion as the Methodist and Cumberland Presbyterians had been trying to convert me to their faith, and I had followed their instructions without receiving the promise they made to me. This set me to thinking. And I came to the conclusion that religion of every kind was a hoax, and that none was right, and that all preachers of religion were hypocrites, and were preaching for money and popularity. And cared nothing for the salvation or welfare of the human family. This being the state of my mind the Mormon missionaries found me in a bad condition to receive their testimony.
I saw two Mormon Elders coming along the road both afoot with their valises in their hands. This reminded me of the way the Savior sent out his disciples when he was on the earth preaching the gospel. I went to hear them more through curiosity than anything else not knowing they were a religious people.
At the opening services they sang the hymn, “Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise, Her Light Begins to Shine,” after which they prayed. This rather surprised me as I supposed them to be the worst of criminals. In their remarks they spoke of the signs that were to make their appearance previous to the coming of the Son of Man in the clouds of heaven. And also of the gathering of the Jews and the rebuilding of the City of Jerusalem, showing by the prophets this had to be done before the Savior would come with all his holy angels. Also that the gospel had the power to heal the sick, cast out devils and that all the gifts and blessings of the gospel (Church) in former days were again restored to the Church in these latter days. And that God had raised up a prophet and restored the priesthood again to men on the earth and had set his hand again to gather Israel from the four quarters of the earth to prepare for the reign of Christ on the earth a thousand years, and that the great millennium was about to be ushered in.
There had been many strange signs in the heavens that caused much fear and excitement among the people that could not [be] accounted for. For these things being facts, consequently, I searched the scriptures in order to ascertain whether the prophets had spoken of those signs. Which I found verified by them. After a year and a half of careful investigation, also by becoming acquainted with Joseph Smith and the Mormon people generally and their principles, finding them an honest, industrious people, and wickedly misrepresented, I presented myself for baptism.
(Walter, his first born, was 4 years old at this time.)
I was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by Alva Tippits in May 1840, in the water of the Mississippi River, and was confirmed a member of the Church under the hands of Joseph Smith, the Prophet in the first settling of Nauvoo. Brother Luther had previously joined the Church and commenced talking with Father and the neighbors upon the gifts and blessings of the gospel enjoyed by the former day saints and contended that it was the privilege of the church now to enjoy the same gifts and blessings and if the church was not in possession of that power, it was not the true church and was not acknowledged of God as his church. This stirred up the minds of the people [and] some of them commenced searching the scriptures and on becoming convinced of these things joined the Church. And in a short time we had a branch of about 30 members organized, among whom were all my father’s family. This place was about 60 miles from Nauvoo.
The brethren wishing to be more intimately acquainted with the Prophet wanted to sell out and move to Nauvoo. To this I was opposed. So I went to Nauvoo to see the Prophet Joseph Smith in relation to this matter. I laid the case before him, he advised not to sell. I told him that they would not believe me and I wished he would put it on paper, which he did. So I took the letter, went back and presented it to the branch, but they still persisted in selling and going to Nauvoo in opposition to the instruction of brother Joseph Smith the Prophet.
There was an elder by the name of James Carl. He had formerly been a Methodist preacher and very enthusiastic. He got the whole branch excited in relation to the judgments of God that was to proceed the coming of the Messiah. He made the members of the branch believe that these instructions were to take place almost immediately, and that our land would be of no benefit to us. But I still opposed selling. This same James Carl had visited a small branch about 30 miles up the river and raised an excitement in the settlement. The inhabitants being very much enraged in consequence of his preaching false doctrine. So it became necessary to send an elder up there to put down the excitement. So Alva Tippits was appointed to that mission. He invited me and Benjamin Leyland to accompany him up there. James Carl also went along, intruding himself on the company.
On arriving at the place, we found the citizens very much exasperated and forbid the branch holding any more meetings. Alva Tippits called a council of the elders to decide what to do. And it was agreed to appoint a meeting the next day at 12 o’clock. The appointed time arrived and the house filled up for the meeting.
The opening services being concluded Brother Leyland arose to speak to the people, when announcement was given that the mob was coming. There were about 40 of them armed with clubs and bowie knives and pistols. They marched upon the door full of rage, cursing and swearing and damning old Joe Smith and the Mormons, brandishing their clubs and knives in the air. At this the congregation became frightened, the women and children were crying screaming, and then all rushed out the back door as the mob were coming in at the front door. Leyland stopped preaching. James Carl crouched up in the corner under the desk and Leyland followed suit. This left Brother Tippits and myself to face the music. The house being filled with an infuriated mob. I sprang upon one of the benches and said,
“Gentlemen don’t be excited. I am an American citizen and I presume you are also Americans. We enjoy the liberty, the rights and privileges that our fathers fought for in the Revolutionary war and many of them laid down their lives to secure us the privilege we now enjoy, or living on our farms and pleasant houses unmolested. I was a volunteer in the Blackhawk war and ventured my life to reach this country, the Iowa Territory, from the hands of the Indians, even this land on which you have your homes. My father also was a volunteer in the war of 1812 and ventured his life for the protection of our liberties. My grandfather was a commander on the seas and commanded a large fleet and fought one of the most decisive battles in the Revolutionary War. We as American citizens are enjoying the fruits of their sufferings and labors. We wish you to enjoy the privileges of living on your farms unmolested. We have not come here out of any evil motives. We believe the Bible. We believe in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. We came here to have a visit with the folks up here and to have a little meeting. Now I ask you kindly if you have any objections to our having a little prayer meeting this evening? And as far as the Mormons are concerned you will never be disturbed in the enjoyment of your homes and your rights and privileges. And after our meeting we will return to our homes.”
They listened to my remarks with marked attention. The captain of the mob stepped upon a bench and said,
“That does not agree with the ideas we have heard about the Mormons. We believe them to be the most wicked, corrupt, scoundrels that live upon the earth. And as to your believing the Bible, you are as far from it as the East to the West. We want no more Mormon meetings in our settlement. Yet, I don’t know that I have any objections to your having a meeting this evening.”
He then asked his company if they were willing that we should have a meeting to which they agreed. So they went to their homes. And then Leyland and Carl crawled out from under the desk. The appointment was given out for a meeting that evening.
The time came, the house was crowded, and among the audience was the mob. The meeting opened, the privilege was given for anyone to speak that wished to. Several of the brethren bore testimony to the truth of Mormonism. Some of the sisters spoke in tongues. Also some of the brethren spoke in tongues and prophesied. We had a splendid meeting. I was moved upon to speak in a language unknown to me. At this the Captain of the mob got up and said no one could deny but that was a pure language, but how do we know but that they have learned that language. There was the most strict attention paid to everything that was said. The meeting was dismissed and the best of feelings enjoyed by all, both Saints and mob.
The next day we went home, having restored peace in that neighborhood for the present time. The brethren of the branch were still resolved on selling out and moving to Nauvoo. Through the influence of Benjamin Leyland, Father sold his farm for $2200.00, which was worth $10,000.00 and I also sold my possessions.
We then moved to Nauvoo. There I become familiar with Joseph Smith the Prophet and the Smith family. I found them an honest, industrious family of people and much respected by all that knew them.
I then bought a city lot of Brother Hyrum Smith and built a frame house on it. Father also bought a house and lot in Nauvoo and we lived in Nauvoo that year. But not being accustomed to a city life, we bought each of us a quarter of a section of prairie land about 12 miles from Nauvoo. I paid $750.00 for my land, this I paid in gold and silver for the prairie. I then paid $400.00 more for improvements on the land. Part of the time we lived on the farm and part of the time in Nauvoo. We attended most of the meetings and received much instructions upon the principles of the gospel. We enjoyed peace for a short time.
The mob in Missouri continued to harass the Prophet and the Mormons until they got the whole country in an uproar against the Mormons.
One day being in company with Joseph and several others, Joseph said he needed a little money and if he had it, he could put it to a better use than any other person in the world. I said nothing to him about it but went home and got $200.00 and went to Joseph’s store. Joseph not being present and I being acquainted with Lyman Wight, said to him.
“I have a little money for brother Joseph that I wish to let him have.” Brother Wight said, “Let me take it and I will hand it to him.”
I told him to write me a receipt for it. While he was writing the receipt Brother Joseph stepped in.
I said, “Brother Joseph, I have some money for you. I was about to let Brother Wight have for you.”
Joseph said, “I am the man to take it.” So I handed him the $200.00 for which he gave me his note payable 6 months after date. I continued working on my farm building and improving my place until I got eighty acres of land inclosed with good stake and ridered fence. While we lived on that place, my wife’s mother took sick and died and was buried in the Nauvoo grave yard. Persecution continued to increase.
Brother Joseph was continually harassed by the mob from Missouri with vexations and lawsuits, which stirred up the people of Illinois, until the Illinois Legislature repealed the Nauvoo charter and left the inhabitants of Nauvoo exposed to all the insults and abuses that the mob felt disposed to inflict upon them. I became a witness of these things; wicked, unjust abuses which gave me a more firm belief that all the former reports of their persecutions were true and were heaped upon them without cause or provocation.
The persecution continued to increase until Thomas Ford and governor of Illinois raised an army of about 3000 men and sent them to Carthage, Hancock County, which was 18 miles distant from Nauvoo, and stationed them at Carthage, the county seat of Hancock County. The governor also was there and made a demand of Joseph Smith, that he should give himself up to the officers and go to Carthage to be tried and answer to a charge of treason against the state. Some of the brethren were in favor of having him go to Carthage and stand his trial and said it would all come out right and he would be acquitted and that would put an end to the trouble. I told them that if Brother Joseph ever went to Carthage he would never get away alive. I lived in the neighborhood of Carthage about 3 miles from town and knew their intent; wicked hatred against the Prophet and the Mormons. That it was their intention to get him there and assassinate him and that was the reason they got up the prosecution against him.
The governor pledged his honor and the faith of the state that he would be protected and not hurt if he would give himself up and come to Carthage, and he should have a fair trial. So he went and was murdered, also his brother Hyrum.
As soon as this was done the whole country was deserted; men, women and children fled for their lives, not taking time to shut their doors after them. Stores were left standing open and there was gloom cast over the country, so much that strangers passing through the country spoke of it. As I was out looking, I met a stranger. He ask me what was the matter. That everything looks so gloomy and lonesome. I told him that last evening (27th of June, 1844) Joseph Smith the Prophet and his brother Hyrum were murdered at Carthage Illinois, and the people here all fled and left the country and when the blood of a prophet is shed it has a tendency to cast a gloom over the country.
The whole Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were bathed in tears and mourning for the loss of the Prophet and the Patriarch. The mob supposed if Joseph was out of the way it would put an end to Mormonism as they called it. So things were more peaceable for about a year. But the Saints under the Presidency of Brigham Young increased their diligence in pushing forward the Temple that was under course of erection, and were more united than before the death of the Prophet. So the mob again commenced their depredations, by driving the Saints that lived in settlements outside of Nauvoo from their houses and setting them on fire and destroying their crops and killing their stock. This went on about a week. The most of the outside Saints being driven into the city.
About this time they went a committee of three men to me to try and get me to give up Mormonism. They said we know you are an honest man and we feel sorry for you and if you will give up Mormonism and the Book of Mormon, you are welcome to stay with us and we will protect you.
The determination is to drive all the Mormons into Nauvoo then surround it and then burn the city and drive the Mormons into the river. So you see there will be a full end of the Mormons. I told them that looked very cruel but I could not comply with their request. So they left me to my own destruction. Soon after seven armed men rode up and said,
“Well Mr. Barney, have you got a gun? If you have, we want it.” I told them I had and knew how to use it and perhaps I might need it and could not spare it. One of them searched the house but found no gun. I had expected them so went and hid my gun under the fence on the way to Nauvoo. When they found they could not find the gun they said,
“Well Mr. Barney, we will give you until tomorrow to morning (sic) to get away and then we will be here to burn your house and if you are here we will have to take action. So you had better be gone.” They rode off. I then set to work making the necessary preparations for leaving my hard earned home. I had the previous year set out an orchard of 100 apple trees and as many peach trees and other shrubbery, expecting to make a permanent home on the land. I paid my money for and held the deeds in my possession all the time. So I turned my hogs into the corn field; about 35 acres well fenced with a good, tight, strong seven rail, staked and ridered fence so that a three months old pig would not get out or into the field. I then harnessed my horses hitched them to the wagon and loaded in what things I could and drove down to Nauvoo to my own house that I had in the city.
In about a week I went back to Carthage to attend trial in court. I had loaned a fine mare to my brother Luther and as he was owing a man in Carthage $2.00 he attached my brother’s wagon and team for the $2.00. I proved the mare was mine and got her. But my brother’s horse and wagon was kept. My witness was Archibald Patten.
We then went to my farm found the cornfield with about 60 old sows and shoats in it, and my pork hogs gone. I knew they had been taken out and the hogs turned in. So I and Brother Patten went over to John Baganers, my nearest neighbor, to see if he knew anything about my hogs. He said, “Your hogs had gotten into my cornfield and was tearing down my corn so I had to shut them up to save my corn.” I told him that was rather strange, that I left the hogs in my own field of corn when I left. Not wishing to get into a quarrel with him, I asked him what the damage was. He said five dollars. I said to him, “You know you are owing me four dollars. I will give you that if you will let me take the hogs.” But he insisted on having five dollars so I agreed to give the debt and the added dollar. We then turned the hogs out of the pen and I and Brother Archibald Patten took them back to my farm. I was about to turn them into the cornfield, but Brother Patten advised me not to do so, but to take them direct to Nauvoo, so we took them into the city.
As soon as I was gone John Wagoner took out an attachment for the dollar I promised him for my own hogs and went with Barnes the Officer to my house and attached all the loose property on the farm, amounting to over $100.00 dollars for one dollar. He at the same time got out a warrant for me stealing his pork hogs out of his pen. This he did in order to get me in the Carthage Jail as they had several other Mormons in the same way.
As the whole country was in a state of excitement I declined going back to my farm. So Wagoner took what property I left on the farm. The same day that the mob set to burn my house, William Backenstos, the sheriff in Hancock County with his posse killed Frank Worl, the Captain of the mob. That put a stop to their burning houses. Consequently, my house was not burned.
I made arrangement with Colonel Markham to send teams to the farm to bring in my grain to Nauvoo on shares. As we were forced to leave Nauvoo that winter I had no need of any more grain than we could use, so I let those that were destitute have the greater part of my grain to keep them through the winter. There being a call for volunteers and teams to assist the poor from Nauvoo, I volunteered my services and two wagons and teams to help the saints out of Nauvoo. And on the 7th day of February 1846 I crossed the Mississippi River in company with the exiled saints.
Being mobbed and driven from our hard earned homes and firesides in the dead of winter to perish with cold and hunger for no other cause than that we dare believe in the word of the Lord contained in his revelations to man on the earth.
We camped on Sugar Creek, eight miles west of Nauvoo. There we stayed three weeks exposed to the most severe storms of snow and cold weather that occurred that winter. All most in sight of our own homes that were now in the hands of our persecutors. Our women and children trailing from one wagon to another knee deep in snow, many times nearly frozen to death.
At the end of three weeks we rolled out and set our faces westward trusting in the providences of Almighty God for our deliverance. (sic)
On reaching the summit between the Mississippi and Des Moines Rivers the company made a halt for the purpose of taking a last and peering look at the Nauvoo Temple, the spire of which was then glittering in the bright shining sun. The last view of the temple was witnessed in the midst of sighs and lamentations, all faces in gloom and sorrow bathed in tears, at being forced from our homes and Temple that had cost so much toil and suffering to complete its erection.