“Great is the truth, and it will prevail.”
Price 25 cents per copy, or $16 per hundred.
DAWSON & BATES, PRINTERS
Entered, according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1839, by P.P. Pratt, in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the United States for the District of Michigan.
PERSECUTION OF THE MORMONS, etc.
The following is a copy of a declaration, which was signed by the mob at the commencement of their operations, in 1833; and, it may be considered as their articles of agreement in conspiring against the laws of the land; and the very foundation of that awful scene which has well nigh destroyed a flourishing society of many thousands, and involved the whole state in irretrievable ruin.
“We, the undersigned, citizens of Jackson County, believing that an important crisis is at hand, as regards our civil society, in consequence of a pretended religious sect of people, that have settled and are still settling in our county, styling themselves Mormons: and intending as we do to rid our society, peaceably if we can, forcibly if we must: and believing as we do, that the arm of the civil law does not afford us a guarantee, or at least a sufficient one, against the evils which are now inflicted upon us, and seem to be increasing by the said religious sect; deem it expedient and of the highest importance, to form ourselves into a company for the better and easier accomplishment of our purpose; a purpose which we deem it almost superfluous to say, is justified as well by the law of nature as by the law of self- preservation. It is now more than two years since the first of these fanatics or knaves, (for one or the other they undoubtedly are) made their first appearance amongst us; and pretending as they did, and now do, to hold personal communion and converse, face to face, with the most high God–to receive communications and revelations direct from heaven–to heal the sick by laying on hands–and in short, to perform all the wonder-working miracles wrought by the inspired apostles and prophets of old. We believe them deluded fanatics, or weak and designing knaves; and that they and their pretensions would soon pass away; but in this we were deceived. The arts of a few designing leaders among them have thus far succeeded in holding them together as a society, and since the arrival of the first of them, they have been daily increasing in numbers, and if they had been respectable citizens in society, and thus deluded, they would have been entitled to our pity rather than our contempt and hatred. But from their appearance, from their manners, and from their conduct since their coming among us, we have every reason to fear, that with very few exceptions, they were of the very dregs of that society from whence they came–lazy, idle and vicious. This we conceive is not an idle assertion, but a fact susceptible of proof; for, with the few exceptions above named, they brought into our county with them, little or no property, and left less behind them; and we infer, that those only, yoked themselves to the Mormon car, who had nothing earthly or heavenly to lose by the change; and we fear that if some of the leaders among them, had paid the forfeit due to crime, instead of being chosen ambassadors of the Most High, would have been inmates of solitary cells. But their conduct here, stamps their characters in their true colors. More than a year since it was ascertained that they had been tampering with our slaves, and endeavoring to sow dissensions and to raise seditions among them. Of this, their Mormon leaders were informed; and said that they would deal with any of their members who should again in like case offend. But how specious are appearances.
In a late number of the Star, published in Independence, by the leaders of this sect, there is an article inviting free negroes and mulattoes from other states, to become Mormons, and remove and settle among us. This exhibits them in still more odious colors. It manifests a desire on the part of their society to inflict on our society, an injury that they knew would be to us insupportable, and one of the surest means of driving us from the country; for it would require none of the supernatural gifts that they pretend to; to see that the introduction of such a cast among us, would corrupt our blacks, and instigate them to bloodshed.
“They openly blaspheme the most High God, and cast contempt upon his holy religion, by pretending to receive revelations direct from heaven–by pretending to speak in unknown tongues by direct inspiration–and by divers pretenses derogatory of God and religion, and to the utter subversion of human reason. They declare openly that their God hath given them this county of land, and that sooner or later, they must and will have possession of our lands for an inheritance; and in fine they have conducted themselves on many other occasions in such a manner, that we believe it a duty we owe to ourselves, to our wives and children, and to the cause of public morals, to remove them from among us. We are not prepared to give up our pleasant places and goodly possessions to them; or to receive into the bosom of our families as fit companions for our wives and daughters, the degraded free negroes and mulattoes, who are now invited to settle among us. Under such a state of things, even our beautiful county would cease to be a desirable residence, and our situation intolerable. We therefore agree, that after timely warning, and upon receiving an adequate compensation for what little property they cannot take with then, they refuse to leave us in peace as they found us, we agree to use such means as may be sufficient to remove them. And to that end, we severally pledge to each other, our lives, our bodily powers, fortunes, and sacred honors! We will meet at the courthouse in the town of Independence, on Saturday next, to consult of ulterior movements.”
Hundreds of signatures were signed to the foregoing, among which were the following, viz: Henry Chiles, Attorney; Russel Hicks, Attorney; Hugh L. Brazeale, Attorney; Henry [Samuel] Weston, Justice of the Peace; John Smith, Justice of the Peace; John Cook, Justice of the Peace; Lewis Franklin, jailer; Thomas Pitcher, Lt. Col. Militia and Constable; Samuel C. Owens, County Clerk; D. Lucas, Colonel of Militia, and Judge of County Court; Jones H. Flornay [James H. Flournoy], Postmaster, Moses Wilson.
Before I proceed with the history, I will briefly notice a few items of the foregoing bond of conspiracy, for I consider most of it as too barefaced to need any comment. In the first place I would inquire whether our belief as set forth in this declaration, as to gifts, miracles, revelations and tongues, is not the same that all the apostles and disciples taught, believed and practiced, and the doctrine of the New Testament?
Secondly, I would inquire when the New Testament religion ceased, and a law revealed or instituted which made blasphemy of the belief and practice of it? or what holy religion the Jackson mob were speaking of, which was thrown into contempt by the revival of the New Testament religion?
Thirdly, they complain of our society being very poor, as to property; but have they never read in the New Testament that God had chosen the poor in this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom of God? and when did poverty become a crime known to the law?
Fourthly, concerning free negroes and mulattoes.–Do not the laws of Missouri provide abundantly for the removal from the state of all free negroes and mulattoes? (except certain privileged ones;) and also for the punishment of those who introduce or harbor them? The statement concerning our invitation to them to become Mormons, and remove to this state, and settle among us, is a wicked fabrication, as no such thing was ever published in the Star, or anywhere else, by our people, nor anything in the shadow of it; and we challenge the people of Jackson, or any other people, to produce such a publication from us.
In fact, one half dozen negroes or mulattoes, never have belonged to our society, in any part of the world, from its first organization to this day, 1839.
Fifthly, as to crime or vice, we solemnly appeal to all the records of the courts of Jackson County, and challenge the county to produce the name of any individual of our society on the list of indictments, from the time of our first settlement in the county, to the time of our expulsion, a period of more than two years.
Sixthly, as it respects the ridiculous report of our threatening that we would have their lands for a possession, it is too simple to require a notice, as the laws of the country guarantee to every man his rights, and abundantly protect him in their full enjoyment. And we hereby declare, that we settled no lands, only such as our money purchased, and that no such thing ever entered our hearts, as possessing any inheritance in any other way. And
Seventhly, we ask what public morals were in danger of being corrupted, where officers of the peace could openly violate their several oaths in the most awful manner, and join with hundreds of others in murder, treason, robbery, house burning, stealing, etc.
But to proceed with my history. Pursuant to the last clause of the bond, the mob met at the court house, on the 20th of July, and proceeded immediately to demolish the brick printing office and dwelling house of W.W. Phelps & Co., and destroyed or took possession of the press, type, books and property of the establishment; at the same time turning Mrs. Phelps and children out of doors, after which they proceeded to personal violence by a wanton assault and battery upon the bishop of the Church, Mr. Edward Partridge, and a Mr. Allen, whom they tarred and feathered, and variously abused. They then compelled Messrs. Gilbert, Whitney & Co. to close their store and pack their goods, after which they adjourned to meet again on the 23rd of July; on which day they again met, to the number of several hundred, armed with fire-arms, dirks and sticks, with red flags hoisted, and as they entered town, threatening death and destruction to the Mormons. On this day, six individuals of the Church signed an agreement to leave the county, one half by the first of January, and the other half by the first of April, 1834; hoping thereby to preserve the lives of their brethren, and their property. After this the mob dispersed, threatening destruction to the Mormons on the next New Year’s Day if they were not off by that time.
After this, an express was sent to the governor of the state, stating the facts of the outrages, and praying for some relief and protection. But none was afforded, only some advice for us to prosecute the offenders, which was accordingly undertaken. But this so enraged the mob that they began to make preparations to come out by night and recommence depredations. Having passed through the most aggravating insults and injuries without making the least resistance, a general inquiry prevailed at this time throughout the Church, as to the propriety of self-defense. Some claimed the right of defending themselves, their families and property, from destruction; while others doubted the propriety of self-defense; and as the agreement of the 23rd of July, between the two parties had been published to the world, wherein it was set forth, that the Mormons were not to leave until the 1st of January and 1st of April, 1834. It was believed by many of the Mormons that the leaders of the mob would not suffer so bare-faced a violation of the agreement before the time therein set forth; but Thursday night, the 31st of October, gave them abundant proof that no pledge, verbal or written, was longer to be regarded; for, on that night, between forty and fifty, many of whom were armed with guns, proceeded against a branch of the Church, about eight miles west of town, and unroofed and partly demolished ten dwelling houses; and in the midst of the shrieks and screams of women and children, whipped and beaten in a savage manner, several of the men; and with their horrid threats, frightened women and children into the wilderness. Such of the men as could escape, fled for their lives; for very few of them had arms, neither were they embodied; and they were threatened with death if they made any resistance. Such, therefore, as could not escape by flight, received a pelting by rocks, and a beating by guns and whips.
On Friday, the first of November, women and children sallied forth from their gloomy retreats, to contemplate, with heart-rending anguish, the ravages of a ruthless mob, in the mangled bodies of their husbands, and in the destruction of their houses and furniture. Houseless, and unprotected by the arm of civil law in Jackson County- -the dreary month of November staring them in the face, and loudly proclaiming a more inclement season at hand–the continual threats of the mob, that they would drive every Mormon from the county–and the inability of many to remove because of their poverty, caused an anguish of heart indescribable.
These outrages were committed about two miles from my residence; news reached me before daylight the same morning, and I immediately repaired to the place, and was filled with anguish at the awful sight of houses in ruins, and furniture destroyed and strewed about the streets; women, in different directions, were weeping and mourning, while some of the men were covered with blood from the blows they had received from the enemy; others were endeavoring to collect the fragments of their scattered furniture, beds, etc.
I endeavored to collect together as many men as possible, and after consultation, we concluded to embody for defense. Accordingly we collected some sixty men, armed ourselves as well as we could, and took shelter the next evening in a log house. We set a guard, and sent out spies through the different parts of the settlement to watch the movements of the mob; but sometime in the night two of the enemy advanced to our guard, being armed with guns and pistols, and while they were conversing I walked near them, and one of them struck me over the head, with all his might, with his gun. I staggered back, the blood streaming down my face, but I did not fall. As I had command of our party, I ordered our men to disarm the two ruffians and secure them, which was done; and this probably prevented a general attack of the mob that night. The next morning they were let go in peace.
The same night (Friday) a party in Independence commenced stoning houses, breaking down doors and windows, destroying furniture, etc. This night the brick part of a dwelling house belonging to A.S. Gilbert, [Algernon Sidney] was partly demolished, and the windows of his dwelling broken in, while a gentleman lay sick in his house.
The same night the doors of the house of Messrs. Gilbert and Whitney were split open, and the goods strewed in the street, to which fact upwards of twenty witnesses can attest.
After midnight a party of our men marched for the store, etc. and when the mob saw them approach they fled. But one of their number, a Richard McCarty, was caught in the act of throwing rocks in at the door, while the goods lay strung around him in the street. He was immediately taken before Samuel Weston, Esq. and a warrant requested, that said McCarty might be secured; but his justiceship refused to do anything in the case, and McCarty was then liberated.
The same night many of their houses had poles and rails thrust through the shutters and sash, into the rooms of defenseless women and children, from whence their husbands and fathers had been driven by the acts of the mob which were made by ten or twenty men upon one house at a time. On Saturday, the 2nd of November, all the families of these people who lived in Independence, moved out of town about one half mile west, and embodied for the preservation of themselves and property. Saturday night a party of the mob made an attack upon a settlement about six miles west of town. Here they tore the roof from a dwelling, broke open another house, found the owner, Mr. David Bennett, sick in bed; him they beat inhumanly, and swore they would blow his brains out, and discharging a pistol, the ball cut a deep gash across the top of his head. In this skirmish one of their men was shot in the thigh.
On Sunday evening, about sunset, myself and a Mr. Marsh set out on horseback to visit the circuit judge at Lexington, a distance of some forty miles. We were under the necessity of going the most private paths across the country, in order to avoid our enemies; but we had a most faithful pilot, who knew every crook and turn of the country. We had rode but a few miles, when it became so extremely dark that we could not see each other. Our pilot dismounted several times and felt his way; but at length we came to a halt, and lay down upon the ground until it broke away and became some lighter, and then we were enabled to go on; but the rain began to fall in torrents, and continued all the latter part of the night; we soon became completely drenched, and every thread about us perfectly wet; but still we dare not stop for any refreshment or shelter until day dawned, when we found ourselves forty miles from home, and at the door of a friend, where we breakfasted and refreshed ourselves.
We then repaired to Lexington and made oath, before Judge Riland [John F. Ryland], of the outrages committed upon us, but were refused a warrant; the judge advising us to fight and kill the mob whenever they came upon us. We then returned to the place where we breakfasted; and, night coming on, we retired to bed.–Having been without sleep for the three previous nights, and much of the time drenched in rain, together with the severe wound I had received, I was well nigh exhausted. No sooner had sleep enfolded me in her kind embrace, than a vision opened before me:
I found myself in Jackson County, heard the roar of fire-arms, and saw the killed and wounded lying in their blood. At this I awoke from my slumber; and awaking Brother Marsh and the family with whom we tarried, I told them what I had seen and heard in my dream, and observed to them that I was sure that a battle had just ensued. Next morning we arose and pursued our journey homeward, with feelings of anxiety and amazement which cannot be described.
Every officer of the peace had abandoned us to our fate, and it seemed as if there was no way but for men, women and children to be exterminated. But as we rode on, ruminating upon these things, a man met us, from Independence, who told us that there was a battle raging when he left, and how it had terminated he knew not.
This only heightened our feelings of anxiety and suspense. We were every moment drawing nearer to where a moment would decide whether we were to find our friends alive and victorious, or whether they were slain, and we in the hands of a worse than savage enemy.
On coming within four miles of Independence, we ventured to inquire the distance, at a certain house. This we did in order to pass as strangers, and also in hopes to learn some news.
The man seemed frightened, and inquired where we were from? We replied, “From Lexington.”–Said he, “Have you heard what has happened?”
We replied that we had understood there was some difficulty respecting the Mormons, but of all the particulars we had not been informed. “Why!” said he, “The Mormons have riz and have killed six men.” At this we seemed much surprised, and inquired if the government would not put down such an insurrection? We then passed on, and as soon as we were out of sight, we left the road and rode into the woods. Taking a circuitous route through thickets of hazel, interwoven with grape-vine, etc., and after some difficulty and entanglement, we came in sight of Independence, and advanced towards it, wishing to pass through, in order to get to a camp of our men near a half mile west of town. But seeing parties of armed men advancing towards us, we wheeled about and retreated a distance, and turned again to the woods, and struck around on the side of the town, through the wilderness, towards the tents of our brethren, rushing our horses with the greatest speed; thus we avoided being taken, and arrived safe. But what was our astonishment when we found our brethren without arms, having surrendered them to their enemies.
The truth of the matter was this: on Monday eve, while I lay sleeping at our friend’s, near Lexington, the same eve that I dreamed of the battle, the mob again advanced upon the settlement where they had first destroyed the ten houses, and commenced an attack upon houses and property, and threatening women and children with immediate destruction. While some 60 of the mob were thus engaged, about 30 of our men marched near them, and a battle ensued, in which the mob were entirely routed, leaving two of their number dead on the field, together with a number of horses. Several were severely wounded on both sides, and one young man of the Church died the next day, his name was [Andrew] Barber.
One of the enemy who fell, was an attorney by the name of Brazeale, he had been heard a short time before to say, that he would wade to his knees in blood or drive the Mormons from the county.
The same night runners were dispatched in every direction, under pretense of calling out the militia; spreading as they went, every rumor calculated to excite the unwary; such as, that the Mormons had taken Independence, and the Indians had surrounded it, being allied together, etc. The same eve, November 4th, the said McCarty, who had been detected in breaking open the store of Gilbert & Co., was suffered to take out a warrant and arrest the said Gilbert, and others of the Church, for a pretended assault and false imprisonment of said McCarty.
Late in the eve, while the court were proceeding with the trial in the court house, a gentleman unconnected with the court, perceiving the prisoners to be without counsel and in eminent danger, advised said Gilbert and his brethren to move for jail as the only alternative to save life; for the north door was already barred, and a mob thronged the house with a determination to beat and kill; accordingly Gilbert and four others were committed to jail, the dungeon of which must have been a palace compared to a court room where dignity and mercy were strangers, and naught but the wrath of man in horrid threats stifled the ears of the prisoners. The same night, [Algernon Sidney] Gilbert, [Isaac] Morley and Carrill [John Corrill] were liberated from jail, that they might have an interview with their brethren, and try to persuade them to leave the county; and on their return to jail, about 2 o’clock on Tuesday morning, in custody of the sheriff, an armed force of six or seven men, stood near the jail and hailed; they were answered by the sheriff, who gave his name and the names of his prisoners, crying, “don’t fire, don’t fire, the prisoners are in my charge,” etc. They however fired one or two guns, when Morley and Carrill [Corrill] retreated; Gilbert stood, with several guns pointed at him. Two, more desperate than the rest, attempted to shoot, but one of their guns flashed, and their other misfired. Gilbert was then knocked down by Thomas Wilson.
About this time a few of the inhabitants arrived, and Gilbert again entered jail; from which he and three others were liberated about sunrise, without further prosecution of the trial. The same morning, November 5th, the town began to be crowded with armed men from every quarter, and it was said the militia had been called out, under the sanction of Lieutenant Governor Boggs, and that one Colonel Pitcher had the command. Among this militia, (so called) were embodied the most conspicuous characters of the mob. Very early on the same morning, several branches of the Church on hearing of the outrages in Independence, volunteered, and united their forces, and marched towards town to defend their brethren. When within one mile of town, they halted, and were soon informed that the militia was called out for their protection. But in this they placed little confidence; for the body congregated had every appearance of a county mob, which subsequent events soon verified. On application to Colonel Pitcher, it was found that there was no alternative but for the Church to leave the county forthwith; and to deliver up certain men to be tried for murder said to have been committed by them in the battle the previous evening. The arms of this people were also demanded by the colonel, and among the committee appointed to receive their arms, was several of the most unrelenting of the old mob committee of July; who had directed in the demolishing of the printing office etc., viz: Henry Chiles, Abner Staples, and Lewis Franklin.
Rather than have submitted to these outrageous requirements, the Saints would willingly have shed their blood; but they knew that if they resisted this mob, the lies of the designing, and the prejudice of the ignorant would construe their resistance into a violation of law, and thus bring certain destruction upon them: therefore they surrendered their arms to the number of 50, and agreed to leave the county forthwith. The men who were demanded as prisoners, were also surrendered and imprisoned; but were dismissed in a day or two without trial. A few hours after the surrender, we arrived at the camp of our brethren near Independence, on our return from Lexington, as stated in the foregoing, and when we found that the struggle was over, and our liberties completely trampled under foot, I retired into the woods and kneeled down, and wept before the Lord.
The sun was then setting, and 12 miles separated me from my family; but I determined to reach home that night. My horse being weary, I started on foot, and walked through the wilderness in the midst of darkness, avoiding the road, lest I should fall into the hands of the enemy. I arrived home about the middle of the night; spent a few hours with my family, and arose again before day, and fled to the wilderness, as the mob were driving our people, and hunting them in every direction. After walking a few miles, I found a brother by the name of Lowry, who was moving from the county in a covered wagon, he having a permit from the mob to pass in safety.
This man concealed me in his wagon, and thus we passed in safety, although frequently meeting armed men, who were pursuing our brethren. When night again overtook us, we were on the bank of the Missouri River, which divided between Jackson and Clay Counties. Here we encamped for the night, as we could not cross the ferry till morning. I left the camp and ascended the tall bluff, and finding a cavity of a rock, I slept therein. But before morning, I was joined by Mr. Morley and several others, who fled for their lives, and brought news that the mob were driving, and probably butchering men, women and children. On hearing this news, we tried to pray, but we could say but little. Next morning we crossed over the river, and found ourselves once more in a land of peace.
While I thus made my escape, companies of ruffians were ranging the county in every direction, bursting into houses without fear, knowing that the arms were secured, frightening women and children, and threatening to kill them if they didn’t flee immediately. At the head of one of these companies appeared the Reverend Mr. McCoy, (a noted missionary to the Indians) with a gun upon his shoulder, ordering the Mormons to leave immediately, and surrender everything in the shape of arms. Other pretended preachers of the gospel took part in the persecution; calling the Mormons the common enemy of mankind, and exulting in their afflictions. On Tuesday and Wednesday nights, the 5th and 6th of November, women and children fled in every direction, before a merciless mob. One party of about a hundred and fifty women and children, fled to the prairie, where they wandered for several days, mostly without food, and nothing but the open firmament for their shelter. Other parties fled towards the Missouri. During this dispersion of women and children, parties of the mob were hunting men, firing upon some, tying up and whipping others; and some they pursued upon horses for several miles.
Thursday, November 7th, the shore began to be lined on both sides of the ferry, with men, women, children, goods, wagons, boxes, chests, provisions, etc., while the ferrymen were very busily employed in crossing them over; and when night again closed upon us, the wilderness had much the appearance of a camp meeting. Hundreds of people were seen in every direction, some in tents and some in the open air around the fires, while the rain descended in torrents. Husbands were inquiring for wives, and women for their husbands; parents for children, and children for parents. Some had had the good fortune to escape with their family, household goods, and some provisions; while others knew not the fate of their friends, and had lost all their goods. The scene was indescribable, and I am sure would have melted the hearts of any people upon earth, except our blind oppressors, and a prejudiced ignorant community. Next day, our company still increased, and we were chiefly engaged in felling small cottonwood trees, and erecting them into temporary cabins, so when night again came on, we had the appearance of a village of wigwams, and the night being clear, we began to enjoy some degree of comfort.
About 2 o’clock the next morn, we were aroused from our slumbers by the cry of “Arise, and behold the signs in the heavens.” We arose, and to our great astonishment, all heaven seemed enwrapped in a splendid fireworks, as if every star in the broad expanse, had been suddenly hurled from its course, and sent lawless through the wilds of ether. I can give the reader no better idea of this scene, than by an illusion to the shooting of a bright meteor, with a long train of light following its course, such as most of us have seen in a bright starlight night. Now suppose that thousands of such meteors with their fiery trains, were to run lawless through the heavens for hours together, this would be a scene such as our eyes beheld on that memorable morning; and the scene only closed by giving place to the superior light and splendor of the king of day. No sooner was this scene beheld by some of our camp than the news reached every tent, and aroused every one from their slumbers; every eye was lifted towards the heavens, and every heart was filled with joy at this majestic display of signs and wonders, showing the near approach of the coming of the Son of God.
In fact we looked up and lifted up our heads rejoicing, knowing that our redemption drew near. It is a singular coincidence that this wonder should happen at the very time of our dispersion. And let others think as they may, I take it as a special manifestation, to fulfil the scriptures, and to rouse our drooping spirits, by a fresh memorial, reminding us of a coming Messiah, for the redemption of those who look for him; and to the destruction of their oppressors.
After a few days, I sent a lad with a horse for my wife, who escaped in safety, by riding 15 miles on horseback; leaving all our goods, which, however, I afterwards obtained, at the risk of my life. But all my provisions of the winter were destroyed or plundered; and my grain left growing on the ground, for our enemies to harvest. My house was afterwards burned, and my apple trees, rails and improvements destroyed or plundered. In short, every member of the society was driven from the county, and fields of corn were plundered and destroyed. Stacks of wheat were burned–household goods plundered, and improvements and every kind of property lost, and at length no less than TWO HUNDRED AND THREE HOUSES BURNED, according to the estimate of their own people in Jackson.
The Saints who fled, took refuge in the neighboring counties–mostly in Clay County, which received them with some degree of kindness. Those who fled to the county of Van Buren, were again driven, and compelled to flee; and those who fled to Lafayette County, were soon expelled, or the most part of them, and had to move wherever they could find protection.
When the news of these outrages reached the governor of the state, courts of inquiry, both civil and military, were ordered by him; but nothing effectual was ever done to restore our rights, or to protect us in the least. It is true the attorney general, with a military escort and our witnesses, went to Jackson County and demanded indictments, but the court and jurors refused to do anything in the case, and the military and witnesses were mobbed out of the county, and thus that matter ended. The governor also ordered them to restore our arms which they had taken from us, but they were never restored; and even our lands in that county were robbed of their timber, and either occupied by our enemies for years, or left desolate.
Soon after Jackson County had rebelled against the laws and constitution, several of the adjoining counties followed her example by justifying her proceedings, and by opposing the Saints in settling among them; and soon this rebellion became general in the upper country. The counties of Clay, Ray, Clinton, and various others, held public meetings, the tenor of which was, to deprive the members of our society of the common rights of citizenship, and to drive them from among them, and force them to settle only in such places as the mob should dictate; and even at that time some of their proceedings went so far as to publicly threaten to drive the whole society from the state. The excuses they offered for these outrages, were, first, the society were principally guilty of being eastern or northern people. Second, they were guilty of some slight variations, in manners and language, from the other citizens of the state. Third, their religious principles differed in some important particulars from most other societies. Fourth, they were guilty of emigrating rapidly from the different states, and of purchasing large quantities of land, and of being more enterprising and industrious than some of their neighbors. Fifth, some of our society were guilty of poverty, especially those who had been driven from time to time from their possessions, and robbed of their all. And lastly, they were said to be guilty of believing in the present government administration of Indian affairs, viz; that the land west of the Mississippi, which government has deeded in fee simple to the emigrating tribes, was destined by providence for their permanent homes.
All these crimes were charged home upon our society, in the public proceedings of the several counties; and were deemed sufficient to justify their unlawful proceedings against us. The reader may smile at this statement, but the public journals published in that country, in 1835, actually printed charges and declarations against us of the tenor of the foregoing. By these wicked proceedings our people were once more compelled to remove, at a great sacrifice of property, and were at last permitted to settle in the north of Ray County; where, by the next legislature, they were organized into the counties of Caldwell and Daviess. Here they again exerted the utmost industry and enterprise, and these wild regions soon presented a more flourishing aspect than the oldest counties of the upper country. In the mean time a majority of the state so far countenanced these outrages, that they actually elected Lilburn W. Boggs, one of the old mobbers of Jackson County, who had assisted in the treason, murder, house-burning, plundering, robbery, and driving out of twelve hundred citizens, in 1833, for governor of the state, and placed him in the executive chair, instead of a solitary cell in the state penitentiary, as his crimes justly deserved. This movement may be said to have put an end to liberty, law, and government, in that state. About this time, also, Colonel Lucas, whose name was attached to the written circular of the first conspiracy in Jackson County, was advanced to the office of Major General, instead of being hung for treason. Moses Wilson, one of the head leaders of the mob, was advanced to the office of Brigadier General; and Thomas Wilson, another of the Jackson County mob, was elected a captain of the militia.
The reader will recollect that in a former part of this history, these Wilsons are represented as acting a most forward part in all the murders, house-burning, robbing and driving; and that Thomas Wilson, in particular, went so far as to fire upon certain prisoners, and to knock down one while in care of an officer, who was committing them to jail. These crimes, which in a country of laws would have hanged them or imprisoned them for life, so far exalted them in the eyes of their associates, that their worthy deeds proved a step stone to office. They all very readily received their commissions from their accomplice, Governor Boggs; and thus corruption, rebellion, and conspiracy had spread on every side, being fostered and encouraged by a large majority of the state; and thus the treason became general.
In the meantime our society had greatly increased by a rapid emigration, and having long felt the withering hand of oppression from so corrupt an administration, they had endeavored to organize themselves, both civil and military, in the counties where they composed the majority, by electing such officers as they thought would stand for equal rights, and for the laws and constitution of the country. And in this way they hoped to withstand the storm which had so long beat upon them, and whose black clouds now seemed lowering in awful gloom, and preparing to burst, with overwhelming fury, upon all who dare to stand for liberty and law.
On the Fourth of July, 1838, many thousands of our people assembled at the city of Far West, the county seat of Caldwell, erected a liberty pole, and hoisted the bald eagle, with its stars and stripes, upon the top of the same. Under the colors of our country we laid the corner stone of a house of worship, and had an address delivered by Elder Rigdon, in which was painted, in lively colors, the oppression which we had long suffered from the hand of our enemies; and in this discourse we claimed and declared our constitutional rights, as American citizens, and manifested a determination to do our utmost endeavors, from that time forth, to resist all oppression, and to maintain our rights and freedom according to the holy principles of liberty, as guaranteed to every person by the constitution and laws of our government. This declaration was received with shouts of hosannah to God and the Lamb, and with many and long cheers by the assembled thousands, who were determined to yield their rights no more, except compelled by a superior power.
But in a day or two after these transactions, the thunder rolled in awful majesty over the city of Far West, and the arrows of lightning fell from the clouds and shivered the liberty pole from top to bottom; thus manifesting to many that there was an end to liberty and law in that state, and that our little city strove in vain to maintain the liberties of a country which was ruled by wickedness and rebellion. It seemed to portend the awful fate which awaited that devoted city, and the county and people around.–Soon after these things, the war clouds began again to lower, with dark and threatening aspect. The rebellious party in the counties around had long watched our increasing power and prosperity with greedy and avaricious eyes, and they had already boasted that as soon as we had made some fine improvements, and a plentiful crop, they would drive us from the state, and again enrich themselves with the spoils. Accordingly, at an election held in [Gallatin] Daviess County, the robbers undertook to drive our people from the poll box, and threatened to kill whoever should attempt to vote. But some were determined to enjoy their right or die; they therefore went forward to vote, but were seized by the opposing party and attacked, and thus a fight commenced. But some of our people knocked down several of the robbers, and thus cleared the ground and maintained their rights, though vastly unequal in numbers. The news of this affair soon spread far and wide, and caused the people to rally, some for liberty and some to support the robbers in their daring outrages. About one hundred and fifty of those who were on the side of liberty, marched to the spot next day, and went to the residence of the leaders in this outrage, and soon an agreement was signed for peace. But this was of short duration, for the conspirators were stirred up throughout the whole state, being alarmed for fear the Mormons, as they called them, should become so formidable as to maintain their rights and liberties, insomuch that they could no more drive and plunder them.
About this time, meetings were held by the robbers in Carroll, Saline, and other counties, in which they openly declared their treasonable and murderous intentions of driving the citizens who belonged to our society from their counties, and if possible, from the state. Resolutions to this effect were published in the journals of upper Missouri, and this without a single remark of disapprobation. Nay more, this murderous gang when assembled and painted like Indian warriors, and when openly committing murder, robbery, and house burning, were denominated citizens, white people, etc., in most of the papers of the state, while our society who stood firm in the cause of liberty and law, were denominated Mormons, in contradistinction to the appellation of citizens, whites, etc., as if we had been some savage tribe, or some colored race of foreigners. The robbers soon assembled, to the number of several hundred, under arms, and rendezvoused in Daviess County, being composed of individuals from many of the counties around. Here they commenced firing upon our citizens, and taking prisoners. Our people made no resistance, except to assemble on their own ground for defense. They also made oath before the circuit judge, A.[Austin] A. King, to the above outrages.– One thousand men were then ordered into service, under the command of Major General Atchison, and Brigadier Generals Parks and Doniphan. These were soon mustered and marched through Caldwell, and took their stand in Daviess County, where most of them remained thirty days. The robbers were somewhat awed by these prompt measures, so that they did not proceed farther at that time in Daviess, but they proceeded to DeWitt, a small town in Carroll County, which was mostly settled by our people.–Here they laid siege for several days, and subsisted by plunder and robbery, watching every opportunity to fire upon our citizens. At this time they had one field piece, and were headed by a Presbyterian priest by the name of Sashiel Woods, who, it is said, tended prayer, night and morning, at the head of the gang. In this siege they say that they killed a number of our people. They also turned one Smith Humphrey and his wife and children out of doors when sick, and set fire to their house, and burned it to ashes before their eyes. At length they succeeded in driving every citizen from the place, to the sacrifice of everything which they could not take with them.
This event happened during a cold, bad spell of weather, in October, and as many of the citizens were sickly, and worn down by fatigue and war, and robbed of shelter and of every thing comfortable, they came near perishing; some of them did perish before they arrived in Caldwell, a distance of some sixty miles. Here they were hospitably taken in by their brethren. Even two or three families often crowded into one small house. The militia under General Parks made some show of trying to prevent these outrages, but at length General Parks informed our people that his forces were so small, and many of them so much in favor of the rebellion, that it was useless to look any longer to them for protection.–Several messages were also sent to the Governor, but he was utterly deaf to everything which called for the protection of our society, or any of the citizens who belonged to it.
But on the contrary, he hearkened to the insinuations of the robbers; and actually presumed to give orders for the raising of several thousand volunteers from the middle counties of the state, to march against the Mormons, as he termed them. This force was soon on their march with the governor at their head; but when he had come near the upper country, he was officially notified that the Mormons were not in a state of insurrection, but were misrepresented by the robbers. His excellency then disbanded his forces and sneaked back to Jefferson City to wait till the robbers should drive the Mormons to some act which might be considered illegal, which would give him some pretext for driving them from the state.
After the evacuation of DeWitt, when our people were officially notified that they must protect themselves, and expect no more protection from any department of the state government, they assembled in the city of Far West, to the number of near one thousand men, and resolved to defend their rights to the last; calling upon every person who could bear arms to come forward in the support of our houses, our homes, our wives and children, and the cause of our country and our God. In the meantime the robbers elated with success, and emboldened by the negligence of every department of the state government, were increasing in numbers daily, and were on their march for Daviess, with their artillery and military stores, declaring that they would now drive the citizens from Daviess and from Caldwell Counties, which were settled mostly by our people.–In this march they took a number of the citizens prisoners, among whom was Amasa Lyman, a minister of the gospel, and an excellent citizen of Caldwell County. They kept him a number of days, while his wife and children mourned his absence, and they held frequent consultations to kill him, but at length he was set at liberty. Our forces assembled in Daviess County to the number of several hundred, to protect their homes; and at length a detachment of about one hundred men, under the command of Col. D. W. Patten, met the robbers, and took from them their artillery, which consisted of one six pounder, and some powder and balls also, were taken from the enemy. All this was done without bloodshed, as the robbers buried their cannon in the earth and fled at the first news of the approach of our army. While the army were busily engaged in searching the camp of the robbers to find their field piece, a young lad saw some swine rooting in the middle of the highway, and he at length discovered some projecting part of the cannon, which had been uncovered by the swine, and he exclaimed, “here is the cannon.” At this, the soldiers gathered round, and soon raised the monster from its untimely grave. It was taken in triumph to the city of Adam-ondi-Ahman, and there on the heights of Daviess, amid rejoicing thousands, it uttered its voice in favor of liberty and law, and told the sad tale for some twenty miles around, that the robbers had lost their God of war, notwithstanding the pious prayers of priest Wood [Sashel Woods].
On another occasion the robbers were transporting a wagon load of arms and ammunition from Ray County to Daviess, through Caldwell County, but in Caldwell they providentially broke their wagon. In the meantime our sheriff got wind of the movements, and went with a company of Caldwell militia, and took the arms and ammunition and brought them in triumph to the city of Far West, where they helped to arm the patriotic citizens for defense. About the time of the taking of the cannon, a small party of our men, under the command of the brave Lieutenant B. went out through Daviess among those who pretended great friendship for the laws, but were secretly aiding the robbers. This party pretended to be men from the Platt who had come down to assist the robbers against the citizens, or Mormons as they were called. Under this disguise their horses and themselves were fed free of cost, and welcomed every where to all they could eat and drink, and many furnished them rifles, and ammunition, together with coats, blankets, etc., wishing them success. Sometimes they would offer to pay for their entertainment, but their zealous hosts refused to take pay, and wished that their horses could eat a thousand bushels of grain, for they were more than welcome.
In this way our troops were supplied with considerable armament, and their secret enemies were discovered and detected in their wicked plottings. During this time the robbers were busily engaged in burning and plundering houses, and driving women and children from their homes, to perish with hunger and cold, while they were robbed of every thing they possessed, and their houses burned to ashes. Hundreds were thus compelled to flee to the cities and strongholds; women and children came in by night and by day; and some of them in the midst of a tremendous snow storm, in which they came near perishing; but those who fled were kindly received into the houses of their brethren, and thus their lives were spared, but only to witness a more dreadful scene at hand. It is said that some of our troops, exasperated to the highest degree, retaliated in some instances by plundering and burning houses, and bringing the spoil to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, whose provisions and clothing had been robbed from them; and upon the whole, I am rather inclined to believe it was the case; for human nature cannot endure all things.
Soon after these things had transpired in Daviess County, Caldwell was threatened from every quarter; and her citizens assembled in Far West, many of them moving their wives and children, goods, provisions, and even houses into the city; leaving their lands desolate, in order that they might be embodied and prepared to defend themselves and families to the last. Our colonel and his other commissioned officers, had the troops paraded night and morning on the public square, and ordered them to be always ready in case of alarm. When we were dismissed at eve, we were ordered to sleep in our clothes, and be ready at a moments warning, to run together at any hour of the night.
During this state of alarm, the drum was beat, and guns fired, one night, about midnight. I ran to the public square, where many had already collected together, and the news was that the south part of our county, adjoining Ray, was attacked by a mob, who were plundering houses, threatening women and children, and taking peaceable citizens prisoners; and telling families to be gone by the next morning or they would burn their houses over their heads. With this information, Captain Killian (to whom Colonel Hinkle had committed the command of the troops in Far West, when he himself was not present) sent out a detachment under the command of Captain Durphey, aided by the brave D. W. Patten. This company, consisting of about sixty men, was sent to see what the matter was on the lines; and who was committing depredations, and if necessary to protect or move in the families and property; and if possible, effect the release of the prisoners.
This company was soon under way, having to ride some ten or twelve miles mostly through extensive prairies. It was October, the night was dark, and as we moved briskly on, (being forbidden to speak a loud word,) no sound was heard but the rumbling of our horses hoofs over the wide extended and lonely plains. While the distant plains, far and wide, were illuminated by blazing fires; and immense columns of smoke were seen rising in awful majesty, as if the world was on fire. This scene of grandeur can only be comprehended by those who are acquainted with the scenes of prairie burning. As the fire sweeps over millions of acres of dry grass in the fall season, and leaves a smooth black surface, divested of all vegetation. The thousand meteors blazing in the distance like the camp fires of some war host, throw a fitful gleam of light upon the distant sky, which many might mistake for the aurora borealis. This scene added to the silence of midnight–the rumbling sound of the prancing steeds–the glistening of armor–and the unknown destiny of the expedition–all combined to impress the mind with deep and solemn thoughts; and to throw a romantic vision over the imagination, which is not often experienced, except in the poet’s dream, or the wild imagery of sleeping fancy.
In this solemn procession we moved on for some two hours, when it was supposed that we were in the neighborhood of danger. We were then ordered to dismount and leave our horses in care of part of the company, while the others should proceed on foot along the principal highway, to see what discoveries could be made. This precaution was for fear we might be suddenly attacked, in which case we could do better on foot than on horse back. We had not proceeded far when as we entered the wilderness, we were suddenly fired upon by an unknown enemy, in ambush. First one solitary gun, as was supposed, from some outpost of the enemy, brought one of our number to the ground, where he lay groaning while the rest of the troop had to pass directly by his dying body.
[Battle of Crooked River] It was dawn of day [25 Oct 1838] in the eastern horizon, but darkness still hovered over the awful scene. When our men saw that they were ambushed and attacked, they found it too late to retreat, and orders were issued to form along in the brush, and under the cover of trees, which was instantly done, while the enemy, though unseen, were pouring in a deadly fire upon our whole line. We soon returned the fire, and charging upon the enemy, the whole wilderness seemed for a few moments as if wrapped in a blaze of lightning; and overwhelmed with the sharp crack of peals of thunder. The enemy were soon driven from their ambush and completely routed. Having a creek immediately in their rear, many were seen forcing their retreat through the stream, and up to their arms in water. The firing now ceased, and the whole battle ground resounded with the watchword, God and Liberty. Our forces which had been thrown into some disorder, were instantly formed, and their pieces reloaded, while here and there over the battle ground, lay the dead and wounded. The enemy had left their horses, saddles, camp and baggage, in the confusion of their flight, which fell into our hands. Their baggage wagon was immediately harnessed to a couple of horses, and the wounded were picked up and laid in it upon blankets, while every man saddled and mounted a horse, and we commenced our retreat to the place where we had left our horses and guard, a distance of more than a mile; here we halted, and laid our wounded upon blankets, on the ground, while we made arrangements in the wagon for them to ride more comfortably. There were about six of our men badly wounded, among whom was the brave D. W. Patten, a ball having entered the lower part of his body. It was an awful sight to see them pale and helpless, and hear their groans. We had as yet lost but one man, who was left dead on the ground; his name was Gideon Carter. The enemy had one killed and four wounded, as we afterwards learned.
We ascertained from the prisoners whom we had rescued, and one whom we had taken, that the enemy consisted of one Captain Bogart and his company, who together with some volunteers from different neighborhoods, mounted about 60 men. Our party engaged, was from forty to fifty in number, at the time of the engagement. There were three of our fellow citizens prisoners in their camp. Two of these ran away and escaped at the commencement of the firing, and the other was shot through the body in trying to run to our lines, but fortunately he recovered, and is now a witness against them.
Having now arranged everything to the best advantage for the wounded, we moved on slowly towards Far West. When we came within five miles of the city, our express had reached there with the news of the battle, and we were met by a surgeon and others for our relief, and among others the wife of the pale and dying Patten.
Our wounded were now taken into a house, and their wounds dressed; and as Mrs. Patten entered the room and cast her eyes on the pale and ghastly features of her husband, she burst into tears, exclaiming O God! O my husband! how pale you look! He was still able to speak, but he died that evening in the triumphs of faith; having laid down his life as a martyr in the cause of his country and his God. The young [Patrick] O’Banion who was shot through the body by the first fire of the enemy’s sentinel, also died about the same time. Thus three brave men had fallen; and their blood cries against their enemies for vengeance. The others I believe recovered of their wounds. Having conveyed the wounded to this place of hospitality, we hastened home to Far West, and delivered the horses and spoils of the enemy to Colonel Hinkle, the commanding officer of the regiment. These several defeats of the mob in Daviess and Caldwell, checked, for a time, their ruinous ravages. They saw that it was impossible to conquer a people who were fighting for their homes, and their wives and children, unless they could come against them with some show of authority, for it was a well-known fact, that the Mormons never resisted authority, however abused; therefore their next exertion was to spread lies and falsehoods of the most alarming character; such as that the Mormons were in a state of rebellion against the government, and that they were about to burn Richmond, etc. This flame was greatly assisted by several in high authority who deserted from the Church, and fell away to the robbers because of fear, and also for the sake of power and gain. These deserters became far more false, hardened and blood-thirsty, than those who had never known the way of righteousness, insomuch that they were filled with all manner of lying and murders, and plundering. The governor who had long sought some opportunity to destroy us, and drive us from the state, now issued an order for General Clark to raise several thousand men, and march against the Mormons, and drive them from the state, or exterminate them if necessary, etc.
While General Clark was mustering his forces for this murderous and treasonable enterprise, Major General Lucas, and Brigadier General Wilson, the old leaders of the Jackson County conspiracy, being nearer the scene of action, and wishing to immortalize their names, put themselves at the head of the old Jackson County robbers, together with the late forces of the robbers who had all the while been embodied against us, and turning the brave and humane General Atchison out of the command, took the lead of all the assembled forces of the upper country, consisting of three or four thousand men, and with this formidable force, commenced their march directly for the city of Far West, where they arrived, while General Clark and his forces were several days march in the rear.
In the meantime, the governor’s order, and all these military movements, were kept an entire secret from the Mormons, and even the mail was withheld from Far West, thus cutting off all intelligence. We had only heard that companies of armed men were seen in the south part of the county; and we had sent a white flag and a guard of one hundred and fifty men, to make inquiries. But while they were absent on this business, an alarm came in to town that the whole county to the south of us was filled with hostile troops, who were murdering, plundering, and taking peaceable citizens prisoners, in their own houses, etc. On receiving this intelligence, every man flew to arms, for the protection of our city. It was now towards evening, and we had heard nothing of our white flag, and the hundred and fifty men who went south in the morning. While we stood in our armor, gazing to the south in anxious suspense, we discovered an army advancing on horseback, over the hills, at two miles distance from the town. We at first supposed it might be our little company of a hundred and fifty returning to us, but we soon saw that there were thousands of men, with a long train of baggage wagons; we then were in hopes that it might be some friendly troops sent for our protection; and then we thought it might be a troop of the robbers coming to destroy us. At all events, there was no time to be lost, for although our force then present did not exceed five hundred men, yet we didn’t intend that they should enter the town without giving some account of themselves.–We accordingly marched out upon the plains on the south of the city, and formed in battle array, extending our line of foot something like a half mile, while a small company of horse was posted on our right wing on a commanding eminence, and another small company in the rear of our main body, intended as a kind of reserve. By this time the sun was near setting, and the advance of the unknown army had come within plain view, at less than one mile distant. On seeing our forces presenting a small but formidable front, they came to a halt, and formed along the borders of the wilderness. And in a few moments both parties sent out a white flag, which met between the two armies; when our messenger demanded who they were, and what was their intentions? The answer was, that they wanted three persons out of the city before they massacred the rest.–This was a very alarming and unexpected answer. But they were soon prevailed upon to suspend hostilities till morning, when we were in hopes of some further and more satisfactory information. The hostile army under the command of Lucas, then commenced their encampment for the night, and our little army continued to stand to their arms for fear of some treachery. Our company of a hundred and fifty soon returned, informing us that they had been hemmed in through the day, and only escaped from their superior knowledge of the ground.–We also sent an express to Daviess County, and by morning were reinforced by quite a number of troops, with Colonel Wight at their head. In the meantime, the painted robbers and murderers under the command of one Gillum, came pouring in from the west, to strengthen the enemy, and another company of murderers came in from Carroll County, and were taken into the ranks of Lucas, after murdering some twenty of our citizens at Hauns’ Mill [30 Oct 1838], of which I will give a particular account hereafter. Thus both parties were considerably reinforced during the night.
In the meantime our people, being determined, if attacked, to defend their homes, and wives and children to the last, spent the night in throwing up a temporary breastwork of building timber, logs, rails, etc., and by morning our south side of the city was fortified with a breastwork, and also a considerable part of the east and west sides; the whole line of fortification extending a mile and a half. This night’s labor may seem incredible; but it happened that a great quantity of building materials had been accumulated near the spot where were thrown up the breastworks; and this proved an excellent material for the work. The next day, towards evening, we were informed that the governor had ordered this force against us, with orders to exterminate us or drive us from the state. As soon as these facts were ascertained, we determined not to resist anything in the shape of authority, however tyrannical or unconstitutional might be the proceedings against us; therefore we had nothing more to do but to submit to be massacred or driven at the option of our persecutors. Colonel Hinkle waited on Messrs. Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Hyrum Smith, Lyman Wight, George Robinson and myself, with a polite request from General Lucas, that we would surrender ourselves as prisoners, and repair to his camp, and remain overnight, with assurances that as soon as peaceable arrangements could be entered into next morning, we should be released. With this request we readily complied, as soon as we were assured by the pledge of the honor of the principal officers, that our lives should be safe; we accordingly walked nearly a mile voluntarily, towards the camp of the enemy; who, when they saw us coming, came out to meet us by thousands, with General Lucas at their head. When the haughty general rode up to us, and scarcely passing a compliment, gave orders to his troops to surround us, which they did very abruptly, and we were marched into camp surrounded by thousands of savage looking beings, many of whom were painted like Indian warriors. These all set up a constant yell, like so many blood hounds let loose on their prey, as if they had achieved one of the most miraculous victories which ever dignified the annals of the world.
In camp we were placed under a strong guard, and before morning, Amasa Lyman and several others were added to our number. We hardly got an interview with the general that evening; he maintained a most haughty and unsociable reserve; but a hint was given us that the general officers held a secret council which they dignified a court martial, in which without being heard, or even brought before them, we were all sentenced to be shot; and the day and hour appointed, as we learned afterwards by General Doniphan, who was one of the council, but who was so violently opposed to this cool blooded murder, that he assured them he would revolt and withdraw his whole brigade, if they persisted in so dreadful a proceeding, his remonstrance and a few others so alarmed the haughty murderer and his accomplices that they dare not put the decree in execution; and thus through a merciful providence of God, our lives were spared through that dreadful night, which was spent by us on the ground in the open air, and amid the most horrid imprecations, threats and insults, that ever was witnessed, even in the abodes of the damned.
News reached us by their own troops before morning, that they had murdered one prisoner on their march the day they entered Caldwell, by knocking out his brains, and also, that several of our citizens were then lying here and there unburied, whom they had shot down and murdered in cold blood, and also that several females had been ravished, and much robbery committed, besides the beef and corn which was taken from us to support three or four thousand men and horses for several days. No pen need undertake to describe our feelings while there confined; not knowing the fate of our wives and children, and our brethren and sisters, and seeing no way for our lives to be saved except by the miraculous power of God. But notwithstanding all earthly hopes were gone, still we felt a calmness indescribable, and a secret whispering, portending that our work was not yet done, and therefore our enemies would be restrained from taking our lives. While in this situation, William E. McLellin, (who had once been intimate with me as a fellow laborer in the gospel, having deserted from the Church) came to me, (being one of the soldiers against us) and observed, “Well, Parley, you have now got where you are certain never to escape; how do you feel as to the course you have taken in religion?” I replied that I had taken that course which I should take if I had my life to live over again. He seemed thoughtful for a moment, and then replied, “Well, Parley, I think if I were you, I would die as I had lived: at any rate, I see no possibility of escape for you and your friends.” This little interview gave us to understand that our doom was fixed in the minds of the people.
Next morning General Lucas demanded the Caldwell militia to give up their arms, which was done, to the number of upwards of five hundred, the rest of the troops having fled during the night. After the troops had surrendered, the city of Far West was surrounded by the robbers, and all the men detained as prisoners, none being permitted to pass out of the city, although their families were starving for want of sustenance, the mills and provisions being some distance from the city. The brutal mob was now turned loose to ravage, steal, plunder and murder without restraint. Houses were rifled, and women ravished, and goods taken as they pleased. On the third morning after our imprisonment, we were placed in a wagon, in order for removal, and many of the more desperate then crowded round, and cocking their rifles swore they would blow us through. Some guns were snapped, but happily misfired; and the rest were in a small degree restrained by the officers, and we still lived.
We were now marched to Far West, and each one was permitted to go with a guard and take a final leave of our families, in order to depart as prisoners, to Jackson County, a distance of some 60 miles. This was the most trying scene of all. I went to my house, being guarded by two or three soldiers. The rain was pouring down without, and on entering my little cottage, there lay my wife, sick of a fever, with which she had been for sometime confined. At her breast was an infant three months old, and by her side a little girl of six years of age. These constituted my household, no other person belonged to my family. On the foot of the same bed lay a woman in travail, who had been driven from her house in the night, and had taken momentary shelter in my little hut of ten feet square (my larger house having been torn down.) I stepped to the bed, she burst into tears, I spake a few words of comfort, telling her to try to live for my sake, and her little babes, and expressing a hope that we should meet again, though years might separate us. She promised to try to live, and though an age should separate us, we would live for each other. I then kissed her and the little babes, and departed. Till now I had refrained from weeping, but to be forced from so helpless a family, who were destitute of provisions and fuel; in a bleak prairie with none to assist them, and exposed to a lawless banditti, who were utter strangers to humanity, and this at the approach of winter, was more than nature could well bear; I went to General Wilson in tears, and stated the circumstances of my sick, heart-broken and destitute family, in terms which would have moved any heart which had a latent spark of humanity yet remaining. But I was only answered with an exulting laugh, and a taunt of triumph, from this hardened murderer.
As I returned from my house towards the main body of the army who were to conduct us, I halted with the guard at the door of Hyrum Smith, and heard the sobs and groans of his wife, at his parting words. She was about to be confined in child-birth when he left her to accompany us. As we returned to the wagon we saw Sidney Rigdon taking leave of his wife and daughters, who stood at a little distance in tears of anguish inexpressible; whilst in the wagon sat Joseph Smith; while his aged father and venerable mother came up, overwhelmed in tears, and took us all by the hand.
In the meantime, hundreds of the brethren crowded around us, anxious to take a parting look, or a silent shake of the hand, for feelings were too intense to allow of speech. In the midst of these scenes, orders were given, and we moved slowly on, surrounded by a brigade of Jackson and Van Buren County troops. After marching about 12 miles, we encamped for the night on Crooked River. Here General Wilson began to treat us more kindly; he became very sociable, conversing freely on the subject of his former murders and robberies, committed against us in Jackson. He did not pretend to deny any thing, but spoke upon the whole as frank as if he had been giving the history of something done in ages past, with which we were not personally concerned. He also informed us that he had been exhorted by many to hang us on the way to Jackson, but he should not suffer us to be injured. Indeed, it was now evident that he was proud of his prey, and felt highly enthusiastic in having the honor of returning in triumph to the town of Independence, with the exhibition of his prisoners, whom his superstition had magnified into noble or royal personages; who would be gazed upon as kings, or as something supernatural.
Next morning we were on our march, and in the after part of the day, we came to the Missouri River, which separated between Jackson County and us.–Here the brigade was halted, and the prisoners taken to a public house, where we were permitted to shave our beards and change our linen, after which we partook of an excellent dinner at the expense of the general. This done, we were hurried to the ferry, and across the river with the utmost haste; when but few of the troops had passed, this movement was soon explained to us. The truth was, General Clark had sent an express to take us from General Wilson, and prevent us from going to Jackson, as both armies were competitors for the honor of possessing the wonderful, or in their estimation, royal prisoners. Clark and his troops from a distance, who had not arrived in the city of Far West till after our departure, was desirous of seeing the strange men, whom it was said had turned the world upside down; and was desirous of the honor of possessing such a wonderful trophy of victory, or of putting us to death himself. And on the other hand, Wilson, Lucas and their troops, were determined to exhibit us in triumph through the streets of Independence. Therefore when demanded by General Clark’s express, they refused to surrender us, and hurried us across the ferry with all possible dispatch; after which, marching about a mile, we camped in the wilderness for the night, with about fifty troops for our guard, the remainder not crossing the ferry till next morning.
Next morning being Sunday, we were visited by some gentlemen and ladies. One of the women came up and very candidly inquired of the troops, which of the prisoners was the Lord whom the Mormons worshipped? One of the guard pointed to Mr. Smith, with a significant smile, and said this is he. The woman then turning to Mr. Smith, inquired whether he professed to be the Lord and Savior? Do not smile gentle reader, at the ignorance of these poor innocent creatures, who are thus kept under, and made to believe such absurdities by their men, and by their lying priests. Mr. Smith replied, that he professed to be nothing but a man, and a minister of salvation sent by Jesus Christ to preach the gospel. This answer so surprised the woman, that she began to inquire into our doctrine; and Mr. Smith preached a discourse both to her and her companions, and to the wondering soldiers, who listened with almost breathless attention, while he set forth the doctrine of faith in Jesus Christ, and repentance and baptism for remission of sins, with the promise of the Holy Ghost, as recorded in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.–The woman was satisfied, and praised God in the hearing of the soldiers, and went away praying aloud that God would protect and deliver us. Thus was fulfilled a prophesy which had been spoken publicly by Mr. Smith, a few months previous; for he had prophesied that a sermon should be preached in Jackson County, by one of our elders, before the close of 1838.
About 10 o’clock the brigade had all crossed the ferry and come up with us. We were then marched forward in our carriages, while the troops were formed in our front and rear, with quite a martial appearance. As we went through the settlements, hundreds of men, women, and children flocked to see us, and our general oft halted the whole brigade to introduce us to the ladies and gentlemen, pointing out each of his prisoners by name. We were oft shaken by the hand; and, in the ladies at least, there often appeared some feelings of sympathy. In this way we proceeded until we arrived at Independence. It was now past noon, and in the midst of a great rain. But hundreds crowded to witness the procession, and to gaze at us as we were paraded in martial triumph through all the principal streets– our carriages moving in the center, while the brigade on horseback were formed in front and rear, and the bugles sounded a blast of triumphant joy.
This ceremony being finished, a vacant house was prepared for our reception, into which we were ushered through the crowd of spectators who thronged every avenue. The troops were then disbanded, and each returned to the bosom of his family, where, amid the joys of domestic felicity, they rested from the fatigues of war. In the meantime we were kept under a small guard, and were treated with the greatest hospitality and politeness, while thousands flocked to see us day after day. We spent most of our time in preaching and conversation, explanatory of our doctrines and practice, which removed mountains of prejudice, and enlisted the populace in our favor, notwithstanding their old hatred and wickedness toward our society.
We were soon at liberty to walk the streets without a guard; and soon we were removed from our house of confinement to a respectable hotel, where we were entertained in the best style of which the place was capable. We had no longer any guard; we went out and came in when we pleased, a certain keeper being appointed merely to look to us; with him we walked out of town and visited the desolate lands which belonged to our society, and the place which, seven years before, we had dedicated and consecrated for the building of a temple, it being a beautiful rise of ground, about half a mile west of Independence. When we saw it last it was a wilderness, but now our enemies had robbed it of every stick of timber, and it presented a beautiful rolling field of pasture, being covered with grass. Oh, how many feelings did this spot awaken in our bosoms! Here we had often bowed the knee in prayer to Jehovah in by-gone years; and here we had assembled with hundreds of happy saints, in the solemn meeting, and offered our prayers, and songs, and sacraments, in our humble dwellings; but now all was solemn and lonely desolation; not a vestige remained to mark the place where stood our former dwellings; they had long since been consumed by fire, or removed to the village and converted to the use of our enemies. While at Independence we were once or twice invited to dine with General Wilson, and others, which we did, with much apparent politeness and attention on their part, and much cheerfulness and good feeling on our own.
After about a week spent in this way, during which I was at one time alone in the wilderness, more than a mile from town, we were at length (after repeated demands) sent to General Clark, at Richmond. This place was on the same side of Missouri that Far West was, and about thirty miles distant. General Lucas and Wilson had tried in vain to get a guard to accompany us; none would volunteer, and when drafted, they would not obey orders; for, in truth, they wished us to go at liberty. At last a colonel and two or three officers started with us, with their swords and pistols, which was more to protect us than to keep us from escaping. On this journey some of us rode in carriages, and some on horseback. Sometimes we were sixty or eighty rods in front or rear of our guard, who, by the by, were three sheets in the wind, in the whiskey line, having a bottle in their pockets; but knowing that we were not guilty of any crime, we did not wish to escape by flight. At night, having crossed the ferry, we put up at a private house. Here our guards all went to bed and to sleep, leaving us their pistols to defend ourselves in case of any attack from without, as we were in a very hostile neighborhood.
Next morn we rode a few miles, and were met by an express from General Clark, at Richmond, consisting of Colonel Price and a company of soldiers, who immediately surrounded us with poised pieces, in regular military order, as if we had been Bonaparte and his body guards, on a march from St. Helena; thinking, perhaps, that if we should escape, the United States and all Europe would be immediately overthrown. In this way we were escorted to Richmond, the headquarters of Major General Clark and his army, which was composed of three or four thousand men. Here, as usual, we had to endure the gaze of the curious, as if we had been a caravan of exhibiting animals. We were conducted, with some military parade, into a block house, and immediately put in chains; besides a strong guard, who stood over us night and day, with presented rifles and pistols. We were soon introduced to General Clark, who seemed more haughty, unfeeling, and reserved, than even Lucas or Wilson.
We enquired of the general what were his intentions concerning us. I stated to him that we had now been captives for many days, and we knew not wherefore; nor whether we were considered prisoners of war, or prisoners of civil process, or prisoners of hope; at the same time remarking that all was wrapped in mystery; for, as citizens of the United States, and of Missouri, in time of peace, we could not be considered as prisoners of war; and without civil process, we were not holden by civil authority; and as to being prisoners of hope, there was but little chance to hope from present appearances. He replied, that we were taken in order to be tried. “Tried? by what authority?” I inquired. “By court martial,” said he.–“What!” said I, “ministers of the gospel, who sustain no office or rank in military affairs, and who are not even subject by law to military duty, to be tried by court martial, and this in time of peace, and in a republic where the constitution guarantees to every citizen the right of trial by jury?” “Yes,” said he, “this is according to the treaty stipulations entered into at Far West, at the time of the surrender, and as agreed to by Colonel Hinkle, your commanding officer.” “Colonel Hinkle, our commanding officer?” inquired I; “what has he to do with our civil rights? he was only the colonel of the Caldwell militia.” “Why,” said the general, “was he not the commanding officer of the fortress of Far West, the headquarters of Mormon forces?” I replied that “we had no fortress, nor Mormon forces, but were part of the militia of the state of Missouri;” at which the general seemed surprised, and the conversation ended.
We were astonished above measure at proceedings so utterly ignorant and devoid of all law or justice. Here was a major general, selected by the governor of Missouri, and sent to banish or exterminate a religious society. And then to crown the whole with inconceivable absurdity, this officer and his staff considered the state of Missouri a separate independent government, having a right to treat with a foreign nation, a right which belongs only to the United States, and not to any one state in the Union. And then, to cap the climax, he considers the Mormons a nation distinct from all other governments; and, in fact, enters into a treaty with the colonel of one of the regiments of their own state militia, which was at that time under his immediate command, as a part of his own forces.
Thus Colonel Hinkle is converted into a foreign minister, an envoy extraordinary, in behalf of the Mormon empire, to enter into treaty stipulations with his Missouri majesty’s forces, under Generals Lucas, Wilson, and Clark. The city of Far West, the capitol of Mormonia, is the Ghent where this treaty of peace is ratified. After which the standing army of Mormonia stack their arms, which are carried in triumph to Richmond. The royal family and other nobles are surrendered in this treaty to be tried by court martial and punished, and the inhabitants of the fallen empire, like those of Poland, are to be banished to Illinois instead of Siberia. But this banishment (more cruel than that of Poland by the Russians) is to include every man, woman, and child of the whole empire, with the exception of a few who are retained in prison, and their women and children sent off from their homes and firesides to wander alone. And at the same time a deed of trust is drawn up, and all the Mormons are compelled, on pain of death, to sign away their houses, lands, and property, for the disposal of their conquerors.
We found, on our arrival at Richmond, that all these things had actually taken place; and in addition to all the rest of these unheard of outrages, eighteen of our citizens had been shot dead at Hauns’ Mill, in Caldwell County, and many others wounded, all this without making any resistance. The circumstances of this massacre were as follows: some two hundred robbers on hearing of the governor’s order for extermination, rushed suddenly upon some of our society, who, on seeing them approach, took shelter in a log building which had been occupied as a blacksmith shop. On seeing their enemies approach in a hostile manner, they cried for quarter, but were instantly fired upon, and when most of them had fallen, and were lying in heaps, in the agonies of death, the murderers put their guns through the crevices between the logs, and shot the dead and dying through and through, as a token of bravery, and also to glut their bloodthirsty disposition.
A little boy had crawled under the bellows in hopes to escape; but, on being discovered, he was instantly shot. Another little boy, of nine years of age, whose father (Warren Smith) had just fell dead, cried out to the enemy to spare his life; but they replied, “Kill him–God damn it, kill him–he is the son of a damned Mormon!” At this they shot his head all open, and laid him sprawling by his father; thus leaving Mrs. Smith to mourn the loss of husband and child both at once. This was a worthy family, from Ohio, who had long been near neighbors to me; and better neighbors I never had. About the same time, an old soldier of the revolution, by the name of [Thomas] McBride, came up to them and begged for his life; but they hewed him in pieces with some old pieces of a scythe. The women fled, but were fired upon; and one young lady (Mary Steadwell, from Ohio, who was a worthy lady, and had been a member of my family,) was shot in the hand while fleeing, and fell behind a log in time to save her life, just as a shower of balls struck it.
The robbers then loaded themselves with household plunder and departed. These particulars are as we have learned them; but being confined in prison, we lack much information on the subject of the Hauns’ Mill massacre, which will doubtless be given in the writings of others. Now to return to the subject as we left it at Richmond.
I must not forget to state that when we arrived at Richmond as prisoners, there were some fifty others, mostly heads of families, who had been marched from Caldwell on foot, and were now penned up in a cold, open, unfinished courthouse; in which situation they remained for some weeks, while their families were suffering everything but death. The next morning after my dialogue with General Clark, he again entered our prison and informed us that he had concluded to deliver us over to the civil authorities for an examining trial. I then asked him why he did not do away the unlawful decree of banishment, which was first ordered by General Lucas, in compliance with the governor’s order, compelling all our people to leave the state by the next spring? He replied that he approved of all the proceedings of General Lucas, and should not alter them. I make this statement, because many writers have commended Clark for his heroic, merciful, and prudent conduct towards our society, and have endeavored to make it appear that Clark was not to be blamed for any of the measures of Lucas.
The court of inquiry now commenced, before Judge A. A. King. This continued from the 11th to the 28th of November, during which we were kept most of the time in chains, and our brethren, some fifty in number, were penned up in the open, unfinished courthouse.
It was a very severe spell of snow and winter weather, and we suffered much. During this time Elder Rigdon was taken very sick, from hardship and exposure, and finally lost his reason; but still he was kept in our miserable, noisy, and cold room, and compelled to sleep on the floor with a chain and padlock round his ankle, and fastened to six others; and here he endured the constant noise and confusion of an unruly guard, who were changed every few hours, and who were frequently composed of the most noisy, foul-mouthed, vulgar, disgraceful, indecent rabble, that ever defiled the earth. While he lay in this situation, his son-in-law, George Robison, the only male member of his numerous family, was chained by his side; and thus Mrs. Rigdon and her daughters were left entirely destitute and unprotected. One of his daughters, Mrs. Robison, a young and delicate female, with her little infant, came down to see her husband, and to comfort and take care of her father in his sickness. When she first entered the room, amid the clank of chains and the bristle of weapons, and cast her eyes on her sick and dejected parent, and sorrow worn husband, she was speechless, and only gave vent to her feelings in a flood of tears. This faithful lady, with her little infant, continued by the bed of her father till he recovered from his sickness, and till his fevered and disordered mind assumed its wonted powers of intellect.
In this mock court of inquiry, the judge could not be prevailed on to examine the conduct of the murderers, robbers, and plunderers, who had desolated our society. Nor would he receive testimony except against us. And by the deserters and apostates who wished to save their own lives and property at the expense of others; and by those who had murdered and plundered us from time to time, he obtained abundance of testimony, much of which was entirely false. Our Church organization was converted, by such testimony, into a temporal kingdom, which was to fill the whole earth, and subdue all other kingdoms. Much was inquired by the judge (who, by-the-by, was a Methodist,) concerning the prophesy of Daniel–“In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall break in pieces all other kingdoms, and stand forever,” etc. “And the kingdom, and the greatness of the kingdom, under the whole Heaven, shall be given to the saints of the Most High,” etc.–These texts, and many others, were inquired into with all the eagerness and apparent alarm which characterized a Herod of old, who feared a rival in the person of King Jesus, and who, after inquiring diligently into the prophesies concerning the birth of Christ, and on learning that Bethlehem was the honored place designated by the Jewish oracles for the birth place of Messiah, and on learning from the wise men of the east that he was already born, sent forth a cruel order for the extermination of the children of Bethlehem, from two years old and under. In this way Herod thought to falsify the oracles of God– to destroy the King of the Jews, and maintain his own usurpation of power. But, lo! he was disappointed. The angel of the Lord had caused the father and mother and infant to flee into Egypt. So this cruel judge decreed the destruction of the Church and Kingdom of God, in the last days. But we shall see, in the sequel, that those whose destruction was firmly decreed (by Governor Boggs, the modern Herod, and his wicked coadjutors,) fled into Illinois, instead of Egypt; for the predictions of Daniel and others must be fulfilled now, as well as those predictions concerning Christ were fulfilled, in spite of judges and governors.
Much inquiry was also had concerning our sending missionaries to all nations to preach the gospel. And after all these inquiries, our religion was converted by false testimony and by false coloring, into treason against the state of Missouri; and like the pharisees of old, all these modern ignoramuses seemed to think, “if we let them thus alone all men will believe on them, and the Mormons will come and take away our place and nation.”
Here let me remark, that it is, and ever has been, the firm and expressed belief of our society, that religion is one thing, and politics another, and that the laws of all governments should be respected, and obeyed, so long as their administration protects the lives and property of their citizens, until the end of the world, when Christ will reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. But if self-defense and opposition to tyranny and oppression amounts to treason, then I for one, am a treasoner with every feeling of my heart; for had I the power, I would restore the supremacy of the laws and constitution, which have been violated by the authorities of Missouri. Justice should be administered to the guilty governor, generals, judges, and others who have murdered, plundered and driven us; and those who have suffered should be restored to their rights and to their possessions, and the damages should be paid them. Mark the saying, I am opposed to the unlawful proceedings of the highest authorities of Missouri, and would glory in laying down my life in opposing such abominations.
But to return to my narrative: At the close of the court of inquiry, some twenty or thirty were dismissed, among whom were Amasa Lyman, one of our number who had been with us in our captivity, and in our chains: and some twenty others were let to bail; and Messrs. Joseph Smith, Jr., Hyrum Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Lyman Wight, Caleb Baldwin and Alexander McRay, were committed to the jail of Clay County, on the charge of treason. And Messrs. Morris Phelps, Luman Gibbs, Darwin Chase, Norman Shearer, and myself, were committed to the jail of Richmond, being accused of defending ourselves in the battle with Bogart and his company.
This done, the civil and military authorities dispersed, and the troubled waters became a little more tranquil. As our people were compelled by the memorable treaty of Far West, to leave the state by the following spring, they now commenced moving by hundreds and by thousands, to the State of Illinois, where they were received in the most humane and friendly manner by the authorities, and by the citizens in general. Mean time, bands of murderers, thieves and robbers, were roaming unrestrained among our unarmed and defenseless citizens; committing all manner of plunder, and driving off cattle, sheep and horses–abusing and insulting women, etc.
My wife and children soon came to me in prison, and spent most of the winter with me in the dark, cold and filthy dungeon, where myself and fellow prisoners were constantly insulted and abused by our dastardly guards, who often threatened to shoot, hang us, etc.
The state legislature was soon in session, and from this body, so high in responsibility, we had hoped for some redress or protection. But what was our astonishment, when after much noisy debate on the subject, they refused to investigate the matter, and actually became partakers of the same crimes by passing a law appropriating $200,000 for the payment of the troops engaged in this unlawful, unconstitutional and treasonable enterprise. This last act of unheard of outrage, sealed with eternal infamy, the character of the state of Missouri, and established her downfall, to rise no more. She will be looked upon by her sister states as a star fallen from heaven, and a ruined and degraded outcast from the federal union, while the whole civilized world will detest and abhor her, as the most infamous of tyrants. Nay, tyranny itself will blush to hear her deeds mentioned in the annals of history; and the most cruel persecutors of the christians or reformers in pagan or papal Rome, will startle with astonishment from their long slumbers, and with a shudder of the deepest horror, and a frown of the most indignant contempt, they will look upon her unheard of deeds of blind infatuation, and unconscionable absurdity. The spirits of the ancient martyrs will hail their brethren of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as greater sufferers than themselves, and the blood of ancient and modern saints will mingle together in cries for vengeance, upon those who are drunken with their blood, till justice will delay no longer to execute his long suspended mission of vengeance upon the earth.
These disgraceful proceedings of the legislature were warmly opposed by a large minority of the house, among whom were D. R. Atchison, of Clay County and all the members from St. Louis and Messrs. Rollins and Gordon, from Boone, and by various other members from other counties, but the mob majority carried the day, for the guilty wretches feared an investigation, knowing that it would endanger their lives and liberties.
Many of the state journals have tried to hide the iniquity of the state, by throwing a covering of lies over her atrocious deeds. But can they hide the governor’s cruel order for extermination or banishment? Can they conceal the facts of the disgraceful treaty of the generals, with their own officers and men at the city of Far West? Can they conceal the fact that ten or eleven thousand men, women and children, have been banished from the state without trial or condemnation. And this at an expense of two hundred thousand dollars, and this sum appropriated by the state legislature, in order to pay the troops for this act of lawless outrage? Can they conceal the fact that we have been imprisoned for many months, while our families, friends and witnesses have been driven away? Can they conceal the blood of the murdered husbands and fathers; or stifle the cries of the widow and fatherless? Nay! — the rocks and mountains may cover them in unknown depths- -the awful abyss of the fathomless deep may swallow them up–and still their horrid deeds will stand forth in the broad light of day, for the wondering gaze of angels and of men! They cannot be hid.
But to return–Mr. Smith, and his fellow prisoners in Clay County, applied for a writ of habeas corpus, and were brought before the county judges, and their cases examined as to why they were in confinement. At this trial, Mr. Rigdon was let to bail under bonds of two thousand dollars, and the rest were about to be dismissed, but the mob was so violent as to threaten the lives of the judges if they let them go. Therefore, they were detained.
In April, having been confined nearly six months, they were taken to Daviess County, to be tried by a band of robbers, under the name of grand jury. Here a bill was soon found against them for high treason, and various other offenses. Their venue was then changed and they were sent toward Columbia, Boone County, for trial. This was some 120 miles down the country, toward Illinois. On their way to this place, they all made their escape from the sheriff and three guards. Some say that the guards got beastly drunk and let them escape. Others, that they were bought for the paltry sum of $250, but be this as it may, they escaped unhurt, and arrived safe in Illinois, where they were kindly received, and welcomed by the governor, and by the community, as men who had escaped from a long and terrible persecution. And there they have now been for some months, and that publicly, without any attempt on the part of the state of Missouri, to retake them, although they are but just over the line. Why does the state thus neglect them?–The answer is that they are now ashamed of their own conduct, and glad to drop the subject and let it slumber where it is.
On the 17th of March , (as the time drew near for all of the society to leave the state) my wife took leave of the prison, and with a broken heart, returned to Far West in order to get passage with some of the brethren for Illinois. She tarried in Far West about a month, and all the society had gone from the state, but a few of the poor and widows and a committee who tarried behind to assist them in removing. About the middle of April, a gang of robbers entered Far West armed, and ordered my wife and the committee and the others, to be gone by such a day or they would murder them. Thus my wife was driven away, according to the previous orders of the governor, while I was still detained in a filthy dungeon. My family was conveyed to Quincy, Illinois, a distance of one hundred and eighty miles, by David W. Rogers of New York, who is a descendant of the celebrated martyr John Rogers, of Smithfield, England.
On the 26th of April, 1839, the last of the society departed from Far West. Thus had a whole people consisting of about ten or eleven thousand souls, been driven from houses and lands, and reduced to poverty and had removed to another state during one short winter, and part of a spring. The sacrifice of property was immense, probably amounting to several millions, and one of the most flourishing counties of the state, and part of several others, were reduced to desolation or inhabited by gangs of robbers.
On the 24th of April, our cases were had before the grand jury of the county of Ray; and Darwin Chase and Norman Shearer were dismissed, after being imprisoned nearly six months. This release happened just as Mr. Shearer came to visit his son for the last time before he left the country. He came into the prison to see us, and not knowing of the intended release, he took an affectionate leave of us and of his son, who seemed to weep with heart-broken anguish. But while he yet lingered in town, his son was called before the court, and with Mr. Chase, was told that they might go at liberty. The father and son then embraced each other, almost overcome with joy, and departed.
At the same time, my brother Orson Pratt, whom I had not before seen for a year, came from Illinois to see me, but was only permitted to visit me for a few moments and then was ordered to depart. Mrs. Phelps, who had waited in prison for some days, in hopes that the court would release her husband, now parted with him, overwhelmed with sorrow and tears, and with her infant, moved slowly away to remove alone to Illinois and leave her husband behind. Thus our families wander in a strange land, without our protection, being robbed of house and home. O God! Who can endure the thought? Come out in justice, O Lord! and restore us to our mourning families.
Our number in prison was now reduced to four, one having been added about the middle of April. His name was King Follett; he was dragged from his distressed family just as they were leaving the state. Thus of all the prisoners (which were taken at an expense of two hundred thousand dollars) only two of the original ones who belonged to the Church now remained (Mr. Gibbs having denied the faith to try to save his life); these were Morris Phelps and myself.
All who were let to bail were banished from the state, together with those who bailed them. Thus none are likely to have a trial by law but ourselves and we are without friends or witnesses in the state. After the grand jury had found a bill against us for defending ourselves in the battle with Bogart’s company, [we] were kept in prison at Richmond for about a month. We then took a change of venue and were ordered to be sent to Columbia, Boone County, for trial. On the 22nd of May we were handcuffed together, two and two, with irons round the wrist of each, and in this fix we were taken from prison and placed in a carriage. The people of Richmond gathered around us to see us depart; but none seemed to feel for us except two persons. One of these, General Parks’ lady, bowed to us through the window and looked as if touched with pity. The other was a Mr. Huggins, a merchant of Richmond, who bowed with some feeling as we passed.
We now took leave of Richmond, accompanied by Sheriff Brown and four guards, with drawn pistols and moved on towards Columbia. No tongue can describe our sensations as we came forth from a most filthy dungeon, where we had been confined for nearly seven months, and began to breathe the free air and to change the scenery and look abroad upon the face of the earth. There was a sweetness in the air and a perfume from the earth which none could so fully sense, except such as have been for a long time confined in tainted air.
It had been thundering and raining for some days, and the thunderstorm lasted with but short cessations from the time we started, till we arrived at the place of destination, which was five days. The small streams were swollen so as to be very difficult crossing them. On the second day we came to a creek which was several rods over, with a strong current, and very deep. It was toward evening and far from any house, and we had had no refreshment through the day. Here we halted and knew not what to do; we waited awhile for the water to fall, but it fell but slowly. All hands were hungry and impatient, and a lowery night seemed to threaten that the creek would rise before morning by the falling of additional rains. In this dilemma, some counselled one thing and some another.–Some said, go back some miles to a house, and tarry till morning. Others said camp here for the night.–Others said swim the river and leave the carriage and baggage till morning, and some advised to attempt to drive some miles around the head of the stream. At last I proposed to the sheriff that if he would take off my irons I would go into the water to bathe; and by that means ascertain the depth and bottom; this he consented to do, after some hesitation. I then plunged into the stream and swam across and attempted to wade back; I found it to be a hard bottom, and the water about up to my chin, but a very stiff current. After this, Mr. Brown, the sheriff, undertook to cross on his horse, but just as his horse neared the opposite shore, he sprang sideways to gain a bank and Mr. Brown was thrown off his horse and buried in the stream. He could not swim, but sprang out, hallowing and flouncing in a manner that caused much merriment to the company.
This accident decided the fate of the day. Being now completely wet, he resolved to effect the crossing of the whole company, bag and baggage. Accordingly, several stripped off their cloths and mounted on the bare backs of the horses; and taking their clothing, saddles, and arms, together with our trunk and bedding upon their shoulders, they bore them across in safety, without wetting. This was done by riding backwards and forwards, across the stream several times. In this sport and labor, prisoners, guards and all mingled in mutual exertion.
All was now safe but the carriage. Mr. Phelps then proposed to swim that across, by hitching two horses before it; and he mounted on one of their backs, while myself and one of the guards swam by the side of the carriage to keep it from upsetting by the force of the current. And thus, Paul-like, we all got safely to land. Everything was soon replaced; and ourselves in the carriage, and our suite on horseback, we moved swiftly on, and at dark arrived at a house of entertainment amid a terrible thunderstorm.
The next morning we proceeded on, but in a few miles came to another swimming stream. After some consultation, it was thought best to go around the head of the stream. We accordingly took our back track for a half mile and then striking to the north in the open prairie, without any track, we rode some seven miles around, crossed the head of the stream, and returned to the road which we had left. This day we crossed the Missouri at a place called Arrow Rock, being named from the circumstance of the natives coming there from all quarters to get a kind of hard rock from the bluff to make arrow points. In this journey we had slept each night on our backs on the floor, being all four of us ironed together with hand and ankle irons made for the purpose. This being done, the windows and doors were all fastened, and then five guards with their loaded pistols stayed in the room and one at a time sat up and watched during the night. This cruelty was inflicted on us, more to gratify a wicked disposition than anything else, for it was in vain for us to have tried to escape, without any irons being put on us and had we wished to escape, we had a tolerable good opportunity at the creek.
When we arrived within four miles of Columbia, the bridge had been destroyed from over a large and rapid river; and here we were some hours in crossing over, in a tottleish [?] canoe, having to leave our carriage, together with our bedding, clothing, our trunk of clothing, books, papers, etc.; but all came to us in safety after two days. After we had all crossed the river, our guards having swam their horses, mounted them, and we proceeded toward Columbia, the prisoners walking on foot, two being fastened together by the wrists.
After walking two or three miles, Mr. Brown hired a carriage and we rode into Columbia. It was about sunset on Sunday evening, and as the carriage and our armed attendants drove through the streets, we were gazed upon with astonishment by hundreds of spectators, who thronged the streets and looked out at the windows, doors, etc., anxious to get a glimpse of the strange beings called Mormons. On our arrival we were immediately hurried to the prison, without going to a tavern for refreshment, although we had travelled a long summer day without anything to eat. When unloosed from our fetters, we were rushed immediately from the carriage into the jail, and the next moment a huge trap-door was opened and down we went into a most dismal dungeon, which was full of cobwebs and filth above, below and all around the walls, having stood empty for nearly two years. Here was neither beds, nor chairs, nor water, nor food, nor friends, nor anyone on whom we might call, even for a drink of cold water; for Brown and all others had withdrawn to go where they could refresh themselves. When thrust into this dungeon, we were nearly ready to faint with hunger and thirst and weariness. We walked the room for a few moments, and then sank down upon the floor in despondency and wished to die; for, like Elijah of old, if the Lord had inquired, “What dost thou here?” we could have replied, “Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and thrown down thine altars, and have driven out all thy saints from the land, and we only are left to tell thee; and they seek our lives, to take them away; and now, therefore, let us die.”