The Lynching of an American Prophet

In 1839, Mormon refugees made their way from Missouri to Montrose, Iowa, across the Mississippi River from Nauvoo, Illinois, where they would eventually settle. The man who laid out the city of Montrose, David Wells Kilbourne, disliked Mormons because of a land dispute, and he shared his anti-Mormon opinions in the paper. One of his sympathizers, Thomas Dent, was an Anglican parson in England who’d seen members of his community join the strange new sect. Seeking information about the Mormons, Dent corresponded with Kilbourne. Here the author shares three of Kilbourne’s letters to Dent. While the letters include both fact and rumor, they are valuable in showing how non-Mormons viewed the events surrounding the murder of Joseph Smith, Mormonism’s founder.

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