Volume 3 Chapter 24

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Chapter 24

Adventures Of The Prisoners Remaining In Missouri—The Prophet’s Narrative Of Personal Experiences In Missouri.

Saturday, May 18.—Finished my business at Quincy for the present.

Sunday, 19.—I arrived at home [Commerce] this evening.

Monday 10.—At home attending to a variety of business.

Tuesday, 21.—To show the feelings of that long scattered branch of the house of Israel, the Jews, I here quote a letter written by one of their number, on hearing; that his son had embraced Christianity:

Rabbi Landau’s Letter to his Son.

Breslau, May 21st, 1839.

My Dear Son—I received the letter of the Berlin Rabbi, and when I read it there ran tears out of my eyes in torrents; my inward parts shook, my heart became as a stone! Now do you not know that the Lord sent me already many hard tribulations? That many sorrows do vex me? But this new harm which you are about to inflict, makes me forget all the former, does horribly surpass them; as well respecting its sharpness, as its stings! I write you this lying on my bed, because my body is afflicted not less than my soul, at the report that you were about to do something which I had not expected from you. I fainted; my nerves and feeling sank, and only by the help of a physician, for whom I sent immediately, I am able to write these lines to you with a trembling hand.

Alas! you, my son, whom I have bred, nourished and fostered; whom I have strengthened spiritually as well as bodily, you will commit a crime on me! Do not shed the innocent blood of your parents for no harm have we inflicted upon you; we are not conscious of any guilt against you, but at all times we thought it our duty to show to you, our first born, all love and goodness. I thought I should have some cheering account of you, but, alas! how terribly I have been disappointed!

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But to be short; your outward circumstances are such that you may finish your study or [suffer] pain. Do you think that the Christians, to whom you will go over by changing your religion, will support you and fill up the place of our fellow believers? Do not imagine that your outward reasons, therefore, if you have any, are nothing. But out of true persuasion, you will, as I think, not change our true and holy doctrine, for that deceitful, untrue and perverse doctrine of Christianity.

What! will you give up a pearl for that which is nothing, which is of no value in itself? But you are light-minded; think of the last judgment; of that day when the books will be opened and hidden things will be made manifest; of that day when death will approach you in a narrow pass; when you cannot go out of the way! Think of your death bed, from which you will not rise any more, but from which you will be called before the judgment seat of the Lord!

Do you not know, have you not heard, that there is over you an all-hearing ear and an all-seeing eye? That all your deeds will be written in a book and judged hereafter? Who shall then assist you when the Lord will ask you with a thundering voice, Why hast thou forsaken that holy law which shall have an eternal value; which was given by my servant Moses, and no man shall change it? Why hast thou forsaken that law, and accepted instead of it lying and vanity?

Come, therefore, again to yourself, my son! remove your bad and wicked counselors: follow my advice, and the Lord will be with you! Your tender father must conclude because of weeping.

A. L. Landau, Rabbi. 1

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The Prophet’s Letter to W. W. Phelps.

Commerce, Illinois, May 22, 1839.

Sir:—In answer to yours of the 23rd of April, to John P. Greene, we have to say that we shall feel obliged by your not making yourself officious concerning any part of our business in future. We shall be glad if you can make a living by minding your own affairs; and we desire (so far as you are concerned) to be left to manage ours as well as we can. We would much rather lose our properties than to be molested by such interference: and, as we consider that we have already experienced much over-officiousness at your hands, concerning men and things pertaining to our concerns, we now request, once for all, that you will avoid all interference in our business or affairs from this time henceforth and forever. Amen. 2

Joseph Smith. Jun.

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Indictment of Parley P. Pratt et al.

A bill of indictment having been found by a grand jury of the mob in Ray county, against Parley P. Pratt, Morris Phelps and Luman Gibbs, for murder, and against King Follet for robbery, and having obtained a change of venue to Boone county, they were handcuffed together two by two on the morning of the twenty-second, [of May] with irons around the wrists of each, and in this condition they were taken from prison and placed in a carriage. The people of Richmond gathered around them to see them depart, but none seemed to feel for them except two persons. One of these (General Parks’ lady) bowed to them through the window, and looked as if touched with pity. The other was a Mr. Hugins, merchant of Richmond, who bowed with some feeling as they passed.

They then took leave of Richmond, accompanied by Sheriff Brown, and four guards with drawn pistols, and moved towards Columbia. It had been thundering and raining for some days, and the thunder storm lasted with but short cessations from the time they started till they arrived at the place of destination, which took five days. The small streams were swollen, making it very difficult to cross them.

An Adventure by the Way.

Thursday, May 23.—The prisoners came to a creek which was several rods across, with a strong current and very deep. It was towards evening, and far from any house and they had received no refreshments through the day. Here the company halted, and knew not what to do; they waited awhile for the water to fall, but it fell 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.

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In this dilemma some counseled one thing and some another. At last Mr. Pratt proposed to the sheriff, that if he would take off his irons, he would go into the water to bathe, and by that means ascertain the depths and bottom. This the sheriff consented to after some hesitation. Brother Pratt then plunged into the stream and swam across, and attempted to wade back; he found it to be a hard bottom, and the water about up to his chin, but a very stiff current.

After this, Mr. Brown, the sheriff, undertook to cross on his horse, but was thrown off and buried in the stream. This accident decided the fate of the day. Being now completely wet, the sheriff resolved to effect the crossing of the whole company bag and baggage. Accordingly several stripped off their clothes and mounted on the bare backs of the horses, and taking their clothing, saddles and arms, together with one 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. Brother Phelps then proposed to swim that across, by hitching two horses before it; and he mounted on one of their backs, while Brother Pratt 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 they all got safe to land. Everything was soon replaced; prisoners in the carriage and the suite on horseback, moving swiftly on, and at dark arrived at a house of entertainment, amid a terrible thunder storm.

I was busy in counseling, writing letters and attending to general business of the Church this week.

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The Prophet’s Letter to E. W. Harris.

Commerce, Illinois, May 24, 1839.

Dear Sir:—I write you to say that I have selected a town lot for you just across the street from my own, and immediately beside yours, one for Mr. Cleveland. As to getting the temporary house erected which you desired, I have not been able to find any person willing to take hold of the job, and have thought that perhaps you may meet with some person at Quincy who could take it in hand.

Business goes on with us in quite a lively manner, and we hope soon to have Brother Harris and family, with other friends, to assist us in our arduous, but glorious undertaking.

Our families are all well, as far as we have knowledge, all things are going on quietly and smoothly.

Yours, etc.

Joseph Smith, Jun.

Letter of The Prophet and Emma Smith to Judge Cleveland.

Commerce, Illinois, May 24th, 1839.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Cleveland:—We write you in order to redeem our pledge, which we would have done before now, but that we have been in the midst of the bustle of business of various kinds ever since our arrival here. We, however, beg to assure you and your family that we have not forgotten you, but remember you all, as well as the great kindness and friendship which we have experienced at your hands.

We have selected a lot for you, just across the street from our own, beside Mr. Harris; and in the orchard, according to the desire of Sister Cleveland, and also on the river, adapted to Mr. Cleveland’s trade.

The various [lines of] business attendant on settling a new place, go on here at present briskly; while all around and concerning us, goes on quietly and smoothly, as far as we have knowledge. It would give us great pleasure to have you all here along with us, and this we hope to enjoy in a short time. I have also remembered Rufus Cleveland to the surveyor, and am happy to be able to say that the land in Iowa far exceeds my expectations both as to richness of soil, and beauty of location, more so than any part of Missouri which I have seen.

We desire to have Mr. Cleveland and his brother come up here as soon as convenient, and see our situation, when they can judge for themselves, and we shall be happy to see them and give them all information in our power. Father Smith and family arrived here yesterday; his health rather improves. We all join in sending our sincere respects to each and every one of you, and remain your very sincere friends,

Joseph Smith, Jun.,

Emma Smith.

Addressed to Judge Cleveland and Lady, Quincy, Illinois.

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The Prophet’s letter to Bishop Whitney, Asking him to Settle at Commerce.

Commerce, Illinois, 24th May, 1839.

Dear Sir:—This is to inform you that Elder Granger has succeeded in obtaining the house which he had in contemplation when he left here; and as we feel very anxious to have the society of Bishop Whitney and his family here, we hope that he will use every exertion consistent with his own business and convenience to come up to us at Commerce as soon as it is in his power.

Joseph Smith, Jun.

Bishop N. K. Whitney.

The Twelve to go to England.

Friday, May 24.—The Twelve made a report of the proceedings of the Seventies, which I sanctioned. I also approved of the Twelve going to England.

Cruel Treatment of Parley P. Pratt and Companions.

This day the Missouri prisoners crossed the Missouri river at “Arrow Rock,” so called from the Lamanites coming from all quarters to get a hard rock from the bluff out of which to make arrow points. During this journey the prisoners had slept each night on their backs on the floor; being all four of them 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 staid in the room, and one at a time sat up and watched during the night. This cruelty was inflicted on them more to gratify a wicked disposition than anything else: for it was vain for them to have tried to escape, without any irons being put on them; and had they wished to escape, they had a tolerably good opportunity at the creek.

Answer of the First Presidency to R. B. Thompson on the Lyman Wight Affair.

Commerce, Hancock Co., Illinois, 25th May, 1839.

Dear Sir:—In answer to yours of the 13th instant, to us, concerning the writings of Colonel Lyman Wight, on the subject of our late sufferings in the state of Missouri, we wish to say, that as to a statement of our persecutions being brought before the world as a political question, we entirely disapprove of it. Having, however, great confidence in Colonel Wight’s good intentions, and considering it to be the indefeasible right of every free man to hold his own opinion in politics as well as religion, we will only say that we consider it to be unwise, as it is unfair, to charge any one party in politics or any sect of religionists with having been our oppressors, since we so well know that our persecutors in the state of Missouri were of every sect, and of all parties, both religious and political; and as Brother Wight disclaims having spoken evil of any administration, save that of Missouri, we presume that it need not be feared that men of sense will now suppose him wishful to implicate any other.

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We consider that in making these remarks we express the sentiments of the Church in general, as well as our own individually, and also when we say in conclusion, that we feel the fullest confidence, that when the subject of our wrongs has been fully investigated by the authorities of the United States, we shall receive the most perfect justice at their hands; whilst our unfeeling oppressors shall be brought to condign punishment, with the approbation of a free and enlightened people, without respect to sect or party.

We desire that you may make whatever use you may think proper of this letter, and remain your sincere friends and brethren.

Joseph Smith, Jun.,

Hyrum Smith,

Sydney Rigdon.

Elder Robert B. Thompson.

Case of Wm. Smith.

Saturday, May 25.—This day I met the Twelve in council. The case of Brother William Smith came up for investigation and was disposed of. 3

Sunday, 26.—I spent the day at home. Elders Orson Pratt and John Taylor preached.

Parley P. Pratt and Fellow Prisoners Arrive at Columbia.

As the prisoners in Missouri arrived at their new house in Boone county, I will give a sketch of their experience from Elder Pratt’s testimony:

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 tottlish 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 crossed the river, our guards having swam their horses, mounted them, and we proceeded towards Columbia, the prisoners walking on foot, being fastened together two by two 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.”

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On our arrival we were immediately hurried to the prison, without going to a tavern for refreshment, although we had traveled a long summer day without anything to eat. When unloosed from our fetters we were ushered immediately into the jail, and 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 any one on whom we might call, even for a drink of cold water; for Brown and all the others had withdrawn to go where they could refresh themselves. When thrust into this dungeon, we were nearly ready to faint of 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 enquired “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.”

When we had been in the dungeon some time, our new jailer handed down some provisions, but by this time I was too faint to eat; I tasted a few mouthfulls, and then suddenly the trap door opened, and some chairs were handed to us, and the new sheriff, Mr. Martin, and his deputy, Mr. Hamilton, entered our dungeon and talked so kindly to us, that our spirits again revived in some measure. This night we slept cold and uncomfortable, having but little bedding. Next morning we were suffered to come out of the dungeon, and the liberty of the upper room was given us through the day ever afterwards.

We now began to receive kind treatment from our jailer and from our new sheriff; for it was Mr. Brown that had caused all our neglect and sufferings the previous evening. Our jail in Columbia was a large wooden block building with two apartments; one was occupied by the jailer and his family and the other by the prisoners.

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Monday, 27.—I was at home.

The Prophet and Vinson Knight’s letter to Mark Bigler.

Commerce, Hancock County, Illinois, May 27, 1839.

Father Bigler:

Dear Sir:—We have thought well to write you by Brother Markham on the subject of our purchase of lands here, in order to stir up your pure mind to a remembrance of the situation in which we have been placed by the act of the councils of the Church having appointed us a committee to transact business here for the Church. We have, as is known to the Church in general, made purchases and entered into contracts and promised payments of moneys, for all of which we now stand responsible.

Now as money seems to come in too slowly, in order that we may be able to meet our engagements, we have determined to call upon the liberality of Father Bigler, through the agency of Brother Markham, and request that he will place in his hands for us, the sum of five or six hundred dollars, for which he shall have the security of said committee, also through the agency of Brother Markham, and the thanks of the Church besides.

Joseph Smith, Jun.,

Vinson Knight.

To Mark Bigler, Quincy, Illinois.

The Prophet’s Letter to Lyman Wight, on the Matter of R. B. Thompson’s Complaint.

Commerce, Illinois, MAY 27, 1839.

Dear Sir:—Having last week received a letter from Brother Robert B. Thompson, concerning your late writings in the Quincy Whig, and understanding thereby that the Church in general in Quincy were rather uneasy concerning these matters, we have thought best to consider the matter, of course, and accordingly being in council on Saturday last, the subject was introduced, and discussed at some length, when an answer to Brother Thompson’s letter was agreed to and sanctioned by the Council, which answer I expect will be published, and of course you will have an opportunity to see it.

It will be seen by that letter that we do not at all approve of the course which you have thought proper to take, in making the subject of our sufferings a political question. At the same time you will perceive that we there express what we really feel: that is, a confidence in your good intentions. And (as I took occasion to state to the Council) knowing your integrity of principle, and steadfastness in the cause of Christ, I feel not to exercise even the privilege of counsel on the subject, save only to request that you will endeavor to bear in mind the importance of the subject, and how easy it might be to get into a misunderstanding with the brethren concerning it; and though last, not least, that whilst you continue to go upon your own credit you will also steer clear of making the Church appear as either supporting or opposing you in your politics lest such a course may have a tendency to bring about persecution on the Church, where a little wisdom and caution may avoid it.

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I do not know that there is any occasion for my thus cautioning you in this thing, but having done so, I hope it will be well taken, and that all things shall eventually be found to work together for the good of the Saints.

I should be happy to have you here to dwell amongst us and am in hopes soon to have that pleasure. I was happy to receive your favor of the 20th instant, and to observe the contents; and beg to say in reply that I shall attend to what you therein suggest, and shall feel pleasure at all times to answer any requests of yours, and attend to them also in the best manner possible.

With every possible feeling of love and friendship, for an old fellow prisoner and brother in the Lord, I remain, sir, your sincere friend,

Joseph Smith, Jun.

To Lyman Wight, Quincy, Illinois.

Letter of Appointment to Stephen Markham.

To the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Greeting:

From our knowledge of the good sacrifices made by the bearer, Brother Stephen Markham, in behalf of the welfare of us, and the Church generally, and from the great trust which we have oftentimes reposed in him, and as often found him trustworthy, not seeking his own aggrandizement, but rather that of the community, we feel warranted in commissioning him to go forth among the faithful, as our agent to gather up and receive such means in money or otherwise, as shall enable us to meet our engagements which are now about to devolve upon us in consequence of our purchases here for the Church; and we humbly trust that our brethren generally will enable him to come to our assistance before our credit shall suffer on this account.

Joseph Smith, Jun., Presiding Elder.

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Thursday, May 28.—I was at home.

Parley P. Pratt et al Seek a Trial.

When the Missouri prisoners arrived at Columbia they applied to Judge Reynolds for a special term of court to be holden for their trials. The petition was granted and July 1st was appointed for the sitting of the court.

Monday May 29.—I was about home until the latter part of the week, when I went to Quincy in company with my Counselors. I continued to assist in making preparations to lay our grievances before the general government, and many of the brethren were making their reports of damages sustained in Missouri. I wrote as follows:

June 4, 1839.

The Prophet’s Narration of his Personal Experiences in Missouri 1838-9, Which he Calls “A Bill of Damages Against the State of Missouri on Account of the Suffering and Losses Sustained Therein.”

March 12, 1838. With my family I arrived at Far West, Caldwell county, after a journey of one thousand miles, being eight weeks on my journey, enduring great affliction in consequence of persecution and expending two or three hundred dollars.

Soon after my arrival at that place, I was informed that a number of men living in Daviess county (on the Grinstone Forks) had offered the sum of one thousand dollars for my scalp: persons to whom I was an entire stranger, and of whom I had no knowledge. In order to attain their end, the roads were frequently waylaid for me. At one time in particular, when watering my horse on Shoal Creek, I distinctly heard three or four guns snapped at me. I was credibly informed also, that Judge King, of the Fifth Judicial Circuit, gave encouragement to individuals to carry into effect their diabolical designs, and has frequently stated that I ought to be beheaded on account of my religion.

In consequence of such expressions from Judge King and others in authority, my enemies endeavored to take every advantage of me, and heaping up abuse, getting up vexatious lawsuits, and stirring up the minds of the people against me and the people with whom I was connected, although we had done nothing [on our part] to deserve such treatment, but were busily engaged in our several vocations, and desirous to live on peaceable and friendly terms with all men. In consequence of such threats and abuse which I was continually subject to, my family were kept in a continual state of alarm, not knowing any morning what would befall me from day to day, particularly when I went from home.

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In the latter part of September, 1838, I went to the lower part of the county of Caldwell for the purpose of selecting a location for a town. When on my journey I was met by one of our friends with a message from De Witt, in Carrol county, stating that our brethren who had settled in that place, were, and had for some time been, surrounded by a mob, who had threatened their lives, and had shot several times at them. Immediately on hearing this strange intelligence, I made preparations to start, in order if possible to allay the feeling of opposition, if not to make arrangements with those individuals of whom we had made purchases, and to whom I was responsible and holden for part of the purchase money.

I arrived there on the—day of September, and found the account which I heard was correct. Our people were surrounded by a mob, and their provisions nearly exhausted. Messengers were immediately sent to the Governor, requesting protection; but instead of lending any assistance to the oppressed, he stated that the quarrel was between the “Mormons” and the mob, and they must fight it out.

Being now almost destitute of provisions, and having suffered great distress, and some of the brethren having died in consequence of their privations and sufferings—I had then the pain of beholding some of my fellow-creatures perish in a strange land, from the cruelty of a mob—and seeing no prospect of relief, the brethren agreed to leave that place and seek a shelter elsewhere, after having their houses burnt down, their cattle driven away, and much of their property destroyed.

Judge King was also petitioned to afford us some assistance. He sent a company of about one hundred men; but instead of affording us any relief, we were told by General Parks [who commanded them] that he could afford none, in consequence of the greater part of his company, under their officer, Captain Samuel Bogart, having mutinied. About seventy wagons left De Witt for Caldwell, and during their journey were continually insulted by the mob, who threatened to destroy us, and shot at us. In our journey several of our friends died and had to be interred without a coffin, and under such circumstances, this was extremely distressing. Immediately on my arrival at Caldwell, I was informed by General Doniphan, of Clay county, that a company of about eight hundred were marching towards a settlement of our brethren in Daviess county, and he advised one of the officers that we should immediately go to protect our brethren in Daviess county, (in what he called Whit’s Town,) until he should get the militia to put them down. A company of militia, to the number of sixty, who were on their route to that place, he ordered back, believing, as he said, that they were not to be depended upon; and to use his own language were “damned rotten hearted.”

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Lieut.-Colonel Hinkle, agreeably to the advice of General Doniphan, and a number of our brethren, volunteered to go to Daviess county to render what assistance they could. My labors having been principally expended in Daviess county, where I intended to take up my residence; and having a house in building, and having other property there, I hastened up to that place; and while I was there, a number of houses belonging to the brethren were burnt, and depredations were continually committed, such as driving off horses, cattle, sheep, etc., etc.

Being deprived of shelter, and others having no safety in their houses—because of their being scattered—and being alarmed at the approach of the mob, they had to flock together; their sufferings were very great in consequence of their defenseless situation—being exposed to the weather, which was extremely cold, a large snow storm having just fallen.

In this state of affairs, General Parks arrived in Daviess county, and was at the house of Colonel Wight when the intelligence was brought that the mob were burning houses, etc.; and also that men, women, and children were flocking into the village for safety. Colonel Wight, who held a commission in the fifty-ninth regiment under his [Parks] command, asked him what steps should be taken. General Parks told him that he must immediately call out his men, and go and put the mob down.

Preparations were made at once to raise a force to quell the mob, who, on ascertaining that we were determined to bear such treatment no longer, but to make a vigorous effort to subdue them, and likewise being informed of the orders of General Parks, broke up their encampment and fled.

Some of the inhabitants in the immediate neighborhood, who seeing no prospects of driving us by force, resorted to stratagem, and actually set fire to their own houses (miserable log houses, after having removed their property and effects) and then sent information to the Governor, stating that our brethren were committing depredations and destroying their property, burning houses, etc.

On the retreat of the mob from Daviess county, I returned home to Caldwell. On my arrival there, I understood that a mob had commenced hostilities in the borders of Caldwell; had taken some of our people prisoners; burnt some houses, and had done considerable damage. Immediately Captain Patten was ordered out by Lieut.-Col. Hinkle to go against them, and about daylight next morning came up with them. Upon the approach of our people the mob fired upon them, and after discharging their pieces, fled with great precipitation.

In this affray, Captain Patten, along with two others, fell a victim to that spirit of mobocracy which has prevailed to such an extent; others were severely wounded. On the day after this affray, Captain Patten sent for me to pray for him, which request I complied with, and then returned to my home.

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There continued to be great commotion in the county, caused by the conduct of the mob, who were continually burning houses, driving off horses, cattle, etc., and taking prisoners, and threatening death to all the “Mormons.” Amongst the cattle driven off were two cows of mine.

On the 28th of October, a large company of armed soldiers were seen approaching Far West, and encamped about one mile from the town. The next day I was waited upon by Lieutenant-Colonel Hinkle, who stated that the officers of the militia requested an interview with us in order to come to some amicable settlement of the difficulties which then existed; they, the officers, not wishing, under the present circumstances, to carry into effect the exterminating orders they had received. I immediately complied with the request, and in company with Messieurs Rigdon, Robinson, Wight, and Pratt, proceeded to meet the officers of the militia, but instead of treating us with respect, and as persons desirous to accommodate matters, to our astonishment we were delivered up as prisoners of war, and taken into their camp as such. It would be in vain for me to give any idea of the scene which now presented itself in the camp. The hideous yells of more than a thousand infuriated beings, whose desire was to wreak their vengeance upon me and the rest of my friends, was truly awful, and enough to appall the stoutest heart.

In the evening we had to lie down on the cold ground, surrounded by a strong guard. We petitioned the officers to know why we were thus treated; but they utterly refused to hold any conversation with us. The next day they held a court martial upon us and sentenced me, with the rest of the prisoners, to be shot; which sentence was to be carried into effect on Friday morning in the public square, as they said as an ensample to the rest of the members; but through the kind providence of God, their murderous sentence was not carried into execution. The militia then went to my house and drove my family out of doors under sanction of General Lucas, and carried away all my property.

I had an opportunity of speaking to General Wilson, and on asking him the cause of such strange proceedings, I told him that I was a democrat, and had always been a supporter of the Constitution. He answered, “I know that, and that is the reason why I want to kill you, or have you killed.”

We were led into the public square, and after considerable entreaty, we were permitted to see our families, being attended by a strong guard. I found my family in tears, they having believed that the mob had carried into effect their sentence; they clung to my garments weeping. I requested to have a private interview with my wife in an adjoining room, but was refused; when taking my departure from my family, it was almost too painful for me. My children clung to me, and were thrust away at the point of the swords of the soldiery. We were then removed to Jackson county, under the care of General Wilson; and during our stay there, we had to sleep on the floor, with nothing but a mantle for our covering, and a stick of wood for our pillow, and had to pay for our own board.

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While we were in Jackson county, General Clark with his troops arrived in Caldwell, and sent an order for our return, holding out the inducement that we were to be reinstated to our former privileges; but instead of being taken to Caldwell county, we were taken to Richmond, Ray county, where we were immured in prison and bound in chains. After we were thus situated, we were under the charge of Colonel Price, of Chariton county, who suffered us to be abused in every manner which the people thought proper.

Our situation at this time was truly painful. We were taken before a court of inquiry; but in consequence of the proceedings of the mob, and their threats, we were not able to get such witnesses as would have been serviceable; even those we had were abused by the State’s Attorney, and the court, and were not permitted to be examined by the court as the law directs. We were committed to Liberty jail, and petitioned Judge Turnham for a writ of habeas corpus; but owing to the prejudice of the jailer, all communication was entirely cut off. However, at length we succeeded in getting a petition conveyed to the judge, but he neglected to pay any attention to it for fourteen days, and kept us in suspense. He then ordered us to appear before him; but he utterly refused to hear any of our witnesses, which we had been at a great trouble in providing. Our lawyer also refused to act, being afraid of the people.

We likewise petitioned Judge King and the judges of the Supreme Court, but they utterly refused. Our victuals were of the coarsest kind, and served up in a manner which was disgusting. After bearing up under repeated injuries, we were moved to Daviess county under a strong guard. We were then arraigned before the Grand Jury, who were mostly intoxicated, who indicted me and the rest of my companions for treason. We then got a change of venue to Boone county, and when on our way to that place, on the second evening after our departure, our guards getting intoxicated, I thought it a favorable time to effect our escape from such men, whose aim was only to destroy our life and to abuse us in every manner that wicked men could invent. Accordingly we took advantage of their situation, and made our escape; and after enduring considerable fatigue, and suffering hunger and weariness, expecting that our enemies would be in pursuit, we arrived in the town of Quincy, Illinois, amidst the congratulations of our friends, and the joy of our families. I have been here for several weeks, as it is known to the people of the state of Missouri; but they, knowing they had no justice in their crusade against me, have not to my knowledge taken the first step to have me arrested.

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The loss of property which I have sustained is as follows:—Losses sustained in Jackson county, Daviess county, Caldwell county, including lands, houses, harness, hogs, cattle, etc.; books and store goods, expenses while in bonds, of moneys paid out, expenses of moving out of the State, and damages sustained by false imprisonments, threatenings, intimidations, exposure, etc., etc., one hundred thousand dollars.

My brother Hyrum Smith wrote the following—

Hyrum Smith’s Statement of sufferings and damages sustained in Missouri, and of being driven therefrom.

I left Kirtland, Ohio, in the spring of 1838, having the charge of a family of ten individuals; the weather was very unfavorable, and the roads worse than I had ever seen, which materially increased my expenses, on account of such long delays upon the road. However, after suffering many privations, I reached my destination in safety, and intended to make my permanent residence in the state of Missouri. I sent on by water all my household furniture and a number of farming implements, amounting to several hundred dollars, having made purchases of lands of several hundreds of acres, upon which I intended to settle.

In the meantime, I took a house in Far West, until I could make further arrangements. I had not been there but a few weeks, before the report of mobs, whose intention was to drive us from our homes, was heard from every quarter. I thought that the reports were false, inasmuch as I know that as a people we had done nothing to merit any such treatment as was threatened. However, at length, from false and wicked reports, circulated for the worst of purposes, the inhabitants of the upper counties of Missouri commenced hostilities, threatened to burn our dwellings, and even menaced the lives of our people, if we did not move away; and afterwards, horrid to relate, they put their threats into execution.

Our people endeavored to calm the fury of our enemies, but in vain; for they carried on their depredations to a greater extent than ever, until most of our people who lived in places at a distance from the towns had collected together, so that they might be the better able to escape from the fury of our enemies, and be in better condition to defend their lives and the little property they had been able to save. It is probable that our persecutors might have been deterred from their purposes, had not wicked and shameful reports been sent to the Governor of the state, who ordered out a very large force to exterminate us. When they arrived at Far West, we were told what were their orders. However, they did not fall upon us, but took several of my friends and made them prisoners; and the day after, a company of the militia came to my house and ordered me to go with them into the camp. My family at that time particularly needed my assistance, being much afflicted. I told them my situation, but remonstrance was in vain, and I was hurried into the camp, and was subject to the most cruel treatment.

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Along with the rest of the prisoners, I was ordered to be shot; but it was providentially overruled. We were then ordered to Jackson county, where our bitterest persecutors resided. Before we started, after much entreaty, I was privileged to visit my family, accompanied with a strong guard. I had only time to get a change of linen, &c., and was hurried to where the teams were waiting to convey us to the city of Independence, in Jackson county. While there I was subjected to continued insult from the people who visited us. I had likewise to lie on the floor, and had to cover myself with my mantle; after remaining there for some time we were ordered to Richmond, in Ray county, where our enemies expected to shoot us; but finding no law to support them in carrying into effect so strange an act, we were delivered up to the civil law. As soon as we were so, we were thrust into a dungeon, and our legs were chained together. In this situation we remained until called before the court, who ordered us to be sent to Liberty in Clay county, where I was confined for more than four months, and endured almost everything but death, from the nauseous cell, and the wretched food we were obliged to eat.

In the meantime, my family were suffering every privation. Our enemies carried off nearly everything of value, until my family were left almost destitute. My wife had been but recently confined and had to suffer more than tongue can describe; and then in common with the rest of the people, had to move, in the month of February, a distance of two hundred miles, in order to escape further persecutions and injury.

Since I have obtained my liberty, I feel my body broken down and my health very much impaired, from the fatigue and afflictions which I have undergone, so that I have not been able to perform any labor since I have escaped from my oppressors. The loss of property which I sustained in the state of Missouri would amount to several thousand dollars; and one hundred thousand dollars would be no consideration for what I have suffered from privations—from my life being continually sought—and all the accumulated sufferings I have been subjected to.

Hyrum Smith.

Chapter 24 Notes

1. This letter was written, it will be observed in 1839. It cannot fail to be of interest to all to see the marked change which in more recent years has come over Jewish thought concerning Jesus of Nazareth. Nephi prophesied over five hundred years B.C. that in the latter days the Jews would begin to believe in Christ and should begin to gather in upon the face of the land given to their fathers. In the year 1901 Dr. Issac K. Funk, for Funk and Wagnalls, published an edition of Dr. George Croly’s work entitled, “Salathiel the Immortal,” or “The Wandering Jew.” This work was first published in 1827. Dr. Funk gave the book the title, “Tarry Thou Till I Come,” and in the appendix of the work he published some twenty-seven letters received from distinguished Jews in response to his question, “What is the Jewish thought today of Jesus of Nazareth?” From this great number of answers to this question, the following represent the general trend of the whole collection.

“I regard Jesus of Nazareth as a Jew of the Jews, one whom all Jewish people are learning to love. His teaching has been an immense service to the world in bringing Israel’s God to the knowledge of hundreds of millions of mankind. The great change in Jewish thought concerning Jesus of Nazareth, I cannot better illustrate than by this fact:

“When I was a boy, had my father, who was a very pious man, heard the name of Jesus uttered from the pulpit of our synagogue, he and every other man in the congregation would have left the building, and the rabbi would have been dismissed at once.

“Now, it is not strange in many synagogues, to hear sermons preached eulogistic of this Jesus, and nobody thinks of protesting—in fact, we are all glad to claim Jesus as one of our people.”

“Isadore Singer.”

New York, March 25, 1901.

“The Jew of today beholds in Jesus an inspiring ideal of matchless beauty. While He lacks the element of stern justice expressed so forcibly in the law and in the Old Testament characters, the firmness of self-assertion so necessary to the full development of manhood, all those social qualities which build up the home and society, industry and worldly progress, He is the unique exponent of the principle of redeeming love. His name as helper of the poor, as sympathizing friend of the fallen, as brother of every fellow sufferer, as lover of man and redeemer of woman, has become the inspiration, the symbol and the watchword for the world’s greatest achievements in the field of benevolence. While continuing the work of the synagogue, the Christian Church with the larger means at her disposal created those institutions of charity and redeeming love that accomplished wondrous things. The very sign of the cross has lent a new meaning, a holier pathos to suffering, sickness and sin, so as to offer new practical solutions for the great problems of evil which fill the human heart with new joys of self-sacrificing love.”

Kaufman Kohler, Ph. D.,

Rabbi of Temple Beth-El.

New York, August 23, 1904.

“If the Jews up to the present time have not publicly rendered homage to the sublime beauty of the figure of Jesus, it is because their tormentors have always persecuted, tortured, assassinated them in His name. The Jews have drawn their conclusions from the disciples as to the Master, which was wrong, a wrong pardonable in the eternal victims of the implacable, cruel hatred of those who called themselves Christians. Every time that a Jew mounted to the sources and contemplated Christ alone, without His pretended faithful, he cried, with tenderness and admiration: “Putting aside the Messianic mission, this man is ours. He honors our race and we claim Him as we claim the gospels—flowers of Jewish literature and only Jewish.”

Max Nordau, M. D.,

Critic and Philosopher.

Paris, France.

“The Jews of every shade of religious belief do not regard Jesus in the light of Paul’s theology. But the gospel of Jesus, the Jesus who teaches so superbly the principles of Jewish ethics, is revered by all the expounders of Judaism. His words are studied; the New Testament forms a part of Jewish literature. Among the great preceptors that have worded the truths of which Judaism is the historical guardian, none in our estimation and esteem, takes precedence of the rabbi of Nazareth. To impute to us suspicious sentiments concerning Him does us gross injustice. We know Him to be among our greatest and purest.

EMIL G. HIRSCH, Ph. D., LL. D., L. H. D.,

Rabbi of Sinai Congregation, Professor of Rabbinical Literature in Chicago University, Chicago, Ill., January 26, 1901.

Again, in 1905, the New York Sun published a symposium compiled by Dr. Isadore Singer, editor of the “Jewish Encyclopedia,” on the same subject, in which he quotes some of the most eminent contemporary Jewish theologians, historians and orientalists. The following is typical of the whole collection.

“If He has added to their [the Jewish prophet’s] spiritual bequests new jewels of religious truth, and spoken words which are words of life because they touch the deepest springs of the human heart, why should we Jews not glory in Him? The crown of thorns on His head makes Him only the more our brother, for to this day it is borne by His people. Were He alive today who, think you, would be nearer His heart,—the persecuted or the persecutors?”

Dr. Gustav Gotthell.

2. It will be remembered that William W. Phelps, with Oliver Cowdery and the Whitmers, left the Church in 1838, and was among the most bitter enemies of the Prophet; he was also among those who testified against the Prophet and his fellow prisoners before Judge Austin A. King at Richmond. (See report of Missouri Legislature on Mormon Difficulties, pp. 120-5). He also joined with others in whitewashing the proceedings of General Clark and his troops in their treatment of the citizens of Far West. Following is the document as it appears in the report of the Missouri Legislature p. 87:

“Certificate of Mormons as to the conduct of Gen. Clark and his troops.

“Richmond, November 23, 1838.

“Understanding the Maj. Gen. Clark is about to return with the whole of his command from the scene of difficulty, we avail ourselves of this occasion to state that we were present when the “Mormons” surrendered to Maj. Gen. Lucas at Far West, and remained there until Maj. Gen. Clark arrived; and we are happy to have an opportunity as well as the satisfaction of stating that the course of him [Clark] and his troops while at Far West was of the most respectful kind and obliging character towards the said Mormons; and that the destitute among that people are much indebted to him for sustenance during his stay. The modification of the terms upon which the “Mormons” surrendered, by permitting them to remain until they could safely go in the spring, was also an act that gave general satisfaction to the Mormons. We have no hesitation in saying that the course taken by Gen. Clark with the Mormons was necessary for the public peace, and that the “Mormons” are generally satisfied with his course, and feel in duty bound to say that the conduct of the General, his staff officers and troops, was highly honorable as soldiers and citizens, so far as our knowledge extends; and we have heard nothing derogatory to the dignity of the state in the treatment of the prisoners.”

Respectfully, &c. [signed]

W. W. Phelps,

Geo Walter,

John Cleminson,

G. M. Hinkle,

John Corrill.

In view of these proceeding on the part of W. W. Phelps it is no matter of astonishment, when he began to show activity respecting the affairs of the Saints, that the Prophet wrote him the curt letter of the text.

3. That is, Elder Smith who had been guilty of some willful and irregular conduct while in the state of Missouri, was permitted to retain his standing in the quorum of the Twelve.