Volume 3 Chapter 8

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Chapter 8

Mob Movements In Caldwell, Daviess And Carroll Counties—Arrival Of Kirtland Camp At Far West.

Trouble at De Witt Begins.

About this time [September 12th] sixty or more mobbers entered De Witt 1 and warned the brethren to leave that place.

Friday, 14.—I was at home after three o’clock in the evening.

Dryden’s Report to the Governor.

William Dryden, Justice of the Peace in Daviess county, stated to the Governor, in a long communication, that he had issued a writ against Alanson Ripley, George A. Smith, and others, for assaulting and threatening Adam Black, on the eighth of August last; and that the officer, with a guard of ten men, in attempting to serve the writ, was forcibly driven from the town where the offenders were supposed to be, and that the “Mormons” were so well armed and so numerous in Caldwell and Daviess, that the judicial power of those counties was wholly unable to execute a writ against a “Mormon,” and that the “Mormons” held the “institutions of the country in utter contempt,” with many more such falsehoods of the blackest kind. Upon this representation Governor Boggs issued an order to General David R. Atchison, of the third Division of Missouri militia, through the Adjutant General, B. M. Lisle, to raise a sufficient force of troops under his command, and aid the civil officers in Daviess county, to execute all writs and other processes, in their charge, and especially assist the officer charged with the execution of a writ issued by William Dryden, Justice of the Peace, on the twenty-ninth of August last, for the arrest of Alanson Ripley, George A. Smith and others, and bring the offenders to justice. The following letter gives a tolerable fair view of the movements of the militia for a few days past:

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Doniphan’s Report to Atchison.

Headquarters, First Brigade, 3rd Division Missouri Militia, Camp At Grand River, September 15, 1838.

Major General David R. Atchison, Commanding 3rd Division Missouri Militia:

Sir:—In pursuance of your orders, dated 11th instant, I issued orders to Colonel William A. Dunn, commanding the 28th regiment, to raise four companies of mounted riflemen, consisting of fifty men each; also to Colonel John Boulware, commanding 70th regiment, to raise two companies of mounted riflemen, consisting each of like number to start forthwith for service in the counties of Caldwell and Daviess.

On the same day, Colonel Dunn obtained the four companies of volunteers required from the 28th regiment, and on the morning of the 12th I took the command in person, and marched to the line of Caldwell, at which point, I ordered the colonels to march the regiments to the timber of Crooked river. I then started for Far West, the county seat of Caldwell, accompanied by my aid alone.

On arriving at that place, I found Comer, Miller, and McHoney, the prisoners mentioned in your order. I demanded of the guard, who had them in confinement, to deliver them over to me, which was promptly done. I also found that the guns that had been captured by the Sheriff and citizens of Caldwell, had been distributed and placed in the hands of the soldiery, and scattered over the country; I ordered them to be immediately collected and delivered up to me. I then sent an express to Colonel Dunn to march the regiment by daylight, for that place, where he arrived about seven a. m., making forty miles since ten o’clock, a. m., on the previous day.

When my command arrived, the guns were delivered up, amounting to forty-two stand, three stand could not be produced, as they had probably gone to Daviess county. I sent these guns under a guard to your command in Ray county, together with the prisoner Comer, the other two being citizens of Daviess I retained, and brought with me to this county, and released them on parol of honor, as I conceived their detention illegal.

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At eight o’clock a. m., we took up the line of march, and proceeded through Millport in Daviess county, thirty-seven miles from our former encampment, and arrived at the camp of the citizens of Daviess and other adjoining counties, which amounted to between two and three hundred, as their commander, Dr. Austin, of Carroll county, informed me. Your order requiring them to disperse, which had been forwarded in advance of my command, by your aid, James M. Hughes, was read to them, and they were required to disperse. They professed that their object for arming and collecting was solely for defense, but they were marching and counter marching guards out; and myself and others who approached the camp were taken to task and required to wait the approach of the sergeant of the guard. I had an interview with Dr. Austin, and his professions were all pacific. But they still continue in arms, marching and counter marching.

I then proceeded with your aid, J. M. Hughes, and my aid, Benjamin Holliday, to the Mormon encampment commanded by Colonel Lyman Wight. We held a conference with him, and he professed entire willingness to disband and surrender up to me every one of the Mormons accused of crime, and required in return that the hostile forces, collected by the other citizens of the county, should also disband. At the camp commanded by Dr. Austin, I demanded the prisoner, demanded in your order, who had been released on the evening after my arrival in their vicinity.

I took up my line of march, and encamped in the direct road between the two hostile encampments, where I have remained since, within about two and a half miles of Wight’s encampment, and sometimes the other camp is nearer, and sometimes further from me. I intend to occupy this position until your arrival, as I deem it best to preserve peace, and prevent an engagement between the parties, and if kept so for a few days, they will doubtless disband without coercion. I have the honor to be, yours with respect,

A. W. Doniphan,

Brig-General 1st Brigade, 3rd Division Missouri Militia.

The Prophet’s Comment.

By this it is clearly seen that the officers and troops acting under the Governor’s orders had very little regard for the laws of the land, otherwise Comer, Miller, and McHoney would not have been discharged by them.

I was at and about home this day, attending to my business as usual.

Sunday, 16.—Held meeting in the afternoon, had preaching and breaking of bread. I was at home all day with my family.

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Monday, 17.—I was counseling with the brethren at home and about the city.

Atchison’s Report to the Governor.

Headquarters 3rd Division, Missouri Militia,

Grand River, Sep. 17, 1838,

To his Excellency the Commander-in-Chief:

Sir:—I arrived at the county seat of this county, Daviess, on the evening of the 15th instant, with the troops raised from the militia of Ray county, when I was joined by the troops from Clay county under the command of General Doniphan. In the same neighborhood I found from two to three hundred men in arms, principally from the counties of Livingston, Carroll and Saline. These men were embodied under the pretext of defending the citizens of Daviess county, against the Mormons, and were operating under the orders of a Dr. Austin from Carroll county. The citizens of Daviess, or a large portion of them, residing on each side of Grand river, had left their farms, and removed their families either to the adjoining counties, or collected them together at a place called the Camp Ground. The whole county on the east side of Grand river appears to be deserted, with the exception of a few who are not so timid as their neighbors. The Mormons of Daviess county have also left their farms, and have encamped for safety at a place immediately on the east bank of Grand river, called Adam-ondi-Ahman. The numbers are supposed to be about two hundred and fifty men, citizens of Daviess county, and from fifty to one hundred men, citizens of Caldwell county; both parties have been scouting through the country, and occasionally taking prisoners, and threatening and insulting each other, but as yet no blood has been shed. I have ordered all armed men from adjoining counties to repair to their homes; and Livingston county men, and others, to the amount of one hundred men, have returned. and there remain now about one hundred and fifty, who will, I am in hopes, return in a few days. I have been informed by the Mormons, that all of those who have been charged with a violation of the laws will be in today for trial; when that is done, the troops under my command will be no longer required in this county, if the citizens of other counties will return to their respective homes. I have proposed to leave two companies of fifty men each, in this county, and discharge the remainder of the troops; said two companies will remain for the preservation of order, until peace and confidence are restored. I also enclose to your Excellency the report of General Doniphan, and refer you for particulars to Major Rogers.

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I have the honor to be your obedient servant,

D. R. Atchison,

Major General 3rd Division Missouri Militia.

Tuesday, 18.—I have been at home all day, considerably unwell, but am somewhat better this evening.

Marching Orders to the Militia.

This day the Governor ordered Captain Childs to have the Boonville Guards mounted, with ten days’ provisions, and in readiness to march on his arrival at the end of the week. The Governor also ordered General S. D. Lucas, of the fourth division to march immediately with four hundred mounted men to the scene of difficulty, and co-operate with General Atchison. Similar orders were issued to Major Generals Lewis Bolton, John B. Clark, and Thomas D. Grant.

Wednesday, 19.—I was at and about home.

Thursday, 20.—I was at home until about ten o’clock, when I rode out on horseback. I returned a little before sunset, and was at home through the evening.

Movements of the Militia.

The following extracts from General Atchison’s letter of this date, to the Governor, from Liberty, will give a pretty correct view of the movements of the militia.

Excerpts of Atchison’s Letter to the Governor.

Sir:—The troops ordered out for the purpose of putting down the insurrection supposed to exist in the counties of Daviess and Caldwell, were discharged on the 20th instant, with the exception of two companies of the Ray militia, now stationed in the county of Daviess, under the command of Brigadier General Parks. It was deemed necessary in the state of excitement in that county that those companies should remain there for a short period longer, say some twenty days, until confidence and tranquility should be restored. All the offenders against the law in that county, against whom process was taken out, were arrested and brought before a court of inquiry, and recognized to appear at the Circuit Court. Mr. Thomas C. Birch attended to the prosecution on the part of the State. The citizens of other counties who came in armed, to the assistance of the citizens of Daviess county, have dispersed and returned to their respective homes, and the Mormons have also returned to their respective homes, so that I consider the insurrection, for the present at least, to be at an end. From the best information I can get, there are about two hundred and fifty Mormon families in Daviess county, nearly one half of the population, and the whole of the Mormon forces in Daviess, Caldwell, and the adjoining counties, is estimated at from thirteen to fifteen hundred men, capable of bearing arms. The Mormons of Daviess county, as I stated in a former report, were encamped in a town called Adam-ondi-Ahman, and are headed by Lyman Wight, a bold, brave, skillful, and I may add, a desperate man; they appeared to be acting on the defensive, and I must further add, gave up the offenders with a good deal of promptness. The arms taken by the Mormons, and prisoners were also given up upon demand, with seeming cheerfulness.

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The mob this day again threatened De Witt.

Friday, 21.—I was about home.

Saturday, 22.—I went out early in the morning, returned to breakfast at half past seven, and took an airing on horseback at nine in the morning.

Petition of the Saints of De Witt to Governor Boggs.

De Witt, Carroll County, State Of Missouri,

September 22, 1838.

To his Excellency Lilburn W. Boggs, Governor of the State of Missouri:

Your Petitioners, citizens of the county of Carroll, do hereby petition your Excellency, praying for relief: That whereas, your petitioners have on the 20th instant, been sorely aggrieved, by being beset by a lawless mob, certain inhabitants of this and other counties, to the injury of the good citizens of this and the adjacent places; that on the aforesaid day, there came from one hundred to one hundred and fifty armed men, and threatened with force and violence, to drive certain peaceable citizens from their homes, in defiance of all law, and threatened then to drive said citizens out of the county, but, on deliberation, concluded to give them, said citizens, till the first of October next, to leave said county; and threatened, if not gone by that time, to exterminate them, without regard to age or sex, and destroy their chattels, by throwing them into the river. We therefore pray you to take such steps as shall put a stop to all lawless proceeding; and we, your Petitioners, will ever pray, &c.

Benj. Kendrick. John Tillford, Dudley Thomas, H. G. Sherwood, William P. Lundow, John Murdock, Jno. Kendrick, G. M. Hinkle, Thos. Dehart, James Valance, Francis Brown, Jabez Lake, Albert Loree H. M. Wallace, Samuel Lake, D. Thomas, (non-Mormon Asa Manchester,), Wm. Winston, Nathan Harrison, John Clark, Elizabeth Smith, Thos. Hollingshead, Henry Root, Asa W. Barnes, A. L. Caldwell, Elijah T. Rogers, Rufus Allen, John Dougherty, Ezekiel Barnes, Moses Harris, D. H. Barnes, Perry Thayer, Wm. S. Smith, B. B. Bartley, James Hampton, Jonathan Harris, Robert Hampton, Wm. J. Hatfield, Jonathan Hampton, Oliver Olney, George Peacock, John Thorp, Daniel Clark, H. T. Chipman, John Proctor, David Dixon, James McGuin, Benj. Hensley, Smith Humphrey,

Franklin N. Thayer.

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Sunday, 23.—I attended meeting both forenoon and afternoon, and was at home in the evening.

Monday, 24.—I was at home until half-past eight a. m., when I rode out on horseback, and returned about five in the evening.

The governor, having heard that peace had been restored in Daviess and Caldwell counties, ordered Generals Clark, Crowther, Lewis, and Bolton to discharge their troops. The order was dated at Jonesborough.

General Parks’ Report to Governor Boggs.

Tuesday, 25.—General Parks wrote the governor from Mill Port, that he had been in the upper part of Daviess county to assist the constable in bringing offenders to justice, and that the major-general, with the troops from Ray and Clay counties on the 18th instant, (except two companies from Ray under his command) were disbanded. In this letter General Parks said:

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Whatever may have been the disposition of the people called Mormons, before our arrival here, since we have made our appearance they have shown no disposition to resist the laws, or of hostile intentions. There has been so much prejudice and exaggeration concerned in this matter, that I found things entirely different from what I was prepared to expect. When we arrived here, we found a large body of men from the counties adjoining, armed and in the field, for the purpose, as I learned, of assisting the people of this county against the Mormons, without being called out by the proper authorities.

P. S.—Since writing the above, I received information that if the committee do not agree, 2 the determination of the Daviess county men is to drive the Mormons with powder and lead.

The same day, General Parks wrote General Atchison as follows:

I am happy to be able to state to you, that the deep excitement existing between the parties, has in a great degree ceased; and so far I have had no occasion to resort to force, in assisting the constables. On tomorrow, a committee from Daviess county meets a committee of the Mormons at Adam-ondi-Ahman, to propose to them to buy or sell, and I expect to be there.

Wednesday, 26.—Fifteen or twenty of the Mormons were cited to trial at Gallatin where Lyman Wight has pledged himself to me that they will attend.

I was at home until ten or eleven o’clock in the morning, when I rode out, and returned home and spent the evening.

Agreement to Buy Out the Mob.

The mob committee met a committee of the brethren, and the brethren entered into an agreement to purchase all the lands and possessions of those who desired to sell and leave Daviess county. The High Council of Adam-ondi-Ahman was immediately called and Elders Don C. Smith, George A. Smith, Lorenzo D. Barnes and Harrison Sagers were appointed to go immediately to the churches in the south and east and raise men and means to fulfill the contract. The committee arrived at Far West late in the evening, and called upon me and gave me the foregoing information. I approved of the action of the brethren.

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Thursday, 27.—I was home and about the city.

Extract of a Letter from General Atchison to Governor Boggs, Dated—

Liberty, September 27th, 1838.

The force under General Parks is deemed sufficient to execute the laws and keep the peace in Daviess county. Things are not so bad in that county as represented by rumor, and, in fact, from affidavits I have no doubt your Excellency has been deceived by the exaggerated statements of designing or half crazy men. I have found there is no cause of alarm on account of the Mormons; they are not to be feared; they are very much alarmed.

Friday, 28.—I was about home until near sundown, when I rode out.

Elder John E. Page arrived at De Witt with his Canada company sometime this week.

Saturday, 29.—I rode out on horseback, returning about three in the afternoon and spent the evening at home.

Sunday, 30.—I left home about ten o’clock in the morning.

Mob Activities Shifted to De Witt.

Monday, October 1.—I returned home about five o’clock where I tarried the remainder of the evening. The mob having left Daviess county (after they were organized into a militia by Atchison, Doniphan and Parks and disbanded) went to Carroll county and gathered at De Witt, threatening vengeance to the Saints without regard to age, sex or condition; but Daviess county was for a season freed from those peace disturbers.

Tuesday, 2.—The mob pressed harder upon De Witt and fired upon the Saints.

Arrival of Kirtland Camp at Far West.

The Kirtland Camp arrived in Far West from Kirtland. I went in company with Sidney Rigdon, Hyrum Smith, Isaac Morley and George W. Robinson, and met them some miles out, and escorted them into the city, where they encamped on the public square directly south, and close by the excavation for the Lord’s House. Here friends greeted friends in the name of the Lord. Isaac Morley, Patriarch at Far West, furnished a beef for the camp. President Rigdon provided a supper for the sick, and the brethren provided for them like men of God, for they were hungry, having eaten but little for several days, and having traveled eleven miles this day; eight hundred and sixty miles from Kirtland, the way the camp traveled.

Chapter 8 Notes

1. De Witt is located in the southeast corner of Carroll county, about fifty miles southeast of Far West, and near the point where Grand river empties into the Missouri. During the summer of 1838 a number of the Saints settled there, some of whom, when the above warning was given, were still encamped in their wagons and tents.

2. This has reference to the committee appointed by the respective parties to negotiate terms for buying or selling on the part either of the mob or the Saints.