Official Message to the Saints in the United States—Removal of the Church to the West—Organization—Oliver Cowdery’s Tender of Services—The Bigelow Case—Warren-Young-Taylor Outbreak—The Power of Prayer vs. Mobocracy—Appeal to Governor Ford
“Wednesday, October 8, 1845.—
Epistle to the Brethren of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Scattered Abroad through the United States of America
‘The Following Circular is Hereby Sent, Greeting:
You will perceive from the foregoing interesting Minutes of the General Conference, just held in the Temple in this place [see Chapter 33] not only the unparalleled union of the great body of the saints convened, but also that a crisis of extraordinary and thrilling interests has arrived. The exodus of the nation of the only true Israel from these United States to a far distant region of the west, where bigotry, intolerance and insatiable oppression lose their power over them—forms a new epoch, not only in the history of the church, but of this nation. And we hereby timely advise you to consider well, as the spirit may give you understanding, the various and momentous bearings of this great movement, and hear what the spirit saith unto you by this our epistle.
The Interest of Removal of the Church to the West to be Universal.
Threatening National Portents.
Jesus Christ was delivered up into the hands of the Jewish nation to save or condemn them, to be well or maltreated by them according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. And regard not that even in the light of a catastrophe wholly unlooked for. The spirit of prophecy has long since portrayed in the Book of Mormon what might be the conduct of this nation towards the Israel of the last days. The same spirit of prophecy that dwelt richly in the bosom of Joseph has time and again notified the counselors of this church of emergencies that might arise, of which this removal is one; and one too in which all the Latter-day Saints throughout the length and breadth of all the United States should have a thrilling and deliberate interest. The same evil that premeditated against Mordecai awaited equally all the families of his nation. If the authorities of this church cannot abide in peace within the pale of this nation, neither can those who implicitly hearken to their wholesome counsel. A word to the wise is sufficient. You all know and have doubtless felt for years the necessity of a removal provided the government [U. S.] should not be sufficiently protective to allow us to worship God according to the dictates of our own consciences, and of the omnipotent voice of eternal truth. Two cannot walk together except they be agreed. Jacob must be expatriated while Esau held dominion. It was wisdom for the child of promise to go far away from him that thirsted for blood. Even the heir of universal kingdoms fled precipitately into a distant country until they that sought to murder (him) were dead. The ranklings of violence and intolerance and religious and political strife that have long been waking up in the bosom of this nation, together with the occasional scintillations of settled vengeance, and blood guiltiness cannot long be suppressed. And deplorable is the condition of any people that is constrained to be the butt of such discordant and revolutionary materials. The direful eruption must take place. It requires not the spirit of prophecy to foresee it. Every sensible man in the nation has felt and perhaps expressed his melancholy fears of the dreadful vortex into which partizan ambition, contempt of the poor, and trampling down the just as things of nought were fast leading the nation. We therefore write unto you beloved brethren, as wise men that will foresee the evil and hide yourselves until the indignation be overpast.
The Church has Come to Silence.
Intent to Complete the Temple.
Admonition to Preparation for Western Move.
Concerning those who have more immediately instigated our removal by shedding the blood of our Prophet and Patriarch and burning the habitations of scores of families in the midst of the most desolating sickness ever known in the western valley; and who oblige us to watch for our lives night and day—we have nothing to say. We have told such tales to our father the president, and to all the high-minded governors, until we are weary of it. We look far beyond those by whom offenses come, and discover a merciful design in our heavenly Father towards all such as patiently endure these afflictions until he advises them that the day of their deliverance has come. It is our design to remove all the saints as early next spring as the first appearance of thrifty vegetation. In the meantime the utmost diligence of all the brethren at this place and abroad will be requisite for our removal, and to complete the unfinished part of the Lord’s House, preparatory to dedication by the next General Conference. The font and other parts of the Temple will be in readiness in a few days to commence the administration of holy ordinances of endowments, for which the faithful have long diligently labored and fervently prayed, desiring above all things to see the beauty of the Lord and inquire in his holy Temple. We therefore invite the saints abroad generally so to arrange their affairs as to come with their families in sufficient time to receive their endowments, and aid in giving the last finish to the House of the Lord previous to the great emigration of the church in the spring. A little additional help in the heat of the day from those abroad, to those here, who have been often driven and robbed will sweeten the interchange of fellowship, and so far fulfill the law of Christ as to bear one another’s burdens. The sacrifice of property that will probably accrue from a virtually coerced sale in a given short time together with the exhaustion of available means, that has arisen from an extensive improvement of farms, and the erection of costly public and private edifices together with persecutions and abundant labors of elders in preaching the gospel to the nations, and also in self-defense from traitors and foes, hypocrites and knaves, are things that will suggest themselves to all the thoughtful humane and philanthropic. And we are confident in our Lord Jesus Christ that the balm and cordial adequate to the present crisis of affairs, will come from the saints abroad to the utmost of their ability. And you cannot furnish it better, than to come up unitedly to the counsel of our epistle promptly, diligently and to the letter. Therefore dispose of your properties and inheritance, and interests for available means, such as money, wagons, oxen, cows, mules, and a few good horses adapted to journeying and scanty feed. Also for durable fabrics suitable for apparel and tents; and some other necessary articles of merchandise. Wake up, wake up, dear brethren, we exhort you, from the Mississippi to the Atlantic, and from Canada to Florida, to the present glorious emergency in which the God of heaven has placed you to prove your faith by your works, preparatory to a rich endowment in the Temple of the Lord, and the obtaining of promises and deliverances, and glories for yourselves and your children and your dead. And we are well persuaded you will do these things, though we thus stir up your pure minds to remembrance. In so doing, the blessings of many, ready to perish like silent dew upon the grass, and the approbation of generations to come, and the hallowed joys of eternal life will rest upon you. And we can not but assure you in conclusion of our most joyful confidence, touching your union and implicit obedience to the counsel of the Great God through the Presidency of the saints. With these assurances and hopes concerning you, we bless you and supplicate the wisdom and furtherance of the Great Head of the Church upon your designs and efforts.[Signed] Brigham Young, President.
Willard Richards, Clerk.
N. B. Let all wagons that are hereafter built be constructed to the track of five feet width from center to center. Families may properly travel to this place during winter in their wagons.
There are said to be many good locations for settlements on the Pacific, especially at Vancouver’s Island near the mouth of the Columbia.’
A general meeting of the seventies at 8 a.m.; twenty-two members were ordained for the thirty-first quorum.
Thursday, 9.—The seventies met in general conference. President Joseph Young counseled the seventies to pay strict attention to the call of their presidents and strongly exhorted them to pray unto the Lord day and night, and trust in him for deliverance, for the fervent prayers and faith of the saints would accomplish more than the strength of their arms, for the Lord holds the destinies of all men in his hands and he will control them according to his will and he has power to deliver us.
General Hardin’s Threat Against Nauvoo.
General Hardin has pledged himself to the mob that he will come to Nauvoo with his troops and either arrest Orrin P. Rockwell and some others of the brethren or he ‘will unroof every house in Nauvoo’. Three hundred of our enemies have volunteered to come with him from Quincy and they expect to be joined by others on the way.
There seems to be no disposition abroad but to massacre the whole body of this people, and nothing but the power of God can save us from the cruel ravages of the bloodthirsty mob.
Reliance Upon Prayer.
We concluded to plead with our heavenly Father to preserve his people, and the lives of his servants that the saints may finish the Temple and receive their endowments.
Saturday, 11.—The council met at Elder Taylor’s. We joined in prayer, and wrote a circular for the agents to take abroad with them.
Afternoon, I remained at home being worn down with fatigue.
7 p.m., met for counsel and prayer. After prayer we finished an extract from the conference minutes for the circular. Also appointed additional captains of hundreds, making twenty-five companies, as follows:1st, The Twelve; 2nd, Samuel Bent; 3rd, Alpheus Cutler; 4th, Isaac Morley; 5th, Shadrach Roundy; 6th, Reynolds Cahoon; 7th, Daniel Spencer; 8th, Peter Haws; 9th, Joseph Fielding; 10th, John D. Parker; 11th, David Fullmer; 12th, Charles Shumway; 13th, Charles C. Rich; 14th, Jedediah M. Grant; 15th, Erastus Snow; 16th, Benjamin F. Johnson; 17th, Andrew H. Perkins; 18th, George Coulson; 19th, David Evans; 20th, Daniel C. Davis; 21st, Jonathan H. Hale; 22nd, George P. Dykes, (Ottoway); 23rd, Mephiboseth Sirrine, (Michigan); 24th, Hosea Stout; 25th, Wm. Huntington.
Various Movements of Friends and Foes.
Bishop Miller, Sheriff Backenstos, and those who went with them to Quincy, have all returned safely. Backenstos is bound over to court in three thousand dollar bonds. General Hardin has gone to Springfield,
Tuesday, 14.—Major Warren came into the city with a detachment of the troops.
We prayed that they might not be permitted to do any injury to any of the saints; nor to interrupt our peace; they stayed but a short time.
Friday, 17.—Elder Orson Hyde returned from the east, having purchased between four and five thousand yards of canvas for the Tabernacle.
Wrote to General James Arlington Bennett in answer to several letters from him, and some he had written which we have not received, as he sent them by mail. We invited him to come out and see us, and make arrangements and go to the mountains with us.
Tender of Services from Oliver Cowdery.
I received a letter from Oliver Cowdery dated, Tiffin, Ohio, October 7th, advising us to seek aid from the United States government and offered his services as agent to see President Polk on the subject of removal westward if the council desired it.
2 p.m., attended council at Elder Heber C. Kimball’s.
Last Meeting of High Council in Nauvoo.
The high council met for the last time in Nauvoo, at least, it is the last minutes in their book.
Sunday, 19.—The congregation met in the Temple. Elder Orson Hyde preached.
Excommunication of William Smith.
William Smith who has published a pamphlet against the Twelve was excommunicated from the church by unanimous vote.
4 p.m., I met with the first Emigrating Company and proceeded with the organization by appointing captains of fifties and tens.
The Tablernacle for the Wilderness.
Monday, 20.—Elder Orson Hyde made returns of money collected for the Tabernacle $1415.381/2c; he paid for canvas $1050.56c and other expenses $105.80c.
Views of James Arlington Bennett.
Evening, the Twelve met in council at Elder Taylor’s, General James Arlington Bennett with us, he expressed himself opposed to our selling out to gratify the mob, and would rather see us fight and maintain our ground.
Tuesday, 21.—We visited the Temple. General Bennett was highly pleased with it.
Judge Purple is holding a court in Carthage.
I received the following:
Letter From J. B. Backenstos
October 21, 1845.
My Dear Friend:
As yet nothing has been done to do us any good, the array of grand and petit jurors has been set aside upon an affidavit of one of the mobbers, William D. Abernathy, a notorious man has been appointed as an elisor. Thomas C. Owen is also appointed for the other elisor so things are taking a strong and decided stand against us and justice. Our judge has so far decidedly shown himself in favor of the mob faction, and has so far disgusted very many of the respectable persons at court, I confess I am perfectly displeased with such judicial ‘humbugs’.
Our coroner, Henry W. Miller, has also been set aside as well as myself, so you may understand where we are, and what we may expect
Yours, etc.,[Signed] J. B. Backenstos.’
Wednesday, 22.—General J. A. Bennett and Mr. Booth, editor of the Quincy Herald, called at Dr. Richards’ and tarried till noon. The conversation turned upon the saints going west. General Bennett asked Mr. Booth ‘why don’t you go with them’? Mr. Booth replied, ‘To tell you the truth, that is my business here and I am not alone, for a number of others in Quincy are thinking of the same thing.’
Mr. Booth offered to publish in his paper anything to help the saints in the sale of their property, and any other communication from us which would not conflict with public opinion so far as to drive away his subscribers.
Hostility in Kirtland.
Evening, I met with the Twelve at Elder Taylor’s. A letter was read from Reuben McBride, Kirtland, stating that the apostates were doing everything they could to injure the saints. S. B. Stoddard, Jacob Bump, Hiram Kellogg, Leonard Rich, and Jewel Raney are the leaders of the rioters; they have broken into the House of the Lord, and taken possession of it, and are trying to take possession of the church farm.
Jesse P. Harmon and John Lytle who were charged with destroying the Expositor press were tried before Judge Purple.
Prosecutions for the Expositor Affair.
The court decided in his charge to the jury, that the defendants acting under the municipal authorities of Nauvoo, were acting without authority, and if it could be proven that they had taken any part in the destruction of the press they were to be found guilty.
Rollison was the principal witness for the prosecution and gave a minute detail of the manner in which the nuisance was abated and stated that Mr. Harmon took the lead of the police on the occasion. On being asked if it was Appleton M. Harmon or Jesse P. Harmon, he replied it was the policeman and on being informed they were both policemen, he became confused and said he could not tell which it was.
A Muddled Witness.
The witness was asked whether it was John Lytle or Andrew Lytle, he replied, it was the Policeman Lytle, on being informed that they were both policemen, he answered it was the Blacksmith Lytle and on being told they were both blacksmiths, he declared that he could not identify the persons. The jury brought in a verdict of ‘not guilty’ and the defendants were acquitted accordingly.
Thus were the words of the Prophet Joseph fulfilled, who told the police (when they reported to him that they had abated the nuisance) that not one of them should ever be harmed for what they had done, and that if there were any expenses consequent he would foot the bill.
In Search of a Bogus Press.
Thursday, 23.—A detachment of the governor’s troops came in from Carthage to search for a bogus press. They searched Lucien Woodworth’s house in vain.
By letters from Jonathan H. Hale and Jacob B. Backenstos we learn that Alpheus Cutler, John Lytle, Jesse B. Harmon and—————Holmes were acquitted, as the prosecution failed to prove they were the men who destroyed the Expositor press.
All the affidavits of the sufferers in the house-burning in Hancock county were called for to be presented before the grand jury.
Friday, 24.—Evening, council met at Elder Taylor’s. Some of the mob went to Nathan Bigelow’s near Camp Creek and ordered him to leave before Thursday for they were coming to burn his house, he sent his son to Nauvoo for counsel, and he was advised to go to Carthage and make the facts known to Major Warren.
Tragedy of the Bigelow Home Attack.
He accordingly went and told Warren who replied, that the troops were gone elsewhere and he had nobody to send. But told the young man to tell his father to defend his house, and call on his neighbors to assist him. It appears that on Thursday the young man did not get back to tell his father that night. Soon after this, Warren sent five of his men to Father Bigelow’s to defend his house. They missed their way and did not get there till 11 o’clock at night. On arriving they tied their horses; and their commander, Lieutenant Edwards from Quincy, went straight to the door and undertook to go in without knocking. Father Bigelow expected it was the mob coming and asked who was there, but the man did not answer but still attempted to open the door. Father Bigelow again asked who was there, and what he wanted, but could get no answer. He then told the man if he opened the door he should shoot him. The man finally opened the door and Father Bigelow discharged a pistol at him loaded with buckshot; he then snatched up a musket and shot that. The shot took effect on Edwards’ hip and three balls entered his breast. He fell and called to the others to come and help him. They then told Father Bigelow they were the governor’s troops and had come to protect him. Father Bigelow said if that was the case he was sorry, and went to work and made a fire and got the man in and took care of him. This morning they brought Father Bigelow to Carthage a prisoner, but his case was not disposed of when the brethren left. Warren justified the act.
Refused Hearing Before the Carthage Grand Jury.
Saturday, 25.—4 p.m., A. W. Babbitt arrived from Carthage and stated that when the brethren went in yesterday as witnesses of the house-burning the grand jury refused to hear their testimony, or to admit any of them into the jury room, which effectually shields the house-burners from justice and blockades the way for the sufferers to obtain redress.
The Redden Affair.
The steamer Sarah Ann passed up the river, Doctor Foster and Lyman E. Johnson were on board. When the boat landed Jackson Redden was standing by and L. E. Johnson stepped up to him to counsel concerning his father and brother’s case. Dr. R. D. Foster got a number of men from the boat and undertook to haul Redden on board and take him off with them. Redden knocked the first man down that undertook to lay hands on him; a few of the brethren who were not far off ran to Redden’s assistance and with sticks and stones soon drove the whole crew on board; the captain started immediately, without unloading; the clerk left the bills of lading with a man who handed them to Albert P. Rockwood, but appeared not to know what he did. After the boat started Doctor Foster shot his pistol at the brethren but hurt no one. One of the brethren was cut on the back of the neck with a stone.
Nauvoo Eastern Outpost.
This morning Hosea Stout and John Scott stationed themselves at the mound, seven miles east of Nauvoo, and extended a few men for miles north and south to ascertain and express any hostile movements which might be made towards Nauvoo.
Major Warren, Judge Purple, J. B. Backenstos, Judge Ralston and Mr. Brannan with a detachment of troops came into town and Warren demanded an explanation in relation to seeing some fifteen or twenty of our express men on the prairie.
Warren-Young-Taylor Outburst of Feeling.
I went to the Mansion and in plain but mild language stated the reason why our men were there. Warren in a great rage declared he would issue his manifesto on Monday morning and put the county under martial law. After this Elder John Taylor made some very just and spirited remarks in relation to the foul treachery or criminal imbecility of the governor’s protection, telling Mr. Warren that we had placed our express men in a position to communicate the earliest intelligence should any mob violence be attempted upon our brethren while at Carthage and further said: ‘We lack confidence in the governor’s troops under your command while hundreds of murderers, robbers and house-burners roam at large unwhipped of justice. We shall take measures to protect ourselves. I, Sir, have been shot all to pieces under the ‘protection’ of the governor’s troops. Our leading men have been murdered in Carthage and we shall not trust ourselves unprotected again until the state gives some evidence more than it has done of its justice and humane intentions to enforce its laws.’
Judge Purple said: ‘Mr. Taylor do not talk on such an exciting topic.’
Elder Taylor ordered wine for the company, Judge Purple and all except Warren drank.
Elder Hyde commenced to make an apology for Elder Taylor. Elder Taylor interrupted him, saying, ‘Do not offer any apology for me’. Judge Purple said, ‘We accept the wine for Mr. Taylor’s apology.’
Resort to Prayer.
Evening, I met with the council at Elder Taylor’s. We prayed that the Lord would overrule the matter and remove from Warren’s heart the disposition to declare martial law or otherwise let his hand be heavy upon him with judgment that he may not be able to bring trouble upon the saints.
James Arlington Bennett’s Message.
Brother Hedlock called upon Dr. Richards with a message from General Bennett, saying that he had left Carthage and gone to Quincy that he would write Dr. Richards soon, and that he would cross the Rocky Mountains with us in the spring.
Enos Curtis made the following affidavit:
‘State of Illinois
Hancock County ss.
On the 25th day of October, A. D. 1845, personally appeared before me E. A. Bedell one of the justices of the peace in and for said county, Enos Curtis, who after being duly sworn according to law deposeth and saith:—that on or about the eighteenth day of October A. D. 1845, in the Morley Settlement in said county he saw two houses and three stables burning and also saw two mobbers armed with guns going away from the same. And the deponent further saith that on Monday the twenty-first inst. he saw another house burning, said to belong to the widow Boss containing her potatoes and other vegetables. And further the deponent saith not.[Signed] Enos Curtis.
Subscribed and sworn to before me this 25th day of October, A. D. 1845.[Signed] E. A. Bedell, J. P.’
Sunday, 26.—This morning Bishop Miller waited upon Judges Purple and Ralston and showed them the Temple.
Eight a.m., the seventies met in the Temple and proceeded with the organization of the thirty-first quorum.
P. M., council met at Elder Taylor’s. Elder Orson Spencer in behalf of the council wrote the following:
An Appeal to Governor Ford
‘City of Nauvoo, Oct. 26, 1845.
To his Excellency Thomas Ford.
Sir: Fresh occasion from an occurrence of last evening appears to have arisen for this council to address you by the bearers E. A. Bedell, Esq. and Mr. George Miller. Having learned two or three days since that a number of houses and outbuildings were burned in the south part of the county and the utter impotency or negligence of the state forces to stop the work of burning, and having also learned that the mob intended next to burn houses in the north part of the county, at Camp Creek, and application having been made to Major Warren without obtaining sufficient aid to protect the citizens a number of our men in small companies not exceeding four in a company were ranging on the prairies in order to make a prompt report of any fresh depredations that might be made upon our property or persons.
At this time last evening Judge Purple, Major Warren and a portion of the bar, after adjourning the court were crossing the prairie to this place, when Major Warren discovered a portion of our men, say fifteen or twenty in their detached order. An inquiry into their business was made, and the answers not being sufficiently definite and satisfactory owing to weariness of watching and sense of their wrongs, the major took considerable umbrage and immediately upon his arrival demanded a satisfactory explanation. It was promptly given by President Young in a conciliatory spirit.
The major peremptorily avowed that he would issue his manifesto tomorrow and put the whole county under martial law, after which Elder Taylor made some spirited but not unjust remarks on his own responsibility.
If the major should impose martial law upon the county it would be a matter greatly to be deplored.
It would tend to obstruct the ends of peace and prevent that arrangement of affairs so necessary to our peaceful departure with our poor and helpless in the spring. It has been our continued effort and prayer to God that we might be unmolested until we can depart in the spring. For this purpose we still desire of you as our honored chief magistrate and the friend of the oppressed that the state troops may be speedily withdrawn. From this no danger will arise, even to our worst enemies, as our past forbearance and long suffering will abundantly prove. We would respectfully apprise you that the work of burning still goes on in the southern part of the county, as affidavits forwarded showing a number of buildings burned in the last two weeks will prove.
Our people are continually harassed with threats of burning, and assassination up to last evening: and as astonishing as it may seem to you some of the house-burners are actually in the posse of state troops and are prowling round in Nauvoo every few days. Judge then of our feelings and situation and show us that favor that will merit the blessings of thousands upon your honored head.
Concerning what has been written and other matters of importance to us, we refer your honor to the bearers, who will give you the necessary information.
With sentiments of high consideration I have the honor to remain in behalf of the council your obedient servant,
W. Richards, Clerk.’
E. A. Bedell and George Miller started at 8 p.m. to convey the above communication to Governor Ford. The night was so dark they lost their way twice and it was with much difficulty they reached Crooked Creek where they remained till break of day.
I conversed with Judge Ralston in relation to selling our property to the Catholics. He advised us to sell to them and said he would use his influence with them in Quincy to come and settle here.
Plans for Attending Trial at Carthage.
Major Warren said this morning that no man would be permitted to go into Carthage [to attend trial of the Prophet’s murderers] with any kind of arms. He swore he should search every man. It was thought best that about one hundred of the brethren should go and about twenty advance into town without arms, and the balance remain behind until they could ascertain Warren’s movements; and if he declared martial law, all return, as in that case there can be no court held.
Monday, 27.—Bedell and Miller reached Macedonia early, breakfasted with Wm. G. Perkins, changed horses and pursued their journey.
Brigham Young’s Reflections on the Procedure of State Officials.
Elder A. W. Babbitt returned from Carthage and reported that Backenstos had obtained a change of venue to Peoria to have his trial in five weeks. He is in the hands of the coroner who has permission either to take bail or select his own guard, at the expense of the state. The court adjourned until next May. The grand jury found bills of indictment against several of our brethren, none of the witnesses who had been burned out by the mob were admitted into the jury room, or allowed any opportunity to testify of their sufferings and so the farce ended with adding insult to injury. All Governor Ford, General John J. Hardin, Major Warren and Mr. Brayman’s promise of administering justice and punishing the house-burners simply ends in compelling the sufferers to leave their destitute and helpless families and bear the loss of time and expense of spending several days at court to be told: ‘You d———Mormons shall not be admitted into the jury room to testify against the old citizens who have burned your houses, barns and grain, and turned your sick and helpless families out of doors to perish without food or shelter on the eve of winter.’ 1
Charge that the Twelve Made Bogus.
Babbitt states that Dr. Abiather Williams has been before one of the judges of Iowa and sworn that the Twelve made bogus at his house in Iowa.
They have taken out a United States writ and made a demand on the governor of this state for them, and the deputy marshal of Iowa (Silas Haight) is at Carthage with writs for all the Twelve. Warren is coming with the troops tomorrow, to aid the marshal in making the arrests. They had these writs with them on Saturday evening and this deputy was also with them, but when Elder Taylor made his speech it bluffed them off and they were afraid to serve them; since then Warren has sent to some of the eastern counties for volunteers to join his ranks.
The brethren in council expressed their feelings and all felt satisfied that the Lord would overrule this matter also for our good. The brethren of the Twelve all concluded to leave their homes tonight, so that if the posse come in during the night there will be no danger.
Defense by Prayer.
Tuesday, 28.—Ten a.m., President John Smith, Elders Newell K. Whitney, Joseph Young, Wm. W. Phelps, Orson Spencer, Joseph C. Kingsbury, and Lucien Woodworth met at Elder Taylor’s and prayed.
The Twelve being apprehensive of treachery hid themselves until towards evening, when I received word from Major Warren that he wished to have an interview with us.
In the afternoon the Twelve held a consultation with Major Warren: I copy from Elder Clayton’s Journal:
Interview with Major Warren
‘Warren stated that when he came in with his troops on Saturday he had writs against the Twelve for ‘treason’ but he considered it unjust to serve them, he considered that if the Twelve were to be harassed with writs this people could not get away in the spring, that from Elder Taylor’s remarks he understood we meant that no writs of any kind should be served in Nauvoo but intended to resist. This was explained by President Young who told Warren that we did not intend to resist. He also drew out of Warren that he was going to Springfield tomorrow and one part of his errand was to get his friends and relatives to come here and purchase some of our farms, for he was delighted with them. It appears that the Lord has softened his heart in answer to our prayers, for which we felt thankful.’
The following is extracted from George Miller’s Journal:
Report of Bishop Miller’s Interview with Governor Ford
‘We (Miller and Bedell) traveled during last night, it was very dark, but by the light of the burning prairie we were enabled to proceed, we stopped fourteen miles from Springfield the latter part of the night and had a short nap while our breakfast was preparing, at the house of Mr. Bell all that we had conversed with during the past day disapproved of the course of the anti-Mormons in Hancock county.
We arrived at Springfield soon after breakfast and delivered the letter and affidavits to Governor Ford, whereupon he read several letters from individuals in Hancock county and others from different parts of the state insisting on the necessity of quartering a force in the county all winter sufficient to maintain law and order.
Mr. Bedell and I urged with the most earnest solicitude the disbanding of the forces stationed in our county, as we believed them to be a greater curse upon us than the real mob, as they have the effect to embolden rather than deter them [the mob] from committing acts of violence. Governor Ford seemed to be friendly, he deplored deeply the situation of the country and said, if he were to exert the executive influence in our behalf as ought to be done in justice to us, it would result in his overthrow and ours also. He also said, his private opinion was that the whole state were a mob and that he could not trust them to act in any emergency where we as a community were a party: Our interview lasted about three hours.
His final conclusion was to go to Hancock, and take a conciliatory course so as to prevent a collision until we should get away next spring: and when we should be gone bring them to justice and hang every devil of them [house-burners and murderers].
We conversed with several citizens who approved of the course of Backenstos in allaying the disturbances in Hancock, and reprobated with much severity the conduct of the house-burners, and expressed sorrow that Sheriff Backenstos did not kill five hundred of them.’
I copy from the Nauvoo Neighbor:
‘Hancock Circuit Court:
This court commenced its session on Monday the 20th inst. at Carthage. Present:—the Hon. Norman H. Purple, Judge; M. Brayman, states attorney protem; J. B. Backenstos, sheriff; Henry W. Miller, coroner; and E. D. Head, clerk.
After the grand jury were called an affidavit was presented to the court sworn to by a man named Michael Barnes, Jr., one of the known murderers of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, and also one of the grain and house-burners, which affidavit set forth that the county commissioners were prejudiced against him, and selected the grand jury with a view of having him indicted, whereupon the court set aside the array of grand jurors. When Sheriff Backenstos addressed the court among other things he stated that he had been recognized by his Honor to appear and answer whatever indictment the grand jury might find against him, and hoped that the court would excuse him or any and all of his deputies in the selection of grand jurors. The sheriff and his deputies were then excused from performing that duty, whereupon the court appointed Thomas H. Owen and William D. Abernethy, elisors: objections being made to Wm. D. Abernethy the court set him aside and appointed Captain Morgan of Adams county in his place.
The grand jury, as selected by the elisors, were called and sworn on Thursday, and retired to investigate the crimes which have been committed in Hancock county unanswered and true presentments made. Little if anything was done on Thursday.
On Friday a rush was made by the mob party. Witnesses were brought in and examined before the grand jury and on Saturday about 11 o’clock the grand jury came into court and presented a bill against Sheriff Backenstos for the murder of Worrell, also several bills were found against the Latter-day Saints. In the meantime on Friday afternoon about forty witnesses appeared in Carthage to enter their complaints against the house-burners for arson, larceny and other crimes, knocking at the door of the grand jury room to be heard, and applying individually to some of the grand jurors with their complaints; but nothing could be done. There being a determination on the part of the grand jury that no evidence should be heard nor bills found against any of the anti-Mormons, whether for murder, burning houses or other outrages perpetrated against the saints; when the grand jury presented the bills the sheriff was placed in the hands of the coroner. The prosecuting attorney entered a nolle prosequi as to the bills found against the saints.
The court adjourned until Monday the 27th instant when Sheriff Backenstos was to be tried: the sheriff appeared ready with his counsel and desired an immediate trial, but by some judicial legerdemain the cause was sent to Peoria county to be tried at a special term of a circuit court, which is to come off in about five weeks. On motion of council, it was ordered that Sheriff Backenstos be admitted to bail in the sum of $3000, for his appearance at Peoria circuit court, which bail price has been executed and the sheriff is going about his business. The sheriff is in good health and spirits, and bears persecution with all commendable forbearance. His Honor Judge Purple visited Nauvoo on Saturday afternoon in company with M. Brayman, states attorney, Major Warren, and several gentlemen of the bar, and heard the Latter-day Saints tell their own story.’
Brigham Young Incognito.
Wednesday, 29.—I remained incognito at Brother A. P. Rockwood’s, Brothers George A. Smith and Amasa M. Lyman came to see me; also Brothers Henry G. Sherwood and John S. Fullmer who had just returned from their mission westward; Bishop Whitney and Brother Wm. Clayton also came to see me. Elder Sherwood made a report of their late mission, which was very satisfactory and gave us some very interesting information concerning our best route to the west.
I extract the following from John S. Fullmer’s account of his mission to Vermilion:
Fullmer’s Mission to James Emmett’s Encampment
‘August 13, 1845: In company with Elder Henry G. Sherwood and James Emmett, I started from Nauvoo on a mission to James Emmett’s company, encamped on the Vermillion, a tributary of the upper Missouri river.
We had one horse each, which carried us and all our provisions and bedding for the journey. Our course lay about west-north-west as far as Raccoon Barracks on the Desmoines river, seventy-five miles from Nauvoo.
Finding that we were suspected of being Indian traders we took a northwest course for four days and then turned towards Council Bluffs. While here Emmett’s conduct became almost insupportable, and he appeared unwilling to pilot us to his camp, but finding Elder Sherwood and myself determined to push on at all hazards, he concluded to accompany us. Much of the country over which we traveled was very dry and water scarce so that we suffered considerably.
Finding there was some disturbance between the Pottawattomie and Sioux Indians we took our course up the river several miles from it keeping a sharp lookout for war parties and Indian campfires.
September 13.—We arrived at Emmett’s camp (625 miles from Raccoon Barracks) and met our brethren. On our way we encountered many deep streams, with miry bottoms, and steep banks, also some severe storms which caused some of the streams to overflow their banks.
Emmett’s camp contained about one hundred souls and were in a better condition than we expected to find them, they were tolerably well provided with provisions but somewhat destitute of clothing.
They feasted us on samp and milk and urged us to eat heartily of dried buffalo meat saying it would hurt no one, but we found to the contrary to our inconvenience and sorrow, its tendency is to swell to its natural dimensions as soon as eaten and this caused us to feel something like a beer barrel in a state of fermentation which no hoops can control.
Notwithstanding our caution and prudence, Elder Sherwood and myself were taken with violent ague and fever and for a week or more were unable to attend to business during which time Emmett sought to get the advantage of us, by intimating to the company that something was wrong with us, that the Lord was displeased with us, etc. John S. Butler and a few others had spirit enough to understand the spirit of these charges. Upon Elder Sherwood’s recovery he rebaptized John S. Butler and reordained him. I was then carried to the river and rebaptized for my health by Elder J. S. Butler and walked back and was so far recovered in a few days as to be able to attend council.
We explained our mission to the people, and gave what instruction we could, as to their temporal welfare. We learned that many of them had been led away by Emmett’s misrepresentations and such were glad to receive our counsel. Emmett opposed us and finally claimed equal authority with us. This drew forth our papers which gave us the presidency, while Emmett was only our conductor to the camp. The saints went forth and were all rebaptized by Elder John S. Butler.
To obviate any trouble with Emmett after we should be gone, we appointed him the president of the camp, with instructions. They were to remain where they were, build cabins for the winter, procure what buffalo meat they could, by sending out organized parties; to conciliate the friendship of the Indians, and prepare themselves for any instructions they might receive from Nauvoo in the spring, anticipating a removal to some place then unknown. After we had finished our business we appointed John S. Butler to attend us on our return, as we were yet too feeble to risk such a trip alone, and also to be the bearer of such instructions to the camp as might be given at headquarters. Emmett desired this appointment; but his recent behavior as a guide disqualified him.
A few days before we left a circumstance happened which came near proving fatal to the whole camp. Owing to our feeble health, we decided that it was impracticable to return on horseback: Accordingly we solicited Emmett to buy our horses for the use of the camp; but he gave us no satisfaction. We next applied to Brewyer, a French trader who gave us forty-five dollars for our horses: Emmett refused to deliver up the horses from his corral, although they had been paid for, stating that he wanted them for buffalo horses. This so enraged Brewyer that he immediately declared hostilities against the whole camp. There had been above a thousand Indians camped close by during our stay, but they had just started to the north. Brewyer who had married two of Eagle’s (the chief’s) daughters sent for him to return with all his warriors, which summons they promptly obeyed. He now stimulated them by giving them whiskey and sold them guns and ammunition on credit, in case they would wipe out the entire camp. Eagle promised to do so.
Fortunately there lived there a half-breed named Ongee, an educated and influential man to whom Eagle communicated his intentions. Ongee opposed them with all the art he was master of. One device was this: Ongee said they would select the least baby they could find and kill it and he would give each of them a petticoat and make squaws of all them: to Eagle he said he should walk over his dead body first: but if they would desist Brewyer should have the horses he had bought, which we also determined he should have if that should settle up the affair.
Just before the difficulty was settled, an Indian brave appeared followed by a number of others on horseback, before Butler’s tent, where Emmett was sitting and leveled his rifle at him; but was instantly prevented from firing by Ongee who was consulting with him on the subject at the time.
Ongee’s wife also used what influence, tears and entreaties she had with the several chiefs, and with Eagle also, who was the head chief.
In ordinary circumstances these efforts would have proven unavailing but the Lord had compassion on his people and turned the wrath of the Indians aside.
Ongee had contracted a friendship towards our people which he so manfully displayed in the deliverance of the camp. And wishing to show his respect to the two strangers who visited the camp with authority, he made a feast, the best his table could furnish; and there was no mean variety of vegetables, fowls and meat served up in tolerably good style, and in great profusion. Among the latter variety was to them the choicest of all dishes, especially when they wish to do honor to their guests: that was a fine fat dog of small size. Being a dish of honor it became indispensable that we should partake of it, which of course we did, but I will not say, ‘with a will’, but with apparent good grace. It was also a rule with them that each guest must clear his plate or dish, however much it might contain, or of whatever kind or variety, or pay a horse in default; but from some cause or other, perhaps through respect for our feeble health, this rule was waived, in our behalf, to our no small gratification, for we had been served enough to do us half a week.
As we had concluded to return by the river we made a canoe of a large cottonwood tree and fell in company with a couple of traders who were going down the river with some furs.
We left camp on the third of October, taking provisions as we supposed to last us to Council Bluffs, but being unacquainted with the channel, and the river being low, we found ourselves out of provisions before we had got half the distance. About this time as we were camping (for we had to lay to by nights) we saw a large flock of turkeys going to roost near by. One of the trappers, Elders Butler and Sherwood started out for a hunt by moonlight, one shot nine, one eleven, and the other thirteen times without so much as ruffling a feather. The Frenchman cursed his luck and swore his gun had a spell on it.
In the morning Butler went out and at the first shot brought down his turkey, this served us one day, and now we had eaten our last bite and no prospects of anything but salt and Missouri river water. We continued our route watching for game, hours passed and we saw none. After camping for the night, the Frenchman who had cursed his luck, shot a fine buck deer, which lasted us to Council Bluffs, eight days.
Twenty miles above St. Joseph, Missouri, John S. Butler left us and struck across the country for Nauvoo, not wishing to go through Missouri.
At St. Joseph we took a steamer for St. Louis. The rest of our journey to Nauvoo was pleasant as we performed it by steamboat. It is reported that the apostates are trying to get up an influence with the president of the United States to prevent the saints emigrating westward, and that they have written to the president informing him of the resolutions of the General Council [Council of Fifty] to move westward, and representing that Council guilty of treason, etc.’ ”