Volume 1 Chapter 29 | BYU Studies

Volume 1 Chapter 29

Chapter 29

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Minor Events in Zion and Kirtland—An Appeal to the Governor of Missouri.

August 21.—At a council of High Priests in Zion, Elder Christian Whitmer was ordained to the High Priesthood. Andon the 28th, the council resolved, that no High Priest, Elder, or Priest, shall ordain any Priest, Elder, or High Priest in the land of Zion, without the consent of a conference of High Priests. 1

Soon after the arrival of Oliver Cowdery at Kirtland, 2 arrangements were made to dispatch Elders Orson Hyde and John Gould 3 to Jackson county, Missouri, with advice to the Saints in their unfortunate situation, through the late outrage of the mob.

Prophet's Letter to Vienna Jaques.

September 4.—I wrote as follows to Sister Vienna Jaques' at Independence, Missouri:

Dear Sister:—Having a few leisure moments, I sit down to communicate to you a few words, which I know I am under obligation to improve for your satisfaction, if it should be a satisfaction for you to receive a few words from your unworthy brother in Christ. I [Page 408] received your letter some time since, containing a history of your journey and your safe arrival, for which I bless the Lord; I have often felt a whispering since I received your letter, like this: "Joseph, thou art indebted to thy God for the offering of thy Sister Vienna, which proved a savor of life as pertaining to thy pecuniary concerns. Therefore she should not be forgotten of thee, for the Lord hath done this, and thou shouldst remember her in all thy prayers and also by letter, for she oftentimes calleth on the Lord, saying, O Lord, inspire thy servant Joseph to communicate by letter some word to thine unworthy handmaiden, and say all my sins are forgiven, and art thou not content with the chastisement wherewith thou hast chastised thy handmaiden?" Yea, sister, this seems to be the whispering of a spirit, and judge ye what spirit it is. I was aware when you left Kirtland that the Lord would chasten you, but I prayed fervently in the name of Jesus that you might live to receive your inheritance, agreeable to the commandment which was given concerning you. I am not at all astonished at what has happened to you, neither to what has happened to Zion, and I could tell all the whys and wherefores of all these calamities. But alas, it is in vain to warn and give precepts, for all men are naturally disposed to walk in their own paths as they are pointed out by their own fingers and are not willing to consider and walk in the path which is pointed out by another, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, although he should be an unerring director, and the Lord his God sent him. Nevertheless, I do not feel disposed to cast any reflections, but I feel to cry mightily unto the Lord that all things, which have happened may work together for good; yea, I feel to say, O Lord, let Zion be comforted, let her waste places be built up and established an hundred fold; let Thy Saints come unto Zion out of every nation; let her be exalted to the third heavens, and let Thy judgment be sent forth unto victory; and after this great tribulation, let Thy blessing fall upon Thy people, and let Thy handmaid live till her soul shall be satisfied in beholding the glory of Zion; for notwithstanding her present affliction, she shall yet arise and put on her beautiful garments, and be the joy and glory of the whole earth. Therefore let your heart be comforted; live in strict obedience to the commandments of God, and walk humbly before Him, and He will exalt thee in His own due time. I will assure you that the Lord has respect unto the offering you made. Brother David W. Patten has just returned from his tour to the east, and gives us great satisfaction as to his ministry. He has raised up a church of about eighty-three members in that part of the country where his friends live—in the state of New York. Many were healed through his instrumentality, several cripples were restored. As many as twelve that were afflicted came at a time from a distance to be healed; he and others administered in the name of Jesus, and they were made whole. Thus you see that the laborers in the Lord's vineyard are laboring with their might, while the day lasts, knowing "the night soon cometh when no man can work.

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[Signed] Joseph Smith.

September 11.—The following members, residing in Kirtland, viz.: F. G. Williams, Sidney Rigdon, N. K. Whitney, with myself, and Oliver Cowdery, delegate to represent the residue of the members in Independence, Missouri, met in council, to consider the expediency of establishing a printing press in Kirtland, when it was

Resolved, unanimously, that a press be established, and conducted under the firm name of F. G. Williams & Co.

Resolved, that the above firm publish a paper, as soon as arrangements can be made, entitled the Latter-day Saints Messenger and Advocate.

Resolved, also, that The Evening and Morning Star, formerly published in Jackson county, Missouri, by the firm of F. G. Williams & Co., to be conducted by Oliver Cowdery, one of the members of the firm, until it is transferred to its former location.

The same day Bishop Partridge was acknowledged by the council in Zion, to be the head of the Church in Zion at that time; and by virtue of his office, was acknowledged the moderator or president of the councils or conferences.

Ten High Priests were appointed to watch over the ten branches of the Church in Zion. 4

A hymn, concerning the travels, toils, troubles, and tribulations of the Nephites, was sung in tongues by Elder W. W. Phelps, interpreted by Elder Lyman Wight,

September 26.—The council again assembled in Zion, and ordained Jesse Hitchcock, Elias Higbee, 5 and Isaac Higbee, 6 High Priests.

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Brother John Tanner 7 sent his two sons to Kirtland to learn the will of the Lord, whether he should remove to Zion or Kirtland. It was decided by the unanimous voice of the council, on the 28th of September, that it was the will of the Lord for all who were able and willing, to build up and strengthen the stake in Kirtland. Brother Tanner was counseled accordingly.

About this time, Elders Hyde and Gould arrived in Zion, and the Church having made the necessary preparations, Elders W. W. Phelps and Orson Hyde were dispatched to the Governor of Missouri, residing at Jefferson City, the capital of the state, with the following:

Petition.

September 28, 1833.

To His Excellency Daniel Dunklin, Governor of the State of Missouri

We, the undersigned, citizens of the Republic of the United States of America, inhabitants of the state of Missouri, and residents of Jackson county, members of the Church of Christ, vulgarly called "Mormons," believing in God, and worshiping Him according to His revealed will contained in the Holy Bible, and the fulness of the Gospel contained in the Book of Mormon, and the revelations and commandments of God through Jesus Christ, respectfully show:—

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That we, your petitioners, having purchased lands of the United States, and of the State of Missouri, and of the inhabitants of said state, for the purpose of improving the same, and peaceably enjoying our rights, privileges immunities, and religion, according to the constitution and laws of the state and national governments, have suffered unjustly and unlawfully in property, in person, and in reputation, as follows:—

First, in the spring of 1832, some persons, in the deadly hours of the night, commenced stoning or brick-batting some of our houses, and breaking in our windows, disturbing ourselves, our wives, and our children; and also, some few days after, they called a county meeting to consult measures to remove us, but after some confusion among themselves, they dispersed with doing no more than threatening on that day. In the fall of the same year, they, or some one, burned a large quantity of hay in the stack, and soon after commenced shooting into some of our houses, and at many times insulting with abusive language.

Secondly, about the middle of July last, yea, in fact, previous, they commenced brick-batting our houses again, and breaking in our windows. At this time, July 18th, the following document was in circulation: 8 * * * * * * *

On Saturday, the 20th of July last, according to the foregoing document, there assembled, suddenly, in the town of Independence, at the court house, between four and five hundred persons, who sent Robert Johnson, James Campbell, Moses Wilson, Joel F. Chiles, Richard Bristoe, Abner F. Staples, Garr Johnson, Lewis Franklin, Russell Hicks, S. D. Lucas, Thomas Wilson, James M. Hunter, and Richard Simpson to some of your petitioners; namely, Edward Partridge, A. S. Gilbert, John Corrill, Isaac Morley, John Whitmer, and W. W. Phelps, and demanded that we should immediately stop the publication of the Evening and Morning Star, and close printing in Jackson county; and that we, as Elders of said Church, should agree to remove out of the county forthwith. We asked for three months for consideration. They would not grant it. We asked for ten days. They would not grant it, but said fifteen minutes was the longest, and refused to hear any reasons. Of course the conversation broke up.

The four or five hundred persons, as a mob, then proceeded to demolish or raze to the ground, the printing office and dwelling house of W. W. Phelps & Co. Mrs. Phelps, with a sick infant and the rest of her children, together with the furniture in the house, were thrown out of doors—the press was broken, the type pied—the bookwork, furniture, apparatus, property, etc., of the office, were principally destroyed, and the office thrown down, whereby seven hands were thrown out of employment, and three families left destitute of the means of subsistence.

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The loss of the whole office, including the stoppage of The Evening and Morning Star a monthly paper, and the Upper Missouri Advertiser, a weekly paper, was about six thousand dollars, without the damages which must result in consequence of their suspension.

The mob then proceeded to demolish the store-house and destroy the goods of Gilbert, Whitney & Co.; but Mr. Gilbert assuring them the goods should be packed by the 23rd inst., [July] they then stopped the destruction of property, and proceeded to do personal violence. They took Edward Partridge, the Bishop of the Church, from his dwelling house by force, and a Mr. Allen, and stripping them of their coats, vests, and hats, or causing them to do it themselves, tarred and feathered them in the presence of the mob, before the court house. They caught other members of the Church to serve them in like manner, but they made their escape. With horrid yells and the most blasphemous epithets they sought for other leading Elders, but found them not. It being late, they adjourned until the 23rd inst.

On the 23rd inst., early in the day, the mob again assembled to the number of about five hundred, many of them armed with rifles, dirks, pistols, clubs and whips; one or two companies riding into town bearing the red flag, raising again the horrid yell. They proceeded to take some of the leading Elders by force, declaring it to be their intention to whip them with from fifty to five hundred lashes apiece, to demolish their dwelling houses, and let their negroes loose to go through our plantations, and lay open our fields for the destruction of our crops.

Whereupon John Corrill, John Whitmer, W. W. Phelps, A. S. Gilbert, Edward Partridge, and Isaac Morley, made no resistance, but offered themselves a ransom for the Church, willing to be scourged or die, if that would appease their anger towards the Church, but were assured by the mob, that every man, woman, and child would be whipped or scourged, until they were driven out of the county, as the mob declared that either they or the "Mormons" must leave the county, or they, or the "Mormons" must die.

The mob then chose a new committee, consisting of Samuel C. Owens, Leonidas Oldham, G. W. Simpson, M. L. Irwin, John Harris, Henry Chiles, Harvey H. Younger, Hugh L. Brazile, N. K. Olmstead, James C. Sadler, William Bowers, Benjamin Majors, Zachariah Waller, Harman Gregg, Aaron Overton, and Samuel Weston, who with Edward Partridge, Isaac Morley, John Corrill, W. W. Phelps, A. S. Gilbert, and John Whitmer, entered into the following stipulation:—

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"Memorandum of agreement between the undersigned of the Mormon society in Jackson county, Missouri, and a committee appointed by a public meeting of the citizens of said county, made the 23rd day of July, 1833.

"It is understood that the undersigned members of the society do give their solemn pledge each for himself, as follows, to wit:—

"That Oliver Cowdery, W. W. Phelps, William E. M'Lellin, Edward Partridge, Lyman Wight, Simeon Carter, Peter and John Whitmer, and Harvey Whitlock, shall remove with their families out of this county on or before the first day of January next; and that they, as well as the two hereinafter named, use all their influence to induce all the brethren now here, to remove as soon as possible—one half, say, by the first of January next, and all by the first day of April next; to advise and try all means in their power, to stop any more of their sect from moving to this county, and as to those now on the road, they will use their influence to prevent their settling permanently in the county, but that they shall only make arrangements for temporary shelter, till a new location is agreed on for the society. John Corrill and Algernon S. Gilbert, are allowed to remain as general agents to wind up the business of the society, so long as necessity shall require; and said Gilbert may sell out his merchandise now on hand, but is to make no new importations.

"The Star is not again to be published, nor a press set up by any of the society in this county.

"If the said Edward Partridge and W. W. Phelps move their families by the first day of January as aforesaid, they themselves will be allowed to go and come in order to transact and wind up their business.

"The committee pledge themselves to use all their influence to prevent any violence being used so long as a compliance with the foregoing terms is observed by the parties concerned.

"To which agreement are subscribed the names of the above-named committee, as also those of the Mormon brethren named in the report as having been present."

The damages which your petitioners have sustained in consequence of this outrage and stipulation are, at present, incalculable. A great number of industrious inhabitants who were dependent on their labors for support, have been thrown out of employment, and are kept so by the threatenings of those who compose the mob. [See their resolutions as published in the Western Monitor, numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, August 2, 1833.] In estimating the damages which have resulted from the beginning to this time from those illegal and inhuman proceedings against your poor and persecuted petitioners, were they to name many thousands of dollars, it would be short of a remuneration. Most of the mechanic's shops have been closed; two pair of blacksmith's bellows have been cut in pieces; our merchant, as you will see by the foregoing stipulation, has been forbidden to import or bring into the country any more goods, by which his business has been ruined.

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Soon after the above stipulation was made, some of your petitioners proceeded to make a new location in Van Buren county on the south, but the settlers in that county drew up an agreement among themselves to drive us from that county, after we had commenced laboring there; they threatened to shoot our cattle, and destroy our labor, and in fact, "the foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but we have not where to lay our heads." We were obliged to return.

Since the stipulation was entered into, some of our houses have been broken open, and the inmates threatened to be shot if they stirred; and also some of our houses have been stoned or brick-batted.

Also, that since some publications have appeared in the Western Monitor and other papers, censuring the conduct of the mob, the leaders have begun to threaten life, declaring that if any of the Mormons attempted tempted to seek redress by law or otherwise, for character, person, or property, they shall die!

Now therefore, for ourselves, as members of the Church, we declare, with the exception of poverty, which has not yet become a crime by the laws of the land, that the crimes charged against us, so far as we are acquainted, contained in the documents above written, and those in the proceedings of the mob, as published in the Western Monitor of August 2nd, are not true. In relation to inviting free people of color to emigrate to this section of country, and other matters relative to our society, see the 109th, 110th, and 111th pages of The Evening and Morning Star, and the Extra accompanying the same, dated July 16th, which are annexed to this petition. Our situation is a critical one; we are located upon the western limits of the state, and of the United States; where desperadoes can commit outrages, and even murder, and escape in a few minutes beyond the reach of process; where the most abandoned of all classes from almost every state may too often pass to the Mexican states, or to the more remote regions of the Rocky Mountains to escape the grasp of justice; where numerous tribes of Indians, located by the General Government amid the corrupting influence of mid-day mobs, might massacre our defenseless women and children, with impunity.

Influenced by the precepts of our beloved Savior when we have been smitten on the one cheek, we have turned the other also; when we have been sued at the law, and our coat been taken, we have given them our cloak also; when they have compelled us to go with them a mile, we have gone with them twain; we have borne the above outrages without murmuring; but we cannot patiently bear them any longer; according to the laws of God and man, we have borne enough. Believing with all honorable men, that whenever that fatal hour shall arrive that the poorest citizen's person, property, or rights and privileges, shall be trampled upon by a lawless mob with impunity, that moment a dagger is plunged into the heart of the constitution, and the union must tremble! Assuring ourselves that no republican will suffer the liberty of the press, the freedom of speech, and the liberty of conscience, to be silenced by a mob, without raising a helping hand to save his country from disgrace, we solicit assistance to obtain our rights, holding ourselves amenable to the laws of our county whenever we transgress them.

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Knowing as we do, that the threats of this mob, in most cases, have been put into execution, and knowing also that every officer, civil and military, with a very few exceptions, has pledged his life and honor to force us from the county, dead or alive; and believing that civil process cannot be served without the aid of the executive; and not wishing to have the blood of our defenseless women and children to stain the land which has once been stained by the blood of our fathers to purchase our liberty, we appeal to the Governor for aid, asking him to raise by express proclamation, or otherwise, a sufficient number of troops, who, with us, may be empowered to defend our rights, that we may sue for damages for the loss of property, for abuse, for defamation, as to ourselves, and if advisable try for treason against the government; that the law of the land may not be defiled, or nullified, but peace be restored to our country. And we will ever pray.

This petition was signed by Edward Partridge and nearly all the members of the Church in Jackson county.

Chapter 29 - Notes

1. There were twenty High Priests present at the council meeting. The minutes of the meeting are found in the Far West Record pages 35, 36.

2. The exact date of Elder Cowdery's arrival in Kirtland as a special messenger from the brethren in Zion cannot be ascertained.

3. This was the same John Gould who was subsequently ordained a member of the First Council of Seventy.

4. The minutes of the council are contained in the Far West Record, page 36. The names of the presidents of the branches and the number of the branch each presided over respectively are given as follows: Newel Knight, Branch No. 1; Daniel Stanton, Branch No. 2; David Whitmer, Branch No 3; John Corrill, Branch No 4; Thomas B. Marsh, Branch No. 5; Peter Dustin, Branch No. 6; Lyman Wight, Branch No. 7; Parley P. Pratt, Branch No 8; Simeon Carter, Branch No. 9; Calvin Beebe, Branch No. 10.

5. The Higbee family subsequently became very prominent in the Church. Elias Higbee was the son of Isaac and Sophia Higbee. He was born 23rd of October, 1795, in Galloway, Gloucester county, New Jersey. At the age of twenty-two he married Sarah Ward and removed to Cincinnati. He received the Gospel in the spring of 1832, and during the summer following went to Jackson county, Missouri, but returned to Cincinnati the following winter, where he was ordained an Elder by his Brother Isaac, on the 20th of February, 1833. He returned to Missouri with his family, arriving in Zion in the month of March, 1833, and on the 26th of September following he was ordained a High Priest.—(Millennial Star, vol. 21, page 203; also Far West Record, page 37.)

6. Isaac Higbee was also the son of Isaac and Sophia Higbee. He was born in Galloway, Gloucester county, New Jersey, on the 23rd of December, 1797. When between five and six years old he removed with his parents to Ohio. February 11th, 1819, he married Heziah String. About the first of May, 1832, his parents received the Gospel, and a few months afterwards himself and wife did the same. In the spring of 1833, he removed with his family to Zion, and in September following, as stated by the Prophet, was ordained a High Priest.

7. John Tanner was the son of Joshua and Thankful Tefft Tanner. He was born at Hopkinton, Rhode Island, August 15, 1778. According to the tradition of the family, Francis Tanner, the grandfather of John Tanner, the subject of this sketch, came from England with his two brothers—Nathan and William—and settled in the state of Rhode Island, about the year 1718.

8. Document will be found on pages 371-376. It was the mob's "secret constitution."