Volume 3 Chapter 11 | BYU Studies

Volume 3 Chapter 11

 

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Chapter 11

Expulsion Of The Saints From De Witt, Carroll County, Missouri.

Vexatious Persecution of Willard Richards.

Wednesday, October 3.—Sister Alice Hodgin died at Preston on the 2nd of September, 1838. And it was such a wonderful thing for a Latter-day Saint to die in England, that Elder Willard Richards was arraigned before the Mayor's Court at Preston, on the 3rd of October, charged with "killing and slaying" the said Alice with a "black stick," etc., but was discharged without being permitted to make his defense, as soon as it was discovered that the iniquity of his accusers was about to be made manifest.

The mob continued to fire upon the brethren at De Witt.

Mob Movements at De Witt.

The following is an extract from General Parks' express to General Atchison:

Dear Sir:—I received this morning an affidavit from Carroll county. The following is a copy: "Henry Root, on his oath, states that on the night of the first of October, there was collected in the vicinity of De Witt, an armed force, consisting of from thirty to fifty persons, and on the morning of the second of October they came into the town of De Witt and fired on the civil inhabitants of that place. Thirteen of said individuals were seen by me in that place, and I believe there is actually an insurrection in that place.

"Henry Root.

"Subscribed and sworn to this 3rd day of October, 1838.

"William B. Morton, J. P."

In consequence of which information, and belief of an attack being made on said place, I have ordered out the two companies raised by your order, to be held in readiness under the commands of Captains Bogart and Houston, to march for De Witt, in Carroll county, by eight o'clock tomorrow morning, armed and equipped as the law directs, with six days' provisions and fifty rounds of powder and ball. I will proceed with these troops in person, leaving Colonel Thomas in command of Grand river. As soon as I reach De Witt, I will advise you of the state of affairs more fully. I will use all due precaution in the affair, and deeply regret the necessity of this recourse.

H. G. PARKS,

Brigadier-General 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division.

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Thursday, October 4.—I spent most of this day with my family.

The mob again fired upon the Saints at De Witt, who were compelled to return the fire in self-defense.

Scattering Firebrands.

To show how firebrands, arrows and death were scattered through the State, and that too by men high in authority, and who were sworn to preserve the public peace, I quote the following from a communication of General Lucas to the governor dated Boonville, Missouri, October 4, 1838:

Letter of General Lucas to Governor Boggs.

Dear Sir:—As we passed down the Missouri river, on Monday last, we saw a large force of Mormons at De Witt, in Carroll county, under arms. Their commander, Colonel Hinkle, formerly of Caldwell county, informed me that there were two hundred, and that they were hourly expecting an attack from the citizens of Carroll county, who he said were then encamped only six miles from there, waiting for a reinforcement from Saline county. Hinkle said they had determined to fight. News had just been received at this place, through Dr. Scott of Fayette, that a fight took place on yesterday, and that several persons were killed. Dr. Scott informed me that he got his information from a gentleman of respectability, who had heard the firing of their guns as he passed down. If a fight has actually taken place, of which I have no doubt, it will create excitement in the whole of upper Missouri, and those base and degraded beings will be exterminated from the face of the earth. If one of the citizens of Carroll should be killed, before five days I believe that there will be from four to five thousand volunteers in the field against the Mormons, and nothing but their blood will satisfy them. It is an unpleasant state of affairs. The remedy I do not pretend to suggest to your Excellency. My troops of the Fourth Division were only dismissed subject to further orders, and can be called into the field at an hour's warning.

Samuel D. Lucas.

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The Prophet's Comment.

"Base and degraded beings!" Whoever heard before of high-minded and honorable men condescending to sacrifice their honor, by stooping to wage war, without cause or provocation against "base and degraded beings." But General Lucas is ready with his whole Division, at "an hour's warning," to enter the field of battle on such degraded terms, if his own statement is true. But General Lucas knew better. He knew the Saints were all innocent, unoffending people, and would not fight, only in self-defense, and why write such a letter to the governor to influence his mind? Why not keep to truth and justice? Poor Lucas! The annals of eternity will unfold to you who are the "base beings," and what it will take to "satisfy" for the shedding of "Mormon blood."

Friday, October 5.—Report of the committee of Chariton county:

The undersigned committee were appointed at a public meeting by the citizens of Chariton county, on the 3rd day of October for the purpose of repairing to De Witt, in Carroll county, to inquire into the nature of the difficulties between the citizens of Carroll and the Mormons. We arrived at the place of difficulties on the 4th of October, and found a large portion of the citizens of Carroll and the adjoining counties assembled near De Witt, well armed. We inquired into the nature of the difficulties. They said that there was a large portion of the people called Mormons embodied in De Witt, from different parts of the world. They were unwilling for them to remain there, which is the cause of their waging war against them. To use the gentlemen's language, "they were waging a war of extermination, or to remove them from the said county." We also went into De Witt, to see the situation of the Mormons. We found them in the act of defense, begging for peace, and wishing for the civil authorities to repair there as early as possible, to settle the difficulties between the parties. Hostilities have commenced and will continue until they are stopped by the civil authorities. This we believe to be a correct statement of both parties. This the 5th day of October, 1835.

John W. Price,

WM. H. Logan.

Subscribed to and sworn before me, the undersigned, one of the Justices of the Peace within and for Chariton county, and State of Missouri, the 5th day of October, 1838.

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John Morse, J. P.

This day also [October 5] General Atchison wrote the governor from Boonville, that in Carroll county the citizens were in arms for the purpose of driving the "Mormons" from that county.

Conference at Far West.

The third Quarterly Conference of the Church in Caldwell county was held at Far West, President Brigham Young presiding. As there was not a sufficient number of members present to form a quorum for business after singing and prayer, conference adjourned till 2 p. m., when they met and opened as usual, Presidents Marsh and Young presiding. There was not a sufficient number of the members of the High Council or any other quorum to do business as a quarterly Conference. They voted to ordain a few Elders, appointed a few missions, and adjourned till tomorrow at ten o'clock a. m.

News of Mob Violence from De Witt.

About this time I took a journey in company with some others, to the lower part of the county of Caldwell, for the purpose of selecting a location for a town. While on my journey, I was met by one of the brethren from De Witt, in Carroll County, who stated that our people who had settled in that place were and had been some time, surrounded by a mob, who had threatened their lives, and had shot at them several times; and that he was on his way to Far West, to inform the brethren there of the facts.

The Prophet's Hopes of Peace Disappointed.

I was surprised on receiving this intelligence, although there had, previous to this time, been some manifestations of mobs, but I had hoped that the good sense of the majority of the people and their respect for the Constitution, would have put down any spirit of persecution which might have been manifested in that neighborhood.

Immediately on receiving this intelligence I made preparations to go to that place, and endeavor, if possible, to allay the feelings of the citizens, and save the lives of my brethren who were thus exposed to their wrath.

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The Prophet Arrives at De Witt.

Saturday, October 6.—I arrived at De Witt, and found that the accounts of the situation of that place were correct, for it was with much difficulty, and by traveling unfrequented roads, that I was able to get there, all the principal roads being strongly guarded by the mob, who refused all ingress as well as egress. I found my brethren, who were only a handful in comparison to the mob by which they were surrounded, in this situation, and their provisions nearly exhausted, and no prospect of obtaining any more. We thought it necessary to send immediately to the governor, to inform him of the circumstances, hoping to receive from the executive the protection which we needed; and which was guaranteed to us in common with other citizens. Several gentlemen of standing and respectability, who lived in the immediate vicinity who were not in any way connected with the Church of Latter-day Saints, who had witnessed the proceedings of our enemies, came forward and made affidavits to the treatment we had received, and concerning our perilous situation; and offered their services to go and present the case to the governor themselves.

Continuance of Far West Conference.

The Quarterly Conference convened at Far West this day [October 6th] at ten o'clock according to adjournment, Presidents Marsh and Young presiding. Elder Benjamin L. Clapp 1 said he had just returned from Kentucky, where he had been laboring, and that many doors were open there. A call was made for volunteers to go into the vineyard and preach, when Elders James Carroll, James Galliher, Luman A. Shurtliff, James Dana, Ahaz Cook, Isaac Decker, Cornelius P. Lott and Alpheus Gifford offered themselves. President Marsh instructed them not to go forth boasting of their faith, or of the judgments of the Lord, but to go in the spirit of meekness, and preach repentance. 2

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John Taylor Sustained to be an Apostle.

Elder John Taylor 3 from Canada, by request, gave a statement of his feelings respecting his having been appointed as one of the Twelve, saying that he was willing to do anything that God would require of him; whereupon it was voted that Brother John Taylor fill one of the vacancies in the quorum of the Twelve. Stephen Chase was ordained president of the Elders' quorum in Far West. Isaac Laney, Horace Alexander and Albert Sloan were ordained Elders under the hands of the presidents. Samuel Bent and Isaac Higbee were appointed to fill the places of John Murdock and George M. Hinkle in the High Council, the two last named brethren having removed to De Witt. Conference adjourned to the first Friday and Saturday in January next, at ten a. m.

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Ebenezer Robinson, Clerk.

England.

There were seven cut off from the Church in Preston, England, this day.

De Witt.

General Parks wrote General Atchison from Brigade Headquarters, five miles from De Witt, Carroll county:

Communication of Clark to Atchison on Affairs at De Witt.

Sir:—Immediately after my express to you by Mr. Warder was sent, I proceeded to this place, which I reached yesterday with two companies of mounted men from Ray county. I ordered Colonel Jones to call out three companies from this county, to hold themselves in readiness to join me at Carrolton on the fifth instant, which order has not been carried into effect. None of Carroll county regiment is with me.

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On arriving in the vicinity of De Witt, I found a body of armed men under the command of Dr. Austin, encamped near De Witt, besieging that place, to the number of two or three hundred, with a piece of artillery ready to attack the town of De Witt. On the other side, Hinkle has in that place three or four hundred Mormons to defend it, and says he will die before he will be driven from thence.

On the 4th instant they had a skirmish—fifteen or thirty guns fired on both sides, one man from Saline county wounded in the hip.

The Mormons are at this time too strong, and no attack is expected before Wednesday or Thursday next, at which time Dr. Austin hopes his forces will amount to five hundred men, when he will make a second attempt on the town of De Witt, with small arms and cannon. In this posture of affairs, I can do nothing but negotiate between the parties until further aid is sent me.

I received your friendly letter of the 5th instant, by Mr. Warder, authorizing me to call on General Doniphan, which call I have made on him for five companies from Platte, Clay and Clinton counties, with two companies I ordered from Livingston, of which I doubt whether these last will come; if they do, I think I will have a force sufficient to manage these belligerents. Should these troops arrive here in time, I hope to be able to prevent bloodshed. Nothing seems so much in demand here (to hear the Carroll county men talk) as Mormon scalps; as yet they are scarce. I believe Hinkle, with the present force and position, will beat Austin with five hundred of his troops. The Mormons say they will die before they will be driven out, etc. As yet they have acted on the defensive, as far as I can learn. It is my settled opinion, the Mormons will have no rest until they leave; whether they will or not, time only can tell.

H. G. Parks.

The Mob's Appeal to Howard County for Help.

Under the same date, [October 6th] from the mob camp near De Witt, eleven blood-thirsty fellows, viz., Congrave Jackson, Larkin H. Woods, Thomas Jackson, Rolla M. Daviess, James Jackson, Jun., Johnson Jackson, John L. Tomlin, Sidney S. Woods, Geo. Crigler, William L. Banks, and Whitfield Dicken, wrote a most inflammatory, lying and murderous communication to the citizens of Howard county, calling upon them as friends and fellow citizens, to come to their immediate rescue, as the "Mormons" were then firing upon them and they would have to act on the defensive until they could procure more assistance.

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A. C. Woods, a citizen of Howard county, made a certificate to the same lies, which he gathered in the mob camp; he did not go into De Witt, or take any trouble to learn the truth of what he certified. While the people will lie and the authorities will uphold them, what justice can honest men expect?

General Clark's Endorsement of the Mob.

Tuesday, October 9.—General Clark wrote the governor from Boonville, that the names subscribed to the paper named above, are worthy, prudent and patriotic citizens of Howard county, yet these men would leave their families and everything dear, and go to a neighboring county to seek the blood of innocent men, women and children! If this constitutes "worth, prudence and patriotism," let me be worthless, imprudent and unpatriotic.

The Governor's Answer to the Saints.

The messenger, Mr. Caldwell, who had been dispatched to the governor for assistance, returned, but instead of receiving any aid or even sympathy from his Excellency, we were told that "the quarrel was between the Mormons and the mob," and that "we might fight it out."

House Burning and Robbing.

About this time a mob, commanded by Hyrum Standly, took Smith Humphrey's goods out of his house, and said Standly set fire to Humphrey's house and burned it before his eyes, and ordered him to leave the place forthwith, which he did by fleeing from De Witt to Caldwell county. The mob had sent to Jackson county and got a cannon, powder and balls, and bodies of armed men had gathered in, to aid them, from Ray, Saline, Howard, Livingston, Clinton, Clay, Platte counties and other parts of the state, and a man by the name of Jackson, from Howard county, was appointed their leader.

The Saints were forbidden to go out of the town under pain of death, and were shot at when they attempted to go out to get food, of which they were destitute. As fast as their cattle or horses got where the mob could get hold of them, they were taken as spoil, as also other kinds of property. By these outrages the brethren were obliged, most of them, to live in wagons or tents.

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Mob Leaders Made Commanders of Militia.

Application had been made to the judge of the Circuit Court for protection, and he ordered out two companies of militia, one commanded by Captain Samuel Bogart, a Methodist minister, and one of the worst of the mobocrats. The whole force was placed under the command of General Parks, another mobber, if his letter speaks his feelings, and his actions do not belie him, for he never made the first attempt to disperse the mob, and when asked the reason of his conduct, he always replied that Bogart and his company were mutinous and mobocratic, that he dare not attempt a dispersion of the mob. Two other principal men of the mob were Major Ashly, member of the Legislature, and Sashiel Woods, a Presbyterian clergyman.

General Parks informed us that a greater part of his men under Captain Bogart had mutinied, and that he would be obliged to draw them off from the place, for fear they would join the mob; consequently he could offer us no assistance.

Hardships of the Saints.

We had now no hopes whatever of successfully resisting the mob, who kept constantly increasing; our provisions were entirely exhausted, and we were worn out by continually standing on guard, and watching the movements of our enemies, who, during the time I was there, fired at us a great many times. Some of the brethren perished from starvation; and for once in my life, I had the pain of beholding some of my fellow creatures fall victims to the spirit of persecution, which did then, and has since, prevailed to such an extent in Upper Missouri. They were men, too, who were virtuous and against whom no legal process could for one moment be sustained, but who, in consequence of their love of God, attachment to His cause, and their determination to keep the faith, were thus brought to an untimely grave.

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Proposals for the Departure of the Saints.

In the meantime Henry Root and David Thomas, who had been the soul cause of the settlement of our people in De Witt, solicited the Saints to leave the place. Thomas said he had assurances from the mob, that if they would leave the place they would not be hurt, and that they would be paid for all losses which they had sustained, and that they had come as mediators to accomplish this object, and that persons should be appointed to set a value on the property which they had to leave, and that they should be paid for it. The Saints finally, through necessity, had to comply, and leave the place. Accordingly the committee was appointed—Judge Erickson was one of the committee, and Major Florey, of Rutsville, another, the names of others are not remembered. They appraised the real estate, that was all.

A Sad Journey.

When the people came to start, many of their horses, oxen and cows were gone, and could not be found. It was known at the time, and the mob boasted of it, that they had killed the oxen and lived on them. Many houses belonging to my brethren were burned, their cattle driven away, and a great quantity of their property was destroyed by the mob. The people of De Witt utterly failed to fulfill their pledge to pay the Saints for the losses they sustained. The governor having turned a deaf ear to our entreaties, the militia having mutinied, the greater part of them being ready to join the mob, the brethren, seeing no prospect of relief, came to the conclusion to leave that place, and seek a shelter elsewhere. Gathering up as many wagons as could be got ready, which was about seventy, with a remnant of the property they had been able to save from their ruthless foes, they left De Witt and started for Caldwell county on the afternoon of Thursday, October 11, 1838. They traveled that day about twelve miles, and encamped in a grove of timber near the road.

That evening a woman, of the name of Jensen, who had some short time before given birth to a child, died in consequence of the exposure occasioned by the operations of the mob, and having to move before her strength would properly admit of it. She was buried in the grove, without a coffin.

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During our journey we were continually harassed and threatened by the mob, who shot at us several times, whilst several of our brethren died from the fatigue and privation which they had to endure, and we had to inter them by the wayside, without a coffin, and under circumstances the most distressing. We arrived in Caldwell on the twelfth of October.

Chapter 11 Notes

1. Benjamin L. Clapp, who afterwards became one of the First Council of Seventy, was born in the state of Alabama, August 19, 1814. He had joined the Church in an early day, and had already performed successful missions in the South, especially in the state of Kentucky.

2. This missionary movement at a time when it may be said that the whole country was "up in arms" against the Church, and its fortunes were apparently desperate, is truly an astonishing thing. And yet such missionary movements have become quite characteristic of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Its fortunes have never been at so low an ebb but what it could always undertake some great missionary enterprise. For example, when apostasy was rife in Kirtland, and the powers of darkness seemed massed for its overthrow, the Prophet, "to save the Church," organized and sent forth a mission to Great Britain; and now from upper Missouri, when the whole organization seemed to be in danger of disintegration, a mission is nevertheless organized to go into the Southern States to preach the Gospel. In later volumes of this work we shall also see that in 1850, when the whole body of the Mormon people had been expatriated from their country and fled into the desert wilderness of the Rocky mountain region, and when it was generally supposed that the world had practically seen the last of Mormonism, and when the Saints still had before them the task of subduing a wilderness, and many thousands of their people yet to gather from the East, where they were in a scattered condition, and the very existence of the people to human eyes seemed precarious, lo! a world-wide mission was organized and members of the quorum of Apostles were sent from the Church in the wilderness, into Scandinavia, France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland. This missionary spirit so characteristic of the Church, and to which it so staunchly adheres in all its fortunes, proclaims the genius of the work. The primary purpose of the Church's existence is to proclaim the truth of which it is the sacred depository, and after that to perfect the lives of those who receive its message. In proportion to its devotion to these two grand objects of its existence, has been and always will be the measure of its success.

3. John Taylor was born November 1st, 1808, in Milnthorp, a small town near the head of Morecombe bay, and not far from Windemere, the "Queen of English Lakes," in the country of Westmoreland, England. His father's name was James Taylor, whose forefathers for many generations had lived on an estate known as Craig Gate, in Ackenthwaite. John Taylor's mother's name was Agnes; her maiden name was also Taylor. Her Grandfather, Christopher Taylor, lived to be ninety-seven years of age. His son John, father of Agnes, held an office in the excise under the government from his first setting out in life to the age of about sixty. The maiden name of Agnes Taylor's mother was Whittington, a descendant of the family made famous by Richard Whittington, the younger son of Sir William Whittington.

At the age of seventeen Elder Taylor was made a Methodist exhorter or local preacher, and was very active and earnest in his ministerial labors. In 1832 he removed with his family to Toronto, upper Canada, and here engaged in preaching under the auspices of the Methodist church. Within a year after his arrival in Canada he married Leonora Cannon, daughter of Captain George Cannon (grandfather of the late George Q. Cannon). Leonora Cannon had come to Canada as the companion of the wife of Mr. Mason, a the private secretary of Lord Aylmer, Governor-General of Canada. She was a devout Methodist, and through attendance upon church became acquainted with Mr. Taylor. While living in Toronto Elder Taylor associated himself with a number of gentlemen of education and refinement who were not quite satisfied with the doctrines of their respective churches, as those doctrines did not agree with the teachings of the Bible. Through this organization, they were seeking for greater religious light, and it was under these circumstances that Elder Parley P. Pratt arrived in Toronto with a letter of introduction to Elder Taylor, and several times addressed this association of gentlemen who were seeking the truth. The end of the matter was that John Taylor accepted the Gospel under the ministration of Elder Pratt; and was soon afterwards ordained an Elder in the Church, and commenced his missionary labors. Of his journey to Kirtland and defense of the Prophet against the fulminations of apostates we have already spoken. (See vol. 2, p. 488—Note). Elder Taylor had come to Missouri in response to the notification he had received that he was chosen an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ by revelation. (See revelation of 8th of July, 1838, pp. 46, 47).