Volume 3 Chapter 18 | BYU Studies

Volume 3 Chapter 18


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Chapter 18

The Exiled Saints Gather At Quincy, Illinois—Proposition To Settle At Commerce.

SOME time this month there was a conference of the Church at Quincy, a report of which is as follows:

Minutes of a Conference of the Church Held at Quincy.

At a meeting of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, held in the town of Quincy, February—, 1839, to take into consideration the expediency of locating the Church in some place, Brother William Marks was chosen president and Robert B. Thompson, clerk.

Elder John P. Greene, by request, then stated the object of the meeting, and stated that a liberal offer had been made by a gentleman, of about twenty thousand acres, lying between the Mississippi and Des Moines rivers, at two dollars per acre, to be paid in twenty annual installments, without interest; that a committee had examined the land and reported very favorably respecting it, and thought it every way suited for a location for the Church.

Brother Rogers then made some statements, and gave information respecting the land, being one of the committee appointed to examine it.

President William Marks observed that he was altogether in favor of making the purchase, providing that it was the will of the Lord that we should again gather together; but from the circumstances of being driven from the other places, he almost was led to the conclusion that it was not wisdom that we should do so, but hoped that the brethren would speak their minds; the Lord would undoubtedly manifest His will by His Spirit.

Brother Israel Barlow thought that it might be in consequence of not building according to the pattern, that we had thus been scattered.

Brother Mace spoke in favor of an immediate gathering.

Bishop Partridge then spoke on the subject, and thought it was not expedient under the present circumstances to collect together, but thought it was better to scatter into different parts and provide for the poor, which would be acceptable to God.

Judge Higbee said that he had been very favorable to the proposition of purchasing the land and gathering upon it, but since the Bishop had expressed his opinion he was willing to give up the idea.

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Several of the brethren then spoke on the subject, after which it was moved and seconded, and unanimously agreed upon, that it would not be deemed advisable to locate on the lands for the present.

A committee was appointed to draft a petition to the General government, stating our grievances, and one likewise to be presented to the citizens [of the United States] for the same object.

Applications for Assistance.

Tuesday, February 12.—The committee [on removal] sent a delegation to Sister Murie to ascertain her necessities. Daniel Shearer and Erastus Bingham went. Applications for assistance were made from Sister Morgan L. Gardner, Jeremiah Mackley's family, Brother Forbush, Echoed Cheney, T. D. Tyler, D. McArthur and others.

Wednesday, February 13.—Voted that Theodore Turley be appointed to superintend the management of the teams provided for removing the poor, and see that they are furnished for the journey.

Persecution of Brigham Young.

Thursday, February 14.—The persecution was so bitter against Elder Brigham Young (on whom devolved the presidency of the Twelve by age, 1 Thomas B. Marsh having apostatized) and his life was so diligently sought for, that he was compelled to flee; and he left Far West on this day for Illinois.

Petition to Help the Smith Family From Mo.

My brother Don Carlos Smith had carried a petition to the mob, to get assistance to help our father's family out of Missouri. I know not how much he obtained, but my father and mother started this day for Quincy, with an ox team.

Arrangements for paying the Debts of the Saints.

The committee on removal discussed the propriety of paying the debts of the Saints in Clay County. Alanson Ripley was requested to call on lawyer Barnet, who was in town, and make arrangements concerning the matter. A letter of attorney was drawn up for the brethren to sign, who felt willing to dispose of their real estate to discharge their debts, appointing Alanson Ripley their attorney for that purpose. This was not exactly according to the minds of the committee, for they only directed Brother Ripley to confer with the person above named, for the purpose of obtaining information without reference to his being appointed an attorney for that purpose, independent of any other person or persons.

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Friday, February 15.—My family arrived at the Mississippi, opposite Quincy, after a journey of almost insupportable hardships, and Elder Markham returned immediately to Far West.

Monday, 18.

The Governor's Order to Return the Arms Belonging to the Saints.

Executive Department, City Of Jefferson,

February 18, 1839.

To Colonel Wiley C. Williams, Aid to the Commander-in-Chief:

Sir:—You will take the measures as soon as practicable, to cause the arms surrendered by the Mormons, to be delivered to the proper owners upon their producing satisfactory evidence of their claims. If in any case you think an improper use would be made of them, you can retain such, using a sound discretion in the matter. You will call upon Captain Pollard or any other person who may have arms in possession, and take charge of them; and this will be your authority for so doing.

I am respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

Lilburn W. Boggs.

Little benefit would have resulted from this order, even if it had been promptly executed, as many of the brethren who owned the arms had left the state and it would be very difficult to decide what would be satisfactory evidence of claims.

Labors in the Interests of the Poor.

Tuesday, February 19.—The committee on removal appointed Charles Bird to visit the several parts of Caldwell county, and William Huntington the town of Far West, to ascertain the number of families that would have to be assisted in removing, and solicit means from those who are able to give for the assistance of the needy, and make report as soon as possible.

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Thursday, February 21—Elder Markham arrived at Far West, and in the evening the committee on removal were in council. Elders Bingham, Turley, and Shearer, were appointed to sell the house of Joseph Smith, Sen., to a gentleman from Clay county.

Charles Bird was sent to Liberty relative to a power of attorney.

Committee Resolutions.

Resolved: To send Stephen Markham to Illinois, to visit the brethren there and obtain a power of attorney from such as had left their lands without selling them. A report of the committee appointed to visit the different parts of the country to ascertain the number of families who were destitute of teams for their removal, was made. William Huntington reported thirty-two families, and Charles Bird seven, as far as they had prosecuted their labors.

Resolved: To send Erastus Bingham to visit the north-west part of Caldwell county for the same purpose, and then adjourned till Monday next.

Action of the Democratic Committee of Quincy.

Saturday, February 25.—At a meeting of the Democratic Association, held this evening at Quincy, Adams County, Illinois, Mr. Lindsay introduced a resolution setting forth that the people called "Latter-day Saints" were many of them in a situation requiring the aid of the citizens of Quincy, and recommending that measures be adopted for their relief, which resolution was adopted, and a committee consisting of eight persons appointed by the chair; of which committee J. W. Whitney was chairman. The association then adjourned to meet on Wednesday evening next after instructing the committee to procure the Congregational church as a place of meeting, and to invite as many of our people to attend as should choose to do so; for it was in their behalf that the meeting was to be held. Also all other citizens of the town who felt to do so were invited to attend. The committee not being able to obtain the meeting house, procured the Court House for that purpose.

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Determination of the Prisoners to Escape.

After we were cast into prison, we heard nothing but threatenings, that if any judge or jury, or court of any kind, should clear any of us, we should never get out of the state alive.

This soon determined our course, and that was to escape out of their hands as soon as we could, and by any means we could. After we had been some length of time in prison, we demanded a habeas corpus of Judge Turnham, one of the county judges, which with some considerable reluctance, was granted. Great threatenings were made at this time, by the mob, that if any of us were liberated, we should never get out of the county alive.

Sidney Rigdon's Departure from Prison.

After the investigation, Sidney Rigdon was released from prison by the decision of the judge; the remainder were committed to jail; he, however, returned with us until a favorable opportunity offered for his departure. Through the friendship of the sheriff, Mr. Samuel Hadley, and the jailor, Mr. Samuel Tillery, he was let out of the jail secretly in the night, after having declared in prison, that the sufferings of Jesus Christ were a fool to his; and being solemnly warned by them to be out of the state with as little delay as possible, he made his escape. Being pursued by a body of armed men, it was through the direction of a kind Providence that he escaped out of their hands, and safely arrived in Quincy, Illinois.

Importunities for the Release of the Prisoners.

About this time, Elders Heber C. Kimball and Alanson Ripley were at Liberty, where they had been almost weekly importuning at the feet of the judges; and while performing this duty on a certain occasion, Judge Hughes stared them full in the face, and observed to one of his associates, that "by the look of these men's eyes, they are whipped, but not conquered; and let us beware how we treat these men; for their looks bespeak innocence;" and at that time he entreated his associates to admit of bail for all the prisoners; but the hardness of their hearts would not admit of so charitable a deed. But the brethren continued to importune at the feet of the judges, and also to visit the prisoners. No one of the ruling part of the community disputed the innocence of the prisoners, but said, in consequence of the fury of the mob, that even-handed justice could not be administered; Elders Kimball and Ripley were therefore compelled to abandon the idea of importuning at the feet of the judges, and leave the prisoners in the hands of God.

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Meeting of Elder Israel Barlow and Isaac Galland.

When Elder Israel Barlow left Missouri in the fall of 1838, either by missing his way, or some other cause, he struck the Des Moines river some distance above its mouth. He was in a destitute situation; and making his wants known, found friends who assisted him, and gave him introductions to several gentlemen, among whom was Dr. Isaac Galland, to whom he communicated the situation of the Saints; the relation of which enlisted Mr. Galland's sympathies, or interest, or both united, and hence a providential introduction of the Church to Commerce [the place of residence of Mr. Galland] and its vicinity; for Brother Barlow went direct to Quincy, the place of his destination, and made known his interview with Dr. Galland to the Church.

Communication of Isaac Galland.

Commerce, Illinois, February 26, 1839.

Mr. D. W. Rogers:

Dear Sir:—Yours of the 11th instant was received yesterday. I perceive that it had been written before your brethren visited my house. I had also written to Mr. Barlow before I received yours, and which is herewith also sent. I wish here to remark that about ten or fifteen houses or cabins can be had in this neighborhood, and several farms may be rented here, on the half breed lands. I think that more than fifty families can be accommodated with places to dwell in, but not a great quantity of cultivated land, as the improvements on that tract are generally new; there are, however, several farms which can also be rented.

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Since writing to Mr. Barlow, I have conversed with a friend of mine, who has also conversed with Governor Lucas, of Iowa territory, in relation to your Church and people. Governor Lucas says that the people called Mormons were good citizens in the state of Ohio, and that he respects them now as good and virtuous citizens, and feels disposed to treat them as such.

I wish also to say, through you, to your people, that Isaac Van Allen, Esq., the attorney-general of Iowa territory, is a personal and tried friend of mine; and I feel fully authorized, from a conversation which I have had with him on the subject, to say that I can assure you of his utmost endeavors to protect you from insult or violence.

I will here repeat what I have written to Mr. Barlow, that I do believe that under a territorial form of government which is directly connected with the general government of the United States, your Church will be better secured against the capriciousness of public opinion, than under a state government, where murder, rapine and robbery are admirable (!) traits in the character of a demagogue; and where the greatest villains often reach the highest offices. I have written to Governor Lucas on the subject; and when I receive his answer, I will communicate it to your Church.

I desire very much to know how your captive brethren in Missouri are faring. I should like to know if Joseph Smith, Jun., is at liberty or not, and what his prospects are. I shall be at Carthage, our county seat, during the fore part of next week, and soon after that, (perhaps the next week following) I expect to go to Burlington, Iowa territory, when I expect to see the governor and converse with him on the subject. I will probably be at home from the 6th until the 12th of March. I shall be pleased to see you or any of your people at my house at any time when you can make it convenient. It is now necessary that something definite should be done in relation to renting farms, as the season for commencing such operations is fast approaching us. A Mr. Whitney, a merchant in Quincy, is owner and proprietor of several farms in this vicinity, and it might be well to see him on the subject.

I wish to serve your cause in any matter which Providence may afford me the opportunity of doing, and I therefore request that you feel no hesitancy or reluctance in communicating to me your wishes, at all times and on any subject. I should be much gratified if it could be convenient for Mr. Rigdon, or some one or more of the leading members of your Church to spend some time with me in traveling through the tract, and in hearing and learning the state of the public mind, and feelings of the community, in relation to the location of the Church.

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I feel that I am assuming a very great responsibility in this undertaking, and I wish to be governed by the dictates of wisdom and discretion, while at the same time I am aware that we are often disposed to view things as we would wish to have them, rather than as they really are; and our great anxiety to accomplish an object may sometimes diminish the obstacles below their real measure.

The little knowledge which I have as yet of the doctrine, order or practice of the Church, leaves me under the necessity of acting in all this matter as a stranger, though, as I sincerely hope, as a friend, for such, I assure you I feel myself to be, both towards you collectively, as a people, and individually as sufferers. If it should not be convenient for any one to come up about the 7th or 8th of March, please write me by the mail. Say to Mr. Rigdon, that I regret that I was absent when he was at my house. I cannot visit Quincy until after my return from Burlington, when, I think if it is thought necessary, I can.

Accept, dear sir, for yourself and in behalf of the Church and people, assurance of my sincere sympathy in your sufferings and wrongs, and deep solicitude for your immediate relief from present distress, and future triumphant conquest over every enemy.

Yours truly,

Isaac Galland.

Minutes of the Meeting of the Democratic Association of Quincy.

Wednesday, February 27, 1839, six o'clock p. m.

The members of the Democratic Association and the citizens of Quincy generally, assembled in the court house, to take into consideration the state and condition of the people called the "Latter-day Saints," and organized the meeting by appointing General Leach chairman, and James D. Morgan secretary. Mr. Whitney, from the committee appointed at a former meeting, submitted the following:

The select committee to whom the subject was referred of inquiring into and reporting the situation of the persons who have recently arrived here from Missouri, and whether their circumstances are such as that they would need the aid of the citizens of Quincy and its vicinity, to be guided by what they might deem the principles of an expanded benevolence, have attended to the duties assigned them, and have concluded on the following:

Report.

"The first idea that occurred to your committee was, to obtain correctly the facts of the case, for without them the committee could come to no conclusion as to what it might be proper for us to do. Without the facts they could form no basis upon which the committee might recommend to this association what would be proper for us to do, or what measures to adopt. The committee, soon after their appointment, sent invitations to Mr. Rigdon and several others to meet the committee and give them a statement of the facts, and to disclose their situation. Those individuals accordingly met the committee and entered into a free conversation and disclosure of the facts of their situation; and after some time spent therein, the committee concluded to adjourn and report to this meeting, but not without first requesting those individuals to draw up and send us in writing, a condensed statement of the facts relative to the subject in charge of your committee, which those individuals engaged to do, and which the committee request may be taken as part of their report.

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"That statement is herewith lettered A.

"The committee believe that our duties at this time, and on this occasion, are all included within the limits of an expanded benevolence and humanity, and which are guided and directed by that charity which never faileth.

"From the facts already disclosed, independent of the statement furnished to the committee, we feel it our duty to recommend to this association that they adopt the following resolutions:

"Resolved, That the strangers recently arrived here from the state of Missouri, known by the name of the 'Latter-day Saints,' are entitled to our sympathy and kindest regard, and that we recommend to the citizens of Quincy to extend all the kindness in their power to bestow on the persons who are in affliction.

"Resolved, That a numerous committee be raised, composed of some individuals in every quarter of the town and its vicinity, whose duty it shall be to explain to our misguided fellow citizens, if any such there be, who are disposed to excite prejudices and circulate unfounded rumors; and particularly to explain to them that these people have no design to lower the wages of the laboring class, but to procure something to save them from starving.

"Resolved, That a standing committee be raised and be composed of individuals who shall immediately inform Mr. Rigdon and others, as many as they may think proper, of their appointment, and who shall be authorized to obtain information from time to time; and should they [the committee] be of opinion that any individuals, either from destitution or sickness, or if they find them houseless, that they appeal directly and promptly to the citizens of Quincy to furnish them with the means to relieve all such cases.

"Resolved, That the committee last aforesaid be instructed to use their utmost endeavors to obtain employment for all these people, who are able and willing to labor; and also to afford them all needful, suitable and proper encouragement.

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"Resolved, That we recommend to all the citizens of Quincy, that in all their intercourse with the strangers, they use and observe a becoming decorum and delicacy, and be particularly careful not to indulge in any conversation or expressions calculated to wound their feelings, or in any way to reflect upon those, who by every law of humanity, are entitled to our sympathy and commiseration.

"All which is submitted,"

J. W. Whitney, Chairman.

"Quincy, February 27, 1839."

Document A.

"This, gentlemen, is a brief outline of the difficulties that we have labored under, in consequence of the repeated persecutions that have been heaped upon us; and as the governor's exterminating order has not been rescinded, we as a people were obliged to leave the state of Missouri, and with it our lands, corn, wheat, pork, etc., that we had provided for ourselves and families, together with our fodder, which we have collected for our cattle, horses, etc., those of them that we have been able to preserve from the wreck of that desolation which has spread itself over Daviess and Caldwell counties. In consequence of our brethren being obliged to leave the state, and as a sympathy and friendly spirit has been manifested by the citizens of Quincy, numbers of our brethren, glad to obtain an asylum from the hand of persecution, have come to this place.

"We cannot but express our feelings of gratitude to the inhabitants of this place, for the friendly feelings which have been manifested, and the benevolent hand which has been stretched out to a poor, oppressed, injured, and persecuted people. And as you, gentlemen of the Democratic Association, have felt interested in our welfare, and have desired to be put in possession of a knowledge of our situation, our present wants, and what would be most conducive to our present good, together with what led to those difficulties, we thought that those documents [Memorial, Order of Extermination, and General Clark's Address] would furnish you with as correct information of our difficulties, and what led to them, as anything we are in possession of.

"If we should say what our present wants are, it would be beyond all calculation; as we have been robbed of our corn, wheat, horses, cattle, cows, hogs, wearing apparel, houses and homes, and, indeed, of all that renders life tolerable. We do not, we cannot expect to be placed in the situation that we once were in; nor are we capable of ourselves of supplying the many wants of those of our poor brethren, who are daily crowding here and looking to us for relief, in consequence of our property, as well as theirs, being in the hands of a ruthless and desolating mob.

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"It is impossible to give an exact account of the widows, and those that are entirely destitute, as there are so many coming here daily; but from inquiry, the probable amount will be something near twenty; besides numbers of others who are able bodied men, both able and willing to work, to obtain a subsistence, yet owing to their peculiar situation, are destitute of means to supply the immediate wants that the necessities of their families call for.

"We would not propose, gentlemen, what you shall do; but after making these statements, shall leave it to your own judgment and generosity. As to what we think would be the best means to promote our permanent good, we think that to give us employment, rent us farms, and allow us the protection and privileges of other citizens, would raise us from a state of dependence, liberate us from the iron grasp of poverty, put us in possession of a competency, and deliver us from the ruinous effects of persecution, despotism, and tyranny.

"Written in behalf of a committee of the Latter-day Saints.

Elias Higbee, President,

John P. Greene, Clerk.

"To the Quincy Democratic Association."

Statement of Sidney Rigdon.

Mr. Rigdon then made a statement of the wrongs received by the Mormons, from a portion of the people of Missouri, and of their present suffering condition.

On motion of Mr. Bushnell, the report and resolutions were laid upon the table until tomorrow evening.

On motion of Mr. Bushnell, the meeting adjourned to meet at this place tomorrow evening at seven o'clock.

Stephen Markham left Far West [on the 27th of February] for Illinois, to fulfill his appointment of the 21st instant.

Minutes of the Adjourned Meeting of the Democratic Association of Quincy.

Thursday evening, February 28th. Met pursuant to adjournment. The meeting was called to order by the chairman.

On motion of Mr. Morris, a committee of three was appointed to take up a collection; Messrs. J. T. Holmes, Whitney and Morris were appointed. The committee subsequently reported that $48.25 had been collected. On motion the amount was paid over to the committee on behalf of the Mormons. On motion of Mr. Holmes, a committee of three, consisting of S. Holmes, Bushnell and Morris, was appointed to draw up subscription papers and circulate them among the citizens, for the purpose of receiving contributions in clothing and provisions. On motion six were added to that committee.

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On motion of J. T. Holmes, J. D. Morgan was appointed a committee to wait upon the Quincy Grays [militia company] for the purpose of receiving subscriptions. Mr. Morgan subsequently reported that twenty dollars had been subscribed by that company.

The following resolutions were then offered by Mr. J. T. Holmes:

Resolved, That we regard the rights of conscience as natural and inalienable, and the most sacred guaranteed by the Constitution of our free government.

Resolved, That we regard the acts of all mobs as flagrant violations of law; and those who compose them, individually responsible, both to the laws of God and man, for every depredation committed upon the property, rights, or life of any citizen.

Resolved, that the inhabitants upon the western frontier of the state of Missouri, in their late persecutions of the class of people denominated Mormons, have violated the sacred rights of conscience, and every law of justice and humanity.

Resolved, That the governor of Missouri, in refusing protection to this class of people, when pressed upon by a heartless mob, and turning upon them a band of unprincipled militia, with orders encouraging their extermination, has brought a lasting disgrace upon the state over which he presides.

The resolutions were supported in a spirited manner by Messrs. Holmes, Morris and Whitney.

On motion, the resolutions were adopted.

On motion the meeting then adjourned.

Samuel Leach, Chairman,

J. D. Morgan, Secretary.

Chapter 18 Notes

1. It will be remembered that when the first quorum of the Twelve was organized the Prophet arranged the members in the order of their standing according to their age. Thereafter and now they hold their places in the quorum according to seniority of ordination. A full explanation of this matter is given in the HISTORY OR THE CHURCH, volume 2, pp. 219-20. See foot notes.