Volume 3 Chapter 7 | BYU Studies

Volume 3 Chapter 7

 

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Chapter 7

Increasing Difficulties Between The Saints And The Mobs Of Daviess And Caldwell Counties.

The Prophet Leaves Far West to Found a City of Zion.

Saturday, September 1, 1838.—The First Presidency, with Judge Higbee, as surveyor, started this morning for the half-way house, as it is called, kept by Brother Littlefield, some fourteen or fifteen miles from Far West, directly north—for the purpose of appointing a city of Zion, for the gathering of the Saints in that place, for safety, and from the storm which will soon come upon this generation, and that the brethren may be together, and that they may receive instructions to prepare them for that great day which will come upon this generation as a thief in the night.

Excitement Among the Missourians.

There is great excitement at present among the Missourians, who are seeking if possible an occasion against us. They are continually chafing us, and provoking us to anger if possible, one sign of threatening after another, but we do not fear them, for the Lord God, the Eternal Father is our God, and Jesus the Mediator is our Savior, and in the great I Am is our strength and confidence.

The Prophet's Review of the Wrongs of the Saints.

We have been driven time after time, and that without cause; and smitten again and again, and that without provocation; until we have proved the world with kindness, and the world has proved us that we have no designs against any man or set of men, that we injure no man, that we are peaceable with all men, minding our own business, and our business only. We have suffered our rights and our liberties to be taken from us; we have not avenged ourselves of those wrongs; we have appealed to magistrates, to sheriffs, to judges, to government and to the President of the United States, all in vain; yet we have yielded peaceably to all these things. We have not complained at the Great God, we murmured not, but peaceably left all; and retired into the back country, in the broad and wild prairies, in the barren and desolate plains, and there commenced anew; we made the desolate places to bud and blossom as the rose; and now the fiend-like race is disposed to give us no rest. Their father the devil, is hourly calling upon them to be up and doing, and they, like willing and obedient children, need not the second admonition; but in the name of Jesus Christ the Son of the living God, we will endure it no longer, if the great God will arm us with courage, with strength and with power, to resist them in their persecutions. We will not act on the offensive, but always on the defensive; our rights and our liberties shall not be taken from us, and we peaceably submit to it, as we have done heretofore, but we will avenge ourselves of our enemies, inasmuch as they will not let us alone.

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Site for a City Selected.

But to return again to our subject. We found the place for the city, and the brethren were instructed to gather immediately into it, and soon they should be organized according to the laws of God. A more particular history of this city may be expected hereafter, perhaps at its organization and dedication. We found a new route home, saving, I should think, three or four miles. We arrived at Far West about the close of day.

The High Priests met at Brother Pea's at Far West, and received Levi Richards into their quorum.

Rumors of Mobs Gathering.

Sunday, 2.—The First Presidency attended meeting as usual in the morning. I tarried at home in the evening to examine the Church records, and spent a part of the time in company with a gentleman from Livingston county, who had become considerably excited, on account of a large collection of people, as he said, to take Joseph Smith, Jun., and Lyman Wight, for going to one Adam Black's in Daviess county; and as the said President Smith and Colonel Wight had resisted the officer who had endeavored to take them, accordingly these men are assembling to take them—as they say. They are collecting from every part of the country, to Daviess county. Report says that they are collecting from eleven counties, to help take two men who had never resisted the law or officer, nor had they thought of doing so, and this their enemies knew at the same time, or many of them at least knew it. This looks a little too much like mobocracy, it foretells some evil intentions. The whole of upper Missouri is in an uproar and confusion.

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An Appeal to Gen. Atchison.

This evening I sent for General Atchison, of Liberty, Clay county, who is the major general of this division—to come and counsel with us, and to see if we could not put a stop to this collection of people, and to put a stop to hostilities in Daviess county. I also sent a letter to Judge King containing a petition for him to assist in putting down and scattering the mob collecting in Daviess county.

Monday, 3.—Nothing of importance occurred today. Reports come in concerning the collection of a mob in Daviess county, which has been collecting ever since the election in Daviess county, on the sixth of August last. I was at home most of the day.

This evening General Atchison arrived in Far West.

Consultation with General Atchison.

Tuesday, 4.—This day I spent in council with General Atchison. He says he will do all in his power to disperse the mob. We employed him and Alexander Doniphan (his partner) as our counsel in law. They are considered the first lawyers in upper Missouri.

The Prophet and Sidney Rigdon Study Law.

President Rigdon and myself commenced this day the study of law, under the instruction of Generals Atchison and Doniphan. They think, by diligent application, we can be admitted to the bar in twelve months.

The Prophet and Lyman Wight to submit to Trial.

The result of our consultation with our lawyers was that myself and Colonel Wight volunteer to be tried by Judge King in Daviess county. Colonel Wight was present, having been previously notified to attend the consultation. Accordingly, Thursday next, was appointed for the trial, and word to that effect was sent to Judge King (who had previously agreed to try the case). All are to meet at Brother Littlefield's, near the county line in the southern part of Daviess county. I was at home in the evening after six o'clock.

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Wednesday, 5.—I gave the following affidavit, that the truth might appear before the public in the matter in controversy:

The Prophet's Affidavit on the Adam Black Incident.

State Of Missouri,

Caldwell County

Before me, Elias Higbee, one of the justices of the county court, within and for the county of Caldwell aforesaid, personally came Joseph Smith, Jun., who, being duly sworn according to law, deposeth and saith: That on the seventh day of August, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-eight, being informed that an affray had taken place in Daviess county, at the election, in the town of Gallatin, in which two persons were [reported] killed, and one person badly wounded, and fled to the woods to save his life; all of which were said to be persons belonging to the society of the Church of Latter-day Saints; and further, said informant stated that those persons who committed the outrage would not suffer the bodies of those who had been killed to be taken off the ground and buried.

These reports, with others, one of which was that the Saints had not the privilege of voting at the polls as other citizens; another was that those opposed to the Saints were determined to drive them from Daviess county, and also that they were arming and strengthening their forces and preparing for battle; and that the Saints were preparing and making ready to stand in self defense—these reports having excited the feelings of the citizens of Far West and vicinity, I was invited by Dr. Avard and some others to go out to Daviess county, to the scene of these outrages; they having previously determined to go out and learn the facts concerning said reports.

Accordingly some of the citizens, myself among the number, went out, two, three, and four, in companies, as they got ready. The reports and excitement continued until several of those small companies through the day were induced to follow the first, who were all eager to learn the facts concerning this matter. We arrived in the evening at the house of Lyman Wight, about three miles from Gallatin, the scene of the reported outrages. Here we learned the truth concerning the said affray, which had been considerably exaggerated, yet there had been a serious outrage committed. We there learned that the mob was collected at Millport, to a considerable number; that Adam Black was at their head; and that they were to attack the Saints the next day, at the place we then were in, called Adam-ondi-Ahman. This report we were still inclined to believe might be true, as this Adam Black, who was said to be their leader, had been, but a few months before, engaged in endeavoring to drive those of the society who had settled in that vicinity, from the county. This had become notorious, from the fact that said Black had personally ordered several of said society to leave the county.

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The next morning we dispatched a committee to said Black's, to ascertain the truth of these reports, and to know what his intentions were; and as we understood he was a peace officer, we wished to know what we might expect from him. They reported that Mr. Black, instead of giving them any assurance of peace, insulted them and gave them no satisfaction. Being desirous of knowing the feelings of Mr. Black for myself, and being in want of good water, and understanding that there was none nearer than Mr. Black's spring, myself with several others mounted our horses and rode up to Mr. Black's fence.

Dr. Avard, with one or two others who had ridden ahead, went into Mr. Black's house; myself and some others went to the spring for water. I was shortly after sent for by Mr. Black, and invited into the house, being introduced to Mr. Black by Dr. Avard. Mr. Black wished me to be seated. We then commenced a conversation on the subject at the late difficulties, and present excitement. I found Mr. Black quite hostile in his feelings toward the Saints; but he assured us he did not belong to the mob, neither would he take any part with them; but said he was bound by his oath to support the Constitution of the United States, and the laws of the State of Missouri. Deponent then asked him if he would make said statement in writing, so as to refute the statement of those who had affirmed that he (Black) was one of the leaders of the mob. Mr. Black answered in the affirmative. Accordingly he did so, which writing is in possession of the deponent. The deponent further saith, that no violence was offered to any individual in his presence, or within his knowledge; and that no insulting language was given by either party, except on the part of Mrs. Black, who, while Mr. Black was engaged in making out the above-named writing, (which he made with his own hand), gave to this deponent, and others of his society, highly insulting language and false accusations, which were calculated in their nature to greatly irritate, if possible, the feelings of the bystanders belonging to said society, in language like this—being asked by the deponent if she knew anything in the "Mormon" people derogatory to the character of gentlemen, she answered in the negative, but said she did not know but the object of their visit was to steal something from them. After Mr. Black had executed the writing, deponent asked Mr. Black if he had any unfriendly feelings towards the deponent, and if he [the deponent] had not treated him genteelly. He answered in the affirmative. Deponent then took leave of said Black and repaired to the house of Lyman Wight. The next day he returned to Far West, and further this deponent saith not.

Joseph Smith, Jun.

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Sworn to and subscribed this fifth day of September, A. D. 1838.

Elias Higbee, J. C. C. C.

Judge King at Far West.

Judge King arrived at Far West, on his way to Daviess to meet the proposed trial. General Atchison had gone before Judge King arrived, and the judge tarried all night. I was at home after six o'clock in the evening.

Start for the Place of Trial.

Thursday, 6.—At half-past seven this morning, I started on horseback, accompanied by several brethren, among whom were my brother Hyrum and Judge Elias Higbee, to attend my trial at Brother Littlefield's. I thought it not wisdom to make my appearance before the public at the county seat of Daviess county, in consequence of the many threats made against me, and the high state of excitement. The trial could not proceed, on account of the absence of the plaintiff, and lack of testimony, and the court adjourned until tomorrow at ten o'clock in the morning, at a Mr. Raglin's, some six or eight miles further south, and within half a mile of the line of Caldwell. Raglin is a regular mob character. We all returned to Far West, where we arrived before dark.

The Trial at Raglin's.

Friday, 7.—About sunrise I started with my friends, and arrived at Mr. Raglin's at the appointed hour. We did not know but there would be a disturbance among the mob characters today; we accordingly had a company of men placed at the county line, so as to be ready at a minute's warning, if there should be any difficulty at the trial.

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The trial commenced; William P. Peniston, who was the prosecutor, had no witnesses but Adam Black, but he contrived to swear to a great many things that never had an existence, and I presume never entered into the heart of any other man, and in fine, I think he swore by the job, and that he was employed so to do by Peniston.

The witnesses on the part of the defense were Dimick B. Huntington, Gideon Carter, Adam Lightner, and George W. Robinson.

The Prophet and Lyman Wight Bound Over.

The judge bound Colonel Wight and myself over to court in a five hundred dollar bond. There was no proof against us to criminate us, but it is supposed he did it to pacify as much as possible, the feelings of the mobbers. The judge stated afterwards, in the presence of George W. Robinson, that there was nothing proven against us worthy of bonds, but we submitted without murmuring a word, gave the bonds, with sufficient securities, and all returned home the same evening.

A Committee of Inquiry from Chariton County.

I found two persons in Daviess county at the trial, who were sent from Chariton county as a committee, to inquire into all this matter, as the mobbers had sent to that place for assistance, they said, to take Smith and Wight; but their real object was to drive the brethren from the county of Daviess, as had been done in Jackson county. They said the people in Chariton county did not see proper to send help without knowing for what purpose they were doing it, and this they said was their errand. They accompanied us to Far West, to hold a council with us, in order to learn the facts of this great excitement, which is, as it were, turning the world upside down. We arrived home in the evening.

The Presidency met in council with the committee from Chariton county, together with General Atchison, where a relation was given of our affairs in general, the present state of excitement, and the cause of all this confusion. The gentlemen from Chariton expressed their fullest satisfaction upon the subject, and considered they had been outrageously imposed upon in this matter. They left this afternoon apparently perfectly satisfied with the interview.

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Rumors of an Attack upon "Diahman."

News came this evening that the mob were to attack Adam-ondi-Ahman, and a few of the brethren from Far West started to assist the brethren to defend themselves.

Sunday, 9.—This morning a company in addition to that which went last evening went to Adam-ondi-Ahman to assist the brethren there in their defense against the mob.

Capture of Arms Intended for the Mob.

Captain William Allred took a company of ten mounted men and went to intercept a team with guns and ammunition, sent from Richmond to the mob in Daviess county. They found the wagon broken down, and the boxes of guns drawn into the high grass near by the wagon; there was no one present that could be discovered. In a short time two men on horseback came from towards the camp of the mob, and immediately behind them was a man with a wagon; they all came up and were taken by virtue of a writ on the supposition that they were abetting the mob, by carrying guns and ammunition to them. The men were taken together with the guns to Far West; the guns were distributed among the brethren, for their defense, and the prisoners were held in custody. This was a glorious day indeed, the plans of the mob were frustrated in losing their guns, and all their efforts appeared to be blasted. Captain Allred acted under the civil authorities in Caldwell, who issued the writ for securing the arms and arresting the carriers. The prisoners were brought to Far West for trial.

The Mob Take Prisoners.

The mob continue to take prisoners at their pleasure; some they keep, and some they let go. They try all in their power to make us commit the first act of violence. They frequently send in word that they are torturing the prisoners to death, in the most cruel manner, but we understand all their ways, and their cunning and wisdom are not past finding out.

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Allred's Prisoners.

Monday, 10.—This day the prisoners taken by Captain Allred on Sunday, viz., John B. Comer, William L. McHoney, and Allen Miller, were brought before Albert Petty, justice of the peace, for examination. The prisoners asked for bail, to allow time to get counsel. The law allowed no bail, but the court adjourned till Wednesday to give time to the prisoners to get counsel.

After the arrest the facts were communicated to Judge King by letter, under date of Richmond, September 10th, asking his advice how to dispose of the guns and prisoners.

Advice from Judge King.

Judge King advised by letter to turn the prisoners loose, and let them receive kind treatment; that the guns were government property, in the care of Captain Pollard of his vicinity, but whether they went by his authority or permission he could not say, he was at a loss to give any advice about them; but said that they should not, through any agency of his, be taken from us to be converted and used for illegal purposes. The letter was signed by A. A. King (directed to Messrs. Smith and Rigdon).

Judge King's Apparent Double Dealing.

Under the same date Judge King advised General Atchison "to send two hundred or more men, and dispel the forces in Daviess county and all the assembled armed forces in Caldwell, and cause those "Mormons' who refuse to give up, to surrender, and be recognized, for it will not do to compromise the law with them." What compromise need there be, Judge King, for no "Mormons" had refused to surrender to the requisitions of the law? It is mob violence, alone, that the "Mormons" are contending against.

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Petition from Ray County.

A petition was this day made out by the citizens of Ray county, directed to General Atchison, asking him to call out the militia to suppress the insurrection in Caldwell and Daviess counties, and save the effusion of blood, which must speedily take place unless prevented. Signed by Jesse Coates and twenty-eight others.

The Trial of Allred's Prisoners.

Wednesday, 12.—This day the prisoners, [Allred's] John B. Comer and his comrades, were put upon trial. It was proven to the court that the guns were taken by one of the prisoners and that he with the others were taking them to Daviess county to arm the mob. It was also proved that the mob was collecting for the purpose of driving the Saints from their homes. The prisoners were held to bail for their appearance at the circuit court, Comer as principal, the others were merely in his service.

The Citizens of Daviess County to the Governor.

This day also a communication was sent to Governor Boggs, dated Daviess county, containing all the falsehoods and lies that the evil genius of mobocrats, villains, and murderers could invent, charging the "Mormons" with every crime they themselves had been guilty of, and calling the "Mormons" impostors, rebels, Canadian refugees, emissaries of the prince of darkness, and signed, "The Citizens of Daviess and Livingston Counties."

Atchison Orders Out the Militia.

Under this date, General Atchison informed the Governor, by letter from headquarters at Richmond, that on the solicitation of the citizens and the advice of the judge of the circuit, he had ordered out four companies of fifty men each from the militia of Clay county, and a like number from Ray; also four hundred men to hold themselves in readiness if required, all mounted riflemen, except one company of infantry. The troops were to proceed immediately to the scene of excitement and insurrection.