Stirring Scenes About Far West—The Escape Of The Prophet And His Fellow Prisoners.
Judge King’s Anger.
Thursday, April 4.—Brothers Kimball and Turley called on Judge King, who was angry at their having reported the case to the governor, and, said he, “I could have done all the business for you properly, if you had come to me; and I would have signed the petition for all except Joe, and he is not fit to live.” I bid Brothers Kimball and Turley to be of good cheer, “for we shall be delivered; but no arm but God’s can deliver us now. Tell the brethren to be of good cheer and get the Saints away as fast as possible.”
Brothers Kimball and Turley were not permitted to enter the prison, and all the communication we had with them was through the grate of the dungeon. The brethren left Liberty on their return to Far West.
Friday, April 5.—Brothers Kimball and Turley arrived at Far West.
Plot Against the Prophet’s Life.
This day a company of about fifty men in Daviess county swore that they would never eat or drink, until they had murdered “Joe Smith.” Their captain, William Bowman, swore, in the presence of Theodore Turley, that he would “never eat or drink, after he had seen Joe Smith, until he had murdered him.”
The Truth of a Revelation Questioned.
Also eight men—Captain Bogart, who was the county judge, Dr. Laffity, John Whitmer, and five others—came into the committee’s room [i.e. the room or office of the committee on removal] and presented to Theodore Turley the paper containing the revelation of July 8, 1838, 1 to Joseph Smith, directing the Twelve to take their leave of the Saints in Far West on the building site of the Lords House on the 26th of April, to go to the isles of the sea, and then asked him to read it. Turley said, “Gentlemen, I am well acquainted with it.” They said, “Then you, as a rational man, will give up Joseph Smith’s being a prophet and an inspired man? He and the Twelve are now scattered all over creation; let them come here if they dare; if they do, they will be murdered. As that revelation cannot be fulfilled, you will now give up your faith.”
Turley’s Defense of the Prophet.
Turley jumped up and said, “In the name of God that revelation will be fulfilled.” They laughed him to scorn. John Whitmer hung down his head. They said, “If they (the Twelve) come, they will get murdered; they dare not come to take their leave here; that is like all the rest of Joe Smith’s d—n prophecies.” They commenced on Turley and said, he had better do as John Corrill had done; “he is going to publish a book called ‘Mormonism Fairly Delineated;’ he is a sensible man, and you had better assist him.”
Colloquy between Turley and John Whitmer.
Turley said, “Gentlemen, I presume there are men here who have heard Corrill say, that ‘Mormonism’ was true, that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and inspired of God. I now call upon you, John Whitmer: you say Corrill is a moral and a good man; do you believe him when he says the Book of Mormon is true, or when he says it is not true? There are many things published that they say are true, and again turn around and say they are false?” Whitmer asked, “Do you hint at me?” Turley replied, “If the cap fits you, wear it; all I know is that you have published to the world that an angel did present those plates to Joseph Smith.” Whitmer replied: “I now say, I handled those plates; there were fine engravings on both sides. I handled them;” and he described how they were hung, and “they were shown to me by a supernatural power;” he acknowledged all.
Turley asked him, “Why is not the translation now true?” He said, “I could not read it [in the original] and I do not know whether it [i. e., the translation] is true or not.” Whitmer testified all this in the presence of eight men.
The committee [on removal of the Saints from Missouri] met, and Brother William Huntington made report of his journey to Liberty on business of the committee.
Land Sales and the Clothing of Prisoners.
The subject of providing some clothing for the prisoners at Richmond was discussed, and the propriety of sending two brethren to Liberty, to make sales of some lands, was taken up, and Elders H. G. Sherwood and Theodore Turley were appointed.
A bill of clothing for the Richmond prisoners having been made up, was presented and given to those appointed to go to Liberty, that they might procure the goods on the sales of land.
The Prisoners Hurried into Daviess County.
Saturday, April 6.—Judge King evidently fearing a change of venue, or some movement on our part to escape his unhallowed persecution (and most probably expecting that we would be murdered hurried myself and fellow prisoners off to Daviess county, under a guard of about ten men, commanded by Samuel Tillery, deputy jailer of Clay county. We were promised that we should go through Far West, which was directly on our route, which our friends at that place knew, and expected us; but instead of fulfilling their promise, they took us around the city, and out of the direct course some eighteen miles; far from habitations, where every opportunity presented for a general massacre.
Peremptory Orders Considered.
This evening the committee (i.e. on removal) met in council. Prayer by Elder Kimball. The business of the council was the consideration of the order of the leaders of the Daviess mob, delivered this day to the Saints in Caldwell county, to leave before Friday next.
Resolved: To hire all trams that can be hired, to move the families of the Saints out of the county, to Tenny’s Grove.
Resolved: To send Henry G. Sherwood immediately to Illinois for assistance, in teams from the Saints there.
The mission of Elders Sherwood and Turley to Liberty was deferred for the present.
Actions of the Committee.
Sunday, April 7.—The committee met in council at Brother Turley’s. Brother Erastus Snow made a report of his visit to the judges at Jefferson city. A letter from the prisoners at Liberty was read and Daniel Shearer and Heber C. Kimball were appointed to see Mr. Hughes and get him to go to Daviess county and attend the sitting of the court there.
We continued our travels across the prairie, while the brethren at Far West, anxious for our welfare, gave a man thirty dollars to convey a letter to us in Daviess county, and return an answer.
Arrival of the Prisoners in Daviess County.
Monday, April 8.—After a tedious journey—for our long confinement had enfeebled our bodily powers—we arrived in Daviess county, about a mile from Gallatin, where we were delivered into the hands of William Morgan, sheriff of Daviess county, with his guard, William Bowman, John Brassfield and John Pogue. The Liberty guard returned immediately, but became divided, or got lost on their way; a part of them arrived in Far West after dark, and got caught in the fence; and calling for help, Elder Markham went to their assistance and took them to the tavern. From them he got a letter I had written to the committee, informing them of our arrival in Daviess county.
Arrival of Stephen Markham in Gallatin.
Tuesday, April 9.—Our trial commenced before a drunken grand jury, Austin A. King, presiding judge, as drunk as the jury; for they were all drunk together. Elder Stephen Markham had been dispatched by the committee to visit us, and bring a hundred dollars that was sent by Elder Kimball, as we were destitute of means at that time. He left Far West this morning, and swimming several streams he arrived among us in the afternoon, and spent the evening in our company. Brother Markham brought us a written copy of a statute which had passed the legislature, giving us the privilege of a change of venue on our own affidavit.
Judge Morin Favors the Prophet’s Escape.
Judge Morin arrived from Mill Port, and was favorable to our escape from the persecution we were enduring, and spent the evening with us in prison, and we had as pleasant a time as such circumstances would permit, for we were as happy as the happiest; the Spirit buoyed us above our trials, and we rejoiced in each other’s society.
The Examination of Witnesses.
Wednesday, April 10.—The day was spent in the examination of witnesses before the grand jury. Dr. Sampson Avard was one of the witnesses. Brother Markham was not permitted to give his testimony.
Our guard went home, and Colonel William P. Peniston, Blakely, and others took their place.
Letter of Sidney Rigdon to the Prophet. Rigdon’s Plans for the Impeachment of Missouri.
Quincy, Illinois, April 10, 1839.
To the Saints in Prison, Greeting:
In the midst of a crowd of business, I haste to send a few lines by the hand of Brother Mace, our messenger. We wish you to know that our friendship is unabating, and our exertions for your delivery, and that of the Church unceasing. For this purpose we have labored to secure the friendship of the governor of this state, with all the principal men in this place. In this we have succeeded beyond our highest anticipations. Governor Carlin assured us last evening, that he would lay our case before the legislature of this state, and have the action of that body upon it; and he would use all his influence to have an action which should be favorable to our people. He is also getting papers prepared signed by all the noted men in this part of the country, to give us a favorable reception at Washington, whither we shall repair forthwith, after having visited the Governor of Iowa, of whose friendship we have the strongest testimonies. We leave Quincy this day to visit him. Our plan of operation is to impeach the state of Missouri on an item of the Constitution of the United States; that the general government shall give to each state a Republican form of government. Such a form of government does not exist in Missouri, and we can prove it.
Governor Carlin and his lady enter with all the enthusiasm of their natures into this work, having no doubt but that we can accomplish this object.
Our plan of operation in this work is, to get all the governors, in their next messages, to have the subject brought before the legislatures; and we will have a man at the capital of each state to furnish them with the testimony on the subject; and we design to be at Washington to wait upon Congress, and have the action of that body on it also; all this going on at the same time, and have the action of the whole during one session.
Brother George W. Robinson will be engaged all the time between this and the next sitting of the legislatures, in taking affidavits, and preparing for the tug of war; while we will be going from state to state, visiting the respective governors, to get the case mentioned in their respective messages to legislatures, so as to have the whole going on at once. You will see by this that our time is engrossed to overflowing.
The Bishops of the Church are required to ride and visit all scattered abroad, and to collect money to carry on this great work.
Be assured, brethren, that operations of an all-important character are under motion, and will come to an issue as soon as possible. Be assured that our friendship is unabated for you, and our desires for your deliverance intense. May God hasten it speedily, is our prayer day and night.
Yours in the bonds of affliction,
To Joseph Smith, Jun., Hyrum Smith, Caleb Baldwin, Lyman Wight, Alexander McRae.
Letter of Alanson Ripley to the Prophet. 2
Quincy, Illinois, April 10, 1839.
Dear Brethren in Christ Jesus:
It is with feelings of no small moment that I take pen in hand to address you, the prisoners of Jesus Christ, and in the same faith of the Gospel with myself—who are holden by the cords of malice and of hellish plottings against the just, and through the lifting up the heel against the Lord’s anointed; but they shall soon fall and not rise again, for their destruction is sure; and no power beneath the heavens can save them.
President Rigdon is wielding a mighty shaft against the whole host of foul calumniators and mobocrats of Missouri. Yesterday he spent part of the day with Governor Carlin of this state. President Rigdon told him that he was informed that Governor Boggs was calculating to take out a bench warrant for himself and others, and then make a demand of his excellency for them to be given up, to be taken back to Missouri for trial; and he was assured by that noble-minded hero, that if Mr. Boggs undertook the thing, he would get himself insulted. He also assured him that the people called “Mormons” should find a permanent protection in this state. He also solicited our people, one and all, to settle in this state, and if there could be a tract of country that would suit our convenience, he would use his influence for Congress to make a grant of it to us, to redress our wrongs, and make up our losses.
We met last night in council of the whole, and passed some resolutions with respect to sending to the city of Washington. We are making every exertion possible that lies in our power, to accomplish that grand object upon which hangs our temporal salvation; and interwoven with this, our eternal salvation; and so closely allied to each other are they, that I want to see the head connected with the body again; and while we are enjoying one, let us be ripening for the other. But my heart says, Where is he whose lips used to whisper the words of life to us? Alas! he is in the hands of Zion’s enemies. O Lord! crieth my heart, will not heaven hear our prayers, and witness our tears! Yes, saith the Spirit, thy tears are all remembered, and shall speedily be rewarded with the deliverance of thy dearly beloved brethren.
But when I see the fearful apprehensions of some of our brethren, it causes me to mourn. One instance I will mention. When I arrived at Far West I made my mind known to some of the community, and told them that I wanted they should send a messenger to the jail to communicate with you; but my request was denied. They said that the Presidency was so anxious to be free once more, that they would not consider the danger the Church was in.
They met in council and passed resolutions that myself, Amasa Lyman, and Watson Barlow, should leave Far West for Quincy forthwith. My spirit has been grieved ever since, so that I can hardly hold my peace; but there is a God in Israel that can blast the hellish desires and designs of that infernal banditti, whose hands have been imbrued in the blood of the martyrs and Saints. They wish to destroy the Church of God; but their chain is short; there is just enough left to bind their own hands with.
Dear brethren, I am at your service, and I await your counsel at Quincy, and shall be happy to grant you the desire of your hearts. I am ready to act. Please to give me all the intelligence that is in your power. If you take a change of venue, let me know what county you will come to, and when, as near as possible, and what road you will come; for I shall be an adder in the path.
Yes, my dear brethren, God Almighty will deliver you. Fear not, for your redemption draweth near; the day of pour deliverance is at hand.
Dear brethren, I have it in my heart to lay my body in the sand, or deliver you from your bonds; and my mind is intensely fixed on the latter.
Dear brethren, you will be able to judge of the spirit that actuates my breast; for when I realize your sufferings, my heart is like wax before the fire; but when I reflect upon the cause of your afflictions, it is like fire in my bones, and burns against your enemies, and I never can be satisfied, while there is one of them to stand against a wall, or draw a sword, or pull a trigger. My sword has never been sheathed in peace, for the blood of David W. Patten and those who were butchered at Haun’s Mill, crieth for vengeance from the ground.
Therefore, hear O ye heavens! and write it, O ye recording angels! bear the tidings ye flaming seraphs! that I from this day declare myself the avenger of the blood of those innocent men, and of the innocent cause of Zion, and of her prisoners; and I will not rest until they are as free, who are in prison, as I am.
Your families are all well and in good spirits. May the Lord bless you all. Amen.
Brother Amasa Lyman and Watson Barlow join in saying, Our hearts are as thy heart. Brother Joseph, if my spirit is wrong, for God’s sake correct it. Brethren, be of good cheer, for we are determined, as God liveth, to rescue you from that hellish crowd, or die in the furrow. We shall come face foremost.
N. B.—S. B. Crockett says he has been once driven but not whipped; Brother Brigham Young sends his best respects to you all.
Thursday April 11.—
Letter of Don Carlos Smith to His Brother, Hyrum Smith.
After reading a line from you to myself, and one to father, which awakens all the feelings of tenderness and brotherly affection that one heart is capable of containing, I sit down in haste to answer it. My health and that of my family is good; mother and Lucy have been very sick, but are getting better. Your families are in better health now than at any other period since your confinement.
Brother Hyrum, I am in hopes that my letter did not increase your trouble, for I know that your affliction is too great for human nature to bear; and if I did not know that there was a God in heaven, and that His promises are sure and faithful, and that He is your friend in the midst of all your trouble, I would fly to your relief, and either be with you in prison, or see you breathe free air—air too that had not been inhaled and corrupted by a pack of ruffians, who trample upon virtue and innocence with impunity; and are not even satisfied with the property and blood of the Saints, but must exult over the dead. You both have my prayers, my influence and warmest feelings, with a fixed determination, if it should so be that you should be destroyed, to avenge your blood four fold.
Joseph must excuse me for not writing to him at this time. Give my love to all the prisoners. Write to me as often as you can, and do not be worried about your families. Yours in affliction as well as in peace.
Don C. Smith.
Letter of Agnes Smith to Hyrum and Joseph Smith.
Beloved Brothers, Hyrum and Joseph:
By the permit of my companion, I write a line to show that I have not forgotten you; neither do I forget you; for my prayer is to my Heavenly Father for your deliverance. It seems as though the Lord is slow to hear the prayers of the Saints. But the Lord’s ways are not like our ways; therefore He can do better than we ourselves. You must be comforted, Brothers Hyrum and Joseph, and look forward for better days. Your little ones are as playful as little lambs; be comforted concerning them, for they are not cast down and sorrowful as we are; their sorrows are only momentary but ours continual.
May the Lord bless, protect, and deliver you from all your enemies and restore you to the bosom of your families, is the prayer of
Agnes M. Smith.
To Hyrum and Joseph Smith, Liberty, Missouri.
Attempt upon the Life of Stephen Markham.
The examination of witnesses was continued, and Elder Markham was permitted to give his testimony. After be had closed, Blakely, one of the guard, came in and said to Markham, that he wanted to speak to him. Brother Markham walked out with him, and around the end of the house when Blakely called out, “———you———old Mormon; I’ll kill you;” and struck at Markham with his fist and then with a club. Markham took the club from him and threw it over the fence.
There were ten of the mob who immediately rushed upon Markham to kill him, Colonel William P. Peniston, captain of the guard, being one of the number. But Markham told them he could kill the whole of them at one blow apiece, and drove them off. The court and grand jury stood and saw the affray, and heard the mob threaten Markham’s life, by all the oaths they could invent, but they took no cognizance of it.
A “True Bill” Found against the Prisoners.
The ten mobbers went home after their guns to shoot Markham, and the grand jury brought in a bill for “murder, treason, burglary, arson, larceny, theft, and stealing,” against Lyman Wight, Alexander McRae, Caleb Baldwin, Hyrum Smith and myself.
Meeting of the Committee on Removal.
This evening the committee [on removal] assembled at Daniel Shearer’s. After prayer by Brother James Newberry, he was ordained an Elder on the recommendation of Elder Heber C. Kimball, under the hands of Hiram Clark and William Huntington.
Elder Kimball reported that Jessie P. Maupin, the thirty-dollar messenger they had sent to us, had returned; that the prisoners were well and in good spirits.
Sale of Jackson County Lands.
Brother Rogers who had returned from Jackson county, reported that he had sold all the lands in Jackson. Elder Kimball was requested to attend a meeting of the Daviess county officials tomorrow, and as an individual, mention the case of the committee [on removal] and the brethren generally, and learn their feelings, whether they would protect the brethren from the abuse of the mob, in case they came immediately to drive them out, as they had recently threatened.
Vision of the Prophet for Markham’s safety.
During this night the visions of the future were opened to my understanding; when I saw the ways and means and near approach of my escape from imprisonment, and the danger that my beloved Brother Markham was in. I awoke Brother Markham, and told him if he would rise very early and not wait for the judge and lawyers, as he had contemplated doing, but rise briskly, he would get safe home, almost before he was aware of it; and if he did not the mob would shoot him on the way; and I told him to tell the brethren to be of good cheer, but lose no time in removing from the country.
Escape of Markham.
Friday, April 12.—This morning Brother Markham arose at dawn of day, and rode rapidly towards Far West where he arrived before nine a. m. The mobbers pursued to shoot him, but did not overtake him.
This day I received the following letter:
Jacob Stollings’ Communication to the Prophet.
Dear Sir:—Enclosed I send you the receipt which I promised; and if you will pay the necessary attention to it, it will be a benefit to the Church and to me; and I think with a little attention on your part, they can be produced; and any person who will deliver them at any point in the state, so I can get them, I will compensate them well, as I know you feel deeply interested in the welfare of the Church; and when you consider it will add to their character, and look upon it in a proper light, you will spare no pains in assisting me in the recovery of those books.
Yours, etc., in haste,
To Joseph Smith, Jun., Diahman.
Gallatin, Daviess County, Missouri,
April 12, 1839.
Know all men by these presents—That I, Jacob Stollings, have this day agreed with Joseph Smith, Jun., to release all members of the Mormon Church, from any and all debts due to me from them for goods sold to them by me at Gallatin during the year 1838, on the following condition, viz.: That said Joseph Smith, Jun., return or cause to be returned to me the following books—one ledger, three day books, and one day book of groceries, which was taken from my store in Gallatin when said store was burned. And if said books are returned to me within four months, this shall be a receipt in full, to all intents and purposes, against any debt or debts due from said Mormons to me on said books; but if not returned, this is to be null and void.
Given under my hand this day and date before written.
Attest, J. Lynch.
The Prophet’s Comments.
A curious idea, that I who had been a prisoner many months should be called upon to hunt up lost property, or property most likely destroyed by the mob; but it is no more curious than a thousand other things that have happened; and I feel to do all I can to oblige any of my fellow creatures.
Isaac Galland’s Communication to the Quincy Argus.
Commerce, Illinois, April 12, 1839.
Messrs. Editors:—Enclosed I send you a communication from Governor Lucas of Iowa territory. If you think the publication thereof will in any way promote the cause of justice, by vindicating the slandered reputation of the people called “Mormons,” from the ridiculous falsehoods which the malice, cupidity and envy of their murderers in Missouri have endeavored to heap upon them, you are respectfully solicited to publish it in the Argus. The testimony of Governor Lucas as to the good moral character of these people, I think will have its deserved influence upon the people of Illinois, in encouraging our citizens in their humane and benevolent exertions to relieve this distressed people, who are now wandering in our neighborhoods without comfortable food, raiment, or a shelter from the pelting storm.
I am, gentlemen, very respectfully,
Your obedient servant,
Letter of Robert Lucas, Governor of the Territory of Iowa, Respecting the Manner in Which the Saints Might Hope to be Received and Treated in Iowa.
Executive Office, Iowa, Burlington,
Dear Sir:—On my return to this city, after a few weeks’ absence in the interior of the territory, I received your letter of the 25th ultimo, in which you give a short account of the sufferings of the people called Mormons and ask “whether they could be permitted to purchase lands and settle upon them, in the territory of Iowa, and there worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences, secure from oppression,” etc.
In answer to your inquiry, I would say that I know of no authority that can constitutionally deprive them of this right. They are citizens of the United States, and are entitled to all the rights and privileges of other citizens. The 2nd section of the 4th Article of the Constitution of the United States (which all are solemnly bound to support) declares that “the citizens of each state shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens of the several states.” This privilege extends in full force to the territories of the United States. The first amendment to the Constitution of the United States, declares that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
The ordinance of Congress of the 13th July, 1787, for the government of the territory northwest of the river Ohio, secures to the citizens of said territory, and the citizens of the states thereafter to be formed therein, certain privileges which were by the late Act of Congress organizing the territory of Iowa, extended to the citizens of this territory.
The first fundamental Article in the Ordinance, which is declared to be forever unalterable, except by common consent, reads as follows, to wit: “No person demeaning himself in a peaceable and orderly manner, shall ever be molested on account of his mode of worship or religious sentiment in said territory.”
These principles I trust will ever be adhered to in the territory of Iowa. They make no distinction between religious sects. They extend equal privileges and protection to all; each must rest upon its own merits, and will prosper in proportion to the purity of its principles, and the fruit of holiness and piety produced thereby.
With regard to the peculiar people mentioned in your letter, I know but little. They had a community in the northern part of Ohio for several years; and I have no recollection of ever having heard in that state of any complaints against them for violating the laws of the country. Their religious opinions I consider have nothing to do with our political transactions. They are citizens of the United States, and are entitled to the same political rights and legal protection that other citizens are entitled to.
The foregoing are briefly my views on the subject of your inquiries.
With sincere respect,
I am your obedient servant,
To Isaac Galland, Esq., Commerce, Illinois.
Saturday, April 13.—Elder Markham went to Independence to close the business of the Church in that region.
Activity of the Committee on Removal.
Sunday, April 14.—The committee [on removal] in council resolved to send Sisters Fosdick and Meeks, and Brother William Monjar and another family, with Brothers Jones, Burton, and Barlow’s teams, which had recently arrived at Quincy.
The committee moved thirty-six families into Tenney’s Grove, about twenty-five miles from Far West; and a few men were appointed to chop wood for them, while Brother Turley was to furnish them with meal and meat, until they could be removed to Quincy. The corn was ground at the committee’s horse mill, in Far West. Elder Kimball was obliged to secrete himself in the cornfields during the day, and was in at night counseling the committee and brethren.
The Prophet and Fellow Prisoners Start for Boone county.
Monday, April 15.—Having procured a change of venue we started for Boone county, and were conducted to that place by a strong guard.
This evening the committee [on removal] met to make arrangements concerning teams and the moving of the few families who yet remained at Far West.
Letter of Elias Higbee to Joseph Smith, Jun., and Fellow Prisoners.
Tuesday, Quincy, April 16, 1839.
To Joseph Smith, Jun., and others, Prisoners in Liberty or Elsewhere,Greeting:
Dear Brethren In Affliction:—Through the mercy and providence of God, I am here alive, and in tolerable health, as also are all of your families, as far as I know, having heard from them lately, and having seen Sister Emma yesterday.
Brethren, I have sorrow of heart when I think of your great sufferings by that ungodly mob which has spread such desolation and caused so much suffering among us. I often reflect on the scenes which we passed through together; the course we pursued; the counselings we had; the results which followed, when harassed, pressed on every side insulted and abused by that lawless banditti; and I am decidedly of opinion that the hand of the Great God hath controlled the whole business for purposes of His own, which will eventually work out good for the Saints (I mean those who are worthy of the name). I know that your intentions, and the intentions of all the worthy Saints, have been pure, and tending to do good to all men, and to injure no man in person or property, except we were forced to it in defense of our lives.
Brethren, I am aware that I cannot wholly realize your sufferings; neither can any other person who has not experienced the like afflictions; but I doubt not for a moment, neither have I ever doubted for a moment, that the same God which delivered me from their grasp (though narrowly) will deliver you. I staid near Far West for about three weeks, being hunted by them almost every day; and as I learned, they did not intend to give me the chance of a trial, but put an end to me forthwith, I went for my horse and left the wicked clan and came off. Francis 3 is with his uncle in Ohio. I received a letter lately from him; he is strong in the faith. I now live in the Big-Neck-Prairie, on the same farm with President Rigdon, who is here with me and waiting for me with his riding dress on, to go home. So I must necessarily close, praying God to speedily deliver you, and bless you.
From yours in the bonds of the everlasting love,
The Prophet’s Reasons for Escaping from the Officers of the Law.
This evening our guard got intoxicated. We thought it a favorable opportunity to make our escape; knowing that the only object of our enemies was our destruction; and likewise knowing that a number of our brethren had been massacred by them on Shoal Creek, amongst whom were two children; and that they sought every opportunity to abuse others who were left in that state; and that they were never brought to an account for their barbarous proceedings, which were winked at and encouraged by those in authority. We thought that it was necessary for us, inasmuch as we loved our lives, and did not wish to die by the hand of murderers and assassins; and inasmuch as we loved our families and friends, to deliver ourselves from our enemies, and from that land of tyranny and oppression, and again take our stand among a people in whose bosoms dwell those feelings of republicanism and liberty which gave rise to our nation: feelings which the inhabitants of the State of Missouri were strangers to. Accordingly, we took advantage of the situation of our guard and departed, and that night we traveled a considerable distance. 4
Wednesday, April 17.—We prosecuted our journey towards Illinois, keeping off from the main road as much as possible, which impeded our progress.
Elder Kimball’s Warning to the Committee.
Thursday, April 18.—This morning Elder Kimball went into the committee room and told the committee [on removal] to wind up their affairs and be off, or their lives would be taken. Stephen Markham had gone over the Missouri river on business. Elders Turley and Shearer were at Far West.
Attack on Theodore Turley.
Twelve men went to Elder Turley’s with loaded rifles to shoot him. They broke seventeen clocks into match wood. They broke tables, smashed in the windows; while Bogart (the county judge) looked on and laughed. One Whitaker threw iron pots at Turley, one of which hit him on the shoulder, at which Whitaker jumped and laughed like a madman. The mob shot down cows while the girls were milking them. The mob threatened to send the committee to hell jumping,” and “put daylight through them.”
The Mob’s Assault on Elder Kimball.
The same day, previous to the breaking of the clocks, some of the same company met Elder Kimball on the public square in Far West, and asked him if he was a “———Mormon;” he replied, “I am a Mormon.” “Well,——————you, we’ll blow your brains out, you——————Mormon,” and tried to ride over him with their horses. This was in the presence of Elias Smith, Theodore Turley, and others of the committee.
The Mob Loots Far West.
The brethren gathered up what they could and left Far West in one hour; and the mob staid until they left, then plundered thousands of dollars’ worth of property which had been left by the exiled brethren and sisters to help the poor to remove.
One mobber rode up, and finding no convenient place to fasten his horse, shot a cow that was standing near, and while the poor animal was yet struggling in death, he cut a strip of her hide from her nose to the tip of her tail, this he tied round a stump, to which he fastened his halter.
The Loss of Records, Accounts, etc.
During the commotion this day, a great portion of the records of the committee, accounts, history, etc., were destroyed or lost, so that but few definite items can be registered in their place.
Flight of the Saints via Missouri River.
When the Saints commenced removing from Far West they shipped as many families and goods as possible at Richmond to go down the Missouri river to Quincy, Illinois. This mission was in charge of Elder Levi Richards and Reuben Hedlock, who were appointed by the committee.
I continued on my journey with my brethren towards Quincy.
Assistance for the Poor.
Elder David W. Rogers made a donation of money to remove the poor from Missouri.
The brethren and sisters who had arrived in Illinois were beginning to write of their sufferings and losses in Missouri. The statement of Sister Amanda Smith, written by her own hand, I will here insert:
Narrative of Amanda Smith Respecting the Massacre at Haun’s Mills.
To whom this may come:
I do hereby certify that my husband, Warren Smith, in company with several other families, was moving [in 1838] from Ohio to Missouri. We came to Caldwell county. Whilst we were traveling, minding our own business, we were stopped by a mob; they told us that if we went another step, they would kill us all. They took our guns from us (as we were going into a new country, we took guns along with us); they took us back five miles, placed a guard around us, kept us three days, and then let us go.
I thought—is this our boasted land of liberty? for some said we must deny our faith, or they would kill us; others said, we should die at any rate.
The names of this mob, or the heads, were Thomas O’Brien, county clerk; Jefferson Brien, William Ewell, Esq., and James Austin, all of Livingston county. After they let us go we traveled ten miles, came to a small town composed of one grist mill, one saw mill, and eight or ten houses belonging to our brethren; there we stopped for the night.
A little before sunset a mob of three hundred came upon us. The men hallooed for the women and children to run for the woods; and they ran into an old blacksmith’s shop, for they feared, if we all ran together, they would rush upon us and kill the women and children. The mob fired before we had time to start from our camp. Our men took off their hats and swung them, and cried “quarters” until they were shot. The mob paid no attention to their cries nor entreaties, but fired alternately.
I took my little girls, my boy I could not find, and started for the woods. The mob encircled us on all sides but the brook. I ran down the bank, across the mill-pond on a plank, up the hill into the bushes. The bullets whistled around me all the way like hail, and cut down the bushes on all sides of us. One girl was wounded by my side, and fell over a log, and her clothes hung across the log; and they shot at them, expecting they were hitting her; and our people afterwards cut out of that log twenty bullets.
I sat down and witnessed the dreadful scene. When they had done firing, they began to howl, and one would have thought that all the infernals had come from the lower regions. They plundered the principal part of our goods, took our horses and wagons, and ran off howling like demons.
I came down to view the awful sight. Oh horrible! My husband, and one son ten years old, lay lifeless upon the ground, and one son seven years old, wounded very badly. The ground was covered with the dead. These little boys crept under the bellows in the shop; one little boy of ten years had three wounds in him; he lived five weeks and died; he was not mine.
Realize for a moment the scene! It was sunset; nothing but horror and distress; the dogs filled with rage, howling over their dead masters; the cattle caught the scent of the innocent blood, and bellowed; a dozen helpless widows, thirty or forty fatherless children, crying and moaning for the loss of their fathers and husbands; the groans of the wounded and dying were enough to have melted the heart of anything but a Missouri mob.
There were fifteen dead, and ten wounded: two died the next day. There were no men, or not enough to bury the dead; so they were thrown into a dry well and covered with dirt. The next day the mob came back. They told us we must leave the state forthwith, or be killed. It was cold weather, and they had our teams and clothes, our husbands were dead or wounded. I told them they might kill me and my children, and welcome. They sent word to us from time to time that if we did not leave the state, they would come and kill us. We had little prayer meetings. They said if we did not stop them they would kill every man, woman and child. We had spelling schools for our little children; they said if we did not stop them they would kill every man, woman and child. We did our own milking, got our own wood; no man to help us.
I started the first of February for Illinois, without money, (mob all the way), drove my own team, slept out of doors. I had five small children; we suffered hunger, fatigue and cold; for what? For our religion, where, in a boasted land of liberty, “Deny your faith or die,” was the cry.
I will mention some of the names of the heads of the mob: two brothers by the name of Comstock, William Mann, Benjamin Ashley, Robert White, one by the name of Rogers, who took an old scythe and cut an old white-headed man all to pieces. [Thomas McBride.]
I wish further also to state, that when the mob came upon us (as I was told by one of them afterwards), their intention was to kill everything belonging to us, that had life; and that after our men were shot down by them, they went around and shot all the dead men over again, to make sure of their death.
I now leave it with this Honorable Government [the United States] to say what my damages may be, or what they would be willing to see their wives and children slaughtered for, as I have seen my husband, son and others.
I lost in property by the mob—to goods stolen, fifty dollars; one pocketbook, and fifty dollars cash notes; damage of horses and time, one hundred dollars; one gun, ten dollars; in short, my all. Whole damages are more than the State of Missouri is worth.
Written by my own hand, this 18th day of April, 1839.
Quincy, Adams County, Illinois.
Thus are the cries of the widows and the fatherless ascending to heaven. How long, O Lord, wilt thou not avenge the blood of the Saints? 5
Friday, April 19.—Elders Turley and Clark had traveled but a few miles from Far West when an axle-tree broke, and Brother Clark had to go to Richmond after some boxes, which delayed them some days.
Saturday, April 20.—The last of the Saints left Far West.
Sunday, April 21.—I had still continued my journey.