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Chapter Three:

                             and the history of the LDS Church

A lot has been said about the early LDS Church. There is a lot of fact as well as fiction that is floating around about what really happened back then. Because so much anti-Mormon literature deals with the early history of the Church, I want to share some things with you I believe you will find very interesting. This chapter is phase two of the propaganda section, but with a different tone. This is a brief look at some of the actual events. Besides commentary, it contains actual statements made by men and women who lived during those times. This chapter is a look at the people themselves. It is told as much by them as it is by me.

Keep in mind that in dealing with propaganda, there are two things you need to remember. One is: the targets change, but the tactics don’t. The other is: in order to be a successful target of
propaganda, you have to be a minority, unpopular and militarily inferior. I’m not trying to suggest anything with that statement, it’s just a fact of history. You pick the minority, you investigate their history, you’ll find these tactics and facts to be true.

“There is a time coming when many things will change. Strangers
called earthmen will appear among you. Their skins are light colored
and their ways are powerful.”
                          Sweet Medicine, first Chief of the Cheyenne

“The white man made us many promises. They broke them all
but one. They promised to take our land, ...and they took it.”
                                           Sioux Elder, 1890

As said before, propaganda has been with mankind since the beginning of time. Understanding it is important because it will be with us until the end of time as well. As it pertains to religion, failure to understand it can result in your being led away from your Father in Heaven. Though the crudeness of the early propaganda against the saints took it’s toll, over the years, the craftiness of it has become fine tuned. Because of the boom in technology, the engineers are better trained, more sophisticated in their tactics and have more resources at their disposal then ever before.

“Now it will be easy to carry on the fight, for we can call on the resources
of the State. Radio and press are at our disposal. We shall stage a masterpiece
of propaganda. And this time, naturally, there is no lack of money.”
        Josef Goebbels, Diary entry, February 3rd. 1933

“As civilization becomes more complex, and as the need for invisible government
has been increasingly demonstrated, the technical means have been invented and
developed by which public opinion may be regimented.”
                         Edward Bernay, former director of CBS in his book “Propaganda”.

So keep these points in mind as we take a look at the Mormon problem in Missouri. You will be surprised how the tactics of propaganda continually repeat themselves throughout history. I want to focus mostly on the era that the anti-Mormons focus on. The Mormon-Missouri conflicts of 1838. To get us to that point, perhaps a thumb nail sketch of the early Church history is in order.

The Beginning...

In 1820 when Joseph Smith was fourteen years old and trying to decide what religion to join, he came across a passage in the New Testament (James 1:5) that said “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” On a spring morning in 1820, Joseph went into the woods to pray. A light appeared that was brighter than the noon day sun. Looking up, he saw two personages dressed in white robes. One pointing to the other and saying, “This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” Joseph was told to join none of the churches and that he was to prepare himself for a work the Lord had for him to do.

“I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two personages,
and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for
saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true...”
Joseph Smith, JSH, 1:25

Three years later, on a Sunday night, (September 21st, 1823) while Joseph was praying and asking for forgiveness of his sins, suddenly an angel appeared to him, saying his name was Moroni. He told him of a book with metal plates (pages) and that he would be called to translate that book. Four years later (1827) Joseph received the plates and with the aid of the Holy Spirit and a couple friends, he translated the plates. The translation of the plates was called the Book of Mormon. It was published in March of 1830. On April 6th of 1830, Joseph Smith organized the Church. In looking for a home for the Church and in an attempt to avoid mounting persecution, Kirtland, Ohio, was chosen. In 1831, Joseph Smith and several saints moved there. The Church was called the “Church of Christ” by some members, “The Church of Jesus Christ” by other members and it was called the “Mormon Church” or “Mormonites” by non-members. On May 3rd, 1834, the name was changed to “The Church of the Latter Day Saints.” It stayed this way for four years. On April 26th, 1838, Joseph received a revelation that the Church was to be called, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” It’s been called that ever since.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints received persecution from the on-set. In fact, I think it’s a fair and accurate statement to say that the only other churches that have received more attention and persecution than The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was the original Church of Jesus Christ and their saints, and then the Jews. Just as the original Church of Jesus Christ was pursued to extinction, that pursuit to extinction was tried on the Jews and it was tried on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The harshest persecution came during its early years. The members of the Church were being run out of place after place, accused of this, that or the other thing, and occasionally some members were even killed.

In 1831 Joseph Smith received a revelation (D&C 57) that revealed that in the latter days before Christ’s coming, Independence, Missouri (Jackson County) would be the sight of the “New Jerusalem.” It would be the gathering place for the Saints in America, just as Jerusalem, Israel, would be the gathering place for the Jews. Consequently members began to flock there and by 1833 about one-third of the population in Jackson County, were LDS. Because the number of saints kept growing and because of the distinctive beliefs of the saints, friction began. Soon the Missourians began demanding that the Mormons get out of Jackson.

As persecution rose, on July 23rd, 1833, a mob of about 500 men came riding into Independence, Missouri bearing a red flag, guns, dirks, whips and clubs. They said, “We will rid Jackson County of the Mormons peacefully if we can, forcefully if we must. If they will not go without, we will whip and kill the men, we will destroy their children, and we will ravish their women.”

“I must not omit to mention one act of cruelty, which, if possible, seems to surpass
all others. In one of the settlements were four families of very old men, infirm and very
poor. These men had served in the Revolutionary War, and Brother Jones (one of the
four) had been one of General Washington’s body guards, but this availed them nothing,
for they were of the hated people. Thus were all the saints compelled to flee into
Clay County.”    Newel Knight, January, 1834.

Colonel Pitcher, one of the leaders of the Missouri Militia, refused to grant peace and safety to the saints unless they surrendered their arms. The Saints refused to do so unless the Missourian mob was disarmed as well. Pitcher agreed to that and so the Saints surrendered their grand total of forty-nine rifles and one pistol. However, Pitcher then reneged on his agreement to disarm the mob and as soon as the saints had been disarmed, several bands of armed men raided the LDS settlements. More than twelve hundred members were driven from their homes. Two-hundred and three homes were burnt to the ground. The members moved toward the river and camped on the river’s edge.

“The shore of the Missouri began to be lined on both sides of the ferry with men,
women and children...Hundreds of people were seen in every direction, some in tents and
 some in the open air around their fires, while the rain descended in torrents. Husbands
were inquiring for their wives, wives for their husbands; parents for children, and children
for parents. Some had the good fortune to escape with their families, household goods,
and some provisions; while knew not the fate of their friends, and had lost all their goods.
The scene was indescribable, and, I am sure, would have melted the hearts of any people
on earth, except our blind oppressors, and a blind and ignorant community.”
                          Parley P. Pratt, Autobiography

Joseph Smith heard of the problems in Missouri on February 22nd, 1834. Inquiring of the Lord what he should do, on February 24th, he received a revelation (D&C 103) commanding him to organize a relief force (Zion’s Camp) to send to Jackson to protect the Saints and to usher them back to their homes. The relief force was to consist of 100 to 500 armed volunteers. Men who were willing to lay down their lives if needed, to accomplish this task. On May 1st, the volunteer force of twenty left Kirkland in their nine-hundred mile march for Jackson. On May 6th, a group of eighty-five men joined the prophet. Within a few days, the numbers had grown to two-hundred men, eleven women and seven children.

The hardships were many. Including the deaths of thirteen men and one woman to cholera. They arrived on June 22nd. Joseph Smith received another revelation (D&C 105) that no fighting was to take place. Dismayed, yet also relieved, everyone followed the prophet and negotiations took place instead. The grueling march had proved to be the separator needed to pick the Church leadership. (B. H. Roberts V1, P325-400 and Encyc.. of Mormonism, p1627-1629)

                   From Zion’s Camp came nine of the first twelve apostles
                                                       and all seventy of the first quorum of Seventies.

“Brethren, some of you are angry with me, because you did not fight in Missouri;
but let me tell you, God did not want you to fight. He could not organize His Kingdom
with twelve men to open the gospel door to the nations of the earth, and with seventy men
under their direction to follow in their tracks, unless he took them from a body of men
who had offered their lives, and who had made as great a sacrifice as did Abraham.
Now the Lord has got His twelve and His seventy...”
                                       Joseph Smith, February 28th, 1835.
                                         (HC, V1 p182, B.H. Roberts, V1 p377)

The Complaints about the Mormons

Meanwhile, in Kirtland, Ohio, the Saints prospered. The community grew, land values rose, even a temple had been built. On March 27th, 1836, the Kirtland Temple was dedicated. This is part of the dedicatory prayer by Joseph Smith, “...And now we ask thee, Holy Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of thy bosom, in whose name alone salvation can be administered to the children of men, we ask thee, O Lord, to accept of this house...” (D&C, 109) A banking system was started by Joseph Smith but it failed. This in itself created a lot of grief for Joseph Smith because he was blamed for the collapse. Soon rumors of polygamy began, starting with Joseph Smith’s marriage to Fanny Alger in 1835. In 1836 the Mormons (now in Clay County) who had been run out of Jackson in 1834, were building and buying homes. It looked like they were going to stay so they were asked to leave Clay County as well. The complaints were that: the Mormons were Easterners and that they were non-slaveholders. That the Mormons were poor and that they were friendly to the Indians, and their religion was different. The Mormons feel like Jackson County is their sacred land, etc.. Actually, those arguments by the Missourians were true.

The Saints were different... And they did believe the land of Jackson County was for the saints, but also they believed they could co-exist with other good people from other religions. When the Saints first arrived in Jackson County, they had a dedicatory service. In attendance were not only the LDS Saints, but on-lookers from everywhere. “Such a congregation was present as could only be possible in an American frontier district. Indians, Negroes (then slaves) and all classes and conditions of people from the surrounding counties. Universalists, Atheists, Deists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, both priest and people.” (B.H. Roberts V.1 p.255)

The Mormons were friendly to the Indians... Joseph Smith sent missionaries out among the Indians to teach them the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

“We feel truly thankful to our white friends who have come so far and been at such
pains to tell us good news, and especially this new news concerning the book of our
forefathers. It makes us glad in here (hand over heart)...we will build a council house
and meet together, and you shall read to us and teach us more concerning the book
of our fathers, and the will of the Great Spirit.”
                          Chief Anderson, Chief of the Delawares.

The members of the Church were non-slave holders... In fact, they wouldn’t have anything to do with slavery and they spoke against it. This created a lot of grief for the Saints because the feeling toward slavery by the Missourians, or slave sympathizers was very clear and definite.

“If any Negro or mulatto come into the state of Missouri, without a certificate from a court of
record in some one of the United States, evidencing that he was a citizen of such state, on
complaint before any justice of the peace, such Negro or mulatto could be commanded by the
justice to leave the state...if he refused...jailed...if found guilty...receive ten lashes on his or her
back...if refused still...repeated...until such person departed.” (Missouri Law, 1833)

“The Secret Constitution”
Issued against the Saints in Missouri
July, 1833

“More than a year since, it was ascertained that they (the Saints) had been tampering
with our slaves, and endeavoring to sow dissensions and raise seditions amongst them. Of this
their Mormon leaders were informed, and they said they would deal with any of their members
who again in like case offend. But how specious are appearances. In a late number of the Star,
published in Independence by the leaders of the sect, there is an article inviting free Negroes and mulattoes from other states to become Mormons, and remove and settle among us. This exhibits them in still more odious colors. It manifests a desire on the part of their society, to inflict on our society an injury that they know would be to us entirely insupportable, and one of the surest means of driving us from the country; for it would require none of the supernatural
gifts that they pretend to, to see that the introduction of such a caste amongst us would
corrupt our blacks, and instigate them to bloodshed.” (History of the Church, V.1 p.374)

The members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints not only refused to have anything to do with slavery and not only did they speak against slavery, but they taught the gospel to the slaves. Elijah Abel was born on July 25th, 1810. He was the husband of Mary Ann Adams and the father of eight children. He was the personal friend of Joseph Smith and he helped build the Kirtland, Nauvoo and the Salt Lake Temples. He was also the first Black Elder in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was ordained on March 3rd. 1836. He died on Christmas Day, 1884, and is buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery, Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Saints were poor... Sometimes destitute people in general. Many had sacrificed everything they had to get this far and when they arrived, they had nothing but the few things they were able to bring with them. Many were immigrants. The amount of poor people was so great that it placed incredible hardship on the Church. Sometimes land contracts would not be met and land had to be repossessed. (B.H. Roberts V.1 p397-299)

“We journeyed until we came to Springfield, about a hundred miles from Nauvoo,
then called Commerce. We found brothers Joseph Smith and Sydney Rigdon there, with
a few others. The rest were coming in daily in a most distressed condition. Many of them
were sick, and they had no house to enter when they arrived. The nature of the climate, combined with the hardships they had previously endured, soon made those ill who were
not so previously. Numbers of the sick and dying had to lie on the ground,
with only a blanket over them...”  
 Benjamin Brown

Persecution rose and the Mormons succumbed to the pressure. Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon had been dragged from their homes and beaten. Joseph had been tarred and feathered and had the tar paddle rammed into his mouth which broke his front teeth. As the violence rose, the decision was made to leave Kirtland. The exodus from Kirtland, Ohio to Missouri took place in late 1837 and continued until mid 1838.

“Passed through the village of Jefferson...After we left the main road to Columbus, as we
followed along, they seemed astonished and filled with wonder and amazement at seeing so large a body moving together, and some did not fail to express their feelings with warmth to the
brethren as they passed along, declaring against the ‘fallacy’, as they called it, of Jo Smith’s
prophecies, and expressing their pity for the deluded believers in modern revelation.”
                               Joseph Smith, Friday, July 13th, 1838
                             (Journal entry, HC V,3 p.100 & 106)

The 1838 Mormon-Missouri Conflicts

That is a brief account of things to get us to the 1838 Mormon, Missouri conflict. To fairly
investigate that era, there are several good and credible books in your public library to choose from. Remember to make sure that the writer is credible, accurate and unbiased. Anti-Mormon writers have accurate information in their books too. The problem is, their information is laced with so much slander and outright lies, that unless you compare it with the work of credible historians, you don’t know when you’re getting a wooden nickel. I have tried very hard to be accurate and unbiased throughout this book. I have made sure that my sources were credible historians. I have been brief and I have used eye-witness accounts because my actual intent of this book is to give you enough information to get you to open your mind and think. That’s all. Probably one of the best all around account of things is by Steven C. LeSueur. His book is called The 1838 Mormon War in Missouri. I believe he is accurate and fair to both sides and non-LDS. Several of his statements in his book led me to believe that.

If you like history as I do, one of the first things you will notice is that every historian seems to have a slightly different version of the facts. That bothers some people but it doesn’t bother me. The reason is because after twenty years of talking to witnesses at crime scenes and at accident scenes, each witness seems to have a slightly different version of the facts, even though they watched the exact same incident. As a police investigator of over twenty years, I have learned that,

          the truth lies someplace in between the stories!
                                Sometimes more to one side than the other,
                                                                  ...but always someplace in between!

The same things that haunted the Saints in Ohio, haunted the Saints in Missouri. The Mormons were a different people! Also, it was now 1838, just four years after they had been run out of Missouri in 1834. The Saints were dealing with the same people as before. Because the LDS population was beginning to overwhelm the Missourians in the local areas, friction was again beginning to break out. The state of Missouri was a very new state. The country was still a very new country. Consequently, law and order was hard to find. Seemingly little help from the government could or would be given to defuse the friction.

The Danites... The anti-Mormons talk about the Danites as if they were a fierce military strike force. From what I have been able to learn about them, you might say they were some kind of home grown Mormon militia. Probably more accurately said, an underground home grown Mormon militia! Were they ever sanctioned by the Church? No! Were they probably welcomed by some, perhaps many of the Saints? Yes! They were started by Sampson Avard. The reasons they began stemmed from the lawless behavior exhibited by some of the residents of Kirtland, Ohio. Basically what it was, was a group of men who took some kind of oath to rally and protect each other and the Church and it’s members. There were a lot of tall tales about the Danites, but most of them were just that. Tall tales. By 1900, there were at least fifty novels that had been published in English about the Danites. Exciting stories of murder, pillage and conspiracy against the rest of the community. “Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet, created Sherlock Holmes to solve a murder committed by Danites. Zane Grey, Riders of the Purple Sage, and Robert Louis Stevenson, The Dynamiter, were among authors who found the image of the evil Danites well suited for popular reading.” (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, p356) “Many historians have discounted evidence linking Smith with the Danites because that evidence came from Mormon dissenters. More importantly, the prophet’s journal account for this period states that he knew little about the Danites or their activities.” (LeSueur, The 1838 Mormon War p.43)

A lot of Mormon troubles stemmed from Mormon dissenters; apostates who turned against the
Church and found themselves being ex-communicated because of their activities, beliefs or actions. Sidney Rigdon made a speech on June 17th, 1838 where he referred to the apostates as “Salt that had lost their savor and needed to be cast out and trodden under the feet of men.” That speech had a negative impact on the apostates and created a lot more animosity among them. The attacks on the Church by the dissenters increased. There is evidence that zealots on both sides began prodding and poking at each other, drawing lines in the sand so to speak. On the 4th of July, Sidney Rigdon gave his famous, or maybe infamous, fourth of July speech to the crowd.

“We take God and all the holy angels to witness this day, that we warn all men in the name
of Jesus Christ, to come on us no more forever, for from this hour, we will bear it no more...The
man or the set of men who attempts it, does it at the expense of their lives. And that mob that
comes on us to disturb us; it shall be between us and them a war of extermination...for we will
follow them, till the last drop of their blood is spilled, or else they will have to exterminate us...We will never be the aggressors, we will infringe on the rights of no people; but shall stand for our own until death. We claim our own rights, and are willing that all others shall enjoy
theirs...We...proclaim ourselves free, with a purpose and a determination that never can be
broken, no never! No Never! NO NEVER!”
                                               Sidney Rigdon

Up to this point, most of the their troubles in Missouri were fairly minor. But after the aggressive
posture of Rigdon’s speech, the Missourians felt targeted and confrontations with Missourians
escalated. (See also, A Book of Mormons by Richard S. Van Wagoner and Steven C Walker p. 235)

                      “Elder Rigdon was the prime cause of our troubles in Missouri,
                                                                   by his fourth of July oration.”
                                                                              Brigham Young

Things came to a head during the Gallatin election on August 6th, 1838. On election day, William Peniston, who was running for the state legislature, tried but failed to gain the Mormon vote. In retaliation, he launched a verbal attack against the Mormons calling them horse thieves, liars, dupes and counterfeiters. He boasted to the crowd that he had previously led a company of men that ordered the Saints to leave the county.

             “If we suffer such men as those to vote, you will soon lose your suffrage.”
                                                                                 William Peniston

Dick Weldon piped up from the crowd and said that in Clay County, the Mormons had not been allowed to vote, “no more than the Negroes!” Weldon walked up to a small shoemaker by the name of Samuel Brown and said:

               “Are you a Mormon Preacher, sir?”
               “Yes, sir, I am!” said Brown.
               “Do you Mormons believe in healing the sick by laying on of hands, speaking
                 in tongues, and casting out devils?” Asks Weldon.
               “We do!” said Brown.
               “You are a damned liar! Joseph Smith is a damned imposter!” said Weldon.

Weldon then attacked Brown. When other Mormons tried to stop Weldon, five or six Missourians jumped in and began beating the Mormons. John L. Butler, a Mormon and apparently a fellow of good size, yelled out, “Oh Yes, you Danites, here is a job for us!” Ten Mormon men jumped in, followed by forty or so Missourians.

        “I had witnessed many knock-downs in my time, but none on so grand a scale!”
                                                                     Joseph McGee, a non-Mormon

“When I called out for the Danites a power rested upon me such as one as I never
felt before. I never struck a man the second time, and while knocking them down,
I really felt that they would soon embrace the gospel!”
                  John L. Butler, Aug. 6th. 1838. Journal history, Butler account

“Despite their inferior numbers, the Mormons held their ground and finally drove the Missourians from the field.” (LeSueur has over 20 different references for this account, including LDS accounts. P.60-64 of his book) On August 8th, a group of Mormons, including Joseph Smith, went to Judge Adam Black’s home, fearing the law would not be fair in it’s judgement against the Mormons.

“...called on Adam Black, justice of the peace, and judge elect for Daviess county,
who had some time previous sold his farm to Brother Vinson Knight, and received part
pay according to agreement, and afterwards united himself with a band of mobbers
to drive the Saints from, and prevent their settling in, Daviess county.”
                               Joseph Smith, journal entry, Wednesday, August 8th 1838.

The members asked Black to sign a written statement asking him to be fair and impartial and stating he was not associated with any mob. Black was offended by the suggestion, even though he had headed an anti-Mormon mob in the past. Black refused to sign. Angry at the whole thing, Black wrote out his own statement.

“I, Adam Black, a Justice of the Peace of Daviess county, do hereby certify to the people,
coled Mormin, that he is bound to suport the constitution of this State, and of the United State,
and he is not attached to any mob, nor will not attach himself to any such people, and so long
as they will not molest me, I will not molest them. This the 8th day of August, 1838"
                                Adam Black, J.P. (HC- V.3, 59-60)

More rumors were spread and the Missourians were convinced that the Mormons were going to invade Ray County. Capt. Samuel Bogart, a local Methodist minister, organized a militia of fifty to sixty men and decided he was going to make a preemptive strike against the Mormons. On October 23, 1838, Bogart and his men rode into northern Ray County and began disarming Mormon settlers.

On October 24th, they rode into Caldwell County and while wearing white blanket coats, disarmed more Mormons and ran them out of their homes. He threatened to “give Far West thunder and lightening.” Within two days, most of the Mormons were disarmed and driven from Ray County.

Think about this... You will notice that in early Church history there were some fights or near fights reported between the Mormons and the Missourians. You and I were not there and so it’s hard to tell exactly what happened. Police officers go to a lot of 239's (fight calls) between neighbors or friends or between strangers in parking lots, etc. The police are “Johnny Come Latelies” in all fight calls, just as you and I are in this Mormon, Missouri conflict. The police arrive after the fact and we don’t have a crystal ball to tell us what really happened. We know that each side will tell us their own version of the incident. We know that the truth lies someplace between the stories of those involved. So we try and piece it back together as best we can to discover the truth, just as you and I are trying to do with the Mormon, Missouri conflicts now. But one thing the police look at, which is an extremely important fact, “Who’s turf did the fight take place on.” In other words,

...who brought the fight to who?

The simple fact is, unless both sides meet, a fight cannot take place. The only other way possible is for one party to bring the fight to the other party. In our investigations, we ask ourselves, “Who interrupted whose normal course of events and which person had the ability to leave and which person didn’t?” As you study these conflicts, notice where they took place. The Missourians claimed their actions were justified because of the constant aggressive behavior of the Mormons.

Well, how can the other guy be the aggressor in a fight, if you are
always showing up at his door and he’s fortified inside ...refusing to let you in?

Think about it! ...Other than the common ground incidents at Crooked River and the fist fight at the Gallatin Day Election, nearly every other confrontation took place on LDS turf. No matter whose side of the issue you are on, the undeniable fact of history is that the fight was constantly brought to the Mormons. That was true in settlement after settlement, county after county.

As the friction continued, Governor Boggs sent 2800 militia men to Daviess County to stop the
disturbances between the Mormons and the Missourians. Mormon leaders complained to Boggs that he was too untimely in sending the militia and that they had arrived “after much delay.” The Mormons asked for writs against the Missourians but the writs were refused. On September 26th a meeting between the Mormons and Missourians was scheduled in Diahman, Missouri to discuss one side or the other selling out and leaving the county. The day before the meeting, threats of further violence against the Mormons began to circulate.

“Drive the Mormons with powder and lead from the county!”
                General Parks-September 25, 1838

“We have been driven time after time, and that without cause;
and smitten again and again, and that without provocation.”
                                        Joseph Smith

Tensions continued to build and The Rockford Journal reported on October 6th that Governor Boggs had ordered 3000 troops to Far West, “turning them back to Jefferson after finding out that the Missourians and not the Mormons were causing the problems!” (LeSueur p.98)

“Many rumors are current in regard to the movements of these people in our
western counties; but we apprehend that the excitement which has been created,
or at least much of it; is without foundation.”
                  Missouri Argus, newspaper, September 27th, 1838

“Whatever may have been the disposition of the people called Mormons, before our arrival here, since we have made our appearance they have shown no disposition to resist the laws or to hostile intentions. There has been so much prejudice and exaggeration concerned in this matter, that I found things on my arrival here, totally different from what I was prepared to expect.”
                General Parks, to Governor Boggs, September 25th 1838 (HC-V,3 p.84)

On October 1st, 150 men marched on DeWitt, burning one Mormon home and driving others from their homes as they went. Shooting broke out on both sides and the Mormons prepared for the worst. They placed their women and children in a large home with a white flag on top so it would not be fired upon. The 150 men were repulsed by 70 to 80 Mormon men. The Missourians circled the town and placed it under siege, meanwhile calling on other counties for help.

“We must be enemies to the common enemies of our laws, religion and country.”
                         To the citizens of Howard County, October 7th, 1838

Appointed investigators, J. Price and W. Logan from Chariton County made a one day trip and found the Carroll County citizens “waging a war of extermination” against the Mormons. They also reported that they found the Mormons acting on the defensive. The Mormons were begging for peace and waiting for civil authority intervention.

“We arrived at the place of difficulties on the 4th of October, and found a large
portion of the citizens of Carroll and adjoining counties assembled near De Witt,
well armed...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.”
                        Report of the Committee of Chariton County.
                                           October 5th, 1838. Signed, John W. Price, Wm. H. Logan.

New Mormon arrivals to the community from Canada found themselves in a sticky mess and not knowing what to do and not wanting to resort to bloodshed, did what they could to avoid it.

“This state of affairs was very trying to some of our sober, serious Christians that
had been taught that it was wicked to fight; it almost rocked their faith in the Gospel;
to take up arms and try to kill their fellow mortals was a new doctrine that some could hardly
endure and it was reported some feigned sickness and stayed in their wagons, while on the
contrary some of the roughest of the company that cared, seemingly nothing for religion,
were always ready and even anxious to make battle with the mob...”
                                                             Zodak Judd, Autobiography

Times got pretty rough in the town during the siege. Food was scarce and stray cattle and other
animals that wandered near the town were caught and butchered. Anyone who tried to leave was arrested by the Missourians.

“We were sustained as the children of Israel in the desert, only by different animals.
They by quails, and we by cattle and hogs, which came walking into the camp.”
                                      Sidney Rigdon, (HC V,3 p.452)

“The Mormons, though equally determined to repel the vigilantes, wanted to resolve the conflict
peacefully.” (P.105 LeSueur) On October 1st and 6th, two riders were sent from DeWitt by the Mormons. Henry Root was dispatched to Judge King asking for intervention. A.C. Caldwell was dispatched to Governor Boggs asking for intervention. Joseph Smith, leading a militia from Far West arrived the same time as did General Parks.

“Should these troops from Doniphan’s brigade arrive 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 his 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. 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.”
                                 General Parks, October 7th, 1838 (HC V,3 p.156)

On October the 9th, A.C. Caldwell returned from Governor Boggs. Caldwell said Boggs refused to help and Governor Boggs made a statement he would later deny. “The quarrel was between the Mormons and the mob and they must fight it out themselves!” Governor Boggs as reported by A. C. Caldwell. ( LeSueur, p107-108)

“...that the state had been put to a great deal of expense on account of these
difficulties, and that he could see no cause to interpose...”
       The Missouri Republican, reporting Governor Boggs’ statement

Judge Erickson came to DeWitt on October 10th and told the Mormons that the Missourians were preparing to attack and that if one Missourian was killed, hundreds would rush to avenge his death. He tells them that, “by the power of an enraged people,” they will be driven from the state. (History of Carroll County, p.13) As the Missourians were preparing to attack DeWitt, the Mormons decided to surrender. On October 11th, the Mormons left DeWitt. The siege lasted two weeks. The Missourians then focused on Daviess County.

Some of the Mormons adopted a militant posture after being run out of DeWitt and other places. During that time, there was an account of “Mormon soldiers” that raided the town of Gallatin and upon finding it empty, gathered food and supplies and took them back to their families and friends. These actions by the Mormon Militia created more animosity by fellow Missourians and ultimately more grief for the Mormons.

“I do not know what to do. I will remain passive until I hear from you. I do not
believe calling out the militia would avail anything toward restoring peace,
unless they were called out in such force as to fright the Mormons and drive them
from the country. This would satisfy the people, but I cannot agree to it.”
                             General Parks to General Atchison

Talk of driving the Mormons to Far West and then out of the state began to circulate and build.
Appeals to Governor Boggs for help against the Mormons was sought while prodding on both sides continued. On October 25th, a group of Mormon militia, led by Patten, confronted a group of Missouri militia led by Bogart on the Crooked River. Fighting and gunfire broke out. It was reported as being one of the most fierce battles in Missouri history. Rumors spread of Bogart’s company being “massacred.”   (P.143, LeSueur, 1838 Mormon War. History of the Church, V,3 p.170-177)   

“You can hardly find in the annals of history a more severe battle when taking
into consideration the smallness of the number and the shortness of the engagement.”
                                 Albert Rockwood, Missourian

Or at least, so went the stories and the reports from the Missourians. Actually, the Missourians fled when the Mormons began fighting! So what were the casualties in the Crooked River battle? One Missourian killed, six wounded. Three Mormons killed, seven wounded. But the rumors of the Crooked River battle and “massacre” by the Mormons turned out to be the gasoline on the fire. County after county, militias began preparations for war with the Mormons.

“The citizens of Daviess, Carroll, and some other northern counties have raised mob after mob for the last two months for the purpose of driving a community of fanatics called mormons from
those counties and from the State. Those things have at length goaded the Mormons into a state
of desperation that has now made them aggressors instead of acting on the defensive. This places the citizens of this whole community in the unpleasant attitude that the civil and decent part of the community have now to engage in war to arrest a torrent that has been let loose by a cowardly mob, and from which they have dastardly fled on the first show of danger.”
                                      David R. Atchinson and Alexander W. Doniphan
                                To Lt. Col. R. B. Mason. October 27th, 1838

“If a fight has actually taken place, of which I have no doubt, it will create excitement
in the whole 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.”
                                    Major General Samuel D. Lucas

“I never was in such a crowd before. Many of them had never seen a mormon till they saw
me...they had been stirred up to anger by designing men and were made to believe the mormons
were a dangerous set of desperadoes and their own safety depended on their present action. They would curse old joe Smith...dam him. I’ll shoot him the first sight I get of him.”
                                               David Osborn

Hearing and believing that the Mormons had gotten totally out of control, Governor Boggs made an unprecedented decision. He issued an extermination order.

Headquarters of the Militia
City of Jefferson, October 27th, 1838

“General John B. Clark”

“Sir, since the order of this morning to you, directing you to cause four hundred mounted men to be raised within your Division, I have received... by Amos Rees, Esq. of Ray County and Wiley C. Williams, Esq. one of my aids, information of the most appalling character, which entirely changes the face of things, and places the Mormons in the attitude of an open and avowed defiance of the laws, and of having made war upon the people of this State. Your orders are, therefore, to hasten your operations with all possible speed. The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State if necessary for the public peace, their outrages are beyond all description. If you can increase your force, you are authorized to do so to any extent you may consider necessary. I have just issued orders to Major General Willock, of Marion County, to raise five hundred men, and to march them to the northern part of Daviess, and there unite with General Doniphan, of Clay, who has been ordered with five hundred men to proceed to the same point for the purpose of intercepting the retreat of the Mormons to the north. They have been directed to communicate with you by express, you can also communicate with them if you find it necessary. Instead therefore of proceeding as at first directed to reinstate the citizens of Daviess in their homes, you will proceed immediately to Richmond and then operate against the Mormons. Brigadier General Parks, of Ray, has been ordered to have four hundred of the Brigade in readiness to join you at Richmond. The whole force will be placed under your command.”

“I am very respectfully,
Your Ob’t serv’t
L. W. Boggs, Commander-in-Chief”

On October 30th 1838, just three days after Boggs’ extermination order, the town of Far West found itself surrounded and under siege from over 2,500 troops. Joseph Smith with his 600 Mormon militia soldiers, tried to work out some sort of compromise. On the same day, October 30th, Tuesday afternoon, 200 to 250 armed men surrounded the small Mormon settlement of Hauns Mill. Approximately 15 families and 20 emigrant families were there. When the Missourians surrounded the settlement and came out of the woods, the Mormons were going about their daily lives, unaware of any impending danger. Many of the Hauns Mill residents first thought the visitors must be reinforcements, sent by Joseph Smith from Far West. In the silence, Captain Comstock (leader of  the mob) fired his rifle into the air and then waited for a reaction. Slowly but surely, the Mormons began to catch the drift of things. Fear began to settle in their hearts and they began gathering their families. Suddenly the Missourians broke the silence with shooting and yelling. The Mormon settlement was now under full scale attack.

“Peace can only be kept by the sword.”
                              Adolf Hitler

David Evans, commander of the local Mormon militia ran toward the advancing Missourians waving his arms and yelling that he wanted to surrender. So did several other Mormons. But the Missourians gave them no quarter. The guns of the mob were turned on them and they shot them all. Fifteen men and three boys ran into the blacksmith shop to take up a defensive position. They drew the majority of the fire which undoubtedly gave others time to flee into the woods. The Missourians bombarded the blacksmith shop killing everyone inside, or so they thought. 

Thomas McBride, a sixty two year old veteran from the War of Independence with England, ran from the shop but was caught by Jacob Rogers. McBride surrendered and gave his rifle to Rogers. Rogers took the rifle and then turned it on McBride and shot him in the chest. Rogers was on horseback. McBride raised his hand and tried to surrender. Rogers took hold of McBride’s hand and with his free hand, took his knife and cut off McBride’s hand. Rogers then commenced to butcher the old patriot alive.

Isaac Leany ran from the shop as well but before he could make it to the woods, he was shot twice in the chest, once in the hip and once in each arm. Sardius Smith, a ten year old boy was hiding under the bellows in the blacksmith shop. His father was dead on the floor in front of him. William Reynolds put a gun to the boy’s head and blew the top of his head off.

“Nits will make lice, and if he had lived he would have become a Mormon.”
                                                       William Reynolds

After the shooting stopped and all were presumed dead, the bodies were looted. Some of the
Mormons had feigned death. Amanda Smith, who had made it to the woods, came back to the mill afterwards and found her seven year old son, shot and feigning death under a pile of dead bodies in the blacksmith shop. Amanda pulled him out and tended to his wounds. Bodies were scattered throughout the settlement. A total of eighteen dead and fifteen wounded.

“All through the night we heard the groans of the dying. Once in the dark we crawled over
the heap of dead in the blacksmith’s shop to try to help or soothe the sufferers’ wants.”
                                           Amanda Smith

“We thought it best to attack them first...
What we did was in our own defense, and we had the right to do.”
                  Charles Ashby, December 24th, 1838. State Legislator
            of Livingston County, and attacker of Haun’s Mill.

“...It was about four o’clock, while sitting in my cabin with my babe in my arms, my wife standing by my side, the door being open. I cast my eyes on the opposite bank of Shoal Creek and saw a large company of armed men, on horses, directing their course toward the mills with all possible speed...Mr Nehemiah Comstock fired a gun, which was followed by a solemn pause of ten or twelve seconds, when all at once, they discharged about one hundred rifles...I took a path which led up the hill...after daylight appeared...some four or five men with myself...repaired to the mills to learn the condition of our friends.

When we arrived at the house of Mr. Haun, we found Mr. Merrick’s body lying in the rear of the house, Mr McBride’s in front, literally mangled from head to foot. We were informed by Miss Rebecca Judd, who was an eye witness, that he was shot with his own gun, after he had given it up, and then cut to pieces with a corn cutter by Mr. Rogers of Daviess County, who keeps a ferry on Grand River...Mr. York’s body we found in the house, and after viewing these corpses, we immediately went to the blacksmith’s shop, where we found nine of our friends, eight of whom were already dead, the other, Mr. Cox, of Indiana, struggling in the agonies of death and soon expired...”
             Sworn statement of Joseph Young, survivor, Hauns Mill. To C.M. Woods,
         Clerk Circuit Court, Adams County. Date of statement: June 4th, 1839

“I do hereby certify that my husband, Warren Smith, in company with several families, was
moving from Ohio...Whilst we were traveling...we were stopped by a mob...they took our
guns...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...Our men took off their hats and swung them and cried ‘quarters’ until they were shot...I took my little girls, my boy I could not find, and started for the woods...One girl was wounded by my side and fell over a log, 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...When they had done firing, they began to howl...I came down to view the awful sight. Oh horrible! My husband, and my son ten years old lay lifeless upon the ground, and one seven years old, wounded very badly...A dozen helpless widows, thirty or forty fatherless children, crying and moaning for the loss of their fathers and husbands...”
                                        Written statement of Amanda Smith, survivor,
                                          Hauns Mill. Date of statement: April 18th, 1839.

The Encyclopedia of Mormonism listed the casualties as seventeen Mormons and one friendly non-Mormon killed, and thirteen Mormons wounded. So what was the causality list for the Missourians? Three wounded. Those are the facts. It’s hard to say it was anything but a massacre. The news of Hauns Mill reached Far West and the concerns of the saints were high.

“We knew their determination was to exterminate us & we made up our determination to
defend the city until the last man should fall to the ground, we have the promise that but little
blood will be shed at this time, but God only knows how we are to be delivered.”
                                           Albert P. Rockwood, journal, October 1838

The Surrender of the Mormons

When the news of Hauns Mill Massacre reached Joseph Smith in Far West, Joseph’s concern, love for the Saints and love for the Church was taxed to their limits. Should he fight back or should he beg for peace? Reed Peck and John Corrill were sent by Joseph Smith to the leaders of the surrounding militia of Far West to try and negotiate a compromise.

“The sisters, many of them, were engaged in gathering up their most valuable effects,
fearing a terrible battle in the morning, and that the houses might be fired and they obliged
to flee. The enemy was five to one against us.”
                                 Joseph Smith, journal entry, Wednesday October 31st. 1838.

“Smith said he would go to prison for twenty years or even die rather than
allow his people to be exterminated.”
                                       John Corril

“Beg like a dog for peace. On any terms short of battle.”
                                         Joseph Smith

After the terms of the surrender were agreed upon, Joseph Smith brought the message to his soldiers. He requested all in favor to take three steps forward. With highly mixed emotions, one by one, they all stood behind their Prophet, and took three steps forward.

“I would have willingly fought until the last drop of my blood had been spilt.”
                                       Jesse W. Johnston

“Although our numbers ware small I felt confident the victory would be ours
and the Lord work out our escape with our lives and the Kingdom of God roll on”
                                     Luman Shurtliff

“If we had not have received word from Joseph we should have been
very likely to have sent hundreds of them to Hell.”
                                    Zerah Pulsipher

“That was a tough pill to swallow, however, if Joseph says so, all right.”
                                     William Draper

The 600 Mormon men with their wives and children watching, crying, and believing the men were going to be killed, marched out in front of the 2500 Missourians. At the order to ground their weapons, one by one, they all did! And then, came the Spoils of War!

“We were ordered to march our men...onto a small prairie bottom and form into a hollow
square with our guns. We were ordered to step two paces in front and ground our weapons.
We left them on the ground which they picked up and carried away in a wagon. That was the
last we ever saw of our arms...Finally Far West was infested with State troops and the
Prophet and others were betrayed into the hands of the mob troops.”
                                        James Leithead

“The Disarming of the Mormon Soldiers opened the way for widespread plundering
and violence against the Saints that continued until they left the state. Missouri soldiers ransacked homes, some looking for property allegedly stolen from them, others simply
searching for booty, while the Mormons looked helplessly on.” (LeSueur, p. 180)

“After depriving these of their arms the mob continued to hunt the brethren like wild beasts,
and shot several, ravished the women, and killed one near the city.
                                 Joseph Smith, journal entry, November 3rd, 1838

“We were huddled up against a field fence and a guard placed around us. When the mob
troops came up, most of their faces blackened, tied their horses to trees or any-thing else at
hand, broke through the guard, placed around us for our protection, and commenced abusing
us in a shameful manner. Some would put the muzzle of their guns to our breasts and with the most vulgar and blasphemous language threatened to blow a hole through our hearts. Others would club their guns and swear they would beat our brains out. We were subjected to this treatment for several hours, and all this after our arms had been taken from us, and we were unable to offer the least resistance. When they had abused us to their hearts content, we were allowed to disperse to our homes.”

“Then the troops were allowed all the next day to prowl around the town, and take anything and everything they could carry away. We were obliged to hide many things away in the rocks along the banks of Grand River and other places in order to save our wearing apparel and anything else of any value to us. There was no restraint put on the troops. They wandered at will and did as they pleased.”
                                                    James Leithead

Families gathered in small houses, trying to keep warm and alive. The Mormons lived on frozen
potatoes and boiled corn while the Missourians burned their house logs for fires, shot cattle and hogs at random claiming the animals were, “Mormons running away on all fours!” Night raids by the Missourians would find the Mormons in bed staring at men with “cocked guns” while the Missourians did as they pleased. In Missouri during the months of November, December and January, very little compassion was shown the Mormons. Isolated incidents of beatings, whippings, muggings, even rape took place. Though the violence against the Mormons seemed unrestrained, it wasn’t officially condoned either and not every Missourian militiaman participated in it. But the idea that they would have to move on became firmly entrenched in their minds. 

“At times I feared to lay my babe down lest they would slay me and
leave it to suffer worse than immediate death.”
                                           Mercy Thompson

LeSueur said the Mormons claimed that several women were raped by the Missouri soldiers. The Missourians denied accusations of raping the Mormon women and the charge was hard to verify. LeSueur said he was able to find evidence of two attempted rapes. Personally, I believe that rape did take place. I believe LeSueur could not find actual evidence of rape because of two reasons.

One: How does a victim of a rape report the crime against her, ...when the authority she has to
         report it to the suspect of the crime? Think about it. I bet there were not many
         reported rapes in Jewish concentration camps either.


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