The Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt – Revised and Enhanced Edition
Edited by Scot Facer Proctor and Maurine Jensen Proctor

Chapter 13

Prosperity of the Church – School in ­Zion – Revelation -­Mob -­ Destruction of printing office – Defense -­ Prisoners – Journey to Lexington – A dream – Its fulfillment – Battle -­ Defeat of the robbers – A miracle – Defense construed into murder -­ Gov. Boggs and militia join the mob -­ Church driven from the county – Plunderings and ­burnings -­ Insurrections – Signs in the heavens -­ Action of the governor -­ Attorney general driven from court -­ Refugees settle in the north -­ A bandit chief made governor.

Summer 1833-November 1833

It was now the summer of 1833. Immigration had poured into the County of Jackson in great numbers; and the Church in that county now numbered upwards of one thousand souls. These had all purchased lands and paid for them, and most of them were improving in buildings and in cultivation. Peace and plenty had crowned their labors, and the wilderness became a fruitful field, and the solitary place began to bud and blossom as the rose.

They lived in peace and quiet; no lawsuits with each other or with the world; few or no debts were contracted; few promises broken; there were no thieves, robbers, or murderers; few or no idlers; all seemed to worship God with a ready heart.

On Sundays the people assembled to preach, pray, sing, and receive the ordinances of God. Other days all seemed busy in the various pursuits of industry. In short, there has seldom, if ever, been a happier people upon the earth than the Church of the Saints now were.

In the latter part of summer and in the autumn, I devoted almost my entire time in ministering among the churches; holding meetings; visiting the sick; comforting the afflicted, and giving counsel. A school of Elders was also organized, over which I was called to preside. This class, to the number of about sixty, met for instruction once a week. The place of meeting was in the open air, under some tall trees, in a retired place in the wilderness, where we prayed, preached and prophesied, and exercised ourselves in the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Here great blessings were poured out, and many great and marvelous things were manifested and taught. The Lord gave me great wisdom, and enabled me to teach and edify the Elders, and comfort and encourage them in their preparations for the great work which lay before us. I was also much edified and strengthened. To attend this school I had to travel on foot, and sometimes with bare feet at that, about six miles. This I did once a week, besides visiting and preaching in five or six branches a week.1

While thus engaged, and in answer to our correspondence with the Prophet, Joseph Smith, at Kirtland, Ohio, the following revelation was sent to us by him, dated August, 1833:2

“Verily I say unto you, my friends, I speak unto you with my voice, even the voice of my Spirit; that I may show unto you my will concerning your brethren in the land of Zion; many of whom are truly humble, and are seeking diligently to learn wisdom and to find truth; verily, verily I say unto you, blessed are such for they shall obtain; for I, the Lord, showeth mercy unto all the meek, and upon all whomsoever I will, that I may be justified when I shall bring them into judgment.

“Behold, I say unto you, concerning the school in Zion,3 I the Lord am well pleased that there should be a school in Zion; and also with my servant, Parley P. Pratt, for he abideth in me; and inasmuch as he continueth to abide in me, he shall continue to preside over the school in the land of Zion until I shall give unto him other commandments; and I will bless him with a multiplicity of blessings in expounding all Scriptures and mysteries to the edification of the school and of the Church in Zion, and to the residue of the school, I, the Lord, am willing to show mercy; nevertheless, there are those that must needs be chastened, and their works shall be made known.

“The axe is laid at the root of the trees, and every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be hewn down and cast into the fire. I, the Lord have spoken it. Verily I say unto you, all among them who know their hearts are honest, and are broken, and their spirits contrite, and are willing to observe their covenants by sacrifice – yea, every sacrifice which I, the Lord, shall command – they are all accepted of me, for I, the Lord will cause them to bring forth as a very fruitful tree which is planted in a goodly land, by a pure stream that yieldeth much precious fruit.

“Verily I say unto you, that it is my will that an house should be built unto me in the land of Zion, like unto the pattern which I have given you; yea, let it be built speedily by the tithing of my people; behold, this is the tithing and the sacrifice which I, the Lord, require at their hands; that there may be an house built unto me for the salvation of Zion – for a place of thanksgiving for all saints, and for a place of instruction for all those who are called to the work of the ministry in all their several callings and offices, that they may be perfected in the understanding of their ministry in theory, in principle, and in doctrine; in all things pertaining to the kingdom of God on the earth, the keys of which kingdom have been conferred upon you.

“And inasmuch as my people build an house unto me in the name of the Lord, and do not suffer any unclean thing to come into it that it be not defiled, my glory shall rest upon it; yea, and my presence shall be there, for I will come into it, and all the pure in heart that shall come into it shall see God. But if it be defiled I will not come into it, and my glory shall not be there; for I will not come into unholy temples.

“And, now, behold, if Zion do these things she shall prosper, and spread herself and become very glorious, very great, and very terrible. And the nations of the earth shall honor her, and shall say: Surely Zion is the city of our God, and surely Zion cannot fall, neither be moved out of her place, for God is there, and the hand of the Lord is there; and He hath sworn by the power of His might to be her salvation and her high tower.

“Therefore, verily thus saith the Lord, let Zion rejoice, for this is Zion – the Pure in heart; therefore, let Zion rejoice while all the wicked shall mourn. For behold, and lo, vengeance cometh speedily upon the ungodly as the whirlwind; and who shall escape it? The Lord’s scourge shall pass over by night and by day, and the report thereof shall vex all people; yet 4 it shall not be stayed until the Lord come; for the indignation of the Lord is kindled against their abominations and all their wicked works.

“Nevertheless, Zion shall escape if she observes to do all things whatsoever I have commanded her; but if she observes not to do whatsoever I have commanded her, I will visit her, according to all her works, with sore affliction, with pestilence, with plague, with sword, with vengeance, with devouring fire. Nevertheless, let it be read this once in their 5 ears, that I, the Lord, have accepted of their offering; and if she sin no more none of these things shall come upon her; and I will bless her with blessings, and multiply a multiplicity of blessings upon her, and upon her generations forever and ever, saith the Lord your God. Amen.”

This revelation was not complied with by the leaders and Church in Missouri, as a whole; notwithstanding many were humble and faithful. Therefore, the threatened judgment was poured out to the uttermost, as the history of the five following years will show.

That portion of the inhabitants of Jackson County which did not belong to the Church, became jealous of our growing influence and numbers. Political demagogues were afraid we should rule the county; and religious priests and bigots felt that we were powerful rivals, and about to excel all other societies in the State in numbers, and in power and influence.

These feelings, and the false statements and influences growing out of them, gave rise to the organization of a company of outlaws, whose avowed object was to drive the Church of the Saints from the county.

These were composed of lawyers, magistrates, county officers, civil and military; religious ministers, and great numbers of the ignorant and uninformed portion of the population, whose prejudices were easily aroused.6

They commenced operations by assembling in great numbers, destroying a printing office and its materials; demolishing dwellings and stores, and plundering the contents and strewing them in the street; cutting open feather beds, breaking furniture, destroying fences and crops, whipping, threatening and variously abusing men, women and children, etc.7

The saints submitted to these outrages for a time in all patience, without defence or resistance of any kind, supposing that the public authorities would of course put a stop to them, as in duty bound.

But they were soon convinced to the contrary, and were compelled to take up arms for defence; and also to make the most vigorous exertions to prosecute according to law. We assembled in small bodies in different neighborhoods, and stood on guard during the nights, being ready to march in a moment to any place of attack.

I had the command of about sixty men who were thus assembled in the Colesville branch; and rendezvoused in some log buildings during a very rainy time.

It was evening. I was out in the act of posting guards a short distance from the dwellings, when two men assailed us, armed with guns and pistols; and supposing it against our principles to make any defence, they attacked the guards. I was without arms, but stepped forward to interfere between them, when one of them drew his gun backwards, and, with both hands, struck the barrel of it across the top of my head.

I staggered back, but did not fall; the blood came streaming down my face, and I was for an instant stunned by the blow; But, recovering myself, I called help from the house and disarmed them, and put them under guard till morning. Their arms were then restored, and they let go in peace.

The taking of these two men proved a preventive against an attack that night. They were the advance of a party of men who were about to come upon the settlement, but were disconcerted by this means.

On the next day,8 about sunset, myself and a Mr. Marsh 9 set out on horseback to visit the Circuit Judge at Lexington, a distance of some forty miles. We were under the necessity of travelling the most private paths across the country, in order to avoid our enemies; but we had a most faithful pilot, an old resident of the country, who knew every crook and turn of the different paths.

We had ridden but a few miles when it became so excessively dark that we could not see each other, or distinguish any object. Our pilot dismounted several times and tried to feel his way. We were at last compelled to halt for some time, until it cleared and became a little lighter; but the rain began to fall in torrents, and continued all the latter part of the night. We soon became drenched, and every thread about us perfectly wet; but still we dare not stop for any refreshment or shelter, until day dawned, when we found ourselves forty miles from home and at the door of a friend, where we breakfasted and refreshed ourselves.

We then repaired to Lexington, and made oath before Judge Ryland of the outrages committed upon us, but were refused a warrant. The Judge advised us to fight and kill the outlaws whenever they came upon us. We then returned to the place where we breakfasted, and, night coming on, we retired to bed. Having been without sleep for the three previous nights, and much of the time drenched with rain, this, together with the severe wound I had received, caused me to feel much exhausted. No sooner had sleep enfolded me in her kind embrace than a vision opened before me.

I was in Jackson County; heard the sound of firearms, and saw the killed and wounded lying in their blood. At this I awoke from slumber, and awaking Mr. Marsh and the family with whom we lodged, I told them what I had seen and heard in my dream, and that I was sure a battle had just occurred.

Next morning we pursued our journey homeward with feelings of anxiety indescribable. Every officer of the peace had abandoned us to our fate; and it seemed as if there was no alternative but for men, women and children to be exterminated. As we rode on, ruminating upon these things, a man met us from Independence, who told us there was a battle raging when he left; and how it had terminated he knew not.

This only heightened our feelings of anxiety and suspense. We were every instant drawing nearer to the spot where we might find our friends alive and victorious, or dead, or perhaps in bondage, in the hands of a worse than savage enemy.

On coming within four miles of Independence, we ventured to inquire the distance at a certain house; this we did in order to pass as strangers, and also, in hopes to learn some news; the man seemed frightened, and inquired where we were from. We replied, from Lexington. Said he, “Have you heard what has happened?” We replied, “That we had heard there was some difficulty, but of all the participants we had not been informed.” “Why,” said he, “the Mormons have riz, and have killed six men.”

We then passed on, and as soon as we were out of sight we left the road and took into the woods.

Taking a circuitous route, through thickets of hazel interwoven with grape vine, we came in sight of Independence, after some difficulty and entanglement, and advanced towards it; but seeing parties of armed men advancing towards us, we wheeled about, and retreating a distance, turned again into the woods, and galloping about a half mile, reached the tents of our friends.

But what was our astonishment when we found our brethren without arms, having surrendered them to the enemy!

The truth was this: The same evening that I dreamed of the battle, a large body of the outlaws had marched to a certain settlement, where they had before committed many outrages, and commenced to unroof dwellings, destroy property, and threaten and abuse women and children.10 While some sixty men were thus engaged, and their horses quietly regaling themselves in the cornfields of the brethren, about thirty of our men marched upon them, and drove them from the field. Several were severely if not mortally wounded on both sides; and one young man of the Church died of his wounds the next day – his name was Barber.

In the battle brother Philo Dibble, of Ohio, was shot in the body through his waistband; the ball remained in him. He bled much inwardly, and, in a day or two his bowels were so filled with blood and so inflamed that he was about to die, or, rather, he had been slowly dying from the time he was wounded. The smell of himself had become intolerable to him and those about him.

At length Elder Newel Knight administered to him, by the laying on of hands, in the name of Jesus; his hands had scarcely touched his head when he felt an operation penetrating his whole system as if it had been a purifying fire. He immediately discharged several quarts of blood and corruption, among which was the ball with which he had been wounded. He was instantly healed, and went to work chopping wood.11 He remained an able bodied man, a hard worker, and even did military duty for many years after. He is still living in Davis County, Utah.12

The next morning, Nov. 5, armed men were assembled in Independence from every part of the county. These joined the outlaws, and called themselves militia, and placed themselves under the command of Lieutenant-Governor Boggs and a colonel by the name of Pitcher. Thus organized, manned and officered, they were a formidable band of outlaws; capable of murder, or any other violence or outrage which would accomplish their purpose; which was to drive the people of the Church from the county, and plunder their property and possess their lands.

Very early the same morning, several volunteers united their forces from different branches of the Church and marched towards Independence, in order to defend their brethren and friends. When within a short distance from the town they halted, and were soon informed that the militia were called out for their protection; but in this they did not place confidence; for they saw that the armed body congregated had joined with the mobbers and outlaws, and were one with them to carry out their murderous purposes.

On communicating with the leaders, Boggs and Pitcher, it was found that there was no alternative but for the Church to leave the county forthwith, and deliver up their arms, and certain men to be tried for murder, said to have been committed in the battle the previous evening.

Rather than have submitted to these outrageous requirements the saints would willingly have shed their blood; but they knew that if they resisted this mob, the lies of the designing and the prejudice of the ignorant would construe their resistance into a violation of law, and thus bring certain destruction upon them; therefore, they surrendered their arms and agreed to leave the county forthwith. The men who were demanded as prisoners were also surrendered and imprisoned, but were dismissed in a day or two without trial.13

A few hours after the surrender we arrived at the camp of our brethren on our return from Lexington.

The struggle was now over, our liberties were gone, our homes to be deserted and possessed by a lawless banditti; and all this in the United States of America.

The sun was then setting, and twelve miles separated me from my family; but I determined to reach home that night. My horse being weary I started on foot, and walked through the wilderness in darkness; avoiding the road lest I should fall into the hands of the enemy.

I arrived home about the middle of the night, and furnishing my wife with a horse, we made our escape in safety.14

When night again overtook us we were on the bank of the Missouri River, which divided between Jackson and Clay Counties. Here we camped for the night, as we could not cross the ferry till morning. Next morning we crossed the river, and formed an encampment amid the cottonwoods on its bank.

While we thus made our escape companies of ruffians were ranging the county in every direction; bursting into houses without fear, knowing that the people were disarmed; frightening women and children, and threatening to kill them if they did not flee immediately. At the head of one of these parties appeared the Rev. Isaac McCoy (a noted Baptist missionary to the Indians), with gun in hand, ordering the people to leave their homes immediately and surrender everything in the shape of arms.

Other pretended preachers of the gospel took part in the persecution – speaking of the Church as the common enemies of mankind, and exulting in their afflictions. On Tuesday and Wednesday nights, the 5th and 6th of November, women and children fled in every direction. One party of about one hundred and fifty fled to the prairie, where they wandered for several days, mostly without food; and nothing but the open firmament for their shelter.15 Other parties fled towards the Missouri River. During the dispersion of women and children, parties were hunting the men, firing upon some, tying up and whipping others, and some they pursued several miles.

Thursday, November 7. The shore began to be lined on both sides of the ferry with men, women and children; goods, wagons, boxes, provisions, etc., while the ferry was constantly employed; and when night again closed upon us the cottonwood bottom had much the appearance of a camp meeting. 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 others 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 the earth, except our blind oppressors, and a blind and ignorant community.16

Next day our company still increased, and we were principally engaged in felling cottonwood trees and erecting them into small cabins. The next night being clear, we began to enjoy some degree of comfort.

About two o’clock the next morning we were called up by the cry of signs in the heavens. We arose, and to our great astonishment all the firmament seemed enveloped in splendid fireworks, as if every star in the broad expanse had been hurled from its course, and sent lawless through the wilds of ether. Thousands of bright meteors were shooting through space in every direction, with long trains of light following in their course. This lasted for several hours, and was only closed by the dawn of the rising sun. Every heart was filled with joy at this majestic display of signs and wonders, showing the near approach of the coming of the Son of God.17

All our goods were left behind; but I obtained some of them afterwards at the risk of my life. But all my provisions for the winter were destroyed or stolen, and my grain left growing on the ground for my enemies to harvest. My house was afterwards burned, and my fruit trees and improvements destroyed or plundered. In short, every member of the society was driven from the county, and fields of corn were ravaged and destroyed; stacks of wheat burned, household goods plundered, and improvements and every kind of property destroyed. One of this banditti afterwards boasted to one of the brethren that, according to their own account of the matter, the number of houses burned was two hundred and three.18

The Saints who fled took refuge in the adjoining counties, mostly in Clay County, which received them with some degree of kindness. Those who fled to the county of Van Buren were again driven and compelled to flee; and those who fled to Lafayette County were soon expelled, or the most part of them, and had to move to wherever they could find protection.

When the news of these outrages reached the Governor of the State,19 courts of inquiry, both civil and military, were ordered by him, but nothing effectual was ever done to restore our rights, or to protect us in the least. It is true the Attorney-General, and a military escort under Colonel, afterwards General Doniphan,20 and our witnesses went to Jackson County and demanded indictments; but the court refused to do anything in the case, and the military, Attorney-General and witnesses were mobbed out of the county; and thus that matter ended.

The Governor also ordered them to restore the arms of which they robbed us, but they never were restored. Even our lands were robbed of their timber, and either occupied by our enemies for years or left desolate. Soon after Jackson County had rebelled against the laws and constitution of the General and State Governments, several of the adjacent counties followed the example, by justifying her proceedings, and by opposing the Saints in settling among them.

The counties of Clay, Ray, Clinton and various others, held public meetings, the tenor of which was to deprive the members of our society of the rights of citizenship, drive them from among them, and to compel them to settle only in such places as these outlaws should dictate; and even at that time some of their proceedings went so far as to publicly threaten to drive the whole society from the State. The excuses they offered for these outrages were:

First: The society were guilty principally of being eastern or northern people.

Secondly: They were guilty of some slight variations in manners and language from the other citizens of the State, who were mostly from the South.

Thirdly: Their religious principles differed in some important particulars from most other societies.

Fourthly: They were guilty of immigrating rapidly from the different States, and of purchasing large quantities of land, and of being more enterprising and industrious than their neighbors.

Fifthly: Some of them were guilty of poverty – especially those who had been driven, from time to time, and robbed of their all. And,

Lastly: They were said to be guilty of believing in the present Government administration of Indian affairs, viz: that the land west of the Mississippi, which Government had deeded in fee simple to the immigrating tribes, was destined by Providence for their permanent homes.

All these crimes were charged upon our society, in the public proceedings of the several counties, and were deemed sufficient to justify their unlawful proceedings against us. The reader may smile at this statement, but the public journals of Upper Missouri in 1835, actually printed charges and declarations against us, of the tenor of the foregoing.

By these wicked proceedings our people were once more compelled to remove, at a great sacrifice of property, and were at last permitted to settle in the north of Ray County, where, by the next legislature, they were organized into the counties of Caldwell and Davies.21 Here again they exercised the utmost industry and enterprise, and these wild regions soon presented a more flourishing aspect than the oldest counties of the State.

In the meantime, the majority of the State so far countenanced these outrages that they actually elected Lilburn W. Boggs (one of the oldest actors in the scenes of Jackson County, who had assisted in murder and plunder, and the expulsion of twelve hundred citizens, in 1833) for Governor of the State,22 and placed him in the executive chair, instead of suspending him by the neck, between the heavens and the earth, as his crimes justly merited. This movement may be said to have put an end to liberty, law and Government in that State.

About this time, Colonel Lucas, a leader of the banditti, was elected Major-General, instead of being hung for treason and murder.23 And Moses Wilson, another leader of the mob, was elected Brigadier-General;24 and others were advanced accordingly. These all very readily received their commissions from their accomplice, Governor Boggs, and thus corruption, rebellion and conspiracy had spread on every side, being fostered and encouraged by a large majority of the State; and thus the treason became general.

In the meantime, our society had greatly increased by a rapid immigration, and having long felt the withering hand of oppression from so corrupt an administration, they had endeavored to organize themselves, both civil and military, in the counties where they composed the majority, by electing such officers as they thought would stand for equal rights, and for the laws and Constitution of the country. In this way they hoped to withstand the storm which had so long beaten upon them, and whose black clouds now seemed lowering in awful gloom, preparing to burst with overwhelming fury upon all who dared to stand for liberty and law.


 1. This “school of Elders” should not to be confused with the “School of the Prophets,” which had commenced in Kirtland, Ohio, on January 22, 1833, in a room on the second level of the Newel K. Whitney Store. Brigham Young described the Kirtland school: “The first School of the Prophets was held in a small room situated over the Prophet Joseph’s kitchen… In the rear of this building [the Whitney store] was a kitchen, probably ten by fourteen feet, containing rooms and pantries. Over this kitchen was situated the rooms in which the Prophet received revelations and in which he instructed his brethren. The brethren came to that place for hundreds of miles to attend school in a little room probably no larger than eleven by fourteen” (Anderson, Joseph Smith’s Kirtland, 115-16).

 2. Joseph received this revelation, D&C 97, on August 2, 1833, at Kirtland, Ohio, in the upper room of the Newel K. Whitney Store. The punctuation has been changed from Parley’s original to fit the 1981 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants.

 3. Many references to Zion in the Doctrine and Covenants refer to Jackson County, Missouri.

 4. In the 1835 and 1844 editions of the Doctrine and Covenants available to Parley, yet was used. In the 1981 edition, the word in D&C 97:23 is yea.

 5. In the 1981 edition, their (occurring twice in this sentence) is her, referring to Zion.

 6. Among this group was Lilburn Williams Boggs, who, in 1832, had been elected lieutenant governor of Missouri. Boggs had been appointed as Jackson County’s first clerk, was involved in the trading and mercantile business up and down the Missouri River, and had invested in businesses at the Sante Fe Trail head in Independence. He owned a lot of land in Jackson County and became one of the leaders who worked actively to expel the Saints from the county.

 7. The printing press and operations were destroyed by a mob on July 20, 1833. “After the mob had retired, and while evening was spreading her dark mantle over the scene, as if to hide it from the gaze of day, men, women, and children, who had been driven or frightened from their homes, by yells and threats, began to return from their hiding places in thickets, corn-fields, woods, and groves, and view with heavy hearts the scene of desolation and wo: and while they mourned over fallen man, they rejoiced with joy unspeakable that they were accounted worthy to suffer in the glorious cause of their Divine Master. There lay the printing office a heap of ruins; Elder Phelps’s furniture strewed over the garden as common plunder; the revelations, book works, papers, and press in the hands of the mob, as the booty of highway robbers; there was Bishop Partridge, in the midst of his family, with a few friends, endeavoring to scrape off the tar which, from its eating his flesh, seemed to have been prepared with lime, pearl-ash, acid, or some flesh-eating substance, to destroy him; and there was Charles Allen in the same awful condition. The heart sickens at the recital, how much more at the picture! More than once, those people, in this boasted land of liberty, were brought into jeopardy, and threatened with expulsion or death, because they desired to worship God according to the revelations of heaven, the constitution of their country, and the dictates of their own consciences. Oh, liberty, how art thou fallen! Alas, clergymen, where is your charity!” (Smith, History of the Church, 1:393).

 8. It appears this was about November 1, 1833.

 9. This was likely Thomas B. Marsh, who later became the senior member of the Twelve.

10. This cornfield battle took place on November 4, 1833.

11. Records indicate that Philo Dibble was healed November 5, 1833. Brother Newel Knight recorded: “I went to see Brother Dibble, and found the house where he lay surrounded by the mob. I managed to get in, and went to the bed; two men came and seated themselves at the door; as I looked upon Brother Dibble lying there in extreme agony, I drew the bed curtains with one hand and laid the other on his head, praying secretly to our Heavenly Father in his behalf. I then left, as I did not want to put myself into the power of the mob; and the next day business took me some ten miles from the place, where I met Brother Dibble making his escape from the county. He told me that as soon as I placed my hand upon his head, the pain and soreness seemed gradually to move as before a power driving it, until in a few minutes it left his body. He then discharged about a gallon of putrid matter, and the balls and pieces of clothing which had passed into his body” (Smith, History of the Church, 1:431n). Philo had been in the upper room of the John Johnson farmhouse on February 16, 1832, with twelve others as Joseph and Sidney received the vision of the three degrees of glory as recorded in D&C 76 (see “Recollections of the Prophet Joseph Smith,” Juvenile Instructor 27 [May 15, 1892]: 303-4).

12. Lucy Mack Smith, reacting to the terrible news of the problems and tragedies in Missouri, wrote: “But alas! How our joy was measurably turned to grief, for it was not two months before a messenger arrived from Missouri just as my sons were all at work preparing a piece of ground for sowing wheat the ensuing fall. Joseph was standing on the porch near the door washing his face and hands when the dispatch arrived who stated that the brethren were driven, and Brothers Partridge and Allen had been tarred and feathered and put into prison; that some were killed, and Brother Dibble, among others, had been shot.

“When Joseph heard this, he was overwhelmed with grief. He burst into tears and sobbed aloud, ‘Oh, my brethren, my brethren. Oh, that I had been with you to have shared with you your trouble. My God, my God, what shall we do in such a case of trial?” (Smith, Revised and Enhanced History of Joseph Smith, 309).

13. “The same night, the prisoners, [A. Sidney] Gilbert, [Isaac] Morley, and [John] Corrill, were liberated from the jail, that they might have an interview with their brethren, and try to negotiate some measures for peace; and on their return to jail about 2 o’clock, Tuesday morning, in the custody of the deputy sheriff, an armed force of six or seven men stood near the jail and hailed them. They were answered by the sheriff, who gave his name and the names of the prisoners, crying, ‘Don’t fire, don’t fire, the prisoners are in my charge.’ They, however, fired one or two guns, when Morley and Corrill retreated; but Gilbert stood, firmly held by the sheriff, while several guns were presented at him. Two, more desperate than the rest, attempted to shoot, but one of their guns flashed, and the other missed fire. Gilbert was then knocked down by Thomas Wilson, who was a grocer living at Independence. About this time a few of the inhabitants of the town arrived, and Gilbert again entered the jail, from which he, with three of his brethren, were liberated about sunrise, without further prosecution of the trial. William E. M’Lellin was one of the prisoners” (Smith, History of the Church, 1:432).

14. November 6, 1833.

15. Lyman Wight recorded: “I saw one hundred and ninety women and children driven thirty miles across the prairie… the ground thinly crusted with sleet; and I could easily follow on their trail by the blood that flowed from their lacerated feet on the stubble of the burnt prairie! This company, not knowing the situation of the country or the extent of Jackson County, built quite a number of cabins that proved to be in the borders of Jackson County. The mob, infuriated at this, rushed on them in the month of January, 1834, burned these scanty cabins, and scattered the inhabitants to the four winds; from which cause many were taken suddenly ill, and of this illness died” (Millennial Star 21 [August 6, 1859]: 506).

16. Emily Austin wrote: “We lived in tents until winter set in, and did our cooking out in the wind and storms. Log heaps were our parlor stoves, and the cold, wet ground our velvet carpets, and the crying of little children our piano forte” (Austin, Mormonism, 72-73).

17. This display occurred November 13, 1833. The Prophet Joseph Smith, then in Kirtland, recorded: “About 4 o’clock a.m. I was awakened by Brother Davis knocking at my door, and calling on me to arise and behold the signs in the heavens. I arose, and to my great joy, beheld the stars fall from heaven like a shower of hailstones; a literal fulfillment of the word of God, as recorded in the holy Scriptures, and a sure sign that the coming of Christ is close at hand. In the midst of this shower of fire, I was led to exclaim, ‘How marvelous are Thy works, O Lord! I thank Thee for Thy mercy unto Thy servant; save me in Thy kingdom for Christ’s sake. Amen.’

“The appearance of these signs varied in different sections of the country: in Zion, all heaven seemed enwrapped in splendid fireworks, as if every star in the broad expanse had been suddenly hurled from its course, and sent lawless through the wilds of ether. Some at times appeared like bright shooting meteors, with long trains of light following in their course, and in numbers resembled large drops of rain in sunshine. These seemed to vanish when they fell behind the trees, or came near the ground. Some of the long trains of light following the meteoric stars, were visible for some seconds; these streaks would curl and twist up like serpents writhing. The appearance was beautiful, grand, and sublime beyond description; and it seemed as if the artillery and fireworks of eternity were set in motion to enchant and entertain the Saints, and terrify and awe the sinners of the earth” (Smith, History of the Church, 1:439-40).

18. According to a statement of redress to Congress: “The houses of the ‘Mormons’ in the County of Jackson, amounting to about two hundred, were burned down or otherwise destroyed by the mob, as well as much of their crops, furniture, and stock. The damage done to the property of the ‘Mormons’ by the mob in the County of Jackson as above related, as near as they can ascertain, would amount to the sum of $175,000 [equal to about $9 million in today’s money]. The number of ‘Mormons’ thus driven from the County of Jackson amounted to about twelve hundred souls” (Millennial Star 17 [July 14, 1855]: 435).

19. The governor of Missouri at this time was Daniel Dunklin, who was elected in August 1832.

20. Alexander William Doniphan (1808-87), who often came to the aid and rescue of the Saints, was a prominent lawyer in Liberty, Missouri. He was elected to the Missouri State Legislature in 1836, 1840, and 1854, and was a brigadier general in the Missouri militia. In the fall of 1838, defying the orders of his superior officer, General Samuel Lucas, Doniphan saved the lives of the Prophet and other brethren (Smith, Papers of Joseph Smith, 1:483-84).

21. Through the concerted efforts of Alexander Doniphan, large Ray County was divided in the north into two more counties: Caldwell and Daviess. These counties were then designated as a gathering place for the refugee Mormons. A six-mile wide barrier or neutral zone was set up between Caldwell and Ray counties to provide ample separation between the Saints and other Missourians.

22. In August 1836.

23. Samuel D. Lucas (1799-1868) was one of the early settlers of Independence, Missouri, and owned a store there. He had also been a judge of the Jackson County court in 1831. He was major-general of Missouri’s fourth division of militia. In the fall of 1838, he marched against Far West and nearly caused the demise of the Prophet and many others (Smith, Papers of Joseph Smith, 1:498).

24. Moses Wilson, who had been active in driving the Saints from their homes and lands in Jackson County, later served under Samuel Lucas and became a leader of the Missouri militia that surrounded Far West and condemned the Prophet Joseph and many others to be shot in the town square. Both Wilson and Lucas had worked closely with Lilburn Boggs in Jackson County.

2006 Meridian Magazine.  All Rights Reserved.