Missouri Persecutions and
On August 8th, 1838, Peniston swore out an affidavit that the
Mormons had an army of 500 men and were threatening the
cities of Davies County.
Joseph Smith submitted to be arrested and was later
released on bail.
Two weeks later, Adam Black claimed that 154 Mormons
had threatened him with death if he did not sign the
agreement of peace.
Lawyers Atchison and Doniphan sent reports to
the Governor that he was getting false reports
and bad advice from the mob and their so
called leaders about the Mormons, and that the
problems were not nearly as big as they
The citizens of Davies County agreed to sell
their lands to the Mormons, but the Mormons
were not able to raise the funds fast enough.
Siege of Dewitt:
September – October 1838, the Saints in Dewitt were
threatened by the mob with violence. George M.
Hinckle adamantly defended the rights of the Saints to
be in Dewitt. Reinforcements from both sides kept
arriving and appeals to the Governor on behalf of the
Saints fell on deaf ears. Open hostilities began in
early October with the mobs considering it to be a war
Food became critically low and a member of the
Church escaped to tell the fate of the Saints to Joseph
Joseph slipped into Dewitt undetected and found the
situation to be very serious.
Finally the word from Governor Boggs arrived
and he said,
“The quarrel is between the Mormons and the
mob and they will have to fight it out.”
On October 11th, 1838, 70 wagons abandoned
One woman gave birth to a baby and both the
mom and the baby died because of exposure.
Opposition in Carrol County started with
several Mormons being captured, tied to
trees, whipped and mangled.
Houses were burned and stock driven off.
General Atchison appealed to Governor
Boggs again and was rebuffed.
Guerilla warfare erupted with both sides plundering and looting.
For the most part, anti-Mormons set fire to their own haystacks
and property and then blamed it on the Mormons.
At this time Thomas B. Marsh and Orson Hyde had
dissented and joined with the enemies at Richmond.
They both swore out an affidavit against Joseph Smith.
Thomas B. Marsh was excommunicated on March 17, 1838 and
Orson Hyde was dropped from the Quorum of the Twelve.
Orson returned June 27th, 1838 after fully acknowledging his
error and making confession. President Marsh returned in
Battle of Crooked River
October 25th, 1838, Samuel Bogart the famous
mobber from Jackson County ordered his
people to take 3 Mormon prisoners.
A militia set out to rescue the prisoners.
Twenty miles from Far West, David W. Patten
and Charles C. Rich ran into an ambush at
Crooked River. Bogart’s men opened fire on
them and the battle began.
Several men were wounded on both sides.
David W. Patten and Gideon Carter were
killed, though they managed to free the
three prisoners. Patrick O’bannion died
Accounts were read to Governor Boggs
that Bogart’s men were massacred and
that the Mormons were marching on to
Richmond to burn it to the ground.
That was all Bogg’s needed to hear.
The Extermination Order
It was issued on October 27th, 1838.
“The Mormons must be treated as enemies and must
be exterminated or driven from the state if necessary
for the public good.”
General Atchison was the commander of the state
troops but was dismissed in favor of an anti-Mormon
General --- John D. Clark.
General Samuel D. Lucas who opposed the Saints,
surrounded Far West with over 2,000 of his men on
October 31, 1838.
The story of Jacob Haun going to Far West and
refusing the counsel of Joseph Smith is a sad story.
On October 30th, nine wagons filled with poor Saints
from Kirtland arrived at Haun’s Mill. That evening 240
mobocrats attacked the settlement. Most of the men
fled to the blacksmith’s shop. They were shot
Sardius Smith (10 years old) had the top of his head
blown off. The man who did it later said, “Nits will
make lice and if he’d a grown up, he’d a been a
Alma Smith, his brother, watched the murder of his
dad and brother. He had the flesh of his hip shot
away and was later miraculously healed through faith
and prayer (he laid perfectly still after being shot,
leading the mob to think that he was dead).
Thomas McBride was hacked to death with a corn
Seventeen men were killed and thirteen men were
On 30 October 1838, three days after the extermination order
was issued, some 200 men mounted a surprise attack against
the small community of Saints at Haun’s Mill on Shoal Creek,
Caldwell County. The assailants, in an act of treachery, called
for those men who wished to save themselves to run into the
blacksmith shop. They then took up positions around the
building and fired into it until they thought all inside were dead.
Others were shot as they tried to make their escape. In all 17
men and boys were killed and 13 wounded.
After the massacre, Amanda Smith went to the blacksmith
shop, where she found her husband Warren, and a son,
Sardius, dead. Among the carnage she was overjoyed to find
another son, little Alma, still alive though severely wounded.
His hip had been blown away by a musket blast. With most of
the men dead or wounded, Amanda knelt down and pleaded
with the Lord for help:
“Oh my Heavenly Father, I cried, what
shall I do? Thou seest my poor wounded
boy and knowest my inexperience. Oh
Heavenly Father direct me what to do!”
She said that she “was directed as by a
voice,” instructing her to make a lye from
the ashes and cleanse the wound. She
then prepared a slippery elm poultice and
filled the wound with it. The next day she
poured the contents of a bottle of balsam
into the wound.
Amanda said to her son, “’Alma, my child,… you
believe that the Lord made your hip?’ “’Yes, mother.’
“’Well, the Lord can make something there in the
place of your hip, don’t you believe he can, Alma?’
“’Do you think that the Lord can, mother?’ inquired
the child, in is simplicity. “’Yes, my son,’ I replied, ‘he
has shown it all to me in a vision.’ “Then I laid him
comfortably on his face, and said: ‘Now you lay like
that, and don’t move, and the Lord will make you
“So Alma laid on his face for five weeks, until he was
entirely recovered --- a flexible gristle having grown in
place of the missing joint and socket.”
Amanda and others had the awful task of seeing to
the burial of their loved ones. Only a few able-bodied
men remained, including Joseph Young, the brother of
Brigham Young. Because they feared the return of
the mob, there was no time to dig conventional
graves. The bodies were thrown into a dry well,
forming a mass grave. Joseph Young helped to carry
the body of little Sardius but declared “he could not
throw that boy into this horrible grave.” He had
played with the “interesting lad” on their journey to
Missouri, and Joseph’s “nature was so tender” that he
could not do it. Amanda wrapped Sardius in a sheet,
and the next day she and another son, Willard, place
the body in the well. Dirt and straw were then thrown
in to cover the dreadful scene.
At Adam-ondi-Ahman, 20-year-old Benjamin F.
Johnson was spared a similar fate at the hands of a
Missourian who was determined to shoot him.
Benjamin had been arrested and kept under guard for
eight days in intensely cold weather before an open
campfire. While he was sitting on a log, a “brute”
came up to him with a rifle in his hands and said, “You
give up Mormonism right now, or I’ll shoot you.”
Benjamin decisively refused, upon which the ruffian
took deliberate aim at him and pulled the trigger. The
gun failed to discharge. Cursing fearfully, the man
declared that he had “used the gun 20 years and it
had never before missed fire.” Examining the lock, he
re-primed the weapon and again aimed and pulled the
trigger --- without effect.
Following the same procedure he tried a third
time, but the result was the same. A bystander
told him to “fix up his gun a little” and then
“you can kill the cuss all right.” So for a fourth
and final time the would-be murderer prepared,
even putting in a fresh load. However,
Benjamin declared, “This time the gun busted
and killed the wretch upon the spot.” One of
the Missourians was heard to say, “You’d better
not try to kill that man.”
Siege of Far West
October 31st, 1838:
The mob outnumbered the Saints five to one. That evening
Lucas sent a flag of truce to Colonel Hinkle who then secretly
agreed to turn over Joseph and the others as prisoners.
The Saints were to give up their property to pay for the
damages incurred from the war and then leave the state.
Hinkle convinced Joseph and the others that they wanted to
discuss terms of peace. When they arrived at the place for the
conference, the Mormons were surrounded and turned over to
General Lucas. Hinkle had betrayed them.
The frenzy of the mob was uncontrollable.
When Alexander Doniphan received the order
to execute them the next day, he replied:
“It is cold-blooded murder and I will not obey
your order. My brigade shall march for Liberty
tomorrow morning at eight o’clock and if you
execute these men, I will hold you responsible
before an earthly tribunal, so help me God.”
Lucas lost his nerve to execute them.
On November 1st, the mob entered Far West,
plundered the town, raped women and
compelled men at bayonet point to turn over
their possessions to pay for their damages to
Joseph had received the word of the Lord that
their lives would be spared.
The state appropriated $300,000 to pay for the
army and $2,000 to pay for the suffering of the
Saints. The Saints never saw a penny of it.
Joseph and the others were taken to
Independence where they were placed on
public display. They were then transferred to
Richmond where they were chained together in
an old vacant house for over two weeks.
Joseph preached to the people wherever they
were held as prisoners.
He influenced many people to take the side of
The “Richmond Jail” was where the famous
“Majesty in Chains” occurred.
It was a dungeon.
It had two floors with no heat and little ventilation.
They were there for more than four winter months (127 days)
in horrible conditions. Some historians say that the winter of
1838-39 was the worst on record in Missouri.
They were fed poison in their food and drinks at least three
times which caused the men to vomit almost unto death.
They were fed “Mormon Beef” for five days without any other
food because the guards wanted to see if the prisoners would
eat it. Lyman Wight did succumb and got sick.
They were fed out of a dirty chicken basket every day.
They tried to escape twice and were caught both
When Sidney was released from the jail (because of
his sickness), he said:
“The Son of God’s sufferings are not one iota as
compared to what I have been through.”
He was sharp on some things and fuzzy on others.
They all went to the bathroom in the same bucket.
Several of the men had back problems for the rest of their lives
because the ceiling was lower than they were tall.
They received one blanket each and slept on the ground.
Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball and John Taylor took care of
the Church’s leadership in Joseph’s absence.
Public opinion turned quickly against Governor Boggs and the
mob. The captivity of these men became a disgrace to the
It was during these dark times that Joseph received Doctrine &
B.H. Roberts said, “It was a lot more ‘Temple’ than it was
In April of 1839, a grand jury brought additional trumped up
charges against the men in prison, but on their way to the trial
in another county, the sheriff and his deputies allowed Joseph
and the others to escape to Illinois. Evidently they were under
orders from the officers of the court to do so.
The deputies even helped the men to saddle their horses.
Later one of the deputies was dragged to death by members of
the mob for letting the prisoners go.
This was the fifth time in ten years that the Saints had been
forced to leave their homes and look for a new location.
Missouri Persecutions --- March 1838 to April 1839
as given by Hyrum Smith
More than twelve thousand Saints were driven
“All scattered families of the ‘Mormon’ people,
in all the counties except Daviess were driven
to Far West. This only increased their distress,
for many thousands who were driven there had
no habitations or houses to shelter them and
were huddled together, some in tents, and
others under blankets, while others had no
shelter from the inclemency of the weather.”
For nearly two months the people had
been in this awful state of consternation,
many of them had been killed, whilst
others had been whipped until they had to
swathe up their bowels to prevent them
from falling out.
Mr. Carey had his brains knocked out by
the breech of a gun. As he laid bleeding
several hours, his family was not
permitted to approach him to administer
relief whilst he lay upon the ground in the
agonies of death.
John Tanner, was knocked on the head and his skull laid bare
the width of a man’s hand. He laid, to all appearance, in the
agonies of death for several hours. Only by permission given
from General Doniphan were his friends allowed to take him
out of the camp. John Tanner slowly recovered and lived.
These acts of barbarity were committed by the soldiers under
the command of General Lucas prior the governor’s order of
Captain Nehemiah Comstock, who the day previous had
promised peace and protection to Haun’s Mill, returned the
following day after receiving a copy of the governor’s order, to
exterminate or expel the Mormons.
He massacred them with two to three hundred men from the
Sixteen hundred balls were fired upon the people at Haun’s
It is impossible to describe the feelings of
horror and distress of the people in Far West.
The soldiers were permitted to patrol the
streets and abuse and insult the people at their
leisure. They entered into houses, pillaged the
men and ravished the women. They took
every gun and every other kind of military
implement from the Mormons.
General Clark saluted the mob by saying,
“Gentlemen, you shall have the honor of
shooting the Mormon leaders on Monday
morning at eight o’clock!”
Joseph spoke to Hyrum and to the other
prisoners on November 3rd in a low, but
cheerful and confidential tone. “Be of
good cheer, brethren, the word of the
Lord came to me last night that our lives
should be given us, and that whatever we
may suffer during this captivity, not one of
our lives would be taken.”
Joseph said, “We are in good spirits and
rejoice that we are counted worthy to be
persecuted for Christ’s sake.”
There stay in Liberty jail lasted 127 days, from December 1st,
1838 to April 6th, 1839.
One of the jailors who let the brethren go was charged with
complicity in their escape by providing them with horses and
was dragged over the square by the hair of his head and was
ridden on an iron rail until he was dead.
The same men sat as a jury during the day and were placed
over the brethren as guards during the night. They tantalized
the prisoners and boasted of their great achievements at
Haun’s Mill and other places. They bragged about how many
houses they had burned, and how many sheep, cattle, and
hogs they had driven off.
They boasted about how many rapes they had committed, and
what kicking and squealing there was.... saying that they
lashed one woman upon one of the Mormon meeting benches,
tied her hands and her feet fast, and sixteen of them abused
her as much as they had a mind to, and then left her bound
and exposed in that conditioned.
These fiends of the lower regions boasted of
these acts of barbarity and tantalized our
feelings with them for ten days. The lady who
was the subject of that brutality did not recover
for more than three months.
They defiled by force wives, daughters and
virgins. They shot out the brains of men,
women and children.
The grand jury constantly celebrated their
achievements with grog and glass in hand like
the Indian warriors at their war dances, singing
and telling each other of their exploits in
murdering the Mormons.
At the end of every song they would bring
in the chorus,...Mormons! We have sent
them to hell.
Then they would slap their hands and
shout, Hosanna! Hosanna! Glory to God!
Then they would fall down on their backs
and kick with their feet a few moments.
The “drinking song” was so full of
profanity, and the use of God’s name
taken so many times in vain, that I will
not include it on my power points.
They murdered three to four hundred
men, women, and children in cold
blood in the most horrid and cruel
Why? Because of religious bigotry!
The Mormon people had purchased
upwards of two hundred thousand
dollars worth of land, and lost it all.
In the Richmond Jail Parley P. Pratt recorded Joseph’s
rebuke to the guards.
“Silence, ye fiends of the infernal pit. In the
name of Jesus Christ I rebuke you, and
command you to be still; I will not live another
minute and bear such language. Cease such
talk, or you or I die this instance!”
“He ceased to speak. He stood erect in terrible
majesty. Chained, and without a weapon; calm,
unruffled and dignified as an angel, he looked
upon the quailing guards, whose weapons were
lowered or dropped to the ground; whose knees
smote together, and who, shrinking into a
corner, or crouching at his feet, begged his
pardon, and remained quiet till a change of
“I have seen the ministers of justice, clothed in
magisterial robes, and criminals arraigned
before them, while life was suspended on a
breath, in the Courts of England; I have
witnessed a Congress in solemn session to give
laws to nations; I have tried to conceive of
kings, of royal courts, of thrones and crowns;
and of emperors assembled to decide the fate
of kingdoms; but dignity and majesty have I
seen but once, as it stood in chains, at
midnight, in a dungeon in an obscure village of
Missouri” (Pratt, Autobiography, 179-80).
January — August 1839
Emma visited Joseph in Liberty Jail three times before
she left Far West in mid-February 1839.
Joseph’s system of government by councils proved its
worth in his absence. All through December, the high
council with Brigham Young presiding met to
strengthen one another and fill vacancies.
Joseph also instructed Brigham Young and
Heber C. Kimball not to leave the state
themselves. He felt bound by a revelation
requiring the Twelve to plant a cornerstone for
the Far West temple on April 26, before
departing to Britain.
If Joseph was convicted of treason, he would
have been executed. The Clay County judge
refused the pleas of all but the ailing Sidney
Rigdon, who spoke for himself from a cot.
In the heat of battle, hawks like Avard and
Wight had taken command and perpetrated
“vile measures” against Joseph’s wishes.
By mid-March, Joseph had lost faith in his lawyers, who, he
believed, had not petitioned vigorously enough.
The prisoners attempted to escape, as though prisoners of war.
They bore holes in the foot-thick oak walls until the auger
handles gave out. They actually got caught in the act because
a friend unwittingly dropped a hint that aroused suspicion.
McRae remembered food “so filthy that they could not eat it
until they were driven to it by hunger. Hyrum suspected they
had been poisoned. After a meal they were all vomiting and
then would lay two or three days in a torpid, stupid state, not
even caring or wishing for life. Joseph said that the food was
“scant, uniform, and coarse.”
Outside the windows, curiosity-seekers jeered them.
Hyrum wrote Edward Partridge and said the prison was hell and
surrounded with demons if not those who were damned.
In a single day, Joseph dictated a letter to
Alexander McRae that came to sixteen printed
pages. All five prisoners signed the letter, but
Joseph’s mind and heart were on the pages.
Parts of the letter rose to a level the merited
later canonization in the Doctrine and
Covenants. Joseph’s wrath spilled the first few
pages. He said that the “blood of innocent
women and children” now stained the soil of
Joseph realized, as the historian John Wilson
had noted, that citizens can only make
constitutional principles work by entering the
political arena. For the Saints to claim their
rights, the story of persecution had to be told.
Joseph thought that the mobbers constituted
only a fraction of the Missourians. Ironically,
persecution moderated the Saints’ relationship
with the rest of the world. In the Liberty letter,
Joseph urged the Saints to respect other
He did not say which speeches he considered
“foul,” but he saw that undue militance had
brought “death and sorrow.” The rejected
“milder councils” were presumably his. He had
mistakenly yielded to those who favored “vile
Joseph taught in the letter that those who “aspire after their
own aggrandizement and seek their own opulence while their
brethren were groaning in poverty” cannot benefit from the
holy spirit. “Things of the world” and aspiring “to the honors of
men” corrupt the priesthood.
At the end of his 1839 account of early Mormonism, Corrill
explained why he abandoned the movement:
When I retrace our track, and view the doings of the church for
six years past, I can see nothing that convinced me that God
had been our leader; calculation after calculation has failed,
and plan after plan has been overthrown, and our prophets
seemed not to know the event till too late. If he said go up
and prosper, still we did not prosper, but have labored and
toiled, and waded through trials, difficulties, and temptations,
of various kinds, in hope of deliverance. But no deliverance
Everything Corrill said was true.
The great work had met defeat
after defeat. Joseph’s seven-
year stay in Kirtland was the
longest in any gathering place.
Joseph lost old friends and
trusted supporters: Oliver
Cowdery, David Whitmer,
Frederick G. Williams, William W. Phelps, Orson
Hyde, Martin Harris, and Thomas B. Marsh all
left him in 1838, worn down by failures and
perceived missteps. Six of the seven — all but
Whitmer — returned to the Church before they
died, and Phelps and Hyde within a few
The events of 1838 brought these faithful souls
to the breaking point.
The voice of God told him to endure it well!
The Missouri tribulations were a training
ground, experience implied a future elevation
or condition. Those who would be like Christ
must suffer like Christ.
The day after dictating the letter to the Church,
Joseph answered a letter from his “Affectionate
Wife.” Emma hoped that there would be better
days to come. Joseph spoke of the children
and of his dog, “old major.” He asked, “Dear
Emma do you think that my being cast into
prison by the mob renders me less worthy of
your friendship?” He told Emma that he would
gladly walk from here to you barefoot, and
bareheaded, and half naked, to see you,” “You
should not let those fellows, forget me, tell
them Father loves them with a perfect love.”
Joseph plead with Emma never to give up an
old friend, who had waded through all manner
of toil, for her sake, and throw him away
because fools told you he has faults. He spoke
as if Emma harbored resentment against him.
At this point, the manuscript page was torn
After almost six months, Sheriff Morgan got
drunk and let the men escape. Emma and
Joseph were reunited and Emma was truly
Commerce and Commerce City were purchased
by Joseph which would later be named Nauvoo.
Eventually the Church owned all but 125 acres
of the peninsula.
The Nauvoo landscape did not captivate Joseph
as Independence and Far West had.
Commerce was unhealthy and very few could
live there. The Saints suffered from a terrible
plague of malaria in 1839, and the next two
summers were even worse.
Joseph eventually built a store, a hotel, and a
mansion to mark the commercial and cultural
center of the city. Within five years, the
population grew to 15,000 in Nauvoo and the
immediate vicinity. When Joseph died in 1844,
Nauvoo was as large as Chicago.
A non-Mormon attorney who was acquainted with Joseph
during the prison months said that “he possessed the most
Heber C. Kimball spent nearly a year in Great Britain in 1837
and 1838, assisting in baptizing some 1,500 converts.
Leaving Illinois secretly on April 17, seven of the Twelve
Apostles and about twenty Church members snuck into the
deserted Far West square before dawn on April 26 and
conducted their business. Alpheus Cultler, the Far West
temple’s master builder, supervised the placement of a
foundation stone, and each apostle prayed in order of his
seniority in the quorum. Everyone slipped away in the early
A letter from Joseph from Liberty Jail noted that he never had
the opportunity to give the Church the plan of God as revealed
to him, as if he were storing up revelations.
Joseph told the Twelve everything
revealed to him would be revealed to
them, “& even the least Saint could
know all things as fast as he is able to
Section 129 was given about the
“three grand keys” and Joseph told
the Twelve they would find it useful
when angels appeared to them.
Joseph taught that the Holy Ghost was more powerful
in expanding the mind enlightening the understanding
and storing the intellect with present knowledge of a
man who is of the literal seed of Abraham than one
that is a gentile.
Working in non-Israelites, the Holy Ghost had first to
“purge out the old blood and make him actually of the
seed of Abraham” before the intelligence could flow.
Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball on going to
England were so sick with chills and fever they could
scarcely crawl into their wagons and wave farewell to
their wives and children. Neither blamed Joseph for
imposing impossible tasks on them. They felt
privileged to go.
In his spare moments in June and July, Joseph wrote his
history with the help of his clerk, James Mulholland, an Irish
immigrant who had kept a scanty journal for Joseph since the
previous fall. Joseph had begun the history in April 1838,
starting with his birth and continuing to the reception of the
gold plates in 1827.
Joseph had always been conscious of making a history. After
1828, he was scrupulous about writing down the revelations
and tried to preserve letters. When the Mormons were leaving
Missouri, Mulholland passed many Church papers along to his
sister-in-law Ann Scott, who carried them for days in large
handmade cotton bags fastened with bands buttoned around
her waist. Ann Scott gave them to Emma, who carried them to
Illinois. When she walked across the Mississippi ice in February
with two children in her arms, the bags banged against her
The 1838 and 1839 history marks Joseph’s
emergence as the preeminent figure in the
Judging from tracts, newspaper articles, and
accounts of sermons, missionaries rarely
mentioned him. In 1843 he was the subject of
It would be years, however, before Joseph’s
story would become part of the missionary
message. When he sent the Twelve to England
in the summer of 1839 he said nothing of
himself in their instruction save for reminding
them that if they suffered, he too had suffered