RLDS History
Volume 1
Chapter 14
1833

  RETURNING to Zion we find the mob hunting down and abusing all scattered families who chanced for any cause to remain behind their brethren, destroying their property, and in some instances their lives; while the saints were using every means in their power to gain redress, and to be restored to their rights by appeal to legal tribunals.
  They engaged Messrs. Wood, Reese, Doniphan, and Atchison as attorneys to bring all suits they might wish brought against the mob, for which they were to pay one thousand dollars, and for which W. W. Phelps and Edward Partridge gave their joint note. These gentlemen were among the leading members of the bar in that country.
  This incident has a striking significance. Phelps and Partridge, with their business destroyed, their homes broken up, their property laid waste, and themselves exiled and charged by their former neighbors with being fanatics and disturbers of the public peace, are considered by leading lawyers, to whom all the facts are known, to be good for one thousand dollars. Does it not appear that these attorneys had confidence in the honor of these men, and hence knew that charges against, and rumors concerning them were untrue?
  On Friday, December 6, 1833, six of the brethren petitioned the Governor for help to be reinstated to their possessions in Jackson County. But their petition as recorded in Times and Seasons, vol. 6, page 915, speaks for itself. It is as follows:-

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  "To his Excellency, Daniel Dunklin, Governor of the State of Missouri:-We, the undersigned, leading members of the Church of Christ, vulgarly called Mormons, would respectfully represent to your Excellency, in addition to the petition presented to you by Messrs. Phelps and Hyde and the affidavit of Messrs. Phelps, Gilbert, and McLellin, after having read the letters of the Attorney General and District Judge of this circuit to Mr. Reese; that whereas, our society, men, women, and children, after having been in some cases wounded, scourged, and threatened with death, have been driven by force of arms from their lands, houses, and much of their property in Jackson County, (most of which lands, houses, and property have been possessed by the mob of Jackson County, or others,) and are now unlawfully detained from the use and possession of our people; and that, whereas, our people have been driven and scattered into the counties of Clay, Ray, Van Buren, Lafayette, and others, where in many cases they are destitute of the common necessaries of life in this, even this winter season; and that whereas, the guns which were taken from our people, as set forth in the affidavit, are kept from them; Therefore, in behalf of our society, which is so scattered and suffering, we, your petitioners, ask aid and assistance of your Excellency, that we may be restored to our lands, houses, and property, and protected in them by the militia of the State, if legal, or by a detachment of the United States Rangers, which might be located at Independence, instead of Cantonment Leavenworth, till peace is restored. [This could be done probably, by conferring with the President, or perhaps Colonel Dodge.] Also, we ask that our men may be organized into companies of Jackson Guards, and be furnished with arms by the State, to assist in maintaining their rights against the unhallowed power of the mob of Jackson County.
  "And then, when arrangements are made to protect us in our persons and property (which cannot be done without an armed force, nor would it be prudent to risk our lives there without guards, till we receive strength from our friends to protect ourselves), we wish a court of inquiry instituted to

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  investigate the whole matter of the mob against the Mormons; and we will ever pray.
"W. W PHELPS.
"JOHN WHITMER.
"JOHN CORRILL.
"ISAAC MORLEY.
"EDWARD PARTRIDGE.
"A. S. GILBERT.
  "The following letter accompanied the foregoing petition:-
  "Liberty, December 6,1833
  Dear Sir:-Your Excellency will perceive by the petition bearing date with this letter, that we intend to return to Jackson County as soon as arrangements can be made to protect us, after we are again placed into our possessions.
  "We do not wish to go till we know that our lives are not in danger of a lawless mob. Your Excellency will understand that, at this inclement season, it will require time to restore us, and troops to protect us, after we are there, for the threats of the mob have not ceased.
"Your obedient servant,
"W. W. Phelps.
  "To Daniel Dunklin, Governor of Missouri."
  On Thursday, December 12, a messenger arrived at Liberty, Missouri, bearing the intelligence that the saints who had removed from Jackson County to Van Buren County were about to be driven from there. In the history of Joseph Smith as published in Times and Seasons, volume 6, pages 929, 930, it is thus stated:-
  "December 12. An express arrived at Liberty, from Van Buren County, with information, that those families which had fled from Jackson County and located there are about to be driven from that county, after building their houses and carting their winter's store of provision, grain, etc., forty or fifty miles. Several families are already fleeing from thence. The contaminating influence of the Jackson County mob is predominant in this new county of Van Buren, the whole population of which is estimated at about thirty or forty families. The destruction of crops, household furniture, and clothing is very great, and much of their stock is lost. The main body of the church is now in Clay County, where the people are as kind and accommodating as could reasonably be

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  expected. The continued threats of death to individuals of the church, if they make their appearance in Jackson County, prevent the most of them, even at this day, from returning to that county to secure personal property which they were obliged to leave in their flight.
  "On Sunday, December 15, W. W. Phelps wrote from Clay County, Missouri, to the brethren in Kirtland a letter which gives an index to the situation. 1

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  On the night of December 24, 1833, the mob fell upon some aged families near Independence, destroying their property and endangering their lives. We insert this item, together with other historical items, in the language of Joseph Smith, as found in volume 6 of Times and Seasons, pages 960, 961:-
  "On the night of the 24th of December, four aged families living near the village of Independence, whose penury and infirmities incident to old age forbade a speedy removal, were driven from their houses by a party of the mob, who tore down their chimneys, broke in their doors and windows, and hurled large rocks into their houses, by which the life of old Mr. Miller, in particular, was greatly endangered. Mr. Miller is aged sixty-five years, being the youngest man in the four families. Some of these men have toiled and bled in the defense of their country; and old Mr. Jones, one of the sufferers, served as lifeguard to General George Washington, in the Revolution. Well may the soldier of Seventy-Six contemplate with horror the scenes which surround him at this day in Jackson County, where liberty, law, and equal rights are trodden under foot. It is now apparent that no man embracing the faith of this people, whatever be his age or former standing in society, may hope to escape the wrath of the Jackson County mob, whenever it is in their power to inflict abuse.
  "A court of inquiry was held at Liberty, Clay County, Missouri, the latter part of this month, to inquire into the conduct of Colonel Pitcher for driving the saints or Mormons from Jackson County, which resulted in his arrest for further trial by a court martial. . .
  "The mob sold the materials, or rather gave Davis & Kelley leave to take the Evening and Morning Star establishment to Liberty, Clay County, where they commenced the

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  publication of The Missouri Enquirer, a weekly paper. They also paid our lawyers, employed as counsel against the mob, three hundred dollars on the one thousand dollar note, on agreement: a small amount towards an establishment which, with the book work and furniture, had cost some three or four thousand dollars.
  "From the very features of the celebrated mob circular, previously inserted, it will be seen that they meditated a most daring infraction of the Constitution of our country, that they might gratify a spirit of persecution against an innocent people. To whom shall blame be attached in this tragedy, when they in July last boldly made known their determination to drive the Mormons from Jackson County, 'peaceably if they could, forcibly if they must,' openly declaring that 'the arm of the civil law did not afford them a sufficient guarantee against the increasing evils of this religious sect.' And in their circular they further say, 'We deem it expedient, and of the highest importance, to form ourselves into a company for the better and easier accomplishment of our purposes,' and conclude with these high-toned words: 'We therefore agree, that after timely warning, and upon receiving an adequate compensation for what little property they cannot take with them, they refuse to leave us in peace as they found us, we agree to use such means as may be sufficient to remove them; and to this end we each pledge to each other our lives, our bodily powers, fortunes, and sacred honors.
  "In answer to their bold and daring resolves to guard against anticipated evils, I give the following extract from the Governor's letter in relation to this affair, dated October 19, 1833: 'No citizen, or number of citizens, has a right to take the redress of their grievances, whether real or imaginary, into their own hands. Such conduct strikes at the very existence of society, and subverts the foundation on which it is based.'
  "I ask again, To whom shall blame be attached in this tragedy, when the mob previously and publicly declared their intentions; and the principles involved were understood by the Executive, as appears by the foregoing; and also by the

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  judiciary, according to Judge Ryland's letter; and the Constitution of the land guarantees equal rights and privileges to all; to whom should blame be attached, but Jackson County mobbers and Missouri?"
  Of some matters mentioned above more will be said on succeeding pages.
  We present an account of the exodus from Jackson County from the pen of "Burr Joyce," in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, of November 24, 1887, and copied in Saints' Herald, volume 34, pages 805, 806:-
  "But October 30 the Jackson County Gentiles were again in arms and raiding the 'saints.' Ten houses of the Mormons, on the Big Blue, were demolished, and the inmates driven away. The following day a number of houses at Independence and in other parts of the county were plundered, and much Mormon property was forcibly taken and appropriated. Some of the scenes enacted are said to have been altogether disgraceful, rivaling, if not surpassing, the worst excesses of the Kansas jayhawkers and Missouri bushwhackers during the civil war
  "In some instances the Mormons resisted. November 2 in a skirmish at Linwood, two miles southeast of Kansas City, in what was known as the Whitmer settlement, two Gentiles were killed and several wounded. At last, the State militia, under Lieutenant-Governor Boggs, was called out to 'preserve the peace.' The militia, however, were anti-Mormon to a man, and the unhappy saints, knowing this, realized that they were at the mercy of their enemies, and saw that they had no alternative but to flee. It was absolutely perilous for a solitary Mormon to show himself in a town or village.
  "Affrighted and terror-stricken, the Mormons crossed the river and sought safety in Clay County. November 7 the crossing began. The weather was cold and rainy, and there was great discomfort and misery among the fugitives; the plundered, half-clad women and children, especially, suffered severely. But the people of Clay received the new comers kindly. They allowed them to remain, rented them houses, furnished them provisions, and gave them employment. For

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  this the Clay County people were long intensely hated by their neighbors in Jackson. Some of the Mormons fled to Cass County (then Van Buren), but were again compelled to flee. In after years, during the civil war, when the counties of Cass and Jackson were among those depopulated and devastated by General Ewing's 'order No. 11,' the Mormons declared it a divine judgment on those counties for their persecution of the 'saint' thirty years before.
  "The public authorities of the State, or some of them at least, were indignant at these lawless proceedings and sympathized with the efforts of the Mormons to obtain redress. The Attorney-General, Hon. Robert W. Wells, wrote to them that if they desired to be re√ęstablished in their possessions in Jackson County an adequate public force would be sent for their protection. He also advised them to remain in the State and organize themselves into a regular company of militia, promising them a supply of the public arms if they should do so.
  "But the Mormons were averse to fighting or to taking any steps that should lead to further trouble with the citizens of Missouri, whose good will they seemed anxious to secure in order that they might be allowed to remain in the State in peace. The Territory of Kansas then belonged to the Indians and was not open to white settlement; so they began to seek for new homes on the north side of the Missouri. In June, 1834, Joe Smith visited them in Clay County and counseled them to make no violent attempt to recover the 'New Jerusalem,' to which, he assured them, his church should be restored 'in God's own time.'
  "As the Jackson County people had seized upon and occupied the houses and lands of the Mormons, and expected to retain them, it was but natural that they should desire some legal title to them. They sent a proposition to the Mormons in Clay to buy their lands, offering them per acre the Government price, $1.25, allowing nothing for improvements The Mormons refused the proposition, and it was finally agreed that the matter should be submitted to certain prominent citizens of Clay for arbitration. The arbiters met at Liberty, and Jackson sent over thirteen commissioners.

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  The Mormons were properly represented. The Jackson men, seeing that their case was a poor one, and that the decision would in all probability be against them, withdrew after a few hours session of the council, and, accusing the Clay County men of sympathy with the Mormons, left Liberty in great indignation, after a fight had been prevented only by persistent effort."
  Thus ended the eventful year of 1833.
  At the beginning of the year there was a peaceful, happy people gathered from almost every clime unto the fruitful land of this western Zion. Rejoicing in their new-found faith, and happy in their new prospectively prosperous homes, they flattered themselves that they had come to plant their permanent abode in this beautiful and peaceful land.
  When the genial sun had warmed the icebound streams and set their dancing waters towards the sea, and the warm south wind had kissed the folded buds, causing them to burst forth into flower and leaf, these hardy sons of toil might have been seen turning the virgin soil upon the hill-side and plain, planting and sowing the seed with glad hearts; while upon the Sabbath the music of their songs and the pathos of their prayers rang out upon the air from the native groves that crowned Zion's hill. As the summer advanced their fields of grain gave promise of a bountiful harvest, and many of their humble homes were adorned by the vine and flower, trained by the gentle hand of the housewife as she, from a full heart of praise, sang the beautiful songs of Zion.
  Blessed with peace and prospective plenty they little thought that ere the sear and yellow leaf of autumn should appear their sacred homes would be in ashes, their fruitful fields trodden under the feet of the ruthless beast, themselves exiled wanderers hunted by a cruel and relentless foe, while some laid low by the assassin's hand would sleep the sleep of death upon the green hillside. Yet such was the case.
  When the year closed this once happy and prosperous people were scattered over several counties, plundered,

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  robbed, and distressed; in poverty, want, and suffering; exposed in temporary and insufficient shelters to the inclemency of the winter's storm. Yet their faith in God was strong. They believed in the Christ, and in his truth. Ah, yes! they believed that Zion would yet arise and put on her beautiful attire, and that the faithful would return with songs of everlasting joy. From those flaming camp fires and humble huts arose a fervent prayer which echoed down the years and succeeding generations have prayed, as one of our poets has expressed it:-
"Remember bleeding Zion,
  Our tears; for her shall flow;
While time's unerring dial
  Points to one hour of woe."
  Shall not God hear their prayer though he bear long with them?
  The church in the East was in much more favorable surroundings though anxious for Zion and her children.

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[from page 392]
  1Dear Brethren:-It has been some time since I have dropped you a line, and in the midst of solitude I write. I need not give you new details of our persecutions, for, as all true Christians that have gone before us, from Abel down to the beginners of re√ęstablishing Zion now, have invariably suffered all manner of affliction, from common scourging even unto death. It would not alter the decrees of God, nor lessen the necessary chastisement of them that are chosen from the foundation of the world, but who have to be tried as gold seven times purified before they are found faithful and true for that kingdom, where the sons of God only are made equal with Jesus Christ, having overcome, by righteousness.
  The situation of the saints, as scattered, is dubious, and affords a gloomy prospect. No regular order can be enforced; nor any usual discipline kept up-among the world; yea, the most wicked part of it, some commit one sin, and some another. (I speak of the rebellious, for there are saints that are as immovable as the everlasting hills.) And what can be done? We are in Clay, Ray, Lafayette, Jackson, Van Buren, etc., and cannot hear from each other oftener than we do from you. I know it was right that we should be driven out of the land of Zion, that the rebellious might be sent away. But brethren, if the Lord will, I should like to know what the honest in heart shall do? Our clothes are worn-out-we want the necessaries of life, and shall we lease, buy, or otherwise obtain land where we are, to till that we may raise enough to eat? Such is the common language of the honest, for they want to do the will of God. I am sensible that we shall not be able to live again in Zion, till God or the President rules out the mob.
  The Governor is willing to restore us, but as the Constitution gives him no power to guard us, when back, we are not willing to go. The mob swear if we come we shall die! If, from what has been done in Zion, we, or the most of us, have got to be persecuted from city to city, and from synagogue to synagogue, we want to know it; for there are those among us that would rather earn eternal life on such conditions, than lose it. But we hope for better things; and shall wait patiently for the word of the Lord.
  I do not write this letter to entertain you with news, or for to wake you up to our dreadful condition, but that you may timely give us some advice what is best to do in our tarry till Zion is redeemed. Sometimes I think I will go right to work upon a small piece of land and obtain what I want for my growing family; then again I feel like writing the horrid history of the mob against the "Mormons"-preambling it with the martyrs that have been nailed to the cross, burned alive, thrown to wild beasts and devoured, fried in pans broiled in gridirons, or beheaded for the sake of their religion and faith in Jesus Christ. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven," etc. If this world embraced much of eternity, I should soon be sick of it; but for all our sorrow we shall have joy!
[from page 393]
  Our people are very well, and when they are discreet, little or no persecution is felt. The militia in the upper counties is in readiness at a moment's warning, having been ordered out by the Governor to guard a court martial, and court of inquiry, etc., but we cannot attend a court of inquiry, on account of the expense, till we are restored and protected.
  Till the Lord delivers, or brings us together, I am,
W. W. PHELPS.

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