53991755

Letter from William W. Phelps, 27 February 1834

Clay Co. Feb. 27, 1834.
Dear Brethren.—The times are so big with events, and the anxiety of every body  so great to [w]atch them, that I feel some what impressed to write oftner than I have  done, in order to give you more of the “strange acts” of this region. I have just re turned from Independence, the seat of war in the west. About a dozen of our brethren,  among whom were br. [Edward] Partridge, Corril [John Corrill] and myself, were subpoenaed in behalf of the  state, and on the 23d (Feb.) about twelve o’clock we were on the bank, opposite Ev rit’s [William Everett’s] ferry, where we found Capt. Atchinson’s [David R. Atchison’s] company of “Liberty Blues,” near fifty  rank and file, ready to guard us into Jackson county. The soldiers were well armed  with U. S. muskets, bayonets fixed, &c, and to me the scene was one “passing  strange,” and long to be remembered. The martial law in force to guard the civil! About  25 men crossed over to effect a landing in safety, and when they came near the ware house, they fired six or eight guns, tho’ the enemy had not gathered to witness the  landing.
After we were all a cross, and waiting for the baggage wagon, it was thought not ad visable to encamp in the woods, and the witnesses with half the compa[n]y, marched near ly a mile towards Independence, to build night fires, as we were without tents, and the  weather cold enough to snow a little. While on the way the Quarter Master, and oth ers, that had gone on a head to prepare quarters in town, sent an express back, which  was not the most pacific appearance that could be. Capt. Atchinson continued the ex press to Col. Allen for the 200 drafted militia; and also to Liberty for more ammunition;  and the night passed off in war like style, with the sentinals marching silently at a  proper distance from the watch-fires.
Early in the morning we marched strongly guarded by the troops, to the seat of war,  and quartered in the block house, formerly the tavern stand of S. Flournoy. After break fast, we were visited by the District Attorney, Mr. [Amos] Rees, and the Attorney General,  Mr. [Robert W.] Wells. From them we learned that all hopes of criminal prosecution, was at an end.  Mr. Wells had been sent by the Governor to investigate, as far as possible, the Jackson  outrage, but the bold front of the mob, bound even unto death, (as I have heard) was not  to be penetrated by civil law, or awed by Executive influence. Shortly after Capt. A.  informed me that he had just received an order from the Judge, that his company’s service  was no longer wanted in Jackson county, and we were marched out of town to the tune  of Yankee-doodle in quick time, and soon returned to our camp ground without the loss  of any lives. In fact much credit is due to Captain Atchinson, for his gallantry and  hospitality, and I think I can say of the officers and company, that their conduct as sol diers and men, is highly reputable; so much so, knowing as I do the fatal result, had  the militia come, or not come, I can add that the Capt’s safe return, refreshed my mind,  with Zenophon’s retreat of the ten thousand. Thus ends all hopes of “redress,” even  with a guard ordered by the Governor, for the protection of the court and witnesses.
Before a crop is harvested, it becomes ripe of itself. The dreadful deeds now done in  Jackson county, with impunity, must bring matters to a focus shortly. Within two or  three weeks past, some of the most savage acts, ever witnessed, have been committed  by these bitter branches. Old father Linsey, whose locks have been whitened by the blasts  of nearly seventy winters, had his house thrown down, after he was driven from it; his  goods, corn, &c, piled together, and fire put to it, but fortunately, after the mob retired,  his son extinguished it.
The mob has quit whipping, and now beat with clubs. Lyman Leonard one of the  number that returned from Van Buren, had two chairs broke to splinters about him, and  was then dragged out doors and beat with clubs till he was supposed to be dead—but he  is yet alive. Josiah Sumner and Barnet Cole were sever[e]ly beat at the same time. The  mob have commenced burning houses, stacks, &c. and we shall not think it out of their  power, by any means, to proceed to murder any of our people that shall try to live in  that county, or perhaps, only go there.
Such scenes as are transpiring around us, are calculated to arouse feelings, and pas sions in all, and to strengthen the faith and fortify the hearts of the saints for great  things. Our Savior laid down his life for our sakes, and shall we, who profess to live  by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God; shall we, the servants of the Lord  of the vineyard, who are called and chosen to prune it for the last time; shall we, yea,  verily, we, who are enlightened by the wisdom of heaven, shall we fear to do as much  for Jesus as he did for us. No; we will obey the voice of the Spirit, that good may  overcome the world.
I am a servant, &c,
William W. Phelps, letter, Clay County, MO, to Church leaders, Kirtland, OH, 27 Feb. 1834; The Evening and the Morning Star, Mar. 1834, p. 139.

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