31766

“A History, of the Persecution, of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter Day Saints in Missouri,” December 1839–October 1840

“A History, of the Persecution, of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter Day Saints in Missouri,” December 1839–October 1840

hostilities upon either party.206

Nehemiah Comstock was identified as a party to the 28 October agreement. Several such agreements were made between the Latter-day Saints at Hawn’s Mill and various groups based nearby in eastern Caldwell County and in Livingston County. (Return I. Holcombe [Burr Joyce, pseud.], “The Haun’s Mill Massacre,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, 2 Oct. 1887, 19; Baugh, “Call to Arms,” 261.)  


At this time however, there was another mob collecting on Grand river

Flows from current state of Iowa approximately 225 miles southeast through Daviess and Livingston counties in Missouri en route to its mouth at Missouri River near De Witt, Missouri. Adam-ondi-Ahman, Far West, Hawn’s Mill, Whitney’s Mill, Myers settlement...

More Info
, at William Mann’s,207

William Mann lived in Mooresville Township, Livingston County. (Baugh, “Call to Arms,” 418.)  


who were threatening us; consequently we remained under arms on Monday the 29th, which passed away without molestation from any quarter. On Tuesday the 30th, that bloody tragedy was acted; the scenes of which, I shall never forget.
More than three fourths of the day had passed in tranquility, as smiling as the preceding one. I think there was no individual of our company that was apprized of the sudden and awful fate that hung over our heads like an overwhelming torrent, to change the prospects, the feelings, and circumstances of about thirty families. The banks of Shoal Creek

Stream that flows eastward for about forty-five miles from east central Clinton Co. through Caldwell Co. to confluence with Grand River in central Livingston Co. Thousands of Saints moved from Clay Co. to sites along Shoal Creek in Caldwell Co., beginning...

More Info
, on either side, teemed with children sporting and playing, while their mothers were engaged in domestic employments, and their fathers, employed in guarding the mills and other property; while others were engaged in gathering in their crops for their winter consumption. The weather was very pleasant; the sun shone clear; all was tranquil, and no one expressed any apprehensions of the awful crisis that was near us, even at our doors.
It was about 4 o’clock, while sitting in my cabin, with my babe in my arms, and my wife

14 Aug. 1814–15 Jan. 1913. Born in Utica, Oneida Co., New York. Daughter of Calvin Field Bicknell and Chloe Seymour. Moved to Geneseo, Livingston Co., New York, 1817; to Livonia, Livingston Co., by 1830; and back to Geneseo, by 1834. Baptized into LDS church...

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standing by my side, the door being open, I cast my eyes on the oppisite bank of Shoal Creek

Stream that flows eastward for about forty-five miles from east central Clinton Co. through Caldwell Co. to confluence with Grand River in central Livingston Co. Thousands of Saints moved from Clay Co. to sites along Shoal Creek in Caldwell Co., beginning...

More Info
, and saw a large company of armed men on horses, directing their course towards the mills, with all possible speed. As they advanced through the scattering trees that stood on the edge of the prairy, they seemed to form themselves into a three square position, forming a van guard in front. At this moment David Evans, seeing the superiority of their numbers (there being two hundred and forty of them, according to their own account)208

The earliest known account written by a participant gave no indication of the company’s size. Later histories estimated the number at about two hundred. (Daniel Ashby, Jefferson City, MO, to John B. Clark, 28 Nov. 1838, copy, Mormon War Papers, MSA; History of Caldwell and Livingston Counties, Missouri, 146; Return I. Holcombe [Burr Joyce, pseud.], “The Haun’s Mill Massacre,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, 2 Oct. 1887, 19.)  


swung his hat and cried for peace. This not being heeded, they continued to advance, and their leader Mr. Nehemiah Comstock

Ca. 1805–ca. May 1845. Born in Kentucky. Married first Lurana Fox, 28 June 1827. Resided in Knox Co., Kentucky, 1830. Married second Susan Rupe, 15 Apr. 1838, in Lafayette Co., Missouri. Served as captain in Livingston Co., Missouri, militia during Mormon...

View Full Bio
, fired a gun, which was followed by a solemn pause of ten, or twelve seconds, when, all at once they discharged about one hundred rifles, aiming at a black smith’s shop, into which our friends had fled for safety: and charging up to the shop, the cracks of which, between the logs, were sufficiently large to enable them to aim directly at the bodies of those who had there fled for refuge from the fire of their murderers.— There were several families, tented in rear of the shop, whose lives were exposed, and amidst a shower of bullets, fled to the woods in different directions. After standing and gazing on this bloody scene for a few minutes, and finding myself in the utmost danger, the bullets having reached the house where I was living, I committed my family to the protection of heaven, and leaving the house on the opposite side, I took a path which led up the hill, following in the trail of three of my brethren that had fled from the shop. While ascending the hill, we were discovered by the mob, who immediately fired at us and continued so to do, till we reached the summit. In descending the hill, I secreted myself in a thicket of bushes, where I lay till eight o’clock in the evening, at which time I heard a female voice calling my name in an under tone, telling me that the mob had gone and there was no danger. I immediately left the thicket and went to the house of Benjamin Lewis, where I found my family (who had fled there) in safety, and two of my friends mortally wounded, one of whom, died before morning.
Here we passed that awful night in deep and painful reflections on the scenes of the preceding evening. After day light appeared, some four or five men with myself who had escaped with our lives from the horrid massacre, repaired as soon as possible, to the mills, to learn the condition of our friends whose fate, we had truly anticipated.
When we arrived at the house of Mr. Jacob Haun

13 Jan. 1804–27 Jan. 1860. Miller, builder, carpenter. Born in Genesee Co., New York. Son of Henry Hawn. Consistently spelled surname as “Hawn” throughout life, but many contemporary records spelled name as “Haun.” Married Harriet Elizabeth Pierson, 18 Nov...

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, we found Mr. Levi Merrick’s body lying in the rear of the house, Mr. Thomas McBride

12 Mar. 1776–30 Oct. 1838. Farmer. Born in Virginia. Son of James McBride and Mary White. Married Catharine John, 28 Sept. 1797, in Berkeley Co., Virginia (later in Jefferson Co., West Virginia). Moved to Lancaster, Fairfield Co., Ohio, 1810. Moved to Amanda...

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’s in front, literally mangled from head to foot. We were imformed by Miss Rebecca Judd, who was an eye witness, that he was shot with his own gun, after he had given it up, and then was cut to pieces with an old corn cutter, by a Mr. Jacob Rogers

24 May 1811–20 Feb. 1853. Ferryboat owner, farmer. Born in Buncombe Co., North Carolina. Son of William Rogers and Nancy Holcomb. Moved to Carroll Co., Missouri, before 1834. Married Elizabeth Talbert Scott, 5 June 1834, in Carroll Co. Moved to Cravensville...

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of Daviess County

Area in northwest Missouri settled by European Americans, 1830. Sparsely inhabited until 1838. Created from Ray Co., Dec. 1836, in attempt to resolve conflicts related to Mormon settlement in that region. County is transected diagonally from northwest to ...

More Info
, who keeps a ferry on Grand river

Flows from current state of Iowa approximately 225 miles southeast through Daviess and Livingston counties in Missouri en route to its mouth at Missouri River near De Witt, Missouri. Adam-ondi-Ahman, Far West, Hawn’s Mill, Whitney’s Mill, Myers settlement...

More Info
, and who has since, repeatedly boasted of this act of savage barbarity. Mr. John York

Ca. 1778–30 Oct. 1838. Married Hannah Hammer, 8 Jan. 1801, in Randolph Co., North Carolina. Moved to Milford, Butler Co., Ohio by 1820. Moved to Henry Co., Indiana, by 1830. Likely baptized into LDS church. Moved to Hawn’s Mill settlement on Shoal Creek, ...

View Full Bio
’s body we found in the house; and after viewing [p. 146]
hostilities upon either party.206

Nehemiah Comstock was identified as a party to the 28 October agreement. Several such agreements were made between the Latter-day Saints at Hawn’s Mill and various groups based nearby in eastern Caldwell County and in Livingston County. (Return I. Holcombe [Burr Joyce, pseud.], “The Haun’s Mill Massacre,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, 2 Oct. 1887, 19; Baugh, “Call to Arms,” 261.)  


At this  time however, there was another mob  collecting on Grand river

Flows from current state of Iowa approximately 225 miles southeast through Daviess and Livingston counties in Missouri en route to its mouth at Missouri River near De Witt, Missouri. Adam-ondi-Ahman, Far West, Hawn’s Mill, Whitney’s Mill, Myers settlement...

More Info
, at William  Mann’s,207

William Mann lived in Mooresville Township, Livingston County. (Baugh, “Call to Arms,” 418.)  


who were threatening us; con sequently we remained under arms on  Monday the 29th, which passed away  without molestation from any quarter.  On Tuesday the 30th, that bloody trag edy was acted; the scenes of which, I  shall never forget.
More than three fourths of the day  had passed in tranquility, as smiling  as the preceding one. I think there  was no individual of our company that  was apprized of the sudden and awful  fate that hung over our heads like an  overwhelming torrent, to change the  prospects, the feelings, and circumstan ces of about thirty families. The  banks of Shoal Creek

Stream that flows eastward for about forty-five miles from east central Clinton Co. through Caldwell Co. to confluence with Grand River in central Livingston Co. Thousands of Saints moved from Clay Co. to sites along Shoal Creek in Caldwell Co., beginning...

More Info
, on either side,  teemed with children sporting and  playing, while their mothers were en gaged in domestic employments, and  their fathers, employed in guarding  the mills and other property; while  others were engaged in gathering in  their crops for their winter consump tion. The weather was very pleasant;  the sun shone clear; all was tranquil,  and no one expressed any apprehen sions of the awful crisis that was near  us, even at our doors.
It was about 4 o’clock, while sitting  in my cabin, with my babe in my arms,  and my wife

14 Aug. 1814–15 Jan. 1913. Born in Utica, Oneida Co., New York. Daughter of Calvin Field Bicknell and Chloe Seymour. Moved to Geneseo, Livingston Co., New York, 1817; to Livonia, Livingston Co., by 1830; and back to Geneseo, by 1834. Baptized into LDS church...

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standing by my side, the  door being open, I cast my eyes on the  oppisite bank of Shoal Creek

Stream that flows eastward for about forty-five miles from east central Clinton Co. through Caldwell Co. to confluence with Grand River in central Livingston Co. Thousands of Saints moved from Clay Co. to sites along Shoal Creek in Caldwell Co., beginning...

More Info
, and saw  a large company of armed men on  horses, directing their course towards  the mills, with all possible speed. As  they advanced through the scattering  trees that stood on the edge of the prai ry, they seemed to form themselves  into a three square position, forming a  van guard in front. At this moment  David Evans, seeing the superiority of  their numbers (there being two hun dred and forty of them, according to  their own account)208

The earliest known account written by a participant gave no indication of the company’s size. Later histories estimated the number at about two hundred. (Daniel Ashby, Jefferson City, MO, to John B. Clark, 28 Nov. 1838, copy, Mormon War Papers, MSA; History of Caldwell and Livingston Counties, Missouri, 146; Return I. Holcombe [Burr Joyce, pseud.], “The Haun’s Mill Massacre,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, 2 Oct. 1887, 19.)  


swung his hat and  cried for peace. This not being heed ed, they continued to advance, and  their leader Mr. [Nehemiah] Comstock

Ca. 1805–ca. May 1845. Born in Kentucky. Married first Lurana Fox, 28 June 1827. Resided in Knox Co., Kentucky, 1830. Married second Susan Rupe, 15 Apr. 1838, in Lafayette Co., Missouri. Served as captain in Livingston Co., Missouri, militia during Mormon...

View Full Bio
, fired a gun,  which was followed by a solemn pause  of ten, or twelve seconds, when, all at  once they discharged about one hun dred rifles, aiming at a black smith’s  shop, into which our friends had fled  for safety: and charging up to the  shop, the cracks of which, between  the logs, were sufficiently large to ena ble them to aim directly at the bodies  of those who had there fled for refuge  from the fire of their murderers.—  There were several families, tented in  rear of the shop, whose lives were ex posed, and amidst a shower of bullets,  fled to the woods in different directions.  After standing and gazing on this  bloody scene for a few minutes, and  finding myself in the utmost danger,  the bullets having reached the house  where I was living, I committed my  family to the protection of heaven, and  leaving the house on the opposite side,  I took a path which led up the hill, fol lowing in the trail of three of my  brethren that had fled from the shop.  While ascending the hill, we were dis covered by the mob, who immediately  fired at us and continued so to do, till  we reached the summit. In descend ing the hill, I secreted myself in a  thicket of bushes, where I lay till eight  o’clock in the evening, at which time I  heard a female voice calling my name  in an under tone, telling me that the  mob had gone and there was no dan ger. I immediately left the thicket  and went to the house of Benjamin  Lewis, where I found my family (who  had fled there) in safety, and two of  my friends mortally wounded, one of  whom, died before morning.
Here we passed that awful night in  deep and painful reflections on the  scenes of the preceding evening. Af ter day light appeared, some four or  five men with myself who had escaped  with our lives from the horrid massa cre, repaired as soon as possible, to the  mills, to learn the condition of our  friends whose fate, we had truly antic ipated.
When we arrived at the house of  M[r.] [Jacob] Haun

13 Jan. 1804–27 Jan. 1860. Miller, builder, carpenter. Born in Genesee Co., New York. Son of Henry Hawn. Consistently spelled surname as “Hawn” throughout life, but many contemporary records spelled name as “Haun.” Married Harriet Elizabeth Pierson, 18 Nov...

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, we found Mr. [Levi] Merrick’s  body lying in the rear of the house,  Mr. [Thomas] McBride

12 Mar. 1776–30 Oct. 1838. Farmer. Born in Virginia. Son of James McBride and Mary White. Married Catharine John, 28 Sept. 1797, in Berkeley Co., Virginia (later in Jefferson Co., West Virginia). Moved to Lancaster, Fairfield Co., Ohio, 1810. Moved to Amanda...

View Full Bio
’s in front, literally man gled from head to foot. We were im formed by Miss Rebecca Judd, who  was an eye witness, that he was shot  with his own gun, after he had given  it up, and then was cut to pieces with  an old corn cutter, by a Mr. [Jacob] Rogers

24 May 1811–20 Feb. 1853. Ferryboat owner, farmer. Born in Buncombe Co., North Carolina. Son of William Rogers and Nancy Holcomb. Moved to Carroll Co., Missouri, before 1834. Married Elizabeth Talbert Scott, 5 June 1834, in Carroll Co. Moved to Cravensville...

View Full Bio
 of Daviess County

Area in northwest Missouri settled by European Americans, 1830. Sparsely inhabited until 1838. Created from Ray Co., Dec. 1836, in attempt to resolve conflicts related to Mormon settlement in that region. County is transected diagonally from northwest to ...

More Info
, who keeps a ferry  on Grand river

Flows from current state of Iowa approximately 225 miles southeast through Daviess and Livingston counties in Missouri en route to its mouth at Missouri River near De Witt, Missouri. Adam-ondi-Ahman, Far West, Hawn’s Mill, Whitney’s Mill, Myers settlement...

More Info
, and who has since,  repeatedly boasted of this act of sav age barbarity. Mr. [John] York

Ca. 1778–30 Oct. 1838. Married Hannah Hammer, 8 Jan. 1801, in Randolph Co., North Carolina. Moved to Milford, Butler Co., Ohio by 1820. Moved to Henry Co., Indiana, by 1830. Likely baptized into LDS church. Moved to Hawn’s Mill settlement on Shoal Creek, ...

View Full Bio
’s body we  found in the house; and after viewing [p. 146]
PreviousNext
While incarcerated at Liberty

Located in western Missouri, thirteen miles north of Independence. Settled 1820. Clay Co. seat, 1822. Incorporated as town, May 1829. Following expulsion from Jackson Co., 1833, many Latter-day Saints found refuge in Clay Co., with church leaders and other...

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, Missouri, in March 1839, JS addressed a letter to the Saints, and to “Bishop [Edward] Partridge

27 Aug. 1793–27 May 1840. Hatter. Born at Pittsfield, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts. Son of William Partridge and Jemima Bidwell. Moved to Painesville, Geauga Co., Ohio. Married Lydia Clisbee, 22 Aug. 1819, at Painesville. Initially a Universal Restorationist...

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in particular,” in which he called for the Saints to gather up “a knoledge of all the facts and sufferings and abuses put upon them” in Missouri

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

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that they might publish the records “to all the world” and “present them to the heads of the government.”1

JS et al., Liberty, MO, to the church members and Edward Partridge, Quincy, IL, 20 Mar. 1839, in Revelations Collection, CHL [D&C 123:1, 6]. An edited and slightly shortened version of the letter was published in two parts in the Times and Seasons, May and July 1840. The instruction to record the Saints’ Missouri history was part of the July installment. (“Copy of a Letter, Written by J. Smith Jr. and Others, While in Prison,” Times and Seasons, May 1840, 1:99–104; “An Extract of a Letter Written to Bishop Partridge, and the Saints in General,” Times and Seasons, July 1840, 1:131–134.)  


Apparently in response to this assignment, Edward Partridge wrote a history that became the first three installments of “A History, of the Persecution, of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter Day Saints in Missouri,” an eleven-part series published in the church’s Illinois

Became part of Northwest Territory of U.S., 1787. Admitted as state, 1818. Population in 1840 about 480,000. Population in 1845 about 660,000. Plentiful, inexpensive land attracted settlers from northern and southern states. Following expulsion from Missouri...

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newspaper, Times and Seasons, between December 1839 and October 1840. This series gave the first extended account of the Missouri period to be printed in the Latter-day Saint press. The editors of the Times and Seasons, Ebenezer Robinson

25 May 1816–11 Mar. 1891. Printer, editor, publisher. Born at Floyd (near Rome), Oneida Co., New York. Son of Nathan Robinson and Mary Brown. Moved to Utica, Oneida Co., ca. 1831, and learned printing trade at Utica Observer. Moved to Ravenna, Portage Co....

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and Don Carlos Smith

25 Mar. 1816–7 Aug. 1841. Farmer, printer, editor. Born at Norwich, Windsor Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. Moved to Palmyra, Ontario Co., New York, 1816–Jan. 1817. Moved to Manchester, Ontario Co., 1825. Baptized into LDS church by David...

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, announced in its first issue that the newspaper would “commence publishing the history of the disturbances in Missouri, in regular series,”2

“A Word to the Saints,” Times and Seasons, July 1839, 1:12. After the first copies of the first number were printed in July, publication of the Times and Seasons halted for several months because both editors fell ill amidst a malaria outbreak in the Commerce, Illinois, area. The first number was reissued under the date November 1839.  


and the first installment appeared in the second issue.
“A History, of the Persecution” begins with Partridge

27 Aug. 1793–27 May 1840. Hatter. Born at Pittsfield, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts. Son of William Partridge and Jemima Bidwell. Moved to Painesville, Geauga Co., Ohio. Married Lydia Clisbee, 22 Aug. 1819, at Painesville. Initially a Universal Restorationist...

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’s account of the Missouri

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

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conflicts in the early 1830s. Partridge was a bishop of the church in Missouri, first in Jackson County

Settled at Fort Osage, 1808. County created, 16 Feb. 1825; organized 1826. Named after U.S. president Andrew Jackson. Featured fertile lands along Missouri River and was Santa Fe Trail departure point, which attracted immigrants to area. Area of county reduced...

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, then in Clay County

Settled ca. 1800. Organized from Ray Co., 1822. Original size diminished when land was taken to create several surrounding counties. Liberty designated county seat, 1822. Population in 1830 about 5,000; in 1836 about 8,500; and in 1840 about 8,300. Refuge...

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following the Latter-day Saints’ expulsion from Jackson, and finally in Caldwell County

Located in northwest Missouri. Settled by whites, by 1831. Described as being “one-third timber and two-thirds prairie” in 1836. Created specifically for Latter-day Saints by Missouri state legislature, 29 Dec. 1836, in attempt to solve “Mormon problem.” ...

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after the Saints relocated from Clay. By the time he wrote this account of the Mormons’ experiences in Missouri, the Saints had been exiled from the state and had relocated to Illinois

Became part of Northwest Territory of U.S., 1787. Admitted as state, 1818. Population in 1840 about 480,000. Population in 1845 about 660,000. Plentiful, inexpensive land attracted settlers from northern and southern states. Following expulsion from Missouri...

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. Partridge lived first at Pittsfield, then at Quincy

Located on high limestone bluffs east of Mississippi River, about forty-five miles south of Nauvoo. Settled 1821. Adams Co. seat, 1825. Incorporated as town, 1834. Received city charter, 1840. Population in 1835 about 800; in 1840 about 2,300; and in 1845...

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. In July 1839 he settled in the Commerce

Located near middle of western boundary of state, bordering Mississippi River. European Americans settled area, 1820s. From bank of river, several feet above high-water mark, ground described as nearly level for six or seven blocks before gradually sloping...

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area, where he served again as a bishop in the new Mormon community being established there.3

Edward Partridge, Miscellaneous papers, CHL. This collection of Partridge papers includes other autobiographical writings about Missouri events.  


Partridge’s narrative is based on firsthand observations and may also have relied on other records he kept. The manuscript version of the history begins, “In presenting to our readers a history of the persecutions,” indicating that Partridge wrote it for publication purposes.4

Partridge, History, manuscript, Edward Partridge, Miscellaneous Papers, CHL. Significant differences between the first three installments of “History, of the Persecution” and the Partridge manuscript are described in footnotes herein.  


He may have intended to tell the entire Missouri story himself, but he fell ill shortly after publication of the “History of the Persecution” began, and he died 27 May 1840.
The fourth installment of “History, of the Persecution” provides a brief transition from Partridge

27 Aug. 1793–27 May 1840. Hatter. Born at Pittsfield, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts. Son of William Partridge and Jemima Bidwell. Moved to Painesville, Geauga Co., Ohio. Married Lydia Clisbee, 22 Aug. 1819, at Painesville. Initially a Universal Restorationist...

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’s account, which ends in 1836 as the Saints were settling in what became Caldwell County

Located in northwest Missouri. Settled by whites, by 1831. Described as being “one-third timber and two-thirds prairie” in 1836. Created specifically for Latter-day Saints by Missouri state legislature, 29 Dec. 1836, in attempt to solve “Mormon problem.” ...

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, to the conflicts in Caldwell and adjoining counties beginning in 1838. Though the source or author of this portion is not known, it may have been written by editors Ebenezer Robinson

25 May 1816–11 Mar. 1891. Printer, editor, publisher. Born at Floyd (near Rome), Oneida Co., New York. Son of Nathan Robinson and Mary Brown. Moved to Utica, Oneida Co., ca. 1831, and learned printing trade at Utica Observer. Moved to Ravenna, Portage Co....

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and Don Carlos Smith

25 Mar. 1816–7 Aug. 1841. Farmer, printer, editor. Born at Norwich, Windsor Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. Moved to Palmyra, Ontario Co., New York, 1816–Jan. 1817. Moved to Manchester, Ontario Co., 1825. Baptized into LDS church by David...

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. Perhaps prompted by Partridge’s illness, the editors sought elsewhere for source materials to continue the series. In April 1840, the fifth installment reprinted passages from Parley P. Pratt

12 Apr. 1807–13 May 1857. Farmer, editor, publisher, teacher, school administrator, legislator, explorer, author. Born at Burlington, Otsego Co., New York. Son of Jared Pratt and Charity Dickinson. Traveled west with brother William to acquire land, 1823....

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’s History of the Late Persecution Inflicted by the State of Missouri upon the Mormons (Detroit: Dawson and Bates, 1839), and the sixth in May excerpted Sidney Rigdon

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

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’s An Appeal to the American People: Being an Account of the Persecutions of the Church of Latter Day Saints; and of the Barbarities Inflicted on Them by the Inhabitants of the State of Missouri (Cincinnati: Glezan and Shepard, 1840).5

No manuscript is known to exist for Pratt’s published pamphlet. Rigdon is not named as the author on the title page of Appeal to the American People, but he is credited as such in the “History, of the Persecution” series and in advertisements for the pamphlet in the Times and Seasons. A manuscript version of Rigdon’s Appeal to the American People, titled “To the Publick” and inscribed by George W. Robinson, is found in the JS Collection at the Church History Library. Many textual differences exist between the manuscript and Appeal to the American People, and the editors of the Times and Seasons clearly used the published pamphlet, not the manuscript, as their source. (“History, of the Persecution,” May 1840, 1:99; Advertisement, Times and Seasons, 1 Jan. 1841, 2:272.)  


In June the editors again excerpted Pratt’s History of the Late Persecution, and in the three articles published from July to September they reprinted more of Rigdon’s work. The series concluded in the October 1840 issue with a reprint of the speech that John B. Clark

17 Apr. 1802–29 Oct. 1885. Lawyer, politician. Born at Madison Co., Kentucky. Moved to Howard Co., Missouri, 1818. Practiced law in Fayette, Howard Co., beginning 1824. Clerk of Howard Co. courts, 1824–1834. Appointed brigadier general in Missouri militia...

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, a major general of the Missouri state militia, made to the Latter-day Saints at Far West

Originally called Shoal Creek. Located fifty-five miles northeast of Independence. Surveyed 1823; first settled by whites, 1831. Site purchased, 8 Aug. 1836, before Caldwell Co. was organized for Latter-day Saints in Missouri. William W. Phelps and John Whitmer...

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, Caldwell County, on 5 November 1838.
The “History, of the Persecution” is representative of the many histories and individual petitions written at the time to document the Saints’ experiences in Missouri

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

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. Its excerpts from Pratt

12 Apr. 1807–13 May 1857. Farmer, editor, publisher, teacher, school administrator, legislator, explorer, author. Born at Burlington, Otsego Co., New York. Son of Jared Pratt and Charity Dickinson. Traveled west with brother William to acquire land, 1823....

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’s History of the Late Persecution and Rigdon

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

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’s Appeal to the American People provide a useful sampling of two published histories of the period and demonstrate that documenting these events was a widespread effort.6

Earlier published accounts of the Jackson County conflicts from Latter-day Saints include the broadside “The Mormons,” So Called, dated 12 December 1833, and its reprint in The Evening and the Morning Star, Extra, Feb. 1834, [1]–[2]; a series titled “The Outrage in Jackson County, Missouri,” published in The Evening and the Morning Star, Dec. 1833–Mar. 1834 and May–June 1834; John P. Greene’s pamphlet Facts Relative to the Expulsion of the Mormons or Latter Day Saints, from the State of Missouri, under the “Exterminating Order” (Cincinnati: R. P. Brooks, 1839); and John Taylor’s eight-page work, A Short Account of the Murders, Roberies, Burnings, Thefts, and Other Outrages Committed by the Mob and Militia of the State of Missouri, Upon the Latter Day Saints (Springfield, IL: By the author, 1839).  


Publication in the church’s periodical lent credibility to the series and ensured that it was the source from which many new Mormon converts learned the details of the church’s history in Missouri. What they read was not the work of neutral historians detached from the events described. When Partridge

27 Aug. 1793–27 May 1840. Hatter. Born at Pittsfield, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts. Son of William Partridge and Jemima Bidwell. Moved to Painesville, Geauga Co., Ohio. Married Lydia Clisbee, 22 Aug. 1819, at Painesville. Initially a Universal Restorationist...

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, Pratt, and Rigdon wrote their histories, the persecutions and injustices against them were still fresh in their memories. All three authors suffered personally during the Missouri hardships, and as they and other Saints undertook to write about their experiences, their primary focus was to fulfill JS’s directive—to obtain redress by making known the “nefarious and murderous impositions that have been practiced upon this people.”7

JS et al., Liberty, MO, to the church members and Edward Partridge, Quincy, IL, 20 Mar. 1839, in Revelations Collection, CHL [D&C 123:5].  


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