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“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

care of them, or from the pain of seeing them starve to death, by stealing them. An arrangement was made in which it was stipulated that a committee of twelve, which had been previously appointed, should have the privilege of going from 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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to 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 ...

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for the term of four weeks, for the purpose of conveying their crops from Daviess

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
to Caldwell

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.” ...

More Info
.237

The committee of Latter-day Saints responsible to sell and exchange Mormon livestock and crops consisted of William Huntington as foreman, William Earl, Elijah B. Gaylor, William Hale, Henry Herriman, Mayhew Hillman, Henry Humphrey, John Reed, Oliver Snow, Daniel Stanton, Benjamin S. Wilbur, and Z. Wilson. (Huntington, Diaries of William Huntington, 6–7.)  


The committee were to wear white badges on their hats for their protectoin.
But in a short time after this arrangement was made, Gen. Robert Wilson

Nov. 1800–10 May 1870. Politician, Lawyer, Farmer. Born near Staunton, Augusta Co., Virginia. Moved to Franklin, Howard Co., Missouri Territory, by 1820. Married Margaret (Peggie) Snoddy, 18 May 1826. Served as clerk of circuit and county courts in Randolph...

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withdrew with his army, and the mob rose up as soon as the army had gone, and forbid the Committee from coming again into 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
under pain of death. By this the mob secured unto themselves several hundred thousand bushels of corn, besides large quantities of oats, and the saints were left to seek their bread and shelter where they could find it.238

William Huntington reported that committee members were allowed to function in Daviess County for only one month, although their permits stated they could continue their efforts throughout the winter. Huntington wrote that they “collected many of our cattle horses sheep waggons and other property” and hauled some corn, but he calculated they were forced to leave 29,465 bushels of corn unharvested. The Latter-day Saints’ preemption rights to the Daviess County lands they occupied lapsed by the third week of November 1838, while military occupation made redeeming them impossible. Within forty-five days of the lapse, other Missourians purchased more than eighteen thousand acres in Daviess County, including all of Adam-ondi-Ahman. The new owners therefore likely had legal support for not allowing Latter-day Saints to harvest crops from properties that had officially changed hands. (Huntington, Diaries of William Huntington, 6–7; see also Walker, “Mormon Land Rights,” 41–46.)  


We will now return to the prisoners 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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. Shortly after our arrival 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...

More Info
, Colonel Sterling Price

Ca. Sept. 1809–29 Sept. 1867. Farmer, merchant, military officer. Born near Farmville, Prince Edward Co., Virginia. Son of Pugh Williamson Price and Elizabeth Marshall Williamson. Moved to Missouri, 1831. Married Martha Head, 14 May 1833, in Randolph Co.,...

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from the army of Gen. 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...

View Full Bio
, came with orders from Gen. 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...

View Full Bio
who was commander-in-chief of the expedition, to have us forwarded forthwith to Richmond

Area settled, ca. 1814. Officially platted as Ray Co. seat, 1827. Population in 1840 about 500. Seat of Fifth Judicial Circuit Court of Missouri; also location of courthouse and jails. JS and about sixty other Mormon men were incarcerated here while awaiting...

More Info
.239

On 6 November, General Samuel D. Lucas received a copy of Lilburn W. Boggs’s 1 November orders to Clark, which gave the latter overall command of the operation against the Mormons.a Boggs had further instructed that if Lucas wished to lead his own troops in the campaign he was to “waive” his rank and serve as a brigadier general under Clark.b With this clarification of Clark’s superior authority, Lucas surrendered his prisoners at Independence to Lieutenant Colonel Sterling Price, who transported them to Richmond.c  


aSamuel D. Lucas, Independence, MO, to Lilburn W. Boggs, 11 Nov. 1838, copy, Mormon War Papers, MSA.

bLilburn W. Boggs, Jefferson City, MO, to John B. Clark, 6 Nov. 1838, copy, Mormon War Papers, MSA.

cJohn B. Clark, Jefferson City, MO, to Lilburn W. Boggs, 29 Nov. 1838, copy, Mormon War Papers, MSA.

Accordingly, on Thursday morning, November 8th, with three guards only, and they had been obtained with great difficulty, after laboring all the previous day to get them.240

Clark reported that 7 November he sent Sterling Price to Richmond in command of two companies to take custody of the prisoners but that Price had to retrieve them from Independence instead. Evidently Price dismissed his troops before reaching Independence and had difficulty recruiting replacements to accompany him and the prisoners from Independence to Richmond. (John B. Clark, Richmond, MO, to Lilburn W. Boggs, 10 Nov. 1838, copy, Mormon War Papers, MSA.)  


Between Independence

Located twelve miles from western Missouri border. Permanently settled, platted, and designated county seat, 1827. Hub for steamboat travel on Missouri River. Point of departure for Santa Fe Trail. Population in 1831 about 300. Mormon population by summer...

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and Roy’s ferry, on the Missouri River

One of longest rivers in North America, in excess of 3,000 miles. From headwaters in Montana to confluence with Mississippi River near Saint Louis, Missouri River drains 580,000 square miles (about one-sixth of continental U.S.). Explored by Lewis and Clark...

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, they all got drunk, and we got possession of their arms and horses. It was late in the afternoon, near the setting of the sun. We travelled about half a mile after we crossed the river, and put up for the night. The next morning there came a number of men some of them armed, their threatenings and savage appearance were such as to make us afraid to proceed without more guards. A messenger was therefore despached to Richmond

Area settled, ca. 1814. Officially platted as Ray Co. seat, 1827. Population in 1840 about 500. Seat of Fifth Judicial Circuit Court of Missouri; also location of courthouse and jails. JS and about sixty other Mormon men were incarcerated here while awaiting...

More Info
to obtain them. We started before their arrival, but had not gone far before we met Col. Price

Ca. Sept. 1809–29 Sept. 1867. Farmer, merchant, military officer. Born near Farmville, Prince Edward Co., Virginia. Son of Pugh Williamson Price and Elizabeth Marshall Williamson. Moved to Missouri, 1831. Married Martha Head, 14 May 1833, in Randolph Co.,...

View Full Bio
with a guard, if we recollect right of seventy four men. As to the number, however, we are not certain: and were conducted by them to Richmond

Area settled, ca. 1814. Officially platted as Ray Co. seat, 1827. Population in 1840 about 500. Seat of Fifth Judicial Circuit Court of Missouri; also location of courthouse and jails. JS and about sixty other Mormon men were incarcerated here while awaiting...

More Info
and put into an old vacant house, and a guard set. Sometime through the course of that day, Gen. 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...

View Full Bio
came in and we were introduced to him. We enquired of him the reason why we had been thus carried from our homes and what were the charges against us. He said that he was not then able to determine, but would be in a short time, and with very little more conversasion withdrew. Some short time after he had withdrawn, Col. Price

Ca. Sept. 1809–29 Sept. 1867. Farmer, merchant, military officer. Born near Farmville, Prince Edward Co., Virginia. Son of Pugh Williamson Price and Elizabeth Marshall Williamson. Moved to Missouri, 1831. Married Martha Head, 14 May 1833, in Randolph Co.,...

View Full Bio
came in with two chains in his hands, and a number of padlocks. The two chains he fastened together. He had with him ten men armed, who stood at the time of these operations with a thumb upon the cock of their guns. They first nailed down the windows, then came and ordered a man by the name of John Fulkerson whom he had with him, to chain us together with chains and padlcks, being seven in number. After that, he searched us, examining our pockets to see if we had any arms; finding nothing but pocket knives, he took them and conveyed them off.
General 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...

View Full Bio
spent several days in searching the statutes of 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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to find some authority to hold a Court Martial. (The troops said that he had promised when they left, that there were two or three that they should have the privilege of shooting before they returned.) But he could find none, and after a fruitless search of a number of days he came again to see us and informed us that he would turn us over to the civil authorities for trial.241

As late as 10 November, Clark was considering the possibility of a court-martial for JS and other Latter-day Saint leaders “as a dernier [last] resort.” That day he wrote to Governor Boggs requesting him to solicit the Missouri attorney general’s opinion on whether the prisoners could be charged with “having mutinied in time of war.”a However, later that same day the prisoners were informed that their case would be considered by civil authorities. Hyrum Smith and Lyman Wight reported that Clark also sought information from Fort Leavenworth about any applicable provisions in military law.b By the time Boggs responded on 19 November that “the Civil law must govern,”c the court of inquiry, or preliminary hearing, for JS and the other Latter-day Saint leaders had been underway for a week.  


aJohn B. Clark, Richmond, MO, to Lilburn W. Boggs, 10 Nov. 1838, copy, Mormon War Papers, MSA.

bHyrum Smith, Testimony, Nauvoo, IL, 1 July 1843, pp. 17–18, Nauvoo, IL, Records, CHL; History of the Reorganized Church, 2:297.

cLilburn W. Boggs, Jefferson City, MO, to John B. Clark, 19 Nov. 1838, copy, Mormon War Papers, MSA.

Accordingly, the trial commenced; Austin A King

21 Sept. 1802–22 Apr. 1870. Attorney, judge, politician, farmer. Born at Sullivan Co., Tennessee. Son of Walter King and Nancy Sevier. Married first Nancy Harris Roberts, 13 May 1828, at Jackson, Madison Co., Tennessee. In 1830, moved to Missouri, where he...

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on the bench, and Thomas C. Birch Burch

Ca. 1807–ca. Sept. 1839. Attorney, judge. Likely born in Tennessee. Married first Ann Ross, 20 Jan. 1824, at Howard Co., Missouri. Began law practice, 1831, at Richmond, Ray Co., Missouri. Married second Celenary (Selinary) Jacobs, 23 Jan. 1834, at Ray Co...

View Full Bio
, attorney. This was surely a new kind of Court: it was not an inquisition nor yet a criminal court, but a compound between. A looker on would be convinced that both the judge and attorney were not satisfied that some or all of the prisoners had been guilty of some criminal act or acts, but on the contrary that their object was to try by all means in their power to get some person to swear some criminal thing aginst us, through though they were innocent.242

The task of the court of inquiry, which commenced 12 November 1838, was to determine not guilt or innocence, but whether there was “probable cause to believe the prisoner guilty” of an offense. If probable cause was found, the case was to be tried at the next term of the appropriate court. (An Act to Regulate Proceedings in Criminal Cases [21 Mar. 1835], Revised Statutes of the State of Missouri, pp. 476–477, art. 2, sec. 22.)  


The first act of the court was to send out a body of armed men, to obtain witnesses without any civil process whatever;243

Hyrum Smith later contradicted Sidney Rigdon on this point, testifying that subpoenas were issued for about forty witnesses for the defense. (Hyrum Smith, Testimony, Nauvoo, IL, 1 July 1843, p. 18, Nauvoo, IL, Records, CHL.)  


and after witnesses were brought before the court, they were sworn at bayonet point. Dr. Sampson Avard

23 Oct. 1800–15 Apr. 1869. Physician. Born at St. Peter, Isle of Guernsey, Channel Islands, Great Britain. Migrated to U.S., by 1830. Married Eliza, a native of Virginia. Located at North Carolina, 1830. Moved to Virginia, by 1831. Moved to Freedom, Beaver...

View Full Bio
was the first brought [p. 162]
care of them, or from the pain of see ing them starve to death, by stealing  them. An arrangement was made in  which it was stipulated that a commit tee of twelve, which had been previous ly appointed, should have the privilege  of going from 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...

More Info
to 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
for the term of four weeks, for  the purpose of conveying their crops  from Daviess

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
to Caldwell

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.” ...

More Info
.237

The committee of Latter-day Saints responsible to sell and exchange Mormon livestock and crops consisted of William Huntington as foreman, William Earl, Elijah B. Gaylor, William Hale, Henry Herriman, Mayhew Hillman, Henry Humphrey, John Reed, Oliver Snow, Daniel Stanton, Benjamin S. Wilbur, and Z. Wilson. (Huntington, Diaries of William Huntington, 6–7.)  


The com mittee were to wear white badges on  their hats for their protectoin.
But in a short time after this ar rangement was made, Gen. [Robert] Wilson

Nov. 1800–10 May 1870. Politician, Lawyer, Farmer. Born near Staunton, Augusta Co., Virginia. Moved to Franklin, Howard Co., Missouri Territory, by 1820. Married Margaret (Peggie) Snoddy, 18 May 1826. Served as clerk of circuit and county courts in Randolph...

View Full Bio
 withdrew with his army, and the mob  rose up as soon as the army had gone,  and forbid the Committee from coming  again into 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
under pain  of death. By this the mob secured  unto themselves several hundred thou sand bushels of corn, besides large  quantities of oats, and the saints were  left to seek their bread and shelter  where they could find it.238

William Huntington reported that committee members were allowed to function in Daviess County for only one month, although their permits stated they could continue their efforts throughout the winter. Huntington wrote that they “collected many of our cattle horses sheep waggons and other property” and hauled some corn, but he calculated they were forced to leave 29,465 bushels of corn unharvested. The Latter-day Saints’ preemption rights to the Daviess County lands they occupied lapsed by the third week of November 1838, while military occupation made redeeming them impossible. Within forty-five days of the lapse, other Missourians purchased more than eighteen thousand acres in Daviess County, including all of Adam-ondi-Ahman. The new owners therefore likely had legal support for not allowing Latter-day Saints to harvest crops from properties that had officially changed hands. (Huntington, Diaries of William Huntington, 6–7; see also Walker, “Mormon Land Rights,” 41–46.)  


We will now return to the prisoners  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...

More Info
. Shortly after our  arrival 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...

More Info
, Colonel  Sterling Price

Ca. Sept. 1809–29 Sept. 1867. Farmer, merchant, military officer. Born near Farmville, Prince Edward Co., Virginia. Son of Pugh Williamson Price and Elizabeth Marshall Williamson. Moved to Missouri, 1831. Married Martha Head, 14 May 1833, in Randolph Co.,...

View Full Bio
from the army of Gen.  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...

View Full Bio
, came with orders from Gen.  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...

View Full Bio
who was commander-in-chief of  the expedition, to have us forwarded  forthwith to Richmond

Area settled, ca. 1814. Officially platted as Ray Co. seat, 1827. Population in 1840 about 500. Seat of Fifth Judicial Circuit Court of Missouri; also location of courthouse and jails. JS and about sixty other Mormon men were incarcerated here while awaiting...

More Info
.239

On 6 November, General Samuel D. Lucas received a copy of Lilburn W. Boggs’s 1 November orders to Clark, which gave the latter overall command of the operation against the Mormons.a Boggs had further instructed that if Lucas wished to lead his own troops in the campaign he was to “waive” his rank and serve as a brigadier general under Clark.b With this clarification of Clark’s superior authority, Lucas surrendered his prisoners at Independence to Lieutenant Colonel Sterling Price, who transported them to Richmond.c  


aSamuel D. Lucas, Independence, MO, to Lilburn W. Boggs, 11 Nov. 1838, copy, Mormon War Papers, MSA.

bLilburn W. Boggs, Jefferson City, MO, to John B. Clark, 6 Nov. 1838, copy, Mormon War Papers, MSA.

cJohn B. Clark, Jefferson City, MO, to Lilburn W. Boggs, 29 Nov. 1838, copy, Mormon War Papers, MSA.

Accordingly,  on Thursday morning, November 8th,  with three guards only, and they had  been obtained with great difficulty, af ter laboring all the previous day to get  them.240

Clark reported that 7 November he sent Sterling Price to Richmond in command of two companies to take custody of the prisoners but that Price had to retrieve them from Independence instead. Evidently Price dismissed his troops before reaching Independence and had difficulty recruiting replacements to accompany him and the prisoners from Independence to Richmond. (John B. Clark, Richmond, MO, to Lilburn W. Boggs, 10 Nov. 1838, copy, Mormon War Papers, MSA.)  


Between Independence

Located twelve miles from western Missouri border. Permanently settled, platted, and designated county seat, 1827. Hub for steamboat travel on Missouri River. Point of departure for Santa Fe Trail. Population in 1831 about 300. Mormon population by summer...

More Info
and  Roy’s ferry, on the Missouri River

One of longest rivers in North America, in excess of 3,000 miles. From headwaters in Montana to confluence with Mississippi River near Saint Louis, Missouri River drains 580,000 square miles (about one-sixth of continental U.S.). Explored by Lewis and Clark...

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,  they all got drunk, and we got posses sion of their arms and horses. It was  late in the afternoon, near the setting  of the sun. We travelled about half a  mile after we crossed the river, and  put up for the night. The next morn ing there came a number of men some  of them armed, their threatenings and  savage appearance were such as to  make us afraid to proceed without  more guards. A messenger was there fore despached to Richmond

Area settled, ca. 1814. Officially platted as Ray Co. seat, 1827. Population in 1840 about 500. Seat of Fifth Judicial Circuit Court of Missouri; also location of courthouse and jails. JS and about sixty other Mormon men were incarcerated here while awaiting...

More Info
to obtain  them. We started before their arrival,  but had not gone far before we met  Col. Price

Ca. Sept. 1809–29 Sept. 1867. Farmer, merchant, military officer. Born near Farmville, Prince Edward Co., Virginia. Son of Pugh Williamson Price and Elizabeth Marshall Williamson. Moved to Missouri, 1831. Married Martha Head, 14 May 1833, in Randolph Co.,...

View Full Bio
with a guard, if we recol lect right of seventy four men. As to  the number, however, we are not cer tain: and were conducted by them to  Richmond

Area settled, ca. 1814. Officially platted as Ray Co. seat, 1827. Population in 1840 about 500. Seat of Fifth Judicial Circuit Court of Missouri; also location of courthouse and jails. JS and about sixty other Mormon men were incarcerated here while awaiting...

More Info
and put into an old vacant  house, and a guard set. Sometime  through the course of that day, Gen.  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...

View Full Bio
came in and we were introduced  to him. We enquired of him the rea son why we had been thus carried  from our homes and what were the  charges against us. He said that he  was not then able to determine, but  would be in a short time, and with ve ry little more conversasion withdrew.  Some short time after he had with drawn, Col. Price

Ca. Sept. 1809–29 Sept. 1867. Farmer, merchant, military officer. Born near Farmville, Prince Edward Co., Virginia. Son of Pugh Williamson Price and Elizabeth Marshall Williamson. Moved to Missouri, 1831. Married Martha Head, 14 May 1833, in Randolph Co.,...

View Full Bio
came in with two  chains in his hands, and a number of  padlocks. The two chains he fastened  together. He had with him ten men  armed, who stood at the time of these  operations with a thumb upon the cock  of their guns. They first nailed down  the windows, then came and ordered  a man by the name of John Fulkerson  whom he had with him, to chain us  together with chains and padlcks, be ing seven in number. After that, he  searched us, examining our pockets to  see if we had any arms; finding noth ing but pocket knives, he took them  and conveyed them off.
General 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...

View Full Bio
spent several days in  searching the statutes of 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...

More Info
to  find some authority to hold a Court  Martial. (The troops said that he had  promised when they left, that there  were two or three that they should  have the privilege of shooting before  they returned.) But he could find  none, and after a fruitless search of a  number of days he came again to see  us and informed us that he would turn  us over to the civil authorities for trial.241

As late as 10 November, Clark was considering the possibility of a court-martial for JS and other Latter-day Saint leaders “as a dernier [last] resort.” That day he wrote to Governor Boggs requesting him to solicit the Missouri attorney general’s opinion on whether the prisoners could be charged with “having mutinied in time of war.”a However, later that same day the prisoners were informed that their case would be considered by civil authorities. Hyrum Smith and Lyman Wight reported that Clark also sought information from Fort Leavenworth about any applicable provisions in military law.b By the time Boggs responded on 19 November that “the Civil law must govern,”c the court of inquiry, or preliminary hearing, for JS and the other Latter-day Saint leaders had been underway for a week.  


aJohn B. Clark, Richmond, MO, to Lilburn W. Boggs, 10 Nov. 1838, copy, Mormon War Papers, MSA.

bHyrum Smith, Testimony, Nauvoo, IL, 1 July 1843, pp. 17–18, Nauvoo, IL, Records, CHL; History of the Reorganized Church, 2:297.

cLilburn W. Boggs, Jefferson City, MO, to John B. Clark, 19 Nov. 1838, copy, Mormon War Papers, MSA.

 Accordingly, the trial commenced;  Austin A King

21 Sept. 1802–22 Apr. 1870. Attorney, judge, politician, farmer. Born at Sullivan Co., Tennessee. Son of Walter King and Nancy Sevier. Married first Nancy Harris Roberts, 13 May 1828, at Jackson, Madison Co., Tennessee. In 1830, moved to Missouri, where he...

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on the bench, and  Thomas C. Birch [Burch]

Ca. 1807–ca. Sept. 1839. Attorney, judge. Likely born in Tennessee. Married first Ann Ross, 20 Jan. 1824, at Howard Co., Missouri. Began law practice, 1831, at Richmond, Ray Co., Missouri. Married second Celenary (Selinary) Jacobs, 23 Jan. 1834, at Ray Co...

View Full Bio
, attorney. This  was surely a new kind of Court: it  was not an inquisition nor yet a crimi nal court, but a compound between. A  looker on would be convinced that both  the judge and attorney were not satis fied that some or all of the prisoners  had been guilty of some criminal act or  acts, but on the contrary that their ob ject was to try by all means in their  power to get some person to swear  some criminal thing aginst us, through [though]  they were innocent.242

The task of the court of inquiry, which commenced 12 November 1838, was to determine not guilt or innocence, but whether there was “probable cause to believe the prisoner guilty” of an offense. If probable cause was found, the case was to be tried at the next term of the appropriate court. (An Act to Regulate Proceedings in Criminal Cases [21 Mar. 1835], Revised Statutes of the State of Missouri, pp. 476–477, art. 2, sec. 22.)  


The first act of the court was to  send out a body of armed men, to ob tain witnesses without any civil pro cess whatever;243

Hyrum Smith later contradicted Sidney Rigdon on this point, testifying that subpoenas were issued for about forty witnesses for the defense. (Hyrum Smith, Testimony, Nauvoo, IL, 1 July 1843, p. 18, Nauvoo, IL, Records, CHL.)  


and after witnesses  were brought before the court, they  were sworn at bayonet point. Dr.  Sampson Avard

23 Oct. 1800–15 Apr. 1869. Physician. Born at St. Peter, Isle of Guernsey, Channel Islands, Great Britain. Migrated to U.S., by 1830. Married Eliza, a native of Virginia. Located at North Carolina, 1830. Moved to Virginia, by 1831. Moved to Freedom, Beaver...

View Full Bio
was the first brought [p. 162]
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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].  


Facts