26020

“Extract, from the Private Journal of Joseph Smith Jr.,” July 1839

“Extract, from the Private Journal of Joseph Smith Jr.,” July 1839

We had now, no hopes whatever, of successfully resisting the mob, who kept constantly increasing: our provisions were entirely exhausted and we being wearied out, by continually standing on guard, and watching the movements of our enemies; who, during the time I was there, fired at us a great many times. Some of the brethren died, for want of the common necessaries of life, and perished from starvation; and for once in my life, I had the pain of beholding some of my fellow creatures fall victims to the spirit of persecution, which did then, and has since prevailed to such an extent in Upper 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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—men too, who were virtuous, and against whom, no legal process could for one moment, be sustained; but who, in consequence of their love to God—attachment to his cause—and their determination to keep the faith, were thus brought to an untimely grave.
Many houses, belonging to my brethren, were burned; their cattle driven away, and a great quantity of their property destroyed by the mob. Seeing no prospect of relief, the Governor

14 Dec. 1796–14 Mar. 1860. Bookkeeper, bank cashier, merchant, Indian agent and trader, lawyer, doctor, postmaster, politician. Born at Lexington, Fayette Co., Kentucky. Son of John M. Boggs and Martha Oliver. Served in War of 1812. Moved to St. Louis, ca...

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having turned a deaf ear to our entreaties, the militia having mutinied, and the greater part of them ready to join the mob; the brethren came to the conclusion to leave that place, and seek a shelter elsewhere; they consequently took their departure, with about seventy waggons, with the remnant of the property they had been able to save from their matchless foes, and proceeded 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.” ...

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. During our journey, we were continually harrassed and threatened by the mob, who shot at us several times; whilst several of our brethren died from the fatigue and privations which they had to endure, and we had to inter them by the wayside, without a coffin, and under circumstances the most distressing.
On my arrival in 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.” ...

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I was informed by General [Alexander] Doniphan

9 July 1808–8 Aug. 1887. Lawyer, military general, insurance/bank executive. Born near Maysville, Mason Co., Kentucky. Son of Joseph Doniphan and Ann Smith. Father died, 1813; sent to live with older brother George, 1815, in Augusta, Bracken Co., Kentucky...

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of 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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, that a company of mobbers eight hundred strong, were marching towards a settlement of our people’s in 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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. He ordered out one of the officers to raise a force and march immediately to what he called Wight

9 May 1796–31 Mar. 1858. Farmer. Born at Fairfield, Herkimer Co., New York. Son of Levi Wight Jr. and Sarah Corbin. Served in War of 1812. Married Harriet Benton, 5 Jan. 1823, at Henrietta, Monroe Co., New York. Moved to Warrensville, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, ...

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’s town and defend our people from the attacks of the mob, until he should raise the militia in his, and the adjoining counties to put them down. A small company of militia who were on their rout 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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, and who had passed through 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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, he ordered back again, stating that they were not to be depended upon, as many of them were disposed to join the mob; and to use his own expression, were “damned rotten hearted.” According to orders Lieut. Colonel [George M.] Hinkle

13 Nov. 1801–Nov. 1861. Merchant, physician, publisher, minister, farmer. Born in Jefferson Co., Kentucky. Son of Michael Hinkle and Nancy Higgins. Married first Sarah Ann Starkey. Baptized into LDS church, 1832. Moved to Far West, Caldwell Co., Missouri....

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marched with a number of our people 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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to afford what assistance they could to their brethren. Having some property in that 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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and having a house building there, I went up at the same time. While I was there a number of houses belonging to our people were burned by the mob, who committed many other depredations, such as driving off horses, sheep, cattle, hogs &c. A number, whose houses were burned down as well as those who lived in scattered and lonely situations, fled into the town for safety, and for shelter from the inclemency of the weather, as a considerable snow storm had taken place just about that time; women and children, some in the most delicate situations were thus obliged to leave their homes, and travel several miles in order to effect their escape. My feelings were such as I cannot describe when I saw them flock into the village, almost entirely destitute of clothes, and only escaping with their lives. During this state of affairs General Parks

Ca. 1807–after 1880. Farmer, military officer, sheriff, real estate agent, hatter. Born in Tennessee. Married first Nancy McGhee, 22 Apr. 1828, in Knox Co., Tennessee. Resided in Knoxville, Knox Co., 1830. Moved to Richmond, Ray Co., Missouri, by 1835. Ray...

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arrived at 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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, and was at the house of Colonel Lyman Wight

9 May 1796–31 Mar. 1858. Farmer. Born at Fairfield, Herkimer Co., New York. Son of Levi Wight Jr. and Sarah Corbin. Served in War of 1812. Married Harriet Benton, 5 Jan. 1823, at Henrietta, Monroe Co., New York. Moved to Warrensville, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, ...

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, when the intelligence was brought, that the mob were burning houses; and also when women and children were fleeing for safety. Colonel Wight

9 May 1796–31 Mar. 1858. Farmer. Born at Fairfield, Herkimer Co., New York. Son of Levi Wight Jr. and Sarah Corbin. Served in War of 1812. Married Harriet Benton, 5 Jan. 1823, at Henrietta, Monroe Co., New York. Moved to Warrensville, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, ...

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who held a commission in the 59th regiment under his (General Parks

Ca. 1807–after 1880. Farmer, military officer, sheriff, real estate agent, hatter. Born in Tennessee. Married first Nancy McGhee, 22 Apr. 1828, in Knox Co., Tennessee. Resided in Knoxville, Knox Co., 1830. Moved to Richmond, Ray Co., Missouri, by 1835. Ray...

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) command, asked what was to be done. He told him that he must immediately, call out his men and go and put them down. Accordingly, a force was immediately raised for the purpose of quelling the mob, and in a short time were on their march with a determination to drive the mob, or die in the attempt; as they could bear such treatment no longer. The mob having learned the orders of general Parks

Ca. 1807–after 1880. Farmer, military officer, sheriff, real estate agent, hatter. Born in Tennessee. Married first Nancy McGhee, 22 Apr. 1828, in Knox Co., Tennessee. Resided in Knoxville, Knox Co., 1830. Moved to Richmond, Ray Co., Missouri, by 1835. Ray...

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, and likewise being aware of the determination of the oppressed, they broke up their encampments and fled. The mob seeing that they could not succeed by force, now [p. 4]
We had now, no hopes whatever, of  successfully resisting the mob, who  kept constantly increasing: our pro visions were entirely exhausted and  we being wearied out, by continu ally standing on guard, and watching  the movements of our enemies; who,  during the time I was there, fired at us  a great many times.24

The previous sentence does not appear in JS’s bill of damages.  


Some of the  brethren died, for want of the com mon necessaries of life, and perished  from starvation; and for once in my  life, I had the pain of beholding some  of my fellow creatures fall victims to  the spirit of persecution, which did  then, and has since prevailed to such  an extent in Upper 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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—men too,  who were virtuous, and against whom,  no legal process could for one moment,  be sustained; but who, in consequence  of their love to God—attachment to his  cause—and their determination to keep  the faith, were thus brought to an un timely grave.25

JS’s bill of damages does not specifically note starvation as a cause of death among the De Witt Saints, nor does it include the sentiments expressed here following “the spirit of persecution.”  


Many houses, belonging to my  brethren, were burned; their cattle d[r]iv en away, and a great quantity of their  property destroyed by the mob. See ing no prospect of relief, the Gover nor

14 Dec. 1796–14 Mar. 1860. Bookkeeper, bank cashier, merchant, Indian agent and trader, lawyer, doctor, postmaster, politician. Born at Lexington, Fayette Co., Kentucky. Son of John M. Boggs and Martha Oliver. Served in War of 1812. Moved to St. Louis, ca...

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having turned a deaf ear to our  entreaties, the militia having mutinied,  and the greater part of them ready to  join the mob; the brethren came to the  conclusion to leave that place, and  seek a shelter elsewhere; they conse quently took their departure, with a bout seventy waggons, with the rem nant of the property they had been able  to save from their matchless foes,  and proceeded 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.” ...

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.26

The evacuation from De Witt began on 11 October 1838. (John Murdock, Affidavit, Adams Co., IL, 10 Jan. 1840, photocopy, Material Relating to Mormon Expulsion from Missouri, 1839–1843, CHL; Baugh, “Call to Arms,” 179–181.)  


During  our journey, we were continually har rassed and threatened by the mob, who  shot at us several times; whilst sever al of our brethren died from the fatigue  and privations which they had to en dure, and we had to inter them by the  wayside, without a coffin, and under  circumstances the most distressing.27

Other eyewitnesses reported deaths that occurred during the evacuation of De Witt. (See Judd, Autobiography of Zadoc Knapp Judd, 9; Tarlton Lewis, Statement, 20 May 1879, p. 1, Historian’s Office, History of the Persecutions, 1879–1880, CHL; and Arza Judd Jr., Petition, 6 Jan. 1840, photocopy, Material Relating to Mormon Expulsion from Missouri, 1839–1843, CHL.)  


On my arrival in 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.” ...

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I was in formed by General [Alexander] Doniphan

9 July 1808–8 Aug. 1887. Lawyer, military general, insurance/bank executive. Born near Maysville, Mason Co., Kentucky. Son of Joseph Doniphan and Ann Smith. Father died, 1813; sent to live with older brother George, 1815, in Augusta, Bracken Co., Kentucky...

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of 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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, that a company of mobbers28

JS’s bill of damages does not call the company “mobbers.”  


 eight hundred strong, were marching  towards a settlement of our people’s in  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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.29

JS was evidently already aware that anti-Mormon forces were on their way to Daviess County, as he had called for an armed expedition to Daviess on 14 October, the day before Brigadier General Alexander Doniphan arrived at Far West. Doniphan may have confirmed rumors of the vigilante detachment or apprised JS of the size of the force. (See Corrill, Brief History, 36–37; and [Rigdon], Appeal to the American People, 41.)  


He ordered out one  of the officers to raise a force and  march immediately to what he called  Wight

9 May 1796–31 Mar. 1858. Farmer. Born at Fairfield, Herkimer Co., New York. Son of Levi Wight Jr. and Sarah Corbin. Served in War of 1812. Married Harriet Benton, 5 Jan. 1823, at Henrietta, Monroe Co., New York. Moved to Warrensville, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, ...

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’s town30

Lyman Wight spearheaded settlement of Adam-ondi-Ahman, the principal Latter-day Saint community in Daviess County.a Wight was also the leader of the Adam-ondi-Ahman contingent of the Danite society, a private Mormon militia.b  


aJS, Journal, 18 May–1 June and 4–5 June 1838; Berrett, Sacred Places, 4:399–402, 416, 438–444.

bJS, Journal, 7–9 Aug. 1838; Swartzell, Mormonism Exposed, 17, 20–23, 32; “History of Lyman Wight,” 5, Historian’s Office, Histories of the Twelve, ca. 1858–1880, CHL.

and defend our people  from the attacks of the mob, until he  should raise the militia in his, and the  adjoining counties to put them down.31

While Brigadier General Alexander Doniphan had authority to issue orders for Caldwell and Daviess counties, Sidney Rigdon recounted that Doniphan “advised” and “recommended” that Latter-day Saints from Caldwell County help defend their fellow Saints in Daviess County. ([Rigdon], Appeal to the American People, 42.)  


 A small company of militia who were  on their rout 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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, and  who had passed through 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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, he  ordered back again, stating that they  were not to be depended upon, as many  of them were disposed to join the mob;  and to use his own expression, were  “damned rotten hearted.”32

JS’s bill of damages notes that the company numbered sixty. This was apparently the company of Missouri militia commanded by Colonel William Dunn of Clay County that Brigadier General Hiram Parks had sent to Daviess County. Dunn’s company encamped near Far West awaiting Brigadier General Doniphan’s arrival. Doniphan, however, ordered Dunn to dismiss his troops. (Hiram Parks, Richmond, MO, to David R. Atchison, 21 Oct. 1838, Mormon War Papers, MSA.)  


According  to orders Lieut. Colonel [George M.] Hinkle

13 Nov. 1801–Nov. 1861. Merchant, physician, publisher, minister, farmer. Born in Jefferson Co., Kentucky. Son of Michael Hinkle and Nancy Higgins. Married first Sarah Ann Starkey. Baptized into LDS church, 1832. Moved to Far West, Caldwell Co., Missouri....

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march ed with a number of our people to Da viess 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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to afford what assistance  they could to their brethren.33

Approximately one hundred fifty to three hundred men from Caldwell County arrived in Daviess County on 16 October. (John Smith, Journal, 16 Oct. 1838; Corrill, Brief History, 37; Foote, Autobiography, 21 Oct. 1838.)  


Having  some property in that 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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and hav ing a house building there, I went up at  the same time.34

JS remained in Daviess County over the next few days to oversee Mormon operations there. (LeSueur, 1838 Mormon War in Missouri, 112–128; Baugh, “Call to Arms,” 185–210.)  


While I was there a  number of houses belonging to our peo ple were burned by the mob, who com mitted many other depredations, such  as driving off horses, sheep, cattle, hogs  &c. A number, whose houses were  burned down as well as those who lived  in scattered and lonely situations, fled  into the town for safety, and for shelter  from the inclemency of the weather, as  a considerable snow storm had taken  place just about that time; women and  children, some in the most delicate sit uations were thus obliged to leave their  homes, and travel several miles in or der to effect their escape. My feelings  were such as I cannot describe when  I saw them flock into the village, al most entirely destitu[t]e of clothes, and  only escaping with their lives.35

Mormon victims of these vigilante depredations included Agnes Coolbrith Smith, wife of JS’s brother Don Carlos. Her husband was away from home on a church mission. ([Rigdon], Appeal to the American People, 43; Hyrum Smith, Testimony, Nauvoo, IL, 1 July 1843, p. 6, Nauvoo, IL, Records, CHL.)  


During  this state of affairs General Parks

Ca. 1807–after 1880. Farmer, military officer, sheriff, real estate agent, hatter. Born in Tennessee. Married first Nancy McGhee, 22 Apr. 1828, in Knox Co., Tennessee. Resided in Knoxville, Knox Co., 1830. Moved to Richmond, Ray Co., Missouri, by 1835. Ray...

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ar rived at 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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,36

Brigadier General Hiram Parks arrived 18 October. (Hiram Parks, Richmond, MO, to David R. Atchison, 21 Oct. 1838, Mormon War Papers, MSA.)  


and was at the  house of Colonel Lyman Wight

9 May 1796–31 Mar. 1858. Farmer. Born at Fairfield, Herkimer Co., New York. Son of Levi Wight Jr. and Sarah Corbin. Served in War of 1812. Married Harriet Benton, 5 Jan. 1823, at Henrietta, Monroe Co., New York. Moved to Warrensville, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, ...

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, when  the intelligence was brought, that the  mob were burning houses; and also  when women and children were fleeing  for safety. Colonel Wight

9 May 1796–31 Mar. 1858. Farmer. Born at Fairfield, Herkimer Co., New York. Son of Levi Wight Jr. and Sarah Corbin. Served in War of 1812. Married Harriet Benton, 5 Jan. 1823, at Henrietta, Monroe Co., New York. Moved to Warrensville, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, ...

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who held a  commission in the 59th regiment under  his (General Parks

Ca. 1807–after 1880. Farmer, military officer, sheriff, real estate agent, hatter. Born in Tennessee. Married first Nancy McGhee, 22 Apr. 1828, in Knox Co., Tennessee. Resided in Knoxville, Knox Co., 1830. Moved to Richmond, Ray Co., Missouri, by 1835. Ray...

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) command, asked  what was to be done. He told him  that he must immediately, call out his  men and go and put them down.37

Wight had been commissioned as the colonel of the Caldwell County regiment of the state militia when he resided there, prior to moving to Daviess County. William Peniston, an antagonist to the Mormons, held the office of colonel in Daviess County.a Wight directed Mormon forces at Adam-ondi-Ahman as leader of the church’s private militia there.b  


a“History of Lyman Wight,” 5, Historian’s Office, Histories of the Twelve, ca. 1858–1880, CHL; see also William Peniston, Daviess Co., MO, to Lilburn W. Boggs, 21 Oct. 1838, Mormon War Papers, MSA.

bJS, Journal, 7–9 Aug. 1838; Sampson Avard, Testimony, Richmond, MO, Nov. 1838, in State of Missouri, “Evidence”; Swartzell, Mormonism Exposed, 17, 20–23, 32; Baugh, “Call to Arms,” 385.

Ac cordingly, a force was immediately rais ed for the purpose of quelling the mob,  and in a short time were on their  march with a determination to drive the  mob, or die in the attempt;38

JS’s bill of damages does not include “or die in the attempt.”  


as they  could bear such treatment no longer.39

According to Parks, the Latter-day Saints began their attack before he arrived. (Hiram Parks, Richmond, MO, to David R. Atchison, 21 Oct. 1838, Mormon War Papers, MSA.)  


 The mob having learned the orders of  general Parks

Ca. 1807–after 1880. Farmer, military officer, sheriff, real estate agent, hatter. Born in Tennessee. Married first Nancy McGhee, 22 Apr. 1828, in Knox Co., Tennessee. Resided in Knoxville, Knox Co., 1830. Moved to Richmond, Ray Co., Missouri, by 1835. Ray...

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, and likewise being  aware of the determination of the op pressed, they broke up their encamp ments and fled. The mob seeing that  they could not succeed by force, now [p. 4]
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The historical account contained in “Extract, from the Private Journal of Joseph Smith Jr.” was composed in the aftermath of the 1838 armed conflict between the Latter-day Saints and other Missourians, a struggle that culminated in the incarceration of JS and the expulsion of the Saints from the state

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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. On 20 March 1839, from the jail in 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, JS wrote to the Saints instructing them to document “all the facts and suffering and abuses put upon them by the people of this state and also of all the property and amount of damages which they have sustained.”1

JS et al., Liberty, MO, to the church members and Edward Partridge, Quincy, IL, 20 Mar. 1839, in Revelations Collection, CHL [D&C 123:1–2]. In a letter to the church written three months earlier, JS had reflected on some of the causes leading to the expulsion. (JS, Liberty, MO, to “the church,” Caldwell Co., MO, 16 Dec. 1838, JS Collection, CHL.)  


A month later, on 16 April, JS escaped from the custody of Missouri lawmen, and on 22 April he was reunited with the Mormon exiles in 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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, Illinois. Within days he arranged extensive land purchases for Mormon settlement at nearby 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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, Illinois, and across the Mississippi River

Principal U.S. river running southward from Itasca Lake, Minnesota, to Gulf of Mexico. Covered 3,160-mile course, 1839 (now about 2,350 miles). Drains about 1,100,000 square miles. Steamboat travel on Mississippi very important in 1830s and 1840s for shipping...

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in Iowa Territory

Area originally part of Louisiana Purchase, 1803. First permanent white settlements established, ca. 1833. Organized as territory, 1838, containing all of present-day Iowa, much of present-day Minnesota, and parts of North and South Dakota. Population in ...

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. JS himself was among the initial Latter-day Saints to relocate to Commerce in May 1839. On 4 June 1839, during a visit to Quincy, JS created a record of his own Missouri losses, titled “Bill of Damages against the state of Missouri.”2

JS, “Bill of Damages against the State of Missouri[:] An Account of the Sufferings and Losses Sustained Therein,” Quincy, IL, 4 June 1839, JS Collection, CHL; see also JS, Journal, 27 May–8 June 1839.  


Written in the handwriting of JS’s recently appointed clerk, Robert B. Thompson

1 Oct. 1811–27 Aug. 1841. Clerk, editor. Born in Great Driffield, Yorkshire, England. Member of Methodist church. Immigrated to Upper Canada, 1834. Baptized into LDS church by Parley P. Pratt, May 1836, in Upper Canada. Ordained an elder by John Taylor, 22...

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, the bill of damages was created as a petition to the federal government for redress, and it became the basis of “Extract, from the Private Journal of Joseph Smith Jr.,” published in July 1839. The reference to a “private journal” in the title notwithstanding, the article was not in fact based on a journal source; JS’s bill of damages is the only known manuscript source. The manuscript is much more than a simple bill of damages, however, and the historical narrative it contains bridges the chronological gap between JS’s last Missouri journal and his first 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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journal.3

The last entry in JS’s September–October 1838 journal is 5 October 1838. On that day, JS left Far West, Missouri, with a detachment of Mormon men to reinforce the besieged Saints in De Witt, Missouri; after an introductory overview, JS’s “Bill of Damages” begins with the De Witt conflict. The bill ends with JS’s escape from his captors on 16 April 1839 and his arrival in Quincy, Illinois, on 22 April 1839; the first two entries in JS’s 1839 journal resume JS’s journal keeping precisely at this point.  


After an introduction stating that JS encountered enmity from the moment of his arrival 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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in March 1838, “Extract, from the Private Journal” covers most of the significant episodes in the Missouri conflict. The first specific historical event is the siege of the Mormon settlement at De Witt

Located on bluffs north of Missouri River, about six miles above mouth of Grand River. Permanently settled, by 1826. Laid out, 1836. First called Elderport; name changed to De Witt, 1837, when town acquired by speculators David Thomas and Henry Root, who ...

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in Carroll County. The article then narrates the subsequent conflict around Adam-ondi-Ahman

Town located in northwest Missouri. JS revelations designated area as place where Adam blessed his posterity after leaving Garden of Eden and where Adam will return prior to Second Coming. While seeking new areas in Daviess Co. for settlement, JS and others...

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in Daviess County, the battle at Crooked River

Located in northwest Missouri. Rises in Clinton Co. and flows about sixty miles southeast through Caldwell and Ray counties; drains into Missouri River. Saints settled mainly on northwestern and southeastern sections of river, by 1835; main settlement also...

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with militia from Ray County

Located in northwestern Missouri. Area settled, 1815. Created from Howard Co., 1820. Initially included all state land north of Missouri River and west of Grand River. Population in 1830 about 2,700; in 1836 about 6,600; and in 1840 about 6,600. Latter-day...

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, and the siege 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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in Caldwell County. Also recounted are JS’s capture, imprisonment, and indictment, as well as the exodus of the Latter-day Saints 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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. The narrative draws to a close with JS’s escape and his flight from Missouri. Where the bill of damages ends with a list of losses and sufferings for which remuneration is sought, the “Extract” concludes with an address to the American people at large, appealing to the principles of liberty and justice.
“Extract, from the Private Journal of Joseph Smith Jr.” was published in the first issue of the church newspaper Times and Seasons. The prospectus published at the end of the issue declared that the newspaper would provide “a history of the unparallelled persecution, which we, as a people, received 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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”; the lead article in the issue, an “Address” from the editors, similarly announced that the newspaper’s mission included publication of “a detailed history of the persecution and suffering” experienced in Missouri.4

“Prospectus of the Times and Seasons,” Times and Seasons, July 1839, 1:16; Ebenezer Robinson and Don Carlos Smith, “Address,” Times and Seasons, July 1839, 1:1.  


“Extract, from the Private Journal” directly follows, taking up half of the issue’s sixteen pages. Times and Seasons 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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printed only about two hundred copies of the July 1839 issue before a malaria epidemic left them debilitated.5

“To the Patrons of the Times and Seasons,” Times and Seasons, Nov. 1839, 1:15–16; Ebenezer Robinson, “Items of Personal History of the Editor,” The Return, May 1890, 257–258.  


Months later they published a reprint of the first issue, including JS’s “Extract,” under a November 1839 date.6

It appears that there were three printings of the first issue of the Times and Seasons: the first in July; the second in November, from the same typesetting; and a third sometime thereafter, from a new setting of the text. The third printing, perhaps issued to satisfy increasing demand for the newspaper, retained the November 1839 date. Although minor spelling and punctuation changes appear in the later printings of the “Extract,” no changes were made to the wording. (See Crawley, Descriptive Bibliography, 1:94–95.)  


JS’s account of Missouri sufferings constituted part of a new genre of Mormon historical writing, and in the next issue, the Times and Seasons began publishing an eleven-part series on the Saints’ Missouri persecutions.7

See “A History, of the Persecution,” Times and Seasons, Dec. 1839–Oct. 1840.  


JS’s bill of damages was revised for publication as the “Extract” sometime between 4 June 1839, when the bill of damages was composed, and 12 July, when Wilford Woodruff

1 Mar. 1807–2 Sept. 1898. Farmer, miller. Born at Farmington, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of Aphek Woodruff and Beulah Thompson. Moved to Richland, Oswego Co., New York, 1832. Baptized into LDS church by Zera Pulsipher, 31 Dec. 1833, near Richland. Ordained...

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recorded “looking over the proof sheet of the first number of the Times & seasons.”8

Woodruff, Journal, 12 July 1839.  


JS returned to 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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from 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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on 5 June and remained in the area until 12 July, except for a 15–26 June journey through western 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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. Therefore, JS’s narrative 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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persecutions was likely revised in Commerce between 5 and 14 June or between 27 June and 12 July.9

JS’s journal records that he was “dictating History” 10–14 June and 3–5 July 1839, which may have included the historical narrative in the “bill of damages” along with his ongoing work on a complete history of the church. (JS, Journal, 10–14 June and 3–5 July 1839.)  


The first issue of the Times and Seasons was probably published within a few days of 12 July, the day Wilford Woodruff helped check the proof sheet.
The first two-thirds of the “Extract” was based closely on “Bill of Damages,” with only minor editorial changes. The changes softened some of the manuscript’s more strident rhetoric, omitted particulars regarding JS’s personal losses, and added details to emphasize the suffering of the Saints. Significant differences between the two documents are explained in footnotes herein. The final section of the article, which did not come from the bill of damages, may have been dictated or written by JS, perhaps with help from clerical assistants Robert B. Thompson

1 Oct. 1811–27 Aug. 1841. Clerk, editor. Born in Great Driffield, Yorkshire, England. Member of Methodist church. Immigrated to Upper Canada, 1834. Baptized into LDS church by Parley P. Pratt, May 1836, in Upper Canada. Ordained an elder by John Taylor, 22...

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, James Mulholland

1804–3 Nov. 1839. Born in Ireland. Baptized into LDS church. Married Sarah Scott, 8 Feb. 1838, at Far West, Caldwell Co., Missouri. Engaged in clerical work for JS, 1838, at Far West. Ordained a seventy, 28 Dec. 1838. After expulsion from Missouri, lived ...

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, and George W. Robinson

14 May 1814–10 Feb. 1878. Clerk, postmaster, merchant, clothier, banker. Born at Pawlet, Rutland Co., Vermont. Baptized into LDS church and moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, by 1836. Clerk and recorder for Kirtland high council, beginning Jan. 1836. Married...

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. The published “Extract” was disseminated to Saints throughout the nation via the newspaper, and the document shaped their memory of the persecution 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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and their pattern for rehearsing it. JS clearly intended to reach not only the Latter-day Saints subscribing to the church newspaper but also the greater American public. As part of JS’s effort to gain sympathy in the court of public opinion, this document became part of the broadening agenda of gaining redress for grievances suffered in Missouri.

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