27470

Journal, 1839

Minute Book.
1839
J. Smiths Journal
Escape from Prison
[front cover]
<Minute Book.>
<1839>
<J. Smiths Journal>
<Escape from Prison>
[front cover]
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Following their success in forcing the Mormons to evacuate the village of 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, Missouri, in October 1838, anti-Mormon vigilantes applied similar pressure 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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, beginning with raids on isolated Mormon homes. State militia commander 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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acknowledged that his troops could not be relied upon to maintain order or to protect the Latter-day Saints’ property rights. The Mormons mounted a preemptive strike in Daviess County beginning in mid-October, targeting the property of vigilantes.
Burning and plundering by both sides and the evacuation of most 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 ...

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’s non-Mormon residents led to outright warfare. After a company of 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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volunteers captured three Latter-day Saints in an area lying between 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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and Ray counties, JS helped mobilize a company of Mormons from Caldwell County as a rescue party. The ensuing 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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on 25 October, at which two Mormons, their guide, and one Missourian were killed, gave rise to exaggerated reports that the Mormons had killed or captured the entire Ray County contingent and were about to attack 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...

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, the seat of Ray County. In the wake of this news and word of Mormon depredations in Daviess County, in late October 1838 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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governor Lilburn W. Boggs

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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decried Mormon “outrages” and ordered a large militia force to “exterminate” the Mormons or drive them from the state. JS and other leaders were arrested and incarcerated, and most Mormons left Missouri in early 1839, trudging eastward for more than 150 miles and crossing the Mississippi River into Illinois.1

LeSueur, 1838 Mormon War in Missouri, chaps. 7–14; Baugh, “Call to Arms,” chaps. 7–12; Hartley, “Almost Too Intolerable a Burthen,” 9–10, 36–37.  


After a grueling confinement through the winter in the jail 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, JS and his fellow Mormon prisoners were transported 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 a grand jury investigation. There they were indicted for treason, riot, arson, burglary, and receiving stolen goods but were granted a change of venue to Columbia, Missouri, for their contemplated trial. During the journey to the new location, the guards allowed their prisoners to escape.2

Hyrum Smith, Testimony, 1 July 1843, Nauvoo Municipal Court Docket Book, 78; Lyman Wight, Testimony, 1 July 1843, Nauvoo Municipal Court Docket Book, 131–132; Promissory Note, JS to John Brassfield, 16 Apr. 1839, JS Collection, CHL.  


On 22 April 1839, six days after their escape, JS and his companions crossed the Mississippi River into Illinois. There they reunited with thousands of other Latter-day Saint refugees from 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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, many of whom had received a sympathetic, hospitable reception from the citizens of 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. That same day, JS rehired 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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, who had performed clerical work for him the previous autumn. Mulholland began his record in this small journal by noting JS’s escape in Missouri and then, beginning with JS’s arrival in Quincy, kept a contemporaneous record for six months.
During the period covered by this journal, 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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worked closely with JS, recording JS’s history and occasionally accompanying him in his travels. Unlike the September–October 1838 journal, which Mulholland kept for JS 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 present journal benefits from JS reporting to his scribe some of the activities that took place in Mulholland’s absence. A few of the entries in these instances may have been dictated by JS, although most entries were based on Mulholland’s observation.
While keeping this journal for JS, 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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was also keeping his own journal, which he wrote in the back of the record he had kept for JS during autumn 1838. Mulholland’s personal journal entries, where illuminating, are used to annotate the parallel entries he wrote for JS in the present journal. When he was separated from JS, Mulholland also focused entries in JS’s journal on Mulholland’s own activities. Mulholland’s use of first-person narration to refer sometimes to himself and sometimes to JS requires careful reading to determine whose activities are being described.
The Illinois resumption of JS’s record keeping reflected the reestablishment of characteristically Mormon procedures that were suspended during the upheaval 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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. Record keeping lapsed during the Mormon War, the imprisonment of JS, and the expulsion of the Latter-day Saints from the state. The principle of gathering—at least in an official sense—also lapsed during the aftermath of that expulsion. Latter-day Saints realized that their practice of gathering to create religious communities, though mandated by revelation, aroused antagonism of nearby citizenry wherever they settled. In the interest of survival, should they now intersperse with others, coming together for worship but not living in tight-knit, exclusive communities? Writing from 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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in January 1839, JS acknowledged that for the present “the gathering of necessity [is] stopt.”3

JS et al., Liberty, MO, to Heber C. Kimball and Brigham Young, Far West, MO, 16 Jan. 1839, JS Collection, CHL.  


Yet the gathering did not stop. Even without JS’s direction, many of the Mormons fleeing 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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sought collective refuge in western Illinois and thereby kept the question of gathering alive. In March, before JS’s escape, a church conference 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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conducted by Brigham Young

1 June 1801–29 Aug. 1877. Carpenter, painter, glazier, colonizer. Born at Whitingham, Windham Co., Vermont. Son of John Young and Abigail (Nabby) Howe. Brought up in Methodist household; later joined Methodist church. Moved to Sherburne, Chenango Co., New...

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confronted the question of whether to “gather” or “scatter.” Young advised settling “in companies,” or at least in sufficiently close proximity to establish congregations.4

“Extracts of the Minutes of Conferences,” Times and Seasons, Nov. 1839, 1:15.  


Within days of his arrival 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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, JS decisively arranged for a new gathering place. In the months to come, he taught that a gathered community of believers was essential for building a house of the Lord. As was true for Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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, Ohio, and as JS had intended for 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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, Missouri, this new gathering place was to become a city with a temple.5

Leonard, Nauvoo, 235–237.  


After purchasing some land about fifty miles upriver, at 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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in Hancock County, Illinois, JS moved his family and his people there. The riverfront site had poor harbors and swampy lowlands plagued with malaria-bearing mosquitoes. This journal offers glimpses of JS’s involvement in land purchases and community planning that provided a basis for a cluster of Mormon settlements on both sides of the Mississippi. The journal also records JS’s trips to 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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, Plymouth

Village located about thirty-five miles southeast of Nauvoo. Settled 1831. Surveyed 1836. Post office established, 1837. Population in 1846 about 60. JS’s brother William Smith moved to farm in area, 1839. JS visited William, June 1839. JS’s sister Katharine...

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, and Macomb

Incorporated as city, 1841. McDonough Co. seat. JS’s brother Don Carlos Smith lived nearby Macomb, 1839. JS visited Don Carlos, June 1839.

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, Illinois, and other nearby places to visit family, groups of Latter-day Saints, and regional political and commercial centers.
Meanwhile, JS and members of the Quorum of the Twelve clung tenaciously to another facet of the Mormon mission: widespread proselytizing. An 1838 revelation commanded the Twelve to depart 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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, Missouri, on 26 April 1839 for a mission to Europe.6

See Revelation, 8 July 1838–A, in JS, Journal, 8 July 1838 [D&C 118].  


From 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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, JS reminded the apostles of that obligation.7

JS et al., Liberty, MO, to Heber C. Kimball and Brigham Young, Far West, MO, 16 Jan. 1839, JS Collection, CHL.  


Enemies declared it in advance a false revelation, as they now had the power to prevent it from being fulfilled. Nonetheless, as diary entries began in mid-April 1839, members of the Quorum of the Twelve under acting president Brigham Young

1 June 1801–29 Aug. 1877. Carpenter, painter, glazier, colonizer. Born at Whitingham, Windham Co., Vermont. Son of John Young and Abigail (Nabby) Howe. Brought up in Methodist household; later joined Methodist church. Moved to Sherburne, Chenango Co., New...

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had just left 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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to return to 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 fulfill the injunction. Their predawn meeting on 26 April 1839 at Far West marked the symbolic beginning of their mission abroad. But with much preparation remaining, they returned to Illinois and did not actually depart for the East until late summer. In the intervening months, JS met frequently with the eight or nine available apostles to teach them and help them prepare. JS also attempted to strengthen and unify the quorum by helping to resolve the status of two apostles—Orson Hyde

8 Jan. 1805–28 Nov. 1878. Laborer, clerk, storekeeper, teacher, editor, businessman, lawyer, judge. Born at Oxford, New Haven Co., Connecticut. Son of Nathan Hyde and Sally Thorpe. Moved to Derby, New Haven Co., 1812. Moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, ...

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and William Smith

13 Mar. 1811–13 Nov. 1893. Farmer, newspaper editor. Born at Royalton, Windsor Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. Moved to Lebanon, Grafton Co., New Hampshire, 1811; to Norwich, Windsor Co., 1813; and to Palmyra, Ontario Co., New York, 1816...

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—who had abandoned the Latter-day Saints during the Missouri crisis. The departure of the Twelve was marked by lengthier-than-usual journal entries reporting sermons and admonitions, indicative of the significance attached to the mission.
The resettlement of the Mormons in 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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and vicinity and the resumption of church affairs—including the departure of the Twelve to Britain—were hampered by a malaria epidemic that ravaged the area from late June to November. When JS was preoccupied with aiding the victims of the scourge for eleven weeks in July, August, and September, journal entries were scaled back to weekly summaries. While the entries suggest the duration and centrality of JS’s focus on relieving the sick, they characteristically only skim the surface. For months, the Smith home and environs served as a hospital of sorts, with JS and Emma

10 July 1804–30 Apr. 1879. Scribe, editor, boardinghouse operator, clothier. Born at Willingborough Township (later in Harmony), Susquehanna Co., Pennsylvania. Daughter of Isaac Hale and Elizabeth Lewis. Member of Methodist church at Harmony (later in Oakland...

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nursing malaria victims. The couple moved their own family into a tent to provide better care in their house for the sick. JS himself contracted the disease but soon recovered and continued to minister to the afflicted. 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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spent three weeks in late August and early September caring for his own wife, who was ill.8

Tullidge, Women of Mormondom, 213–214; Historian’s Office, “History of Brigham Young,” 34–35; Woodruff, Journal, 12, 19, 22, and 25 July 1839; Mulholland, Journal, 19 Aug.–8 Sept. 1839.  


Despite the epidemic, the Latter-day Saints remained at their new headquarters. When the disease abated somewhat, JS became increasingly involved in arrangements for a new, larger town that would soon eclipse and absorb 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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. At a general conference of the church convened at Commerce in early October 1839, JS advocated—and the membership of the church affirmed—that this was a suitable location to be designated a stake of Zion and a gathering place for the Saints.
Even while JS built a new stake, 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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still occupied much of his attention. In the months and years following the expulsion of his people from that state, JS sought persistently to call attention to the losses and injustices the Latter-day Saints had suffered and, if possible, to obtain government compensation. He left 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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on 29 October 1839, two weeks after the conclusion of this journal, to visit Washington DC

Created as district for seat of U.S. federal government by act of Congress, 1790, and named Washington DC, 1791. Named in honor of George Washington. Headquarters of executive, legislative, and judicial branches of U.S. government relocated to Washington ...

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to seek relief and redress from the federal government. The next day, a gravely ill 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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was taken to Emma Smith

10 July 1804–30 Apr. 1879. Scribe, editor, boardinghouse operator, clothier. Born at Willingborough Township (later in Harmony), Susquehanna Co., Pennsylvania. Daughter of Isaac Hale and Elizabeth Lewis. Member of Methodist church at Harmony (later in Oakland...

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’s makeshift hospital, where he died on 3 November, possibly a victim of the malaria epidemic.9

Emma Smith, Nauvoo, IL, to JS, Washington DC, 6 Dec. 1839, Charles Aldrich Autograph Collection, State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines.  


It is not clear to what extent the cessation of journal entries after 15 October resulted from Mulholland’s illness or from a lack of access to JS. Daily entries did not resume until December 1841, more than two years later, when Willard Richards

24 June 1804–11 Mar. 1854. Teacher, lecturer, doctor, clerk, printer, editor, postmaster. Born at Hopkinton, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts. Son of Joseph Richards and Rhoda Howe. Moved to Richmond, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts, 1813. Moved to Chatham, Columbia...

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took up the pen a few months after his return from missionary service in England.

Facts