Lee County
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Mormons Settle Near Dixon

Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism and who has been compared by his followers to Mahomet, was an important figure in the early history of Dixon and Lee County.

In 1843 Smith was charged with "treason against the government of Missouri" and was later arrested near Dixon.

An account of the arrest ois found in "The Prophet of Palmyra" by Thomas Gregg, an 1890 publication belonging to the Chicago Historical Society:

"Learning that Smith and his wife were on a visit to her relatives at Palestine Grove in Lee county, toward the north end of the district, and about one hundred and fifty miles from Nauvoo, the officer, in company with the Missouri agent, quiietly repaired thither. They found the prophet at the house of his friend, arrested him, and placing him in a carriage, started by way of Dixon, the county seat."

Events Leading to Arrest

On the morning of the 7th of May, 1842, the news spread that during the night an attempt had been made to assassinate ex-Governor Boggs of Missouri. He had been fired at through his window, as he sat reading in his room, and seriously but not fatally wounded. It was strongly suspected that the assassin was Orrin P. Rockwell, a close friend of Smith. The prophet, Smith, had declared that Boggs would die a violent death; and he had stated that Rockwell had gone to fulfill aprophecy.

Following the arrest near Dixon the case became swamped in one habeas corpus after another, and those who sought to conquer Smith were finally abashed by the municipal court at Nauvoo.

The next mention of the Mormons in Lee county followed in 1853. After the death by murder of Joseph Smith, his brother WIlliam, with a small band of followers took up their residence about 12 miles south of Dixon and continued their organization and meetings.

At the April term of the Circuit Court in 1853, on the trial of the application of the Mormon prophet, for a divorce, the jury found a verdict for the lady.

Dixon Evening Telegraph - Anniversary Edition 1 May 1951

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