Missouri State Genealogy Trails
Grand River and the Mormon War
Sources: Journal of History Vol. 12 No.1; Herman C. Smith, Editor;
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; Lamoni, Iowa; Jan. 1919
Transcribed by C. Horton 2009 - Note all spelling as stayed the same. [sic] is my mark
The following story of the early days on Grand River and the Mormon War is believed by the compiler to be authentic history. In its preparation free use has been made of public records and documents and of the writings of Joseph Smith, Jr., Major Joseph H. McGee, Lyman Wight, Major Reburn S. Holcombe, James H. Hunt, Heman C. Smith, and others. Much personal assistance has been rendered the compiler by Reverend Frank R. Gillihan, formerly of Gallatin, Missouri; W. O. Tague, Circuit Clerk of Daviess County, Missouri; Heman C. Smith, Historian of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; Herbert F. McDougal, litterateur; Colonel Boyd Dudley, of Gallatin, Missouri; and William R. Handy, of Gallatin, Missouri; while the task of putting the manuscript into shape for the printer has devolved upon Mrs. Mabel Anderson, of Independence, Missouri, whose faithful labor in the interest of history has made this publication possible. ... Rollin J. Button.
The white man first entered that part of the Grand River country in Missouri, now known as Daviess County, in 1830. The only semblance to towns that he found therein were certain Indian camps, the last one of which passed away in 1834, when the Indians allowed the embers to die out in the great camp fire at the head of Auberry Grove, north of the site of the present town of Jamesport.
In the autumn of 1831 Robert P. Peniston, sr., moved his family and slaves, among the latter being: Jacob and Henry Peniston, from Kentucky to Missouri; the family remained in lower Ray County that winter, while William P. Peniston, the eldest son, accompanied by the two slaves, Jacob and Henry, and the wife of Henry, pushed on to the Grand River country and camped on Splawn's Ridge, where they builded [sic] cabins forthe family that come on in the spring of 1832, bringing Theodore Peniston, as well, with them.
The Black Hawk War was then in progress, and at its close in 1832 many of those who had been ranging the country as soldiers were so well pleased with the Grand River country that they concluded to settle in what is now Daviess County. Among these was Milford Donaho, who brought his family from Ray County and settled in or near Auberry Grove. Major Joseph H. McGee described Donaho as follows: "He was one of those rare geniuses seldom found except in a new country. As a mechanic he was confined to no one trade. He was a blacksmith, gunsmith, wagon maker, house carpenter, and millwright; and though he excelled in none, he was good in all; some of the best target rifles ever used in the Grand River country were of his make."
FOUNDING OF MILL PORT AND GALLATIN
Robert P. Peniston, sr., being the most prosperous man in a financial way on Grand River, was urged by the settlers to build a horse mill for the grinding of corn, to which the rest of the community would pay tribute, and Mr. Peniston employed Milford Donaho to erect such a mill on the Peniston land. The mill was built of logs and timbers scored and hewed by Donaho and Jacob Peniston; the latter was famous as an axmen. The burrs for the mill were made by Donaho from bowlders [sic] found on the prairie, and were fashioned with tools that Donaho made in his blacksmith shop.
That mill was a great success, and it remained the center of the milling industry on Grand River for twelve or fifteen years. Many settlers were attracted by it and a town site was surveyed and platted, and Mill Port thus became the first town in that part of the Grand River country, and was getting along famously when Daviess County was organized in 1836. Its business houses relieved the settlers from the need of going to Missouri River points for supplies. Its signboards bore the names of John A. Williams, grocer; Milford Donaho, blacksmith; Jacobs and Lomax, merchants; Worthington and Mc Kinney, merchants; Morin and Compton, merchants; and
Jesse Adamson, grocer.
Theodore Peniston became the first sailor to clear the port, when he took a dug-out load of honey, beeswax, skins, etc., down Grand River to its junction with the Missouri, where he disposed of his little cargo. William P. Peniston built and took out the first flatboat. He sailed with his flatboat load all the way to Saint Louis.
Mill Port was on the east side of Grand River, at what is still known, perhaps, as the Peniston Ford. In 1837 the town of Gallatin was platted just three miles west of Mill Port. The latter had been ambitious to become the county seat of Daviess County, but Gallatin was awarded the coveted honor and with the ascendency of Gallatin, Mill Port rapidly faded away, and few people now in Daviess County know that such a pioneer town ever existed.
FOUNDING OF ADAM-ONDI-AHMAN AND FAR WEST
The same year that Gallatin was platted, 1837, there came to Daviess County a very remarkable man in the person of Lyman Wight, who settled upon Grand River and founded a town four miles south [north] and one half mile west of Gallatin, the town site being located on the west half (1/2) of the southwest quarter (1/4) of section thirty (30), township sixty (60), range twenty-seven (27)..
Lyman Wight came originally from the City [State] of New York, where he served in the war of 1812, but his remarkable career of sufferings and achievements for his religious faith commenced with his baptism into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at Warrensville [Kirtland], Ohio, by Elder Parley P. Pratt, on November 14, 1830. He was ordained an elder on November 20, 1830, and in the June conference following was ordained a high priest, and shortly afterward entered upon the ministry at Independence, Missouri. His experiences for the next seven or eight years are summed up in a petition filed by him in 1839, and which is still on file in the archives at Washington, District of Columbia, which reads as follows:
The petition of Lyman Wight most humbly showeth that petitioner removed from the State
of Ohio to the State of Missouri, in the year 1832 , where I hoped to live in peace, but after toiling and under-going all the hardships of a new country for two years, and suffering many privations of the comforts of life, I was assailed by a lawless mob, and was driven from my house in Jackson County to Clay County; my crops and all other property I possessed were taken from me, except a small part of household furniture. I stayed in Clay County for up-wards of two years, when I was again assailed by a mob, who said I must deny my sentiments of religion or move from that county, but rather than deny my religion or be put to death, I disposed of my property at a low rate, and removed my family to Davis [Daviess] County, located myself on Grand River, made an improvement, gained to myself a preemption right, on which a small town was laid off; it was then worth to me at least ten thousand dollars. But sometime in the month of September last I was ordered to leave my possessions again, and this by a mob, which was got up by Sashel Wood (a Presbyterian preacher), and Doctor Craven (who have since entered my lands), without any other consideration than to get me chained up in prison and drive my family from the State without food and raiment to make them comfortable, they kept me in prison for six months, until they succeeded in driving every man, woman, and child (who professed the same religion that I did), out of the State, except those whom they murdered in the State, although they have never been able to substantiate the first accusation against me, yet my sufferings for seven years have been more severe than tongue can tell, or pen write.
However, Lyman Wight was not the only party who had to do with the founding and naming of the town that was thus located upon his land and which town was to become historic in the annals of his faith. The religious organization in which Lyman Wight had membership, commonly known as the Mormon Church, located its administration headquarters in Caldwell County, Missouri, in 1837, at the town founded by it and named Far West. It was at this town of Far West that Joseph Smith, jr., the prophet, declared a revelation on April 26, 1838, which revelation definitely fixed the name of the church and also directed the prophet to do certain things
that resulted in making history for Lyman Wight's town. ...
Pursuant to this revelation, the prophet proceeded to the appointment of other places for stakes in the region round about. His exploring trip northwards from Far West as told by himself in the History of the Church is as follows:
Friday, May 18, 1838, I left Far West in company with Sidney Rigdon, T. B. Marsh, D. W. Patten, Bishop Partridge, E. Higbee, S. Carter, Alanson Ripley, and many others for the purpose of visiting the north country, and laying off a stake of Zion, making location, and laying claims to facilitate the gathering of the Saints, and for the benefit of the poor, in up building the church of God. We traveled to the mouth of Honey Creek, which is a tributary of Grand River, where we camped for the night. We passed a beautiful country of land, a majority of which is prairie (untimbered land), and thickly covered with grass and weeds, among which is plenty of game, such as deer, turkey, hen, elk, etc. We discovered a large black wolf, and my dog gave him chase, but he outran us. We have nothing to fear in camping out, except the rattlesnakes, which is natural to this country, though not very numerous. We turned our horses loose and let them feed on the prairie.
Saturday, 19th. This morning we struck our tents and formed a line of march, crossing Grand River at the mouth of Honey Creek and Nelson's Ferry. Grand River is a large, beautiful, deep, and rapid stream during the high waters of spring, and will undoubtedly admit of steamboat navigation and other water craft; and at the mouth of Honey Creek are a splendid harbor and good landing. We pursued our course up the river, mostly in the timber, about eighteen miles. Our course up the river, mostly in the timber, about eighteen miles, when we arrived at Colonel Lyman Wight's, who lives at the foot of Tower Hill (a name I gave it in consequence of the remains of an old Nephite altar or tower), where we camped for the Sabbath.
In the afternoon I went up the river about half a mile to Wight's Ferry, accompanied by President Rigdon and my clerk, George W. Robinson, for the purpose of selecting and laying claim to a city plat near said ferry in Daviess County, township 60, ranges 27 and 28, and sections 25, 36, 31, and 30, which the brethren called Spring Hill: but by the mouth of the Lord it was named Adam-ondi-Ahman. because, said he, it is the place where Adam shall come to visit his people, or the Ancient of Days shall sit, as spoken of by Daniel the Prophet.
Lyman Wight also wrote about this occasion as follows:
About June, Joseph Smith, together with many others of the principal men of the church, came to my house, and taking a view of the large bottom in the bend of the river, and the beautiful prairies on the bluffs, came to the conclusion that it would be a handsome situation for a town. We therefore commenced surveying and laying off town lots, and locating Government lands for many miles north of this place. This beautiful country with its flattering prospects drew in floods of emigrants. I had not less than thirty comers and goers through the day during the three summer months, and up to the last-mentioned date (last of October) there were upwards of two hundred houses built in this town, and also about forty families living in their wagons.
On June 28, 1838, a stake was organized here, of which the following minutes were published:
Adam-ondi-Ahman, Missouri, Daviess County, June 28, 1838.
A conference of elders and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was held in this place this day, for the purpose of organizing this stake of Zion, called Adam-ondi-Ahman. The meeting convened at ten o'clock a. m. in the grove near the house of Elder Lyman Wight.
President Joseph Smith, jr., was culled to the chair, who explained the object of the meeting, which was to organize a presidency and high council, to preside over this stake of Zion, and attend to the affairs of the church in Daviess County. It was then motioned, seconded, and carried by the unanimous voice
of the assembly, that President John Smith should act as president of the Stake of Adam-ondi-Ahman. Reynolds Cahoon was unanimously chosen first counselor, and layman Wight second counselor. After prayer the presidents ordained Elder Wight as second counselor. Vinson Knight was chosen acting bishop pro tempore, by the unanimous voice of the assembly. President John Smith then proceeded to organize the High Council.
The counselors were chosen according to the following order, by a unanimous vote; John Lemon, first; Daniel Stanton, second; Mayhew Hillman, third; Daniel Carter, fourth; Isaac Perry, fifty; Harrison Sagers, sixth; Alanson Brown, seventh; Thomas Gordon, eighth; Lorenzo D. Barnes, ninth; George A. Smith, tenth; Harvey Olmstead, eleventh; Ezra Thayer, twelfth.
After the ordination of the counselors, who had not previously been ordained to the high priesthood, President Joseph Smith, jr., made remarks by way of charge to the presidents and counselors, instructing them in the duties of their callings, and the responsibility of their stations, exhorting them to be cautious and deliberate in all their councils, and to be careful and act in righteousness in all things. President John Smith, R. Cahoon, and L. Wight then made some remarks. Lorenzo D. Barnes was unanimously chosen clerk of this council and stake, and after singing the well-known hymn, Adam-ondi-Ahman, the meeting closed by prayer by President Cahoon, and a benediction by President Joseph Smith, jr. .... Lorenzo D. Barnes, Isaac Perry, Clerks.
MORMON TROUBLE IN DAVIESS COUNTY
So auspiciously did the career of Adam-ondi-Ahman begin that Joseph H. McGee informs us that it had over five hundred inhabitants when Gallatin had but four houses, and it threatened to rival Far West, and probably would have done so had not a state of civil strife ensued that resulted in the expulsion of all members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from the State of Missouri.
This state of war had its inception in a fight at the general election held in Gallatin on August 6, 1838, on which occasion an attempt was made to keep the "Mormons" from voting. Major Joseph H. McGee witnessed that election fight and he tells the story in the following words:
My first visit to Gallatin was in 1838, August 6. My father and I came to town to attend the general election held on that day. This proved to be a historical day as the great knock down between the Mormons and the Missourians took place on that day. I had been with my father at many an election in Ohio, but 1 never saw him so peaceably inclined at an election before. There was a big pile of house logs piled up in front of the little cabin where they were voting. My father and I climbed to the very top of that pile of logs and witnessed the whole battle. I had witnessed many knock downs in my time, but none on so grand a scale. Pistols were not used. Bocks and clubs were in demand, and an occasional butcher knife slipped in. Men dropped on all sides. I saw one poor Mormon trying to make his escape from two Missourians who were pursuing him. He had a butcher knife sticking between his shoulders. They would no doubt have succeeded in capturing him had not another Mormon, by the name of John L. Butler, seized a big club and rushing in between them and their victim dealt them such blows that he felled them both lo the earth, and allowed the Mormon, whose name was Murphy, to escape. The Missourians proved victorious and the Mormons had to leave. After the fight was over my father and I got into our wagon and returned home. This was my first debut in Gallatin. All the Mormons who took part in this fight left the county that night and moved their families to Far West, in Caldwell County - this being the stronghold of the Mormons.
A more complete story of this fight from the pen of Joseph Smith, jr.. (the Prophet), has been preserved to us in the following words:
Some two weeks previous to this, Judge Morin, who lived at Millport, informed John D. Lee and Levi Stewart that it was determined by the mob to prevent the "Mormons" from voting at the election on the sixth day of August, and thereby elect Colonel William P. Peniston, who led the mob in Clay County. He also advised them to go prepared for an attack, to stand their ground and have their rights. The brethren, hoping better things, gave little heed to Judge Morin's friendly counsel, and repaired to the polls at Gallatin, the shire town of Daviess County, without weapons. About eleven o'clock a. m.
William P. Peniston ascended the head of a barrel and haranged [sic]the electors for the purpose of exciting them against the "Mormons," saying that the "Mormon" leaders were a set of horse thieves, liars, counterfeiters, etc., and you know they profess to heal the sick, cast out devils,etc.; and you know that is a d-d lie; that the members of the church were dupes, and not too good to take a false oath on any common occasion; that they would steal, and he did not conceive property safe where they were; that he was opposed to their settling there; and if they suffered the "Mormons" to vote, the people would soon lose their suffrage; and, said he, addressing the Saints, I headed a mob to drive you out of Clay County, and would not prevent your being mobbed now; when Richard (called Dick) Welding, the mob bully, just drunk enough for the occasion, began a discussion with Brother Samuel Brown by saying:
The "Mormons" were not allowed to vote in Clay County,no more than the d----d negroes, and attempted to strike Brown, who gradually retreated, parrying the blow with his umbrella, while Welding continued to press upon him, calling him a d-d Har, etc., and attempting to repeat the blow on Brown.
Perry Durphy attempted to suppress the difficulty by holding Dick's arm, when five or six of the mobbers seized Durphy and commenced beating him with clubs, boards, etc., and crying, "Kill him, kill him, G-d d- him, kill him," when a general scuffle commenced with fists and clubs, the mobbers being about ten to one of the Saints.
Abraham Nelson was knocked down and had his clothes torn off, and while trying to get up was attacked again, when his brother, Hyram Nelson, ran in amongst them and knocked the mobbers down with the butt of his whip. Riley Stewart struck Dick Welding on the head which brought him to the ground. The mob cried out, "Dick Welding's dead, by d---d; who killed Dick?" And they fell upon Riley, knocked him down, kicked him, and hallooed, "Kill him, G--d d-him, kill him; shoot him, by G-d"; and would have killed him, had not John I.. Butler sprung in amongst them and knocked them down. During about five minutes it was one continued knock down, when the mob dispersed to get firearms. Very few of the brethren voted. Riley, escaping across the river, had his wounds dressed and returned home. Butler called the brethren together and mode a speech, saying, "We are American citizens; our fathers fought for their liberty, and we will maintain the same principles," etc., when the authorities of the county came to them and requested them to withdraw, stating that it was a premeditated thing to prevent the ".Mormons" voting. The brethren held a council about one fourth of a mile out of town where they saw mobbing recruits coming in in small parties from five to twenty-five in number, armed with clubs, pistols, dirks, knives, and some guns, cursing and swearing. The brethren not having arms, thought it wisdom to return to their farms, collect their families and hide them in a thicket of hazel brush, which they did, and stood sentry around them through the night, while the women and children lay on the ground in the rain.
Tuesday morning, 7th. A report came to Far West, by way of those not belonging to the church, that at the election at Gallatin yesterday two or three of our brethren were killed by the Missourians, and left upon the ground, and not suffered to be interred; that the brethren were prevented from voting, and a majority of the inhabitants of
Daviess County were determined to drive the Saints from the county.
On hearing this report I started for Gallatin to assist the brethren, accompanied by President Rigdon, Brother Hyrum Smith, and fifteen or twenty others, who were armed for their own protection, and the command was given to George W. Robinson. On our way we were joined by the brethren from different parts of the country, some of whom were attacked by the mob, but we found some of the brethren who had been mobbed at Gallatin, with others, waiting for our counsel. Here we received the cheering intelligence that none of the brethren were killed, although several were badly wounded. From the best information, about one hundred and fifty Missourians
warred against from six to twelve of our brethren, who fought like lions. Several Missourians had their skulls cracked. Blessed be the memory of those few brethren who contended so strenuously for their constitutional rights and religious freedom, against such an overwhelming force of desperadoes.
Wednesday, 8th. After spending the night in counsel at Colonel Wight's, I rode out with some of the brethren to view the situation of affairs in the region, and among others called on Adam Black, justice of the peace and judge elect of Daviess County, who had some time previous sold his farm to Brother Vinson Knight, and received part pay according to agreement, and afterwards united himself with a band of mobbers to drive the Saints from, and prevent their settling in Daviess County. On interrogation he confessed what he had done, and in consequence of this violation of his oath as magistrate we asked him to give us some satisfaction so that we might know whether he was our friend or enemy, whether he would administer the law in justice; and politely requested him to sign an agreement of peace. But, being jealous, he would not sign it, but said he would write one himself to our satisfaction, and sign it, which he did. as follows:
"I, Adam Black, a Justice of the Peace of Daviess County, do hereby Sertify [sic] to the people coled [sic] Mormin, that he is bound to suport [sic] the constitution of this State, and of the United State, and he is not attached to any mob, nor will not attach himself to any such people, and so long as they will not molest me, I will not molest them. This the 8th day of August, 1838. Adam Black, J. P."
Hoping he would abide his own decision and support the law, we left him in peace, and returned to Colonel Wight's at Adam-ondi-Ahnlnn. In the evening some of the citizens from Mill Port called on us, and we agreed to meet some of the principal men of the county in council at Adam-ondi-Ahman the next day at twelve o'clock.
The committee assembled at Adam-ondi-Ahman at twelve, according to previous appointment; viz: on the part of citizens, Joseph Morin, senator elect; John Williams, representative elect; James B. Turner, clerk of the circuit court, and others; on the part of the Saints, Lyman Wight, Vinson Knight, John Smith, Reynolds Cahoon, and others. At this meeting both parties entered into a covenant of peace, to preserve each other's rights, and stand in their defense; that if men should do
wrong, neither party should uphold them or endeavor to screen them from justice, but deliver up all offenders to be dealt with according to law and justice. The assembly dispersed on these friendly terms, myself and friends returning to Far West, where we arrived about midnight and found all quiet.
The spirit of mobocracy continued to stalk abroad, notwithstanding all our treaties of peace, as will seen by the following affidavit:
"State of Missouri, Ray County,
"Personally appeared before me, the undersigned, Judge of the Fifth Judicial Circuit, William P. Peniston, and makes oath that he has good reason to believe and that he verily does believe, that there is now collected and embodied in the County of Daviess, a large body of armed men, whose movements and conduct are of a highly insurrectionary and unlawful character; that they consist of about five hundred men, and that they, or part of them, to the number of one hundred and twenty, have committed violence against Adam Black, by surrounding his house and taking him in a violent manner and subjecting him to great indignities, by forcing him under threats of immediate death to sign a paper writing of a very disgraceful character, and by threatening to do the same to all the old settlers and citizens of Daviess County; and that they have, as a collected and armed body, threatened to put to instant death this affiant on sight; and that he verily believes they will accomplish that act without they are prevented; and also they have threatened the same to William Bowman and others; and this affiant states that he verily believes all the above facts to be true, and that the body of men now assembled do intend to commit great violence to many of the citizens of Daviess County, and that they have already done so to Adam Black; and this affiant verily believes, from information of others, that Joseph Smith, Jr., and Lyman Wight are the leaders of this body of armed men, and the names of others there combined are not certainly known to the affiant; and he further stated the fact to be that it is his opinion, and he verily believes that it is the object of this body of armed men to take vengeance for some injuries, or imaginary injuries done to some of their friends, and to intimidate and drive from the county all the old citizens, and possess themselves of their lands, or to force such as do not leave to come into their measures and submit to their dictation. "William P. Peniston. "Sworn to and subscribed, the 10th day of August, 1838. "Austin A. King."
The above was also sworn to by William Bowman, Wilson McKinney, and John Netherton, so it is that when men's hearts become so hard and corrupt as to glory in devising, robbing, plundering, mobbing, and murdering innocent men, women, and children by wholesale, they will more readily swear to lies than speak the truth.
At the time some of the brethren had removed with their families from the vicinity of Gallatin, to Diahman and Far West, for safety. Saturday, 11th. This morning I left Far West with my council and Elder Almon W. Babbitt, to visit the brethren on the forks of Grand River, who had come from Canada with Elder Babbitt, and settled at that place contrary to counsel. In the afternoon, after my departure, a committee from Ray County arrived at Far West to inquire into the proceedings of our society in going armed into Daviess County, complaint having been entered in Ray County by Adam Black, William P. Peniston, and others. The committee from Ray requested an interview with a committee of Caldwell, and a general meeting was called at the City Hall at six in the evening, when it was stated that they were assembled to take into consideration the doings of the citizens of Ray County, wherein they have accused the "Mormons" of this place of breaking the peace, in defending their rights and those of their brethren in the county of Daviess, and the meeting organized by appointing Bishop E. Partridge chairman, and George W. Robinson clerk.
"Resolved, first. That a committee of seven be appointed to confer with the committee from Ray.
"Resolved, second. That this committee with their secretary be authorized to answer such questions as may be offered by the committee from Ray, and as are named in the document presented this meeting, purporting to be the preamble and resolutions of the citizens of Ray.
"Resolved, third. That whereas the document referred to has no date or signature, our committee judge of the fact, and act accordingly.
"Resolved, fourth. That our committee report their proceedings to this meeting as soon as possible.
"Edward Partridge, Chairman, George W. Robinson, Clerk."
Sunday, 12th. I continued with the brethren at the forks of Grand River, offering such counsel as their situation required. Monday, 13th. I returned with my council to Far West. We were chased by sonic evil designing men some ten or twelve miles, but we eluded their grasp, when within about eight miles of home we met some brethren, who had come to inform us that a writ had been issued by Judge King for my arrest and that of Lyman Wight, for attempting to defend our rights against the mob.
Thursday, 16th. I spent to-day principally at home. The sheriff of Daviess, accompanied by Judge Morin, called and notified me that
he had a writ to take me to Daviess County, on trial for visiting that county on the seventh instant. It had been currently reported that I would not be apprehended by legal process, and that I would not submit to the laws of the land; but I told the sheriff that I calculated always to submit to the laws of our country, but I wished to be tried in my own county, as the citizens of Daviess County were highly exasperated at me, and that the laws of the country gave me this privilege. Upon hearing this the sheriff declined
serving the writ, and said he would go to Richmond and see Judge King on the subject. I told him I would remain at home until his return.
The sheriff returned from Richmond and found me at home (where I had remained during his absence) and informed me very gravely that I was out of his jurisdiction, and that he could not act in Caldwell, and retired. Shortly after the above occurred, Adam Black, justice of the peace above referred to, executed and filed with the State authorities the following affidavit:
"State of Missouri, "County of Daviess,
"Before William Dryden, one of the justices of the peace in said county, personally came Adam Black, who being duly sworn according to law, deposeth and saith; That on or about the 8th day of August. 1838, in the County of Daviess, there came on armed force of men, said to be one hundred and fifty-four, to the best of my information, and surrounded his house and family, and threatened him with instant death if he did not sign a certain instrument of writing, binding himself, as a justice of the peace for said County of Daviess, not to molest the people called Mormons; and threatened the lives of myself and other individuals, and did say they intended to make every citizen sign such obligation, and further said they intended to have satisfaction for abuse they had received on Monday previous, and they could not submit to the laws; and further saith; that from the best information and his own personal knowledge, that Andrew Ripley, George A. Smith, Ephriam Owens, Harvey Humstead, Hiram Nelson, A. Brown, John L. Butler, Cornelius Lott, John Wood, H. Redfield, Riley Stewart, James Whitaker, Andrew Thor, Amos Tubbs, Dr. Gourze, and Abram Nelson, were guilty of aiding and abetting in committing and perpetrating the above offense. ... "Adam Black. "Sworn to and subscribed this the 28th day of August, 1838. "W. Dryden, justice of the peace of the county aforesaid."
On Sunday, September 2, 1838, Joseph Smith, jr., sent for General David R. Atchison, of Liberty, Missouri, who was in command of a division of the Missouri State militia with the rank of Major General, and who was also one of the ablest lawyers in the State, in the hopes that his presence and advice at Far West would result in a cessation of the preparation for hostilities then going on in Daviess County. At the same time a letter was dispatched by Smith to Circuit Judge Austin A. King, praying the latter to assist in putting down what "the Prophet" termed "the mob" then collecting in Daviess County. General Atchison arrived in Far West the next night and was employed, along with his partner, Alexander W. Doniphan, as legal counsel by the Mormons. The First Presidency of the church at that time consisted of Joseph Smith, jr., Sidney Rigdon, and Hyrum Smith, and it is worthy of note that President Joseph Smith, jr., and Sidney Rigdon commenced the study of law on September 4, 1838, and that on the same date Joseph Smith, jr., and Lyman Wight volunteered to surrender themselves for a preliminary hearing before Judge Austin A. King in Daviess County. Accordingly it was arranged that the preliminary hearing was to be conducted by Judge King at the farm residence of a Mr. Littlefield, in the southern part of Daviess County, near the present site of Winston. On Wednesday, September 5, Joseph Smith executed the following affidavit:
State of Missouri, ss. Caldwell County,
Before me, Elias Higbee, one of the justices of the county court, within and for the County of Caldwell aforesaid, personally came Joseph Smith, jr., who saith: That on the seventh day of August, 1838, being informed that an affray had taken place in Daviess County at the election in the town of Gallatin, in which two persons were killed and one person was badly wounded, and had fled to the woods to save his life; all of which were said to be persons belonging to the society of the Church of Latter Day Saints; and further, said informant stated that those persons who committed the outrage would not suffer the bodies of those who had been killed to be taken off the ground and buried. These reports, with others, one of which was that the Saints had not the privilege of voting at the polls as other citizens; another was that those opposed to the Saints were determined to drive them from Daviess County, and also that they were arming and strengthening their forces and preparing for battle; and that the Saints were preparing and working ready to stand in self-defense. These reports having excited the feelings of the citizens of Far West and vicinity, I was invited by Dr. Avard and some others to go out to Daviess County to the scene of these outrages; they having previously determined to go out and learn the facts concerning said reports. Accordingly, some of the citizens, myself among the number, went out, two, three, and four in companies, as they got ready. The reports and excitement continued until several of those small companies through the day were induced to follow the first, who were all eager to learn the facts concerning this matter. We arrived in the evening at the house of Lyman Wight, about three miles from Gallatin, the scene of the reported outrages. Here we learned the truth concerning the said affray, which had been considerably exaggerated, yet there had been a serious outrage committed. We there learned that the mob was collected at Millport, to a considerable number; that Adam Black was at their head; and were to attack the Saints the next day, at the place we then were, called Adam-ondi-Ahman. This report we were still inclined to believe might be true, as this Adam Black, who was said to be their leader, had been, but a few months before engaged in endeavoring to drive those of the society, who had settled in that vicinity, from the county. This had become notorious from the fact that said Black had personally ordered several of said society to leave the county. The next morning we dispatched a committee to said Black's to ascertain the truth of these reports, and to know what his intentions were, and as we understood he was a peace officer, we wished to know what we might expect from him. They reported that Mr. Black instead of giving them any assurance of peace insulted them and gave them no satisfaction. Being desirous of knowing the feelings of Mr. Black for myself, and being in want of good water, and understanding there was none nearer than Mr. Black's spring, myself with several others mounted our horses and rode off to Mr. Black's fence.
Doctor Avard, with one or two others who had rode ahead, went into Mr. Black's house; myself and some others went to the spring for water. I was shortly after sent for by Mr. Black and invited into the house, being introduced to Mr. Black by Doctor Avard. Mr. Black wished me to be seated. We then commenced a conversation on the subject of the late difficulties and present excitement I found Mr. Black quite hostile in his feelings toward the Saints, but he assured us he did not belong to the mob, neither would he take any part with them; but said he was bound by his oath to support the constitution of the United States and the laws of the State of Missouri. Deponent then asked him if he would make said statement in writing so as to refute the arguments of those who had affirmed that he (Black) was one of the leaders of the mob. Mr. Black answered in the affirmative. Accordingly, he did so, which writing is in possession of the deponent. The deponent further saith that no violence was offered to any individual in his presence or within his knowledge; and that no insulting
language was given by either party, except on the part of Mrs. Black, who, while Mr. Black was engaged in making out the above-named writing (which he made with his own hand), gave to the deponent and others of this society highly insulting language and false accusations, which were calculated in their nature to greatly irritate, if possible, the feelings of the bystanders belonging to said society, in language like this:
Being asked by the deponent if she knew anything in the "Mormon" people derogatory to the character of gentlemen, she answered in the negative, but said she did not know but that the object of their visit was to steal something from them. After Mr. Black had executed the writing, deponent asked Mr. Black if he had any unfriendly feelings towards the deponent, and if he had not treated him genteelly. He answered in the affirmative. Deponent then took leave of said Black and repaired to the house of Lyman Wight. The next day we returned to Far West, and further this deponent saith not. ..... Joseph Smith, Jr.
Sworn to and subscribed this fifth day of September, A. D. 1838. Elias Higbee, J. C. C. C. C.
Judge King opened court for the preliminary hearing of Smith and Wight at the Littlefield home on September 6, but no testimony was taken and the causes were continued over till 10 o'clock the next morning; the hearings to be had at a Mr. Raglin's some six or eight miles further south and within a half-mile of the Caldwell County line. The court convened at Mr. Raglin's the next morning. William P. Peniston was the prosecutor. Adam Black was the sole witness for the State. The defense introduced the testimony of Dimick B. Huntington, Gideon Carter, Adam Lightner, and George W. Robinson. The result of the matter was that Joseph Smith, jr., and Lyman Wight were bound over to court in a five-hundred-dollar bond. A committee of inquiry from Chariton County arrived in Far West on September 8, and after listening to the statements made by General Atchison and the Presidency, returned to their homes.
About this time it became known in Far West that a wagon load of firearms was being transported from Richmond, Missouri, to Daviess County, and the Mormon civil authorities in Far West concluded to intercept them; a writ was placed in the hands of William Allred, who with ten mounted men surrounded the wagon and after placing John B. Comer, William L. McHaney, and Allen Miller under arrest, brought the prisoners, with their wagonload of guns, into Far West. These men were held as prisoners till September 12, on which date they were given a preliminary hearing in Far West and bound over for their appearance at circuit court, John B. Comer to answer to a charge of "attempting to smuggle arms to a mob"; the other men being held as his accomplices—at least that is the statement made in the "History of the Church."
The arrest of these three men created great excitement. The Saints petitioned the Governor of Missouri at once for protection, while the Missourians petitioned the Governor to drive all Mormons from the State. On September 11, General Atchison in his military capacity ordered the militia to march immediately to the scene of excitement and insurrection; this order being given by Major General Atchison to his law partner, Brigadier General Doniphan. The latter acted with alacrity, as evidenced by the following report:
Headquarters 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, Missouri, Military Camp at Grand River. September 15, 1838. Major General David R. Atchison,
Commanding 3rd Division Missouri Militia.
Sir: In pursuance to your order dated 11th inst, I issued orders to Colonel William A. Dunn, commanding the 28th Regiment, to raise four companies of mounted riflemen, consisting of fifty men each, also to Colonel Boulware, commanding 70th Regiment, to raise two companies of mounted riflemen, consisting each of like numbers, to start forthwith for service in the counties of Caldwell and Daviess. On the same day, Colonel Dunn obtained the four companies of volunteers required from the 28th Regiment, and on the morning of the 12th I took command in person and marched to the line of Caldwell, at which point I ordered the colonels to march the regiments to the timber on Crooked River. I then started for Far West, the county seat of Caldwell, accompanied by my aid alone. On arriving at that place I found Comer, Miller, and McHaney, the prisoners mentioned in your order. I demanded of the guard who had them in confinement to deliver them over to me, which he promptly did. I also found that the guns that had been captured by the sheriff and citizens of Caldwell had been distributed and placed in the hands of the soldiery and scattered over the country; I ordered them to be immediately collected and delivered up to me. I then sent an express to Colonel Dunn to march the regiment by daylight for that place, where he arrived about seven a. m., making forty miles since ten o'clock a. m. on the previous day. When my command arrived, the guns were delivered up, amounting to forty-two stand; three stand could not be produced, as they had probably gone to Daviess County. I sent these guns under a guard to your command in Ray County, together with the prisoner Comer; the other two being citizens of Daviess, I retained and brought with me to this county, and released them on parole of honor, as I conceived their detention illegal. At eight o'clock a. m. we took up the line of march and proceeded through Millport in Daviess County, thirty-seven miles from our former encampment, and arrived at the camp of the citizens of Daviess and other adjoining counties, which amounted to between two and three hundred, as their commander, Doctor Austin, of Carroll, informed me. Your order requiring them to disperse, which had been forwarded in advance of my command, by your aid, James M. Hughes, was read to them, and they were required to disperse. They professed that their object for arming and collecting was solely for defense, but they were marching and countermarching guards out; and myself and others who approached the camp were taken to task and reared to wait the approach of the sergeant of the guard. I had an interview with Doctor Austin, and his professions were all pacific. But they still continue in arms, marching and countermarching. I took up the line of march and encamped in the direct road between the two hostile encampments, where I have remained since, within about two and a half miles of Wights Encampment, and sometimes the other camp is nearer, and sometimes farther from me. I intend to occupy this position until your arrival, and deem it best to preserve peace and prevent an engagement between the parties, and if kept so for n few days they will doubtless disband without coercion. I have the honor to be, Yours with respect, .... A. W. Doniphan, Brigadier General 1st Brigade, 3rd Division Missouri Militia.
Subsequently Major General Atchison arrived, and his report to Governor Boggs, the commander in chief, will show his views of the situation:
Headquarters 3rd Division, Missouri Militia,
Grand River, September 17, 1838.
To His Excellency, the Commander in Chief; Sir:
I arrived at the county seat of this county, Daviess, on the evening of the 15th instant, with the troops raised from the militia of Ray County under the command of General Doniphan. In the same neighborhood I found from two to three hundred men in arms, principally from the counties of
Livingston, Carroll, and Saline. These men were embodied under the protest of defending the citizens of Daviess County against the Mormons; and were operating under the orders of a Doctor Austin from Carroll County. The citizens of Daviess, or a large portion of them, residing on each side of Grand River, had left their farms and removed their families either to the adjoining counties or collected them together at a place called the Camp Ground. The whole county on the east side of Grand River appears to be deserted, with the exception of a few who are not so timid as their neighbors. The Mormons of Daviess County have also left their farms, and have encamped for safety at a place immediately on the east bank of Grand River, called Adam-ondi-Ahman. The numbers are supposed to be about two hundred and fifty men, citizens of Daviess County, and from fifty to one hundred men, citizens of Caldwell County. Both parties have been scouting through the country and occasionally taking prisoners, and threatening and insulting each other; but as yet no blood has been shed. I have ordered all armed men from adjoining counties to repair to their homes; the Livingston County men and others to the amount of one hundred men have returned, and there remain now about one hundred and fifty who will, I am in hopes, return in a few days. I have been informed by the Mormons, that all of those who have been charged with a violation of the laws will be in to-day for trial; when that is done the troops under my command will be no longer required in this county, if the citizens of other counties will return to their respective homes. I have proposed to leave two companies of fifty men each in this county and discharge the remainder of the troops; said two companies will remain for the preservation of order, until peace and confidence are restored. I also inclose to your Excellency the report of General Doniphan, and I refer you for particulars to Major Rogers.
I have the honor to be your obedient servant, D. R, Atchison, Major General 3rd Division Missouri Militia.
On the 18th, Governor Boggs undoubtedly considering the force under Atchison too small, or considering the general too pacific in his measures, ordered the fourth division, under General S. D. Lucas, to the scene of trouble, there to cooperate with the forces under General Atchison.
General Atchison again reported to the Governor as follows:
Sir: The troops ordered out for the purpose of putting down the insurrection supposed to exist in the Counties of Daviess and Caldwell
were discharged on the 20th instant, with the exception of two companies of the Ray Militia, now stationed in the County of Daviess, under the command of Brigadier General Parks. It was deemed necessary in the state of excitement in that county that three companies should remain there for a short period longer, say some twenty days, until confidence and tranquility should be restored. All the offenders against the law in that county, against whom process was taken out, were arrested and brought before a court of inquiry, and recognized to appear at the circuit court. Mr. Thomas C. Berch attended to the prosecuting on the part of the State. The citizens of other counties who came in armed to the assistance of the citizens of Daviess County have dispersed and retired to their respective homes, and the Mormons have also returned to their homes; so that I consider the insurrection, for the present at least, at an end. From the best information I can get there are about two hundred and fifty Mormon families in Daviess County, nearly one half of the population, and the whole of the Mormon forces in Daviess, Caldwell, and the adjoining counties is estimated at from thirteen to fifteen hundred men, capable of bearing arms. The Mormons of Daviess County, as I stated in a former report, were encamped in a town called Adam-ondi-Ahman, and are headed by Lyman Wight, a bold, brave, skillful, and I may add, a desperate man; they appear to be acting on the defensive, and I must further add, pave up the offenders with a good deal of promptness. The arms taken by the Mormons, and prisoners, were also given up upon demand, with seeming cheerfulness.
On September 25, General Parks, who was left in command, wrote the Governor as follows:
Whatever may have been the disposition of the people called Mormons, before our arrival here, since we have made our appearance they have shown no disposition to resist the laws, or of hostile intentions. There has been so much prejudice and exaggeration concerned in this matter, that I found things entirely different from what I was prepared to expect When we arrived here we found a large body of men from the counties adjoining armed and in the field for the purpose, as I learned, of assisting the people of this county against the Mormons, without being called out by the proper authorities.
P. S. Since writing the above, I received information that if the committee do not agree, the determination of the Daviess County men is to drive the Mormons with powder and lead.
He wrote General Atchison on the same date, thus:
I am happy to be able to state to you that the deep excitement existing between the parties has in a great degree ceased; and so far I have had no occasion to resort to force in assisting the constables. On to-morrow a committee from Daviess County meets a committee of the Mormons at Adam-ondi-Ahman, to propose to them to buy or sell, and I expect to be there.
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