“A History, of the Persecution, of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter Day Saints in Missouri,” December 1839–October 1840

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction
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hostilities upon either party. At this time however, there was another mob collecting on , at William Mann’s, who were threatening us; consequently we remained under arms on Monday the 29th, which passed away without molestation from any quarter. On Tuesday the 30th, that bloody tragedy was acted; the scenes of which, I shall never forget.
More than three fourths of the day had passed in tranquility, as smiling as the preceding one. I think there was no individual of our company that was apprized of the sudden and awful fate that hung over our heads like an overwhelming torrent, to change the prospects, the feelings, and circumstances of about thirty families. The banks of , on either side, teemed with children sporting and playing, while their mothers were engaged in domestic employments, and their fathers, employed in guarding the mills and other property; while others were engaged in gathering in their crops for their winter consumption. The weather was very pleasant; the sun shone clear; all was tranquil, and no one expressed any apprehensions of the awful crisis that was near us, even at our doors.
It was about 4 o’clock, while sitting in my cabin, with my babe in my arms, and my standing by my side, the door being open, I cast my eyes on the oppisite bank of , and saw a large company of armed men on horses, directing their course towards the mills, with all possible speed. As they advanced through the scattering trees that stood on the edge of the prairy, they seemed to form themselves into a three square position, forming a van guard in front. At this moment David Evans, seeing the superiority of their numbers (there being two hundred and forty of them, according to their own account) swung his hat and cried for peace. This not being heeded, they continued to advance, and their leader , fired a gun, which was followed by a solemn pause of ten, or twelve seconds, when, all at once they discharged about one hundred rifles, aiming at a black smith’s shop, into which our friends had fled for safety: and charging up to the shop, the cracks of which, between the logs, were sufficiently large to enable them to aim directly at the bodies of those who had there fled for refuge from the fire of their murderers.— There were several families, tented in rear of the shop, whose lives were exposed, and amidst a shower of bullets, fled to the woods in different directions. After standing and gazing on this bloody scene for a few minutes, and finding myself in the utmost danger, the bullets having reached the house where I was living, I committed my family to the protection of heaven, and leaving the house on the opposite side, I took a path which led up the hill, following in the trail of three of my brethren that had fled from the shop. While ascending the hill, we were discovered by the mob, who immediately fired at us and continued so to do, till we reached the summit. In descending the hill, I secreted myself in a thicket of bushes, where I lay till eight o’clock in the evening, at which time I heard a female voice calling my name in an under tone, telling me that the mob had gone and there was no danger. I immediately left the thicket and went to the house of Benjamin Lewis, where I found my family (who had fled there) in safety, and two of my friends mortally wounded, one of whom, died before morning.
Here we passed that awful night in deep and painful reflections on the scenes of the preceding evening. After day light appeared, some four or five men with myself who had escaped with our lives from the horrid massacre, repaired as soon as possible, to the mills, to learn the condition of our friends whose fate, we had truly anticipated.
When we arrived at the house of , we found Mr. [Levi] Merrick’s body lying in the rear of the house, ’s in front, literally mangled from head to foot. We were imformed by Miss Rebecca Judd, who was an eye witness, that he was shot with his own gun, after he had given it up, and then was cut to pieces with an old corn cutter, by a of , who keeps a ferry on , and who has since, repeatedly boasted of this act of savage barbarity. ’s body we found in the house; and after viewing [p. 146]
hostilities upon either party. At this time however, there was another mob collecting on , at William Mann’s, who were threatening us; consequently we remained under arms on Monday the 29th, which passed away without molestation from any quarter. On Tuesday the 30th, that bloody tragedy was acted; the scenes of which, I shall never forget.
More than three fourths of the day had passed in tranquility, as smiling as the preceding one. I think there was no individual of our company that was apprized of the sudden and awful fate that hung over our heads like an overwhelming torrent, to change the prospects, the feelings, and circumstances of about thirty families. The banks of , on either side, teemed with children sporting and playing, while their mothers were engaged in domestic employments, and their fathers, employed in guarding the mills and other property; while others were engaged in gathering in their crops for their winter consumption. The weather was very pleasant; the sun shone clear; all was tranquil, and no one expressed any apprehensions of the awful crisis that was near us, even at our doors.
It was about 4 o’clock, while sitting in my cabin, with my babe in my arms, and my standing by my side, the door being open, I cast my eyes on the oppisite bank of , and saw a large company of armed men on horses, directing their course towards the mills, with all possible speed. As they advanced through the scattering trees that stood on the edge of the prairy, they seemed to form themselves into a three square position, forming a van guard in front. At this moment David Evans, seeing the superiority of their numbers (there being two hundred and forty of them, according to their own account) swung his hat and cried for peace. This not being heeded, they continued to advance, and their leader , fired a gun, which was followed by a solemn pause of ten, or twelve seconds, when, all at once they discharged about one hundred rifles, aiming at a black smith’s shop, into which our friends had fled for safety: and charging up to the shop, the cracks of which, between the logs, were sufficiently large to enable them to aim directly at the bodies of those who had there fled for refuge from the fire of their murderers.— There were several families, tented in rear of the shop, whose lives were exposed, and amidst a shower of bullets, fled to the woods in different directions. After standing and gazing on this bloody scene for a few minutes, and finding myself in the utmost danger, the bullets having reached the house where I was living, I committed my family to the protection of heaven, and leaving the house on the opposite side, I took a path which led up the hill, following in the trail of three of my brethren that had fled from the shop. While ascending the hill, we were discovered by the mob, who immediately fired at us and continued so to do, till we reached the summit. In descending the hill, I secreted myself in a thicket of bushes, where I lay till eight o’clock in the evening, at which time I heard a female voice calling my name in an under tone, telling me that the mob had gone and there was no danger. I immediately left the thicket and went to the house of Benjamin Lewis, where I found my family (who had fled there) in safety, and two of my friends mortally wounded, one of whom, died before morning.
Here we passed that awful night in deep and painful reflections on the scenes of the preceding evening. After day light appeared, some four or five men with myself who had escaped with our lives from the horrid massacre, repaired as soon as possible, to the mills, to learn the condition of our friends whose fate, we had truly anticipated.
When we arrived at the house of , we found Mr. Levi Merrick’s body lying in the rear of the house, ’s in front, literally mangled from head to foot. We were imformed by Miss Rebecca Judd, who was an eye witness, that he was shot with his own gun, after he had given it up, and then was cut to pieces with an old corn cutter, by a of , who keeps a ferry on , and who has since, repeatedly boasted of this act of savage barbarity. ’s body we found in the house; and after viewing [p. 146]
Page 146