31700

Letter, 30 October 1833

Extract of a lettter dated, “Independence

Located twelve miles from western Missouri border. Permanently settled, platted, and designated county seat, 1827. Hub for steamboat travel on Missouri River. Point of departure for Santa Fe Trail. Population in 1831 about 300. Mormon population by summer...

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, October 30, 1833.
Dear brethren,—Through the mercy and aid of our heavenly Father we are yet alive; and we are very thankful for such a blessing. Since I last wrote we have been through a scene.1

It is not known who wrote this letter or when it was sent. For the last known letter written from Missouri to church leaders in Kirtland, Ohio, see Letter from John Whitmer, 29 July 1833.  


We declared publicly a week a go last Sunday2

20 October 1833.  


that we as a people should defend our lands and houses. On Monday3

21 October 1833.  


the mob, or at least some of the leaders began to move; strict orders were given with us not to be the aggressors—4

Who ordered the Mormons “not to be the aggressors” is unknown.  


but to warn them not to come upon us, &c. and as court was to set on Monday,5

28 October 1833.  


it was noised abroad that the leaders of the mob would be called upon to bind themselves to keep the peace.6

In his response to the church leaders’ petition for protection and legal redress, Governor Daniel Dunklin advised church members to seek the aid of the local judge if they felt their lives were threatened. “It would be his duty,” wrote Dunklin, “to have the offenders apprehended and bind them to keep the peace.” If such attempts failed to mitigate the situation, then the persecuted Mormons were to report back to Dunklin, and he promised that he would then “take such steps as will enforce a faithful execution of [the laws].” Edward Partridge later wrote that church leaders made several attempts to acquire a warrant for peace from at least three different justices between 1 and 6 November 1833. (“To His Excellency, Daniel Dunklin,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Dec. 1833, 115; Letter from Edward Partridge, between 14 and 19 Nov. 1833.)  


It was a solemn looking time. The mob had lost no time in sending rumors, and counselling; above fifty of them met on Saturday7

26 October 1833.  


and voted to a hand to move the “mormons:”—They counselled and rode all day of Sunday.8

27 October 1833.  


The great Monday9

28 October 1833.  


came, but fewer people were seldom seen at a Circuit Court—No mob, but great threats. A number of families arrived last week from Ohio

French explored area, 1669. British took possession following French and Indian War, 1763. Ceded to U.S., 1783. First permanent white settlement established, 1788. Northeastern portion maintained as part of Connecticut, 1786, and called Connecticut Western...

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, Indianna, and 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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; some of whom were attacked by the leaders of the mob, but I believe they received no injury. Yours &c.” [p. 119]
Extract of a lettter dated, “Independence

Located twelve miles from western Missouri border. Permanently settled, platted, and designated county seat, 1827. Hub for steamboat travel on Missouri River. Point of departure for Santa Fe Trail. Population in 1831 about 300. Mormon population by summer...

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, October 30, 1833.
Dear brethren,—Through the mercy and aid of our heavenly Father we  are yet alive; and we are very thankful for such a blessing. Since I last  wrote we have been through a scene.1

It is not known who wrote this letter or when it was sent. For the last known letter written from Missouri to church leaders in Kirtland, Ohio, see Letter from John Whitmer, 29 July 1833.  


We declared publicly a week a go  last Sunday2

20 October 1833.  


that we as a people should defend our lands and houses. On  Monday3

21 October 1833.  


the mob, or at least some of the leaders began to move; strict or ders were given with us not to be the aggressors—4

Who ordered the Mormons “not to be the aggressors” is unknown.  


but to warn them not to  come upon us, &c. and as court was to set on Monday,5

28 October 1833.  


it was noised abroad  that the leaders of the mob would be called upon to bind themselves to keep  the peace.6

In his response to the church leaders’ petition for protection and legal redress, Governor Daniel Dunklin advised church members to seek the aid of the local judge if they felt their lives were threatened. “It would be his duty,” wrote Dunklin, “to have the offenders apprehended and bind them to keep the peace.” If such attempts failed to mitigate the situation, then the persecuted Mormons were to report back to Dunklin, and he promised that he would then “take such steps as will enforce a faithful execution of [the laws].” Edward Partridge later wrote that church leaders made several attempts to acquire a warrant for peace from at least three different justices between 1 and 6 November 1833. (“To His Excellency, Daniel Dunklin,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Dec. 1833, 115; Letter from Edward Partridge, between 14 and 19 Nov. 1833.)  


It was a solemn looking time. The mob had lost no time in  sending rumors, and counselling; above fifty of them met on Saturday7

26 October 1833.  


and  voted to a hand to move the “mormons:”—They counselled and rode all  day of Sunday.8

27 October 1833.  


The great Monday9

28 October 1833.  


came, but fewer people were seldom  seen at a Circuit Court—No mob, but great threats. A number of fami lies arrived last week from Ohio

French explored area, 1669. British took possession following French and Indian War, 1763. Ceded to U.S., 1783. First permanent white settlement established, 1788. Northeastern portion maintained as part of Connecticut, 1786, and called Connecticut Western...

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, Indianna, and 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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; some of whom  were attacked by the leaders of the mob, but I believe they received no in jury. Yours &c.” [p. 119]
In late July 1833, church members, under duress and likely hoping to placate angry citizens, agreed to begin leaving Jackson County

Settled at Fort Osage, 1808. County created, 16 Feb. 1825; organized 1826. Named after U.S. president Andrew Jackson. Featured fertile lands along Missouri River and was Santa Fe Trail departure point, which attracted immigrants to area. Area of county reduced...

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, Missouri, by the following January. In return their neighbors promised to leave them in peace.1

See Memorandum of Agreement, 23 July 1833, CHL; see also Letter from John Whitmer, 29 July 1833.  


Whether church members actually intended to vacate their lands is unclear. “The saints were not pleased with the idea of leaving the county,” remembered Edward Partridge

27 Aug. 1793–27 May 1840. Hatter. Born at Pittsfield, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts. Son of William Partridge and Jemima Bidwell. Moved to Painesville, Geauga Co., Ohio. Married Lydia Clisbee, 22 Aug. 1819, at Painesville. Initially a Universal Restorationist...

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, “and few of them, at first, believed that they would have to leave it, thinking that the government would protect them, in their constitutional rights.”2

[Edward Partridge], “A History, of the Persecution,” Times and Seasons, Dec. 1839, 1:19.  


Other residents, however, fully expected the Mormons to evacuate. David Pettegrew

29 July 1791–31 Dec. 1863. Farmer. Born in Weathersfield, Windsor Co., Vermont. Son of William Pettegrew and Phoebe. Married Elizabeth Alden. Moved to Cincinnati. Master Mason of Harmony Masonic Lodge, Oct. 1820, in Cincinnati. Moved to Kelso, Dearborn Co...

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wrote that sometime after the violence of 20 July 1833, a neighbor threatened to force him off his land as he worked in his fields: “Mr Pettegrew, you are at work, as though you intended to remain here.” Pettegrew responded, “I thought I had ‘right to stay upon my own land.’” The neighbor yelled back, “We are determined to drive you away from this Country, and we will stop you from emigrating here.”3

Pettegrew, “History,” 17.  


Certainly, some church members intended to remain on their property in Jackson County; as indicated in the letter extract featured here, threats meant to prevent Mormon immigration did not stop some families from moving 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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in the fall of 1833.
In an 18 August 1833 letter, JS encouraged 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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church members to retain their deeds and remain on their lands in Jackson County

Settled at Fort Osage, 1808. County created, 16 Feb. 1825; organized 1826. Named after U.S. president Andrew Jackson. Featured fertile lands along Missouri River and was Santa Fe Trail departure point, which attracted immigrants to area. Area of county reduced...

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despite the agreement made by church leaders the month before.4 In the letter, delivered by 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 John Gould

21 Dec. 1784–25 June 1855. Pastor, farmer. Born in New Hampshire. Married first Oliva Swanson of Massachusetts. Resided at Portsmouth, Rockingham Co., New Hampshire, 1808. Lived in Vermont. Moved to northern Pennsylvania, 1817. Served as minister in Freewill...

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sometime in the latter half of September,5

Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson Co., MO, 10 Aug. 1833; Letter to Vienna Jaques, 4 Sept. 1833; Oliver Cowdery, Kirtland, OH, to John Whitmer, Missouri, 1 Jan. 1834, in Cowdery, Letterbook, 14–17; Knight, History, 439.  


JS advised faithful church members not to sell their lands in Jackson County: “Not one foot of land perchased should be given to the enimies of God or sold to them.” He also suggested they “send Embasadors to the authorities of the government and sue for protection and redress.”6 Late in September 1833, church leaders prepared a petition and sent it to Missouri governor Daniel Dunklin

14 Jan. 1790–25 July 1844. Farmer, tavern owner, businessman, investor, lawyer, politician. Born near Greenville, Greenville District, South Carolina. Son of Joseph Dunklin Jr. and Sarah Margaret Sullivan. Moved to what became Caldwell Co., Kentucky, 1806...

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, asking him to raise troops to protect the Mormons so the Mormons could defend their rights and initiate lawsuits for “the loss of property—for abuse—for defamation.” The Missouri church leaders also suggested that the perpetrators of the violence against them be tried for treason.7

JS History, vol. A-1, 346; Corrill, Brief History, 19; see also “To His Excellency, Daniel Dunklin,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Dec. 1833, 114–115.  


Almost immediately after arriving in Missouri, Hyde traveled with William W. Phelps

17 Feb. 1792–7 Mar. 1872. Writer, teacher, printer, newspaper editor, publisher, postmaster, lawyer. Born at Hanover, Morris Co., New Jersey. Son of Enon Phelps and Mehitabel Goldsmith. Moved to Homer, Cortland Co., New York, 1800. Married Sally Waterman,...

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to Jefferson City, Missouri, and on 7 October 1833 delivered to Governor Dunklin the petition requesting redress for wrongs committed against church members in July.8

See Letter from John Whitmer, 29 July 1833; Knight, History, 440; Daniel Dunklin to Orson Hyde, 8 Oct. 1833, William W. Phelps, Collection of Missouri Documents, CHL; and “To His Excellency, Daniel Dunklin,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Dec. 1833, 114–115.  


Dunklin received the petition before other Jackson County residents learned of the Mormons’ request for redress. On 19 October 1833, Dunklin responded to their plea saying, “No citizen nor number of citizens have a right to take the redress of their grievances, whether real or imaginary, into their own hands. . . . I would advise you to make a trial of the efficacy of the laws.”9

Daniel Dunklin, Jefferson City, MO, to Edward Partridge et al., Independence, MO, 19 Oct. 1833, William W. Phelps, Collection of Missouri Documents, CHL.  


He also admonished them to seek redress through the court system in Jackson County.
According to the letter extract featured here, one day after Dunklin

14 Jan. 1790–25 July 1844. Farmer, tavern owner, businessman, investor, lawyer, politician. Born near Greenville, Greenville District, South Carolina. Son of Joseph Dunklin Jr. and Sarah Margaret Sullivan. Moved to what became Caldwell Co., Kentucky, 1806...

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sent his response to church leaders, and likely before they received his missive, church leaders publicly announced their intentions to defend themselves and to remain on their lands. An Ohio

French explored area, 1669. British took possession following French and Indian War, 1763. Ceded to U.S., 1783. First permanent white settlement established, 1788. Northeastern portion maintained as part of Connecticut, 1786, and called Connecticut Western...

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newspaper reported later that members of the church “declined taking up their line of march as they had stipulated, and instead thereof, had erected a temporary bulwark, and supplied themselves with fire locks for the purpose of nullifying, in accordance with the legal advisement of their prophet, the treaty they had entered into.”10

“More Nullification,” Ashtabula (OH) Republican, 7 Dec. 1833, [2], italics in original. The Painesville Telegraph printed a similar report: “It is said that, since the previous affair, the Prophet had sent orders to the brethren there, to ‘stand by their arms,’ instead of leaving the place as they had agreed. They had accordingly erected some kind of baricade and supplied themselves with arms.” (“More Trouble in the Mormon Camp,” Painesville [OH] Telegraph, 29 Nov. 1833, [3].)  


After announcing that they would remain on their lands, church leaders took the advice of both JS and Governor Dunklin and hired legal counsel. On 30 October, William W. Phelps

17 Feb. 1792–7 Mar. 1872. Writer, teacher, printer, newspaper editor, publisher, postmaster, lawyer. Born at Hanover, Morris Co., New Jersey. Son of Enon Phelps and Mehitabel Goldsmith. Moved to Homer, Cortland Co., New York, 1800. Married Sally Waterman,...

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accepted, on behalf of several church leaders 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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, a proposal from prominent attorneys 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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, Amos Rees

2 Dec. 1800–29 Jan. 1886. Lawyer. Born in Winchester, Frederick Co., Virginia. Moved to Clay Co., Missouri, by 1830. Married Judith B. Trigg, 15 July 1830, in Liberty, Clay Co. Prosecuting attorney for Clay Co., 1831–1834. Prosecuting attorney for Missouri...

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, William Thomas Wood

25 Mar. 1809–11 May 1902. Lawyer. Born in Gordon Station (likely near present-day Harrodsburg), Mercer Co., Kentucky. Son of William Wood and Sallie Thomas. Mason. Moved to Columbia, Boone Co., Missouri, 1829. Moved to Clay Co., Missouri, by 1830. Appointed...

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, and David R. Atchison

11 Aug. 1807–26 Jan. 1886. Lawyer, judge, agriculturist, politician, farmer. Born at Frogtown, near Lexington, Fayette Co., Kentucky. Son of William Atchison and Catherine Allen. About 1830, moved to Liberty, Clay Co., Missouri, where he became a prominent...

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to represent them in litigation.11

On 28 October 1833, the law firm of Doniphan, Atchison, Rees, and Wood offered to do legal work for the church but required $1,000 to do so. Two days later, Phelps accepted their terms and agreed to pay them the amount within six months. (William T. Wood et al., Independence, MO, to William W. Phelps et al., 28 Oct. 1833; William W. Phelps et al. to William T. Wood et al., 30 Oct. 1833, William W. Phelps, Collection of Missouri Documents, CHL.)  


While church leaders attempted to gain executive protection and to seek legal redress through the courts, their public defiance of the previous agreement angered many of the non-Mormon citizens of Jackson County

Settled at Fort Osage, 1808. County created, 16 Feb. 1825; organized 1826. Named after U.S. president Andrew Jackson. Featured fertile lands along Missouri River and was Santa Fe Trail departure point, which attracted immigrants to area. Area of county reduced...

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and sparked renewed violence.12

See “From Missouri,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Jan. 1834, 124–126.  


Opponents had begun to organize on 21 October, and according to Edward Partridge

27 Aug. 1793–27 May 1840. Hatter. Born at Pittsfield, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts. Son of William Partridge and Jemima Bidwell. Moved to Painesville, Geauga Co., Ohio. Married Lydia Clisbee, 22 Aug. 1819, at Painesville. Initially a Universal Restorationist...

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, on 31 October “a mob of forty or fifty, collected and proceeded armed to a branch

An ecclesiastical organization of church members in a particular locale. A branch was generally smaller than a stake or a conference. Branches were also referred to as churches, as in “the Church of Shalersville.” In general, a branch was led by a presiding...

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of the church, who lived eight or ten miles south west of Independence

Located twelve miles from western Missouri border. Permanently settled, platted, and designated county seat, 1827. Hub for steamboat travel on Missouri River. Point of departure for Santa Fe Trail. Population in 1831 about 300. Mormon population by summer...

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, there they unroofed ten houses, and partly threw down the bodies of some of them; they caught three or four of the men, . . . they whip[p]ed, and beat them in a barbarous manner.”13

[Edward Partridge], “A History, of the Persecution,” Times and Seasons, Dec. 1839, 1:19. Orson Hyde wrote that the mob demolished twelve dwelling houses and beat some men “with stones and clubs, leaving barely a breath of life in them.” (“The Outrage in Jackson County, Missouri,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Dec. 1833, 118.)  


The same day that Phelps

17 Feb. 1792–7 Mar. 1872. Writer, teacher, printer, newspaper editor, publisher, postmaster, lawyer. Born at Hanover, Morris Co., New Jersey. Son of Enon Phelps and Mehitabel Goldsmith. Moved to Homer, Cortland Co., New York, 1800. Married Sally Waterman,...

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agreed to hire legal counsel, a church member 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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wrote the letter featured here to JS and other church leaders in 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. The original is no longer extant. Although he did not identify the author, Oliver Cowdery

3 Oct. 1806–3 Mar. 1850. Clerk, teacher, justice of the peace, lawyer, newspaper editor. Born at Wells, Rutland Co., Vermont. Son of William Cowdery and Rebecca Fuller. Raised Congregationalist. Moved to western New York and clerked at a store, ca. 1825–1828...

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included an extract of the letter in the December 1833 issue of The Evening and the Morning Star in an article meant to inform readers of the violence in Jackson County

Settled at Fort Osage, 1808. County created, 16 Feb. 1825; organized 1826. Named after U.S. president Andrew Jackson. Featured fertile lands along Missouri River and was Santa Fe Trail departure point, which attracted immigrants to area. Area of county reduced...

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. In addition to that extract, that same article included extracts of three other unattributed letters and a letter attributed to 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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.14

“The Outrage in Jackson County, Missouri,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Dec. 1833, 118–119.  


Cowdery may have purposely omitted the names of the authors of four of the letters because of ongoing legal issues in Missouri. Yet internal and external evidence identifies the authors of three of the four unattributed letters. William W. Phelps wrote the letters dated 6–7 November and 14 November 1833, and John Corrill

17 Sept. 1794–26 Sept. 1842. Surveyor, politician, author. Born at Worcester Co., Massachusetts. Married Margaret Lyndiff, ca. 1830. Lived at Harpersfield, Ashtabula Co., Ohio, 1830. Baptized into LDS church, 10 Jan. 1831, at Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio. Ordained...

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penned the missive dated 17 November 1833.15

“The Outrage in Jackson County, Missouri,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Dec. 1833, 118; Letter from William W. Phelps, 6–7 Nov., 1833; Letter from William W. Phelps, 14 Nov. 1833; Letter from John Corrill, 17 Nov. 1833.  


The authorship of the letter featured here, however, remains uncertain.
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 John Gould

21 Dec. 1784–25 June 1855. Pastor, farmer. Born in New Hampshire. Married first Oliva Swanson of Massachusetts. Resided at Portsmouth, Rockingham Co., New Hampshire, 1808. Lived in Vermont. Moved to northern Pennsylvania, 1817. Served as minister in Freewill...

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likely delivered this and other letters to 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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after leaving Independence

Located twelve miles from western Missouri border. Permanently settled, platted, and designated county seat, 1827. Hub for steamboat travel on Missouri River. Point of departure for Santa Fe Trail. Population in 1831 about 300. Mormon population by summer...

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early in November 1833.16

“The Outrage in Jackson County, Missouri,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Dec. 1833, 118.  


On 25 November 1833, Frederick G. Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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wrote in JS’s journal that Hyde and Gould “returned from Zion

JS revelation, dated 20 July 1831, designated Missouri as “land of promise” for gathering of Saints and place for “city of Zion,” with Independence area as “center place” of Zion. Latter-day Saint settlements elsewhere, such as in Kirtland, Ohio, became known...

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and brough[t] the melencholly intelegen [intelligence] of the riot in Zion with the inhabitants in pers[e]cuting the breth[r]en.”17

JS, Journal, 25 Nov. 1833.  


That “intelligence” may have included the information found in this letter.

Facts