31701

Letter from William W. Phelps, 6–7 November 1833

November 6, 1833.
Dear brethren,—Since I last wrote we have had horrible times. When I returned

4 Nov. 1833

JS returned to Kirtland, Ohio, from journey to Mount Pleasant, Upper Canada.

from——1

Cowdery or another person involved in publishing this letter may have omitted the place name because he thought that Phelps’s travels should not be made public. The place intended here could be one of a few locations. Phelps had apparently returned to Independence from somewhere else soon after the violence that occurred on 31 October was over. He then fled to Clay County on 3 November and probably stayed there until Mormon witnesses were taken to Independence for a court hearing that never materialized. It is possible that before 6 November, Phelps traveled back to Jackson County and then made the return trip to Liberty, Clay County, where he wrote this letter. (Letter to Edward Partridge et al., 10 Dec. 1833; Phelps, “Short History,” [3].)  


behold the enemy had suddenly come upon our brethren above Blue

River rises in Indian Territory and flows northward into Missouri River in Jackson Co., Missouri. Mormon settlement established near river, Dec. 1831. Branch of LDS church established in area on opposite side of river from Kaw Township, by 1833; branch had...

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, and had thrown down 10 or 12 houses, and nearly whipped some to death, among whom was Hiram Page

1800–12 Aug. 1852. Physician, farmer. Born in Vermont. Married Catherine Whitmer, 10 Nov. 1825, in Seneca Co., New York. One of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, June 1829. Baptized into LDS church by Oliver Cowdery, 11 Apr. 1830, at Seneca Lake,...

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.—2

William E. McLellin later wrote that mob members in Jackson County chased Hiram Page, one of the eight witnesses of the Book of Mormon, through the woods and then beat him, attempting to force him to denounce the Book of Mormon. After beating him several times, one of the attackers said to the others, “I believe the damned fool will stick to it though we kill him.” After the attack, Page was confined to his bed for some time. (Schaefer, William E. McLellin’s Lost Manuscript, 167.)  


This was done on Thursday night.—3

31 October 1833.  


On Tuesday night they commenced in 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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; broke all the windows of the brethren’s houses in; broke open the doors of bro. Sidney Gilbert

28 Dec. 1789–29 June 1834. Merchant. Born at New Haven, New Haven Co., Connecticut. Son of Eli Gilbert and Lydia Hemingway. Moved to Huntington, Fairfield Co., Connecticut; to Monroe, Monroe Co., Michigan Territory, by Sept. 1818; to Painesville, Geauga Co...

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’s store

JS revelation, dated 20 July 1831, directed A. Sidney Gilbert, Newel K. Whitney’s Ohio business partner, to establish store in Independence. Gilbert first purchased vacated log courthouse, located on lot 59 at intersection of Lynn and Lexington Streets, to...

More Info
, strewed the goods in the streets.4

Though the article in The Evening and the Morning Star printed the word “Tuesday,” contemporary sources indicate that these events occurred on Friday, 1 November 1833. According to John Corrill, on Friday night a mob began to stone homes and break windows in Independence. Church leaders advised members to gather in groups for safety, and during the violence, many church members remained outside the town. But when some of the groups learned that the mob was destroying Sidney Gilbert’s store, they returned to Independence to intervene. After arriving at Gilbert’s store, they captured only one vandal, Richard McCarty; McCarty’s accomplices escaped. In his 5 December 1833 letter to Edward Partridge, JS quoted Phelps’s original letter, which stated that “on friday night the brethren had mustered about 40 or 50 men armed and marched into the village took one prisoner and fired one gun.” (“From Missouri,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Jan. 1834, 124; Letter to Edward Partridge, 5 Dec. 1833.)  


Saturday5

2 November 1833.  


night they fell upon the brethren at the Blue

River rises in Indian Territory and flows northward into Missouri River in Jackson Co., Missouri. Mormon settlement established near river, Dec. 1831. Branch of LDS church established in area on opposite side of river from Kaw Township, by 1833; branch had...

More Info
—nearly beat one6

David Bennett. ([Edward Partridge], “A History, of the Persecution,” Times and Seasons, Jan. 1840, 1:33.)  


to death! but one of Manship’s sons was dangerously wounded with a rifle ball, they fled.7

Orson Hyde wrote a letter to the Boonville Herald stating that on the night of 2 November, “the Mob commenced their ravages again above Big Blue. And after they had fired five or six guns upon the Mormons without effect, the Mormons fired upon them, and one of the Mob screamed, ‘O my God! I am shot.’ The Mob then dispersed in much confusion, taking their wounded companion along with them.” Both John Corrill and Edward Partridge wrote that a mob attacked church members living at the Big Blue settlement west of Independence on Saturday, 2 November 1833. During the skirmish, “a young man of the mob was shot through the thigh,” causing the mob to leave. Who “one of Manship’s sons” refers to is unclear. In the 1830 federal census, George Manship is listed as a resident of Jackson County with four sons: one under the age of five, another between five and ten years old, and two sons between ten and fifteen years of age. The 1840 federal census listed him as having one son under the age of five, who would not have been born at the time of the 1830 census; one between ten and fifteen years old; another between fifteen and twenty; and a fourth between twenty and thirty years of age. It is possible that the son not listed as living with the Manship family in the 1840 census is the young man referred to in Phelps’s letter, who may have died as a result of this skirmish. Though the text here indicates the man was “dangerously wounded,” JS understood that he was “mortally wounded.” (“The Outrage in Jackson County, Missouri,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Dec. 1833, 118; “From Missouri,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Jan. 1834, 125; [Edward Partridge], “A History, of the Persecution,” Times and Seasons, Jan. 1840, 1:33, italics in original; 1830 U.S. Census, Jackson Co., MO, 302; 1840 U.S. Census, Harmony, Van Buren Co., MO, 124; Letter to Edward Partridge, 5 Dec. 1833.)  


On Monday8

4 November 1833.  


about sun set, a regular action was fought above Blue

River rises in Indian Territory and flows northward into Missouri River in Jackson Co., Missouri. Mormon settlement established near river, Dec. 1831. Branch of LDS church established in area on opposite side of river from Kaw Township, by 1833; branch had...

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; we had 4 wounded—They had 5 wounded and killed; among the latter were Mr. Breazeal Hugh Breazeale

Ca. 1803–4 Nov. 1833. Lawyer. Moved to Roane Co., Tennessee, by 1826. Married Amanda M. King, 15 Feb. 1827, in Roane Co. Traveled to Independence, Jackson Co., Missouri, to participate in Mormon War, possibly at urging of brother-in-law, Austin A. King. Killed...

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and Mr. Linville.9

For more particulars on who was hurt or killed during this violent encounter, see [Edward Partridge], “A History, of the Persecution,” Times and Seasons, Jan. 1840, 1:34; and “From Missouri,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Jan. 1834, 125.  


From Friday till Tuesday after noon our brethren were under arms.10

JS’s 5 December letter included a passage from Phelps’s original letter not included here. It reads: “150 of our brethren came forth Like Moroni to battle.” (Letter to Edward Partridge, 5 Dec. 1833.)  


On Tuesday11

5 November 1833.  


the mob had about three hundred collected—Before any blood was shed we agreed to go away immediately.
It is a horrid time, men, women and children are fleeing, or preparing to, in all directions, almost—We mean to try to settle in Van Buren county if possible,12

Van Buren County (now Cass County) was located immediately south of Jackson County in 1833.  


God only knows our lot.
Yours &c.
November 7, 1833.
Since I wrote yesterday morning, another horrid scene has transpired.— After our people agreed to leave the 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 were dispersed from each other in a measure, a party of the mob went to the Blue

River rises in Indian Territory and flows northward into Missouri River in Jackson Co., Missouri. Mormon settlement established near river, Dec. 1831. Branch of LDS church established in area on opposite side of river from Kaw Township, by 1833; branch had...

More Info
, and began to whip, and, as I heard late last night, murder!13

This document omits a line that may have been in Phelps’s original letter: “Another horid scene has transpired, after our people surrendered their arms a party of the Mobe went above Blue and began to whip and even murder and the brethren have been driven into the woods and fleeing to the ferry and also the Mob have hired the ferryman to carry them across the river and it was reported that the mob had Killed two more of the brethren.” Edward Partridge remembered that on the night of 6 November 1833, a large group of Mormons under Lyman Wight’s leadership was disarmed by the militia, after which “the mob now felt safe, and were no longer militia, they formed themselves into companies, and went forth on horse-back armed, to harrass the saints, and take all the arms they could find. . . . They went forth through the different settlements of the saints, threatening them with death, and distruction if they were not off immediately. They broke open houses, and plundered them, where they found them shut, and the owners gone. . . . The mob that day stripped some of the saints of their arms, even to penknives; some they whipped; they shot at some, and others they hunted after; as they said to kill them.” (Letter to Edward Partridge, 5 Dec. 1833; [Edward Partridge], “A History, of the Persecution,” Times and Seasons, Jan. 1840, 1:35–36.)  


All hopes of going to the south was given up last night, when it was resolved that we should be driven

8 Nov. 1833

Latter-day Saints were fleeing Jackson County, Missouri, migrating primarily to Clay County, Missouri.

forthwith into Clay county

Settled ca. 1800. Organized from Ray Co., 1822. Original size diminished when land was taken to create several surrounding counties. Liberty designated county seat, 1822. Population in 1830 about 5,000; in 1836 about 8,500; and in 1840 about 8,300. Refuge...

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.14

Clay County lies immediately north of Jackson County, with the Missouri River marking the border between the two counties.  


The brethren have been driven into the woods, and God only knows what will become of them. Women and children are flocking to Everett

Also spelled Avert’s Ferry or Evrit’s Ferry. Operated on Missouri River between Old Independence Landing, Jackson Co. (about three miles north of Independence and six miles south of Liberty) and Liberty Landing, Clay Co. (about five miles north of Independence...

More Info
’s and Hancock’s Ferry

One of several ferries that operated on Missouri River between sites in Jackson and Clay counties. In Jackson Co., ferry likely docked on south shore of river at Choteau’s Landing, six miles north of Colesville settlement. In Clay Co., ferry docked on north...

More Info
. Our families will have to take the ground for a floor to-night if they get down in season to cross the Missouri

One of longest rivers in North America, in excess of 3,000 miles. From headwaters in Montana to confluence with Mississippi River near St. Louis, Missouri River drains 580,000 square miles (about one-sixth of continental U.S.). Explored by Lewis and Clark...

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. Yours in affliction, &c. [p. 119]
November 6, 1833.
Dear brethren,—Since I last wrote we have had horrible times. When  I returned

4 Nov. 1833

JS returned to Kirtland, Ohio, from journey to Mount Pleasant, Upper Canada.

from——1

Cowdery or another person involved in publishing this letter may have omitted the place name because he thought that Phelps’s travels should not be made public. The place intended here could be one of a few locations. Phelps had apparently returned to Independence from somewhere else soon after the violence that occurred on 31 October was over. He then fled to Clay County on 3 November and probably stayed there until Mormon witnesses were taken to Independence for a court hearing that never materialized. It is possible that before 6 November, Phelps traveled back to Jackson County and then made the return trip to Liberty, Clay County, where he wrote this letter. (Letter to Edward Partridge et al., 10 Dec. 1833; Phelps, “Short History,” [3].)  


behold the enemy had suddenly come upon our breth ren above Blue

River rises in Indian Territory and flows northward into Missouri River in Jackson Co., Missouri. Mormon settlement established near river, Dec. 1831. Branch of LDS church established in area on opposite side of river from Kaw Township, by 1833; branch had...

More Info
, and had thrown down 10 or 12 houses, and nearly whipped  some to death, among whom was H[iram] Page

1800–12 Aug. 1852. Physician, farmer. Born in Vermont. Married Catherine Whitmer, 10 Nov. 1825, in Seneca Co., New York. One of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, June 1829. Baptized into LDS church by Oliver Cowdery, 11 Apr. 1830, at Seneca Lake,...

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.—2

William E. McLellin later wrote that mob members in Jackson County chased Hiram Page, one of the eight witnesses of the Book of Mormon, through the woods and then beat him, attempting to force him to denounce the Book of Mormon. After beating him several times, one of the attackers said to the others, “I believe the damned fool will stick to it though we kill him.” After the attack, Page was confined to his bed for some time. (Schaefer, William E. McLellin’s Lost Manuscript, 167.)  


This was done on Thursday  night.—3

31 October 1833.  


On Tuesday night they commenced in 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...

More Info
; broke all the  windows of the brethren’s houses in; broke open the doors of bro. [Sidney] Gilbert

28 Dec. 1789–29 June 1834. Merchant. Born at New Haven, New Haven Co., Connecticut. Son of Eli Gilbert and Lydia Hemingway. Moved to Huntington, Fairfield Co., Connecticut; to Monroe, Monroe Co., Michigan Territory, by Sept. 1818; to Painesville, Geauga Co...

View Full Bio
’s  store

JS revelation, dated 20 July 1831, directed A. Sidney Gilbert, Newel K. Whitney’s Ohio business partner, to establish store in Independence. Gilbert first purchased vacated log courthouse, located on lot 59 at intersection of Lynn and Lexington Streets, to...

More Info
, strewed the goods in the streets.4

Though the article in The Evening and the Morning Star printed the word “Tuesday,” contemporary sources indicate that these events occurred on Friday, 1 November 1833. According to John Corrill, on Friday night a mob began to stone homes and break windows in Independence. Church leaders advised members to gather in groups for safety, and during the violence, many church members remained outside the town. But when some of the groups learned that the mob was destroying Sidney Gilbert’s store, they returned to Independence to intervene. After arriving at Gilbert’s store, they captured only one vandal, Richard McCarty; McCarty’s accomplices escaped. In his 5 December 1833 letter to Edward Partridge, JS quoted Phelps’s original letter, which stated that “on friday night the brethren had mustered about 40 or 50 men armed and marched into the village took one prisoner and fired one gun.” (“From Missouri,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Jan. 1834, 124; Letter to Edward Partridge, 5 Dec. 1833.)  


Saturday5

2 November 1833.  


night they fell upon the  brethren at the Blue

River rises in Indian Territory and flows northward into Missouri River in Jackson Co., Missouri. Mormon settlement established near river, Dec. 1831. Branch of LDS church established in area on opposite side of river from Kaw Township, by 1833; branch had...

More Info
—nearly beat one6

David Bennett. ([Edward Partridge], “A History, of the Persecution,” Times and Seasons, Jan. 1840, 1:33.)  


to death! but one of Manship’s sons  was dangerously wounded with a rifle ball, they fled.7

Orson Hyde wrote a letter to the Boonville Herald stating that on the night of 2 November, “the Mob commenced their ravages again above Big Blue. And after they had fired five or six guns upon the Mormons without effect, the Mormons fired upon them, and one of the Mob screamed, ‘O my God! I am shot.’ The Mob then dispersed in much confusion, taking their wounded companion along with them.” Both John Corrill and Edward Partridge wrote that a mob attacked church members living at the Big Blue settlement west of Independence on Saturday, 2 November 1833. During the skirmish, “a young man of the mob was shot through the thigh,” causing the mob to leave. Who “one of Manship’s sons” refers to is unclear. In the 1830 federal census, George Manship is listed as a resident of Jackson County with four sons: one under the age of five, another between five and ten years old, and two sons between ten and fifteen years of age. The 1840 federal census listed him as having one son under the age of five, who would not have been born at the time of the 1830 census; one between ten and fifteen years old; another between fifteen and twenty; and a fourth between twenty and thirty years of age. It is possible that the son not listed as living with the Manship family in the 1840 census is the young man referred to in Phelps’s letter, who may have died as a result of this skirmish. Though the text here indicates the man was “dangerously wounded,” JS understood that he was “mortally wounded.” (“The Outrage in Jackson County, Missouri,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Dec. 1833, 118; “From Missouri,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Jan. 1834, 125; [Edward Partridge], “A History, of the Persecution,” Times and Seasons, Jan. 1840, 1:33, italics in original; 1830 U.S. Census, Jackson Co., MO, 302; 1840 U.S. Census, Harmony, Van Buren Co., MO, 124; Letter to Edward Partridge, 5 Dec. 1833.)  


On Monday8

4 November 1833.  


about sun  set, a regular action was fought above Blue

River rises in Indian Territory and flows northward into Missouri River in Jackson Co., Missouri. Mormon settlement established near river, Dec. 1831. Branch of LDS church established in area on opposite side of river from Kaw Township, by 1833; branch had...

More Info
; we had 4 wounded—They  had 5 wounded and killed; among the latter were Mr. Breazeal [Hugh Breazeale]

Ca. 1803–4 Nov. 1833. Lawyer. Moved to Roane Co., Tennessee, by 1826. Married Amanda M. King, 15 Feb. 1827, in Roane Co. Traveled to Independence, Jackson Co., Missouri, to participate in Mormon War, possibly at urging of brother-in-law, Austin A. King. Killed...

View Full Bio
and Mr.  Linville.9

For more particulars on who was hurt or killed during this violent encounter, see [Edward Partridge], “A History, of the Persecution,” Times and Seasons, Jan. 1840, 1:34; and “From Missouri,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Jan. 1834, 125.  


From Friday till Tuesday after noon our brethren were under  arms.10

JS’s 5 December letter included a passage from Phelps’s original letter not included here. It reads: “150 of our brethren came forth Like Moroni to battle.” (Letter to Edward Partridge, 5 Dec. 1833.)  


On Tuesday11

5 November 1833.  


the mob had about three hundred collected—Before  any blood was shed we agreed to go away immediately.
It is a horrid time, men, women and children are fleeing, or preparing to,  in all directions, almost—We mean to try to settle in Van Buren county if  possible,12

Van Buren County (now Cass County) was located immediately south of Jackson County in 1833.  


God only knows our lot.
Yours &c.
November 7, 1833.
Since I wrote yesterday morning, another horrid scene has transpired.—  After our people agreed to leave the 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...

More Info
and were dispersed from each  other in a measure, a party of the mob went to the Blue

River rises in Indian Territory and flows northward into Missouri River in Jackson Co., Missouri. Mormon settlement established near river, Dec. 1831. Branch of LDS church established in area on opposite side of river from Kaw Township, by 1833; branch had...

More Info
, and began to whip,  and, as I heard late last night, murder!13

This document omits a line that may have been in Phelps’s original letter: “Another horid scene has transpired, after our people surrendered their arms a party of the Mobe went above Blue and began to whip and even murder and the brethren have been driven into the woods and fleeing to the ferry and also the Mob have hired the ferryman to carry them across the river and it was reported that the mob had Killed two more of the brethren.” Edward Partridge remembered that on the night of 6 November 1833, a large group of Mormons under Lyman Wight’s leadership was disarmed by the militia, after which “the mob now felt safe, and were no longer militia, they formed themselves into companies, and went forth on horse-back armed, to harrass the saints, and take all the arms they could find. . . . They went forth through the different settlements of the saints, threatening them with death, and distruction if they were not off immediately. They broke open houses, and plundered them, where they found them shut, and the owners gone. . . . The mob that day stripped some of the saints of their arms, even to penknives; some they whipped; they shot at some, and others they hunted after; as they said to kill them.” (Letter to Edward Partridge, 5 Dec. 1833; [Edward Partridge], “A History, of the Persecution,” Times and Seasons, Jan. 1840, 1:35–36.)  


All hopes of going to the south was given up last night, when it was re solved that we should be driven

8 Nov. 1833

Latter-day Saints were fleeing Jackson County, Missouri, migrating primarily to Clay County, Missouri.

forthwith into Clay county

Settled ca. 1800. Organized from Ray Co., 1822. Original size diminished when land was taken to create several surrounding counties. Liberty designated county seat, 1822. Population in 1830 about 5,000; in 1836 about 8,500; and in 1840 about 8,300. Refuge...

More Info
.14

Clay County lies immediately north of Jackson County, with the Missouri River marking the border between the two counties.  


The brethren  have been driven into the woods, and God only knows what will become  of them. Women and children are flocking to Everett

Also spelled Avert’s Ferry or Evrit’s Ferry. Operated on Missouri River between Old Independence Landing, Jackson Co. (about three miles north of Independence and six miles south of Liberty) and Liberty Landing, Clay Co. (about five miles north of Independence...

More Info
’s and Hancock’s  Ferry

One of several ferries that operated on Missouri River between sites in Jackson and Clay counties. In Jackson Co., ferry likely docked on south shore of river at Choteau’s Landing, six miles north of Colesville settlement. In Clay Co., ferry docked on north...

More Info
. Our families will have to take the ground for a floor to-night if  they get down in season to cross the Missouri

One of longest rivers in North America, in excess of 3,000 miles. From headwaters in Montana to confluence with Mississippi River near St. Louis, Missouri River drains 580,000 square miles (about one-sixth of continental U.S.). Explored by Lewis and Clark...

More Info
. Yours in affliction, &c. [p. 119]
On 31 October 1833, a group of nearly fifty armed men attacked the church settlement near the Big Blue River

River rises in Indian Territory and flows northward into Missouri River in Jackson Co., Missouri. Mormon settlement established near river, Dec. 1831. Branch of LDS church established in area on opposite side of river from Kaw Township, by 1833; branch had...

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in northwestern 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. 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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reported that the mob destroyed buildings, unroofed homes, and whipped three or four men. Those violent acts continued over the next several days. On 1 November 1833, an angry cohort stoned Sidney Gilbert

28 Dec. 1789–29 June 1834. Merchant. Born at New Haven, New Haven Co., Connecticut. Son of Eli Gilbert and Lydia Hemingway. Moved to Huntington, Fairfield Co., Connecticut; to Monroe, Monroe Co., Michigan Territory, by Sept. 1818; to Painesville, Geauga Co...

View Full Bio
’s store

JS revelation, dated 20 July 1831, directed A. Sidney Gilbert, Newel K. Whitney’s Ohio business partner, to establish store in Independence. Gilbert first purchased vacated log courthouse, located on lot 59 at intersection of Lynn and Lexington Streets, to...

More Info
in 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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, Missouri, and threw merchandise out onto the street. Though the vandals scattered in various directions when about forty or fifty church members approached the scene, the Mormons were able to capture one inebriated man, Richard McCarty

Ca. 1805–after 1840. Served as trustee for incorporation of Independence, Jackson Co., Missouri, May 1832. Member of mob that vandalized Gilbert, Whitney & Co. store, 1 Nov. 1833, at Independence. Lived in Jackson Co., 1840.

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. Church leaders, however, were forced to release him when Judge Samuel Weston

24 Oct. 1783–14 Dec. 1846. Blacksmith, joiner, carpenter. Born in Belfast, Ireland. Moved to Ulverston, Lancashire, England, by 1812. Married Margaret Cleminson Gibson, 28 June 1812, in Ulverston. Joined British navy, 1812; captured by Americans and defected...

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refused to grant them a warrant for McCarty’s arrest. On 4 November 1833, McCarty acquired a warrant for the arrest of Gilbert, 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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, William E. McLellin

18 Jan. 1806–14 Mar. 1883. Schoolteacher, physician, publisher. Born at Smith Co., Tennessee. Son of Charles McLellin and Sarah (a Cherokee Indian). Married first Cynthia Ann, 30 July 1829. Wife died, by summer 1831. Baptized into LDS church by Hyrum Smith...

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, and Isaac Morley

11 Mar. 1786–24 June 1865. Farmer, cooper, merchant, postmaster. Born at Montague, Hampshire Co., Massachusetts. Son of Thomas Morley and Editha (Edith) Marsh. Family affiliated with Presbyterian church. Moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, before 1812. Married...

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for false imprisonment. Jackson County officials arrested the four men and a few others and took them before a county justice later that day.1

[Edward Partridge], “A History, of the Persecution,” Times and Seasons, Dec. 1839, 1:19–20; Jan. 1840, 1:34; “From Missouri,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Jan. 1834, 124–125.  


That same day, another battle occurred between the Mormons and their opponents near the Big Blue River about eight or nine miles southwest of Independence.2
During the night of 4–5 November 1833, church leaders met with Gilbert

28 Dec. 1789–29 June 1834. Merchant. Born at New Haven, New Haven Co., Connecticut. Son of Eli Gilbert and Lydia Hemingway. Moved to Huntington, Fairfield Co., Connecticut; to Monroe, Monroe Co., Michigan Territory, by Sept. 1818; to Painesville, Geauga Co...

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, 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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, McLellin

18 Jan. 1806–14 Mar. 1883. Schoolteacher, physician, publisher. Born at Smith Co., Tennessee. Son of Charles McLellin and Sarah (a Cherokee Indian). Married first Cynthia Ann, 30 July 1829. Wife died, by summer 1831. Baptized into LDS church by Hyrum Smith...

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, and Morley

11 Mar. 1786–24 June 1865. Farmer, cooper, merchant, postmaster. Born at Montague, Hampshire Co., Massachusetts. Son of Thomas Morley and Editha (Edith) Marsh. Family affiliated with Presbyterian church. Moved to Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio, before 1812. Married...

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, whom the sheriff allowed to briefly leave the jail. The men decided, based “on seeing the rage of the people” and on the advice of Lieutenant 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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, to leave 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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immediately “rather than to have so many lives lost as probably would be.” The following morning many Mormons did not yet know of the agreement that church leaders had made the night before to leave the county.3

“From Missouri,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Jan. 1834, 125. Around midnight, the four prisoners were “visited by some influencial men,” including Lieutenant Governor Lilburn W. Boggs, “who told them that the mob had now become desperate, and that the whole county had become enraged, and nothing would stop them from massacreing the whole society.” ([Edward Partridge], “A History, of the Persecution,” Times and Seasons, Jan. 1840, 1:34; JS History, vol. A-1, 376.)  


On 5 November 1833, Colonel Thomas Pitcher

Ca. 1806–17 July 1886. Farmer. Born in Kentucky. Moved to Blue Township, Jackson Co., Missouri, by 1827. Married Nancy Parish, 3 Jan. 1828, in Jackson Co. Appointed deputy constable in Jackson Co., by 1833. Commander of Jackson Co. militia, 1833. Elected ...

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, acting without government orders, called out the militia to restore peace in the area. According to one later account, “Col. Pitcher pretended to call out the militia, as he said to quill [quell] the mob, and make peace between the parties; but the fact is he put himself, or was put, some said by L. W. Bogs, then lieutenant Gov., at the head of the mob, for the purpose of making a show of legality for what they did.”4

[Edward Partridge], “A History, of the Persecution,” Times and Seasons, Jan. 1840, 1:35.  


Without authorization, Pitcher forced nearly 150 church members to surrender their arms and weapons and had several Mormon men imprisoned.5

[Edward Partridge], “A History, of the Persecution,” Times and Seasons, Jan. 1840, 1:35. Pitcher apparently told church members he would return their arms as soon as they left the county, though he never did. (Corrill, Brief History, 44.)  


Later on 5 November and on the following day, men, women, and children fled in all directions as armed extralegal groups and militia hunted them down, ostensibly searching people and homes for weapons to confiscate. Mob members pursued Mormon men on horses, tied the men up, and whipped them. Some husbands and fathers were forced to leave their families to protect themselves from the fury of the mob. In one case, a group of nearly one hundred women and children wandered on the prairies for several days without food or shelter.6

Isaac McCoy, “The Disturbances in Jackson County,” Missouri Republican (St. Louis), 20 Dec. 1833, [2]–[3]; Pratt, History of the Late Persecution, 21; see also [Edward Partridge], “A History, of the Persecution,” Times and Seasons, Jan. 1840, 1:35–36.  


During the next few weeks, members of the church fled 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 traveled to other counties 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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. Some refugees went south to Van Buren County or east to Lafayette County

Located south of Missouri River in west-central part of state. Settled by 1816. Name changed from Lillard Co. to Lafayette Co., 1825, to honor the Marquis de Lafayette. County seat, Lexington. Jackson Co. created from western part of Lafayette Co., 1825. ...

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, but residents in both areas refused to accept the immigrants and forced most of them to return to Jackson County.7 As a result, most members of the church moved north and crossed the Missouri River

One of longest rivers in North America, in excess of 3,000 miles. From headwaters in Montana to confluence with Mississippi River near St. Louis, Missouri River drains 580,000 square miles (about one-sixth of continental U.S.). Explored by Lewis and Clark...

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into Clay County

Settled ca. 1800. Organized from Ray Co., 1822. Original size diminished when land was taken to create several surrounding counties. Liberty designated county seat, 1822. Population in 1830 about 5,000; in 1836 about 8,500; and in 1840 about 8,300. Refuge...

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, where the people seemed more willing to accept them.8

Pratt, History of the Late Persecution, 23; Whitmer, History, 48; Corrill, Brief History, 20; [Edward Partridge], “A History, of the Persecution,” Times and Seasons, Jan. 1840, 1:36; Parley P. Pratt et al., “‘The Mormons’ So Called,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Extra, Feb. 1834, [2].  


On 7 November, the shores of the Missouri River “began to be lined on both sides of the ferry, with men, women, children, goods, waggons, boxes, chests, provisions, &c.”9 By mid-November nearly all members of the church had fled Jackson County and become refugees.10

[Edward Partridge], “A History, of the Persecution,” Times and Seasons, Jan. 1840, 1:36; Whitmer, History, 45.  


After escaping 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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, 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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wrote the letter featured here near 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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, Clay County, and sent it to 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, but 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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published excerpts of Phelps’s letter, along with four other communications 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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, as part of an article in the December 1833 issue of The Evening and the Morning Star. Though brief, this letter provides a contemporary account of events as members of the Church of Christ

The Book of Mormon related that when Christ set up his church in the Americas, “they which were baptized in the name of Jesus, were called the church of Christ.” The first name used to denote the church JS organized on 6 April 1830 was “the Church of Christ...

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were forced from their lands in Jackson County.
It is unknown when 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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sent this letter, but it arrived 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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sometime before or on 5 December 1833. On that day, JS wrote 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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and other 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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responding, in part, to Phelps’s letter.11 JS informed them that work progressed on the press in Kirtland and that a new issue of the Star would be printed within a week (that same issue would contain extracts from Phelps’s letter). Though 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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published these extracts without mentioning the letter’s author, the 5 December letter from JS indicated that Phelps was the author. In his December letter, JS appears to quote directly from portions of Phelps’s original letter that were not included in the Star’s extract and that included some information that JS could have learned only from Phelps’s letter. Content that JS apparently obtained from the original letter has been included in the following annotation.

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