“A History, of the Persecution, of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter Day Saints in ,” in Times and Seasons (Commerce/Nauvoo, IL), vol. 1, nos. 2–12: Dec. 1839, pp. 17–20; Jan. 1840, pp. 33–36; Feb. 1840, pp. 49–51; Mar. 1840, pp. 65–66; Apr. 1840, pp. 81–82; May 1840, pp. 97–99; June 1840, pp. 113–116; July 1840, pp. 129–131; Aug. 1840, pp. 145–150; Sept. 1840, pp. 161–165; Oct. 1840, pp. 177, 184–185; edited by and . The copy used for transcription is currently part of a bound volume held at CHL; includes light marginalia and archival marking.
Each segment in the eleven-part series begins on the first page of its respective number of the Times and Seasons. Each issue comprises eight leaves (sixteen pages) that measure 8⅝ x 5¼ inches (22 x 13 cm). The text on each page is set in two columns. At some point, the editors of the Times and Seasons reset and reprinted the December 1839 and January 1840 issues of the Times and Seasons; based on textual analysis, the version used for transcription appears to be the earlier typesetting of both. It is unknown how long this volume has been in church custody.
Crawley, Peter. A Descriptive Bibliography of the Mormon Church. 3 vols. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1997–2012.
While incarcerated at , Missouri, in March 1839, JS addressed a letter to the Saints, and to “ in particular,” in which he called for the Saints to gather up “a knoledge of all the facts and sufferings and abuses put upon them” in that they might publish the records “to all the world” and “present them to the heads of the government.” Apparently in response to this assignment, Edward Partridge wrote a history that became the first three installments of “A History, of the Persecution, of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter Day Saints in Missouri,” an eleven-part series published in the church’s newspaper, Times and Seasons, between December 1839 and October 1840. This series gave the first extended account of the Missouri period to be printed in the Latter-day Saint press. The editors of the Times and Seasons, and , announced in its first issue that the newspaper would “commence publishing the history of the disturbances in Missouri, in regular series,” and the first installment appeared in the second issue.
“A History, of the Persecution” begins with ’s account of the conflicts in the early 1830s. Partridge was a bishop of the church in Missouri, first in , then in following the Latter-day Saints’ expulsion from Jackson, and finally in after the Saints relocated from Clay. By the time he wrote this account of the Mormons’ experiences in Missouri, the Saints had been exiled from the state and had relocated to . Partridge lived first at Pittsfield, then at . In July 1839 he settled in the area, where he served again as a bishop in the new Mormon community being established there. Partridge’s narrative is based on firsthand observations and may also have relied on other records he kept. The manuscript version of the history begins, “In presenting to our readers a history of the persecutions,” indicating that Partridge wrote it for publication purposes. He may have intended to tell the entire Missouri story himself, but he fell ill shortly after publication of the “History of the Persecution” began, and he died 27 May 1840.
The “History, of the Persecution” is representative of the many histories and individual petitions written at the time to document the Saints’ experiences in . Its excerpts from ’s History of the Late Persecution and ’s Appeal to the American People provide a useful sampling of two published histories of the period and demonstrate that documenting these events was a widespread effort. Publication in the church’s periodical lent credibility to the series and ensured that it was the source from which many new Mormon converts learned the details of the church’s history in Missouri. What they read was not the work of neutral historians detached from the events described. When , Pratt, and Rigdon wrote their histories, the persecutions and injustices against them were still fresh in their memories. All three authors suffered personally during the Missouri hardships, and as they and other Saints undertook to write about their experiences, their primary focus was to fulfill JS’s directive—to obtain redress by making known the “nefarious and murderous impositions that have been practiced upon this people.”
JS et al., Liberty, MO, to the church members and Edward Partridge, Quincy, IL, 20 Mar. 1839, in Revelations Collection, CHL [D&C 123:1, 6]. An edited and slightly shortened version of the letter was published in two parts in the Times and Seasons, May and July 1840. The instruction to record the Saints’ Missouri history was part of the July installment. (“Copy of a Letter, Written by J. Smith Jr. and Others, While in Prison,” Times and Seasons, May 1840, 1:99–104; “An Extract of a Letter Written to Bishop Partridge, and the Saints in General,” Times and Seasons, July 1840, 1:131–134.)
Revelations Collection, 1831–ca. 1844, 1847, 1861, ca. 1876. CHL. MS 4583.
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
“A Word to the Saints,” Times and Seasons, July 1839, 1:12. After the first copies of the first number were printed in July, publication of the Times and Seasons halted for several months because both editors fell ill amidst a malaria outbreak in the Commerce, Illinois, area. The first number was reissued under the date November 1839.
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
Partridge, History, manuscript, Edward Partridge, Miscellaneous Papers, CHL. Significant differences between the first three installments of “History, of the Persecution” and the Partridge manuscript are described in footnotes herein.
Partridge, Edward. Miscellaneous Papers, ca. 1839–May 1840. CHL.
No manuscript is known to exist for Pratt’s published pamphlet. Rigdon is not named as the author on the title page of Appeal to the American People, but he is credited as such in the “History, of the Persecution” series and in advertisements for the pamphlet in the Times and Seasons. A manuscript version of Rigdon’s Appeal to the American People, titled “To the Publick” and inscribed by George W. Robinson, is found in the JS Collection at the Church History Library. Many textual differences exist between the manuscript and Appeal to the American People, and the editors of the Times and Seasons clearly used the published pamphlet, not the manuscript, as their source. (“History, of the Persecution,” May 1840, 1:99; Advertisement, Times and Seasons, 1 Jan. 1841, 2:272.)
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
Earlier published accounts of the Jackson County conflicts from Latter-day Saints include the broadside “The Mormons,” So Called, dated 12 December 1833, and its reprint in The Evening and the Morning Star, Extra, Feb. 1834, –; a series titled “The Outrage in Jackson County, Missouri,” published in The Evening and the Morning Star, Dec. 1833–Mar. 1834 and May–June 1834; John P. Greene’s pamphlet Facts Relative to the Expulsion of the Mormons or Latter Day Saints, from the State of Missouri, under the “Exterminating Order” (Cincinnati: R. P. Brooks, 1839); and John Taylor’s eight-page work, A Short Account of the Murders, Roberies, Burnings, Thefts, and Other Outrages Committed by the Mob and Militia of the State of Missouri, Upon the Latter Day Saints (Springfield, IL: By the author, 1839).
The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.
Times and Seasons, Aug. 1840, 1:145–150. The entirety of this ninth installment, including the affidavits of and and , was taken from , An Appeal to the American People, pages 51–62. The manuscript used for Appeal, titled “To the Publick,” contains earlier—possibly original—drafts of these affidavits. The Youngs’ account was submitted, along with numerous Latter-day Saint petitions for redress for losses suffered in , to the House of Representatives, and it is presently held at the National Archives in . Numbering on the National Archives copy of the Youngs’ affidavit matches a gap in the pagination of “To the Publick,” indicating that at one time the affidavit was included in the larger document.
The narrative was evidently based on a statement by Lewis found in the “To the Publick” manuscript. However, the account included in ’s Appeal to the American People and reproduced in “History of the Persecution” contains significant departures from the manuscript version of Lewis’s statement, and no source is known for the modifications and expansions. Footnotes below identify the most substantive differences between the Lewis manuscript in “To the Publick” and the account published in “History of the Persecution.”.
A HISTORY, OF THE PERSECUTION, OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST, OF LATTER DAY SAINTS IN .
While these things were carrying on, in and about , scenes still more horrid and soul thrilling, were going on, in another part of the , at a place called , because a man of that name built a mill there. We will give it from the testimony of eye witnesses. We will give it from the testimony of three, who have testified to it; that is, and his ; and . We also, have the testimony of Mrs. A[manda Barnes] Smith, whose , and a little son of nine years of age, were killed, and also a younger boy wounded. But wishing to bring our account into as narrow limits as possible, we omit inserting it.
Here follows the testimony of , and his , transcribed from their own hand writing.
The following is a short history of my travels to the State of , and of a bloody tragedy acted at s, on , October 30th, 1838. On the 6th day of July last, I started with my family from , Ohio, for the State of ; the county of , in the upper part of the , being the place of my destination.
On the 13th of October, I crossed the at Louis[i]ana, at which place I heard vague reports of the disturbances in the upper country; but nothing that could be relied upon. I continued my course westward till I crossed at a place called Compton’s ferry, at which place I heard for the first time, that if I proceeded any further on my journey, I would be in danger of being stopped by a body of armed men. I was not willing however, while treading my native soil, and breathing republican air, to abandon my object; which was, to locate myself and family, in a fine healthy country, where we could enjoy the society of our friends and connexions. Consequently, I prosecuted my journey, till I came to Whitney’s mills, situated on , in the eastern part of . After crossing the , and going about three miles, we met a party of the mob, about forty in number, armed with rifles and mounted on horses, who informed us, that we could go no farther west; threatening us with instant death if we proceeded any further. I asked them the reason of this prohibition, to which they replied that we were Mormons, and that every one who adhered to our religious faith would have to leave the in ten days or renounce their religion. Accordingly they drove us back to the mills above mentioned. Here we tarried three days, and on Friday the twenty-sixth, we recrossed the , and following up its banks, we succeeded in eluding the mob, for the time being, and gained the residence of a friend, in Myers’ settlement. On Sunday 28th of October, we arrived about noon at ; where we found a number of our friends collected together, who were holding a council, and deliberating on the best course for them to pursue, to defend themselves against the mob, who were collecting in the neighborhood, under the command of Col. Jennings of ; and threatening them with house burning and killing. The decision of the council was, that our friends there, should place themselves in an attitude of self-defence.
Accordingly, about twenty eight of our men, armed themselves and were in constant readiness for an attack of any small body of men that might come upon them. The same evening, for some cause best known to themselves, the mob sent one of their number, to enter into a treaty with our friends; which was accepted of, on the condition of mutual forbearance on both sides, and that each party, as far as their influence extended, should exert themselves to prevent any further [p. 145]
Joseph Young swore an affidavit on 4 June 1839 that matches with minor variations the petition at the National Archives; this affidavit, signed by Young and not by his wife, was published in Greene, Facts Relative to the Expulsion, 21–24, and was included in JS History, vol. B-1, 845–847. (Joseph Young, Affidavit, Quincy, IL, 4 June 1839, BYU; Joseph and Jane Young, Statement, photocopy, Material Relating to Mormon Expulsion from Missouri, 1839–1843, CHL; see also Baugh, “Joseph Young’s Affidavit of the Massacre at Haun’s Mill,” 188–202.)
Greene, John P. Facts Relative to the Expulsion of the Mormons or Latter Day Saints, from the State of Missouri, under the “Exterminating Order.” By John P. Greene, an Authorized Representative of the Mormons. Cincinnati: R. P. Brooks, 1839.
JS History / Smith, Joseph, et al. History, 1838–1856. Vols. A-1–F-1 (original), A-2–E-2 (fair copy). Historian’s Office, History of the Church, 1839–ca. 1882. CHL. CR 100 102, boxes 1–7. The history for the period after 5 Aug. 1838 was composed after the death of Joseph Smith.
Young, Joseph. Affidavit, Quincy, IL, 4 June 1839. BYU.
Material Relating to Mormon Expulsion from Missouri, 1839–1843. Photocopy. CHL. MS 2145.
Smith’s husband, Warren, and ten-year-old son, Sardius, were killed; her six-year-old son, Alma, was shot in the hip. (Amanda Smith, Affidavit, Quincy, IL, 18 Apr. 1839, photocopy; Alma Smith, Affidavit, Hancock Co., IL, 3 Jan. 1840, photocopy, Material Relating to Mormon Expulsion from Missouri, 1839–1843, CHL; see also “History, of the Persecution,” Aug. 1840, 1:147–148.)
Library of Congress Collection. National Archives, Washington DC. Redress petitions from this collection are also available in Clark V. Johnson, ed., Mormon Redress Petitions: Documents of the 1833–1838 Missouri Conflict, Religious Studies Center Monograph Series 16 (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1992).
Thomas Jennings was overall commander of the forces that attacked the settlement, and his son, William O. Jennings, commanded one of the companies. (History of Caldwell and Livingston Counties, Missouri, addenda, 1263–1264.)
History of Caldwell and Livingston Counties, Missouri, Written and Compiled from the Most Authentic Official and Private Sources. . . . St. Louis: National Historical Co., 1886.