, History, Manuscript, ca. 1839; handwriting of ; nineteen pages (several additional leaves missing); CHL.
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.” (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].) 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.
may have intended to tell the entire story himself, but he fell ill shortly after publication began and died 27 May 1840. Partridge’s manuscript, which he did not title, is provided here. The full text of “A History, of the Persecution,” which necessarily relied on other sources following Partridge’s demise, receives comprehensive treatment in volume 2 of the Histories series of The Joseph Smith Papers and is available on this website.
’s history begins with his account of the conflicts in the early 1830s. Partridge was a bishop of the church in Missouri, first in and then in following the Saints’ expulsion from Jackson County. He also served as bishop in after the Saints relocated there from Clay County in 1836. By the time he drafted his account of the Mormon experiences in Missouri, the Saints had been exiled from the state and had relocated to .
’s narrative is based on firsthand observations and may also have relied on other records he kept. It begins, “In presenting to our readers a history of the persecutions,” indicating that Partridge wrote it for publication purposes. However, there are occasionally significant differences between the manuscript version and “A History, of the Persecution” as published.
The early custodial history of the manuscript is somewhat uncertain. However, the manuscript was presumably among materials in the possession of church historian and recorder Joseph Fielding Smith, who held that office from 1921 to 1970 and who had worked in the Church Historian’s Office many years prior. The manuscript became part of the First Presidency’s papers when Smith became church president in 1970, and, with other records (including Revelation Book 1 and two drafts of JS’s history), was transferred from the First Presidency’s office to the Church History Library in 2005.
baptist priests. The rev. headed aco. <one> of about 60 or 70 the other’s co. was about <from> 30 to 40 <The priests name not recollected> they went forth through the different Settlement of the saints threatening them with death and destruction if they were not off immediately, demanding their arms <they even stripped the brn <even to penkn[n]ives> of all the<ir> farms they could find> <&c they broke> & breaking open houses where they found them shut and pillaging pillaged of them
The men were mostly from home that <day> making arrangements for getting away. The mobs whipped, <and shot at> some and others they hunted after <for>as they said to kill them. Such mobs well lined with whisky <as they> were <and looking & acting worse than savages> were well calculated to frighten women and children which they <effectually> did in some cases effectually one settlement was so frightened that <a party of> from 130 to 150 women & children <not waiting the return of their husbands & fathers> left forthwith <with <only> 5 or 6 men to protect them on foot> without taking any <of their> things and wandered forth <south a number of days under the broad canopy of heaven> not knowing which way the church was a going to go. The <stubs of the> newly burnt grass & <weeds> were so hard that <they> cut the feet of those who had no shoes so that many of them bled and became very sore and bled profusely. Many <O[t]hers> fled towards the , and in the course of a short time <the most of the church> were under way for , some few went E. and others south Everetts ferry <on the road> leading from to was thronged for near two weeks in crossing the Saints besides what crossed above & below. After some of the head men <had> left the and the Saints were generally getting under way the mobs ceased in a measure <ceased> to harrass them. The people of received the Saints with as much hospitality as could be expected
The most of the Saints saved much of their moveable property <still> but their losses and sacrifices were <still> very great <in the destruction of crops, furniture, clothing &c. & their loss of stock> Their grain <& many other things> would not bear transportation & pay ferr[y]ing across the consequently was either sold <at a great sacrifice> for what it would fetch <bring> which was but a trifle or left without selling though some <who had teams & not much else to do & were permitted to return> moved the principal of their effects notwiths[t]anding have <it might be at a [illegible]> loss reckoning their time & all expences
Four aged families the youngest man being 65 years <old> of age whose penury & infirmaties forbade a speedy removal <& who did not remove with the rest of the church thinking> thought that probably they might be permitted to winter in <as they were to old to be very dangerous the youngest man of this 4 being 65> but in <the last of> Dec. they were driven from their houses by a mob party <man being 65 years> who broke in their windows & doors, hurling large rocks Stones into their houses whereby <some of> their lives were greatly endangered. “Some of these men have toiled & bled in the defence of their ; and old Mr Jones, one of the sufferers, served as life guard to Genl. Geo. Washington in the revolutionary war.”
In the winter After as <it> was thought <that> the mob <spirit> had died away some 5 or 6 families moved back from Van Buren Co. to their former homes in where what they had for the sustenence of themeslves & stock was. They had not been long back before a mob party visited them in the night and took the men some of whom <and> they beat <some of the men> with chairs & clubs till life was nearly extinct and <then> left them for dead. one <by the name of Leonard> was a long time recovering [p. ]