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Introduction to State of Missouri v. Gates et al. for Arson

State of Missouri v. Gates, H. Smith, Rich, JS, Wight, E. Robinson, Wightman, Bent, Younger, Pettegrew, Partridge, G. Robinson, Voorhees, Hunter, Rollins, Turner, Carn, Ripley, Worthington, Harris, McRae, Brunson, Marsh, Durfee, Pratt, Hinkle, and Cahoon
for Arson
Fifth Judicial Circuit of Missouri, 29 November 1838
Daviess Co., Missouri, Circuit Court, 11 April 1839
Boone Co., Missouri, Circuit Court, 5 August 1840
 
Historical Introduction
Around 10 April 1839, a grand jury in , Missouri, indicted JS and twenty-six other Latter-day Saint men for allegedly setting fire to five buildings the previous year in , a settlement in Daviess County. During summer 1838, violence broke out between church members and their antagonists in northwestern . The expulsion of Latter-day Saints from in Carroll County, Missouri, in early October made it clear that civil authorities would not protect church members from extralegal violence. Having forced the Saints from De Witt, the church’s opponents turned their attention to and other settlements in Daviess County. In response, church leaders in , Caldwell County, decided to engage in aggressive self-defense.
In ’s words, the Saints planned “to scatter the mob” and “to destroy those places that harbored them” in . Church leaders identified , the county seat, and as two suspected mob havens. On 18 October 1838, apostle led approximately eighty mounted men to Gallatin, while —a member of the stake presidency at —led a second group of about the same number to Millport. Patten’s men confiscated goods from the storehouse of , a reported place of rendezvous for the mob, and evidently burned the store to the ground. Finding Millport deserted, Wight’s men returned to Adam-ondi-Ahman without taking action. Three days later, however, the settlement was set on fire. Individuals who were not members of the church, both antagonistic and friendly, claimed that Latter-day Saints were the culprits. Church members alleged that the mob had burned the buildings in order to blame the fires on the Saints. Major General of the militia reported to Missouri governor that both the Saints and their opponents were burning buildings and that “the great difficulty in Settling this matter seems to be in not being able [to] Identify the offenders.”
, responding to exaggerated reports of this raid and other skirmishes, branded all Latter-day Saints “enemies” and ordered that they be “exterminated or driven from the .” The “ring leaders of this rebellion,” including JS, were to be arrested and tried for crimes allegedly committed during the conflict. In late October and early November 1838, more than three thousand state militia troops occupied Latter-day Saint settlements in and counties. Church members were given until spring to leave the state, while JS and more than fifty other Latter-day Saint men were taken into custody under the authority of Major General , who had the prisoners moved to his headquarters in , Missouri. On 10 November, Clark explained to Boggs that he had “made out charges against the prisoners” based on information garnered primarily from Latter-day Saint dissidents. He identified “treason, murder, , , robbery and and perjury” as their offenses, all committed “under the counsel of Joseph Smith jr, the prophet.”
arranged to have Judge of ’s fifth judicial circuit preside at a criminal court of inquiry to determine whether there was to send the cases to a grand jury. Circuit attorney served as the prosecutor, while , , and John R. Williams represented the fifty-three defendants in custody. During the proceedings, eleven more Latter-day Saint men were charged, bringing the total to sixty-four defendants.
Multiple witnesses at the hearing described ’s 18 October expedition to . Disaffected Latter-day Saint claimed to have heard JS and Wight planning the strike in a meeting at . and , who were estranged from the church, testified that JS disapproved of Wight’s decision to take no action against the settlement. Corrill stated that the two men agreed to discuss the fate of the settlement further in a “private council”; he did not indicate whether that council occurred or, if it did, the outcome. No witness claimed to have seen a Latter-day Saint ignite the fires on 21 October, although several stated that they saw burning buildings soon after, with Andrew Job counting ten structures ablaze. Three witnesses—Charles Blakely, James Cobb, and —testified that the day after the fires started, JS and other church leaders observed the conflagration from horseback outside the settlement.
At the conclusion of the hearing on 29 November, held there was “ to believe” that twenty-four Latter-day Saints had committed “, , Robbery and ” in . They were admitted to bail on the condition that they appear at the April 1839 session of the Daviess County Circuit Court. Though JS, , , , and would be named later as part of the grand jury’s indictment for arson, they were not included among the twenty-four defendants named by King. The judge presumably omitted their names from the list because he had found probable cause to believe that each had committed a more grievous (and non-bailable) offense—murder for Pratt and treason for the four others. JS and his fellow prisoners were committed to the of , Missouri, while Pratt was committed to the jail of , Missouri.
On 6 April 1839, JS, , , and were removed from the and transported to , where the April 1839 session of the Daviess County Circuit Court was held at the home of Elisha B. Creekmore, just southeast of . remained incarcerated in the jail. , now judge of the recently formed eleventh judicial circuit, presided, and James A. Clark was the prosecuting attorney. Sheriff William Morgan impaneled twenty county residents as a grand jury to review, with the assistance of Clark, evidence for the charge as well as other charges against JS and dozens of other Latter-day Saint men for crimes allegedly committed during the 1838 conflict.
Clark presented an indictment to the grand jury laying out the prosecution’s case against , , , Daniel Carn, , Jacob Gates, , , Jesse D. Hunter, , , , , , , , , , James H. Rollins, , JS, Sidney Turner, Washington Voorhees, , , James Worthington, and Joseph W. Younger for . The indictment included five counts: two for burned dwellings belonging to ; two for burned dwellings belonging to Robert P. Peniston Sr., the foreman of the grand jury; and one for a burned dwelling belonging to . Rather than dating the burnings to 21 October 1838—the date established in historical accounts—each count claimed that the burnings occurred on 1 November. Only the first count specified the time of the arson, stating that it occurred at ten o’clock in the evening. Clark wrote on the wrapper the names of seventeen witnesses. Around 10 April, when the grand jury hearing concluded, foreman Peniston wrote “A true Bill” on the document, indicating that at least twelve of the grand jurors approved the indictment.
The grand jury submitted the indictment to the circuit court on 11 April 1839. Four of the twenty-seven named defendants—JS, , , and —were present in the circuit court on 11 April. Most of the remaining defendants had already departed in forced compliance with ’s expulsion order. Citing his previous service as the prosecuting attorney in the case, issued an order that changed the venue of the arson case for JS and his fellow prisoners to in the second judicial circuit. The prisoners left on 12 April 1839, along with Sheriff William Morgan and four guards, but escaped en route to Boone County on 16 April with the guards’ complicity.
Notwithstanding the escape, in the ensuing months Circuit Court clerk made certified copies of the indictment and the other records in his docket for the case and forwarded them to the Circuit Court. However, perhaps due to the escape of the prisoners, Wilson was evidently uncertain as to whether Daviess County maintained jurisdiction. On 30 May 1839, over a month after he had made the certified copy of the indictment to send to Boone County, Wilson issued a ordering the Daviess County sheriff to arrest JS and the other defendants named in the indictment. On motion of the prosecuting attorney, the case was continued on the Daviess County Circuit Court docket during the August 1839 term, but only for the defendants who were not named in the change of venue. When it became apparent that the defendants were not going to appear, the case was dismissed at the December 1839 term. In contrast, , clerk of the Boone County Circuit Court, evidently believed that his court held jurisdiction over all the men named in the arson indictment, regardless of whether they were specifically named in the change of venue order. On motion of the prosecuting attorney, the arson case was continued on the Boone County court’s docket until August 1840. During that term, it was apparent that the defendants were not going to appear for the trial, and Judge John D. Leland ordered that the case be dismissed.
 
Calendar of Documents
This calendar lists all known documents created by or for the court, whether extant or not. It does not include versions of documents created for other purposes, though those versions may be listed in footnotes. In certain cases, especially in cases concerning unpaid debts, the originating document (promissory note, invoice, etc.) is listed here. Note that documents in the calendar are grouped with their originating court. Where a version of a document was subsequently filed with another court, that version is listed under both courts.
State of Missouri v. Gates, H. Smith, Rich, JS, Wight, E. Robinson, Wightman, Bent, Younger, Pettegrew, Partridge, G. Robinson, Voorhees, Hunter, Rollins, Turner, Carn, Ripley, Worthington, Harris, McRae, Brunson, Marsh, Durfee, Pratt, Hinkle, and Cahoon
for Arson
Fifth Judicial Circuit of Missouri, 29 November 1838
Daviess Co., Missouri, Circuit Court, 11 April 1839
Boone Co., Missouri, Circuit Court, 5 August 1840
 
Historical Introduction
Around 10 April 1839, a grand jury in , Missouri, indicted JS and twenty-six other Latter-day Saint men for allegedly setting fire to five buildings the previous year in , a settlement in Daviess County. During summer 1838, violence broke out between church members and their antagonists in northwestern . The expulsion of Latter-day Saints from in Carroll County, Missouri, in early October made it clear that civil authorities would not protect church members from extralegal violence. Having forced the Saints from De Witt, the church’s opponents turned their attention to and other settlements in Daviess County. In response, church leaders in , Caldwell County, decided to engage in aggressive self-defense.
In ’s words, the Saints planned “to scatter the mob” and “to destroy those places that harbored them” in . Church leaders identified , the county seat, and as two suspected mob havens. On 18 October 1838, apostle led approximately eighty mounted men to Gallatin, while —a member of the stake presidency at —led a second group of about the same number to Millport. Patten’s men confiscated goods from the storehouse of , a reported place of rendezvous for the mob, and evidently burned the store to the ground. Finding Millport deserted, Wight’s men returned to Adam-ondi-Ahman without taking action. Three days later, however, the settlement was set on fire. Individuals who were not members of the church, both antagonistic and friendly, claimed that Latter-day Saints were the culprits. Church members alleged that the mob had burned the buildings in order to blame the fires on the Saints. Major General of the militia reported to Missouri governor that both the Saints and their opponents were burning buildings and that “the great difficulty in Settling this matter seems to be in not being able [to] Identify the offenders.”
, responding to exaggerated reports of this raid and other skirmishes, branded all Latter-day Saints “enemies” and ordered that they be “exterminated or driven from the .” The “ring leaders of this rebellion,” including JS, were to be arrested and tried for crimes allegedly committed during the conflict. In late October and early November 1838, more than three thousand state militia troops occupied Latter-day Saint settlements in and counties. Church members were given until spring to leave the state, while JS and more than fifty other Latter-day Saint men were taken into custody under the authority of Major General , who had the prisoners moved to his headquarters in , Missouri. On 10 November, Clark explained to Boggs that he had “made out charges against the prisoners” based on information garnered primarily from Latter-day Saint dissidents. He identified “treason, murder, , , robbery and and perjury” as their offenses, all committed “under the counsel of Joseph Smith jr, the prophet.”
arranged to have Judge of ’s fifth judicial circuit preside at a criminal court of inquiry to determine whether there was to send the cases to a grand jury. Circuit attorney served as the prosecutor, while , , and John R. Williams represented the fifty-three defendants in custody. During the proceedings, eleven more Latter-day Saint men were charged, bringing the total to sixty-four defendants.
Multiple witnesses at the hearing described ’s 18 October expedition to . Disaffected Latter-day Saint claimed to have heard JS and Wight planning the strike in a meeting at . and , who were estranged from the church, testified that JS disapproved of Wight’s decision to take no action against the settlement. Corrill stated that the two men agreed to discuss the fate of the settlement further in a “private council”; he did not indicate whether that council occurred or, if it did, the outcome. No witness claimed to have seen a Latter-day Saint ignite the fires on 21 October, although several stated that they saw burning buildings soon after, with Andrew Job counting ten structures ablaze. Three witnesses—Charles Blakely, James Cobb, and —testified that the day after the fires started, JS and other church leaders observed the conflagration from horseback outside the settlement.
At the conclusion of the hearing on 29 November, held there was “ to believe” that twenty-four Latter-day Saints had committed “, , Robbery and ” in . They were admitted to bail on the condition that they appear at the April 1839 session of the Daviess County Circuit Court. Though JS, , , , and would be named later as part of the grand jury’s indictment for arson, they were not included among the twenty-four defendants named by King. The judge presumably omitted their names from the list because he had found probable cause to believe that each had committed a more grievous (and non-bailable) offense—murder for Pratt and treason for the four others. JS and his fellow prisoners were committed to the of , Missouri, while Pratt was committed to the jail of , Missouri.
On 6 April 1839, JS, , , and were removed from the and transported to , where the April 1839 session of the Daviess County Circuit Court was held at the home of Elisha B. Creekmore, just southeast of . remained incarcerated in the jail. , now judge of the recently formed eleventh judicial circuit, presided, and James A. Clark was the prosecuting attorney. Sheriff William Morgan impaneled twenty county residents as a grand jury to review, with the assistance of Clark, evidence for the charge as well as other charges against JS and dozens of other Latter-day Saint men for crimes allegedly committed during the 1838 conflict.
Clark presented an indictment to the grand jury laying out the prosecution’s case against , , , Daniel Carn, , Jacob Gates, , , Jesse D. Hunter, , , , , , , , , , James H. Rollins, , JS, Sidney Turner, Washington Voorhees, , , James Worthington, and Joseph W. Younger for . The indictment included five counts: two for burned dwellings belonging to ; two for burned dwellings belonging to Robert P. Peniston Sr., the foreman of the grand jury; and one for a burned dwelling belonging to . Rather than dating the burnings to 21 October 1838—the date established in historical accounts—each count claimed that the burnings occurred on 1 November. Only the first count specified the time of the arson, stating that it occurred at ten o’clock in the evening. Clark wrote on the wrapper the names of seventeen witnesses. Around 10 April, when the grand jury hearing concluded, foreman Peniston wrote “A true Bill” on the document, indicating that at least twelve of the grand jurors approved the indictment.
The grand jury submitted the indictment to the circuit court on 11 April 1839. Four of the twenty-seven named defendants—JS, , , and —were present in the circuit court on 11 April. Most of the remaining defendants had already departed in forced compliance with ’s expulsion order. Citing his previous service as the prosecuting attorney in the case, issued an order that changed the venue of the arson case for JS and his fellow prisoners to in the second judicial circuit. The prisoners left on 12 April 1839, along with Sheriff William Morgan and four guards, but escaped en route to Boone County on 16 April with the guards’ complicity.
Notwithstanding the escape, in the ensuing months Circuit Court clerk made certified copies of the indictment and the other records in his docket for the case and forwarded them to the Circuit Court. However, perhaps due to the escape of the prisoners, Wilson was evidently uncertain as to whether Daviess County maintained jurisdiction. On 30 May 1839, over a month after he had made the certified copy of the indictment to send to Boone County, Wilson issued a ordering the Daviess County sheriff to arrest JS and the other defendants named in the indictment. On motion of the prosecuting attorney, the case was continued on the Daviess County Circuit Court docket during the August 1839 term, but only for the defendants who were not named in the change of venue. When it became apparent that the defendants were not going to appear, the case was dismissed at the December 1839 term. In contrast, , clerk of the Boone County Circuit Court, evidently believed that his court held jurisdiction over all the men named in the arson indictment, regardless of whether they were specifically named in the change of venue order. On motion of the prosecuting attorney, the arson case was continued on the Boone County court’s docket until August 1840. During that term, it was apparent that the defendants were not going to appear for the trial, and Judge John D. Leland ordered that the case be dismissed.
 
Calendar of Documents
This calendar lists all known documents created by or for the court, whether extant or not. It does not include versions of documents created for other purposes, though those versions may be listed in footnotes. In certain cases, especially in cases concerning unpaid debts, the originating document (promissory note, invoice, etc.) is listed here. Note that documents in the calendar are grouped with their originating court. Where a version of a document was subsequently filed with another court, that version is listed under both courts.
 
Daviess Co., Missouri, Circuit Court
  • 1839 (6)
    • April (3)
      Ca. 10 April 1839

      Indictment, Honey Creek Township, Daviess Co., MO

      • Ca. 10 Apr. 1839; private possession; photocopy in Max H Parkin, Collected Missouri Court Documents, CHL; handwriting of James A. Clark; docket and notation in handwriting of James A. Clark with signature presumably of Robert P. Peniston Sr.
      • 20 Apr. 1839; original destroyed; photocopy at State Historical Society of Missouri, Columbia; handwriting of Robert Wilson; docket and notations in handwriting of James A. Clark; notation in handwriting of Roger N. Todd.
      11 April 1839

      Docket Entry, Indictment, Honey Creek Township, Daviess Co., MO

      • 11 Apr. 1839; Daviess County Circuit Court Record, vol. A, 1837–1843, p. 58, Daviess County Courthouse, Gallatin, MO; handwriting of Robert Wilson.
      • 26 June 1839; in “Copy of Record,” 3, 11, original destroyed; photocopy at State Historical Society of Missouri, Columbia; handwriting of Robert Wilson.
      11 April 1839

      Docket Entry, Removal Orders, Honey Creek Township, Daviess Co., MO

      • 11 Apr. 1839; Daviess County Circuit Court Record, vol. A, 1837–1843, pp. 68–69, Daviess County Courthouse, Gallatin, MO; handwriting of Robert Wilson.
      • 26 June 1839; in “Copy of Record,” 8–9, 11, original destroyed; photocopy at State Historical Society of Missouri, Columbia; handwriting of Robert Wilson.
    • May (1)
      30 May 1839

      Capias, Honey Creek Township, Daviess Co., MO

    • August (1)
      14 August 1839

      Docket Entry, Continuance, Honey Creek Township, Daviess Co., MO

      • 14 Aug. 1839; Daviess County Circuit Court Record, vol. A, 1837–1843, p. 128, Daviess County Courthouse, Gallatin, MO; handwriting of Robert Wilson.
    • December (1)
      10 December 1839

      Docket Entry, Nolle Prosequi, Honey Creek Township, Daviess Co., MO

      • 10 Dec. 1839; Daviess County Circuit Court Record, vol. A, 1837–1843, p. 150, Daviess County Courthouse, Gallatin, MO; handwriting of Robert Wilson.
  • 1840 (2)
    • April (1)
      15 April 1840

      Docket Entry, Costs, Honey Creek Township, Daviess Co., MO

      • 15 Apr. 1840; Daviess County Circuit Court Record, vol. A, 1837–1843, p. 211, Daviess County Courthouse, Gallatin, MO; handwriting of Robert Wilson.
    • December (1)
      17 December 1840

      Docket Entry, Costs, Honey Creek Township, Daviess Co., MO

      • 17 Dec. 1840; Daviess County Circuit Court Record, vol. A, 1837–1843, pp. 249–250, Daviess County Courthouse, Gallatin, MO; handwriting of Robert Wilson.
 
Boone Co., Missouri, Circuit Court
  • 1839 (5)
    • April (3)
      10 April 1839

      Indictment, Copy, Honey Creek Township, Daviess Co., MO

      • 20 Apr. 1839; original destroyed; photocopy at State Historical Society of Missouri, Columbia; handwriting of Robert Wilson; docket and notations in handwriting of James A. Clark; notation in handwriting of Roger N. Todd.
      11 April 1839

      Docket Entry, Indictment, Copy, Honey Creek Township, Daviess Co., MO

      • 26 June 1839; in “Copy of Record,” 3, 11, original destroyed; photocopy at State Historical Society of Missouri, Columbia; handwriting of Robert Wilson.
      11 April 1839

      Docket Entry, Removal Orders, Copy, Honey Creek Township, Daviess Co., MO

      • 26 June 1839; in “Copy of Record,” 8–9, 11, original destroyed; photocopy at State Historical Society of Missouri, Columbia; handwriting of Robert Wilson.
    • August (1)
      17 August 1839

      Docket Entry, Continuance, Columbia, Boone Co., MO

      • 17 Aug. 1839; Boone County Circuit Court Record, vol. C, p. 261, Boone County Courthouse, Columbia, MO; photocopy at BYU; handwriting of Roger N. Todd.
    • November (1)
      4 November 1839

      Docket Entry, Continuance, Columbia, Boone Co., MO

      • 4 Nov. 1839; Boone County Circuit Court Record, vol. C, p. [281], Boone County Courthouse, Columbia, MO; photocopy at BYU; handwriting of Roger N. Todd.
  • 1840 (1)
    • August (1)
      5 August 1840

      Docket Entry, Nolle Prosequi, Columbia, Boone Co., MO

      • 5 Aug. 1840; Boone County Circuit Court Record, vol. C, p. 317, Boone County Courthouse, Columbia, MO; photocopy at BYU; handwriting of Roger N. Todd.