Letter from Edward Partridge, between 14 and 19 November 1833

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

Clay Co. Mo. 1 Nov. 1833
Beloved Brother Joseph
I set myself down this evening to write you a few lines, I shall not attempt to give you a full history of what has happened unto us within a few days <​past,​> for I suppose that has given you the particulars, I simply <​Suffice it to​> say that & myself are now living within 3 miles of Clay Co. & about 10 from most of our br[ethre]n have left many have come to this Some have gone South & some east. When it was concluded that we would go, there appeared to be a spirit almost universal for leaving the land forthwith. our move has been speedy & we have had many inconveniences to encounter. yet are the Lord for the most part as yet has given us very favorable weather. many are living as yet in tents & shanties not being able to procure houses. <​as yet.​> We are in hopes that we shall be able to return to our houses & lands before a grea[t] while but how this is to be accomplished is all in the dark to us as yet, has prophesied that we shall be enabled to return to our houses by the first of next Jany & enjoy the fruit of our labor & none to molest or make afraid. he says he was constrained to prophesy & if he ever spoke by the spirit of God he then did & if it does not come to pass we may call him a false prophet. the next night after this prophecy was deliverd from 1 or 2 oclock till day light <​on the morning of the 13th Nov.​> there appeared an extraordinary ph[enomenon] the heavens were literally filled with meteors or shooting stars as they are called. I was encamped on the N. side of opposite & it appeared to us that they shot off every way from us none comeing <​directly I​> down very near us that came very near the ground though it is said that they struck the ground in & in other places round about, I viewed them for more than an hour before daylight & probably saw thousands, at one time in the N.E. there appeared probably 50 or 100 at one time they streamed down almost a[s] thick as rain you have seen <​that appears​> at a distance when the sun shone upon it. during this sight our people rejoiced but the worlds people were much frightened. there has some other signs appeared of late, & rumor says many but I put no confidence in the reports of our enemies
If we are delivered & permitted to return to our homes it must be by the interposition of God, for we can see no prospect of help from goverment & it appears to me that nought but the judgements of God will open the way for our return, some of our brn. have their fears that we shall be driven from city to city & from sinagouge to sinagouge & few be left to receive an in the land, & this probably will be the case unless we are soon restored back, for notwithstanding that many are kind to us in this yet we have every reas [reason]to believe that they will shortly be stir[r]ed up agai[nst] us & want to drive [p. [1]] further, The worlds people are very desirous to have us sell the lands & since you advised <​us​> not to, I do not want to, but if we are to be driven about for years I can see no use in keeping our possessions here. Some of our brn. that have given me money to buy lands with are desirous to receive a deed of some land & <​I​> have thought it best to give some deeds to such as are anxious to have them. I want your advice upon the subject of the lands & also I want wisdom on & light on many subjects, <​in this time of trial​> We <​have​> made two attempts to get a peace warrent, the first before a justice one of the mob he at first refused but after consulting with some others of the mob he consented, we however sent to Lexington 40 miles east to the & after quite a struggle made out to obtain one. but when the brn. came back with it we had agreed to go away & the mob or militia as they were called were raging with great fury & we have done nothing with it. neither do we believe it would be of any use to try to enforce it. <​now.​> our lawyers say it can do us no good in their opinion, as to our civil suits or suits for damage we were expecting to start a number between this & the next term which is in Feb. next there has no writ been taken out as yet, since our removal we have not been able to get toge[ther] [so] as to have a of & advise with one another what we shall <​is best to do​> do. It would seem that the prospect is bad respecting our having justice done us by any course we may pursue. justice would give us the Co. of almost. we believe but this would take years to accomplish unless our damages could be settled by arbitrating that is leaveing the case to judicious disinterested men. There is an other way we might obtain the land by natural means. that is this could we obtain money by loan or from brn. that were able we might buy out the most of the inhabitants in all probability & let them leave the but this would take many thousand dollars. after looking at the whole of I am of opinion that unless God works for his people & displays his power in some way or another we cannot return to the land again. my mind is to have the disciples all leave the land & see if God will not pour out his judgments in some way or another upon that wicked people. many rumors are afloat that it is with difficulty that the Indians are restrai[n]ed from coming upon the people as to this I know <​nothing​> about it & I place no great confidence in romors. I hope ere this there may have been a comfort[ing] [w]ord from the Lord through you but be this as it may I am anxious to hear from you In haste your brother in Christ [p. [2]]

Footnotes

  1. 1

    TEXT: Possibly “14”, “17”, or “19”.  

  2. 2

    See Letter from William W. Phelps, 6–7 Nov. 1833; and Letter from William W. Phelps, 14 Nov. 1833.  

  3. 3

    Two of Partridge’s daughters, Emily and Eliza, later wrote reminiscent accounts of this period in the family’s history. According to Emily, the family lived in a house owned by a “Mr Bess.” Eliza wrote that Partridge “found a miserable old hous that he could have with one fireplace in it which he and a Brother by the name of John Corrill moved their families into. I think my Mother [Lydia Clisbee Partridge] as also Sister [Margaret Lyndiff] Corrill must have had their patience tried very much during this winter, the house open and cold and their cooking and children and Husbands and selves all around one fireplace for stoves were not in use then.” Emily later recorded, “Father and elder John Corrille, procured an old log cabin that had been used for a stable and cleaned it up as best they could and moved their families in. The two families consisted of fifteen or sixteen persons. There was a large fireplace in the room (which was a good sized one) and blankets were hung up a few feet back from the fire to keep us from freezing, for the weather was extremely cold—so cold that the ink would freeze in fathers pen as he sat writing close to the fire inside of those blankets. We took one side of the fireplace and brother Corrills family took the other. Our beds were in the back part of the room which was cold enough for the polar region.” (Lyman, Journal, 10; Young, “Incidents,” 77–78.)  

    Lyman, Amasa. Journals, 1832–1877. Amasa Lyman Collection, 1832–1877. CHL. MS 829, boxes 1–3.

    Young, Emily Dow Partridge. “Incidents of the Life of a Mormon Girl,” ca. 1884. CHL. MS 5220.

  4. 4

    By mid-December, exiled church members were living in each of the four counties then bordering Jackson County: Van Buren County to the south, Lafayette County to the east, Ray County to the northeast, and Clay County to the north. Most, however, lived in Clay County. (Letter from William W. Phelps, 15 Dec. 1833; see also Parkin, “History of the Latter-day Saints in Clay County,” 35–37.)  

    Parkin, Max H. “A History of the Latter-day Saints in Clay County, Missouri, from 1833 to 1837.” PhD diss., Brigham Young University, 1976.

  5. 5

    In a letter to Oliver Cowdery, John Corrill recorded that on 4 November 1833, “we . . . came to the conclusion, on seeing the rage of the people, that it would be wisdom for us to leave the county immediately, rather than to have so many lives lost as probably would be.” (“From Missouri,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Jan. 1834, 125.)  

    The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.

  6. 6

    For housing, the refugees in Clay County built huts in the woods, occupied abandoned slave cabins and other vacant structures, set up tents, or lived in the open. One refugee recalled, “We gathered up what little we could take in wagons and crossed the Missouri river and pitched our tents in Clay county, on the bank of the river. Many were taken with chills and fever, and altogether the Mormons presented a pitiable spectacle. . . . We lived in tents until winter set in, and did our cooking out in the wind and storms. Log heaps were our parlor stoves, and the cold, wet ground our velvet carpets, and the crying of little children our piano forte; while the shivering, sick people hovered over the burning log piles here and there.” (Austin, Life among the Mormons, 72–73.)  

    Austin, Emily M. Mormonism; or, Life among the Mormons: Being an Autobiographical Sketch, Including an Experience of Fourteen Years of Mormon Life. Madison, WI: M. J. Cantwell, 1882.

  7. 7

    See Leviticus 26:6; Ezekiel 39:26; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 60 [2 Nephi 1:9].  

  8. 8

    Pratt was one of four men sent to Missouri by revelation in late 1830 from New York and had recently been the instructor for the school of the prophets in Independence. In his response to the letter featured here, JS stated, “I know that Zion, in the own due time of the Lord will be redeemed, but how many will be the days of her purification, tribulation and affliction, the Lord has kept hid from my eyes; and when I enquire concerning this subject the voice of the Lord is, Be still, and know that I am God!” (Revelation, Oct. 1830–A [D&C 32:1–3]; Revelation, 2 Aug. 1833–A [D&C 97:3]; Letter to Edward Partridge et al., 10 Dec. 1833.)  

  9. 9

    TEXT: “ph[hole in paper]”. Supplied text from a copy of the letter in Partridge, Genealogical Record, 10.  

    Partridge, Edward, Jr. Genealogical Record. 1878. CHL. MS 1271.

  10. 10

    That is, the Missouri River, which forms the border between Jackson and Clay counties.  

  11. 11

    The Leonid meteor shower occurs annually in mid-November as the earth passes through dust and other particles left from comet Tempel-Tuttle. This meteor shower appears with particular intensity at intervals of approximately thirty-three years, and it was one of these more remarkable displays that Partridge and others viewed on 13 November 1833. Newspapers across the nation reported the event, and one article called it a “remarkable exhibition of Fire Balls.” The following month the church’s newspaper, The Evening and the Morning Star, also reported the spectacle, and JS recorded it in his journal. (Hitchcock, “On the Meteors of Nov. 13, 1833,” 365; Denison Olmstead, “The Meteors,” Maryland Gazette [Annapolis], 21 Nov. 1833, [2]; “Signs in the Heavens,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Dec. 1833, 116; JS, Journal, 5–13 Nov. 1833; see also Littmann, Heavens on Fire, 272.)  

    Hitchcock, Edward. “On the Meteors of Nov. 13, 1833.” The American Journal of Science, &c. 25, no. 2 (Jan. 1834): 354–411.

    Maryland Gazette. Annapolis. Jan. 1827–Dec. 1839.

    The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.

    Littmann, Mark. The Heavens on Fire: The Great Leonid Meteor Storms. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

  12. 12

    Partridge’s daughter Eliza later wrote, “I saw the stars fall. They came down almost as thick as snow flakes and could be seen till the daylight hid them from sight. Some of our enemies thought the day of judgment had come and were very much frightened but the Saints rejoiced and considered it as one of the signs of the Latter days.” Jackson County resident Josiah Gregg concurred. He thought the meteor shower caused many of his neighbors “to wonder whether, after all, the Mormons might not be in the right; and whether this was not a sign sent from heaven as a remonstrance for the injustice they had been guilty of towards that chosen sect.” (Lyman, Journal, 9–10; Gregg, Commerce of the Prairies, 317–318.)  

    Lyman, Amasa. Journals, 1832–1877. Amasa Lyman Collection, 1832–1877. CHL. MS 829, boxes 1–3.

    Gregg, Josiah. Commerce of the Prairies; or, The Journal of a Santa Fé Trader, during Eight Expeditions across the Great Western Prairies, and a Residence of Nearly Nine Years in Northern Mexico. Vol. 1. 2nd ed. New York: J. and H. G. Langley, 1845.

  13. 13

    In a later history, Partridge stated that church members attempted to obtain peace warrants from justices of the peace in both Jackson and Lafayette counties but were largely unsuccessful. Nevertheless, probably two days after Partridge sent the letter featured here to JS, Missouri attorney general Robert Wells suggested that if the Mormons requested help from Governor Dunklin to reinstate them on their properties, the governor would likely respond favorably by assigning them a military escort. This advice from Wells instigated a series of appeals from the Mormons. ([Edward Partridge], “A History, of the Persecution,” Times and Seasons, Dec. 1839, 1:20; Jan. 1840, 1:33; Pratt, History of the Late Persecution, 15–16; Robert W. Wells, Jefferson City, MO, to Alexander Doniphan and David R. Atchison, 21 Nov. 1833, copy, William W. Phelps, Collection of Missouri Documents, CHL.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

    Phelps, William W. Collection of Missouri Documents, 1833–1837. CHL. MS 657.

  14. 14

    This passage refers to a revelation JS dictated two years earlier on 30 August 1831, which read, “The land of Zion shall not be obtained but by purchase or by blood otherwise there is none inheritance for you . . . & if by blood as ye are forbidden to shed blood lo your enemies are upon you & ye shall be scourged from city to city & from Synagogue to synagogue & but few shall stand to receive an inheritance.” (Revelation, 30 Aug. 1831 [D&C 63:29–31].)  

  15. 15

    TEXT: “agai[page torn]”.  

  16. 16

    Reverend Isaac McCoy, one of the Mormons’ antagonists, drew up what he called “Proposed plans in Relation to the Mormons,” dated 8 November 1833, wherein he and four others proposed that the Mormons sell their lands: “They have land which will bring cash in hand. Let them take the cash and aid themselves in removing. . . . If they will not do this, we shall have just cause to suspect them.” On 18 August 1833, however, JS had written to leaders in Independence, instructing them to retain ownership of Sidney Gilbert’s store as well as their lands in Jackson County. (Jennings, “Isaac McCoy and the Mormons,” 75–77; Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson Co., MO, 18 Aug. 1833.)  

    Jennings, Warren A. “Isaac McCoy and the Mormons,” Missouri Historical Review 61, no. 1 (Oct. 1966): 62–82.

  17. 17

    The discussion here probably relates to the practice of consecration; church members consecrated their funds and in return expected to be given lands as part of their stewardships. In May 1833, JS instructed Bishop Partridge regarding deeds for consecrated properties: “The law of the Lord, binds you to receive, whatsoever property is consecrated, by deed. . . . Again, concerning inheritances, you are bound by the law of the Lord, to give a deed, secureing to him who receives inheritances . . . to be his individual prope[r]ty, his privat ste[wa]rdship.” (Letter to Edward Partridge, 2 May 1833.)  

  18. 18

    JS answered Partridge’s request in his 10 December letter: “As respects giving deeds I would advise to give deeds as far as the brethren have legal and Just claims for them and then let evry man answer to God for the disposal of them.” (Letter to Edward Partridge et al., 10 Dec. 1833, underlining in original.)  

  19. 19

    Later accounts of these attempts to obtain a peace warrant differ slightly from the account given here. The first attempt to obtain a peace warrant was likely made in early November before Samuel Weston, who served as justice of the peace of Jackson County from 1831 to 1833. Weston refused to grant the warrant. The Mormons made a second attempt to attain a warrant on 3 November before circuit judge William Silvers. That attempt also proved fruitless. (Parley P. Pratt et al., “‘The Mormons’ So Called,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Extra, Feb. 1834, [1]–[2]; [Edward Partridge], “A History, of the Persecution,” Times and Seasons, Dec. 1839, 1:20; Jan. 1840, 1:33.)  

    The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  20. 20

    Parley P. Pratt and Thomas B. Marsh left Independence on Sunday, 3 November, and traveled to Lexington to obtain a peace warrant from Judge John F. Ryland. The next morning Ryland denied them the warrant. Pratt and Marsh remained in the area to rest for a day and then returned to Independence on 5 November. Yet Partridge mentioned in this letter and in a later reminiscent account that church leaders obtained warrants “after considerable delay.” Hiram Page and Joshua Lewis later succeeded in obtaining a peace warrant from Judge Ryland in Lexington, but not before church leaders agreed to leave Jackson County. (Pratt, History of the Late Persecution, 15–16; [Edward Partridge], “A History, of the Persecution,” Times and Seasons, Jan. 1840, 1:33; John F. Ryland, “Near Lexington,” MO, to Amos Rees, 24 Nov. 1833, copy, William W. Phelps, Collection of Missouri Documents, CHL; “From Missouri,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Jan. 1834, 125.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

    Phelps, William W. Collection of Missouri Documents, 1833–1837. CHL. MS 657.

    The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.

  21. 21

    See Historical Introduction to Letter, 30 Oct. 1833.  

  22. 22

    A reference to the February term of the circuit court.  

  23. 23

    TEXT: “toge[page torn]”. Supplied text from a copy of the letter in Partridge, Genealogical Record, 11.  

    Partridge, Edward, Jr. Genealogical Record. 1878. CHL. MS 1271.

  24. 24

    The idea of purchasing land in Jackson County was again proposed the following year but never came to fruition. On 16 June 1834, representatives of the exiled Mormons met with representatives from Jackson County in the courthouse in Liberty, with some Clay County citizens there to act as mediators. The Jackson County committee proposed that county citizens buy all the land church members owned in Jackson County at its full value within a month’s time if the Mormons agreed never to settle again in the county. On 21 June 1834, JS and other church leaders in Clay County turned down the Jackson County committee’s proposal and presented a counterproposal. Asserting their intention to return to their lands by orders of the governor of Missouri, they proposed to buy the lands of county citizens who could not abide living with the Mormons. However, the Mormons were unable to pay the money required within the allotted time of one year, and they refused to sell their lands largely because a revelation JS dictated on 22 June 1834 commanded the church to purchase “all the lands in Jackson County that can be purchased and in the adjoining Counties round about” for the implementation of the law of consecration. (“Proposition of the Jackson Committee to the Mormons and Their Answer,” 16 June 1834, William W. Phelps, Collection of Missouri Documents, CHL; “Request of Cornelius Gilliam to J. Smith Jr and Others and Their Answer,” 21 June 1834, JS Collection, CHL; Revelation, 22 June 1834, in Revelation Book 1, pp. 200–201 [D&C 105:28].)  

    Phelps, William W. Collection of Missouri Documents, 1833–1837. CHL. MS 657.

    Smith, Joseph. Collection, 1827–1846. CHL. MS 155.

  25. 25

    Many church members had expressed similar hopes since the beginning of the turmoil in Jackson County. “Pray for the Lord to deliver, for this is his will that you should,” wrote Oliver Cowdery on 10 August 1833, “& fear not for his arm will be revealed, & it will fall upon the wicked & they cannot escape.” A week later, JS stated in a prayer to God, “Thine anger is enkindled against them and they shall be consumed before thy face and be far removed from Zion O they will go down to the pit and give pl[a]ce for thy saints.” (Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson Co., MO, 10 Aug. 1833; Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson Co., MO, 18 Aug. 1833.)  

  26. 26

    Rumors of conflicts between white settlers and the native peoples in United States territories were typical of the American frontier. In April 1833, for example, The Evening and the Morning Star republished articles that mentioned such potential difficulties. (“All Must Come to Pass,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Apr. 1833, [6].)  

    The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.

  27. 27

    TEXT: “comfort[page torn]ord”. Supplied text from a copy of the letter in Partridge, Genealogical Record, 11.  

    Partridge, Edward, Jr. Genealogical Record. 1878. CHL. MS 1271.