Transcript of Proceedings, circa 18 September 1838 [State of Missouri v. JS et al. for Riot]

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

I here append certain testimony, which is on file in this office, taken before John Wright, and Elijah Foley, Justices of the peace, setting as a Committing Court on the 18th of September, 1838, in , and said testimony committed to writing by the late Hon. , then Circuit Attorney in this Judicial Circuit, which is as follows, to wit:
Examination of , , , William Alridge [Aldrich], Absalom Sentchfield, Amos Tubbs [Tubs], Perry Durphey [Durfee], James Bingham, Joseph W. Younger, Ephraim Owens [Owen], John Lemmon, James Whittaker [Whitaker] and Alanson Brown, taken before us, John Wright and Elijah Foley, two justices of the peace, within and for the county of , in the State of , on the 18th day of September, 1838, upon a charge of having upon the 8th day of August, 1838, at said county of , with others unlawfully assembled, and surrouuded [surrounded] the house of , and blocked up the doors of the dwelling house of said , and threatened the life of said , and other citizens of said county of .
, of lawful age, being produced sworn and examined as a witness on the part of the , deposeth and saith: that in the morning between nine and ten o’clock, and some of the above named gentlemen and others, amounting to about 17, well armed, came in about ten steps of his door, and called him to come out to the fence. He refused going out, and invited them to get down, and come to the house. They refused alighting, saying they had not time. said he had come to see the , that he had some talk for him; he then went out to him, and he said they had come to see the , to get him to sign an obligation, binding him, said , to do them justice as justice of the peace; refused to do so, and told him that if his oath and the laws of the country did not bind him, a written obligation would be no more binding, and told [p. 159] him if he or his company had been injured in any way, he, the , would issue process, and bring the offenders to justice. Something may have passed between and said , before made the last mentioned remark, but if any thing was said does not remember what it was, at present; said replied that they had been mobbed away from the poll books on Monday before, and prevented from using their republican privileges of voting, and that his life had been threatened, and he did not intend standing it any longer, he intended having satisfaction for the manner in which his people had been treated. Here something passed that is not particularly recollected by the , and said said that William Bowman had threatened to cut his throat from ear to ear. The asked him for his author, and he refused to give it, but said it was a respectable man. then told him if he was afraid of his life, and would make oath of it, he would have Mr. Bowman brought forward, and dealt with according to law. He replied he was afraid of no man, and would not make oath that he was afraid of any man; told him if he would not, he could do nothing for him in that case. At some time in the conversation, when said was complaining of the treatment of his people at the election, told him that his people were the first to raise a deadly weapon, and that he considered them as much to blame as others. He disputed it and called on some of his men that were present and proved the reverse—he thinks Hervey Olmstead [Harvey Olmsted], and is confident that stated that it was not as stated.
then stated that Esquire [Philip] Covington and himself had been consulted, and had concluded to bring up all the offenders at the election, and have them tried, but thought it advisable to defer it for a few days, until the excitement was allayed. At that time, or about then, said replied, that he did not intend to be tried by the civil authority, he intended having satisfaction for the way they had been treated by the force of arms—he intended having blood for the blood his people had spilled at the election—that he had once tried the civil authority in , and that they had lost about $100,000, and that he did not intend to try the civil authority any more: that had issued his Proclamation very favorably towards them, but had not complied with it, and he did not intend to try the Government any longer: that they were able to defend themselves, and intended to have their rights. Before this, had told said , that the was bound to protect them. Said said he could not put confidence in our at this time, and referred to him as being at the head of the mob in ; he also said he would love to have a pull at the , or disregarded him. thinks, the first he took, as the expression of a threat. Some time in the conversation, asked said why he wanted him more than any one else in the to sign an obligation? He said he intended to go to all the civil and military officers in the , and they all should sign a similar obligation, and that those who did not do it should be shot down or cut off. [p. 160]
About this time a writing was drawn from some of their pockets, and some of them remarked it was not worth while to be losing time, about it, and handed it to , who refused to take it, saying he would not sign their obligation, but then said he would take it and read it, if it would be any satisfaction to them, and took it and went into the house and handed it to , who read it over, and said he could not sign any such obligation. Some words then passed, not recollected at this time, and they left the ’s house, saying they were going to see Captain Bowman, , and others, and that they should sign that obligation. When they got on their horses, said, gentlemen, I don’t want you to go off and say that I refused to issue you civil process. turned on his horse, and one or two of the others saying, “You black son of a bitch, don’t you impeach us with lying.” replied he was not impeaching them with lying, but only requesting them not to lie. He replied, “you mob, you black son of a bitch, shut your head, or I’ll cut it off, or take your head.” then told them to put off, that he did not believe in being iusulted [insulted] in his own house in that manner, and they went off muttering something that did not understand. They said the cause of their coming was that they had heard that two or three of their men had been killed at the election, and that they had heard that a mob of about 30 men were to be at ’s house that day. replied to , that he knew better, that he was at the election himself late in the evening after the affray was over. asked him who told him there was to be a mob at his house, and he replied he did not know, but it was a respectable man. They remained absent about half an hour, and returned with about 154 men, from the best information could obtain, and approached ’s house, and surrounded it, and blocked up his doors. A , who came in foremost, asked if was at home. replied he was. then stepped obliquely to , drew a piece of paper out of his pocket, and said, we have come to be plain with you, the only alternative is for you to sign this obligation; and refused to do it. He then said if refused to do it, he would cut him down, or shoot him down. told him it was an unlawful and unjust request. He then said, we believe, from words that have dropped from your lips heretofore, that you are in a mob against us. At that time, or , or some other one asked him, if he knew Mr. Smith? He replied that he did not, but would like to know the gentlemen, and if he was there he would like to see him. Smith was then introduced to him. He said to him, Smith, that he would like for him to take a seat and have a conversation with him, he would like to know his object in surrounding his house with an armed force of men in that manner. Smith said they had come merely for the purpose of getting to sign an obligation, and a considerable argument ensued between them about the propriety of signing the obligation. told him he could sign no such obligation, that it was an unjust and unlawful act of theirs to attempt to com [p. 161]pel him to do so; that he was at their service, they could sacrifice him, or do as they thought proper, but he would sign no such obligation; that they had him surrounded with an armed force, and he was destitute of arms. At that time Mr. Smith, , and he thinks , put their hands to their swords, and said, could have their swords. He replied he had no use for them, that they could keep them. They still urged him to sign their obligation. He still refused, and called on them as christians, and said if they were the latter day saints they must be christians, and said their making of him an unjust request, and that they were not bound in any manner to interrupt the citizens of , and requested a list of all their names. They then said they were willing for to draw an instrument of his own, and they would then come into an obligation with him, and seeing the situation of his family, told them he would give them an obligation under his hand, if it would of any satisfaction to them, and told them he would give them a certificate to about the following effect:
“I, a justice of the peace, within and for , do hereby certify that I will support the constitution of this , and of the , and will support no mob, that I am not attached to any mob, and will not attach myself to any such people.” Some of the company seemed to think it was sufficient, but it was objected to by others, and said, if it would be more satisfactory, he would add another sentence to it, as follows: “That I will not molest the people called Mormons, and they will not molest me” or, “if they will not molest me.” He signed, and handed it to them and they appeared to be satisfied with it; they then said, speaking: Now we are going down to see the Col. of your , and Capt. Bowman, and will soon settle the business with them, and said a common excuse would not let them off, they must make some great acknowledgment for their threats, and if they did not, they would take their lives or shoot them down, or could shoot them down. said he could shoot a man who would not sign that obligation, or that would oppose him, or be in a mob against him, and drink his heart’s blood. said to , you must be of a savage nature; and he replied he was, that he was an old Virginian, that it was his disposition and he could not help it. then asked Mr. Smith, if he protected in his savage disposition, or if he possessed such a heart? he replied no. When they were at his house the second time they repeated that they would go through the , and compel every officer, civil and military, to sign a similar paper, or that they should sign that paper.
Questioned by , one of the defendants. Do you recollect seeing me at your house that day, or at any other time?
Answer. I do not.
Question, by same. Do you recollect ever to have seen me on the north side of the ?
Answer. I do not. [p. 162]
The examination then adjourned till ten o’clock tomorrow morning.
P. S. The defendants appeared before said Court, on the following morning, and voluntarily proposed to enter into recognizance, and were recognized accordingly, without prosecuting the examination any further.
The writer of this was present during the whole proceedings.
STATE OF MISSOURI,) SS .[scilicet]
County of .)
I, , Clerk of the Circuit Court, of the aforesaid, do hereby certify that the above and foregoing is a true copy of the testimony, which it purports to be, now on file in my office.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, with my private seal affixed, there being no official seal yet provided, at , the 18th day of March, A. D., 1841.
, Clerk.
L. S. [p. 163]


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    TEXT: “L. S.” enclosed in curly brackets representing a seal.