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June 2, 2013

The Mormon War — The first record of Johnson County, Missouri, in War 1837

The Mormon War. — The first record of Johnson county in war is one but little known. This was the "Mormon War." 
In 1831 the Latter Day Saints under what was claimed by their leader, Joseph Smith, as divine revelation began coming to Jackson county. There trouble arose between them and the other settlers, and they moved to Caldwell county. Trouble arose again and by 1838 both sides were armed, and an anti-Mormon army of 450 men had come in from outside counties, and later Governor Boggs called out the state militia against them. Eventually, on October 30, 1838. eighteen of the Saints were killed or massacred by the militia, and the balance of the large and prosperous settlement in Caldwell county driven from the state. During this trouble Johnson county's participation is shown in the following record copied from the Johnson county history of 1881, page 508: 
"In 1837, during the Mormon war in Missouri. Lieutenant Colonel Jehu Robinson commanded a battalion. James Warnick Major Warnick Link was captain. The following constitutes a list of his privates: William Thornton. Jerome B. Greer, Henry Hayes, Daniel Marr, Elmer Marr, William Marr, Joseph Dixon, James Borthick, Charles Oglesby." 
Hauns Mill - The Mormon Wars
Missouri Extermination Order
Missouri Governor Lilburn W. Boggs' Order of Extermination, Missouri Executive Order Number 44, read as follows:
Headquarters of the Militia,
City of Jefferson, Oct. 27, 1838.
General John B. Clark:
Sir; Since the order of this morning to you, directing you to cause four hundred mounted men to be raised within your division, I have received by Amos Reese, Esq., of Ray county, and Wiley C. Williams, Esq., one of my aids, information of the most appalling character, which entirely changes the face of things, and places the Mormons in the attitude of an open and avowed defiance of the laws, and of having made war upon the people of this state. Your orders are, therefore, to hasten your operation with all possible speed. The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the state if necessary for the public peace--their outrages are beyond all description. If you can increase your force, you are authorized to do so to any extent you may consider necessary. I have just issued orders to Maj. Gen. Willock, of Marion county, to raise five hundred men, and to march them to the northern part of Daviess, and there unite with Gen. Doniphan, of Clay, who has been ordered with five hundred men to proceed to the same point for the purpose of intercepting the retreat of the Mormons to the north. They have been directed to communicate with you by express, you can also communicate with them if you find it necessary. Instead therefore of proceeding as at first directed to reinstate the citizens of Daviess in their homes, you will proceed immediately to Richmond and then operate against the Mormons. Brig. Gen. Parks of Ray, has been ordered to have four hundred of his brigade in readiness to join you at Richmond. The whole force will be placed under your command.
I am very respectfully,
your ob't serv't,
L. W. Boggs,
Pursuant to the order, hundreds of Mormon civilians were, as applicable, attacked, lynched, looted, tarred, raped, and murdered.
In 1976, Missouri Governor Christopher Bond rescinded Executive Order 44 as follows:

WHEREAS, on October 27, 1838, the Governor of the State of Missouri, Lilburn W. Boggs, signed an order calling for the extermination or expulsion of Mormons from the State of Missouri; and

WHEREAS, Governor Boggs' order clearly contravened the rights to life, liberty, property and religious freedom as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, as well as the Constitution of the State of Missouri; and

WHEREAS, in this bicentennial year as we reflect on our nation's heritage, the exercise of religious freedom is without question one of the basic tenets of our free democratic republic;

Now, THEREFORE, I, CHRISTOPHER S. BOND, Governor of the State of Missouri, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the State of Missouri, do hereby order as follows:

Expressing on behalf of all Missourians our deep regret for the injustice and undue suffering which was caused by the 1838 order, I hereby rescind Executive Order Number 44, dated October 27, 1838, issued by Governor W. Boggs.

In witness I have hereunto set my hand and caused to be affixed the great seal of the State of Missouri, in the city of Jefferson, on this 25 day of June, 1976.

(Signed) Christopher S. Bond, Governor.
The Mormons, having fled from Pennsylvania to Ohio to Missouri, subsequently moved to Illinois.
Despite more assertive subsequent efforts to maintain political autonomy and security, Mormons experienced a similar sequence of events in Nauvoo, Illinois. Illinois Governor Thomas Ford called out the state militia, imprisoned Mormon leaders, and allowed a mob to assassinate Mormon leaders during the Mormons' imprisonment. Governor Ford also sanctioned a campaign of violence, destruction, and expulsion.
In March 2004, Illinois expressed regret for the incidents in an official House Resolution HR0793 (LRB093 21726 KEF 49525 r), as set forth below.

WHEREAS, 138 years ago Brigham Young and more than 20,000 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were expelled from the State of Illinois after the Illinois General Assembly withdrew its charter for the city of Nauvoo, Illinois in Hancock County in 1844; and

WHEREAS, During a period of seven years of Illinois history, from 1839 to 1846, Latter-day Saints built and developed the city of Nauvoo into the largest city in the State of Illinois and the tenth largest city in the nation; and

WHEREAS, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was established by Joseph Smith in Fayette, New York on April 13 6, 1830; and

WHEREAS, The Mormon Prophet, Joseph Smith, led the community of Latter-day Saints from Fayette, New York to Kirtland, Ohio in 1831; and from Ohio to Independence, Missouri, in 1837; and

WHEREAS, Joseph Smith, a strong anti-slavery advocate, led his community of some 15,000 Latter-day Saints to the Mississippi River town of Nauvoo, in Illinois, following their expulsion from the slave State of Missouri in 1839; and

WHEREAS, Joseph Smith and the Latter-day Saints exercised enormous industry and effort in the development and growth of the town of Nauvoo, succeeding in creating a prosperous community in which they drained the local swamp lands and transformed them into productive agricultural and residential environments; and

WHEREAS, Joseph Smith and the Latter-day Saints were given an extraordinary charter for the powers of home-rule by the Illinois General Assembly to create and preside over their own court system and also to maintain their own military force, second in size only to the United States Army; and

WHEREAS, Joseph Smith and the community of Latter-day Saints exercised extensive missionary activities which drew new Mormon settlers to the city Nauvoo, reaching a population of some 20,000 citizens by 1844; and

WHEREAS, The prevailing economic conditions of the nation in general, and Illinois in particular, faced a downturn in the early 1840s, with the result that the rapidly growing population of Nauvoo faced drastic levels of unemployment without success in attracting needed industry; and

WHEREAS, During the period of their residency in Nauvoo, Joseph Smith and his community of Latter-day Saints began as political Democrats, transferring their political allegiance to the Whig Party in both the elections of 1838 and 1840, before once again transferring their affiliations back to the Democratic Party in the election of 1842, until the establishment of the Reform Party by Smith in time for the election of 1844, when he began to seriously campaign for the office of President of the United States; and

WHEREAS, The expression of political authority and power within the community of Latter-day Saints was seen by many citizens in Illinois as reason for caution and concern, seeing the control of local courts by Joseph Smith as autocratic, and interpreting the leverage and influence of the Mormon community's voting strength as an over influential and forceful voting bloc; and

WHEREAS, Local religious customs among the Latter-day Saints began to be viewed with suspicion, bias and misunderstanding; and

WHEREAS, Following the destruction of a local anti-Mormon newspaper known as the Expositor, violence against the Latter-day Saint community increased; and

WHEREAS, The Governor of the State of Illinois, Thomas Ford, called out the Illinois Militia to keep order; and

WHEREAS, Governor Ford had the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum Smith, jailed, on suspicion of complicity in the destruction of the Expositor, in the nearby town jail of Carthage, Illinois; and

WHEREAS, A violent mob stormed the Carthage jail on June 27, 1844, causing the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum Smith; and

WHEREAS, Between 1844 and 1845, violent acts against the community of Latter-day Saints increased in volume and intensity, demonstrated in such acts as the burning of crops, the destruction of homes and the threatened extermination of the entire Mormon population; and

WHEREAS, Faced with the extremism against the community of Latter-day Saints, Brigham Young, the new leader of the Nauvoo community made plans to take his people out of Illinois; and

WHEREAS, Beginning on February 4, 1846, Brigham Young began sending the community of Latter-day Saints out of their homeland of Nauvoo, Illinois across the frozen waters of the Mississippi River, in the largest forced migration in American history; and

WHEREAS, Brigham Young made an exodus from the State of Illinois, leading tens of thousands of men, women and children, together with livestock and wagons that stretched across the expansive winter horizon for miles; and

WHEREAS, In this Mormon exodus, Brigham Young and the community of Latter-day Saints left behind their life in Illinois and the shining city that they had fashioned from both their faith and the hard work of their hands; and

WHEREAS, Brigham Young and the community of Latter-day Saints set off in the midst of winter for Utah, some 1300 miles to the west; and

WHEREAS, The severity of the winter placed on Brigham Young and the community of Latter-day Saints extreme hardships, trudging across the Iowa Plains to the far side of that state where they made a winter camp; and

WHEREAS, In the Spring of 1847, Brigham Young and the community of Latter-day Saints began again their journey to Utah, beyond the Rocky Mountain Range, to the valley of the Great Salt Lake; and

WHEREAS, On July 24, 1847, Brigham Young and the community of Latter-day Saints arrived in that valley following a trek of more than five months, journeying across the heart of the American continent, from the heartbreak of events in Nauvoo, Illinois to a place of far-western refuge; and

WHEREAS, Within 50 years of their arrival in the territory of Utah, the community of Latter-day Saint became the 45th state in the Union on January 4, 1896; and

WHEREAS, The community of Latter-day Saints grew from a population of 250,000 at the end of the 19th century to a population of more than 11 million people in our present day; and

WHEREAS, The goodness, patriotism, high moral conduct, and generosity of the community of Latter-day Saints has enriched the landscape of the United States and the world; and

WHEREAS, The biases and prejudices of a less enlightened age in the history of the State of Illinois caused unmeasurable hardship and trauma for the community of Latter-day Saints by the distrust, violence, and inhospitable actions of a dark time in our past; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE NINETY-THIRD GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, that we acknowledge the disparity of those past actions and suspicions, regretting the expulsion of the community of Latter-day Saints, a people of faith and hard work.

Most Mormons subsequently moved from Illinois to Utah (which was part of Mexico at the time), where Mormons then lived in peaceful isolation. This changed with the end of the Mexican War (Mormon troops fought on the side of the United States), when Utah became a territory of the United States under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
Political, military, and cultural hostilities erupted in 1857-58 when President James Buchanan fulfilled an 1855-56 campaign promise to suppress Mormons and sent the United States military to occupy Utah in what is now known as the "Utah War." Mormons regarded this as a violation of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and an attempt to renew the campaign of violence against Mormons that had occurred in Missouri and Illinois. Mormons felt that they no longer had anywhere new to migrate, and that they had to stand their ground. It was during this period, on September 11, 1857, that a controversial incident known as the "Mountain Meadow Massacre" occurred in which some resentful Mormons and Piute Indians killed a group of civilian settlers passing from Arkansas to California via Utah.
Once Utah was occupied by the United States military, an effort was made over several decades to disenfranchise Mormon voters, deny Mormons participation in local governance and juries, and seize Mormon-owned assets. Eventually tax-funded government schools were created with the express purpose of culturally cleansing Mormons. This system of schools was (and is) funded with government trust lands. Today Utah is, in some ways, a kind of Indian Reservation for Mormons. Approximately 90% of Utah is owned by governmental entities, most of which is federal or state school trust property.
This history helps explain why Mormons (and Utahns) have tended to show more political support for private school vouchers and home education than is exhibited by electorates in many other states. Mormons, like other American demographic minority groups such as Catholics, Jews, Native Americans, Mennonites, African-Americans, Japanese-Americans, are painfully aware that compulsory government education exists on the basis of long-standing ethnic, racial, religious, and political animosities and a majoritarian desire to control minority groups through the guise of "helping" or "civilizing" them. There is a natural tendency for many people in these demographic segments to seek out private or home education settings, or other special educational settings, where they can feel empowered rather than exploited or embattled.

Early Mormonism in Missouri

In 1838 the headquarters of the Mormon Church was located in western Missouri. Mormons began arriving in this state in the early 1830s settling in Jackson County, around the city of Independence. However, trouble erupted between the Mormons and the non-Mormon Missourians, which resulted in the Mormons being forced out of Jackson County in 1833. Many were welcomed to Clay County, across the river to the north, where they settled and made new homes. A couple of years later, when new troubles between the Mormons and non-Mormons began, a peaceful settlement was negotiated as the state provided the Mormons a county they could call their own. The formation and settlement of Caldwell County brought about a year and a half of peace – and even friendship — between Missouri’s Mormons and non-Mormons.
Mormon Missouri 1838But as Mormonism grew, so many coverts gathered to Missouri that the boundaries of Caldwell County couldn’t hold them all. So contrary to the terms of the peace agreement, Mormons began settling in other counties. Thus, in 1838 hostilities began yet again.
Non-Mormons started getting nervous as Mormon settlements expanded and Mormon leaders proclaimed war-like rhetoric against dissenters and non-Mormon settlers. Once again, tensions and conflict increased on both sides, and eventually an armed force of Missourians displaced the Mormon settlement of DeWitt (in Carroll County). Once again, the Mormons packed up their belongings and headed to another county, this time to the Mormon settlement of Far West, Missouri.
In his book, The Mormon War: Zion and the Missouri Extermination Order of 1838, Brandon G. Kinney explained,
“When the DeWitt Mormon wagons arrived in Far West, the seasoned converts chalked up the defeat to their continued martyrdom, but the younger members were bent on revenge.” (131)
Indeed, the Mormons had had enough. Lyman Wight, a militant LDS Church leader in Daviess County, commanded a Mormon force of 350 men. Their task was to follow orders given by Joseph Smith to drive the non-Mormon residents out of Daviess County by force (135).
Beginning on October 18, 1838, Mormon forces raided the Daviess County communities of Gallatin, Millport, and Grindstone Fork. Brandon Kinney wrote,
“The first objective was to take provisions for the winter and compensation for Mormon losses in Jackson and Carroll counties. The second objective was to drive all non-Mormons from the county. The Mormons rounded up all horses, cattle, and hogs they could find and brought them back to [the LDS settlement of] Adam-ondi-Ahman…
“Over the next few days a group of three hundred armed Mormons marched back through Daviess County loading up all the property left behind by the fleeing citizens. As they cleaned the houses out they would set fire to them to ensure that the citizens could not return.” (137-138)
MormonViolenceMormon raids against the non-Mormons continued. At Gallatin the Mormons “took all the valuables and set the buildings on fire.” Mormon leader David Patten warned that all non-Mormons must leave Daviess County or face death (139).
“[F]our hundred armed Mormons visited the home of William Osbern. Finding only his wife at home, they ordered her out of the house at gunpoint and pushed and shoved her to the ground. They left no option but for her to leave immediately or be shot. They then began looting her home and preparing to set fire to it. The Mormons seized forty-two head of Osbern’s cattle. Finishing with the Osberns, the Mormons crossed the Grand River to the north side and set upon justice of the peace William Dryden…
“The Mormons took Dryden’s son, Jonathan L. Dryden, and nephew as prisoners…Young Dryden was sick in bed with fever but was nonetheless removed from his home and transported a mile away by his captors. At that point the Mormons left the boy…Perhaps they assumed he would die if abandoned to the elements or simply thought he was too sick to continue on; more likely, they were afraid he would spread infection. Regardless, Dryden survived…” (139-140)
In his book, Mr. Kinney related more stories of devastation wrought by Mormon troops. A doctor named Samuel Venable delivered a baby whose mother had been driven from her home while she was in labor. While the Mormons robbed and plundered her home, the woman traveled eight miles to neighboring Livingston County where she found a doctor at a campground hastily set up for refugee relief. While treating patients, the doctor saw another fleeing woman arrive at the campground carrying her four-day-old child (140).
Mormon marauders left Daviess County and plundered citizens in Livingston County as well. Mr. and Mrs. White, who had set up the refugee campground, suffered a Mormon raid when their home was plundered, their oats and corn confiscated to feed the Mormons’ horses, their fences torn down, and their standing crops destroyed (140).
All of this (and more) led to Sheriff William Morgan’s distressed October 21st letter to Missouri governor Lilburn Boggs pleading for help. “Our country is in a desperate situation [the Mormons] are burning and driving as they go,” he wrote (139).
Haun'sMillThe days that followed were filled with more threats, more rhetoric, and more Mormon raids. The culmination of this escalating violence came on October 30th when 17 Mormon men and boys were killed in a skirmish with Missouri militiamen at Haun’s Mill in Caldwell County. News of this tragic loss of life caused Joseph Smith to surrender, finally bringing an end to the Mormon War.
Who started all this trouble in Missouri? At whose feet can the blame be laid? Latter-day Saints generally blame the Missourians. Mormons share stories with one another of the way their people were mistreated, of how they suffered at the hands of their Missouri enemies, and of the injustices perpetrated against them. And they are right – they were mistreated, they did suffer, and their concerns were unjustly handled. However, as the examples detailed above demonstrate, the Mormons also mistreated people; they also caused suffering; and they also perpetrated injustices.
During those terrible weeks of October 1838 the Mormons went on the offensive. They sought to fulfill what Church leader Sidney Rigdon said would be “a war of extermination; for we will follow them till the last drop of their blood is spilled, or else they will have to exterminate us; for we will carry the seat of war to their own houses, and their own families, and one party or the other shall be utterly destroyed” (July 4, 1838; 90).
An objective look at this history reveals provocation, violence, and injustice on both sides of the conflict. As much as Latter-day Saints may want to imagine their early Mormon brethren wearing the white hats, no clear-cut good-guys-vs-bad-guys scenario existed in this Mormon War.