Joseph Smith in Northern Missouri, 1838

By Alexander L. Baugh

Alexander L. Baugh, “Joseph Smith in Northern Missouri,” in Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer, ed. Richard Neitzel Holzapfel and Kent P. Jackson (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2010), 291–346.

1838: Joseph Smith in Northern Missouri

Alexander L. Baugh

Alexander L. Baugh was an associate professor of Church history and doctrine at Brigham Young University and an editor of The Joseph Smith Papers when this was published.


The Mormon War. During a period of nearly four months, August through the end on November, 1838, seven major confrontations took place, and the Saints were required to defend themselves. Above is a depiction of the Haun's Mill Massacre, where a mob killed seventeen men, women, and children. (C. C. A. Christensen [1831-1912], Haun's Mill, 1865 ca, tempera on muslin, 78 x 114 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of the Christensen grandchildren.)

During late 1837, the Church in Kirtland was in turmoil. Dissatisfied with Joseph Smith’s leadership, several hundred Saints questioned his divine calling and withdrew from the Church or were excommunicated. At the core of the dissension was the failure of the Kirtland Safety Society, organized and established by Joseph Smith and other Church leaders in late 1836. However, from its beginnings the institution experienced major problems. Unable to secure a legal charter from the Ohio legislature, the officers restructured the enterprise as a joint stock company known as the Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Company in January 1837. Without state backing, however, other financial institutions questioned the legitimacy of the notes as legal tender. Furthermore, lacking capital (most of the society’s assets were tied up in land and property) and hard specie, the company was forced to seek loans from other banks, leading to additional institutional debt. On a larger scale, during this time the entire U.S. experienced its own nationwide economic crises. Known as the “panic of 1837,” the economic downturn and subsequent depression forced the closure of hundreds of lending institutions and businesses nationwide. In July 1837, the Kirtland Safety Society was forced to close its doors, leaving the pockets of its investors empty. Creditors were angry, and charges of mismanagement and lawsuits followed.

Joseph Flees Kirtland

Most of the two hundred individuals who invested in the Safety Society were Church members, many of whom blamed Joseph Smith for their losses, thereafter questioning his authority and ability to receive divine direction. Lacking confidence in Joseph and the First Presidency’s leadership, a number of men sought to take control of the Church with the intent to force the First Presidency from office and then oust them from Kirtland entirely. The opposition group was led by Warren Parrish, one-time scribe and secretary to Joseph Smith. Other dissenters included Apostles John F. Boynton and Luke and Lyman E. Johnson; Seventies Hazen Aldrich, Leonard Rich, and Sylvester Smith, John Gould, and John Grayson; and even Martin Harris, one of the witnesses to the Book of Mormon. The dissenters not only openly opposed the Mormon leadership but they also pursued civil action and criminal lawsuits and in some instances threatened their lives. Joseph Smith’s published history states, “The bitterness of the spirit of apostate mobocracy . . . continued to rage and grow hotter and hotter until Elder Rigdon and myself were obliged to flee from its deadly influence, as did the Apostles and Prophets of old, and as Jesus said, ‘when they persecute you in one city, flee to another.’”[1] The decision to abandon Kirtland and relocate with the body of Saints then living in Far West, Caldwell County, Missouri, was directed by the following revelation dated January 12, 1838:

Thus saith the Lord Let the presidency of my Church take their families as soon as it is praticable and a door is open for them and move on to the west as fast as the way is made plain before their faces and let their hearts be comforted for I will be with them

Verily I say unto you the time [has] . . . come that your laibours are finished in this place, for a season, Therefore arise and get yourselves on to a land which I shall show unto you even a land flowing with milk and honey you are clean from the blood of this people and wo unto those who have become your enimies who <have> professed my name saith the Lord, for their judgement lingereth not and their damnation slumbereth not, let all your faithfull friends arise with their families also and get out of this place and gather themselves together unto Zion and be at peace among yourselves O ye inhabitants of Zion or there shall be no safty for you.[2]

Joseph and Sidney made their departure on the evening of January 12, the very date the revelation instructing them to leave was received. Their hasty departure was necessitated by the fact that the local sheriff planned to arrest Joseph Smith, which likely would have resulted in a lawsuit or imprisonment.[3] Lucy Mack Smith reported that her son left in the “dead hour of the night.”[4] Zerah Pulsipher reported that in making the getaway, the Prophet was “carried away in a box nailed on an ox sled.” After making their way a safe distance from Kirtland, the pair mounted horses and rode all night before arriving at Norton, Ohio (southwest of present-day Akron), where they waited for their families to join them.[5]

Joseph Smith’s Arrival at Far West, Missouri

The Smith and Rigdon families left Norton, Ohio, for Missouri on January 16, 1838. Although their journey began in the middle of an extremely cold winter, the weather was not their main problem. “We were obliged to secrete ourselves in our wagons . . . to elude the grasp of our pursuers, who continued their pursuit of us more than two hundred miles from Kirtland, armed, with pistols and guns, seeking our lives.”[6] After Joseph and Sidney made their way out of Ohio, their antagonists eventually gave up. At Dayton the company picked up the national road, continuing on to Dublin, Indiana, where they had an extended stay with Lorenzo Dow Young, brother of Brigham Young.[7] Leaving Dublin, Joseph and his family parted ways with the Rigdons and headed due west through Indianapolis and Terre Haute, then further west to Quincy, Illinois. A short while after crossing the Mississippi River, the Prophet’s party was met by a company from Far West who provided additional teams and money to complete the journey. On March 14, Joseph and his family arrived at Far West. In a letter to the Kirtland presidency, written two weeks after his arrival, the Prophet described the elation he felt to be united with his fellow Saints:

Through the grace & mercy of our God, after a long & tedious Journey of two months & one day, I and my family arrived in the City of Far West Having been met at Huntsville 120 Miles from this by brotheren with teams & money to forward us on our Journey When within eight miles of the City of Far West We were met by an escort of bretheren from the City . . . who received us with open armes and warm hearts and welcomed us to the bosom of their Sosciety On our arrival in the City we were greeted on Every hand by the Saints who bid us welcome; Welcome; to the land of their inheritance.[8]

At Far West, Joseph, Emma, and their family took up temporary residence with George Washington Harris, a member of the Missouri high council, and his wife, Lucinda Morgan.[9] A short while later, the Church provided the Smith family with a modest two-room frame home about a quarter of a mile southwest of the public square. Joseph lived here until his arrest in late October 1838. Emma lived in the home until February 1839, when she and the children made their way out of the state.[10]

Revelation Explaining Isaiah 11 and 52

Within just a few days of his arrival, probably during an informal meeting with perhaps several men, Joseph Smith was asked to clarify passages from Isaiah. His explanations regarding verses found in the eleventh and fifty-second chapters were noted in his “Scriptory Book” by his secretary George W. Robinson. Significantly, in his 1839 history, Joseph Smith indicated that on the occasion of the visit of the angel Moroni on September 21–22, 1823, the heavenly messenger “quoted the Eleventh Chapter of Isaiah saying that it was about to be fulfilled” (see Joseph Smith—History 1:40). Regarding Isaiah 11:1–5, 10–11, the general interpretation among Christian scholars is that the passage is a prophetic allusion to the life and ministry of Jesus. While the Latter-day Saints accept this interpretation, they believe the passage has dual meaning because Joseph Smith indicated that the fulfillment of Isaiah 11 was yet future. Given this, Latter-day Saints believe the “stem” and the “root” of Jesse spoken of by Isaiah is none other than the Prophet Joseph Smith himself.[11]

Excommunications

The Prophet probably expected that Missouri would bring a respite from the internal opposition he experienced in the Kirtland community. However, at the time of his arrival at Far West on March 14, the Missouri Church was in the middle of a crisis of its own. In 1836, using Church funds, W. W. Phelps and John Whitmer, two members of the Missouri presidency (David Whitmer was president), made land purchases in the newly created Caldwell County. Later, the two men were charged with buying and selling Church property in their own names and retaining some of the profits from the sales. However, perhaps more incriminating was the charge against the presidency for selling Church property in Jackson County, an act interpreted by their brethren as totally disregarding the commandments given in revelation (see D&C 57:1–4; 101:67–75; 105:26–29). In early February 1838 (before Joseph Smith’s arrival at Far West), the high council met to discuss the actions of the Missouri presidency, and a vote was taken wherein they were rejected as a presidency but retained their Church membership. Thomas B. Marsh and David W. Patten, the two senior members of the Twelve, were then sustained as presidents pro tem. A month later, on March 10, the three former presidents still had not made adequate reconciliation concerning the situation, so the council voted unanimously to excommunicate the two counselors, W. W. Phelps and John Whitmer. Marcellus Cowdery, nephew of Oliver, objected to the action taken by the council and was disfellowshipped as a result of his protest. The Prophet arrived at Far West four days later and in a meeting on March 15 gave his approval to the action taken by the high council.[12]

The council waited for the Prophet’s arrival at Far West before taking any action in the cases of the assistant president, Oliver Cowdery, and the Missouri president, David Whitmer. Cowdery moved to Missouri during the late summer or fall of 1837 after being accused of adultery (a charge which was not true) as well as mismanagement in connection with the Kirtland Society and its collapse. Joseph, aware that Oliver was teetering, issued a formal announcement concerning his status in the Church. “Oliver Cowdery has been in transgression,” he reported, “I trust [however] that he will yet humble himself and magnify his calling, but if he should not, the Church will be under the necessity of raising their hands against him.”[13] After he arrived in Missouri, Oliver’s dissatisfaction deepened, and he began stirring up trouble and making his own accusations, particularly against Joseph. Being accused of infidelity himself, and knowing the Prophet had entered into a polygamous relationship in Ohio, Cowdery violated the personal trust he shared with Joseph and spread information concerning the Prophet’s plural marriage to Fanny Alger, accusing him of adultery.[14] The second elder also became partner with the Missouri presidency in selling property in Jackson County contrary to the revelations, and he informed others that he did not believe the Church had any authority to dictate in temporal matters. One month after the Prophet’s arrival in Far West, the Missouri high council met to discuss Oliver’s attitude and conduct. Cowdery received notice of the hearing and the nine allegations made against him but chose not to appear before the body. Instead, he wrote a formal letter wherein he preferred discussing only two of the accusations. After lengthy discussion, six of the charges were sustained by the council, and the body severed his membership on April 12, 1838.[15]

The day after Oliver Cowdery’s hearing, [April 13], the council met to consider David Whitmer. Upon learning that his brother-in-law Oliver had been excommunicated, Whitmer addressed a letter to John Murdock, stating that he had decided to “withdraw from your fellowship and communion.” The council met to consider the matter anyway, and Alanson Ripley preferred five charges against Whitmer, all of which were sustained, whereupon the council voted in favor of excommunication. During the same meeting, the high council also ruled against Lyman E. Johnson, one of the Twelve.[16] There was one additional Whitmer casualty, Jacob. Although there are no Church records extant indicating his formal separation from the Church, following the departure of his brothers from the faith, he likewise alienated himself from the main body of believers.[17]

Two other leaders became disaffected with the Church. First was Apostle William E. McLellin. According to his own statements, McLellin’s disenchantment with Mormonism and its leaders began in 1836, when he left the main body of the Church for a brief time. He returned, however, and was sustained as a member of Twelve as late as November 1837. During that same month, he apparently settled in Far West because records indicate he accepted a commission in the Missouri state militia. However, by April 1838, his loyalty to the Church was again brought into question. On May 11 a trial was held for McLellin wherein he stated he had no confidence in the leaders of the Church. It is not known whether this trial constituted his excommunication, but his complete break with Mormonism occurred about this time. Unlike the other dissidents, who chose to remain in the Mormon community, he relocated in Clay County soon after losing his membership.[18]

Second was Frederick G. Williams, counselor to Joseph Smith in the First Presidency. As early as May 1837, Williams was wavering. According to one source, his problems started when he began to believe in the revelations of an unnamed sister in the Church. The matter was investigated, but apparently no action was taken. Incidents surrounding the collapse of the Kirtland Safety Society during the summer generated more discord between the Prophet and his counselor, leading Joseph to drop him from the presidency. In spite of the rift with the Prophet, Williams moved to Missouri, where he remained a member of the Church but took up a close association with the Missouri presidency and other dissidents. At a conference of the Church held in Far West on November 7, Williams’s vacancy in the First Presidency was filled by Hyrum Smith, who was officially sustained as the new Second Counselor. Even though Williams was not as active in his opposition, his association with the dissidents put him in their camp.[19] The departure of these leading men from the Church, especially the disaffections of Oliver Cowdery and David and John Whitmer—three of Joseph’s closest friends—must have been devastating to him. Perhaps he believed they would make a quick return to the Church; however, this was not the case.

April Revelations

During the month of April 1838, Joseph Smith received three revelations—two which have been canonized, and one that has not. On April 17, 1838, just over a month after the Prophet’s arrival at Far West, David W. Patten and Brigham Young were both named in revelation. At the time, Patten was second in seniority in the Twelve, and Young third. Both revelations are brief, containing personal direction and instruction. In his revelation, Patten was instructed to settle his personal affairs so that he could embark on a collective mission with the other members of the Twelve the following spring, 1839. Although the revelation does not mention where the Twelve would be sent, reports had been received regarding the success of Apostles Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, and five other missionaries then serving in north-central Great Britain. The revelation implied that the entire Twelve would perform a follow-up mission to the British Isles the next year.[20] Tragically, Patten was never able to fulfill the revelation because he died on October 25, 1838, after being wounded in the Battle of Crooked River in northern Ray County. Patten’s revelation is now included as section 114 in the Doctrine and Covenants.[21]

Brigham Young’s revelation is more personal than Patten’s, which possibly explains why this revelation was not chosen to be included in the Doctrine and Covenants. Young left Kirtland on December 22, 1837, arriving in Far West, Missouri, on March 14, 1838, in company with Joseph Smith. Shortly thereafter he purchased land on Mill Creek (probably in Kingston Township), about four miles east of Far West, where he built a home and began to provide for his family. The revelation states, “Verrily thus Saith the Lord, Let my Servant Brigham Young go unto the place which he has bought on Mill Creek and there provide for his family until an effectual door is op[e]ned for the suport of his family untill I shall command to go hence, and not to leave his family untill they are amply provided for Amen.”[22] At the time Brigham’s family consisted of his wife Mary Ann (Angell) and five children—Elizabeth and Vilate (daughters from Brigham’s first wife, Miriam Works, who died in 1832), Joseph A., and twins Brigham Jr. and Mary, the last two born on December 18, 1837, just four days before Brigham’s departure from Kirtland. Due to the delivery, Mary Ann and the children came to Missouri separate from her husband, and the travel and care of the newborns and other children seriously affected her health. The wording of the revelation suggests that Mary Ann and the children had arrived, hence the instruction to Brigham that he provide for his children due to his wife’s precarious health.

The most important of the April revelations was the one received by Joseph Smith on April 26, 1838, and it contains three major elements. First, the revelation specifies that a change be made in the name of the Church. When the Church was organized on April 6, 1830, it bore the name the Church of Christ (see D&C 20:1). Then, beginning on May 3, 1834, the Church officially adopted the title the Church of the Latter Day Saints.[23] However, the revelation specifies that from that time forward, the Church be called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, albeit with minor changes to the punctuation and capitalization.

Second, the revelation instructed the Saints to move forward with the construction of a temple at Far West. Following the creation of Caldwell County in December 1836, Church leaders discussed plans regarding the building of a temple at Far West. As early as April 1837, nearly a year before the Prophet’s arrival, the Missouri presidency, high council, and bishopric were “appointed to superintend the building of the house of the Lord in . . . Far West.”[24] A site was subsequently chosen in the northeast corner of the Far West public square, and work began on July 3, 1837. W. W. Phelps noted that on that day some fifteen hundred Saints assembled and broke ground, digging an excavation 110 feet long by 80 feet wide.[25] Although the digging of the foundation marked an important beginning, further construction was suspended until Joseph Smith could give instruction and direction. When the Prophet visited Far West during the first week of November 1837, a council was held in which it was decided that “the building of the House of the Lord be postponed until the Lord shall reveal it to be His will to have it commenced.”[26] That understanding came on April 26, 1838, less than six weeks after Joseph Smith’s arrival in northern Missouri. A portion of the revelation reads as follows:

Let the City Far West, be a holy and consecrated land unto me, and <it shall> be called <most> holy for the ground upon which thou Standest is holy Therefore I command you to build an house unto me for the gathering togethering of my Saints that they may worship me, and let there be a begining of this work; and a foundation and a preparatory work, this following Summer; and let the begining be made on the 4th day of July next; and from that time forth let my people labour diligently to build an house, unto my name, and in one year from this day, let them recommence laying the foundation of my house; thus let them from that time forth laibour diligently untill it Shall be finished, from the Corner Stone thereof unto the top thereof, untill there Shall not any thing remain that is not finished[27]

Thus the Saints were to dedicate the Far West temple site or foundation on July 4, 1838. Thereafter they were to make preparations (i.e., secure rock, lumber, and other building materials) and begin construction “in one year from this day,” namely on April 26, 1839.

A final element of the revelation specified that Far West was to be the main place of Mormon gathering, with additional localities being designated as settlement areas as needed. The revelation reads, “Verrily I Say unto you it is my will, that the City Far West Should be built up spedily, by the gathering of my Saints, and also that other places Should be appointed for Stakes in the regions round about as they shall be manifested unto my Servant Joseph from time to time.”[28] To encourage the Saints living in the East to immigrate to northern Missouri, on May 4, just a week after the revelation, the Prophet prepared an editorial, later published in the Elders’ Journal, describing the favorable conditions of the region: “No part of the world can produce a superior to Caldwell County,” he exclaimed, “the country is healthy, and the farming . . . is equal to that in any part of the world, . . . the means of living are very easily obtained, not even luxuries excepted.”[29] Throughout the spring, summer, and early fall, Church members by the hundreds heeded the revelation and Joseph Smith’s call to relocate to northern Missouri. Significantly, by the end of 1838 the Saints had established a dozen settlement communities in Caldwell and Daviess Counties, and Far West could claim the distinction of being the largest frontier settlement in northern Missouri. In summary, the revelation specified the name of the Church, instructions regarding the dedication and construction of a temple, and the call to gather. The revelation comprises what is today section 115 in the Doctrine and Covenants.

Expeditions into Daviess County

With the expectation that a large number of Latter-day Saints would be relocating to Missouri that summer, and in accordance with the April 26 revelation which indicated that besides Far West “other places should be appointed for stakes in the regions round about,” Joseph Smith conducted at least three exploratory expeditions to Daviess County, north of Caldwell County, between May 18 and June 5, to search for possible settlement locations.[30] On May 18, the Prophet and a number of others left Far West on the first of three exploratory expeditions to Daviess County “for the purpose of . . . making Locations & laying claims for the gathering of the Saints for the benefit of the poor.”[31] The following day, May 19, the company arrived at the home of Lyman Wight. In February 1838, Wight secured a property claim about twenty-three miles north of Far West on the Grand River in the Grand River Township in Daviess County, where he farmed and operated a ferry during the high-water season. On this occasion, the first time Joseph Smith visited the region, the Prophet’s secretary George W. Robinson recorded the following significant entry in the Prophet’s Scriptory Book: “Spring Hill a name appropriated by the bretheren present, But afterwards named by the mouth of [the] Lord and was called Adam Ondi Awmen [Adam-ondi-Ahman], because said he it is the place where Adam shall come to visit his people, or the Ancient of days shall sit as spoken of by Daniel the Prophet.”[32] The entry is significant for two reasons. First, it reveals that the region of Spring Hill where Lyman Wight was living was the ancient homeland of Adam following his and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden. And second, Latter-day Saints familiar with Daniel’s biblical prophecy in Daniel 7:9–10 and 13–14 will understand that before the Second Coming of Christ to all the world the resurrected Jesus and the resurrected Adam, the “ancient of days,” will visit and preside at an assemblage of Adam’s posterity at Adam-ondi-Ahman. Immediately following Joseph’s mid-May visit to the region and his pronouncement, people began to identify the region as Adam-ondi-Ahman, or Diahman for short. The Scriptory Book passage, with two minor variations, now comprises Doctrine and Covenants section 116 and is the shortest revelation in the book.[33]

The Altar on Tower Hill

While at the base of a large hill near Lyman Wight’s cabin, George W. Robinson recorded that they discovered “the remains of an old Nephitish Alter.” To commemorate the discovery, Joseph Smith called the place Tower Hill. The wording of Robinson’s statement as recorded in the Prophet’s Scriptory book has led to a number of erroneous conclusions by historians and others regarding what the party actually came across or discovered. In fact, in editing the Prophet’s manuscript history, which B. H. Roberts later edited and published as the History of the Church, the editors changed Robinson’s narrative to read in first person as if Joseph Smith were writing it and then changed the statement to read that the Prophet discovered “the remains of an old Nephite [italics mine] altar or tower.”[34] Such a change has led to the erroneous conclusion that the structure was in fact an actual Nephite altar from the Book of Mormon period and culture. However, this is simply not true. So what did Robinson mean when he said they discovered the remains of a “Nephtish” structure? It is important to note that the early Latter-day Saints clearly believed that the native North American tribes were descendants of the earlier Nephite-Lamanite civilization. With this belief, Robinson probably used the word “Nephitish” to indicate that the structure or altar was built by, or originated with, the North American Indians. He may have also used “Nephitish” to mean that the altar was of ancient origin. Therefore, what Robinson was attempting to describe were the remains of what appeared to be a sacred altar structure erected by early Native Americans.

The matter is further complicated by the fact that a number of Joseph Smith’s contemporaries made statements about visiting Tower Hill and seeing the ancient ruins and then reported them as being Adamic or that the structure was in fact part of the original altar used by Adam to offer sacrifices. Archaeologically speaking, it is extremely rare for almost any type of physical structure, large or small, to survive some five or six thousand years under any circumstances. Furthermore, it is important to note that nowhere in Joseph’s personal record book (the Scriptory Book) he was keeping in 1838 is there any statement by him identifying the ruins on Tower Hill as being Adamic. So how did the idea come about that the peculiar ruins on Tower Hill originated with Adam?

Although a full treatment cannot be given here, the following will have to suffice. During the summer and fall of 1838, Joseph Smith visited Adam-ondi-Ahman, and on a number of occasions he, along with others, went to Tower Hill. In the reminiscences of those of the Prophet’s contemporaries who visited the site, either with Joseph or not, there is consistent agreement that the Prophet specifically identified Tower Hill as the location where Adam offered ancient sacrifices. Given this, one can see how after visiting the site and seeing the ruins and being told by Joseph that this was where Adam sacrificed, they would naturally associate the ancient remains with Adam when they were in fact of much later origin.

In summary, the following conclusions can be made. First, on May 19, 1838, Joseph Smith revealed that the location known as Spring Hill, in Daviess County, Missouri, was anciently known as Adam-ondi-Ahman, or the homeland of Adam and his posterity, and that at a future day, before the Second Coming of the Savior Jesus Christ, a great and marvelous council meeting will take place at that location. Second, the archaeological remains which the Prophet’s party discovered on May 19, 1838, could not have originated with Adam; rather, they were of Native American origin. Third, since Joseph Smith taught that Tower Hill was the location where Adam offered sacrifice, many of his contemporaries mistakenly identified the remains of the ancient structure still present there in 1838 as being of Adamic rather than of Native American origin.

Birth of Alexander Hale Smith

In late May, while on one of the expeditions to Daviess County, word came from Far West that Emma was in labor and about to deliver. George W. Robinson recorded on June 1 that Joseph Smith returned to Far West to attend to Emma.[35] The baby was born June 2 and was given the name Alexander Hale Smith. Family tradition says he was named after Alexander W. Doniphan. Doniphan had acted as chief legal counsel to the Saints since 1833 and was highly respected by the entire Latter-day Saint community. Joseph’s acquaintance with Doniphan was much shorter, only a few months, but both men had a mutual admiration for each other. The birth of Alexander brought the number of Smith children to four—Julia (the adopted Murdock daughter, age seven), Joseph III (age five), Frederick Granger (almost two), and Alexander.

Creation of the Adam-ondi-Ahman Stake

Unfortunately, Robinson failed to make any entries in Joseph Smith’s personal history from June 5 to July 4, so historians are left in the dark regarding the Prophet’s day-to-day activities during this time. However, an important entry in the Elders’ Journal indicates that in late June Joseph was once again in Daviess County. On June 28, during a conference held in a small grove near Lyman Wight’s cabin, Joseph Smith organized the Adam-ondi-Ahman stake, the third stake organized in the Church, with John Smith (the Prophet’s uncle) as president and Reynolds Cahoon and Lyman Wight as counselors. The stake, however, would be short-lived. Following the expulsion of the Saints from Daviess County in November 1838, it was dissolved.[36]

Far West Temple Site Dedication

As instructed by Joseph Smith’s April 26, 1838, revelation, on July 4 perhaps as many as two to three thousand persons assembled on the public square for the temple site dedication and cornerstone-laying ceremonies for the Far West temple.[37] The day’s activities were conducted in grand style. The festivities commenced at 10 a.m. with a grand parade consisting of military infantry, Church leaders according to their offices, “ladies and gentlemen,” and cavalry. The entire procession marched to the public square to the music of a brass band led by Dimick B. Huntington. After assembling at the temple site, the entire company formed a circle around the excavation, with the ladies in front. Joseph Smith offered the opening prayer.[38]

Early temple site dedications were characterized by the placement of a large cornerstone, cut and roughly shaped beforehand, at each of the corners of the excavated foundation, after which a prayer of dedication was offered. The Far West cornerstones were cut by Elisha Averett (chief mason), Dimick B. Huntington, and Cornelius Lott.[39] Each stone was approximately seven feet long, four feet wide, and two feet thick.[40] The cornerstones were dedicated in the following order by the following leaders, each of whom was assisted by twelve men: (1) southeast (Missouri stake presidency), (2) southwest (presidents of the elders), (3) northwest (the bishop), and (4) northeast (president of the teachers). After each stone was laid, the band struck up a number.[41]

The day before the July 4 dedication and festivities, Joseph Smith asked Levi Hancock to compose a song for the ceremonies. “He worked on it much in the night, and had it ready for the occasion,” wrote Levi’s son, Mosiah Hancock. The song, titled “Song of Freedom,” consisted of twelve stanzas.[42]

At the conclusion of the cornerstone ceremonies, Church leaders and dignitaries next took their places on a stand constructed for the occasion. Sidney Rigdon, first counselor in the First Presidency, gave the oration. Rigdon used the occasion to eloquently recount the principles of freedom by which the founders established the government and the rights that religious societies are entitled to under its provisions. Speaking in general terms, he also spoke of the false reports circulated about Mormonism as well as the persecution and suffering experienced by the Church from its earliest beginnings. But in his closing statements the speech took on a different tone. Buoyed by the relative peace that had existed in northern Missouri since 1836, and secure in the notion that continued immigration would result in a steady increase in their population, Rigdon announced that the Latter-day Saints would no longer suffer abuse at the hands of their enemies. His final words were words of warning: “That mob that comes on us to disturb us; it shall be between us and them 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 destroyed.” In the end, Rigdon’s expressions proved to be partly prophetic.[43]

Following Rigdon’s speech, those assembled participated in the “Hosanna Shout,” a sacred vocal expression in which the Saints exclaim in unison, “Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna, to God and the Lamb. Amen, Amen, and Amen,” repeated three times.[44] With the ceremonies completed, Church leaders left the stand and took a position on the south side of the temple excavation. Here the military officers and troops paraded and passed in review before the Church leaders, after which the entire procession was dismissed.[45] A grand celebration indeed!

July 8, a Day of Revelation

July 8 could very well be called a day of revelation. On this day, the Prophet received five separate revelations—the most known to have been recorded on one single day. The first of these revelations included instructions addressed in a letter from the First Presidency to Newel K. Whitney, William Marks, and Oliver Granger. Following Joseph’s departure from Kirtland, Marks was appointed to preside over the Saints who remained there. Newel K. Whitney, the bishop in Kirtland, also remained to oversee the temporal operations of the Church. However, it was fully expected that both men would, in short order, settle their affairs and relocate along with the rest of the Saints in Missouri. However, by July, the two men were still living in Kirtland, while the majority of members had made their way or were en route to the West. The revelation made clear in no uncertain terms that Marks and Whitney were to relocate to Missouri before winter. Once in Missouri, the revelation implied that they would preside over the Saints in their respective callings—Marks as president of the Missouri stake, and Whitney as a bishop at Adam-ondi-Ahman. To expedite the process, Oliver Granger was dispatched to Kirtland to act as an agent for the First Presidency in settling some of their business affairs.[46] The revelation constitutes what is today section 117.

Pursuant to the instructions given in the revelation, Newel K. Whitney and his family left Kirtland in the fall of 1838. However, after arriving in St. Louis, the Whitneys learned of the expulsion of the Saints from Missouri, so they located temporarily in Greene County, Illinois, later moving to Commerce in 1839. The Marks family settled for a short time in Quincy before their move to Commerce. Marks subsequently became the Nauvoo stake president. Whitney became one of the first four bishops in Nauvoo.

A second revelation received on July 8 was directed specifically to the Twelve. As noted, the April 17 revelation to David W. Patten stated that the Twelve would be appointed to fill a quorum mission beginning in the spring of 1839 (see D&C 114). The July 8 revelation was a follow-up revelation, instructing them that the 1839 mission would be overseas, namely to Great Britain. Furthermore, specific instruction was given regarding their date and place of departure. The revelation read, “Let them take leave . . . of Far West, on the twenty-sixth day of April next [April 26, 1839], on the building-spot of my house.” Furthermore, because of the excommunications of four of the original members of the quorum of the Twelve during the previous months—John F. Boynton, brothers Luke S. and Lyman E. Johnson, and William E. McLellin—the quorum was incomplete, necessitating that new members be called. Those appointed in the revelation to fill the vacancies were John Taylor, John E. Page, Wilford Woodruff, and Willard Richards.[47] The revelation is now section 118.

Probably the best known and most often cited of the five revelations received by Joseph Smith on July 8 was the revelation on tithing, which presently constitutes section 119. In 1837, Church leaders in both Kirtland and Missouri had discussed the idea of implementing some sort of tithing system in the Church, but no action had been taken. However, by the summer of 1838, Far West was bustling with economic enterprise, a temple was planned, hundreds of Latter-day Saints from Ohio and other eastern branches had gathered to Missouri, and more were expected throughout the summer, all of which necessitated immediate capital and property. Because of the Church’s pressing economic needs, coupled with the need to standardize the financial contributions made by Church members, Joseph Smith sought revelatory direction. The Prophet’s history states that the revelation came as a direct result of personal inquiry. It reads, “O! Lord. show unto thy servents how much thou requirest of the properties of thy people for a Tithing?” The answer received was essentially twofold. The first part reads, “Verrily thus saith the Lord, I require all their surpluss property to be put into the hands of the Bishop of my Church of Zion, for the building of mine house, and for the Laying the foundation of Zion, and for the priesthood, and for the debts of the presidency of my Church, and this shall be the begining of the tithing of my people.” In other words, in order to jump-start the program, the Saints were directed to give all their surplus assets, resources, or property to the Church. This would enable to Church to have the immediate resources it needed. The second part of the revelation then reads, “and after that,” meaning after they have consecrated any surplus, “those who have thus been tithed, shall pay one tenth of all their interest [or increase] annually.”[48]

After the instructions on tithing were received, a companion revelation was given identifying the officers appointed to oversee the expenditure of the tithing funds received: “Verily thus saith the Lord, the time has now come that it shall be disposed of by a council composed of the first Presidency of my Church and of the Bishop and his council and by <my> high Council, and <by> mine own voice unto them saith the Lord, even so Amen.”[49] In short, the revelation called for the tithing funds to be disbursed by a council comprising the First Presidency, the Missouri bishopric, and the Missouri high council. Today, however, there is a slightly different arrangement. The council, referred to as the Council on the Disposition of the Tithes, comprises the First Presidency, the Presiding Bishopric, and the Quorum of the Twelve.

The fifth and final July 8 revelation is one directed to Frederick G. Williams and William W. Phelps. As noted, for over a year Williams’s standing in the Church was up and down. In November 1837 he was dropped from the First Presidency, although he remained in the Church. Phelps had also wavered, resulting in his excommunication by the Missouri high council in March 1838. However, by July both Williams and Phelps had apparently made satisfactory restitution and were reinstated into the Church as evidenced by the following uncanonized revelation: “Verrily thus Saith the Lord in consequence of their transgressions, their former standing has been taken away from them and now if they will be saved, Let them be ordained as Elders, in my Church, to preach my gospel and travel abroad from land to land and from place to place, to gather mine Elect unto me Saith the Lord, and let this be their labors from hence forth Even So Amen.[50] Once again, because of the personal nature of the revelation, one can understand why it was never included in the canon of scripture.

An Interesting July 1838 Editorial

In late 1837, Joseph Smith made a relatively short trip to Missouri (September 27–Dcember 10).[51] Upon his return, the Prophet included an account of his travels in the Elders’ Journal (then being published in Kirtland), noting that while on the journey, people of all classes “daily and hourly” posed questions to him. At the conclusion of his narrative, he listed twenty questions he had been asked from time to time. Sensing that the answers to some of the questions would be beneficial to honest inquirers as well as to the Saints, he indicated that he would answer them in the next issue of the Elders’ Journal.[52] However, due to the relocation of the Church to Far West in 1838, the next issue of the Elders’ Journal did not appear until July of that year. Nonetheless, that issue included the Prophet’s responses. A few of the more interesting and even comical questions, and Joseph’s responses, are noted below:

Question 3rd. Will every body be damned but Mormons?

Answer. Yes, and a great portion of them, unless they repent and work righteousness. . . .

Question 10. Was not Jo Smith a money digger[?]

Answer. Yes, but it was never a very profitable job to him, as he only got fourteen dollars a month for it. . . .

Question 11th. Did not Jo Smith steal his wife[?]

Answer. Ask her; she was of age, she can answer for herself. . . .

Question 15th. Do the Mormons baptize in the name of Jo Smith[?]

Answer. No, but if they did, it would be as valid as the baptism administered by the sectarian priests. . . .

Question 20th. What are the fundamental principles of your religion[?]

Answer. The fundamental principles of our religion is the testimony of the apostles and prophets concerning Jesus Christ, “that he died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended up into heaven;” and all other things are only appendages to these, which pertain to our religion.[53]

The Mormon War

On August 6, 1838, hostilities between the Latter-day Saints and the Missourians erupted when a group of Mormons came to Gallatin in Daviess County to exercise their right to vote in the state elections, and historians mark the beginning of the Missouri-Mormon war with the election-day skirmish. During a period of nearly four months, from August through the end of November, seven major confrontations or military campaigns took place which included the following: (1) the confrontation between Mormons and Missouri vigilantes in Daviess County, including the intercession made by regional militia (August through mid-September); (2) the Latter-day Saint defense of the Mormon population residing in Carroll County against county regulators, and the response of the regional militia to the disturbances (August through October 10); (3) the burning of Millport and Gallatin and the expulsion of the non-Mormon residents of Daviess County by Mormon militia (mid-October); (4) the encounter between Mormon and Missouri militia at Crooked River in Ray County (October 25); (5) the attack of the Mormon settlement of Haun’s Mill by Missouri vigilantes (October 30); (6) the Mormon defense of Far West against vigilante and state militia forces (October 28–31); and (7) the Mormon surrender and the military occupation conducted by authorized militia (November 1–29).

During the entire Mormon War, Joseph Smith played an active role, but he did so as a private citizen. He held no rank in the county or state militia and in fact claimed exemption from militia duty based on his ministerial responsibilities. Throughout the conflict, the Prophet was content to have the legally authorized and commissioned Mormon officers conduct the military activities. Frequently, these officers sought his advice and counsel, but they did so because he was the President of the Church, one who they thought could provide proper counsel. However, in the capacity of a private citizen and Mormon defender, Joseph Smith participated or was on the scene in three of the seven confrontations. He went with some two hundred other Mormon defenders to Daviess County in mid-October, but he did not participate in any of the company’s activities. When Carroll and Daviess citizens conducted the siege of the Mormon community of De Witt in early October, Joseph visited the settlement to assess the situation, but he did not engage in any fighting. Finally, he was present at Far West during the last days of the war when the Mormons made their final stand to defend the community, but no hostilities between the Mormon troops and the state militia took place. That said, at the time of the Mormon surrender, Missouri authorities had every intention of arresting Joseph Smith with the hope of prosecuting him for his involvement in the Missouri-Mormon War.

Arrests at Far West

On October 27, 1838, after nearly three months of hostilities between Mormon and Missouri settlers in Daviess, Carroll, Ray, and Caldwell Counties, Missouri Governor Lilburn W. Boggs signed an executive order authorizing the state militia to subdue the Mormon populace, force their surrender, and compel them to evacuate the state.[54] The order was carried out by Samuel D. Lucas, a major general in the state militia and the commander of the troops from Jackson and Lafayette Counties. The day before issuing the Extermination Order, Boggs relieved Major General David R. Atchison of his command of the state militia in the Northern District.[55] Atchison was likely released because he had served as legal counsel to Joseph Smith and was sympathetic of the Mormons. Boggs replaced Atchison with John B. Clark of Howard County. However, because Clark was not on the scene to take charge, Lucas assumed command. On October 31, Lucas and his officers negotiated a peaceful albeit unfair settlement with a five-man Mormon delegation led by George M. Hinckle, commander of the Caldwell County militia. The final conditions of surrender called for the Mormons to surrender property to cover any damages caused during the Missouri conflict, give up their arms, and agree to leave the state. A final stipulation required their leaders to be turned over to Missouri authorities.[56]

Lucas wasted no time in apprehending those who he thought were the chief instigators behind the Mormon insurgence, namely, Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Parley P. Pratt, Lyman Wight, and George W. Robinson. On November 1, Hyrum Smith and Amasa M. Lyman were arrested. The reasons why these seven men were apprehended appear evident. Joseph Smith, Rigdon, and Hyrum Smith comprised the Church’s First Presidency. Robinson was the Prophet’s secretary. Lyman Wight was the highest-ranking Mormon militia officer in Daviess County and had played a leading role in the Mormon retaliatory strikes in Daviess County in October. Amasa Lyman was a leader of a spy company that reconnoitered throughout southern Caldwell and northern Ray counties during the days just preceding the surrender. Finally, Parley P. Pratt, a member of the Church’s Quorum of the Twelve, had been a participant in the battle between Mormon and Missouri militia at Crooked River on October 25.

On the evening of November 1, Lucas made a rash and hasty decision to hold a military court for the seven prisoners. He believed he had to act quickly—before Clark arrived, while he still had command of the operation, since the Howard County general, who was less familiar with the Mormon problem, might be disposed to render more lenient justice in behalf of the Church’s leaders. With these considerations in mind, the Jackson County general decided to move ahead immediately with the court-martial. Details concerning the hearing are sketchy, but the evidence is clear that at the time of the hearing, Joseph Smith and his cohorts were in custody at Alexander W. Doniphan’s camp and were not even allowed to be present to defend themselves.[57]

The deliberation did not last long. Upon hearing the evidence, Lucas called for a vote from officers of the court, who voted three to one in favor of conviction on the charge of treason, a capital offense.[58] Doniphan vehemently opposed the decision, telling his fellow officers that not one of them was familiar with military law and then leaving the hearing in protest.[59] Nonetheless, with the verdict rendered, Lucas drafted the execution order and dispatched it to Doniphan, expecting his compliance. The order read, “Brigadier-General Doniphan.—Sir: You will take Joseph Smith and the other prisoners into the public square of Far West, and shoot them at 9 o’clock to-morrow morning. [Signed] Samuel D. Lucas Major-General Commanding.”[60] However, Doniphan was not about to be an accessory to such an order, and he issued a brusque response. Not only did he inform Lucas that he considered the order illegal and that he would not obey it, but he threatened legal action if the execution was carried out. The illegality of the entire order centered on the fact that at least three of the prisoners, namely, Joseph and Hyrum Smith and Sidney Rigdon of the First Presidency, claimed exemption from state militia service and therefore did not come under military authority.[61] Doniphan had previously acted as Joseph Smith’s legal counsel and knew firsthand concerning his military exemption. One of Doniphan’s own brigade members reported, “These men had never belonged to any lawful military organization, and could not, therefore, have violated military law. The law of the soldier could not apply to them, as they had not been soldiers in any legal sense.”[62] However, the same was not true for the other four prisoners—Lyman Wight, Parley P. Pratt, George W. Robinson, and Amasa Lyman—who were commissioned or elected state militia officers. Despite the fact that four of the seven could have come under military authority, Doniphan’s dauntless refusal to carry out Lucas’s order, in addition to his warning that he would pursue legal action if the executions were carried out, led Lucas to reconsider his decision and to ultimately decide to keep all seven men in custody until they could be turned over to the appropriate civil authorities.[63]

During the forenoon of November 2, a heavily guarded wagon containing the seven prisoners pulled into Far West. Lucas put Brigadier General Moses Wilson in charge of three hundred men and assigned him to take the Church leaders to Independence while he finalized the surrender.[64] Lucas remained overnight, leaving Far West the next day in order to catch up with Wilson. Around three p.m. on Sunday, November 4, Lucas and Wilson arrived in Independence with the prisoners, who were immediately incarcerated in a vacant log house just north of and across the street from Independence’s public square.[65] While incarcerated, Joseph Smith penned a short letter to Emma Smith wherein he provided some details regarding the events since they left Far West. In the letter, Joseph mentions that Lucas, Wilson, and their guards were treating them with considerable kindness. He then shares his concerns for her and the children:

My dear and beloved companion, of my bosam, in tribulation, and affliction, I woud inform you that I am well, and I am that we are all of us in good spirits as regards our own fate, we have been protected by the Jackson County boys, in the most genteel manner, and arrived here in <the> midst of a splended perade, this a little after noon, instead <of> going to J goal [jail] we have a good house provided for us and the kindst treatment, I have great anxiety about you, and my lovely children, my heart morns <and> bleeds for the brotheren, and sisters, and for the slain <of the> people of God. . . . I want you to stay where you are untill you here from me again, I may send for you to bl bring you to me, I cannot learn much for certainty in the situation that I am in, and can only pray for deliverance, untill it is meeted out, and take every thing as it comes, with patience and fortitude, I hope you will be faithful and true to every trust, I cant write much in my situa[t]ion, conduct all matters as your circumstances and necesities require, may God give you wisdom and prudance and sobriety which <I> have every reason to believe you will, those little <childrens> are subjects of my meditation continually, tell them that Father is yet alive, God grant that he may see them again Oh Emma for God sake do not forsake me nor the truth but remember, if I do <not> meet you again in this life may God grant that we may <may we> meet in heaven, I cannot express my feelings, my heart is full, Farewell Oh my kind and affectionate Emma I am yours forever your Hu[s]band and true friend

[Joseph Smith, Jr.][66]

On the second day of their confinement in Independence (November 5), in consideration of their hospitable treatment, the seven prisoners drafted and signed a card expressing appreciation to the militia officers (Lucas and Wilson are mentioned by name) and their subordinates, for the kindness and civility shown to them. Lucas and Wilson were so pleased by the prisoners’ expression of appreciation that they mailed the card to the newspaper editor of the Boonslick Democrat, published in Fayette, Howard County, Missouri, requesting that it be printed. The document was published on November 10, 1838.

It is with feelings of no ordinary kind that the undersigned take this method of tendering their most unfeigned gratitude to you for the kind treatment and great attention they have received at your hands since they were committed to your charge as prisoners; having received every degree of kindness that could be expected at the hands of a magnanimous and honorable people. This, gentlemen, is not designed as flattery, but a debt that they feel they owe to you. We hope that Generals Lucas and Wilson, and all the officers and privates under their command, will receive this expression of our feelings, as due to them from us, in return for the kind treatment received at their hands. Gentlemen, we found you as friends at a time when we most needed them; and since the time we arrived at this village, we have not received the first insult from any individual.

Gentlemen, we are prisoners in your hands, and such has been your magnanimity, that while we remain prisoners, we shall desire to continue in your care.

For your prosperity in this life, and rest eternal in that which is to come, you have the sincere desire and devout prayer of your prisoners in tribulation.[67]

A day or two after their arrival in Independence, the seven prisoners were moved from the log house a short distance east to the Noland House, a hotel situated on the northwest corner of Main and Maple. Here they waited for word regarding where their hearing would be held. They were treated hospitably and were even permitted to come and go as they pleased.[68]

Transfer to Richmond

On November 4, the same day that Lucas and Wilson arrived in Independence with Joseph Smith and the other six prisoners, Major General John B. Clark arrived at Far West, where he supervised the final activities of the Mormon surrender and conducted additional arrests. The following day, November 5, Clark interrogated Latter-day Saint colonel George M. Hinckle and a number of other Church leaders, who supplied him with information regarding which Saints had played the most active role in the conflict. Later that afternoon, Clark ordered the arrest of forty-six Latter-day Saint men.[69] Clark also dispatched Colonel Sterling G. Price and two companies of state militia to travel to Richmond to meet up with General Lucas and secure Joseph Smith and the other six prisoners. However, at the time, Clark and Price were not aware that Lucas had not gone to Richmond but had proceeded to Independence. When Clark learned that Lucas had taken the seven prisoners to Jackson County, he sent a small detachment to Independence with orders for Lucas to turn over the prisoners so they could be taken to Richmond for examination.[70] On November 7, Clark’s men arrived in Independence and took charge of the prisoners. Accordingly, the next day, accompanied by a small military escort, they proceeded fifteen miles, crossed the Missouri River, and lodged that evening in an old frame house. The following day, November 9, while en route to Richmond, they were met by a strong guard commanded by Colonel Price, who conducted them the rest of the way. Upon their arrival that evening at the Ray county seat, Joseph and Hyrum Smith, Sidney Rigdon, George W. Robinson, Parley P. Pratt, Lyman Wight, and Amasa Lyman were put into an old log house about one block north of Richmond’s public square and courthouse, where they were placed under guard and chained together in heavy irons.[71] For three weeks (November 9–29) the log house served as the ad hoc jail for the seven Church leaders. Athalia R. Robinson, Rigdon’s seventeen-year-old daughter and wife of George Robinson, also lodged with the prisoners for a time. Because of Rigdon’s tenuous health, Athalia was permitted to take care of her ailing father and to be with her husband.[72]

On the afternoon of Tuesday, November 6, General Clark left Far West and marched to Richmond with the forty-six Mormon men he had taken prisoner. He arrived at the Ray County seat on November 9, where he discharged the remainder of his division, with the exception of a small force he retained to guard the Latter-day Saint prisoners brought to Richmond for the court examination.[73] Meanwhile, Captain Samuel Bogart of the Ray County militia made additional arrests of Latter-day Saints suspected of having taken part in the Mormon War who still had not been apprehended. Ultimately, Bogart rounded up an additional eleven Mormon prisoners, bringing the total number of Mormon defendants to sixty-four.[74] Excluding Joseph Smith and the six other leaders who were incarcerated in the log house, the remaining fifty-seven Mormon prisoners were confined in the Ray County courthouse, the only building large enough to accommodate that many men.

The Richmond Court of Inquiry

Beginning on November 12, court was convened by Fifth Circuit Court judge Austin A. King to examine the charges raised against the Mormons. It is important to understand that the Richmond Court of Inquiry was not a trial per se, but only an investigation or preliminary hearing to determine if there was sufficient evidence or probable cause against the Mormon defendants to bind over the defendants for trial. The court of inquiry began on November 12 and continued through November 29 (with the likely exception of November 18 and 25, which were Sundays). Thomas Burch and William Wood prosecuted in behalf of the state. The prisoners were represented by Alexander Doniphan and Amos Rees.[75]

Sometime during the opening day of the Richmond hearing (November 12), Joseph Smith penned a letter to Emma from the log house where he and his six other prison companions were shackled. He begins the letter by declaring his innocence: “[W]e are pr prisoners in chains, and under strong guards, for Christ sake and for no other cause, although there has been things that were unbeknown to us, and altogether beyond our controal, that might seem, to the mob to be a pretext, for them to persacute us, but on examination, I think that the authorities, will discover our inocence, and set us free, but if this blessing cannot be done obtained, I have this consolation that I am an innocent man, let what will befall me.” He next expresses his love and concern for his family: “Oh God grant that I may have the privaliege of seeing once more my lovely Family, in the injoyment, of the sweets of liberty, and sotiaial life, to press them to my bosam and kissng their lovely cheeks would fill my heart with unspeakable great grattitude, tell the chilldren that I am alive and trust I shall come and see them before long, comfort their hearts all you can, and try to be comforted yourself, all you can.” Continuing, he mentions each of his children: “[T]ell little Joseph, he must be a good boy, Father loves him <with> a perfect llove, he is the Eldest must not hurt those that <are> smaller then him, but cumfor<t> them tell little Frederick, Father, loves him, with all his heart, he is a lovely boy. Julia is a lovely little girl, I love hir also She is a promising child, tell her Father wants her to remember him and be a good girl, tell all the rest that I think of them and pray for them all; . . . little baby Elexander is on my mind continuly.” He then concludes the letter with a personal expression of love for Emma: “Oh my affectionate Emma, I want you to remember that I am <a> true and faithful friend, to you and the chilldren, forever, my heart is intwined around you[r]s forever and ever, oh may God bless you all amen you I am your husband and am in bands and tribulations &c.”[76]

Each day court was held, Joseph and Hyrum Smith, Sidney Rigdon, George Robinson, Parley P. Pratt, Lyman Wight, and Amasa Lyman were escorted by a small contingent of militia guards under the command of Sterling Price from the log house to the Ray County courthouse, where they joined the other Latter-day Saint prisoners to hear the evidence presented against them. When the hearing recessed at the end of each day, the Smith brothers, Rigdon, Robinson, Pratt, Wight, and Lyman were conducted back to the log house for the night, while the remaining Latter-day Saint prisoners spent the evening confined in the unfinished courthouse. Pratt later reported that one evening during their confinement in the log house Joseph Smith issued a scathing rebuke of the militia guards, an event memorialized in Church history.[77]

Following nearly three weeks of testimony, the court released twenty-nine of the sixty-four defendants. However, Judge King determined that sufficient evidence existed to bind thirty-five over for trial. Twenty-four Mormons were bound over for trial for crimes committed in Daviess County. These defendants were charged with arson, burglary, larceny, and robbery, and were ordered to appear at the circuit court in Daviess County on March 28. After posting bail, these men were released.[78] King ruled that there was sufficient evidence to charge five men—Parley P. Pratt, Norman Shearer, Darwin Chase, Luman Gibbs, and Morris Phelps—in the death of Moses Rowland, which occurred during the attack at Crooked River. Since the charge of murder was nonbailable, these five men were ordered to remain confined in the Richmond Jail until March 11, 1839, when the circuit trial would convene there. Finally, probable cause was also found against Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Hyrum Smith, Lyman Wight, Alexander McCrae, and Caleb Baldwin on the charge of treason, also a nonbailable offense. Their trial was set to begin on March 7, 1839, in Daviess County. However, because there was no jail in Daviess, King ordered that they be taken to Liberty Jail in Clay County to await their court appearance.[79] The six Church leaders were immediately transferred to Liberty to begin their confinement.

Liberty Jail

In the late afternoon of December 1, 1838, accompanied by an armed guard, Joseph Smith and his five prison companions arrived at the Liberty Jail and were placed under the charge of jailor Samuel Tillery. Lyman Littlefield, a Latter-day Saint, was present at the time the prisoners first entered the jail and years later described the scene:

This large, clumsy built wagon—the box of which was highest at each end—finally halted close to the platform in front of the jail, which platform had to be reached by means of about half a dozen steps, constructed on the south and north sides of the same. The jail fronted the street at the east.

The prisoners left the wagon and immediately ascended the south steps to the platform, around which no banisters were constructed. The door was open, and, one by one, the tall and well proportioned forms of the prisoners entered. The Prophet Joseph was the last of the number who lingered behind. He turned partly around, with a slow and dignified movement, and looked upon the multitude. Then turning away, and lifting his hat, he said in a distinct voice, “Good afternoon, gentlemen.” The next moment he had passed out of sight. The heavy door swung upon its strong hinges and the Prophet was hid from the gaze of the curious populace who had so eagerly watched.[80]

Originally built in 1833, the jail measured twenty-two by twenty-two and one-half feet and was made of mortared limestone blocks two feet thick. Separating the outer limestone wall from the foot-thick square interior wood timbers was a twelve-inch space of loose rock, making the total wall structure four feet thick. The interior of the jail consisted of a main level upper room and a lower dungeon cell, the latter accessed by means of a trapdoor. Small, grated windows provided ventilation. A small stove provided heat for the upper story, the dungeon being unheated.[81] It was under these conditions that Joseph and Hyrum Smith, Wight, Baldwin, and McRae would spend the next 127 days (December 1, 1838, to April 6, 1839). Rigdon’s confinement would be considerably less. On January 25, 1839, he successfully argued his case before Judge Joel Turnham and was released, although he did not leave the jail until February 5.[82] Because the scope of this chapter is the year 1838, I will focus only briefly on Joseph Smith’s activities in Liberty Jail during the month of December.

On the evening of his first day of confinement in Liberty, the Prophet wrote the following letter to Emma at Far West to inform her of their removal to the jail and their present situation. “My Dear companion I take this oppertunity to inform you that I we arrived in Liberty and [were] commited to Jaol this Evening but we are all in good spirits Captain bogard [Samuel Bogart] will hand you this line my respects to all remain where you are at preasant J yours &c. Joseph Smith Jr.”[83] The short note is one of eight extant letters written or dictated by Joseph Smith from Liberty Jail.

Missouri authorities were considerate enough to allow visitors to the jail, some of whom were also permitted to remain for a few days. One can only imagine how visits from family and friends raised the prisoners’ spirits. More often than not, they would bring food, clothing, letters, blankets, and other necessities. Emma visited the jail on three occasions—December 8–9, December 20–22, and finally January 21, 1839.[84] On two of her visits, six-year-old Joseph III is known to have accompanied her. Years later, Joseph III recalled his father giving him a blessing during one of these two visits.[85] After the middle of February 1839, the number of visitors dropped off dramatically, primarily because most Saints were making their way out of the state.

More often than not, the prisoners’ lives were monotonous. Most of their time was spent conversing with each other. Reading provided some diversion. And there was always plenty of thinking time. Most of all, they were downright uncomfortable. Since they were confined during the winter, the cold took its toll. When confined to the dungeon area in the lower story, it was almost like being exposed to the outside because there was no stove or fireplace to provide any type of indoor heat. Occasionally, they lit a fire, but the room would fill with smoke. About the best they could do to keep warm was to block the grated open windows and bundle up in blankets. Exposure to the cold, combined with filthy and coarse food, led to sickness—nausea, fever, headaches, and body aches, not to mentioned frazzled nerves. Honey buckets were their latrines, which caused additional stench in the room. They remained in the same clothes for days, and their personal appearance soon became very haggard. Only on rare occasions were they taken outside to get a little exercise and an occasional good meal at a local tavern or to visit with their attorneys—all the while being kept under a strong guard.

By mid-December, Joseph had already had enough of his dreary cell. Full of indignation against those who he perceived were the cause for his imprisonment, his doleful circumstances, and the thought of spending the winter in jail, on December 16, he vented his innermost feelings in a lengthy letter addressed to the Church. In the letter, Joseph emphatically declared his innocence. He saw himself, like the ancient prophets and apostles of old, as a victim of religious persecution in the cause of truth. Moreover, he openly named and condemned his accusers, particularly his former friends and associates, most notably George M. Hinckle, Reed Peck, John Corrill, William W. Phelps, Sampson Avard, and John Clemenson, who, during the Mormon surrender and military occupation, cooperated with the Missouri militia officers and later testified as witnesses in behalf of the state during the Richmond hearing. In addition to these men, the Prophet mentioned Martin Harris, David Whitmer, John Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, William E. McLellin, Thomas B. Marsh, and Orson Hyde, each of whom had apostatized from the Church during the past year and who Smith also characterized as traitors to the cause. Finally, he emphatically condemned the actions of the state militia and those who carried out acts of aggression against the Saints, labeling them as murderers and robbers. In spite of the letter’s condemnatory tone, the Prophet expressed confidence and optimism in the future and a personal conviction that God was still with him and the Latter-day Saint people.[86]

Conclusion

On December 23, 1838, Joseph commemorated his thirty-third birthday. Given his circumstances, it was an extremely difficult time for him. I am certain that as the year came to a close, he reflected considerably on the events of the past twelve months. The year 1838 was not good to him. In fact, if it were possible to ask Joseph Smith, “Looking back over your life, when did you experience the most discouragement? When did you experience the most disappointment? When was life the toughest? When did you hit rock bottom?” my guess is that he would answer, “1838.” The events of that year challenged him like no other. The year 1838 stands out to me as the most trial-filled year of his life, 1844 not excepted. Threatened with vexatious lawsuits from apostates and non-Mormon antagonists, he was compelled to leave Kirtland in the middle of winter, only to take up a new residence in the harsh frontier environment of northern Missouri. The Kirtland apostasy of 1837 was serious, but consider whom the Church lost in 1838. First and foremost, there was Oliver Cowdery, Joseph’s closest and dearest friend, who abandoned him. Other prominent figures and close associates of the Prophet included David Whitmer, one of the witnesses to the Book of Mormon and the president of the Church in Missouri; John Whitmer, one of the eight witnesses, Church historian, and a member of the Missouri presidency; Frederick G. Williams, former counselor in the First Presidency; W. W. Phelps, a member of the Missouri presidency and Church printer; William E. McClellin, Thomas B. Marsh, and Orson Hyde, members of the Twelve; Hiram Page and Jacob Whitmer, two of the eight witnesses to the Book of Mormon; George M. Hinckle, military commander; Reed Peck; John Corrill; and Sampson Avard. All of these men turned their backs on Mormonism and Joseph Smith. Fortunately, a few eventually found their way back, but for those who did not, while their names appear in the pages of our early history, one wonders what contributions they could have made had they remained faithful.

And then there was the 1838 Missouri-Mormon War. Where in the annals of American history is there an equal to the persecutions experienced by a religious minority? Nowhere! When Joseph took up permanent residency at Far West in March 1838, the geographic and political circumstances seemed to indicate that the Mormons would be able to experience relative peace and long-term cooperation with their Missouri neighbors. Yet within just a few months the Latter-day Saints became embroiled in armed conflict, not only with Missouri vigilantes but with authorized state militia. The hostility, mistreatment, and illegal action taken against the Saints by Missouri’s citizens and state officials caused unbelievable physical and emotional hardships. But I submit that perhaps Joseph Smith suffered as much as anyone. As President of the Church, he knew that the Saints experienced persecution because they believed in his message and his testimony. Nearly two dozen Saints died as a direct result of the Mormon War—seventeen at Haun’s Mill alone. And why were they killed? Because they believed Joseph Smith was God’s prophet. No one but Joseph himself will ever comprehend the emotional, psychological, and spiritual pain he felt in behalf of those who suffered because they believed in him.

And finally, there was Liberty Jail—hardly the right name for a prison. Wrongfully and falsely accused, Joseph faced the threat of legal prosecution while in state custody for what would be a period of five and one-half months. Could things get any worse? No wonder in March of 1839 he would exclaim in writing, “O God, where art thou?” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:1). Fortunately, he could take some reassurance from personal revelation that things would work out. On the morning of November 3, only four days after being taken into custody by Major General Samuel D. Lucas, Parley P. Pratt wrote, “Joseph Smith spoke to me and the other prisoners, in a low, but cheerful and confidential tone; said he: ‘Be of good cheer, brethren; the word of the Lord came to me last night that our lives should be given us, and that whatever we may suffer during this captivity, not one of our lives should be taken.’”[87] Little did he realize at the time that it would be five and one-half months before he would be free and clear of Missouri’s captivity. Nearing the end of his incarceration, he was reassured once again, “Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:9).

Fortunately, better days were ahead, but freedom would not come until April 22, 1839, when he would leave Missouri for the last time, never to set foot on her soil again, cross the Mississippi, and find permanent refuge in Illinois.

Notes



[1] Joseph Smith Jr., History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ed. B. H. Roberts, 2nd ed. rev. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1971), 3:1.

[2] Joseph Smith, Revelation, January 12, 1838, Joseph Smith Papers, Church History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City. A slightly different version of the revelation was recorded in Joseph Smith’s Scriptory Book (see Joseph Smith, Scriptory Book, Joseph Smith Papers, Church History Library; published in Dean C. Jessee, ed., The Papers of Joseph Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1989–92], 2:255).

[3] See Luke S. Johnson, “History of Luke S. Johnson,” Millennial Star, January 1, 1865, 5–6. Although Luke Johnson was one of the dissenters who had been excommunicated from the Church, he helped Joseph Smith at the time of his escape from Kirtland.

[4] Lucy Mack Smith, Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith, the Prophet, and His Progenitors for Many Generations (London: Published for Orson Pratt by S. W. Richards, 1853), 216.

[5] See Smith, History of the Church, 3:2. It is significant to note that the revelation instructed the entire presidency of the Church to leave Kirtland. At the time, the First Presidency consisted of Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and Hyrum Smith, who had replaced Frederick G. Williams as second counselor in the First Presidency in November 1837. In addition to the three First Presidency members, Joseph Sr. (the Prophet’s father) and John Smith (the Prophet’s uncle) had both been sustained in September 1837 as Assistant Presidents in the First Presidency. Finally, Oliver Cowdery held the office of Assistant President of the Church. Taken together, these six men made up the presidency of the Church. With the exception of Cowdery, who was already in Missouri, Hyrum, Joseph Sr., and John Smith were also compelled to leave Kirtland. Hyrum left in March. John Smith arrived in Missouri sometime in June. Joseph Sr. and Lucy took up temporary residence in New Portage, Ohio, before traveling to Missouri, where they arrived in late July or August.

[6] Smith, History of the Church, 3:2–3.

[7] Leonard J. Arrington, Brigham Young: American Moses (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1985), 62. Arrington mistakenly identifies Dublin, Indiana, as Dublin, Illinois.

[8] Joseph Smith to the Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at Kirtland, March 29, 1838, Scriptory Book, 22–23; see also Smith, History of the Church, 3:10.

[9] Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery, Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith: Prophet’s Wife, “Elect Lady,” Polygamy’s Foe (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1984), 70.

[10] In July 1862 or 1863, a newspaper reporter visited Far West and noted seeing the Joseph Smith home, which was still standing at the time. His report, which was not published until 1875, is as follows: “The third feature of interest, perhaps the most attractive on the spot, is the former residence of Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, and founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. . . . This is a rude, old fashioned, one story frame building, with two rooms situated about a quarter of mile southwest of the temple site on the n[orth] e[ast] q[uarte]r of sec. 15 T[ownship]. 56, R[ange] 29. . . . The house is at present occupied as a residence by N. Howard. The farm on which it stands was once the property of J. Hughes, but now belongs to Col. Calvin F. Burnes, of St. Joseph” (Daily Morning Herald [St. Joseph, Missouri], January 1, 1875). An 1876 plat drawing of Mirable township shows the locality and ownership of the home as described by the reporter, indicating the home was still standing at that time. (An Illustrated Historical Atlas of Caldwell County, Missouri [Philadelphia: Edwards Brothers of Missouri, 1876], 37). In 1907, photographer George Edward Anderson visited Far West, where he was shown the location of the home, but by this time the home was no longer standing. However, in Anderson’s image one can clearly see a ground depression indicating the location of the home (Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, T. Jeffery Cottle, and Ted D. Stoddard, Church History in Black and White: George Edward Anderson’s Photographic Mission to Latter-day Saint Historical Sites [Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1995], 83).

[11] Donald W. Parry, Jay A. Parry and Tina M. Peterson, Understanding Isaiah (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1998), 116–17; Victor L. Ludlow, Isaiah: Prophet, Seer, and Poet (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1982), 170–74; Monte S. Nyman, “Great are the Words of Isaiah” (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1980), 71–74; and Sidney B. Sperry, The Voice of Israel’s Prophets (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1952), 34–35.

[12] Donald Q. Cannon and Lyndon W. Cook, eds., The Far West Record: Minutes of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 18301844 (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1983), 70–71, 135–41, 145–51; see also Smith, History of the Church, 3:3–8.

[13] Smith, History of the Church, 2:511.

[14] Oliver Cowdery to Warren Cowdery, January 21, 1838, Huntington Library, San Marino, California. For information concerning Cowdery’s possible infidelity, as well as his charges of adultery against Joseph Smith, see Robert G. Mouritsen, “The Office of Associate President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 1972), 107–11.

[15] Cannon and Cook, Far West Record, 162–71; and Smith, History of the Church, 3:16–18. Historian Kenneth H. Winn contends that Cowdery hoped his resistance would help to maintain the original purity of the Church. Believing he could no longer compromise his “individual rights and liberties [which were] affirmed by republican culture,” and feeling the Church was becoming more and more theocratic, Cowdery decided to separate from Mormonism (Kenneth H. Winn, “Republican Dissent in the Kingdom of God,” in Exiles in a Land of Liberty [Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989], 106–28).

[16] Cannon and Cook, Far West Record, 171–78; and Smith, History of the Church, 3:18–20.

[17] Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1989), 127.

[18] Larry C. Porter, “The Odyssey of William Earl McLellin: Man of Diversity, 1806–83,” in Jan Shipps and John W. Welch, eds., The Journals of William E. McLellin (Provo, UT: BYU Studies and Brigham Young University; and Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1994), 321–23; see also 368, n. 178.

[19] Frederick Granger Williams, “Frederick Granger Williams of the First Presidency of the Church,” BYU Studies 12 (Spring 1972): 252–59.

[20] Joseph Smith, Revelation to David W. Patten, April 17, 1838, Scriptory Book, 32.

[21] For an interpretive account of the Patten’s death and the Battle of Crooked River, see Alexander L. Baugh, “The Battle Between Mormon and Missouri Militia at Crooked River,” in Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint Church History: Missouri, ed. Arnold K. Garr and Clark V. Johnson (Provo, UT: Department of Church History and Doctrine, Brigham Young University, 1994), 85–103.

[22] Joseph Smith, Revelation to Brigham Young, April 17, 1838, Scriptory Book, 32.

[23] The Evening and the Morning Star, May 1834, 160. David Whitmer recalled that Rigdon was primarily responsible for changing the name from “The Church of Christ” to “The Church of the Latter Day Saints” (An Address to all Believers in Christ, [Richmond, MO: By the Author: 1887], 73). Whitmer also said he objected to the name because it did not contain the name of Christ (An Address to All Believers in Christ, 62, 74).

[24] Cannon and Cook, Far West Record, 103–04; also in History of the Church, 2:481.

[25] See W. W. Phelps letter, July 7, 1837, in Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate, July 1837, 529; also in Smith, History of the Church, 2:496–97.

[26] Smith, History of the Church, 2:521.

[27] Joseph Smith, Revelation, April 26, 1838, Scriptory Book, 33, now canonized as Doctrine and Covenants 115:7–12.

[28] Joseph Smith, Revelation, April 26, 1838, Scriptory Book, 34, now canonized as Doctrine and Covenants 115:18–19.

[29] Joseph Smith, editorial, May 4, 1838, in Elders’ Journal, July 1838, 33–34. Although the editorial does not bear the signature of Joseph Smith, he was the editor of the periodical.

[30] See Smith, Scriptory Book, 42–46. Joseph Smith was probably in Daviess County after June 5, but Robinson failed to record the Prophet’s activities in the Scriptory Book from June 5 until July 4. Daviess County appealed to the Latter-day Saints because of the preemption laws that existed at the time regarding land acquisition. In Missouri in the 1830s, as new regions were surveyed, the federal government made large tracts of land available to the public. Individuals wanting to settle in these new regions were permitted to file a preemption claim for a specified tract of land (up to 160 acres) and then settle on the property without having to actually buy it. When the land came up for sale by the government, by right of their preemption claim, a person would then be entitled to purchase the property outright. Mormon leaders were very much aware of this program and saw it as benefitting the Saints since, at least initially, Church members relocating in Missouri could acquire property in Daviess County without having to purchase it. For a detailed explanation and analysis of the Mormons and their preemption claims in Daviess County, see Jeffrey N. Walker, “Mormon Land Rights in Caldwell and Daviess Counties and the Mormon Conflict of 1838,” BYU Studies 47, no.1 (2008): 4–55.

[31] Smith, Scriptory Book, 42.

[32] Smith, Scriptory Book, 43–44.

[33] The variation made by Orson Pratt from that contained in the Scriptory Book is not significant. He introduces the verse with the phrase “Spring Hill is named by the Lord,” then includes a more accepted spelling of “Adam-ondi-Ahman.”

[34] Smith, Scriptory Book, 42.

[35] Smith, Scriptory Book, 45.

[36] See “Conference Minutes,” Elders’ Journal, August 1838, 60–61.

[37] Owen H. McGee, a non-Mormon, escorted two young Mormon women to the all-day affair and estimated that some five thousand Latter-day Saints were in attendance (Joseph H. McGee, “History of Daviess County: Incidents and Reminiscences in its Early Settlement, Etc., &c,” North Missourian [Gallatin, MO], March 4, 1888). Owen’s estimate is probably too high, but it indicates that perhaps even a few thousand were present and that even non-Latter-day Saints were in attendance.

[38] “Celebration of the 4th of July,” Elders’ Journal, August 1838, 60; see also Smith, History of the Church, 3:41–42.

[39] Elijah Averett wrote, “Elisha Averett, my brother, Demick [sic] Huntington and Cornelius Lot[t] quarried the rock for the temple, Elisha being the chief mason laying the foundation that day” (A History of Elijah Averett, typescript, 1, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah; hereafter cited as Perry Special Collections).

[40] Joseph Holbrook, Autobiography of Joseph Holbrook, 39, Perry Special Collections. Holbrook helped haul the cornerstones from the quarry to the temple excavation.

[41] “Celebration of the 4th of July,” 60. Some of the leaders involved in the cornerstone dedications can be identified. As indicated, the southeast cornerstone was dedicated by the “Presidents of the stake,” or what would have been the Missouri presidency. At the time of the July 4 activities, the Missouri stake presidency consisted of the Thomas B. Marsh, David W. Patten, and Brigham Young, the three senior members of the Twelve. On April 6, 1838, Marsh, Patten, and Young replaced David Whitmer, W. W. Phelps, and John Whitmer as the presidency of the Missouri stake (Cannon and Cook, Far West Record, 158). The northwest cornerstone would have been dedicated by Edward Partridge, the bishop in Missouri. The “presidents of the elders [quorums]” and the “president of the teachers [quorum],” who dedicated the southwest and northeast cornerstones, respectively, could not be precisely identified.

[42] See Mosiah L. Hancock, Autobiography, typescript, 5–8, Perry Special Collections. In his autobiography, Mosiah recalls that his father, Levi Hancock, sang the song, and that his uncle, Solomon Hancock, “helped father sing the song” (Hancock, Autobiography, 5, 8). However, the Elders’ Journal newspaper report of the dedication published in August, just a month after the event, clearly states that Solomon sang a solo (“Celebration of the 4th of July,” 60). Mosiah was only fourteen at the time and probably confused the facts.

[43] Sidney Rigdon, Oration Delivered by Mr. S. Rigdon, on the 4th of July, 1838, at Far West, Caldwell County, Missouri (Far West, MO: Printed at the Journal Office, 1838), 12. The entire document has subsequently been published in Peter Crawley, “Two Rare Missouri Documents,” BYU Studies 14, no. 4 Summer 1974: 517–27.

[44] It is not known if this was the exact phrase used on the occasion, but it would have been something similar. In more recent times when the shout was performed, the congregation exclaimed, “Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna, to God and the Lamb,” repeated three times, followed by “Amen, Amen, and Amen,” while waving a white handkerchief in the air. It does not appear at the time of the temple site cornerstone dedication at Far West that the Mormons waved handkerchiefs. For an explanation of the history of the Hosanna Shout in Church history, see Jacob W. Olmstead, “From Pentecost to Administration: A Reappraisal of the History of the Hosanna Shout,” Mormon Historical Studies 2, no. 2 (Fall 2001): 7–37. Parley P. Pratt briefly mentions the Hosanna Shout being performed at the dedication of the Far West temple cornerstone dedication (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1985], 149–50).

[45] “Celebration of the 4th of July,” 60; also Smith, History of the Church, 3:42. One other activity was done in conjunction with the Far West temple site dedication, namely the erection of a liberty pole, or flag pole, adjacent to the excavation (Luman A. Shurtliff, Biographical Sketch of the Life of Luman Andros Shurtliff, typescript, 33, Perry Special Collections).

[46] Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and Hyrum Smith to William Marks and Newel K. Whitney, July 8, 1838, Joseph Smith Papers, Church History Library.

[47] Smith, Scriptory Book, 53–54. The manuscript of this document was removed from the Scriptory Book and is currently part of the Revelations Collection.

[48] Smith, Scriptory Book, 56.

[49] Smith, Scriptory Book, 57.

[50] Smith, Scriptory Book, 57.

[51] Smith, History of the Church, 2:518, 528.

[52] Elders’ Journal, November 1837, 28–29. The November issue of the Elders’ Journal was not published until after Joseph Smith’s return in December.

[53] Elders’ Journal, July 1838, 42–43.

[54] Lilburn W. Boggs to John B. Clark, October 27, 1838, in Document Containing the Correspondence, Orders, &c. in Relation to the Disturbances with the Mormons; And the Evidence Given Before the Hon. Austin A. King, Judge of the Fifth Judicial Circuit of the State of Missouri, at the Court-House in Richmond, in a Criminal Court of Inquiry, Begun November 12, 1838, on the Trial of Joseph Smith, Jr., and Others, for High Treason and Other Crimes Against the State (Fayette, MO: Boonslick Democrat, 1841), 61 (hereafter cited as Document).

[55] Lilburn W. Boggs to John B. Clark, October 26, 1838, in Document, 62–63. Although the order was signed by B. M. Lisle, an adjutant general in the state militia, Lisle wrote by order of Boggs.

[56] Samuel D. Lucas to Lilburn W. Boggs, November 5, 1838, in Document, 70.

[57] Parley P. Pratt, Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1985), 160; and Sidney Rigdon, An Appeal to the American People: Being an Account of the Persecutions of the Church of Latter Day Saints; and of the Barbarities Inflicted on Them by the Inhabitants of the State of Missouri (Cincinnati: Glesen and Shepard, Stereotypers and Printers, 1840), 51.

[58] See History of Clay and Platte Counties, Missouri, Written and Compiled From the Most Authentic Official and Private Sources, Including a History of Their Townships, Towns and Villages, Together With a Condensed History of Missouri; a Reliable and Detailed History of Clay and Platte Counties—Their Pioneer Record, Resources, Biographical Sketches of Prominent Citizens; General and Local Statistics of Great Value; Incidents and Reminiscences (St. Louis: National Historical Company, 1885), 134, n. 1.

[59] Rigdon, An Appeal to the American People, 51; Rigdon petition in Clark S. Johnson, Mormon Redress Petitions: Documents of the 18331838 Missouri Conflict (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1992), 675–76; also in Smith, History of the Church, 3:460; and Parley P. Pratt, History of the Late Persecution Inflicted by the State of Missouri Upon the Mormons, in which Ten Thousand American Citizens Were Robbed, Plundered, and Driven From the State, and Many Others Imprisoned, Martyred, &C. for Their Religion, and All This by Military Force, by Order of the Executive (Detroit: Dawson and Bates, Printers, 1839), 40 (hereafter History of the Late Persecution).

[60] History of Caldwell and Livingston Counties, Missouri, Written and Compiled From the Most Authentic Official and Private Sources, Including a History of Their Townships and Villages, Together With a Condensed History of Missouri; a Reliable and Detailed History of Caldwell and Livingston Counties—Their Pioneer Record, Resources, Biographical Sketches of Prominent Citizens; General and Local Statistics of Great Value; Incidents and Reminiscences (St. Louis: National Historical Company, 1886), 137.

[61] For statements concerning Joseph Smith’s exemption from state militia duty, see Alanson Ripley, Heber C. Kimball, William Huntington, Joseph B. Noble, and Joseph Smith Jr. petition, in John P. Greene, Facts Relative to the Expulsion of the Mormons or Latter Day Saints from the State of Missouri, under the “Exterminating Order” (Cincinnati: R. P. Brooks, 1839), 32; and Lyman Wight petition in Johnson, Missouri Redress Petitions, 656; also in Smith, History of the Church, 3:441. Hyrum Smith claimed the entire First Presidency was exempt because of their ministerial status, while Sidney Rigdon stated he was excluded because he was over age (Smith and Rigdon petitions in Johnson, Mormon Redress Petitions, 632, 634; also in Smith, History of the Church, 3:417, 459).

[62] Peter H. Burnett, An Old California Pioneer by Peter H. Burnett, First Governor of the State (Oakland, CA: Biobooks, 1946), 37–38.

[63] The significance of Doniphan’s intervention in behalf of the Mormon leaders cannot be overstated. Had he not blocked Lucas, Joseph Smith and the other prisoners would most assuredly have lost their lives. Missourian Peter H. Burnett wrote, “Had it not been for the efforts of Doniphan and others from Clay, I think it most probable that the prisoners would have been summarily tried, condemned, and executed” (An Old California Pioneer, 38).

[64] Samuel D. Lucas to Lilburn W. Boggs, November 2, 1838, in Document, 75; also Samuel D. Lucas to Lilburn W. Boggs, November 5, 1838 in Document, 71; see also Lyman Wight, Journal, in Joseph Smith III and Heman C. Smith, History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Independence, MO: Herald House, 1967), 2:295; and Wight petition in Johnson, Mormon Redress Petitions, 662; also in Smith, History of the Church, 3:447.

[65] Wight, Journal, 295–96; Pratt, Autobiography, 164; and Smith, History of the Church, 3:201. In his journal, Wight incorrectly indicated that the prisoners arrived in Independence on November 3, whereas Smith and Pratt place the date as November 4. November 4 was a Sunday (as noted by Pratt) and is the correct date. It was on this same day that both Joseph Smith and Parley P. Pratt penned letters to their wives, Emma and Mary Ann, respectively (Parley P. Pratt to Mary Ann Frost Pratt, November 4, 1838, Church History Library; and Joseph Smith Jr. to Emma Smith, November 4, 1838, Community of Christ Library-Archives, Independence, Missouri; also published in Dean C. Jessee, ed., Personal Writings of Joseph Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2002], 399).

[66] Joseph Smith Jr. to Emma Smith, November 4, 1838, Community of Christ Library-Archives, Independence, Missouri; also published in Dean C. Jessee, ed., Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, rev. ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2002), 399.

[67] As explained, the message issued by Joseph Smith and the other six Mormon prisoners thanking Lucas, Wilson, and other members of the militia originally appeared in the Boonslick Democrat on November 10, 1838, five days after it was written. The article was subsequently picked up and printed on November 28, 1838, in the Ohio Statesman, published in Columbus. No extant copy of the Boonslick Democrat for the date of November 5, 1838, could be found, so the Statesman version is provided here. The card was signed by each of the seven prisoners.

[68] Lyman Wight indicated their move from the log house to the Noland Hotel occurred on November 6 (Lyman Wight, Journal, in Joseph Smith III and Heman C. Smith, History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints [Independence, MO: Herald House, 1967], 2:296). Parley P. Pratt recorded: “[After our arrival in Independence] the troops were then disbanded. In the meantime we were kept under a small guard, and were treated with some degree of humanity, while hundreds flocked to see us day after day. We spent most of our time in preaching and conversation, explanatory of our doctrines and practice. Much prejudice was removed, and the feelings of the populace began to be in our favor. . . . In a day or two we were at liberty to walk the streets without a guard. We were finally removed from our house of confinement to a hotel, where we boarded at the public table, and lodged on the floor, with a block of wood for a pillow. We no longer had any guard; we went out and came in when we pleased—a certain keeper being appointed merely to watch over us, and look to our wants” (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1985], 166).

[69] Clark stated in two separate documents that the number of Mormon prisoners taken was forty-six (John B. Clark to Lilburn W. Boggs, November 10 and November 29, 1838, in Document, 66, 90). The number of men arrested by General Clark is given differently in Mormon sources, ranging from fifty to seventy-five. For example, see Smith, History of the Church, 3:202; and Albert Perry Rockwood, Journal, in Dean C. Jessee and David J. Whittaker, eds., “The Last Months of Mormonism in Missouri: The Albert Perry Rockwood Journal,” BYU Studies 28, no. 1 (Winter 1988): 27.

[70] John B. Clark to Lilburn W. Boggs, November 10 and November 29, 1838, in Document, 66, 90.

[71] Smith, History of the Church, 3:205–6; Pratt, Autobiography, 168; Wight, Journal, 296–98. Pratt indicated that immediately upon their arrival in Richmond they were confined in chains. Wight said that they were not put into chains until the following day, November 10. For a general location of the old log house, see LaMar C. Berrett and Max H. Parkin, Sacred Places, Missouri: A Comprehensive Guide to Early LDS Historical Sites, vol. 4 (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2004), 238.

[72] Pratt, Autobiography, 179.

[73] John B. Clark to Lilburn W. Boggs, November 10, 1838, in Document, 66–67.

[74] The eleven men who were added to the original fifty-three defendants were Lemuel Bent, Jonathan Dunham, King Follett, Clark Hallett, Joseph Hunter, Joel S. Miles, George W. Morris, Morris Phelps, Thomas Rich, James Henry Rollins, and William Whitman. The names were obtained by comparing the list of the original fifty-three defendants who were in custody at the beginning of the hearing with that of the defendants cited in Judge King’s final ruling (Document, 93, 149–51).

[75] Document, 97; and Smith, History of the Church, 3:209, 212. For an examination of the Richmond hearing, see Stephen C. LeSueur, “‘High Treason and Murder”: The Examination of Mormon Prisoners at Richmond, Missouri, in November 1838,” BYU Studies 26, no. 2 (Spring 1986): 3–30; and H. Michael Marquardt, “Judge Austin A. King’s Preliminary Hearing: Joseph Smith and the Mormons on Trial,” John Whitmer Historical Association Journal 24 (2004): 41–55. The hearing is also discussed in general terms in Susan Easton Black, “The Evils of Rumor: Richmond, Missouri, 1836–1838,” in Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint Church History: Missouri, ed. Arnold K. Garr and Clark V. Johnson (Provo, UT: Department of Church History and Doctrine, Brigham Young University, 1994), 125–30.

[76] Joseph Smith Jr. to Emma Hale Smith, Community of Christ Library-Archives, also published in Jessee, Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, 399.

[77] Pratt, Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, 179–80. In a March 1839 letter to the Church in Quincy, Illinois, Joseph Smith may have alluded to the event of his rebuking the guards when he wrote, “And although<ugh> their influance shall cast the[e] into trouble and into barrs and walls thou shalt be had in honor and but for a small moment and thy voice shall be more terible in the midst of thine enemies than the fierce Lion because of thy ritiousness [righteousness] and thy God shall stand by the[e] forever” (Joseph Smith Jr. to the Church at Quincy, March 20, 1839, Church History Library; also in Jessee, Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, 441). The passage has been canonized as Doctrine and Covenants 122:4.

[78] Document, 150. By the time the Daviess trial was to begin most of the Mormon defendants had left the state, thus they did not appear and the case was eventually dismissed.

[79] Document, 150; Smith, History of the Church, 3:212. Joseph and Hyrum Smith, McRae, Baldwin, and Wight were all charged with the crime of treason in Daviess County, while Rigdon was charged with treason in Caldwell.

[80] Lyman Omer Littlefield, Reminiscences of Latter-day Saints (Logan, UT: Utah Journal, 1888), 80–81.

[81] See Dean C. Jessee, “‘Walls, Grates and Screeking Iron Doors’: The Prison Experience of Mormon Leaders in Missouri, 1838–1839,” in New Views in Mormon History: A Collection of Essays in Honor of Leonard J. Arrington, ed. Davis Bitton and Maureen Ursenbach Beecher (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1987), 25.

[82] See Richard S. Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait of Religious Excess (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1994), 254–55.

[83] Joseph Smith to Emma Smith, December 1, 1838, Joseph Smith Papers, Church History Library.

[84] See Joseph Smith III and Heman C. Smith, History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Independence, MO: Herald House, 1967), 2:309, 315.

[85] See Joseph Smith, “The Memoirs of President Joseph Smith (1832–1914),” The Saints’ Herald (November 6, 1934, 1414–15. Lyman Wight recalled seeing Joseph “lay [his] hands on the head of a youth [Joseph III] and heard him cry aloud ‘You are my successor when I depart’” (Lyman Wight to Editor, Northern Islander, July 1855: Lyman Wight Letterbook, Community of Christ Library-Archives, Independence, Missouri; as cited in Roger D. Launius, Joseph Smith III: Pragmatic Patriarch [Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1988], 10).

[86] Joseph Smith to the Church of the Latter Day Saints in Caldwell County, December 16, 1838, Scriptory Book, 101–8.

[87] Pratt, Autobiography, 164.