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Hyrum Smith
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Times and Seasons, Vol.4, No.16, p.246

Done at the City of Springfield, this 17th day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand and eight hundred and forty three, and of the Independence of the United States the sixty-seventh. 

By the Governor, THOMAS FORD.

THOMPSON CAMPBELL, Secretary of State.

The following witnesses were examined, viz: Hyrum Smith, Parley P. Pratt, Brigham Young, George W. Pitkin, Lyman Wight, and Sidney Rigdon.

HYRUM SMITH sworn. Said that the defendant now in court is his brother, and that his name is not Joseph Smith Junior, but his name is Joseph Smith Senior, and has been for more than two years past. I have been acquainted with him ever since he was born, which was thirty seven years December last, and I have not been absent from him at any one time, not even the space of six months since his birth, to my recollection, and have been intimately acquainted with all his sayings, doings, business transactions and movements, as much as any one man could be acquainted with another man's business up to the present time, and do know that he has not committed treason against any State in the Union, by any overt act, or by levying war, or by aiding and abetting, or assisting an enemy in any State in the Union, and that the said Joseph Smith Senior has not committed treason in the State of Missouri, nor violated any law or rule of said State, I being personally acquainted with the transactions and doings of said Smith whilst he resided in said State, which was for about six months in the year 1838; I being also a resident in said State during the same period of time, and I do know that said Joseph Smith Senior never was subject to military duty in any State, neither was he in the State of Missouri, he being exempt by the amputation or extraction of a bone from his leg, and by his having a license to preach the Gospel, or being in other words a minister of the Gospel, and I do know that said Smith never bore arms, as a military man, in any capacity whatever, whilst in the State of Missouri, or previous to that time; neither has he given any orders or assumed any command in any capacity whatever; but I do know that whilst he was in the State of Missouri, that the People commonly called Mormons, were threatened with violence and extermination, and on or about the first Monday in August 1838, at the election at Gallatin, the county seat in Davies county; the citizens who were commonly called Mormons were forbidden to exercise the rights of franchise, and from that unhallowed circumstance an affray commenced, and a fight ensued among the citizens of that place, and from that time a mob commenced gathering in that county threatening the extermination of the Mormons; the said Smith and myself upon hearing that mobs were collecting together, and that they had also murdered two of the citizens of the same place, and would not suffer them to be buried; the said Smith and myself went over to Davies county to learn the particulars of the affray, but upon our arrival at Diahman, we learned that none were killed but several were wounded-we tarried all night at Col. Lyman Wight's, the next morning the weather being very warm and having been very dry for some time previously, the springs and wells in that region were dried up; on mounting our horses to return, we rode up to Mr. Black's, who was then an acting Justice of the Peace, to obtain some water for ourselves and horses; some few of the citizens accompanied us there, and after obtaining the refreshment of water, Mr. Black was asked by said Joseph Smith Senior, if he would use his influence to see that the laws were faithfully executed and to put down mob violence, and he gave us a paper, written by his own hand, stating that he would do so. [ Note by Mel:  What this account leaves out is that Joseph Smith and the Mormons gathered in Black's cabin ( and his yard ) and threatened to kill him.  For this Black pressed charges, and Joseph Smith and the others agreed to return for the trial.  Because of later happenings, this trial was never held ].  He also requested him to call together the most influential men of the county on the next day that we might have an interview with them; to this he acquiesced, and accordingly the next day they assembled at the house of Col. Wight and entered into a mutual covenant of peace, to put down mob violence and to protect each other in the enjoyment of their rights: after this we all parted with the best of feelings and each man returned to his own home. This mutual agreement of peace however did not last long; for but a few days afterwards the mob began to collect again until several hundreds rendezvoused at Millport, a few miles distant from Diahman. They immediately commenced making aggressions upon the citizens called Mormons, taking away their hogs and cattle, and threatening them with extermination or utter extinction; saying that they had a cannon and there should be no compromise only at its mouth: frequently taking men, women and children prisoners, whipping them and lacerating their bodies with hickory withes, and tying them to trees and depriving them of food until they were compelled to gnaw the bark from the trees to which they were bound in order to sustain life; treating them in the most cruel manner they could invent or think of, and doing every thing they could to excite the indignation of the Mormon people to rescue them, in order that they might make that a pretext of an accusation for the breach of the law and that they might the better excite the prejudice of the populace and thereby get aid and assistance to carry out their hellish purposes of extermination. Immediately on the authentication of these facts, messengers were despatched from Far West to Austin A. King, Judge of the fifth judicial district of the State of Missouri, and also to Major General Atchison, Commander-in-chief of that division, and Brigadier General Doniphan, giving them information of the existing facts, and demanding immediate assistance. Gen. Atchison returned with the messengers and went immediately to Diahman and from thence to Millport, and he found the facts were true as reported to him;-that the citizens of that county were assembled together in a hostile attitude to the amount of two or three hundred men, threatening the utter extermination of the Mormons, he immediately returned to Clay county and ordered out a sufficient military force to quell the mob. Immediately after they were dispersed and the army returned; the mob commenced collecting again soon after: we again applied for military aid, when General Doniphan came out with a force of sixty armed men to Far West; but they were in such a state of insubordination that he said he could not control them, and it was thought advisable by Col. Hinkle, Mr. Rigdon and others that they should return home; General Doniphan ordered Col. Hinkle to call out the militia of Caldwell and defend the town against the mob, for said he, you have great reason to be alarmed, for he said Neil Gillum from the Platte country had come down with 200 armed men and had taken up their station at Hunter's mill, a place distant about 17 or 18 miles north west of the town of Far West, and also that an armed force had collected again at Millport, in Davies county, consisting of several hundred men, and that another armed force had collected at DeWitt, in Carroll county, about 50 miles south east of Far West, where about 70 families of the Mormon people had settled upon the bank of the Missouri river at a little town called DeWitt. Immediately a messenger, whilst he was yet talking, came in from DeWitt, stating that three or four hundred men had assembled together at that place armed cap-a-pie, and that they threatened the utter extinction of the citizens of that place if they did not leave the place immediately, and that they had also surrounded the town and cut off all supplies of food, so that many of them were suffering with hunger. Gen. Doniphan seemed to be very much alarmed, and appeared to be willing to do all he could to assist, and to relieve the sufferings of the Mormon people; he advised that a petition be immediately got up and sent to the Governor. A petition was accordingly prepared and a messenger despatched immediately to the Governor, and another petition was sent to Judge King. The Mormon people throughout the country were in a great state of alarm, and also in great distress; they saw themselves completely surrounded with armed forces on the north and on the north west and on the south, and also Bogard, who was a Methodist preacher, and who was then a captain over a militia company of 50 soldiers, but who had added to his number out of the surrounding counties about a hundred more, which made his force about 150 strong, was stationed at Crooked Creek, sending out his scouting parties, taking men, women and children prisoners, driving off cattle, hogs and horses, entering into every house on Log and Long Creeks, rifling their houses of their most precious article, such as money, bedding, and clothing, taking all their old muskets and their rifles or military implements, threatening the people with instant death if they did not deliver up all their precious things, and enter into a covenant to leave the state or go into the city of Far West by the next morning, saying that "they calculated to drive the people into Far West, and then drive them to hell." Gillum also was doing the same on the north west side of Far West; and Sashall Woods, a Presbyterian minister, was the leader of the mob in Davies county; and a very noted man of the same society was the leader of the mob in Carroll county; and they were also sending out their scouting parties, robbing and pillaging houses, driving away hogs, horses and cattle, taking men, women and children and carrying them off, threatening their lives and subjecting them to all manner of abuses that they could invent or think of.

Under this state of alarm, excitement and distress, the messengers returned from the Governor and from the other authorities, bringing the fatal news, that the Mormons could have no assistance. They stated that the Governor said that "the Mormons had got into a difficulty with the citizens, and they might fight it out for all what he cared. He could not render them any assistance."

The people of DeWitt were obliged to leave their homes and go into Far West; but did not until after many of them had starved to death for want of proper sustenance, and several died on the road there, and were buried by the way side, without a coffin or a funeral ceremony, and the distress, sufferings, and privations of the people cannot be expressed. All the scattered families of the Mormon people, in all the counties except Davies, were driven into Far West, with but few exceptions.

This only increased their distress, for many thousands who were driven there, had no habitations or houses to shelter them, and were huddled together, some in tents and others under blankets, while others had no shelter from the inclemency of the weather. Nearly two months the people had been in this awful state of consternation, many of them had been killed, whilst others had been whipped until they had to swathe up their bowels to prevent them from falling out. About this time, General Parks came out from Richmond, Ray county, who was one of the commissioned officers who was sent out to Diahman, and I myself and my brother Joseph Smith Senior, went out at the same time. On the evening that General Parks arrived at Diahman, my brother, the late Don Carlos Smith's wife came in to Col. Wight's about eleven o'clock at night, bringing her two children along with her, one about two years and a half old, the other a babe in her arms. She came in on foot, a distance of three miles, and waded Grand River, and the water was then about waist deep, and the snow about 3 inches deep. She stated that a party of the mob, a gang of ruffians, had turned her out of doors, had taken her household goods and had burnt up her house, and she had escaped by the skin of her teeth.-Her husband at that time was in Virginia, and she was living alone. This cruel transaction excited the feelings of the people in Diahman, especially Col. Wight, and he asked Gen. Parks, in my hearing, how long we had got to suffer such base violence? Gen. Parks said he did not know how long. Col. Wight then asked him what should be done? Gen. Parks told him "he should take a company of men, well armed, and go and disperse the mob wherever he should find any collected together, and take away their arms." Col. Wight did so precisely, according to the orders of Ge. Parks. And my brother Joseph Smith Sen. made no words about it.-And after Col. Wight had dispersed the mob and put a stop to their burning houses belonging to the Mormon people and turning women and children out of doors, which they had done up to that time to the amount of 8 or 10 houses which were consumed to ashes-after being cut short in their intended designs, the mob started up a new plan. They went to work and moved their families out of the county and set fire to their houses, and not being able to incense the Mormons to commit crimes; they had recourse to this stratagem to set their houses on fire and send runners into all the counties adjacent, to declare to the people that the Mormons had burnt up their houses and destroyed their fields, and if the people would not believe them, they would tell them to go and see if what they had said was not true. Many people came to see, they saw the houses burning, and being filled with prejudice, they could not be made to believe but that the Mormons set them on fire, which deed was most diabolical and of the blackest kind, for indeed the Mormons did not set them on fire, nor meddle with their houses or their fields. And the houses that were burnt, together with the pre emption rights, and the corn in the fields, had all been previously purchased by the Mormons of the people and paid for in money and with wagons and horses and with other property, about two weeks before; but they had not taken possession of the premises; but this wicked transaction was for the purpose of clandestinely exciting the minds of a prejudiced populace and the Executive, that they might get an order, that they could the more easily carry out their hellish purposes, in expulsion or extermination or utter extinction of the Mormon people. After witnessing the distressed situation of the people in Diahman, my brother Joseph Smith Senior and myself returned back to the city of Far West, and immediately dispatched a messenger, with written documents, to General Atchison, stating the facts as they did then exist, praying for assistance if possible, and requesting the editor of the "Far West" to insert the same in his newspaper, but he utterly refused to do so. We still believed that we should get assistance from the Governor, and again petitioned him, praying for assistance, setting forth our distressed situation; and in the mean time the presiding Judge of the County Court issued orders-upon affidavits made to him by the citizens-to the Sheriff of the county, to order out the Militia of the county to stand in constant readiness, night and day, to prevent the citizens from being massacred, which fearful situation they were exposed to every moment. Every thing was very portentous and alarming. Notwithstanding all this, there was a ray of hope yet existing in the minds of the people that the Governor would render us assistance; and whilst the people were waiting anxiously for deliverance-men women and children frightened, praying and weeping-we beheld at a distance, crossing the prairies and approaching the town, a large army in military array, brandishing their glittering swords in the sunshine, and we could not but feel joyful for a moment, thinking that probably the Governor had sent an armed force to our relief, notwithstanding the awful forebodings that pervaded our breasts. But to our great surprise, when the army arrived they came up and formed a line in double file in one half mile on the east of the city of Far West, and despatched three messengers with a white flag to come to the city. They were met by Captain Morey with a few other individuals, whose names I do not now recollect. I was myself standing close by, and could very distinctly hear every word they said. Being filled with anxiety, I rushed forward to the spot, expecting to hear good news-but alas! and heart-thrilling to every soul that heard them-they demanded three persons to be brought out of the city before they should massacre the rest. The names of the persons they demanded, were Adam Lightner, John Cleminson and his wife. Immediately the three persons were brought forth to hold an interview with the officers who had made the demand, and the officers told them they had now a chance to save their lives, for they calculated to destroy the people and lay the city in ashes. They replied to the officer, and said, "If the people must be destroyed, and the city burned to ashes, they would remain in the city and die with them." The officers immediately returned, and the army retreated and encamped about a mile and a half from the city. A messenger was immediately despatched with a while flag from the Colonel of the Militia of Far West, requesting an interview with General Atchison and General Doniphan; but as the messenger approached the camp, he was shot at by Bogard, the Methodist preacher. The name of the messenger was Charles C. Rich, who is now Brigadier General in the Nauvoo legion. However, he gained permission to see General Doniphan; he also requested an interview with General Atchison. General Doniphan said that General Atchison had been dismounted by a special order of the Governor a few miles back, and had been sent back to Liberty, Clay county. He also stated that the reason was that he (Atchison,) was too merciful unto the Mormons, and Boggs would not let him have the command, but had given it to General Lucas, who was from Jackson County, and whose heart had become hardened by his former acts of rapine and bloodshed, he being one of the leaders in murdering, driving, plundering and burning some two or three hundred houses belonging to the Mormon people in that county in the years 1833 and 1834.

 

 

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