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Nancy Tracy
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Nancy Naomi Alexander Tracy, 1816-1902

Autobiography (1816-1846)
Autobiography of Nancy Naomi Alexander Tracy, Typescript, HBLL also a Holograph Autobiography in Bancroft Library

Life History of Nancy Naomi Alexander Tracy
Written by herself (HBLL)

For a full text of the rest of her story, including what is below, see http://www.boap.org/LDS/Early-Saints/NTracy.html 

When spring came, my husband procured 40 acres of land three miles from Far West, for that was the name given to the city. He planted corn and other things. We raised quite a crop. We still lived in the city, and all things moved along nicely. We believed we had found a permanent resting place. Brother Joseph, his brother Hyrum, and their father and their families had come up to Far West; so we were blessed again with their presence and council and could hear the words of life and salvation that flowed from their lips. Before we realized any benefit from our crops, we had to live very clo sometimes having to gather greens and dig roots to make a meal. Shoes and clothing were out of the question just at this time, but after a while a man by the name of Adam Lightner came in and brought a stock of goods and set up a store. I got sewing to do and got store pay for my work. However, we had peace. The spirit of mobocracy had lulled. We could go to meeting and enjoy our religion, and at present, no one interfered, but how long was it going to last? We shall see.

We built a cabin on our farm and moved into it the next season in order to be near my husband's work. We had an ox team, so we could go over to Far West for meetings. There was a nice grove of timber on the place and a stream of water. Wild turkeys roosted in the trees around the house, and we surely had to look out for rattle snakes, especially in the fall. When the hickory nuts were ripe, they would fall on the roof, and everything was so nice.

But the third year the Missourians saw how the Saints were prospering, and they could not rest. They commenced on the outskirts where the Saints had settled on the stream and began to plunder and turn their horses into the brethren's fields, to go into the houses and insult women and children and abuse them, and to take the brethren prisoners into their camps, until, at last, the brethren could stand it no longer.

The mob went with a large force into Crooked River with a Methodist minister at their head and took the brothers prisoners and abused the people until they had to dispatch a messenger to Far West for assistance. We had to move back into the city for it was not safe to stay outside, because the people were getting so hostile, and, besides, I had been confined with my third child. I was sick in bed, when about midnight, we heard the drum beat on the public square, which was a signal for the brethren to come together. My husband immediately arose, dressed, and went over to the square. When volunteers were called for to start right away for the scene of trouble to try to make peace if not to disperse the mob, they organized a company of fifty with David W. Patten as their captain. My husband came home and told us he had volunteered to go with the brethren to disperse the mob at Crooked River. I was very sick and in bed with a young babe and shaking with the ague, but I told him to go and I would do the best I could, although I was alone with my three little children and couldn't get out of bed. So he prepared himself as quickly as he could and started off. It was 20 miles to the scene of trouble. They arrived just at break of day. There was timber on the brow of the hill above the river, and the mob had stationed a guard in this timber. They fired on the brethren without calling for them to halt and wounded one young man by the name of Obanyon [Patrick O'Banion], who died in a few hours. He was left back with two brothers to care for him, while the company went on down to the camp to disperse the mob. A battle ensued in which the captain was mortally wounded and died the next day. Gideon Carter was killed outright. Others of the brothers were wounded, but in the conflict the mob took to flight; some cut their horses loose; some left their guns and other camping utensils on the ground. And now who were the aggressors? Our people were dwelling in peace, minding their own affairs, tilling the soil on the land they had bought and paid for, but the spirit of the wicked could not rest as has been in all ages of the world when the Lord had a people on the face of the earth. So it was n. The devil raged, and the people imagined vain things. Well, this tirade of mob violence was not going to stop here. However, my husband came home the next day. I had not been out of bed, and had had no one to wait on me except my little boy five years old.

The news of this battle spread like wildfire, and soon the whole state was in arms against a few innocent, law-abiding citizens that would gladly dwell in peace with them if they would let them. We had been smitten and driven about, the women and children suffering and cold and hungry, until it was unbearable, and what was to be done? In vain they sought redress from those in power. Although they plead and petitioned, it was without avail. The state marshaled its hosts, and with General Clark at their head, they came and camped on a stream one mile from Far West. Clark, with others of his officers, came in and demanded our leaders. One Colonel Hinkle betrayed them into their hand, and they were taken into the camp of the enemy. A court martial was held, a strong guard was placed over them, and they were sentenced to be shot the next morning. Previous to their being taken into the camp of the enemy, Brother Joseph had called the brethren together and talked to them. He told them to be valiant and firm and to put their trust in God. He said, "The enemy is at our doors. Let us stand by one another even unto death, for we have broken no laws but have kept them. We have sought to worship God according to the dictates of our conscience, and for this we suffer." He talked at some length like a father to his children, which showed the great and noble heart that beat in his bosom. This council was meant to nerve up the brothers for the ordeal they were about to pass through, for it seemed we were about to be swallowed up by this mighty host, as now they had these pure and innocent prisoners in their camp, and they were sentenced to be shot without judge or jury. That night as I lay sick in my bed, I could hear their martial band playing in exultation, and it seemed as though all the infuriated demons of the lower regions were reveling in their atrocities and were triumphing because they thought they were going to kill our leaders and so put an end to Mormonism. But weak man cannot measure arms with the Almighty. How true was the poet when he said that "God moves in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform," for when morning came, and they were about to put their decision into execution, all at once there arose a revolt in the camp. A spirit more noble than the rest, General Doniphan, called his men together and told them to form in a line and march. He said that he would have nothing to do with such cold-blooded murder and that he washed his hands of it. This insurrection broke up their plans, and they made other plans to drag our leaders off to prison to lay for months in a cold dungeon with food not fit for hogs to eat and of which they could not partake. They brought them into Far West and permitted them to take leave of their families and their aged father and mother. With their little ones crying and clinging to them, the scene was enough to melt the heart of a stone, but they were hurried off to prison to languish through the cold winter. Death would have been preferable but their work on this earth was not done.

Well, they had secured the brothers for the present, at least, and now what was to be done with the rest. Well, the soldiers came marching into the city with General Clark at their head to take the city. He gave his orders at the point of a bayonet. The brothers had to deliver up their arms and sign away their property to ray the expenses of the war and listen to the speech of Mr. Clark. He said we need never expect to see our leaders again for their fate was fixed and their doom sealed. We were to be expelled from the state, and although we could stay until spring we were not to attempt to put in another crop. He said he had the power to give us this privilege. Was this not wonderful? It was a great boon for free-born American citizens that had been true and law-abiding in every way. But there was not an alternative. Leave we must; we must try to find a place somewhere in the wide world.

Well, to return to my own situation. I had my door open and looked out upon the scene as the army marched into the city. As I lay in my bed sick, I thought the end of them would never come. They stationed one company near my house and there camped. I was alone except for my little children. My husband had to leave, for all those who were in the Crooked River battle were being hunted for by the soldiers. So I was at their mercy. Still they assured me that I would not be molested. However, they searched the premises and put a double guard around my house. So I was a prisoner in my own home with no one to care for me but my little boy. Everyone had all he could do to look out for his own. It was a trying time indeed! The brethren that were in the battle of Crooked River had all left for parts unknown except my husband and Brother Holbrook. Brother Holbrook had been wounded in the fight, but he played he was a sick woman in bed so nicely that he was not detected although the house was searched well. My husband had, by a narrow escape, managed to evade the soldiers and was still hidden in the city.

When the General had everything fixed and had our people tied in every way, he called off the army and told them to go to their homes, but to hold themselves in readiness if they should be called again in case the Mormons did not comply with all the requirements asked. So they dispersed. Now there was nothing to do but go to work and prepare to leave after sacrificing everything. I had my last shake of the ague and fever which lasted two hours. After that I began to get better, but while the attack lasted it was severe. I thought that every bone in my body would come out. I was so thankful when it was over.

We soon moved back to our farm where wood was plentiful for the winter, but the Missourians, were prowling around. So we moved in with a neighbor close by and made what preparations we could in our poverty for our exit in the spring. During the winter, Brother Joseph sent messages to the brethren to make every exertion to roll out as fast as they could, for he said that there would be no chance for him until we were all one.

Winter passed and spring came but with wet, stormy weather. However, the Saints left as fast as they could, going east. We started in March, about the middle, I think. Imagine our feelings in leaving our homes and starting out not knowing where we were going and leaving our Prophet and leaders in prison at the mercy of those bold fiends of human shape. Notwithstanding, our afflictions, the hand of the Lord was over His people, and they found a place of rest for the season.



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Last modified: March 19, 2006