THE MORMON MENACE
BEING THE CONFESSION OF JOHN DOYLE LEE - DANITE
AN OFFICIAL ASSASSIN OF THE MORMON CHURCH UNDER THE LATE BRIGHAM YOUNG
INTRODUCTION By ALFRED HENRY LEWIS
WITH NUMEROUS ILLUSTRATIONS
New York Home Protection Publishing Co. 156 Fifth Avenue
Copyright, 1905, by A. B. NICHOLS
All Rights Reserved
electrotyped and printed by the Herald Company of Binghamtom
CONTENTS (pages not numbered in text version)
INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .v
CHAPTER I - THE STORMY YOUTH OF LEE. . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
CHAPTER II - LEE BEGINS A CAREER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
CHAPTER III - LEE BECOMES A MORMON . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
CHAPTER IV - THE SAINTS BESET WITH TROUBLES. . . . . . . . . 29
CHAPTER V - THE MORMON WAR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
CHAPTER VI - LEE LOCATES THE GARDEN OF EDEN. . . . . . . . . 45
CHAPTER VII - THE SAINTS GATHER AT NAUVOO. . . . . . . . . . 52
CHAPTER VIII - LEE AS A MISSIONARY . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61
CHAPTER IX - MORMONISM AND ITS ORIGIN. . . . . . . . . . . . 67
CHAPTER X - LEE CASTS OUT DEVILS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73
CHAPTER XI - HOT FOR LEE IN TENNESSEE. . . . . . . . . . . . 78
CHAPTER XII - OF PECULIAR INTEREST IN NAUVOO . . . . . . . . 86
CHAPTER XIII - DEATH OF JOSEPH SMITH . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
CHAPTER XIV - THE DOCTRINE OF SEALING. . . . . . . . . . . . 99
CHAPTER XV - THE SAINTS TURN WESTWARD. . . . . . . . . . . .104
CHAPTER XVI - LEE GOES TO SANTA FE . . . . . . . . . . . . .110
CHAPTER XVII - LEE IS TREATED BADLY BY THE BRETHREN. . . . .119
CHAPTER XVIII - THE DANITE AND HIS DUTY. . . . . . . . . . .129
CHAPTER XIX - THE MOUNTAIN MEADOWS . . . . . . . . . . . . .139
CHAPTER XX - THE MUSTER OF THE DANITES . . . . . . . . . . .146
CHAPTER XXI - THE BLOOD FEAST OF THE DANITES . . . . . . . .151
CHAPTER XXII - THE DANITE CHIEF REPORTS TO BRIGHAM . . . . .157
CHAPTER XXIII - LEE NEARS THE END. . . . . . . . . . . . . .161
APPENDIX I - BLOOD ATONEMENT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .166
APPENDIX II - THE STORY OF LEE'S ARREST. . . . . . . . . . .168
APPENDIX III - DEATH OF JOHN DOYLE LEE . . . . . . . . . . .173
ILLUSTRATIONS (not included in text version)
The Mountain Meadows ii
The Danite 36
The Mormon Preacher 60
The Blood Atonement 138
John Doyle Lee 150
THE MORMON PURPOSE
Almost a half century ago, being in 1857, John Doyle Lee, a chief among that red brotherhood, the Danites, was ordered by Brigham Young and the leading counselors of the Mormon Church to take his men and murder a party of emigrants then on their way through Utah to California. The Mormon orders were to "kill all who can talk," and, in their carrying out, Lee and his Danites, with certain Indians whom he had recruited in the name of scalps and pillage, slaughtered over one hundred and twenty men, women, and children, and left their stripped bodies to the elements and the wolves. This wholesale murder was given the title of "The Mountain Meadows Massacre." Twenty years later, in 1877, the belated justice of this Government seated Lee on his coffin, and shot him to death for his crimes.
In those long prison weeks which fell in between his arrest and execution, Lee wrote his life, giving among other matters the story of the Church of Mormon from its inception, when Joseph Smith pretended, with the aid of Urim and Thummim, to translate the golden plates, down to those murders for which he, Lee, was executed. Lee's confessions, so to call them, were published within a few months following his death. The disclosures were such that the Mormon Church became alarmed; the book might mean its downfall. In the name of Mormon safety Brigham Young, by money and other agencies, succeeded in the book's suppression. What copies had been sold were, as much as might be, bought up and destroyed, together with the plates and forms from which they had been printed.
In the destruction of this literature, so perilous to Mormons, at least two volumes escaped. These have been placed in my hands by certain patriotic influences, and are here reprinted as The Mormon Menace. Much that was shocking and atrocious has been eliminated in the editing, as unfit for modest ears and eyes. What remains, however, will give a sufficient picture of the Mormon Church in its hateful attitude towards all that is moral or republican among our people. A black kitten makes a black cat; what the Mormon Church was under President Young it is under President Smith, and will be with their dark successors.
The purpose of the present publication of Lee's story is to warn American men, and more particularly American women, of the Mormon viper still coiled upon the national hearth. To-day, as in the days of Lee, the Mormon missionary is abroad in the world. He is in your midst; he makes his converts among your neighbors; within the month, on one detected occasion, he stood at the portals of your public schools and gave his insidious pamphlets, preaching Mormonism, into the hands of your children.
More, the Mormon Church has, in addition to its religious, its political side, and teaches not only immorality, but treason. On a far-away 5th of November a certain darksome Guy Fawkes and his confederates, all with a genius for explosives, planned to blow up the British Government by blowing up its parliament, and went some distance towards carrying out their plot. The Mormon Church of Latter-day Saints, with headquarters in Salt Lake City, is employed upon a present and somewhat similar conspiracy against this Government, with Senator Smoot as the advance guard or agent thereof in the halls of our national legislature.
As this is written, a Senate inquiry into this conspiracy wags slowly yet searchingly forward. Stripped of formality of phrase and reset in easier English, the question which the Senate Committee is trying to solve is this: Is the Mormon Church in conspiracy against the Government, with Senator Smoot's seat as a first fruit of that conspiracy? As corollary comes the second query: To which does Senator Smoot give primary allegiance, the Church or the nation?
By every sign and signal smoke of evidence the conspiracy charged exists, with President Smith of the Mormon Church its chief architect and expositor. Smoot takes his seat in the upper house of Congress with a first purpose of carrying forth, so far as lies within his hands, the plans of the conspirators. What is the purpose of the conspirators? To protect themselves and their fellow Mormons in the criminal practice of polygamy, and prevent their prosecution as bigamists by the Utah courts.
The inquiry has already uncovered Mormonism in many of its evil details, and retold most, if not all, of those stories of pious charlatanism and religious crime which, during seventy-five years of its existence, make up the annals of the Mormon Church. As a first proposal it was explained in evidence before the committee that in no sort had the Mormon Church abated or abandoned polygamy as either a tenet or a practice. Indeed, the present conspiracy aims to produce conditions in Utah under which polygamy may flourish safe from the ax of law. In the old days, when Brigham Young ruled, the Mormons were safe with sundry thousands of desert miles between the law and them. Then they feared nothing save strife within the Church, and that would be no mighty peril. Brigham Young would put it down with the Danites. He had his Destroying Angels, himself at their head, and when a man rebelled he was murdered.
Mormonism is not, when a first fanaticism has subsided, a religion that would address the popular taste. It is a religion of gloom, of bitterness, of fear, of iron hand to punish the recalcitrant. It demands slavish submission on the part of every man. It insists upon abjection, self-effacement, a surrender of individuality on the part of every woman. The man is to work and obey; the woman is to submit and bear children; all are to be for the Church, of the Church, by the Church, hoping nothing, fearing nothing, knowing nothing beyond the will of the Church. The money price of Mormonism is a tithe of the member's income - the Church takes a tenth. The member may pay in money or in kind; he may sell and pay his tenth in dollars, or he may bring to the tithing yard his butter, or eggs, or hay, or wheat, or whatever he shall raise as the harvest of his labors.
In the old time the President of the Church was the temporal as well as spiritual head. No one might doubt his "revelations" or dispute his commands without being visited with punishment which ran from a fine to the death penalty. When outsiders invaded their regions the Mormons, by command of Brigham Young, struck them down, as in the Mountain Meadows murders. This was in the day when the arm of national power was too short to reach them. Now, when it can reach them, the Church conspires where before it assassinated, and strives to do by chicane what it aforetime did by shedding blood. And all to defend itself in the practice of polygamy!
One would ask why the Mormons set such extravagant store by that doctrine of many wives. This is the great reason: It serves to mark the Church members and separate and set them apart from Gentile influences. Mormonism is the sort of religion that children would renounce, and converts, when their heat had cooled, abandon. The women would leave it on grounds of jealousy and sentiment; the men would quit in a spirit of independence and a want of superstitious belief in the Prophet's "revelations." Polygamy prevents this. It shuts the door of Gentile sympathy against the Mormon. The Mormon women are beings disgraced among the Gentiles; they must defend their good repute. The children of polygamous marriages must defend polygamy to defend their own legitimacy. The practice, which doubtless had its beginning solely to produce as rapidly as might be a Church strength, now acts as a bar to the member's escape; wherefore the President, his two counselors, the twelve apostles and others at the head of Mormon affairs, insist upon it as a best, if not an only, Church protection. Without polygamy the Mormon membership would dwindle until Mormonism had utterly died out. The Mormon heads think so, and preserve polygamy as a means of preserving the Church.
What the Mormon leaders think and feel and say on this keynote question of polygamy, however much they may seek to hide their sentiments behind a mask of lies, may be found in former utterances from the Church pulpit, made before the shadow of the law had fallen across it.
President Heber C. Kimball, in a discourse delivered in the Tabernacle, November 9, 1856 (Deseret News, volume 6, page 291), said: "I have no wife or child that has any right to rebel against me. If they violate my laws and rebel against me, they will get into trouble just as quickly as though they transgressed the counsels and teachings of Brother Brigham. Does it give a woman a right to sin against me because she is my wife? No; but it is her duty to do my will as I do the will of my Father and my God. It is the duty of a woman to be obedient to her husband, and unless she is I would not give a damn for all her queenly right and authority, nor for her either, if she will quarrel and lie about the work of God and the principles of plurality. A disregard of plain and correct teachings is the reason why so many are dead and damned, and twice plucked up by the roots, and I would as soon baptize the devil as some of you."
October 6, 1855 (volume 5, page 274), Kimball said: "If you oppose any of the works of God you will cultivate a spirit of apostasy. If you oppose what is called the spiritual wife doctrine, the patriarchal order, which is of God, that course will corrode you with apostasy, and you will go overboard. The principle of plurality of wives never will be done away, although some sisters have had revelations that when this time passes away, and they go through the vale, every woman will have a husband to herself. I wish more of our young men would take to themselves wives of the daughters of Zion, and not wait for us old men to take them all. Go ahead upon the right principle, young gentlemen, and God bless you for ever and ever, and make you fruitful, that we may fill the mountains and then the earth with righteous inhabitants."
President Heber C. Kimball, in a lengthy discourse delivered in the Tabernacle on the 4th day of April, 1857, took occasion to say: "I would not be afraid to promise a man who is sixty years of age, if he will take the counsel of Brother Brigham and his brethren, that he will renew his youth. I have noticed that a man who has but one wife, and is inclined to that doctrine, soon begins to wither and dry up, while a man who goes into plurality looks fresh, young, and sprightly. Why is this? Because God loves that man, and because he honors his work and word. Some of you may not believe this - I not only believe it, but I also know it. For a man of God to be confined to one woman is a small business; it is as much as we can do to keep up under the burdens we have to carry, and I do not know what we should do if we only had one woman apiece."
President Heber C. Kimball used the following language in a discourse, instructing a band of missionaries about to start on their mission: "I say to those who are elected to go on missions, Go, if you never return, and commit what you have into the hands of God - your wives, your children, your brethren, and your property. Let truth and righteousness be your motto, and don't go into the world for anything else but to preach the gospel, build up the Kingdom of God, and gather the sheep into the fold. You are sent out as shepherds to gather the sheep together; and remember that they are not your sheep; they belong to Him that sends you. Then don't make a choice of any of those sheep; don't make selections before they are brought home and put into the fold. You understand that! Amen."
When the Edmunds law was passed, and punishment and confiscation and exile became the order, even dullwits among Mormons knew that the day of terror and bloodshed as a system of Church defense was over with and done. Then the Mormons made mendacity take the place of murder, and went about to do by indirection what before they had approached direct. Prophet Woodruff was conveniently given a "revelation" to the effect that polygamy might be abandoned. They none the less kept the Mormon mind in leash for its revival. The men were still taught subjection; the women were still told that wifehood and motherhood were their two great stepping-stones in crossing to the heavenly shore, missing which they would be swept away. Meanwhile, and in secret, those same heads of the Church - Smith, the President, Cluff, the head of the Mormon College, Tanner, chief of the Young Men's Mutual Improvement Association - took unto themselves plural wives by way of setting an example and to keep the practical fires of polygamy alive.
True, these criminals ran risks, and took what President Smith in his recent testimony, when telling of his own quintette of helpmeets, called "the chances of the law." To lower these risks, and diminish them to a point where in truth they would be no risks, the Mormon Church, under the lead of its bigamous President several years rearward, became a political machine. It looked over the future, considered its own black needs as an outlaw, and saw that its first step towards security should be the making of Utah into a State. As a territory the hand of the Federal power rested heavily upon it; the Edmunds law could be enforced whenever there dwelt a will in Washington so to do. Once a State, Utah would slip from beneath the pressure of that iron statute. The Mormons would at the worst face nothing more rigorous than the State's own laws against bigamy, enforced by judges and juries and sheriffs of their own selection, and jails whereof they themselves would weld the bars and hew the stones and forge the keys.
With that, every Mormon effort of lying promise and pretense of purity were put forward to bring statehood about. What Gentiles were then in Utah exerted themselves to a similar end, and made compacts, and went, as it were, bail for Mormon good behavior. In the end Utah was made a State; the Mormons breathed the freer as ones who had escaped that Edmunds statute which was like a sword of Damocles above their polygamous heads. To be sure, as a State Utah had her laws against plural marriages, and provided a punishment for the bigamist; the general government would consent to nothing less as the price of that statehood prayed for. But the Mormon criminals, the Smiths, the Lymans, the Tanners, and the Cluffs, were not afraid. They had gotten the reins of power into their own fingers, and made sure of their careful ability to drive ahead without an upset.
The Mormon Church, now when Utah was a State, went into politics more openly and deeply than before. Practically there are three parties in Utah - Republicans and Democrats and Mormons. The Gentiles are Democrats or Republicans; the Mormons are never anything but Mormons, voting on this side or on that, for one man or another, as the Mormon interest dictates and the Mormon President and the apostles direct. Every Mormon who has a vote occupies a double position; he is a Mormon in religion and a Mormon in political faith. In that way every office is filled with a Mormon, or with a Gentile who can be blind to Mormon iniquities. To-day a bigamist in Utah has no more to fear from the law than has a gambling-house keeper in the city of New York.
That Mormon conspiracy, whereof Smoot in the Senate is one expression, was not made yesterday. It had its birth in the year of the Edmunds law and its drastic enforcement. In that day, black for Mormons, it was resolved to secure such foothold, such representation in the Congress at Washington, that, holding a balance of power in the Senate or House, or both, the Congressional Democrats or Republicans would grant the Mormons safety for their pet tenet of polygamy as the price of Mormon support. The Mormons in carrying out these plans decided upon an invasion and, wherever possible, the political conquest of other States. They already owned Utah; they would bring - politically - beneath their thumb as many more as they might. With this thought they planted colonies in Nevada, in Colorado, in Idaho, in Wyoming, in Montana, in Oregon, in Arizona. As a refuge for polygamists, should the unexpected happen and a storm of law befall, they also planted colonies over the Mexico line in Chihuahua and Sonora.
Before going to the latter move they talked with Diaz; and that astute dictator said "Yes," with emphasis. Diaz welcomed the Mormons; they might be as polygamous as they pleased. He wanted citizens; and he was not blind to those beauties of enterprise and courage and hardihood that are the heritage of the Anglo- Dane. He bade the Mormons come to Mexico and make a bulwark of themselves between him and his American neighbors north of the Rio Grande. The Mormons hated the Americans; Diaz could trust them. The Mormons went to Mexico; there they are to-day in many a rich community, as freely polygamous as in the most wide-flung hour of Brigham Young. Diaz smiles as he reviews those prodigal crops of corn and cattle and children which they raise. They make his empire richer in men and money - commodities of which Mexico has sorely felt the want.
Once when a Methodist clergyman went to Diaz, remonstrated against that polygamy which he permitted, and spoke of immoralities, Diaz snapped his fingers.
"Do you see their children?" cried Diaz. "Well, I think more of their children than of your arguments."
From this Mexican nursery the Mormon President can, when he will, order an emigration into Nevada or any of those other States I've mentioned, to support the Church where it is weakest. Moreover, as related, the settlements in Mexico offer a haven of retreat should any tempest of prosecution beat upon the Utah polygamists through some slip of policy or accidental Gentile strength.
In Nevada, in Colorado, in Oregon, in Idaho, in every one of those States wherein the Church has planted the standards of Mormonism, the Mormon, as fast as he may, is making himself a power in politics. He is never a Democrat, never a Republican, always a Mormon. What sparks of independent political action broke into brief, albeit fiery, life a few years ago were fairly beaten out when Thatcher and Roberts were punished for daring to act outside the Mormon command.
Now, pretend what they will, assert what lie they choose, the Mormon President holds the Mormon vote, in whatever State it abides, in the hollow of his hand. He can, and does, place it to this or that party's support, according as he makes his bargain. He will use it to elect legislators and Congressmen in those States. He will employ it to select the Senators whom those States send to Washington. And when they are there, as Smoot is there, for the safeguarding of polygamy and what other crimes Mormonism may find it convenient to rest upon from time to time, those Senators and Representatives will act by the Mormon President's orders. "When the lion's hide is too short," said the Greek, "I piece it out with foxes." And the Mormons, in a day when the Danites have gone with those who called them into bloody being, and murder as a Churchly argument is no longer safe, profit by the Grecian's wisdom.
But the darkest side of Mormonism is seen when one considers the stamp of moral and mental degradation it sets upon those men and women who comprise what one might term the peasantry of the Church. Woman is, as the effect of Mormonism, peculiarly made to retrograde. Instead of being uplifted she is beaten down. She must not think; she must not feel; she must not know; she must not love. Her only safety lies in being blind and deaf and dull and senseless to every better sentiment of womanhood. She is to divide a husband with one or two or ten or twenty; she is not to be a wife, but the fraction of a wife. The moment she looks upon herself as anything other than a bearer of children she is lost. Should she rebel - and in her helplessness she does not know how to enter upon practical revolt - she becomes an outcast; a creature of no shelter, no food, no friend, no home. Woman is the basis or, if you will, the source and fountain of a race; woman is a race's inspiration. And what shall a race be, what shall its children be, with so lowered and befouled an origin?
At the hearing before the Senate Committee President Smith, stroking his long white beard in the manner of the patriarchs, made no secret of his five wives, and seemed to court the Gentile condemnation. This hardihood was of deliberate plan on the part of President Smith. He was inviting what he would call "persecution." He did not fear actual prosecution in the Utah courts; as to the Federal forums, those tribunals were powerless against him now that Utah was a State. Being safe in the flesh, President Smith would bring upon himself and Mormonism the whole fury of the press. It would serve to quiet schism and bicker within the Mormon Church. An opposition or a "persecution" would act as a pressure to bring Mormons together. That pressure would squeeze out the last drop of political independence among Mormons, which to the extent that it existed might interfere with his disposal of the compact Mormon vote. In short, an attack upon himself and upon Mormonism by the Gentiles would tighten the hold of President Smith, close-herd the Mormons, and leave them ready politically to be driven hither and yon as seemed most profitable for Church purposes.
Gray, wise, crafty, sly, soft, one who carries mendacity to the heights of art, President Smith gives in all he says and does and looks the color of truth to this explanation of his frankness. He would not prodigiously care if Smoot were cast into outer Senate darkness. It would not be an evil past a remedy. He could send Smoot back; and send him back again. Meanwhile, he might lift up the cry of the Church persecuted; that of itself would stiffen the Mormon line of battle and multiply recruits.
President Smith looks forward to a time when one Senate vote will be decisive. He cannot prophesy the day; but by the light of what has been, he knows that it must dawn. About a decade ago the Democrats took the Senate from the Republicans by one vote - Senator Peffer's. In Garfield's day the Senate, before Conkling stepped down and out, was in even balance with a tie. What was, will be; and President Smith intends, when that moment arrives and the Senate is in poise between the parties, to have at least one Utah vote, and as many more as he may, to be a stock in trade wherewith to traffic security for his Church of Mormon and its crimes. Given a balance of power in the Senate - and it might easily come within his hands - President Smith could enforce such liberal terms for Mormonism as to privilege it in its sins and prevent chance of punishment.
There be those who, for a Mormon or a personal political reason, will find fault with this work and its now appearance in print; they will argue that some motive of politics underlies the publication. It is fair to state that in so arguing they will be right. The motive is three-ply - made up of a purpose to withstand the Mormon Church as a political force, limit its spread as a so-called religion, and buckler the mothers and daughters and sisters of the country against an enemy whose advances are aimed peculiarly at them. The morals of a people are in the custody of its women; and, against Mormonism - that sleepless menace to American morality - these confessions of Lee the Danite are set in types to become a weapon in their hands. It was the womanhood of the nation that compelled the present Senate investigation of Smoot and what Mormon influences and conspiracies produced him as their representative; and it is for a defense of womanhood and its purity that this book is made. The battle will not be wholly won with Smoot's eviction from his Senate seat; indeed, the going of Smoot will be only an incident. The war should continue until all of Mormonism and what it stands for is destroyed; for then, and not before, may wifehood or womanhood write itself safe between the oceans. Congress must not alone cleanse itself of Smoot; it must go forward to methods that shall save the politics of the country from a least of Mormon interference, and the aroused womanhood of the land should compel Congress to this work. He who would hold his house above his head must mind repairs, and the word is quite as true when spoken of a country.
Alfred Henry Lewis. New York City,
December 15, 1904.
THE MORMON MENACE OR, THE CONFESSIONS OF JOHN DOYLE LEE
CHAPTER I - THE STORMY YOUTH OF LEE
In justice to myself, my numerous family, and the public in general, I consider it my duty to write a history of my life. I shall content myself with giving facts, and let the readers draw their own conclusion therefrom. By the world at large I am called a criminal, and have been sentenced to be shot for deeds committed by myself and others nearly twenty years ago. I have acted my religion, nothing more. I have obeyed the orders of the Church. I have acted as I was commanded to do by my superiors. My sins, if any, are the result of doing what I was commanded to do by those who were my superiors in authority in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
My birthday was the 6th day of September, A.D. 1812. I was born in the town of Kaskaskia, Randolph County, Illinois. My father, Ralph Lee, was born in the State of Virginia. He was of the family of Lees of Revolutionary fame. He served his time as an apprentice and learned the carpenter's trade in the city of Baltimore. My mother was born in Nashville, Tennessee. She was the daughter of John Doyle, who for many years held the position of Indian Agent over the roving tribes of Indians in southeastern Illinois. He served in the War of the Revolution, and was wounded in one of the many battles in which he took part with the sons of liberty against the English oppressors.
At the time of my birth my father was considered one of the leading men of that section of country; he was a master workman, sober and attentive to business, prompt and punctual to his engagements. He contracted largely and carried on a heavy business; he erected a magnificent mansion, for that age and country, on his land adjoining the town of Kaskaskia.
This tract of land was the property of my mother when she married my father. My grandfather Doyle was a wealthy man. He died in 1809 at Kaskaskia, Illinois, and left his whole fortune to my mother and her sister Charlotte, by will. They being his only children, he divided the property equally between them.
My father and mother were both Catholics, were raised in that faith; I was christened in that Church. When about one year old, my mother being sick, I was sent to a French nurse, a negro woman. At this time my sister Eliza was eleven years old, but young as she was she had to care for my mother and do all the work of the household. To add to the misfortune, my father began to drink heavily and was soon very dissipated; drinking and gambling were his daily occupation. The interest and care of his family were no longer a duty with him; he was seldom present to cheer and comfort his lonely, afflicted wife.
The house was one mile from town, and we had no neighbors nearer than that. The neglect and indifference on the part of my father towards my afflicted mother served to increase her anguish and sorrow, until death came to her relief. My mother's death left us miserable indeed; we were (my sister and I) thrown upon the wide world, helpless, and, I might say, without father or mother. My father when free from the effects of intoxicating drink was a kind-hearted, generous, noble man, but from that time forward he was a slave to drink - seldom sober.
My aunt Charlotte was a spit-fire; she was married to a man by the name of James Conner, a Kentuckian by birth. They lived ten miles north of us. My sister went to live with her aunt, but the treatment she received was so brutal that the citizens complained to the county commissioners, and she was taken away from her aunt and bound out to Dr. Fisher, with whose family she lived until she became of age.
In the meantime the doctor moved to the city of Vandalia, Illinois. I remained with my nurse until I was eight years of age, when I was taken to my aunt Charlotte's to be educated. I had been in a family which talked French so long that I had nearly lost all knowledge of my mother tongue. The children at school called me Gumbo, and teased me so much that I became disgusted with the French language and tried to forget it - which has been a disadvantage to me since that time.
My aunt was rich in her own right. My uncle Conner was poor; he drank and gambled and wasted her fortune; she in return give him blixen all the time. The more she scolded, the worse he acted, until they would fight like cats and dogs. Between them I was treated worse than an African slave. I lived in the family eight years, and can safely say I got a whipping every day I was there.
My aunt was more like a savage than a civilized woman. In her anger she generally took her revenge upon those around her who were the least to blame. She would strike with anything she could obtain with which to work an injury. I have been knocked down and beaten by her until I was senseless, scores of times, and carry many scars on my person, the result of harsh usage by her.
When I was sixteen years old I concluded to leave my aunt's house - I cannot call it home; my friends advised me to do so. I walked one night to Kaskaskia; went to Robert Morrison and told him my story. He was a mail contractor. He clothed me comfortably, and sent me over the Mississippi River into Missouri, to carry the mail from St. Genevieve to Pinckney, on the north side of the Missouri River, via Potosie, a distance of one hundred and twenty-seven miles. It was a weekly mail. I was to receive seven dollars a month for my services. This was in December, 1828. It was a severe winter; snow unusually deep and roads bad. I was often until two o'clock at night in reaching my stations. In the following spring I came near losing my life on several occasions when swimming the streams, which were then generally over their banks. The Meramec was the worst stream I had to cross, but I escaped danger, and gave satisfaction to my employer.
All I know of my father, after I was eight years of age, is that he went to Texas in the year 1820, and I have never heard of him since. What his fate was I never knew. When my mother died my uncle and aunt Conner took all the property - a large tract of land, several slaves, household and kitchen furniture, and all; and, as I had no guardian, I never received any portion of the property. The slaves were set free by an act of the Legislature; the land was sold for taxes, and was hardly worth redeeming when I came of age; so I sold my interest in all the land that had belonged to my mother, and made a quit-claim deed of it to Sidney Breeze, a lawyer of Kaskaskia, in consideration of two hundred dollars. I was born on the point of land lying between and above the mouth of the Okaw or Kaskaskia River and the Mississippi River, in what is known as the Great American Bottom - the particular point I refer to was then called Zeal-no-waw, the Island of Nuts. It was nineteen miles from the point of the bluffs to the mouth of the Okaw River; ten miles wide up at the bluffs and tapering to a point where the rivers united. Large bands of wild horses - French ponies, called "punt" horses - were to be found any day feeding on the ever green and nutritious grasses and vegetation. Cattle and hogs were also running wild in great numbers; every kind of game, large and small, could be had with little exertion. The streams were full of fish; the forests contained many varieties of timber; nuts, berries, and wild fruits of every description, found in the temperate zone could be had in their season.
Near by was the Reservation of the Kaskaskia Indians, Louis DuQuoin was chief of the tribe. He had a frame house painted in bright colors, but he never would farm any, game being so plentiful he had no need to labor. Nearly all the settlers were French, and not very anxious for education or improvement of any kind. I was quite a lad before I ever saw a wagon, carriage, set of harness, or a ring, a staple, or set of bows to an ox yoke. The first wagon I ever saw was brought into that country by a Yankee peddler; his outfit created as great an excitement in the settlement as the first locomotive did in Utah; the people flocked in from every quarter to see the Yankee wagon.
Everything in use in that country was of the most simple and primitive construction. There were no sawmills or gristmills in that region; sawed lumber was not in the country. The wagons were two-wheeled carts made entirely of wood - not a particle of iron about them; the hubs were of white elm, spokes of white oak or hickory, the felloes of black walnut, as it was soft and would bear rounding. The felloes were made six inches thick, and were strongly doweled together with seasoned hardwood pins; the linch pin was of hickory or ash; the thills were wood; in fact all of it was wood. The harness consisted of a corn husk collar, hames cut from an ash tree root, or from an oak; tugs were rawhide; the lines also were rawhide; a hackamore or halter was used in place of a bridle; one horse was lashed between the thills by rawhide straps and pins in the thills for a hold-back; when two horses were used, the second horse was fastened ahead of the first by straps fastened on to the thills of the cart. Oxen were yoked as follows: A square stick of timber of sufficient length was taken and hollowed out at the ends to fit on the neck of the ox, close up to the horns, and this was fastened by rawhide straps to the horns.
The people were of necessity self-sustaining, for they were forced to depend upon their own resources for everything they used. Clothing was made of home manufactured cloth or the skins of wild animals. Imported articles were procured at heavy cost, and but few found their way to our settlements. Steamboats and railroads were then unthought of, by us at least, and the navigation of the Mississippi was carried on in small boats that could be drawn up along the river bank by means of oars, spikes, poles, and hooks. The articles most in demand were axes, hoes, cotton cards, hatchels for cleaning flax, hemp and cotton, spinning wheels, knives, and ammunition, guns, and bar shears for plows. In exchange for such goods the people traded beef, hides, furs, tallow, beeswax, and honey. Money was not needed or used by anyone - everything was trade and barter.
The people were generous and brave. Their pleasures and pastimes were those usual in frontier settlements. They were hardy, and well versed in woodcraft. They aided each other, and were all in all a noble class of people, possessing many virtues and few faults. The girls were educated by their mothers to work, and had to work. It was then a disgrace for a young woman not to know how to take the raw material - the flax and cotton - and, unaided, manufacture her own clothing. It is a lamentable fact that such is no longer the case.
CHAPTER II - LEE BEGINS A CAREER
I formed a liking for Emily Conner. Emily was an orphan, and lived about four years at my aunt Charlotte's after her mother died, and until her father married again. She had a consoling word for me at all times when I was in trouble. From being friends, we became lovers and were engaged to be married, when my circumstances would permit. That winter I went to a school for three months.
Early in the spring the Indian war known as the Black Hawk war broke out, and volunteers were called for. I enrolled myself at the first call, in the company of Capt. Jacob Feaman, of Kaskaskia. The company was ordered to rendezvous at Fort Armstrong, Rock Island, where the troops were reorganized, and Capt. Feaman was promoted to colonel, and James Conner became captain of the company. I served until the end of the war, and was engaged in many skirmishes, and lastly was at the battle of Bad Axe, which I think took place on the 4th day of August, A. D. 1831, but am not certain as to the date.
The soldiers were allowed to go home about the 1st of September, 1831. Our company got to Kaskaskia, and were discharged, I think, on the 1st of September, 1831. I got back with a broken-down horse and worn-out clothing, and without money. I concluded to seek a more genial clime, one where I could more rapidly better my financial condition. I went to see and talk with Emily, the friend of my childhood, and the girl that taught me first to love. I informed her of my intentions. We pledged mutual and lasting fidelity to each other, and I bid her farewell and went to St. Louis to seek employment.
When I landed on the wharf at St. Louis I met a negro by the name of Barton, who had formerly been a slave to my mother. He informed me that he was a fireman on the steamboat Warrior, running the upper Mississippi, between St. Louis, Missouri, and Galena, Illinois. I told him I wanted work. He said he could get me a berth on the Warrior as fireman, at twenty-five dollars a month; but he considered the work more than I could endure, as it was a hard, hot boat to fire on. I insisted on making the effort, and was employed as fireman on the Warrior at twenty-five dollars per month. I found the work very hard. The first two or three times that I was on watch I feared I would be forced to give it up; but my spirit bore me up, and I managed to do my work until we reached the lower rapids near Keokuk. At this place the Warrior transferred its freight, in light boats, over the rapids to the Henry Clay, a steamer belonging to the same line.
The Henry Clay then lay at Commerce, now known as Nauvoo. I was detailed with two others to take a skiff with four passengers over the rapids. The passengers were Mrs. Bogges and her mother, and a lady whose name I have forgotten, and Mr. Bogges. The distance to the Henry Clay from where the Warrior lay was twelve miles. A large portion of the cargo of the Warrior belonged to the firm of Bogges & Co. When we had gone nearly halfway over the rapids my two assistants got drunk and could no longer assist me; they lay down in the skiff and went to sleep. Night was fast approaching, and there was no chance for sleep or refreshment, until we could reach Commerce or the Henry Clay. The whole labor fell on me, to take that skiff and its load of passengers to the steamer. Much of the distance I had to wade in the water and push the skiff, as was most convenient. I had on a pair of new calfskin boots when we started, but they were cut off my feet by the rocks in the river long before we reached the end of the journey.
After a deal of hardship I succeeded in getting my passengers to the steamer just as it became dark. I was wet, cold, hungry, and nearly exhausted. I sat down by the engine in my wet clothing and soon fell asleep, without bedding or food. I slept from exhaustion until near midnight, when I was seized with fearful crampings, accompanied by a cold and deathlike numbness. I tried to rise up, but could not. I thought my time had come, and that I would perish without aid or assistance.
When all hope had left me I heard a footstep approaching, and a man came and bent over me and asked if I was ill. I recognized the voice as that of Mr. Bogges. I said I was in the agonies of death, and a stranger without a friend on the boat. He felt my pulse, and hastened away, saying as he left me:
"Do not despair, young man, you are not without friends. I will return at once."
He soon returned, bringing a lantern and a bottle of cholera medicine, and gave me a large dose of the medicine; then he brought the captain and others to me. I was soon comfortably placed in bed, and from that time I had every attention paid me, and all the medical care that was necessary. Mr. Bogges told me that he had supposed I was one of the regular crew of the Henry Clay, and was among friends; that his wife had noticed that I appeared to be a stranger, and had seen me when I sat down by the engine alone; that after they retired his wife was restless and insisted on his getting up and finding me; this was the occasion of his assistance coming as it did.
Mr. Bogges had contracted for freighting his goods to Galena, where he resided; and had provided for the passage of himself, wife, and mother-in-law. They would go by land from Commerce, as he dreaded the passage of the upper rapids in time of low water, as it then was.
After finishing the loading of the steamer I began to fire up to get ready for a start. While so engaged, Mr. Bogges came to me, and offered to employ me. He asked me then what wages I was getting. I told him twenty-five dollars.
"I will give you fifty dollars," said he.
We reached Galena in safety, and health. Now a new life commenced. Mr. Bogges introduced me to John D. Mulligan, his partner. I at once commenced my duties as bar-tender at the store. The business was such that I found it more than play. Many a time I did not get rest or sleep for forty-eight hours at a time. I have frequently taken in one hundred dollars in twenty- four hours for drinks, at five cents a drink. I paid attention to business, making the interest of my employers my interest. On account of my faithful services I was permitted to prepare hot lunches during the night, to sell to gamblers. What I made was my own. In this way I made from fifty to one hundred dollars a month extra.
One day while I was absent from the store a French half-breed, by the name of Shaunce got on a drunken spree and cleared out the store and saloon. Hearing the disturbance I ran to the store. I entered by the back door and went behind the counter. As I did so Shaunce ran to the counter and grabbed a large number of tumblers, and threw them about the house, breaking them all.
"Shaunce, you must either behave, or go out of the house," I said.
He jumped over the counter, caught me by the throat, and shoved me back against the counter, saying:
"You little dog, how dare you insult me!"
There was no time to swap knives. I must either receive a beating or do something to prevent it. I remembered the advice that my uncle Conner had given me about fighting.
"John, if you ever get in a fight with a man that overmatches you, take one of his hands in both of yours, and let him strike as he may, but get one of his fingers in your mouth and then bite it, and hold on until he gives up," he had said.
Acting on this advice, I succeeded in getting one of Shaunce's thumbs in my mouth. I held to it until I dislocated the thumb joint, when he yelled:
"Take him off!"
This little affair made a quiet man of Shaunce, and my employers were more pleased with me than ever before. They made me a present of fifty dollars for what I had done.
While with Bogges & Co. I made money, and was saving of what I earned. I did not gamble. I took good care of myself, and, having the respect of every person, I admit I was quite vain and proud. I was accused by the gamblers of being stingy with my money. So I thought I would do as others did, and commenced to give money to others as a stake to gamble with on shares. Soon I began to play. I won and lost, but did not play to any great extent. Mr. Bogges took me to task for gambling. He also showed me many of the tricks of the gamblers, and I promised him to quit the practice as soon as I got married.
In the early part of 1832 I received an affectionate letter from my Emily, desiring me to return to her, and settle down before I had acquired a desire for a rambling life. I then had five hundred dollars in money and two suits of broadcloth clothing. I was anxious to see Emily, so I settled up with Bogges & Co. and started for home. Emily was then living at her sister's house in Prairie de Roache; her brother-in-law, Thomas Blay, kept the tavern there. I boarded with them about two weeks, during which time I played cards with the Frenchman, and dealt "vantune," or twenty-one, for them to bet at. I was lucky, but I lived fast, and spent my money freely, and soon found that half of it was gone.
Emily was dissatisfied with my conduct. I proposed immediate marriage; Emily proposed to wait until the next fall, during which time we were to prepare for housekeeping. She wished to see if I would reform, for she had serious doubts about the propriety of marrying a gambler. She asked me to quit gambling, and if I had made that promise all would have been well, but I was stubborn and proud and refused to make any promise. I thought it was beneath my dignity. I really intended to never gamble after my wedding, but I would not tell her so; my vanity overruled my judgment. I said that if she had not confidence enough in me to take me as I was, without requiring me to give such a promise, I would never see her again until I came to ask her to my wedding.
This was cruel, and deeply wounded Emily; she burst into tears and turned from me. I never saw her again until I went to ask her to attend my wedding. I went up into the country and stopped with my cousins. While there I met the bride of my youth; she was the daughter of Joseph Woolsey and Abigail, his wife. I attended church, went to parties and picnics, and fell in love with Agathe Ann, the eldest girl. The old folks were op- posed to my marrying their daughter, but after suffering the tortures and overcoming the obstacles usual in such cases, I obtained the consent of the girl's parents, and was married to Agathe Ann Woolsey on the 24th day of July, A. D. 1833.
The expenses of the wedding ended all my money, and I was ready to start the world new and fresh. I had about fifty dollars to procure things to keep house on, but it was soon gone; yet it procured, about all we then thought we needed. I commenced housekeeping near my wife's father's, and had good success in all that I undertook. I made money, or rather I obtained considerable property, and was soon comfortably fixed.
CHAPTER III - LEE BECOMES A MORMON
After I moved to Luck Creek I was a fortunate man and accumulated property very fast. I look back to those days with pleasure. I had a large house and I gave permission to all sorts of people to come there and preach. Methodists, Baptists, Campbellites, and Mormons all preached there when they desired to do so.
In 1837 a man by the name of King, from Indiana, passed by, or came to my place, on his way to Missouri to join the Mormons. He had been a New Light, or Campbellite preacher. I invited him to stay at my place until the next spring. I gave him provisions for his family, and he consented to and did stay with me some time.
Soon after that there was a Methodist meeting at my house. After the Methodist services were through I invited King to speak. He talked about half an hour on the first principles of the gospel as taught by Christ and his apostles, denouncing all other doctrines as spurious. This put an end to other denominations preaching in my house.
That was the first sermon I ever heard concerning Mormonism. The winter before, two elders, Durphy and Peter Dustan, stayed a few days with Hanford Stewart, a cousin of Levi Stewart, the bishop of Kanab. They preached in the neighborhood, but I did not attend or hear them preach. My wife and her mother went to hear them, and were much pleased with their doctrine. I was not a member of any Church, and considered the religion of the day as merely the opinions of men who preached for hire and worldly gain. I believed in God and in Christ, but I did not see any denomination that taught the apostolic doctrine as set forth in the New Testament. I read in the New Testament where the apostle Paul recommended his people to prove all things, then hold fast to that which is good; also that he taught that though an angel from heaven should preach any other gospel than this which ye have received, let him be accursed. This forbid me believing any doctrine that differed from that taught by Christ and his apostles. I wanted to belong to the true Church, or none.
When King began to preach at my house I noticed that every other denomination opposed him. I was surprised at this. I could not see how he could injure them if they were right. I had been brought up as a strict Catholic. I was taught to look upon all sects, except the Catholic, with disfavor, and my opinion was that the Mormons and all others were apostates from the true Church; that the Mormon Church was made up of the off-scourings of hell, or of apostates from the true Church. I then had not the most distant idea that the Mormons believed in the Old and New Testaments. I was astonished to hear King prove his religion from the Scriptures. I reflected. I determined, as every honest man should do, to fairly investigate his doctrines, and to do so with a prayerful heart.
The more I studied the question, the more interested I became. I talked of the doctrine to nearly every man I met. The excitement soon became general, and King was invited to preach in many places.
In the meantime Levi Stewart, one of my near neighbors, became interested in this religion, and went to Far West, Missouri, to investigate the question of Mormonism at headquarters. He joined the Church there, and when he returned he brought with him the Book of Mormon and a monthly periodical called the Elder's Journal.
By this time my anxiety was very great, and I determined to fathom the question to the bottom. My frequent conversations with Elder King served to carry me on to a conviction that the dispensation of the fullness of time would soon usher in upon the world. If such was the case I wished to know it; for the salvation of my never-dying soul was of far more importance to me than all other earthly considerations. I regarded the heavenly boon of eternal life as a treasure of great price. I left off my frivolity and commenced to lead a moral life. I began trying to lay up treasure in heaven, in my Father's rich storehouse, and wished to become an heir of righteousness, to inherit in common with the faithful children the rich legacy of our Father's Kingdom.
During that year our child, Elizabeth Adaline, died of scarlet fever. The night she lay a corpse I finished reading the Book of Mormon. I never closed my eyes in sleep from the time I commenced until I finished the book. I read it after asking God to give me knowledge to know if it was genuine and of Divine authority. By careful examination I found that it was in strict accord with the Bible and the gospel therein contained; that it purported to have been given to another people, who then lived on this continent, as the Old and New Testaments had been given to the Israelites in Asia. I also found many passages in the Bible in support of the forthcoming of such a work, preparatory to the gathering of the remnant of the House of Israel, and the opening glory of the Latter-day work, and the setting up of the Kingdom of God upon the earth for the reception of the Son of Man, and the millennial reign of Christ upon the earth a thousand years; all of which, to me, was of great moment. My whole soul was absorbed in these things.
My neighbor Stewart, who had just returned from Missouri, brought the most cheering and thrilling accounts of the power and manifestations of the Holy Spirit working with that people; that the spiritual gifts of the true believers in Christ were enjoyed by all who lived faithfully and sought them; that there was no deception about it; that everyone had a testimony for himself, and was not dependent upon another; that they had the gift of tongues, the interpretation of those tongues, the power of healing the sick by the laying on of hands, prophesying, casting out devils and evil spirits. All of which he declared, with words of soberness, to be true.
Stewart had been my playmate and my companion in former years. His word had great influence on me, and strengthened my conviction that the Book of Mormon was true - that it was a star opening the dispensation of the fullness of time. I believed the Book of Mormon was true, and, if so, everything but my soul's salvation was a matter of secondary consideration to me. I had a small fortune, a nice home, kind neighbors, and numerous friends, but nothing could shake the determination I then formed to break up, sell out, and leave Illinois and go to the Saints at Far West, Missouri.
My friends used every known argument to change my determination, but these words came into my mind, "First seek the righteousness of the Kingdom of God, then all things necessary will be added unto you "; and again, "What would it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" or, "What could a man gain in exchange for his soul?" I was here brought to the test, and my action was to decide on which I placed the most value - my earthly possessions and enjoyments or my reward in future, the salvation of my never-dying soul. I took up my cross and chose the latter. I sold out and moved to Far West. I took leave of my friends and made my way to where the Saints had gathered in Zion. Our journey was one full of events interesting to us, but not of sufficient importance to relate to the public. While on the journey I sold most of my cattle on time to an old man, a friend of Stewart's - took his notes, and let him keep them, which, as the sequel shows, was fortunate for me.
We arrived at Far West, the then headquarters of the Mormon Church, about the 4th day of June, 1838. The country around there for some fifteen or twenty miles, each way, was settled by Mormons. I do not think any others lived within that distance. The Mormons who had been driven from Jackson, Ray, and Clay counties, in 1833, settled in Caldwell and Daviess counties.
The night after our arrival at Far West there was a meeting to be held there. Stewart said to me:
"Let us go up and hear them speak with new tongues and interpret the same, and enjoy the gifts of the gospel generally, for this is to be a prayer and testimony meeting."
"I want no signs," I said. "I believe the gospel they preach on principle and reason, not upon signs - its consistency is all I ask. All I want are natural, logical, and reasonable arguments, to make up my mind from."
The Sunday after, I attended church in Far West Hall. The hall was crowded with people, so much so that I, with others, could not gain admittance to the building. I obtained standing room in one of the windows. I saw a man enter the house without uncovering his head. The Prophet ordered the Brother of Gideon to put that man out, for his presumption in daring to enter and stand in the house of God without uncovering his head. This looked to me like drawing the lines pretty snug and close; however, I knew but little of the etiquette of high life, and much less about that of the Kingdom of Heaven. I looked upon Joseph Smith as a prophet of God - as one who held the keys of this last dispensation, and I hardly knew what to think about the violent manner in which the man was treated who had entered the house of God without taking his hat off. But this did not lessen my faith; it served to confirm it. I was fearful that I might in some way unintentionally offend the great and good man who stood as God's prophet on the earth to point out the way of salvation.
We remained at the house of Elder Joseph Hunt, in Far West, several days. He was then a strong Mormon, and was afterwards first captain in the Mormon Battalion. He, as an elder in the Church, was a preacher of the gospel; all of his family were firm in the faith.
Elder Hunt preached to me the necessity of humility and a strict obedience to the gospel requirements through the servants of God. He informed me that the apostles and elders were our true teachers, and it was our duty to hear, learn, and obey; that the spirit of God was very fine and delicate, and was easily grieved and driven from us: that the more humble we were, the more of the Holy Spirit we would enjoy.
After staying in Far West about a week we moved about twenty miles, and settled on a stream called Marrowbone, at a place called afterwards Ambrosia. Sunday, June 17, 1838, I attended meeting. Samuel H. Smith, a brother of the Prophet, and Elder Daniel Cathcart preached. After meeting I and my wife were baptized by Elder Cathcart, in Ambrosia, on Shady Grove Creek, in Daviess County, Missouri. I was now a member of the Church, and expected to live in strict obedience to the requirements of the holy priesthood that ruled, governed, and controlled it. I must do this in order to advance in the scale of intelligence unto thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, and through faithfulness and fidelity to the cause receive eternal increase in the mansions that would be prepared for me in my Father's kingdom.
Neighbor Stewart and myself each selected a place on the same stream, and near where his three brothers, Riley, Jackson, and Urban, lived. On my location there was a spring of pure, cold water; also a small lake fed by springs. This lake was full of fish, such as perch, bass, pickerel, mullet, and catfish. It was surrounded by a grove of heavy timber, mostly hickory and oak. We could have fish sufficient for use every day in the year if we desired.
My home on Ambrosia Creek reminded me of the one I had left on Luck Creek, Illinois; but it was on more rolling land, and much healthier than the Illinois home had proven to us. I knew I could soon replace, by labor, all the comfort I had abandoned when I started to seek my salvation. I felt that I had greatly benefitted my condition by seeking first the Kingdom of Heaven and its righteousness; all else, I felt, would be added unto me. But still I knew I must be frugal, industrious, and use much care. I improved my farm as rapidly as I could, and was soon so fixed that we were very comfortably established.
Meetings were held three times a week; also prayer and testimony meetings - at the latter sacrament was administered. In these meetings, as well as in everything I was called upon to do, I tried hard to give satisfaction. I was a devout follower from the first. Whatever duty was assigned me I tried to discharge with a willing heart and ready hand. This disposition, on my part, coupled with my views of duty, my promptness and punctuality, soon brought me to the notice of the leading men of the Church.
The motives of the people who composed my neighborhood were pure; they were all sincere in their devotions, and tried to square their actions through life by the golden rule - "Do unto others as you would they should do unto you." The word of a Mormon was then good for all it was pledged to or for. I was proud to associate with such an honorable people.
Twenty miles northeast of my home was the settlement of Adam-on- Diamond. It was on the east bank of Grand River, near the Three Forks. Lyman White, one of the twelve apostles, was president of that Stake of Zion. In July, 1838, Levi Stewart and myself concluded to visit the settlement of Adam-on-Diamond. We remained over night at the house of Judge Mourning. He was a Democrat. He told us that at the approaching election the Whigs were going to cast their votes, at the outside precincts, early in the day, and then rush in force to the town of Gallatin, the county seat of Daviess County, and prevent the Mormons from voting. The Judge requested us to inform our people of the facts in the case, and for us to see that the Mormons went to the polls in force, prepared to resist and overcome all violence that might be offered. He said the Whigs had no right to deprive the Mormons of their right of suffrage, who had a right to cast their votes as free and independent Americans.
The two political parties were about equally divided in Daviess County. The Mormons held the balance of power, and could turn the scale whichever way they desired. I had heard of Judge Mourning as a sharp political worker, and I then thought he was trying to carry out an electioneering job for his party.
We visited our friends at Adam-on-Diamond, and returned home. While on this trip I formed the acquaintance of Solomon McBrier, and purchased some cattle from him. He wished to sell me quite a number, but as I did not want to be involved in debt I refused to take them. I had a perfect horror of debt, for I knew that when a man was in debt he was in nearly every respect a slave, and that if I got in debt it would worry me and keep my mind from that quiet repose so necessary for contemplating the beauties of nature and communing with the Spirit regarding holy subjects.
Just before the election of August, 1838, a general notice was given for all the brethren of Daviess County to meet at Adam-on- Diamond. Every man obeyed the call. At that meeting the males over eighteen years of age were organized into a military body, according to the law of the Priesthood, and called The Host of Israel. The first rank was a captain with ten men under him; next was a captain of fifty - that is, he had five companies of ten; next, the captain of a hundred, or of ten captains and companies of ten. The entire male membership of the Mormon Church was then organized in the same way.
This, as I was informed, was the first organization of the military force of the Church. It was so organized by command of God, as revealed through the Lord's prophet, Joseph Smith. God commanded Joseph Smith to place the Host of Israel in a situation for defense against the enemies of God and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
At the same Conference another organization was formed - it was called the Danites. The members of this order were placed under the most sacred obligations that language could invent. They were sworn to stand by and sustain each other; to sustain, protect, defend, and obey the leaders of the Church, under any and all circumstances unto death; and to disobey the orders of the leaders of the Church, or divulge the name of a Danite to an outsider, or to make public any of the secrets of the order of Danites, was to be punished with death. And I can say of a truth, many have paid the penalty for failing to keep their covenants.
They had signs and tokens for use and protection. The token of recognition was such that it could be readily understood, and it served as a token of distress by which they could know each other from their enemies, although they were entire strangers to each other. When the sign was given it must be responded to and obeyed, even at the risk or certainty of death. The Danite that would refuse to respect the token, and comply with all its requirements, was stamped with dishonor, infamy, shame, disgrace, and his fate for cowardice and treachery was death.
This sign or token of distress is made by placing the right hand on the right side of the face, with the points of the fingers upward, shoving the hand upward until the ear is snug between the thumb and forefinger. I here pause, and ask myself the question:
"Am I justified in making the above statement?"
Those who think I am not should wait until they read the whole story. It is my purpose and intention to free my mind and bring to light some of the secret workings of the Priesthood.
To return to the election at Gallatin: The brethren all attended the election. All things seemed to pass off quietly, until some of the Mormons went up to the polls to vote. I was then lying on the grass with McBrier and a number of others.
As the Mormons were going to the polls a drunken brute by the name of Richard Weldorp stepped up to a little Mormon preacher by the name of Brown and said:
"Are you a Mormon preacher?"
"Yes, sir, I am."
"Do you Mormons believe in healing the sick by laying on of hands, speaking in tongues, and casting out devils?"
"We do," said Brown.
Weldon then said, "You are a liar. Joseph Smith is an impostor."
With this, he attacked Brown, and beat him severely. Brown did not resent it, but tried to reason with him; but without effect.
At this time a Mormon by the name of Hyrum Nelson attempted to pull Weldon off Brown, when he was struck by half a dozen men on the head, shoulders, and face. He was soon forced to the ground. Just then Riley Stewart struck Weldon across the back of the head with a billet of oak lumber and broke his skull. Weldon fell on me, and appeared lifeless. The blood flowed freely from the wound. Immediately the fight became general.
Gallatin was a new town, with about ten houses, three of which were saloons. The town was on the bank of Grand River, and heavy timber came near the town, which stood in a little arm of the prairie. Close to the polls there was a lot of oak timber which had been brought there to be riven into shakes or shingles, leaving the heart, taken from each shingle-block, lying there on the ground. These hearts were three square, four feet long, weighed about seven pounds, and made a very dangerous, yet handy weapon; and when used by an enraged man they were truly a class of instrument to be dreaded.
When Stewart fell the Mormons sprang to the pile of oak hearts, and each man, taking one for use, rushed into the crowd. The Mormons were yelling:
"Save him!" and the settlers yelled:
The sign of distress was given by the Danites, and all rushed forward, determined to save Stewart, or die with him. One of the mob stabbed Stewart in the shoulder. He rose and ran, trying to escape, but was again surrounded and attacked by a large number of foes.
The Danite sign of distress was again given by John L. Butler, one of the captains of the Host of Israel. Butler was a brave, true man, and a leader that it was a pleasure to follow where duty called. Seeing the sign, I sprang to my feet and armed myself with one of the oak sticks. I did this because I was a Danite, and my oaths that I had taken required immediate action on my part in support of the one giving the sign. I ran into the crowd.
As I reached it I saw Nelson fighting for life. He was surrounded by a large number who were seeking to murder him; but he had a loaded whip, the lash wrapped around his hand, using the handle, which was loaded with several pounds of lead, as a weapon of defense. He was using it with effect, for he had men piled around him in all shapes.
As I approached a man sprang to his feet. He had just been knocked down by Nelson. As the man was rising Nelson gave him a blow across the loins with the handle of his whip, which had the effect of straightening out the villain on the grass and rendered him an inoffensive spectator during the remainder of the play.
Capt. Butler was then a stranger to me, and until I saw him give the Danite sign of distress I believed him to be one of the Missouri ruffians who were our enemies. In this contest I came near committing a serious mistake. I had raised my club to strike a man, when a Missourian rushed at him and struck him with a loaded whip, and called him a cursed Mormon. The man then gave the sign, and I knew how to act.
Capt. Butler was attacked from all sides, but being a powerful man he used his oak club with effect and knocked a man down at each blow that he struck, and each man that felt the weight of his weapon was out of the fight for that day at least. Many of those that he came in contact with had to be carried from the field for surgical aid. In the battle, which was spirited, but short in duration, nine men had their skulls broken, and many others were seriously injured in other ways. The severe treatment of the mob by the Danites soon ended the battle.
Three hundred men were present at this difficulty, only thirty of whom were Mormons, and only eight Mormons took part in the fight. I was an entire stranger to all who were engaged in the affray, except Stewart, but I had seen the sign, and, like Samson when loaning against the pillar, I felt the power of God nerve my arm for the fray. It helps a man a great deal in a fight to know that God is on his side.
After the violence had ceased Capt. Butler called the Mormons to him, and as he stood on a pile of building timber he made a speech to the brethren. He said that his ancestors had served in the War of the Revolution to establish a free and independent government - one in which all men had equal rights and privileges; that he professed to be half white and free born, and claimed a right to enjoy his constitutional privileges, and would have his rights as a citizen, if he had to fight for them; that as to his religion, it was a matter between his God and himself, and no man's business; that he would vote, and would die before he would be driven from the polls.
Several of the Gentile leaders then requested us to lay down our clubs and go and vote. This Capt. Butler refused, saying:
"We will not molest anyone who lets us alone, but we will not risk ourselves again in that crowd without our clubs."
The result was the Mormons all voted. It is surprising what a few resolute men can do when united.
It may be well for purposes of explanation to refer back to the celebration of the Declaration of Independence on the 4th of July, 1838, at Far West. That day Joseph Smith made known to the people the substance of a Revelation he had received from God. It was to the effect that all the Saints throughout the land were required to sell their possessions, gather all their money together, and send an agent to buy up all the land in the region round about Far West, and get a patent for the land from the Government, then deed it over to the Church; then every man should come up there to the land of their promised inheritance and consecrate what he had to the Lord.
In return the Prophet would set apart a tract of land for each Saint - the amount to correspond with the number of the Saint's family - and this land should be for each Saint an everlasting inheritance. In this way the people could, in time, redeem Zion (Jackson County) without the shedding of blood. It was also revealed that unless this was done, in accordance with God's demand, as required by Him in the Revelation then given to the people through his Prophet, Joseph Smith, the Saints would be driven from State to State, from city to city, from one abiding place to another, until the members would die and waste away, leaving but a remnant of the Saints to return and receive their inheritance in Zion (Jackson County) in the last days.
Sidney Rigdon was then the mouthpiece of Joseph Smith, as Aaron was of Moses in olden times. Rigdon told the Saints that day that if they did not come up as true Saints and consecrate their property to the Lord, by laying it down at the feet of the apostles, they would in a short time be compelled to consecrate and yield it up to the Gentiles; that if the Saints would be united as one man, in this consecration of their entire wealth to the God of Heaven, by giving it up to the control of the Apostolic Priesthood, then there would be no further danger to the Saints; they would no more be driven from their homes on account of their faith and holy works, for the Lord had revealed to Joseph Smith that He would then fight the battles of His children, and save them from all their enemies; that the Mormon people would never be accepted as the children of God unless they were united as one man, in temporal as well as spiritual affairs, for Jesus had said unless ye are one, ye are not Mine; that oneness must exist to make the Saints the accepted children of God; that if the Saints would yield obedience to the commands of the Lord all would be well, for the Lord had confirmed these promises by a Revelation which He had given to Joseph Smith, in which it was said:
"I, the Lord, will fight the battles of my people, and if your enemies shall come up against you, spare them, and if they shall come up against you again, then shall ye spare them also; oven unto the third time shall ye spare them; but if they come up against you the fourth time, I, the Lord, will deliver them into your hands, to do with them as seemeth good unto you; but if you then spare them it shall be accounted unto you for righteousness."
The words of the apostle, and the promises of God, as then revealed to me, made a deep impression on my mind, as it did upon all who heard the same. We that had given up all else for the sake of the gospel felt willing to do anything on earth that it was possible to do to obtain the protection of God, and have and receive His smile of approbation. Those who, like me, had full faith in the teachings of God, as revealed by Joseph Smith, His Prophet, were willing to comply with every order, and to obey every wish of the Priesthood.
The majority of the people, however, felt like Ananias and Sapphira - they dare not trust all to God and His Prophet. They felt that their money was as safe in their own possession as it was when held by the Church authorities. A vote of the people was had to determine - the question whether they would consecrate their wealth to the Church, or not. The vote was taken and was unanimous for the consecration. I soon found out that the people had voted as I have often known them to do in Mormon meetings since then; they vote to please the Priesthood, then act to suit themselves. I never thought that was right or honest; men should vote their sentiments, but they do not at all times do so. I have been the victim of such hypocrites.
The vote, as I said, was taken. It was done by a show of hands, but not a show of hearts. By the readiness with which all hands went up in favor of consecration it was declared that the people were of a truth God's children, and, as such, would be protected by Him. The Prophet and all his Priesthood were jubilant, and could hardly contain themselves; they were so happy to see the people such dutiful Saints.
Sidney Rigdon on that day delivered an oration, in which he said the Mormons were, as a people, loyal to the Government, obedient to the laws, and as such they were entitled to the protection of the Government in common with all other denominations, and were justified in claiming as full protection, in their religious matters, as the people of any other sect; that the Mormons had suffered from mob rule and violence, but would no longer submit to the mob or unjust treatment that had so long followed them. Now and forevermore would they meet force with force.
"We have been driven from Kirkland," said he; "from Jackson County, the true Zion; and now we will maintain our rights, defend our homes, our wives and children, and our property from mob rule and violence. If the Saints are again attacked, we will carry on a war of extermination against our enemies, even to their homes and firesides, until we despoil those who have despoiled us, and give no quarter until our enemies are wasted away. We will unfurl to the breeze the flag of our nation, and under that banner of freedom we will maintain our rights, or die in the attempt."
At the end of each sentence Rigdon was loudly cheered; and when he closed his oration I believed the Mormons could successfully resist the world. But this feeling of confidence faded away as soon as a second thought entered my mind. I then feared that the days of liberty for our people had been numbered. First, I feared the people would not give up all their worldly possessions, to be disposed of by and at the will and pleasure of three men. In the second place, I doubted the people being so fully regenerated as to entitle them to the full and unconditional support and favor of God that had been promised through the Revelation to Joseph Smith, in favor of the Latter-day Saints. I knew that God was able and willing to do all He had promised, but I feared that the people still loved worldly pleasures so well that God's mercy would be rejected by them, and all would be lost.
About three days after the proclamation of Rigdon had been made there was a storm of rain, during which the thunder and lightnings were constant and terrible. The liberty pole in the town was struck by lightning and shivered to atoms. This evidence from the God of nature also convinced me that the Mormon people's liberties, in that section of the country, were not to be of long duration.
CHAPTER IV - THE SAINTS BESET WITH TROUBLES
The Saints did not consecrate their possessions as they had so recently voted they would do; they began to reflect, and the final determination was that they could manage their worldly effects better than any one of the apostles; in fact, better than the Prophet and the Priesthood combined. Individual Saints entered large tracts of land in their own names, and thereby secured all of the most desirable land round about Far West. These landed proprietors became the worst kind of extortionists, and forced the poor Saints to pay them large advances for every acre of land that was settled, and nothing could be called free from the control of the money power of the rich and headstrong Mormons who had defied the revelations and wishes of God.
So things went from bad to worse, until the August election at Gallatin referred to. The troubles of that day brought the Church and Saints to a standstill; business was paralyzed; alarm seized the stoutest hearts, and dismay was visible in every countenance. The Prophet issued an order to gather all the people at Far West and Adam-on-Diamond, under the leadership of Col. Lyman White, for the purpose of protecting the people from mob violence, and to save their property from lawless thieves who were roaming the country in armed bands.
The Gentiles and Mormons hastened to the executive of the State. The Gentiles asked for a military force to protect the settlers from Mormon violence. The Mormons requested, an investigating committee to inquire into the whole subject and suggest means necessary for future safety to each party. Also they demanded military protection from the mobs and outlaws that infested the country.
The Governor sent troops to keep order. They were stationed about midway between Far West and Adam-on-Diamond. A committee was also appointed and sent to Gallatin to inquire into the recent disturbances. This committee had full power to send for witnesses, make arrests of persons accused of crime, and generally to do all things necessary for a full and complete investigation of the entire affair.
Many arrests were made at the request of the committee. The persons so arrested were taken before Justice Black, of Daviess County, and examined; witnesses were examined for both parties, and much hard and false swearing was done on both sides. After a long and fruitless examination the committee adjourned, leaving the military to look after matters until something would turn up to change the feeling of danger then existing. It was thought by the committee that all would soon become quiet and peace would be restored.
The Gentiles of the country were dissatisfied with the action of the committee and in no way disposed to accept peace on any terms; they determined that, come what would, the Mormons should be driven from the State of Missouri. Letters were written by the Gentiles around Far West to all parts of the State, and elsewhere, giving the most fearful accounts of Mormon atrocities. Some of the writers said it was useless to send less than three or four men for each Mormon, because the Mormons felt sure of heaven if they fell fighting, hence they did not fear death; that they fought with the desperation of devils.
Such reports spread like wildfire throughout northern Missouri, and thence all over the States of the Mississippi Valley, and resulted in creating a feeling of the most intense hatred in the breasts of all the Gentiles against the Mormons. Companies of volunteers were raised and armed in every town throughout northern Missouri, and commenced concentrating in the vicinity of the Mormon settlements. The troops sent by the Governor to guard the settlers and preserve order soon took part with the mob, and all show for legal protection was gone, so far as Mormons were concerned. I had built a cabin in the valley of Adam-on-Diamond, at the point where the Prophet said Adam blessed his posterity after being driven from the Garden of Eden.
The condition of the country being such that we could not labor on our farms, I concluded to go and hunt for wild honey. Several of my neighbors were to join me in my bee hunt, and we started with our teams, and traveled northeasterly until we reached the heavy timber at the three forks of Grand River. We camped on the middle fork of Grand River, and had fine success in securing honey.
We had been out at camp only two or three days when we discovered signs of armed men rushing through the country. On the 3d of October, 1838, we saw a large number of men that we knew were enemies to the Mormons on their way, as we supposed, to attack our people at the settlements. I concluded to go and meet them, and find out for certain what they were really intending to do. I was forced to act with caution, for, if they discovered that we were Mormons, our lives would be taken by the desperate men composing the mob who called themselves State volunteers. I took my gun and carrying a bucket on my arm started out to meet the people and learn their intentions. I met them just after they had broken camp on Sunday morning.
As soon as I saw them I was certain they were out hunting for Mormons. I concluded to pass myself off as an outsider, the better to learn their history. My plan worked admirably. I stood my ground until a company of eighteen men rode up to me, and said:
"You move early."
"Not so early, gentlemen; I am not moving any sooner than you are. What are you all doing in this part of the country, armed to the teeth as you are? Are you hunting for Indians?"
"No," said they, "but we wish to know where you are from, and what you are doing."
"I am from Illinois; there are four of us who have come out here to look up a good location to settle. We stopped on Marrowbone, and did think of staying there, until the settlers and Mormons got into a row at Gallatin, on election day. After that we concluded to strike out and see what this country looked like. I am now going to cut a bee tree that I found yesterday evening, and I brought my gun along so that if I met an old buck I could secure some venison to eat with my honeycomb."
As I got through they all huddled around me and commenced to relate the horrors of Mormonism. They advised me to have nothing to do with the Mormons, for said they:
"As old Joe Smith votes, so will every Mormon in the country vote, and when they get into a fight they are just the same way; they stick together. When you attack one of the crew you bring every one of them after you like a nest of hornets."
To this I replied that I had heard a little of the fuss at Gallatin, but did not suppose I had got the right of the story, and would be glad if they would tell me just how it was. I should like to learn the facts from an eyewitness. Several of the men spoke up and said they were there and saw it all. They then told the story, and did the Mormons more justice than I expected from them.
They said, among other things, that there was a large rawboned man there who spoke in tongues, and that when the fight commenced he cried:
They then said the Mormons must leave the country.
"If we do not make them do so now, they will be so strong in a few years they will rule the country as they please. Another band of men will come along soon; and they will then go through the Mormon settlements and burn up every house, and lynch every Mormon they find. The militia has been sent to keep order in Daviess County, but will soon be gone, and the work of destroying the Mormons begin."
"If they have done as you say they have, pay them in their own coin," I said.
The company then passed on, and I returned with a heavy heart to my friends. I advised making an immediate start for home, and in a few minutes we were on our way.
While coming up from home we had found four bee trees, that we left standing, intending to cut them down and get the honey as we went back. When we got on the prairie, which was about eight miles across, the men with me wanted to go and get the honey. I was fearful that the people I had met in the morning would attack the settlements, and I wanted to go directly home and let trees and honey alone.
While we were talking the matter over a single blackbird came to us, apparently in great distress. It flew around each one of us, and would alight on the head of each one of our horses, and especially on my horses' heads, and it even came and alighted on my hat, and would squeak as though it was in pain, and turn its feathers up, and acted as if it wished to warn us of danger. Then it flew off towards the settlements where I wished to go.
All admitted that these were strange actions for a bird, but they still insisted on going to cut the bee trees. I was persuaded to go with them. We had gone a quarter of a mile further when the blackbird returned to us and went through the same performance as before, and again flew off toward the settlement.
This was to me a warning to go home at once; that there was danger there to my family. I then proposed that we all join in prayer. We did so, and I prayed to the Author of our existence, and asked that if it was His will for us to go home at once, and if the blackbird had been sent as a warning messenger, to let it return again, and I would follow it. We then traveled on some two miles, when the messenger returned the third time and appeared, if possible, more determined than before to turn us towards home. I turned my team and started, as straight as I could go, for Adam-on-Diamond.
As we passed over the prairie we saw the smoke rising from many farms and houses in the vicinity of where we had left our bee trees. This smoke showed us that our enemies were at work, and that had we kept on in the course we were first intending to travel we would have fallen into the hands of the lawless and lost our lives.
Before we got home the news of the attack upon the settlements had reached there. It was also reported, and we afterwards learned that the report was true, that many of the Mormon settlers had been tied to trees and whipped with hickory withes, some of them being horribly mangled by the mob. This conduct on the part of the Gentiles roused every Mormon to action, and the excitement was very great.
Joseph the Prophet was then sent for. Col. White called together every man and boy that could carry arms. When the forces were assembled Col. White made a war speech. As he spoke he stood by his fine brown horse. There was a bearskin on his saddle. He had a red handkerchief around his head, regular Indian fashion, with the knot in front; he stood bareheaded, in his shirt sleeves, with collar open, showing his naked breast. He held a large cutlass in his right hand. His manner of address struck terror to his enemies, while it charged his brethren with enthusiastic zeal and forced them to believe they were invincible and bullet-proof. We were about three hundred and seventy-five strong. I stood near Col. White while he was speaking, and I judge of its effect upon others by the way it affected me.
While our Colonel was in the midst of his speech the aid-de-camp of the militia colonel came up with a dispatch to Col. White, to the effect that the militia had become mutinous and could no longer be controlled, but were going to join the mob; that the colonel would disband his forces, and would then go and report to the Governor the true condition of the country; that Col. White must take and make use of all the means in his power to protect the people from the mob, for the Government officers were powerless to aid him.
The aid did not deliver his message, for as he rode up close to where Col. White was standing speaking to his men, he stopped and listened a short time; then he wheeled his horse and rode back to the militia camp and reported that Col. White had fifteen thousand men under arms, in battle array, and would be upon their camp in less than two hours; that he was then making a speech to the army, and that it was the most exciting speech he had ever listened to in his life; that he meant war, and of the most fearful kind, and the only safety for their forces was in instant retreat. The soldiers broke camp and left in haste. I cannot say that the colonel commanding the militia was alarmed, or that he fled through fear of being overcome; but it suited him to leave, for he was anxious to prevent a collision between his troops and the men under Col. White.
Joseph, when informed of the danger of the settlers from mob violence, sent Maj. Seymour Brunson, of Far West, with fifty men to protect the settlers who lived on the two forks of the Grand River. Col. White kept his men in readiness for action. A strong guard was posted round the settlement; a point was agreed upon to which place all were to hasten in case of alarm. This point of meeting was east of the town, under the bluffs, on the main road leading from Mill Port to Adam-on-Diamond.
This road ran between the fields and bluff. We expected to be attacked every hour. A few nights afterwards the alarm was given, and every man rushed to the field. When I reached the command I found everything in confusion. The officer in command tried to throw two companies across the road, but the firing was heavy and constant from the opposing forces, who had selected a strong point for the purpose of attack and defense. The flash of the rifles and the ringing reports that echoed through the hills at each discharge of the guns added to the confusion, and soon forced the Mormons to take up their position in the fence corners and elsewhere, so they could be in a measure protected from the bullets of the enemy. Soon there was order in our ranks, and we were prepared to dislodge our opponents or die in the attempt, when two men came at the full speed of their horses, shouting:
"Peace! peace! Cease firing, it is our friends."
Chapman Duncan, the adjutant of Col. White, was the one who shouted peace. We were then informed that the men we had taken for a part of the Gentile mob were no other than the command of Maj. Brunson, who had been out on Three Forks to defend the settlers, and that he had been ordered back to the main body of the Hosts of Israel. They had intended to stop at Mill Port, but finding it deserted they concluded to alarm the troops at Adam- on-Diamond, so as to learn whether they would fight or not. I admit that I was much pleased to learn that danger was over and we were facing friends and not enemies; yet I was mad to think men would impose upon us in that way. The experiment was a dangerous one, and likely to be very serious in its consequences. The other men with me were equally wroth at the insult offered by those who had been so foolish as to question our bravery.