Twelve men went to Elder Turley’s house with loaded rifles intending to shoot him. 18 April 1839

Mobs

“When the Saints commenced removing from Far West, they shipped as many families and as much goods as possible to Richmond, to go down the Missouri River and up the Mississippi to Quincy, Ill… The exodus throughout was managed with consummate wisdom, and in view of all the difficulties in the way, with less suffering than could have been expected. The distance to the point of the Mississippi River where most of the exiles crossed over to Illinois was over two hundred miles in an easterly direction. The weather was cold and the roads generally muddy and bad. Scores of Saints died from exposure and fatigue on that memorable journey. The move was not undertaken in a solid body, and seldom in regularly organized companies, but in small squads–two, three, and from that to a dozen teams and upwards traveled together. Not a single family who wished to go was left behind, as the committee appointed to superintend the removal paid particular attention to all the poor, and furnished them with the necessary teams and provisions to perform the journey.

“While the Saints were making preparations to move away as fast as possible the mob was continually threatening the lives of the members of the committee and others. Thus frequently armed bands of mobbers came into Far West and abused men, women and children, stole horses, drove off cattle, and plundered houses of everything that pleased them… Because of the persecutions, the committee, on the 14th of April, 1839, moved thirty-six families into Tenny’s Grove, about twenty-five miles from Far West, and a few men were appointed to chop wood for them, while Elder Turley was to furnish them with meal and meat, until they could be removed to Quincy. The corn was ground at the committee’s horse mill at Far West.

“On the morning of the 18th Elder Kimball went into the committee room and told the members of the committee who were present to wind up their affairs and be off, or their lives would be taken. Later in the day a number of mobbers met Elder Kimball on the public square in Far West and asked him if he was a d–d ‘Mormon.’ He replied, ‘I am a “Mormon”‘. ‘Well,’ they said, ‘G–d d–n you, we’ll blow your brains out, you G–d d–d Mormon,’ and they tried to ride over him with their horses. This took place in the presence of Elias Smith, Theodore Turley and others of the committee. Almost immediately afterward twelve men went to Elder Turley’s house with loaded rifles intending to shoot him. They broke seventeen clocks into matchwood, broke tables, chairs and looking-glasses, smashed in the windows, etc., while Bogart, the county judge, looked on and laughed. One mobber by the name of Whitaker threw iron pots at Turley, one of which hit him on the shoulder, at which Whitaker jumped and laughed like a mad man. The mob shot down cows while the girls were milking them, and threatened to send the committee ‘to hell jumping,’ and ‘put daylight through them.’

“The brethren gathered up what they could and left Far West in one hour. The mob stayed until they left, and then plundered $1,000 worth of property which had been left by the more well-to-do Saints to help the poor remove. One mobber rode up and finding no convenient place to fasten his horse, shot a cow that was standing near, and while the poor animal was yet struggling in death, he cut a strip of her hide from her nose to the tip of her tail, which he tied around a stump and fastened his halter to it.

“During the commotion of the day, a number of records, accounts, history, etc., belonging to the committee were destroyed or lost, on account of which the history of the Church only contains a few definite dates of the doings of the committee.

“On the 20th of April, 1839, the last of the Saints left Far West. Thus a whole community variously estimated from twelve to fifteen thousand souls, had left, or were about to leave the State of Missouri, where they had experienced so much sorrow, and found a temporary shelter in the State of Illinois, chiefly in Quincy and vicinity and a few in the territory of Iowa on the north.”

Below is the text of the account, as recorded in Andrew Jenson’s The Historical Record, vol. 7 pp. 715-716:1839-4-18 Mobs, TT, iron pot.1

1839-4-18 Mobs, TT, iron pot.jpg

Kimball’s Far West Experiences by Orson F. Whitney,
The Life of Heber C. Kimball
[page 261] …Meanwhile, the mob, not content with the ruin they had wrought, continued to threaten the few Saints who remained in Far West, evidently determined to carry out the order of their chief. Governor Boggs, to “exterminate the Mormons, or drive them from the state.” The main body of the Church, numbering from ten to twelve thousand souls, had already left the state, and were beyond the reach of Missourian mobs, encamped upon the hospitable shores of Illinois. “On the 14th of April, 1839,” continues Heber, “the committee who had been left to look after the wants of the poor, removed thirty-six of the helpless families into Tenney’s [Tinney’s] grove, about twenty-five miles from Far West. I was obliged to secrete myself in the cornfields and woods during the day and only venture out in the evening, to counsel the committee and brethren in private houses.

“On the morning of the 18th, as I was going to the committee room to tell the brethren to wind up their [page 260] affairs and be off, or their lives would be taken, I was met on the public square by several of the mob. One of them asked, with an oath, if I was a Mormon. “I replied, ‘I am a Mormon.’

“With a series of blasphemous expressions, they then threatened to blow my brains out, and also tried to ride over me with their horses, in the presence of Elias Smith, Theodore Turley and others of the committee.

“It was but a few minutes after I had notified the committee to leave, before the mob gathered at the tithing house, and began breaking clocks, chairs, windows, looking-glasses and furniture, and making a complete wreck of everything they could move, while Captain Bogart, the county judge, looked on and laughed. A mobber named Whittaker threw an iron pot at the head of Theodore Turley and hurt him considerably, when Whittaker jumped about and laughed like a madman; and all this at the time when we were using our utmost endeavors to get the Saints away from Far West. The brethren gathered up what they could, and fled from Far West in one hour. The mob stayed until the committee left, and then plundered thousands of dollars worth of property which had been left by the brethren and sisters to assist the poor to remove.

“One mobber rode up, and, finding no convenient place to fasten his horse to, shot a cow that was standing near, while a girl was milking her, and while the poor animal was struggling in death, he cut a strip of her hide from the nose to her tail, to which he fastened his halter.

“During the commotion of this day, a great portion of the records of the committee, accounts, history, etc., were destroyed or stolen.

“Hearing that Joseph and the brethren had escaped from their guard while they were on their way from [page 261] Daviess to Boone County, to which place they had obtained a change of venue, I called upon Shadrach Roundy, with whom I started immediately towards Quincy.

 

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About Ann Laemmlen Lewis

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