Mormon History

First Missouri Mormon War - 1833

The Western Monitor – December 6, 1833

Statement of Rev. Isaac McCoy.

SHAWNEE, Jackson County, Mo.     
November 28, 1833.


Gentlemen. -- I have resided about a year and a half within the Mormon settlements in this country. I have had many of them employed at divers times to labor for us. I have said little to them upon the subject of their peculiar notions of things, temporal and spiritual and I have scarcely if ever mentioned even their names to one of my correspondents. I should perhaps, remain silent upon this subject, had I not been requested to make some statements of the facts which have occurred in the late disturbances with the Mormons, and that this request had emanated from a source which gives it a claim to a respectful notice.

An impression seems to prevail abroad that the Mormons are here persecuted on account of their peculiar notions of religion. This, I think, is entirely a mistake.

In the efforts that have been made to induce them to leave this county, many have called them fools and fanatics, but I never heard that they had been once interrupted in the performance of their religious services, nor that the slightest injury had been done to either their persons or property on account of their religious opinions and practices.

The Mormons, as I suppose from information, came here so ignorant of laws, regulating intercourse with the Indian tribes, that they expected to pass on into the Indian Territory, procure lands of the Indians, aid them in adopting habits of civilization, and attach them to their party. At the western line of Missouri, they were arrested by the proper authorities of government. Frustrated in this design, they located in this county, and procured land, to a small amount only, for so great a number of persons. The village of Independence was by them termed "Zion" in their public prints, and that was the Nucleus of the New Jerusalem. They have repeated, perhaps, hundreds of times, that this country was theirs, the Almighty had given it to them, and that they would assuredly have entire possession of it in a few years. Reports believed by many to be true, for the correctness of which I cannot vouch, says that they repeatedly declared that if the Almighty should not give it to them by any other miracle, it would be done by their sword -- by blood, &c. However erroneous these reports might have been, such sayings, appeared to the people very near akin to so many remarks which were common among them, and unfortunately for the Mormons, these reports were believed to be true, and the effect upon the public mind was accordingly.

By the steam boat Yellow Stone, the cholera was brought into our neighborhood the past summer. It occasioned alarm but did not spread among the inhabitants. On this occasion, one of them, an intimate acquaintance of mine, appeared to be elated with hopes, that the accomplishment, of their predictions was now at hand; that this plague was for the destruction of the wicked, whilst they, the righteous, would escape. The intimations of a similar feeling on the part of many others were too obvious to pass unnoticed.

But the other citizens thought they discovered that the Mormons needed neither pestilence nor sword to accomplish their purpose of getting entire possession of the country. They were introducing a state of society which would evidently become intolerable to others and would rid the country of all who did not belong to their party.

A few of them are men of education sufficient for the transaction of the ordinary business of the country; the principal portion of them are illiterate, uninformed and superstitious. Some of them were suspected to possess malicious and dishonest dispositions while others appeared to have been gathered from among the shiftless and ignorant more or less of whom are to be found in all countries, who live, as the saying is, from hand to mouth, and whose condition in life could hardly be made worse. Such as have arrived here fancied that they were within the rudiments of an imense city; preachers were in various parts of the United States, portraying to this class of people the glories of their "Zion," and exhorting converts to go up thereto, and emigrants came in rapidly. The citizens became confirmed in the belief that, among others they designed to influence such free blacks as had been proselyted to their faith, and whose condition might be such that they would not be prohibited by the laws of Missouri.

They were filling this new country with a people among whom others could not live. In this Mormons gloried, and on account of it others grumbled. The emigration to this country of others than Mormons, decreased, while those who were here apprehended approaching necessity of removing from society in which their children ought to be brought up and in which they could not be suitably educated. Some had considerable possessions, if they should be compelled to leave the Mormons alone would be the purchasers of their property, and consequently at their own price, as they often boasted, would be the case. Matters had not yet reached this state of things but were rapidly approaching it.

Hitherto, the Mormons had been quiet upon the subject of politics, but it was easily perceived that as matters were progressing, at no distant day they would control all county business. It is reasonable to suppose that this consideration operated to widen the breach between them and their opponents.

Under such inducements as these, a meeting of the citizens was called in Independence, to consult on measures to prevent the maturity of the evils of which the people complained. About this time threats were occasionlly made to throw down houses, &c., their printing office, and their store house in Independence were considered most in danger, but the Mormons were not much intimidated; their store they said was the Lord's store-house, and therefore it could not be injured, and if any one should extend his hand to injure the house in which their Revelations, &c. were printed, his hand would immediately wither.

Many of the more reputable citizens took part in this meeting; ardent spirits were forbidden to the company, and the subjects introduced for consideration were dispassionately discussed. They then proceeded to the Printing Office, and razed it to its foundation to the apparent astonishment of many of them who were looking on at a distance, and they put tar and feathers upon two of their leaders.

A second meeting was held, and a compromise made. The Mormons by a committee, agreed to leave the county, part of them by the 1st of January 1834, and the residue by a given time next spring. Some of them were to remain unmolested, and attend to winding up the business of the society; the damage done to the Mormons' property was to be assessed by disinterested persons, and paid by those who had injured it.

For some weeks the conduct and conversation of the Mormons indicated an intention to comply with the terms of the compromise. But again they became silent upon the subject of removal, and as formerly. appeared to be preparing fields with a view of remaining. Not feeling themselves bound by bonds subscribed by them under their peculiar circumstances, they instituted a law suit for damages which had been done their property, and that suit is yet pending.

While the other citizens little apprehended it, the Mormons procured powder and lead and distributed it among them and also guns. In October, threatenings to throw down houses, to whip their leaders, and to apply tar and feathers increased. The Mormons bid defiance with increasing confidence, and threatened retaliation by shooting. About the last of October matters upon both sides grew more and more alarming every moment. About this time they became strongly suspected of secretly tampering with the neighboring Indians, to induce them to aid in the event of open hostility; for myself, I could not resist the belief that they had sought aid from the Indians though I have not ascertained that legal evidence of the fact could be obtained.

It has been stated to me that on Thursday the 31st October, a conspiracy was formed by several Mormons to kill one of the citizens, and that on the night of the following day a party actually approached the dwelling of their victim, who fortunately was absent.

On the night of the 31st, a party threw off roofs, and otherwise damaged some ten or a dozen Mormon cabins, on the West of Blue River; a Mormon leader presented his gun in defence of either himself or property, he was warned of the dreadful consequences which would follow his shooting, and he forbore; he was taken and flogged; two other leaders were treated in the same manner.

On the night of Nov. 1st, Mormon houses in Independence were assailed with bricks, doors and windows were broken, &c.

This party had scarcely completed their designs for that time, when a considerable company of Mormons, armed, entered and for a while patrolled the village.

On the same night a company of armed Mormons, under command of a leader, with a sword by his side, hailed two men as they were passing the road upon lawful business and ordered them to advance and give the countersign. On enquiring for the authority of the party to detain them, one of them was told that he was a dishonest man, upon which he struck the Mormon captain with his gun; the captain then ordered the men to "fire." The party raised their guns a little, but hesitated; another voice cried out "why don't you shoot." They still disobeyed, but they seized the two men and put them in what the party termed their "guard house," and gurded them till morning, when they were let go without injury.

On the night of the 2nd Nov. a company approached a house, about five miles west of Independence, with a view no doubt of injuring it, and as they approached the Mormons fired on them and wounded a young man severely, though not mortally. The party returned the fire without injury to any; the Mormons fled; the party caught one of them and whipped him; but, as I understood, did no further damage.

On the 3d, both parties appeared to be preparing for battle. Notwithstanding a large majority of the citizens within the Mormon settlement desired to be rid of them, there were many who had not countenanced the demolishing of houses, &c. Some of these now felt it to be their duty to endeavour to prevent the further shedding of blood. They therefore used entreaties and offered to mediate between the parties, and to bear messages of peace from one to the other, if it should be desired. One of my neighbors, who was thus entreating with an active Mormon, was answered that they, the Mormons, had resolved to fight while one of them remained alive. My neighbor then appealed to his professions of religion, and reminded him that the Bible forbade such a course as he said they had resolved upon. The Mormon replied that the Israelites had been authorized by the Bible to drive out the Canaanites, and he pleaded a similar privilege for his society.

A place of rendezvous on the 4th Nov. had been appointed by the citizens six miles West of Independence. I supposed that the object of this meeting was to agree upon further measures. In a consultation early in the morning with one of my neighbors, we concluded that the method most likely to suceed in allaying violent feelings on both sides, and thus preventing the effusion of blood, would be to persuade them to have immediate recourse to the law. I communicated this proposed expedient to an influential neighbor, who accompanied me to the place of rendezvous for the purpose of applying it. The matter was explained to a few gentlemen who had influence with the company, who falling in with the plan, encouraged forbearance on the part of the company.

It was pretty late in the day when I left the company; I then distinctly understood that it had been agreed upon by them, not to interrupt either the persons or the property of the Mormons, on that day, or the following night. They agreed to meet again for consultation on the following day, by which time such as were striving to make peace hoped that prosecutions would be so far in progress as to satisfy all to resign their quarrel to the decisions of the court. From this company I went in quest of Mormons; I found only three or four, those I warned of the imminent danger I feared they were in, and entreated them not to use their arms; that they could not possibly repel the superior numbers which would appear against them. I advised that such of them as desired to remain peaceable, would allow me to carry a message to the other party in their behalf, and I persuaded myself that in that way they would be allowed to remain unmolested. I also stated the conclusions on that day, of the party opposed to them, and my hopes that if the Mormons could be induced to manifest a pacific spirit, the whole difficulty might be disposed of without the further shedding of blood. As the more influential Mormons were embodied, I know not where, I could not get access to them. I therefore desired, that intelligence should be given to them, that they all might understand my desire to mediate, and might hear my advice. Unfortunately, the suspicions of the Mormons that I was insincere, rendered these entreaties unavailing; they now came rather too late. I was engaged in these transactions when I was told that the reports of guns had been heard in a direction which a company of Mormons had gone a few hours before, and that a skirmish had likely occured.

After I had left the party, as stated above, and as they were about dispersing, two lads arrived with intelligence that they had been a while detained by the Mormons on the road, that they were armed, and said that none should pass upon the road, &c. The party mounted their horses, and with disorder equal to the rapidity, hastened to the place. A few Mormons were seen, who fled; they took one and compelled him to promise not to take up arms again, and dismissed him without injury.

The party returned to one of the Mormon houses; several women were seen [hastening] away; they were told by many of the party that they need apprehend no danger from them; [they], the company, agreed to disperse, and [severally?] left for their homes in diverse directions, [some] fifteen or twenty perhaps, loitered a little, [then] suddenly they were attacked on two sides [by] the Mormons, the number of whom is [reported] to have been over 40. The Mormons [took?] possession of the ground on their side; six [there] were wounded, one of whom died on the following day. Two of the other party were killed upon the ground, but who did not belong to either party, another who was there at the [time] was taken prisoner by the Mormons, and [detained?] until the following morning, when he [was] let go without injury.

[It] is stated that on the night after the skirmish, several Mormons resolved upon the death [of three] citizens, whom they particularly [se------ed] as persons whom they supposed exerted [hostile?] influence against them

On the same night a party of Mormons, well armed, and apparently not wanting in courage, left the Western Mormon settlement with the design of uniting with others in an attack upon Independence.

On the following morning my anxieties and those of other peaceable persons in the neighborhood, became very great. I was informed, in a way that I was compelled to believe it to be true, that immediately after the battle of the preceding day, Mormons in their mode of expression, had received a command to "rise," and pursue their enemies and kill them whenever they found them. Two Mormons came to my house early, one to ask advice what he should do, the other to entreat me to use my influence with their opposers to forbear the perpetration of cruelties upon them. I informed him that I was then setting out upon that errand, and that through the course of the day I proposed to return and visit the Mormons upon the same business of peace. I then ascertained that the greater part of the Mormons could not be seen by me, and justly conjectured that they were about to make a dreadful blow, and that they would most likely strike on Independence.

It was early on the day of the 5th, that about 150 Mormons, apparently well organized for battle, approached within a mile of Independence. At that time there were perhaps not more than fifty guns in the Village; during the night some of the Militia had been ordered into service. These were coming together constantly, and it is probable that this apparent accumulation of men in arms, was the occasion of a halt of the Mormons for a short time, when they left the public road and turned into a suitable place for defence in the woods. A message of peace was sent to them, and negitiations commenced which did not terminate before three or four o'clock in the afternoon. In the meantime the number of the Militia had so increased as to be about equal to that of the Mormons. The latter surrendered fifty-three guns, the residue it is supposed they conveyed away during the negotiations.

Had they reached Independence an hour sooner, it must in all human probability, have fallen into their hands; and had they marched straight forward into the village as they approached it, without hesitation, I think they would have succeeded in taking it. It is probable that they designed to kill or drive out all the inhabitants, and to destroy the Village. --

Had they succeeded in their design against Independence all the settlements, extending 14 miles Westward would have been placed at their mercy. Intelligence could not have reached the citizens in time for them to have assembled [men] for resistance, and they could have saved themselves in no other way than by flight. Here I must be allowed to exclaim, what an awful catastrophe have we escaped! and how signal, and how merciful was that providence [which] terminated the alarming doings of this day without the shedding of Blood!

On the following day, Nov. 6th, on my way to Independence, I met a company who urged the necessity of taking possession of such arms [as] they were still in possession of, fearing that [in] the present state of feeling, rash measures would be resorted to. I entreated them to await my return when I would [accompany them], to which request I understood them to agree.

A few miles further I met a much larger company going upon the same business. I had too much reason to [believe] that lives would be lost upon that enterprise, unless [something] could be thrown into the scale to balance the [----] excitement which the friends of the deceased and [some?] others labored under. I therefore proposed to [go] back with them; a few of the more dispassionate [desired] me to do so, whilst others requested me to proceed [to the] village and not to accompany them. I addressed a few respectful remarks to them, and was permitted [to go] with them. I embraced every opportunity of [endeavoring] to allay the excitement of individuals. The company consented to appoint a leader. This gentleman conducted with much propriety thro' the day. He [allowed?] me to propose to the company, that two or three [persons?] only should approach a house in advance of the company, and inform the Mormons that the object of the [men] was not to injure them, but merely to request them to deliver up their guns. The plan was unanimously [accepted], and with a few exceptions, it was adhered to [throughout] the day. They allowed me to be one of [those] to go in advance under these arrangements. The company proceeded until near sundown, when we [severally?] returned to our places; no act of violence was committed upon any person, and no depredation was made [on] any species of their property by this company.

[On] four days following, that is, on the morning of the [10th], a few of the Militia were patrolling the settlements [forwards?] to the Mormons to defend them against [m----- rash] men, and also to quiet the fears of the citizens. [On] the 11th there was a meeting of a few citizens, [and] measures were adopted for lessening the inconveniences of those who were leaving the settlement. A [message] was sent to their leaders, that they would not [be] molested in attending to the disposal of their lands or [their] property; that it was only necessary that the names [of] such as they desired to remain upon this business [should?] be made known, and excepting such as had [become] too obnoxious to the citizens, they would be [com---ed] to the friendship of all. In this way they might [avail?] themselves of the means of aleviating their suffering, in a precipitate removal and much property would [be] sold immediately for its full value. Very few of them [were?] at this time in the neighborhood, though I have [no------] heard that they have disposed of any of their lands. Among the many reports which have been afloat, it [has] been somewhat difficult to come at that which was [correct].

In making out the foregoing statement, I have been influenced by such information as I supposed was correct; [but] it is possible, that in the details, my information in some small matters may have been mistaken, and this is [the] more likely as I have had less opportunity of obtaining information from the Mormons than from their opposers.

The telling of the foregoing tale has been a painful task, one which I could not have performed upon any other considerations than a sense of duty to the public, which [has] been urged by your request; hence you will please to [---st], the high considerations of your obedient servant.


The Geauga Gazette - January 4, 1834

The Fayette (Mss.) Monitor of Nov. 22, contains a long article in explanation of the recent conflicts between the Mormons, and the citizens of Jackson county, The Mormons, about seventy in number, killed two and wounded several others of a party of seventeen citizens, who visited their settlement for the purpose of making some arrangement in relation to their covenant to leave the country. After the first fire, which was ineffectual, Mr. Brazeale ascended an eminence, and proclaimed peace -- with these words in his mouth, he was shot. The conflict then became general, and the citizens were driven off. Preparations were then made by both parties for an exterminating conflict which was averted by an order from the Lieut. Governor, which induced the Mormons to ground their arms and leave the county -- but they have subsequently demanded to be reinstated in their possessions at the "New Jerusalem." The Governor has ordered a portion of the militia to be in readiness to meet any emergency. The party in question was induced to visit the settlement by the proceedings of a mob, about two weeks before, which were very generally condemned by the citizens of Jackson county.

The editor of the Monitor repels the accusation that the people of Jackson are inclined to turbulence. He explains the riotous proceedings which took place there about two years since, by saying that a large portion of the Seminary Lands were originally located in their county. They settled upon and improved them. When they were offered for sale, at a minimum of two dollars per acre, they confined a speculator and prevented him for possessing himself of the fruits of their labor. The whole matter was represented to the Legislature, and the Legislature confirmed the sale!

Straightway came the Mormons. In their doctrine, they claimed as an inheritance the whole of Jackson county. By fraudulent and false statements, they were gathering together the scum of the earth -- were offering inducements to the free negroes, every where, to come up and join them. That the people should feel disposed to rid themselves of such a pest, we think is extremely natural; and it is doubtful whether they would have fared better in any other county.



Film crew to visit Chillicothe for last portion of Mormon War documentary


Friday,  August 29, 2008


For the third and last time, movie producer Kenneth Ballentine and film crew will visit Chillicothe Sept. 4-5 to gather final footage and information on the Mormon War era 1830-1840.

According to former Chillicothe mayor and Mormon Jeff Foli, this information is potentially important because of the 170-year old prophesies of founder Joseph Smith and the area’s future as the Mormon Promised Land of Zion.

“The Mormons learning the history they have never been taught, and our realizing the destiny of our area will be important for our future cohabitation so history does not once again repeat itself in any form of tragedy,” Foli said.

Foli said that the area’s history books report that just nine days after Joseph Smith allegedly took the Chillicothe cannon, known today as the “Old Sow,” the Chillicothe militia attacked the Mormons at Haun’s Mill in Caldwell County. Because of the longstanding social, political, and economic contention and hostilities between Mormons and (Missourians), the Mormons were immediately ejected from the State of Missouri by the governor in an order of extermination against them.......