Mormon History

Daily Missouri Republican – November 1, 1838


The following letter, from a highly respectible individual, has been politely furnished us by a friend, for publication. The statements are confirmed by many verbal reports in the city. We have lately conversed with several intelligent individuals from the vicinity of the Mormon disturbance, and, whilst we have found it difficult to arrive with any certainty at the truth concerning many things, we are well assured that the hostility is more deeply seated than has generally been supposed, and we feel assured that bloodshed and devastation only will terminate the struggle, unless the Mormons remove from the country. Every account from that quarter shows an existing state of agitation in the public mind truly alarming. Every stranger is watching with jealousy, and every man compelled to take sides for or against the Mormons. In truth, there appears to be but little division on the part of the citizens, in their opposition. We are told that the two men who laid out the town of De Witt, and, as a matter of speculation, invited the Mormons to buy lots in it, have been given leave to pass through the country three times, after which they are informed that a return there will be dangerous. They have already removed their goods into another county.

So deep and all-pervading is the opposition to the Mormons, and so many respectable men have engaged in the attempt to expel them, that we feel satisfied the public are not truly informed of the objections which exist against the Mormons or the circumstances which render them so obnoxious. We hope shortly to be able to develope something more of the causes of this unhappy state of affairs than have yet come to the knowledge of the public.

On board the Steamer Astoria,    
Below Jefferson City, 28th Oct.    

Dear Major. -- I hasten to communicate intelligence which I have received a few minutes since (from an unquestionable source) at Jefferson City, viz: -- Colonel Reese of Richmond, Ray county, had arrived with an express to the Governor, to call out the militia to march in defence of Ray and Richmond. The Mormons had devastated Daviess county, burning the county seat, and most of the houses in the county, and were then marching on Richmond to burn and destroy it. Rencontres had taken place, with loss of lives. Colonel Reese had, but a few hours before we landed, returned, and orders were promptly issued by Governor Boggs for 3000 mounted men to repair to the scene of war. The troops below arw to rendezvous at Fayette, and march immediately.

The Mormons have been for many days hauling in corn and other supplies to their great depot, Far West. They have been reinforced by many hundreds lately from Ohio and the Canadas, -- refugees and Mormons. Do not believe that these disturbances are "humbugs." There are serious and dangerous difficulties now pending. The writer of this has every opportunity to know these facts, as he was an eye witness in Caldwell, having been out with the troops. Mormonism, emancipation and ablitionism must be driven from our State.

We, the exposed frontier men, have enough to contend with to protect our shamefully exposed frontier, without having to combat the serfe of the eastern degraded and fanatical rabble thrown with the "poor Indians," on our border. Forbearance no longer can be exercised. If the Government will not protect us, we will do it ourselves.

YET MORE. -- The Missourian of the 27th, printed at Fayette, gives the following additional information. A company was to be organized in Fayette on the morning of the 27th.

Snowden's, Oct. 25, 1838.   

Col. Jones: Sir, -- News has just reached us here that the Mormons have attacked and cut to pieces Capt. Bogard's company of 50 men, except three or four who have escaped. They say the Mormon force is 300 or 400. Richmond is threatened to-night. If you can spare, I wish you to detail two or three companies of troops, and repair to Richmond with all speed.

Yours in haste,
Aid to Gen. Parks.

CARROLTON, Oct. 25, 1838.       

Gentlemen: News of an appalling nature has just reached us. Capt. Bogard, who was ordered with his company to guard the frontier of Ray county, was attacked and cut to pieces by immense numbers. They were overpowered by 3 or 400 Mormons, while they were guarding their own families. But five minutes ago, three reports of a cannon were heard in the direction of Richmond. Firing has been heard in various directions, and there is no doubt but that these infatuated villians have attacked Richmond.

The news of their burning and pillage has already reached you. They have indubitably captured the cannon, and taken many prisoners -- probably killed many. Daviess county is a scene of desolation. Ray is probably so ere this time; and their next movement will be at this place. It is already threatened.

Be up and doing. Bring all the men you can, and let us check them in their course of destruction and devastation. They are moving on with giant strides to the climax of anarchy, civil war, and desolation. Wolf and Baker will explain all. I have just received orders, by express, from Gen. Brig. Parks, to raise 150 mounted men. Fifty have volunteered, and the remainder I will obtain in a day or two.

Stir the people up in Howard and Chariton. Send all the braves you can with Wolf, and we can meet and check them in their mad career.
                                Yours in haste,
                                WM. CLAUDE JONES.

To Congrave Jackson and others.

We have conversed with a gentleman who says that he had held a conversation, in person with Joe Smith, a few days ago, and that Smith stated that his people were prepared to die in defence of what they thought to be their rights, that although the Governor might raise and send against them the power of the State, yet he, and all the men he could bring, would not drive them from their present homes.

We wonder that his Excellency has not called upon the Grays of this City. They are armed and equipped for service, and would be more efficient than any troops which he could muster, being better disciplined and prepared for an emergency than raw troops can be. But of their preparation and discipline the Governor has had ocular demonstration.


Daily Missouri Republican – November 2, 1838

MORMON WAR. -- We give a large portion of our paper to-day to the contents of an extra, issued at the request of the Governor, by the Missouri Watchman, containing the evidence on which he has ordered out the troops. We had several reports from that quarter yesterday. The most authentic is, that a skirmish had occurred between the Mormons and citizens near the line of Ray county, in which ten of the citizens were killed and a number taken prisoners. This is but rumor, however, and may or may not be true. There are so many reports it is almost impossible to know what to believe or what to reject   

From the Missouri Watchman of the 29th inst.

We have been requested by the Governor to publish an extra of our paper, giving to the [public], the intelligence which he, on yesterday, received in relation to our Mormon difficulties. We are also informed that a force of three thousand men have been ordered to be raised and to march immediately to the aid of the suffering inhabitants. The outrages of the Mormons are of a character never before witnessed in a civilized country. They have now placed themselves in an attitude of open defiance to the laws of the land. The contents of the letters published below show, that they have driven the inhabitants of Daviess county from their homes, pillaged and burnt their dwellings, driven off their cattle, and have taken the lives of our people. They will now be dealt with as enemies and traitors to the country.



At a very numerous Public Meeting, held at the Court House, in Richmond, Ray county on Wednesday, the 24th day of October, 1833, for the purpose of taking into consideration the difficulties with the Mormons: --

The object of the meeting having been explained by Thomas C. Bunch, Esq., the following resolutions were unanimously adopted, after reading the report of Charles R. Morehead, William Thornton, and Jacob Gudgel, Esq'rs., which is hereto attached: To Wit:

Resolved, That the report here made by Charles R. Morehead, William Thornton and Jacob Gudgel, Esq'rs., be transmitted by express to the Governor of this State; together with these resolutions:

Resolved, That this meeting have the most implicit confidence in said report, as well from the known veracity of said gentlemen, as from numerous other facts and circumstances in our knowledge corroborating the same.

Resolved, That in the opinion of this meeting the time has arrived when it is the imperious duty of the Executive, by an armed force to quell, the insurrection put on foot by the Mormons; and that to effect the same, the Civil Authorities are wholly inadequate

Resolved, That Wiley C. Williams and Amos Rees, Esq'rs., be requested to visit the Governor and lay before him the proceedings of this meeting and urge upon him the necessity of ordering out, forthwith, an armed force against the Mormons, sufficient to meet the emergency.

Resolved, That we view with the utmost concern the conduct of the Mormons in the counties of Daviess and Livingston and that immediate action is necessary for the protection of our property and houses from this lawless banditti.

Resolved, That heretofore, as citizens desiring to abide by the laws of the land, we have been disposed to see this people called Mormons dealt with for their offences by the civil authorities; but, that in the opinion of this meeting, from their past and present lawless course a resort to the laws will be more than useless, and wholly insufficient to afford the country that protection to which it is entitled.

Resolved, That we appeal to the Governor of this State to give the people of upper Missouri protection from this fearful body of thieves and robbers.

Resolved, That it would, at this time, be inexpedient to rake any offensive step, but that we should, at present, act on the defensive.

Resolved, That all who have in good faith renounced the Mormon religion, should be protected, either those in this county or in Caldwell, during the present excitement.

Resolved, That some men should now be raised to go to the northern border of this county, and guard it from intrusion by the Mormons, to act [entirely] on the defensive for the present, and that Gen. Parks be requested to raise three companies for that purpose, or that they be raised by volunteers.



The undersigned having, on Monday morning last, learned that the Mormons had burned Millport in Daviess county (in addition to the burning of Stolling's store in Gallatin, in said county,) and of their having threatened to burn the store in Bancombe Settlement in this county, and feeling an anxiety to know the truth in relation to said reports, left this place, Richmond, on that (Monday) morning and proceeded to Milport -- they, however, previously called at Judge Morin's, who lives about one-fourth of a mile from Millport, who informed them that all they had learned was substantially true, and that much more had been done by the Mormons than the people of this county had been informed of. He went with us to Millport, where we found all the houses in ashes, except a grocery store house belonging to a Mr. Slade, and a house in which Mr. Wilson McKinney had resided. We also found the house of Mr. Robert Peniston, near Millport burned. The horse-mill belonging to him (Peniston), was taken down -- the stones, bolting chest, &c., lying out some distance from the shed, and the shed yet standing. Mr. Morin informed us that the burning was done on Saturday night last, that on the next day he saw Mormons there, and saw them taking off beds and other things belonging to Wilson McKinney.

We also saw some furniture which we understood from Mr. Morin, belonged to Mr. McKinney, standing out in the commons, and which seemed to have been rifled of its contents. -- Mr. Morin expected, on the day we were there, that the Mormons would be there (at Millport) to move off the remaining property and to burn the balance of the houses. He stated to us that he considered his situation a precarious one. That he had been permitted to stay thus long owing to his having no wagon to move with; but that he expected to get wagons that day and he intended moving into Richmond immediately. He said that the county was entirely deserted by the inhabitants, except himself and a few others, besides the Mormons, and expressed it as his belief that the corn from his house to Diamon would all be gathered and hauled into Diamon by the Mormons, in 48 hours from that time. He also stated to us that he was at Diamon a few days previously, and saw a company of the men (Mormons) come into camp with a drove of cattle amounting to about 100 head, which he supposed to be other citizens'. He also saw a negro man in the possession of a Mormon which he was very certain belonged to William Morgan, a citizen of Daviess county. Mr. Morin looked upon those Mormons who were then at Diamon, (amounting he supposed, to about 600 men,) as a band of robbers and desperadoes. He advised us very strongly to go no further; not to attempt to go to Diamon or Far West; that we would gather nothing by doing so in addition to what we there learned. That the country on the north side of Grand River west of him was certainly deserted, except by the Mormons, and had been for several days; and that the houses were all burned -- or to use his own words, that it was a "complete waste." Mr. Morin also informed us that the Mormons had ordered the other citizens out of the county, and that he too had his orders to leave. He appeared very anxious that we should not be seen at his house by any of the Mormons; and that it should not be known that he had given any information or expressed any thing unfavorable toward them, until he got away. We did not visit Gallatin, but understood from Mr. Morin and others whom we met moving into this county, that all the houses in that place were burned, except a shoe-maker's shop belonging to Mr. Runville.

C. R. MOREHEAD,            
WM. THORNTON,            
JACOB GUDGEL.            

Richmond, Mo., Wednesday, Oct. 24, 1838.                        




Richmond, October 14, 1838.        

DEAR SIR. -- As Mr. Williams will be to see you in reference to our Mormon difficulties, I will be able to say all to you perhaps that can be said. I deem it a duty notwithstanding to give you such information as I have sought and obtained, & is such I assure you may be relied on. Our relations with the Mormons are such that I am perfectly satisfied that the arm of the civil authority is too weak to give peace to the country. Until lately I thought the Mormons were disposed to act on the defensive: but their recent conduct shows that they are the aggressors, and that they intend to take the law into their hands. Of their recent outrages in Daviess, you have probably heard much already. I will give you the general facts, however. On Sunday before they marched to Daviess, Jo Smith made known his views to the people, and declared the time had come when they would avenge their own wrongs, and that all who were not for them, and taken up arms with them, should be considered as against them, that their property should be confiscated, and their lives also forfeited.

With this declaration and much else said by Smith, calculated to excite the people present -- the next day was set [apart] to see who was for them and who against them; and under such severe penalties, that there was some, I learn, who did not turn out; and about 3 or 400 men, with Smith at their head, marched to Daviess. This was on Tuesday; the next day was the snow storm, and on Thursday they commenced their ravages upon the citizens, driving them from their homes and taking their property. Between 80 and 100 men went to Gallatin, pillaged houses and the store of Mr. Stollings and the post-office, and then burnt the houses. They carried off the spoils on horseback and in wagons, and now have them, I understand, in a store house, near their camp. Houses have been robbed of their contents, -- beds, clothing, furniture, &c. and all deposited, as they term it, "a consecration to the Lord." At this time, there is not a citizen in Daviess, except Mormons. Many have been driven without warning, others have been allowed a few hours to start. This stock of citizens have been seized upon, killed [up] and salted by hundreds; from 50 to 100 wagons are now employed in hauling in the corn from the surrounding country. They look for a force against them, and are consequently preparing for a seige -- building block houses, &c. They have lately organized themselves into a band of what they call "Danites," and sworn to support their leading men in all they say or do, right or wrong -- and further, to put to instant death those who will betray them. There is another band of twelve, called the "Destructives," whose duty it is to watch the movements of men and of communities, and to avenge themselves for supposed wrongful movements against them, by privately burning houses and property, and even laying in ashes towns, &c.

I find I am running out my letter too much in detail. I do not deem it necessary to give you a minute detail of all the facts of which I am possessed, but I give you the above in order that you may form some idea of the disposition of these people. The Mormons expect to settle the affair at the point of the sword, and I am well warranted in saying to you that the people in this quarter of the state look to you for that protection which they believe you will afford when you have learned the facts. I do not pretend to advise your course, nor make any suggestions other than what I have stated, that it is utterly useless for the civil authorities to pretend to intercede. The country is in great commotion and I can assure you that either with or without authority, something will shortly have to be done.

I hope you will let me hear from you by the return of Mr. Williams, and if you should come up the country shortly, it will give me pleasure to take the trouble to see you.
                I am very respectfully,
                                 AUSTIN A KING.

Note: the original Oct. 14, 1838 Austin A. King letter, as well as the Oct. 24th 1838 affidavit of Morehead, Thornton, and Gudgel is on file, along with similar original and microfilmed documents in the Missouri State Archives at Jefferson City. Judge Austin's mention of the Danites was one of the first ever to appear in the popular press. These two first-hand descriptions of Mormon depredations in Daviess county have not been published in any readily available book or journal. The files of the Missouri Watchman are incomplete and not easily accessible; it was a weekly paper, published at Jefferson City by Hammond & Cronenbold. It was started on Mar. 29, 1838, a few months before the "Mormon War" began in upper Missouri.


Lexington, 6 o'clock P. M.        
October 25, 1838.              

GENTLEMEN:-- This letter is sent after you on express by Mr. William Bryant of Ray county. Since you left us this morning, Mr. R. Morehead came here on express for men to assist in repelling a threatened attack upon Richmond tonight. He brought news that the Mormon armed force had attacked Capt Bogart this morning at daylight, and had cut off his whole company of 50 men. Since Mr. Morehead left Richmond, one of the company (Bogart,) had come in and reported that there were ten of his comrades killed, and the remainder were taken prisoners after many of them had been severely wounded. He stated further that Richmond would be sacked and burned by the Mormon Banditti to-night. Nothing can exceed the consternation which this news gave rise to. The women and children are flying from Richmond in every direction. A number of them have repaired to Lexington, amongst whom is Mrs. Rees. We will have sent from this county, since 2 o'clock this evening, about one hundred well-armed and daring men, perhaps the most effective that our county can boast of. They will certainly give them (the Mormons) a warm reception at Richmond, to-night. You will see the necessity of hurrying on to the City of Jefferson and also of imparting correct information to the public as you go along.

My impression is that you had better send one of your number to Howard, Cooper and Boone Counties, in order that volunteers may be getting ready and flocking to the scene of trouble as fast as possible. They must make haste and put a stop to the devastation which is menaced by these infuriated fanatics. And they must go prepared, and with the full determination to exterminate or expel them from the State en masse. Nothing but this can give tranquillity to the public mind and reestablish the supremacy of the law. There must be no further delaying with this question anywhere. The Mormons must leave the State, or we will one and all. And to this complexion it must come at last.

We have great reliance upon your ability, direction and fitness for the task you have undertaken, and have only time to say God speed you.
                               Yours truly,
                                          E. M. RYLAND.

Messrs Amos Rees and W. C. Williams.


Producer and film crew will visit Chillicothe to gather information on Mormon War

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

For the second time in a matter of months a film crew will visit the Chillicothe area in an effort to gather information and footage on the area's history.

However, instead of showcasing Chillicothe's sliced bread history, former mayor and Mormon Jeff Foli says the crew will be gathering information on what is now referred to as the Mormon Wars.

Kenneth Ballentine, a southern California movie producer, will be in town next week, July 24-26, to do some preliminary taping and investigating. Foli explained that after touring the area and gathering footage, Ballentine will take his work back to California.

“If they are inclined, they're likely to do a full-blown documentary,” Foli said.

Local resident Charlie Peniston provided some history on the Mormon War yesterday (Tuesday).

Peniston's ancestors were among the first settlers at what was called Splond Ridge and later named Millport. He noted that the Penistons settle in Daviess County in 1832-1833 and built the first home in the county as well as the first mill. Peniston said that the family also brought the first slaves into the county and held the first church service as well. His direct ancestor, Theodore Peniston, was also the first lawyer in Daviess County.

He noted that in the 1830s the Missouri governor Lilburn Boggs divided Ray County into four smaller counties and allowed Mormons to establish themselves in Caldwell County after they were expelled from Independence, Mo.

Between 1834 and 1836, the Mormons settled by the hundreds and thousands into the county. They elected their own sheriff, mayor and commissioners. Peniston noted that the original non-Mormon settlers were “pushed aside” and later moved out of the county, establishing their homes elsewhere.

When the Mormons came into the area, Peniston said, they came through DeWitt, Mo., which was a large port at the time, and took wagons up to Caldwell County.

Peniston said that Mormon leader Joseph Smith and his followers dressed and talked differently than the settlers, had more than one wife and different values than the pioneers of the area.

“Most of the non-Mormons were from Kentucky and Tennessee,” Peniston said, describing the settlers as somewhat of a “rougher cut” than the Mormons. Small-scale conflicts, Peniston said, soon followed.

Mormon Lyman White, however, did not go to Caldwell County, but instead established a farm in Daviess 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.......