Mormon History

General Alarm by Iowa Citizens - 1841

The Warsaw Signal October 6, 1841

From the Burlington Hawkeye and Patriot.



Mr. Editor -- It is with extreme reluctance that the undersigned are induced to intrude upon the public, what will probably by many of your readers be considered merely as private grievances; but the indignities and injuries which we have suffered at the hands of the deluded followers of that wretched impostor, Joe Smith, have been so many and frequent, that forbearance long since ceased to be a virtue; and a sense of duty to ourselves and others, impels us to make the following statement -- which may be the means of preventing some individuals from making shipwreck of their fortunes and character, by embracing this miserable scheme of humbug and delusion.

It may be proper here to remark, that we shall state facts -- facts that can be neither gainsayed nor denyed; and if half the truth is told, it will convince the world that "truth is stranger than faction," and will act like the spear of Ithuriel, in exposing in all their deformity, some of the atrocious features of an imposture, a ridiculous and silly as the designs of its authors are dangerous and treasonable.

That there are not some worthy men and good citizens who sincerely believe in the mission of Joe Smith as a Prophet, we should be sorry to believe, but in speaking of a community like this, we speak of them collectively and of the general features of their system.

They have now been in our midst for more than two years; they came among us in a destitute and suffering condition, a condition that called into lively exercise all the benevolent feelings of our natures; we believed that they had been persecuted for their religious sentiments, that a majority of them were honest, and we were disposed to give them an opportunity to live down -- if false -- the evil reports that have followed them, whenever they have been compelled to make a removal. In proof that a kindly disposition has been exercised, we may point to the fact that until very recently not a newspaper in their vicinity has published a harsh remark in reference to them [or] their Prophet. How has the kindness thus extended been requited? they have rung the [charges] on their "persecutions in Missouri" till it no longer possesses the power to bind together the discordant elements of Mormonism, and abuse of the men that have opened their doors to them and ever treated them kindly, has become the order of the day; the events of the past year have forced the conviction upon us, that in relation to their troubles in Missouri, there are "two sides to the story."

Three years since, we could retire at night without that painful feeling of insecurity which now exists; then it was unnecessary to lock our buildings to secure our property from robbers; now, nothing is safe however strongly secured by bolts and bars.

The undersigned having been somewhat in the way of the fulfillment of a pretended revelation relative to the building up a city at Montrose -- which being interpreted into the unknown tongue of Mormonism means 'Zarahemla' -- have been the greatest sufferers by these depredations. No less than thirteen Robberies, amounting in value to more than one thousand dollars, having been committed on our property since the Mormons came here; and though we have offered rewards for the detection of the thieves and the recovery of the property, we have never in a single instance succeeded in accomplishing either; a case in which we made an attempt to ferret out the thieves and were thwarted by the direct interference of Joe Smith will presently be mentioned.

We subjoin an account of the various robberies:

Robbery 1st. -- Store robbed of a general assortment of goods, a Mormon bishop at the time living over head with only a thin floor between.

Robbery 2d. -- Ware house broken open and robbed of one barrel of pork, two barrels sugar, and five kegs lard.

Robbery 3d. -- Smoke house entered by breaking the lock and robbed of 33 hams and 11 shoulders.

Robbery 4th. -- 14 barrels salt stolen from the building where it was stored.

Robbery 5th. -- 1 barrel salt.

Robbery 6th. -- 1 saddle, bridle and martingale stolen from stable.

Robbery 7th. -- 1 wagon wheels stolen from wagon standing in front of the house.

Robbery 8th. -- 3 saddles, bridles, and martingales stolen from stable.

Robbery 9th. -- 60 bushels wheat, in sacks, stolen from Granary.

Robbery 10th. -- Ware house again entered by breaking lock and robbed of 6 boxes glass, 150 pounds bacon, (together with 2 boxes axes belonging to C. Peck, Esq.)

Robbery 11th. -- 6 barrels salt, the salt taken from the barrels and the barrels left.

Robbery 12th. -- 300 to 400 bushels of corn stolen from the crib during the past summer at various times.

Robbery 13th. -- 1 wheel stolen from a chariot standing in the enclosure of the undersigned.

These are the principle robberies to say nothing of petty, every day stealing of trifles which is annoying enough. The character of the articles stolen precludes the idea that they were taken to any considerable distance from Montrose or Nauvoo. The robbery last mentioned must have been from sheer malice, as one wheel of a carriage could be of no benefit to any one.

The premises from which our conclusions are drawn that the greater part of this mischief is done by Mormons are, that in every case of robbery, the silly story is at once raised by them and circulated with the greatest industry that we have secreted our own property for the sake of [making] an excitement against the Mormons; or the robbery is justified and surprise expressed that we don't lose more than we do, because we oppose the swindling schemes of their Prophet. As before stated the stand taken by us to prevent the building up of Montrose by the "Latter days," had rather thwarted their plans and the Prophet himself proclaimed that "he did not care how much was stolen from K----s," thus giving full license to his followers to go on and plunder as much as they pleased, often indeed in his discourses justifying theft, by citing the example of Christ while passing through the corn field; on one occasion said the world owed him a good living and if he could not get it without he would steal it, "and catch me at it" said he, "if you can." This is the doctrine that is taught "not to be caught -- stealing." -- It has for months been the common talk among the understrappers of Joe Smith that we should be driven from the place; the various robberies of which we have given a history show the means by which such a result is to be brought about.

We come now to a circumstance which goes clearly to show the hollow hearted character of the scoundrel prophet and the other leading Mormons, and which convinces us that all their pretended zeal for the destruction of villainy, and the punishment of offenders, is a mere ruse to give persons abroad a favorable opinion of their morals, and is a piece with the farce exhibited in the enactment of a law by the City Council of Nauvoo, that no ardent spirits should be sold within the corporate limits of Nauvo under severe penalties, yet winking at the establishment of a drunkery at the very portals of the Temple, and in full view of the mayor's office. The morning after robbery No. 10, convinced by traces in the sand on the bank of the river that the property stolen had been taken across the river, with a view to obtain of possible a further clue to the robbers, one of the undersigned accompanied by a young man from Ohio, went to one of the leaders of the society (Stephen Markham) at Nauvoo, and solicited his aid in ferreting out the thieves which he appeared quite willing to render; we examined several skiffs along the river bank, and at length came to one belonging to J. C. Annis, an Elder. Markham observed that he believed that James Dunn (a son-in-law of Annis,) was the thief, and added "Old Annis is, in my opinion no better;" pointing to the skiff he continued "if that skiff could speak it would tell you where your goods are." Some further conversation was had, as to the best place of making some discoveries of the [robber], and he (Markham) have the names of James Dunn, an Elder, -- D. B. Smith, a relative to the Prophet Joe, -- O. P. Rockwell, _____ Stevens, -- J. D. Parker, Elder and Capt. Nauvoo Legion, -- H. G. Sherwood, City Marshal and Elder, as being very suspicious characters, at the same time remarking that he did not believe Sherwood would be concerned in committing any of the robberies himself but that he would probably be willing to share the plunder.

The young man that accompanied the writer observed that he formerly knew D. B. Smith in Ohio, and he thought he could gain his confidence, and by stratagem obtain information of the place of concealment of the stolen goods. This by the advice of a magistrate and a legal gentleman he undertook; to gain their confidence he found an easy matter and he soon had an interview with Dunn, Smith and Rockwell, who he avers proposed to him to aid them in robbing the store of the undersigned; to this he assented, and the arrangements were made on their part to commit the robbery and on ours to take them in the act. It is believed that up to this moment Markham was desirious that the guilty should be caught, but he with other leaders, found the matter was going too far, that if we succeeded in catching so many of their elders it would raise an excitement against them, and show the world their true characters; here too was a fine opportunity for the gratification of those vindictive feelings by which it is well known Joe Smith is ever actuated. The Prophet therefore causes the young man to be arrested, orders him to give up every thing he has on his person, cocks and presents his rifle and threatens to shoot -- to use his own language on the occasion -- "quicker than hell can srorch a feather;" the young man was taken before the Mayor's Court consisting of officers of the Nauvoo Legion as follows: -- Major General Bennett, Mayor, &c., Lieut. Gen. Joe Smith, Prophet, seer, revelator, merchant, &c. &c., Col. Fuller of the Legion and another officer of the Legion, the six individuals above named were then called as witnesses, and though they appeared to rejoice at their narrow excape through the firmness of their leaders, they showed a spirit of vindictiveness towards the young man who from a sincere desire that justice might be done, consented to watch their movements: they testifyed that he had counterfeit coin in his possession. On the part of the defence it was proved that the coin was loaned to him by the Magistrate before alluded to, and the writer for the purpose of showing it, to induce them to belkieve that he could supply any quantity and to inspire them with confidence in him, yet with all this testimony going to show his good intentions, that the coin was given to him for a specific purpose, that he was engaged in a laudable endeavor to bring the guilty to justice, this Mormon Court Martial bound him over for his appearance at Court. And where was Stephen Markham the Mormon leader who could in one moment have set the matter in its true light? The moment the young man was arrested he mounted his horse and started for Quincy, and thus avoided giving testimony that would at once have set the young man at liberty.

With this matter, is closely connected the conspiracy as the Mormons please to call it. A young man living with Joe, a relative of the elect lady (Joe's wife) by the name of Lorenzo D. Wassen & O. P. Rockwell complained that the undersigned had conspired, &c., to unlawfully procure an indictment.

The same six witnesses that appeared in the former case, were sworn on the part of the prosecution. The undersigned viewing the whole proceedings with that contempt which they merited, asked the witnesses no questions, and introduced no witnesses themselves, yet with all their efforts, the complaint was unsustained by a shadow of proof; to have done any thing with us under such circumstances, would have been too barefaced even for a Mormon Court Martial, and we were of course immediately discharged. That this malicious prosecution was instigated and set on foot by Joe Smith, it is useless for him to deny; he said previously that he would have us arrested, and afterwards boasted that he had; as for his tool Lorenzo D. Wassen, we have only to say that, he did not even make his appearance in court, it was sufficient for him to please the "money-digger" he had perjured himself for the purpose of injuring one who never saw him or heard of him before.

The evening that these proceedings took place, and during our absence, a valuable horse was poisoned, and the evening subsequently another was posioned; these two horses were standing in a stable with their heads to open windows, three other horses not thus exposed escaped.

Would it be taxing our credulity too much to believe, that a man who could conceive a murderous plot to assassinate a man that opposed his designs, and that has had -- if he has not now -- a "Danite band" to "haul his enemies into the brush" and "Destroying Angels," commissioned to kill their cattle, burn their buildings, poison their wells, and destroy their lives, if necessary to the accomplishment of his infamous designs, would for a moment hesitate to employ desperadoes to commit any or all the acts of outrage with which we have been visited?

Allusion has been made to a pretended revelation which conflicts with the interests of the undersigned and others. Our object being to strip from this impostor the "silver veil" that covers his hideousness, we shall in a future article give a history of the revelation, and the interests with which it conflicts. It may appear to some that our remarks about this bold Blasphemer are harsh in the extreme, but a moment's reflection will convince any one, that he is either what he claims to be, a Prophet of the Lord, or a scoundrel with out one redeeming quality, and capable of doing any deed of darkness.
                                                D. W. & EDW. KILBOURN.
Montrose, Iowa, Sept. 20, 1841.