Mormon History

Mormon Danite Murders - 1842

Sangamo Journal July 15, 1842

We understand from individuals from the South part of the State, that the murder in Jackson County, is producing great excitement in all that region. The particulars, as given by the brother of the murdered man, in a subsequent column, for the Kaskaskia Republican, are fully confirmed by them. It is believed that the murder was the work of some of the Danites, who were sent about to make collections from the Mormons for the building of the temple at Nauvoo.


We copy the following from the Kaskaskia Republican. It has long been understood that Committees were sent about the country from the establishment at Nauvoo, requiring the members of Joe Smith's church to pay "tithes and offerings" for the purpose of building the Temple or fortifications at that place. The commands of Joe in this particular are, we suppose, to be implicitly obeyed. In the case before us, the individual who declined the order of Joe's servants, paid the penalty of the refusal. His house was robbed and himself shot dead in his field!

                    From the Kaskaskia Republican.

$200 REWARD.

One of the most horrid and atrocious murders was committed on the person of my brother, John Stephenson in Jackson county, Illinois, on the 2d day of June, 1842, perhaps in the whole catalogue or annals of crime. All that is known of the circumstances attending the perpetration of the dark and hellish deed is that my brother was ploughing in the field -- his wife from home and no person being at the house, the foul fiend entered the house, broke open his trunk in search of money, as is supposed, but as my brother had but four or five days previously been to the land office and purchased land, there was but three dollars in the trunk. The wretch then took the gun of the deceased, and from every appearance, concealed himself near the fence and awaited the approach of the deceased, and as he was coming round, shot him down with his own gun.

The deceased was as harmless and quiet a man as ever lived -- it is not known or believed that he had an enemy upon the earth.

Myself and deceased brother joined the Mormons some two years since. -- On the 27th day of May, 1842, six days before my brother was murdered, Brown and Abbot, two Mormons, called upon us for contributions of property and money to aid in building the Temple at Nauvoo; and upon our refusal to give up to them the amount demanded, the said two Mormons by way of threatening us said, "we might think ourselves well off if we had our property long," They, the said Mormons, further told us, that they had stock to drive, and had but one dollar and twenty-five cents, and money they must have, let it come from where it would; and they did not take care where it came from;" they also said if we would take our money to Crow's, in the six mile prairie in Perry county, on the Saturday following, they would receive it, and all should be right.

It is impossible for suspicion to attach to any person but a Mormon in the neighborhood as being concerned with this horrid deed; and it is believed from all the circumstances, that the said two Mormons are connected with the bloody and foul transaction.

The gun taken is a rifle, with a plain walnut stock, iron guard and thimbles; no other mounting; the shot sling is of wolf skin, and the powder horn had the name of Stephenson cut on it. There was a large butcher knife in the scabbard attached to the strap of the shot sling. This gun carries about sixty-five balls to the pound. The murderers took from the trunk a large morocco pocket book with three dollars in specie -- one Mexican dollar, which had been tried at the land office with aqua fortis, and which made a black spot on the impress of the head, the rest of the money was in bits and quarters, with a hole in each piece.

A reward of two hundred dollars will be given for the apprehension of the murderer or murderers.

All papers friendly to the cause of right and justice please give the above one insertion in their columns.
                                  EDWARD STEPHENSON.
Jackson County, Ill., June 4, 1842.

Why is not the account of this horrid affair published in the State Register? That paper has many subscribers in the lower part of the State. Does the Register editor fear that his ally, Joe Smith -- to whom he looks for some hundreds of votes for Thomas Ford and Moore -- will dislike the publication of this murder in this paper. Does the Register wish to smother up this MORMON MURDER to ingratiate himself still further into the favor of Joe Smith?

We believe that this is the first time in our State when [the] account of a BLOODY MURDER was sought to be suppressed for political purposes; to help the election of party candidates.

We understand that this murder has produced great excitement in the South part of the State. A fellow citizen murdered because he would not give up his property to a Mormon for the purpose of building the Temple and Fort at Nauvoo! What think you of this, citizens of Illinois, and of the refusal of the State Register, until perhaps forced by this article, to give the astounding facts to the public -- because it might operate against the election of the Mormon candidates -- Thomas Ford and John Moore!