Mormon History

Confronting Mormon False Statements - 1886

Liberty Tribune March 12, 1886


A Racy Extract from the Salt Lake Evening News.

False Statements Regarding Treatment of Mormons
During Their Sojourn in Clay County.

We print below an article taken from the Evening News of the 28th ult., a daily Mormon organ published at Salt Lake City, Utah Ter., a copy of which paper was forwarded us with the article marked with the request that we "answer it as it deserves." The length of the article copied, and our consequent lack of space, precludes our privilege of a systematic reply to the same. We therefore present a few facts relative to the history, conduct and habits of [ye festive?] Mormons during their stay in Clay and Jackson counties, and leave our readers, many of whom have personal knowledge of the occurrences, to draw their own conclusions after reading two sides of the question.

It is not denied that the Mormons were subjected to some harsh treatment at the hands of the people of Jackson and Clay counties; but we submit that it was nothing more than their just deserts, brought on by their own absurd, unlawful and fanatical theories and practices. Here is the article referred to:

Deseret Evening News

...The notorious Joseph Smith referred to above, the prophet and leader of the Mormons, or Latter Day Saints, had, according to his profession, received by direct communication from God orders to establish and build up, somewhere in the West, a New Jerusalem. The exact location had not been revealed to him; but traveling under divine guidance, he had been assured that his prophetic vision would recognize the place when it had been reached. Accordingly, about the year 1831, the famous Joseph started Westward from Kirtland, Ohio, in quest of the promised land. When he had reached Jackson county, Mo., it was revealed to Joseph that this was the promised land; which fact he communicated to his followers, and thither came the dupes of his persuasion, in large numbers, and located. The place where Independence is situated was elected as the site whereon the Temple should be built; and under his direction the erection of the Temple was begun, but extended no further than the commencement of the foundation. At the time of the location of the Mormons there, Jackson county was comparatively sparsely settled, and there remained yet much land subject to entry. The Mormons at once set about to possess themselves of large landed interests and, at the same time, inform and convince the oldest residents of that county of Joseph's divine revelations, which were, in part, that the Mormons and heathens (meaning the older residents, or gentiles,) could not dwell together in the same county, and that God had bequeathed and set apart this land to their exclusive use and benefit, and consequently the heathens must render up their possessions.

At about this time a newspaper called the Evening Star, was established at Independence. It was a Mormon organ, and through this medium the revelations to Joseph were made known to the people. It advocated the right, by divine sanction, of the Mormons to absolute possession of the lands and the fullness thereof, and insisted that all the trespassing heathens should depart. The rank and file of the Mormons, fully impregnated with this idea, said unto the Jackson county heathens: "What is yours is ours, and what is mine is my own;" and suiting their actions to their words, they began to appropriate to their own use the property and effects of the heathens. About this time the heathens, also, had a revelation, which was to the effect that the festive Mormons were not disposed to tote fair with them, and they began, accordingly, to expostulate with their persecutors, but all to no purpose. The Mormons persisted in their nefarious practices -- to pillage and over ride the heathen until forbearance ceased to be a virtue. It then became necessary, in order to protect their property and their rights, for the heathens to organize to resist the arrogant and fanatical Mormons.

Thus matters grew from bad to worse until the gentiles of Jackson county, from sheer necessity, drove the pestilential Mormons across the river into Clay county. Their printing press and materials were hurled into the Missouri river after them; and thus set the Evening Star, and it is still setting, presumably, -- at the bottom of the river. The time when the Mormons were driven into Clay county, was mid-winter, and the morning of the first day after their arrival on Clay county soil, between the hour of midnight and daybreak, was the time when the stars fell; and it was at this season, also, according to the recollection of its builder, that the first jail in Clay county was built at Liberty -- a cut of which building is given above, the sight of which aroused to such an extent the editorial flow of the Salt Lake City Evening News. The good people of Clay county, through pity for the destitute Mormons who were driven to their doors hungry, cold and homeless, took compassion upon and kindly received them. They generously provided for and gave employment in their families to the Mormons, as well as on their farms and as teachers of schools; which acts on the part of the Clay countians, by the way, won for them, from the people of Jackson county, the title of "Jack Mormons." But in the course of time, the ungrateful hostages, unmindful of the hospitality which had been extended them by the generous heathen people of Clay, began again their perfidious practices, and claimed to have received through their prophet-leader, Joseph, another revelation to the effect that Clay county was the Canaan of which they were in quest, and that this land, too, was theirs by divine gift; that here the Temple was to be erected, and the heathen must render up their property and possessions and depart from the land. The Mormons here became even more fanatical than before and asserted that they were above the operation and control of the laws of Missouri, being subject only to the edicts of the twelve Mormon apostles -- (wondrously treasonable, this.) -- The ill feeling thus [engendered] between the Mormons and the people of Clay county grew and waxed stronger as the absurd professions and intolerable conduct of the misguided Mormons increased, and in time the gallent sons of Clay, exasperated beyond further endurance, arose in their might and informed the Mormons that they must go; and they went, but at the point of the bayonet.

Subsequent to their expulsion from Clay county the Mormons, after remaining a short time at other places, finally congregated at Far West, where again it was revealed to Joseph that the Temple should be built. The depraved natures of the Mormons, not having been changed by past bitter experiences, again asserted itself, and their depredations -- such as stealing, house-burning and, even, murder, as was charged, -- were practiced by them until the State authorities sent troops, under the command of Gen. A. W. Doniphan, who marched upon Far West and compelled the settlement to surrender. Here Joseph and Hiram Smith, Lyman Wright [sic]. Sidney Rigdon, Parley Pratt, et al. were surrendered to the authorities. -- These leaders of the Mormons were first sent to Richmond for preliminary trial before Judge Austin A. King, whence they were taken to Daviess county to await the action of the grand jury; but, owing to the insecurity of the jail there, they were returned to Clay county and incarcerated in the old jail at Liberty. The prisoners, upon their own motion, were granted a change of venue from Daviess to Boone county, and were there tried by Judge David Todd. They were ably defended by Gen. Doniphan, who commanded the force that captured them, and were acquitted.

The charge that, whilst the prisoners were confined in jail at Liberty, they were fed on or offered "Mormon beef, or human flesh, is as false as Dicer's oaths, and is too preposterous to be entertained even for a moment by any other than the most ridiculous Mormon fanatic; as is, also, the charge that poison was administered to them in their food, which, through divine interposition on behalf of the Mormons, had no other effect upon them than that of "a most powerful emetic." The flagrant falsity of this latter charge is at once apparent to the Christian world, and the expression of such an idea, fully endorsed by the Mormons, is certainly sufficient to lead the average Christianized American to accept, in this instance, the old Latin maxim, "falsus in unum, falsus in omnibus," and totally discredit every part of the senseless wrangle of the poor deluded Mormon editor.

Note 1: The editor's assertion, that while the Mormons resided in Clay county, they claimed the land as their own and intended to build a temple there, is largely unsubstantiated. Caldwell county, however, was formed from the northern half of Ray, the county adjoining Clay on the east , and the LDS soon after dedicated a temple lot in Caldwell -- the LDS also claimed part of neighboring Daviess county, as the holy first residence of Adam and Eve, following that ancient couple's departure from the Garden of Eden. Considered in a much broader sense than the editor indicates, the Mormons probably did lay claim to Jackson, Clay and Ray counties, prior to 1836, as part of the region "round about" their promised land -- a region which they felt they would rightfully come to possess in the millenarian near future.