Eliza Snow, The Mormon War & Her Alleged Gang-Rape

“Sometimes legends make reality, and become more useful than the facts.” ~Salman Rushdie

CAUTION: This Essay Contains Graphic Accounts of Sexual Violence

CONTENTS

Introduction
I. The Professor and the Source
II. The Mormon War
i. Prelude
a. jackson county
b. the second redemption of zion
c. the dissenters
d. danites and diahman
ii. The War
e. election day at gallatin
f. the adam black affair
g. tensions mount
h. insurrection
i. false sense of security
j. the dewitt standoff
k. mormon retaliation
l. the battle of crooked river
m. the massacre at shoal creek
n. surrender of far west and diahman
iii. Aftermath
o. trial and exodus
p. blame?
III. The Snow Family During the Mormon War
IV. Alice Merrill Horne
V. An Apology?
VI. Victims and Rape
a. needed empathy?
b. historical accounts
c. humanizing rape in eliza snow
d. the missouri rape accounts
i. mosiah hancock
ii. john d. lee
iii. john murdock
iv. marvin tanner
v. joseph holbrook
vi. the western emigrant
vii. ruth naper
viii. elijah reed (1839)
ix. elijah reed (1840)
x. persecution & the redress petitions
VII. A Compelling Agenda?
a. rape culture in antebellum america
b. master/slave rape
c. rape during the civil war
15 Rapes in Missouri
d. the culture of silence
e. byu’s rape problem
Conclusion
Notes

INTRODUCTION

Perhaps you have seen the headline of this article from the Salt Lake Tribune:

Shocking historical finding: Mormon icon Eliza R. Snow was gang-raped by Missouri ruffians

When I read it, I was quite startled but only because I am very familiar with the circumstances of the 1838 “Mormon War”, and though I knew about some claims of attempted sexual violence and general claims of rapine against Mormon women made by various individuals, I had never heard of this allegation before. And in that, it seems that I am not alone.

It was reported in the article that a BYU-I Professor, Andrea G. Radke-Moss, had revealed at a Brigham Young University symposium a few days earlier that an autobiography by Alice Merrill Horne written near the end of her life contained the recollection of a conversation she supposedly overheard when she was a child: that Eliza Snow was gang raped by eight Missourians. Peggy Fletcher Stack (who had interviewed Radke-Moss for the Salt Lake Tribune) wrote in the article that:

Eliza R. Snow, one of Mormonism’s “founding mothers,” was gang-raped by eight Missourians during 19th-century tensions between LDS settlers and their Midwestern enemies.

“The rape was brutal, and so it made Eliza unable to have children,” Brigham Young University-Idaho professor Andrea Radke-Moss said in an interview. Mormon founder Joseph Smith “offered her marriage as a way of promising her that she would still have eternal offspring and that she would be a mother in Zion.” [1] 

Eliza_Snow_HeadlinesWhat surprised me as I read this, was Radke-Moss’ confident language in this interview. Eliza Snow was gang-raped, she claimed. It left her barren. Joseph Smith offered Eliza marriage as some kind of consolation because he knew she was raped. As I read the article I kept asking myself why Radke-Moss would give this interview with such firm language, as if this was all historical fact? After all, Radke-Moss set the tone for the interview, and Stack quotes her. I didn’t see much qualifying language here. No “might have been” here. No real caution with a hearsay source written over a hundred years after it supposedly took place. And certainly no corroboration with any historical evidence or other credible accounts. (As of this writing).[2] Go to the Top

I. THE PROFESSOR AND THE SOURCE

It seems that after the Tribune article was published, Radke-Moss received some criticisms about the source and so addressed some of the concerns raised by her revealing and advocating the gang rape story at the BYU symposium and in the Tribune. For the Juvenile Instructor, she wrote:

The case of Eliza R. Snow has received considerable media attention in the last four days, and has invited many questions from those who have read the brief report in the Salt Lake Tribune and other outlets. A brief newspaper report, while introducing readers to this information, could not possibly address the larger history, context, and methodology I offered in my paper.  So, to that end, this post is meant to respond to those questions in brief, while also opening an important and ongoing conversation about the history of sexual violence in Church history, and the particular case of Eliza R. Snow. [3]

Radke-Moss then briefly! elaborated about the source of the rape account:

Alice Merrill Horne

Alice Merrill Horne

The account comes from a portion of the autobiography of Alice Merrill Horne written in her later years. Horne was a member of the Utah State Legislature, a board member of the General Relief Society, and a famed art critic and patroness. Born in 1868, she was the granddaughter of Apostle George A. Smith and Bathsheba W. Smith, the 4th General Relief Society President, who was one of the original members of the Female Relief Society in Nauvoo in 1842, and close friend to Eliza R. Snow and other high leadership of the Relief Society in Utah Territory. Bathsheba’s granddaughter Alice remembered visiting her grandmother as a young girl, and hearing the elderly women of Mormonism reminisce about the early days of the Restoration. I quote here using Alice Merrill Horne’s own words:

“The most important Mormon women of the nineteenth century often gathered at the Smith home abutting the Church Historian’s Office.”

Alice would

“sit on her grandmother’s lap and listen, catching . . . the whispered word unraveling, spelling, and signs made by those ladies.”

It was there, at one of these rendezvous of feminine confidences, young Alice overheard the account of the brutal gang rape of Eliza R. Snow.

“There was a saint—a Prophetess, a Poet, an intellectual, seized by brutal mobbers—used by those eight demons and left not dead, but worse. The horror, the anguish, despair, hopelessness of the innocent victim was dwelt upon. [W]hat [sic] future was there for such a one? All the aspirations of a saintly virgin—that maiden of purity—had met martyrdom!”

In this case, the rape left its victim not only emotionally scarred, but also permanently affected. Eliza R. Snow would never be able to have children. Horne links Eliza’s inability to bear children in part to the decision to marry Joseph Smith polygamously in Nauvoo, Illinois. To her, the connection was clear:

“The prophet heard and had compassion. This Saint, whose lofty ideals, whose person had been crucified, was yet to become the corner of female work. To her, no child could be born and yet she would be a Mother in Israel. One to whom all eyes should turn, to whom all ears would listen to hear her sing (in tongues) the praises of Zion. She was promised honor above all women, save only Emma, but her marriage to the prophet would be only for heaven.” [4]

When I read this, I was disappointed that Radke-Moss had not given more background about the source itself, but had instead focused more on Alice Horne’s accomplishments. How that affects her accuracy for remembering an event which took place fifty years earlier is baffling. Yes, Horne knew Eliza Snow from an early age. But to sell the idea that this account was not somehow misremembered by Horne, Radke-Moss must engage in speculative scenarios that have Horne questioning Snow about the rape (verifying the story) at a later time in her life, something there is no evidence of ever happening.

All we know from the Juvenile Instructor article and her interview with Peggy Fletcher Stack, is that the account comes from a “portion” of Horne’s autobiography written later in her life that is in the possession of her descendants.  Not really a lot to go on, which really limits having any kind of important and ongoing discussion about it. What Radke-Moss accomplished was having people respond to her belief that this actually happened, and ask questions that she doesn’t bother to answer at the Juvenile Instructor.

We also learn that this account was apparently known to Jill Mulvay Derr, Eliza’s biographer, who referred to it as a “family tradition”, according to one blogger (Kaimi Wenger) who attended one of her lectures in 2010.

Alice Horne died in 1948, so when, exactly, was this portion of her autobiography penned? This is an important question because Horne had penned her autobiography around 1934, (Which can be found at the CHL in the “Alice Merrill Horne Family History Record, 1912-1935“). But the recollection that Radke-Moss quotes is not found in that autobiography. (See Alice Merrill Horne Section below, particularly Note #139) I can only ask why. I also would like to know if what Radke-Moss quoted from was a previous autobiography (pre-1934), or if it was a revision of the 1934 autobiography. If Radke-Moss would give more information, this might be determined and help us to understand the source better and why Alice Horne might have subsequently revised her autobiography to include it. Then again, there may be no additional insights forthcoming about when Horne wrote this account, and so we must analyze this source “as is”,  and draw conclusions with the evidence we have.

Happily, I had a conversation with Radke-Moss on Facebook, but to my disappointment she would not give me any information at all on the source even though I asked her repeatedly. She seemed aggravated with my concerns about the source, claiming that they were “ex-Mormon vitriol or dismissal of the reality of sexual violence against women.” This conversation was later deleted after Radke-Moss edited many of her comments and deleted at least one of them.[5]

One concern that I mentioned in that conversation, is that this is simply an apology of Alice Horne for polygamy and for her idol Eliza Snow’s seeming inability to have children. What I found almost ironic, are these words by Radke-Moss in the Instructor article:

[Another] question I have heard is whether I am using the Eliza case to defend or justify polygamy, according to Horne’s description, and my Tribune statement, which has received much criticism for being an apology for polygamy. I did not intend it that way. [6]

Radke-Moss may not have intended it that way, but the recollection written by Horne is exactly that. It couldn’t be more obvious. I’m surprised that Radke-Moss would not have expected these criticisms, given what Alice Horne writes.  I will explore why this claimed recollection is an obvious apology for polygamy and Eliza Snow’s apparent inability to have children below, and give some reasons why Alice Horne may have felt the need to revise her autobiography to include it (if it was written after 1934). She continues:

Let me be quite clear on this point: The origins and practice of Mormon polygamy, as introduced by Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, are complex, multi-faceted, and difficult to pin down with uniformity or consistency. [7]

I strongly disagree that the origins and practice of Mormon polygamy are “difficult to pin down with uniformity or consistency”.  There is ample contemporary and later evidence to reasonably construct the origin and practice of Joseph’s polygamy and present a coherent narrative.  It seems that it is only when some want to promote fringe theories about the practice (like it was instigated to protect women from violence) that such claims are stressed.[8] She continues:

Before I had seen the Horne source, I had often wondered at the connections between the traumas that women experienced in Missouri and the origins of polygamy, in that Mormon male leadership had felt incapable of protecting women from mob assaults. The vulnerability that women felt perhaps fostered a climate whereby celestial marriage offered solace, protection, or some kind of spiritual connectivity that kept the community cemented together in the face of danger. The Horne document presented me with evidence of the possibility that Joseph offered, and Eliza accepted, a polygamous marriage as a way of providing spiritual comfort in the absence of earthly justice. I am interested in exploring this question, but I also invite readers not to project their issues with Joseph Smith onto a topic which I have intended to bring historical attention to very real and violent crimes committed against Mormon women. I am merely trying to understand how Eliza viewed her polygamous marriage to Joseph Smith as a response to her own personal circumstances, and that is a fair historical question to ask. [9]

Joseph & Plural Wife

Joseph & Plural Wife

It seems rather odd that if one of the reasons that Joseph initiated the practice of polygamy was to offer protection to Mormon women from outside violence, he would keep the practice so secret (among his own followers) and deny it publicly; and that the majority of the “Saints” were never informed about it during his lifetime. How much impact would a secret practice have on the majority of Mormon women in Nauvoo? How would this foster a feeling of solace, protection or some kind of spiritual connectivity for them? If this was one of the reasons behind the practice, keeping it secret did just the opposite. Most (if not all) of the women who practiced polygamy felt ostracized from society (including Mormon society) and some felt a sense of danger at being part of it. Most agreed to the practice only reluctantly. When Joseph’s practice of polygamy became public, Joseph destroyed the press that had outed him, and lost his own life because he kept the practice a secret and flouted the law to stay out of jail as he tried to suppress information about his own involvement. The women could not speak about it publicly for fear that Joseph would be charged with adultery or some other crime.

Concerning polygamy, Zina Huntington later claimed that “I never breathed it for years.” And “We hardly dared speak of it. The very walls had ears. We spoke of it only in whispers.”[10]

Joseph, in fact (in an 1842 First Presidency Proclamation) urged going to the law if there were problems in a marriage, and that no one had the right to break up marriages for any reason other than some kind of crime committed by either spouse. If Joseph felt that women could not get justice, why urge them to go to the law to resolve their marriage difficulties?

Joseph also declared that no one had the right to marry another who was already married (which he did with over a dozen women) without a legal (secular) divorce. Doing so and consummating that marriage, would be committing adultery.[11] When Joseph approached these married women, he was asking them to choose him over their legal husbands. Though many husbands agreed to give their wives to Joseph for time and eternity, some did not and this fostered feelings of confusion and resentment. Orson Pratt almost committed suicide when Joseph propositioned his wife Sarah. Brigham Young warned one of his spiritual wives (Augusta Adams Cobb) not to be alone with Joseph.[12]

How did Joseph’s spiritual wife system (celestial marriage) promote feelings of security and spiritual connectivity when it drove men to warn their wives to avoid being alone with the Mormon prophet?[13]

Daniel H. Wells wrote in 1888 about Albert Smith, whose wife Joseph had secretly married without first consulting him:

He [Albert Smith was] also much afflicted with the loss of his first wife [Esther Ducher]. It seems that she was sealed to Joseph the Prophet in the days of Nauvoo, [for time and eternity] though she still remained his wife, and afterwards nearly broke his heart by telling him of it, and expressing her intention of adhering to that relationship.[14]

Albert Smith & Esther Dutcher-Smith

Albert Smith & Esther Dutcher-Smith

Albert finally came to terms with this strange arrangement, but not until years later. How could these women feel safe, when they could not know how their current husbands would react to Joseph’s proposals to them? And how many women after a time, left their polygamous marriages? How does this argument apply to those like Eliza and Emily Partridge, who lived in the shadow of Emma Smith, and who were ultimately ejected from the Smith home when Joseph abruptly ended their marriages to him?

I think we are all trying to understand Joseph’s polygamy and the ramifications of it, but Radke-Moss only offers speculation based on weak evidence. What percentage of women were Mormon men incapable of protecting from sexual violence in Missouri and previous to that time? One can only speculate. As Radke-Moss herself notes:

The scarcity and limitation of sources has presented historians with the difficulty of uncovering a history of sexual violence in Missouri, and of identifying actual victims.[15]

I’m not sure that this is accurate at all, as I will explore below. The crimes committed by the Missourians against the Mormons are well documented from that period, and some of the accounts of rape have serious problems. And since this is such a hot button topic, trying to simply get at the facts of what happened, can leave one open to all kinds of accusations and claims of bias and insensitivity. I am well aware of these problems, having a close family member who was sexually assaulted.

It also seems disingenuous to ask others not to project their concerns about Joseph Smith’s motives onto this topic. Isn’t Radke-Moss doing just that by linking claimed Missouri sexual violence with Joseph’s polygamy?  Horne herself links the rape and Eliza’s marriage to Joseph together. And isn’t it Radke-Moss who is focusing on polygamy here as some kind of panacea to claimed outside sexual violence? It seems like this is just Radke-Moss trying to control the narrative to keep it focused on her ad hoc speculations.

We have Snow’s own words as to why she remained single (until her marriage to Smith) to consider:

I remained single; and why, I could not comprehend at the time. But, when I embraced the fulness of the Gospel, in recalling the events of my past life, I felt, and still feel to acknowledge the kind overruling hand in the providences of God in that circumstance, as fully as in any other in my mortal existence; I do not know that one of my former suitors have received the Gospel, which shows that I was singularly preserved from the bondage of a marriage tie which would, in all probability, have prevented my receiving, or from the free exercise of religion which has been, and now is dearer to me than my life.[16] 

Eliza Roxcy Snow (by grindael)

Eliza states here that she chose to stay single, because she was saving herself for Joseph, though she didn’t know it at the time. This does not sound like she was raped and felt ashamed to be married because of it. Horne’s account has Joseph finding out about the rape and then offering to console her by inviting her to become one of his spiritual wives.  Eliza Snow would write in 1885:

Although in my youth I had considered marriage ordained of God; and without vanity can say, I had what was considered very flattering proposals, I remained single; and why, I could not comprehend at the time; But, when I embraced the fulness of the Gospel, in recalling to mind the events of my past life, I felt, and still feel to acknowledge the kind, overruling hand elevation of character, but also instrumental in producing a more perfect type of manhood mentally and physically, as well as in restoring human life to its former longevity.[17]

Is Eliza saying that the kind, overruling hand of God was to have her be brutally raped so that she would only be able to marry Joseph because he felt sorry for her? It does not appear from these comments that Eliza remained single because of some traumatic event. Instead, she claims that she had “very flattering proposals” but still remained single, for what reason, she did not know. Later, she would affirm that it was because she was to participate in the practice of polygamy.

Of course, the counter arguments are that Eliza just made up what she wrote later to hide the supposed rape. This argument can be used to rebut just about anything! Or that 19th century culture precluded women from being open about this. That rape involved shame for women, was difficult to prove, and that they suffered in silence under a 19th century culture that would not allow them to receive justice for crimes committed against them.[18] Still, These are all valid points which will be addressed below.

As for Mormon men having some kind of complex that they could not protect their women, if this was true then why did Joseph Smith claim that if they only listened to his counsel, they would have been safe? Here is an account by David Lewis:

[Jacob] Haughn [Hawn] came to Far West to consult with the Prophet concerning the policy of the removal of the settlers on Log Creek to the fortified camps. Col. White [Lyman Wight] and myself were standing by when the Prophet said to him: “Move in, by all means, if you wish to save your lives.” Haughn [Hawn] replied that if the settlers left their homes all of their property would be lost, and the Gentiles would burn their houses and other buildings. The Prophet said: “You had much better lose your property than your lives, one can be replaced, the other cannot be restored; but there is no need of your losing either if you will only do as you are commanded.” Haughn said that he considered the best plan was for all the settlers to move into and around the mill, and use the blacksmith’s shop and other buildings as a fort in case of attack; in this way he thought they would be perfectly safe. “You are at liberty to do so if you think best,” said the Prophet. Haughn then departed, well satisfied that he had carried his point.

The Prophet turned to Col. White and said: “That man did not come for counsel, but to induce me to tell him to do as he pleased; which I did. Had I commanded them to move in here and leave their property, they would have called me a tyrant. I wish they were here for their own safety.”[19]

According to Lewis, Joseph told Hawn that they didn’t have to lose their property or their lives, if they would just obey him. On the 22 of June, 1834, Joseph wrote:

“For behold, I do not require at their hands to fight the battles of Zion; for, as I said in a former commandment, even so will I fulfil—I will fight your battles. Behold, the destroyer I have sent forth to destroy and lay waste mine enemies; and not many years hence they shall not be left to pollute mine heritage, and to blaspheme my name upon the lands which I have consecrated for the gathering together of my saints.[20]

In January of 1836 Joseph wrote that in the Kirtland Temple during an anointing ceremony, his scribe “saw in a vision the armies of heaven protecting the Saints in their return to Zion and many things that I saw”.  (Scott H. Faulring, An American Prophet’s Record, p.118-120). In March of 1836 Joseph wrote:

The Seventies are at liberty to go to Zion if they please or go wheresoever they will and preach the gospel and let the redem[p]tion of Zion be our object, and strive to affect it by sending up all the strength of the Lord’s House wherever we find them. I want to enter into the following covenant, that if any more of our brethren are slain or driven from their lands in Missouri by the mob that we will give ourselves no rest until we are avenged of our enimies to the uttermost. This covenant was sealed unaminously [unanimously] by a hosanna and Amen.[21] 

Joseph wasn’t afraid of not getting justice, as he was willing to take justice into his own hands to “be avenged of our enimies”. Modern Mormon leaders have repeated the story about Hawn’s Mill and the message that there is safety in following Mormon authorities. In 1997, Henry Eyring explained:

There seems to be no end to the Savior’s desire to lead us to safety. And there is constancy in the way He shows us the path. He calls by more than one means so that it will reach those willing to accept it. And those means always include sending the message by the mouths of His prophets whenever people have qualified to have the prophets of God among them. Those authorized servants are always charged with warning the people, telling them the way to safety.

When tensions ran high in northern Missouri in the fall of 1838, the Prophet Joseph Smith called for all the Saints to gather to Far West for protection. Many were on isolated farms or in scattered settlements. He specifically counseled Jacob Haun, founder of a small settlement called Haun’s Mill. A record of that time includes this: “Brother Joseph had sent word by Haun, who owned the mill, to inform the brethren who were living there to leave and come to Far West, but Mr. Haun did not deliver the message” (Philo Dibble, in “Early Scenes in Church History,” in Four Faith Promoting Classics [1968], 90). Later, the Prophet Joseph recorded in his history: “Up to this day God had given me wisdom to save the people who took counsel. None had ever been killed who [had abided] by my counsel” (History of the Church, 5:137). Then the Prophet recorded the sad truth that innocent lives could have been saved at Haun’s Mill had his counsel been received and followed.

In our own time, we have been warned with counsel of where to find safety from sin and from sorrow.[22]

Mormon prophets have always taught that there is safety in following their counsel. This hardly supports that they felt unable to protect people from assaults if they did obey them, or avenge them (their own justice) if they did not follow their counsel.  The message from Joseph Smith had always been for the “Saints” to “flee to Zion” to be safe from the scourges that were to come. In 1833 Joseph wrote,

Go ye forth into the western countries, call upon the inhabitants to repent, and inasmuch as they do repent, build up churches unto me; and with one heart and with one mind, gather up your riches that ye may purchase an inheritance which shall hereafter be appointed unto you, and it shall be called the New Jerusalem, a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the saints of the most high God; And the glory of the Lord shall be there, and the terror of the Lord also shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it: And it shall be called Zion: And it shall come to pass, among the wicked, that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor, must needs flee unto Zion for safety.[23]  Go to the Top

II. THE “MORMON WAR”

i. Prelude

Oliver Snow and his family (including Eliza) did not move to Missouri until the summer of 1838, (late July) therefore if Eliza was raped, it would have been between that time and the family’s exodus from the state in the spring of 1839. Fortunately, Eliza left multiple accounts of what happened to her and her family during their time in Missouri. To give her accounts some context, it will be instructive to describe events leading up to and during the Mormon War of 1838 through the eyes of those who experienced those events and what happened in Diahman (Adam-ondi-Ahman) where the Snow family had relocated from Ohio.

a. jackson county

In 1830, Joseph dictated many “revelations” that indicated that the “Saints” must gather to “Zion” for safety and to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.[24] Joseph revealed that the “centerplace” of Zion was located in the state of Missouri, in Jackson County.[25]

Orange L. Wight (who was 15 years old in 1838) would later write about the journey to Zion and the events leading up to the Mormon War:

In June 1831 many of the Saints moved from Kirtland to Jackson County, Missouri. My father, Lyman Wight, and Parley P. Pratt walked the entire distance, 800 miles, and preached by the way and organized a number of branches of the Church; hence added a great number to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My mother, I and my two little sisters went by water most of the way, with other Saints. We went down the Ohio River from near Pittsburgh to the mouth of the Ohio and then up the Mississippi and Missouri to a landing called Yellowstone on a steam boat.

I don’t know whether I can describe the steamer correctly or not, but according to my best recollection it was a flat-bottomed arrangement with side wheels–something after the order of Fulton’s first effort–and a board shanty on it for cabin passengers. Mother was honored with a corner in the shanty; most of the rest of the Saints occupied the open decks without shelter. But we all got there without accident of any serious nature and in time to plant a garden which produced abundance by the time father and Parley P. Pratt got there.

Now comes a part of the story of our proceedings. The Saints began to come in from all quarters, held sensational meetings, became to some extent fanatical and argued they were the Lord’s favored people and the land was the Lord’s and it eventually would all belong to them. Now that exasperated the people and they were ready to add to what they heard, and all the efforts of those of the Saints–who could see the evil effects of the fanaticism–to reconcile the people of Jackson County proved in vain. Thus it went on from one thing to another until it ended in real persecution. After both parties became exasperated we, instead of making an effort to settle the difficulty by purchase, undertook to arbitrate it by force of arms; were conquered and driven from the county. Thus fulfilling the revelation, “If by purchase, behold you are blessed; but if by blood, lo, your enemies are upon you–and but few that stand to receive an inheritance.” D&C 63:30 and 31.

Now I can hardly blame the Saints for feeling like retaliating, but I do blame some of them for letting their anger get away with their better judgment and undertaking to regulate the citizens of Jackson County against the Lord’s advice. The anger was human which they should have put away and asked the Lord to guide them with His Holy Spirit. They should have left the business in the hands of God and tried to get what they could by purchase. After being conquered and driven from the county and Zion’s Camp had arrived, we undertook to purchase the lands, but it seems it was then too late, at least we could not make the deal. Now we were driven–I call it–or requested to make our place of gathering further north in the unsettled counties of Caldwell and Daviess Counties, Missouri.[26] 

From T.B.H. Stenhouse, The Rocky Mountain Saints

From T.B.H. Stenhouse, The Rocky Mountain Saints

Joseph Smith made an effort to get justice and “redeem Zion” in 1834, by marching an armed band of about 200 men (and a few women and children) from Ohio to Missouri, but failed miserably.  He afterwards wrote a “revelation”, Doctrine and Covenants Section 104, which was a scathing denunciation of those who had committed “transgressions” (verse 2) and were blamed by him as the cause of that failure. But here also, (D&C 104) Smith promised that “not many years hence they [the “Gentiles”] shall not be left to pollute mine heritage”. So according to this “revelation”, God would take care of things—but not by force through his “Saints”. Go to the Top

b. the second redemption of zion

Upon his return to Kirtland (August 1834) Joseph wrote a letter to Edward Partridge and some of the other brethren who had relocated to other counties in Missouri and made a prophecy about the date of the “redemption of Zion”:

I shall now procede to give you such council as the spirit of the Lord may dictate… And I would recomend to brother [Lyman] Wight to enter complaints to the Govonor as often as he receves any insults or injury, and in case that they procede to endeaver to take life or tear down homes, and  if the citizens of Clay co, do not befriend us to  gather up the little army and be set over Immediately into Jackson County and trust in God and do  the worst <best> he can in defending maintaining the  ground, but in case the excitement continues  to be allayed and peace prevails use every effort  to prevail on the churches to gather to those regions and situate themselves to be in readiness to move  into Jackson Co. in two years from the Eleventh of  September next which is the appointed time for the  redemption of Zion, If Verely If I say unto you If the Church with one united effort perform their duties If they do this the work shall be complete  If they do not this in all humility making preperation from this time forth like Joseph in Egypt laying up store against the time of famine every man having his tent, his horses, his charrots [chariots] his armory his cattle his family and his whole substance in readiness against the time <when> it shall be said To your tents O Isreal!! and let not this be noised abroad let every heart beat in silence and every mouth be shut

Now my beloved brethren you will learn by this we have a great work to do, and but little time to do it in and if we dont exert ourselves to the utmost in gathering up the strength of the Lords house that this thing may be accomplished behold their remaineth a scorge* <*for the church even that they shall be driven from City to City and but few shall remain to receive an inheritence if these things are not kept there remaineth a scorge> also, Therefore be were [beware] this over O ye children of Zion! and give heed to my council saith the Lord![27] 

From T.B.H. Stenhouse, The Rocky Mountain Saints

From T.B.H. Stenhouse, The Rocky Mountain Saints

We see that Joseph planned on returning to Jackson County, and as revealed through the spirit of the Lord, and he writes that they should be ready to move into Jackson County by September 11, 1836, which was the “appointed time for the redemption of Zion.” In 1835 Joseph wrote in his diary:

September 24th 1835 This day the high Council met at my house to take into conside[r]ation the redeemtion of Zion and it was the voice of the spirit of the Lord that we petition to the Governer that is those who have been driven out should to do so to be set back on their Lands next spring and we go next season to live or dy to this end so the dy is cast in Jackson County we truly had a good time and Covena[n]ted to strugle for this thing u[n]till death shall desolve this union and if one falls that the rest be not dis ha discouraged but pe[r]sue this object untill it is acomplished which may God grant u[n]to us in the name of Christ our Lord

This day drew up an Article of inrollment for the redemtion of Zion that we may obtain volenteers to go me next Spring to Mo – I ask God in the name of Jesus that we may obtain Eight hundred men or one thousand well armed and that they may acomplish this great work even so Amen[28]

Why would the Lord give Joseph a date for the redemption of Zion if he did not plan on granting it to them? (See D&C 62:6) Even with these promises (“I the Lord promise the faithful and cannot lie”) and even though Joseph had once before gotten a large force to “redeem” Zion in 1834, his second effort (in 1838) was also doomed to failure. September 11, 1836 passed without the “Saints” moving back into Jackson County. This did not mean that Joseph had given up. This “official” account about “Zion” and its ultimate “redemption” was written for the Church’s website:

The Saints worked diligently to build up Zion, but by late 1833, they had been driven out of their homes in Jackson County by severe persecution, leaving behind their dreams of establishing Zion and building a temple there. Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord revealed that the conditions for the redemption of Zion in that land were not yet fulfilled and that the establishment of Zion must “wait for a little season” (D&C 105:9).

In the early 1830s, the Saints attempted to lay the foundation of Zion in Jackson County, Missouri, as commanded by the Lord, but were unable to do so because they were not spiritually prepared. The Prophet Joseph Smith said the following about the time when Zion would be established: “I cannot learn from any communication by the Spirit to me, that Zion has forfeited her claim to a celestial crown, notwithstanding the Lord has caused her to be thus afflicted, except it may be some individuals, who have walked in disobedience, and forsaken the new covenant; all such will be made manifest by their works in due time. I have always expected that Zion would suffer some affliction, from what I could learn from the commandments which have been given. But I would remind you of a certain clause in one which says, that after much tribulation cometh the blessing [see D&C 58:4]. By this, and also others, and also one received of late, I know that Zion, in the due time of the Lord, will be redeemed; but how many will be the days of her purification, tribulation, and affliction, the Lord has kept hid from my eyes; and when I inquire concerning this subject, the voice of the Lord is: Be still, and know that I am God! All those who suffer for my name shall reign with me, and he that layeth down his life for my sake shall find it again. … May God grant that notwithstanding [our] great afflictions and sufferings, there may not anything separate us from [the] love of Christ [see Romans 8:35–39].”[29]

The letter they are quoting here, was dated December 10, 1833, many months before Smith’s march to “Zion” in the spring (May) of 1834. Why then, is this portrayed as if it was the end result of the Zion affair in Missouri? Joseph gave the date (as given to him by the Spirit of the Lord) for the “Redemption of Zion” as September 11, 1836, but events transpired that made any date for a return to Jackson County untenable, and these events were directly tied to Joseph Smith himself. Go to the Top

c. the dissenters

After the failure of Joseph’s “Zion’s Camp”, he returned to Kirtland, Ohio and left the Church in Missouri in the hands of David Whitmer, his brother John Whitmer, W. W. Phelps (Presidency) along with Bishop Edward Partridge, John Corrill (and others). The latter wrote:

With the exception of some little threatening, the Church lived in peace, until the summer of 1836; and, notwithstanding all these difficulties, it continued to gather in Clay County; and in the adjacent counties, the members hoping that they would get back to Jackson County.[30] 

Corrill then explains that,

During their [the leaders of the Church in Kirtland] mercantile and banking operations they not only indulged in pride, but also suffered jealousies to arise among them, and several persons dissented from the Church, and accused the leaders of the church with bad management, selfishness, seeking for riches, honor, and dominion, tyrannizing over the people, and striving constantly after power and property. On the other hand, the leaders of the Church accused the dissenters with dishonesty, want of faith, and righteousness, wicked in their intentions, guilty of crimes, such as stealing, lying, encouraging the making of counterfeit money, etc.; and this strife or opposition arose to a great height, so that, instead of pulling together as brethren; they tried every way in their power, seemingly, to destroy each other; their enemies from without rejoiced at this, and assisted the dissenters what they could, until Smith and Rigden finally were obliged to leave Kirtland, and, with their families, came to Far West, in March or April 1838.[31]

1838 Dissenters: O.Cowdery,D.Whitmer,J.Whitmer,W.Phelps,L.E.Johnson

1838 Dissenters: O.Cowdery,D.Whitmer,J.Whitmer,W.Phelps,L.E.Johnson

Smith and Rigdon and others had visited Far West in the fall of 1837, and during that visit,

“A general meeting was called for the Church to choose whether they would have the old Presidency rule any longer over them or not. Their old difficulties were talked over, and so far reconciled, that they still choose to have Phelps and Whitmer their presidents; but in the winter following, the old difficulty broke out again, and the excitement rose so high that they turned them out of their presidential office, and T. B. Marsh and two others served as presidents, pro tempore, until Smith and Rigden arrived…”[32]

It is important to note that Thomas Marsh sided with Joseph at this time. Corrill continues:

When Smith and Rigden arrived, the Church was much pleased and supposed that things would be managed right by them, and they would have better times; but it was not long before the old feelings began to be stirred up between the Church and the dissenters. Complaints were made to the authorities of the Church against them, upon which they immediately withdrew from the Church. The Church in Caldwell had been doing well, with the exception of these little difficulties among themselves, until the First Presidency came to the Far West, and began to move things to their own notions. Many of the Church had settled in Davies County, and to all appearance, lived as peaceably with their neighbors as people generally do; but not long after Smith and Rigden arrived in Far West, they went to Davies County and pitched upon a place to build a town. L. Wight was already on the ground with his family. They laid out a town and began to settle it pretty rapidly; Smith gave it the name of Adamondiaman [Adam-ondi-Ahman]…

Many of the Church became elated with the idea of settling in and round about the new town, especially those who had come from Kirtland, as it was designed more particularly for them. This stirred up the people of Davies in some degree; they saw that if this town was built up rapidly it would injure Gallatin, their county seat, and also that the Mormons would soon overrun Davies, and rule the county, and they did not like to live under the laws and administration of “Joe Smith.” Lyman Wight also would frequently boast in his discourses of what they would do if the mob did not let them alone,–they would fight, and they would die upon the ground, and they would not give up their rights, etc.; when, as yet, there was no mob. But this preaching inspired the Mormons with a fighting spirit, and some of the other citizens began to be stirred up to anger.[33]

Northwestern Missouri 1838

Northwestern Missouri 1838

Go to the Top

d. danites and diahman

Reed Peck (an early convert from New York) would write in 1839:

The people of the surrounding country were still friendly & harmony prevailed among the Mormons till the middle of June when the enmity of the two parties from Kirtland manifested itself to an alarming degree[.] At this period measures were concerted no doubt by instigation of the presidency to free the community of the cowderies, Whitmers, Lyman Johnson and some others, to effect which a secret meeting was called at Far West, by Jared Carter and Dimick B. Huntington two of Smiths greatest courtiers where a proposition was made and supported by some as being the best policy to Kill these men that they would not be capable of injuring the church. All their measures were strenuously opposed by John Corrill and T. B. March one of the twelve apostles of the church and in consequense nothing could be effected until the matter was taken up publicly by the presidency[.] the Sunday following (June 17th) in the presense of a large congregation. S. Rigdon took his text from the fifth chapter of Mathew “Ye are the Salt of the Earth but if the salt have lost his savour wherewith shall it be salted, it is henceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and be trodden underfoot of men”[.] From this Scripture he undertook to prove that when men embrace the gospel and afterwards lose their faith it is the duty of the Saints to trample them under their feet[.] He informed the people that they had a set of men among them that had dissented from the church and were doing all in their power to destroy the presidency, laying plans to take their lives &c., accused them of counterfeiting lying cheating and numerous other crimes and called on the people to rise en masse and rid the county of Such a nuisance[.] He said it is the duty of this people to trample them into the earth, and if the county cannot be freed from them any other way I will assit to trample them down or to erect a gallows on the Square of Far West and hang them up as they did the gamblers at Vicksburgh and it would be an act at which the angels would smile with approbation

Joseph Smith in a Short speech Sanctioned what had been Said by Rigdon though said he I don’t want the brethren to act unlawfully but will tell them one thing Judas was a traitor and instead of hanging himself was hung by Peter, and with this hint the subject was dropped for the day having created a great excitement and prepared the people to execute anything that should be proposed.[34]

Stephen C. LeSueur, The Danites Reconsidered, 1994

Stephen C. LeSueur, The Danites Reconsidered, 1994 (PDF, 15 pages)

Sidney Rigdon’s final words on July 4th, were chilling and would have a far reaching impact:

We take God and all the holy angels to witness this day, that we warn all men in the name of Jesus Christ, to come on us no more forever. For from this hour, we will bear it no more, our rights shall no more be trampled on with impunity. The man or the set of men, who attempts it, does it at the expense of their lives. And that mob that comes on us to disturb us; it shall be between us and them a war of extermination; for we will follow them till the last drop of their blood is spilled, or else they will have to exterminate us: for we will carry the seat of war to their own houses, and their own families, and one party or the other shall be utterly destroyed.—Remember it then all MEN.[35]

Brandon G. Kinney writes in his 2011 book, The Mormon War Zion and the Missouri Extermination Order of 1838:

In 1836, the Missouri legislature created Caldwell County as a sanctuary for displaced Mormons in the hope no further Mormon expansion would occur. With the

The Mormon War, Brandon G. Kinney

The Mormon War: Zion and the Missouri Extermination Order of 1838, Brandon G. Kinney

growing number of converts moving in from Ohio, Canada, and other locations it was soon apparent that Caldwell County was not going to provide sufficient space for all Mormons to thrive. By early 1838, the population had swelled to approximately 4,000. There was already a settlement of Mormons along the Crooked River in the disputed six-mile strip of land originally set aside as part of Caldwell County but later reapportioned to Ray County. Also, near Haun’s Mill there was a settlement of Mormons that had stretched into Livingston County. Shortly after Smith’s arrival in Missouri he took a boat trip up the Grand River in southern Daviess County. On that trip he declared he had discovered where Adam had moved his family after the fall described in the book of Genesis; Smith called it Adam-ondi-Ahman. This was not the first time Smith had created a holy land to encourage migration. Smith had previously instructed his followers that Independence, Missouri, was not only Zion (where Christ’s second coming would occur) but also the original site of the Garden of Eden. The new announcement worked as planned and soon multitudes of Mormon families were pouring into Daviess County. New residents included Danite Colonel Lyman Wight, who established a band of faithful Danites in the new settlement.[36]

While the Mormons were building up the town of DiAhman (as it was called), those who had been outed (the dissenters) began to be alarmed by the language being used by Smith and Ridgon. Reed Peck described those events:

On the next Tuesday these dissenters as they were termed were informed that preparations were being made to hang them up and if they did not escape their lives would be taken before night, and perceiving the rage of their enemies they fled to Ray County leaving their families and property in the hands of the Mormons[.] The wrath of the presidency and the threats of han[g]ing &c. were undoubtedly a farce acted to frighten these men from the county that they could not be spies upon their conduct or that they might deprive them of their property[,] and indeed the proceedings of the presidency and others engaged in this affair fully justify the latter conclusion, for knowing the probable result, Geo W. Robinson Son in law of S. Rigdon had prior to their flight sworn out writs of attachment against these men by which he took possession of all their personal property, clothing & furniture, much of which was valuable and no doubt very desirable leaving their families to follow to Ray County almost destitute–That the claims by which this property was taken from these men were unjust and perhaps without foundation cannot be doubted by any unprejudiced person acquainted with all parties and circumstances and no testimony has ever been adduced to show that the men were ever guilty of a crime in Caldwell County[.] These unlawful and tyrannical measures met with the censure of John Corrill[,] W. W. Phelps, John Clemenson myself and a few others but we were soon made sensible that we had excited suspicion, and perhaps endangered ourselves by venturing to speak unfavourably of these transactions[.][37]

To help facilitate the fight against the dissenters, Joseph organized a company of men who he described in his diary on July 27th:

Joseph Smith Danites

Joseph Smith and the Danites

Thus far, according to the order /revelation/ of the Danites. We have a company of Danites in these times, to put to right physically that which is not right, and to clense the Church of very great evil[s] which has hitherto existed among us inasmuch as they cannot be put to right by teachings and persuasyons. This company or a part of them exhibited on the fourth day of July [ – ] They come up to consecrate, by companies of tens, commanded by their captain over ten[.][38]

Reed Peck affirmed Joseph’s involvement with the Danites:

At a meeting for the organisation of the Danites Sampson Avard presented the society to the presidency who blessed them and accepted their Services as though they were soon to be employed in executing some great design[.] They also made speeches to the Society in which great military glory and conquest were represented as awaiting them, victories in which one should chase a thousand and two put ten thousand to flight, were portrayed in the most lively manner, the assistance of Angels promised and in fine every thing was said to inspire them with Zeal and courage and to make them believe that God was soon to “bring to pass his act, his strange act” or by them as instruments to perform a marvelous work on the Earth[.] In the fore part of July the “brother of Gideon” or Jared Carter Capt Genl of the Danites having complained to Joseph Smith of some observations made by Sidney Rigdon in a Sermon, was tried for finding fault with one of the presidency and deprived of his station and Elias Higbee was appointed in his stead

Carter’s punishment according to the principles of the Danites Should have been death[.] In the evening after the trial I was in company with Maj Genl Sampson Avard Dimick B Huntington Capt of the Guard, Elias Higbee the new capt Genl and David W. Patten one of the twelve apostles and member of the high counsel of the church all of whom had sat with the presidency on the trial. D. B. Huntington stated that Joseph declared during the examination that he should have cut Carters throat on the spot if he had been alone when he made the complaint[.] Huntington also Said that on his trial Carter came within a fingers point of losing his head Sampson Avard related at the same time the arrangements that had been made by the presidency and officers present at the trial respecting the dissenters.–Said he, “All the head officers are to be furnished by the presidency with a list of dissenters both in Ohio and Missouri and if for example I meet with one of them or who is damning and cursing the presidency, I can curse them too and if he will drink I can get him a bowl for brandy and after a while take him by the arm and get him one Side in the brush when I will into his guts in a minute and put him under the Sod. When an officer had disposed of a dissenter in this way he shall inform the presidency, and them only with whom it shall remain an inviolable Secret[.] In July the law of consecration took effect which required every person to give up to the bishop all surplus property of every description, not necessary for their present support[.] Sampson Avard the most busy actor and sharpest tool of the presidency informed John Corrill and My self that “all persons who attempted to deceive and return property that should be given up would meet with the fate of Ananias and Saphira who were Killed by Peter”[39]

Joseph would later deny their existence in a City Council meeting at Nauvoo in 1844, but admitted that he had named them:

The Danite system never had any existence. The term grew out of a term I made [in] an off[ice] when the brethren prepared to defend themselves from the mob in Far West [Missouri]. [It was] the in reference to the stealing of Macaiah images, [that] if the enemy comes[,] the Danites will be after them, meaning the brethren in self defense.[40]

Scriptory Book 1, p. 60-61, July 27, 1838. The Text about the Danites was later crossed out.

Scriptory Book 1, p. 60-61, July 27, 1838. The Text about the Danites was later crossed out.

Yet, Joseph’s own diary entry (which was later crossed out) indicates that Joseph was lying about their existence, and that he knew all about them. What is interesting is that Smith takes credit for naming them here. Alexander Baugh writes about the consequences caused by the Church’s actions against the dissenters:

The episode involving the dissenters’ expulsion produced several consequences. From the Church’s standpoint, their removal assured the hierarchy that the general membership of the Church would no longer be influenced or corrupted by the actions, attitudes, and opinions. Furthermore, the First Presidency felt confident that they would no longer be threatened with vexatious lawsuits, at least in the Mormon-dominated Caldwell County. On the negative side, the dissenters’ disaffection from Mormonism and forced departure from Far West opened the door for further troubles between Mormons and non-Mormons. Following their flight, these former insiders were quick to spread the news of their alleged mistreatment. Their reports of abuse at the hands of the Mormon hierarchy and their pawns was evidence to non-Mormons that Joseph Smith and his associates were full of corruption. Furthermore, it reconfirmed in the minds of the Missourians that the Latter-day Saints posed a genuine threat to the peace and safety and security of the region.[41] Go to the Top

ii. The War

e. election day at gallatin

These tensions reached the boiling point during the elections in Gallatin which took place on August 6, 1838. Rollin J. Britton would later write that,

So auspiciously did the career of Adam-ondi-Ahman begin that Joseph H. McGee informs us that it had over five hundred inhabitants when Gallatin had but four houses, and it threatened to rival Far West and probably would have done so had not a state of civil strife ensued that resulted in the expulsion of all of the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from the State of Missouri.[42] 

The election day fracas at Gallatin was started by one of the candidates for office, William Penniston, who was a militia colonel in the county who had courted the Mormon vote, but learned that the Mormons favored the Democrats, not the Whig party that Penniston was a member of. He was also influenced by the fiery speech given by Sidney Rigdon on July 4, which spoke of “a war of extermination” against the enemies of the Mormons.[43]

Penniston was also an old enemy to the Mormons who had gained some notoriety from his outspoken support for the expulsion of the Mormons from Clay County in 1836.[44] 

"Fight at Gallatin", from Mormonim Unvailed, John D. Lee, p. 59

“Fight at Gallatin”, from Mormonism Unvailed, John D. Lee, p. 59

According to John D. Lee, Penniston got up on a whiskey barrel and started haranguing against the Mormons by claiming that “the leaders of the Church was a set of horse thieves, liars, counterfeiters, etc.” Peniston also “appealed to the people, adding: If we suffer such men as those to vote, you will soon lose your suffrage.”[45]   About the actual battle,  Rollin J. Britton quotes Joseph H. McGee who witnessed the events that day:

“My first visit to Gallatin was in 1838, August 6th. My father and I came to town to attend the general election held on that day. This proved to be a historical day as the great knock down between the Mormons and the Missourians took place on that day. I had been with my father at many an election in Ohio, but I never saw him so peaceably inclined at an election before.

“There was a big pile of house logs piled up in front of the little cabin where they were voting. My father and I climbed to the very top of that pile of logs and witnessed the whole battle. I had witnessed many knock downs in my time, but none on so grand a scale. Pistols were not used. Rocks and clubs were in demand, and an occasional butcher knife slipped in. Men dropped on all sides.

“I saw one poor Mormon trying to make his escape from two Missourians who were pursuing him. He had a butcher knife sticking between his shoulders. They would no doubt have succeeded in capturing him had not another Mormon by the name of John L. Butler seized a big club and rushing in between them and their victim dealt them such blows that he felled them both to the earth and allowed the Mormon, whose name was Murphy, to escape. The Missourians proved victorious and the Mormons had to leave. After the fight was over my father and I got into our wagon and returned home. This was my first debut in Gallatin. All the Mormons who took part in this fight left the county that night and moved their families to Far West in Caldwell County — this being the stronghold of the Mormons.”[46]

The Mormons also claimed victory at Gallatin and according to Reed Peck:

An exaggerated account of a bloody massacre of some of the Mormons was rapidly circulated through Caldwell County early next morning, the warriors marshalled and by 12 o Clock 150 Danites with J Smith and S. Rigdon at their head were marching for Daviess county breathing vengeance against “the mob” for the attack made the previous day on their brethren At their approach the inhabitants of Daviess County not being sufficiently strong to oppose the Mormons of Caldwell and Daviess Counties then in array against them fled from their houses to make the woods their covert until the storm should pass or assistance be procured to expel what they termed a band of invaders  The forces from Caldwell county remained in Daviess two days and in the time compelled one individual to sign an article binding him to keep the peace with the Mormons and attempted to frighten a justice of the peace to sign the same but he drew one himself and signed it which was satisfactory Warrants were issued against J Smith L. Wight and many others engaged in this affair and cause found sufficient to put them under bonds for their appearance at court Representations of these hostile movements of the Mormons were Sent by express to the neighboring counties which created considerable exitement and but a short time elapsed before it was rumoured that the inhabitants of Daviess county were determined that the Mormons should be expelled from that county as it would be impossible to live in peace with them[.] [47]

Lyman Wight Cabin, Diahman (2 Views)

Lyman Wight Cabin, Diahman (2 Views)

Joseph Smith, with a detachment of men went to the home of Lyman Wight at Diahman. Others, including many Danites joined them until they ‘had a sizable company.” [48] In his journal Joseph exaggerates the number of Missourians as 150. when in all probability there were about 30 settlers and a smaller number of Mormons. Go to the Top

f. the adam black affair

After the melee in Gallatin, Joseph subsequently (August 8th) took a large company of men (including Sampson Avard) and went to the home of Adam Black, a justice of the peace, (who lived about a mile from the city of Diahman) and compelled him to sign a statement that he would not molest the Mormons. William Swartzell, a member of the Danites claimed that Black was told to “sign it or die”, but Black refused and instead wrote his own statement which he subsequently signed. [49]

The Mormons who confronted Black told him that they would soon be visiting other state authorities and this alarmed Black who hastened to Richmond (with a small company of men) where he reported what had happened to Austin A. King, judge of the 5th judicial circuit, and issued a formal complaint. Unfortunately, one of Black’s company was William Penniston, which eroded his credibility and caused others to doubt the veracity of his account.[50]

Joseph Smith & Adam Black

Word of these events soon alarmed the citizens of various neighboring counties.  This led to many exaggerated rumors that proved to be instrumental in fomenting the later violence that took place.[51]

On August 11, Smith and other Mormon leaders arrived in Diahman where over a hundred Mormons met them. Smith reportedly told them to be obedient to the laws of Missouri, but this was not received well by Danites like Lyman Wight, who defiantly stated that he didn’t care anything for the law, since it had failed to protect him.[52]

Joseph Smith now believed all issues in Daviess County to be resolved. Unaware of any developing problems, he returned to Daviess County to visit his newly arrived and settled Canadian Mormon converts. He warned them not to settle beyond the safety of Adam-ondi-Ahman, except at their own risk. The warning went unheeded; the Canadian Mormons continued to pour into Daviess County, further angering the original settlers. On August 11, 1838, while Smith was away in Daviess County, a delegation of officials from Ray County arrived in Far West to barter a peace deal. They had come after receiving copies of Penniston’s affidavit and were concerned about Smith’s intimidating visit to Adam Black’s house. A meeting was organized with Bishop Edward Partridge and George Robinson in lieu of Smith and his group of presidential leaders. No resolution was reported from the meeting and the Ray County delegation had returned to Richmond by the time Smith returned to Far West on August 13. Smith reported that on his way back to Far West he had been chased by a group of angry residents. Smith received word, just eight miles from Far West, of a warrant for his own arrest based on Penniston’s affidavit.[53] Go to the Top

g. tensions mount

In response to the Adam Black affair, a warrant was issued for Joseph Smith and Lyman Wight, who refused to submit to any trial in Daviess County, Joseph claiming that the people there “were exasperated with him.”

Brandon Kinney writes that,

The affidavits and warrant achieved their desired goal for those opposed to the Mormons. On August 30, 1838, Adjutant General B. M. Lisle in Jefferson City ordered the militia called up to immediate “readiness.” The order went out to Major Generals John B. Clark, Samuel D. Lucas, David Willock, David R. Atchison, Lewis Bolton, Henry W. Crawther, and Thomas D. Grant. Each was ordered to call up four hundred mounted men, armed and equipped as infantry or riflemen. General Lisle suggested that each commander use propriety and a manner calculated to produce as little excitement as possible. There was alarm in Jefferson City, but not to the point that martial law would be required. General Lisle described the reason for mustering the troops: “indications of Indian disturbances on our immediate frontier, and the recent civil disturbances in the counties of Caldwell, Daviess and Carroll.” He continued that such actions rendered “it necessary, as a precautionary measure, that an effective force of the militia be held in readiness to meet either contingency.”[54]

Governor Lilburn W. Boggs also began receiving reports from citizens in various counties. Among these reports were accusations that the Mormons were going to ally with the Indians to accomplish the work of destroying their non-Mormon neighbors. These reports did not help the situation which was already tense:

Another former Mormon turned dissenter, this time from Daviess County, added his report to the growing number of alarms being sent to Governor Boggs. His name was John N. Sapp and he reported the Mormons were “building . . . fortifications for the protection of themselves and families in time of war.” He further explained that their plan was to make provision for enough food for their families by their labor, but should they fall short of their need, they “are to take the balance from the Missourians.” Sapp also mentioned the Mormon paramilitary group to the governor. He described the Danite band as a group between “eight and ten hundred men well armed and equipped who have taken an oath to support Joseph Smith and Lyman Wight in opposition to the State of Missouri.” Sapp claimed that “Sidney Rigdon and Lyman Wight say . . . their object was to induce the Indians to join them [Mormons] in making war upon the Missourians this fall or next spring at farthest.”[55]

At Diahman, “The Mormons had torn down cabins and constructed block houses, built a breastwork to prevent penetration of mounted troops into the city, and gathered food and supplies for a siege.”[56]

Blockhouse War of 1812

Blockhouse, War of 1812

Residents of Daviess and Livingston counties added their concerns about the Mormons by writing letters to Governor Boggs. They were apprehensive about an imminent Mormon war and requested state-supplied firearms and powder for their county militia. The state sent forty-five rifles, two hundred pounds of lead and several kegs of powder. As the supplies were being transported through Caldwell County they were intercepted by the Mormons and confiscated, and three of the couriers were taken prisoner (on September 10) and held by the Mormons for several weeks.[57]

The Mormons claimed that the arms had been stolen, and were being taken to mobbers, and therefore had every right to confiscate them. On September 10, the three Missourians taken into custody–John B. Comer, Allen Miller and William L. McHaney were arraigned before a Mormon justice of the peace. The Mormons wrote to Justice Austin King asking for recommendations but instead of waiting for a reply, the men were tried by Albert Petty and found guilty and held without bail.[58]

Justice of the peace William Dryden issued an affidavit to the governor, confirming the Mormons were holding prisoners. Dryden had issued the warrant for the Mormons listed in Adam Black’s affidavit other than Joseph Smith, namely Andrew Ripley, George Smith, Ephraim Owens, Harvey Umstead, Hiram Nelson, A. Brown, John L. Butler, Cornelius Lott, John Woods, H. Redfield, Riley Stewart, James Whiteacre, Andrew Thon, Amos Tubbs, Dr. Gourge, and Abram Nelson. In his affidavit Dryden also explained that the persons named in his Daviess County arrest warrant were being withheld from justice by means of a large armed force. He calculated the Mormon numbers in Daviess County to be 1,500, now out-numbering other county residents. Dryden had appointed deputy Nathaniel H. Blakely and authorized ten guards to execute the writ, but they had been driven from Mormon settlements in Daviess County by force. Concluding his plea for help, the beleaguered justice of the peace observed that Daviess County was without power to enforce civil or criminal process against the Mormons and asked the governor to send a sufficient number of troops to execute the laws of the land.[59] Go to the Top

h. insurrection

On September 12, Major General Atchison sent a letter to the Governor, describing events and confirming an insurrection:

David Rice Atchison (1849)

David Rice Atchison (1849)

[Atchison] explained himself to the governor by stating, “upon the urgent solicitations of Citizens of both counties [Daviess and Caldwell] and also upon the petitions of Citizens of the adjoining counties I have deemed it my duty to order out an armed force to put down such insurrection and to assist the civil officers in the execution of the laws also to prevent as far as possible the effusion of blood and to restore quiet if possible to the community.” Atchison explained to the governor, “this I have done by the advice of the Judge of this Circuit.”33 General Atchison ordered four companies of fifty men each from the militia of Clay County and a like number from the militia of Ray County. He reasoned with Governor Boggs that “the citizens of Daviess County and Caldwell County are under arms so that it is deemed dangerous for peaceable citizens to pass through said counties.”34 The state had another problem on its hands: “Citizens of other counties were flocking in to the Citizens of Daviess County and the Mormons were flocking to the assistance of the Mormons in those counties so that . . . there cannot be less than 2,000 men in arms without any legal authority.” Atchison concluded, “It is very much feared that if once a blow is . . . struck there will be a general conflict the termination of which God only knows.”[60] 

In his reply Boggs mentioned the Dryden affidavit and that he wanted Smith arrested on the Daviess County warrant.[61]

On September 15, Brigadier General Doniphan wrote a letter to Atchison:

“On arriving at that place I found Comer, Miller and McHaney, the prisoners mentioned in your order. I demanded of the guard who had them in confinement to deliver them over to me, which he promptly done. I also found that the guns that had been captured by the Sheriff and citizens of Caldwell had been distributed and placed in the hands of the soldiery and scattered over the country; I ordered them to be immediately collected and delivered up to me.

Alexander William Doniphan

Alexander William Doniphan

“When my command arrived, the guns were delivered up, amounting to forty-two stand; three stand could not be produced, as they had probably gone to Daviess County. I sent these guns under a guard to your command in Ray County, together with the prisoner Comer; the other two being citizens of Daviess, I retained and brought with me to this county, and released them on parole of honor, as I conceived their detention illegal. At eight o’clock a. m. we took up the line of march and proceeded through Millport in Daviess County, thirty-seven miles from our former encampment, and arrived at the camp of the citizens of Daviess and other ad- joining Counties, which amounted to between two and three hundred, as their commander. Dr. Austin of Carroll informed me.

Your order requiring them to disperse, which had been forwarded in advance of my command, by your aid, James M. Hughes, was read to them, and they were required to disperse. They professed that their object for arming and collecting was solely for defense, but they were marching and counter marching guards out; and myself and others who approached the camp were taken to task and required to wait the approach of the sergeant of the guard. I had an interview with Dr. Austin, and his professions were all pacific. But they still continue in arms, marching and countermarching. “I then proceeded with your aid, J. M. Hughes, and my aid Benjamin Holliday, to the Mormon encampment commanded by Colonel Wight. We held a conference with him, and he professed entire willingness to disband and surrender up to me every one of the Mormons accused of crime, and required in return that the hostile forces, collected by the other citizens of the county, should also disband. At the camp commanded by Dr. Austin I demanded the prisoner demanded in your order, who had been released on the evening after my arrival in their vicinity. “I took up line of march and encamped in the direct road between the hostile encampments, where I have remained since, within about two and a half miles of Wight’s Encampment, and sometimes, the other camp is nearer, and sometimes farther from me. I intend to occupy this position until your arrival, and deem it best to and preserve peace and prevent an engagement between the parties if kept so for a few days they will doubtless disband without coercion.[62]

On Saturday, October 6, 1838 Albert Rockwood (who had recently arrived in Missouri) wrote to family members:

Albert Perry Rockwood

Albert Perry Rockwood

About this time the Sherriff of Caldwell county took 40 stands of armes that were on the road to arm the mob. The Missourians gathered from all the upper Counties to join the mob to the number of several hundreds, they continued to incamp in various places for several miles round Adam-ondi-aman for about 2 weeks, taking some prisoners, robing and insulting in various ways many of the Brethren, and driving many from their homes that were scattered about the county, but those at the City of Adam-ondi-aman were not molested only threatened[.]  They were constantly under arms and on the watch[.] The brethren went from this plase by hundreds to their relief.  Far West was in a state of constant alarm for several days[.] The common was almost constantly covered with armed men, who were determined to maintain their rights even at the expense of life. [p. 1][63]

Leland Gentry writes that by mid-September,

Events in Daviess county led to a standoff. To maintain control and prevent bloodshed General Doniphan stationed his troops squarely between the warring factions and declared his intention to remain there until both sides disbanded and went home. He was assisted by Lieutenant General Hiram Parks and a hundred men.[64]

Both Diahman and Far West were well fortified and the Mormon prophet continued to counsel the members in outlying settlements to relocate there for safety and protection.

Austin Augustus King

Austin Augustus King

Joseph Smith and Lyman Wight retained Generals Doniphan and Atchison (who were law partners) on September 4, to negotiate a surrender so they could appear for a hearing. They both appeared before Austin A. King on September 7, and the hearing was conducted by William Penniston (the prosecuting attorney) close to the Caldwell/Daviess County line, in a field near the farm of John Raglin. The Mormons were suspicious and so had a couple of hundred of their number armed and ready for action just across the Caldwell County border, in case anything went amiss at the trial. The Mormon’s fears were groundless, and Smith and Wight were discharged by King.[65]

King though ruled that there was sufficient evidence to warrant further investigation, an so ordered the defendants to stand trial at the next examination of the grand jury.[66]  Go to the Top

i. false sense of security

On September 20, Atchison again reported to Governor Boggs, writing that all unauthorized settler troops from Daviess and adjoining counties had been dispersed. Also, all unauthorized Mormon forces had returned to their homes. He considered the insurrection for the present to be at an end. He reported that the arms taken by the Mormons and the prisoners were both given up on demand, but warned that “from the state of feeling in the county of Daviess and adjoining counties it is very much to be feared, that it [violence] will break out again, and if so, without the interposition of the commander-in-chief the consequences will be awful.”[67]

General Parks wrote to the Governor from Diahman on September 25 that,

“I am happy to inform you that there is not any necessity to use a larger force here at present [100 men]—than now under my command.” He added, “There has been so much prejudice and exaggeration concerned in this matter, that I have found things on my arrival here, totally different from what I was prepared to expect.”[68]

The “Saints” at Diahman, (which included the Snow family) were safely being protected by General Parks and his men. No “mobbers” had attacked the city and none ever did. But events were to take a turn for the worse in short order. Governor Boggs though, upon receiving these auspicious reports from his Generals,

…ordered Adjutant General Lisle on the 24th to order the disbanding of the militia. “The commander-in-chief having this morning received information by express that the civil disturbance in the counties of Daviess and Caldwell have been quieted and order restored to the country. He therefore orders that the troops under your command destined for that service be immediately discharged.” The order was sent out to Generals Bolton, Lucas, Clark, and Atchison, thereby disbanding any and all forces called up in the mustering order of August 30. This reaction would turn out to be premature.[69]

Lilburn W. Boggs

Lilburn W. Boggs

In his September 20th missive to the Governor, Atchison had written about the Mormons:

Most of them [are] equipped with a good rifle or musket, a brace of large belt pistols, and broadsword; so that from their position, their fanaticism and their unalterable determination not to be driven, much blood will be spilt, and much suffering endured, if a blow is once struck.[70]

Atchison’s words proved to be prophetic. A blow would soon be struck, and it wouldn’t be by the Mormons. But once again, the words of Sidney Rigdon would come back to haunt the Mormons.

The Mormons living beyond the borders of Caldwell County were also soon confronted by armed bands of Missouri settlers that had begun prowling about. They would set fire to haystacks and granaries and steal horses and cattle. They even whipped Mormon farmers who attempted to put up a fight. As time progressed it was no longer safe for Mormons to live outside the larger settlements of Adam-ondi-Ahman in Daviess County and DeWitt in Carroll County. As their provisions ran out, each city received word from the land agents from whom the Mormons had originally bought their land that they were willing to buy it back so that the Mormons could leave peaceably. The very thought of selling their land was unbearable to the Mormons, who remembered their exit from Jackson County only six years before.[71]  Go to the Top

j. the dewitt standoff

While events were unfolding in Daviess County which had supposedly brought an end to the insurrection, this could not be farther from the truth. In neighboring Carroll County the Missourians had begun planning to oust the Mormons soon after word spread about Sidney Rigdon’s Fourth of July speech. In August the non-Mormon citizens of Carroll County made a formal demand on the Mormons of the City of DeWitt to leave and return to Caldwell County by October 1st. DeWitt was located near the junction of the Missouri and Grand Rivers and was crucial to the Mormons as it was their only port city. George Hinkle and John Murdock in turn rightly informed the Carroll County Committee that the Mormons as American Citizens would settle where they pleased and would not be forced from their homes. On August 7, the non-Mormon citizens met and voted to remove the Mormons by force of arms.[72] 

The citizens of Carroll County were well aware that before Rigdon’s fourth of July speech he had authored another document that was signed by 84 prominent members of the church, including another member of the First Presidency, Hyrum Smith. In that letter (addressed to former members of the church now deemed “dissenters”) Rigdon wrote:

 “FAR WEST, June, 1838.

“To Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, John Whitmer, William W. Phelps, and Lyman E, Johnson, greeting:

Whereas, the citizens of Caldwell County have borne with the abuses received from you at different times and on different occasions until it is no longer to be endured, neither will they endure it any longer, having exhausted all the patience they have. We have borne long and suffered incredibly, but we will bear nor suffer any longer, and the decree has gone forth from our hearts and shall not return unto us void. Neither think, gentlemen, in so doing we are trifling with either you or ourselves for we are not.

There are no threats from you, no fear of losing our lives by you, or anything you can say or do will restrain us, for out of the county you shall go and no power shall save you, and you shall have three days after you receive this our communication to you, including twenty-four hours in each day for you to depart with your families peaceably, which you may do undisturbed by any person. But in that time, if you do not depart, we will use the means in our power to cause you to depart, for go you shall. …

Vengeance sleeps not neither doth it slumber; and unless you heed us this time, and attend to our request, it will overtake you at an hour when you do not expect it and at a day when you do not look for it, and for you there shall be no escape; for there is but one decree for you which is, depart, depart, or else a more fatal calamity shall befall you.” [73]

Reed Peck reported that,

S[idney] Rigdon in a public discourse explained satisfactorily no doubt to the people the principles of republicanism (After informing them as an introduction that “some certain characters in the place had been crying you have broken the law–you have acted contrary to the principles of republicanism” he said that “when a country, or body of people have individuals among them with whom they do not wish to associate and a public expression is taken against their remaining among them and such individuals do not remove it is the principle of republicanism itself that gives that community a right to expel them forcibly and no law will prevent it” He also said that it was not against the principles of republicanism for the people to hang the gamblers in Vick’sburgh as it was a matter in which they unanimously acted” [74]

Taking their cue from the Mormons themselves, the citizens of Carroll County used the same argument against the “Saints”. The Mormons of course, felt justified when they forced the dissenters from their homes, but feigned outrage when the Missourians used the same tactic on them. In both cases it was unconstitutional and illegal. But that didn’t stop either side from doing so, the Mormons with the dissenters and “unfriendlies” in Daviess County, and the “old settlers” with the Mormons.

Acting without orders, the Carroll County militia lay siege to DeWitt. A Mormon witness, Smith Humphrey, remembered the events: “On the morning of the 19th of August 1838 I being in DeWitt I was returning home and was met by an armed force of men I supposed nearly one hundred commanded by Colonel [William Claud] Jones and by force took and kept me prisoner about two hours during which time they made many threats against the people called Mormons such as that they were determined to drive them from that County.” On and off for the next two months Carroll County vigilantes attacked Mormons, burning their homes and stables, until the only refuge was behind a barricade around DeWitt. Smith decided, in reaction, to send 200 newly arrived Canadian converts to reinforce the Mormon defenders.16 Mormons in DeWitt also sent a petition to Governor Boggs on September 22 pleading for state assistance to stay in their homes and stop the lawless acts of the Carroll County settlers. They described the situation in the following terms:

That whereas your petitioners have on the 20th inst. been sorely aggrieved by being beset by a lawless mob certain inhabitants of this and other counties to the injury of the good citizens of this and the adjacent places, that on the afore said day came from one hundred to one hundred and fifty armed men & threatened with force & violence to drive certain peaceable citizens from their homes in defiance of all law & threatened them to drive said citizens out of the county. But on deliberation concluded to give them said citizens till the first of October next to leave said County, & threatened if not gone by that time to exterminate them without regard to age or sex and destroy their chattels [livestock], by throwing them in the river-We therefore pray you to take such steps as shall put a stop to all lawless proceedings. The governor took no acts to stop the Carroll County settlers from expelling the Mormons and left them to defend themselves. In fact by the time he received the request the governor had already declared the insurrection at an end and issued orders to disband the militia that had been called up at the end of August.[75]

Albert Rockwood wrote on October 14 that,

“…an express came from that Place here a week last Thursday night [4 October] r[e]questing asistance & Council. [.] Friday morn Capt. Brunson started with 42 men all mounted and well armed, he was hailed by the Mob that were encamped near De Witt but they passed on and arrived in safety at De Witt[.] On Friday afternoon another company started under Brother Joseph.

The attack [1 October] was made on De Witt by taking Elder Humphreys family and
burning his house[.] He lived about 1 1/2 miles from the landing which is head
quarters, several scattering shots were made at the brethren during 3 or 4 of the
first days, no damage save making holes in their Clothing. [p 8] One heavy
charge was received from the mob when the brethren returned the fire and killed
4 Missourians,  The Campaign lasted about a week when a treaty of peace was
made with the mob and the brethren have left the place De Witt was not an
appointed stake of Zion, but was designed as a Port of Landing on [the] Missouri
river[.] It contained about 10 or 12 families of the brethren when I passed through
on my way to this place.”[76]

In a letter to the Governor on October 3, General Samuel Lucas (who had gone to investigate the rumored disturbance), wrote that a fight had taken place and several persons were killed.” This turned out to be inaccurate, no one was killed though there had been an exchange of gunfire by both parties. [77] 

Even though his own Generals wrote to the Governor pleading with him to send in the Militia to stop the aggression of the Carroll County settlers or come himself, Boggs did nothing. Kinney writes that,

Samuel Bogart

Samuel Bogart

Even Captain Bogart of the Missouri militia, who was not engaged in the action at DeWitt, observed that each time they met a Mormon, “he is armed in best manner and continually throwing out his threats.” Bogart described his company’s next movements. “We were ordered to DeWitt in Carroll County. When we arrived at Carrollton we were informed that the people of Carroll and the Mormons, who were mostly Canadians, were assembled within a mile of each other, ready for battle.” In a later report, Bogart explained, “Mormons from Caldwell were on their way to DeWitt.” Captain Bogart requested his company be allowed to move across the road between Far West and DeWitt and intercept the Mormon reinforcements, forcing them back to Caldwell. General Parks, writing from Daviess County, denied his request and Mormon reinforcements were allowed to freely pass into DeWitt, swelling the number of defenders. General Parks did order his troops to move closer to DeWitt after the reinforcements arrived but made no efforts to disperse the combatants; Bogart was infuriated. After two days of encamping his force outside DeWitt, Parks ordered his troops home. He left over two hundred well-armed Mormons in DeWitt that had come from Caldwell, disobeying the express orders of General Atchison to quell the uprising. The conditions in DeWitt were dire. The Mormons had no food to eat or kindling to build fires. Attempts to forage for food and firewood resulted in vigilantes beating any Mormons who ventured out of the town. The women and children were even harried within their homes by volunteer gunmen who rode up within two hundred yards of the town, spraying the buildings with gunfire.[78]

As Albert Rockwood wrote, Joseph Smith had secretly entered DeWitt under the cover of darkness with about two hundred mounted men. Upon his arrival he learned that anyone caught outside the town were being beaten with hickory hearts so they could not forage for supplies, and anyone trying to leave the city was being fired upon. With no supplies coming in, the strength to continue fighting was fading fast. Smith would have to attack an armed force of unknown size, or agree to leave the city and fight another day when the odds were in his favor. On October 10, Smith surrendered the city to the Carroll County settlers. A meeting was held to discuss terms and compensation to the Mormons, and when an agreement was made, the Mormons left DeWitt and departed from Carroll County.[79] Go to the Top

k. mormon retaliation

At Diahman, John Smith (Joseph Smith’s uncle) wrote in his diary on Sunday, October 14, that,

…this day we heard our Brethren who had been surrounded by a mobb in east [Carroll] county have agreed to leave the county.[80]

John Smith (Painting) c. 1835, and (Photo) c. 1855

John Smith (Painting) c. 1835, and (Photo) c. 1855

The departure of the Mormons from Carroll County emboldened the settlers in other counties. Residents in Daviess County soon rejected Alexander Doniphan’s offers to settle things amicably and soon word began to spread and the cry went up, “To Hell with Doniphan’s peace settlement!”[81] The Mormons were getting a taste of their own medicine, but unlike the dissenters they had numbers and arms, and they were determined to fight back.

On October 14, Smith announced, “General Doniphan has authorized this body to act as a regiment of the state militia under the command of Col. Hinkle.” Kinney writes that:

Doniphan had procured a militia unit for Caldwell County; however, its use was subject to the orders of the governor just as it was in all other Missouri counties. Smith did not have authority to call up the Caldwell militia to readiness and Governor Boggs never issued an order asking them to deploy. Despite his disdain for Missouri law Smith quickly confirmed: “We are therefore acting within the law. All who are with me will meet tomorrow to march to the defense of Adam-ondi-Ahman.” He reminded his followers, “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his brethren.” Smith’s tone darkened as he noted missing dissenters from the meeting, “Brother Rigdon likes to call them ‘Oh don’t men!’ In this time of war we have no need for such. A man must declare himself friend or enemy. I move a resolution that the property of all ‘Oh don’t men’ be taken over to maintain the war.” The crowd burst into shouting and adulation. Sidney Rigdon, eyes blazing, jumped up and shouted, “I move that the blood of the backward be spilled in the streets of the Far West!” Smith silenced him saying, “No, I move a better resolution. We’ll take them along with us to Daviess County, and if it comes to battle, we’ll sit them on their horses with bayonets and pitchforks and make them ride in front!” In closing Smith declared, “If the people will let us alone, we will preach the gospel in peace. But if they come on us to molest us we will establish our religion by the sword. We will trample down our enemies and make it one of gore and blood from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean.” He prophesied, “I will be to this generation a second Mohammed, whose motto in treating for peace was ‘the Alcoran [Qur’an] or the Sword.’ So shall it eventually be with us—Joseph Smith or the Sword!”[82] 

After Smith made his declaration on October 14 in Far West, he took 100 armed and mounted men and rode to DiAhman where he joined Lyman Wight and his force of 250 men. The plan was now to drive the Missourians from Daviess County.

In DiAhman, John Smith wrote on October 15 that he,

…met this morning in general conference entered? into a joint firm the whole church appointed our officers and every man went to work at his respective occupations business seems to go on well the prospects one pleasing the heavens smiles to all appearence upon us [83]

On the 16th, John Smith recorded that,

…our brethren came here from far west with an armed force a hundred and fifty or 200 men the mob had left earle and had sworn to drive us out of Davis county th<e>y were coming on with all speed with a pieces of cannon this is the third time we have been called to arms this summer to defend ourselves against the mobb have not been able to even build houses and now many of us live in tents and not a finished house in the city the Lord knows when we shall be delivered from these calamities help they servants o Lord[84]

mob-attacking-settlementThe next day Mormon Danites began to disarm the Missouri settlers that lived in the vicinity of DiAhman. Though John Smith had written that no building was being done because of mob activity, on the 17th he recorded in his diary that “all labour as building or farming etc suspended we have the motion of the mob it is thought best to whip out the mob at all events they are gathering their forces and moving their families out of the Co[unty] and other hostile movements”

It seems clear that those within the city were being told that there were mobs ready to attack them, when in fact most of the Missouri settlers had left the area or were forced out. Eliza Snow thought that the Daviess County settlers leaving was some kind of ploy:

Not long after our young missionaries left us, [Lorenzo Snow and Abel Butterfield] very early one morning, we were utterly astonished with the announcement that all of our neighbors, the “old settlers,” including those of whom our father had purchased, had fled the country. On entering some of the vacated houses, clocks were seen ticking the time, coffee-pots boiling the coffee, and everything indicating a precipitate and compulsory flight. What could be the cause, and what the meaning of this unprecedented and really ominous movement was veiled in the deepest mystery, until the reaction solved it by bringing to light the most cruel perfidy. We soon learned that those unscrupulous hypocrites had scattered abroad through- the settlements, arousing a mob feeling against the Latter-day Saints, by reporting that the “Mormons” had driven them from their homes, they having barely escaped with their lives at the expense of all they possessed.[85]

On October 18, companies of Danites left DiAhman and raided the settlements of Gallatin, Millport, and Grindstone Fork. John Smith wrote that they were “watching the enemy today and taking measures to disperse the mob”[86]

The “mob” were simply the non-Mormon citizens of Daviess County and the militia. One resident, Henry Lee was visited by a company of Mormons who ordered him to leave his house. They told him they were going to take all of his property and that he better get away. He left his home in the hands of the Mormons and reported the incident to justice of the peace Adam Black.

Kinney writes that,

One company of approximately one hundred men was ordered to attack Gallatin under the command of David Patten, code-named Captain Fearnought. At the same time another company of one hundred men under the command of Col. Lyman Wight was given the task of attacking Millport. A third company of one hundred men under the command of Seymour Brunson attacked Grindstone Fork. The first objective was to take provisions for the winter and compensation for Mormon losses in Jackson and Carroll counties. The second objective was to drive all non-Mormons from the county. The Mormons rounded up all horses, cattle, and hogs they could find and brought them back to Adam-ondi-Ahman. A young Mormon by the name of Oliver Huntington, who was not allowed to participate in the raids because of his age, had climbed up to Adam’s altar, the highest point in Adam-ondi-Ahman, to see what he could of the fighting. He recollected of the day: “I saw the smoke rising toward heaven, which filled me with ambition.” The following day the youth reported, “I went to Bishop Knight’s house and saw the plunder . . . and heard them tell in what order they took the place.[87]

Mormon War 3D. Michael Quinn in The Mormon Hierarchy, Origins of Power explains:

In retaliation for raids against isolated Mormon farms, Mormon forces (primarily, if not exclusively, Danites) pillaged two non-Mormon towns. “There is no question,” writes Brigham Young University professor William G. Hartley, “that Latter-day Saint rangers burned buildings at Millport and Gallatin,” including the U.S. post office and county treasurer’s office. In the most candid account ever written by a Utah Mormon historian about the Missouri Danites, he also acknowledges: “It is certain that some Danites played the thief, and it is possible, although unproven, that one or two were murderers.” Horrified by what was happening, the Quorum of Twelve’s president Thomas B. Marsh prepared a formal affidavit against these Mormon depredations, for which he was excommunicated and classed as an apostate. His co-signer was Apostle Orson Hyde who remorsefully returned to the church within a year and received again his position in the Twelve.[88]

This kind of behavior was too much for Thomas B. Marsh and Orson Hyde, who withdrew from the church and gave statements on the 24th of October:

At the request of a committee of the Citizens of Ray county I make the following statement in relation to the recent movements, plans & intentions of the mormons in the Counties of Caldwell & Daviess – Shortly after the settlement of the difficulties at Dewitt in Carroll County , a call was made by the Mormons at Far West, in Caldwell County for volunteers to go to Daviess County , to disperse the mob, as they said. on the day before this Joseph Smith the prophet, had preached in which he said, that all the Mormons, who refused to take up armz, if necessary, in difficulties with the citizens, should be shot, or otherwise put to death; and as I was there with my family, I thought it most prudent to go, and did go with my wagon, and as the driver[89]

We marched to Adamondeomon, and found no troops or mob in Daviess County Scouting parties frequently went out & brought in intelligence that they had seen from three to five men­ We got to Diamon on tuesday evening, [October 16] & on the next day a company of about eighty of the mormons, commanded by a man, fictitiously name Captain Fearnot, [Apostle David W. Patton]  marched to Gallatin ­They returned and said they had run off from Gallatin twenty or thirty men and had taken Gallatin ­ had taken on prisoner and another had joined the company.

Possible image of Thomas Baldwin Marsh

Possible image of Thomas Baldwin Marsh

I afterwards learned from the mormons, that they had burned Gallatin, and that it was done by the aforesaid company that marched there. The mormons informed me that they had hauled away all the goods from the store in Gallatin; and deposited them at the Bishop’s store houses. at Adam on diahmon­ On the same day Lyman Wight marched about eighty horsemen for Mills­ ­Port­ He returned before night and called for Joseph Smith & Hiram Smith, to report to them (said Hiram being counsellor of said Joseph the prophet) and Said Wight reported that he had been in sight of Millport­ saw no one to fight, but that the people generally had gone & left their houses and property­

The prophet on hearing the property was left, commenced a reply & said “We had better see to it”, When Wyght stopped him by saying never mind, we will have a private counsel, and Smith replied very well. The private counsel. I did not hear­ The men were dismissed to go to their camps­

The same evening a number of footmen came up from the direction of Millport, laden with property, which, I was informed, consisted of beds, clocks, & other household furniture­ The same night, I think, about three wagons were despatched for about forty bee gums, & the next day saw several gums, where they were splitting them up & taking the honey & burning the gums, in which business of taking out the honey, but few were engaged, for fear, as they said, they would be called on as witness against them. When Wyght returned from Millport & informed Smith that the people were gone & the property left, Smith asked him if they had left any of the negroes for them & Wyght replied no. Upon which some one laughed and said to Smith, you have lost your negroe [ ]­

During the same time a company, called the fur company, were sent out to bring in fat hogz & cattle­ calling the hogs, bears & the cattle, buffaloe. They brought in at one time seven cattle, & at another time four or five belonging to the people of Daviess­ 2 hogs were brought in dead, but I know not how many, I saw only two

Affidavit of Thomas Marsh, October 24, 1838. PDF

Affidavit of Thomas Marsh, October 24, 1838. PDF (Click to view entire document)

They have among them a company consisting of all that and considered true mormons, called the Danites, who have taken an oath to support the leader of the Church in all things, that they say or do, whether right or wrong, many however of this band are much dissatisfied with this oath, as being against moral and religious principles. On Saturday last I am informed by the mormons, that they had a meeting at Far West at which they appointed a company of twelve by the name of the destruction company, for the purpose of burning & destroying & that if the people of Buncombe came to do mischief upon the people of Caldwell. & committed depredations on the mormons. they were to burn Buncombe & if the people of Clay & Ray made any movements against them, this destroying company were to burn Liberty & Richmond . This burning was to be done secretly by going as incendiaris.

At the same meeting I was informed they passed a decree that no mormon dissenter should leave Caldwell county alive & that such as attempted to do it should be shot down & sent to tell their tale in eternity. In a conversation between Doct. Avard & other mormons, said Avard proposed to start a pestilence among the gentiles as he called them by poisoning their corns, fruit &c. and saying it was the work of the Lord­ and said Avard advocated lying for the support of their religion, & said it was no harm to lie for the Lord. The plan of said Smith, the prophet, is to take this State, & he professes to his people to intend taking the U.S. & ultimately the whole world­ This is the belief of the Church & my own opinion of the prophet’s plan & intentions It is my opinion that neither said Joseph Smith the prophet nor any one of the principal men who is firm in the faith, could be indicted for any offence in the County of Caldwell .

The prophet inculcates the notion, & it is believed by every true mormon, that Smiths prophecies are superior to the law of the land. I have heard the prophet say that he should yet tread down his enemiez & walk over their dead bodies

That if he was not let alone he would be a Mahamet to this generation, & that he would make it it one gore of blood, from the Rocky mountains to the Atlantic ocean . That like Mahamet, whose motto, in treating for peace was the Alcoran, or the sword. So should it be eventually with us. Jo Smith or the sword These last statements were made during the last summer. The number of armed men at Adamondiamon, was between three & four hundred

The most of the Statements in the foregoing desclosures of Thomas B. March, I know to be true the remainder I believe to be true.

Richmond . Oct: 24 th . 1838

Orson Hyde c. 1850

Orson Hyde, c. 1853

Orson Hyde sworn to and subscribed before me on the day above written Henry Jacobs J. P. The undersigned committee on the part of the Citizensz of Ray County have no doubt, but that Thomas B. Marsh & Orson Hide, whose names are signed to the foregoing certificates have been memberz of the Mormon church, in full fellowship until very recently, when they voluntarily abandoned the mormon[89]

 

On October 22, Major General Atchison wrote to Governor Boggs:

Liberty Oct. 22 nd. 1838. To his Excellency the Commander in Chief Sir, Almost every hour I receive information of outrage and violence; of burning, and plundering in the county of Daviess ; it seems that the Mormons have become desperate and act like mad = men, they have burned a store in Gallatin , they have burnt Millport, they have it is said plundered several houses and have taken away the arms from Diverse Citizens of that county. A cannon that was employed in the siege of De Witt in Carroll County , and taken for a like purpose to Daviess County , has fallen into the hands of the Mormons, it is also reported that the anti Mormons have when opportunity offered disarmed the Mormons, and burnt several of their houses. The great difficulty in settling this matter seems to be in not being able Identify the offenders; I am convinced that nothing short of driving the Mormons from Daviess County will satisfy the party opposed to them, and this I have not the power to do as I conceive legally. There are no troops at this time in Daviess County; nor do I deem it expedient to send any there.___for I am well convinced that it would but make matters worse, for Sir I do not feel disposed to disgrace myself, or permit the troops under my command to disgrace the State, and themselves, by acting the part of a mob. If the Mormons are to be drove from their homez let it be done without any color of law, and in open defiance thereof; let it be done by volunteerz acting upon their own responsibilitiez. However I deem it my duty to Submit these matters to the commander in chief, and will conclude by Saying it will be my greatest pleasure to execute any order your Excellency Should think proper to give in this matter with promptnesz and to the very letter. I have the honor to be your Excellenceys Most Obt. Servt. David R. Atchison Major Genl. 3 rd. Dvis M. M. [90]

The Governor also received other reports, but still refused to intervene. Kinney writes:

Colonel William P. Penniston, the anti-Mormon agitator, reported to the governor, “It’s unheard of and unprecedented the conduct and high-handed proceedings of the Mormons.” On October 15 they had learned “the Mormons were collecting in Far West, for the purpose of driving, what they term the mob, from this county.” The Mormons used that term to include all the citizens of Daviess County who were not Mormons. Colonel Penniston went on to describe the actions of the Mormons: “They have plundered and robbed and burned every house in Gallatin,” including the county treasury office. The Mormons “have driven almost every individual from the county, who are now flying before them with their families, many of whom have been forced out without necessary clothing–their wives and children wading, in many instances, through the snow without shoes.” Penniston continued to describe the ghastly conditions the Daviess County settlers suffered at the hand of the Mormons. “When the miserable families are then forced out, their houses are plundered and then burned.” The Mormons “are making this universal throughout the county.” The colonel reminded the governor, “these facts are being made known to you . . . hoping that your authority will be used to stop . . . this banditti of Canadian refugees and restore us to our lost homes.” Penniston concludes his letter to the governor by discrediting the reports of Mormon sympathizing leaders. “Can such proceedings be submitted to in a government of laws? I think not— notwithstanding the political juggling of such men as David R. Atchison and some others, whose reports and circulations setting the conduct and character of the Mormons more favorably before the community, are believed by the people of this county to be prompted by the hope of interest.” Here was yet another report discrediting Atchison to the governor, hastening his replacement as field commander-in-chief. [91]

Encountering little to no resistance, the Mormons sacked the entirety of Daviess County, threatening any of the settlers (they deemed unfriendly) with death if they stayed. The Mormons also made incursions into Livingston County. The residents of Daviess County fled in fear, leaving all of their possessions behind. Others were forced by the Mormons to leave, and their homes and property burned after the Mormons took what they could. Kinney writes,

On October 18, after the weather had calmed and his men had had a chance to resupply at their homes, Captain Bogart recalled his company. He settled his command in a clearing twelve miles north of Elkhorn, which lay near the line dividing Caldwell and Ray counties. Mormon troops had been spotted patrolling the area in force. Bogart informed General Atchison that the Mormons had turned their threatening posture toward Ray County. “They have threatened to burn Buncombe and Elkhorn.” Captain Bogart had, on his own direction, ordered his company, which numbered fifty men, to prevent any such outrage from occurring. The militia troops were going to be grossly outnumbered. Realizing his precarious situation the captain earnestly sought additional assistance from General Atchison. He warned the general, “the people of Ray are going to take the law into their own hands and put an end to the Mormon War.”44 Bogart was correct; on the 23rd, the same day he sent his dispatch to Atchison, the citizens of Ray County held a committee meeting in Richmond for the purpose of deciding what should be done about the recent threats and events. They determined that a final demand for assistance must be sent to the governor. The fallback measure would be for Ray County citizens to volunteer and defeat the Mormons before they were allowed to sack and pillage the county. In their petition to the governor the committee confirmed that they received confirmation of the fact Gallatin and Millport had been burned and sacked, that all non-Mormon residents of Daviess had fled for either Livingston or Ray counties, that the Mormons had taken the firearms of all the Daviess County residents, including a cannon. Summing up, the committee reported, “the news . . . reaches us hourly that they are destroying the property of the citizens that they cannot carry away, all that they can carry away they take; blood and plunder appears to be their object. All those who do not join with them . . . are banished from Caldwell and all those from other counties who are opposed to them are threatened.[92] 

On October 23, Thomas C. Burch, a Richmond prosecuting attorney on the Fifth Circuit also sent a report to Governor Boggs. He wrote,

The mormon difficultiez are arrising and have arisen here to an alarming height. It is Said (and I believe truly) that they have recently robbed and burned the Stone house of Mr. I. Stollingz in Gallatin Daviesz County , and that they have burned Several dwelling houses of the Citizens of Daviesz taken their arms from them, and have

Joseph Smith, Leader of the Danites & The Armies of Israel

Joseph Smith, Leader of the Danites & The Armies of Israel

taken Some provisions. Mormon dissenters are daily flying to this county for refuge from the ferocity of the Prophet Jo. Smith, who they say threatens the lives of all mormons who refuse to take up arms at his bidding, or to do his commands. Those dissenters (and they are numerousz) all confirm the reports Concerning the Danite band of which you have doubtlesz heard much; and Say that Jo. infuses into the minds of his followers a Spirit of insubordination to the laws of the Land, telling them that the Kingdom of the Lord is come, which is Superior to the institutions of the earth, and encourages them to fight and promises them the Spoilz of the battlez. A respectable Gentleman of my acquaintance from Livingston is here now who informz me that the mormons are robbing the citizens of Livingston, on the borders of Caldwell of their corn and whatever else they want; that they have taken a cannon from Livingston County , and are prowling about the country, a regularly formed banditti. That the Prophet Jo. Smith has persuaded his church that they are not, and ought not to be amenable to the laws of the land, and is Still doing it I have no doubt.­ The Danite band as I am informed by numbers of the most respectable of the mormons (who are now dissenters) bind them to support the high council of the mormon church, and one, another in all things whether right or wrong, and that even by false swearing. I have taken much pains to be informed correctly about this Danite band, and am well Satisfied that my information as above Stated is correct, I have no doubt but that Jo. Smith is az lawlesz and consumate a Scoundrel as ever was the veiled Prophet of [Chorassin].­ I believe the criminal law in Caldwell county cannot be enforced upon a mormon. Grand Iurys there will not indict. Jo. declarez in his public addressez that he can revolutionize the U.S. and that if provoked, he will do it. This declaration has been heard by Col.Williams of this place and other Gentlemen of equal veracity. I have hoped that the civil authoritiez would prove Sufficient for the exigency of the case; but I am now convinced that it is not, So long as indictmentz have to be found by a Jury of the County in which the Offence may be committed. I do not pretend to have wisdom enough to make a Suggestion as to what Your Excellency should do. The evil is alarming beyond all doubt. I suggest the foregoing facts for Your consideration.

I am Respectfully Yr. Obt. Servt. Th. C. Burch [93]  Go to the Top

l. the battle of crooked river

Reed Peck reported that,

On the night of the 24th Oct this company under command of Capt Bogart was encamped on Crooked River 12 miles South of Far West and two miles south of the line of Caldwell county[.] Information was received in Far West about midnight that this company had taken some prisoners and burned some Mormon houses

David W. Patten was immediately placed at the head of 75 or 100 volunteers and proceeded within two miles of the militia or “mob” as the Mormons called them where they left their horses with a Small guard and march silently on foot till hailed by the Sentinal with. “Who comes there[?]”

Capt Patten answered “friends,” Sentinel “Are you armed[?] Patten: “We are —–” Sentinel. “Then lay down your arms” Patten to his men “Fire” Some of the foremost men attempted to shoot but their pieces “snapped”

The sentinel shot one of the “Friends” through the hip and ran into Camp closely followed by the Mormons

Day had just began to dawn when they rushed upon their enemies echoing their war cry “God and liberty.” A few minutes decided the contest in favor of the Mormons The militia soon fled leaving their horses and baggage in camp[.] One of their number was killed on the ground several wounded and one taken prisoner by the Mormons

Gideon Carter brother of Jared (6) was killed in the battle and David W. Patten and one other of eight that were wounded of the Mormons died the following day Early in the morning intelligence of this battle was received in Far West and the presidency and Lyman Wight rode out to meet the victorious Mormons and marched at their head back to town

The prisoner taken by the Mormons was released on their march back with instructions to follow a certain path which was pointed out to him but being suspicious of treachery he travelled in it but a short distance and left it for a Safer way in the woods Certain movements convinced him that an ambush had been placed to cut off his return and he no sooner left the path than he discovered a man in the act of shooting To save himself he “bent forward, ran crooked and dodged behind trees” but the cold hearted villain (I know him well) [Parley P. Pratt] deliberately sent a ball through his hip and left him, thinking perhaps he had given him his death wound

The horses taken in the battle were distributed among the Mormons and receipted for to Coln Hinkel In Richmond the first information received of this battle was that the whole company of 50 or 60 men was massacred and before the report was corrected Amos Rees and Wily C. Williams were far on their way to the Governor with this intelligence

Immediately after the battle of Crooked River nearly all Caldwell County were astir removing their families and effects to Far West as a place of Safety[94]

Crooked River Battleground

Crooked River Battleground

D. Michael Quinn:

Danites who maintained lifelong loyalty to the LDS church later wrote of what they did to defenseless “gentiles” during this “Mormon War” in Missouri. For example, twenty-year-old Benjamin F. Johnson participated a raid that Danite captain Cornelius P. Lott led against an isolated settlement:

My sympathies were drawn toward the women and children, but I would in no degree let them deter me from duty. So while others were pillaging for something to carry away, I was doing my best to protect, as far as possible, the lives and comfort of the families who were dependent on getting away upon horseback….While others were doing the burning and plunder, my mission was of mercy so far as duty would permit. But of course I made enemies at home, and became more known by those who were our avowed enemies. Before noon we had set all on fire and left upon a circuitous route towards home.

The LDS publishing house of the Central States Mission printed that uncomfortable acknowledgement of Mormon depredations. However, Oliver B. Huntington offered no apology, and this lifelong Mormon wrote decades later that he and other Danites had “the privilege of retaking as much as they took from us.” And sometimes the property of gentiles who had been friendly to their Mormon neighbors was plundered by Mormons who did not know them.

James Bracken, also a devout Mormon, acknowledged that during 1838 “some of the brethren did things they should not have done, such as appropriating to their own use things that did not belong to them.” He noted that Joseph Smith had not authorized such stealing. Bracken may not have been a Danite, but Justus Morse was and had listened to Smith authorize a Danite meeting (apparently after the Gallatin fight) to “suck the milk of the gentiles.” Morse, who remained loyal to the prophet throughout his life, added that Smith explained “that we had been injured by the mob in Missouri, and to take from the gentiles was no sin,” merely retribution. The Mormon prophet had unleashed the fury of the Danites by his published endorsement of “taking vengeance” in the event of hostilities and by his private instructions for the Danites to “suck the milk of the gentiles.” Thus, a recent history by the LDS church acknowledges that “Danite depredations, both real and imagined, intensified hostilities” with Missouri authorities. In addition, despite their participation in such Danite raids against civilians, Smith later advanced both Lott and Johnson to his theocratic Council of Fifty.

Nevertheless, there is evidence that Smith and leaders like Brigham Young disapproved of Sampson Avard’s instructions to Danites that plundering all non-Mormons should be standard procedure and to kill any Danite who faltered in that obligation. Danite Lorenzo D. Young later wrote of his opposition to those teachings and of his brother Brigham’s warning to beware of Avard. Lorenzo’s autobiography implied this meant he also rejected Danite affiliation. To the contrary, he later described taking orders from Seymour Brunson (a Danite officer) for Lorenzo and Albert P. Rockwood (another Danite) to “patrol the country every night” and to demand the “countersign” (which Shurtliff described as Danite). Avard also testified in court that “I once had a command as an officer, but Joseph Smith removed me from it.” Since that happened before Mormon forces surrendered and [p.99] before Avard turned state’s evidence, there is good reason to believe that he promoted an extreme interpretation of Sidney Rigdon’s sermons of June-July 1838, which were radical enough in themselves.

However, it is anachronistic to apply Smith’s later rejection of Avard to the Danite general’s actions four months earlier. In the early summer of 1838, Avard was the stalking-horse for the First Presidency. The Danite constitution specified: “All officers shall be subject to the commands of the Captain General, given through the Secretary of War.” Joseph Smith had held the latter position “by revelation” in the church’s “war department” for three years, and had been commander-in-chief of the Armies of Israel for four years. What the Danites did militarily during the summer and fall of 1838 was by the general oversight and command of Joseph Smith.Shoal Creek Hawn's Mill

In the skirmishes that both sides called “battles,” Mormons used deadly force without reluctance. Benjamin F. Johnson wrote that Danite leader (and future apostle) Lyman Wight told his men to pray concerning their Missouri enemies: “That God would Damn them & give us pow[e]r to Kill them.” Likewise, at the beginning of the Battle of Crooked River on 25 October 1838, Apostle David W. Patten (a Danite captain with the code-name “Fear Not”) told his men: “Go ahead, boys; rake them down.” The highest ranking Mormon charged with murder for obeying this order was Apostle Parley P. Pratt who allegedly took the careful aim of a sniper in killing one Missourian and then severely wounding militiaman Samuel Tarwater. This was after Apostle Patten received a fatal stomach wound. In their fury at the sight of their fallen leader, some of the Danites mutilated the unconscious Tarwater “with their swords, striking him lengthwise in the mouth, cutting off his under teeth, and breaking his lower jaw; cutting off his cheeks…and leaving him [for] dead.” He survived to press charges against Pratt for attempted murder.[95]

Captain Bogart fell back after the Mormon attack but held fast the northern half of Ray County. The initial express messenger to Richmond reported all but three of the fifty to sixty militiamen had been massacred in the attack. In fact only one militia soldier had been killed. It was also reported that Bogart had been overrun by three hundred Mormons and that most if not all of the unit was captured. Ray County’s citizen committee, despairing the imminent raid on Richmond, immdediately sent dispatches to the governor and the surrounding counties asking for immediate assistance in repelling the Mormon invasion. Major Amos Rees and Colonel Wiley Williams sent a dispatch to General John B. Clark at midnight on the 25th reporting the attack and other Mormon atrocities in Daviess County, lamenting the prospect that all of the men of Bogart’s command taken prisoner would be killed by the “wretched desperadoes” of Caldwell. The Mormons were reportedly planning an attack on Richmond the following night and the city was in a panic. The women and children were being shipped down to Lexington and other surrounding cities. Lafayette County Judge E. M. Ryland sent Rees and Williams instructions to alert the governor of the situation and all the counties along the way. Richmond “is expected to be sacked and burned [by Mormons but that] we sent one hundred well-armed and daring men.” Ryland was confident the Lafayette County men would “give the Mormons a warm reception in Richmond, tonight.” He concluded with urgency, “haste must be made in order to stop the devastation menaced by these infuriated fanatics. The volunteers must be prepared to expel or exterminate the Mormons from the State. Nothing but this can give tranquility to the Public . . . and reestablish the law.” Once again the extermination wording first coined by Sidney Rigdon in his July 4th address and distributed by Smith all over northern Missouri would come back to haunt them.[96]

Upon hearing the news the Governor’s reaction was extreme. On the 27th of October 1838 Lilburn W. Boggs issued Order No. 44 to General Clark, in which he wrote that he had received reports “of the most appal[l]ing character which entirely changes the face of things and places the Mormons in the attitude of an open and armed defiance of the laws And of having made war upon the people of this State. Your orders are therefore to hasten your operation with all possible speed.” Boggs then gave an order that no Governor had ever given in the history of the United States:

The Mormons must be treated as enemies and must be exterminated or driven from the State if necessary for the public peace their outrages are beyond all description. If you can increase your force you are authorized to do so to any extent you may consider necessary.[97]

Though much has been said about how the word “exterminate” should be interpreted, it is obvious that the Governor wanted the Mormons to leave the state, and if they would not, he would have his Generals use deadly force against them. [98] Go to the Top

m. the massacre at shoal creek

D. Michael Quinn observed in The Mormon Hierarchy that “Mormon marauding against non-Mormon Missourians in 1838 was mild by comparison with the brutality of the anti-Mormon militias.”[99]

From T.B.H. Stenhouse, The Rocky Mountain Saints

From T.B.H. Stenhouse, The Rocky Mountain Saints

Quinn continues:

Three days after Governor Lilburn W. Boggs issued a military order that the Mormons “must be exterminated, or driven from the State,” a Missouri militia unit attacked the LDS settlement at Haun’s Mill on 30 October 1838. They shot at and wounded thirteen fleeing women and children, then [p.100] methodically killed eighteen males, including two boys (ages nine and ten). When one of the Missouri militiamen found ten-year-old Sardius Smith’s hiding place, he put “his rifle near the boy’s head, and literally blowed off the upper part of it,” testified survivor and general authority Joseph Young shortly thereafter. Other Missourians used a “corn-cutter” to mutilate the still-living Thomas McBride. When the survivors found the elderly man, his corpse was “literally mangled from head to foot.” Aside from Young’s status as a near-victim along with his wife and children, Haun’s Mill struck at the heart of other general authorities: Sardius was a nephew of former Seventy’s president Sylvester M. Smith whose brother also died in the massacre, and recently appointed apostle Willard Richards lost a nephew there.

"The Haun's Mil Massacre", C. C. A. Christensen

“The Haun’s Mil Massacre”, C. C. A. Christensen

A generally unacknowledged dimension of both the extermination order and the Haun’s Mill massacre, however, is that they resulted from Mormon actions in the Battle of Crooked River. Knowingly or not, Mormons had attacked state troops, and this had a cascade effect. Local residents feared annihilation: “We know not the hour or minute we will be laid in ashes,” a local minister and county clerk wrote the day after the battle. “For God’s sake give us assistance as quick as possible.” Correspondingly, the attack on state troops weakened the position of Mormon friends in Missouri’s militia and government. Finally, upon receiving news of the injuries and death of state troops at Crooked River, Governor Boggs immediately drafted his extermination order on 27 October 1838 because the Mormons “have made war upon the people of this state.” Worse, the killing of one Missourian and mutilation of another while he was defenseless at Crooked River led to the mad-dog revenge by Missourians in the slaughter at Haun’s Mill.[100] Go to the Top

n. surrender of far west and diahman

Concerning the surrender of Joseph Smith at Far West, Richard Bushman writes,

The war rapidly concluded after the Haun’s Mill massacre. On October 30, Joseph Smith found an army of Missouri militia men drawn up a mile and a half south of Far West, temporarily under the command of Samuel Lucas of Jackson County, the ranking officer until General Clark arrived. Joseph spoke bravely of taking a stand, but when he got news of the Haun’s Mill attack, he foresaw the same fate for Far West and Adam-ondi-Ahman. John Corrill, Reed Peck, and George Hinkle from the Mormon side entered into negotiations with Alexander Doniphan acting for Lucas. Both Peck and Corrill claimed Joseph was eager to sue for peace. Corrill said he was told “to beg like a dog for peace, and afterwards [Joseph] said he would rather go to States-prison for twenty years, or would rather die himself than have the people exterminated.”

On October 31, Lucas presented terms to Hinkle and required him to bring Joseph and other key leaders into the Missourian camp. Failing that, Lucas threatened to reduce Far West to ashes. As legal support for the threat, he showed the Mormons the governor’s order. Lucas gave them an hour to decide and prepared his 2,500 men for battle. Seeing the Missouri forces approaching, the Far West leaders hurriedly complied. Near sunset, Joseph and four others walked the six hundred yards between the Mormon lines and the advancing militia and put themselves into the hands of their enemies.

Joseph thought he went to negotiate, as the head of the opposing forces, but Lucas wanted prisoners charged with crimes against the state. He had told Hinkle that Joseph would be taken captive if the peace terms were accepted; if they were turned down, he would be returned to Far West and the Mormons would take the consequences. Instead of negotiating, as he should have since the terms were not yet accepted, Lucas dealt with Joseph like a prisoner of war. A guard of fifty men escorted the Mormons through lines of jeering soldiers, who were delighted to have captured the infamous Prophet. As Joseph said, “Instead of being treated with that respect which is due from one citizen to another, we were taken as prisoners of war, and were treated with the utmost contempt.” Parley Pratt said that “these all set up a constant yell, like so many bloodhounds let loose upon their prey.” A Missourian later remembered the five Mormons “were about as badly scared set as I ever saw,” save for Lyman Wight, who “stood like a lion . . . without a sign of fear about him.” That night Joseph slept in the rain on the ground, surrounded by an armed guard. That was far from what he expected, and he ever after thought that Hinkle had betrayed him.

Missouri Militia at Far West

Missouri Militia at Far West

Seeing no alternative, Joseph acceded to Lucas’s terms. The Mormons were to give up their arms and leave the state. Those accused of crimes were to be surrendered and tried. Mormon property in Missouri was to be confiscated to reimburse the Daviess citizens whose houses had been burned. The Mormons were to give up everything except their lives. Hinkle thought the demands beyond reason and wanted to seek better. He argued they were being asked to give up “their most sacred rites as citizens of a republican state.” Joseph, with little faith in republican rights, sent word to comply anyway. With 2,500 Missouri militia men camped outside of Far West, he had no stomach for battle. The Mormons were to give up their Zion. [101] Go to the Top

iii. Aftermath

o. trial and exodus

John Corrill wrote about the events after Smith agreed to surrender Far West:

This [Extermination] order greatly agitated my mind. I expected we should be exterminated without fail. There lay three thousand men, highly excited and full of vengeance, and it was as much as the officers could do to keep them off from us anyhow; and they now had authority from the executive to exterminate, with orders to cut off our retreat, and the word Mormons, I thought, included innocent as well as guilty; so of course there was no escape for any. These were my first reflections on hearing the order. But General Lucas soon said that they would be more mild than the order required; that if we would give up the heads of the Church to be punished; surrender our arms; give up all our property, (those who had taken up arms,) to pay the debts of the whole Church and the damages done in Davies and elsewhere; and then all leave the state forthwith, except those retained to be punished, they would spare our lives, and protect us out of the state.

The sun was then about two hours high, and he gave us till sunset to make up our minds and deliver the prisoners. A gentleman of note told me that if these men were suffered to escape, or if they could not be found, nothing could save the place from destruction and the people from extermination. We knew that General Lucas had no authority, and his requirements were illegal; for he was out of the bounds of his division, and the Governor’s order was to General Clark, and not to him; but there was no other way for the Mormons but to submit. We immediately went into town and collected Joseph Smith, Jr., Sidney Rigden , Lyman Wight, Parley P. Pratt, and George W. Robertson together, and told them what the Governor’s order and General Lucas required. Smith said if it was the Governor’s order, they would submit, and the Lord would take care of them. So we hurried with them as fast as possible to the place appointed. We met General Lucas, with his army, but a short distance from town. He had made every arrangement to surround and destroy the place; but the prisoners delivered themselves up, and General Lucas, with the army and prisoners, returned to their camp. These prisoners were to be retained as hostages till morning, and then, if they did not agree to the proposals, they were to be set at liberty again. I suppose they agreed to the proposals, for they were not set at liberty.

Next morning, General Lucas marched his army near to town, and Colonel Hinkle marched out the Mormons, who gave up their arms, about six hundred guns, besides swords and pistols, and surrendered themselves as prisoners.

Stephen C. LeSueur, "High Treason & Murder": The Examination of Mormon Prisoners at Richmond, BYU Studies (1986) PDF, 28 Pages.

Stephen C. LeSueur, “High Treason & Murder”: The Examination of Mormon Prisoners at Richmond, BYU Studies (1986) PDF, 28 Pages.

I would here remark, that a few days previous to this, news had frequently come to Far West that they were soon to be attacked, and Caldwell County destroyed; so the judge of the county court had ordered Colonel Hinkle, with the militia, to guard the county against invasion. They turned out and organized under this order, and in this situation surrendered to General Lucas. A guard was placed around Far West to keep all things secure, and General Parks, with an army, was sent to Adamondiaman, where were about one hundred and fifty armed Mormons, who surrendered to him and gave up their arms. The five prisoners who first surrendered, together with Amasa Lyman and Hiram Smith, who had been added to them, remained in the camp until Friday morning, When General M. Wilson, of Jackson, started the prisoners and arms to Independence. The troops were then discharged except a guard around town.

On Saturday evening or Sunday morning, General Clark arrived with fourteen hundred mounted men, and said there were six thousand more within a day’s march, but they were turned back. Previous to the arrival of General Clark, the Mormons were gathered together and about five hundred made to sign a deed of trust, in which five commissioners were appointed, to whom they deeded all their property in trust for the use of all the creditors of the Church, and also to pay all the damages done by the Danites, and the overplus, if any, was to be refunded. General Clark ratified what General Lucas had done, and kept the town well guarded, and permitted none to go out, except now and then one to see their families and then return again. However, in a day or two, he gathered up all the Mormon prisoners and selected forty or fifty, such as he thought, from the best information he could get, ought to be punished, and put them in a store and had them guarded overnight. He then withdrew the guard from town and let the remainder go free, but the next day marched with the prisoners to Richmond, where General Lucas had been previously ordered to return the prisoners and arms he had taken to Independence.[102] 

It was when General Lucas’s main body of Militia was disbanded and he was left with only a small detachment to guard Far West that most of the accusations of abuse began to circulate. Since there was no watch kept around the town at this time, many of the Mormons who had taken part in the Battle of Crooked River, or despoiling Daviess County escaped. The Mormons that remained at Far West had to endure horrible conditions, as the Militia had replenished their supplies from Mormon storehouses and the crops surrounding Far West. Many families had nothing to eat but a little corn and many went hungry. When General Clark arrived conditions improved. He placed a guard around the town and shared militia rations with the Mormons.[103]

The Mormons who Joseph Smith had chosen to broker a deal with the Missourians[104] would write about the treatment of the “Saints” at Far West:

“Certificate of Mormons as to the conduct of Gen. Clark and his troops.

“Richmond, November 23, 1838. “Understanding that Maj. Gen. Clark is about to return with the whole of his command from the scene of difficulty, we avail ourselves of this occasion to state that we were present when the “Mormons” surrendered to Maj. Gen. Lucas at Far West, and remained there until Maj. Gen. Clark arrived; and we are happy to have an opportunity as well as the satisfaction of stating that the course of him [Clark] and his troops while at Far West was of the most respectful kind and obliging character towards the said Mormons; and that the destitute among that people are much indebted to him for sustenance during his stay. The modification of the terms upon which the “Mormons” surrendered, by permitting them to remain until they could safely go in the spring, was also an act that gave general satisfaction to the Mormons. We have no hesitation in saying that the course taken by Gen. Clark with the Mormons was necessary for the public peace, and that the “Mormons” are generally satisfied with his course, and feel in duty bound to say that the conduct of the General, his staff officers and troops, was highly honorable as soldiers and citizens, so far as our knowledge extends; and we have heard nothing derogatory to the dignity of the state in the treatment of the prisoners.”

Respectfully, &c.
W. W. PHELPS,
GEO WALTER,
[Signed] JOHN CLEMINSON,
G. M. HINKLE,
JOHN CORRILL, [105]

Of course the above was contested by the Mormon leadership on the grounds that Corrill and Phelps were “bitter enemies” of Church leadership,[106] but this is not borne out in later events. Joseph Smith characterized George M. Hinkle, John Corrill, Reed Peck, and other witnesses as men “who are so very ignorant that they cannot appear respectable in any decent civilized society, and whose eyes are full of adultery, and cannot cease from sin.” [107] At their trial in Richmond, Hyrum Smith lied about the Danites when he testified that,

“Many people came to see. They saw the houses burning; and, being filled with prejudice, they could not be made to believe but that the “Mormons” set them on fire; which deed was most diabolical and of the blackest kind; for indeed the “Mormons” did not set them on fire, nor meddle with their houses or their fields.”[108]

Hyrum Smith, Brigham Young and Parley Pratt were also willing to lie about Joseph Smith to defend him. Brigham Young stated that Joseph Smith “was in no way connected with the Militia of that state [Missouri], neither did he bear arms at all, nor give advice.” Hyrum Smith asserted that his brother “never bore arms, as a military man, in any capacity whatever, whilst in the state of Missouri, or previous to that time; neither has he given any orders or assumed any command in any capacity whatever.” Parley P. Pratt further contended that the Prophet “never bore arms or did military duty, not even in self defense.” The testimony that Joseph Smith played a leading role in Mormon military operations, these men asserted, was false.[109]

We know from the diaries and accounts of the Mormons themselves that the above testimonies are false. As for Smith carrying arms, he had been doing so since 1834 according to Wilford Woodruff, who stated that when he “first met him and his brother Hyrum they were coming in from target shooting with pistols, which they held in their hands. Bro. Joseph remarked that he was intending to go up to Missouri, and thought he would have to do some shooting, and wanted first to see if he could hit anything.”[110]

Albert Rockwood wrote this journal entry on October 28, 1838:

Now Father, come to Zion and fight for the religion of Jesus[.] many a hoary head is engaged here, the Prophet goes out to battle as in days of old. he has the sword that Nephi took from Laban. is not this marvellous? well when you come to Zion you will see <& learn> many marvellous things, which will strengthen your faith, and which is for the edification of all the saints. The Prophet has unsheathed his sword and in the name of Jesus declares that is shall not be sheathed again untill he can go unto any County or state in safety and in peace.[111]

Although some Mormons began leaving the state soon after the surrender, most remained in Far West or on their Caldwell County farms, hoping they would not be expelled from the state. By late January, however, Mormon leaders realized that the Missouri legislature would not act on their behalf. In addition the longer they remained, the greater was the animosity of local citizens, who watched jealously for any indications that the Mormons might break their treaty agreement. Local officials showed little inclination to protect the Saints from mobs that continually harassed them. Many Mormons also came to believe that Joseph Smith and the other Mormon prisoners were being held simply to insure that the Mormons left that state: the prisoners’ release would not occur until the expulsion was completed. Eventually the Mormons decided they must leave Missouri.[112]

On January 29, at a meeting held in Far West, the Mormons agreed to abide by a proposal made by Brigham Young:

On motion of President Brigham Young, it was resolved that we this day enter into a covenant to stand by and assist each other to the utmost of our abilities in removing from this state, and that we will never desert the poor who are worthy, till they shall be out of the reach of the exterminating order of General Clark, acting for and in the name of the state.[113]

Lucy Smith wrote about events in Far West after the surrender and her account is fairly typical of what most of the Mormons went through:

As soon as william was able to stir about a little he besaught his father to leave the place and move <move> to Illinois but Mr Smith would not consent to do this for he was in hopes that our sons would be liberated and peace be settled again William still expostulated with him but to no effect and he at last de-clared that he would not go away from Far West unless he was called upon to do so by revelation very well Father said William I can give you revelation then and he rehearsed the vision which he had related to me—Mr Smith made answer to this that the family migh might get ready to start and then if we were obliged to go there would be nothing to hinder us—

Our buisness had been trading in corn and wheat as well as keeping a public house and when the state Mob came in we had some corn and wheat on hands but no or very little flour or meal and we sent a young man that lived with us to Mill with some 14 bags of Grain to be ground but he was obliged to leave in consequence of the <mob> who so near at hand that miller deemed it unsafe for him to allow the brethren to remain about his mill least they Militia should burn his premises—We were therefore obliged to blair our corn in a samp mortar to make bread of and it was all the bread stuff we had for a length of time—but there were many who subsisted some time on parched corn for they were all driven in from the country and there was more than an acre of land in front of our house that was covered with beds laying in the open sun where men women and children were compelled to sleep in all weather for these were the last who had got into the city and all the houses were so full that there was no room for them. It was enough to make the heart ache to hear <see> children in the open sun and wind sick with colds and very hungry crying round their mothers for food and their parents destitute of the means of making them comfortable while their houses which lay a short distance from the city were pillaged of every thing eatable their fields thrown open for the horses belonging to mob to lay waste and destroy and their fat cattle shot down and turning to carrion before their eyes while a strong guard which was set over us for the purpose prevented us from making use of a particle of the stock that was killed on every side of us.

Large Samp Mortar

Large Samp Mortar

There relate samuels The brethren had been warn Many

It may be said that this evil certainly might have been provided against if Joseph Smith had the spirit of prophecy to this I reply that he did all in his power to get the brethren to move into the city before they heard of the mob but they did not hearken to council and let this be an everlasting warning to the saints not to reject the councill of the authorities of the church because they do not understand the reason of its being given you —if the brethren at at Hauns Mill had observed to do what they were advised repeatedly to do their lives would no doubt have been preserved for they would have been at Far West with the rest of the brethren

William I shall not attempt here to give a detail of facts which h are already published my Mind is loath to dwell upon these days of sorrow and more than is necessary my readers will will find a relation of these many things in the various publications which were writen during that years and the year following the sa that will satisfactory to them an things which I did not see but and therfore shall not attempt to write—

When William began to be able to walk he went to the stable to see after his horse and not finding him he enquired of one of the mob officers where his horse was. And the officers replied that he had sent him with a dispatch to another part of the county and the messenger had taken him William told him that the horse must be returned for he would not have him used in any such way in a little while the despatch came up and William took the horse by the bridle and ordered the rider to dismount and the officer also ca seconding the order it was obeyed and the <was> horse led to the stable In as the saints were now moving from

Soon after this the brethren were compelled to on lay down their arms and sign away their property it was done immediately in front of our house and could hear <Cap> Wilson Gen. Clarks speech <and> when he distinctly in which he declared that my sonsshould must die that “there<ir> die was cast their doom was fixed their fate was sealed and &” and also that “if he could invoke the spirit of the unknown God to rest upon us he would advise us to scatter abroad &c”

"Old Jail, Liberty, Missouri, Jo Smith was incarcerated here in the year 1837, Photo by [Jacob T.] Hick's

“Old Jail, Liberty, Missouri, Jo Smith was incarcerated here in the year 1837, Photo by [Jacob T.] Hick’s”

And I thought of the words of Paul to the Athenians of the scripture which saith Ye “know not God I speak this to your shame” for Gen. Clark did not know that he could not measure arms with the Almighty or he would not have told so positively what was to befall my imprisoned children Soon after Hyrum left home his youngest son was born this was his second wife’s first child her confinement was considered rather premature being probably brought on by her extreme anxiety about her husband whom she never saw but once afterwards before she left the state in which he was held a prisoner she suffered in her sickness beyond description but in her afflictions her sister stood by her and devoted her whole time to Nursing and comforting her as they were equally alone as respected their husbands for one was imprisoned and the other flying for his life Mor However she gained sufficient strength to accompany Emma to the prison once before they left the state

After this william repaired with his family to Quincy and from thence to Plymouth where he settled himself and sent the team back after us.

Mr Smith sent William <to Joseph and got a revelation> [114] made his arrangements as soon as possible to remove his family to Illinois and in a short time had them comfortably situated in the town of Plymouth and sent back his team for his fathers family but we loaded the waggon with our goods but just before we were ready to start he word came that Sydney rigdons family were ready to start and they must have the waggon thus we were compeled to remain a season longer untill William sent again the waggon was again loaded and again unloaded for another messenger came saying that Emma my sons wife was ready and she must have the waggon however we after a long time succeeded in getting one waggon in which to convey beds and clothing for My own family and 2 of our sons in law and their families and this was our dependance for a place to ride and to convey all our baggage. Don Carlos my youngest son was in company with us he rode with his wife and children in a one horse buggy and the greatest part of their baggage was in our waggon.

In consequence of our crowded situation we left a large stock of provision and most of our furniture losin boxes and barrels in the house—but that was not the worst for our horses were what is termed wind broken and every hill which we came to we were obliged to get out and walk which was bothe tiresome to the patience and the body.

The first day we arrived at the house one Mr. a place called Tinney’s Grove where we lodged in an old log house and spent a rather uncomfortable manner the day after I travelled on foot half the day and at night came to the house of one Mr. Thomas who was then a member of the Church My husband was very much out of health as he had not yet recovered from the shock occasioned by the cature of Hyrum and Joseph and he sufferred much with a sever cough—

the 3thrd day in the afternoon we so it commenced raining when night arrived we stopped at a house and asked permission to stay over night the man of the house showed us a miserable out door house which filthy enough to sicken the stomach even to look at it and told us if we would clean this place out and haul our own wood we might lodge there as to wood that was so far off that at the late hour in which we arrived there it was not possible to get any but we cleaned out the place so that as to be able to lay our beds down and <here we> spent the night without fire the next morning we demanded our kind the land lord charged us 75 cents for the use of this shed

and we went on in the pouring rain we asked for shelter at many places but were refused admitance & untill near night we travelled through the rain and mud without finding any one who was willing to take us in at last we came to another place very much like the one where we spent the night before here we staid all night without fire.

Mormon Exodus 1838-39

Missouri Exodus 1838-39

The day after which was the 5 from the time we started we got to Palmira here we stopped just before we came to this place Don carlos called to us and said Father this exposure is too bad and I will not bear it any longer and the first place I come to that looks comfortable I shall drive up to the house and stop go in and do you follow me we soon came to a handsome, neat looking farm <house> which was surrounded with every appearance of comfort. The house stood a short distance from the road but there was a large gate which opened into the field in front of it. Don Carlos opened the gate and drove into the field and then after he had assisted us through he left us and started to see the landlord who met him before he came to the house—Land-lord said D.C. I do not know but I am trespassing but I have with me an aged father who is sick besides My Mother and a number of <women with> small children we have now travelled 2 days and a half in this rain and we shall die if we are compelled to go much farther and <but> if you will allow us to stay with you over night we will pay you any price for our accommodations.

Why what do you mean sir said the gentleman do you not consider us human beings or that do you think that we would turn Any thing that was flesh and blood away from our doors in such a time as this where is your parents drive your waggons to the door and help your wife children out I will attend to the others—he then assisted Mr Smith and myself out into the room where his lady was sitting but as she was not well and he was affraid the dampness of this room might cause her to take cold he ordered a black servant to make her a fire in another room he the took helped each one of the family into the house and hung their cloaks and shawls and as he hung them up to dry he said he never in his life saw a family in so uncomfortable from the effects of rainy weather.

Joseph Smith & Lucy Mack Smith

Joseph Smith & Lucy Mack Smith

At this house we had every thing that could conduce to our comfort as this gentleman Whose name was Esqr. Man did all that he could do to assist us he brought us milk for our children hauled us water to wash with furnished good beds to sleep in &c. &c. in short he left nothing undone and in the evening he remarked that he had been sent by the people to the as a representative from the county the year before and at the house of representatives he met one Mr Carroll who was sent there from the county where the Mormons resided and said Squire Man if I ever felt like fight any man it was him for he never raised his hand nor his voice in behalf of that abused people once while the house was in session and my blood boiled to hear b how they were treated but I never was a member of the house before and had not sufficient confidence to take a stand in their behalf upon the floor or I would have done it if and had been a man of a little more experience

After spending the night here with this good man we set out again the next morning although it still rained for we were obliged to travel in order to avoid being detained by high water we went on through mud and rain untill we arrived within 6 miles of the Mississipi river here the ground beca was low and swampy so much so that a person on foot would sink in above their ancles at every step here also the weather grew colder and it commenced snowing and hailing but notwithstanding all this we were compelled to go on foot as the horses were not able to draw us als we were were crossing this place Lucy lost her shoes several times and her father had to thrust his cane into the mud to ascertain where they were because they were so completely covered with mud and water

when we came to the river we could not cross nor yet find a place of shelter for there were many saints there waiting to go over into quincy we the snow had now fallen to the depth of 6 inch<es> and was still falling but we were very tired and we we made up our beds on the snow and went to rest with what comfort we might under such circumstances the next morning we were covered with snow as we lay in our beds but b we rose and after considerable pains succeeded in folding up our frozen bedding we tried to light a fire but finding it impossible we resigned ourselves to our situation and waited patiently for some oppertunity to offer itself for crossing the river

soon after samuel came over from Quincy and finding us he with seymore Brunsons assistance obtained permission of the ferryman to have us cross that day and about sunset we a landed in Quincy where samuel had hired a house into which we moved although it was already occupied by <and when we got into it we our household consisted of> five other families name namely Mr Smith and myself with our daughter and henry and Hyran Holt [Hoit?] also the family of Samuel Smith Jenkins Saulsbury Mr. McLery and brother Graves— [115]

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p. blame?

Sidney Rigdon 1844

Sidney Rigdon 1844

In 1844 during the succession crisis engendered by the murder of Joseph Smith, Jedediah M. Grant wrote what he deemed a Collection of Facts Relative to the Course Taken by Elder Sidney Rigdon. Under the heading “Sidney Rigdon in Missouri”, Grant published a portion of Rigdon’s July 4, 1838, “Salt Sermon” (quoted above). Grant then wrote,

The foregoing extract from his oration, as anticipated by the judicious, was the main auxiliary that fanned into a flame the burning wrath of the mobocratic portion of the Missourians. They now had an excuse, their former threats were renewed, and soon executed, we were then, as we are now, (by many,) all made accountable for the acts of one man; death and carnage, marched through the land, in their most terrific forms. The following from the 1st Volume of the Times and Seasons, by Miss E. R. Snow, will give the reader some idea of the heart rending scene.

“Here, in a land that Freemen call their home,
Far from the influence of Papal Rome;
Yes, in a mild and tolerating age
The Saints have fallen beneath the barb’rous rage
Of men inspired by the misguiding hate,
Which ignorance and prejudice create.
Ill fated men, who minds would hardly grace
The most ferocious of the brutal race.
Men, without hearts, else would their bosoms bleed
At the commission of so foul a deed
As that when they at Shoal Creek, in Caldwell,
Upon an unresisting people fell,
Whose only crime was daring to profess
The eternal principles of righteousness!
‘T was not enough for that unfeeling crew
To murder men—they shot them through and through,
Frantic with rage, they poured their molten lead
Profusely on the dying and the dead
For mercy’s claim, which Heaven delights to hear,
Fell disregarded, on relentless ears.
Long o’er the scene of that unhappy eve
Will the lone widow and the orphan grieve.
Their savage foes with greedy avarice fir’d,
Plundered their murder’d victims and retir’d,
And at the shadowy close of parting day
In slaughter’d heaps husbands and fathers lay,
There lay the dead and there the dying ones,
The air reverberating with their groans;
Night’s sable sadness mingled with the sound,
Spread a terrific hideousness around.
Ye wives and mothers think of woman then,
Left in a group of dead and dying men,
Her hopes were blasted, all her prospects riv’n
Save one, she trusted in the God of Heaven;
Long for the dead her widow’d heart will crave
A last kind office, yes—a decent grave.
Description fails—Tho’ language is too mean
To paint the horrors of that dreadful scene.
All things are present to His searching eye
Whose ears are open to the raven’s cry.”

Men and children were murdered and robbed, women were insulted and wounded, the dead left without a decent burial, houses were burned, and property confiscated, and many noble men torn from their almost distracted wives and children, and locked in a gloomy prison for months, to satisfy the insatiate, wrath of man. After the whole society had suffered innumerable hardships, and bathed the earth with their tears and blood, they were, by the edit of a second Nero, banished en masse from the State in the drear months of winter, which caused the frosty grave to be opened, to receive fathers, brothers, mothers, sisters, and the helpless infant, overcome by cold, hunger, and fatigue.[116]

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III. THE SNOW FAMILY DURING THE MORMON WAR

The Mormon War was very real as were the crimes committed against the Mormons and the Missourians. The atrocities committed by the Missourians against Mormon men and women were violent and heartbreaking. But Missourians also lost lives and property by acts of violence committed by the Mormons.  And those Mormons who were classed as “dissenters”, were forced out of their homes and threatened by Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon and their Danite Companies.

Eliza R. Snow, circa 1852

Eliza R. Snow, circa 1852

Eliza Snow wrote at least three autobiographical sketches: one appeared in the Juvenile Instructor in 1866, another in the autobiography she wrote for her brother Lorenzo in 1884, and a third which was written to Hubert Howe Bancroft in 1885 and was published in the Relief Society Magazine in 1944, three years before Alice Horne died. Unfortunately, they edited out the material that refers to her marriage to Joseph Smith, but this material was published by Spencer J. Palmer in 1971. Eliza also included some biographical material in The Women of Mormondom, which she co-authored with Edward W. Tullidge in 1877. Eliza wrote in The Women of Mormondom:

In Kirtland the persecution increased until many had to flee for their lives, and in the spring of 1838, in company with my father, mother, three brothers, one sister and her two daughters, I left Kirtland, and arrived in Far West, Caldwell county, Mo., on the 16th of July, where I stopped at the house of Sidney Rigdon, with my brother Lorenzo, who was very sick, while the rest of the family went farther, and settled in Adam-Ondi-Ahman, in Daviess county. In two weeks, my brother being sufficiently recovered, my father sent for us and we joined the family group.[117]

Adam-ondi-Ahman is about 30 miles from Shoal Creek where the Hawn’s Mill settlement was located. In the book that she authored in 1884 titled, “Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow: One of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints”, Snow gave a much longer and much more detailed account of what happened to her and her family during the period before and after the Shoal Creek massacre. She writes in that account:

Eliza Roxcy Snow 1866

Eliza Roxcy Snow 1866

Before Lorenzo started on his southern mission, as  reported in his journal, a spirit of mobocracy was boldly manifested by leading citizens in the county opposing the Latter-day Saints, and at the August election preventing their vote — also putting them to great inconvenience by laying an embargo on all of the flouring mills in that section, and preventing our people from obtaining breadstuff. Our father had abundance of wheat, but could get no grinding. In this dilemma we had to resort to graters, made by perforating tin pails and stovepipes, on which we grated corn for bread material. We tried boiled wheat, but found that it did not retain much nourishment; and our grated corn meal, when cooked by the usual process of bread making, was not quite so solid as lead, but bore a more than satisfactory resemblance to it. “Necessity, the mother of invention,” prompted experimenting, and we set our wits to work to make our meal not only eatable, but palatable.

We had a fine crop of “Missouri pumpkins” (which, being interpreted, means the choicest kind), produced from the soil our father bought; these we stewed with a good supply of moisture, and when boiling hot, stirred it into our grated meal, which, when seasoned with salt and nicely baked — well buttered or in milk, was really very delicious; the main thing was to get enough, especially after the mob had driven in the scattered settlers, by which the number of our family was increased to twenty-five.[118] 

Actually, the “scattered settlers” in Daviess County were not “driven” into Diahman by any mob, they were ordered to gather there (and to Far West) by Joseph Smith for safety, as were other Mormons who were expelled from Carroll County and those in other outlying settlements in other counties. Eliza does write about one incident of prolonged gunfire in the 1884 autobiography:

A spirit of mobocracy, which had previously manifested itself, was continually on the increase all around us, and very naturally suggested to our minds the thought of preparation for defense. The house we lived in, with the plantation on which it stood, father purchased on his arrival, and paid for in full. It was a “double log house,” with

Eliza Roxcy Snow 1873

Eliza Roxcy Snow 1873

an alley about three feet wide between the two. In this alley our faithful watchdog was stationed, and we knew that no intruder could possibly reach either door before the dog would give an alarm, which, so far, was very satisfactory. But, to our deep regret, the mobocrats, finding the dog out of sight of the house, shot him down. … Amid the threatenings of mobocrats to either drive or destroy us, a circumstance occurred, which though seriously exciting at the time, afterwards offered us much amusement. One night at about 11 o’clock, we all were suddenly aroused from sleep by the discharge of fire arms, accompanied with loud shouts, apparently about a mile distant. We supposed that our enemies had commenced their depredations by putting their threats into execution and were making an attack on our people, and the probability was that they would visit us in turn. We immediately began to prepare for defense by barricading the doors and windows, and distributing all the members of the family such weapons for protection as were available, viz: one sword, two or three guns, pitchforks, axes, shovels and tongs, etc. We proposed that mother take her choice, and she thought that she could do the best execution with the shovel. With no small degree of anxiety, not only for ourselves, but also in behalf of our friends situated at the point from which the exciting sounds proceeded, we kept up a sleepless watch until morning, when intelligence was brought, explaining the cause of the night alarm, as follows: A company of our brethren had been to a distant settlement [Dewitt] to accomplish some business requisite in consequence of threatened mob violence, and on their return, having peacefully and successfully accomplished their object, discharged their fire arms, accompanied with a shout expressive of their happy success–resulting in our false alarm and subsequent amusement. [119]

More than likely, the incident above took place on the night of October 21st, after the events that took place in DeWitt. A company of 100 Danites headed by David Patton had ridden to Livingston County to retrieve a cannon that was being transported to Daviess County from DeWitt to be used against the Mormons. When the Mormons charged the Missourians they fled, but they had anticipated the attack and had buried the cannon. They also let loose some hogs to try and cover up where they had buried it, but this backfired as the hogs wound up exposing the cannon as they rooted in the ground, much to the Mormons delight. The cannon was brought back to Diahman where there was a great celebration. This was probably what the Snow’s heard. The following day, the celebration continued and the cannon was taken to the top of Tower Hill and fired three times.[120]

In Eliza’s earlier account of her Missouri experiences, which was published for the Juvenile Instructor in 1866, she wrote:

Eliza Snow Little Incidents Cover

Eliza Snow, “Little Incidents For Little Readers”, Juvenile Instructor, Vol. 1, No. 21, Nov. 1, 1866, 82; Vol. 1, No. 22, Nov. 15, 1866 85-6. PDF, 3 pages.

“My father and family arrived in Adam-ondi-Ahman, (the name of our city location) in Daviess county, in the latter part of July, but myself with my brother Lorenzo, who was very sick at the time that we arrived at Far West, stopped at the house of Sidney RIgdon, until my brother had so far recovered as to be able to journey, when my father came for us.

We had a very large watch-dog, which my father took with him from Ohio, on purpose to guard the wagons while we were traveling. As soon as my brother Lorenzo [who had been very ill] was strong enough to walk out, and carry a rifle, he amused himself by hunting turkeys, which were very abundant in that part of Missouri. Whenever he went on those little hunting excursions, the watch-dog, Jack, was sure to accompany him. Some dogs seem quite sensible, as my young readers will understand, and Jack was uncommonly smart, and seemed to realize that his master had but little strength—he would walk as stilly as possible, at my brother’s heels, until they came in sight of game, when he would place himself directly in front, and raise his head sufficiently, then hold his head perfectly still for his master to rest the rifle on his head, to shoot. As soon as the rifle was discharged, he would dart off in an instant, and return with the game.

Jack was highly prized by all the family, and although a dog, he was worthy of respect, because he was a true friend: every body and every thing that has integrity, is very valuable. Integrity is better than gold and silver.  We had learned that Jack could be trusted, and when we knew that we were surrounded by mobocrats, we could lie down at night, feeling pretty safe, knowing that no one could approach the house, until the faithful dog had given the alarm.

I think by this time, my little friends are feeling enough interest for the dog Jack, to wish to know what became of him. I will tell you. Our Missouri neighbors (if I may call those neighbors who were plotting our destruction) saw that Jack was true to us, and they were afraid of him, and tried to entice him away, but when they found it impossible to coax him to leave us, they shot him. We all felt very sorry to lose poor Jack, and two of my younger brothers dug a grave and buried him with all the formalities that the occasion called for, and, with great childish lamentations, pronounced him a martyr.

The Missourians who lived near us, appeared very kind and friendly to our faces, but we had been there but a short time, when to our great surprise, they were all at once missing. The discovery that they had disappeared, was made in the morning–they left coffee pots standing on the coals–tea kettles steaming–clocks ticking and every thing else indicated a hasty flight. We soon learned that they had scattered out into the country, and had reported that the “Mormons” drove them from their houses; and we learned too, that the very men that my father purchased his land off, joined the mob to assist in driving us away; so that they could come back and take possession of what they had sold. And after the Governor had issued orders for preparations for our departure, they had the impudence to come into the house to enquire how long it would be before we should get away.[121]

Eliza writes in her 1884 account:

Eliza Roxcy Snow c. 1880

Eliza Roxcy Snow c. 1880

Elder Abel Butterfield, Lorenzo’s traveling companion, was stopping with us, while waiting for my brother to regain his strength sufficient for travel, and as he required clothing made, previous to departure, my sister proposed to join me in doing his needle work, tailoring, etc., if, he would give his time in grating meal for the family, which he gladly accepted. It was hard work, and after he left, we took it by turns, soak- ing the corn when it became so dry as to shell from the cob.

Not long after our young missionaries left us, very early one morning, we were utterly astonished with the announcement that all of our neighbors, the “old settlers,” including those of whom our father had purchased, had fled the country. On entering some of the vacated houses, clocks were seen ticking the time, coffee-pots boiling the coffee, and everything indicating a precipitate and compulsory flight. What could be the cause, and what the meaning of this unprecedented and really ominous movement was veiled in the deepest mystery, until the reaction solved it by bringing to light the most cruel perfidy. We soon learned that those unscrupulous hypocrites had scattered abroad through- the settlements, arousing a mob feeling against the Latter-day Saints, by reporting that the “Mormons” had driven them from their homes, they having barely escaped with their lives at the expense of all they possessed. [122]

The cause for the fleeing settlers was Joseph Smith and the Mormons attacking Gallatin, Millport and Grindstone Fork, and threatening all of the settlers to leave the county. Eliza continues her narrative:

This unprecedented move was sufficient pretext for an onslaught, and a general uprising of the people threatened an immediate extermination of the Latter-day Saints, which was prevented by an appeal to, and the intervention of, the military authority of the State. A posse was sent, which quelled the mob, and for a few days we had peace. The Saints took advantage of the quietus, purchased a horse-mill and soon had it in operation, and released the family graters.

But the peaceful interim was of short duration. It seemed that the turbulent spirit had gained strength by the recess, and broke out with redoubled fury. No Latter-day Saint was safe, and although our trust was in God, and we felt assured of His protection, it was wise for us to keep up a show of defence, as it had a tendency to awe our enemies.[123]

Eliza is speaking of events which took place before October 1.  General Parks had arrived in Diahman mid September and reported that the Mormons were well armed and that he did not need more than his 100 men to protect them and keep the peace. But prior to this, Diahman was well protected by Lyman Wight and his Danites, as it was afterwards until the arrival of General Wilson after the battle at Crooked River and the massacre at Shoal Creek when he disarmed the Mormons.[124]

Eliza continues her 1884 account:

To us it was a novel sight, and would have been ludicrous (were it not painfully symptomatical of the situation) to see our venerable father walking to meeting on the Sabbath, with a Bible in one hand and a rifle in the other. At length an order was issued by the Governor of the State, for all of the Saints to leave Daviess County within ten days from date, the sixth of December, and a company o^ militia was stationed in Di-Ahman, for that length of time, ostensibly to protect us from the mob, but it was difficult to tell whether the mob or the militia was most dangerous.[125]

From her 1866 account:

There were about two hundred families in Adam-ondi-Ahman, (the name of our new city in Daviess county,) and we had only ten days given us, in which to remove to Caldwell; during this ten days, a militia guard was appointed to protect us, but if we did not get out of the county in that time, we were to be left to the mercy of a reckless mob, that had sworn to destroy us.[126]

This was after the Battle of Crooked River and the Shoal Creek Massacre. General R. Wilson wrote to General Clark on November 12, from Diahman:

In pursuance of your order, dated at Far West In pursuance of your order of the 7th, at Far West, I took up the line of march with my command, and arrived here [Adam-ondi-Ahman] on the * 8th. We suffered much from the inclemency of the weather, which still continues. On my arrival here I found the troops [General Parks] had left. I met Col. Burges some two miles from this place. He being the last, I immediately placed a guard around the town, and ordered the Mormons to parade, which order was promptly obeyed, and about two hundred men entered their names. I then proceeded to the investigation, as you required by your order. Justice Black and other citizens being present, I caused such of the Mormons as were supposed to be guilty of crimes, arrested, and handed them over to the civil authorities for trial. It however appears that the most guilty had escaped, they having ample opportunity, as I am informed. The town had not been under guard up to the time of our arrival. The investigation is still progressing, but with but little hope of effecting much, as the citizen seem to be unable to indentify but a few.

It is perfectly impossible for me to convey to you any thing like the awful state of things which exist here—language is inadequate to the task. The citizens of a whole country, first plundered, and then their houses and other buildings burnt to ashes, without houses, beds, furniture or even clothing in many instances, to meet the inclemency of the weather. I confess that my feelings have been shocked with the gross brutality of these Mormons, who have acted more like demons from the infernal regions than human beings. Under these circumstances you will readily perceive that it would be perfectly impossible for me to protect the Mormons against the just indignation of the citizens.  I therefore promptly informed the Mormons, in a short address, of all the facts that had then come to my knowledge—told them I should remain in Daviess county ten days, and would endeaver to protect them during that time—at the end of ten days I would leave and was not authorized to promise the further protection in Daviess county—that you had promised protection in Caldwell county—that such of them as wished to remove to Caldwell, or out of the State, I would give a permit to that purpose, and would guaranty their safety on the route. The Mormons themselves appeared pleased with the idea of getting away from their eneimes and a justly insulted people, and I believe all have applied and received permits to leave the county, and I suppose about fifty families have left, and others are hourly leaving, and at the end of ten days, Mormonism will not be known in Daviess county. The appeared to me to be the only course left to prevent a general massacre, and I hope my course in this matter may meet your approbation as it has been your pleasure to commit to my charge a most important command, without special instructions. I feel the more bound, not only to return you my sincere thanks for the honor thus done, but to give you a full account of all my acts. Nothing has been left undone on my part to justify that confidence. The citizens of Daviess have co-operated heartily with me, and to their praise be it said, have shown a degree of compassion and charity unparalleled, under the circumstances, to their enemies, and have cheerfully obeyed every order I have found it proper to give in this matter, and I now confidently believe I shall be able to close this most shocking insurrection without further bloodshed.

I had previously to receiving your orders discharged all the troops under my command, except one company under Capt. Newbold. This company will be retained until I close by business here. I expect, without otherwise ordered, to remain here until tomorrow week, and then set out for home. If, therefore, it is your pleasure to give me further orders before leaving, I would suggest that they be forwarded in time to reach here before that time.

It would astonish you to see the immense plies of stolen property, which has been brought in, and deposited by the Mormons, consisting of almost every thing to be found at a farm house, and much remaining yet concealed. Large quantities have been found buried in and near town. I have been making all possible exertions to collect and preserve this property for the owners, but I find it hard to do, as these dirty thieves are more skilful in the pilfering line, than any I have yet seen. The citizens inform me that much of their property has been taken to Far West. I suggest that you order them to return it here at their own expense.

I write in a miserable shanty, called “The Lord’s Storehouse,” late at night, after having been well soaked in the rain during the day, and much fatigued. I may have omitted things, but when I am more comfortable, I will write you more fully.

I have the honor to be, With unfeigned good will, Your obedient Servant, R. Wilson, Brig. Gen. Commanding 2nd Brig. Mo. Mi.[127]

Diahman had been protected by the Danites until the arrival of Gen. Wilson, at which time he ordered the Mormons to leave within ten days, (at which time he was leaving) and that he would protect them on their journey to Caldwell County. Eliza has the month wrong in her accounts, Wilson arrived in Diahman on November 8th and left on the 18th. Eliza continues:

Eliza-and-the-MinutesBefore we left, the former owner of the place where we lived, came in, and looking around very impudently, inquired how soon we would be out of the house. It required an effort, but we suppressed our feelings of indignation.

The weather was extremely cold, and the morning we bid adieu to our honorably and honestly acquired transitory home, and much property which we were obliged to leave, after assisting what I could, I started before the teams, to warm my feet by walking. While musing on the changing and wonderful vicissitudes of mortal life as I walked quietly and alone, I was interrupted in my meditations by the approach of one of the militia.  After the usual salutations of “Good morning,” he said: ”I think this will cure you of your faith.” I looked him in the eye, and, with emphasis, replied, “No, sir, it will take more than this to cure me of my faith.” His countenance dropped, and he said, ” Well, I must confess you are a better soldier than I am.” And we parted. [128]

In her 1866 account Eliza gives a little more detail:

My father had more means than many others, and kindly offered to assist several families that were destitute; saying that if there should be difficulty, he would meet it himself, rather than leave helpless ones to encounter it, and the time was spent in moving them, so that we did not start till the morning of the tenth day. My father had purchased hundreds of bushels of grain which he had to leave, as well as houses, lands and other property.

It was a very cold day in the month of December [November] when we left our home, in accordance with the order of the Governor, to go to Caldwell county and stop till spring, and leave the State. The Grand river, which we crossed soon after leaving Adam-on-di-Ahman, was frozen hard enough to bear heavily loaded wagons.

After assisting to put the beds and cooking utensils into the wagon, I started on foot, ahead of the teams, for I was too cold to ride, and wished to warm myself by the exercise of walking. Just after I crossed the river, I met one of the militia, who, addressing me in a sarcastic manner, said, “I think this will cure you of your faith.” I felt a little indignant, for I thought it was quite enough, in a land where religious liberty was the people’s boast, to be deprived of my home, and be obliged to seek one in the midst of winter, without being tantalized for it, by the very men whose business should have been to protect us in our lawful rights; and, feeling the blood of an American citizen stirring in my veins, I looked the man in the eye, and replied, “No, sir, it will take more than this to destroy my faith.” His countenance fell, and he looked like a culprit, as he said, “Well, I must confess, you are a better soldier than I am”–and hurried on. [129]

Eliza R. Snow "Sketch Of My Life" 1885, PDF, 39 pages

Eliza R. Snow “Sketch Of My Life” 1885, PDF, 39 pages (Relief Society Magazine, Mar.-Oct. 1944)

Eliza claims that she exchanged with the Militia soldier the usual greeting of “Good Morning”, and then answered his question. In the Sketch she wrote for Bancroft in 1885, Eliza remembered the incident a bit differently:

It was December [November] and very cold when we left our home, and, after assisting in the morning arrangements for the journey, in order to warm my aching feet, I started on foot and walked until the teams came up.  When about two miles out, I met one of the so-called Militia who accosted me with, “Well, I think this will cure you of your faith,” Looking him squarely in the eye, I replied, “No Sir, it will take more than this to cure me of my faith.” His countenance dropped, and he responded, “I must confess you are a better soldier than I am.” I passed on, thinking that, unless he was above the average of his fellows in that section, I was not complimented by his confession.[130]

Eliza continues:

It took two days to go by team to Far West, and seventy-five persons, pilgrims like ourselves, put up at our stopping place for the night. It was a small vacated log house of one room only, which was the general nightly resort of people traveling from Di-Ahman to Far West, As we found it, the chinkings between the logs had been torn out, leaving open spaces through which gusts of wind had free play.

When we arrived, the provisions we brought were solidly frozen, and the crowd of people was so dense, we could not avail ourselves of the fire. But we must have supper, and we could not eat hard frozen bread, and we adopted the following: The boys milked our cows, and before the milk was strained, one of us held the dish while another sliced the bread, and the third strained the warm milk into it, which thawed the bread; thus one after another, until all were plentifully served.

Bed time came, but there was no room for beds, except for the sick, and, indeed, there was very little sitting room. Our mother was quite feeble through fatigue and exposure, and we managed to fix a place for her to lie down, while our sister and myself sat on the floor, one on each side, to ward off the crowd. I can well remember that ever memorable  night — how I dare not move lest I should disturb those around me, so closely were we packed. And withal, it was a jolly time, although with the majority, a sleepless night.

Some ten or fifteen feet from the house was a small horse shed, in the centre of which the brethren built a roaring fire, and around it they stood, sometimes dancing to keep warm, some roasting potatoes, while others parched corn, and all joining in singing hymns and songs, merrily passing off the hours till the morning dawn. Many started very early, which gave us access to the fire for our morning meal.

Little would strangers, could they have witnessed those seventy-five Saints, without knowing our circumstances; I say, little would they have thought that we were exiles from our homes, going to seek among strangers, abiding places for the winter, in an adjoining county, and by order of the governor, leave the State and go we knew not where, in the Spring. They would naturally have thought us a pleasure party.

On the fifth of March, 1839, after wintering seven miles from Far West, in Caldwell County, we started en route for Illinois, landing in Quincy; we stopped there a short time, and from there our father moved to Warren County, in the same State; from there to LaHarpe, where Lorenzo found us, thence to Commerce, afterwards called Nauvoo. [131]

Leaving Missouri, T.B.H. Stenhouse, The Rocky Mountain Saints

Leaving Missouri, T.B.H. Stenhouse, The Rocky Mountain Saints

In studying Eliza’s accounts, it begs the question of just when during the above narrative, could Eliza have been gang-raped? When she had her encounter with a Militia man? Yet, in one account Eliza reveals that she was walking alongside of the teams when this occurred. These accounts do not seem to leave much room for a brutal gang rape to have taken place at Diahman, or during the journey to Far West when they were being protected by Wilson’s Militia.

Eliza claims that she was having a “jolly time” and that it was almost like a “pleasure party”, with dancing hymns, songs and “merrily passing off the hours” as they made the journey to Far West. Of course, it was a brutal time for all of them, they were cold, had little food and the shelter was bad. But that was the point that Eliza was making, that they made the best of their situation and that these trials could not shake their faith. There is no mention of any “mob” here, and her interactions with the Militia were cordial even though she did not trust them.

The Snow family with others arrived at Far West in mid-November, and they camped nearby for some months as they waited to leave the state. On February 22, Eliza wrote a long letter from Caldwell County and spoke about her stay there. She wrote:

The Gov. of Illinois says our people may come there they have been going all winter and move very fast. A man just arrived from Ill. who said he counted 220 wagons between this and the Mississippi it has been judg’d there were eight thousand of our people in this county but the season has been a stormless one–the most favorable for moving that we could wish and the word impossible has become obsolete with us therefore I think we shall get out in pretty prompt compliance with the orders of government.

…The Missourians had commenc’d mobbing in Daviess Co. previous to our arrival; but were very friendly at that time & were very anxious to sell to us: Our people purchas’d their farms–they remov’d their families away, and rais’d a mob–painted their faces like Indians, & came back to drive us from the lands, we had purchas’d of them, calculating to chase us away & repossess the country. This, we suppose; because when we did leave, by order of the Militia, we were hardly out of our houses before the former, owners occupied them. When the Militia came, the mob volunteered & join’d them. You will understand from this, the character of the Militia. I will transcribe a pass, which every man was requir’d to carry for his own protection, and that of his property. “I permit Oliver Snow & sons to remove from Daviess to Caldwell County, there to remain during the winter or to pass out of the State.” November 9th 1838 (Signed R. Wilson, Brig. Gen.)

It astonishes our enemies that our people suffer no more while passing thro’ these scenes of suffering. They say the Mormons have always rejoic’d in tribulation but they will do something now that they will not rejoice in. I fear them not but know not what new tortures they may invent they have not burnt any of us at the stake yet they have imprison’d, whip’d, ston’d, and shot some but death does not terrify us enough to suit them, for they say that the Mormons are so d–d sure of going to heaven, they had as lief die as not. The lord maketh the wrath of man to praise him. Let his name be magnified. [132]

ES Gang RapeThere are no accounts or letters from the Snow family that claim any violence at all perpetuated specifically against their family. In her letter to Esquire Streator, Eliza writes about her brother, and copies a letter that he wrote to the family about his activities after he left Diahman to fulfill his mission in Kentucky. Lorenzo mentions nothing about his trip through Daviess County, but does say that when he left Far West (sometime in September) he and his companion “met a company of arm’d men who viewed us very narrowly as we pass’d, which caus’d us to suspect they were a Mob we manag’d to get by them unmolested.” He also claimed that he “held fifteen public meetings in the State of Missouri” but that “the Lord has brought me off uninjured–without the loss of an hair on my head.”[133]

Eliza was with her father and the rest of her family during her whole stay in Missouri, and none of them left any accounts of ever having been the victims of any personal violence whatsoever though much was going on around them. Eliza claimed that her father walked around with his rifle at the ready, even carrying it to Church. If Eliza was gang-raped, when did this event occur? In her account to Esquire Streater, Eliza claims that they “imprison’d, whip’d, ston’d and shot some,” but never mentions any violence perpetuated against her own family, except for an account that she gave about the family dog being shot.

To give credence to the claim of a gang-rape, there must be a plausible timeline for when this might have happened. Eliza was well protected in Diahman, her family and others were guarded by Militia on their exit from there, and were not harassed or molested during their stay outside of Far West or on their journey to Illinois in the spring of 1839. More importantly, Eliza herself left multiple accounts of her movements during this time, and never mentions any violence towards her or her family. Go to the Top

IV. ALICE MERRILL HORNE

Alice Merrill Horne was born in Fillmore, Millard County, Utah on January 2, 1868. She was the daughter of Clarence Merrill and Bathsheba Kate Smith. Alice’s mother was the daughter of George Albert Smith and Bathsheba Wilson Bigler.[134]

I read Alice’s 1934 Autobiography and it was a delight to read. Her handwriting in this draft was a little sloppy, but easy to read. She was a gifted writer who knew how to put her observations into descriptive sentences that hold your attention while conveying the emotion and wonder she felt about the world around her. Her work is filled with amusing anecdotes, vivid pictures of her experiences and heartfelt feelings. Her kind nature towards her family and sense of humor shine through as in this example:

A Young Alice Merrill Horne

A Young Alice Merrill Horne

We girls did the sewing on the machine, while grandma cut out and laid hems. Then she would press and fold the articles with a dextrous touch. When grandma had sick headache and could not lift her head and suits were ordered we girls could any of us make and press and finish the suit.—This was not only a comfort to grandma but a means of income and support. … I made my own clothes and spent some time every night in thoroughly combing my black hair which hung to my knees and of which I took great care. We had a large looking glass which showed me all of myself except the very bottom of my skirt so when I had a gray linsey [linsey-woolsey] it made a princess effect it was very artistic I think even now but there was one mistake I made which could not well help. I made the skirt several inches shorter in front than at the back. Father went to Beaver and brought me a hat with one side turned up and faced with brilliant green. He also brought me a new pair of shoes but, shades of my ancestors, they had green leather stars set in on the ankles. While I have always had a passion for green, it was not then much liked nor very fashionable so that when I landed in Salt Lake with this outfit at Christmastime to go to school at the U of U for half a year, I was decidedly odd. The shoes were a marvel soft kid and daintily cut and my feet looked well in them but the green stars drove me crazy. Grandma had a long mirror which to my utter astonishment showed my dress too short in front. If I cut the skirt off at the back, I would show my shoe tops. So being 15 years old and as tall as I now am, I decided to leave it as I had made it and keep my back turned as much as possible to people. [135]

Alice Merrill Horne (seated middle) with Young Debate Club

Alice Merrill Horne (seated middle) with “Juvenile Association”

It is obvious from her autobiography that Alice had strong feelings for Eliza Snow. She wrote that at one Relief Society meeting,

Alice Merrill Horne Autobiography, Page 168

Alice Merrill Horne Autobiography, Page 168, “I hung on every word and treasured every incident and action of those occasions.”

I sat on a low chair grandma had upholstered for me from a block of wood with a back which had split off in the sawing. Eliza sat on the other side of the room. I stood up when there was a moment’s pause and asked her to bless me for I was ill, that if she would do it I knew I would recover my good health. Sister Snow stood up and reached her hand toward me and spoke to me in an unknown tongue but I knew she was blessing me. I felt myself kind? up and strength came into my limbs and I knew I was healed. Zina D. Young arose and said that she had received the interpretation of the tongue among other things she said I would be healed according to the desire and faith I had expressed and that I would live to do a work in this [written over/illegible] that no one else would be prepared to do. I forgot that I had been ill and grew strong and active.[136]

Alice also wrote about her move to the Historian’s Office to keep her grandmother company:

“…being eight years of age, I was considered old enough to leave my mother and go back with my grandmother to be a companion in her lonely hours. The home at the Historians Office became at once a refuge and a living fountain of joy. Every day it was as if I had rubbed this ring and a Genii came to satisfy my wishes. There were three stories of beautiful rooms.[137]

Concerning the women who would come to visit and Alice’s interaction with them, she wrote,

Harriett Amelia Folsom (25th Wife of Brigham Young)

Harriett Amelia Folsom (25th Wife of Brigham Young)

I would thrill all over when I put my little hand in that of Brigham Young and looked up into his kindly eyes and heard his kind words to my dear Grandmother. Sister Amelia was beautiful and gracious, so thoughtful of the president, and of us, as well. I hung on every word and treasured every word and incident and action on those occasions. We often visited Eliza R. Snow and every day would find her dropping in to see us; there came besides, Zina D. Young, Emmeline B. Wells, Margaret Young, M. I. Horne, Phebe Woodruff and Rachel Grant. I know now that these visits were because of my Grandmother’s great loneliness. I was her shadow and we were, indeed seldom apart.[138]

There is no mention of a rape in this version of her autobiography. If this was written first, why not? And if it was written later, why did she not include it? So the question of when Alice wrote the document that Radke-Moss quotes from is very important.   What I think, from the comment: “The account comes from a portion of the autobiography of Alice Merrill Horne written in her later years,” is that Alice revised this earlier draft. Why would she not just say it came from an autobiography Alice wrote in her later years? What is this “portion”? Was it a separate document? A revision of an earlier draft? What is interesting is that Horne died in 1948 and three years earlier Fawn Brodie’s No Man Knows My History came out with much fanfare and had the story involving Emma Smith and Eliza Snow and her subsequent miscarriage.[139] 

A year earlier (1944) Leroi Snow had published that he had found Eliza’s life sketch she wrote for Bancroft. When it was published in the Relief Society Magazine later that year, it did not include any information on Eliza’s marriage to Joseph Smith.

Deseret News, February 26, 1844.

Deseret News, February 26, 1944.

Perhaps the Horne recollection might have been written as an apologetic to these events, but until more information comes forth about the document that Radke-Moss quotes from, there is only speculation.

I found this collection of film clips on youtube that feature Alice Horne about the time she penned the autobiography I quoted from above that some may find interesting:

Go to the Top

V. AN APOLOGY?

I have stated that the Apologetic Nature of the Horne Recollection about Eliza Snow’s gang-rape and marriage to Joseph Smith is obvious. Here is Horne:

“The prophet heard [about the rape] and had compassion. This Saint, whose lofty ideals, whose person had been crucified, was yet to become the corner of female work. To her, no child could be born and yet she would be a Mother in Israel. One to whom all eyes should turn, to whom all ears would listen to hear her sing (in tongues) the praises of Zion. She was promised honor above all women, save only Emma, but her marriage to the prophet would be only for heaven.”[140]

Those who do not accept all or part of the story that Emma pushed Eliza down the stairs at the Mansion House should also view this account with the same skepticism.[141]  And where is Eliza Snow’s promise to be found that she would be honored above all women save Emma?

LeRoi C. Snow was Eliza’s nephew, and supposedly heard the stair story from Charles Rich. Horne supposedly heard others talk about the gang-rape story and also knew Eliza. For both accounts we can say, “but they knew Eliza and so probably spoke to her about it at a later time to verify it.” But this is simply speculation that cannot be verified until some contemporary account is found that would do so.

Why then, would this gang-rape story be so important to “pin” on Eliza Snow? Or for that matter, the stair story? Because if she never had children, that could be looked upon as a “curse”. Why would Joseph marry a barren woman, when the purpose of polygamy is to “raise up righteous seed”?[142] Both stories could be looked at as an apologetic to that dilemma. Eliza is damaged by Emma, or Eliza is damaged by the Missourians and so she is not cursed, but a victim that God exalts through trial and tribulation who will then be rewarded in heaven with spirit children of Joseph Smith.

And then there are the actual accounts of the Missouri period. No credible reports of any gang-rapes. There is only one firsthand account which claims there was an attempt at sexual violence, that is all. Conversely, there are also accounts that the “mobbers” were kind to the Mormon women.[143] After the initial attack (which was bloody butchery) the Militia loaded up and left Shoal Creek for a time. The Mormons were then apprehensive that they would return to murder the rest of them. John Corrill, who I think was a very fair historian and was intimate with all of the Missouri petitions claimed that there were no credible reports of rape. I will discuss this more below.

Eliza probably just could not have children, or chose not to. This could be problematic in Mormon theology. Here is W. W. Phelps writing to his wife Sally in 1835:

William Wines Phelps c. 1831

William Wines Phelps c. 1831

I have it in my heart to give you a little instruction, so that you may know your place, and stand in it, beloved, admired, and rewarded, in time and in eternity. But in order to do this, I must show the duty of man, in part. Man was created in the beginning to dress the earth to multiply his species; to honor God, and enjoy his presence forever. Hence it is the duty of man to labor for his living; to provide for his own household; to cultivate the land; to beautify it, to rear up habitations, and to have dominion over all animals which were made for his use and benefit. But it is not good that man should live alone, therefore it is pleasing to the Lord, that we should have an helpmeet, and multiply and replenish the earth, raising up seed, that the earth may be filled with its measure of man: Wherefore marvel not that a person without raising up seed to continue his or her name, and inheritance lacks a blessing: For the Psalmist says: “Lo children are the heritage of the Lord.” In the first chapter of Romans, beginning at the 26 verse, see what abominations women and men work by changing the order of heaven. Then one sees why the generations of men have been more or less cursed, with harlots, whoremonger, adulterers, maimed children, ungodly wretches, &C. God gives them up to their own vile affections. This you know is the fact with men and women in general among the gentiles.  …God placed man upon earth to do his will and it is his will that the earth should be filled with its measure of man. Celibacy is not tolerated by the commandments neither is fornication nor is any device that hinders the increase of man: this you may learn by reading the 6th a 7th a 8th a 9th a and 10th verses of the 38 chapter of Genesis man was created upright but Satan has lead him to commit many abominations. [144]

With polygamy, the pressure to have children was multiplied tremendously. It was practiced specifically for the raising up of righteous seed. Eliza Snow, deemed the greatest woman of the last dispensation next to Emma… was barren? Oh no. There had to be a reason. When Emma turned against the Utah “Saints”, it was her fault that Eliza could not have children. When feelings began to turn back to Emma after polygamy was banned, it becomes the Missourians fault. Barren women were thought to be cursed according to Alice Horne’s grandfather, George Albert Smith:

Moses’ law provided for a plurality of wives, and the prophets observed that law, and Isaiah predicts its observance even down to the latter days. Isaiah, in his 4th chap. and 1st and 2nd verses, says, “Seven women shall take holdof one man, saying, we will eat our own bread and wear our own apparel, only let us be called by thy name to take away our reproach. In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent.”

A reference to the Scriptures shows that the reproach of women was to be barren, Gen. 30 chap. and 23 v.; Luke 1st chap. and 25 v. [145]

Polygamy was supposed to take away the reproach of women, so Eliza Snow just couldn’t be barren. It had to be someone else’s fault.

Another charge made against the Missourians was that Mormon women were ravished to death. Orson Pratt repeated what Brigham Young had written about women being raped to death in The Seer:

Question.–Second, In what manner have the United States treated the saints who have believed in this divine message?

Answer.–The people, not satisfied with having scorned, ridiculed, lied against, denounced, and rejected the message, have, likewise, poured out their abuse like a flood upon the heads of the innocent who received it. They have proceeded to the most savage and outrageous persecutions: have fallen like demons upon their defenceless [sic] prey; burned hundreds of their houses; destroyed their furniture, and their stacks of hay and grain; shot down their cattle and flocks for sport; dragged little children from their hiding places and placing the muzzles of their guns to their heads have blown out their brains, with the most horrid oaths and imprecations. They have taken the fair daughters of American citizens, bound them upon benches used for public worship, and there, in great numbers, ravished them until death came to their relief. They have thrust ministers of the gospel into loathsome dungeons, bound them in chains and hand-cuffs, and fed them on human flesh. At one time they drove twelve hundred men, women, and children from their own comfortable homes and firesides; seized upon their property and their lands, which by their hard earnings they had purchased from the General Government, and compelled the lawful owners to wander in the wilderness, and upon the bleak frosty prairies, without house, shelter, or home. At another time, after butchering scores of defenceless [sic] men, women, and children, fifteen thousand were driven from their own habitations and lands, and compelled to brave the storms of another dreary winter, while they wandered, faint and hungry, for several hundred miles through the inhospitable regions of Missouri, being scorned, hissed at, and spurned from their doors, and threatened with continual death.[146] 

But where did the term “ravished” originate? With W. W. Phelps who quoted the Apocrypha in 1833 after the Jackson County expulsion. In Feb. 1833 he published a piece called “The Last Days” and wrote:

For thou seest that our sanctuaries are laid waste, our alter broken down, our temple destroyed; our psaltry is laid on the ground, our song is put to silence, our rejoicing is at an end, the light of our candlestick is put out, the ark of our covenant is spoiled, our holy things are defiled, and the name that is called upon us, almost profaned: our children are put to shame, our priests are burnt, our Levites are gone into captivity, our virgins are defiled, and our wives ravished; our righteous men carried away, our little ones destroyed, our young men are brought in bondage, and our strong men are become weak; and, which is the greatest of all, the seal of Zion hath now lost her honor; for she is delivered into the hands of them that hate us.[147]

One of the tenets of persecution in the “last days” were that women would be defiled and ravished. In the Times and Seasons Parley Pratt published this poem called “Pratt’s Defense” which includes the term “ravished”:

These soon were forthcoming, in dreadful array;
Some painted like Indians, all armed for the fray;
The Mormons soon yielded without the first fire,
And the mobbers accomplished their utmost desire.
I thought on the time when some five years ago,
Some females were ravished-and cattle and grain
Twelve hundred from Jackson, were driven by foes,
Became a free booty-and one pris’ner slain.
Some twenty or thirty were murderd outright,
And ten thousand others were BANISHED THE STATE[148]

What is interesting is that Pratt only mentions what happened to women five years before. In his History of the Late Persecution also published at the end of 1839 contains no account of any gang-rape, or women being ravished to death, only general statements of women being ravished. At the trial of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young testified:

At the time that the army came in sight of Far West, he observed their approach, and thought some of the militia of the State had come to the relief of the citizens; but to his great surprise, he found that they were come to strengthen the hands of the mobs that were around us, and which immediately joined the army. A part of these mobs were painted like Indians, and “Gillum,” their leader, was also painted in a similar manner, and styled himself “DELAWARE CHIEF,” and afterwards he, and the rest of the mob, claimed and obtained pay, as militia, from the State, for all the time they were engaged as mob,a s will be seen by reference to the acts of the Legislature. That there were Mormon citizens wounded and murdered by the army under the command of General Lucas, and he verily believes that several women were ravished to death by the soldiery of Lucas and Clark.[149]

The best he can do is say he “believes that several women were ravished to death”. This was repeated again in 1844:

This banditti of marauders increased in numbers and violence, until by device and stratagem, duplicity and falsehood, they got the authorities of the state to interfere, and aid them in their diabolical purposes; and the then Governor of the state, Lilburn W. Boggs, actually sent a large military force into the county, with orders to exterminate us and confiscate our property; or such was the authority the commanders of the military array claimed, by virtue of the order received from the governor. — Suffice it to say, that our settlements were broken up, our towns plundered, our farms laid waste, our crops ruined, our flocks and herds either killed or driven away, our houses rifled, our goods, money, clothing, provisions, and all we had, carried away; men were shot down like wild beasts, or had their brains dashed out: women were insulted and ravished, until they died in the hands of their destroyers.[150]

If there were legitimate rapes, why take it to this extreme? Yet John Corrill wrote:

The prisoners charged with treason and murder were confined in jail, in Liberty and Richmond, and the rest let to bail. During this campaign, many reports were circulated concerning the misconduct of the soldiers, but how far they were true I am not able to say, but I thought at the time, the officers tried to keep good order among the troops, and that whatever abuse was practiced on the Mormons ought to have been charged on the individuals that did it, and not upon the officers or community at large. It was said that women were insulted and even ravished, but I doubt the truth of the latter. Some were insulted; yet, as soon as the officers were informed, they set guards to prevent further insult. Two men that were taken prisoners were struck on the head, one was badly hurt and the other killed. The man who killed him accused him of having abused his family and burned his house; but on returning home he found his house had not been burned at all. Why he was not committed for trial, I never knew. Many others were taken prisoners, but generally were well treated and set free without injury.[151]

This was a man, who even though he was treated horribly by Smith and others, and accused of being a traitor, gave all he could to the Mormons. He gave money to the Smith brothers to get out of Missouri. He went before the Missouri legislature to plead for the Mormons. Yet he was vilified.[152] We see no credible reports of any women raped, just later exaggerations, and no contemporary accounts bear it out. Does this completely rule it out? Of course not. But let’s take a look at the evidence and what some of the historians who have extensively studied this period wrote about it. Go to the Top

VI. VICTIMS AND RAPE

a. needed empathy

On March 21, 2016, Professor Radke-Moss gave an interview to Chelsea Rutter which was published on BYU-I Scroll. Radke-Moss’ comments are interesting and revealing:

“Now, [because she published the gang-rape story of Eliza Snow] sexual violence in Missouri has to be part of our official narrative about Church history,” Radke-Moss said. “We tend to highlight male narrative about male imprisonment and male escapes and male war and male violence, and yet here you have women that are experiencing this violence in overt ways. That should help to create a larger empathy for not only what our ancestor females went through, but also for what could be around you. If you can humanize a victim of rape in the visage of Eliza R. Snow, then that allows you to see the women in your ward differently, it allows you to see teenage girls differently and how they’ve been victims of rape, it allows you to humanize and personalize that notion that this is a  real crime.”[153]

But is it true that “male escapes and male war and male violence” are the only things highlighted about the Mormon War?

b. historical accounts

Stephen LeSueur wrote in his excellent book:

The Missouri soldiers lived off the Mormons’ livestock and crops and used their house logs for fire, while the Mormons ate frozen potatoes and boiled corn. The soldiers reportedly shot hogs and cattle for sport, claiming the animals were “Mormons running away on all fours.” According to Mormon reports, the soldiers also raped several women. The accusations of rape, which were promptly denied by Missouri officials, are difficult to verify. Yet, there are at least two eyewitness accounts of attempted rapes, and the evidence indicates that the soldiers brazenly threatened the unprotected Mormon women. Mercy Thompson, whose husband fled the state the night before the surrender, said she lived in such constant terror that “at times I feared to lay my Babe down lest they should slay me and leave it to suffer worse than immediate Death.”[154]

In his footnote, LeSueur writes,

Nearly all reports of rape are based on hearsay and rumors. In addition, the reports are generally vague and often exaggerated–Brigham Young, for example, said that several Mormon women were “ravished to death”. But it cannot be expected that the victims would readily reveal details of these incidents. Parley P. Pratt said one of the victims verified that she had been raped but “delicacy at present forbids my mentioning the names.” (HC 3:428, 434, affidavits of Parley P. Pratt and Brigham Young, 1 July 1843). Charles Morehead, the representative to the state legislature from Ray County, said during a debate that “he was in Far West when one of these reports [of rape] was started, and he assisted in attempting to ascertain the truth, and the Mormons themselves admitted it was false” ([156]Missouri Republican, 24 December, 1838). For other denials, see [Reed Peck] Document, p. 92, Report of General Clark, 29 November 1838, and Corrill, A Brief History, p. 44. The two eyewitness reports come from the petitions of Ruth Naper (an intended victim) and Elijah Reed (affidavits, 3 and 8 January 1840. Petitions, U.S. Archives).[155]

Here is a copy of page 363 from “A Call To Arms”, by Alexander Baugh:

Baugh, A Call to Arms pg. 363, Rape Claims

Baugh, A Call to Arms pg. 363, Rape Claims

Kinney discusses the claims of rape on page 176 of his book, and In Fire and Sword, Leland Gentry and Todd Compton also discuss them. They write:

Most controversial of all the charges leveled against the Missouri troops was that of sexually assaulting several Mormon women and girls. One unnamed person who was at Far West reported secondhand that some members of the army forced “fifteen or twenty Mormon girls to yield to their brutal passions.” Hyrum Smith and Parley P. Pratt claimed that one or two Mormon women were forcibly bound to a bench, after which several men “committed rape upon them.” These misdeeds were allegedly the work of General Lucas’s men. In writing to the governor from Far West, however, Clark explicitly denied that his troops were guilty of such brutality “at any time.” He wished it understood that none of his men “committed any violence, either upon the property or persons of the Mormons of either sex; any statement or insinuation to the contrary is false and a slander upon my command and our citizens.” Clark’s purpose in mentioning the subject, he said, was to refute the falsehoods which had appeared in “public Journals of the country.”[156]

They also write:

On the question of the rape of Mormon women during the fall of Far West, Alex Baugh cites Mosiah Hancock, who was apparently an eyewitness. John Corrill, in contrast, does not seem to have a first-hand knowledge of such events. Stephen C. LeSueur finds these cases of rape “difficult to verify” because of conflicting evidence. Nevertheless, “there are at least two eyewitness accounts of attempted rapes.” On the other hand, “all reports of rape are based on hearsay and rumors. In addition, the reports are generally vague and often exaggerated.” Still, “it cannot be expected that the victims would readily reveal details of these incidents.” This is true especially during the Victorian era in which the Mormon War took place.[157]

The History of the Church by B. H. Roberts also documents the rape of Mormon women:

Thus, Far West has been visited by six thousand men in one week, when the militia of the city (before any were taken prisoners) amounted only to about five hundred. After depriving these of their arms the mob continued to hunt the brethren like wild beasts, and shot several, ravished the women, and killed one near the city. No Saint was per-mitred to go in or out of the city; and meantime the Saints lived on parched corn.[158] 

That there were “Mormon” citizens wounded and murdered by the army under the command of General Lucas; and he verily believes that several women were ravished to death by the soldiery of Lucas and Clark.[159]

That his whole people, comprising at least 15,000 people, were driven out like wild beasts, that hundreds were murdered by shooting, stabbing and beating, and having their brains beaten out with clubs. Great numbers were starved to death; many died from fatigue and hardship in the fields; women were ravished, children murdered, and every cruelty inflicted. This deponent with his comrades was imprisoned about six months and until nearly all his people were driven out of the state; that they were then, by order of the officers of the state, set at liberty and ordered to flee from the state. That, after they were released, they were pursued by armed men, who endeavored to shoot them; and they thus were pursued out of the state, and were in peril of their lives as long as they remained within its limits.[160]

I bring this appeal before my native State, for the solemn reason that an injury has been done, and crimes have been committed, which a sovereign State, of the Federal compact, one of the great family of “E pluribus unum,” refuses to compensate, by consent of parties, rules of law, customs of nations, or in any other way. I bring it also because the National Government has fallen short of affording the necessary relief, as before stated, for want of power, leaving a large body of her own free citizens, whose wealth went freely into her treasury for lands, and whose gold and silver for taxes still fills the pockets of her dignitaries “in ermine and lace,” defrauded, robbed, plundered, ravished, driven, exiled, and banished from the “Independent Republic of Missouri!”[161]

Whereas, the State of Missouri, with the Governor at the head, continues to make demands upon the executive of Illinois for the body of General Joseph Smith, as we verily believe, to keep up a system of persecution against the Church of Latter-day Saints, for the purpose of justifying the said State of Missouri in her diabolical, unheard of, cruel and unconstitutional warfare against said Church of Latter-day Saints, and which she has practiced during the last twelve years, whereby [p.102] many have been murdered, mobbed and ravished, and the whole community expelled from the State:[162]

An aged hero and patriot of the Revolution, who served under General Washington, while in the act of pleading for quarter, was cruelly murdered and hewed in pieces with an old corn cutter; and in addition to all these savage acts of barbarity, they forcibly dragged virtuous and [p.128] inoffensive females from their dwellings, bound them upon benches used for public worship, where they in great numbers ravished them in the most brutal manner.[163]

They also named one or two individual females of our society, whom they had forcibly bound, and twenty or thirty of them, one after another, committed rape upon them. One of these females was a daughter of a respectable family with whom I have been long acquainted, and with whom I have since conversed and learned that it was truly the case. Delicacy at present forbids my mentioning the names. I also heard several of the soldiers acknowledge and boast of having stolen money in one place, clothing and bedding in another, and horses in another, whilst corn, pork, and beef were taken by the whole army to support the men and horses; and in many cases cattle, hogs, and sheep were shot down, and only a small portion of them used—the rest left to waste. Of these crimes, of which the soldiers boasted, the general officers freely conversed and corroborated the same. And even General Doniphan, who professed to be opposed to such proceedings, acknowledged the truth of them, and gave us several particulars in detail. …If tried at all, they must be tried by authorities who have trampled all law under their feet, and who have assisted in committing murder, robbery, treason, arson, rape, burglary and felony, and who have made a law of banishment, contrary to the laws of all nations, and executed this barbarous law with the utmost rigor and severity.[164] Go to the Top

c. humanizing rape in eliza snow

Radke-Moss claims that “If you can humanize a victim of rape in the visage of Eliza R. Snow, then that allows you to see the women in your ward differently, it allows you to see teenage girls differently and how they’ve been victims of rape, it allows you to humanize and personalize that notion that this is a real crime.”[165]

Radke-Moss’ agenda here could not be more clear. Yet, if one simply goes to the Church’s website and enters the word “rape” into their search engine, multiple pages of articles and talks appear about rape. Some are very personal, like the article titled “A Hole in Her Soul” that tells the story of a young women who was given a date-rape drug and violated.[166]

lds.org search "rape"

lds.org search “rape”

Radke-Moss wrote:

That [accounts of alleged Missouri rape victims] should help to create a larger empathy for not only what our ancestor females went through, but also for what could be around you. [167]

No matter how noble the motive, is it right to exploit an alleged victim for one’s own personal agenda? For some it is not, as expressed by this comment made in response to Professor Radke-Moss’ Juvenile Instructor article:

As a licensed clinical social worker, I can hope this supposition will be helpful to victims who honor the memory of Eliza. As a niece of Alice Merrill Horne, I wish you had not imposed on her privacy nor Eliza’s.[168]

As one can see above, the Church does address rape and treats it as a “real crime.” Would the very real possibility that she was not raped help to raise awareness about rape, or will it do more harm? Go to the Top

d. the missouri rape accounts

There were many claims made by the Mormons about the “ravishment” of women during the Missouri War, and some of them are quite graphic and disturbing. But are they real accounts, or were they exaggerations made later to help boost claims of Missouri persecution? As we saw above with the quoting of the Apocrypha, (Esdras 10:22), many Mormons thought that the ravishment of women was in essence a fulfillment of prophecy. William W. Phelps wrote,

Esdras, or Ezra the High Priest, we suppose, seems to have had a great view of the last days, and for all that has ever appeared to the contrary, by the wisdom of man, he spake by the Spirit of God… [169]

Phelps also wrote that, “Our Savior, who knew all things that should come to pass in the last days, even when he come in his glory to reign on earth with his saints, said before the end should come, there should be great tribulations, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever should be.” That there would be “mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.” The Saints would suffer, but they should hold on to the promise of Zion and “rejoice, with joy unspeakable; for while the nations are crumbling to pieces, and men are filling up the tombs without repentance, you know your redemption is nigh, and you believe that Israel will soon be gathered home to meet his God, when he comes in his glory.” [170]

But for now, “the seal of Zion hath now lost her honor; for she is delivered into the hands of them that hate us,” and though “holy things are defiled,”, and “our children are put to shame,” and “our righteous men carried away,” while “virgins are defiled and our wives ravished,” they must “put away the multitude of sorrows, they they mighty may be merciful unto thee again, and the Highest shall give thee rest and ease from thy labor.” [171] Go to the Top

Women would be “ravished”, and so the accounts by the Mormons would declare that had happened. Here are the accounts.

i. mosiah hancock

Gentry and Compton write that Mosiah Hancock was apparently an eye witness to a brutal rape in Far West, yet Hancock was only four years old at the time. In 1896 Mosiah wrote an autobiography called “The Life Story of Mosiah Lyman Hancock,” which was typed and bound. This is the document that Alexander Baugh in his footnote above calls a journal. The State Militia is always referred to as a “mob”, he calls George M. Hinkle “Judas Iscariot Hinkle”, and claims that in Far West,

Cover of The Life Story of Mosiah Lyman Hancock

Cover of The Life Story of Mosiah Lyman Hancock

“Hinkle formed a brotherhood in a hollow square, and made them cast their arms of defense on the ground. He then delivered the prophet over to the mob! After they had taken the arms from the brethren, they kept the brethren in the square for three days and two nights without food. The mob became very brave after they had taken the brethren’s arms. One of their officers complimented the men on their bravery, and said, “Now you can go and do as you please with their women.” Many of them left with the intention of committing rapine. When the terrified women ran out to escape those brutal fiends, it was more than the men in the square could stand! They ran out to protect their loved ones; then the mobbers turned loose and shot down men, women, and children! [172] 

This account is an obvious conflation with events that happened at Shoal Creek. How Hancock could know what the men were saying to each other when he wasn’t even there is mystifying. Two pages later, Hancock gives this account of his experience as a four year old in Far West:

It is a fact which should be remembered. . . . . the Hancock brothers, Levi, Joseph, and Solomon, with their guns guarded and fed 600 men, women, and children while camped in the woods after they had been driven from their homes. They were waiting for an opportunity to get away. I saw the Prophet marched away; and I saw, oh, the scenes I witnessed! I do not think people would believe them, so I will forbear. The howling fiends, although they wore the uniforms of the U.S., they were not to be trusted! So some of the brethren made three hundred tomahawks for protection.

I can hold it no longer—–and I tell the truth when I say…..I saw a thing in the shape of a man grab an infant from its mother’s arms and bash it’s brains out against a tree! Two men got hold of me and had it their own way for awhile; but before they commenced, they told me I could pray. I rehearsed a part of a piece spoken by a young Indian, “The sun sets at night and the stars shun the day; but glory remains when twilight fades away. Begin ye tormentors, your threats are in vain; for the son of Alnasmak will never complain.” They showed me no mercy! . . I could look upon my body, and I was far above them and was glad; for behold, I saw a personage draped in perfect white who said to me, “Mosiah, you have got to go back to the earth, for you have a work to do!” How I ever came back I can never say!

I saw the fiends tie a young person to a bench—she was scarcely sixteen years of age—-and fourteen things in human form performed “that” upon their victim which would cause a hyena to revolt at their fiendish orgies! It continued long after their fainting victim had become unconscious. This with other things too numerous to mention were enough to cause the Saints to pause and consider the dismal surroundings confronting them.[173]  Go to the Top

It is hard to take any of Hancock’s claims seriously. Here are the other accounts listed by Alexander Baugh:

ii. john d. lee

This mob rifled the city, took what they wished, and committed many cruel and shameful deeds. These barbarous acts were done because they said the Mormons had stolen their goods and chattels, and while they pretended to search for stolen property they ravished women and committed other crimes at will.[174] 

iii. john murdock

John Murdock

John Murdock

Companies and armies gathered in different parts of the country, till October 29th, at which time Generals Lucas, and Wilson, from Jackson County, marched in view of Far West way within 1 mile with an army of 3500 armed men, and three pieces of cannon and there lay devouring and destroying the cattle, sheep, hogs, corn, and every other kind of property, that an ungoverned soldiery could lay their hands on, even shooting cattle and hogs they did not want to make use of.

The people in the country were stealing and carrying off horses, wagons, sheep, hogs, and cattle, and property of every kind. Household furniture and everything they could lay their hands on, abusing men, women, and children, ravishing females, even threatening them with drawn pistols, and dirks, all which conduct continued to be practiced less or more while the Saints remained in the state this army lay their the 31st near the going down of the sun, at which time our beloved brethren were taken into custody by our enemies, being betrayed by G. [George] M. Hinkle, our commanding officer, and others also became deserters from the faith.[175] Go to the Top

iv. marvin tanner

During the late summer and fall of 1838, the state militia had been gathering about the city of Far West, demanding capitulation of her people and their exodus from the state. In the event of their refusal to go, they were, in the order of Governor Boggs, to be exterminated. Writers of Church history refer to the militia of the state as a mob militia. The militia, however was regularly organized and under the comma.d of the sworn officers of the state; and while it committed the outrages and excesses of a mob, it acted under color of law and was properly entitled to the designation of a mobbing militia — not mob militia.

Some of the leaders of this organization evidently preferred that the Saints leave the state, while others were brutal enough to undertake the work of extermination. They had engaged in a brutal massacre at Haun’s mill, had broken in upon the inhabitants at Far West, and committed many of the barbarous practices of the dark ages. Men were insulted in the streets, their wives outraged in their homes, and a reign of terror so prevailed in Far West that the Saints, who at first were determined to protect themselves, were glad enough to escape the horrors of those evil days by removing to any state or country in which they might enjoy some freedom and be protected. The country round about

Far West was guarded by militia with a view of shutting off retreat and of preventing any concerted action on the part of the Mormcns, who already numbered several thousands in the different counties of Missouri.[176]

v. joseph holbrook

The mob or militia burnt my house, stole a valuable horse from me, killed my fat hogs, drove off my stock. I had some 300 bushels of the best of corn in the crib taken out of the crib. They fed our oats in the sack, destroyed my hay, and left everything in a state of desolation from one end of the county to the other, abusing the sisters whenever they thought it best to suit their brutal and hellish desires.[177]

vi. the western emigrant

Alexander Baugh writes that,

The Western Emigrant reported that several members of the army sexually assaulted “fifteen or twenty Mormon girls (forcing them) to yield to their brutal passions.[174]

Yet, the article in the Western Emigrant argues that the claims were too fantastic to be believed, and that without some further corroboration, they refused to give them credence. The article reads,

THE  MORMONS.

A friend has politely furnished us with the “Pittsburgh Saturday Evening Visitor,” containing a statement of enormities said to have been committed on the Mormon prisoners at Far West, and believe the statement to be untrue, we consider it a duty we owe the people of Missouri to defend them against so foul a slander, as that contained in the letter making these charges. We do not apprehend that any individual in our state, will give the smallest credence to this slander, but it may [be] credited elsewhere. From the circumstance and mode adopted for propogating this terrible story; it would appear that the writer of the letter had an evil design, — he dates his letter from Millersburg which is in Calaway County, and directs it to the editor of the Nashville Whig, and by the Whig it is published to the world, not however without expressing doubts of the truth of the story. Here it is:

“HORRIBLE REVELATIONS.”

We find in the Nashville Whig, a letter from a correspondent of that paper, dated Millersburgh, from which we take the annexed extract, relating to the capture of the Mormons:

“The Mormons upon the approach of the mob, sent out a white flag, which being fired on by the mob, Jo Smith and Rigdon, and a few other Mormons of less influence, gave themselves up to the mob, with a view of so far appeasing their wrath as to save their women and children from violence. — Vain hopes! The prisoners being secured, the mob entered the town and perpetrated every conceivable act of brutality and outrage — forcing fifteen or twenty Mormon girls to yield to their brutal passions!! Of these things I was assured by many persons while I was at Far West, in whose veracity I have the utmost confidence; I conversed with many of the prisoners, who numbered about 800, among whom I recognized many old acquaintances, who had seen better days. There were many young and interesting girls among them, and I assure you a more distracted set of creatures I never saw. I assure you my dear sir, it was peculiarly heart-rending to see old grey headed fathers and mothers, young ladies and innocent babes, forced at this inclement season to abandon their warm houses, which were, in many cases greatly improved, and showed a high degree of refinement and civilization.”

The above is a most horrible disclosure, and for the credit of human nature — we are bound to believe it is untrue. We cannot believe, except on further evidence — that we have in this State any demons in human form, who would be guilty of the atrocities related by this writer. If it were so, and there was not among us moral feeling enough to condemn, and moral power enough to punish, such unspeakable abominations then would the state be unfit for the residence of any human being, who, with the form of a man, preserves any of the feelings that belong to humanity.

Are these charges true or false? If they are true, then the sooner the execrable ruffians who can be guilty of such outrages, are dragged to light and doomed to suffer the penalties due to such an [anonymous] atrocities, the better for the well-being of our society and the character of our state. Smothering and cloaking over crimes that strike at the foundation of civilized society — crimes that respect neither the life of man nor the sacred chastity of woman — crimes that strike down and stab to the heart unarmed and unresisting innocence; and that, in the fury of unbridled passion, regard perhaps only with fiendish laughter, the woeful supplication, entreating cry and piteous shriek of maiden purity, assailed with a brutal and ferocious violence, that knows not how to spare — covering up such crimes either from motivesa of policy or fear, equals in enormity the very crimes themselves.

It will appear evident to every reader in Missouri that the propagator of these foul charges against the citizen soldiers, has been either grossly imposed upon or has made statements which he knew to be untrue; we hope the former is the case. We were not at Far West upon the occasion referred to, and theregore cannot from our knowledge say any thing in reference to this subject, but so far as the testimony of others who were there is to be relied on, we consider ourselves warranted in saying that the whole statement of the Millersburg letter writer, so far as it regards the outrage charged to have been perpetrated by the soldiers upon the defenceless women, is utterly untrue, and we hope that those editors who have given publicity to the charges will see the propriety of contradicting them.[178]

I have to agree with Stephen LeSueur that these accounts are all either based on heresay or rumor, are so vague as to have little value, or outright exaggerations. There are then the accounts by Brigham Young and Parley Pratt, both of who were not eyewitnesses, and made their accounts as brutal as they possibly could. (In all of the Civil War documents, I could find none where any woman was ravished to death, even though there are many accounts of gang-rapes). [179] Go to the Top

vii. ruth naper

So, are there any credible accounts of sexual violence during the Mormon War? I could find only one, mentioned above by LeSueur. And this was an attempt at sexual violence, not an actual rape:

I hereby certify that my husband William Naper and myself lived near Haun’s mills about three months previous to the massacre at Haun’s which was on the 30th of Octr. A. D. 1838

The man we lived with who did not belong to the Church told us the week previous to the massacre that the Mormons would all be killed within a month that there would not be one left a span long in Caldwell Co. in that time. After the massacre was over I went into a certain blacksmith shop where I found my husband dead, he was shot through the breast, there were seven others in the shop dead and dying I did not count those who were dead outside of the shop therefore the whole number killed is unknown to me but I suppose seventeen or eighteen were killed. I judged that there were three at least three hundred of this mob armed force and I heard some of them say that there were over four hundred of them. They came upon us on a sudden for they came rushing out of the woods[.] We had a few days previous moved to within a short distance of Haun’s mills. After this company had ceased fireing they sent and you ordered me and other women to leave the houses, which we did and then they plundered them of our efforts.

After a few days there came back a large company of armed men and took possession of Haun’s mill and they also crowded into our house and crowded me and my children away from the fire without my consent they lodged there and one night one of them came to my bed and laid his hand upon me which so frightened me that I made quite a noise and crept over the back side of my children, and he offered no further insult at the time. This company camped in the nieghborhood between one and two weeks to our great inconvenience for they took from the brethren grain, cattle, hogs, bee stands, &.C. as free to appearance as though it was they were their own

Commerce Ill. Decr. 2d 1839                                                         Ruth Naper

[Sworn to before D. H. Wells, J.P., Hancock Co., IL, 3 Jan 1840.][180]

Reading this account, it makes one wonder if a rape actually did occur, and that perhaps Ruth Naper didn’t want to admit it. This incident occurred in the aftermath of the Shoal Creek Massacre, while most of the State Militia were busy at Far West, far from protected settlements like Diahman.  Go to the Top

viii. elijah reed (1839)

There is another eyewitness account, but this one has problems. It was given by Elijah Reed, who wrote two affidavits. The alleged sexual assault is not found in the first one, but in the second, made a year later. In his first affidavit, Reed gives a bill of damages and then explains why he wants $500 for “my Life being Sought & in Danger & the Loss of my health in being Exposed to Cold & Wet”.

Reed claims that “the mob came to my house in Ray County Seeking for me in the time of Excitement & I was Obliged to flee from my house without … Clothing or Provision.” He was then “Obliged to lay in the fields and woods” which made him “sick with the Chill Fever.” He claims that his family also left “for several days”. “The mob” wrote Reed, “went to my house Several times Swearing they would kill me if they Could find me of which my Family [who must have returned] informed”. He then states that “they Finally got track of me & Pursued me & about two & ahalf miles from home a Large number of them Surrounded me in the night in a Hazle thicket of about Five acres,” but that he escaped them. “In about two weeks From the time I left I returned home again,” writes Reed, and “one of the Mob James Snowden Sen” told him that “they would have killed me if the Could have found me.” Reed then claims that instead of killing him, Snowden and others “held a meeting & Resolved to Drive me & two others out of the County forthwith, but Mr. L. B. Fleak a Neighbor of mine kindly Interceded” and his family was given more time to stay. [181]

This account is very strange. Why, if those Missourians wanted Reed dead so badly, did they chase him all over Ray and Caldwell County, and then when he returned in a few weeks hold a meeting and give them all time to get well enough to move and get their affairs in order? Reed’s second affidavit written a year later adds things that were not in the first account. Go to the Top

ix. elijah reed (1840)

He writes that “During the Excitement of Mormon war as it is Called I was Called uppon By Anderson Martin & Several others of Richmond Ray County & Said if I would give them my gun & Deny my Faith or religion that I should have Protection.” Reed writes that “I refused to Comply,” and “Considerable Conversation Passed & the Same was Proposed again by Mr. Henly & I made the Same reply.” Reed then claimed that they told him “by God you Shall not be Protected & left me in about an hour after there was a Company of men Sent to take me but I kept out of their way & from that time until after the Surrender of the Brethren in Far West the Mob hunted me Constantly.”

Reed then claims that “the account I have Partially given in my bill of Damages.” He then adds that “I was closely Pursued.” Reed then claims that “I was at a Br Jimmisons house in a by place on the 29th of Oct & in the night of the that day a Company of men Came to the House & Demanded admittence & threatened to Breake Down the Door.”

He states that “Mr J got up and opened the Door meantime I hid under  the Bed the men Came in and said they were Soldiers & he must go with them … to the Malitia Camp above Richmond.” Reed then claims that as Jimmison and another man “went for a horse at the Stable when they had got a little from the house the man Fired a gun & said the D——d rascal had ran from him he then returned to the house & they began to abus[e] Mrs. [Mary] Jimm[iso]n wanting to sleep with her But she begged & cried For them to Desist & they Did so.”

Reed writes that ” I lay under the Bed During this time they soon left the house & we supposed they had killed him.” Reed then claims that he “lay in the Field the remainder of the night the next Day I went to Caldwell we then learned of the Battle at Hawns Mill the Day Previous & From thence we went to Far West on the third of Nov. I was then taken Sick & was Confined to the house.”

He claims that after General Clark spoke to the Mormons at Far West which he did not hear because he was sick, he “went home in Ray Co a bout 35 miles.” Then, writes Reed, “in a Few Days I had notice by Mr David Snowden who said he was Captain of the men on the Bottom by the authority of the General who had the Command of the men sent to Caldwell & he told me I must leave by Sunday.” Reed then writes that “I accordingly Disposed of my Property as Fast as I could For what I Could get But my one of my Neighbours Iterceded & I got to Stay till my Family was able to Move as they were all Sick with the Chills & Fever & had Been During my absence of 10 Days.”[182]  Go to the Top

Haun's Mill_Land OwnershipThere was a Charles Jameson who was married to Mary Hedrick (sometimes Shadrick). They were baptized on April 6, 1834 in Ohio.  He was a skilled blacksmith and farmer and lived at the Hawn’s Mill settlement and worked in the blacksmith shop. His name was spelled as Jimison in some accounts.

What I found odd is that Elijah Reed writes that he went to the home of Charles Jameson, and claims (Charles) was taken prisoner by the Militia and then he (Reed) heard a gun and they (Reed and Mary Jameson) supposed that Charles was murdered by them. Reed claims that this took place on the night of October 29th. This makes little sense since Charles Jameson was present at the Mill on the 30th (the day of the massacre) and was seriously wounded during the fight there. Reed also claims that the next day (after he saw the Jamesons) he went to Caldwell and learned of the Battle at Hawn’s Mill the day before.. That would be the same day that Charles was injured in the battle. Elijah Reed’s account just doesn’t get the dates right. Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner recorded the horrific account of what happened to Charles Jameson in her diary:

About this time occurred the Haun’s Mill massacre where the mob killed 17 men and hurled their bodies down a well.  Oh, what a time that was!  One man was shot several  times. He crawled into the brush.  The men followed him.  One said, “shoot him.”  Another said, “No let him suffer.  He’s dying anyway.”  But he did not die; he lived to go to Utah and lived to a good old age.  He lived in the same town I did and I’ve heard him tell many times that story as well as other incidents connected with that terrible massacre.  His name was Charles Jameson.[183] 

Fire and Sword: A History of the Latter-day Saints in Northern Missouri, 1836-39

Fire and Sword: A History of the Latter-day Saints in Northern Missouri, 1836-39

Jameson was there at the time of the attack, and was shot four times, but survived and filed a redress petition on January 20, 1840.[184]  What Reed writes in the 1840 account appears to be is a second hand account/rumor that Elijah Reed includes for some reason in his second affidavit. It is highly unlikely that the Missourians caught the Jameson’s unprepared, (even on the day before the attack) since Joseph Young wrote that when he arrived on Sunday, the 28th of October “about twenty-eight of our men armed themselves, and were in constant readiness for an attack of any small body of men that might come down on them.” Two days “passed in tranquility,” as did most of the day of the attack. The Mormons knew that Colonel Jennings of Livingston County was in the area, but they were not expecting an attack from a large body of men and so were taken by surprise on Tuesday, the 30th.[185]

Reed mentions Anderson Martin, who along with others from Ray County had written to Atchison on September 10th, to intervene and stop the “insurrection”, and was also part of a committee that was appointed to help indigent and suffering families with money that was granted by the Missouri Legislature after the surrender at Far West. [186]

The Henly that Reed mentions is most likely Israel R. Hendly who was a 1st Lieutenant in the Ray County Militia who had served in the Heatherly War in 1836 and the Florida War in 1837. He died on June 25, 1847 during the Mexican War, (as a Captain) while serving in Col. Sterling Prices Regiment (2nd Battalion Missouri Mounted Riflemen) under Kearny and Doniphan. Did Elijah Reed include this attempted rape account in his 2nd affidavit to give the Mormon charges of sexual assault more credence? Go to the Top

x. persecution & the redress petitions

Associate Professor (of B.Y.U.), Paul C. Richards wrote an insightful article for BYU Studies about Mormon Persecution and the Missouri Redress Petitions when they were first rediscovered in 1973 at the National Archives. Richards writes that these

…affidavits, including the twenty-eight written by women, give little or no evidence of attacks on women. It may be that victims of such assaults were, as today, reluctant to talk about them. Hearsay evidence in HC 3:428 and 464 indicates that several women were violated by mobs, but there is no direct evidence for such instances in MSS 942. In fact, a study of the affidavits leaves one with the feeling that even the worst of the Missourians had a certain respect for women—even Mormon women. Knowing what soldiers and street gangs have done in more recent times, perhaps we tend to pin these same types of atrocities on the early Missourians, but the affidavits do not back up this assumption. The following account by Catherine Fuller describes conditions which would afford every opportunity for mobbers to violate Mormon women, yet no mention is made of this type of atrocity:

I hereby certify that my husband and myself settled within about a mile of Haun’s mill Caldwell Co. Missouri in the fall of AD. 1836 where we lived untill the massacre at the mills the 30th of Octr. 1838, at which time and place my husband was killed. About a week after the massacre I was at the mills and saw a large company of our enemies, as I understood, tented there I heard one of them by the name of Comstock say to Sister Merrill who lived in the house with me that if he could get his eye upon her husband he should be a dead man. Companies of from six to ten came to our house enquiring for men and guns a number of times.

This affidavit exhibits a strange, matter-of-fact association with the mobbers that gives cause for wonder. Ruth Naper’s account also is intriguing because of her concern for seeming trivia after having lived through the Haun’s Mill massacre. The affidavit also deals with the assault question.

. . . After a few days there came back a large company of armed men and took possession of Haun’s mill and they also crowded into house and crowded me and my children away from the fire without my consent they lodged there and one night one of them came to my bed and laid his hand upon me which so frightened me that I made quite a noise and crept over the back side of my children, and he offered no further insult at this time. This company camped in the neighborhood between one and two weeks to our great inconvenience for they took from the brethren grain, cattle, hogs, bee stands, &c. as free to appearance as though they were their own. Only one other affidavit* says anything directly about assaults on women.[187]

*That affidavit is the second one written by Elijah Reed in 1840, mentioned above.
Go to the Top

VII. A COMPELLING AGENDA?

“But it’s the truth even if it didn’t happen.” ― Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Radke-Moss said Horne’s autobiography also attributes Snow’s infertility to the rape, according to the article. According to BYU-Idaho Scroll, “My paper sought to address the history of how women experienced the violence in Missouri, particularly as victims of sexual violence,” Radke-Moss said in an article for the Juvenile Instructor, a website dedicated to Latter-day Saint history.” In our Facebook Conversatio Radke-Moss added:

“You have an elderly female confiding to a younger woman 40 years after it happens,” Radke-Moss said in a Facebook conversation. “The way that women convey information, the way that women tell stories is not being accounted as a legitimate source, but all these military leaders say, ‘Well, of course, my men would never do that.’ That’s being seen as a legitimate source, but the women who experienced it are still being discounted. That’s rape culture. It happened then; it happens today.”[188]

What we were doing in that conversation was giving more credence to the contemporary historical evidence over a 100 year later second hand account. Radke-Moss didn’t seem to realize this distinction when we made it. And it was not only just believing what military leaders said. It was what Eliza Snow wrote, what other Mormon women wrote at the time, what those who were there and made observations wrote. It was taking the totality of the historical evidence and comparing that to Radke-Moss’ account. Different people were making different points. Her answer to all of them was to cry “Rape Culture!”

One of the problems with rape culture, is that many women are reluctant to speak about their experience. This is a well known fact that no one was denying.  Above, Radke-Moss seems to be saying that Eliza Snow herself confided it to Alice Horne, even though there is no evidence that this ever happened. (If it isn’t Snow, then who is this “elderly woman”?) From what Radke-Moss published, we have no way to determine exactly who Alice Horne overheard.  One can only hope that there will be more information forthcoming. In our Facebook discussion, Radke-Moss brought up the subject of rape culture again:

But that’s the problem: the 19th century culture precluded women from being open about this. Unfortunately, rape DID involve shame for women, rape was difficult to prove, but rape DID happen. And it just seems like you are trying very hard to privilege the voice of one man over the very real likelihood that women were rape victims, but who suffered in silence under a 19th-century culture that would not allow them to receive justice for crimes committed against them. Especially in this tit-for-tat between male voices (like Corrill) over what they are claiming did or didn’t happen in Missouri. I mean, c’mon. You really don’t believe that across four counties, and considering thousands of people affected, that not one wartime rape occurred? Just because Corrill said he didn’t know of any? And then, to place the burden of proof of this on female victims, who are already silenced in a culture of masculine war, masculine property, masculine ownership of women’s bodies?[189]

Just to be fair, I had written before Radke-Moss made this comment:

What I see, is that if there were women that were raped in Missouri, and this is a possibility, that the Mormons themselves make it very hard to believe it with their over the top rhetoric and exaggerations. So, could there have been rapes? SURE. But that is not enough to claim it in an individual case without good evidence. I’m really skeptical though, about gang rapes of 20 or 30 men like Parley Pratt wrote about.[190]

This includes the alleged rape of Eliza Snow. Again, it comes back to if the Horne recollection is good evidence. Good enough evidence to warrant the comments that Radke-Moss is making about Eliza Snow. In a later comment in the same FB Discussion, Mormon Apologist Russell Stevenson wrote:

Mormon Apologist Russell Stevenson

Mormon Apologist Russell Stevenson

First the apologetic/political ramifications of the accusation, while significant, should not serve as a basis for delegitimization of the claims. Lots of verifiable claims can be used by propogandists to prove various polemical positions.

Second, if you study anything about nineteenth-century sexuality, then we know that finding smoking gun evidence of rape is not an easy thing–particularly at a time of war (and rape’s prevalence in a time of war is so common that it can be almost assumed). What’s being asked for here is evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt.” But…holding that standard for nineteenth-century inquiry of this nature is an incredibly exacting one, one that would enable us to essentially cast doubt on a wide array of claims. We would be able to, essentially, dismiss most master-slave rape cases as nonexistent based on that standard. Even modern rapes manage to slip under the radar of evidentiary standards. Does this negate their existence?

Third, what of this particular case? Well, we do have _something_. It has limitations, but it’s not nothing. And it’s at least as good as other evidence we routinely use to understand JS’s polygamy (Angus Cannon’s comment on Josephine Fisher comes to mind). The setting was not a public one (so it can’t be easily dismissed as propaganda). And expecting a single male voice like Corrill to know _all the atrocities_ is simply unrealistic.

So let’s not hold this evidence or Andrea Radke-Moss’s claims to standards that they have not claimed for themselves. While the weight might not be as heavy to be a slamdunk, it’s clear that the needle on the scales is now leaning in one direction.[191]

Of course, this was a Facebook discussion and it seems to have been lost on Radke-Moss and Stevenson that I was using Corrill as only one example. (There are others that I’ve mentioned in this article and other people in the discussion had even more examples). To be clear, I replied to Stevenson:

Who is asking for evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt”? Certainly not me. Where are you getting that from? What I am asking for is evidence that is more than a century later recollection made by a woman who obviously worshiped Eliza R. Snow, and is apologetic in nature to explain her lack of fertility. And there is plenty of evidence for master/slave rape. But that in and of itself was a complicated issue. In relation to this argument, it is a red herring. What I am not for, is jumping to conclusions based on hearsay.[192] Go to the Top

a. rape culture in antebellum america

In deigning to question Professor Radke-Moss’ source for the claimed Eliza Snow rape and ask for evidence of when it could have occurred, several accusations were thrown at me from Radke-Moss and Apologist Russell Stevenson, who whole-heartedly embraced Radke-Moss’ source by claiming:

While the weight might not be as heavy to be a slamdunk, it’s clear that the needle on the scales is now leaning in one direction. [that she was gang-raped][193]

I disagree that it is leaning in that direction, based on the information given to us by Radke-Moss so far. He also claimed her evidence was “at least as good as other evidence regularly used in discussing historical sexual crimes.” He then told me, “But this is where this conversation ends.”

I was very amused by his last comment, that he could simply end a conversation because he disagreed with someone. Because I questioned the source (documented above), I was told by both Radke-Moss and Stevenson that my motives were “suspect”; and then by Stevenson that was the end of the discussion, though he did not stop replying at that point.  Stevenson also said that

“the apologetic/political ramifications of the accusation, while significant, should not serve as a basis for delegitimization of the claims. Lots of verifiable claims can be used by propogandists [sic] to prove various polemical positions.”[194]

So, one cannot factor in the apologetic motives of someone who makes such a claim? Why should we just throw that out the window? And just who is Stevenson to determine what should be the basis of evaluating the Horne recollection? Just because legitimate claims are sometimes used by those with an agenda to prove controversial positions? What was Alice Horne trying to prove? This account has been touted by Radke-Moss as being made without any kind of agenda. But when one reads the account, it becomes obvious that it is filled with polygamy propaganda. Is Radke-Moss certain that Alice Horne never wanted to publish her autobiography or influence those that might later read it?

Stevenson then sets up an elaborate straw man with this argument:

Second, if you study anything about nineteenth-century sexuality, then we know that finding smoking gun evidence of rape is not an easy thing–particularly at a time of war (and rape’s prevalence in a time of war is so common that it can be almost assumed). What’s being asked for here is evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt.” But…holding that standard for nineteenth-century inquiry of this nature is an incredibly exacting one, one that would enable us to essentially cast doubt on a wide array of claims. We would be able to, essentially, dismiss most master-slave rape cases as nonexistent based on that standard. Even modern rapes manage to slip under the radar of evidentiary standards. Does this negate their existence?[195]

First, who was asking for “smoking gun evidence”? Certainly not me. But I was asking for better evidence than a fifty year later recollection of an event that took place 100 years before the recollection was written. I was asking for evidence that would give us a plausible timeline for when the rape could have occurred. I was asking to have Eliza Snow’s own accounts of her activities factored in. He then told me that in order to have acceptable evidence, I needed to provide a denial that it happened from Eliza Snow herself!

Nowhere in this account [actually it was multiple accounts that I provided] is there a shred negating the account presented. She made no claim to this [account] being comprehensive or all-inclusive.[196]

Do people usually do that when writing autobiographies? Write disclaimers that they are not “all inclusive”? So what should we do, simply discount them all because they didn’t mention an alleged rape? That the silence that surely is prevalent (but not complete) in rape culture automatically applies to Eliza Snow? Yet this is exactly what Radke-Moss and Stevenson would have us do.

I simply replied, “If there was no rape there would be no reason to negate it. What you are doing is Argumentum ad Ignorantiam. Stevenson then replied,

We don’t have ignorance; we have evidence at least as good as other evidence regularly used in discussing historical sexual crimes. And citing a general account meant for the public does nothing to disprove it. But this is where this conversation ends.[197]

Actually they don’t have evidence “at least as good as other evidence regularly used in discussing historical sexual crimes.”  There is court testimony, witness statements, depositions, and other evidence far superior to a 100 year later recollection in the historical record. I will elaborate on this below. And Eliza’s Bancroft History was not discovered and published until almost sixty years after she died, and her involvement with polygamy was not included in that publication. Argumentative ad Ignorantiam is not about having ignorance, so I offered the definition:

Argumentum ad Ignorantiam: (appeal to ignorance) the fallacy that a proposition is true simply on the basis that it has not been proved false or that it is false simply because it has not been proved true. This error in reasoning is often expressed with influential rhetoric.[198]

Stevenson then remarked:

Yes, thank you for offering that textbook definition of this fallacy (which is understood by all here and frankly adds nothing). We do not have an unfounded proposition. We have evidence for a proposition that you have chosen not to accept and made a very involved personal mission to reject–to the point that your commitment to this is suspect.[199]

If he understands Argumentative ad Ignorantiam, he sure doesn’t show it here. It has nothing to do with ignorance or unfounded propositions. It has everything to do with what he said to me, that because I don’t have specific evidence (a negation by Snow) that it happened, then it is more likely to be true. Remember he told us which way the needle is leaning? So now my commitment to finding out what really happened is “suspect”? And I don’t accept Horne’s account because it has not been corroborated by any other credible evidence. The whole purpose of discussing it, is to see if it stands up to scrutiny.

Stevenson is dead wrong about there being credible/”smoking gun” evidence of rape during Wars.  (I discuss Civil War rape evidence below). He claims that I am asking for evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt”. I never asked for any such thing.

This is the problem that some have with the Emma Smith/Eliza Snow miscarriage story. It was never told by Eliza herself, many details are wrong, and the accounts are all decades after the fact.

Why does Radke-Moss reject this account but accept the gang-rape account? I’ll be the first to admit that the miscarriage story has many problems. But then, so does the Alice Horne recollection, which I’ve documented above. Why is the Alice Horne recollection any better than the account by Charles C. Rich related to Leroi C. Snow? We don’t even know which women were present when Alice Horne heard the story!

Stevenson continues his straw man by then claiming that if we use his own “beyond a reasonable doubt” criteria it would enable anyone to cast doubt on just about everything. Well, sure. But no one set that criteria except Stevenson.

He then claims (astoundingly) that I was denying that silence about rapes existed or still exists. What I was arguing was using that as a crutch to prop up the gang rape of Eliza Snow wasn’t acceptable to me, or that acknowledging it does anything to bolster the Horne account from being no more than a vague recollection made fifty years after it was supposedly heard. If Eliza was gang-raped, she obviously told someone, or we would not be discussing it. Who did she tell? When did she tell them? Is what Horne recalled an accurate representation of that? These are legitimate questions to ask.

Stevenson is also completely wrong about the available evidence about slave/master rape. I wrote,

Who is asking for evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt”? Certainly not me. Where are you getting that from? What I am asking for is evidence that is more than a century later recollection made by a woman who obviously worshiped Eliza R. Snow, and is apologetic in nature to explain her lack of fertility. And there is plenty of evidence for master/slave rape. But that in and of itself was a complicated issue. In relation to this argument, it is a red herring. What I am not for, is jumping to conclusions based on hearsay.[200]

Stevenson replied,

For individual cases of master-slave rape? Hardly–and certainly for historians a century later. And if you think there’s “plenty” for individual cases (which is what you are asking for), then you must have access to sources that no one else did. Most of them could be delegitimized on _precisely_ the same grounds you’re delegitimizing this evidence. It’s late. It’s rumor. Why didn’t so-and-so talk about it? And it’s certainly no more complicated than proving this case. Is it a red herring to talk about…other instances of rape?[201]

No, it’s a red herring to say that I wanted evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt” and that with that criteria one could reject any claims of rape. What I did, was rebut Stevenson’s false claim that there isn’t any credible evidence of master/slave rape. There is. Plenty of it. And it is not just rumor or second hand accounts from a century later.  Go to the Top

b. master/slave rape

Sharon Block provides massive amounts of evidence in her landmark book, Rape and Sexual Power in Early America:

A man’s position as the head of a household might allow him ready access to dependent women within that household. Servants and slaves were prime targets for sexual coercion by their masters. A household head’s power over a dependent woman’s labor could be translated into opportunities for sexual coercion without the taboo of incest or child rape. A master’s available techniques for sexual coercion also allowed forceful acts of coercion to appear more consensual than a stranger’s onetime attack. I5 Servants repeatedly told of unending pressure, if not coercion, to engage in sexual relations with their masters. Colonial court records are filled with fornication cases involving masters and servants. As early as 1662, Virginia law mandated the punishment of “dissolute masters” who impregnated their female male servants. In a 1724 Virginia court, a servant complained that her master “continually Importuned” her “by all ways and means to prostitute her body to him which he Dayly practices to the other servant woman belonging to him.” A decade later, Pennsylvania servant Hannah Gother testified that her master had “pretended to Court her and through great promises of marrying her he over came her and had Karnall knowledge of her body many times.” Hannah did not mention overt physical coercion – perhaps trying to protect herself, she claimed only that she had sexual relations under false pretenses. Like Hannah, many women defended themselves against fornication charges with formulaic language of false promises of marriage. The incident might have straddled the margins of forced sex – if Hannah had refused her master, she might have lost her livelihood. Either way, women’s testimony that they had been tricked into having sex made consensual sex seem at least slightly coerced, and, reciprocally, such master-servant cases as Hannah’s might seem consensual. Occasional incidents were more clear-cut: in the 1750’s, a Lutheran minister complained about a man who had repeatedly attempted “to rape the servant girl.” But pinpointing the degree of coercion in many cases is impossible precisely because the power of mastery could blur the degree of coercion in master-servant sexual relations.[202]

These are servant women in the 18th and 19th Centuries, testifying against their masters/employers in court. Colonial court records are filled with such cases. Though there were many cases and women who testified, tragically there were no convictions of white men before the Civil War. Often it was others who brought the charges against the slaves owners:

Enslaved women faced similar pressures and were even more vulnerable to their masters’ sexual coercion. By the eighteenth century, slavery followed the status of the mother, meaning that masters need not fear paternity liability if a pregnancy resulted from the rape. Nor would masters have had to fear the legal repercussions of a rape charge, which was practically unheard of though legally possible. No rape conviction against a white man, let alone a victim’s owner, for raping an enslaved woman has been found between at least 1700 and the Civil War. As with white servant women, scattered records suggest that enslaved black women also engaged in sexual relations – perhaps forced, perhaps nominally consensual – with their masters. In 1756, John Briggs complained  to a Rhode Island court that he had been defamed by the charge that he had “offered to be naught [y] with his Negrow woman.” In 1775, a Virginia Baptist church heard accusations that a member had offered “the Act of uncleaness to a Mulatto Girl of his own.” In 1783, a Delaware court brought a bastardy charge against Michael Hart for impregnating his slave. The few such documented incidents most probably represent many more unrecorded ones. As early abolitionist David Rice rhetorically asked in 1792, “How often have [white] men children by their own slaves, by their fathers’ slaves, or the slaves of their neighbours?” Even if only a small percentage of the forced interracial master-slave sexual relationships resulted in master-fathered enslaved children, the number of American mixed-race children born into slavery suggest that such relations were far more common than surviving documents.[203]

This is what I meant when I said there was plenty of evidence to show that there were slave/master rapes. These are not vague 100 year later recollections, they are actual documents from the time period. Court cases. Testimony.  Eye witnesses. Though the conviction rate was abysmal, the complaints and documents are still extant. Block writes,

While documented instances of sexual coercion of slaves or servants by their owners or masters exist, the brief notations that comprise most of these records make it difficult to see how a position of mastery allowed for specific practices of sexual coercion. However, an analysis of two particularly well-documented cases shows the similarities between a master’s practices of sexual coercion with a white servant and with a black slave. The story of Harriet Jacobs, an enslaved woman in North Carolina who wrote a fictionalized autobiography detailing her struggles with a sexually forceful master in the early nineteenth century, is well known. Rachel Davis’s story is less familiar; surviving in manuscript court records, it is the tale of a white servant in Pennsylvania who struggled with her own master’s sexual attacks at the end of the eighteenth century.

…Both Harriet and Rachel drew direct links between their status and their masters’ sexual assaults. Each woman explained how her master had forced her into situations where he could sexually coerce her without being discovered. Rachel described several such incidents in her courtroom testimony. First, William Cress ordered her to hold the lantern for him one night in the stable, where he “tried to persuade me to something.” While the two were alone measuring grain in the barn, “he caught hold of me and pulled me on the hay.” In the most blatantly contrived incident, when they were reaping hay in the meadow, William “handed me his sickle and bad [c] me to lay it down. He saw where I put it.” Later that night, William asked Rachel “where I put them sickles.” Rachel offered to go with her sister to retrieve them, but William “said that was not as he bad [c] me.” William and Rachel went out to find the sickles, but, before they reached them, William “threw me down…. I hallowed – he put his hand over my mouth… he pulled up my cloathes, and got upon me… [and] he did penetrate my body.” According to Rachel’s statement, William forced her to accompany him into a dark field on a contrived search for a purposefully lost farm implement so that he could rape her. William’s authority to control where she went and what she did enabled him to force Rachel to have sex with him.

…Harriet Jacobs was even more explicit about the connections between James Norcum’s mastery and his ability to force her into sexually vulnerable positions. It seemed to Harriet that James followed her everywhere; in her words, “My master met me at every turn” trying to force her to have sex with him. As William did with Rachel, James structured Harriet’s work so that she was often alone with him. He ordered her to bring his meals to him so that while she watched him cat, he could verbally torture her with the possible consequences of refusing his sexual overtures. Harriet further recalled, “When I succeeded in avoiding opportunities for him to talk to me at home, I was ordered to come to his office, to do some errand.” Tiring of Harriet’s continued resistance, James ordered his four-year-old daughter to sleep near him, thus requiring that Harriet also sleep in his room in case the child needed attention during the night. After his wife objected to that arrangement, he tried to make Harriet accompany him on his solo trip to Louisiana.[205]

As I said, this issue is complicated. But there is ample credible evidence for slave/master rape, evidence of a far better nature than a fifty year later vague recollection. Go to the Top

c. rape and the civil war

Maureen Stutzman writes,

Rape in the American Civil War_Cover

Rape in the American Civil War: Race, Class, and Gender in the Case of Harriet McKinley and Perry Pierson, Maureen Stutzman, Woman’s Studies Journal, Spring 2009, PDF, 13 pages.

As in modern-day rape prosecutions, Civil War era prosecutions privileged certain groups over others.  Because women in the 1800’s were viewed as the property of men, their trials were not about their own violation, but about an attack on one man’s property by another man.  For elite white women, this system of patriarchy offered some protection from rape as they were valued for their sexual purity, which was guarded by white men.  Poor women and women of color, however, as “economically dependent and racially marginalized women,” were offered less protection from rape and were less likely to successfully press charges against an alleged rapist. It is in this context that the case of Harriet McKinley and Perry Pierson occurred.  Historian Lawrence Stone has written, “People who are hauled into court are almost by definition atypical, but the world that is so nakedly exposed in the testimony of witnesses need not be so.  Safety therefore lies in examining the documents not so much for their evidence about the eccentric behavior of the accused as for the light they shed on the life and opinions of those who happened to get involved in the incident in question.”  It is with this attention to the entire court record and focus on all testimony, questioning, and behavior in mind that I have examined this court-martial case for a glimpse into the world inhabited by the people involved.  This case reveals valuable information about the intersections of race, class, and gender in the courtroom and how these intersections shifted due to the social changes caused by the war.

In the National Archives in Washington, D.C. one summer, I uncovered the names of 76 men who were charged with rape or attempted rape, as well as the names of the 69 women assaulted by these men.  Historian Thomas P. Lowry, looking at the same records and attempting to develop an index by crime, discovered the cases of 262 other men.  Thus far, 335 cases of rape or attempted rape brought before a court-martial have been discovered.  Of the 76 men whose names I discovered, 20 were identified as “colored.”   There was an overwhelming number of Privates in rank, although there were also a few Corporals, Sergeants, and Lieutenants charged.  Of the 69 women who were pressing charges or had charges pressed on their behalf, there were twenty identified as “colored” and only five identified as white.  The remaining 44 women were not identified by race.  However, upon close reading of the cases and according to social conventions of the time period, we can speculate that white was the “default” race. In other words, if a woman’s race was not identified, it meant that she was white.  Also, the only situations in which the women were identified as white were cases in which the accused rapist was identified as “colored.”  I found no cases in which a black man was accused of raping a black woman, which evidences the invisibility of that crime in the court system.[205]

Let’s remember here, that Eliza Snow was not a slave, nor was she black. Stutzman writes that Lowry had found many documented rape cases that took place among Union Soldiers during the Civil War. In 2011, he published them in his book, Sexual Misbehavior in the Civil War: A Compendium. Some of Thomas Lowry’s observations about rape in the Civil War:

As Robert K. Krick pointed out, in his foreword to The Story the Soldiers Wouldn’t Tell, the eminent authorities of a generation ago could state, “Rape, of course, was unheard of in that era.” Now we know that was wrong, simply because the basic research had not been done. With the stories presented here, at least three new research possibilities suggest themselves. First, is the Southern belief in the unbridled lust of the colored man, barely held in check by the overseer’s whip and the patrollers shotgun. There were roughly 180,000 men in the US Colored Troops. Were their arrests for rape disproportionate to their numbers? On a related theme—justice for non-whites—were black men more likely to be executed for rape than white men? A third related subject for study might be the rape of black women by Union soldiers, who, in our schoolbooks at least, had come to bring them freedom. The original records of Civil War misbehavior open a whole new landscape for future researchers.Freed Blacks After Civil War

Rape in the Civil War can be most fairly compared with the same crime in other historical eras. We saw in Chapter 13 that in most wars, even within the most recent decade, rape was widespread, and has been seen as a soldier’s prerogative, or as a means of humiliating members of a defeated culture. (“See, you are weak and cannot protect your own women. I leave her humiliated, dishonored, and pregnant with my seed, not yours.”) The Union army discouraged rape as a prerogative by hanging rapists, at least some of them. Rape intended as geopolitical humiliation does not seem to be in these records. The roughly 250 rape cases in the Union record, out of an army of roughly 2.4 million, suggest that one out 10,000 Union soldiers committed an identified rape. While there are many unknowns in such statistics, it would appear that Union soldiers were remarkably well-behaved. Even in Sherman’s much-maligned March to the Sea there is a dramatic lack of documented rape. Certainly, critics can say, “Even one rape is too many,” and of course that is true. And irrelevant. In a war that spanned an entire continent, rape was—happily—a rare event.[206] 

The Militia leaders during the Mormon War also discouraged rape. This should not be dismissed out of hand as Radke-Moss’ appears to be doing. Though there were no Missourians brought to trial for their crimes during the Mormon War, the men could not have known this beforehand. This may have been a detriment to some. Conversely, with the Governor’s Extermination Order in play here, it undoubtedly influenced some to disregard the penalties of extreme behavior towards the Mormons. That is why knowing the circumstance of where Eliza Snow was during the Mormon War is so important. Go to the Top

15 rapes in missouri (from Sexual Misbehavior in the Civil War)

Rape in wartime Missouri was a rural affair. The metropolis of St. Louis generated no military trials for rape. While rape itself is brutal, in Missouri it seemed to be unusually vicious, perhaps reflecting the bitter partisan guerrilla warfare that burned through the state.

Private Benjamin Davis, 1st Missouri Cavalry, raped a woman at Bull Mill, a town too small to merit a post office today. She told the court: “He pushed me on the bed, tore off my clothes, made me lay the baby by my side, took me from both front and back and then a third time.” Her 11-year-old brother said, “I saw him pull my sister’s clothes off.” After the rape, she hid in the knee-deep creek for two hours, fearing further assault. The questions of the court to her are remarkable. “Did you like it?” “Was it like with your husband?” Then the court asked the husband, “Did you beat her as she merits?” (!) They did find Davis guilty and ordered him to have his head shaved and be drummed out of the regiment to the Rogue’s March. Further, if he was found near by, he was to be shot.

Bull Mill was the seat of a second outrage, this one involving three generations. William Evans, 59th Illinois, and three unidentified men, came to the home of 80-year-old widow Sarah Downing, who lived with her daughter and three grandchildren. The daughter testified first. “The accused said he’d come to fuck me. He raped me standing in front of my mother and children, then the second man raped me, then Evans again. Then he raped my mother; it was all in the same room.” The mother had her recollection: “He said he wanted to see if ‘it’ was as gray as my head. He pulled out his penis and tried to put it in my mouth and then he raped me. I resisted, but he was too strong.” Evans received the same punishment as Davis.

At Lebanon, James Robinson and Samuel Stewart, both of the 8th Missouri Militia Cavalry, terrorized a family. They threw Elizabeth Vernon on the floor, saying, “You must submit to our wishes,” but apparently failed to complete the rape. They told her father, “We will do as we please with your daughter.” In addition to the sexual offense, the men stole cash, clothes, and a watch. Robinson got three years in prison and Stewart got five. Both received a dishonorable discharge.

31st Pennsylvania Infantry 1862

31st Pennsylvania Infantry 1862

At Pilot Knob, a courageous artist, William Hineley, saved a woman from a rape. “On March 31, 1862, I was in my room taking a portrait when I heard cries of distress. One hundred yards down the road was a woman, a part of her exposed, naked, with the soldier on top of her.” Hineley described the rapist’s heavy breathing, his hurried covering of his private parts, and his firing two shots at the rescuer. The victim was Nancy Willard, whose husband was away in the 12th Missouri Cavalry. The rapist was Private John Lowney of the 3rd Missouri Cavalry, who was sentenced to hard labor until the end of the war.

John W. Morgan of the 1st Missouri State Militia Cavalry was a menace to two 28-year old women at Maysville. It was June 1864. Morgan, drunk, went first to the home of Martha D. Smith and asked, “How much money would it take to let me fuck you?” His next stop was at the house of Mrs. Frances Cummings. He threw her on the ground, held her down with his knees, waved a cocked revolver, and put his hand under her dress, touching her private parts, all of this witnessed by her children. The court gave Morgan a dishonorable discharge and five years in prison.

Second Lieutenant Walter Purcell, 10th Iowa, was officer of the guard at Cape Girardeau in May 1862. Cynthia Shelton was held a prisoner on the third floor of the Johnson House, a “public house.” One evening, Purcell came to her room and had sexual intercourse with her five times. He then left for an hour to meet a newly arrived steam boat, returned to her room, and did it again. In the hour that he was away, she made no effort to leave or to summon help. She had been visited by five other men the night before and had had coitus with each of them. Others said she was “Not a woman of virtue.” The charge of rape was dropped and Purcell was set free.

At Sibley, Private Frank Paul, 11th Kansas Cavalry, was charged with robbing two men at gunpoint of $15,000 (in today’s money). He and another soldier, Alfred Weaver, went to a “colored house.” Weaver told the court, “Paul threw Ann Rennick on the floor, pulled up her clothes and said, ‘By God, I intend to screw you.’” Weaver told him to get off. The victim was not asked to testify. Paul was acquitted.

At Tipton, two men of the 6th Missouri, Benjamin Wilson and Lambert Webster, entered the home of J. W. Brand at midnight. They robbed Brand of whiskey, tobacco, pants and, possibly, a pair of mules. Brand recalled, “They went then to the Negro cabins, hauled the girl out and he [Wilson] with three others ravaged her.” The court record does not give her name, nor did she testify. Webster was imprisoned to the end of the war; Wilson served only one month. The other two men were not identified.

In Johnson County, politics and rape were closely connected. John F. Herd, William Fisher, Thomas Estes, and Joseph Phillips (all white) went to the home of Harriet Nelson (also white) and stole clothing, carpets, and blankets, over the protests of Mrs. Nelson. Herd went into the backyard to Amelia Caroline, “colored,” age 13. “He throwed me down and choked me. Then he ravaged my person.” Her story was confirmed by her father, Richard Brown, and by Mrs. Nelson. Only Herd was tried; he was given fifteen years in prison. The following people wrote to Abraham Lincoln on Herd’s behalf: the court clerk, the county treasurer, the assessor, two justices, and a deputy sheriff. Lincoln referred the case to Holt, who ridiculed these appeals, calling the crime “fully proven,” and the sentence “minimal.” Forty-nine of the men of Herd’s old regiment wrote to say that he was a fine young man. A state justice and a major of the Missouri State Militia wrote, denouncing Harriet Nelson as “a rebel and a liar,” claiming that she had called Herd, “a Goddamned Lincolnite and a nigger stealer.” None of the correspondence mentioned the raped girl.

Forty-seven-year old William Hensley, of Cedar County, was not a Union man. He refused to enlist in the Union Army and refused to take the oath of allegiance. He approached 39-year old Mary Brown, whose husband was in the Union Army, and threatened her with violence unless she submitted to his “carnal solicitations and desires.” He was imprisoned at hard labor to the end of the war.

Henry Fairbrother, 2nd Missouri Militia Cavalry, was accused of raping a Mrs. Harper in her home at Bloomfield. She told the court that a man broke down her door and got on her bed. When she cried out, he choked her. She was holding a baby. Her assailant ordered her 11-year old child to take the baby, and then completed “connexion” with Mrs. Harper. There was no light in the house. Fairbrother was acquitted because of a lack of visual identification.

At Ironton, Thomas Finnell, 17th Illinois Cavalry, was charged with the attempted rape of Margaret Bradshaw, widow, age 26. She was at home after dark, with a neighbor Martha Willis. Finnell, drunk, came in and demanded beer. The women sent him away. He returned a few minutes later, broke down the door, threw Mrs. Bradshaw on the bed, put his knee on her breast, and choked her until she partially lost consciousness. Mrs. Willis summoned the guard, who took Finnell away. The court gave him a year at hard labor.

John Estes was an 18-year-old farmer in Clay County near Holmes Creek. He had been a member of Company G, 25th Missouri, but claimed to have been discharged for “ill health.” He was accused of being a guerrilla with “Joe Hart’s men,” and with the rape of Melinda Poage. He was acquitted of the rape charge, based on the document prepared by his counsel and signed with Estes’ “X.” “I have known Melinda Poage for five years. Her reputation for chastity is bad. I have known her carnally four or five times. The first time was in a tent at Camp Liberty, in the daytime. I gave her a dollar and a half. It was a fair and legitimate transaction.” The couple met another time at Hamill’s on the Missouri River and, more recently, when they met on the road. “She acceded to a proposition to go into the woods . . . and for the sum of one dollar have intercourse.” Estes was convicted of being a bushwhacker and given five years at hard labor. His appeal to Andrew Johnson was referred to Holt, who noted Estes’ reputation for being “a bad boy and thievish.” Holt concluded that Estes was “a ruffian” and not deserving of clemency.

Clint, “a colored citizen,” tried to rape 11-year old Ellen Maroney, at Macon, in October 1863. “I was walking up the road. He was hammering a board. He asked me if I would wash a shirt for him. I told him, ‘No.’ He showed me a one dollar greenback. When he saw I was going to tear it up he took it back . . . He asked for some fuck. I told him I did not know what he meant. He said, ‘God damn you, I’ll soon show you!’ He took me by the hair and dragged me down. I commenced to holler and he put his hand over my mouth. He got on top of me. Afterward, I found something like starch on my clothes.” Clint was sentenced to hang and the records were sent to Lincoln, who asked Holt’s opinion. In his report, Holt noted: “. . . bruised, lacerated and terrified, the little victim, when released from the clutch of her assailant, ran weeping to her home . . . An examination of her clothes and her person, made by women and by a physician disclosed all the confirmatory evidence of attempted ravishment . . . An examination of the Negro’s parts by the doctor corroborated the other proof.” The final note in this case reads: “Sentence approved. A. Lincoln April 14, 1864.”

Patrick Bolen, of the 25th Missouri, faced two charges in January 1864: attempting to force carnal intercourse on a colored woman, and habitual drunkenness. His regiment was camped near New Madrid. His intended victim, Nancy, “a contraband woman” who cooked for the drummers, told the court: “He came to my tent with his canteen of whiskey. He wanted me to take a drink. I told him I did not want any. Then he took out some money and wanted me to take it. I told him I would not and then he tried to put it in my hand and I threw it down. He tried to get in my bed, but I threw him out.” Bolen was acquitted of attempted rape, but was convicted of habitual drunkenness. Several witnesses described Bolan’s obsession with alcohol. One statement will suffice: “He is a very good soldier when there is no liquor about, but when he can get liquor he is no soldier at all.” Bolen, with half his head shaved, was drummed out of the army.[207]

There were many gang rapes that took place during the Civil War, by both white and black soldiers. Lowry writes:

McPhersonville (South Carolina) was the scene of an attack by five members of the 104th US Colored Troops: Benjamin Redding, James Grippen, Henry Davis, Gabriel Richardson, and Howard Dixon. At night in late August 1865, a group led by Redding burned the house of Mrs. Mary Heape, beat her son, and raped her young daughter, Euselia. The same group attacked the house of Mrs. Emily Mew, raping her and Mrs. Mary McTier. The men also threatened other citizens with bayonets and stole various household items. Redding and Grippen were both convicted of multiple rapes and were hanged, “in the presence of their regiment,” at Hilton Head in late November 1865. Davis and Richardson were convicted of assisting in the rapes. Both men were put to hard labor until the end of their enlistments and given dishonorable discharges. Dixon was acquitted.[208]

Lowry also documents a gang rape that took place in Florida. Notice the swift justice for the men (who were black):

Three men of the 55th Massachusetts (colored) were tried for a rape committed near Jacksonville on February 17, 1864. Mrs. Sarah Hammond, who lived near Cedar Creek, said, “I screamed and begged for mercy, but they threw me on the ground. One violated me while the other three held me. Then they took turns.” John M. Smith was age 21, with light complexion, born at Old Towne, Maine. Lloyd Spencer was also age 21, born in Delaware and could not read or write. John Cook was 23. All three men were hanged the day after the crime. A fourth man, Wallace Baker, escaped but was later shot for mutiny.[209]

Another took place in North Carolina. Notice that for these white men, there were no executions:

The North Landing River connects the sounds of North Carolina with Hampton Roads and is part of today’s Intracoastal Waterway. Five miles southeast of the US Navy’s Fentress Field is Pungo (Pongo) Bridge, site of the gang rape of Grace Barnes, on April 28, 1864. The six men involved were all members of the 20th New York Cavalry. James Hallion, Nicholas Kane, Edward Pickett, Thomas Hunt, William Cahill, and John Brennan were on the road near the bridge when they met Grace, who was carrying a bundle of laundry. “They asked me to give them a diddle . . . I said no . . . they drived me into the woods and threw me down . . . five of them had connection with me . . . I said, ‘For God’s sake, let me go home’ . . . one of them held a stick over my head . . . the sweat was pouring off me like water. They never let me rise up my head but twice . . . They kept me there for near two hours and a half.” Kane said, “I don’t know if she laid down for all of us . . . but she did for me. I was present when the other four . . . had connexion with her. We did not pay her anything. She prostituted herself willing to all the men. I did hear her beg to be let up.” The prolonged testimony established varying degrees of guilt. Hallion, whose previous crimes included slicing a guard with his saber, beating up a commissary sergeant, and threatening to kill his lieutenant, was sentenced to be shot, a decision reviewed twice by Lincoln. In the end, Ben Butler commuted the penalty to three years in prison. Kane, Pickett, and Brennan received dishonorable discharges and five years in prison. Hunt received only three years, in view of his “extreme youth.” Several witnesses verified that Cahill did not have intercourse with Grace; he was acquitted. Just as the four rapists were buttoning their pants, Sergeant Owen Curren arrived. Grace recalled, “I prayed him, I begged of him, for God’s sake let me go home. I am near about dead. I was standing then and he [Curren] threw me down again, right hard. Then he had connexion with me, but didn’t but one time. He was the last man who had connexion with me. I still can’t hold my water.” Curren also got five years in prison and a dishonorable discharge. A soldier of the 17th Maine noted in his diary that on December 10, 1864, Colonel Edwin R. Biles, 99th Pennsylvania and his adjutant were “perpetrating one of the vilest outrages upon two defenseless women.” According to diarist John W. Haley, the two men offered to burn the women’s house down unless they submitted to “infamous proposals.” Haley noted that private soldiers would be hanged for such a crime, but “Old Byles is an officer.” At the end of the war, Biles was brevetted brigadier general, for “gallant and meritorious service.”[210] 

There probably were many more than what Lowry published, considering that many women probably did not come forward to testify against the men who had raped them. Still, many did come forward and testified against their attackers. That leads us into the next section, the silence that more often than not permeates rape culture. Go to the Top

d. the culture of silence

In my Facebook Conversation with Stevenson and Radke-Moss, I asked these questions and made an observation about Eliza Snow’s account of her journey from Diahman to Far West:

When, during the above narrative, was Eliza raped? When she had her “usual” greeting with a militia soldier? DiAhman was about 30 miles north of Hawn’s Mill. This account doesn’t seem to leave much room for a brutal gang rape to have taken place. Especially when Eliza claims that she was having a “jolly time” and that it was almost like a “pleasure party”, with dancing hymns, songs and “merrily passing off the hours”. I just don’t see it.[211]

Stevenson sarcastically replied:

Because women are always very open and transparent about when they’re raped, right? Clearly not, and if we suppose they are, then we’re ignorant indeed. So nothing you’ve presented disproves this [Horne’s] account. But you don’t see it. That’s ok. But don’t mistake that for actual counterevidnence.[212]

Actually, what I presented there in a more limited way, and above in this Essay is counter evidence. I think it is compelling counter evidence. I never did claim that women were ALWAYS very open and transparent about when they were raped. This is another of Stevenson’s straw man arguments. Professor Radke-Moss also claimed:

There just seems to be a lot of indignation on this post that Missouri men in the 1830s could not possibly have committed such a crime, just because these sources present some challenges. This was a slave-owning state, for crying out loud. Rape of female slaves across the antebellum South was not only acceptable, it was encouraged, and it was common. It’s not a stretch to think that a culture of masculinity in 1830s Missouri would have been okay with transferring their violent misogyny to a group that they despised. Not a stretch at all.[213]

No one claimed that Missouri men in the 1800’s could not possibly have committed the alleged gang-rape of Eliza Snow. But there was consensus that the source was weak, and that those like John Corrill, who was familiar with events that took place in Far West (he was there), and who investigated the claims had doubts. I have shown why above. Radke-Moss also claimed that I was placing “the burden of proof of this on female victims, who are already silenced in a culture of masculine war, masculine property, masculine ownership of women’s bodies?” Yet, that did not hinder many women from coming forward to testify. Sharon Block wrote that,

A second challenge [in writing her book] has been to show women’s daily experiences with sexual coercion without replicating the gendered divisions of power that erased or minimized women’s role in rape. Despite the public image of rape, early American women actively negotiated the terms of sexual relationships even under the most unequal systems of power; they mediated other women’s claims of assault and tried to shape their stories for all-male juries. Maintaining women’s perspectives while documenting the structural and institutional systems that depended on the silencing of particular forms (and therefore particular victims) of sexual coercion can be difficult. I have been influenced by literary scholars, such as Lynn Higgins and Brenda Silver, who caution that understanding standing rape “involves listening not only to who speaks and in what circumstances, but who does not speak and why.” I have tried to give voice to those who might not have had the words or the opportunities to speak for posterity. Beyond just documenting agency or recovering voices, however, I have argued that these silences were crucial to sustaining the meanings of rape in early America.[214]

Radke-Moss also claims that “Rape of female slaves across the antebellum South was not only acceptable, it was encouraged, and it was common.” This is misleading. Diane Miller Sommerville writes in her book Rape and Race in the Nineteenth Century South that,

A woman of color could charge a white man with rape, provided that white witnesses could corroborate the charge. This requirement may account for why so few women of color brought charges of rape against white men, rather than the oft-repeated assertion that African American females could not be raped in the eyes of the law. If no white witnesses could independently confirm that the offense had occurred and testify to the rape, there was no case. Second, even though the court received “evidence” [in an 1859 trial in Virginia] that the accuser was of mixed race, had given birth to mixed-race children out of wedlock, and had a reputation for cavorting with blacks, the jury nonetheless found the rape charge credible. Not only did the trial continue in light of the new information about the accuser, the jury found the offender guilty of rape.[215]

The man was sentenced to ten years in prison. She then added,

It would be reading too much into the fragmentary sources to say that white men accused of rape were no better off than black men similarly accused. But it is clear that pockets of sympathy in white communities, in the courts, and in executive offices militated in favor of leniency and second chances for both black and white rapists in the Old South. Sometimes support came in a swell, other times in a trickle. The threat running through nearly all the accounts of official rape was a deep suspicion and mistrust of the female accuser.[216]

It is really stretching to claim that wholesale rape of slaves was encouraged and acceptable. If it was, there would have been no laws at all to try those who were accused of committing such acts. There were laws against it, but it was very hard for white men to be convicted by black women because their testimony was not acceptable in court unless they had a white witness. This, of course, was by design. My point here is that even though the deck was stacked against these women, it was not absolute. Eliza Snow was not a black slave. But she still would have had to overcome the shame involved with such a crime, and other numerous problems. This is obvious if one studies the issue. In Eliza’s case, she also had to deal with the injustice of a State that had turned its back on their own citizens, and left legal recourse a dismal undertaking. But all of this should not give silence as a reason the benefit of the doubt.

As Sharon Block wrote:

When I began this project, my most pressing concern was that I would be unable to unearth enough historical evidence. A decade later, I find that material rial related to sexual coercion is virtually unavoidable. I am thrilled that my original fears were unfounded, but the bounty of evidence led to other theoretical and conceptual difficulties. As I tried to reconstruct the many perspectives on rape – individual women’s experiences, community reactions, institutional mandates, courtroom practices, print culture, and mainstream ideologies – I struggled to balance continuity and widely shared beliefs with change over time and regional specificities. By emphasizing the big picture and taking a thematic approach to rape, I have continually run the danger of underplaying local distinctions. To some degree, writing a monograph on a topic that covers thousands of miles and more than a century inevitably faces the problem of dissatisfying some readers with my lack of attention to the particularities of specific regions or time periods.[217]

In many ways, this can be said when writing about the Mormon War and its impact on Mormon women, but begs the question, “Is this account by Alice Horne enough to discount what numerous Historians have written on this subject and the available evidence-that there is just as much likelihood (if not more) that it may not have happened-which I’ve documented above?” I’ll let the readers decide.  Go to the Top

e. byu’s rape problem

“Even in a forced contact such as rape or incest, the injured one is greatly outraged. If she has not cooperated and contributed to the foul deed, she is of course in a more favorable position. There is no condemnation where there is no voluntary participation. It is better to die in defending one’s virtue than to live having lost it without a struggle.” ~Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle Of Forgiveness, 196

Kimball backed up this instruction to young women with a quote by a previous prophet, David O. McKay:

“President David O. McKay has pleaded: Your virtue is worth more than your life. Please, young folk, preserve your virtue even if you lose your lives.”[218]

Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah

Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah

This is what the Mormon apostle Spencer Kimball taught, (based on the instruction of the current prophet David O. McKay) that it is better to no cooperate with a rapist and die than to submit without a struggle and live, even if the rapist threatens to kill you if you do.

At Mormon Church owned schools they compel every student to adhere to an “honor code”.[219] On April 16, 2016 KUTV in Provo, Utah reported that,

A BYU Student says that after she was raped and called police to report the crime, she was shocked when an investigator from BYU’s Title IX office emailed her, then told her she might have violated the school’s honor code.

Madi Barney

Madi Barney

“I felt re-victimized,” she said. Madi Barney said she was troubled that the school’s Title IX investigator didn’t offer her any support when she called. “She only said we need to talk about the honor code. It looks like you violated it,” she said. …

Madi says she was raped by a man she invited into her off-campus apartment in September of 2015. She says she never invited him into her bedroom – where he raped her.

Police documents say the alleged rapist later admitted to Madi, over the phone, that he raped her. The man was charged with rape. The judge said there was enough evidence for his case to go to trial.

Later, Madi learned that a friend of the suspect took the police report to BYU honor code office – that’s how they became aware of the alleged rape. Now she had a criminal trial and an honor code investigation to worry about. “It creates a totally hostile environment. It makes it feel like victims can’t come forward,” said Madi who feels like the school is, in effect, blaming her for her rape.[220]

A week earlier BYU had held a rape awareness conference. This was reported on by Joshua Dunn who wrote on April 8th:

Yesterday (April 7, 2016), Brigham Young University held a rape awareness conference, according to BYU’s own publication, The Daily Universe. The Universe’s reporter seems to have missed the disruption of the conference’s Q&A segment, per this Reddit post:

I was at this event tonight — things got a little heated for a minute because a survivor student brought up honor code…(because she had been through them twice for sexual assault) and directly addressed the title IX coordinator, who stood up and responded that they do not apologize for abiding by an honor code so integral to BYU.

BYU Taylor Jarman

Taylor Jarman, BYU Rape Awareness Conference

BYU is the Mormon church’s private university, located in Provo, Utah. Like other religious schools, BYU has an honor code that requires all its students to live by the Mormon Church’s moral standards. Students are punished for having sex, being in someone of the opposite gender’s bedroom, and having beards. According to other Reddit users commenting on the same post, being raped and then subsequently punished isn’t that unusual at the school:

My sister was raped at BYU in 2002. She turned him in with help from her roommates (who witnessed her screams in her bedroom)…she was interrogated and then was put on probation for a semester and given a referral to get some help with her “issues”…and was put on anti-depressants while he continued to walk around campus like nothing happened. Oh, and then he left on his mission to Argentina.

I sadly also know a former BYU student who was raped and then kicked out of school. She was only a semester or two away from graduating. She had to fight like crazy to get back in to graduate. Pretty messed up.

BYU’s Honor Code takes victim blaming to a whole new level. Other users in the above thread state that they and friends never reported their rapes because they were breaking the honor code. One, for example, was in a man’s room before being raped. Another told friends not to report because she was breaking curfew.

But even for those who decide to report and aren’t expelled or punished by the Honor Code Office, their rape kits might never get tested. According to multiple news sources, “62 percent of rape kits in Utah…were not submitted for analysis and remained in police custody, or were destroyed before ever being submitted.”[221]

Concerning rape kits in Utah being processed, BYU News reports that,

Two years ago, in a well-publicized study, BYU nursing professor Julie Valentine looked at 270 rape cases in Salt Lake County that took place between 2003 and 2011. She found just six percent of those cases led to prosecution. …

A major reason for the startlingly low prosecution rate in the past has been the backlog of sexual assault kits, often referred to as rape kits, which law enforcement collects when working with a victim and includes DNA evidence.

In a press conference at BYU on April 7, the results of Valentine’s were released, looking at the processing of 1874 sexual assault kits in seven Utah counties between 2010 and 2013. This is the most comprehensive study ever conducted on sexual assault kits in Utah.

BYU's Julie Valentine, talks about the TIVI protocol, Trauma Informed Victim Interview, as West Valley City Police Department explains the great strides they have made in sexual assault cases, as they implement the protocol during a press conference Thursday, April 14, 2016.

BYU’s Julie Valentine, April 14, 2016.

Findings include:

  • Within a year of the assaults that took place, only 22.8 percent of the sexual assault kits were submitted by law enforcement to the state crime laboratory for analysis.
  • An additional 15.4 percent were submitted in late 2014 through 2015, following community and media pressure for law enforcement to submit kits in storage.
  • A total of 62 percent of SAKs were found not submitted, and they either remain in law enforcement custody, have recently been submitted or have been destroyed.

“Utah has had higher rates of rape than the national average since 1991 as tracked in the FBI Uniform Crime Reports,” Valentine said. “This study raises concerns that the low criminal justice system response to rape in Utah has failed to identify and prosecute rapists. Multiple studies have found that some rapists identified through DNA analysis of sexual assault kits are serial rapists. If sexual assault kits are not submitted for analysis, serial rapists cannot be identified, resulting in concerns over public safety in Utah for the violent crime of rape.”

… Studies of similar methodology in other areas of the United States have found sexual assault kit submission rates of approximately 60 percent, a major difference from Valentine’s finding of 22.8 percent in Utah.[222]

Valentine’s report also found that,

SAKs not submitted by law enforcement to the state crime laboratory for analysis indicates justice denied for victims of rape. The findings represent an inequity of justice, as there is great variability between SAK submission rates within the study sites. For example, in adjacent counties (Site B and C) the SAK submission rate within a year of assault for Site B was 4.1%, while Site C was 37.5%; submission rate from Site C is almost ten times the submission rate from Site B.This extreme variability of SAK submission rates suggests that subjectivity and bias within law enforcement agencies largely determines if SAKs are submitted or not. [223]

But for Utah overall, the numbers were abysmal. Consider this report from 2004:

PROVO, Utah (AP) — Police are investigating a 17-year-old girl’s allegations that she was gang-raped by men who may have been Brigham Young University football players. A police affidavit for a search warrant said the incident was at the University Villa Apartments, which is approved by BYU for student housing. An apartment manager said four apartments in the complex were for football players.

According to the affidavit, the girl told officers she met several men at a mall and was invited to their apartment, Salt Lake television station KUTV said. She called her cousin who went to the apartment with her. The girl said that after the men started watching pornography, her cousin became upset and left the apartment with one man. The girl told police she drank vodka with the men in the apartment, got sick and went into a room to lie down. She said she fell asleep, or passed out, and when she woke up there were several naked men in the room and one was having sex with her. She said that over the next 20 or 30 minutes at least three or four men had sex with her. She said she persuaded one of the men to take her to a house to again meet up with her cousin.

City spokesman Michael Mower said only that the matter remains under investigation. BYU spokesman Michael Smart said the allegation “has our full attention. The university has and will be fully cooperative with the Provo police.” Asked if the university was making its own investigation, he said, “Certainly there will be an honor code review. At this point we’re still receiving information.”[224]

Two of the men took plea deals, admitting their part in the rape, but the two that went to trial were acquitted. Adding to this problem was this recent news report:

BYU_SurvivorProsecutors say Brigham Young University is jeopardizing a pending rape prosecution because the school refuses to delay its Honor Code case against the alleged victim.

Deputy Utah County Attorney Craig Johnson brought charges against the woman’s alleged attacker and said he implored school officials to consider that their Honor Code investigation of her conduct would further victimize her. He asked them to postpone their investigation until the conclusion of the trial, originally planned for next month.

He said they declined, and have barred the student from registering for future classes until she complies with the school’s investigation.

That could make it difficult for her to stay in Utah and participate in the rape case, Johnson said.

“When we have a victim that is going to be revictimized any time she talks about the rape — it’s unfortunate that BYU is holding her schooling hostage until she comes to meet with them,” Johnson said. “And we, as prosecutors, prefer she doesn’t meet with them.”

The Honor Code probe began after a Utah County sheriff’s deputy, a friend of the accused attacker, gave BYU a copy of the police case file. Johnson said he has stressed to school officials that the file is “paperwork that lawfully they shouldn’t have.”

Prosecutors charged the rape defendant and the deputy with retaliating against a witness, but the cases have since been dismissed.[225]

Sophomore Briana Garrido who helped organize the rape awareness meeting at BYU reported that,

“…she knows of a case where a victim who reported sexual assault was also contacted by the Honor Code Office.

“She received a phone call, according to her, where the question was, not how are you doing, how can we help, but we’ve heard that you’ve broken the honor code and we need to talk with you. And that’s very difficult for a survivor of sexual assault,” Garrido said.

A spokesperson from BYU responded with this statement: “A Title IX investigation at BYU is independent and separate of the honor code process. Furthermore, the victim of a sexual assault is not going to be referred to the Honor Code Office for being a victim of sexual assault.”

The problem is that a rapist can take advantage of the honor code by pressuring the victim not to report the rape or she might be subjected to her own honor code violations. If a rapist simply gets a victim to violate any part of the honor code, he can use this as leverage against his victim to keep silent.[226]

In another article it was reported that a,

19 year old student was raped in Provo, Utah, home of the LDS Church-owned Brigham Young University, the cultural epicenter of Mormonism. Edwin Randolph, a sheriff’s deputy and BYU alum, took the woman’s file — illegally but with the encouragement of a former Honor Code Office employee — to the school’s Honor Code Office, the disciplinary department which enforces the code of conduct, to investigate her behavior at the time of the assault. Damningly, Randolph is friends with the accused rapist.

The victim is a student from out of state, as many BYU students are. If she ends up being dismissed from the university, she will leave Provo, an eventuality which will impede the district attorney’s investigation. The DA has asked BYU’s Honor Code Office to suspend their investigation of the victim, and the Honor Code Office has refused. “When we have a victim that is going to be revictimized any time she talks about the rape — it’s unfortunate that BYU is holding her schooling hostage until she comes to meet with them,” Deputy Utah County Attorney Craig Johnson said. “And we, as prosecutors, prefer she doesn’t meet with them.”[227]

Randalf also publicly commented about the victim, saying that “I’m not here to judge her, but I think, she’s in school here and she’s screwing around.” This blaming the victim game is not new to BYU. Phoenix Tso writes in her 2004 article, “For College-Age Mormons, Sexual Violence Is A Religious Problem“:

I spoke to over a dozen former and current BYU students and professors for this story, including representatives from BYU’s Young Mormon Feminists group, as well as five sexual assault survivors. Everybody had or had heard stories similar to Sarah’s: the abuse would start small, with “lustful thoughts” they were blamed for inspiring. It would escalate over a long period of time, with their boyfriends trying to pressure them into sexual activity, culminate with coercive or forced sexual contact, and conclude with the men blaming their victims. The women would seek the counsel of church elders, who taught them that what happened was their fault. This pattern was remarkably consistent in the women interviewed, whether they discussed something from over a decade ago, or just a few years ago.[228]

Brent Webb Brigham Young University Academic Vice President speaks with protesters who stand in solidarity with rape victims on the campus of Brigham Young University during a sexual assault awareness demonstration Wednesday, April 20, 2016, in Provo, Utah.

Brent Webb Brigham Young University Academic Vice President speaks with protesters who stand in solidarity with rape victims on the campus of Brigham Young University during a sexual assault awareness demonstration Wednesday, April 20, 2016, in Provo, Utah.

In a stunning reversal, BYU has claimed that it indeed does investigate students for reporting a sexual assault and refer victims to its Honor Code Office. As reported by the Salt Lake Tribune:

After emphasizing for days that it does not investigate students solely for reporting a sexual assault, Brigham Young University on Monday said it does sometimes refer victims to its Honor Code Office for review — a policy it is now re-evaluating.

Student Madi Barney and others have demanded that BYU change its approach, which they say revictimizes those who come forward to report that they’ve been sexually assaulted.

In response to that criticism, which drew national attention, BYU said Monday that it will study “potential structural changes” in how it handles allegations of sexual violence.[229]

And just a few days ago the Deseret News reported that,

PROVO — Eighty protesters, including a handful of BYU students, held a rare rally on the edge of campus at noon Wednesday to call for honor code amnesty for victims of sexual assault.

After the rally, the group walked to the university’s administration building to deliver a petition with more than 90,000 signatures. The university’s academic vice president accepted the petition and said the administration welcomed the input.

Earlier Wednesday, BYU released a video in which President Kevin Worthen said the university can and will do better.

He acknowledged that some students who are victims of sexual assault fear reporting the crimes if an investigation by the Honor Code Office would find evidence of drug or alcohol use by the victim or another violation that could lead to suspension or expulsion.[230]

Protesters stand in solidarity with rape victims on the campus of Brigham Young University during a sexual assault awareness demonstration Wednesday, April 20, 2016, in Provo, Utah.

Protesters stand in solidarity with rape victims on the campus of Brigham Young University during a sexual assault awareness demonstration Wednesday, April 20, 2016, in Provo, Utah.

Today (April 24, 2016), Stephanie Lauretzen writes that:

While BYU’s decision to discipline rape victims for Honor Code violations is horrific, the public reaction towards both BYU and its victims indicate that very little will change. Despite mass outcry, BYU’s decision to protect rapists acts as a microcosm of American rape culture, which silences victims and protects sexual predators. While it’s easy to dismiss BYU as just a particularly misogynistic environment, there is no “just world” for women, especially those who survive sexual assault.

Refusing to postpone or eliminate Honor Code cases for rape survivors seems archaic, but it’s just a form of institutionalized victim-blaming, all the nasty and anti-women rhetoric we see spewed online and in political debates codified under the guise of an “Honor Code.” When BYU’s Title IX Coordinator Sarah Westerberg allegedly claims that BYU “does not apologize” for preventing women from reporting assaults, she implies that if students simply follow the school’s code of conduct, women won’t be raped. But Westerberg is not alone. Americans want to believe that if we control women’s bodies — how they dress, where they go and how they engage socially — we can somehow prevent rape without ever addressing the sexism hiding under the bed. …

In the end, evidence, statistics, and human decency don’t seem to matter in preventing and seeking justice for sexual assault. BYU is no different. BYU is merely reflecting (and benefiting) from a justice system and culture that extends far beyond Provo. Until we abandon our false sense of security and faith in a “just world” that does not exist, all of us, not just BYU, contribute to the victimization of women — and not just those who signed the Honor Code.[231]

Need Help?

Call 800.656.HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.  Go to the Top

CONCLUSION

As we have seen from the historical evidence above, the likelihood that Eliza Snow was gang-raped in Missouri is improbable at best. Multiple historians have documented the lack of credible evidence for rapes during the Mormon War, and although it can’t be ruled out completely, the likelihood that rapes only occurred in outlying areas is high, (I believe that a few probably did occur) and Eliza Snow did not live in any of the outlying settlements, she lived in protected Diahman. There is also no credible evidence that rapes occurred at Far West. There is only one credible account of an attempted sexual assault (maybe a rape) in all of the Missouri documents, (in an outlying settlement) all of the rest of the accounts are extremely problematic, some written decades afterwards.

To answer this with broad arguments like rape was always prevalent in war doesn’t address the specific allegation about Eliza Snow, or that because many were silent about rape that Eliza would have been also. Also, if rape was so prevalent during war, why is there never any mention of Mormons raping Missouri women? They committed murder, arson, theft and other crimes, were they above committing rape?

I have shown that historically, many women did come forward. These kinds of arguments don’t tip the balance one way or another, as much as some would like them to.  Though it is possible that Eliza would have been silent about it, one must then have a probable scenario of when and where Eliza could have been gang-raped–which no one has produced.

Instead of being completely silent about this period in her life, Eliza wrote multiple accounts about it, that don’t jibe with her being gang-raped. Claiming that 19th Century culture made it impossible for Eliza to be open about this (as Professor Radke-Moss did) isn’t really a good rebuttal to the actual historical evidence presented here. To arbitrarily pin one kind of behavior on Eliza Snow is simply disingenuous. Eliza Snow may never have written about it because it never happened.

Even though Alice Horne is a credible witness, (she knew Eliza Snow) she may have remembered the story incorrectly.  Also, the story does not appear in her autobiography written in 1934, and so if this story was written later, one has to ask why. The apologetic nature of the account may answer this question.  She wanted it to be true, and so convinced herself that it was. I haven’t seen any evidence at all that she verified this story at a later time with Snow herself. This is simply an overheard conversation by a young girl who remembered it fifty years later, who supposedly heard this conversation almost fifty years after it happened. We don’t even know who she overheard. In other words, this vague account is not enough to overturn what Eliza herself wrote about that period.

I’m all for rape awareness. I think that it is a good cause and have personal reasons for advocating it. But is this a good way to raise that awareness? When there is more focus on that than there is on the credibility of the source, it only raises questions. Right now, the students and faculty at BYU need all the help they can get. Will advocating the questionable story of Eliza Snow being gang-raped and getting a consolation prize of a polygamous marriage really help?  Go to the Top

NOTES

Many thanks to my friend H. Michael Marquardt for his help with source material, and M. for her feedback.

[1] Peggy Fletcher Stack’s Salt Lake Tribune article may be found here, Accessed March 20, 2016.

[2] Professor Radke-Moss assured me (and others) that she has a second source but would not reveal it, even though she was asked repeatedly. Instead, she made a snide comment about how we would receive it: that people would still want to know what she was wearing and if she was drunk.  No one who participated in that conversation made such insinuations or comments. (That somehow Eliza Snow deserved what she got or that rape is somehow the victim’s fault, or “persecution wasn’t all that bad”). Where Radke-Moss got these ideas from is baffling. (See Note #5)

[3]  See, “Eliza R. Snow as a Victim of Sexual Violence in the 1838 Missouri War- the Author’s Reflections on a Source”, The Juvenile Instructor, Blog, posted March 7, 2016, Online here, Accessed March 9, 2016. Hereafter, “Radke-Moss, Instructor”.

[4] ibid.

[5] I have screenshots of this conversation, which took place on March 7-9, 2016. It was subsequently deleted after Professor Radke-Moss edited many of her earlier comments. My purpose in mentioning this conversation is because it became a catalyst for this article. I was extremely interested in the historical source of the Horne claim, and was looking forward to Professor Radke-Moss enlightening us about it.  She did not, despite repeated requests to do so. I also mentioned my concerns about the firm language that had been used in relation to the Tribune article, and how other late sources with the same problems had been used to craft some of the narrative about polygamy, (especially about Emma Smith) but she only responded with a comment, “This is just what I suspected.” I asked her what she suspected, and she ignored my question.

I was actually surprised at how defensive Professor Radke-Moss got about the concerns of those who participated. One example was this comment:

Andrea Radke-Moss[:] I mean, I’m willing to look at the challenges that my source presents, but are you willing to look at what seems to be your own bias toward privileging certain sources over others? Like • Reply • 3 • Yesterday at 3:11pm

Historians often give more credence to contemporary sources than hearsay sources written a hundred years later, so I wasn’t sure why she claimed that this was driven by personal bias. I had admitted more than once that I thought it possible that rapes had taken place during the Mormon War but that in trying to claim it for individual cases, there must be more credible evidence than what was extant (including the Horne recollection). What I was most concerned with, was jumping the gun, so to speak. This has obviously been done, all one has to do is read the Tribune Article and Professor Radke-Moss’ subsequent comments about the source. This is one reason that I’ve chosen to write this Essay, to look at the challenges that all of the sources present, both Alice Horne’s source and all of the other sources extant.

Even so, she did bring up some very good points about rape which I feel need to be shared and will do so later in this essay.  I contacted Professor Radke-Moss about my intentions of writing this article and quoting her, but she did not answer my query.

[6] Radke-Moss, Instructor.

[7] ibid.

[8] I know of no other historian that links the practice of polygamy with Mormons supposedly not being able to protect their women from “mob assaults”, “traumas” or sexual violence in Missouri. I discuss other reasons why I consider this a fringe theory later in the Essay. She writes,

The Horne document presented me with evidence of the possibility that Joseph offered, and Eliza accepted, a polygamous marriage as a way of providing spiritual comfort in the absence of earthly justice.

Radke-Moss is simply reading into Horne’s speculations (and that is what they are without any other credible evidence) what she wants to see. Horne wrote:

The prophet heard and had compassion. This Saint, whose lofty ideals, whose person had been crucified, was yet to become the corner of female work. To her, no child could be born and yet she would be a Mother in Israel. One to whom all eyes should turn, to whom all ears would listen to hear her sing (in tongues) the praises of Zion. She was promised honor above all women, save only Emma, but her marriage to the prophet would be only for heaven.

Where is the connection to the absence of earthly justice? Horne writes that the prophet “had compassion” for her. Yes, her “lofty ideals” and person may have been “crucified”, (though this doesn’t seem to be the case if one just reads Eliza’s later accounts) but how does Joseph’s compassion answer any claim to the lack of justice? Also, this account of why they were married doesn’t jibe with Eliza’s own reasons. (Explored below) I am reminded of how what Eliza wrote herself that seems to push this speculation firmly aside. As she was getting ready to leave Missouri behind forever, Eliza had this encounter with a Missouri Militiaman:

The weather was extremely cold, and the morning we bid adieu to our honorably and honestly acquired transitory home, and much property which we were obliged to leave, after assisting what I could, I started before the teams, to warm my feet by walking. While musing on the changing and wonderful vicissitudes of mortal life as I walked quietly and alone, I was interrupted in my meditations by the approach of one of the militia.  After the usual salutations of “Good morning,” he said: ”I think this will cure you of your faith.” I looked him in the eye, and, with emphasis, replied, “No, sir, it will take more than this to cure me of my faith.” His countenance dropped, and he said, ” Well, I must confess you are a better soldier than I am.” And we parted.  (“Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow: One of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints”, written and compiled by Eliza R. Snow, 1884, 42-45, Online here, Accessed March 20, 2016, emphasis mine.).

Even after all she experienced in Missouri Eliza was still full of resolve about her faith. This is hardly the picture of a broken woman who felt her ideals had been “crucified”.  Also, it seems that if Eliza Snow had been raped and was “damaged goods” she would have initially been more grateful to be Joseph’s wife. But when he asked her, she claims that “the thought was very repugnant to my feelings, and in direct opposition to my educational prepossessions…” (The Women of Mormondom, 295). Again,  hardly the reaction of a woman who Alice Horne would later claim was grateful for the “spiritual comfort” of a man who would accept her when others would not.

See also the Isaac Streater Letter that Eliza wrote in February, 1839, referenced below.

Another example of using this tactic are the Hales. Laura Hales has edited a new book called A Reason For Faith, which touts itself as giving “valuable insight and perspective” about “LDS Doctrine and Church History” from “respected LDS scholars.” About polygamy Hales writes,

“The thin historical record complicates reconstructing a true picture of those first plural marriages.”

Notice the loaded language “true picture”. The evidence leads to the truth. Richard Van Wagoner, author of “Mormon Polygamy”, wrote in 1986:

Despite the historical significance of plural marriage in Mormonism, and the fact that many Mormons are descendants of nineteenth-century polygamists, most church members today are often no better informed on their polygamous past than non-Mormons. Rich collections of archival materials and specialized scholarly works are available on the subject, but there has been no comprehensive study of polygamy from its earliest stirrings in the 1830s to its current practice among Mormon Fundamentalists. This revised and expanded edition of my 1986 general history of Mormon polygamy is intended to be a reliable introduction to a complex subject for both Mormons and non-Mormons alike. (Richard S. Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy, p.xii).

George D. Smith, author of “Nauvoo Polygamy,” has written,

Nauvoo’s missing wives began to reappear in 1852. Although Orson Pratt’s public announcement of celestial marriage in Salt Lake City did not exactly rewrite Nauvoo’s obscure history, by starting to speak openly, the long suppressed stories of seven-hundred plural wives came to the surface. Now proud and bold, the Salt Lake leaders even encouraged Nauvoo’s migrant families to tell their stories. Diaries, journals, letters, and affidavits would confirm the rumors that had flooded Nauvoo and Illinois farm towns just a few years back. The days of denial were past. The Saints were their own masters. Now was a time of pride, time to tell it all. The process of discovery continued through 1869, when Apostle Joseph F. Smith began to collect affidavits of undocumented marriages, and into 1892 when participants and witnesses testified in the Federal Court Temple Lot case, then in 1904-07 when a U.S. Senate subcommittee probed the political dimensions of polygamy in a series of hearings to consider the election of Utah’s Senator Smoot. When polygamy was outlawed at the end of the nineteenth century, the story went underground, not to resurface again until more than a half century later when researchers began assembling evidence from a variety of sources. The documents they found can be summarized in five categories: personal writings, public records, sworn affidavits, court depositions, and Senate testimony. Since the renaissance in Mormon studies in the 1970s, there have been path-breaking studies that assembled new evidence of polygamy, along with interpretive essays, documentary collections, and narrative histories, all presented to a receptive audience. (Smith, George D., Nauvoo Polygamy: But We Called it Celestial Marriage, Signature Books, Kindle Edition,  Locations 9094-9106, emphasis mine).

Of course, this evidence does not support the fringe theories of those like the Hales and Radke-Moss, so they claim that the Historical record is “thin” or that the origins and practice of polygamy are “difficult to pin down.” I disagree.

[9] Radke-Moss, Instructor. What I thought about when I read this was Eliza Snow’s comment to a Militia Officer as their family was forced from Diahman and making their way to Far West. He told Eliza, “I think this will cure you of your faith.” Eliza’s answer was, “No sir, it will take more than this to destroy my faith.” This was four years before Eliza even heard of polygamy, or celestial marriage. In 1839 just before the Snow Family’s exit from Missouri Eliza wrote to an Esquire Streator:

I now anticipate your question, Do you yet believe Joseph smith is a prophet? I have not seen or heard anything which caus’d me to doubt it even for a moment: if possible I have better testimony that J. Smith is a prophet…

[10] “Evidence From Zina D. Huntington-Young,” The Saints Herald, Vol. No. October 1, 1898, 29. Consider what was written in the Church approved Essay, Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo:

The women who united with Joseph Smith in plural marriage risked reputation and self-respect in being associated with a principle so foreign to their culture and so easily misunderstood by others. “I made a greater sacrifice than to give my life,” said Zina Huntington Jacobs, “for I never anticipated again to be looked upon as an honorable woman.

And,

Church leaders recognized that plural marriages could be particularly difficult for women. Divorce was therefore available to women who were unhappy in their marriages; remarriage was also readily available. (Plural Marriage and Families in Early Utah, Online here, Accessed April 5, 2016).

Yet Brigham Young would charge $10 for a divorce, (About $286 in today’s money which was an exorbitant amount back then) and many plural wives, like Emily Partridge were largely unhappy and lived much of their lives in loneliness and near poverty. I’m baffled at how in too many cases this offered “solace and protection”.

[11] See my Essay “Brian Hales’ Polygamy: Sylvia Sessions Lyon & The 1869 Utah Affidavits,” Online, here, Accessed April 5, 2016. The relevant text reads:

And the man who leaves his wife and travels to a foreign nation, has his mind overpowered with darkness, and Satan deceives him and flatters him with the graces of the harlot, and before he is aware he is disgraced forever: and greater is the danger for the woman that leaves her husband, and there are several instances where women have left their husbands, and [pg. 2] come to this place,& in a few weeks, or months, they have found themselves new husbands, and they are living in adultery; and we are obliged to cut them off from the church. I presume There are men also that are quilty of the same crime, as we are credibly informed. We are KNOWING to their having taken wives HERE and are CREDIBLY informed that they have wives in England. …

And we also forbid that a woman leave her husband because he is an unbeliever. We also forbid that a man shall leave his wife because she is an unbeliever. If he be a bad man (i. e. the unbeliever) there is a law to remedy that evil. And if she be a bad woman, there is law to remedy that evil. And if the law will divorce them, then they are at liberty; [p. 3] otherwise they are bound as long as they two shall live, and it is not our prerogative to go beyond this; if we do it, it will be at the expense of our reputation. (“Address from the First Presidency”, Millennial Star 3 [November 1842]: 115, The first paragraph of the above address was edited and part of it (The text in red) removed when it was published in the Millennial Star).

[12] In 1862 Augusta Cobb wrote to Brigham Young claiming that he had warned her away from being alone with Joseph Smith, because she would have been “overcome” by him:

If you had allowed me to have gone up to Nauvoo free and untrameled In my Spiret I should have seen Br Joseph the first thing. But instead of that you exacted a promise of me that I would not see him alone Saying he would certainly over come me I replied if he did he would be the first man. You then Said I had never had to deal with a Prophet of the Lord[.] Now suppose he had over come me And I should by that means have raised up a Son or a King if you please[?] Who would have been the wiser?––––– Not Mrs [Catherine] Lewes Most certainly [who testified about Cobb & Young’s adultery] And I should have been Sealed to him And all would have been right.”) (Augusta Adams Cobb to Brigham Young, February 4, 1862, Courtesy of Connell O’Donovan).

Here Cobb states that being “overcome” by Smith would have produced a child that she claims may have been “a Son or a King”, then she would have been sealed to him and it would have “been right”. She then remonstrates about Catherine Lewis, and then reminds Young that,

…who was it that <came> to Lynn [Massachusetts] and stoped at Mrs Lewes’s and sent for me what transpired after I arived there? You very well know, Altho you may have forgotten, but I have not God for bid that I ever should, After Mrs Lewis Apostatized she went before the Court and gave Oath to all she knew Mr C[obb] got a bill of divorce for adultry by that news, and my name now stands recorded in Boston Court state House as an Adultress (ibid, This part of the letter is Online here, Accessed April 5, 2016.)

Cobb was dissatisfied with Young, and here claims that she committed adultery with Young while he was in Lynn, Massachusetts. According to Young’s diary he was there in August and September of 1843 and took Cobb back with him to Nauvoo along with Sister Sarah Alley, who became the spiritual wife of Joseph B. Nobel:

the next day had a pleasant visit held our conference in New York tund [sic] some [same?] day came to Boston had a good visit at Lima [Lynn] held our conference according to apointment [September 9] staid till September 29 (Brigham Young Diary, August 31, 1843)

staid [in Boston] till September 29 then started home with [b]sister Alley & Cobb[/b] came to New York staid one day came to Pheledelpha (Brigham Young Diary, September 29, 1843).

Augusta Adams Cobb became the 2nd polygamous wife of Brigham Young.

[13] George J. Adams testified at Augusta Cobb’s trial that she claimed:

“In the fall of 1844 after her return from Nauvoo to Boston, Mrs. Cobb said she loved Brigham Young better than she did Mr. Cobb, and, live or die, she was going to live with him at all hazards. This was in the course of a conversation in which she used extravagant language in favor of Mr. Young and against Mr. Cobb. Mrs. Cobb went out again to Nauvoo, the second time, and lived with Mr. Young, and their living together and their conduct, was the subject of conversation in the society and out of the society. The subject of conversation, to which I have alluded, was that persons had a right to live together in unlawful intercourse, and Mrs. Cobb avowed her belief in this doctrine, and said it was right.

She also said (he claimed), “I never will forsake brother Young, come life or come death. She said that the doctrine taught by Brigham Young was a glorious doctrine; for if she did not love her husband, it gave her a man she did love” . Catherine Lewis also testified that these things were true. (Online here, Accessed April 5, 2016).

[14] Daniel H. Wells, Letter to Joseph F. Smith, June 25, 1888.

[15] Radke-Moss, Instructor.

[16] Eliza R. Snow, “Sketch,” quoted in Maureen Beecher, ThePersonal Writings of Eliza Roxcy Snow, 16. Beecher writes,

The event [marriage] itself could not be mentioned. In proposing marriage to the thirty-eight-year-old spinster, Joseph Smith had placed her in an emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and social bind akin to that put upon the ancient Abraham when he was commanded to sacrifice his son. In accepting Joseph’s proposal, Eliza had to bend to the breaking point her sense of moral accountability, her convictions about the social order, her adherence to biblical injunction, her family values, and her judgment of herself as a righteous, God-loving Christian. (ibid., 50)

[17] Spencer J. Palmer, “Eliza R. Snow’s “Sketch of My Life”: Reminiscences of One of Joseph Smith’s Plural Wives”, BYU Studies, Vol. 12, Autumn, 1971, 3. Online here, Accessed March 20, 2016. See also, Edward W. Tullidge, The Women of Mormondom, 294-295, Online here, Accessed March 20, 2016.

[18] These arguments were brought up in the Facebook conversation mentioned above.

[19] David Lewis, “Private Journal [Autobiography] of David Lewis,” 1.

[20] Doctrine & Covenants, Section 104: 14-15, emphasis mine.

[21] Scott H. Faulring, An American Prophet’s Record, 155, March 30, 1836.

[22] Henry B. Eyring, “Finding Safety In Counsel”, Conference Address, April 1997, Online here, Accessed March 20, 2016.

[23] A Book of Commandments, 48:59-62.

[24] On Feb 14th 1831 The Palmyra New York Reflector reported:

[A “Painesville correspondent informs us” that the missionaries in Kirtland] proclaimed that there had been no religion in the world for 1500 years,—that no one had been authorized to preach and teach for that period,—that Joseph Smith had now received a commission from God for that purpose, and that all such as did not submit to his authority would speedily be destroyed. The world (except the New Jerusalem) would come to an end in two or three years. The state of New York would (probably) be sunk: Smith (they affirmed) had seen God frequently and personally—Cowdery and his friends had frequent interviews with angels. … From 1 to 200 (whites) had already been in the water, and showed great zeal in this new religion— many were converted before they saw the book. Smith was continually receiving new revelations, and it would probably take him 1000 years to complete them—commissions and papers were exhibited, said to be signed by Christ himself!!! Cowdery authorized three persons to preach, &c., and descended the Ohio River. The converts are forming “common stock” families, as most pleasing in the sight of God. They pretend to give the “Holy Spirit” and under its operations they fall upon the floor —see visions, &c. Indians followed Cowdery daily, and finally saw him enter the promised land, where he placed a pole in the ground, with a light on its top, to designate the site of the New Jerusalem.(Palmyra Reflector, February 14, 1831).

After receiving a letter from Oliver Cowdery, Smith consulted his peepstone once again and received in March 1831 another “revelation” which instructed church members to gather their “riches” so they could purchase an inheritance that would be designated later:

“For verily I say unto you, that great things await you; Ye hear of wars in foreign lands; but, behold, I say unto you, they are nigh, even at your doors, and not many years hence ye shall hear of wars in your own lands.  Wherefore I, the Lord, have said, gather ye out from the eastern lands, assemble ye yourselves together ye elders of my church; go ye forth into the western countries, call upon the inhabitants to repent, and inasmuch as they do repent, build up churches unto me. And with one heart and with one mind, gather up your riches that ye may purchase an inheritance which shall hereafter be appointed unto you. And it shall be called the New Jerusalem, a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the saints of the Most High God; And the glory of the Lord shall be there, and the terror of the Lord also shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it, and it shall be called Zion. And it shall come to pass among the wicked, that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee unto Zion for safety.  And there shall be gathered unto it out of every nation under heaven; and it shall be the only people that shall not be at war one with another. And it shall be said among the wicked: Let us not go up to battle against Zion, for the inhabitants of Zion are terrible; wherefore we cannot stand. And it shall come to pass that the righteous shall be gathered out from among all nations, and shall come to Zion, singing with songs of everlasting joy. And now I say unto you, keep these things from going abroad unto the world until it is expedient in me, that ye may accomplish this work in the eyes of the people, and in the eyes of your enemies, that they may not know your works until ye have accomplished the thing which I have commanded you;  That when they shall know it, that they may consider these things. For when the Lord shall appear he shall be terrible unto them, that fear may seize upon them, and they shall stand afar off and tremble. And all nations shall be afraid because of the terror of the Lord, and the power of his might. Even so. Amen. (Book of Commandments, Chapter XLVIII, 56-69, added emphasis).

Thus was revealed the name of the place: that it would be called Zion, or the New Jerusalem, and Smith’s followers were instructed to be ready to flee there, ‘for safety’.

[25] On February 9th 1831, Smith gave this “revelation” to the Church which would cause major problems in Missouri with the publication of the Book of Commandments (a compilation of Smith’s revelations) two years later:

“For it shall come to pass, that which I spake by the mouths of my prophets shall be fulfilled; for I will consecrate the riches of the Gentiles, unto my people which are of the house of Israel.” (Book of Commandments, Chapter ILIV, 32).

In July of 1831, Missouri is named by Smith as the land consecrated for the gathering of the “Saints” and the place for the City of Zion, where a temple would be built at Independence.  It will be purchased by the “saints”, “for an everlasting inheritance.”

“HEARKEN, O ye elders of my church, saith the Lord your God, who have assembled yourselves together, according to my commandments, in this land, which is the land of Missouri, which is the land which I have appointed and consecrated for the gathering of the saints. Wherefore, this is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion. And thus saith the Lord your God, if you will receive wisdom here is wisdom. Behold, the place which is now called Independence is the center place; and a spot for the temple is lying westward, upon a lot which is not far from the courthouse.” (Doctrine & Covenants 57:1-3)

Smith later wrote: “Having received, by an  heavenly vision, a commandment, in June following, to take my journey to the  western boundaries of the State of Missouri, and there designate the very spot  which was to be the central spot, for the commencement of the gathering . . . , I  arrived in Jackson county Missouri; and, after viewing the country, seeking diligently at the hand of God, he manifested himself unto me, and designated to me  and others, the very spot upon which he designed to commence the work of the  gathering, and the upbuilding of an holy city, which shoud be called Zion:—Zion  because it is to be a place of righteousness.” “To Oliver Cowdery. To the Elders of  the Church of Latter Day Saints,” Messenger and Advocate 1, no. 12 (September  1835): 179.

Oliver Cowdery’s account of the dedication ceremony for the place where the temple was to be built reads in part:

“The day following [3 August 1831] eight Elders viz. Joseph Smith Jr., Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, Peter Whitmer, Jr., Frederick G. Williams, Wm. W. Phelps, Martin Harris, and Joseph Coe. assembled together where the temple is to be erected. Sidney Rigdon dedicated the ground where the city is to Stand: and Joseph Smith Jr. laid a stone at the North east corner of the contemplated Temple in the name of the Lord Jesus of Nazareth. After all present had rendered thanks to the great ruler of the universe. Sidney Rigdon pronounced this Spot of ground wholy [sic] dedicated unto the Lord forever: Amen.”

As to the acquisition of this land, Smith includes the option of the ‘shedding of blood’ in a “revelation” he wrote on August 1:

“For behold, verily I say unto you, the Lord willeth that the disciples and the children of men, should open their hearts, even to purchase this whole region of country, as soon as time will permit. Behold here is wisdom; let them do this lest they receive none inheritance, save it be by the shedding of blood.” (BOC 59:52-53. See also, The Book of John Whitmer, chapter 9, page 32. The land and site of the temple was outside the Independence city boundary and at the time of the dedication the property was owned by the state of Missouri. Sidney Rigdon had been instructed previously to “consecrate and dedicate this land, and the spot of the temple” BOC 59:70; D&C 58:57).

Couple this with Smith’s revelation that the riches of the Gentiles belonged to his followers, and one can see why the Missourians were so concerned about the Mormons in Jackson County. On the 13th of August, Smith writes that the faithful will be preserved and rejoice in Missouri, for “I, the Lord, promise the faithful and cannot lie.” (See D&C 62:6).

[26] Autobiography (1823-1903) Typescript, BYU.

[27] Joseph Smith, letter, Kirtland, OH, to Lyman Wight, Edward Partridge, John Corrill, Isaac Morley, and others, Clay County, MO, 16 Aug. 1834; handwriting of Frederick G. Williams; in JS Letterbook 1, pp. 84–87; JS Collection, CHL, emphasis mine.

[28] Scott H. Faulring, An American Prophet’s Record, p.34-35, emphasis mine.

[29]Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, “Chapter 15: Establishing the Cause of Zion,” 2011, 182-91, Online here, Accessed March 20, 2016, emphasis mine.

[30] John Corrill, A Brief History of the Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, 21.

[31] ibid., 27. Even Parley P. Pratt accused Joseph Smith of crimes in Ohio. He wrote on May 23, 1837:

Pres’t J Smith Jr Deare Brother as it is dificult to obtain a personal interview with you at all times By reason of the multitude of Buisiness in which you are engaged you will Excuse my saying In writing what I would otherwise say By word of mouth.
Haveing Long Pondered the Path in which we as a people have been led in regard to our temporal management, I have at Length Become fully convinced that the whole scene of Speculation in which we have Been Engaged is of the Devel; I allude to the covetous Extortionary Speculating Spirit which has reigned in this place for the Last season; which Has given rise to Lying deceiveing and takeing the advantage of ones Nabour and In Short to Every Eavle work:
And Being as fully convinced that you and President Sidney Rigdon; Both By presept and Example have Been the principle means In Leading this people astray in these particulars and haveing myself Been Led astray and Caught in the same snare By your Example and By false Prophesying and preaching from your mouths; yea haveing done many things Rong and plunged myself and family and others well nigh in to distruction, I have awoke to an awful sense of my situation and now resolve to retrace my steps, and to get out of the snare and make restitution as far as I can And now Dear Brother If you are still determined to persue this wicked course untill your self and the Church shall sink down to hell; I Beseach you at least to have mercy on me and my family and others who are Bound with me for those certain 3 lots which you sold to me at the Extortionary price of $2;000 which never cost you $1:00; for if It stands against me it will rewin ruin Myself and a helpless family as well as those Bound with me for yesterday Pres’t Rigdon came to me and Informed me that you had drawn the money from the Bank on the obligation you hold against me and that you had Left it to the mercy of the Bank and could not help what ever course they might take to collect it: notwithstanding the most sacred promise on your part that I should not Be ingured injured By giveing these writings; I offered him the 3 lots for the writings But he wanted my house and home also; now deare Brother will you take those Lots and give me up the writings and pay me the seventy-five dollars which I paid you on the same or will you taake the advantage of your Nabour Because he is in your Power if you will receive this admonition from one who Loves your Soul and repent of your Extortion and covetiousness in this thing, and make restitution you have my fellowship and Esteem as far as it respects our dealings Between ourselves; But if not I Shall Be under the painful necessity of prefering charges against you, for Extortion, covetousness, and takeing advantage of your Brother By an undue religious influence for it is this kind of influence which Led us to make such kind of trades, in this society, such as saying it was the will of God that Lands Should Bear such a price and many other Prophesyings Preachings and Statements of a like nature.
Yours with respect,
Parley P Pratt.
P. S. Do not suppose for a moment that I Lack any Confidence in the Book of Mormons or Doctrine and Covenants Nay It is my firm belief in those Records that hinders my Belief In the course we have Been Led of Late.

[32] ibid., 27-28.

[33] ibid., 28-29, emphasis mine. The incursions by the “Saints” into the surrounding counties around Caldwell were not threatening to the Missouri settlers because there were not large groups of Mormons settling into those counties at that time. Even though the settlers and the Mormons had agreed that Caldwell would be the Mormons county, the Presidency under Whitmer were not pushing Mormons into those other counties. This would change when Joseph fled Kirtland in January of 1837 and directed thousands of “Saints” (many who followed him to Missouri) to settle in Caldwell and the surrounding counties.

[34] Reed Peck Manuscript, 22-26, emphasis mine.

[35] Oration Delivered by Mr. S. Rigdon on the 4th of July 1838 (Far West: Journal Office, 1838), LDS Historical Department, Salt Lake City, 12, Online here, Accessed March 20, 2016.

[36] Kinney, Brandon G. (2011-08-18). The Mormon War: Zion and the Missouri Extermination Order of 1838, Westholme Publishing, Kindle Edition, Locations 1404-1415.

[37] Reed Peck Manuscript, 26-29.

[38] Faulring, An American Prophet’s Record, 198, July 27, 1838.

[39] Reed Peck Manuscript, 46-51. In December of 1847 there was a council to discuss the son of Mulatto Walker Lewis, (Enoch Lovejoy Lewis) who had married a white woman and had a baby with her. They attended the Lowell, Massachusetts Branch. The recorded minutes included these comments:

bro Appleby relates … Wm. Smith ordained a black man Elder at Lowell & he has married a white girl & they have a child

Prest. Young If they were far away from the Gentiles they wod. [would] all ought to be killed – when they mingle seed it is death to all.
If a black man & white woman come to you & demand baptism can you deny them? the law is their seed shall not be amalgamated
Mulattoes r like mules they cant have children, but if they will be Eunuchs [celibate or castrated]  for the Kingdom of God Heaven’s sake they may have a place in the Temple
B. Y. The Lamanites r purely of the house of Israel & it is a curse that is to be removed when the fulness of the Gospel comes –
O. H. Has taught that if girls marry the half breeds they r throwing themselves away & becoming as one of them
B. Y. It is wrong for them to do so.
B. Y. The Pottawatamies will not own a man who has the negro blood in him – that is the reason why the Indians disown the negro prophet [Warner McCary].(Minutes of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, December 3, 1847, 6, Miscellaneous Minutes, Brigham Young papers, LDS archives, as quoted in D. Michael Quinn, Origins of Power, p. 478).

It seems that Joseph wasn’t the only one who would kill someone if they got them alone or far away from the Gentiles.

[40] Dinger, John S. (2013-11-26). The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes, Signature Books, Kindle Edition, Locations 6357-6364, emphasis mine.

[41] Alexander Baugh, A Call to Arms: The 1838 Mormon Defense of Northern Missouri, Dissertation, 1996, BYU, 79.

[42] Rollin J. Britton, Early Days on the Grand River, Columbia: Missouri State Historical Society, 1920, 8.

[43] RLDS History, 3:56.

[44] Kinney, op. cited, Location 1473.

[45] Stephen C. LeSueur, The 1838 Mormon War in Missouri, 61, quoting John D. Lee and Levi Stewart’s account  in Journal History, 6 August, 1838. See also, John D. Lee, Mormonism Unveiled; or, The life and confessions of the late Mormon bishop, John D. Lee, Bryan, Brand & Company, St. Louis, 1877, 56-60, online here, Accessed March 20, 2016.

[46] Britton, op. cited, 9.

[47] Reed Peck Manuscript, 62-65.

[48] Robinson, “Scriptory Book,” in Dean Jessee, Papers of Joseph Smith 2, 268. Online here, Accessed March 20, 2016.

[49] Kinney, op. cited. He writes,

[Joseph] Smith and his armed men rode to the home of Daviess County judge Adam Black. Elected to the county bench in the August 6 election, Black was already a justice of the peace, which allowed him the authority to hear disputes and issue warrants within Daviess County. Black was rumored, along with Colonel William Penniston, to harbor anti-Mormon sentiment. In order to stop the violence, Smith would proceed directly to the source of authority in order to extract a promise of peace and equal treatment of Mormons in Daviess County.

Smith’s doubt about Black’s neutrality had a basis in fact. Black had sold some land to a Mormon named Vinson Knight. He accepted the down payment but now was reportedly acting in concert with the anti-Mormon faction to have Knight and all the other Mormons run out of the county. If Knight failed to make the payments he would forfeit the sums already paid to the judge. Black would repossess the land and be free to sell it to another buyer. It would be a financial windfall for the official if the Mormons were removed. Rumors surfaced that Black began organizing the anti-Mormon settlers in the county, and that he may also have had a part in the Gallatin election day brawl. Smith decided to confront Black face to face about the rumors.

With armed Mormons surrounding the house, Joseph Smith and his leaders obtained entry into Black’s home. Whether because of the intimidating men surrounding his house or because of actual involvement, Black admitted to the connection. Smith then asked Black to sign an agreement pledging that he would fairly administer justice in Daviess County as the new judge. Black would not sign, and would later report to the governor that upon his refusal, Mormons threatened his life unless he changed his mind. Black persisted in his defiance regarding the Mormon-prepared statement, though he conceded to sign a statement he wrote himself. Black declared, in the document, not to be attached to any mob either present or future. Black concluded by stating that he would not “molest” the Mormons if the Mormons did not “molest” him. The signed statement pacified the Mormons. The next day Smith and the main body of his army returned to Far West.

The majority of Daviess County officials were unaware of Smith’s August 8 visit to the home of Adam Black. Intent on reestablishing the peace between Mormons and non-Mormons, Daviess County dispatched a group of officials to negotiate a way to diffuse the tension. Upon Smith’s return to Far West, the Daviess County delegates were already waiting to broker a peace deal with the Mormons over the Gallatin election brawl. Among the Daviess County group were senator-elect and former judge Joseph Morin, representative-elect John Williams, and James B. Turner, circuit clerk. The Mormon representatives for this meeting were Smith, Wight, Vinson Knight, John Smith, and Reynolds Cahoon. After a couple days of discussion, both sides agreed to live in peace, not withholding wrong-doers from justice.

Back in Daviess County, the Mormon visit to Judge Black’s residence set off a chain reaction. Daviess County militia Colonel William Penniston, a Whig, was sore from losing his bid for state senate to the Democrat candidate Judge Josiah Morin in the August election, the same judge who had earlier warned Smith of the potential for anti-Mormon violence in the county. Penniston realized the Mormons had supported his opponent, and when he got wind of the Mormon intrusion upon Black, two days after the incident he had Ray County Circuit Judge Austin King swear out an affidavit regarding the matter. (Kinney, op. cited, Kindle Locations 1540-1569).

[50] Baugh, op. cited, 111.

[51] ibid., 116.

[52] ibid., 115.

[53] Kinney, op. cited, Locations 1587-1595. The number of incidents reported by the Mormons of being chased, threatened, and having miraculous escapes (for example, Missourians guns mysteriously clicking instead of firing) are numerous. Most seem exaggerated. The fact is, that there were relatively few deaths during the Mormon War, with the greatest number taking place at Shoal Creek. It is worth noting that it was the Mormon’s rhetoric that first mentioned a “war of extermination” and that the Mormons were the first to resort to butchery (at Crooked River). It is also worth noting that it was the Missourians that first resorted to violence in Jackson County in 1833 and that this figured largely in their (the Mormons) minds as they once again squared off with the Missouri settlers. There were also many instances where nothing happened at all when the Mormons encountered the Missourians. James McBride, a twenty one year old man, who lived near Jacob Hawn’s Mill, wrote:

The 31st day [of October] dawned, and again the rays of the morning sun, kissed the landscape. As yet the extent of the massacre was not known.

Brother Amos having been detailed on the previous day to get wood for families, was on his way to the mill when he was told there had been serious trouble there. His home was about three miles from the mill, and as he was not detailed on guard, was not at the mill at the time of the slaughter.

He went on; and passing the mill a short distance, came to Haun’s house. The first object that met his eye in human form, was the mangled body of my murdered father [Thomas McBride], lying in the door yard. He had been shot with his own gun, after having given it into the mobs possession. Was cut down and badly disfigured with a corn cutter, and left lying in the creek. Some of the women had dragged him from the creek into the door yard and left him there. One of his ears was almost cut from his head–deep gashes were cut in his shoulders; and some of his fingers cut till they would almost drop from his hand.

On further examination it was found that fifteen were murdered, and fifteen wounded–one of whom was a woman, Mary Stedwell, who in trying to escape, was shot through the hand, and fell behind a log. Several bullet holes were found in the log, directly opposite of where she lay. Alma Smith a small boy; and I believe one Merrick were the only wounded children that were yet alive. Of the wounded men, three afterward died. Making eighteen dead in all.

Isaac Laney a young man that was baptized into the church at the same time that I was, was in the black-smith shop, when the mob began to fire on them. His gun stock was shot to pieces in his hands. He then escaped from the shop, ran to the mill, and climbed down one of the mill timbers into the creek. That being the quickest way for him to escape danger. From there he went into the house, where sister Catherine, Mrs. Haun, Mrs. Merril and some other women were. They administered to Isaac, and put him under the floor. He had received eleven bullet marks in his body. I was well acquainted with Isaac Laney, and helped to take care of him until he recovered. He told me that when trying to escape from the mob, the blood gushing from his mouth would almost strangle him. While he was under the floor he said he suffered a great deal for want of water. The women not daring to venture out to get water until they felt sure the mob was entirely gone. Isaac recovered, and lived thirty-five years from the day of the Haun’s Mill Massacre.

A few rods south of the blacksmith shop, was an unfinished well, about eight or twelve feet deep; but no water was in it. This made the sepulchre for the dead. Fifteen murdered persons, including my father, were carried on a board, one at a time, and dropped into that well–by brother Amos McBride, James Dayley and Jacob Myers: the only three able bodied men that were present.

It was now plainly shown that there was no mercy for us. What few men, and boys that were of much age–yet alive–were under necessity of hiding away, to escape danger.

About the first day of November, being tired of lying out in the woods, I concluded to venture a trip to the mill. I was anxious to see the grounds on which the slaughter took place; and learn if possible, the general situation of affairs. Accordingly, with feelings that I can not here describe, I slowly wended my way to the spot. I walked over the grounds, noticing here and there the blood stained earth–and seriously reflecting on our then sorrowful situation. On the outside, the logs of the shop were defaced with bullet marks, and on the inside of the shop, the ground was scarcely visible for blood.

I traced the blood from the dead bodies of those who were carried and buried in the well. I went to the place and stood at the edge of the silent tomb of my beloved father. A silent prayer I offered to God, and turned away.

I went to a house in which a widow woman lived, by name [William] Napier–her husband was a victim of the massacre. She was yet there with her family. She advised me to be careful least the mob might come upon me, and kill me.

Having spent a few minutes at the house, I went into the mill, to look once again through it. While there a noise attracted my attention, and I saw the woman of whom I have just spoken–running and beckoning to me in an affrighted manner. I sprang to the door-way, and saw about thirty rods distant a posse of men, coming in the direction of the mill. I did not feel right in trusting myself in their hands–but rather than let them see me run to escape, I would have died. I therefore walked from the mill to the dam, crossed it, and quietly walked on until I was out of sight. Why they did not fire at me I can not tell.

McBride does not mention any atrocities committed on the Mormons after the massacre, though he does mention that “while Comstock’s Company remained at the mill, they used it to do their grinding. They would shoot down our Cattle and hogs—not caring how much they were needed by the widows and children that had been left to care for themselves.” (p. 17) He also states that “families were cast out of their homes, and the widows and orphans found themselves cast helplessly upon the mercy of the church. Some were without teams, and almost destitute of food and clothing. Thus exposed to the storms of winter, and travel a journey of more than two hundred miles.” (Autobiography of James Mcbride, 1874, 17-18. Online here, Accessed April 5, 2016).

He states that they sold their property and prepared to leave Missouri, but heard that they could get their guns back if they traveled to Richmond and paid a 60 cent fee. He says that they started for Richmond on the 27th of February, 1839 and that having no horses to ride, were compelled to go on foot. McBride wanted to get his father’s gun, the one that it was claimed he was murdered with. He writes:

The first day about one hour before Sun-Set we arrive in Richmond—and after describing our guns, taking the oath, and paying the required fees, we were directed into a room in which was stacked several hundred guns—all of which justly belonged to our People—but of which they had been unwarrantedly deprived. My father’s gun was not to be found by us—but fortunately I got my brother Amos’ gun—James Dayley got his. Having done all we could, we turned our faces in the direction of our company. Having traveled about ten miles on our way, at a late hour we stopped for the night, at the home of brother Pleasant Ewell—who had been a good friend to many of the Saints—and who gave us lodging, supper and breakfast. At an early hour of the morning we were again traveling. After a hard days trip, just before the sun set we came to a place where we were informed our Company had passed about eleven O’clock that day. We were now on the road our company had traveled, which made us anxious to push forward. We had been without eating since early breakfast, so we arranged with the man of the place for our dinners, for which we paid twelve and a half cents each.  A few miles ahead, commenced a prairie—through which we would have to travel for about eighteen miles. The country through which we were traveling was a new country, and it was not thought strange there to travel ten or more miles without seeing a house. But with the hope that our company had camped at the edge of the prairie, and we might overtake them, we traveled on. Darkness came upon us, we reached the prairie, but found no one there. The wolves were howling around us in almost every direction. We were indeed tired—but to lie down in the cold, and trust ourselves to the hungry appetites of howling wolves, seemed hopeless, and we still traveled on.  Repeatedly I proposed to my traveling companion to stop, but he would not consent to the proposition at that critical time. Slowly we trudged on, ‘till at a late hour—we saw, to our right—and about a mile distant a fire in the timbers. When we got to the place, we gathered wood to keep fire, and there camped for the rest of the night. Before day dawned, the shrill Clarion of the dung-hill cock informed us, we were then but a short distance from a house. We went to the house and got our breakfasts; which were very acceptable to hungry, and weary foot travelers. About Eleven O’clock that day we overtook our company. We had traveled an average of about forty miles each day—And you are left to judge the good feelings we enjoyed, at again joining our friends. After a tedious journey—and a great deal of exposure—from which many died, we arrived in Adams County Illinois. (Autobiography of James Mcbride, 1874, 17-21. Online here, Accessed April 5, 2016.  Pleasant Ewell joined the Church in Missouri (about 1835) and was a justice of the peace in Ray County. His history can be found here, Accessed April 5, 2016. James Dayley was born in Ohio and joined the church in 1834. He was a bodyguard to Joseph Smith. He was sent to Shoal Creek to protect the mill on 30th August, 1838. He was married to a daughter of Thomas McBride who was murdered there. Dayley died in 1905. His history can be found here, Accessed April 5, 2016).

Alexander Baugh writes that,

Thomas Mcbride was wounded while attempting to escape from the blacksmith shop. He was later discovered by Jacob S. Rogers who mutilated and then killed him. History of Caldwell and Livingston Counties, 149; Joyce, “The Haun’s Mill Massacre,” 229-30, Willard G. Smith quoted in Alexander L Baugh, “A Rare Account of the Haun’s Mill Massacre: The Reminiscence of Willard Gilbert Smith,” Misouri Mormon Foundation Newsletter 18/19 (summer/fall 1998):2. (Alexander L. Baugh, “Joseph Young’s Affidavit of the Massacre at Haun’s Mill”, BYU Studies 38, No. 1, 199. Online here, Accessed April 5, 2016).

On the burial of the victims in the well, Joseph Young wrote:

…after viewing these corpses, we immediately went to the black smiths shop, where we found nine of our friends 8 of whom were already dead, the other Mr. Cox of Indiana strugling in the agonies of death who expired. We immediately prepared and carried the place of interment. …The place of burying was a vault in the ground formerly intended for a well, into which we threw the bodies of our friends promiscuously. (ibid., 193).

Yet McBride writes that

Fifteen murdered persons, including my father, were carried on a board, one at a time, and dropped into that well—by brother Amos McBride, James Dayley and Jacob Myers: the only three able bodied men that were present. (McBride, p. 14).

After the massacre, Artemisia Myers would later write concerning the Missouri Militia under Comstock and Bogart:

During the time they camped there they [the Missouri Militia] were very civil to the women folks; they chopped wood and brought water for my brother’s folks.  They wanted to come in the house and sit around the fire, but mother would not allow them to.  (History of Artemisia Sidney Myers Foote, Warren Foote Journal)

Willard Gilbert Smith would later write,

As soon as Alma was well enough that we could plan to leave Missouri, great difficulties presented themselves, one being that our horses had been confiscated by the mob. Finally, I went with Mother to Captain Comstock, leader of the mob, and she demanded the horses, one of which was in the field. He said we might have the animal by paying $5.00 for its feed bill. This Mother could not do as all her money had been stolen by the mob. I admired her courage when she walked out into the field and tying her apron around the horse’s neck, led it home with no further objections. (Alexander L. Baugh: A Rare Account of the Haun’s Mill Massacre, Mormon Historical Studies, Spring/Fall 2007, 168. Online here, Accessed April 5, 2014).

It seems improbable that if Comstock was the evil man that many portrayed (the leader of a lawless mob) that he would even allow this woman to just take her horse back without paying.  Why would he? What happened to the Mormons at Shoal Creek was horrendous, but if one carefully reads through the accounts one finds that even though there were further incidents (like the shooting of cattle and hogs) and intimidation (in an effort to collect firearms), there are very few incidents of further violence against the Mormons. McBride was later able to retrieve his firearms and traveled through Missouri without much incident, and many others were helped by the settlers.

[54] ibid., 1621-1628.

[55] ibid., 1653-1660.

[56] ibid., Kinney, 1537-1538. It was Austin A. King who reported to Governor Boggs that:

They [the Mormons] 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, property, and even laying in ashes towns, &c. (The Missouri Watchman, Jefferson City, Mo., Oct. 29, 1838, Online here, Accessed March 20, 2016).

[57] Kinney, op. cited, Locations 1661-1665.

[58] Baugh, op. cited, 127.

[59] Kinney, op. cited, Locations 1666-1674.

[60] ibid., Locations 1700-1711.

[61] ibid.

[62] Alexander Doniphan, letter to Atchison, September 15, 1838,  Missouri State Archives—Mormon War.

[63] The Last Months of Mormonism in Missouri: The Albert Perry Rockwood Journal, Edited by Dean C. Jessee and David J. Whittaker, BYU Studies, Vol. 28, No. 1, (1988), 18. Online here, Accessed March 20, 2016.

[64] Leland H. Gentry, The Land Question at Adam-ondi-Ahman, BYU Studies, Vol. 26, (Spring, 1986),49. Online here, Accessed March 20, 2016.

[65] LeSueur, op. cited, 79-84.

[66] ibid., 84.

[67] Gen. Atchison to Gov. Boggs, Sept. 20, 1838, Missouri State Archives—Mormon War.

[68] Gen. Parks to Gov. Boggs, Sept. 25, 1838, Missouri State Archives—Mormon War.

[69] Kinney, Kindle Locations 1868-1873.

[70] Atchison, Sept. 20, 1838.

[71] Kinney, Kindle Locations 1890-1896.

[72] ibid. Missouri Republican, August 18, 1838, Online here, Accessed March 20, 2016. The document drafted by the Resolution Committee reads:

REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE.

That on the second inst. we acquainted Henry Root (David Thomas being absent) and the other Mormons who have located themselves at De Witt, with the wishes of the citizens of this county, and that they received for answer language of the most insulting character, and were also informed that they (the Mormons) were determined not to leave Carroll county; and that Root said, if the citizens of Carroll county attempted to drive them out of the county, they would apply to the Far West for assistance, and in such case we would have to abide by the consequences.

ABBOT HANCOCK.
SAMUEL H. WILLIAMS,
JOHN SMART.

August 7, 1838.
On notice of Doctor William W. Austin, the following named persons were appointed a committee to draft resolutions expressive of the sense of this meeting, to wit: A. C. Blackwell, Charles G, Merrill, James Standley, Hiram Wilcoxen. John Phillips, L. W. Gilbreath, Stephen Smart, George Hardwick, and E. I. Rea; who retired, and after due consideration, reported the following preamble and resolutions:

WHEREAS the people called Mormons about eight years since, located themselves in Jackson county, and for improper and dishonorable conduct were driven from said county by the citizens thereof. And whereas the citizens of Clay county received them as persons whom they believed were persecuted and did, under such impression, aid and protect them until they found by actual experience, that said Mormons were a class of people amongst whom other denominations could not reside with any degree of satisfaction. And whereas it was distinctly understood, and expressly agreed upon by said Mormons and the other citizens of the upper part of the State of Missouri, that they (the said Mormons) might select a tract of country uninhabited, and locate themselves in peace, but they should not intrude upon the citizens of any of the adjoining counties, agreeably to which contract, the Mormons first settled that tract of country now known as Caldwell county, which met with the approbation of the counties adjoining. And whereas said Mormons have broken the covenant so by them made, and are now settling in Carroll county, contrary to the express wishes of the citizens thereof. And whereas said Mormons and their abettors have threatened to assassinate some of our most valuable citizens:

Therefore be it resolved by this meeting, That there be a committee of safety appointed to consist of five persons, to wit: Doctor William W. Austin. Edmund I. Rea, William Freeman, Hiram Wilcoxen, and Abbot Hancock, whose duty it shall be to correspond with the adjoining counties. and make known our distressed situation, and request aid to remove Mormons and abolitionists, and other disorderly persons, out of the limits of Carroll county.

Resolved That the committee of safety be authorized to adopt such measures as to them shall seem most expedient for the safety of the citizens of Carroll county.

Resolved That the committee of safety be, and they are hereby, authorized to raise, by subscriptions or otherwise a sufficient sum of money to defray any expense that may accure in carrying the foregoing resolutions into effect.

Resolved That the citizens of the adjoining counties be, and they are hereby requested to form corresponding committees, and hold themselves in readiness to give assistance if the same should be required.

Resolved That the editors of the public papers within the State be, and they are hereby requested to publish the proceedings of this meeting.

On motion of Hiram Wilcoxen, the foregoing preamble and resolutions were unanimously adopted.

THOMAS MINNIS, President.
T. H. Freeman, Secretary.

[73]  State of Missouri, 26 Congress, 2d Session, Document 189, Showing The Testimony Given Before the Judge of the Fifth Judicial District of the State of Missouri, on the Trial of Joseph Smith, Jr., and others, for High Treason and Other Crimes Against that State, February 15, 1841, p. 6-7, Online here, Accessed March 20, 2016. See also, Autobiography of Ebenezer Robinson, p.147-148.

[74] Reed Peck Manuscript, 32-34, emphasis mine.

[75] Kinney, Kindle Locations 1931-1948.

[76] Jessee & Whittaker, Albert Rockwood Journal, 21.

[77] Kinney, Kindle Locations 1955-1970.

[78] ibid., Locations 2004-2016.

[79] ibid., Locations 2045-2053.

[80] John Smith Diary, October 14, 1838, CHL.

[81] History of the Church,Vol. III, 167.

[82] Kinney, Kindle Locations 2076-2092.

[83] John Smith Diary, October 15, 1838.

[84] John Smith Diary, October 16, 1838.

[85]  Eliza R. Snow, “Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow: One of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints”, written and compiled by Eliza R. Snow, 1884, 42-45, Online here, Accessed March 20, 2016.

[86] John Snow Diary, October 18, 1838.

[87] Kinney, op. cited, Kindle Locations 2152-2161.

[88] D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, Signature Books, 1994, 97.

[89] Affidavit of Thomas B. Marsh, October 24, 1838, Document showing the Testimony Given Before the Judge of the Fifth Judicial District of the State of Missouri, on the Trial of Joseph Smith, Jr., and others, for High Treason and Other Crimes Against that State (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1841), p. 147.

[90] David R. Atchison to Lilburn Boggs, October 22, 1838.

[91] Kinney, op. cited, Kindle Locations 2276-2290.

[92] ibid., Kindle Locations 2341-2355.

[93] Thomas C. Burch to Lilburn Boggs, October 23, 1838.

[94] Reed Peck Manuscript, 95-101.

[95] Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy, 97-99.

[96] Kinney, op. cited, Kindle Locations 2457-2472.

[97] Lilburn W. Boggs, Order 44.

[98] After Boggs was shot, Wilford Woodruff wrote,

Vengance is mine. I will repay saith The Lord. Sunday True information has just reached us that the Noted Governor Boggs of Missouri who By his orders expeled ten thousand Latter Day Saints, Has just Been assassinated in his own house & fallen in his own Blood. Three Ball wer shot through his head two through his Brains & one through his mouth, tongue & throat. Thus this ungodly wretch has fallen in the midst of his iniquity & the vengance of God has overtaken him at last & he has met his Just deserts though by an unknown hand. This information is proclaimed through all the papers & By dispatched messengers & hand Bills through the land. Thus Boggs hath died as a fool dieth & gone to his place to receive the reward of his works. * /* Boggs was shot but did not die but has sinc recove[red] from his wounds./(Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 2, 1841–1845, p.176, May 15, 1842)

This is the same kind of rhetoric Brigham Young used when he visited Mountain Meadows after the massacre there. Smith, after being taken into custody and almost returned to Missouri to face charges of treason gave a speech in which he declared,

In speaking of my Journey to Nauvoo I will relate a circumstance. When Mr Cyrus Walker first came to me they said I should not speak to any man & they would shoot any man that should speak to me. An old man came up & said I should have council & said he was not afraid of their pistols & they took me from him, & I had an opportunity to have killed him but I had no temptation to do it to him nor any other man, my worst enemy not even Boggs. In fact he would have more hell to live in the reflection of his past life than to die. My freedom commenced from the time the old man came to me & would talk to me. We came direct from Papa grove to Nauvoo. We got our writ directed to the nearest court having authority to try the case & we came to Nauvoo. (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 2, 1841–1845, p.254, June 30, 1843)

But then in the same speech picked up the violent rhetoric again,

Furthermore if Missouri continues her warfare & continues to Issue her writs against me & this people unlawfully & unjustly as they have done & our rights are trampled upon & they under take to take away my wrights I sware with uplifted hands to Heaven I will spill my Blood in its defence. They shall not take away our rights, & if they dont stop leading me by the nose I will lead them by the nose & if they dont let me alone I will turn up the world. I will make war. (ibid)

Later that year, Smith again spoke of Boggs,

If the people will give ear a moment I will address them, with few words in my own defence as touching my arest. In the first place I will state to these that Can hear me that I never spent more than six months in Missouri except while in prison. While I was there I was at work for the support of my family. I never was a prisioner of war during my stay for I had not made war. I never took a pistol, a gun, or sword & the much that has been said on this subject is false. I have been willing to go before any governor Judge or tribunal whare justice could be done & have the subject investigated. I could not have committee treason in that state while there. I had no controll any whare in temporal things while there but in spiritual. I was driven from that state by force of arms under the exterminating order of Govornor Boggs.

I have never commited treason. The people know vary well I have Been a peaceable Citizen but their has been a great hugh & Cry about Jo Smith Govornor Bogs being shot. No crime can be done but what it is laid to Jo Smith. Here I was again dragged to the United States Court, & was cleared & now it comes again. But as often as God sees fit for me to suffer I am ready. But I am as innocent of these crimes as the Angels in heaven. I am not an enemy to mankind. I am a friend to Mankind. I am not an enemy to Missouri nor any governors or people.

As to the military station I hold & the cause of my holding it is as follows. When we came here the State required us to bear arms & do military duty according to law, & as the Church had just been driven from the State of Missouri & robed of all their property & arms they were poor & destitute of armes: They were liable to be fined for not doing duty when they had not arms to do it with. They Came to me for advice. I advised them to organize themselves into independant companies, & demand arms of the State. This they did. (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 2, 1841–1845, p.258, July 4, 1843)

Too many people in Nauvoo heard Smith prophecy in 1842 that Boggs would be dead in a year. The crux of Smith’s defense was that he “had no control of temporal things”. But this is a lie. Michael Quinn writes,

By the time of the 1833 revelation on theocracy, Smith was already establishing an authoritarian system of priesthood that he intended to be monolithic. In his dictated revelations of the 1830s the voice of God commanded Mormons to be one in all things and to make their decisions unanimously (D&C 101:50, 102:3, 104:21, 107:27). Thus Mormons were supposed to view any factionalism in spiritual or temporal matters as contrary to God’s will. In a manner left unclear in Smith’s revelations, these contradictory prerogatives were supposed to mesh with the republicanism of the U.S. Constitution.

A decade later the church would begin implementing this theocracy as a city-state in Illinois. In the American West Mormonism would dominate the social order of millions of square miles. But the Mormon hierarchy was already influencing political events in the Mormon commonwealth at Kirtland, Ohio. The communitarian practices and doctrine of gathering to a common place gave Mormons increasing political importance in the voting districts where they resided. (D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, p.86)

Smith wrote for the Times and seasons in July of 1842:

“It has been the design of Jehovah, from the commencement of the world, and is his purpose now, to regulate the affairs of the world in his own time; to stand as head of the universe, and take the reins of government into his own hand,” the editorial began. The prophet observed that Moses and Aaron “taught the people in both civil and ecclesiastical affairs; they were both one; there was no distinction; so will it be when the purposes of God shall be accomplished.” He added that “the government was a theocracy, they had God to make their laws, and men chosen by Him to administer them.”

Smith wrote the editorial three months after he received a revelation outlining the political Kingdom of God. The full content of his revelation of 7 April 1842 is presently unknown, but it [p.112] provided the name for a future theocratic organization: “Verily thus saith the Lord. This is the name by which you shall be called—The Kingdom of God and His Laws, with Keys and power thereof, and judgment in the hands of his servants, Ahman Christ.” A few months later Smith preached, “I have the whole plan of the kingdom before me, and no other person has.”

In tandem with this revelation on formal laws, Smith also wrote an explanation of his theocratic ethics. To justify his polygamous proposal to the nineteen-year-old daughter of counselor Sidney Rigdon, Smith wrote this letter within a few days of his 7 April revelation on theocracy:

That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be and often is, right under another. God said thou shalt not kill,—at another time he said thou shalt utterly destroy. This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted—by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed. Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire. If we seek first the kingdom of God, all good things will be added… even things which may be considered abominable to all who do not understand the order of heaven…

This was the first written statement of Smith’s theocratic ethics, a doctrine he had originally announced when performing the illegal marriage ceremony in Kirtland nearly seven years earlier. (D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, p.111-112)

Sidney Rigdon confirmed this doctrine on April 5, 1844:

“When God sets up a system of salvation, he sets up a system of government; when I speak of a government I mean what I say; I mean a government that shall rule over temporal and spiritual affairs.”

Then Rigdon revealed to thousands of Mormons that the purpose of Mormon’s theocratic “system of government” was to set aside at will the laws of the United States and of all other secular governments:

A man is not an honorable man if he is not above all law, and above government….The law of God is far more righteous than the laws of the land; the laws of God are far above the laws of the land. The kingdom of God does not interfere with the laws of the land, but keeps itself by its own laws. (Times and Seasons 5 (1 May 1844): 524, also printed with punctuation changes in History of the Church, 6: 292. D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, p.123)

Until the hierarchy began to reveal the extent of the theocracy, Latter-day Saints had no reason to conclude that they were participating in an alternative to the present forms of [p.124] American government. Increasingly in the spring of 1844 Smith let it be publicly known that such an alternative was in the making.

Two days after this general conference Smith became Mormonism’s theocratic king. The kingdom’s clerk William Clayton wrote that during the 11 April 1844 meeting “was prest. Joseph chosen as our Prophet, Priest and King by Hosannas.” Clayton did not describe what happened immediately after this secret sustaining vote by the Council of Fifty. Although he had participated, William Marks never referred to the sustaining vote on 11 April but later stated that the Council of Fifty performed an ordinance “in which Joseph suffered himself to be ordained a king, to reign over the house of Israel forever.

Some have been uncomfortable with the assertion that Smith became a king. They have claimed that Marks and other critics either confused or misrepresented Smith’s reception of the strictly religious ceremony of the second anointing as “king and priest.” As already noted, the prophet taught that the second anointing had theocratic meaning, but he received that ordinance nearly six months before Clayton’s entry for 11 April. What occurred that day was clearly something different from the second anointing ordinance for a heavenly “King and Priest.”

In fact a later revelation to the Council of Fifty affirmed that God called Smith “to be a Prophet, Seer and Revelator to my Church and Kingdom; and to be a King and Ruler over Israel.” In detailed minutes of this same ceremony years later, the Council of Fifty’s standing chairman, John Taylor, was “anointed & set apart as a King, Priest and Ruler over Israel on the Earth.”105 As Mormonism’s theocratic sovereign Smith gave the revelation of August 1833 its most radical expression. In a veiled reference to Smith’s kingship, Apostles Lyman Wight and Heber C. Kimball wrote in 1844 that “you are already President Pro tem of the world.”

Three days after receiving theocratic kingship, Smith informed the non-Mormon press of his new political order.

As the “world is governed too much,” and there is not a nation or dynasty, now occupying the earth, which acknowledges Almighty God as their lawgiver, and as “crowns won by blood, by blood must be maintained,” I go emphatically, virtuously, and humanely for a THEO-DEMOCRACY, where God and the people hold the power to conduct the affairs of men in righteousness, and where liberty, [p.125] free trade, and sailor’s rights, and the protection of life and property shall be maintained inviolate for the benefit of ALL. (D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, p.124).

This type of thinking had been going on in Missouri, and was manifested in Smith’s Danites.

[99] Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy, 99.

[100] ibid., 99-100.

[101] Richard Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, 367.

[102] John Corrill, A Brief History of the Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, p.42-43.

[103] Kinney writes,

Conditions improved immensely after Clark’s arrival on the scene. A guard was placed around the town both to protect the Mormons from citizens and to keep all fugitives contained. When he learned of the food shortages, Clark shared militia rations to ensure that none of the Mormons starved. He made all the troops treat the prisoners with respect, and no atrocities were committed against the captive population. Clark even went as far as to modify the terms of the peace accord after he saw the dreadful state of the prisoners. First, the Mormons could remain in Missouri until a convenient time in the spring, but that under no circumstances could they put down a crop. Second, due to the extended time the Mormons were allowed to stay in their homes, the militia would no longer be able to provide an armed escort for their exodus but the state would guarantee their safety. Finally, the Mormons would receive back their arms when they left Missouri, but not a moment before. Despite the concessions he gave them this advice, “You have brought these difficulties upon yourselves by being disaffected and not being subject to rule—. . . become as the other citizens, lest by recurrence of these events you bring upon yourselves irretrievable ruin.” Clark’s efforts appeared to succeed. When the legislature later took up its investigation, several Mormons reported the fair treatment they received while in the custody of Clark and his (Kinney, op. cited above, Kindle Locations 2736-2746).

[104] Reed Peck wrote that,

On the day following [October 30] John Corrill and myself were dispatched by the presidency to see Genl Doniphan <with instructions to> and “beg like a dog for peace” but the army by a circuitous route marched to Far West while we were hunting their encampment and when we rode in at Sun Set we beheld them draw up a half mile from the line of the town A great part of the Mormons were formed in the Edge to the town fronting the militia, but others of them were going about with blank faces inquiring what should be done As soon as I alighted from my horse which I had rode hard I ran down to the Mormon lines and told Joseph Smith if he had any message to send Genl Doniphan I would carry it He expressed a wish for a compromise and got down from his horse to let me ride I mounted but not until I asked him if it was consecrated property as I did not think it safe to ride a borrowed horse where I might possibly meet the owner By the time I left the Mormons the militia had retired from line and were building camp fires and when I rode up to the campsite I was informed that the Genl would receive no communications that night I observed to the person addressing me that I [particularly] wished to See Genl Doniphan and if he would take my name on he would confer a special favor which he did reluctantly but soon returned and conducted me to the Genl’s tent After delivering the message intrusted by Joseph I informed the Genl that there were many individuals among the Mormons who were as warmly opposed to the wicked transactions in Daviess County and the oppressive influence by which the church is led as any man in his army could be and that those men were now compelled to Stand in the Mormon rank where in the event of a battle their blood would flow in defence of measures to which they had ever been adverse Genl Doniphan was apprised of this fact and Swore that nothing should be done to endanger the persons or property of that class He also said that he was determined to have a complete reorganization of Society in the county before he returned and by the suffrages of the people it should be determined whether Caldwell would still be governed by priestcraft and if the party in favor of good order prove to weak he would protect them from the county if they desired it I found that the innocent had no cause to fear unless the Mormons in their blind enthusiasm should provoke the army to an attack which would have undoubtedly ended in an indiscriminate slaughter as there were then 10,000 men under arms against them and 3000 in the confines of Caldwell county wich without a reinforcement would have been Sufficient to subdue 700 Mormons On leaving Genl Doniphan directed that some of the principal men of Far West should meet him the next morning at a certain point between the army and Mormons to see what could be done John Corrill W W Phelps John Gleminson and myself were named by Genl Doniphan and Seymour Brunson and Genl Hinkel were added to the number by Joseph Smith (Reed Peck Manuscript, 103-109, added emphasis).

[105] Mormon Report to Legislature, Nov. 23, 1838, Missouri State Archives—Mormon War.

[106] B.H. Roberts writes that,

 It will be remembered that William W. Phelps, with Oliver Cowdery and the Whitmers, left the Church in 1835, and was among the most bitter enemies of the Prophet; he was also among those who testified against the Prophet and his fellow prisoners before Judge Austin A. King at Richmond. (See report of Missouri Legislature on Mormon Difficulties. pp. 120-5). He also joined with others in whitewashing the proceedings of General Clark and his troops in their treatment of the citizens of Far West. Following is the document as it appears in the report of the Missouri Legislature (See Note #105 above).

W. W. Phelps was never a “bitter enemy” of Joseph Smith. Nor was John Corrill or the rest of the “dissenters,” though they were opposed to some of Smith’s teachings and actions.

[107] Stephen C. LeSueur, High Treason and Murder, BYU Studies Vol 26, No. 2 (1986), PDF, 13.

[108] ibid.

[109] ibid., 16. Hyrum’s description of Austin King’s control of this case drew the following skeptical comments from Roger Launius:

The Mormon refusal to compromise, first in the Jackson County case and later in others, placed Doniphan in the unenviable position of having to settle a case in which the Mormons would accept nothing less than total victory. As a result they got nothing.

Doniphan left no comments about this case, and Hyrum Smith’s statements about witness intimidation and outright jailing seem so egregious as to be unbelievable, even if irregularities and bias found display. It is more likely that Doniphan and his associates made a tactical decision not to tip the hand of their defense in preliminary hearings … Mounting a hefty defense at this time might even further incriminate his clients … The central question … becomes one of rectifying the Mormon affidavits made afterward with this argument. While there were some instances of abuse at the Richmond proceedings and anti-Mormonism expressed throughout it, the Mormons were writing accounts of the episode after the fact to establish their complete innocence of any wrongdoing. They downplayed or ignored altogether any of their actions that might be incriminating and, in some instances, may have fabricated abuse on the part of the judge and his entourage. (Alexander Doniphan, 21, 68-69, Lavina Smith, Lucy’s Book, 661-662)

It is not a stretch then, that they would also fabricate accounts about gang-rapes.

[110] Diary of Abraham H. Cannon, Fri. Nov. 16, 1894.

[111] Albert Rockwood Journal, 25.

[112] LeSueur, The 1838 Mormon War In Missouri, 235-236

[113] HC 3:250

[114] Lucy is mistaken here, William never visited Joseph after he was taken prisoner in Missouri. In March 1839, William wrote to his brothers:

To Joseph Smith, Jun., and Hyrum Smith.

Friday, March 8.—

BROTHERS HYRUM AND JOSEPH:—I should have called down to Liberty to have seen you had it not been for the multiplicity of business that was on my hands; and again, I thought that perhaps the people might think that the “Mormons” would rise up to liberate you; consequently too many going to see you might make it worse for you; but we all long to see you and have you come out of that lonesome place. I hope you will be permitted to come to your families before long. Do not worry about them, for they will be taken care of. All we can do will be done; further than this, we can only wish, hope, desire, and pray for your deliverance.

WILLIAM SMITH. (History of the Church, Vol. 3, p.274, emphasis mine).

According to Lucy herself, it was William who gave his father his own “revelation” or vision: “Father[,] said William[,] I can give you revelation then and he rehearsed the vision which he had related to me…” It is obvious that it should be punctuated this way, (which has William speaking to his father), because right after this Lucy writes that “Mr. Smith (Joseph Smith, Sr.), made answer to this…

[115] Lucy’s Book, A Critical Edition of Lucy Mack Smith’s Family Memoir, Edited by Lavina Fielding Anderson, Signature Books, 2001, 674-687, Online here, Accessed March 20, 2016.

[116] Collection of Facts Relative to the Course Taken by Elder Sidney Rigdon, in the States of Ohio, Missouri, Illinois and Pennsylvania. By Jedidiah M. Grant, One of the Quorum of Seventies,  Number One. Published by Brown, Bicking & Guilbert, Printers, No. 56 North Third Street, Philadelphia, 1844. Online here, Accessed March 20, 2016.

Grant writes in his preface that,

“After the summer of 1833, you will please consider me a witness, with others, of the course taken by Elder Rigdon, in Ohio. All the circumstances in PART II that I did not witness, have been related to me by those whose words I rely on with the same confidence that I rely on the uniformity of the course of nature.”

Sidney Rigdon was such a convenient scapegoat for just about anything after Joseph Smith was murdered.

[117] The Women of Mormondom, 142-43.

[118] “Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow: One of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints”, written and compiled by Eliza R. Snow, 1884, 41.

[119] ibid., 28-29.

[120] Baugh, 207-210.

[121]The Juvenile Instructor Vol. 1, No. 21, November 1, 1866, 82.

[122] Snow, opt. cited above, 1884, 42-43.

[123] ibid.

[124] Brandon Kinney writes,

On November 2 General Lucas relieved the Far West guard with four companies from General Parks’s brigade. The new guard was under the command of Colonel Thompson, who was instructed to wait and take his orders from General Clark once he arrived. Thompson was also ordered to hold the Mormons in Far West to prevent their escape and also to offer them protection. To execute this order one might imagine his forces would surround the town, but no such step was taken and many Mormons who feared reprisal for their acts fled the city. The remainder of General Parks’s brigade was ordered to Adam-ondi-Ahman with instructions to disarm the Mormon forces there. All prisoners and arms taken there were to be directed to General Clark for further instruction. Lucas’s final act was to commandeer the governor’s aide-de-camp, Colonel Wiley Williams, Major Amos Rees, together with Colonel Thomas Burch, to draw up a formal legal document which would summarize the terms of the peace accord.51 With just the details remaining, Lucas prepared to retire to Independence, satisfied with his and his troops’ accomplishments. …

General Wilson reported when he arrived in Adam-ondi-Ahman on November 8 that no militia troops were left in the city. The Mormons were free to come and go, and Wilson feared that most of the wanted men had already escaped. He immediately placed a guard around the town to ensure that no further fugitives were permitted to leave. A census of the Mormon men was then conducted; two hundred men entered their names. Justice Adam Black had taken up residence in the city, and the general took all men suspected of a crime directly to the judge for arraignment. Most of the guilty had escaped during the period when the city was left unguarded, and Wilson did not hold out hope of his presence making much of a difference. The scene around the county was one of devastation. With the exception of Adam-ondi-Ahman all non-Mormon communities had been sacked and burnt to ashes. People were without houses, beds, furniture, or even clothing, all in the face of unusually cold temperatures. (Kinney, op. cited above, Kindle Locations 2685-2693, 2758-2765).

[125] Eliza R. Snow, op. cited above, 1884, 43.

[126] Eliza R. Snow, “Little Incidents For Little Readers”, Juvenile Instructor, Vol. 1, No. 22, Nov. 15, 1866, 85.

[127] Wilson to Clark, Nov. 12, 1838.

[128] Eliza R. Snow, op. cited above, 1884, 43-44.

[129] Eliza R. Snow, op. cited above, 1866, 86.

[130] Eliza R. Snow “Sketch Of My Life” 1885, Relief Society Magazine, April 1944, 207.

[131] Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow: One of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, written and compiled by Eliza R. Snow, 1884, Deseret News Company, Salt Lake City, Utah, 42-45, Online here, Accessed April 5, 2015.

[132] Eliza R. Snow, Letter to Isaac Streator, 22 February 1839, BYU Studies, Vol. 13, No. 4, 1973, 549, 552.

[133] ibid., 550-51.

[134] Clarence Merrill was born on May 18, 1841 in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Bathsheba Kate Smith was born on August 14, 1844 in Nauvoo, Illinois. She was the daughter of George Albert Smith (1817-1875) and Bathsheba Wilson Bigler (1822-1918).

[135] Horne, Autobiography, 179.

[136] ibid., 177.

[137] ibid., 163.

[138] ibid., 167-168. I noticed when reading this passage that it is similar to what Radke-Moss quotes from the later? version of Horne’s autobiography. There is also the curious placement of an asterisk, which may indicate that Horne intended to insert something here or do some kind of rewrite. Was this done at the time of the original draft, or later? The text reads,

I hung on every word and treasured the every word  thought

^incident^ and action on those occasions. We often visited

Eliza R. Snow and every day would ^*^ find her dropping

in to see us. There came ladies, Zina D. Young, …

Alice Horne Autobiography 1935, Page 168The later? passages as quoted by Radke-Moss read:

“The most important Mormon women of the nineteenth century often gathered at the Smith home abutting the Church Historian’s Office.”

… “sit on her grandmother’s lap and listen, catching . . . the whispered word unraveling, spelling, and signs made by those ladies.”

“There was a saint—a Prophetess, a Poet, an intellectual, seized by brutal mobbers—used by those eight demons and left not dead, but worse. The horror, the anguish, despair, hopelessness of the innocent victim was dwelt upon. [W]hat [sic] future was there for such a one? All the aspirations of a saintly virgin—that maiden of purity—had met martyrdom!”

“The prophet heard and had compassion. This Saint, whose lofty ideals, whose person had been crucified, was yet to become the corner of female work. To her, no child could be born and yet she would be a Mother in Israel. One to whom all eyes should turn, to whom all ears would listen to hear her sing (in tongues) the praises of Zion. She was promised honor above all women, save only Emma, but her marriage to the prophet would be only for heaven.”

It would be much more helpful if we could see these passages in their original context without Radke-Moss’ additional commentary. In the earlier? autobiography Horne writes,

I loved her friends, I used to marvel at their cheerfulness and dignified, lofty bearing and above all their gentleness to both grandmother and her little grandchild, time and again we would kiss each other and I always sat on her lap to read. Some of her dearest friends would come and stay all night. One of those? visits which fastened itself as strongly in my memory was that of sister ^Elisabeth Ann^ Whitney wife of the first Presiding Bishop of the Church. They related to each other many tales of the Nauvoo days, of Winter Quarters and of their conversion to Mormonism. I, an entranced listener, drank deeply out of this font of early day scenes, colored by the rich experiences, and ^and^ belief of those sainted women. The climax came ^was^ when sister Whitney sang in tongues, in a sweet voice, an in rythm, after which she gave us the interpretation. It was a blessing for Grandma and many promises were made on her head of a ministry among her sisters, her being chosen for high positions and of the joys that would crown ^ all her life ^last^ days her ^even^ the association with her own posterity. I was too,

Lucy Kimball, too would occasionally visit Grandma ^Her remarkable personality would fascinate. Her story of the prophets death would thrill and sadden me. They two^ andthey would talk far into the night. After such visits, the glamor of old time thought and memory seemed to fill the house for days where and I would live in a sort of exalted state. If I went away from the house ^ and I came back again. the same sweet spirit would still linger.

What is missing here, is the gang-rape story about Eliza Snow.Alice Horne Autobiography 1935, Page 169

[139] No Man Knows My History, was released in November of 1945. Six months after the publication of her biography of Joseph Smith (June 1, 1946), Fawn Brodie was excommunicated from the Church. About Eliza R. Snow, Brodie writes,

Of the six wives who lived for long periods in the Mansion House, apparently only the thirty-nine-year-old poetess Eliza Snow conceived a child. She as well as Emma, it seems, was pregnant in the spring of 1844. Eliza must have been torn between dread of the consequences and exaltation at the prospect of facing the world the mother of a prophet’s son.

It so happened that her bedroom in the Mansion House was to the left of Joseph’s, Emma’s being on the right. According to tradition in the Snow family, Eliza emerged one morning at the same moment as Joseph, and he caught her to him in a quick embrace. At this instant Emma opened her own door in a sudden terrible rage—for apparently she had trusted Eliza above all other women—seized a broomstick and began beating her. Eliza tried to flee, stumbled, and fell down the full flight of stairs. Still not content, Emma pursued her in a frenzy that Joseph was powerless to stop, and drove her out of the house in her nightdress. By this time the whole Mansion House was awake, young Joseph and Alexander weeping and frightened at their mother’s hysteria and begging her to be kind to the “aunt Eliza” they adored.

Joseph finally calmed his wife and indignantly ordered her to restore Eliza to her room and rights in the household. The fall, it is said, resulted in a miscarriage. After Joseph‘s death Eliza married Brigham Young, but bore him no children.  (Brodie 345-46)

Brodie also quotes Wilhelm Wyl’s Mormon Portraits on Eliza Snow:

Eliza became the church’s “elect lady” when “the Lord” became thoroughly incensed with Sister Emma for her contumacy. She is the very prototype of what is called “female roosters” in Zion, always ready to enslave and drag men and women into polygamy. She was one of the first (willing) victims of Joseph in Nauvoo. She used to be much at the prophet’s house and “Sister Emma” treated her as a confidential friend. Very much interested about Joseph’s errands, Emma used to send Eliza after him as a spy. Joseph found it out and, to win over the gifted (!) young poetess, he made her one of his celestial brides. There is scarcely a Mormon unacquainted with the fact that Sister Emma, on the other side, soon found out the little compromise arranged between Joseph and Eliza. Feeling outraged as a wife and betrayed as a friend, Emma is currently reported as having had recourse to a vulgar broomstick as an instrument of revenge; and the harsh treatment received at Emma’s hands is said to have destroyed Eliza’s hopes of becoming the mother of a prophet’s son.  (Mormon Portraits, 58).

On page 470 Brodie claims that the above tradition, “was stated to me as a fact by Eliza’s nephew Leroi C. Snow in the Church Historians Office, Salt Lake City.”  Alice Horne also supposedly heard her story about Eliza Snow at the Smith home abutting the Church Historians Office, where her grandmother, Bathsheba W. Smith lived.

One argument that is used about Eliza’s apparent inability to have children is that her brother was reported saying that when Eliza married Joseph she was past the child bearing age; yet she was the same age as Emma, who bore her last child (David) after this reported incident. Max Parkin writes that,

Naturally, at the first appearance of the book, Mormon writers deftly accused Mrs. Brodie of shoddy scholarship, alleging that she quoted sources out of context, developed a predetermined thesis, and generally produced a biased, unreliable, non-historical volume. A Church committee made the first refutation in an article in the Church News, May 11, 1946, which was also printed in pamphlet form; the same year Dr. Hugh Nibley entered the controversy with his critique, No Ma’am That’s Not History. Milton R. Hunter denounced the book in The Pacific Historical Review in 1947, and his work was soon followed by Francis W. Kirkham’s refutation in the first volume of A New Witness for Christ in America. None of these, however, seemed to affect the wide acceptance Brodie’s Book enjoyed outside the Church. (Max Parkin, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol. 03, No. 03, Reviews/142-143).

Nibley wrote about polygamy and Eliza Snow in No Ma’am, That’s Not History:

Next comes the problem of polygamy. “Paul had said that in heaven there would be no marriage or giving in marriage, but Joseph taught that this would not apply to his Saints” (cf. Matthew 22:29—30; Mark 12:25; Luke 20:35). Quite the contrary, it is the literal acceptance of this very doctrine that makes the endowment work on this earth so urgent. It is remarks like the above that betray a complete misunderstanding or willful distortion of the most elementary aspects of Mormonism. They also betray something else: Mrs. Brodie deals lightly with holy writ, for it is not Paul but Jesus to whom the remark is attributed by no fewer than three gospels. To explain the loyalty of sensible women to the institution, Brodie can think of no better line than her old chestnut: the doctrine somehow had great “magnetism.” In her treatment of the subject her sources are extremely weak. In any city in the United States almost any day of the year young women may be found making vivid, full, circumstantial, and sincere accusations against attackers that are found upon investigation to be nothing more than the objects of their own overwrought desires and imaginings. This does not mean that such accusations are necessarily false, but it does mean that they call for corroboration. And what better corroboration than the words of John C. Bennett, whom Brodie willingly condemns as untrustworthy —but only after his words have sunk in.

In the matter of Joseph Smith’s wives, Mrs. Brodie feels free to pick and choose at will: some of the marriages were entirely spiritual, she freely admits—not all—but some. And by pure inference she can tell us just which were and which were not. She never explains why, with his passionate desire for progeny, he had so few children.

Nibley later writes:

Brodie’s Joseph, rioting with his fifty wives, is not the man whose conception of marriage so completely escapes her. Emma Smith and Eliza Snow were not acquainted with the oversexed rake that Mrs. Brodie knows so well.

All of this was prominent news during the last three years of Alice Horne’s life, and may have influenced her to add the gang-rape account to her autobiography. Again, this is speculation by this author, who anxiously awaits further information about the source that Radke-Moss quotes from. (If there is any).

[140] Juvenile Instructor, March 8, 2016, op. cited above.

[141] Take this exchange between an audience member and Jill Mulvay Derr, the biographer of Eliza Snow:

Q:And the miscarriage story? Emma, causing miscarriage?

A:  (Derr)The problem is, all the people who tell it are 40 years later. ERS never says anything to indicate this. (Jill Mulvay Derr on Eliza Snow (Smith), Times and Seasons Blog, September 18, 2006, Online here, Accessed April 20, 2016).

Derr claims that this story has problems because it didn’t begin to be told until forty years later and Eliza never said anything to indicate it. The same can be said about the gang-rape story. It was told almost 100 years later and Eliza never said anything to indicate that either. Perhaps this is why Derr didn’t reveal more about it and left it as just a family tradition. Why is this argument acceptable for the miscarriage account, but not for the gang-rape story?

[142] Helen Mar Kimball Whitney, who was pressured into “marrying” Joseph Smith when she was only 14 years old explains on page 7 of a pamphlet she published in 1884 titled “Why we practice Plural Marriage,” that Smith established polygamy and “all who entered into it in righteousness (including herself) have done so for the purpose of “raising up righteous seed”.

Whitney here admits that polygamy is about the mandate to “raise up righteous seed’.  In fact, the entire pamphlet is all about this, because Joseph Smith taught that there are many choice spirits waiting to take mortal bodies and this is how the bodies are provided for them by sex and plural marriage.  (See Helen Mar Kimball Whitney, “Why We Practice Plural Marriage”, Published at the Juvenile Instructor Office, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1884, 7. Online here, accessed April 20, 2016.

[143] See Note #53.

[144] W.W. Phelps to Sally Phelps, September 9, 1835. Online here, Accessed April 5, 2016.

[145]  Journal of Discourses Vol. 13, p.41, emphasis mine.

[146]The Seer, Vol.2, No.1, p.193-p.195.

[147] The Evening and the Morning Star, Vol.1, No.9, p.65, cf. 2 Esdras, 10:22.

[148] Times and Seasons, Vol.1, No.3, 47-p.48, Dec. 1839.

[149] Times and Seasons Vol. 4, No. 17, July 15, 1843.

[150]Times and Seasons, Vol. 5, No.3, 419.

[151] John Corrill, A Brief History of the Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, 43 – p.44. For more on Corrill, see note below (#152).

[152] On December 16, 1839 Joseph Smith wrote to the Church from Liberty Jail in Jackson County:

We ask no favors at the hands of mobs, nor of the world, nor of the devil, nor of his emissaries the dissenters, and those who love, and make, and swear falsehoods, to take away our lives. We have never dissembled, nor will we for the sake of our lives.

Forasmuch, then, as we know that we have been endeavoring with all our mind, might, and strength, to do the will of God, and all things whatsoever He has commanded us; and as to our light speeches, which may have escaped our lips from time to time, they have nothing to do with the fixed purposes of our hearts; therefore it sufficeth us to say, that our souls were vexed from day to day. We refer you to Isaiah, who considers those who make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate. We believe that the old Prophet verily told the truth: and we have no retraction to make. We have reproved in the gate, and men have laid snares for us. We have spoken words, and men have made us offenders. And notwithstanding all this, our minds are not yet darkened, but feel strong in the Lord. But behold the words of the Savior: “If the light which is in you become darkness, behold how great is that darkness.” Look at the dissenters. Again, “If you were of the world the world would love its own.” Look at Mr. Hinkle—a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Look at his brother John Corrill. Look at the beloved brother Reed Peck, who aided him in leading us, as the Savior was led, into the camp of His enemies, as a lamb prepared for the slaughter, as a sheep dumb before his shearers; so we opened not our mouths.

But these men, like Balaam, being greedy for reward, sold us into the hands of those who loved them, for the world loves his own. I would remember William E. McLellin, who comes up to us as one of Job’s comforters. God suffered such kind of beings to afflict Job—but it never entered into their hearts that Job would get out of it all. This poor man who professes to be much of a prophet, has no other dumb ass to ride but David Whitmer, to forbid his madness when he goes up to curse Israel; and this ass not being of the same kind as Balaam’s, therefore, the angel notwithstanding appeared unto him, yet he could not penetrate his understanding sufficiently, but that he brays out cursings instead of blessings. Poor ass! Whoever lives to see it, will see him and his rider perish like those who perished in the gain-saying of Korah, or after the same condemnation. Now as for these and the rest of their company, we will not presume to say that the world loves them; but we presume to say they love the world, and we classify them in the error of Balaam, and in the gain-sayings of Korah, and with the company of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.

Perhaps our brethren will say, because we thus write, that we are offended at these characters. If we are, it is not for a word, neither because they reproved in the gate—but because they have been the means of shedding innocent blood. Are they not murderers then at heart? …

And now, brethren, we say unto you—what more can we enumerate? Is not all manner of evil of every description spoken of us falsely, yea, we say unto you falsely. We have been misrepresented and misunderstood, and belied, and the purity and integrity and uprightness of our hearts have not been known—and it is through ignorance—yea, the very depths of ignorance is the cause of it; and not only ignorance, but on the part of some, gross wickedness and hypocrisy also; for some, by a long face and sanctimonious prayers, and very pious sermons, had power to lead the minds of the ignorant and unwary, and thereby obtain such influence that when we approached their iniquities the devil gained great advantage—would bring great trouble and sorrow upon our heads;and, in fine, we have waded through an ocean of tribulation and mean abuse, practiced upon us by the ill bred and the ignorant, such as Hinkle, Corrill, Phelps, Avard, Reed Peck, Cleminson, and various others, who are so very ignorant that they cannot appear respectable in any decent and civilized society, and whose eyes are full of adultery, and cannot cease from sin. Such characters as McLellin, John Whitmer, David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, and Martin Harris, are too mean to mention; and we had liked to have forgotten them. Marsh and “another,” whose hearts are full of corruption. whose cloak of hypocrisy was not sufficient to shield them or to hold them up in the hour of trouble, who after having escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, became again entangled and overcome—their latter end is worse than the first. But it has happened unto them according to the word of the Scripture: “The dog has returned to his vomit, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.”

Again, if men sin wilfully after they have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation to come, which shall devour these adversaries. For he who despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses. Of how much more severe punishment suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath sold his brother, and denied the new and everlasting covenant by which he was sanctified, calling it an unholy thing, and doing despite to the Spirit of grace. (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 3, p.227-8, 231-2, emphasis mine).

Interesting that it wasn’t David Whitmer who perished, but Joseph Smith himself. Whitmer lived to be a good old age. George Hinkle wrote to W. W. Phelps on August 14, 1844 that the claims made by Smith were falsehoods:

It has been the theme of many, since I left Missouri, to calumniate and vilify me for the course which I, as the acting colonel of the militia of Caldwell, pursued in the surrender of the citizens of Far West, Caldwell, etc., to the authorities of Missouri. Those vilifiers have stated it, and vociferated its repetition throughout the length and breadth of our happy land, and the newspapers of the day have thrown it upon the wings of the wind, and no doubt it has gone to the Old World, and there been listened to and credited-especially by those of your faith-that I, as a base wretch, after having the confidence of the church, yet in that critical moment of their

perils in Missouri, when they in and of Far West were besieged by between three and four thousand men-the story is, that I, there and then, betrayed ‘the heads of the church’ into the hands of the military authorities of Missouri, and that, too, for a large sum of money. And then, as if they intended to heap disgrace upon me, after insult and injury, they say I turned state’s evidence against them; also that I informed on many of the citizens of Far West and had them arrested and delivered up to the court of inquiry to be punished. And many such like reports have been put in circulation by my enemies to do me injury; all of which, before God, I declare to be as false as Satan himself. Now, sir, you are the man who knows more about it than any other man belonging to your church. You know that you, John Corrill, A. Morrison, and myself, were appointed by Joseph Smith to go and confer with the commanding officers of the Missouri militia, and effect a treaty if possible, on any terms short of a battle. You know that we went and risked our lives with a white flag, when only a few hours previous the bearer of one (Charles Rich) had been fired at on the same field; and we did this to obey the order or request of Joseph .Smith. Our object was (at least I felt so) to prevent the effusion of blood, which we all saw must inevitably take place unless something could be done immediately. Were you not present, sir, at that trying scene when the eyes of our enemies seemed to flash fire when we approached, and I received from the hand of Major General Lucas that unhallowed paper, narrating to us the terms upon which the lives of our families and friends could be saved, viz: “Give up your leaders-your principal men-as hostages to be tried by civil law. Give up all your arms of defense, and all leave the State forthwith.” He also read to us that generous-no, that execrable-order of Governor Boggs, authorizing him to exterminate us, or drive us from the State. Now, sir, I appeal to your candor: Did I, at this critical moment, say to General Lucas, or to any of those with him, “Give me a sum of money [Judas like] and I will comply”? If you answer in the affirmative, then query, Were you and the others of the delegation to go partners with me in such an unhallowed speculation?

What! thus to betray our friends-our brethren-into the hands of their implacable enemies in the hour of their peril-and that, too, for Missouri gold!!!! Or if I did, as has been reported by men high in authority among you, winked at by all, and not contradicted by any-at least so far as I know-did I take the price and snugly lodge it all in my own pocket, without dividing with any of you? You know I did not make that treaty alone. Nay, you well remember that yourself and the others with us, by authority or request of Joseph Smith himself, agreed to the disgraceful terms. We then urged all to submit. But did I not then and there oppose that part of the order requiring us to give up our arms and immediately leave the State, urging that if any had offended by breaking the law, we were willing and even anxious that such should be punished to the extent of justice, or the magnitude of the crime, but to give up our arms and leave the State, would be virtually throwing away our most sacred rites as citizens of a republican state, and that we would as soon give up our lives? Did he not become enraged and say that Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Lyman Wight, P. P. Pratt, and G. W. Robinson must be given up, and no other terms would do? Did he not give us half an hour to consult our friends? When the facts were laid before Joseph, did he not say, “I will go”; and did not the others go with him, and that, too, voluntarily, so far as you and I were concerned?

My understanding was that those men were to be taken and kept till next morning as hostages; and if they did not, upon reflection and consultation with the officers in the camp of the enemy, during the night, conclude to accept of the terms proposed to us, but choose to fight, then they were to be kept safely, and returned to us in the city next morning, unharmed, and time given us to prepare for an attack by the militia. During this whole interview and transaction, were not thousands of troops drawn up near the city, ready to fall upon us, provided those demanded as hostages refused to go? And when Smith and the others had given up, without any compulsory measures from us, did not General Lucas demand our arms, but on reflection agree to let us retain them till next day, inasmuch as it was then about sunset? Were we not advised next day, by word sent expressly from Joseph Smith to us, to surrender? When that intelligence was received, did I not draw up the forces under my command, and explain to them the nature of the whole affair, and then request all who were in favor of surrendering, to make it known by marching three paces forward? They made a very slow start, but finally all came forward. We then marched out with slow and solemn step into a partial hollow square of the enemy, faced inward, grounded arms, and marched away and left them. The town was laid under martial law and guarded. Then the authorities commenced taking others as prisoners, and kept them under guard to be tried, as they said, by civil law. No man ever knew me to complain of, or inform on any one. Uniformly when questioned by those seeking victims, 1 told them that all I knew to be guilty of breaking the law had fled from the city the night before the surrender. When the court of inquiry held its session in Richmond, I did not turn state’s evidence, but was legally subpoenaed, as you know.

Therefore, as to my course of conduct there, even under trying circumstances, while restrospecting it I have no cause of regret. And during the time I was a member of that church, before God and all men I have a clear conscience, and am willing to give an account of my course at any time. While I lived in that church I tried to live in peace; and when I left it, I did not leave in order to persecute it, but to get from under the priestly influence of those men who bore down upon those who opposed their views, with an iron rule; with a yoke too intolerable for a high-minded man, or a humble Christian spirit to bear. Past experience had already shown me that as soon as anyone, but especially one of note among them, would leave them, he must sufl’er all kinds of abuse. The motto was, “His character must be ruined, or he will injure us.” And in return, the dissenters have said, “Down with the heads of the church.” And I know that they have sometimes used base means, and published many falsehoods, and brought much persecution on you. This has not been my course. I despise the course which both parties have pursued. I am for peace and for truth, and truth only on all subjects. Notwithstanding the many slanders that have been afloat about me, in order to injure and ruin me, this is the first scrap that I have ever published on the subject; and I have written and published this out of mere necessity, in self-defense. I have hitherto been determined, let them say what they would or could, I would bear it, and leave the event with God. Almost six years have rolled away since I withdrew my labors and influence from among that people; and notwithstanding my reserve, some of them still continue to roll down their Satanic falsehoods upon me. I have been informed that one of your number is now in an adjoining neighborhood to this, asserting that I sold the heads of the church, in Missouri, for $700. Now, sir, as you are the man who was engaged in the whole affair with me, I request that you write a letter for publication, and either put in the Times and Seasons, or send it to me; and in it exempt me from those charges, and correct the minds of that people and the public on this subject; for you know that they are as base as the blackness of darkness, and as false as Satan himself. If I felt to retaliate or to do as other dissenters have done, I might publish much, and do it in truth, about the wickedness of that people, and it might add to the already exasperated state of feeling now existing against them; but, sir, that is not my purpose. I feel, and always have, to leave them in the hands of God, and to mind my own business; and I assure you I find enough to do to attend strictly to my own duty; therefore, write and exhort your brethren “to go and do likewise.” Very respectfully, Your friend and well-wisher, G. M. Hinkle. (G. M. Hinkle to W. W. Phelps, August 14, 1844, from Messenger and Advocate, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, August 1, 1845, quoted in Journal of History, Volumes 12-13, 448-453).

Stephen LeSueur writes that “There is much evidence to support their [Hinkle & the other representatives] case. The representatives present consistent descriptions of their activities and discussions, while the accusations made by the hostages are inconsistent and contradictory.”

Smith wrote that Corrill and the others were “so very ignorant that they cannot appear respectable in any decent and civilized society, and whose eyes are full of adultery, and cannot cease from sin.”  Yet, Corrill’s actions during the War and after attest to the fact that he acted in the best interests of his Mormon friends, even though he disagreed with Smith’s teachings and illegal actions. Kenneth W. Hinn writes for Differing Visions:

If Corrill, however, had abandoned his belief in Mormonism, he did not abandon the Mormon people. Although he could have easily left church members to their fate, Corrill not only spoke on their behalf to the authorities but also gave his money to the church’s poor—all he had. By selling his property he was able to distribute about $2,100 to nearly 160 needy families. Corrill typically gave each recipient about $3 dollars, although there was a wide difference in contributions based on need. For instance, he gave 18 cents to Sherman Brown but $44.60 to Titus Billings. Although some of the money ended up in the hands of old friends like Edward Partridge ($15.04), the jailed Alexander McRae, a fanatical Danite of whom Corrill disapproved, received $2.88, which Corrill undoubtedly gave to McRae’s wife. Two of Joseph Smith’s brothers benefited from Corrill’s largesse as well: Samuel ($9.62) and William (75 cents).

On December 19, 1838, Corrill proved his fidelity to the Saints again, when one month after he assumed his seat in state legislature as Caldwell County’s representative, he introduced two memorials on behalf of the Mormons. The first was from church members in Daviess County, who prayed for release from the “treaty” signed at Far West compelling them to leave the state. The second memorial from the church detailed the mistreatment of the Saints from arrival in Jackson County to the Mormon War and asked that all property taken from them during this period be restored and, as in the first petition, requested that their forced emigration be halted.

In presenting these petitions Corrill began a bit diffidently, yet as reported by the Missouri Republican, he said that the Mormon “people, despised and persecuted as they were, were still his constituents, & he was therefore bound to speak on a subject in which they were so deeply interested.” In his Brief History of the Church, Corrill rather laconically noted that his presentation of the Saints’ petitions “produced some excitement in the House.” The petitions, in fact, caused an uproar, as one representative after another from the western part of the state rose to vilify the Mormons as the most base and degraded wretches ever to blight their portion of the state. Declaring themselves unwilling to hear such disgraceful slander, they claimed their constituents to be the finest people on earth and perfectly incapable of committing the atrocities of which the Mormons accused them. By focusing on the improbable parts of the church’s charges (the rape of Mormon women by militiamen, for example) they managed to dodge the church’s more substantial charges and ignored the question of the forcible expulsion of innocent men, women, and children from the state. By the time they had finished their attack, Corrill had fallen into complete retreat and volunteered to withdraw the memorials, only to see them tabled instead. (Launius and Thatcher, Editors, Differing Visions, p.67-68, emphasis mine).

Corrill gave more to the Mormons than the whole State of Missouri allocated for their suffering! As we shall see below, Winn is not the only historian who concludes that the rape charges made by the Mormons are largely improbable. Corrill himself would later write,

I have left you, not because I disbelieve the Bible, for I believe in God, the Savior, and religion same as ever; but when I retrace our track, and view the doings of the church for six years past, I can see nothing that convinces me that God has been our leader;  calculation after calculation has failed, and plan after plan has been overthrown, and our prophet seemed not to know the event until too late…and still we were commanded in the most rigid manner, to follow him, which the church did, until many were led into the commission of crime; have been apprehended and broken down by their opponents, and many have been obliged to abandon their country, their families, and all they possessed, and great affliction has been brought upon the whole church…But where now may you look for deliverance? You may say, in God; but I say, in the exercise of common sense and that sound reason with which God has endowed you; and my advice is to follow that, in preference to those pretended revelations which have served no better purpose than to increase your trouble, and which would bind you, soul and body, under the most intolerable yoke. (Corrill, A Brief History, 48).

According to Kenneth Winn:

John Corrill died in early 1843, [at the age of 48] his reputation and finances in tatters. He owned no real property, and his personal effects were valued at $265.86, including, as was the custom of the time, the clothes of his wife and children. His book had met with an indifferent reception. The three hundred copies he had left at the time of his death were valued at $4. His integrity and basic decency were overshadowed by charges that he had betrayed the prophet and the church. (Differing Visions, 70).

[153] Radke-Moss, BYU-I Scroll, March 21, 2016. Online here, Accessed April 5, 2016.

[154] Stephen LeSueur, The 1838 Mormon War in Missouri, University of Missouri Press, Columbia, Missouri, 1987, 181.

[155] ibid., Note 8.

[156] Gentry & Compton, Fire and Sword, 370.

[157] ibid., 382.

[158] History of the Church, Vol. 3, p.202.

[159] ibid., Vol. 3, p.434.

[160] ibid., Vol. 5, p.494.

[161] ibid., Vol. 6, p.91.

[162] ibid. , Vol. 6, p.102.

[163] ibid., Vol. 6, p.128.

[164] ibid., Vol. 3, p.428, 431.

[165] Radke-Moss, op. cited above.

[166] Anonymous, The Ensign, July, 2006, Online here, Accessed April 5, 2016.

[167] Radke-Moss, op. cited above.

[168] Juvenile Instructor, op. cited above, Comment by Nance Kohlert — March 8, 2016 @ 5:54 pm

[169] Messenger and Advocate,

[170] ibid.

[171] ibid.

[172] The Life Story of Mosiah Lyman Hancock, 12.

[173] ibid. Ellipses in the original.

[174] Mormonism Unveiled, 84. Online here, Accessed April 5, 2016.

[175] Journal of John Murdock, 20. Online here, Accessed April 5, 2016.

[176] Biography of Marvin Tanner, 5-6. Online here, Accessed April 5, 2016.

[177] The Life of Joseph Holbrook, 45-46. Online here, Accessed April 5, 2016.

[178] The Western Emigrant, Febuary 7, 1839. Online here, Accessed April 5, 2016.

[179] See Part VIII, below.

[180] Affidavit of Ruth Naper, January 3, 1840. As mentioned in Note #53 there are accounts where the Militia would not enter a house to warm by the fire if they did not have permission. Still, Ruth Naper comes across as a credible witness and her account shows that it was not above some of the Missourians to try and take advantage of Mormon women.

[181] Elijah Reed, “Bill of Damages” May 6, 1839.  The document reads:

A bill of Damages sustained by Elijah Reed against the State of Missouri in Consequence of the unlawful Conduct of the Inhabitants thereof & the Unconstitutional Decrees of the Governor

Damage on land                                $200.00
Do. Do. on Cows                                  40.00
Do. Do. on young Stock                       12.00
Do. Do. on Mares & Colts                     70.00
Do. Do. on Hogs                                   20.00
Do. Do. on Geese & fowls                      7.00
Do. Do. on Sundry articles                    20.00
Do. Do. Expence for journey                 50.00
Do. Do. being thrown out of business & the inconveniences & Exposure to the weather in removeing                           500.00

[Total]                                                  $919.00

I leave with your Honerable to Say [what] it shall be

For my Life being Sought & in Danger & the Loss of my health in being Exposed to Cold & wet The Circumstances are as follows

the mob Came to my house in Ray County Seeking for me in the time of Excitement & I was Obliged to flee from my house without having time to take Clothing or Provision with me & I was Obliged to lay in the fields & woods being thinly Clothed & having been Sick with the Chill Fever & my family also for Several Days & th[e]y left without any one to help or take Care of them & the Mob went to my House Several times Swearing they would Kill me if they Could find me of which my Family Informed they Finally got track of me & Pursued me & about two & ahalf miles from home  a Large number of them Surrounded me in the night in a Hazle thicket of about Five acres but I made my Escape From them & was Obliged to lay within half a mile of them until the next night being Forty hours without Food or Drink & Exposed to the Cold which Caused me to take Cold which Settled on my lungs & I have not been able to labor but little Since &  the mob Set Fire to the Place where they Supposed me to be.

In about two weeks From the time I left I returned home again & one of the Mob James Snowden Sen by name told me they would have Killed me if they Could have Found me. this Company was Led by David Snowden James Snowden Jacob Snowden Joseph Ewing. Esqr. Mr. Shaw Thomas Taylor & others of Ray County who had Previously threatened to Burn our houses over our heads & Drive us out of the Cou[nty] after I returned home those men & others held a meeting & Resolved to Drive me & two others out of the Country forthwith but Mr. L. B. Fleak a Neighbor of mine Kindly Interceded For me & my Fam[ily] who were all sick with the Chills & Fever they were therefore Prevailed upon to let me us Stay untill we were able to remove but Said we must then Go or Suffer the Consequence
Elijah Reed
I Certify the within to Be True according to the Best of my Knowledg
Elijah Reed
[Sworn to before C. M. Woods, C.C.C., Adams Co., IL, 6 May 1839.]

[182] Affidavit of Elijah Reed, January 10, 1840. Reed’s second petition reads:

Quincy Illinois January 10th 1840

This is to Certify that I went from the state of Ohio into the state of Missouri in Nov. 1836 & Stopped in Randolph County until May Following & removed from thence to Ray County & in Oct or Nov 1837 I Entered two Forties of land in Said County at the Lexington office & in the Sumer of 1838 I hired 17 acres of the same Broken up at 3 Dollars Per acre & got out a Set of house logs & some other Improvements intending to Spend my Days there But in October of the Said year During the Excitement or Mormon war as it is Called I was Called uppon By Anderson Martin & Several others of Richmond Ray County & Said if I would give them my gun & Deny my Faith or religion that I should have Protection & if not I Could not be Protected those terms I refused to Comply with I told them my Right of Concience I would Enjoy while I lived & Considerable Conversation Passed & the Same was Proposed again by Mr. Henly & I made the Same reply he then Said by God you Shall not be Protected & left me in about an hour after there was a Company of men Sent to take me But I kept out of their way & from that time until after the Surrender of the Brethren in Far West the Mob hunted me Constantly the account I have Partially given in my bill of Damages

During which time I was Closely Pursued I was at a Br Jimmisons house in a by Place on the 29th of Oct & in the night of of the that day a Company of men Came to the House & Demanded admittence & threatened to Breake Down the Door Mr J got up and opened the Door meantime I hid under the Bed the men Came in and said they were Soldiers & he must go with them his wife asked where they said to the Malitia Camp above Richmond he Dressed himself & he & one of the men went for a horse at the Stable when they had got a little from the house the man Fired a gun & said the D——d rascal had ran from him he then returned to the house & they began to abus[e] Mrs. Jimm[iso]n wanting to sleep with her But she begged & cried For them to Desist & they Did so I lay under the Bed During this time they soon left the house & we supposed they had killed him I lay in the Field the remainder of the night the next Day I went to Caldwell we then learned of the Battle at Hawns Mill the Day Previous & From thence we went to Far West on the third of Nov. I was then taken Sick & was Confined to the house & Consequently Did not hear what General Clark had to Say I then went home in Ray Co a bout 35 miles in a Few Days I had notice by Mr David Snowden who said he was Captain of the men on the Bottom by the authority of the General who had the Command of the men sent to Caldwell & he told me I must leave by Sunday this was on tuesday I accordingly Disposed of my Property as Fast as I could For what I Could get But my one of my Neighbours Iterceded & I got to Stay till my Family was able to Move as they were all Sick with the Chills & Fever & had Been During my absence of 10 Days he Said we had all got to leave the State or Deny our religion law or no law. I accordingly removed to this place in March the Duplicates of my land I have lost or misplaced So that I cannot Find them

Elijah Reed

[Sworn to before C. M. Woods, C.C.C., Adams Co., IL, 9 Jan 1840.]

[183] Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 5, p.310.

[184] The Petition by Charles Jameson reads:

JAMESON, Charles

State of Illinois Madison County

This day personally came before the undersigned, a Justice of the Peace, in and for said County of Madison, Charles Jameson, who after being sworn upon his oath says that he did sustain certain damages by the inhabitants of Caldwell County in the state of Missouri during the years of 1835, 1836, 1837, and 1838, and in the fore part of the year 1839.

To wit: damages on sale of land and other property and moving: nine hundred and fifty dollars. Damages sustained by being wounded by them [He was shot four times: one to his scalp, exposing his brain; one to his shoulder; two to his stomach. He carried three of the lead bullets (or balls) to his grave.], and one rifle gun taken at the time of being wounded: two hundred and fifty dollars, making in all $1,200.00.

Subscribed and Sworn to before me this twentieth day of January A.D. 1840 J. C. Young J.P.
Charles Jameson
[Sworn to before J. C. Young, J.P., Madison Co., IL, 20 Jun 1840.]

[185]  (Alexander L. Baugh, “Joseph Young’s Affidavit of the Massacre at Haun’s Mill”, BYU Studies 38, No. 1, 191-92).

[186] Fire & Sword, 457.

[187]  Richards, pg. 9

[188]  Radke-Moss, Facebook Conversation, March 7, 2016. I felt that it was necessary to quote Radke-Moss here, because these are important comments that need to be addressed.

[189] ibid.

[190]  Facebook Conversation, March 7, 2016.

[191] Russell Stevenson, Facebook Conversation, March 8, 2016.

[192] Facebook Conversation, March 7, 2016.

[193] Russell Stevenson, op. cited above.

[194] ibid.

[195] ibid.

[196] ibid.

[197] ibid.

[198] ibid.

[199] ibid.

[200] ibid.

[201] ibid.

[202] Sharon Block, Rape and Sexual Power in Early America, Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, Virginia, 2006, Kindle Edition, Locations 708-716.

[203] ibid., Locations 717-725.

[204] ibid., Kindle Locations 743-748, 758-772.

[205] Rape in the American Civil War: Race, Class, and Gender in the Case of Harriet McKinley and Perry Pierson, by Maureen Stutzman, Women’s Studies Journal, Spring 2009, Online here, Accessed April 20, 2016.

[206] Lowry, Thomas P., Sexual Misbehavior in the Civil War: A Compendium, Xlibris, 2011, Kindle Edition, Kindle Locations 4233-4253.

[207] ibid., Kindle Locations 3911-4002.

[208] ibid., Kindle Locations 3293-3300.

[209] ibid., Kindle Locations 3425-3430.

[210] ibid., Kindle Locations 3069-3091.

[211] Facebook Conversation, March 7-8, 2016, op. cited above.

[212] ibid.

[213] ibid.

[214] Sharon Block, op. cited above, Kindle Locations 2547-2553.

[215] Diane Miller Sommerville, Rape and Race in the Nineteenth Century South, 117-118.

[216] ibid.

[217] Sharon Block, op. cited above, Kindle Locations 2561-2566.

Phoenix Tso reported in 2014 that,

In 2006, Helen’s* boyfriend raped her in one of BYU’s dorms. Unsure of where to turn, Helen went to her bishop, who gave her The Miracle of Forgiveness by church prophet Spencer W. Kimball. Published in 1969, Kimball’s influential book contains an exhaustive list of sins that Mormons need to repent for, including a section on “Restitution for Loss of Chastity.” When Helen got to this section, this passage jumped out at her:

Even in a forced contact such as rape or incest, the injured one is greatly outraged. If she has not cooperated or contributed to the foul deed, she is of course in a more favorable position. There is no condemnation where there is no voluntary participation. It is better to die in defending one’s virtue than to live having lost it without a struggle.

Helen says The Miracle of Forgiveness text made her feel “horrible, like I had failed and was now dirty and broken because I didn’t fight to the death.”

But Helen’s bishop didn’t stop with The Miracle of Forgiveness. His action plan included required weekly meetings with him, withholding the sacrament from her, forbidding her from holding a calling, and barring praying in church meetings or activities until he felt like she had repented. After nine months of this, Helen’s bishop was finally satisfied.

*Name has been changed.

[218] Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle Of Forgiveness, 63.

[219] The relevant portion of the honor code:

Conduct

All students are required to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the Honor Code. In addition, students may not influence or seek to influence others to engage in behavior inconsistent with the Honor Code.

Students must abstain from the use of alcohol, tobacco, and illegal substances and from the intentional misuse or abuse of any substance. Sexual misconduct; obscene or indecent conduct or expressions; disorderly or disruptive conduct; participation in gambling activities; involvement with pornographic, erotic, indecent, or offensive material; and any other conduct or action inconsistent with the principles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Honor Code is not permitted.

Violations of the Honor Code may result in actions up to and including separation from the university.

Homosexual Behavior

Brigham Young University will respond to homosexual behavior rather than to feelings or attraction and welcomes as full members of the university community all whose behavior meets university standards. Members of the university community can remain in good Honor Code standing if they conduct their lives in a manner consistent with gospel principles and the Honor Code.

One’s stated same-gender attraction is not an Honor Code issue. However, the Honor Code requires all members of the university community to manifest a strict commitment to the law of chastity. Homosexual behavior is inappropriate and violates the Honor Code. Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings.

Dress and Grooming Standards

The dress and grooming of both men and women should always be modest, neat, and clean, consistent with the dignity adherent to representing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and any of its institutions of higher education.

Modesty and cleanliness are important values that reflect personal dignity and integrity, through which students, staff, and faculty represent the principles and standards of the Church. Members of the BYU community commit themselves to observe the following standards, which reflect the direction of the Board of Trustees and the Church publication For the Strength of Youth. The Dress and Grooming Standards are as follows:

Men

A clean and well-cared-for appearance should be maintained. Clothing is inappropriate when it is sleeveless, revealing, or form fitting. Shorts must be knee-length or longer. Hairstyles should be clean and neat, avoiding extreme styles or colors, and trimmed above the collar, leaving the ear uncovered. Sideburns should not extend below the earlobe or onto the cheek. If worn, moustaches should be neatly trimmed and may not extend beyond or below the corners of the mouth. Men are expected to be clean-shaven; beards are not acceptable. Earrings and other body piercing are not acceptable. Shoes should be worn in all public campus areas.

Women

A clean and well-cared-for appearance should be maintained. Clothing is inappropriate when it is sleeveless, strapless, backless, or revealing; has slits above the knee; or is form fitting. Dresses, skirts, and shorts must be knee-length or longer. Hairstyles should be clean and neat, avoiding extremes in styles or colors. Excessive ear piercing (more than one per ear) and all other body piercing are not acceptable. Shoes should be worn in all public campus areas.

Residential Living Standards

As stated in the Honor Code, Brigham Young University is committed to providing a learning atmosphere consistent with the principles of the Church. The university is likewise committed to creating such an atmosphere for students residing on and off campus and between semesters. To achieve this, BYU has established living standards to help students learn some of the high ideals and principles of behavior expected at Brigham Young University. Therefore, the university requires students to adhere to the following applicable standards:

Housing

All single BYU undergraduate students who are not residing with their parents must live in university on-campus or university-contracted, sex-segregated housing unless specifically excused in writing by the Off-Campus Housing Office.

Visiting Hours

Helaman Halls

Visitors of the opposite sex are permitted in the lobbies but not in the bedroom area, except during an established open house, at which times room doors must remain open. Lobby visiting hours begin after 8:00 a.m. and extend until 12:00 midnight, Saturday through Thursday. On Friday night, lobby visiting hours extend until 1:30 a.m.

Heritage Halls

Visitors of the opposite sex are permitted in the lobbies and apartment kitchens but not in bedrooms or bathrooms. Lobby visiting hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight daily, Saturday through Thursday, and extend until 1:30 a.m. on Fridays. Apartment visiting hours are from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and extend until 12:00 midnight on Friday and Saturday.

Off-Campus Visiting Hours, Wyview Park, and Foreign Language Student Residence

Visitors of the opposite sex are permitted in living rooms and kitchens but not in the bedrooms in off-campus living units, Wyview Park, and the Foreign Language Student Residence. The use of the bathroom areas by members of the opposite sex is not appropriate unless emergency or civility dictates otherwise, and then only if the safety, privacy, and sensitivity of other residents are not jeopardized. Visiting hours may begin after 9:00 a.m. and extend until 12:00 midnight. Friday night visiting hours may extend until 1:30 a.m. Landlords may establish a shorter visiting period if proper notice is given to students.

Guests

All guests of students must comply with the Residential Living Standards while on the premises of university-contracted housing. Students are expected to help their guests and other residents understand and fulfill their responsibility under the Residential Living Standards and the Honor Code. Approval forms must be submitted for all guest requests, and are available from hall advisors and area offices. Approved guests may stay a maximum of three nights.

Maintaining the Standards

Violations of these standards may be reported to the Honor Code Office, 4440 WSC, (801) 422-2847, or the Off-Campus Housing Office, (801) 422-1513. (Online here, accessed April 25, 2016).

[220] “BYU student says honor code creates fear, shame in victiims of rape”, by Christina FLores, Tuesday, April 12, 2016, KUTV.com, Salt Lake City, Utah.

[221] “BYU Has a Rape Problem”, Joshua Dunn, April 8, 2016, Medium.com.

[222] “BYU professor works to help victims of rape through in-depth research and training”, by John McBride, April 6, 2016, BYU News, Provo, Utah.

[223] “Justice Denied: Low Sexual Assault Kit Submission Rates in Utah and Their Predicting Variables”, Julie Valentine PhD, RN, CNE, SANE-A, Assistant Professor, Brigham Young University, April 7, 2016, PDF, Online here, Accessed April 25, 2016.

[224] “Police, BYU investigating gang rape allegation”, USA Today, August 19, 2004, Provo Utah.

[225]  “Prosecutor says rape case is threatened by BYU Honor Code investigation”, by Jessica Miller and Erin Alberty, The Salt Lake Tribune, updated April 25, 2016.

[226] “BYU students challenge honor code involvement with sexual assault reporting” by Ladd Egan, April 13, 2016, KSL.com, Provo, Utah.

[227] “Rape Hill: Mormonism, Bureaucracy, and Sexual Assault”, by Issac Black, Medium.com, April 15, 2016.

[228] “For College-Age Mormons, Sexual Violence Is A Religious Problem“ by Phoenix Tso, Pacific Standard, July 2, 2014.

[229] “BYU: School looking at ‘changes’ after Honor Code criticized for investigating sexual assaults” by Annie Knox, The Salt Lake Tribune, Updated April 20, 2016.

[230] “80 protesters rally at BYU to ask for honor code amnesty for sexual assault victims”, by Tad Walch, Deseret News, Updated April 21, 2016.

[231]  Op-ed: Rape culture is pervasive, ingrained and extends well beyond BYU, by Stephanie Lauritzen, The Salt Lake Tribune, Updated, April 24, 2016.

Go to the Top

DoubleThink: The Mopologist Paradigm

1984 Christensen LDSINC MORG

Contents

I. Introduction: That Big Brother Mentality
II. First Vision Vagaries
III. Paradigm Precedent?
IV. Back to Legitimacy
V. The Matthew Brown Comparison
VI. The Presbyterian Problem
VII. Apologist Blather
VIII. The Authentic Documents
IX. The William Smith Problem
X. More Apologetic Vagaries
XI. More Blathering
XII. The David Whitmer Problem
XIII. Book of Mormon Vagaries
XIV: Conclusion

“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.” …To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just as long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies – all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.― George Orwell, 1984

I. Introduction: That Big Brother Mentality

Mopology (or DoubleThink) is a fine art to those who practice it. Unlike the laissez-faire attitude of those who would never contemplate embracing it, those who clasp DoubleThink to their bosoms as a modus operandi do so with the best of intentions, because they simply cannot help themselves. Perhaps it is the ingrained Corporate mentality. Then again, it may be attributed to the feelings of brotherhood that arise through their apologia and Corporate Membership. They claim, then disclaim, then disclaim some more. They affirm authority, then deny it in subtle ways. They defend policy, then question it as they follow the whims of Corporate Leadership. They obfuscate, then explicate, full of certitudes but at the same time advocating uncertainty. They accuse others of what they practice as they exculpate themselves from all responsibility. They believe the lie, as all lies lead to “the truth”, which is itself a lie. This is Mopology, a vibrant part of the Mormon community: the defenders of the Corporate Priesthood.

The saga continues…

Earlier this year I posted two articles that deal with Kevin Christensen’s attacks on Jeremy Runnells and his CES letter. You may find them here, and here. Christensen has answered my first article with his typical distorted logic in a 50 page response published in The Apologetic Mormon Interpreter.

Christensen starts out with pointing out one of my mistakes, (my inadvertent miscount of his use of the word “brittle” in his essay).

But then Christensen astoundingly  tries to deflect this by claiming  that “in context [the word is] not always directed at Runnells in particular.” Really? The whole Essay is directed at Jeremy Runnells in particular. Here are the instances where Christensen employs the use of the word “brittle” and “brittleness”:

RUNNELLS presents his information as though making an equation:

RUNNELLS (or anyone) + Questions + Facts = Inevitable Final Negative Conclusion

Comparison with the different conclusions provided by people like Jeff Lindsay, Mike Ash, hundreds of volunteers at FairMormon, Interpreter, FARMS and the current Maxwell Institute, and for that matter, yours truly, well acquainted with the same issues should make it obvious that something other than simple addition of facts is involved.

Investigator [+ |-] Preconceptions/(Adaptive or BRITTLE interpretive framework) x (Questions generated + Available facts/Selectivity + Contextualization + Subjective weighting for significance/Breadth of relevant knowledge) * Time = Tentative Conclusion

Of course, as Jeremy does not follow Christensen’s formula, he is using (or stuck in) the “brittle” framework. He therefore has to reach a negative conclusion. And then this:

So why does my faith [Christensen’s] expand, when RUNNELLS’S faith shatters? BRITTLE things are far more prone to shattering than flexible things.

Yes, Christensen is “Mr. Fantastic,” so, so flexible. And then this:

RUNNELLS misrepresents both the hypotheses and the observations made in theMr. Fantastic essay, overlooking a clear description of real possibilities in favor of an inaccurate and BRITTLE declaration of unacceptable and unreasonable identity. He filters the flexibility and the reason out of the essay when making his own summary. The same mental inflexibility colors every phrase in the paragraph, every page of the letter, and, consequently, RUNNELLS tends to misrepresent every apologetic argument and supporting observation that he complains about. The end result is obvious BRITTLENESS.

^^^^COMPARE Alma 32:18, and Alma’s contrast between people who want to “know” with absolute finality, and those who settle for open-ended “cause to believe.” Closed BRITTLE thinking, contrasted with open-ended, tentative thinking. In describing how faith works, Alma describes how the planting and nurturing of a seed initiates a process in which change in the original seed is a sign of success  Swelling, sprouting, till, “your understanding doth begin to be enlightened, and your mind doth begin to expand.” RUNNELLS appears to want an experience in which he plants a seed, comes back to wash off the mud and dirt to find that it remains the same as it ever was. No swelling, no unexpected sprouts, roots, leaves, branches, growth, and certainly no unexpected fruit. To him, nothing that looks or acts differently than the original seed can be good. Expansion, change, growth can only shatter him, like gentle grass bursting through asphalt.

Notice that Jeremy’s name comes up in every instance.  He is compared to the Book of Mormon people’s “closed brittle thinking”. He contrasts Jeremy with a “brittle interpretive framework”. He claims that Runnells is a “brittle thing”. That Jeremy favors “an inaccurate and brittle declaration”, etc. And of course he always reaches that “inevitable final negative conclusion.”

So how are these instances not directed at Jeremy Runnells?  What is far more important though is how disingenuous Christensen is; not my mistaken wordcount.  The rest of Christensen’s rant about Jeremy is the same tired old apologist line that their way, the “offer of more durable and appropriate new wine bottles” is better than anyone else’s, interspersed with his ramblin’ prose. (“Why you ramble, no one knows”). All of this manna from heaven is “provided by people like Jeff Lindsay, Mike Ash, hundreds of volunteers at FairMormon, Interpreter, FARMS and the current Maxwell Institute, and for that matter…” Kevin Christensen.

wine-serverHe claims that Jeremy wants to put new wine in old bottles; but Christensen wants to put bad wine in his shiny new apologist  bottles. This is just more hot air and ramblin’ prose by another Mormon Apologist.

Christensen then claims that I’m not being fair because I called FAIRMORMON unfair.  Here is how he puts it:

Stephenson complains again of my reference to Lindsay’s twenty-plus years of substance and original research, complaining that “For this to be a really accurate comparison, he needs to give Jeremy another 18 or so years to catch up. But since when has FairMormon and its apologists ever been fair?”

Lovely rhetorical question, don’t you think? Blanket insinuation and condemnation about FairMormon without any need to consider specific individuals or address specific arguments. Is the issue acquiring more truth (that is, gaining better knowledge of things as they are, were, and are to come) or fairness? Should we never have to deal with people who know more and have more experience in some area than we do? Should we outlaw parents or teachers or scholars or doctors or plumbers, for example, on the grounds that their experience, effort, training and tools provide an unfair competitive advantage over their children, pupils, readers, patients, or customers?

More lovely red herrings, don’t you think?  Of course their name is FAIRMORMON. It is obvious why they crafted that specific anagram for their name. And notice how Christensen favors his friend Lindsay,

Stephenson claims that I favor Lindsay’s approach because of the conclusions he reached. In truth, I favor Lindsay’s approach and example because I see his arguments and evidence as superior. I explicitly cite and mention Lindsay’s “LDS FAQ (for Frequently Asked Questions) which deals with all of the issues that Runnells raised and more. But Lindsay does so both at greater length, over a much broader span of time, consulting a wider range of sources, providing far more documentation, and including far more original research than Runnells.”

Of course Lindsay’s arguments are greater in length and over a much broader span of time! Lindsay has been at it for 18 years! Talk about totally missing my point. And then he misunderstands my comments:

Of my summary of what Lindsay has accomplished since 1994 as compared to what Runnells offered after one year (two at this writing), Stephenson says, “Yes, one would think that someone who has been a Mormon apologist since 1994 and has had a website for that long would have more documentation and research. This is common sense. Yet it doesn’t stop Christensen from using this against Jeremy.” Heaven forbid that anyone would ever use common sense and superior documentation against any arguments that Runnells offers!

Notice the condescension in “superior documentation in any arguments that Runnells offers.” Christensen is so dense here that he misconstrues my use of the phrase “common sense”. I was applying it to the fact that Lindsay’s arguments were longer and had more substance because he had almost TWO DECADES to produce and refine them. Notice he turns my words “more documentation” into “superior documentation”. Such wishful thinking. Perhaps DoubleThink has addled his brain?

Christensen then blunderingly applies that misrepresentation to the logic of Lindsay’s arguments which I did not ascribe the phrase to. (I ascribed it to the number of them, refined over time with more documentation).  Notice how Christensen deftly does not address the amount of time that Lindsay has had to prepare his apologetic arguments compared to Jeremy.  But is it good documentation and research? Not from what I have seen. And since Christensen’s arguments are cut from the same cloth as Lindsay’s; we will see how that turns out when I address his supposed evidentiary claims below.

FAIR WEBSITE 2004FAIRMORMON had described themselves this way:

FAIRMORMON is a non-profit corporation that is dedicated to helping people deal with issues related to anti-Mormonism

And I did address specific arguments. I’ve done it numerous times on this blog. Why didn’t Christensen notice this? Christensen claims that what they do is give “more truth”, but FAIRMORMON claims that:

…the members of FairMormon are all committed to defending the Church and helping people to maintain their testimonies.

Their default position is “faithful” history. They admit it.  As with the Reflector Article that Christensen whines about, (addressed at length below) we see that FAIRMORMON doesn’t give “more truth” but less. They quote only the parts that seemingly support their own interpretations that promote “defending the Church” and “maintaining testimonies”.

Christensen also turns my comment into something it is not. He Erroneously claims that I must be advocating outlawing parents, teachers, scholars, doctors, plumbers, ad nauseum, on the grounds that they would “provide an unfair competitive advantage”. Frankly, I don’t know on what basis he gets this rant from, (other than to produce a slur) but I implied nothing of the kind. Christensen is just throwing down more red herrings with these kinds of wacky comments.

I only commented (rather tongue in cheek) that what FAIRMORMON publishes is not FAIR, because they only want to publish “faith promoting” material and manipulate the evidence to get that outcome. I have lots of examples right here on my blog.   Here is one example, called…  “Playing Fair”.

Perhaps they should then change their name to TRUTHMORMON. (As if that would help). I also find it kind of ironic that Christensen acts so vexed about this. After all, he is the one who claimed that point of view determines what the truth really is. He has the truth because he has the Mormon Apologist point of view (as does FAIRMORMON). Simply change your point of view and everything is all right. Facts will magically disappear because you won’t be able to really see them anymore. In other words, DoubleThink it. For example, in his original Essay Christensen claims that,

Runnells claims that “many verses still in the Book of Mormon … hold a Trinitarian view of the Godhead.” Please keep in mind that for Runnells’s complaints to make sense, we have to assume that he is talking about a conventional creedal metaphysical Trinity which postdates the New Testament. But it helps to remember that a social Trinity is still a Trinity, since the word merely means three. The issue is whether a close contextual reading of the Book of Mormon leads to a metaphysical Trinity, or to a social Trinity. I have found that contextualizing is a much better approach than reading passages of ancient scripture in isolation, and interpreting them against what usually turns out to be anachronistic assumptions.

All well and good, except the God that Joseph Smith was teaching to his followers (found in the Book of Mormon, the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible and Church publications) was referred to in an early article by W. W. Phelps. He wrote,

“Through Christ we understand the terms on which God will show favour and grace to the world, and by him we have ground of a PARRESIA access with freedom and boldness unto God. On his account we may hope not only for grace to subdue our sins, resist temptations, conquer the devil and the world; but having ’fought this good fight, and finished our course by patient continuance in well doing, we may justly look for glory, honor, and immortality,’ and that ‘crown of righteousness which is laid up for those who wait in faith,’ holiness, and humility, for the appearance of Christ from heaven. Now what things can there be of greater moment and importance for men to know, or God to reveal, than the nature of God and ourselves the state and condition of our souls, the only way to avoid eternal misery and enjoy everlasting bliss!

“The Scriptures discover not only matters of importance, but of the greatest depth and mysteriousness. There are many wonderful things in the law of God, things we may admire, but are never able to comprehend. Such are the eternal purposes and decrees of God, the doctrine of the Trinity, the incarnation of the Son of God, and the manner of the operation of the Spirit of God upon the souls of men, which are all things of great weight and moment for us to understand and believe that they are, and yet may be unsearchable to our reason, as to the particular manner of them.” (The Evening And Morning Star, Vol. I, Independence, Mo. July, 1832. No. 2, 12).

What Phelps was speaking of here, was a widely held belief at the time of the nature of God. (One God, three personages, one substance) This, Phelps claims, was incomprehensible, but was a “wonderful thing.” This was not some “social trinity”, but an incomprehensible “metaphysical” Trinity. Joseph Smith much later in his career disparaged the Trinity Doctrine thusly:

Many men say there is one God; the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are only one God. I say that is a strange God anyhow — three in one, and one in three! It is a curious organization… All are to be crammed into one God, according to sectarianism. It would make the biggest God in all the world. He would be a wonderfully big God — he would be a giant or a monster. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 372)

Jeremy did not make an anachronistic assumption, but based his observations on contemporary evidence. Christensen’s “point of view” doesn’t change what they were referring to in 1832, (found in the Book of Mormon and Church publications) which was definitely not a “social trinity”. (See also The Lectures on Faith, Lecture V). And yes, Joseph authorized Phelps to set forth doctrine in Church publications:

…we wish you to render the [Evening and Morning] Star as interesting as possable by setting forth the rise progress and faith of the church, as well as the doctrine for if you do not render it more interesting than at present it will fall, and the church suffer a great Loss thereby (Joseph Smith, letter to W. W. Phelps, January 11, 1833).

Christensen, in his typical narcissistic fashion, claims that because he and his cohorts (Jeff Lindsay, Mike Ash, Neal Rappleye, Daniel Peterson, and many others, including himself) still have faith in Mormonism, that somehow those who do not, (like Jeremy Runnells) are brittle. They didn’t water the seed. It’s not a hard concept to understand. But that doesn’t stop Christensen from whining about it.seed-sower-jeremy-sams

Christensen laments that I “nowhere report” that the parable of the sower is foundational to his approach. But it isn’t hard for anyone to miss since that is in the title of his article! So, Christensen and Runnells plant the same seed and get different harvests. That was the whole point wasn’t it? He claims that somehow because he and his fellow apologists still have faith in Joseph Smith and discount/dismiss all the critical evidence about him that somehow (someway) this means that his/their methods are superior. Yeah, I get it.

But if that is so, then why is there still a large group of people following Warren Jeffs? Why did the followers of David Koresh choose to burn with him? Many of those had the evidence right in front of them too, didn’t they?

I’ve never claimed that Christensen and his cohorts don’t study the evidence or are familiar with it. They do and are. What I do claim is that they present evidence in disingenuous ways (withholding information, partial and out of context quoting, etc.), which they substitute for actual evidence to suit their own agenda: to stay faithful. (Embracing DoubleThink) We will once again see how Christensen blatantly does this below with David Whitmer and the claimed 1820 vision accounts.

Christensen then puts words into my mouth claiming that my “portrait” of LDS Apologists is that they are “money-seeking spin doctors.” Though I have claimed that they are spin doctors (that much is obvious), I’ve never claimed they were “money-seeking”.  (Is there some psychological issue embedded in his subconscious?) And he complains about my rhetoric! And what does Lindsay’s job have to do with this?  He works at a Paper Company in Shanghai. According to him, his areas of expertise are,

Open innovation, intellectual property strategy, new business development, biomaterials, bioproducts, external business development, alliances and licensing, innovation systems, technology scouting, private brand development, value network analysis, university-industry relationships, public speaking, amateur magic, and photography. Technical experience includes cellulose chemistry (a subject of several of my chemical patents), consumer products manufacturing, fluid flow in fibrous media, recycling and deinking, multiphase flow and heat transfer, predictive test methods and test method development, fiber-water interactions in paper and cellulosic materials, etc. I am also a registered patent agent before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and have a strong interest in patents and patent law.

Wonderful achievements, to be sure. He’s certainly a smart guy. Does this make him less susceptible to spinning the evidence in favor of his faith claims? I don’t see him listed as any kind of Mormon “Authority”.  Why would Lindsay’s résumé be troubling for me?  I’m not criticizing his work on Paper Products or cellulose chemistry. (That would be a rather foolish endeavor, to be sure). But leave it to Christensen to claim that this somehow has relevance. How about the actual issues of Mormonism that Jeremy cites? Let’s see if their arguments stand up in that area.

Christensen writes,

Nowhere have I argued that because I had a spiritual experience when I was 19, Runnells must be wrong, so I don’t have to reply to his arguments.

I didn’t claim that he did. I claimed that his paradigm was misapplied because he claimed to know and this disqualifies him from his own equation. (tentative conclusion) Remember Christensen’s equation:

Investigator [+ |-] Preconceptions/(Adaptive or brittle interpretive framework) x (Questions generated + Available facts/Selectivity + Contextualization + Subjective weighting for significance/Breadth of relevant knowledge) * Time = TENTATIVE CONCLUSION.

But Christensen claimed a sure knowledge that Moroni was real. Is this a panacea against future problems? No. (As Christensen notes). Many people that claimed the same apostatized. But it excludes him from his equation now and makes it far more difficult to evaluate critical new evidence that might change his mind. Can Christensen claim this about critics? Oh, absolutely. But he goes off the rails in claiming that we are not open to new evidence. I sure am, as is Jeremy. But none of it that I’ve analyzed in depth has been enough to persuade me that Joseph Smith really was a “prophet, seer & revelator” for God. Christensen argues the opposite. Fair enough. It is not this that I have a problem with, but his analysis of the evidence and his penchant for narcissistic formulas that he claims lead to believing his “superior” interpretations of the evidence.

Joseph & Moroni, photo by grindael

Joseph & Moroni, Hill Cumorah, photo by grindael

And I don’t just point to critics arguments, and neither does Jeremy. We quote Apologist arguments. We analyze them. We advocate openness and fairness in quoting all sides. We provide live links to critics arguments. See my analysis below where I actually quote Matthew Brown and contrast his conjectures with the evidence, something that Christensen doesn’t do and never has done with Jeremy’s arguments. (The few that he addresses).

He simply references whole books and chapters of the Bible, or quotes selected passages that seem to favor their interpretation, or references FAIRMORMON, or Apologist articles. He also condemns Jeremy for not doing so in the CES letter which was never an Essay (as Christensen constantly calls it) but a letter highlighting things Jeremy found questionable about Mormonism.

His knowing always trumps the evidence even though he says it does not. Why then, write a formula for keeping the “faith” and claim that it works and give yourself as an example? (Over and over and over again). Does Christensen know the future? Does he know that he won’t encounter evidence that will cause him to apostatize? So he seems to be claiming. Did that save former apologists like Kevin Graham, Kerry Shirts, myself, or a host of others? I guess that all of us were simply “brittle”. What I object to is Christensen’s simplistic logic that all of this is easily solved by his pseudo scientific equations and the rather trite use of Jesus parables. (Like no one has ever encountered the Parable of the Sower before).

Apologists like Kerry Shirts and Kevin Graham were committed Mormon Apologists that studied all the same information that Christensen claims that he did. How does Christensen’s magic formula apply there? Again, Christensen takes the simplistic CES Letter and thinks that is the sum of all Jeremy’s knowledge and condemns him for not quoting Mormon Apologists in it.

Christensen has got “flexible” faith while Jeremy is “brittle” and unbending. Sure thing. “Spiritual experiences” and “faith beliefs” are not scientifically quantifiable. To try to apply Kuhn or Barbour to faith claims is ultimately a misuse of their formulas, as others have stated elsewhere. Christensen’s ramblings are simply esoteric jargon that he has cobbled together by misapplying Kuhn and others, something that “Big Brother” would be proud of.

Christensen goes on about how what we seek is what we find and how we process information “all matters to both the course their journey takes and where they end up.”

Well duh. That is not what I’m arguing against. (Though I’m not convinced that we always find what we seek). I definitely was not seeking to find Brigham Young’s teachings on Adam, nor was I seeking to lose my testimony. Christensen claims that his and Lindsay’s way is better because they have retained their “faith”, and that you can apply misconstrued scientific formula to faith claims. But Christensen can’t explain how, (not in any coherent manner)  other than he never lost his “testimony” (because of “superior” research by his Mormon Apologist buddies).  He wants you to discount real evidence that is critical to Mormonism by using his pseudo scientific formula which favors getting information from Mormon Apologists. If you don’t, you are “brittle” and your faith will “shatter”. Look at Christensen, still strong in the faith because he uses his presto chango, super duper scientific formula while poor Jeremy did not.

Yes, just use Christensen’s magic formula and you will retain your faith. It is therefore better than Jeremy’s reasoned decision because Christensen has retained his faith. How, because he used his magic formula. This is simply circular reasoning gone wild.

Again, the followers of Warren Jeffs can claim the same thing as can those who follow any faith. (We kept ours but you didn’t, nah, nah, nah…) Why many choose to accept and others reject is because of their own evaluation of the evidence and how it impacts them. The truth really is the truth. There are problems quantifying any faith claims. There is no formula that can predict what people will do in relation to those faith claims. But Christensen won’t accept that, all can “retain the faith” by using his formula, and there must be something wrong with people who do not.

My gripe is that Christensen vilifies Jeremy for not doing things his way, and that Christensen’s way somehow validates his version of historical events. He talks like he is all cool with Jeremy and that,

I don’t think that he is being intentionally deceptive, or betraying my trust.

What trust? Yet his rhetoric tells a different story:

In approaching the Book of Mormon, we could do what Runnells does; look for imperfection, and then display indignation and shock.

Jeremy is a real person, not Christensen’s caricature. Was Jeremy looking for imperfection? Not according to his story that Christensen never tells. And again,

Runnells looks only for imperfection in Mormonism.

Did he do so when he served his 2+ year mission and when he was a faithful Mormon for years? To Christensen, Jeremy’s analysis of the evidence is looking for imperfection.

But it is Christensen that misrepresents Jeremy by claiming he “ignores all LDS scholarship” and “misrepresents every apologetic argument”. He calls Jeremy a hypocrite with this jab:

Notice too that the closest Runnells comes to actually defining translate is when he complains that according to unnamed “unofficial apologists” the word “translate doesn’t really mean translate.” This would be a good place to explain what the word means in the context of what Joseph Smith actually did. We need to do a bit of eye checking here.

Notice that Christensen uses variations of the word “complain” 22 times in his initial essay about Jeremy. Christensen of course, is referring to what Jesus said,

3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5, italics mine)

He is calling Jeremy a hypocrite, yet he is not doing so intentionally? Right. Christensen claims,

Runnells sets out his own expectations of what he expects to find…

How does Christensen know what Jeremy “expects/expected to find”? That is not how Jeremy characterized himself at all. This is simply an ad hoc assumption of Christensen’s and it makes Jeremy seem as if he had an agenda from the beginning. This is simply dishonest of Christensen. Christensen “finds” what he wants to find, by a “closer reading” of the Book of Mormon (that conflicts with Mormon “Authorities” statements) yet Jeremy is the one who set his own expectations?

Rather, it was Mormon “Authorities” that set his expectations, but Christensen discounts their authoritative declarations, and assumes that Jeremy should have too. The Book of Mormon does not describe any “pre-existing populations” but claims that they land was empty, a promised land for only the righteous that God led them to. (Ether 2:10,  2 Nephi, 1:5-11). But Christesnsen’s alternative/unofficial reading of the Book of Mormon based on a Mormon Apologetic agenda finds something totally different, so he is right and Jeremy and the Mormon “Authorities” are wrong. (DoubleThink again).

Mormon Apostle J. Reuben Clark taught:

“The Lord took every precaution to see that nothing might interfere with this posterity of Joseph in working out their God-given destiny and the destiny of America. He provided, and so told Lehi at the very beginning of his settlement, that: . . it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations ; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance. (2 Nephi 1:8.) The Lord so kept the land for a thousand years after Lehi landed. He so kept it in His wisdom for another thousand years after the Nephites were destroyed, perhaps to give the Lamanitish branch another chance.” (“Prophecies, Penalties, and Blessings,” Improvement Era, 1940, v. xliii., July 1940. no. 7).

And Spencer W. Kimball, the “Prophet” stated authoritatively:

“About twenty-five centuries ago, a hardy group left the comforts of a great city, crossed a desert, braved an ocean, and came to the shores of this, their promised land. There were two large families, those of Lehi and Ishmael, who in not many centuries numbered hundreds of millions of people on these two American continents.” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 601, thanks, MormonThink).

B.H. Roberts (Mormon “Authority”),

Lehi’s colony, it must be remembered, came to an empty America, so far as human inhabitants were concerned—according to the Book of Mormon accounting of things.  (B.H. Roberts, Studies of the Book of Mormon, p.252).

Yet, these authoritative statements (which of course are not to the DoubleThinking Christensen) are to be replaced by Mormon Apologists’ disclaimed opinions. (The “real” authorities). Anything to retain the “faith”. To Christensen, this is just Clarke’s opinion and his calling as a prophet and apostle means nothing in relation to teaching correct doctrine. (See his amazing comments about Fielding Smith below).

And of course, B.H. Roberts didn’t read the Book of Mormon correctly, right? He needed to read it like Modern Mormon Apologists do, and then he would have arrived at a totally different rendering of what it said. The correct rendering. I guess all of those Mormon “Authorities” were incapable of closely reading the Book of Mormon. To quote Chris Carter, “Apology is Policy.” DoubleThink is their paradigm. Only sustain Mormon “Authorities” when it is convenient.

Apology is Policy

I was reading a blog article the other day and came across this comment by a believing Mormon who wanted to make a point about the creation of the world and quoted Brigham Young to support it:

Mark: Your list of claims made by the LDS Church is merely a really bad straw man. A global flood — even Brigham Young argued against it. Only 7,000 years old? it is easy to find numerous statements by GAs contrary to this claim.

This comment was made in response to someone posting the current stated doctrine about the creation:

The LDS church is making claims that are testable. The BOM is historical. The earth is 7000 years old. There was a global flood. Etc.

The above comment was supported with this quote, from the Ensign:

“There is a third group of people—those who accept the literal message of the Bible regarding Noah, the ark, and the Deluge. Latter-day Saints belong to this group. In spite of the world’s arguments against the historicity of the Flood, and despite the supposed lack of geologic evidence, we Latter-day Saints believe that Noah was an actual man, a prophet of God, who preached repentance and raised a voice of warning, built an ark, gathered his family and a host of animals onto the ark, and floated safely away as waters covered the entire earth. We are assured that these events actually occurred by the multiple testimonies of God’s prophets.”

Then the author of the blog article wrote,

Why is it that only the sources you choose matter? Shouldn’t a good interpretation of LDS positions on something like the flood take into account as many authoritative statements as possible?

Yet, when someone cites Joseph Smith on the contradictory nature of God described in the Lectures on Faith, Blake writes,

Joseph Smith had the same problem when members became attached to one expression of the gospel and then, when further revelation came along, complained that they had been taught something different. One of the hallmarks of the Church is continuing revelation. Our understanding changes due to further revelations — especially in the case of Joseph Smith. Later changes often come from continuing reflection on the revelations received and coming to different (sometimes even better) grasp of what was said. Take for instance the Fifth Lecture on Faith that teaches that the Father is “a personage of Spirit.” It seems to me it is quite easily explained by the fact that it had not yet been revealed to Joseph Smith that the Father had once had a mortal experience and had a resurrected body. It reflects an exegesis of Mosiah 15-16 and D&C 93 primarily and looks to the scriptures and revelations to understand God. The Nephites did not have a complete revelation and Joseph Smith still had further revelations to receive on the issue.

How come the Ensign article (current source of official doctrine) does not trump Brigham Young? Because when apologists want to use Mormon “authorities” to confirm their pet arguments, they do. When something questionable by a Mormon “authority” is quoted by a critic they then claim there needed to be “further revelation” etc., and make up anything to explain away what they don’t ascribe to. Mormon “Authorities” are only cited (or “authoritative”) when it is convenient to prop up apologetic arguments.

There are many other examples I could cite of Chrisensen’s subtle way of denigrating Jeremy. His claim that he doesn’t think that Jeremy is being intentionally deceptive, is just empty rhetoric. Christensen’s original rant about Jeremy is condescending and arrogant and that is the reason for my harsh criticisms of Christensen. We see the falsehood in his words above.

This is the context of Christensen’s use of Jeremy’s quote that he was obsessed with Church History after he discovered many things that troubled him. Christensen paints him as an obsessive moron (remember, he stupidly trusted his leaders had answers and that was all Jeremy’s fault) that never read anything published by Mormon Apologists and therefore didn’t have all the evidence to save his shaken faith, which couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Because I didn’t expressly state that Jeremy used the word obsessive in relation to his research, Christensen tries to score points off of it:

Stephenson says, “In his introduction, Christensen calls Runnells ‘obsessive’ and contrasts that [Page 102]with Lindsay’s ‘boundless enthusiasm.’ It is obvious where this is going right from the start.” My obviousness seems to be a quality that goes against the grain of a claim that I am disingenuous.

Point of fact: Runnells describes his CES letter as the result of “an absolute rabid obsession with Joseph Smith and Church history.” I would have thought that my repeating and quoting his self-description was not an academic crime. I was not attempting any shade of ad hominem, just being a reporter. Oddly enough, Stephenson does not mention my quotation of Runnells’s self-description. Dare I call this a spin of omission?

Here is Christensen’s original quote,

Jeremy T. Runnells is a “disaffected Mormon” who describes the grounds of his loss of faith in a website/pdf document published in 2013 called Letter to a CES Director: Why I Lost My Testimony. He had been an active LDS until 2012, when he read an account of a news article called “Mormonism Besieged by the Modern Age,” which claimed that Mormons were leaving the church in droves. Disturbed, he reports in his 83-page letter that, “All this information is a result of over a year of intense research and an absolute rabid obsession with Joseph Smith and Church history.”

Jeff Lindsay, on the other hand, describes himself as an active, believing Latter-day Saint and also an apologist who has been blogging since 1994.

Christensen knows very well that using that particular quote in that particular way mischaracterizes Jeremy. He then states,

That such different responses to the same information can even exist should demonstrate that neither the issues that Runnells raises nor the information he provides is the real cause of his disillusion.

Now Christensen is a mind reader. What Christensen really is saying in his original Essay about Jeremy was that the issues that Jeremy listed in the CES Letter were not the cause of his disillusion. In other words, Jeremy was lying or simply so stupid that he didn’t know himself. But was he? Here is Jeremy’s quote, in context:

I’m just going to be straightforward and blunt in sharing my concerns. Obviously I’m a disaffected member who lost his testimony so it’s no secret which side I’m on at the moment. All this information [contained in the CES Letter] is a result of over a year of intense research and an absolute rabid obsession with Joseph Smith and Church history. With this said, I’d be pretty arrogant and ignorant to say that I have all the information and that you don’t have answers. Like you, I put my pants on one leg at a time and I see through a glass darkly. You may have new information and/or a new perspective that I may not have heard or considered before. This is why I’m genuinely interested in what your answers and thoughts are to these troubling problems.

Christensen goes on and on about how Jeremy is brittle and that is because he limited his perspective. But here we see that Jeremy understood that there were other perspectives and invited someone with authority (or access to those who had it) to share them. So what is Christensen’s point? That Jeremy is either lying to himself, or (as Christensen states), he was purposefully looking for “imperfections”. In other words, this was all Jeremy’s fault and Christensen is so much better because he didn’t fall for it.

The way that Christensen presented Jeremy’s quote (in the context of his later statements), made it seem like he just read an article and then began obsessing on Joseph Smith and Church history to look for “imperfections”. Christensen then leaves it there, without showing that Jeremy was still open to answers.  After he saw the article that Christensen mentions, Jeremy wrote,

I started doing research and reading books like LDS historian and scholar Richard Bushman’s Rough Stone Rolling and many others to try to better understand what was happening.

But Christensen doesn’t mention any of this. Talk about spins of omission! But Jeremy is “brittle” and unbending, his faith “shattered” by what? Not by what Jeremy discovered, according to Christensen. So what was the “real cause of his disillusion”? That he didn’t buy into Lindsay’s/whoever’s apologetics or their disclaimed opinions and perspectives? Of course. Christensen condemns Jeremy for,

His preference for “official” thought rather than “the best books” is telling (D&C 88:118).

This makes my point, even though Christensen goes to the extreme here. Yet in the Ensign (an official organ of the Church) we read,

Of course, not all knowledge is of equal value. “… There is a great fund of knowledge in the possession of men,” counseled Joseph Fielding Smith, “that will not save them in the kingdom of God. What they have got to learn are the fundamental things of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” (Doctrines of Salvation (Bookcraft, 1954), 1:291.)

And where do they learn that from? The Church today claims that one can only rely on “official” declarations, etc. for sound doctrine, not on the “opinions” generated without the official stamp of approval by the Prophet and Q12.  But what did Jeremy claim? He said,

One of my goals in writing Letter to a CES Director was to get a response as close to official answers that I could get. I had spent the entire previous year researching the works of LDS scholars Richard Bushman, Hugh B. Nibley, Terryl Givens, Leonard Arrington and a few others as well as the not-so-respected works of the likes of unofficial apologists such as the Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research (FairMormon) and others regarding the serious problems of Mormonism.

Christensen acts like Jeremy never made any statements like this. He claims that because Jeremy didn’t interweave all of the apologetic arguments into his CES Letter, that he must be lying. Still, this was Jeremy’s obsession that he spoke of. To find out all he could so he could better understand the issues and find answers that addressed his concerns. But the Apologist answers that Christensen touts weren’t persuasive to Jeremy.

And where would Jeremy have learned about all those other issues in the CES Letter (after trying to research his initial concerns with “the best books”). FAIRMORMON!

But Christensen continually characterizes Jeremy as having an obsessive agenda to “look for imperfection.” He wasn’t searching for answers or he would have found them in the Mormon Apologists’ explanations. So to Christensen, Jeremy never read them. He lied. Christensen writes,

Runnells, on the other hand, frequently and characteristically offers complaints without acknowledging the existence of well-known responses to issues he raises by the most important and conspicuous LDS authors. Frankly, I don’t see evidence that he has done his homework properly. … I couldn’t give Runnells credit even if I wanted to do so.

Because he didn’t see “evidence” of apologetic arguments in the CES Letter. Christensen’s whole argument is his own fabrication! Again, the Ensign:

As you know by now there is no scarcity of good books to read, study, and ponder. But there is a possibility that you can be so busy pursuing an education and striving to be well-rounded in thought that you neglect the pursuit of those things that matter most in an eternal perspective of life. If you are not careful, you can be so busy reading and studying from good books that you have little time, if any, to pursue a knowledge of the saving principles of the gospel. (Seek Ye Out Of The Best Books, Ensign, August, 1974).

Jeremy is condemned by Christensen for doing what he was counselled to do. Christensen wants to have his cake and eat it too. He criticizes Jeremy for following the instructions of Mormon “authorities” and relying on them for official doctrine and spiritual guidance. To Christensen, Lindsay’s Apologist arguments are better, because to him they are superior. Yet, they are still only LINDSAY’S OPINIONS. Lindsay even has this disclaimer:

The Church has not endorsed my writings (though one early essay on DNA is on the LDS newsroom site for informational purposes). While I strive to be accurate, my writings reflect my personal understanding and are subject to human error and bias.

Can any of those that Christensen cites, (Hugh Nibley, et. al) claim otherwise? (Yes, I know Nibley is dead). Yeah, get your answers from the likes of Neal Rappleye or Mike Ash who has just published a book titled “Bamboozled by the CES Letter”. This is one of the “best books” that Jeremy (or others) should get their answers from? Really?

Ash’s answer for why no remains of horses have been found? Gee wilikers, the jungle ate them. Some day we might find them. Why then, haven’t there been any discoveries in the desert areas of America (for the right time period)? Did the jungle eat them too? Notice how Ash wants to limit where the Book of Mormon people supposedly lived to Central America. And of course, horses were probably only to be found there, too. He can then conveniently claim that the bones disappeared because the jungle ate them, and it’s just too hard to find anything there. This contradicts what Mormon “Authorities” have said, but of course in Christensen’s world “Bamboozled” takes precedence over them.

united_states_500_bc

I’m sure Bamboozled is chock full of other lovely opinions. So who is bamboozling who here?

Time after time Christensen answers Jeremy with the opinions of Mormon Apologists. How is this “superior” to the doctrinal teachings of Mormon “Authorities” when they disclaim their answers as opinions that carry no weight? He then lambastes Jeremy for expecting Mormon “Authorities” to provide him with official answers.  (This is the current trend of Mormon Apologists). For Christensen, Mormon Apologist’s best guesses are “superior”. He also turns Jeremy’s reliance on Mormon “Authorites” for official answers into an expectation for everyone in the Church to have every answer to every question. This stuff is beyond silly.

Notice how Christensen will denigrate what he hasn’t even seen,

He [Stephenson] continues: “Recently, Jeremy and I completed a 458-page response to Brian Hales’ attacks on him and others. One hopes that this might be enough to satisfy those like Christensen, but he will probably complain that it is too long.”

It really depends on the quality of the content, doesn’t it? I have, as it happens, read many lengthy books. Some of them I like a great deal and I have even re-read them. Length and persuasiveness are not the same thing. Nor are scandalous topics and foundational topics necessarily the same thing, nor, in my view, deserving of the same effort.

So polygamy is a “scandalous topic”? I guess Brian Hales really flubbed up when he wrote, what is it… four books on the subject?  Funny how much effort Christensen has put in to decrying the CES Letter. Was he too bamboozled? He worked on his rebuttal to me for months:

I’m currently working on a response to Jeremy Runnells’ friend Johnny Stephenson, who claims that all we have to offer is spin. (Kevin Christensen, Mormon Dialogue & Discussions, May 19, 2015).

Christensen then makes much ado about my comment that his tactic of making critics links dead is Orwellian and shady. Notice that Christensen never addresses why he uses that tactic. He just piles on the hyperbole by claiming that somehow I’m condemning the Joseph Smith Papers. Last I checked, the JSP wasn’t responding to their critics arguments. Their agenda is to release documents. They have been exemplary in doing so. They give readers the chance to evaluate those documents on their own, without presenting them in bits and pieces interspersed with “faithful” commentary as FAIRMORMON does. (They use a series of footnotes for further explanations, and even those are very unapologetic and reasoned).

They are not FAIRMORMON or the INTERPRETER. But how do we get to the Orwellian world of 1984? A little bit at a time and a lot of DoubleThink. Making it less convenient to access information you don’t want people to see. Of course, Christensen has to contrast this with all the other far worse things that Big Brother did. But how did Big Brother get to be Big Brother? A little bit at a time. Try being an active member and criticizing a Mormon “Authority” in public or publishing something. See what happened to Rock Waterman, here. This is not Big Brother watching?

This point seems lost on Christensen but I’m not surprised. And who STILL has the dead links even in their current article?

Christensen claims:

The whole concept of paradigm debate and the influence of theory on experiment design, testing, and interpretation has also been a prominent theme in my LDS writings since my first publication in 1990. And Stephenson’s conspicuous failure to address that basic underlying premise means that the beam in his own eye remains in place to obscure his vision. Everything that follows in his essay suffers thereby.

Well, now I’m a hypocrite. See PART II of my response where I do just that. I guess he didn’t bother to read that. He can find it here. Christensen talks about personal responsibility to be informed, (which should be a must before making accusations of hypocrisy) but he doesn’t even think to check if there was a response somewhere other than Jeremy’s CES site. He had at least five months to find it.  He then writes,

Likewise, Stephenson seems to forget that he is an apologist for Jeremy Runnells and their mutual unfaith, which claims that Joseph Smith fabricated the Book of Mormon. Their conclusions are at as much risk of bias and distortion as mine are — but Stephenson apparently cannot see this. He is objective and rational; all who disagree are merely schizophrenic apologists.

No, not nearly as much as we will see below. Christensen just admitted to bias and distortion. What is my bias? Why would I distort? Can he answer those questions? Has he? No. Don Bradley disagrees with me quite often. I don’t consider him schizophrenic. But then, he doesn’t call me and my friends hypocrites and question their honesty and motives. (Not even subtlety). And I don’t question his. He’s not an Apologist like Christensen.

Notice that Christensen claims that we have mutual “unfaith”. This is an interesting way to describe us but totally wrong. I still have faith, but don’t believe Joseph Smith was a prophet. Is Christensen somehow better than I am because he still has “faith” in Joseph Smith’s claims? Seems so.  He has read and believes the “superior” research. Got it.

And I have no problems with being called an apologist for Jeremy as I was defending him. FAIRMORMON has an army of people arrayed against Jeremy, including Christensen. But I’m just not invested in Jeremy as Christensen is in Mormonism, therefore who has more to lose here? Jeremy is just my friend. I have no reason not to present the evidence in a balanced way the best I can.  I had nothing to do with Mormonism for 25 years after I left the church. I just find Mormon History fascinating. (I always did, even when I was a member of the Church). But I guess that is something that Christensen can’t fathom. I have an “agenda”. No, I just dislike the dishonesty of those Mormon Apologists.

I, in fact, disagree that some of Jeremy’s evidence in the CES Letter should be there. One example is the Vernal Holley maps. We discussed it. Jeremy even sent me the letter and asked me to evaluate some of the claims it makes and provide more source material. Jeremy is open to valid criticisms. He is just not open to being called names by Christensen, however subtle and folksy sounding. He is far from “brittle” and unbending. This is simply an ad hoc assumption concocted by Christensen.

Jeremy can also speak for himself and I’m not going to spend my life defending him as Christensen and Lindsay are obviously spending theirs defending Mormonism.  We will see who is distorting what below when we get into the specific claims, which is what I really want to address instead of Christensen’s 30+ pages of esoteric bullshit and whining.

Ah, and the good old “rhetorical effects.” Well, where was I not accurate? Christensen just doesn’t like the word peepstone it seems, even though Mormon Authorities have done the reverse, calling what anyone besides a Mormon “prophet” used, that very thing. Here is Marion G. Romney from 1956:

Now, the Prophet gave other tests applicable to special claims and doctrines, of which the following two are typical.

(1) He made it clear that there is never more than one man on the earth at a time authorized to receive revelations for the Church. This principle answered the claims of the purported peepstone revelations. (Conference Report, April 1956, p.73).

Is this just for rhetorical effects? Here is Marvin S. Hill doing the same thing,

Opposition to Joseph came from the followers of Hyrum Page, who had a peepstone and had received a handful of revelations of his own. About this time, Smith had ceased to rely heavily upon his own seerstone for inspiration, and the change was disturbing to Cowdery and the Whitmers. (Marvin S. Hill, Quest for Refuge, p.28).

Why did Romney not use “seer stone” in relation to those revelations he did not deem as “authentic” to the truth claims of Mormonism? In all actuality, they were called both peepstones/peekstones and seerstones. I’ve made it clear that I disbelieve that Joseph Smith was a “seer”, so why should I pander to Christensen’s obvious bias? And I suppose that Dale Morgan should be accused of the same thing:

That the senior Joseph did much to launch his son upon his troubled career as a diviner and peepstone seer, that his unbounded extravagance of statement as to the wonders his son could see contributed largely to his celebrity, is clear from all accounts; the more fantastic stories of Joseph’s early powers and the marvels he discerned are to be traced back to the wagging tongue of his father.(John Phillip Walker, Dale Morgan, p.229).

Mike Quinn writes,

The excavation of the Logan (Utah) temple site during the 1880s unearthed a stone which a local woman (“Peepstone Lady”) used to locate lost animals and the body of a missing person. (D. Michael Quinn, Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, p.203)

Joseph.Smith.Whitmer.Farm.Winter_1830.Just this year, Mike Quinn wrote,

The second object of divine revelation that LDS headquarters has recently publicized is the brown-colored seer stone that Joseph Smith used to translate the Book of Mormon in 1829. In 2015, the Church officially clarified a century of misconceptions about how the translation occurred. I must admit that the official photographs of his artifact are stunning, and I can see why Joseph Smith refused to give it [back] to Willard Chase after the farmboy found  while digging a well on Chase’s property. Like the common seer stones or “peek stones” in early America, Mormonism’s founding prophet dictated the translation while looking at the brown stone in a hat held close to his face for about six weeks during 1829. (D. Michael Quinn, Using Material Objects to “Receive” Revelations, Sunstone Symposium, 18 October, 2015, 5)

Jan Shipps called it a peepstone in The Prophet Puzzle. Is she guilty too, of  simple “rhetorical effects?” Of having an agenda and distortion? Does Christensen want to criticize her for that? Good luck with that.

So are we to call what Joseph used a “peepstone” when he looked for buried treasure and then a “seerstone” when he used it for “revelations”? In the new Ensign article they don’t want to make this distinction, they stick to the “faithful” name calling.

Why be so concerned with this distinction? The fact that this bothers Christensen is rather telling, is it not? It shows that he is viewing things through a “faithful” lens, and so his claims to a better methodology are suspect and his admitted bias is right there to see.

Here is something interesting that Alma Jensen recently said, (Mormon (LDS) Institute Director from the University of Utah Institute of Religion) reportedly by someone who was there,

“Yes, Joseph used the seer stone to search for treasure. Just because he misused the stone, does that mean he’s not a prophet?”

Why is it called a seer stone when Smith misuses it, but a peepstone when Hiram Page does? Is there any kind of good explanation for this? That is why I call them peepstones. It is not just a matter of rhetoric, what Smith did was called “peeping” or “peeking” in his day. (Even when he “translated” the Book of Mormon). See this interesting article about Mary Jane Thompson (Joseph F. Smith’s cousin) and her “peeping” in 1856 Utah:

On July 18, 1856, she [Martha Ann Smith] wrote, [to Joseph F. Smith] “Ma[r]y Jane has been looking is [sic] the peap stone for you and she seen you[.]” …Referring to the same event Martha Ann wrote of, Jane wrote:  “Mary Jane saw you only last Friday, Martha will tell you how” (Jane Fisher to JFS, Great Salt Lake City, July 20, 1856). Jane again wrote to Joseph F. Smith, again mentioning the peepstone, on May 11, 1857: “I think you have stayed long enough, away, and if you do not come home soon, more than mary, Jane, will take a look in the peepstone. I should like to see you, in little grass House.”

So in the days before webcams, there were other media for communication–something faster than mail, and even more virtual than photography: a peep stone.

So what makes this a peepstone and Joseph’s a “seerstone”? Modern Mormon preference. Was Mary Jane “misusing” the stone? Was Joseph? Interesting questions.

Christensen whines that I didn’t disclose his entire history when I mentioned his experience about “knowing” Moroni was a prophet. Yet, he didn’t do that with Jeremy as I pointed out in my rebuttal to him. I guess he really ought to have read that second part. The thing is, my point didn’t need the bio. It spoke for itself and Christensen loves to talk about himself.

And did I not share a LIVE link to the podcast where Christensen makes his comments on my blog? Anyone could go and listen to it for themselves in one click. This is something that FAIRMORMON and Christensen do not do. The link in his CURRENT article is still dead to the CES letter and to Jeremy’s posting of Part I of The Sky Is Falling. And where is a specific link to Jeremy’s podcast where he explains his background and reasons for leaving the Church? I can’t find one.

Christensen then creates a straw man by claiming that I stated that “cognitive dissonance provides the means by which apologists like me ignore “facts”.  Nope, I never said that. Christensen even quotes me. I said,

 “Christensen appears to be unable to grasp that flexibility does not change facts while cognitive dissonance can allow you to live with and ignore them.”

Notice my wording: can allow you to live with them and ignore them. I argued that the part that applies to Christensen is his dissonance allows him to live with those facts. (not ignore them). Since he loves to talk about himself, he has made it clear that he is well read, and so is not ignoring the facts. This is very simple. Christensen mentions Edward Ashment’s excellent article, Reducing Dissonance: The Book of Abraham as a Case Study, and I highly recommend it. Of course, everything he doesn’t like is a “rhetorical tool” to Christensen. His rebuttal to this was a quote by Wendy Ulrich:

People who put cognitive dissonance forward as the explanation for the high level of commitment and sacrifice among some Mormons ignore that by the time the prophecy of the world ending in Festinger’s study had failed three times virtually everyone left the group, cognitive dissonance theory or no. People may rationalize their behavior and beliefs for a time, but they will not continue to do so indefinitely unless their beliefs are producing the expected payback–as long as they have reasonable choices about what to believe.

This misapplies my argument. It is not about those who have a high level of commitment and sacrifice among some Mormons, it is about those who engage in disingenuous apologetics. Again, what about the failings of Warren Jeffs who also predicted the end of the world and it never came to pass? His movement is still going strong and has been for many decades. I strongly suggest he watch the movie Prophet’s Prey. And perhaps Christensen ought to think about why he is even challenging Jeremy Runnells.

Is it because many Mormon are feeling uncomfortable about much of what he published, so much so that the Church authored their anonymous Essays soon after the CES Letter was published?  Is Christensen uncomfortable with what Jeremy published? If not, why spend so much time writing long Essays about him, and spending months to answer me? If this is all so frivolous, (the claims by Jeremy) why bother? Jeremy published the CES Letter in April of 2013 and the first anonymous Essays appeared seven months later.

But Christensen claims he has no dissonance and that I don’t understand the term and am misapplying it. Perhaps then, his problem is just DoubleThink. As George Orwell explains,

To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, … to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself – that was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word ‘doublethink’ involved the use of doublethink.  (Orwell, George (1949). Nineteen Eighty-Four. Martin Secker & Warburg Ltd, London, part 1, chapter 3, pp 32).

This is why to Christensen, the truth is “in the eye of the beholder”. In his world, I suppose it is.

And claiming that I (or Jeremy) didn’t address “Old World evidences for the Book of Mormon”? I do, in Part II of “The Sky is Falling” which has been published since April. Jeremy does so, here.   What I find astoundingly hypocritical of Christensen is that he (in many instances) acts like Jeremy has published nothing but the original CES Letter even though he will reference Jeremy’s other writings when it is convenient for him.

Nothing about the so called “Old World evidences for the Book of Mormon” makes me uncomfortable. (Nice try with endeavoring to put his own dissonance–or whatever it is since I am so wrong–on me). As for Thomas Kuhn, I addressed some of my concerns in Part II of The Sky is falling, and others have challenged Christensen here. Christensen did not really address those challenges, but simply left a short comment.  As Runtu wrote,

In essence, Kevin is turning Kuhn on his head, as Kuhn’s notion of a crisis of faith is a point at which one clings stubbornly to the “rules,” despite the presence of anomaly. It’s not about “values” but about accepting the prevailing paradigm as a boundary of inquiry. The paradigm shifts (and only just enough) to accommodate anomaly when the rules can’t explain them anymore. “Conclusions among individuals will differ” seems completely unrelated to a discussion of paradigm and shift.

He then takes a jab at me for calling Joseph Fielding Smith a prophet before he was the Church President. But doesn’t he realize that Smith was ordained a “prophet, seer, and revelator” when he became an apostle? This kind of silly posturing is all Christensen has to offer.  His apathy towards Joseph Fielding Smith’s racism when he was an apostle (prophet, seer & revelator) and Church President is appalling. Dissonance anyone? It wasn’t Smith who lifted the Priesthood Ban when he was the PRESIDENT (The chief Apostle), now, was it?

Most the the FAIRMORMON Apologists that I’ve crossed paths with have disappointed me with their deceptive tactics and justifications for Mormon Leadership’s racism.  Christensen is no different.  He writes,

Stephenson cannot help but demonstrate how a hidden ideology lurks behind his arguments.

So, point of view determines truth? What does point of view have to do with it?

For years, Joseph Fielding Smith denied that Joseph Smith used his peepstone to translate the Book of Mormon. He also called black people “an inferior race.” Did his evaluation of the evidence and point of view make these things true? Or make Joseph Fielding Smith a true prophet?

What does Joseph Fielding Smith’s denial regarding the historical use of a peepstone (seer stone, if labels applied by the people involved matter) have to do with his being a true prophet? What do his views of race have to do with his being a true prophet? Should I assume that the answers are self-evident, or should I actually ask the question and consider that such a question is most appropriate only from January 23, 1970 to July 2, 1972, when the office of prophet was actually his? I’ll hazard the risk of making my own ideology explicit so you can see what happens when I do it.

So exactly what, is my “hidden ideology”? Christensen is strangely silent about this. He speaks of his own ideologies. All this is, is Christensen bragging about how much humbler he is than anyone else. He writes,

He argues based on a premise that a prophet wouldn’t make or perpetuate a mistake in history. And a prophet wouldn’t reflect any of the now embarrassing prejudices of his time and culture.

I get this all the time from Mormon Apologists. You see, this is the only way they can make their prophets blatant racism work. And see how he turns it into I advocate that their prophets can’t make a mistake “in history”. (Whatever that is). And I am well aware that men are human, and a prophet is a man. Joseph Smith said,

I never told you I was perfect but there are no errors in the revelations I have taught.

Mormon “authorities” still claim there are no errors in the “revelations”. Joseph Fielding Smith’s racism was institutional. He believed that God instigated the racism in Mormonism. (Of course it wasn’t racism to them). He taught that blacks were an “inferior race”. That God had revealed it so through his “prophets”.  I have a real problem with this. But Christensen doesn’t get it. I simply have an agenda. Yeah, right.

I addressed peepstones above, but here is Joseph Fielding Smith in Doctrines of Salvation, Volume III:

14568

Joseph Fielding Smith

EARLY SPECULATION AS TO SITE OF NEW JERUSALEM. When it was made known that the New Jerusalem was to be built in America, the saints began to wonder where the city would be. Hiram Page, one of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon, secured a “peep stone” by means of which he claimed to receive revelation for the Church. Among the things he attempted to make known was where this city was to be built, Considerable commotion naturally prevailed, and even Oliver Cowdery was deceived into accepting what Hiram Page had given. The Prophet Joseph Smith had some difficulty in correcting this evil and composing the minds of the members of the Church. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. III, 500).

So why can’t I apply that criteria to Joseph Smith since I do not believe that his “revelations” were authentic? Should I be dishonest and apply what I think is a Mormon prop? This is simply Christensen’s double standard, folks. Was this simply rhetoric on the part of Fielding Smith? Will Christensen admit he also had an “agenda”? No, he instead claims, “He actually comes out looking very good…”

How does the above show a “hidden agenda” on my part? First, all Mormon Apostles are ordained prophets, seers, and revelators, and Christensen ought to know this and so, is being dishonest here.  Claiming that such a question is “most appropriate only from January 23, 1970 to July 2, 1972” when JSF became the President of the Church is simply disingenuous.  Smith was actually ordained an Apostle, (thus a prophet, seer, & revelator) on April 7, 1910.  As Jeffrey R. Holland explained,

Against such times as come in our modern day, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve are commissioned by God and sustained by you as prophets, seers, and revelators, with the President of the Church sustained as the prophet, seer, and revelator, the senior Apostle, and as such the only man authorized to exercise all of the revelatory and administrative keys for the Church. … Are the heavens open? Does God reveal His will to prophets and apostles as in days of old? That they are and that He does is the unflinching declaration of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to all the world. (“Prophets, Seers, and Revelators”, Jeffrey R. Holland, Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, General Conference, October 2004).

So how is Joseph Fielding Smith a true prophet when he teaches and condones racism? Dallin Oaks makes my point when he claimed:

Stand fast with the leadership of the church. I heard President Hinckley in describing a revelation he had received concerning the building of small temples form which he will soon benefit in this part of the world that he did not claim perfection that there was only one perfect person who had ever lived upon this earth and even the prophets of God were not perfect. But, as the Prophet Joseph Smith said, on a great occasion, ‘there is no error in the teachings. ’Spoken under the influence of the spirit of the Lord, witnessed to be true in the hearts and minds of those who have the gift of the Holy Ghost, those teachings are the Lord’s will to his people. And I testify to you that these teachings are true and that if we hold with and follow the current leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, we will stay on the path toward eternal life. (Dallin Oaks, “Boise Rescue Transcript”, 117, On tape, 1:12:38)

“There is no error in the teachings.” The problem with Christensen’s version of what a constitutes a prophet, is that it is not what Mormon prophets themselves declare they are. Their teachings (the ones that don’t fit the Apologist’s personal criteria) are error filled opinions that aren’t much good for anything. This is Christensen’s version of Mormonism, nothing more. His agenda is promoting his own opinion and condemning those who don’t jump on board his Apologist band wagon.

As Brigham Young taught,

An Apostle is the highest office in the Church & kingdom of God. Joseph Smith was a Prophet Seer & Revelator before he was baptized or ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood or had any Authority to administer one of the ordinances of the house of the Lord. He was afterwards ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood then to the Melchizedek Priesthood & Apostleship which is the highest office in the Church & kingdom of God on Earth. When a man is ordained to the Apostleship & keys thereof if he dies in faith He will hold those keys to all Eternity. All the Prophets Patriarchs & Apostles who ever did or ever will hold the keys of the Apostleship if faithful unto death will hold them forever.

Brigham Young also taught,

Many may say, “br. Brigham, perhaps you are mistaken; you are liable to err, and if the mob should not come, after all, and we should burn up our houses and learn that the Government had actually countermanded their orders and that no armies are coming to Utah, it would be a needless destruction. We have all the time felt that there was no need of leaving our houses. How easy it is for men to be mistaken, and we think a Prophet may be mistaken once in a while.” I am just as willing as the Lord, if he is disposed to make me make mistakes, and it is none of the business of any other person. If a people do the best they know, they have the power to ask and receive, and no power can prevent it.

And if the Lord wants me to make a mistake, I would as soon be mistaken as anything else, if that will save the lives of the people and give us the victory. If you get such feelings in your hearts, think of what my conclusion on the subject is, and do not come to my office to ask me whether I am mistaken, for I want to tell you now perhaps I am.

Do I want to save you? Ask that question. But John, what are you doing? Are you not an Elder in Israel? “Yes, I am a High Priest.” What is the office of an High Priest? John replies, “I do not know, without it is to whip my wife, knock down my children and make everybody obey me; and I believe a High Priest presides over an Elder.” You will find some Elders just about that ignorant. Let me tell you what the office of a High Priest and an Elder is. It holds the keys of the revelation of Jesus Christ; it unlocks the gates of heaven. It opens the broad windows of revelation from eternity. John, what are you about, imagining that I may be mistaken? or that br. Heber may be mistaken? Why do you not open the windows of heaven and get revelation for yourself? and not go whining around and saying, “do you not think that you may be mistaken? Can a Prophet or an Apostle be mistaken?” Do not ask me any such question, for I will acknowledge that all the time, but I do not acknowledge that I designedly lead this people astray one hair’s breadth from the truth, and I do not knowingly do a wrong, though I may commit many wrongs, and so may you. But I overlook your weaknesses, and I know by experience that the Saints lift their hearts to God that I may be led right. If I am thus borne off by your prayers and faith, with my own, and suffered to lead you wrong, it proves that your faith is vain. Do not worry. (Brigham Young, sermon given on 21 March 1858, Salt Lake Tabernacle, transcribed by George D. Watt, Richard S. Van Wagoner, The Complete Discourses of Brigham Young, Vol. 3, pp. 1417-1418)

Notice how it would be “the Lord” making Young make a mistake. And again on the same day in the afternoon session Young clarified what he was talking about:

I have told you what causes apostacy. It arises from neglect of prayers and duties, and the Spirit of the Lord leaves those who are thus negligent and they begin to think that the authorities of the church are wrong. In the days of Joseph the first thing manifested in the case of apostacy was the idea that Joseph was liable to be mistaken, and when a man admits that in his feelings and sets it down as a fact, it is a step towards apostacy, and he only needs to make one step more and he is cut off from the church. That is the case in any man. When several of the Twelve were cut off, the first step was that Joseph was a prophet, but he had fallen from his office and the Lord would suffer him to lead the people wrong. When persons get that idea in their minds, they are taking the first step to apostacy. If the Lord has designed that I should lead you wrong, then let us all go to hell together and, as Joseph used to say, we will take hell by force, turn the devils out and make a heaven of it. (ibid., 1420)

Christensen claims,

None of the biblical keys condemn Joseph Fielding Smith as a potential prophet. He actually comes out looking very good by these measures. His racial views and mistakes on points of history, his behavior before he became the prophet, and his age and behavior when he was the prophet, all have a historical context and biblical precedent.

By Christensen’s personal “measures” . Except he wasn’t a “potential prophet”, he was a prophet when he was ordained an apostle, therefore all of Christensen’s criteria to Presidents of the Church (the chief apostle) apply. Christensen simply is advocating his own brand of Mormonism, not what is taught by Mormon authorities. There is no Biblical precedent for a “revelation” that excludes anyone from all the blessings that others enjoyed under the New Covenant. The “Curse of Ham” was an invention of racist men and adopted by a misguided Mormon Hierarchy who claimed it for themselves as a revelation from God.

But of course to Christensen, racism is irrelevant. And then here we go with the red herring soup:

“By their fruits shall ye know them” refers to the recognition of a characteristic fruit as the key to identification. So if you happen to spot unripe, fallen, bruised, or wormy fruit, if you know the fruit’s identifying characteristics, even they will do. A grape with a blemish is not a thorn, nor is even a perfect thorn any kind of fruit. A fig that has been pecked by a bird is still a fig, and a flawless or fashionably popular thistle is still a just a thistle (see Matthew 7:16–17).

If Stephenson wants to dismiss or reject these biblical criteria, his alternative ideology resorts to a subjective appeal to emotional hot-button issues argued on the unacknowledged basis that Smith represents behavior and attitudes that are “not the way I would arrange it if I were God.” Such an argument suffers from the inescapable limitation that Stephenson is not God. Notice that if Stephenson had openly stated that his use of these criteria depends on the reasoning that the situation is “not the way I would arrange it if I were God,” that opens his reasoning to critical examination in the same way my listing of biblical tests opens them to critical examination. Rather than be swept up by the emotional wave of impassioned disapproval of Joseph Fielding Smith as a person — which flatter the reader as enlightened and demand no mental or emotional effort — such as offered by Stephenson as an apparently objective and decisive set of self-evident facts, he’d have to admit that they are grounded on the claim that if he were God he wouldn’t permit such behavior in a true prophet. The effectiveness of the argument therefore depends on concealing these assumptions and forestalling any undesirable critical consideration from his audience about who is clearly not God.

So racism is not bad fruit? Ok. Where does this guy get this shit from? Did I claim that I was God? Nope. But Christensen must be claiming that, according to his own words, because his “ideology” is right and Fielding Smith comes out just fine by his criteria.

And what were the “fruits” of Mormonism’s institutional racism? Oh yeah, that is irrelevant! And what Biblical criteria does Christensen give? None. He mentions a couple of Chapters in Acts and a couple of books and an article by a Mormon Apologist. Could he be more vague? How does he apply such references? Where is his reasoned argument using the evidence? Nowhere to be found, though we have lots and lots of copy detailing Christensen’s own personal ideology.

So what Christensen classes as “emotional hot button issues” are off the table? Sounds like the National Rifle Association’s shtick when anyone wants to discuss gun regulatons after a mass shooting.  Except there was no mass shooting here (this is an old issue but still very relevant) and of course the Church itself published on the issue just a few years ago in one of their anonymous Essays. So no one can have a reasoned argument about Mormon revelation without first declaring “If I were God” first? Hogwash. As one of the Mormon “Apostles” stated:

False prophets and false teachers are those who arrogantly attempt to fashion new interpretations of the scriptures to demonstrate that these sacred texts should not be read as God’s words to His children but merely as the utterances of uninspired men, limited by their own prejudices and cultural biases. They argue, therefore, that the scriptures require new interpretation and that they are uniquely qualified to offer that interpretation. …However, in the Lord’s Church there is no such thing as a “loyal opposition.” One is either for the kingdom of God and stands in defense of God’s prophets and apostles, or one stands opposed. (M. Russell Ballard, 1999)

This is the very thing that Christensen is doing with Fielding Smith, claiming that the Mormon apostles words “should not be read as God’s words to His children, but merely as the utterances of uninspired men, limited by their own prejudices and cultural biases.” He and his FAIRMORMON friends have the “right” interpretation. All that Mormon “Authorities” teach is opinion, based on their faulty reading of the scriptures unless they are the President of the Church and make an “official” declaration. The Holy Ghost does not operate in this brand of Mormonism except when Mormon Apologists say so. It is irrelevant unless an official vote is taken. But according to Ballard, Christensen is the false teacher here if he contradicts the “Authorities” of the Church. Remember, he claimed that Jeremy was wrong in favoring official doctrine over “the best books” when it came to answering his questions about his eternal welfare:

His preference for “official” thought rather than “the best books” is telling (D&C 88:118).

Notice though, what D&C 88 states in context,

118 And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.

This is directed to  “those who have not faith”. Jeremy did have faith. He was simply troubled by things he had learned. He then went to what Christensen describes as “the best books,” but that made it worse. But Jeremy is wrong simply because Christensen has a personal preference for Apologist answers, which to him are always “superior”.

The only one playing God here appears to be Christensen by deigning to judge his methods of research as “superior” to Jeremy’s. This is simply Big Brother mentality. FAIRMORMON’s ways are what one must follow to keep the “faith”. Otherwise, you will turn bitter and brittle and you will “shatter”. Don’t follow your heart, follow our formula.

Our leaders are to be revered, but we will question their relevance when it suits our purpose.  You must read the Book of Mormon our way, to have the correct interpretation of what it states. Those “Authorities” that came before, didn’t know what they were talking about because our interpretation is “superior”.

The only one that seems to be getting swept up in an “emotional wave” is Christensen. He is the one who is bothered by anyone speaking about Mormon racism. And he condemns my rhetoric?

The rest of Christensen’s rant is just more same ol’ same ol’, which I may come back and address at a later time. But I want to get to the claimed 1820 vision and the supposed priesthood restoration.

II. First Vision Vagaries

I was intrigued by Christensen’s mention of the late Matthew Brown’s book, and so I bought the Kindle Version (they didn’t have it at Gospelink) and read it. (It took me a couple of hours). This will actually help me with an Essay I’ve been writing on the claimed 1820 Vision, because Brown makes some interesting (but mistaken) conclusions.

Christensen writes,

Stephenson’s most focused and substantial challenge applies to a specific argument regarding the First Vision. He quotes this passage from me:

Look at his [Jeremy Runnells] complaints about the various First Vision Accounts and the priesthood restoration. On page 22 of his Letter, Runnells claims that “there is absolutely no record of a First Vision prior to 1832.” The FairMormon website response points out an article in the Palmyra Reflector from 1831 that indicates discussion of Joseph’s vision as early as November 1830. They also point to the allusion in D&C 20, which dates to April 1830.67

In response Stephenson has this:

This is the real issue. Is there any evidence of discussion about the claimed 1820 vision before 1832 when Joseph first penned it? The answer is no. The FairMormon article that Christensen quotes is wrong. Why? Because the two missionaries that the newspaper article describes are referring not to any claimed 1820 vision but rather the visit of Moroni three years later.

Christensen links to a FairMormon article that is not only incorrect but completely deceptive as well.

One check on whether the FairMormon article is correct or deceptive is to read the newspaper article cited. Matt Roper has reproduced the Reflector February 14, 1831 for the archive of “19th-Century Publications about the Book of Mormon”:

Our Painesville correspondent informs us, that about the first of Nov. last, Oliver Cowdery, (we shall notice this character in the course of our labors,) and three others arrived at that village with the “New Bible,” on a mission to the notorious Sidney Rigdon, who resides in the adjoining town. Rigdon received them graciously — took the book under advisement, and in a few days declared it to be of “Heavenly origin.” Rigdon, with about 20 of his flock, were dipt immediately. They then proclaimed that there had been no religion in the world for 1500 years, — that no one had been authorised to preach &c. for that periodthat Joe Smith had now received a commission from God for that purpose, and that all such as did not submit to his authority would speedily be destroyed. The world (except the New Jerusalem) would come to an end in two or three years. The state of New-York would (probably) be sunk. Smith (they affirmed) had seen God frequently and personally — Cowdery and his friends had frequent interviews with angels, and had been directed to locate the site for the New Jerusalem, which they should know, the moment they should “step their feet” upon it.

Notice that the newspaper describes four missionaries, not two. Matthew Brown identifies them as “Oliver Cowdery, Parley P. Pratt, Peter Whitmer Jr., and Richard Ziba Peterson.” Why does Stephenson miss this?

Did Joseph receive a commission from God to preach in 1820? He did not get that until after the “translation” of the Book of Mormon. Did I miss something? No, I didn’t. I was pointing out how the FAIRMORMON article was deceptive. Notice my language:

The FairMormon article that Christensen quotes is wrong. Why?

I didn’t say they had misquoted the Reflector article which Christensen implies. (Though they did manipulate it) That is another strawman of Christensen’s.That particular FAIRMORMON article dealt with a lot of material. I was focusing on the 1832 accounts of Missionaries that Christensen later tries to dismiss to show exactly what was being taught after Joseph write the 1832 History. There is a reason for this. What I was claiming is that FAIRMORMON was being deceptive about them in attributing them to a claimed earlier vision. That much is obvious from my later comments and quotes. Christensen knew this, and so wrote,

Well, for one thing, in his essay he doesn’t deal directly with that specific issue of the Reflector. [Bingo!] Part of his approach is to look at other newspaper accounts reporting on different LDS missionaries that did not mention theophanies, but rather focused on the more sensational story of the angel and the book. And he compares those accounts with Cowdery’s 1834 history, Lucy’s later history, and a letter from William McLellan, none of which mention theophany, but focus on the angel and the book. That is, he looks to them as paradigmatic, rather than the one with the clear evidence that contradicts Runnells’s original claim of “absolutely no evidence” before 1832.

So, seeing an angel was more “sensational” than claiming to see God? Really? No, my point was that FAIRMORMON was claiming that those 1832 accounts were about Smith’s theophany, and that was deceptive. None of the 1831/1832 sources mention specific theophanies, that is the point. They don’t “focus” on the angel story, it was all they knew about. Therefore, the account by McLellin is extrememly relevant because it was given just a few months after the Reflector article, from a known source who gave accurate information about what Mormon Missionaries (one of them Joseph’s brother) were teaching. This is much more “credible evidence” as we shall see. This was a direct answer to the problem with the Reflector article. There are many more, as we shall see.

III. Paradigm Precedent?

The claims made in the 1831 Reflector account are actually so ludicrous that I didn’t think I needed to respond to them, but obviously I do. It only makes it worse for Christensen (as does his really deceptive comments about David Whitmer).  And is the FAIRMORMON Article deceptive here also? Why, yes it is. Here is what they quote:

1831

LDS missionaries were teaching that Joseph Smith “had seen God frequently and personally” and received a commission from Him to teach true religion. (The Reflector, vol. 2, no. 13, 14 February 1831).

First, this is not an actual quote. (Notice what is actually in quotes) It is parts of Cole’s synopsis cobbled together. They do not explain that they did this. And where is FAIRMORMON’s anaylsis of this comment? Where is the full quote? The article doesn’t mention “true religion”, it says Mormons were teaching that there was “no religion” on the earth for 1500 years and that Joseph claimed that he got a commission from God “for that purpose”, or, to preach with authority. But this did not happen in 1820.

Christensen actually does me a favor by quoting the entire portion of the “Painsville Correspondent’s” section in the Reflector issue from Febuary 14. (Something you seldom see from FairMormon Apologists). Now everyone that reads his article can see it, and how ridiculous some of the claims it makes are. (They sure can’t find the whole quote in the FAIRMORMON article). You can now see how FAIRMORMON manipulated it to look like Smith talked to God and got “a commission from Him”, as if it was all one event.

Before I get into that, here is what Christensen says about me:

… he looks to them [the 1831/1832 articles] as paradigmatic, rather than the one with the clear evidence that contradicts Runnells’s original claim of “absolutely no evidence” before 1832.

First, Remember folks, what Jeremy claimed was this:

The first and earliest written account of the First Vision in Joseph Smith’s journal was written 12 years after the spring of 1820. There is absolutely no record of a First Vision prior to 1832.

Secondly, what the Missionaries taught in 1832 is absolutely paradigmatic. Does the article written by Abner Cole that FAIRMORMON/Christensen is quoting, which generalizes what four missionaries were allegedly teaching constitute “clear evidence” of the specific claim that Joseph Smith saw God in 1820 (who at that time told him all of the churches were an “abomination”) and received a “commission” from him and then spoke about it? Not even close. Does it even give us good evidence that Joseph was claiming to have “seen God frequently”? before he organized his church in 1830? Not at all. This was obviously about Joseph and Oliver receiving signed “revelations” from God (Jesus). How, exactly,  does this verify a supposed vision in 1820? It doesn’t. We will see below what was actually meant by this.

I have a good friend (Matthew Bowman) who has written about this here. He rightly points out that this article is nothing but unsubstantiated rumors:

First, as it stands the information is little more than rumor. An unnamed “correspondent” reported to the author of the Reflector article (Abner Cole) the claims made by Oliver Cowdery and his three associates concerning what Joseph Smith had seen. We therefore have the following chain of sources:

Joseph Smith → Oliver Cowdery and friends → unnamed correspondent → Abner Cole

The opportunities for garbled communication through this many stages of transmission are obvious. Information obtained third- or fourth-hand is not exactly reliable.

This is the same Abner Cole who wrote “The Book of Pukei”, a spoof on the Book of Mormon and had a penchant for exaggerating. And Christensen doesn’t quote the entire article from the Reflector. Let’s do that, shall we? It reads,

GOLD BIBLE, NO. 4.

Since we have any knowledge of the habits or propensities of the human species, we find that man has been prone to absurdities; and it too often happens that while we carefully attempt to detect them in others, we fondly cherish some gross inconsistencies within our own bosoms. The lust of power, doubtless stimulates the few, while ignorance binds the many, like passive slaves to the car of superstition.

It is passing strange, that in all ages of the world, gross stupidity in an impostor should be considered among the vulgar, irrefragible proof of his divine mission, and the most bungling piece of legerdemain, will receive from them all the credit of a well attested miracle.

Joanna Southcote published a book in the city of London, in 1804, in which her first prophecies were detailed. — She declares that she did not understand the communications given her by the spirit, till they were afterwards explained to her. The spirit informed her how she could fortel the weather and other events. She declares that the death of Bishop Buller, was foretold her in a dream. One night she heard an iron ball roll three steps down stairs, which the spirit told her was a sign of three great evils, about to fall upon the land — the sword, the plague, and famine. She relates that she foretold the extraordinary harvest, which happened in 1800. She was often ordered to read the bible, when the spirit would interpret its meaning. She informs her readers that Jacob’s warning to his sons, is applicable to our times — mentions frequent contests with various preachers, and talks much about the marriage of the Lamb.

The following is from one of her communications. “As wrong as they are in saying thou hast children bro’t up by the parish, and that thou art Bonaparte’s brother, and that thou hast been in prison; so false is their sayings, thy writings come from the devil, or any spirit but the spirit of the LIVING GOD; and that every soul in this nation shall know before the FIVE YEARS I mentioned to the people in 1800 are expired, and then I will return as a DIADEM of beauty to the residence of my people, and they shall praise the GOD OF THEIR SALVATION.”

In 1805 Joanna published a pamphlet, attempting to confute the “five charges” which had been made against her and published in the newspapers. First, sealing her disciples. Second, on the invasion. Third, on famine. Fourth, her mission, and fifth, her death. Sealing is an important point among these people. — Joanna gives those who profess a belief in her mission, and will subscribe to the things revealed in her “WARNING,” a sealed paper with her signature, by which they are led to think, that they are sealed against the day of redemption, and that all those who possess these seals, would be signally honored by the Messiah when he should come in the spring (of 1807.) Her followers believed her to be the bride, the Lamb’s wife, and that as man fell by a woman, he will be restored by a woman. Many of her followers pretended to have visions and revelations. At present it would appear that both warning, and sealing have subsided; and they are waiting in awful suspense for the commencement of the thousand years reign on earth, when peace will universally prevail. They now pretend that Christ will not come in person, but in spirit, and all the dead who have been sealed, will be raised from their graves to partake of this happy state.

If an imposture, like the one we have so briefly noticed, could spring up in the great metropolis of England, and spread over a considerable portion of that kingdom, it is not surprising that one equally absurd, should have its origin in this neighborhood, where its dupes are not, or ever will be numerous.

In the commencement, the imposture of the “book of Mormon,” had no regular plan or features. At a time when the money digging ardor was somewhat abated, the elder Smith declared that his son Jo had seen the spirit, (which he then described as a little old man with a long beard,) and was informed that he (Jo) under certain circumstances, eventually should obtain great treasures, and that in due time he (the spirit) would furnish him (Jo) with a book, which would give an account of the Ancient inhabitants (antideluvians) of this country, and where they had deposited their substance, consisting of costly furniture, &c. at the approach of the great deluge, which had ever since that time remained secure in his (the spirits) charge, in large and spacious chambers, in sundry places in this vicinity, and these tidings corresponded precisely with revelations made to, and predictions made by the elder Smith a number of years before.

The time at length arrived, when young Jo was to receive the book from the hand of the spirit, and he repaired accordingly, alone, and in the night time, to the woods in the rear of his father’s house (in the town of Manchester  about two miles south of this village) and met the spirit as had been appointed. This rogue of a spirit who had baffled all the united efforts of the money diggers, (although they had tried many devices to gain his favor, and at one time sacrificed a barn yard fowl,) intended it would seem to play our prophet a similar trick on this occasion; for no sooner had he delivered the book according to promise, than he made a most desperate attempt to regain its possession. Our prophet however, like a lad of true metal, stuck to his prize, and attempted to gain his father’s dwelling, which it appears, was near at hand. The father being alarmed at the long absence of his son, and probably fearing some trick of the spirit, having known him for many years; sallied forth in quest of the youthful adventurer. He had not however, proceeded far before he fell in with the object of his kind solicitude who appeared to be in the greatest peril. The spirit had become exasperated at the stubborn conduct of the young prophet, in wishing to keep possession of the book, and out of sheer spite, raised a whirlwind, which at that particular juncture, throwing trunks and limbs of trees about their ears, besides the “elfish sprite” had belabored Jo soundly with blows, — had felled him once to the ground, and bruised him severely in the side. The rescue however, was timely, Jo retained his treasure, and returned to the house with his father, much fatigued and injured. This tale in substance, was told at the time the event was said to have happened by both father and son, and is well recollected by many of our citizens. It will be borne in mind that no divine interposition had been dreamed of at the period.

BOOK OF MORMON. — Our Painesville correspondent informs us, that about the first of Nov. last, Oliver Cowdery, (we shall notice this character in the course of our labors,) and three others arrived at that village with the “New Bible,” on a mission to the notorious Sidney Rigdon, who resides in the adjoining town. Rigdon received them graciously — took the book under advisement, and in a few days declared it to be of “Heavenly origin.” Rigdon, with about 20 of his flock, were dipt immediately. They then proclaimed that there had been no religion in the world for 1500 years, — that no one had been authorised to preach &c. for that period, — that Joe Smith had now received a commission from God for that purpose, and that all such as did not submit to his authority would speedily be destroyed. The world (except the New Jerusalem) would come to an end in two or three years. The state of New York would (probably) be sunk. Smith (they affirmed) had seen God frequently and personally — Cowdery and his friends had frequent interviews with angels, and had been directed to locate the site for the New Jerusalem, which they should know, the moment they should “step their feet” upon it. They pretend to heal the sick and work miracles, and had made a number of unsuccessful attempts to do so. The Indians were the ten lost tribes — some of them had already been dipt. From 1 to 200 (whites) had already been in the water, and showed great zeal in this new religion — many were converted before they saw the book. Smith was continually receiving new revelations, and it would probably take him 1000 years to complete them — commissions and papers were exhibited, said to be signed by Christ himself!!! Cowdery authorised three persons to preach, &c.  and descended the Ohio River. The converts are forming “common stock” families, as most pleasing in the sight of God. They pretend to give the “Holy Spirit” and under its operations they fall upon the floor — see visions, &c. Indians followed Cowdery daily, and finally saw him enter the promised land, where he placed a pole in the ground, with a light on its top, to designate the site of the New Jerusalem. (The Palmyra Reflector, February 14, 1831).

Dale Broadhurst writes in his notes:

Mormon Historians makes this observation on the claim of the men having seen God frequently:

The above, third-hand report, of Joseph Smith, Jr. having “seen God frequently and personally,” is an interesting historical item. It is strange that the old report comes from Ohio and not from Smith’s home region around Palmyra, New York. Nevertheless, it appears to be the first published allegation that the young seer had gazed upon the afwul countenance of God the Father — an occurrence which biblical scriptures pronounce impossible for a living being to endure. It seems likely, that even as early as 1831, the first Mormons believed they were living in the “final dispensation of the gospel” and were no longer subject to certain divine restrictions which had limited the efforts of their predecessors, the “former day saints.” While there is no documentation of Smith himself claiming to have seen God, so early as 1831, he seems to have been content to allow his followers to spread such stories, if they wished to be so believing.

My friend Dale is being very generous here. Cole is claiming to be quoting a “Painesville Correspondent”. Actually, it appears that Cole was just reading the Painesville Telegraph’s back issues and supplemented them with a letter received from an anonymous “correspondent”. If one looks at the Issues from December 1830 to February 1831, we see much of what Cole attributes to his anonymous “correspondent”.

But before I get into that, lets take a look at what Cole wrote in the Reflector. He first writes under the title of “Gold Bible, No. 4”. He mentions Joanna Southcote, [sic] and how,

If an imposture, like the one we have so briefly noticed, could spring up in the great metropolis of England, and spread over a considerable portion of that kingdom, it is not surprising that one equally absurd, should have its origin in this neighborhood, where its dupes are not, or ever will be numerous.

This echos the words of Thomas Campbell, from the Telegraph article, who mentions the French Prophets, the first Quakers, the Shakers and Jemima Wilkenson and then observes:

Mormonite prophets & teachers can show no better authority for their pretended mission and revelations than these impostors have done, we have no better authority to believe them than we have to believe their predecessors in imposition. But the dilemma is, we can’t believe all, for each was exclusively right in his day, and those of them that remain are still exclusively right to this day; and if the Shakers be right, the whole world, the Mormonites themselves not excepted, are in the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity — quite as far from salvation as you yourself have pronounced all the sectarians on earth to be, namely, in a state of absolute damnation.

Cole then writes about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and how it was all tied into Joseph’s monyedigging. He mentions Joseph Smith’s history with the angel or spirit, and does not mention anything about any claimed vision of God. He then speaks of his “Painesville correspondent.”

Here is what Cole in the Reflector claims that the unnamed correspondent related to him, contrasted with Telegraph articles:

Our Painesville correspondent informs us, that about the first of Nov. last, Oliver Cowdery, (we shall notice this character in the course of our labors,) and three others arrived at that village with the “New Bible,” on a mission to the notorious Sidney Rigdon, who resides in the adjoining town. Rigdon received them graciously — took the book under advisement, and in a few days declared it to be of “Heavenly origin.

Telegraph (Dec 14, 1830) article claims:

Four men are traveling westward, who say they are commanded by their Heavenly Father, to go and collect the scattered tribes of Israel, which they say a new Gospel or Prophecy informs them are the different tribes of Indians.

Telegraph (Feb 14, 1831):

About the last of October, 1830, four men, claiming to be divinely inspired, came from Manchester and Palmyra, Ontario county, N.Y., bringing a pretended revelation, entitled the “Book of Mormon.” They came to the brethern of the reformation in Mentor, saluted them as brethern, and professed to rejoice at finding a people walking according to the scriptures of truth, and acknowledging no other guide. They professed to have no commands for them, nevertheless, they called upon them to receive their mission and book as from Heaven, which they said chiefly concerned the western Indians, as being an account of their origin, and a prophecy of their final conversion to christianity, and make them a white and delightsome people, and be reinstated in the possession of their lands of which they have been despoiled by the whites. — When called upon for testimony, they appealed (like Mahomet) to the internal evidences of their book. The book was read and pronounced a silly fabrication. When farther pressed upon the subject, they required the brethern to humble themselves before God, and pray for a sign from heaven.  They took up their abode with the pastor of the congregation, (Sidney Rigdon,) who read their book and partly condemned it — but, two days afterwards, was heard to confess his conviction of its truth.

Notice that Cole writes “the last of October 1830” and the Telegraph claims “the first of November last”.  We have the four missionaries and that Sidney Rigdon was converted. The Telegraph claims that Sidney first condemned it, Cole in the Reflector glosses over this.

Reflector:

Rigdon, with about 20 of his flock, were dipt immediately.

Telegraph (Feb. 14):

Immediately the subtlety and duplicity of these men were manifest — as soon as they saw a number disposed to give heed to them, then it was they bethought themselves of making a party — then it was they declared that their book contained a new covenant, to come under which the disciple must be re-immersed. When called upon to answer concerning their pretended covenant, whether it was distinct from that mentioned in Hebrews VIII, 10-13, they would equivocate, and would say, (to use their own words) “on the large scale, the covenant is the same, but in some things it is different.” Immediately they made a party — seventeen persons were immersed by them in one night. At this Mr. Rigdon seemed much displeased, and when they came next day to his house, he withstood them to the face — showed them that what they had done was entirely without precedent in the holy scriptures — for they had immersed those persons that they might work miracles as well as come under the said covenant — showed them that the apostles baptized for the remission of sins — but miraculous gifts were conferred by the imposition of hands. But when pressed upon the point, they justified themselves by saying, it was on their part merely a compliance with the solicitations of those persons.

Reflector:

They then proclaimed that there had been no religion in the world for 1500 years, — that no one had been authorised to preach &c. for that period, — that Joe Smith had now received a commission from God for that purpose, and that all such as did not submit to his authority would speedily be destroyed. The world (except the New Jerusalem) would come to an end in two or three years. The state of New York would (probably) be sunk.

Telegraph (Nov 16, 1830):

He proclaims destruction upon the world within a few years, — holds forth that the ordinances of the gospel, have not been regularly administered since the days of the Apostles, till the said Smith and himself commenced the work

Telegraph (Feb 1, 1831):

[Sidney Rigdon] After denouncing dreadful vengeance on the whole state of New York, and this village in particular, and recommending to all such as wished to flee from “the wrath to come,” to follow him beyond the ‘western waters,’ he took his leave.

Telegraph (Feb 14, 1831):

We shall next proceed to expose the anti-scriptural assertion, that there has been none duly authorized to administer baptism, for the space of fourteen hundred years up to the present time, by showing that the church or the kingdom of Christ, must have been totally extinct during that period, provided its visible administration had actually ceased during that time, is an express contradiction of the testimony of Jesus, Matt. xvi. 18.

They declared that all the great things they spoke would be manifest over the whole earth within the term of three years.

Reflector:

Smith (they affirmed) had seen God frequently and personallyCowdery and his friends had frequent interviews with angels, and had been directed to locate the site for the New Jerusalem, which they should know, the moment they should “step their feet” upon it.

Telegraph (Nov. 16, 1830)

About two weeks since some persons came along here with the book, one of whom pretends to have seen Angels, and assisted in translating the plates.

Telegraph (Dec 7, 1830)

Those who are the friends and advocates of this wonderful book, state that Mr. Oliver Cowdry has his commission directly from the God of Heaven, and that he has credentials, written and signed by the hand of Jesus Christ, with whom he has personally conversed, and as such, said Cowdry claims that he and his associates are the only persons on earth who are qualified to administer in his name.

Telegraph (Jan 18, 1831)

But the more important part of the mission was to inform the brethren that the boundaries of the promised land, or the New Jerusalem, had just been made known to Smith from God

Telegraph (Feb 14, 1831):

They said, they saw the heavens open, the angels, paradise, and hell.

Mr. Rigdon again called upon them for proof of the truth of their book and mission: they then related the manner in which they obtained faith, which was by praying for a sign, and an angel was shown unto them.…but said Cowdrey, “Do you think if I should go to my Heavenly Father with all sincerity, and pray to him in the name of Jesus Christ, that he would not show me an angel — that he would suffer Satan to deceive me?”

Reflector:

They pretend to heal the sick and work miracles, and had made a number of unsuccessful attempts to do so.

Telegraph:

They say much about working miracles, and pretend to have that power. Cowdery and his fellows, essayed to work several while they tarried in Kirtland, one in particular, the circumstances of which I had from the Mormonites themselves. It was a young female who had been confined to her bed for two years — they prayed over her, laying on hands, and commanded her in the name of Jesus Christ to rise up and walk; however, no effect appeared until the next day, when she was persuaded to leave her couch and attempt to walk. She arose, walked three or four steps, (which they told as a miracle) she then almost fainted, and was assisted back to her bed from which she’s not since arisen. But as all their miracles have proved to be a mere sham, to speak vulgarly, the Mormonites have endeavored to save the credit of their prophets, by declaring that they never pronounced these people whole but only prayed for them — but when confronted by one of the disciples in Kirtland upon the instance just mentioned, as it was so public they could not deny it, one of them said that he did not know but Cowdery did command her to arise, but if he did it was in a laughing, jesting way!!! –

Another of the Mormonites said Cowdery did not command her to arise, but merely asked her why she did not arise. Another instance of a man in Painesville, who was in the last stage of consumption, was attempted to be healed by Cowdery. A few days afterwards Mr. Rigdon was heard to say “that he would get well, if there was a God in Heaven!” He has since deceased. But these prophets had the policy to cover their retreat in these things, by saying that they would not recover immediately; the Lord would take his own time; and one of these people a few days ago, when put to the worst upon the subject, said that he did not think Cowdery would have attempted to do any miracles, had he have known how things would turn out.

Reflector:

Smith was continually receiving new revelations, and it would probably take him 1000 years to complete them — commissions and papers were exhibited, said to be signed by Christ himself!!!

Telegraph (Dec 7, 1830)

Those who are the friends and advocates of this wonderful book, state that Mr. Oliver Cowdry has his commission directly from the God of Heaven, and that he has credentials, written and signed by the hand of Jesus Christ, with whom he has personally conversed, and as such, said Cowdry claims that he and his associates are the only persons on earth who are qualified to administer in his name.

You can’t get revelation signed by Jesus Christ unless he is there to sign it. This is why it was claimed that Smith saw God “frequently”. Substitute Smith for Cowdery and there you have it.

Telegraph (Feb 1, 1831)

Elder S. Rigdon left this village on Monday last in the stage, for the “Holy Land,” where all the “Gold Bible” converts have recently received a written command from God, through Jo. Smith, Junior, to repair with all convenient speed, selling off the property.

Reflector:

Cowdery authorised three persons to preach, &c.  and descended the Ohio River.

Telegraph:

About three weeks after Mr. R. was baptized by Oliver Cowdery, he went to the state of New York, to see Joseph Smith, jr. while Cowdrey, with his three companions, proceeded on to the western Indians.

Reflector:

The converts are forming “common stock” families, as most pleasing in the sight of God.

Telegraph (Feb 14, 1831):

We are prepared to show that the pretended duty of common property among Christians is anti-scriptural, being subversive of the law of Christ, and inimical to the just rights of society.

Reflector:

They pretend to give the “Holy Spirit” and under its operations they fall upon the floorsee visions, &c.

Telegraph (Feb 14, 1831):

Immediately after Mr. R. and the four pretended prophets left Kirtland, a scene of the wildest enthusiasm was exhibited, chiefly, however, among the young people; they would fall, as without strength, roll upon the floor, and, so mad were they that even the females were seen on a cold winter day, lying under the bare canopy of heaven, with no couch or pillow but the fleecy snow. At other times they exhibited all the apish actions imaginable, making grimaces both horrid and ridiculous, creeping upon their hands and feet, &c. Sometimes, in these exercises the young men would rise and play before the people, going through all the Indian maneuvers of knocking down, scalping, ripping open, and taking out the bowels. At other times, they would start and run several furlongs, then get upon stumps and preach to imagined congregations, baptize ghosts, &c. At other times, they are taken with a fit of jabbering after which they neither understood themselves nor anybody else, and this they call speaking foreign languages by divine inspiration. Again the young men are seen running over the hills in pursuit, they say, of balls of fire which they see flying through the air.

But there is one piece of evidence that apparently all the Mormon experts have missed. In the February 1, 1831 edition of the Palmyra Reflector, (The issue preceding the Feb. 14 issue), Abner Cole published this blurb:

We have received a long letter from a gentleman of respectability from Painesville, Ohio, respecting the conduct of the “Mormonites” in that state. We shall publish a synopsis of it in our next We have an article in type, copied from the Painesville Telegraph, which from want of room has been excluded from this day’s paper detailing some account of the Mormonites in the state of Ohio, it will appear in our next.

Cole himself admits that he was only going to publish a “synopsis” of the letter. This is the material that he attributes to the “Painesville Correspondent”.

It is obvious from the above, that Abner Cole had simply taken the accounts from several of the back issues of the Telegraph, and supplemented them with material from some letter he had received which turned into the Painesville “correspondent” material. It might have even been the same person who submitted material to the Telegraph. Certainly there are too many similarities to assume all of those claims came from one letter. (Though it might be possible) It seems more likely that Cole was simply taking a little artistic license here.

This begs the question though, if we are to accept the anonymous claim that Smith had seen and spoken to God frequently as “clear evidence”; does this contradict the claim that Jeremy made which was: “There is absolutely no record of a First Vision prior to 1832?” It is ludicrous to even suggest that it does. We have no idea what was actually written in the letter that Cole received.

What Cole did was common practice in Nineteenth Century America:

News gathering procedures grew from four practices that were routine by 1800: taking items from other papers, culling excerpts from letters, assembling word of mouth reports and taking notes on congressional sessions. … Despite increased pursuit of news, a great amount of newspaper content still came from other newspapers—through the system of editors’ exchanges—until the Civil War brought the first organized, systematic news gathering in the field. (Hazel Dicken-Garcia, Reporters and Reporting in the Nineteenth Century, History of Mass Media in the United States, Margaret A. Blanchard, ed., 1998, p. 585, 586)

Cole did not publish excerpts though, but a synopsis, or brief summary of the letter he put into his own words. That means what we see in print was authored by Cole, who was not in Ohio, but in New York. We have no way at all of determining what was in the original letter. What is interesting is that in all of the comparisons above from the Telegraph, we see none that claim that Smith had actually seen God (Jesus) frequently or at all, for that matter. The Telegraph articles claimed this of Oliver Cowdery, not Joseph Smith.

This claim (about Smith seeing God frequently) only appears in Cole’s synopsis. We can confirm the information about Cowdery, but not Smith in the Telegraph articles. In other words we have no idea what additions or elaborations Cole may have made since it was not a verbatim quote of the letter. One also has to ask, if Cole actually had a long letter, why not publish at least parts of it verbatim? He certainly printed up a lot of other material on the Mormons (and Joanna Southcott) in that issue.

Christensen also astoundingly characterizes the above synopsis by Abner Cole as a “discussion of Joseph’s vision as early as November 1830″. Who is he trying to kid here? A discussion of Joseph’s claimed 1820 vision? Really? What was being discussed, apparently, were the “revelations” that Joseph had received signed by Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon, and the New Jerusalem, along with the authority to preach.

This is his clear evidence for the claimed 1820 vision? And what about the rest of the claims that were made by Abner Cole? Is Christensen ready to admit that they too, are clear evidence of the doctrines being taught at that time? For example, that the Mormons were receiving signed “revelations” by Jesus? What is deceptive about FAIRMORMON is that they do not quote the entire article (or explain it) and let people judge for themselves if this is an actual quote, or the generalizations of an Editor.

Christensen writes,

What he does not do is cancel out or explain the reason for the existence of the distinctive themes in the February 1831 Reflector. He writes as though reticence and variations in personal knowledge in other reports about such experiences could never be a factor in who said, or reported, what when.

Distinctive “themes”? Gleaned from the synopsis of an anonymous letter? How can we take anything that Christensen says seriously? And it was one anonymous report, not “other reports” that Christensen was whining about. Perhaps we should understand this statement from the Palmyra Reflector made a week later as having distinctive themes also, that should be taken as seriously as the February 14th synopsis:

It is well known that Jo Smith never pretended to have any communion with angels, until a long period after the pretended finding of his book, and that the juggling of himself or father, went no further than the pretended faculty of seeing wonders in a “peep stone,” and the occasional interview with the spirit, supposed to have the custody of hidden treasures; and it is also equally well known, that a vagabond fortune-teller by the name of Walters, who then resided in the town of Sodus, and was once committed to the jail of this country for juggling, was the constant companion and bosom friend of these money digging impostors. (Palmyra Reflector, February 28, 1831).

IV. Back to Legitimacy

Christensen dismisses the crucial accounts that I produced in Part I of The Sky is Falling. Regardless of what Christensen claims, these accounts are important, because they are close or contemporary to the time period and are first hand. For example, this account by Peter Bauder, who writes in 1834 (then from a critical perspective):

However … we find him [anti-Christ] in various other places. For instance, view him in the Mahometan system, and a variety of other imposters, who have drawn disciples after them, who had no Theological Seminaries among them; but if you will observe their manner of increasing their numbers, you will find it is done without a reformation wrought in the hearts of their members, by a godly sorrow for sin, and a compunction of soul, and pungent conviction, which precedes a joy which is unspeakable and full of glory, 1 Peter, 1, 8—because the love of God is shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto them according to Romans, 5, 5.

Among these imposters there has one arisen by the name of Joseph Smith, Jr. who commenced his system of church government in this state, (New York) in the year 1830. His followers are commonly called Mormonites, sometimes New Jerusalemites, or Golden Bible society1; they call themselves the true followers of Christ.2 I conceive it my duty to expose this diabolical system for two special reasons—first, because I have had an opportunity with Smith, in his first setting out, to discover his plan; secondly, because I learn since they were broke up in New York State, they have gone to the western States, and are deceiving themselves and the people, and are increasing very fast.

I will name some of the particular discoveries which through Divine Providence I was favored with in an interview with Joseph Smith, Jr. [p.17] at the house of Peter Whitmer, in the town of Fayette, Seneca County, state of New York, in October, 1830. I called at P[eter]. Whitmer’s house, for the purpose of seeing Smith, and searching into the mystery of his system of religion, and had the privilege of conversing with him alone, several hours, and of investigating his writings, church records, &c. I improved near four and twenty hours in close application with Smith and his followers: he could give me no christian experience, but told me that an angel told him he must go to a certain place in the town of Manchester, Ontario County, where was a secret treasure concealed, which he must reveal to the human family. He went, and after the third or fourth time, which was repeated [p. 36] once a year, he obtained a parcel of plate resembling gold, on which were engraved what he did not understand, only by the aid of a glass which he also obtained with the plate, by which means he was enabled to translate the characters on the plate into English. He says he was not allowed to let the plate be seen only by a few individuals named by the angel, and after he had a part translated, the angel conmanded him to carry the plate into a certain piece of woods, which he did:—the angel took them and carried them to parts unknown to him. The part translated he had published, and it is before the public, entitled the Book of Mormon: a horrid blasphemy, but not so wicked as another manuscript which he was then preparing for publication, which I also saw. He told me no man had ever seen it except a few of his apostles: the publication intended was to be the Bible!!! The manner in which it was written is as follows:—he commenced at the first chapter of Genesis, he wrote a few verses of scripture, then added delusion, which he added every [p.18] few verses of scripture, and so making a compound of scripture and delusion. On my interrogating him on the subject, he professed to be inspired by the Holy Ghost to write it. (Dan Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, p. 16-18. I have included a previous paragrpah that does not appear in EMD and explains what Bauder meant by “Christian Experience”)

The Kingdom and Gospel of Jesus Christ (Canajoharie, New York: A. H. Calhoun, 1834.

Peter Bauder, The Kingdom and Gospel of Jesus Christ (Canajoharie, New York: A. H. Calhoun, 1834).

Unlike the Cole synopsis, this account gives accurate information about Joseph’s “translation” of the Bible, the story of the angel, and how Smith “translated” the plates. Bauder spent a whole day with Joseph Smith and his followers. For more on this, see my article here.

The William McLellin Letter is important because it is contemporary to the year, and shows us what Mormon Missionaries (one of them the brother of Joseph Smith) were teaching from a first hand source (uncritical of Joseph) in 1831 (only a few months after the Reflector synopsis was published):

Some time in July 1831, two men [Elders Samuel H. Smith and Reynolds Cahoon] came to Paris and held an evening meeting, only a few attended, but among the others, I was there. They delivered some ideas which appeared very strange to me at that time. They said that in September 1827 an angel appeared to Joseph Smith (in Ontario Co., New York) and showed to him the confusion on the earth respecting true religion. It also told him to go a few miles distant to a certain hill and there he should find some plates with engravings, which (if he was faithful) he should be enabled to translate…

This was the paradigm. Christensen’s synopsis by Abner Cole cannot overturn this other, far more credible evidence, bolstered by the later,1832 reports. Christensen continues,

Stephenson says:

Who wrote the 1832 history? Joseph Smith and Frederick Williams. Not Oliver Cowdery. Therefore, Jeremy’s argument that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery made no such claim until 1834 is exactly correct. That is when they both jointly published Joseph’s history in a series of letters for the Messenger and Advocate. Writing a partial history in secret and abandoning it in the back of a letterbook is not making any “claim”. There is absolutely no evidence that Cowdery knew anything about the claimed 1820 vision.

Notice Runnells’s argument of “no such claim” regarding the vision, and the use of Boolean logic by Stephenson here to define the problem in terms of a specific combination of people, rather than the most important question, which is, “Did Joseph have a vision in 1820?”

Boolean logic? Really? Was the 1832 account made public? Why did Joseph never once refer to it after it was relegated to the back of a letterbook? Why didn’t he copy it into the large journal as he did with the 1834 History? And most importantly, did Oliver Cowdery take part in crafting it? Again, the claim that Jeremy made was absolutely true, but that is not good enough for Christensen.

Actually, I do address the question of Smith claiming to have a vision in 1820. Christensen just isn’t paying attention. I wasn’t writing a book, but giving limited examples, just as he did. But this is how Mormon Apologists roll.  If all else fails, invent a strawman.

I also note his appeal to secrecy regarding the 1832 history and a declaration of “absolutely no evidence” of Cowdery’s knowledge. This last runs directly into Matthew Brown’s 2009 book, A Pillar of Light: The History and Message of the First Vision, which continues a line of thought dating at least to Richard L. Anderson in BYU Studies in 1969.

Which is full of problems. Nowhere is there any proof that Cowdery had knowledge of the 1832 History. His own History proves this. I will elaborate below. Christensen continues:

Brown quotes Cowdery’s declaration that in producing his 1834–1835 histories, he would draw on assistance from Joseph Smith, and use “authentic documents now in our possession.” Brown then offers a careful comparison of what Cowdery produced in 1834 with what Joseph Smith and Frederick Williams had created in 1832 and shows that Cowdery actually used the 1832 account. This means, contra Stephenson, there is good evidence that Cowdery knew about Joseph’s 1820 vision, which also means, there is good evidence that the statement in the Reflector has an authentic source behind it. That source is most likely Cowdery, and therefore the report in the Reflector has a reason for existing.

This is just… wrong. Obviously Christensen hasn’t really studied this issue or he wouldn’t be appealing to the late Mormon Apologist Matthew Brown and the completely flawed arguments of Richard Anderson or the source of the Reflector article (Abner Cole). But I guess facts are just stubborn things. A lot of the material that Christensen would cite from Brown has actually been compiled in Exploring the First Vision which gives (in my opinion the best compiled Mormon perspectives on the subject to date).

I was skeptical about any claims by Brown (after reading his dismal 2010 FAIRMORMON presentation on Adam God), but I get really tired of people quoting whole books as Christensen does time after time and I want to show why he does it, so as I mentioned above, I bought Brown’s book.

In actually seeing the material it is obvious that it would not have been difficult for Christensen to do what I’m going to do, Quote Brown’s “careful” comparison.  (But Christensen would rather spend lots of time blathering about Kuhn and his own invented formulas and pointing out mistakes in word counts than actually presenting and analyzing evidence). Here is Brown’s comparison of the 1832 and the 1834 Histories. It’s not very complex, long, or detailed.

V. The Matthew Brown Comparison

Cowdery 1834: “our brother’s mind became awakened”
Smith 1832: “my mind became seriously imprest with regard to the all importent concerns for the wellfare of my immortal Soul”

Cowdery 1834: “the word of God”
Smith 1832: “the word of God”

Cowdery 1834: “the Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist churches”
Smith 1832: “those of different denominations”

Cowdery 1834: “godliness”
Smith 1832: “adorning their profession by a holy walk and Godly conversation”

Cowdery 1834: “the fifteenth year of his life”
Smith 1832: “the age of . . . fifteen”

Cowdery 1834: “this general strife . . . gave opportunity for further reflection. . . . [H]is mind was led to more seriously contemplate”
Smith 1832: “I pondered many things in my heart concerning the situation of the world of mankind the contentions and divisions”

Cowdery 1834: “his spirit was not at rest day nor night”
Smith 1832: “my mind became exceedingly distressed”

Cowdery 1834: “arouse the sinner to look about him for safety”
Smith 1832: “I became convicted of my sins”

Cowdery 1834: “a society professing to be built upon the only sure foundation”
Smith 1832: “there was no society or denomination that built upon the gospel of Jesus Christ”

Cowdery 1834: “All professed to be the true church”
Smith 1832: “worship Him . . . in truth”

Cowdery 1834: “In this situation where could he go?”
Smith 1832: “there was none else to whom I could go”

Cowdery 1834: “the pardoning influence and condescension of the Savior”
Smith 1832: “Joseph my son thy sins are forgiven thee. . . . I am the Lord of glory I was crucified for the world”

Cowdery 1834: “life eternal”
Smith 1832: “eternal life”

Cowdery 1834: “they were certainly hypocritical”
Smith 1832: “they draw near to me with their lips while their hearts are far from me”

Cowdery 1834: “his mother, one sister, and two of his natural brothers, were persuaded to unite with the Presbyterians”
Smith 1832: “about that time my mother and”

Cowdery 1835: “he continued to call upon the Lord in secret”
Smith 1832: “the Lord heard my cry in the wilderness”

Cowdery 1835: “filled with a joy unspeakable”
Smith 1832: “I could rejoice with great joy”

Cowdery 1835: “pure and holy religion”
Smith 1832: “the true and living faith”

Cowdery 1835: “The Lord . . . said [in the scriptures]. . . . whosoever would, might. . . . to the remotest ages of times”
Smith 1832: “I learned in the scriptures that God was the same yesterday to day and forever that he was no respecter to persons”

Cowdery 1835: “the creation of the world”
Smith 1832: “the earth . . . created”

Cowdery 1835: “if a Supreme being did exist”
Smith 1832: “it is a fool that saith in his heart there is no God”

Cowdery 1835: “he . . . call[ed] upon the Lord . . . to have an assurance that he was accepted of Him. . . . a humble penitent sinner”
Smith 1832: “I cried unto the Lord for mercy”

Cowdery 1835: “He [i.e., God] . . . passing it as a firm decree”
Smith 1832: “a Being who . . . decreeth”

Cowdery 1835: “the world . . . its inhabitants”
Smith 1832: “the inhabitants of the earth”

Cowdery 1835: “bring [the] inhabitants [of the world] to judgment”
Smith 1832: “visit [the inhabitants of the earth] according to their ungodliness”

Cowdery 1835: “soul”
Smith 1832: “soul”

(Brown, Matthew B., A Pillar of Light: The History and Message of the First Vision, Deseret Book Company, Kindle Locations 3516-3558).

There is so much that Cowdery didn’t include from Smith’s 1832 account (and so many differences between the two) that it defies logic that he had it as a basis for the later History.  Brown also desperately includes the word “soul” which appears in both accounts (numerous times in 1834/1835 in different contexts).  One thing I noticed, many of these comparisons are very general and out of context. It would have been just as easy for Cowdery to glean the information from Joseph orally, or from his own History that he probably had written prior to this one. (Discussed below)

And there is that really persuasive argument that if Cowdery had the 1832 account, why did Joseph find it necessary to provide Cowdery with another document which gave him the same information about his birth date and birthplace? And why did Cowdery call this information provided by Joseph “indispensable”?

And those word combinations. Here are some actual word combinations between “ A Manuscript Story” and The Book of Mormon by Vernal Holley. (Some of Holley’s best work). Notice how many words are alike (compared to Brown’s). Using Brown’s methodology here, is Christensen and other Mormon Apologists going to admit that Joseph got the Book of Mormon from Solomon Spaulding?

The problem is that Joseph was telling a story that at first didn’t include a claimed 1820 vision, the same story that Mormon Missionaries were obviously telling since the founding of the Church in 1830. Of course some elements are going to be the same and Cowdery has to describe them. What I found hard to believe were many of Brown’s supposed matches. Here is one,

Cowdery 1835: “if a Supreme being did exist”
Smith 1832: “it is a fool that saith in his heart there is no God”

In Smith’s 1832 account, he uses the quote above in this context:

thus applying myself to them and my intimate acquaintance with those of differant denominations led me to marvel excedingly for I discovered that <they did not adorn> instead of adorning their profession by a holy walk and Godly conversation agreeable to what I found contained in that sacred depository this was a grief to my Soul thus from the age of twelve years to fifteen I pondered many things in my heart concerning the sittuation of the world of mankind the contentions and divi[si]ons the wicke[d]ness and abominations and the darkness which pervaded the of the minds of mankind my mind become excedingly distressed  for I become convicted of my Sins and by Searching the Scriptures I found that mand <mankind> did not come unto the Lord but that they had apostatised from the true and liveing faith and there was no society or denomination that built upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ as recorded in the new testament and I felt to mourn for my own Sins and for the Sins of the world for I learned in the Scriptures that God was the Same yesterday to day and forever that he was no respecter to persons [Heb. 13:8; Acts 10:34-35] for he was God for I looked upon the Sun the glorious luminary of the earth and also the moon rolling in their magesty through the heavens and also the stars shining in their courses and the earth also upon which I stood and the beast of the field and the fowls of heaven and the fish of the waters and also man walking forth upon the face of the earth in magesty and in the strength of beauty whose power and intiligence in governing the things which are so exceding great and [p. 2] marvilous even in the likeness of him who created him <them> and when I considered upon these things my heart exclaimed well hath the wise man said the <it is a> fool <that> saith in his heart there is no God my heart exclaimed all all these bear testimony and bespeak an omnipotant and omnipreasant power a being who makith Laws and decreeeth and bindeth all things in their bounds who filleth Eternity who was and is and will be from all Eternity to Eternity (Joseph Smith History, circa 1832,  JS Letterbook 1, JS Collection, CHL, 2).

In the 1832 account, Joseph Smith already believed there was a God. Because of that, he became “convicted of my sins”. He wrote why he believed in God:

“the Sun the glorious luminary of the earth and also the moon rolling in their magesty through the heavens and also the stars shining in their courses and the earth also upon which I stood and the beast of the field and the fowls of heaven and the fish of the waters and also man walking forth upon the face of the earth in magesty and in the strength of beauty whose power and intiligence in governing the things which are so exceding great and [p. 2] marvilous even in the likeness of him who created him <them> (ibid).

This is why Joseph used the Bible quote that only a fool would believe that there is no God.

In Cowdery’s account Joseph’s “mind became awakened”. There is nothing about him reading the scriptures, being convicted of his sins, nor looking around himself and becoming convinced by nature that there actually was a God. This dovetails perfectly with what Joseph told Peter Bauder in 1830. He had “no Christian experience”. He didn’t know if a “Supreme Being” did exist. This is the opposite of what Joseph writes in the 1832 History. In Cowdery’s account, this is all different. Cowdery writes,

To profess godliness [as the Ministers of the day were doing and Joseph was supposed to do] without its benign influence upon the heart, was a thing so foreign from his feelings, that his spirit was not at rest day nor night. (Oliver Cowery, History, 1834-36,  JS History, 1838–1856, vol. A-1, CHL, 63).

Joseph was not “convicted of my sins”.  He didn’t even believe that there was a God as Cowdery relates it! He did not have the “benign influence” of godliness upon his heart. The whole purpose of him praying in 1823 was to find out “if a Supreme Being did exist”. In his 1832 account he already believed this. Matthew Brown simply claims that “critics” are misinterpreting Cowdery because he must have had the 1832 History. (More on this below). It is simply circular logic.

Cowdery writes,

In this situation where could he go? If he went to one he was told they were right, and all others were wrong-If to another, the same was heard from those: All professed to be the true church; the idle wind or the spider’s web. But if others were not benefited, our brother was urged forward and strengthened in the determination to know for himself of the certainty and reality of pure and holy religion.-And it is only necessary for me to say, that while this excitement continued, he continued to call upon the Lord in secret for a full manifestation of divine approbation, and for, to him, the all important information, if a Supreme being did exist, to have an assurance that he was accepted of him. This, most assuredly, was correct-it was right. The Lord has said, long since, and his word remains steadfast, that for him who knocks it shall be opened, & whosoever will, may come and partake of the waters of life freely. (ibid, 61).

Joseph’s 1832 account shows a young man who had read the Bible in his youth (from 12 yrs. to 15 yrs.) and looked around and saw the wonder of creation and this impressed him that,

<it is a> fool <that> saith in his heart there is no God my heart exclaimed all all these bear testimony and bespeak an omnipotant and omnipreasant power a being who makith Laws and decreeeth and bindeth all things in their bounds who filleth Eternity who was and is and will be from all Eternity to Eternity

Then in his 16th year, he prays, which would be four years after he encountered the religious strife. This is the opposite of what Cowdery writes. Look at the contrast in the Cowdery account:

In this general strife for followers, his mother, one sister, and two of his natural brothers, were persuaded to unite with the Presbyterians. This gave opportunity for further reflection; and as will be seen in the sequel, laid a foundation, or was one means of laying a foundation for the attestation of the truths, or professions of truth, contained in that record called the word of God.

After strong solicitations to unite with one of those different societies, and seeing the apparent proselyting [proselytizing] disposition manifested with equal warmth from each, his mind was led to more seriously contemplate the importance of a move of this kind. To profess godliness without its benign influence upon the heart, was thing so foreign from his feelings, that his spirit was not at rest day nor night. To unite with a society professing to be built upon the only sure foundation, and that profession be a vain one, was calculated, in its very nature, the more it was contemplated, the more to arouse the mind to the serious consequences of moving hastily, in a course fraught with eternal realities. To say he was right, and still be wrong, could not profit; and amid so many, some must be built upon the sand. In this situation where could he go? If he went to one he was told they were right, and all others were wrong-If to another, the same was heard from those: All professed to be the true church; and if not they were certainly hypocritical, because, if I am presented with a system of religion, and enquire [inquire] of my teacher whether it is correct, and he informs me that he is not certain, he acknowledges at once that he is teaching without authority, and acting without a commission!

If one professed a degree of authority or preference in consequence of age or right, and that superiority was without evidence, it was insufficient to convince a mind once aroused to that degree of determination which at that time operated upon him. And upon farther reflecting, that the Savior had said that the gate was straight and the way narrow that lead to life eternal, and that few entered there; and that the way was broad, and the gate wide which lead to destruction, and that many crowded its current, a proof from some source was wanting to settle the mind and give peace to the agitated bosom. It is not frequent that the minds of men are exercised with proper determination relative to obtaining a certainty of the things of God.-They are too apt to rest short of that assurance which the Lord Jesus has so freely offered in his word to man, and which so beautifully characterizes his whole plan of salvation, as revealed to us.

I do not deem it to be necessary to write further on the subject of this excitement. It is doubted by many whether any real or essential good ever resulted from such excitements, while others advocate their propriety with warmth. The mind is easily called up to reflection upon a matter of such deep importance, and it is just that it should be; but there is a regret occupying the heart when we consider the deep anxiety of thousands, who are lead away with a vain imagination, or a groundless hope, no better than the idle wind or the spider’s web.

But if others were not benefited, our brother was urged forward and strengthened in the determination to know for himself of the certainty and reality of pure and holy religion.-And it is only necessary for me to say, that while this excitement continued, he continued to call upon the Lord in secret for a full manifestation of divine approbation, and for, to him, the all important information, if a Supreme being did exist, to have an assurance that he was accepted of him. This, most assuredly, was correct-it was right. The Lord has said, long since, and his word remains steadfast, that for him who knocks it shall be opened, & whosoever will, may come and partake of the waters of life freely.

To deny a humble penitent sinner a refreshing draught from this most pure of all fountains, and most desirable of all refreshments, to a thirsty soul, is a matter for the full performance of which the sacred record stands pledged. The Lord never said-“Come unto me, all ye that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” to turn a deaf ear to those who were weary, when they call upon him. He never said, by the mouth of the prophet-“Ho, every one that thirsts, come ye to the waters,” without passing it as a firm decree, at the same time, that he that should after come, should be filled with a joy unspeakable.

Neither did he manifest by the Spirit to John upon the isle-“Let him that is athirst, come,” and command him to send the same abroad, under any other consideration, than that “whosoever would, might take the water of life freely,” to the remotest ages of time, or while there was a sinner upon his footstool.

These sacred and important promises are looked upon in our day as being given, either to another people, or in a figuratively form, and consequently require spiritualizing, notwithstanding they are as conspicuously plain, and are meant to be understood according to their literal reading, as those passages which teach us of the creation of the world, and of the decree of its Maker to bring its inhabitants to judgment. But to proceed with my narrative.- (Oliver Cowdery, 1834-1836 History, 59-60).

Notice Cowdery’s language that mirrors the claims made in the Telegraph from 1831, about getting a “commission”. Cowdery explains that Joseph’s commission comes from God through the angel. Nowhere do we see a Joseph who has studied the Bible and was unsure if there even was a God. Joseph had read the Bible, looked around and believed it to be God’s handiwork, believed there was a God, and then had felt Godly sorrow and was “convicted of my sins.” Cowdery’s account doesn’t describe the 1832’s wonder of Joseph’s observation of the world, but only that this was to be understood literally in the Bible as a promise which was being professed by the ministers of the day.  That God was not speaking “figuratively” when he gave his promise of answers. Joseph was “urged forward” by the preaching of George Lane and the strife he saw, and then his family joining the Presbyterians. In the 1832 History, it led him to a period of study that took years. (12 to 15) He had his theophany, the visit from the angel, and then he begins to mention his family joining the Presbyterians but crosses it out and never finishes it.

Joseph is convinced in the 1832 account that all the sects were wrong. He doesn’t need the remonstrations of George Lane to feel compelled to action. Cowdery even claims that  “It is doubted by many whether any real or essential good ever resulted from such excitements, while others advocate their propriety with warmth.” And that “ there is a regret occupying the heart when we consider the deep anxiety of thousands, who are lead away with a vain imagination, or a groundless hope, no better than the idle wind or the spider’s web.”

Joseph goes to God to “see if a Supreme Being did exist,” in Cowdery’s version because he was troubled by the message of George Lane and the strife he saw among the religious sects of the day. This indeed is part of the 1832 History (the strife he saw) but that led him to an intense study of the scriptures that lasted for years, all of which Cowdery is strangely silent about.

VI. The Presbyterian Problem

Brown writes,

NOTE (1) If all of these phrases are highlighted in a side-by-side comparison of documents, it will be seen that even though Oliver Cowdery utilized the majority of the 1832 First Vision text in creating his own historical report, he went right around the theophany material in the Prophet’s recital. (Brown, Matthew B., A Pillar of Light: The History and Message of the First Vision, Deseret Book Company, Kindle Locations 3558-3561).

Oliver used a “majority” of the 1832 History? Far from it. I have done a comparison, here. It doesn’t help, it indicates nothing of the kind. What it does show, is that Cowdery relates the elements of an earlier (oral or written) version of a history that Joseph had been conveying to people since he had first spoken of the angel and the plates in 1827. The same story that his mother wrote in her preliminary draft. The same story that William McLellin was told. The same story that was preached by the Mormon Missionaries in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. The same story told by William Smith long before the 1880’s: That when Joseph first prayed, he was answered by the angel Moroni. 

If the 1834 History was based on the 1832 History, then why is it missing so many elements of that History? Why doesn’t it speak of Joseph’s early concerns for his “immortal welfare”? Joseph wrote,

At about the age of twelve years my mind become Seriously imprest  with regard to the all importent concerns for the wellfare of nay immortal Soul which led me to Searching the Scriptures believeing as I was taught, that they contained the word of God to whom I could go and to obtain mercy (Joseph Smith, 1832 History, 2)

Cowdery claims that this occurred after Joseph was in his 17th year. (Or 15th, if you disbelieve what Cowdery said, that  15th year was a typo). Joseph claimed that it was in his 12th year. Smith was very specific in the 1832 History.  If Cowdery was simply instructed to just leave out the theophany, then why did he not include the named age of Smith in the 1832 History when he began his quest for answers? Why skip over that, and write about George Lane? Because Cowdery was probably drawing from a previous History, one that he learned and wrote down himself. (I’m getting to that).

Joseph also claims in the 1832 History that the “war of words” led him, when he turned twelve, to begin reading the Bible and searching the scriptures. In Cowdery’s History, it leads him to ask God for an answer, not knowing if there even was a God. How could Cowdery get this so wrong if he had the 1832 History to draw from?

Here, Brown highlights the phrase “word of God”.  He then links it to Cowdery’s use of the word:

In this general strife for followers, his mother, one sister, and two of his natural brothers, were persuaded to unite with the Presbyterians. This gave opportunity for further reflection; and as will be seen in the sequel, laid a foundation, or was one means of laying a foundation for the attestation of the truths, or professions of truth, contained in that record called the word of God. (Cowdery, 1834-1836 History, link provided above).

It seems that these two align, but they do not. Cowdery uses the phrase “word of God” as describing “attestations of truth”, and that the Bible was self explanatory in that sense. Joseph uses it in an entirely different way, what he believed already:  that the scriptures actually contained the word of God and he knew it. Brown also claims that these two phrases show that Cowdery took his information from the 1832 account:

Cowdery 1834: “his mother, one sister, and two of his natural brothers, were persuaded to unite with the Presbyterians”
Smith 1832: “about that time my mother and

Except that in Joseph’s 1832 account the crossed out phrase, “about that time my mother and” appears after the theophany, not before it. Joseph would later claim that his mother and siblings had joined with the Presbyterians before his claimed 1820  vision:

I was at this time in my fifteenth year. My father’s family was proselyted to the Presbyterian faith, and four of them joined that church, namely, my mother, Lucy; my brothers Hyrum and Samuel Harrison; and my sister Sophronia.

This is a crucial point, because if his mother and siblings joined the Presbyterian Church after the theophany, it creates doubt that Joseph had ever told anyone about his claimed vision. Joseph knew this and changed the timeline in his 1838 version. Cowdery’s version changes the 1832 timeline of events (which would have been correct if Joseph actually had a claimed 1820 vision), because that would have occurred before members of his family joined with the Presbyterians and there were no declarations from God that all of the churches were wrong and an “abomination” to him.

We have documented evidence that members of the Smith family had joined the Presbyterian Church after the death of Alvin. Lucy Smith’s timeline in her biography of Joseph attests this, as do the records of the Presbyterian Church itself.

Matthew Brown writes,

There is one piece of evidence from Lucy Mack Smith’s autobiography that is consistently ignored by the critics, possibly because it effectively nullifies the theory that she became a Presbyterian during Palmyra’s undisputed late 1824 and early 1825 revival. She stated quite clearly that she formally attached herself to a church after her son Alvin “attained his 22nd year”—which took place on 11 February 1820. Alvin died on 19 November 1823, when he was twenty-five years and nine months old. If Mother Smith had really joined the Presbyterians near the recognizable start of the 1824 Palmyra revival—ca. December—then Alvin would have been dead for a little more than a year and her autobiographical statement about formally joining a church would make no sense. (Brown, Matthew B., A Pillar of Light: The History and Message of the First Vision, Deseret Book Company, Kindle Locations 2655-2660).

Brown is simply mistaken here.  This has been addressed by many historians. Dr. Richard Lloyd Anderson, in his contribution to the anthology Exploring the First Vision,  “Joseph Smith’s Accuracy on the First Vision Setting: The Pivotal 1818 Palmyra Camp Meeting”, makes the same argument and tries to give Lucy’s joining the Presbyterian Church an 1820 date:

Early in her marriage, Lucy had received believer’s baptism without commitment to a specific church, later commenting that she retained this status “until my oldest son attained his 22nd year.” She refers to the oldest living son, Alvin, who died of a doctor’s folk remedy in late 1823 but had started his twenty-second year on February 11, 1820. Here she agrees with Joseph’s 1838 history that she made a Presbyterian commitment by early 1820. (Richard Lloyd Anderson, “Joseph Smith’s Accuracy on the First Vision Setting: The Pivotal 1818 Palmyra Camp Meeting,” in Exploring the First Vision, ed. Samuel Alonzo Dodge and Steven C. Harper (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, 2012), 91–169.)

It is hard to believe that Anderson isn’t aware that Lucy in her preliminary manuscript misdated the year of Alvin’s birth to 1799, so this makes Anderson’s claim untenable. Dan Vogel explains that,

Alvin became twenty-two on 11 February 1820. However, Lucy mis-dates Alvin’s birth to 1799, rather than 1798, and his death to 1824, instead of 1823 (L. Smith 1853, 40). Later she states that she joined the Presbyterian church after Alvin’s death. This is complicated by the Presbyterian committee’s mention in March 1830 that she had been a member for one year (see MS:49-50, 110). Richard L. Anderson has suggested that “[t]here may be various degrees of ‘joining’ a church” (R. L. Anderson 1969a, 391, n. 55). (Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, p. 243, note 33).

Since Lucy recalled Alvin’s birth in the year 1799 that would make Alvin 22 in 1821 (a year after the claimed 1820 vision) and so using this argument is disingenuous. Even in Joseph Smith’s own history written in 1838 he wrote that Alvin died in 1824, and this date was published in Mormon scriptures until 1981. In 1970, Russell Rich wrote,

Lucy Mack Smith lists the date [of Alvin’s birth] as February 11, 1799, in her first edition of her history of the Prophet. There has been much more controversy over Alvin’s death than over his birth. A footnote in the DHC 1:16 includes a genealogy of the Prophet’s family, giving the date of Alvin’s death as November 19, 1825. On the same page (and also on page 2) in the body of the text the Prophet is quoted as specifying the date as 1824. In Mother Smith’s original edition she also gave 1824 as the year of Alvin’s death. In Joseph Smith 2:4-6, in the Pearl of Great Price, the present edition also gives 1824 as the year of Alvin’s death.  (BYU Studies, Vol. 10, No. 3, p.255).

Anderson surely should have known this since an article of his own on the first vision appears in the same issue as that of Russell Rich. Marvin Hill, as far back as 1982 understood that Lucy joined the Presbyterians after Alvin’s death:

Indicating that the angel had told Joseph of the plates prior to the revival, Lucy added that for a long time after Alvin’s death the family could not bear any talk about the golden plates, for the subject had been one of great interest to him and any reference to the plates stirred sorrowful memories. She said she attended the revival with hope of gaining solace for Alvin’s loss. That kind of detail is just the sort that gives validity to Lucy’s chronology. She would not have been likely to make up such a reaction for herself or the family nor mistake the time when it happened.  I am persuaded that it was 1824 when Lucy joined the Presbyterians. (Dialogue, Vol.15, No.2, p.39 – p.40).

Anderson continues to misconstrue the facts by claiming that,

Joseph recalled at Nauvoo that he came from the 1820 vision in the grove and told Mother Lucy that he had learned for himself that “Presbyterianism is not true” (v. 20). Thus the older Smiths were investigating Palmyra churches on a parallel track to Joseph prior to the First Vision. The Neibaur journal, discussed above, has Joseph recalling a Methodist “Revival meeting,” likely the June 1818 camp meeting in the Seagar journal, where “his mother & Br & Sist got religion.” As Joseph says in the 1838 history, he was fourteen at the end of 1819, the period when his mother and three siblings chose Presbyterianism, and afterward Alvin received a Presbyterian funeral in 1823.

Why is Anderson misconstruing the facts? Because he is linking an event that took place in 1823/1824 with one that took place in 1818. Much has been made lately of Aurora Seagar and another Methodist, Benajah Williams by the Mormon experts since these accounts were resurrected by D. Michael Quinn in 2006 who tries to push the date of Joseph’s claimed 1820 vision to early summer of that year, but they are easy to explain. See Dan Vogel’s response, here.

Joseph himself stated that this happened before the claimed 1820 vision:

My Fathers family w<ere> proselyted to the Presbyterian faith and four of them joined that Church, Namely, My Mother Lucy, My Brothers Hyrum, Samuel Harrison, and my Sister Soph[r]onia. (Joseph Smith, History)

This is an important distinction from just being converted, or uniting with that faith. Anderson himself defines this distinction,

On which level were Lucy and three children Presbyterians? This could be Presbyterian attendance, attendance on formal probation, or full membership, with right of the Lord’s Supper. Yet historians following Walters have tried to merge revivals dated around 1820 with those after Alvin’s death by claiming (without direct evidence) that Lucy became a Presbyterian member in her grief about 1824. Mother Smith does describe a Palmyra awakening then, when her hopes were raised by a minister who sought cooperation from local denominations, though she could not influence her husband or son Joseph to attend these meetings. However, Lucy’s history does not say she joined a church in the surge of religion at Palmyra after Alvin’s late 1823 death. A later religious conflict throws light on the intervening years. In March 1830, Lucy and sons Hyrum and Samuel were served notice of a church hearing for nonattendance and were then visited by officials of the Palmyra Presbyterian Church. Lucy’s history gives her version of the conversation with visiting Presbyterian elders, when the Smiths defended the Book of Mormon vigorously, which was significant, since the Smith men were two of the Eight Witnesses, who had seen and handled the plates. The hearing minutes still exist, indicating that the Smiths “did not wish to unite with us anymore.” The defendants avoided the hearing, which charged them with “neglect of public worship and the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper for the last eighteen months.” Instead of being cut off, the three were disfellowshipped, “suspended from the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.” (Anderson, op. cited above).

The answer is right in front of Anderson, but he refuses to see it. He writes, “full membership with right of the Lord’s Supper.”  And Lucy does say that she joined the Presbyterians after Alvin’s death for she writes,

My husband also declined attending the meetings after the first but did not object to myself and such of the children as chose to go or to become <going or becoming> church members <if we wished> (Vogel, Early Mormon Documents p. 307).

Lucy writes that this took place after the death of Alvin. Joseph wrote that they joined that church. The Smiths in question were members of the Presbyterian Church because they were charged in 1830 with “neglect of public worship and the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper for the last eighteen months.” That would take them back to 1828, so they were members for four years previous to this because they joined that church shortly after Alvin’s death in 1823. Their break came a few months after Joseph began his “translation” of  the Book of Mormon. Stanley Kimball relates the sequence of events:

On March 3, 1830 the session “met pursuant to notice,” and, among other things, “Resolved that the Reverend A. E. Campbell and H. Jessup be a committee to visit Hiram Smith, Lucy Smith, and Samuel Harrison Smith and report at the next meeting of session.”

[March 10] “The committee appointed to visit Hiram Smith, Lucy Smith, and Samuel Harrison Smith reported that they had visited them and received no satisfaction. They acknowledged that they had entirely neglected the ordinances of the church for the last eighteenth months and that they did not wish to unite with us anymore. Whereupon Resolved that they be cited to appear before the session on the 24th day of March inst., at 2 o’clock P.M. at this Meeting House to answer to the following charge to wit:

Neglect of public worship and the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper for the last eighteen months.”

This action was taken by the Rev. Alfred E. Campbell and Elders George Beckwith, Henry Jessup, Pelatiah West, and Newton Foster and witnessed by Harvey Shet, Levi Dagget, James Robinson, Robert W. Smith, and Frederick Sheffield.

[March 24] “Hiram Smith, Lucy Smith, and Samuel Harrison Smith not appearing pursuant to the citation served upon them by P. West–Resolved that they be again cited to appear before his session on Monday the 29th inst. At this place at 2 o’clock P.M.– and that P. West serve said citation.” On March 29, 1830 “The persons before cited to wit–Hiram Smith, Lucy Smith, and Samuel Harrison Smith not appearing and the session having satisfactory evidence that the citation was duly served. Resolved that they be censured for their contumacy. Resolved that George Beckwith manage their defense. The charge in the above case being fully sustained by the testimony of Henry Jessup, Harvey Shet, Robert W. Smith, and Frederick U. Sheffield. (In minutes of . . . [?] on file with the clerk.) The session after duly considering the matter were unanimously of opinion Hiram Smith, Lucy Smith, and Samuel Harrison Smith ought to be suspended– Resolved that Hiram Smith, Lucy Smith, and Samuel Harrison Smith be and they hereby are suspended from the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.”

Such was the ecclesiastical trial of members of the Prophet’s family. From this we can conclude, in addition to the fact that Lucy, Hiram, and Samuel Harrison were indeed members of the Palmyra congregation, that sometime during the translation of the Book of Mormon they had become inactive and that by early March of 1830 they were being charged with “Neglect of public worship and the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper….” We also know that they ignored two personally served citations and that on March 29 they were “suspended from the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.”

Lucy, Hiram, and Samuel’s inactivity in the Presbyterian Church was no doubt directly related to Joseph’s opinions. When they were contemplating joining with the Presbyterians, Joseph told his mother that “it would do us no injury to join them, that if we did, we should not continue with them long, for we were mistaken in them, and did not know the wickedness of their hearts.” (Dialogue, Vol.5, No.4, p.122-123).

If Lucy was already a member of the Presbyterian Church before 1823, then why is it she expressly states that her husband and her son Joseph did not object to them joining after Alvin’s death? Anderson adds, (inexplicably) that “the charge of church inactivity probably indicates that the Presbyterian Smiths had fairly regularly attended preaching and communion meetings during the early 1820s, or the nonattendance charge would have been filed earlier.” This makes no sense and is simply wishful thinking. It would only have been filed earlier if the Smith’s had actually been members of that Church in 1820 as Joseph said they were. The evidence shows that Joseph was wrong as well as Anderson. The charge was filed in 1830. Why would they wait 10 years to file their charge and then claim that they had been inactive for only eighteen months?

Brown’s curious claim that no “critics” have addressed this is bizarre.  We see that Lucy Smith places her joining the Presbyterian Church after the death of Alvin.  To show that Lucy was off in her dates by a year, she wrote,

“We were still making arrangements for building[.] my oldest son took principle management Charge of this and when the month of November 1822 arrived the House was raised…” (Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, p. 299).

The Smith frame home was raised in November of 1823, a year later. Lucy Smith also claimed that she had been “partial to the Presbyterians” and so Brown’s claim that this discredits the arguments above is disingenuous.

VII. Apologist Blather

If Joseph’s purpose was to simply have Cowdery leave out the theophany, why are there all of these discrepancies in the timeline? Why omit information that leads up to the theophany and relate a whole different story (about George Lane)  that Joseph later discards?  Where did Cowdery get his information about George Lane? Surely this had to come from Joseph himself, who had at some time related it to Cowdery, thus strengthening the evidence that he had gotten his information from oral statements made by Joseph. The best answer is that Joseph was telling the story about George Lane and some were familiar with it, including Oliver Cowdery.  Cowdery writes,

While continuing in prayer for a manifestation in some way that his sins were forgiven; endeavoring to exercise faith in the scriptures (Cowdery, op. cited above)

Yet in the 1832 History, Joseph claims that

“my mind become Seriously imprest  with regard to the all importent concerns for the wellfare of my immortal Soul which led me to Searching the Scriptures believeing as I was taught, that they contained the word of God to whom I could go and to obtain mercy” (Smith, 1832 History, op. cited above).

Joseph did have “faith in the scriptures”. This is obvious from reading the 1832 History. So how does Cowdery miss this and the many other details that are crucial to the 1832 History? The answer is obvious. He did not know about that History and did not use it to craft his History for the Messenger and Advocate.

Still, Christensen blathers on:

These conclusions raise the question of why Cowdery did not expand on the vision in the 1834-35 articles. Opinions differ on this of course, but Brown and Anderson, among others, have proposed sensible solutions. Any argument that Cowdery knew nothing does not account for the content of Reflector’s report from the Painesville correspondent. Nor does it explain Cowdery’s consistent testimony even while out of the church. If a contradiction in Joseph’s accounts is so clear-cut to Runnells and Stephenson at two centuries’ removed, would it not have been even more clear to Oliver Cowdery? Why, then, did Oliver not expose the hoax once he was disaffected from the Church and Joseph?

I do not see any “sensible solutions” by Brown and Anderson, only apologist spin. Do you see Christensen’s pattern here? Make a statement with a footnote, and then link it to a Mormon Apologists book. He presents none of the real evidence himself. Anyone who doesn’t have Brown’s book, can’t verify what he is referencing without buying the book. He doesn’t even bother to quote Brown, which is easy to do.  I will now address Brown’s arguments. He writes,

Some critics have focused their attention on a Church history document that was produced by Oliver Cowdery in 1835, claiming that it says Joseph Smith did not know if God existed when the angel Moroni appeared to him in 1823. Moreover, critics point out that Oliver’s history was published in the Church’s official newspaper and that the Prophet had helped to create the text (though they fail to demonstrate or explain exactly how much involvement the Prophet had in the project). (Brown, Matthew B., op. cited above, Kindle Locations 2224-2227).

In fact we do know how much involvement that Joseph had in the project. Cowdery writes,

Clerks of Council.

-> The following communication was designed to have been published in the last No. of the Star; but owing to a press of other matter it was laid over for this No. of the Messenger and Advocate. Since it was written, upon further reflection, we have thought that a full history of the rise of the church of the Latter Day Saints, and the most interesting parts of its progress, to the present time, would be worthy the perusal of the Saints.-If circumstances admit, an article on this subject will appear in each subsequent No. of the Messenger and Advocate, until the time when the church was driven from Jackson Co. Mo. by a lawless banditti; & such other remarks as may be thought appropriate and interesting.

That our narrative may be correct, and particularly the introduction, it is proper to inform our patrons, that our brother J. SMITH jr. has offered to assist us. Indeed, there are many items connected with the fore part of this subject that render his labor indispensable. With his labor and with authentic documents now in our possession, we hope to render this a pleasing and agreeable narrative, well worth the examination and perusal of the Saints.-To do justice to this subject will require time and space: we therefore ask the forbearance of our readers, assuring them that it shall be founded upon facts. ~Norton, Medina co. Ohio, Sabbath evening, September 7, 1834.

Here we see that Joseph’s participation (his labor) was “indispensable”. This indicates a high degree of involvement with the project.

VIII. The Authentic Documents

Mormon Apologists like Matthew Brown claim that the authentic documents that Cowdery alluded to was the 1832 History. But there is another explanation for these “authentic documents”.  John Whitmer wrote in his History that,

Oliver Cowdery has written the commencement of the Church history, commencing at the time of the finding of the plates, up to June 12th, 1831. From this date I have written the things that I have written, and they are a mere sketch of the things that have transpired, they are however all that seemed to me wisdom to write many things happened that are to be lamented, because of the weakness and instability of man. (“The Book of John Whitmer Kept by Commandment,” Chapter 6, Community of Christ Archives.)

Whitmer began his history on June 12, 1831 picking up (as he says) where Cowdery left off. As they write at the Joseph Smith Papers,

Between his arrival in Harmony, Pennsylvania, to assist JS with the Book of Mormon translation on 5 April 1829 and his departure from New York on a mission to the Indians in October 1830, Cowdery kept several non-narrative records, such as meeting minutes and revelations. He later wrote a series of letters about JS’s early history that were published in 1834–1835 in the LDS Messenger and Advocate. None of these records, however, matches the date range given here. If Whitmer was referring to some other narrative history kept by Cowdery, this is the only known contemporary indication of such a narrative.

 Whitmer claimed that Cowdery had written a History that included far more material than the 1834/35  History published in the Messenger and Advocate.

When Oliver Cowdery died in 1850, he was survived by his wife, Elizabeth Ann Whitmer Cowdery, and a daughter, Maria Louise Cowdery, who eventually married but had no children. Oliver’s widow and daughter both died in Southwest City in 1892, leaving Oliver without descendants. Extant correspondence of Maria Louise indicated that the family burned Oliver’s old papers, finding them too cumbersome to carry on their many moves. (Ensign, December 1986)

If Cowdery had written an early history of Joseph Smith prior to 1834, it is possible that it was destroyed by his family after his death. Why would Cowdery need the 1832 History, when he already had one of his own, that he had written prior to 1831?

Therefore, Cowdery could easily have drawn on his own history for the material that led up to Joseph finding the plates, (like the account of George Lane) and then he needed Joseph to fill in his early years, which Joseph did with his letter to Cowdery. This is why none of the material (mentioned above) from the 1832 History appears in Cowdery’s history.

What is interesting is that Brown writes in his book,

There are several things that need to be taken into consideration when dealing with the narrative composed by the second elder of the Church. Oliver Cowdery announced in an article published at the outset of his 1834–35 history project that not only would he be assisted by the Prophet in this endeavor, but he also had authoritative documents from which to extract correct information. His statement reads, That our narrative may be correct, and particularly the introduction, it is proper to inform our patrons, that our brother J[oseph] Smith [J]r. has offered to assist us. Indeed, there are many items connected with the fore part of this subject that render his labor indispensable. With his labor and with authentic documents now in our possession, we hope to render this a pleasing and agreeable narrative. . . . [I]t shall be founded upon facts.” Since Oliver had both of these valuable resources at his disposal, it is only natural for modern readers to expect that his recital of the founding events of the Church would be both accurate and complete. And since the story of Deity’s visitation to the grove is missing from this literary venture, some readers assume that Oliver was not yet aware of the story when he wrote this statement (and, by extension, neither was the general Church populace). The main problem with this argument lies in the fact that when a comparison is carried out between Oliver’s text and the Prophet’s unpublished 1832 history it becomes clear that the “authentic documents” Oliver had in his possession were the six pages of the Prophet’s 1832 account18—and the Prophet’s 1832 account does, in fact, rehearse the Lord’s visitation to the grove. (Brown, Matthew B., op. cited above, Kindle Locations 1725-1737).

The only evidence that Brown can produce for this is a comparison of words, which I’ve shown is inadequate to the task. Notice also, that Brown substitutes the word “authoritative” for “authentic”.  Cowdery also claims that Joseph’s assistance was “indispensable”, or absolutely necessary. We know he was involved, but Brown still has to claim that critics can’t specify how much involvement Joseph had, even though the word “indispensable” is self explanatory.

Cowdery then stresses that he needed the help of Joseph “particularly with the introduction”. This makes perfect sense given that John Whitmer claimed that Cowdery’s History began with the appearance of the angel to Joseph. The “authentic documents now in our possession” was the letter that Joseph had just written to Oliver and his own history that he would have gotten from Joseph himself.

Brown continues,

The passage in question reads as follows: This would bring the date down to the year 1823. . . . [Joseph] continued to call upon the Lord in secret for a full manifestation of divine approbation, and for, to him, the all important information, if a Supreme Being did exist, to have an assurance that he was accepted of Him.

There are at least four problems with the interpretation of this text as proposed by nonbelievers. Firstly, the most glaring difficulty with this point of view is that Oliver Cowdery had the Prophet’s unpublished 1832 history in his personal possession and was utilizing it to write his new historical narrative. In this document the Prophet not only plainly stated that he had seen the Lord before he was visited by the angel but also said that before he saw the Lord he believed that “it is a fool that [says] in his heart there is no God.”  (Brown, Matthew B., op. cited above, Kindle Locations 2227-2234).

It was also written in the 1832 that Joseph was in his 16th year, not his 15th. So why would Cowdery write the “15th year of our brother J. Smith Jr’s, age”, unless it really was a typo? Notice the 1832 History claims that Joseph was “in the 16th year of my age”. 1832 History I saw the Lord

Brown writes,

Secondly, it is important to remember that Oliver edited his text after he had told the preliminary portion of the First Vision story with the correct year appended to it. Brother Cowdery had received a letter from William W. Phelps after the first article of his historical series had been printed, and in that letter Brother Phelps mentioned that he wanted to learn certain information about the Book of Mormon. Oliver obliged by changing the date of focus to 1823, saying that he did not think it was necessary to talk about the revival associated with the First Vision any longer and then proceeding to tell the story of the angel Moroni and the golden plates. This is the context in which the above quotation was made—during a transition in storylines.(ibid., Kindle Locations 2234-2239).

Yet Cowdery’s History didn’t have the correct year according to the 1832 History. His argument about Phelps is a red herring. Cowdery’s earlier History started with the vision of the angel, and he told it as he knew it. (With the story of George Lane). That is why he needed the letter from Smith about his birth date and whatever Smith gave him about his childhood. (Which was very little). If Cowdery was using the 1832 History, he would not have needed this. Yet to Oliver, this was “indispensable.” Oliver Cowdery wrote,

But such facts as are within my knowledge, will be given without any reference to inconsistencies, in the minds of others, or impossibilities, in the feelings of such as do not give credence to the system of salvation and redemption so clearly set forth and so plainly written over the face of the sacred scriptures… (Cowdery, Letter III, op. cited above).

Here, Cowdery states that the facts that are “within my knowledge, will be given.” This dovetails perfectly with what he wrote about the information Joseph gave him:

You will recollect that I informed you, in my letter published in the first No. of the Messenger and Advocate, that this history would necessarily embrace the life and character of our esteemed friend and brother, J. Smith JR. one of the presidents of this church, and for information on that part of the subject, I refer you to his communication of the same, published in this paper. I shall, therefore, pass over that, till I come to the 15th year of his life. (ibid.)

Obviously Cowdery did not have access to the 1832 history or it would have been within the realm of his knowledge and it would have been given. He then skips to 1823 because he had previously (according to John Whitmer) started Joseph’s history at that time.

That is all the information that Cowdery had access to in relation to Joseph’s youth. That is why he states at the end of letter III, “I shall, therefore, pass over that, till I come to the 15th [17th] year of his life.” He didn’t just refocus because Phelps wanted more information on Moroni, he gave what he had, by publishing the letter that Smith wrote. If he already had the information contained in that letter, why have Smith write him a letter with that same information? I have never seen a Mormon Apologist address this point.   Cowdery then begins Letter IV by claiming that the age of 15 was a typo. Cowdery writes,

You will recollect that I mentioned the time of a religious excitement, in Palmyra and vicinity to have been in the 15th year of our brother J. Smith Jr’s, age-that was an error in the type-it should have been in the 17th.-You will please remember this correction, as it will be necessary for the full understanding of what will follow in time. This would bring the date down to the year 1823. (Cowdery, Letter IV, op. cited above).

This is exactly what it was. A typo. Brown writes,

Thirdly, a non-LDS newspaper reported that around the first of November 1830 Oliver Cowdery was part of a small group of missionaries who were teaching that Joseph Smith had seen God “personally.” This printed statement by the missionaries predates Oliver’s above-mentioned historical narrative by approximately four years and nine months. (Brown, Matthew B. op. cited, Kindle Locations 2240-2242).

I have addressed this above. Brown again,

Fourthly, a close look at the paragraph where the phrase “if a Supreme Being did exist” occurs reveals that its context is “while this excitement [i.e., revival activity] continued.” These two pieces of information do indeed belong to the First Vision storyline. But in this paragraph, and in the paragraphs surrounding it, Oliver was making a transition to a completely different storyline, and in the process he erroneously mixed the two of them together. With all of the preceding evidence at hand, it is not reasonable to believe that in 1823 Joseph Smith did not know whether God existed. Oliver Cowdery’s statement is simply being misinterpreted by the critics. (Brown, Matthew B, op. cited, Kindle Locations 2224-2247).

He erroneously mixed the two together? This is a “sensible solution”? Speculation? If Cowdery knew about the 1832 History, and that Joseph had actually seen God in 1820 then why is he even writing that Joseph went to pray “to see if a Supreme Being” actually existed when Joseph already believed that he did exist? This makes no sense at all. If all Cowdery was doing was omitting the theophany, why is this phrase even in his History? What we have to believe, (per Mormon Apologists) is that Cowdery was crafting a History, put all kinds of elements of the 1832 History in it, but was ordered by Smith to leave out the most crucial detail of that History, became confused and then wrote all kinds of insensible things. Cowdery does so, and just leaves it at that? He throws his promise of giving actual facts out the window and instead makes up that Joseph didn’t know God existed prior to the 1823 vision? These kinds of ad hoc arguments are all that can be produced by Christensen and Brown. These are reasonable explanations? To who? Only Mormon Apologists. How is anyone misinterpreting the statement that Joseph did not know that God existed in 1823? Why would Cowdery write it at all? It makes no sense whatsoever, unless Cowdery knew the story to be (as he was told, as was being related by everyone) that Joseph first prayed in 1823 and had no Christen experience.

Then, Christensen gets desperate:

Stephenson cites accounts by Cowdery, Lucy Smith, and others that did not mention the theophany in the grove, but none of them ever contradicted Joseph’s vision accounts when they had opportunity to do so, even those who separated from the church. Why did the charge that Joseph was late in inventing a theophany not appear until decades after his death? It seems that a certain historical distance was required before such a claim could be at all plausible, since Joseph’s contemporaries had heard the story from very early on.

This is a silly argument. Why didn’t David Whitmer deny his testimony of the Book of Mormon when he called Joseph Smith a fallen prophet? Why did he make his demarcation line at the Book of Mormon? Each had his own personal reasons for how they acted. Perhaps Cowdery was worried about his reputation. How would it look if he claimed he made it all up? That it didn’t happen? Why would Joseph’s own mother want to contradict her son? What good would that do? She believed he was a prophet. Again, these are silly questions that can only be answered by speculation.

There are lots of reasons one could give, but they would all be speculation, as would be any for why he kept silent. Why did many keep silent when Joseph changed “revelations”? They had faith in him as a prophet and it did not bother them. As for those who separated from the church, there is a big difference in publishing and speaking about it privately.

Let’s take David Whitmer for example. How can anyone determine what was important to Whitmer and what was not? Very few knew about the 1832 History. How can they claim discrepancies  when they didn’t know about it? We have the documents to compare today. They did not in the 19th century. This answer will not satisfy the Mormon Apologists, but it is what it is. The fact is, we have the documentation to show that Joseph’s followers were teaching that he first went to God in 1823, not 1820. All they have to back up Joseph’s later, changed version are an anonymous “synopsis”, vague interpretations of D&C 20, and ad hoc speculations about the 1834-1835 History.

IX. The William Smith Problem

Next Christensen brings up William Smith:

Stephenson cites the report of William Smith, who appears to mix elements from 1820 and 1824 in an 1883 article. But in the same article, William twice referred to Joseph’s own history: “a more elaborate and accurate description of his vision, however, will be found in his own history,” and “a particular account of his visions and life during this period will be found in his biography, and therefore I will omit it here.” Notice that William Smith gives a logical reason for omitting information.

But if William Smith was familiar with that history, why did he write the vision completely differently than it appeared there? Because that is how he remembered it. Christensen is also not taking into account the earlier accounts of William Smith (like from 1843) where he relates the same story of only the angel. By 1883 the story of the claimed 1820 vision was widely known and William finally referred to it (in an aside). Let’s investigate some of those, shall we?

In an interview given to James Murdock in 1842 William Smith recalled that,

“About the year 1823, there was a revival of religion in that region, and Joseph was one of several hopeful converts. The others were joining, some [to]one church, and some [to]another in that vicinity, but Joseph hesitated between the different denominations. While his mind was perplexed with this subject, he prayed for divine direction; and afterwards was awaked one night by an extraordinary vision. The glory of the Lord filled the chamber with a dazzling light, and a glorious angel appeared to him, conversed with him, and told him that he was a chosen vessel unto the Lord to make known true religion.The next day he went into the field, but he was unable to work, his mind being oppressed by the remembrance of the vision. He returned to the house, and soon after sent for his father and brothers from the field; and then, in the presence of the family–my informant one of them–he related all that had occurred. They were astounded, but not altogether incredulous. ” (Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, pages 478-479).

Lest it be thought that this may be some kind of mix up with Joseph’s claimed 1820 vision, William affirms that this “glorious angel” that appeared to him, was the angel that also told him of the gold plates. This is the same exact story that Oliver Cowdery writes in 1834.

This was not William Smith’s only retelling of this event. He was interviewed in 1875 and affirmed that “It is to be remembered that Joseph Smith was only 17 years of age when he first began his profesional career in the Minestrey.” geography with other studies in the Common Schools of his day he was no novis and for writing he wrote a plain intelegable hand[.] William Smith, “Notes Written on ‘Chambers’ Life of Joseph Smith,'” circa 1875, page  26, quoted in Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, p. 486. When William Smith recalled the beginning of his brother’s religious experience in 1883 he said,

Joseph became concerned on the subject of religion. My mother and brother Hyrum and a sister were members of the Presbyterian Church. We knew that Joseph’s mind was engrossed on religious subjects for some time, and we compared his condition to one who felt himself a stranger in a strange land, a desert land, without any one to guide him, or to afford him the needed relief. Yet seeming to know there must be some circumstances to arise that would afford succor, and desiring to know where to find help. This was Joseph’s condition. The idea was then, as it is now, that there was another world where the soul must live forever, and some means in existence whereby man might be prepared for it. “Was there a revealed plan by which man could find out that way?” My brother told me there was a lack of wisdom; he did not know which way to go. He retired to the woods to ask the Lord for guidance. While praying he saw a bright light, like the brightness of the sun. In that light he saw a personage3; and that being pointed him out as the messenger to go forth and declare his truth to the world; for “They had all gone astray;” “Every man was going his own way.” If we understand the order of God we learn that he is a God of order and hence could not be the author of all this confusion. After he had received this vision, he called his father’s family together and told them what he had seen. If a youth, not more than [p.491] seventeen, could concoct the message that he brought forth and then delivered to his family, it is strange indeed. He told of the “golden plates” which contained the history of the ancient inhabitants of this continent. [..]”William B. Smith. Experience and Testimony,” in “Sketches of Conference Sermons,” reported by Charles Derry, Saints’ Herald 30 (16 June 1883): 388, as quoted in Vogel, EMD pages 490-491.

William B. Smith

William B. Smith

These are the same elements of Joseph’s claimed 1820 vision story, but William consistently recalled that this took place in 1823 and that he saw an angel, not Jesus or his Father.  William would then write a book in 1883 titled William Smith on Mormonism (with a string of subtitles),

“This book contains a true account of the Origin of the Book of Mormon. A sketch of the History, Experience, and Ministry of Elder William Smith. The Story of the Golden Plates from which the Book of Mormon Was Translated. An Account of the Angel’s Visit to Joseph Smith, by which Means the Ancient Nephite Records Were Found and by Him Translated. An Account of a Most Extraordinary Miracle, Wrought by the Laying on of the Hands of the Elders of the Church, and a Statement of the Principles and Doctrines, As Believed and Taught by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, with Other Matters of Great Interest to All Believers in Christianity.” (Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, p. 493). and in the Preface he expresses his “wish to correct the errors instilled into the minds of the people—by the many falsehoods and misrepresentations that book writers have set afloat concerning the character of Joseph Smith and the origin of the Book of Mormon regardless of the facts” (p. 3).

On page 5-12, he again gives an account of his brother’s first religious manifestation:

In 1822 and 1823, the people in our neighborhood were very much stirred up with regard to religious matters by the preaching of a Mr. Lane, an Elder of the Methodist Church, and celebrated throughout the country as a “great revival preacher.”

My mother, who was a very pious woman and much interested in the welfare of her children, both here and hereafter, made use of every means which her parental love could suggest, to get us engaged in seeking for our souls’ salvation, or (as the term then was) “in getting religion.” She prevailed on us to attend the meetings, and almost the whole family became interested in the matter, and seekers after truth. I attended the meetings with the rest, but being quite young and inconsiderate, did not take so much interest in the matter as the older ones did. This extraordinary excitement prevailed not only in our neighborhood but throughout the whole country. Great numbers were converted. It extended from the Methodists [p. 6] to the Baptists, from them to the Presbyterians; and so on until finally, almost all the sects became engaged in it; and it became quite the fashion to “get religion.” My mother continued her importunities and exertions to interest us in the importance of seeking for the salvation of our immortal souls, until almost all of the family became either converted or seriously inclined.

After the excitement had subsided, in a measure, each sect began to beat up for volunteers; each one saying, “We are right,” “Come and join us,” “Walk with us and we will do you good,” etc. The consequence was that my mother, my brothers Hyrum and Samuel, older than I, joined the Presbyterian Church. Joseph, then about seventeen years of age,7 had become seriously inclined, though not “brought out,” as the phrase was, began to reflect and inquire, which of all these sects was right. Each one said that it was right; which he knew could not be the case; and the question then was which one of the whole taught the true gospel of Jesus Christ, and made known the plan of salvation. If he went to one he was told they were right, and all others were wrong. If to another, the same was heard from them. Each [p. 7] professed to be the true church. This did not satisfy him, as he was aware that there would be but one way of entering into the Kingdom of Heaven, and that there was but one “straight and narrow path,” etc. All this however was beneficial to him, as it urged him forward, and strengthened him in the determination to know for himself of the certainty and reality of pure and holy religion. He continued in secret to call upon the Lord for a full manifestation of his will, the assurance that he was accepted of him, and that he might have an understanding of the path of obedience.

At length he determined to call upon the Lord until he should get a manifestation from him. He accordingly went out into the woods and falling upon his knees called for a long time upon the Lord for wisdom and knowledge. While engaged in prayer a light appeared in the heavens, and descended until it rested upon the trees where he was. It appeared like fire. But to his great astonishment, did not burn the trees. An angel then appeared to him and conversed with him upon many things. He told him that none of the sects were right; but that if he was faithful in keeping the commandments he should receive, the [p. 8] true way should be made known to him; that his sins were forgiven, etc. A more elaborate and accurate description of his vision, however, will be found in his own history.

The next day I was at work in the field together with Joseph and my eldest brother Alvin. Joseph looked pale and unwell, so that Alvin told him if he was sick he need not work; he then went and sat down by the fence, when the angel again appeared to him, and told him to call his father’s house together and communicate to them the visions he had received, which he had not yet told to any one; and promised him that if he would do so, they would believe it. He accordingly asked us to come to the house, as he had something to tell us. After we were all gathered, he arose and told us how the angel appeared to him; what he had told him as written above; and that the angel had also given him a short account of the inhabitants who formerly resided upon this continent, a full history of whom he said was engraved on some plates which were hidden, and which the angel promised to show him. (William Smith, op. cited above).

Once again, William Smith is true to his timeline that his brother did not receive any vision until he was 17 – in 1823. Even though he refers the reader to Joseph’s own history, William still recounts the details of the story he was familiar with his whole life, that Joseph’s prayer in 1823 was answered by an angel.  In 1884 he preaches a sermon that is virtually the same as the 1883 account in his book, conflating elements of his brother’s story of the claimed 1820 vision, but once again, staying true to his timeline that this event took place in 1823. It is my guess that someone pointed out to William the 1838 account written by his brother or that he was doing some research about it for his 1883 book, and that he picked up elements of the story about the claimed 1820 vision and tried to make them fit in the timeline that he had always recounted since the 1840’s. He didn’t do a very good job. But the fact that both his brother William and his mother Lucy (who were both first hand witnesses to the early years of Joseph) put the event in 1823, along with Oliver Cowdery (helped by Joseph himself in 1834-35) throws tremendous doubt upon Joseph’s private 1832 account as do the following accounts:

From the Hampton Whig, written by a Mormon in October, 1831:

Canandaigua, Oct. 9, 1831.

We live in this place, and have ever since the 8th of October last. My mind and time have mostly been taken up in the labor of the new covenant, and I cannot say much which would be interesting either to you or to me, unless I write upon this interesting subject. You must suppose I have had a good opportunity of witnessing much of the proceedings of those who believe in the book of Mormon. The book causes great excitement in these parts, and many [lisp] and foam out their shame, and some believe and become meek and lowly in this region.

There are about one hundred souls who have humbled themselves and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and desired baptism at the hand of Joseph Smith, or some other elder, — for you must know that there are, in this church, elders, priests, teachers and deacons, each ordained according to the gift and calling of God. Upon him, many have been ordained, and some preach. Four of these only have gone to the Samanites [sic – Lamanites?] (or Indians) to preach the gospel unto them. They passed through Ohio, and preached, and three hundred have come forth; many, on coming, brought all their possessions and gave to the church. One of the first was an old miser, who set the example by throwing in all his property — eight hundred acres of land under good cultivation. Thus we see, that when the people become right, this will follow, as in the Apostles’ days.

There are about four hundred souls, and yet no one has aught he calls his own. This we have not preached; but it is the natural consequence of embracing the Apostolic doctrine, which we have done; for He has visited his people, by the ministration of angels, and by raising up a new seer and revelator, that He may communicate unto us such things as are necessary for our preservation and instruction.

You recollect we were talking of the hill which contained all the sacred engravings; we thought it must be far South. But we were both mistaken; for since I saw you, I have seen the spot, and been all over the hill. The time is short, and this generation will not pass before there will be great and marvellous things take place to the confounding of all false, vain, and pernicious doctrines, and to the bringing to nought the wisdom of the world; for Israel shall be saved with an everlasting salvation, and the day is soon at hand when the wicked shall be cut off and the meek shall inherit the earth, and the Lord God will turn to the people a pure language; this is the first language, and it is still preserved on the plates of Jared, and will be the last language that will be.

From the Fredonia Censor, (March, 1832)

[From the Franklin (Pa.) Democrat.]

We of this place were visited on Saturday last by a couple of young men [Lyman E. Johnson and Orson Pratt] styling themselves Mormonites. They explained their doctrine to a large part of the citizens in the court house that evening. They commenced by reading the first chapter of Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians: also by giving an account of their founder, Joseph Smith, then an inhabitant of the state of New-York, county of Ontario, and town of Manchester. Having repented of his sins, but not attached himself to any party of Christians, owing to the numerous divisions among them, and being in doubt what his duty was, he had recourse prayer. After retiring to bed one night, he was visited by an Angel and directed to proceed to a hill in the neighborhood where he would find a stone box containing a quantity of Gold plates. The plates were six or eight inches square, and as many of them as would make them six or eight inches thick, each as thick as a pane of glass. They were filled with characters which the learned of that state were not able to translate. A Mr. Anthony [sic], a professor of one of the colleges, found them to contain something like the Cyrian, Chaldean, or Hebrew characters. However, Smith with divine aid, was able to translate the plates, and from them we have the Mormon bible, or as they stated it, another Revelation to part of the house of Joseph.

From the Catholic Telegraph 1 (April 14, 1832):

[Reprinted from The Western Press, Mercer, Pennsylvania.]

On Wednesday, the 8th of this month, two strangers [Lyman E. Johnson and Orson Pratt] called at my house and stated that they were sent by God to preach the gospel to every creature and said if a number should be convened they would deliver a discourse. On the question, what is your profession? they answered, the world call us Mormonites: this excited my curiosity, and at early candle light they commenced an address to the people convened. The substance for which I took down while they were speaking, and afterwards in conversation.

“We are commanded by the Lord to declare his will to effect his intended purpose.-In 1827 a young man called Joseph Smith of the state of New York, of no denomination, but under conviction, inquired of the Lord what he should do to be saved-he went to bed without any reply, but in the night was awakened by an angel, whiter and shining in greater splendour than the sun at noonday, who gave information where the plates were deposited:-Smith awoke, and after due preparation and agreeably to the information given by the angel, he went into the township of Manchester, and there, on the side of a hill, found in a stone box, or a separate space enclosed by stone on every side, the plates on which the revelation was inscribed. The box in thickness was about 6 inches, and about 7 by 5 otherwise; the plates themselves were about as thick as window glass, or common tin, pure gold, and well secured by silver rings or loops in the box as an effectual defence against all w eather. Smith, being entirely ignorant of any language but the English, and knowing that itself in a very imperfect manner was unable to read or decypher a single word-he therefore sent the plates to the city of New York to be translated by Professor Anthony, who could make nothing of them;-here seemed to be an insurmountable difficulty. ~Benjamin Stokely

To simply try and explain this away as Christensen does by William referring to Joseph’s 1838 History (which he does in 1883 – forty years later) is disingenuous.

X. More Apologetic Vagaries

Christensen then writes,

Ronald Barney spoke at the FAIR Conference in 2013 on Joseph Smith’s unfolding approaches to sharing his visions: So what I am asserting is that: initially, Joseph had personal instincts that precluded him from publicly sharing his experiences

Not really. He shared a lot of things publicly. He shared his story of the angel right away, even when he told his mother that they must keep it a secret. In fact, he was supposedly told not to publish his “revelations” by God himself and then went ahead and did it anyway in 1833 in the midst of intense persecution in Missouri. This was a bone of contention with David Whitmer. Joseph even told his “first vision” story to someone that he considered a murderer in 1835.

despite this instinct, in his youth he apparently shared the vision with people he thought would sympathize with his circumstances

Notice “apparently”. There is no evidence that he did. Even his own mother omitted it in her history. She recalled at age 14 that someone had apparently taken a shot at her son, but not the claimed 1820 vision.

being subject to rejection and disdain from these confidences he learned his lesson thereafter and protected his experiences

Again, not borne out in the historical record.

eventually he sensed the need of informing his intimates of what had happened to him …later his audience broadened to others outside his immediate circle…he made an early attempt to establish his story in writing in 1832 but the project stalled for reasons about which we can only speculate

Which is all he can do with this issue, and his speculations make no sense.

finally, recognizing the necessity of publishing his story as a counter to his contemporary critics to advance the cause of the Church, he had prepared what we now know as the History of the Church.

Which he began, then abandoned. He also had Cowdery and John Whitmer and John Corrill keep histories. He then had Cowdery publish his early history, and helped him with it. He chose not to disclose the rough 1832 History at this time but instead stuck with the narrative that his missionaries had been propagating since the Church was organized. We will never know why. But the evidence is incontrovertible that there was no mention of any claimed 1820 vision until 1832, exactly as Jeremy Runnells claims.

I do though, have a theory about one reason why Joseph abandoned the 1832 History and that is because Joseph hadn’t contemplated fully the complexity of the timeline he was reinventing. As I noted above, some words in the 1832 History were crossed out. They read,

about that time my mother and

The note to this at the JSP reads,

This canceled fragment may refer to the Presbyterian affiliation of JS’s mother and three of his siblings. In 1838, JS recounted that they “were proselyted to the Presbyterian faith” in connection with the revivalism preceding his vision.

Joseph places this event after his claimed 1820 vision. As they note above, Joseph in 1838 placed this event to before the claimed vision. If Joseph tried to include the narrative about George Lane here, it wouldn’t fit this timeline, he therefore decided to abandon this attempt. There are also other reasons why Joseph abandoned this History, which I will discuss at a later time.

In 2003, Mark Ashurst-McGee in The FARMS Review also discussed Smith and Cowdery’s motives for both reticence and publication:

Similarly, Smith and Cowdery may have begun providing the details of priesthood restoration in response to the bad publicity caused by the publication of Howe’s Mormonism Unvailed. It may be that Palmer [another critic] has made a historical contribution not in identifying the cause for inventing the priesthood stories, but in identifying a reason for Smith and Cowdery making them public. They had initially kept them confidential in order to avoid persecution, but after the publication of Mormonism Unvailed they may have found that false reports “put in circulation by evil disposed and designing persons” were a form of persecution that outweighed the persecution they would receive from publicizing the details of priesthood restoration. The reason for keeping the story to themselves became the reason for sharing it.

This makes no sense in the light of Smith publishing his other revelations and experiences in the Book of Mormon and then the Book of Commandments. What could they persecute him for if he published the additional details of the supposed priesthood restoration and his claimed 1820 theophany that they weren’t persecuting him for already? What makes more sense is what Dan Vogel postulated:

The History was begun in the midst of challenges to Smith’s authority, primarily initiated by Bishop Edward Partridge in Missouri, which evoked Smith’s introduction of the office of president of the high priesthood (Vogel 1988, 113-16). It is therefore not simply an autobiographical sketch, but an apology setting forth Smith’s credentials as leader of the church. The History therefore contains the earliest account of what is known as his “first vision” and earliest mention of angelic priesthood ordinations. (Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, p. 26).

Joseph wanted to recraft his history, the same as he had recrafted the “revelations” in the Book of Commandments. The finished version was published in 1842 in the Times and Seasons.

XI. More Blathering

Christensen writes,

Regarding the 1820 First Vision, Stephenson comments: “Unfortunately, no contemporary evidence has come to light to support this claim; and Joseph Smith himself did not document this supposed event until more than 12 years later.”

Notice the important qualification of “no contemporary evidence.” Contemporary evidence (that is Spring of 1820) is not the only kind of evidence.

Bravo. Tell us more Professor Christensen.

What contemporary evidence do we have for the Big Bang or the Creation of Life or for Shakespeare’s authorship of his plays or for my Dad’s participation in the battle at Hill 609 in Tunisia or of my childhood success at playing Risk with my brothers in the basement of our home?)

This is disingenuous, but really, can you expect anything more from Christensen? The Big Bang is a theory. (Not proven). Is Christensen claiming that Smith’s claimed 1820 vision is a theory? He is not. He is claiming that Joseph’s story is absolutely true. No one is claiming that the Big Bang is absolutely true. (No one knows). That is why it is called the Big Bang Theory.

As for his Dad’s participation in some battle, are there papers of his being assigned there? Is there testimony of others who served with him? I don’t know these things so can’t answer it, something that Christensen knows very well. This is a silly example. And then another red herring, playing childhood games. Really? Shakespeare? Really? Others have answered this very well.shake-face

If the question is “Did Joseph Smith have a vision in 1820 that affected the course of his life?” rather than “What contemporary evidence is there that Joseph Smith had a vision in 1820?” the methods, problem fields, and standards of solution change radically.

This is Christensen’s red herring. That is not the question. That is not Jeremy’s contention. Anyone can claim anything later. Therefore the burden of proof is on those who say the claims of Joseph Smith are based on real events, not on later stories. Even Christensen’s personal claims.

Stephenson might claim that “if Joseph Smith did have a vision, we would have abundant contemporary evidence,” but that claim itself is open to investigation.

I might do a lot of things, but I didn’t claim that. This doesn’t answer anything. I never claimed that we would or should “have abundant contemporary evidence”. I claimed (as Jeremy does) that there isn’t any at all. And my definition of contemporary is far more generous that Christensen makes it out to be; I’m claiming contemporary as anything before 1832, not just the year 1820. He knows this, but would rather invent red herrings than answer the charge. That is why we are arguing about the 1831 Reflector Article.

Christensen then regales us with this bit of strangery:

It is not a fact, but a premise that we can test only indirectly. Notice that Stephenson is perfectly willing to accept my oral report of an experience I had when I was 19 years old, a short time before my mission, of a vivid spiritual impression while reading Ether 12:39. What is his evidence that the event happened? Well, he listened to a FAIR Podcast that I recorded. It happens that the podcast happened over forty years after the event. I didn’t write the experience down at the time. I don’t remember telling anyone about it until much later. My parents were in a different part of the U.S. I don’t even remember who my Bishop was, and have no memory of telling any leaders. I don’t even remember when I began to tell the story. I have written it up on occasion, posting on internet message boards, and relating it in testimony meetings and a podcast or two. Have I told the story differently at different times? Perhaps I have. I doubt if I can narrow the day of the experience down to more than July to September 15th 1973. Does Stephenson worry at all about this lack of contemporary external confirmation or supportive witnesses or imprecision in the exact day? Remember, he also says that I’m dishonest. Why then does he take my report of a forty-year-old personal experience at face value? He doesn’t agree with the validity of my experience, but he bases a whole line of argument on the fact of such an experience. Obviously he accepts the existence of my personal account is a kind of evidence that he accepts as persuasive enough to use, even by itself. Among other things, my report makes sense within the LDS culture and if I did have an experience, it helps him explain important aspects of my behavior.

In fact, I don’t take anything that Christensen says at face value. I only said that he CLAIMED to know. Here is my quote,

In a podcast presented by FAIRMORMON he CLAIMS,

I got a testimony in my third reading of the Book of Mormon just before my mission, actually I was reading Ether 12:39 when he says that then shall ye know that I have seen Jesus face to face and he spoke to me in plain humility as one man speaketh to his friend. You know that just really powerfully hit me, I felt like that really happened. That meant Jesus was real, he’d been resurrected and that Moroni was a real person.

There is no “tentative” in these statements. Would I use the word tentative in describing the reality of my wife?  No, I say I know she is a real person There is no “tentative” needed. So Christensen has already made up his mind that Moroni is a real person and therefore shapes the narrative to support that claim. He even claims that there is an “improper” way to ask questions! Improper to whom?

This was all about what Christensen claimed. If he wants to raise doubts about his own subjective experiences, more power to him. Some might think that only further strengthens the case that he is dishonest or just psychotic. Remember, Christensen made the claim, not me. If he wants to try and disqualify my line of reasoning by throwing doubt on his own claims, who am I to argue with that? All of this though, is just silly posturing by Christensen that does nothing to prove that Joseph had a claimed 1820 vision. Instead of focusing on the evidence (or in this case lack of it) he plays semantic games to divert the issue. It reeks of desperation. I expect no less of Mormon Apologists based on their long track record of doing just this.

As for the rest of Christensen’s offering on the First Vision, he brings up Don Bradley’s recent contribution at the FAIRMORMON Conference of 2015. I’ve read it. I see problems with Don’s analysis though. What he, and Christensen fail to consider is that the claims that are made about context, (angelic visitations, and divine commissions, and the need for authority), are all answered in Joseph’s original narrative, which started with the visit of the Angel Moroni and the “translation” of the Book of Mormon.

Don wants to place the religious excitement and Lucy Smith’s joining of the Presbyterians before 1820, which is untenable, given the evidence. The narrative being preached by Mormon Missionaries after the Church was organized was of Moroni,  not a narrative based on a claimed 1820 theophany.  Therefore, the claim made by Dan Vogel fits perfectly within this historically correct narrative. Even Don himself claimed his premise is based on, “If Latter-day Saint belief about the First Vision is correct…” One can just as easily say, Joseph entered his bedroom in 1823 a boy and left it a prophet and seer. All of the family criteria still apply. Once again, the evidence determines what follows. Is the evidence stronger that the revivals spoken of were in 1823/4, or 1818/19? Lucy’s own words tell us. They were after the death of her son Alvin. Dan Vogel, Mike Marquardt, and others attest to this with far more credible evidence. That is why Don gives a friendly poke at Dan in his presentation. He disagrees, but sees the weight of Dan’s evidence.

Joseph didn’t just craft the claimed 1820 vision out of thin air in the 1830’s as Don wants us to believe. It was crafted from an already existing narrative about the Angel Moroni. Therefore significant details of his early life were already in place. He just shifted the dates and inserted a theophany, and the problems with him doing this are in the historical accounts by others who lived with him at the time, or reported on what Smith claimed in the 1820’s and 1830’s.

Christensen writes,

The Reflector is evidence that someone quite early on, almost two years before the 1832 account was written, knew something about theophanies, The silences that Stephenson discusses in the sources he quotes amount to his display of dissonance management relative to the Reflector. Silences elsewhere don’t explain how such ideas got into the Reflector. He fails to even mention the existence of reminiscent accounts such as those reported by Tim Barker. They are evidence to appreciate, deprecate, or ignore, depending on the direction of one’s cognitive efforts or dissonance management relative to that sort of evidence. Note too how my paradigm can account for all the evidence (including “negative” evidence, such as a lack of contemporary accusations that Joseph fabricated the First Vision later), while Runnells’s cannot.

No, they didn’t know anything about theophanies. It was Abner Cole’s synopsis, most likely based on contemporary accounts of the time. We have no letter to compare it with. And as you can see, I’m far from dissonant about the Reflector article. I understand more about it than Christensen does. I see it for what it is, not for what someone wants it to be. He keeps harping on my failure to mention evidences that he keeps pulling out of his Mormon Apologist hat. Christensen’s paradigm is based on anonymous sources, and cryptic allusions. That is all he has. It doesn’t account for anything.

I can list dozens of things Christensen did not mention, but I’m not playing that game. We both only touched on evidences (or the lack of) of the claimed 1820 and nowhere did either of us claim that we were giving definitive arguments. He seems to think that a two part blog article is a book about Smith’s claimed 1820 vision. (Christensen can’t even present limited arguments in a very coherent manner). To make the claim above that I was being purposefully silent about evidence (or avoiding apologist arguments) is all kinds of disingenuous, but again, I’m not surprised.

XII. The David Whitmer Problem

Christensen writes,

And there is evidence from Whitmer on the priesthood from earlier accounts that Stephenson did not report. Kenneth Godfrey has shown that “David Whitmer himself was not free from inconsistency when recounting his views on the priesthood. For example, David H. Cannon reported that in 1861 when he visited Whitmer, the two men with others stood beside the grave of Oliver Cowdery. Whitmer declared that he had heard Oliver say, ‘I know the Gospel to be true and upon this head has Peter, James and John laid their hands and conferred the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood.’ Whitmer also displayed for the group how this was done.

Again, here we go with these evidences out of the hat. It was actually evidence that Christensen didn’t specify (he referenced a whole book!). Was I supposed to address the whole book in a blog article? Now, (finally) I have something definite to check on. How can I report on something if I don’t know that Christensen is referring to? Christensen’s reference for this is:

Kenneth W. Godfrey, “David Whitmer and the Shaping of Latter-day Saint History,” in Stephen D. Ricks, Donald W. Parry, and Andrew H. Hedges, eds.,The Disciple as Witness: Essays on Latter-Day Saint History and Doctrine in Honor of Richard Lloyd Anderson (Provo: Foundation of Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2000), 241-242.

It is obvious that Christensen is reading second hand sources without knowing what he is referencing. Here is the actual full quote that Christensen claims is indicative of Whitmer’s “true” feelings about High Priests and the Priesthood “restoration”:

The thing which impressed me most of all was as we stood beside the grave of Oliver Cowdery the other witness who had come back into the church before his death and in describing Olivers action when bearing his testimony said to the people in his room placing his hands like this upon his head saying “I know the gospel to be true and upon this head has Peter James and John laid their hands and conf centered ered the Holy Melchesdic Priestood,” the manner in which this tall grey headed man went through the exhibition of what Oliver had done was prophetic I shall never forget the impression that the testimony of David Whitmer made upon me. (David H. Cannon, Autobiography, March 13, 1917, 5).

This is a recollection written by David H. Cannon (who worked in the St. George Temple for years), and was made 56 years later. Nowhere does Christensen mention this. Whitmer supposedly said this in 1861. If he felt this way, why did he write what he did about High Priests in his “Address to all Believers in Christ” in 1887? (26 years later) Fact is, this is obviously an apologetic “recollection” by Cannon made years later. Whitmer always felt that the Priesthood restoration was bogus. This is easy to prove.

David Whitmer, Kirtland Ohio, 1832

David Whitmer, Kirtland Ohio, 1832

In 1847 he got together with William McLellin and they were trying to start a church. McLellin had a “revelation” in Feb. 1847 relative to the rebaptism and the reordination of all adherents their new The Church of Christ. (Jan Shipps, McLellin, Man of Diversity, 343)

Whitmer was ordained a “prophet” which included “all the gifts and callings to which he had been appointed through Joseph Smith in the general assembly of the inhabitants of Zion, in 1834.” (ibid) Whitmer chose for his counselors Oliver Cowdery and his brother John Whitmer. Cowdery had written to Whitmer,

So far as I understand his labor, it has simply been directed to one great object—to wit: in preparing, or endeavoring to prepare the way for the old ship to unhitch her cables and again sail forth. . . . We may not live to see the day, but we have the authority, and do hold the keys. It is important should we not be permitted to act in that authority, that we confer them upon some man or men, whom God may appoint, that this priesthood be not taken again from the earth till the earth be sanctified. I want to see you much on this great matter. That our brother william has been directed and influenced in what he has been doing by the Holy Spirit, I need not say to you I fully believe. I do not say that every thing he has done has been done by inspiration—it would be strange if it were so. But that God has touched his heart, that he might begin to prepare the way, I have no doubt. In this doing he has done well, and he will in no wise lose his reward. . . . You will talk this matter all over, and make all the necessary enquiry, and I will only say that when the time comes, I am ready! But I am not persuaded that it has yet fully come. (Ensign of Liberty 1 (December 1847): 35).

David Whitmer received a “revelation” that McLellin was to build up the church in the land of Kirtland. But the voice to the others specified, “A commandment I give unto you my servant David, and also my servants John, and Hiram, and Jacob, that you must remain until I command you, and then you shall only be permitted to visit the faithful in my kingdom. For now ye do hold the right of this, the consecrated land of Zion.” John Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery were appointed counselors to David Whitmer in the presidency.

David appointed McLellin “president to stand in relation to me as [Oliver] stood to Joseph,” with responsibilities “to build up the church of Christ in Kirtland.” Jacob Whitmer and Hiram Page were ordained high priests. (Shipps, ibid). McLellin had accepted the office of High Priests (and the angelic restorations) even though he never heard of it until 1834, as he later recalled.

But there was a problem. It came from David Whitmer:

On behalf of David Whitmer, Hiram Page prepared a lengthy and carefully worded letter “to all the saints scattered abroad,” in which a number of key elements of “brother William’s” organization and doctrine were soundly denounced. The letter, dated from Richmond, Missouri, June 24, 1849, declared:

In 1847 brother William commenced vindicating our characters as honest men; in that he done well. In September 1848, he made us a visit and professed to have been moved upon by the same spirit of God that led him to do us justice by vindicating our characters, moved upon him to come here and have us organize ourselves in a church capacity; but it must come through him, which would give a sanction to all that he had done, which would give a more speedy rise to the cause than anything else could. . . . But we had not as yet come to an understanding, but consented to the organization after three days of successive entreaties. Now we acknowledge that the organization was not in accordance with the order of the Gospel Church. As we observed that we had not come to an understanding, it infers that we now have, or we think we have come to understanding, and the understanding which we have received is as follows…

Hiram Page then enumerated the criteria by which the church should be governed, among which were:

1. That the office of High Priest does not belong to the church of Christ under the gospel dispensation, and that all offices filled exclusively by High Priests are null and void.

2. The office of a Seer is not, nor never has been the means by which the Lord intended his church should be governed. . . .

3. That the gathering dispensation has not come, and every effort of men to bring about the gathering of the saints into bodies, is only sowing the seeds of discord, and is heaping upon the innocent many calamities which might be avoided.

At the conclusion of his declaration, Hiram Page observed, “It is evident that the way is not opened for us to organize as we should; but when the way is opened, we shall organize according to the Apostolic order. (Shipps, McLellin, Man of Diversity 345).

This incarnation of “The Church of Christ” quickly fell apart, and Cowdery began writing letters to Phineas Young and got rebaptized into the Utah branch of the Church right before his death in 1849. Whitmer was strongly opposed to the ordination of High Priests in 1847/1848, and affirmed that forty years later in 1887. He organized his own Church of Christ in the 1870’s without High Priests. In 1885, Whitmer answered some questions by Zenos Gurley and three dealt with the priesthood:

12Q Do you repudiate the High Priests quorum or that order, and can you give its origin and occasion of it in the church?
12A Yes I do – as not an order in Christ. It originated in the church because of desire to obtain greater power than what had been given – over anxiety with the leaders, leading to it.
13Q Were you present when Joseph Smith received the revelation commanding him and Oliver Cowdery to ordain each other to the Melchisedek Priesthood, if so, where was it and how?
13A No I was not – neither did I ever hear of such a thing as an angel ordaining them until I got into Ohio about the year 1834 – or later.
14Q Can you tell why that Joseph and Oliver were ordained to the lesser Priesthood by the hand of an Angel but in receiving the Higher they ordained each other?
14A I moved Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery to my fathers house in Fayette Seneca County New York, from Harmony, Penn. in the year 1829, on our way I conversed freely with them upon this great work they were bringing about, and Oliver stated to me in Joseph’s presence that they had baptized each other seeking by that to fulfill the command – And after our arrival at fathers sometime in June 1829, Joseph ordained Oliver Cowdery to be an Elder, and Oliver ordained Joseph to be an Elder in the church of Christ and during that year Joseph both baptized and ordained me an elder in the church of Christ. Also, during this year the translation of the Book of Mormon was finished, and we preached preached, baptized and ordained some as Elders, And upon the Sixth day of April 1830, six Elders together with some fifty or sixty (as near as I recollect) of the members met together to effect an organization.
I never heard that an Angel had ordained Joseph and Oliver to the Aaronic priesthood until the year 1834, 5, or 6 – in Ohio. My information from Joseph and Oliver upon this matter being as I have stated, and that they were commanded so to do by revealment through Joseph. I do not believe that John the Baptist ever ordained Joseph and Oliver as stated and believed by some, I regard that as an error, a misconception. (Zenas H. Gurley Interview, 14 January 1885, Richmond, Missouri)

For anyone to claim that Whitmer all of a sudden reversed himself in 1861 on the basis of ONE 50+ year recollection is simply desperate or uninformed about David Whitmer. For being so well read, it is obvious Christensen knows little about David Whitmer or he would not have presented this “evidence”.  But because I didn’t mention this unreliable apologetic recollection buried in an apologist book, I’m the one who is incorrect.

As Gregory Prince writes, (again the Book of Mormon angel paradigm):

Visions surrounding the gold plates of the Book of Mormon provided the earliest confirmation of Joseph Smith’s divine calling. Within weeks of Smith’s obtaining the plates in September 1827, neighbor Martin Harris “became convinced of the visions and gave [Smith] fifty Dollars to bare my expences and because of his faith and the righteous deed the Lord appeared unto him in a vision and showed unto him his marvilous work which he was about to do.” A similar manifestation in 1829 converted a man whose role in Latter-day Saint priesthood would be second only to Smith’s: “[The] Lord appeared unto a young man by the name of Oliver Cowdry and shewed unto him the plates in a vision and also the truth of the work and what the Lord was about to do through me his unworthy servant therefore he was desirous to come and write for me to translate.”

While it was apparent that Smith had a calling, the basis of his authority was implicit in his work, not the result of any “hands-on” ordination. Prior to 1829 neither Smith nor his followers claimed to have received the type of divine authorization which ultimately would become known as “priesthood.”

Smith’s primary concerns during this time were his own status with God and the translation of the gold plates. He expressed no intent to organize a church or to confer authority or ordinances on others. Three revelations date from this period, none of which addressed these issues. In the first, from July 1828, Smith was chastised for having lost part of the Book of Mormon manuscript and was told that he would be allowed to resume translating, but no authority was mentioned. In the second, dated February 1829, a ministry extending beyond publication of the Book of Mormon was implied. The qualifications for that ministry were listed: “Faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God” (BC III:1). Formal authority evidently was not required. The third revelation, given to Joseph Smith one month later in behalf of Harris, described for the first time the establishment of a church, “like unto the church which was taught by my disciples in the days of old” (BC IV:5), but stipulated not prerequisites (Gregory A. Prince, Power From On High, Ch.1, p.3)

Christensen gets his basis of “facts” from an original compilation of quotes by Brian Q. Cannon (strangely called “Priesthood Restoration Documents”) the majority of these quotes made long after 1834, and that for the most part have nothing to do with priesthood “restoration” and only mention angels – which seems to be the only criteria for including them. For example, here is one:

The Painesville Telegraph (December 7, 1830)

THE  BOOK  OF  MORMON

Those who are the friends and advocates of this wonderful book, state that Mr. Oliver Cowdry has his commission directly from the God of Heaven, and that he has credentials, written and signed by the hand of Jesus Christ, with whom he has personally conversed, and as such, said Cowdry claims that he and his associates are the only persons on earth who are qualified to administer in his name. By this authority, they proclaim to the world, that all who do not believe their testimony, and be baptized by them for the remission of sins, and come under the imposition of their hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, and stand in readiness to go to some unknown region, where God will provide a place of refuge for his people, called the “New Jerusalem,” must be forever miserable, let their life have been what it may. If these things are true, God has certainly changed his order of commission. When Jesus sent his disciples to preach, he gave them power against all unclean spirits, to cast them out, to heal all manner of diseases, and to raise the dead. But these newly commissioned disciples have totally failed thus far in their attempts to heal, and as far as can be ascertained, their prophecies have also failed. Jesus Christ has forewarned us not to believe them: “There shall arise false Christs and false Prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch if it were possible they shall deceive the very elect behold — I have told you before, we give too much credit to these men.” — Let us follow the example of the church at Ephesus: “Thou hast tried them which say they are Apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars.” We ought to believe God, though it should prove all men to be liars.

No mention of angels at all. In 1830 they were claiming that the authority to baptize came from Jesus Christ, not angelic ordinations or some priesthood,

26 . . . behold, there are others who are called to declare my gospel, both unto Gentile and unto Jew; 27 Yea, even twelve; and the Twelve shall be my disciples, and they shall take upon them my name; and the Twelve are they who shall desire to take upon them my name with full purpose of heart. 28 And if they desire to take upon them my name with full purpose of heart, they are called to go into all the world to preach my gospel unto every creature. 29 And they are they who are ordained of me to baptize in my name, according to that which is written . . .31 And now I speak unto you, the Twelve—Behold, my grace is sufficient for you; you must walk uprightly before me and sin not. 32 And, behold, you are they who are ordained of me to ordain priests and teachers; to declare my gospel, according to the power of the Holy Ghost which is in you, and according to the callings and gifts of God unto men; 33 And I, Jesus Christ, your Lord and your God, have spoken it . . .37 And now, behold, I give unto you, Oliver Cowdery, and also unto David Whitmer, that you shall search out the Twelve, who shall have the desires of which I have spoken; 38 And by their desires and their works you shall know them. 39 And when you have found them you shall show these things unto them. (Revelation, Book of Commandments, 1833

This is the commission the Telegraph report is speaking about. There is nothing here about angelic visitations, only about authority to preach. The book also quotes the Articles and Covenants of the Church of Christ, written originally by Oliver Cowdery in 1829:

A commandment from God unto Oliver [Cowdery] how he should build up his Church & the manner thereof——Saying Oliver listen to the voice of Christ your Lord & your God & your  Redeemer & write the words which I shall command you concerning my Church my Gospel my Rock & my Salvation. Behold the world is ripening in in iquity & it must needs be that the children of men are stirred up unto repentance both the Gentiles & also the House of Israel for behold I command all men everywhere to repent & I speak unto you even as unto Paul mine apostle for ye are called even with that same calling with which he was called Now therefore whoso ever repenteth & humbleth himself before me & desireth to be baptized in my name shall ye baptize them And after this manner did he command me that  I should baptize them Behold ye shall go down & stand in the water & in my  name shall ye baptize them And now behold these are the words which ye shall say calling them by name saying Having authority given me of Jesus Christ I baptize you in the name of the Father & of the Son & of the Holy Ghost Amen  And then shall ye immerse them in the water & come forth again out of the water  & after this manner shall ye baptize in my name For behold verily I say unto you  that the Father & the Son & the Holy Ghost are one & I am in the Father & the Father in me & the Father & I are one

There is nothing here that mentions angelic ordinations. Joseph later rewrote those articles,

The articles and covenants of the Church of Christ agreeable to the will and commandments of God. The rise of the Church of Christ in these last days, being one 1830 years since the coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, in the flesh, it being regularly organized and established agreeable to the laws of our country, by the will and commandments of God in the 4th month, and on the 6th day of the same, which commandments were given to Joseph Smith, jun. who was called of God and ordained an apostle of Jesus Christ, an elder of the church, and also to Oliver, who was called of God an apostle of Jesus Christ, an elder of the church, and ordained under his hand, and this according to the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be all glory both now and ever — amen.

For, after that it truly was manifested unto the first elder that he had received remission of his sins, he was entangled again in the vanities of the world, but after truly repenting, God visited him by an holy angel, whose countenance was as lightning, and whose garments were pure and white above all whiteness, and gave unto him commandments which inspired him from on high, and gave unto him power, by the means which was before prepared that he should translate a book; which book contains a record of a fallen people, and also the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles and also to the Jews, proving unto them that the holy scriptures be true, and also that God doth inspire men and call them to his holy work in these last days as well as in days of old, that he might be the same God forever — amen.

This is supposedly where there is some “cryptic allusion” to a claimed 1820 vision. Notice that Christensen does not address the problems that I mentioned about this, in his article. He only claims that I “wrestled” with it. Why doesn’t he address those specific problems I mentioned? Because he ignores the obvious paradigm in favor of one supported by only an anonymous synopsis and the faulty comparisons of a Mormon Apologist.

XIII. Book of Mormon Vagaries 

As Gregory Prince (who is also a scientist with a P.H.D.) writes,

In April 1829 itinerant schoolteacher Oliver Cowdery arrived in Harmony, Pennsylvania, to serve as Joseph Smith’s new scribe. Within days their work on the Book of Mormon produced passages dealing with baptism. The first of these was from “The Book of Mosiah”:

And now it came to pass that Alma took Helam, he being one of the first, and went and stood forth in the water, and cried, saying, O Lord, pour out thy spirit upon thy servant, that he may do this work with holiness of heart. And when he had said these words, the spirit of the Lord was upon him, and he said, Helam, I baptize thee, having authority from the Almighty God, as a testimony that ye have entered into a covenant to serve him until you are dead, as to the mortal body; and may the spirit of the Lord be poured out upon you; and may he grant unto you eternal life, through the redemption of Christ, which he hath prepared from the foundation of the world. And after Alma had said these words, both Alma and Helam was [sic] buried in the water; and they arose and came forth out of the water rejoicing, being filled with the spirit. And again, Alma took another, and went forth a second time into the water, and baptized him according to the first, only he did not bury himself again in the water.

Of particular importance is the idea that before Alma baptized he received authorization simply from “the spirit of the Lord.” There is no mention of angelic appearance, laying on of hands, or ordained office. Alma baptized himself and Helam simultaneously.

Cowdery received the following communication from God at about this time:

Now therefore whosoever repenteth & humbleth himself before me & desireth to be baptized in my name shall ye baptize them. And after this manner did he [the Lord] command me that I should baptize them[.] Behold ye shall go down & stand in the water & in my name shall ye baptize them. And now behold these are the words which ye shall say calling them by name saying[,] Having authority given me of Jesus Christ I baptize you in the name of the Father & of the Son & of the Holy Ghost Amen. And then shall ye immerse them in the water & come forth again out of the water & after this manner shall ye baptize in my name.

Smith’s and Cowdery’s baptisms in the Susquehanna River in May 1829 were thus divinely authorized, though not as a prerogative based on the duties of any office. Later accounts described additional elements such as authority from an angel conferred by the laying on of hands and tandem rather than simultaneous baptism, in contrast to the Book of Mormon model. (Gregory A. Prince, Power From On High, Ch.1, p.4 – p.5).

In other words, as Prince writes,

The status of Mormon authority in 1829 was as follows. Motivated by passages in the Book of Mormon, Smith and Cowdery had sought and received authorization to baptize. Later they encountered additional Book of Mormon passages describing a higher authority which was needed to confer the Holy Ghost and ordain to offices, which they subsequently received. Neither level of authority had yet been called “priesthood.” Prior to 1831 the only use of the term was in the Book of Mormon, where it was used synonymously with the office of high priest (BM, 1830, 258-60), an office which did not exist in Mormonism until late 1831. Prior to then men acted by virtue of the office to which they had been ordained, either elder, priest, or teacher. In performing ordinances they sometimes referred to their authority explicitly, as in the baptismal prayer, though without using the term “priesthood.” Authority was generally implied, as in the blessing of the bread and wine (BM, 1830, 575-76) and in the ordination of priests and teachers (BM, 1830, 575).30 It was not until several months after the June 1831 general conference, when the “high priesthood” was conferred, that the term “priesthood” entered Mormon usage at all.

I guess I’m not the only one whose “grasp of the textual data is lacking”. Gregory Prince makes the same observation about High Priests in the Book of Mormon.

Margaret Barker has her opinions. There are many other credible Biblical Historians who take a different view on the subject. To claim that I am simply “unaware” of her arguments, or about the role of High Priests in the Bible is disingenuous of Christensen.

Photos of David Whitmer by Jacob Hicks. Left Photo taken in 1867 when David was 62 years old, Right Photo taken in 1882 when David was 77 years old.

Photos of David Whitmer by Jacob Hicks. Left Photo taken in 1867 when David was 62 years old, Right Photo taken in 1882 when David was 77 years old.

David Whitmer’s views on High Priests were more Protestant, (a Priesthood of all believers) which are not the views that Barker holds. She is also quoting late accounts claiming that James and John were ordained High Priests. There is no evidence in the Bible that this ever happened, only later writings that mention that James went into the holy of holies. Tenuous evidence, at best.  Paul writes,

11 If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come—one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? 12 For when there is A CHANGE OF THE PRIESTHOOD, there must also BE A CHANGE OF THE LAW. 13He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. 15 And what we have said is even more clear if another priest LIKE MELCHISEDEK appears, 16 one WHO HAS BECOME A PRIEST not on the basis OF A REGULATION as to his ancestry BUT ON THE BASIS OF THE POWER OF AN INDESTRUCTIBLE LIFE. 

17 For it is declared: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” 18 The former regulation [LAW OR PRIESTHOOD] is set aside because it was weak and useless 19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. 20 And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, 21 but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever.’ 22 Because of this oath, JESUS has become the GUARANTEE OF A BETTER COVENANT. (Hebrews 7:17-22)

Jesus became a ‘priest’ on the basis of his indestructible life, not on a regulation or an ordination. Paul says we draw near to God because of an Oath which God made ‘that you are a priest forever’ and because of this Jesus became the guarantor of a better covenant. How did he do that? Not by ancestry, or regulation, but by the power of his indestructible life. In Romans, the writer makes this observation:

13 It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, BUT THROUGH THE RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT COMES BY FAITH. 14 For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, 15 because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression. (Romans 4:13-15)

Abraham needed no law, (or Priesthood) because he had faith, as explained in Romans:

21 But now a righteousness from God, APART FROM LAW, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST to ALL who BELIEVE. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are JUSTIFIED FREELY BY HIS GRACE through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented him as a SACRIFICE OF ATONEMENT through faith IN HIS BLOOD. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his justice AT THE PRESENT TIME, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26)

Righteousness from God comes from Faith in Jesus Christ to ALL who BELIEVE, and this cannot be conferred by ordinance.  That is why Paul says in Hebrews:

7 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, ONCE MADE PERFECT, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was DESIGNATED BY GOD to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 5:7-10)

Jesus was designated by God, once he was made perfect to be a High Priest in the order of Melchizedek. Jesus indestructible life “is the basis of Jesus Priesthood, the only one that could officiate in that position over the entire world, once for all mankind, affirmed by God by His Oath. Again:

17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary beyond the curtain, 20 where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:17-20)

Who would go ‘into the sanctuary? One High Priest. He did this for all Israel. In similitude, Jesus did this in heaven as High Priest for the entire world, on mankind’s behalf, because he was the only one who could.

We are justified by faith apart from law, as quoted above. But the Mormon Priesthood is a set of laws, as Brigham Young explained:

“When we talk of the celestial law which is revealed from heaven, that is, the priesthood, we are talking about the principle of salvation, a perfect system of government, of laws and ordinances, by which we can be prepared to pass from one gate to another, and from one sentinel to another, until we go into the presence of our Father and God.” (DBY,130)

But Peter says:

4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

This is how Christians carry on the work without the High Priests. They take upon them the name of Christ and become living stones and offer “spiritual sacrifices”. A priesthood of all believers, as David Whitmer explained:

Some of the brethren have misunderstood the Old Testament part of the Book of Mormon concerning High Priests, and refer to Alma 9-6: Alma says, “This high priesthood being after the order of his Son, which order was from the foundation of the world: or in other words, being without beginning of days or end of years, being prepared from eternity to all eternity, according to his foreknowledge of all things.” Here it is speaking of the order of the High Priests before Christ: their order being after the order of the Son of God, and this order being without beginning of days or end of years, being prepared from eternity to all eternity. This being Christ’s order, He being from eternity to all eternity, has held this holy order of priesthood from eternity and will hold it to all eternity. Those High Priests before Christ came into the world, held this holy order of priesthood as a type of Christ‘s order; but when Christ came into the world, he then claimed his own holy order of priesthood and power on earth, doing away with all types and shadows under the old law, himself alone being our great and last High Priest unto whom we can go to obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Brethren, I am constrained to say as Alma says at his conclusion of this matter: He ends his writing in the tenth chapter, 2d paragraph, by these words: “Now I need not rehearse the matter; what I have said, may suffice. Behold, the scriptures are before you; if ye will wrest them it shall be to your own destruction.” (An Address to All Believers In Christ, 66-67)

Christensen can claim that Whitmer is wrong, or that I am for relating what he said and believed, but quoting Margaret Barker doesn’t prove there were High Priests in the Book of Mormon after Jesus visited them, (not any good ones, only leftovers of the Mosaic Law) nor how early Mormons interpreted it. Her later interpretations of the Bible are not contemporary with Joseph Smith’s time (the 1830’s). I consider Gregory Prince far more informed than Margaret Barker when it comes to the Mormon Priesthood. And Christensen’s interpretation of “beyond the mark” is beyond the pale. Here is a Mormon Apostle who explains it:

This Athenian response to Paul was not unlike that of the people described by the prophet Jacob during an even earlier period: “But behold, the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came bylooking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble” (Jacob 4:14; emphasis added).

Today there is a tendency among some of us to “look beyond the mark” rather than to maintain a testimony of gospel basics. We do this when we substitute the philosophies of men for gospel truths, engage in gospel extremism, seek heroic gestures at the expense of daily consecration, or elevate rules over doctrine. Avoiding these behaviors will help us avoid the theological blindness and stumbling that Jacob described. (Elder Quentin L. Cook, Ensign, March, 2003)

Even Mormon scholars claim that this is the correct interpretation of the phrase,

To summarize the literary context, the phrase “which blindness came by looking beyond the mark” comes in the middle of a declaration that the Jews had largely rejected the testimonies of the prophets concerning their Lord and their God and would therefore reject Him again at His coming. Specifically, verse 14 explains that the Jews of Jacob’s day wanted things they could not understand and that God had granted them their unwise wish, thereby leading them to reject Christ as their sure foundation. (Paul Y. Hoskisson, “Looking Beyond the Mark,” in A Witness for the Restoration: Essays in Honor of Robert J. Matthews, ed. Kent P. Jackson and Andrew C. Skinner (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2007), 149–64).

Christensen can read anything he wants into the Book of Mormon and claim parallels and ties to obscure literature all he wants. This doesn’t change that fact that this is his own interpretation of the Book of Mormon and is only his opinion. Therefore, claiming that he is correct and David Whitmer is wrong is simply humorous.  He doesn’t use any contemporary witnesses or evidence to bolster his argument, (he simply makes connections to anything that catches his fancy about High Priests that seems to support his apologetic interpretations).  Christensen writes,

When he was anointed, the high priest was marked with the sign of the Name, described by the rabbis as a chi (b. Hirayoth 12a), but in the time of Ezekiel described as a tau (Ezek. 9.4) in each case, a diagonal cross. [Compare Jacob 4:14 on “the mark” and remember that Jacob is a consecrated temple priest contemporary with Ezekiel.]

Except Jacob was not a high priest like Alma, he was a simple priest. In the Book of Mormon it says,

And it came to pass that Alma, [the one High Priest] having authority from God, ordained priests; even one priest to every fifty of their number did he ordain to preach unto them, and to teach them concerning the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. (The Book of Mormon, 1830, p.193-p.194).

And it came to pass that king Mosiah granted unto Alma, that he might establish Churches throughout all the land of Zarahemla; and gave him power to ordain priests and teachers over every Church. Now this was done because there was so many people that they could not all be governed by one teacher; neither could they all hear the word of God in one assembly; therefore they did assemble themselves together in different bodies, being called Churches; every Church having their priests and their teachers, and every priest preaching the word according as it was delivered to him by the mouth of Alma: and thus, notwithstanding there being many Churches, they were all one Church; yea, even the Church of God: for there was nothing preached in all the Churches except it were repentance and faith in God. (The Book of Mormon, 1830, p.209).

RameumptomIt was Nephi who “consecrated Jacob and Joseph as “priests”:

And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did consecrate Jacob and Joseph, that they should be priests and teachers over the land of my people. And it came to pass that we lived after the manner of happiness. And thirty years had passed away from the time we left Jerusalem. And I, Nephi, had kept the record upon my plates, which I had made of my people thus far. (The Book of Mormon, 1830, p.73)

Jacob claims that he is still a “priest and teacher” after Nephi dies:

For I, Jacob, and my brother Joseph, had been consecrated priests, and teachers of this people, by the hand of Nephi. (The Book of Mormon, 1830, p.124)

As David Whitmer later explained,

When Christ came into the world upon this land, Nephi was a great High Priest who had done many mighty works. Now Nephi had to lay down his robe of a High Priest just outside the door and come into the Church of Christ by baptism, to the office of an Elder, and not once after that is Nephi called a High Priest. At this time the Church of Christ was established upon this land. Christ comes into the world and preaches to them as he had to those at Jerusalem, giving them instructions concerning his Church and the New Covenant which he made with them, as he had with those on the eastern continent, telling them they were no longer under the old law of Moses, but from that time were under him. He chooses twelve disciples who were called Elders, [Moroni III, p. 575] to minister unto that people, and after giving them full instructions concerning the establishing of his church, he ascends into heaven. Elders, Priests and Teachers were ordained in his church, [p. 575] and full instructions given concerning their duties. Christ told his disciples to write his teachings, for they were to be hid up to come down to us as his teachings to us. Now this being the case, why are not some instructions given in the new covenant of that book concerning the office of High Priests? Of course there was no such an office in the Church of Christ upon this land, nor in the Church of Christ upon the eastern continent, nor should there be such an office in the Church to-day. It is a grievous sin to have such an office in the church. As well might you add to the teachings of Christ–circumcision–offering up the sacrifice of animals–or break the ordinances of Christ in any other way by going back to the old law of Moses. (An Address, 63).

So how is Jacob one of Margaret Barker’s “high priest[s] marked with the sign of the Name”? Only in Christensen’s imagination. There is nothing in the Book of Mormon to support these speculations by Christensen. I suppose if one read it like Mormon Apologists, this all would become clear and apparent, but it is not clear and apparent to Mormon “Authorities” who have a completely different interpretation.

As Gregory Prince writes about the office of High Priest in the Church,

The office of high priest is unique, for it is the only office mentioned in the Book of Mormon not incorporated in the church at its inception. Within the “pre-Christian” portion of the Book of Mormon high priest was an important and benevolent figure: “And now, Alma was their high priest, he being the founder of their church. And it came to pass that none received authority to preach or to teach except it were by him, from God. Therefore he consecrated all their priests and all their teachers; and none were consecrated except they were just men” (BM, LDS, Mosiah 23:16-17).

In the Christian portion of the Book of Mormon, the office of high priest had degenerated to the point where its holders became antagonists of those who spoke of Christ: “Now there were many of the people who were exceeding angry because of those who testified of these things; and those who were angry were chiefly the chief judges, and they who had been high priests and lawyers” (BM, LDS, 3 Ne. 6:21).

Whether Joseph Smith’s initial failure to ordain high priests was due to this passage, or to a desire to emulate the organization described in the Christian portion of the book, is not clear. What is clear, however, is that one of Smith’s closest associates credited Sidney Rigdon with successfully proposing to Smith that high priests be added in 1831:

As you know, the teachings of Christ are the same at Jerusalem and upon this land; but on account of the plain and precious things being taken from the Bible, there is room therein for disputation on some points; but the teachings of Christ in the Book of Mormon are pure, plain, simple, and full. Christ chose “twelve” and called them disciples, or Elders,–not apostles, and the “twelve” ordained elders, priests, and teachers. These are all the spiritual offices in the Church of Christ, and their duties are plainly given. . . .

But they did not rely upon the Book of Mormon in building up the church; but Joseph “went on in the persuasion of men,” as he did while translating, and heeded Rigdon who expounded the old scriptures to him and showed him that high priests and other offices should be added to “elders, priests and teachers.”

While Smith’s and Rigdon’s silence on the subject disallows verification of David Whitmer’s assertions, they are consistent with the historical record, for there was no known mention of high priests prior to Rigdon’s arrival in New York, and the first Restoration document mentioning the office was Smith’s revision of Genesis written late in the winter of 1830-31, for which Rigdon served as scribe. (Gregory A. Prince, Power From On High, Ch.2, p.70-71)

Christensen’s defense of the supposed angelic “restoration” of the Priesthood is woefully inadequate, disingenuous and typical of a FAIRMORMON Apologist who constantly misconstrue evidence, omit crucial details, and offer up their own interpretations that are not borne out by the evidence.

Conclusion

Christensen’s conclusion is a wonderful example of the tactic of Mormon Apologists to denigrate all Ex-Mormons as disillusioned hypocrites who feel betrayed — who only have “scripts to learn, and roles to play.” He then claims that “a different approach to the same discoveries can lead to a sense of enlightenment and faith. The narrative in which the information is placed decisively colors how it is experienced…” And of course, Christensen’s way is better, because he has “superior” information at his disposal with Mormon Apologetic offerings.

So really, all Ex-Mormons are simply complainers (one of Christensen’s favorite words) who calculatingly script their exit stories to fit into whatever community they wish to belong to. And the information they share is, of course based on the premise that “everything my teachers and formal leaders say is absolutely correct and unchanging and all I have to do is sit and listen to approved thoughts.”

This absolutely misconstrues Jeremy’s argument. Neither he, nor I have ever claimed this. It is simply a caricature of the Tanners concerns, and of Jeremy’s. This is how Christensen interprets Rosemary Avance’s FAIRMORMON presentation that he references. I didn’t get that out of it at all. It was all about taking seriously those who interpret Mormonism differently, so Mormon Apologists could improve their approaches to their arguments. Christensen even admits (as I quoted above) that he will not, could not do that with Jeremy Runnells. He credits him nothing. He didn’t do his “homework”.

It is obvious from the above, that Christensen does not understand Ex-Mormons at all, he simply wants to denigrate them to promote himself and his formulas for staying “faithful”. This is made abundantly clear with how he portrays me, as the “man behind the curtain”. I’m simply a hypocrite who only “creates” images “in my own mind” based on “partial knowledge”. Time after time I have shortcomings because I don’t reference various and sundry Apologist arguments that Christensen pulls out of his apologetic hat and doesn’t quote at all. I’m fully expected to address all of this in a blog article and therefore I’m a hypocrite because I do not.

doublethinkBut who has presented only partial knowledge here, that deals with David Whitmer, the Priesthood Restoration and the claimed 1820 vision? Christensen and FAIRMORMON Apologists. Christensen only disclosed a full account of the evidence (the Correspondent section of the Reflector article – the only time Christensen does so) because he wanted to score rhetorical points instead of presenting that evidence in full in the first place. Time after time he writes his own opinion and footnotes it with whole books, articles and chapters of the Bible or Book of Mormon. The only evidence he really consistently cites are quotes to back up his esoteric nonsense in an attempt to psychoanalyze and denigrate Jeremy Runnells. And he is still denigrating Jeremy. He writes in the comment section of the Essay:

Actually, I don’t think that the questions that Runnells asks are difficult to answer. It’s a simple matter of seeking, where the effort expended and the sources used also turn out to be a good measure of desire and intent on the part of the seeker.

Again, his “desire” and “intent” makes it easy for Christensen, implying that Jeremy had neither. This kind of arrogance is astounding. Christensen’s approach is more reminiscent of the practices of Big Brother with his DoubleThink, than a real effort to understand Jeremy and why he wrote the CES Letter in the first place. Perhaps some desire and intent on his part to really do so might change his perspective, but I doubt it.

Phoney Maroney & FairMormon’s New Scapegoat

Stephen Smoot 2

Phoney maroney,
Pony before the cart. …

Gentlemen mark your opponents
Fire into your own ranks.
Pick the weakest as strategic
Move. Square off. To
Meet your enemy.
For each and every gathering
A scapegoat falls to climb. ~R.E.M.

This guy:

Stephen O. Smoot is an undergraduate student at Brigham Young University pursuing bachelor’s degrees in Ancient Near Eastern Studies and German Studies. He is a writer for the Student Review, an independent BYU student newspaper, a volunteer with FairMormon, and an Editorial Consultant for Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture. He blogs at the FairMormon Blog and Ploni Almoni: Mr. So-and-So’s Mormon Blog.

Is one of many from FAIRMORMON’s ranks who are obsessed with attacking and scapegoating Jeremy Runnells. They have even devoted a whole website to doing so. (Yes Mormons, that is what your donations to FAIRMORMON are being used for). Even Daniel C. Peterson and Michael Ash have jumped on this bandwagon. This has troubled other Mormons, like David Bokovoy who wrote:

But what about attacking people directly like Jeremy Runnells and John Dehlin? Does this strengthen faith? It may, but I’m not convinced. I don’t like it, and it feels wrong to me. More importantly, that type of apologetic seems inappropriate from my perspective for a serious academic venue, especially one sponsored by the LDS Church.

I’m not going to cite the emails because they’re personal exchanges, and to do so would be highly inappropriate. But I will give a personal example. In the not-too-distant past, my name was attached to an apologetic email list that was discussing how the group should respond to an article that appeared in the news. Several of the emails discussed openly the type of “digging” that could be done into this person’s past in an effort to provide an effective apologetic response. It made me feel very, very uncomfortable.

I responded, asking the group to please reconsider their approach, stating, “placing the blame on [name omitted] for his struggles is not an effective apologetic and I personally don’t think it will help [your] cause.”

And this is what this entire unfortunate public confrontation comes down to: What is the most effective type of apologetics, and what style of academics should an LDS sponsored institution engage in? I don’t believe in aggressive attack style apologetics. Some people do. I believe in critical thinking, listening to alternative views, and open friendly exchanges.

Smoot has had Jeremy in his sights ever since the wildly popular CES Letter was made public by Jeremy in 2013. In one of his blog articles written in June of this year, Smoot advised his fellow Mormons about the dangers of the Internet:

…Church leaders … have urged the importance of using the Internet to both stem the tide of misinformation and deception about the Church found online as well as preach the gospel. But they are not alone. Elder Quinten L. Cook lamented in the October 2012 General Conference, “Some have immersed themselves in Internet materials that magnify, exaggerate, and, in some cases, invent shortcomings of early Church leaders. Then they draw incorrect conclusions that can affect testimony.” President Dieter F. Uchtdorf likewise reminded us of the following in 2013:

For those who already embrace the truth, [Satan’s] primary strategy is to spread the seeds of doubt. For example, he has caused many members of the Church to stumble when they discover information about the Church that seems to contradict what they had learned previously.

If you experience such a moment, remember that in this age of information there are many who create doubt about anything and everything, at any time and every place.

You will find even those who still claim that they have evidence that the earth is flat, that the moon is a hologram, and that certain movie stars are really aliens from another planet. And it is always good to keep in mind, just because something is printed on paper, appears on the Internet, is frequently repeated, or has a powerful group of followers doesn’t make it true.

Elder Steven E. Snow, Church Historian and Recorder, gave this counsel in the June 2013 issue of the New Era (which was subsequently reposted on the Church’s website for youth).

Certainly, the world has changed in the last generation or two. The Internet has put all kinds of information at our fingertips—good, bad, truthful, untruthful—including information on Church history. You can read a great deal about our history, but it’s important to read about it and understand it in context. The difficulty with some information online is that it’s out of context and you don’t really see the whole picture.

Information that tries to embarrass the Church is generally very subjective and unfair. We should seek sources that more objectively describe our beliefs and our history. Some websites are very mean-spirited and can be sensational in how they present the information. Look for sources by recognized and respected historians, whether they’re members of the Church or not.

Instead of leaving it at that, Smoot adds:

The tantrums of Jeremy Runnells notwithstanding, what these brethren have taught is absolutely true. It’s college-level critical thinking 101. Don’t default to Wikipedia or reddit for your information. Don’t default to meme-think. Don’t default to snarky YouTube videos. Steven C. Harper said it best, “Googling is not a synonym for seeking.” Take the time and make the honest effort to acquaint yourself with “the best books” (D&C 88:118) you can find on Mormon history, scripture, and doctrine. (For our purposes here, “the best books” include academic journal articles, academic and popular press publications, Internet websites, multimedia, etc.) It will ultimately be much better for you intellectually and spiritually.

The only one that seems to be throwing tantrums is Stephen Smoot. In this piece Smoot sets up a strawman by turning Jeremy’s comment about Hales being an amateur Historian into his claiming that he triumphantly announced “that one cannot possibly maintain faith in Joseph Smith after learning the “real” history of plural marriage.”

Of course Jeremy said no such thing and you can search in vain for that quote.  Smoot goes on and on about Hales how is not an amateur historian, but Hales himself claimed that he was:

“Runnells is correct that I am an amateur historian…” (Brian Hales,  Facebook, Mormon Historians, July 17, 2014, 3:38pm).

I actually took part in that conversation, and can verify that it is an accurate quote and that Brian was not being sarcastic. So if Hales is calling himself an amateur; then why is Stephen Smoot even bringing this up? To scapegoat Jeremy Runnells, of course.

So what is wrong with Wikipedia or reddit? Wikipedia is a free encyclopedia using wiki software. The entries are compiled by anonymous editors who have to footnote their entries.  Anyone can edit entries and it is basically self policed.  One Mormon apologist, Roger Nicholson lamented about Wikipedia in The Mormon Interpreter:

According to Wikipedia,

The Wikipedia model allows anyone to edit, and relies on a large number of well-intentioned editors to overcome issues raised by a smaller number of problematic editors. It is inherent in Wikipedia’s editing model that misleading information can be added, but over time quality is anticipated to improve in a form of group learning as editors reach consensus, so that substandard edits will very rapidly be removed.

In general, this philosophy tends to be effective as regards many Wikipedia articles. Errors that bring an article out of balance tend to be corrected given sufficient time, and the article progresses toward a stable and “neutral” state. However, articles dealing with highly controversial subjects, such as Joseph Smith’s first vision or polygamy, do not tend to stabilize themselves over time. These types of articles become magnets for editors who have an agenda to push. Wikipedia becomes an attractive way for such editors to “publish” their opinions with immediate worldwide visibility and considerable credibility.

He then writes,

Wikipedia articles are required to rely “mainly on reliable, published secondary sources and, to a lesser extent, on tertiary sources. All interpretive claims, analyses, or synthetic claims about primary sources must be referenced to a secondary source, rather than original analysis of the primary source material by Wikipedia editors.”  Wikipedia is intended to summarize the work of others rather than act as a forum for creating original work. In the case of contentious articles such as “First Vision” or “Golden Plates,” it is extremely tempting to take advantage of the “immediate publication” of material in order to create new interpretive material. The “no original research” rule is often ignored. This can lead to situations in which the wiki editor’s own thinking is reflected in the article. Consider this example, which appears in the wiki article “First Vision” as of 18 October 2011: “However, when in October 1830 the author Peter Bauder interviewed Smith for a religious book he was writing, he said Smith was unable to recount a ‘Christian experience.’ ”

There are several issues with the above statement. It does correctly represent the source, which was an interview between Peter Bauder and Joseph Smith. Bauder was attempting to expose false religions, and he notes that “among these imposters there has one arisen by the name of Joseph Smith, Jr.”  The wiki editor introduces the quotation with the word however, thus implying that this statement is a possible disqualifier for the validity of the first vision. Nowhere in the wiki article is it noted that Bauder was a strong critic of Joseph Smith and that Joseph may not have desired to share the experience of his vision with such an interviewer. The earliest known extant attempt by Joseph to put the vision in writing occurred two years later. In 2009, however, the LDS wiki editor added his own interpretation of this interview by drawing the conclusion that “either Smith did not view this early remission of sins or vision as a ‘Christian experience,’ he forgot about the experience when asked by Bauder, or Smith and Bauder somehow miscommunicated.”?

Not only did this blatantly violate Wikipedia’s “no original research” rule, it was also an absurd interpretation. How would Joseph not view a remission of his sins as a “Christian experience”? Would he truly have “forgotten” about his theophany? The simplest and most obvious explanation was completely ignored: Joseph may have simply chosen not to share the experience of his vision with an obvious enemy of the church. The wiki editor eventually recognized that the original research could not remain and removed the paragraph. The unqualified statement about Joseph not recounting a “Christian experience,” however, remains in the wiki article as of September 2011.

There are several things wrong with this analysis. First, the Peter Bauder interview with Joseph Smith was published in 1834, not 1830, so we do not know the exact circumstances that led Bauder to Joseph Smith, other than what Bauder wrote later. Bauder wrote,

However … we find him [anti-Christ] in various other places. For instance, view him in the Mahometan system, and a variety of other imposters, who have drawn disciples after them, who had no Theological Seminaries among them; but if you will observe their manner of increasing their numbers, you will find it is done without a reformation wrought in the hearts of their members, by a godly sorrow for sin, and a compunction of soul, and pungent conviction, which precedes a joy which is unspeakable and full of glory, 1 Peter, 1, 8—because the love of God is shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto them according to Romans, 5, 5.

Among these imposters there has one arisen by the name of Joseph Smith, Jr. who commenced his system of church government in this state, (New York) in the year 1830. His followers are commonly called Mormonites, sometimes New Jerusalemites, or Golden Bible society; they call themselves the true followers of Christ. I conceive it my duty to expose this diabolical system for two special reasons—first, because I have had an opportunity with Smith, in his first setting out, to discover his plan; secondly, because I learn since they were broke up in New York State, they have gone to the western States, and are deceiving themselves and the people, and are increasing very fast.

The Kingdom and Gospel of Jesus Christ (Canajoharie, New York: A. H. Calhoun, 1834.

The Kingdom and Gospel of Jesus Christ (Canajoharie, New York: A. H. Calhoun, 1834, 36-37.

I will name some of the particular discoveries which through Divine Providence I was favored with in an interview with Joseph Smith, Jr. at the house of Peter Whitmer, in the town of Fayette, Seneca County, state of New York, in October, 1830. I called at P[eter]. Whitmer’s house, for the purpose of seeing Smith, and searching into the mystery of his system of religion, and had the privilege of conversing with him alone, several hours, and of investigating his writings, church records, &c. I improved near four and twenty hours in close application with Smith and his followers: he could give me no christian experience, but told me that an angel told him he must go to a certain place in the town of Manchester, Ontario County, where was a secret treasure concealed, which he must reveal to the human family. He went, and after the third or fourth time, which was repeated once a year, he obtained a parcel of plate resembling gold, on which were engraved what he did not understand, only by the aid of a glass which he also obtained with the plate, by which means he was enabled to translate the characters on the plate into English. He says he was not allowed to let the plate be seen only by a few individuals named by the angel, and after he had a part translated, the angel conmanded him to carry the plate into a certain piece of woods, which he did:—the angel took them and carried them to parts unknown to him. The part translated he had published, and it is before the public, entitled the Book of Mormon: a horrid blasphemy, but not so wicked as another manuscript which he was then preparing for publication, which I also saw. He told me no man had ever seen it except a few of his apostles: the publication intended was to be the Bible!!! The manner in which it was written is as follows:—he commenced at the first chapter of Genesis, he wrote a few verses of scripture, then added delusion, which he added every [p.18] few verses of scripture, and so making a compound of scripture and delusion. On my interrogating him on the subject, he professed to be inspired by the Holy Ghost to write it. I will now give the public my fears on this subject, (unless God prevents) when he gets his work ready for the press. He will pretend that the angel has brought the plate, and his new Bible will be a translation of the remaining plate, which were not put into the Book of Mormon, and the public will have this diabolical invention imposed on them. (See also, Dan Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, p. 16-18).

It is obvious that this is written from an 1834 perspective. We do not know how Bauder felt in 1830 when he visited Smith. He may not have been antagonistic at all. Nicholson assumes this of Bauder, and then concludes that “Joseph may have simply chosen not to share the experience of his vision with an obvious enemy of the church.” Yet, Joseph shared his claimed 1820 vision with Robert Matthews in 1835, who Smith speculated was a murderer and claimed his “God was the devil”.  In the light of Smith sharing his supposed vision with one such as Matthews, Nicolson’s argument doesn’t make much sense.

What is interesting is that Bauder got all of the details right about Smith’s claimed visit with Moroni. He also got the details right about Smith’s “translation” of the Bible, although his later speculation that Smith might claim it came from the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon never came to pass. If Bauder was simply making it up about Smith’s lack of Christian experience in 1830, why did he correctly claim that Smith told him he was later translating the Bible with the inspiration of the Holy Ghost? This is not about Joseph joining any church; Bauder describes what “Christian experience” is, in an earlier paragraph:

“…a reformation wrought in the hearts of their members, by a godly sorrow for sin, and a compunction of soul, and pungent conviction, which precedes a joy which is unspeakable and full of glory…because the love of God is shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto them…”

That is not about joining a church. The fact that Bauder claims that Joseph did not speak of any Christian experience before his supposed encounter with the angel Moroni in 1830, is borne out by what Mormon Missionaries were teaching in 1832; and what Smith and Cowdery wrote themselves in 1834. Smith made an attempt to rewrite his history in 1832, but left it unfinished and abandoned it in the back of a letterbook and did not include his supposed vision of Christ in the 1834 history. In that version of his history they claim that Joseph prayed in 1823 to see “if a Supreme Being did exist” and was answered by an angel who told him about some gold plates.

The wiki article today (2015) reads:

In June 1830, Smith provided the first clear record of a significant personal religious experience prior to the visit of the angel Moroni.[73] At that time, Smith and his associate Oliver Cowdery were establishing the Church of Christ, the first Latter Day Saint church. In the “Articles and Covenants of the Church of Christ,” Smith recounted his early history, noting

“For, after that it truly was manifested unto [Smith] that he had received remission of his sins, he was entangled again in the vanities of the world, but after truly repenting, God visited him by an holy angel … and gave unto him power, by the means which was before prepared that he should translate a book.”[74]

No further explanation of this “manifestation” is provided. Although the reference was later linked to the First Vision,[75] its original hearers could have understood the manifestation as simply another of many revival experiences in which the subject testified that his sins had been forgiven.[76] On the other hand, when in October 1830, non-Mormon critic and author Peter Bauder interviewed Smith for a book, Bauder was writing about false religions, Smith apparently declined to share his experience. Bauder thus stated that Smith was unable to recount a “Christian experience.”[77]

So it appears that Nicholson’s objections of a few years ago are groundless, since Bauder is described as a “non-Mormon Critic” in the current wiki article.  Now, these changes may have come about with the persistence of Mormon editors, but that is the way it is supposed to work, right?. It appears that this wiki article has “stabilized itself over time,” at least in this instance.

So why the current objections to wiki? Because FAIRMORMON can’t totally control the flow of information there as they can at their own site. But what is almost comical is that FAIRMORMON has its own version of wiki. And what do they have on their own wiki page? This:

In October 1830 Peter Bauder (a non-Mormon minister) spoke directly to the Prophet. Bauder commented: “he could give me no Christian experience,” meaning that he did not belong to any church before his experience with the angel and plates in September 1823.

Notice there is little difference from the current “First Vision” Wikipedia page. FAIRMORMON uses this quote to try and prove that Joseph Smith didn’t join any Churches. On another page, they write the same thing:

In October 1830 Peter Bauder (a non-Mormon minister) spoke directly to the Prophet. Bauder commented: “he could give me no Christian experience,” meaning that he did not belong to any church before his experience with the angel and plates in September 1823.

Bauder absolutely did not mean that, as he himself explains above. The Wikipedia article is still wrong though, because Bauder did not say that Smith declined to share his experience, Smith could not give him one, as defined by Bauder. And Bauder did not just spend an hour or two with Smith, he claimed that he spent “near four and twenty hours in close application with Smith and his followers,” and spoke to Smith alone for “several hours”, so neither Smith nor any who followed him could give Bauder a “Christian experience” for Joseph Smith in his youth.

Mormon_reddit

Reddit is simply a discussion forum. So why doesn’t Smoot want Mormons to visit these places on the internet? Does Smoot think Mormons will go to reddit specifically to find out about Mormon History? I’ll leave that up to you, readers, to figure out.

Smoot also talks about memes. Yet, FAIRMORMON takes the memes from Jeremy’s CES Letter and employs them to foist their own agenda on the public! Here is a screenshot of one of the pages on their new website devoted to demonizing Jeremy and his work:

Hales CES 36

Notice their own “selected details” and the claim that Hales makes about Ruth Vose Sayers which I’ve shown to be riddled with problems here. Jeremy is simply boiled down to a thrower of tantrums by Smoot.  And of course, “Satan” is behind it all! Now here we are four months later and Smoot is at it again here.

So why is Smoot bringing this up again and again ad nauseum? It seems that Brian Hales has a few pages of contribution included in a new book published by the John Whitmer Historical Association in addition to his other many books and articles on the subject. Well, we all know that Hales has published a lot on polygamy. We know that he considers himself an amateur historian. So what is Smoot’s point here? Simply to use any excuse to scapegoat Jeremy:

Readers of my blog will recall that some time ago Jeremy Runnells amusingly accused Brian C. Hales (undoubtedly one of the finest living authorities on the topic of the history of Mormon plural marriage) of being a “Mormon amateur apologist.” At the time I responded by mentioning the number of respected academic peer reviewed venues Brian’s work had appeared in… I’m sure that if Jeremy ever decides to take a sabbatical from teaching at the prestigious University of Reddit (I hear UoR is almost as high as the University of Phoenix in Princeton’s ranking) and venture forth into academia he can be invited by Brian to present his work at next year’s JWHA conference. ~Stephen Smoot

Again, all of the publications listed by Smoot don’t change that fact that Brian Hales himself admitted to being an amateur historian.  What is interesting is Smoot’s defense of Hales in the comments to this article:

Finally, is Brian an apologist as well? Sure he is, in that he is defending a specific interpretation of the historical data. Scholars do this all the time, and the rhetorical tricks of Runnells and his followers notwithstanding, there’s nothing inherently shameful in being an “apologist” for a position or idea if you’re being such in good faith.

Now we are getting to it.  I think Jeremy could have chosen his words more wisely in giving Hales amateur status, (even though Hales calls himself one) but Jeremy has a point about Hales being an “expert”, because some of the claims that Hales does make are amateurish. He jumps to conclusions, makes outlandish assumptions, and presents the evidence in a one sided way. This is not good apologia, nor good scholarship.  Here are some of the many problems that Mike Quinn detailed about Hales’ methods:

Quinn accuses Hales of “citing an easily refutable claim” (pg. 6), quotes secondary sources over primary sources (page 6), Quinn also writes that “The best evidence is the original record of sealing, not someone’s century later commentary about it” which Hales quoted instead of the original record. He states that Hales “brushes off the significance of some of the evidence he has cited,” (page 11), makes contradictory assertions (page 11), conveniently shifts his standards of evidentiary analysis in his own direction (page 18), that Hales “apologetical observations contradict evidence (page 23), uses a red herring, (page 25), makes claims that have no basis whatever (page 27), strains credulity (page 27), uses “presentist bias” (page 33), of “misrepresentation” (page 64), of not consulting original sources (page 66), that Hales had an “academic obligation” to reveal certain information which he did not (page 66), of using a “vacuous red-herring when Hales does not quote a single exception from the “original records” about which he writes” (page 69), that Hales would not acknowledge crucial evidence that undermined his narrative (page 70 n. 46), which was that Joseph Smith forbid the practice of polygamy in Oct. 1843, (ibid), citing a source critical to his argument without a page number (page 72), uses flawed methodology and closed system of logic (page 73), worse (Quinn’s word) he has failed to acknowledge several of the contrary evidences in publications he has cited, (ibid), he makes “perplexing gaffes” in his use of evidence (page 73-74), he repeatedly questions the memory/accuracy of faithful Mormon witnesses that Hales disagrees with (page 74), does not use equal standards for evidence (page 74), of making “apologetical claims” knowing they were “improbable” (page 75), that he did not acknowledge critical evidence until forced to by Quinn (page 78), gave “anachronistic assessment”, and “a fallacy of irrelevant proof”, and “chronologically false” assessments (page 80), he overstates problem in proving a negative, (Hales – “You can’t prove a negative”) to which Quinn writes, “for example it is possible to prove that someone didn’t die on a particular date” (page 82), falsely accusing Quinn of stealing documents (84), another red herring (87), absurdity (87), claimed that Quinn said something he did not say (90), of another fallacy of irrelevant proof (page 90), that Hales wrongly corrected an accurate page citation by Quinn (page 91), of knowing of evidence but ignoring it to support his conclusions (page 94), claimed no documentation existed when it did (page 95), of not acknowledging evidence (page 98)making claims that were wrong (page 98), raising an apologetical smoke-screen by questioning well known facts (page 101), making ridiculous assertions about conspiracies (page 101), of fallacy of irrelevant proof (page 102), that Hales is an unreasonable researcher (page 102), of using “multiple fallacies” (page 104), the purposeful absence of references (page 105), purposeful non-inclusion of first-person sources that contradict his argument (page 108), using “imprecise and less detailed” evidence to support his argument (page 108), exclusion of evidence (page 108), claims there is no “specific documentation” when Quinn provided it (page 110), wrongly stated something Quinn did not say (page 113) which was a “Stunning gaffe”, again a red herring (page 113), another red herring (page 115), irrelevant statements (page 115) “frequent use of polemical red-herrings to undermine historical evidence he dislikes” (page 115), On page 118 Quinn writes, “NOTHING (Caps in original) can satisfy Brian Hales’ calculatedly stringent requirements that are impossible to achieve, unless he finds a Victorian American woman who said, wrote, or testified that she (as a devout Mormon) alternated sexual intercourse with two husbands during a period of time” [This speaks for itself], Also includes Hales in using the “double standard of LDS apologists who narrowly define acceptable evidence for unpleasant realities” (page 118), of denying and ignoring evidence (pg. 123), using a closed system of logic (God knew Smith would be obedient so he was), On page 124, Quinn compares Hales to Joseph Smith III, who refused to believe evidence he did not like, (page 124), accuses Hales of playing “a skillful shell game in which premises for judgment are conveniently shifted so that the conclusion is always the same” (page 125), ignores contradictions and other problems in evidence (page 126), omits significant facts (page 127), another wrong claim (page 127), does not cite sources he knows of (page 128), makes unqualified conclusions (page 128). (“Evidence for the Sexual Side of Joseph Smith’s Polygamy”, D. Michael Quinn, (expanded-finalized, 31 December 2012; circulated in mid-2013), pages cited in text).

Hales responded to those who would quote Mike Quinn in the comments of his hit piece on Jeremy by stating,

I appreciate the references to Mike Quinn’s work. Most historians at some time have benefited from his research and footnotes. However, I would feel much better about your criticism if you instead were not quoting Quinn, but quoting some Nauvoo polygamist or other historical figure who was there. Quoting secondary sources may create the illusion that some scholarly opinion is documented history. (This applies to me as well as Mike.) (Comment made on July 15, 2014).

The person that made the comment to Hales (UtahHiker801) simply stated that others (like Mike Quinn and Richard Bushman) disagreed with Hales’ conclusions. He did not “quote” anyone. Quinn’s (and Richard Bushman’s) conclusions are based on the evidence that they quote in their various books and articles. This seems lost on Hales who doesn’t seem to understand the difference between a quotation and a general statement. Hales also does not keep his own advice about “secondary sources” as Mike Quinn documents above.

I would say that I’m pretty much as familiar with all of the documents that Hales is, and I’m an amateur historian at this point, because I’m still learning the trade of being a historian even though I’ve been at it non stop for about 8 years and have been on research trips with Historians like Mike Marquardt.

One Mormon  (an Oxford grad) called me a “Hobbyist” historian in an effort to denigrate me, and I don’t take exception to him doing so. You have to learn, don’t you? Why be embarrassed about that? I’m not and neither is Jeremy Runnells. A better question might be why do those who call others these names do so, and can they back up their claims with evidence? Is this just a diversion from the real issues? Why are all the “experts” and “scholars” at FAIRMORMON so concerned about the hobbyist Jeremy Runnells? Why would Brian Hales claim that Jeremy indicated in some way that he was an “expert” on Mormon Polyamy, when he knew that Jeremy made no such claim?

We all learn and make mistakes. I know, Jeremy and I spent a year together on Joseph Smith’s polygamy and traded literally thousands of emails discussing it and we have an Essay finished about it. In Jeremy’s case his claim was in response to Hales’ false assertion that Jeremy claimed he was an expert. Funny thing is, it was Hales that started all this, not Jeremy. How would you react to being called a sock puppet of Satan and a liar who claims expertise when you absolutely didn’t do so? Jeremy is none of these things and didn’t claim to be an expert, but Stephen Smoot doesn’t address those issues, only Jeremy’s angry retort at Hales which was factually correct. Even Hales admitted it was and that:

I am an apologist at heart, but had hoped to be more of an “objective researcher” in my writings. While I’m not big on labels, “believer” could be applied so perhaps “apologist” is unavoidable.

As we have seen from Mike Quinn’s critique of Hales work above, he has failed miserably at being an “objective researcher”.

I don’t mind being called a “Hobbyist”, but you had better be prepared to back up your assertions (if you think that it matters) with evidence when it comes to the topics at hand or you could look pretty stupid being debunked by those you are calling amateurs or hobbyists. Jeremy presented evidence, good evidence that he can now back up with Hales’ own research, as can I.  Notice that Stephen Smoot doesn’t address any of that, he simply plays his one string banjo over and over again. Banjo_Cartoon

Does it take a degree to make one a professional Historian? Perhaps, (to be factually correct) but there are those like Mike Marquardt and Dan Vogel who I would call professionals who don’t have degrees in Historical studies. Mike and Dan (same as Hales) have been writing books about Mormon History for decades. But that is about all they do. Brian doesn’t do this full time, he is a dentist. Therefore, the moniker hobbyist could apply to him as well. In the case of Dan and Mike, would the validation of a degree make a bit of difference? No. They are masters at their trade here. A piece of paper isn’t going to add much to that. They have done the research, put in the time, and have a body of work to rival any thesis that would give them a doctorate. So why all the fuss and bother about Hales? Because Mormon apologists don’t like the fact that Jeremy deigned to criticize Hales with his own words. Get over it.

The difference between Mike M., Dan Vogel and Hales though, is that Mike and Dan don’t have an agenda either way concerning Joseph Smith while Hales does, and Hales lets that agenda dictate his conclusions. Their conclusions challenge the “faithful Mormon” historical narrative that Hales embraces and often invents. Mike M. is on the editorial board of the Journal of Mormon History where Hales has published and even helped Hales with his Fanny Alger article. Even Mike Quinn said that Hales used questionable methods though he strangely called Hales an “honest” historian. I can show that he is not when it comes to the way he uses polygamy sources.

What really matters, is what you produce and can it stand up to scrutiny. I recently wrote an article on Sylvia Lyon and the 1869 Utah Affidavits where I go through many of Hales’ foundational claims in relation to sexual polyandry and some of his methods in arriving at the conclusions he does.

See for example the problem that Hales had with the evidence that Hales claims is about Ruth Vose Sayers that Don Bradley gave him, that Hales never presented to the public in his books, his articles, or on his website (He only presented small out of context snippets from the document, never displayed the document, and never fully explained it even when Don (he told me so) gave him a copy of the document and Mike Quinn (in 2012) gave him the info about it): (Note 14)

I even do a handwriting analysis that shows that Mike’s initial conclusion that it is not “sayers” but “sagers” was correct. Hales also manipulates evidence in the case of Eliza Snow and her letter to Daniel Munns which I discuss here.

Hales manipulation of the evidence here is astounding. He also looks quite foolish when he questions Alex Beam’s use of a “cast of characters” in the beginning of his book. Hales claimed that ,

The book begins with a “Cast of Characters” similar to what you would find in a play, which is a departure from what you would typically find in a scholarly work of historical nonfiction. In fact, listing a “Cast of Characters” may intuitively call the nonfiction element of the book into question simply because nonfiction is about real people and real events not characters.

Yet I show that one of the most famous historical non fiction books of all time, “All The President’s Men” used the same literary device at the beginning of that book and Woodward and Bernstein were lauded for doing so. Did it call any of the nonfiction element of their book into question? I think history has answered that. Is that an amateurish claim? Would a professional make that claim? And why could a mere “hobbyist” quickly find a case where other authors did so successfully and Hales could not? So what the hell is an “expert”? This is a silly argument started by Hales himself when he sarcastically called Jeremy the “new expert on Joseph Smith’s Polygamy”.

Remember too, that Stephen Smoot is a FAIRMORMON employee/volunteer? and they have a vested interest in propping up Hales and his point of view. The recent website they created to attack Jeremy and try to rebut the CES Letter is just another example of the shoddy scholarship they employ. See my thread here for examples.

Addendum: Smoot explains his modus operandi:

Stephen Smoot Comments Oct. 2015

Show each other respect and courtesy? Who attacked who first, Jeremy or Smoot? Did Jeremy ever attack Smoot, or simply defend himself against FAIRMORMON attacks?

He shows us his true colors with this line,

“It’s a troll or be trolled world out there…”

Very Christlike, indeed. Justification of his trolling people. Nice. And for all his disparagement of Reddit, seems like Smoot can’t get enough of it. This stuff is just hilarious. If he wasn’t so vindictive, I might just feel sorry for him.

Does being called an “expert” or having familiarity with documents or published material about polygamy make one a good historian or one of the “finest living authorities on the topic of the history of Mormon plural marriage” when presenting on the subject? Time will tell in relation to Brian Hales, and the clock is ticking.

Brian Hales’ Polygamy: Sylvia Lyon & The 1869 Utah Affidavits

Affidavit Book Banner Cinema

Introduction: Verifying The Historical Narrative
I. “…And They Are Living In Adultery”
II. The Affidavit Books Speculation
III. More Sylvia Sessions Lyon Speculation
IV. The Temple Lot Testimony Speculation
V. Still More Sylvia Sessions Lyon Speculation
VI. Conclusion: “A Panorama Of Disagreeable Pictures”
Notes

Introduction: Verifying the Historical Narrative

I have been pretty much exclusively researching the Mormon Spiritual Wife[1] System of Joseph Smith (polygamy) for the last two years now, except when I’ve taken short breaks now and then to work on other areas of Mormon History that interest me. I’ve read over two dozen books and many more articles written by various authors, perused affidavits, diaries, family histories, church records, minutes, letters and anything else that I could get my hands on to try and understand the practice that was called in the 19th century one of the “twin relics of barbarism”, or a “pure and holy principle”, depending on who you might ask. Just recently I was highly pleased to find a letter written by Eliza Partridge from 1881, just so I could see what her handwriting and signature looked like so I could compare it with her affidavits from 1869.

Joseph Smith with Nauvoo Women_1843With all of that research behind me now, the conclusion in front of me is that Mormon polygamy was just a complete and utter mess. It was nurtured in secrecy and kept alive with lies. It was a direct cause of the death of the two most powerful men in the Mormon Hierarchy in Nauvoo in the 1840’s, Joseph and Hyrum Smith. It destroyed lives; it shattered the faith of many; and turned many honest and upright people into liars and fanatics that clung to the belief that someday this principle would be adopted by the citizens of the United States even as they defiantly watched their own prophets abandon it and command them to follow suit.[2]

I have also found that many of the authors of works dealing with the subject of polygamy have crafted a narrative about certain events that is taken for granted as fact, when the evidence to support those narratives is at best weak, sometimes apologetic, and often contradictory.

I’m referring here to a series of statements, certificates and affidavits that were collected from various men and women living in Utah who were involved in or knowledgeable about the practice in the Nauvoo era of the Church.  The collection of these affidavits began in the Spring of 1869 and continued until shortly after the turn of the twentieth century.

Now, the collection of these affidavits in and of itself is not a bad thing, and the information they contain can be a valuable resource in reconstructing the events that took place in Nauvoo during the life of Joseph Smith–if they have credible corroboration. But what I have found is that many modern historians have been using these affidavits almost exclusively to craft parts of the historical narrative, and as they portray those events, they do so without any caveat to the public reading them.

For example, in 2014 the Mormon Church published an Essay called “Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo”, we read:

Emma approved, at least for a time, of four of Joseph Smith’s plural marriages in Nauvoo, and she accepted all four of those wives into her household.[3]

This claim is based on an affidavit made by Emily Partridge in May of 1869, another identical affidavit by her sister in July of that year, (with the same bogus date that Emily gives for the supposed second “mock” marriage) and a third “certificate” made in June by Lovina Smith Walker, the daughter of Hyrum Smith and sister of Joseph Fielding Smith; who instigated the collection of these affidavits to combat the claims of his cousin Joseph Smith III.

There is no contemporary evidence to corroborate this claim about Emma, (and only  a few others later repeating it) but there is contemporary evidence that seriously challenges it. What is ironic is that the evidence that challenges this claim can be found in William Clayton’s Journal from 1843, an entry that was also made into an affidavit by Joseph F. Smith and therefore could have easily been used as a basis for those claims. I will not go into details here at this time; I have another forthcoming article that will deal with this matter in depth.

What is important is that the existing narrative is not set in stone and should be presented with far more caution and questions. We need more researchers to study the original documents and we need them to be presented in their entirety whenever possible, even if it takes large appendixes with full pictures to show context. The availability of many of those documents to the public at large will make this possible and help to dispel the speculation and assumptions that are prevalent in that narrative and taken virtually as fact today.

I. “…And They Are Living In Adultery”

What I wish to focus on at this time, is a few claims made by Brian Hales, who is considered by many to be an expert on Mormon polygamy. He has written numerous books and has a massive website about this practice during the Nauvoo era.

Hales interpretation of the evidence leads him to claim that Sylvia Sessions Lyon did not have sex (really could not have had it because of supposed theological teachings) with Joseph Smith and her husband Windsor Lyon while “married” to them both, even though she admitted to conceiving a daughter by Joseph Smith and later two children by Windsor Lyon–all the while never separating from Lyon while being simultaneously “married” to Joseph Smith. Here is Brian Hales speaking on this, taken from a FAIRMORMON Presentation from 2012, (bracketed comments by me):

Historical evidence shows that legally married women could be sealed for “eternity only” to someone other than their civil husband. [Hales “evidence” is all his own conjectures, based on faulty readings of late statements, some of which are inaccurate] The sealed marriage covenant would not apply until the next life. If you’ve read Compton, if you’ve read Quinn, they both say “no, these never happened, there’s none recorded in the nineteenth century.” [Actually, in Nauvoo, I’m aware of only one that took place in the 1880’s or so, and it was a rare occurrence according to Joseph F. Smith and Angus Cannon] …

The women [Chosen by Hales if there was a possible sexual polyandry conflict] who were sealed just for the next life, [What Hales calls non sexual eternity only sealings] like Ruth Vose Sayers, are on Joseph’s list of wives, but technically they don’t belong there until we get into the next realm. [Because Hales believes that the ceremonies for these women did not cover “time” on earth]. But we have to deal with it today. So, were all fourteen of these women sealed to Joseph Smith for eternity only? No. It’s not that easy[.] [There is no credible evidence that any of them were] At least three of the sealings were for time and eternity and in a covenant that superseded the legal covenant. In other words, after the sealing to Joseph, the legal husband was not going to be able to experience conjugality with her. [According to Hales alone] They are special cases and there are not a lot of parallels between the three. We’re going to talk about all three of them.

Hales Polyandry Graphic

Hales Polyandry Graphic

The first one is Sylvia Sessions Lyon. If you’ve read Todd Compton’s book “In Sacred Loneliness” you know that he elaborately unfolds a plausible case. But new evidence [Notes by Andrew Jenson from an unknown source that give selective and misleading details about Sylvia and Windsor Lyon] suggests that he is in error. I talked to him, I emailed him this past week about it and he still defended it at Sunstone when we presented this just a week ago. [I don’t blame him] He was the respondent. But you just can’t do it [Of course one can, he did do it] and you will see why here in a minute. Sylvia married Windsor Lyon on April 21, 1838 in a legal [“Priesthood”] ceremony performed by Joseph Smith. [Remember this, it is important] “In Sacred Loneliness uses the date February 8, 1842 as their [Joseph Smith-Sylvia Sessions] sealing date. That’s the first problem. [Only for Hales] The daughter was conceived over a year later, on May 18 1843. [How does Hales get an exact date for conception when this can vary up to 5 weeks?] And this daughter I believe is Joseph Smith’s actual daughter. [So this was a “marriage” for “time” and “eternity”] The assumption is that Sylvia experienced sexual relations with both Windsor and Joseph Smith during this period.[It’s a valid assumption to make] Now, there’s no evidence for that, [There is no evidence that she didn’t have sex with them both during this period] for either one of them during the period up until Josephine was conceived, but the willingness of people to assume these things is very high, [Because the evidence (Both still married to her at the same time and no legal divorce of Windsor] supports that assumption] as we’ll talk about in a minute.

But the problem is that Todd uses this date here, of 1842, but in the same set of documents, and Todd didn’t know this when he wrote his book because he didn’t have time to get to this, but there is an 1843 date. They’re equally valid or invalid. They are not signed. They talk about this marriage, but we don’t know how close Sylvia Sessions Lyon was to the creation of these documents, and they just cancel each other out. [Perhaps] The whole timeline presented by Todd, I would argue, is not reliable.[It is if the 1842 date is correct and it is a strong possibility based on other evidence that Hales won’t give credence to]

But there is one other evidence that Todd will cite, to say that Sylvia Sessions was sealed to Joseph early, and that is that she witnessed the sealing of her mother in March of 1942. [sic] Now that clearly indicates that Sylvia was a polygamy insider. But the problem is that I’ve identified seventeen other men and women who are not polygamous who did witness these marriages. (They are: Fanny Huntington, Cornelius Lott, Permelia Lott, Joseph Lott, Amanda Lott, Benjamin F. Johnson, Elizabeth Whitney, Sarah Godshall Phillips, Julia Stone, Hettie Stone, Mary Ellen Harris Able, James Adams, Joseph B. Noble, Dimick B. Huntington, Brigham Young, Willard Richards, and Newel K. Whitney.) It’s just not strong evidence. [In his opinion because he doesn’t believe there was sexual polyandry] So the whole timeline that Todd presents, which is more or less a plausible course of sexual polyandry, just falls apart. [It doesn’t, for reasons I’ll share below]

Windsor was excommunicated in November of 1842. We have three evidences [if you want to call them that] that the sealing occurred after this, and that the excommunication of Windsor cause [sic] him and Sylvia to part. [Based on what? There is no statement that his excommunication caused marital problems and the one statement that Hales uses to prove this is an error filled recollection from over a hundred years later] They were already separated. [Hales’ opinion based on faulty interpretation of evidence]  So they are legally married but they separate. [No, legally married but him disfellowshipped] And then Joseph is sealed to Sylvia after the excommunication. [Which doesn’t make a bit of difference for the first and only legal marriage was still valid as it was and so Joseph and Sylvia committed adultery] In a document undoubtedly used to write his 1887 historical record article on plural marriage, Andrew Judson [sic] wrote “Sylvia Sessions was married to Mr. Lyon. When he left the church she was sealed to the prophet Joseph Smith.” [This does not say they separated] Elsewhere he refers to Sylvia as “formerly the wife of Windsor Lyon.” [Untrue, she never legally divorced him and had two children by him after Joseph died so she was never the “former” Mrs. Lyon – she was even called “Mrs. Lyon” by Willard Richards in 1844 when he visited them both at their house]

In 1915, Josephine, the child, related that back in 1882, just months before her mother died, she told Josephine in a very dramatic fashion, that she had “been sealed to the prophet at the time that her husband, Mr. Lyon was out of fellowship with the Church”, and that Josephine was actually Joseph Smith’s daughter. [Again, how does that change anything? That could simply have been a time period marker and she also claimed that she was married at the time of Zina Huntington and Eliza Snow which was between 1841 and 1842] Josephine married a guy named Fisher and there’s a whole Fisher family in Bountiful that descend from this. And I have been in contact with some of the descendants, and they are starting to say maybe we need to make a claim that we’re actually coming from Joseph and not from Windsor Lyon. [Irrelevant] From my research there are only 2 children from the plural wives. This is one. The other is Olive Frost’s daughter, or son, we don’t even know the gender, as both Olive Frost and the child died before they left Nauvoo. And that’s all. [It’s enough] There are references to a third, but we don’t know. Maybe some new evidence will come up and we will find out. [This is actually evidence that Joseph did have sex with his already married plural wives – so what Hales’ point is here is unclear unless he is trying to claim that everyone conceives after every sexual encounter which would be a groundbreaking new discovery]

Looking at the timeline, we find that Windsor and Sylvia married in 1838. She conceives three children, then he’s excommunicated [disfellowshipped] and that’s when they separate. [Sylvia never claims that they separate and there is no convincing evidence that they did] It’s not a legal divorce, but she is then sealed to Joseph in a marriage that I argue [Based on speculation] would have superseded the legal marriage anyway, which would curtail any conjugality between Sylvia and Windsor. [It would not according to an 1842 First Presidency Address to the Church] Josephine is conceived. Joseph Smith is killed. Windsor is rebaptized and then they come back together and the legal marriage is still intact. [Speculation by Hales–and it was always intact since there is no credible evidence at all they ever divorced or separated. And how did the marriage “stay intact” when Hales tries to claim Joseph dissolved it with a wave of his Priesthood or Mayoral powers? Where and when was the remarriage ceremony?]

Now, is this weird? Yeah, this is weird. Is it sexual polyandry? [Perhaps] Is it immoral? [Yes, according to Joseph Smith himself] Is it breaking the law of chastity that Joseph taught? No it isn’t. [Yes it is. According to Joseph himself it was adultery as we shall see][4]

Is it immoral to try and get between a husband and his wife by convincing the wife that it is God’s wish for you to “marry” her, and then have sex with her; especially when you yourself forbid women to separate from their husbands for any reason, particularly if the husband was a non believer (or I assume out of the church) and if they are not legally divorced–if they “marry” or are with another man–it is adultery? Some might think this is immoral.

But according to Hales because Windsor and Sylvia had some marital difficulties (if they truly did which the evidence doesn’t bear out) it is just fine for Smith to move right in on the mans’ wife. Or because the man was disfellowshipped it also gave Joseph that right, even when Joseph himself forbid anyone in the Church from doing this. Windsor committed no “evil” towards Sylvia. Hales himself admits this. So how could Joseph simply wave away their marriage? He could not do so and have sex with her without committing adultery.

Joseph Smith is then justified in “marrying” her because after all, their marriage (performed by Joseph Smith himself by his priesthood power) was now somehow illegal and Smith was able to “void” it with a wave of his Mayoral or Priesthood powers. This is a scenario that Hales takes pages to develop but simply makes up out of whole cloth.[5] Again, where is the evidence this took place and where is the evidence of a remarriage ceremony of the Lyons? There isn’t any. And why doesn’t Hales feel the same way about the supposed Fanny Alger “marriage”? He writes,

It is clear that Joseph Smith believed that the priesthood authority he possessed in 1835 could solemnize a marriage that would stand for the duration of mortal life, so long as that union was approved of God. That priesthood authority could be bestowed upon others who would be similarly empowered to perform a matrimonial ceremony that would be valid according to God’s laws even if “gentile law” would not allow it.[6]

Joseph himself never added the caveat that the marriage had to be “approved by God” to stay valid. To prove this, on June 12, 1842 Joseph Smith dictated to Hyrum Smith a binding Address from the First Presidency which contained specific commands to the Church concerning marriage:

Nauvoo.

To our well beloved brother, Parley P. Pratt, and to the elders of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in England, and scattered abroad throughout all Europe, and to the Saints,Greeting:

Whereas, in times past persons have been permitted to gather with the Saints at Nauvoo, in North America—such as husbands leaving their wives and children behind; also, such as wives leaving their husbands and children behind; and such as women leaving their husbands, and such as husbands leaving their wives who have no children, and some because their companions are unbelievers. All this kind of proceeding we consider to be erroneous and for want of proper information. And the same should be taught to all the Saints, and not suffer families to be broken up on any account whatever if it be possible to avoid it. Suffer no man to leave his wife because she is an unbeliever, nor any woman to leave her husband because he is an unbeliever. These things are an evil and must be forbidden by the authorities of the church, or they will come under condemnation; for the gathering is not in haste nor by flight, but to prepare all things before you, and you know not but the unbeliever may be converted and the Lord heal him; but let the believers exercise faith in God, and the unbelieving husband shall be sanctified by the believing wife; and the unbelieving wife by the believing husband, and families are preserved and saved from a great evil which we have seen verified before our eyes.

Behold this is a wicked generation, full of lyings, and deceit, and craftiness; and the children of the wicked are wiser than the children of light; that is, they are more crafty; and it seems that it has been the case in all ages of the world. And the man who leaves his wife and travels to a foreign nation, has his mind overpowered with darkness, and Satan deceives him and flatters him with the graces of the harlot, and before he is aware he is disgraced forever: and greater is the danger for the woman that leaves her husband, and there are several instances where women have left their husbands, and [pg. 2] come to this place,& in a few weeks, or months, they have found themselves new husbands, and they are living in adultery; and we are obliged to cut them off from the church. I presume There are men also that are quilty of the same crime, as we are credibly informed. We are KNOWING to their having taken wives HERE and are CREDIBLY informed that they have wives in England. [Words in caps underlined in original]

 The evils resulting from such proceedings are of such a nature as to oblige us to cut them off from the church.  [Not in original]Address Millennial Star 1842 Husbands Wives

There is another evil which exists. There are poor men who come here and leave their families behind in a destitute situation, and beg for assistance to send back after their families. Every man should tarry with his family until providence provides for the whole, for there is no means here to be obtained to send back. Money is scarce and hard to be obtained. The people that gather to this place are generally poor, the gathering being attended with a great sacrifice; and money cannot be obtained by labour, but all kinds of produce is plentiful and can be obtained by labour; therefore the poor man that leaves his family in England, cannot get means, which must be silver and gold, to send for his family; but must remain under the painful sensation, that his family must be cast upon the mercy of the people, and separated and put into the poorhouse.

Therefore, to remedy the evil, we forbid a man to leave his family behind because he has no means to bring them. If the church is not able to bring them, and the parish will not send them, let the man tarry with his family—live with them—and die with them, and not leave them until providence shall open a way for them to come all together. And we also forbid that a woman leave her husband because he is an unbeliever. We also forbid that a man shall leave his wife because she is an unbeliever. If he be a bad man (i. e. the unbeliever) there is a law to remedy that evil. And if she be a bad woman, there is law to remedy that evil. And if the law will divorce them, then they are at liberty; [p. 3] otherwise they are bound as long as they two shall live, and it is not our prerogative to go beyond this; if we do it, it will be at the expense of our reputation.

These things we have written in plainness, and we desire that they should be publicly known, and request this to be published in the Millennial Star.

May the Lord bestow his blessing upon all the Saints richly, and hasten the gathering, and bring about the fulness of the everlasting covenant are the prayers of your brethren.[7]

First Presidency Message, June 12, 1842.

First Presidency Message, June 12, 1842. (Click to enlarge)

The above states that Joseph Smith himself came “under condemnation” for the “evil” of “marrying” a woman that had a legal husband. Did Sylvia go before the High Council in Nauvoo and ask for a divorce? Where is the evidence for this? Where was Joseph’s authority to disobey this Address? Why write it and make it binding on the “Saints”, if he himself could disobey it at will?

Hales claims that it was all right for Smith to annul the Lyon marriage because he was disfellowshipped, but this Message from the First Presidency says that he could not, and that if he “married” her, or slept with her it was adultery. Smith specifically states that they could not usurp legal marriages, and that if they did, they would fall under condemnation. This cannot be superseded by polygamy, it was written right at the time Smith was practicing it, and I believe that after this Address was published Joseph started “marrying” only single women.

Windsor & Sylvia Lyon

Windsor & Sylvia Lyon

Joseph Smith himself married Windsor and Sylvia Lyon by the “Priesthood” in 1838, yet in contradiction to his own First Presidency Address four years later, he “married” Sylvia for time and all eternity in February, 1843? (This date according to Hales, I believe it was most likely a year earlier, but still wouldn’t matter since what Smith did prior to this Address was still adultery). He would have also continued to contradict his own First Presidency Address in marrying Ruth Vose Sayers during the same month.[8] 

I searched through all of Hales’ three Books on polygamy but could find no reference at all to this letter. A search of his website also didn’t turn anything up. I could have missed it on his website, (I really don’t think so) but this is a crucial First Presidency Address that should be included in any serious study on polygamy. Yet Hales claims that,

Hence, three documents support a physical separation or effectual divorce between Windsor and Sylvia, with two of them placing it after his excommunication.[9]

No, they don’t. And what right did Sylvia have to “effectually” divorce Windsor when Joseph’s First Presidency Message specifically states that she was absolutely forbidden to do so? By what right then, did Joseph have to “marry” her? The First Presidency Message expressly states,

…and greater is the danger for the woman that leaves her husband, and there are several instances where women have left their husbands, and [pg. 2] come to this place,& in a few weeks, or months, they have found themselves new husbands, and they are living in adultery; and we are obliged to cut them off from the church.[10]

So by Joseph’s own First Presidency Message, he was living in adultery with any woman that he “married”, because he didn’t have the authority to break up their marriage or their family when they weren’t legally divorced. There are no legal divorces in either of these cases, only Hales’ speculations. On his website, Hales writes,

Currently, no documentation of a legal divorce between Windsor and Sylvia after his excommunication has been found. However, in the mid-nineteenth century, religious laws often trumped legal proceedings. Stanley B. Kimball observed: “Some church leaders at that time considered civil marriage by non-Mormon clergymen to be as unbinding as their baptisms. Some previous marriages . . . were annulled simply by ignoring them.” Todd Compton agreed, “Joseph regarded marriages performed without Mormon priesthood authority as invalid, just as he regarded baptisms performed without Mormon priesthood authority as invalid.”[11]

Joseph Smith’s Address to the Church specifically forbids religious law to trump legal proceedings. And the Lyon marriage was performed with priesthood authority. They were married by Joseph Smith himself! The quotes Hales employs are about marriages performed by non-Mormons, so why they are being applied here is baffling. Regardless, this is all Hales’ speculation, since he cannot point to any policy in Nauvoo where it was stated that such marriages were considered invalid.  Everything official says the opposite. (See also 1835 Doctrine and Covenants) Smith wrote in the above First Presidency Proclamation in 1842 which nullifies this whole argument by Hales:

And if THE LAW divorce them, THEN they are at liberty; OTHERWISE THEY ARE BOUND AS LONG AS THEY TWO SHALL LIVE, and it is not our prerogative to go beyond this … [12]

This slams the door on Hales’ speculations.[13] Joseph meant secular law. Hales’ argument that speaks of “effectual” divorces has no merit here. Joseph was living in adultery by his own words. Smith claims above that it wasn’t his right to go beyond the law. This is why it is so important for Hales to promote his invented “non sexual eternity only sealings”, but he cannot in the case of Sylvia Lyon because she admitted to having sex with Smith. Joseph here, is flat out caught in an adulterous relationship by his own words. There is no other interpretation of this. There is no loophole. It is what it is and all the apologetics in the world cannot change it.

Sylvia Sessions Bio informationHales claims that there is evidence that there were non sexual, eternity only “sealings” because of some notes written by Andrew Jenson in the 1880’s:

He’s interviewing one of Joseph Smith’s plural wives. We don’t know which one, and this is occurring in early 1887. He is interviewing this wife and it’s probably Eliza Snow, but we don’t know. “While the strongest affection sprang up between the Prophet Joseph and Mr. Sayers,” Mr. Sayers is the legal husband of Ruth Vose Sayers, one of Joseph’s plural wives, “the latter [Mr. Sayers], not attaching much importance to the theory of a future life, insisted that his wife, Ruth, should be sealed to the prophet for eternity, that he himself should only claim her in this life. She was accordingly sealed to the prophet in Emma Smith’s presence, and thus became numbered among the Prophets plural wives.”[14]

First, Hales doesn’t know where this information came from. It could be hearsay. It could be made up for all we know. But there is something that throws doubt on this account. This statement claims that Emma Smith was present at the sealing of Ruth Vose Sayers in February, 1843. This is even more confusing when one reads the affidavit that Ruth Vose signed in 1869:

Be it remembered that on this first day of May, A.D. 1869, personally appeared before me, Elias Smith, Probate Judge for Said County, Ruth Vose Sayers who was by me Sworn in due form of law and upon her oath Saith that on [blank] day of February A.D. 1843 at the City of Nauvoo County of Hancock, State of Illinois, She was married or Sealed to Joseph Smith President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, by Hyrum Smith, Presiding Patriarch of Said Church, according to the laws of the Same, regulating Marriage; in the presence of.[15]

Ruth Vose Sayers Affidavit

Why is there no mention of Emma Smith? Because there is good evidence that Emma Smith never participated in any of her husband’s “marriages”. So the evidence for a “non sexual eternity only sealing” that Hales touts here, is more than likely a mistaken remembrance or garbled hearsay. Hyrum Smith and Emma Smith both participating in a plural marriage together? Where do we find any contemporary evidence for that in February, 1843. Hyrum tried to convince Emma of the validity of the polygamy “revelation” in July, 1843 and admitted defeat to his brother. If she had already participated in a “marriage” with Hyrum in February, why would he be so concerned with convincing her in July?

Sayers claims she was sealed by Hyrum Smith, but he didn’t accept polygamy until months later. So how can we trust Hales interpretation of the evidence as credible? Even though Eliza R. Snow knew many of those women very well and more than likely traded information with them about their marriages; even Hales cannot claim that Jenson got the information from her. Also, Hales will use this information from an anonymous source, but then will claim that Sylvia Sessions daughter Josephine (whose mother Sylvia was friends with Eliza Snow) couldn’t have known the time frame of Eliza’s own marriage before it was published in the 1880’s.[16]  There are other problems with Jenson’s notes that I will address later in this Article.

And notice the language of the affidavit. It says, “She was married or sealed to Joseph Smith…” And what did that entail? Lorenzo Snow answered that in his Temple Lot testimony:

229. Q. Now you have stated that Joseph Smith took your sister for a wife when he had a wife already?
A. Yes sir.
230. Q. Prior to the giving of this revelation?
A. Yes sir.
231. Q. Well what kind of a position did it put your sister and Joseph Smith in?
A. It put them in a first rate, splendid position for time and eternity.
232. Q. Was not that act simply sealing instead of marriage?
A. Well, IT WAS ALL THE SAME.
233. Q. Sealing for eternity, and marriage, are they all one and the same thing?
A. Well it is getting the female with the male the same as it is in the marriage ceremony.[17]

That is why these affidavits say “married or sealed”. It was the same thing. A marriage for time and eternity. Malissa Lott Willes also testified that “marriage” and “sealing” were the same, meaning “for time and all eternity,” and she did not know of any of those “marriages” that were different.

Malissa Lott Willes Temple Lot Testimony, "Marriage and Sealing" the same

Malissa Lott Willes Temple Lot Testimony, “Marriage and Sealing” the same

Hales, in an effort to give credence for his later 1843 date for the “marriage” of Lyon to Smith writes,

The 1842 date for Sylvia Sessions sealing comes from [Affidavit] Book 1 and the 1843 date from Book 4. Book 4 is also unique because it contains two additional unfinished affidavits, one for Vienna Jacques, and a second started on Jun 26, 1869, but never completed. Book 1 does not contain those who [two] aborted affidavit attempts.

Accordingly, it appears that since Book 4 contains more documents than Book 1, it was in fact the primary of the two and was the first to receive entries, at least in those two instances. This observation suggests that the 1843 date could well be the more accurate, or at least the first recorded, even though it is found in a book currently referred to a [sic] Book 4. Either way, it is a date with at least as much validity as the date (1842) written in Book 1 and should not be dismissed on the inaccurate assumption that it was simply a coypist error that occurred as the contents of Book 1 were being duplicated in Book 4. In light of these observations, the best conclusion seems to be that the year of the sealing is entirely unsubstantiated in these documents.[18]

II. The Affidavit Books Speculation

There is more ground to cover here readers, which I will get to in due time. But first I would like to address Hales’ claims about the Affidavit Books. I won’t go into a history of the Affidavit Books, that will be in a forthcoming article that I’ll publish at a later time.[19]

When I first heard of these Affidavit Books, my first thought was where can I see them? Fortunately, someone put them all on archive.org, so they are easy now to access and study and this is crucial to understanding and (in this case), addressing Hales’ claim here.

One thing that immediately becomes evident when one reads what Hales wrote is his forceful language. He writes,

  • It was in fact the primary of the two
  • It is a date with at least as much validity as the date…in book 1
  • the inaccurate assumption that it was simply a copyist error

There is good evidence to challenge all of Hales’ assumptions here. And that is where having copies of the Affidavit Books comes in handy. I feel that Mr. Hales has made some critical mistakes from not studying the Affidavit Books more closely. His conclusions therefore, are made from a faulty analysis of the evidence, which I present below.

First, let’s take a look at the covers of all the Affidavit Books. These are in order of their current designation (1-4) from left to right:

1869 Utah Affidavit Book Covers

To get an idea of what is in these Affidavit Books, I present the following graphic from the folks at Mormon Bookshelf:

Affidavits on Celestial Marriage List

Mormon Bookshelf Graphic, which may be found here.

The information in Affidavit Books 1 & 4 is virtually identical, as are Affidavit Books 2 & 3. Hales is almost correct that there are two additional unfinished affidavits in Book 4. There is actually only one; the other was started and crossed out because of a copy error. In looking at these books, it is obvious that they are out of order. Books 3 and 4 should be reversed:

1869 Utah Affidavit Book Covers (Proper Order)

The reason why is that Books 1 & 2 are the originals (one set), and Books 3 & 4 are the copies (another set). You have Book 1 with the label and Book 2 without one. This was how they made the copies, The first copy (Book 4, actually 3) with a label, and the second (Book 3, actually 4) without one. They even use the same types of books for  the first and second copies.

Now, how do we know which are the copies? There is evidence in the Books! First, notice what the folks at Mormon Bookshelf say in a comment about the Bathsheba Smith Affidavit. They tell us:

Book 4 was located in the Church Historian’s Office along with book 3, whereas Joseph F. Smith kept Books 1 and 2 in his personal possession.[20]

Why would he do that? Because they were the original copies, and were made first:

Affidavit Books 1-4 First Page

Joseph F. Smith’s name is embossed in Books 1 & 2 along with the identifiers, “Du Book No. 1” and “Du Book No. 2”. Smith’s name is also embossed on the last page of Books 1 & 2. Books 3 & 4 (the copies) do not have this. The label on the front of each of the first books (Books 1 & 4) identifies them as the First Affidavit Books of each set. That is why Books 3 & 4 should be reversed. The chronological order of the affidavits also bears this out.

Hales writes,

At some point since 1869, an unidentified person penciled in identifying marks in two of the books, namely Book 1 and Book 2. It is unclear why those numbers were assigned specifically to those two books.[21]

Actually, it is very clear why those numbers were assigned to those Books, because they were designated this way when they were donated to the Church Historians Office. Why would this be “unclear”? The originals though, were initially kept by Smith, and there is other evidence that determines that this is what happened. (See Note 21 for more on this, and of course below for the additional evidence).

Now that we have the order correct, and which books are probably the originals and the copies, is there further evidence to support that Books 3 & 4 were copies of Books 1 & 2? Yes.

First there are the Joseph Noble affidavits that are the first to appear in Books 1 & 4 (actually 3). First, it is important to note that all of these Books have the first affidavit appearing on page 3 except for Book 4 (actually 3). Why? Because of a copy error. This is one of the affidavits that Hales mentions as “unfinished”, but it really isn’t. Here is what they look like:

Joseph B. Noble, Book 1& 4, pg. 3

You will notice that the copy on the right was scrapped because whoever (I believe this was Robert L. Campbell) was copying the affidavit from Book 1 wrote the wrong name in the affidavit. It should have been James Jack, but he wrote “Elias Smith, Probate Judge”. James Jack was a Notary Public, not a Probate Judge. So what did Joseph Fielding Smith do? He copied the Noble affidavit in Book 4 (actually 3) on to page 1:

Joseph B. Noble, Book 4, pg. 1

This is the only Book where an affidavit appears on page 1. In all the other Books, the affidavits start on page 3. If this were the first book, then all of the others should follow the same pattern and start on page 1. But they don’t. All the rest start on page 3.

It is unclear why Smith wanted to leave the first two pages blank, perhaps he was going to put the contents there, but opted for the back of the Books because there were so many affidavits they would not have had enough room to list the contents on just two pages.

This explains the first of Hales’ affidavits. Hales misses this obvious mistake and claims:

The affidavit reads: “Be it remembered that on this twenty-sixth day of June, A. D. 1869, personally appeared before me Elias Smith, Probate Judge for said county,” and has one big “X” crossed through the entirety. Smith, Affidavit Books, 4:3. There is no hint regarding for whom the document was to be written or the information it was going to contain.[22]

I disagree. It is obvious what happened if one simply looks at the entry. It was written on page 3 (same as the Noble affidavit from Book 1), it has the same date as the Noble affidavit, (June 26, 1869), and the reason it was crossed out: the wrong name.Robert L. Campbell, Handwriting Comparison

Joseph F. Smith apparently briefly made use of Robert L. Campbell (a well known scribe that worked on the Manuscript History of the Church) as a copyist. Two affidavits at the end of Book 1 are in his handwriting. He was obviously tasked to make a copy of Book 1, and he began it on page 3 (following the pattern in Book 1) but then made the mistake which forced him to abandon copying that affidavit. He then continued on with his copying until page 21 (completing ten more affidavits) before he stopped. At that point Joseph F. Smith resumed the copying, and placed the Noble affidavit on page 1, and then resumed copying the rest of the affidavits where Campbell left off.Joseph F. Smith Handwriting Comparison Affidavit Book Titles

Smith then later made the Titles for Books 1 & 4, as they are also in his handwriting. (I will have more on this in a future article).

Mormon Bookshelf has also noted that the unfinished affidavit is “Dated June 6th, 1869”, but this is an error, it is dated the 26 of June, the same as the Noble affidavit.

But what about the second, the Vienna Jaques affidavit? I believe it was originally in Affidavit Book 1, but was torn out. Here is the page between the Affidavits of Charles C. Rich (Apostle) and John Pack where the incomplete Jaques affidavit appears in Book 4 (actually Book 3), taken from from Book 1:

Vienna Jaques, Book 1, Torn PageNotice that there is a page torn out of the Book. This likely accounts for why there is no unfinished Vienna Jaques Affidavit in Book 1. What is curious is that the page numbers don’t reflect that this was done after the next affidavit was written into the book. It (the page tearing) was probably done before. Smith copied the unfinished Jaques affidavit at the same time into Book 4 (actually 3) that was written in Book 1, and then before he took the next affidavit (John Pack) someone (probably Smith) ripped out the Jaques affidavit in Book 1, and then it was only crossed it out in Book 4 (actually 3).

The cross out is in different ink, so this supports that it was probably done at a later time. The Rich affidavit was taken on the 12th of July, the Jaques affidavit has a date of the 20th of July, and the Pack affidavit the 22nd of July. So both affidavits were likely written in the two Books on the 20th of July, and then on the 22nd when Smith was numbering the pages for the next affidavit (John Pack) he ripped it (Jaques Affidavit) out of Book 1, but it was only crossed out of Book 4 (actually 3)–if they were taken chronologically at this time–which is strengthened by the progressive dates.

Right after these affidavits appears the Sylvia Sessions affidavit which is also not dated, unsigned and left as it is. So why rip out and cross out the Jaques affidavit and not the Sessions affidavit? Could Smith have been more confident in the 1842 marriage date? Perhaps.

So Hales’ conjecture that there are two extra affidavits in Book 4 (actually 3) is mistaken. There is though, an extra affidavit in Book 2 that is not found in Book 3 (actually 4), the affidavit of Bathsheba W. Smith.  So, to use Hales argument, this helps to strengthen the case that Books 1 & 2 are the originals, right?

Is there other evidence? Yes, I believe so, and it is in the affidavit of Malissa Willes. Notice the year of her marriage in both affidavits (Book 1 on the left and Book 4 (actually 3) on the right:

Malissa Willes, Book 1 & 4In Book 1 it is obvious that it was first written “1842” but corrected to read “1843”:

Malissa Willes, Book 1 Year 1843

But in Book 4 (actually 3) we find an 1842 with a question mark!

Malissa Willes, Book 4 Year 1842

It seems then, that when Smith wrote the affidavit he didn’t know what the date was, because it could have been either one. But how could this happen if Malissa signed them both? I had to think about that. Then I remembered the Vienna Jaques affidavit. Notice that it has the name and no dates:

Vienna Jaques, Book 4, pg. 56, Unfinished

Here is the signed affidavit of Mary Kimball with incomplete dates:

Mary Ellen Kimball

It could easily be that Malissa signed the copies before the dates were put in. She obviously was not present when Smith put the date in for the copy, or she would have corrected the dates as was done with the first affidavit in Book 1.

I think I can confidently state that Book 1 and 2 are the “primary” Volumes, and that it is far more likely (considering the mistake made with the Malissa Lott affidavit) that in the case of Sylvia Lyons the first date “1842” was the original year put on the affidavit and that the “1843” is most likely a copyist error.

III. More Sylvia Sessions Lyon Speculation

Most of the Affidavits found in these Books are very late recollections and are being used in many cases as a basis for actual dates and events with little or no other evidence. But I do have problems with Hales interpretation of the evidence, even this evidence.  If Hales had just taken a closer look at both of the Sylvia Lyon affidavits I believe he would have seen a few things which indicate that the affidavit in Book 4 was probably written after the affidavit in Book 1.

sylvia lyon, comparison

If you study the two affidavits of Sylvia Sessions, you will notice that the affidavit with the 1843 date was rewritten without the last sentence in the middle of the page. And not only that, but that they rearranged the wording in the affidavit that appears in Book 4 (Actually 3).

Book 1:

on the eighth day of February, A.D. 1842, in the City of Nauvoo, County of Hancock State of Illinois she was married or sealed to President Joseph Smith by [   ] in the presence of (Date, Place, Person)

Book 4 (actually 3):

on the eighth day of February A. D. 1843 she was married or sealed to President Joseph Smith, in the City of Nauvoo County of Hancock, State of Illinois, by (Date, Person, Place) in the presence of

These affidavits of others who were “sealed or married” to Joseph Smith all have the same order that appears in Book 1: Date, Place, Person:

Zina Huntington Young, Presenda Huntington Kimball, Ruth Vose Sayers, Emily Partridge Young, Marinda Nancy Hyde, Rhoda Richards, Malissa Lott Willes, Eliza R. Snow, Desdemona Fullmer, Sarah Ann Kimball, Lucy Walker, Elvira A. C. Holmes, (also has “at Heber C. Kimball’s house), Eliza Partridge, Martha McBride.

All of these affidavits have the same format as the first (1842) affidavit of Sylvia Sessions, except for the one with the 1843 date. For some reason, they changed that order and the date of the second affidavit. How could this be the original, when it doesn’t follow the format of every other affidavit cited above (all the other affidavits of Joseph’s “marriages”)? This indicates to me that the copy with the 1843 date is an anomaly, and therefore most likely a copy.  Even Eliza Partridge’s loose Affidavits have the same format as the rest.

We know that some of these affidavits were previously prepared because there are templates in some of the books with blank spaces for names and dates like this affidavit of Mary Ann Young:MS 3423_5_1_29s Mary Ann Young p. 46

Notice date, place, person format. As Hales notes, the Sessions Affidavits are also unsigned so we don’t know where the dates came from. All anyone can do is speculate about this. My argument here, is that there is evidence for the the 1842 date being written first, that is all. Yet, for some, Brian Hales’ unfounded speculations are enough to doubt the evidence that supports the 1842 date, as in the case of Gregory L. Smith:

I initially believed that sexual polyandry best explained the historical data. The “poster child” for this perspective was Sylvia Sessions Lyon, whose sealing to Joseph in 1842 seemed to clearly precede her separation from her civil husband. Since Sylvia’s daughter is the best candidate for a child conceived by Joseph in plurality, this marriage has consequently been treated as the paradigmatic case for polyandry. If one such marriage included marital intimacy, ran the argument, it was reasonable to presume that the others either did or could have.

This reasoning struck me as sound, and for several years I accepted a model of full sexual polyandry. Over time, however, as I puzzled over the other data, I began (with, I confess, some reluctance) to wonder if non-conjugal relationships weren’t a much better explanation for the other spotty data. I hesitated to draw that conclusion, however, because of the Sylvia Lyon case. Its cogency seemed sufficient to outweigh my other niggling suspicions.

Hales’ and Don Bradley’s discovery of a second affidavit for Sylvia altered the calculus considerably. Neither affidavit was signed, but crucially the newly discovered document dates their marriage to 1843 — one year later. Significantly, nothing about the documents allows us to privilege one affidavit over the other, and so the later date must be regarded as at least as plausible as the earlier one (TaBU, 71–73).

This might seem a small difference of interest only to pedants, but in context it can be revolutionary. Suddenly, Sylvia’s marriage could no longer be regarded as paradigmatic, since it is entirely possible that her sexual relationship with Joseph followed her separation/divorce from her husband. Thus, Hales and Bradley succeeded in pushing me (with some foot dragging) to favor a non-sexual polyandrous model, which seemed to explain other data points more parsimoniously. Hales’ later discussion of the Temple Lot testimony, and the telling absence of all three living polyandrous wives from those proceedings, despite their availability, increased my confidence in this historical reconstruction [23]

Yet there is evidence that one was probably written before the other. I have shared that above. Remember, the Malissa Lott affidavit had the date corrected in the first affidavit book, but it was not corrected in the second. It only had a question mark. Also, someone, (possibly Joseph F. Smith) thought the affidavit for Vienna Jaques was so irrelevant that it was torn out of the book. The same was not done with the Sylvia Sessions affidavits. This may indicate that Joseph F. Smith had confidence in the date given in the first affidavit, which was 1842.

It is also curious to me that Gregory Smith would be so easily swayed by Hales’ speculations (despite his claim of “foot dragging’). Smith still had sex with Sylvia Sessions while she was legally married to Windsor according to Hales (based on Josephine’s affidavit). It seems as if Gregory Smith is accepting Hales’ argument that they were separated, (an argument mostly based on his being disfellowshipped and one anonymous statement that claims that he was no longer her husband); but that wouldn’t matter according to an 1842 Address by Joseph Smith himself. He could only “marry” Sylvia if she obtained a legal divorce from Windsor (for committing evil in the marriage), something there is absolutely no evidence there was or that she ever did. This means that Joseph Smith and Sylvia were committing adultery.

But Hales isn’t finished with his speculations. He writes,

A second observation also seems to undermine the day and month listed in the affidavits. Both documents list February 8 (either 1842 or 1843), which is also the birth date of Josephine Lyon (1844) and Windsor Lyon (1809). It is possible that Joseph and Sylvia were sealed on Windsor’ birthday, exactly one or two years prior to Josephine’s birth, but the likelihood is small. Accordingly, a rigid insistence on a February 8 sealing date of either year seems unjustified.[24]

How does this “undermine” anything? It is simply Hales’ speculation. He has no idea of the amount of likelihood that Sylvia and Smith would be or not be sealed on Windsor Lyon’s birthday. What are the odds of Josephine having the same birth date as Windsor? Coincidence is coincidence. This doesn’t undermine anything. And it makes perfect sense that Sylvia would have been “married” to Joseph Smith just prior to her mother, since this was a pattern that Joseph Smith followed with women who were closely related, like sisters. Also, what if Windsor was a willing participant in the polyandry? And just who is making a “rigid insistence” on the February 8th date? Certainly I’m not doing so, but I’m not ruling it out based on Hales’ speculations, either.

Hales then writes,

A third observation is that an unsigned affidavit is only slightly better than no affidavit at all. It may or may not reflect genuine beliefs of the scribe, and since it is unsigned, its relationship to the beliefs of the intended signatory are entirely unknown. Taken together, it appears that the affidavits provide little or no reliable information regarding the day or year of Joseph Smith and Sylvia Session’s sealing ceremony.[25]

As I have noted above, if this affidavit was of so little use, why then did Joseph F. Smith not tear it out of the book as he did the Jaques affidavit? I do agree though, that we don’t know the relationship of this affidavit with Sylvia Sessions. This is a valid observation by Hales. But we can use it in connection with other evidence, something that Hales doesn’t want us to do, because he wants the 1843 affidavit to be the correct one.

What we do have is an unsigned affidavit that provides us with an 1842 date; and a second that has a different date that very likely is a copy error. This is not an “inaccurate assumption”, but a valid one based on the evidence I’ve presented here.

All of the other objections that Hales makes are based on faulty observations and speculations based on those faulty observations. Hales motive here is obvious. If he can create doubt about the 1842 date, then he can try and mitigate the other evidence that points towards an 1842 marriage, for he writes,

Without the assistance of the affidavit books, other sources must be consulted to discover the sealing date of Joseph Smith and Sylvia Session.[26]

This should be a rule that is followed with all the affidavits. All of them should be questioned if they do not have credible corroboration. Hales then presents what he feels is his “trump card”, the notes of Andrew Jenson that were rediscovered by Don Bradley:

In a document undoubtedly used to write his 1887 Historical Record article on plural marriage, Andrew Jenson penned: “Sylvia Sessions . . . became a convert to ‘Mormonism’ and was married to Mr. Lyons. When he left the Church she was sealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith.”[27]

Hales writes in his footnote,

Biographical information on Windsor and Sylvia Lyon, undated sheet in Andrew Jenson Collection, Church History