pub Chas. C. Chapman & Co..

History of Tazewell county, Illinois ; together with sketches of its cities, villages and townships, educational, religious, civil, military, and political history; portraits of prominent persons and biographies of representative citizens. History of Illinois ... Digest of state laws online

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Online Librarypub Chas. C. Chapman & Co.History of Tazewell county, Illinois ; together with sketches of its cities, villages and townships, educational, religious, civil, military, and political history; portraits of prominent persons and biographies of representative citizens. History of Illinois ... Digest of state laws → online text (page 9 of 79)
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Emboldened by success, the Mormons became more arrogant and
overbearing. Many people began to believe that they were about
to set up a separate government for themselves in defiance of the
laws of the State. Owners of property stolen in other counties
made pursuit into Kauvoo, and were fined by the Mormon courts
for daring to seek their property in the holy city. But that which
made it more certain than anything else that the Mormons con-
templated a separate government, was that about this time they
petitioned Congress to establish a territorial government for them
in Nauvoo.


To crown the whole folly of the Mormons, in the Spring of 1844
Joe Smith announced himself as a candidate for President of the
United States, and many of his followers were confident he would
be elected. He next caused himself to be anointed king and
priest, and to give character to his pretensions, he declared his
lineage in an unbroken line from Joseph, the son of Jacob, and
that of his wife from some other important personage of the ancient
Hebrews. To strengthen his political power he also instituted a
body of police styled the " Danite band," who were sworn to pro-
tect his person and obey his orders as the commands of God. A
female order previously existing in the church, called " Spiritual
wives," was modified so as to suit the licentiousness of the prophet,
A doctrine was revealed that it was impossible for a woman to get


to heaven except as the wife of a Mormon elder; that each elder
might marry as many women as he could maintain, and that any
female might be sealed to eternal life by becoming their concubine.
This licentiousness, the origin of polygamy in that church, they
endeavored to justify by an appeal to Abraham, Jacob and other
favorites of God in former ages of the world.


Smith soon began to play the tyrant over his people. Among
the first acts of this sort was an attempt to take the wife of Wil-
liam Law, one of his most talented disciples, and make her his
spiritual wife. He established, without authority, a recorder's
office, and an office to issue marriage licenses. He proclaimed that
none could deal in real estate or sell liquor but himself. He
ordered a printing office demolished, and in many ways controlled
the freedom and business of the Mormons. Not only did he stir up
some of the Mormons, but by his reckless disregard for the laws of
the land raised up opposition on every hand. It was believed that
he instructed the Danite band, which he had chosen as the ministers
of his vengeance, that no blood, except that of the church, was to
be regarded as sacred, if it contravened the accomplishment of his
object. It was asserted that he inculcated the legality of perjury
and other crimes, if committed to advance the cause of true believ-
ers; that Grod had given the world and all it contained to his saints,
and since they were kept out of their rightful inheritance by force,
it was no moral offense to get possession of it by stealing. It was
reported that an establishment existed in Nauvoo for the manufac-
ture of counterfeit money, and that a set of outlaws was maintained
for the purpose of putting it in circulation. Statements were cir-
culated to the effect that a reward was offered for the destruction of
the Warsaw Signal, an anti-Mormon paper, and that Mormons dis-
persed over the country threatened all persons who offered to assist
the constable in the execution of the law, with the destruction of
their property and the murder of their families. There were rumors
also afloat that an alliance had been formed with the Western
Indians, and in case of war they would be used in murdering their
enemies. In short, if only one-half of these reports were true the
Mormons must have been the most infamous people that ever ex-



William Law, one of the proprietors of the printing-press
destroyed by Smith, went to Carthage, the county-seat, and
obtained warrants for the arrest of Smith and the members of the
City Council, and others connected with the destruction of the
press. Some of the parties having been arrested, but discharged
by the authorities in Nauvoo, a convention of citizens assembled at
Carthage and appointed a committee to wait upon the Governor for
the purpose of procuring military assistance to enforce the law.
The Governor visited Carthage in person. Previous to his arrival
the militia had been called out and armed forces commenced assem-
bling in Carthage and Warsaw to enforce the service of civil process.
All of them, however, signified a willingness to co-operate with the
Governor in preserving order. A constable and ten men were then
sent to make the arrest. In the meantime, Smith declared martial
law; his followers residing in the country were summoned to his
assistance; the Legion was assembled and under arms, and the
entire city was one great military encampment.


The prophet, his brother Hiram, the members of the City Coun-
cil and others, surrendered themselves at Carthage June 24, 1845,
on the charge of riot. All entered into recognizance before a Jus-
tice of the Peace to appear at court, and were discharged. A new
writ, however, was immediately issued and served on the two
Smiths, and both were arrested and thrown into prison. The
citizens had assembled from Hancock, Schujder and McDonough
counties, armed and ready to avenge the outrages that had been
committed by the Mormons. Great excitement prevailed at Car-
thage. The force assembled at that place amounted to 1,200 men,
and about 600 assembled at Warsaw. Nearly all were anxious to
march into Nauvoo. This measure was supposed to be necessary
to search for counterfeit money and the apparatus to make it, and
also to strike a salutary terror into the Mormon people by an exhi-
bition of the force of the State, and thereby prevent future out-
rages, murders, robberies, burnings, and the like. The 27tli of
June was appointed for the march ; but Gov. Ford, who at the
time was in Carthage, apprehended trouble if the militia should
attempt to invade Nauvoo, disbanded the troops, retaining only a
guard to the jail.



Gov. Ford went to Nauvoo on the 27th. The same morning
about 200 men from Warsaw, many being disguised, hastened to
Carthage. On learning that one of the companies left as a guard
had disbanded, and the other stationed 150 yards from the jail while
eight men were left to guard the prisoners, a communication was
soon established between the Warsaw troops and the guard; and it
was arranged that the guard should have their guns charged with
blank cartridges and lire at the assailants when they attempted to
enter the jail. The conspirators came up, jumped the fence around
the jail, were fired upon by the guard, which, according to arrange-
ment, was overpowered, and the assailants entered the prison, to
the door of the room where the two prisoners were confined. An
attempt ,was made to break open the door; but Joe Smith, being
armed with a pistol, fired several times as the door was bursted
open, and three of the assailants were wounded. At the same time
several shots were fired into the room, by some of which John
Taylor, a friend of the Smiths, received four wounds, and Hiram
Smith was instantly killed. Joe Smith, severely wounded, attempt-
ed to escape by jumping out of a second-story window, but was so
stunned by the fall that he was unable to rise. In this position he
was dispatched by' balls shot through his body. Thus fell Joe
Smith, the most successful impostor of modern times. Totally ignor-
ant of almost every fact in science, as well as in law, he made up in
constructiveness and natural cunning whatever in him was want-
ing of instruction.


Great consternation prevailed among the anti-Mormons at
Carthage, after the killing of the Smiths. They expected the Mor-
mons would be so enraged on hearing of the death of their leaders
that they would come down in a body, armed and equipped, to
seek revenge upon the populace at Carthage. Messengers were
dispatched to various places for help in case of an attack. The
women and children were moved across the river for safety. A
committee was sent to Quincy and early the following morning,
at the ringing of the bells, a large concourse of people assembled
to devise means of defense. At this meeting, it was reported that
the Mormons attempted to rescue the Smiths; that a party of Mis-
sourians and others had killed them to prevent their escape; that


the Governor and his party were at Kauvoo at the time when intel-
ligence of the fact was brought there; that they had been attacked
by the Nauvoo Legion, and had retreated to a house where they
were closely besieged; that the Governor had sent out word that
he could maintain his position for two days, and would be certain
to be massacred if assistance did not arrive by that time. It is
unnecessary to say that this entire story was fabricated. It was
put in circulation, as were many other stories, by the an ti- Mormons,
to influence the public mind and create a hatred for the Mormons.
The effect of it, however, was that by 10 o'clock on the 28th,
between two and three hundred men from Quincy, under command
of Maj. Flood, went on board a steamboat for Nauvoo, to assist in
raising the siege, as they honestly believed.


It was thought by many, and indeed the circumstances seem to war-
rant the conclusion, that the assassins of Smith had arranged that the
murder should occur while the Governor was in Nauvoo; that the
Mormons would naturally suppose he planned it, and in the first out-
pouring of their indignation put him to death, as a means of retalia-
tion. They thought that if they could have the Governor of the State
assassinated by Mormons, the public excitement would be greatly
increased against that people, and would cause their extermination,
or at least their expulsion from the State. That it was a brutal and
premeditated murder cannot be and is not denied at this day; but
the desired eifect of the murder was not attained, as the Mormons
did not evacuate ISTauvoo for two years afterward. In the meantime,
the excitement and prejudice against this people were not allowed
to die out. Horse-stealing was quite common, and every case that
occurred was charged to the Mormons. That they were guilty of
such thefts cannot be denied, but a great deal of this work done at
that time was by organized bands of thieves, who knew they could
carry on their nefarious business with more safety, as long as sus-
picion could be placed upon the Mormons. In the summer and
fall of 1845 were several occurrences of a nature to increase the
irritation existing between the Mormons and their neighbors. A
suit was instituted in the United States Circuit Court against one
of the apostles, to recover a note, and a marshal sent to summons


the defendant, who refused to be served with the process. Indig-
nation meetings were held bj the saints, and the marshal threat-
ened for attempting to serve the writ. About this time, General
Denning, sheriff, was assaulted bj an anti-Mormon, whom he killed.
Denning was friendly to the Mormons, and a great outburst of
passion was occasioned among the friends of the dead man.


It was also discovered, in trying the rights of property at Lima,
Adams county, that the Mormons had an institution connected
with their church to secure their effects from execution. Incensed
at this and other actions, the anti-Mormons of Lima and Green
Plains, held a meeting to devise means for the expulsion of the
Mormons from tliat part of the country. It was arranged that a
number of their own party should fire on the building in which
they were assembled, in such a manner as not to injure anyone,
and then report that the Mormons had commenced the work of
plunder and death. This plot was duly executed, and the startling
intelligence soon called together a mob, which threatened the Mor-
mons with fire and sword if they did not immediately leave. The
Mormons refusing to depart, the mob at once executed their threats
by burning 125 houses and forcing the inmates to flee for their
lives. The sheriff of Hancock county, a prominent Mormon
armed several hundred Mormons and scoured the country, in search
of the incendiaries, but they had fled to neighboring counties, and
he was unable either to bring them to battle or make any arrests.
One man, however, was killed without provocation; another
attempting to escape was shot and afterwards hacked and muti-
lated ; and Franklin A. "Worrell, who had charge of the jail when
the Smiths were killed, was shot by some unknown person con-
cealed in a thicket. The anti-Mormons committed one murder.
A party of them set fire to a pile of straw, near the barn of an old
Mormon, nearly ninety years of age, and when he appeared to ex-
tinguish the flames, he was shot and killed.

The anti-Mormons left their property exposed in their hurried
retreat, after having burned the houses of the Mormons. Those
who had been burned out sallied forth from Nauvoo and plundered
the whole country, taking whatever they could carry or drive
away. By order of the Governor, Gen. Hardin raised a force of
350 men, checked the Mormon ravages, and recalled the fugitive
anti-Mormons home.



At this time a convention, consisting of delegates from eight of
the adjoining counties, assembled to concert measures for the expul-
sion of the Mormons from the State. The Mormons seriously con-
templated emmigration westward, believing the times forboded
evil for them. Accordingly, during the winter of 1845-'46, the
most stupendous preparations were made by the Mormons for
removal. All the principal dwellings, and even the temple, were
converted into work-shops, and before spring, 12,000 wagons were
in readiness; and hy the middle of February the leaders, with 2,000
of their followers, had crossed the Mississippi on the ice.

Before the spring of 1846 the majority of the Mormons had left
Nauvoo, but still a large number remained.


In September a writ was issued against several prominent Mor-
mons, and placed in the hands of John Carlin, of Carthage, for
execution. Carlin called out a posse to help make the arrest, which
brought together quite a large force in the neighborhood of Nauvoo.
Carlin, not being a military man, placed in command of the posse,
first, Gen. Singleton, and afterward Col. Brockman, who proceeded
to invest the city, erecting breastworks, and taking other means for
defensive as well as offensive operations. What was then termed a
battle next took place, resulting in the death of one Mormon and
the wounding of several others, and loss to the anti-Mormons of
three killed and four wounded. At last, through the intervention
of an anti-Mormon committee of one hundred, from Quincy, the
Mormons and their allies were induced to submit to such terms as
the posse chose to dictate, which were that the Mormons should
immediately give up their arms to the Quincy committee, and re-
move from the State. The trustees of the church and five of their
clerks were permitted to remain for the sale of Mormon propert}'^,
and the posse were to march in unmolested, and leave a sufiicient
force to guarantee the performance of their stipulations. Accord-
ingly, the constable's posse marched in with Brockman at their
head. It consisted of about 800 armed men and 600 or TOO
imarmed, who had assembled from all the country around, through
motives of curiosity, to see the once proud city of Nauvoo hum-
bled and delivered up to its enemies. They proceeded into the


citj slowly and carefully, examinin,^ the way for fear of the explo-
sion of a mine, many of which had been made by the Mormons,
by burying kegs of powder in the ground, with a man stationed at
a distance to pull a string communicating with the trigger of a
percussion lock affixed to the keg. This kind of a contrivance was
called by the Mormons " hell's half-acre." When the posse
arrived in the city, the leaders of it erected themselves into a tri-
bunal to decide who should be forced away and who remain.
Parties were dispatched to hunt for fire-arms, and for Mormons, and
to bring them to judgment. When brought, they received their
doom from the mouth of Brockman, who sat a grim and unawed
tyrant for the time. As a general rule, the Mormons were ordered
to leave within an hour or two; and by rare grace some of them
were allowed until next day, and in a few cases longer time was


Nothing was said in the treaty in regard to the new citizens, who
had with the Mormons defended the city; but the posse no sooner
had obtained possession than they commenced expelling them.
Some of them were ducked in the river, and were in one or two
instances actually baptized in the name of some of the leaders
of the mob; others were forcibly driven into the ferry-boats to be
taken over the river before the bayonets of armed ruffians. Many
of these new settlers were strangers in the country from various
parts of the United States, who were attracted there by the low
price of property; and they knew but little of previous difficulties
or the merits of the quarrel. They saw with tlieir own eyes that
the Mormons were industriously preparing to go away, and they
knew "of their own knowledge " that any effiirt to expel them by
force was gratuitous and unnecessary cruelty. They had been trained,
by the States whence they came, to abhor mobs and to obey the law,
and they volunteered their services under executive authority to
defend their town and their property against mob violence, and, as
they honestly believed, from destruction; but in tliis they were partly
mistaken; for although the mob leaders in the exercise of unbridled
power were guilty of many injuries to the persons of individuals,
although much personal property was stolen, yet they abstained
from materially injuring houses and buildings.



The fugitives proceeded westward, taking the road through Mis-
souri, but were forcibly ejected from that State and compelled to
move indirectly through Iowa. After innumerable hardships the
advance guard reached the Missouri river at Council Bluflfs, when
a United States officer presented a requisition for 500 men to
serve in the war with Mexico. Compliance with this order so di-
minished their number of effective men, that the expedition was
again delayed and the remainder, consisting mostly of old men,
women and children, hastily prepared habitations for winter.
Their rudely constructed tents were hardly completed before winter
set in with great severity, the bleak prairies being incessantly swept
by piercing winds. While here cholera, fever and other diseases,
aggravated by the previous hardships, the want of comfortable
quarters and medical treatment, hurried many of them to prema-
ture graves, yet, under the influence of religious fervor and fanati-
cism, they looked death in the face with resignation and cheerful-
ness, and even exhibited a gayety which manifested itself in music
and dancing during the saddest hours of this sad winter.

At length welcome spring made its appearance, and by April
they were again organized for the journey; a pioneer party, con-
sisting of Brigham Young and 140 others, was sent in advance to
locate a home for the colonists. On the 21 of July, 1847, a day
memorable in Mormon annals, the vanguard reached the valley of
the Great Salt Lake, having been directed thither, according to
their accounts, by the hand of the Almighty. Here in a distant wil-
derness, midway between the settlements of the East and the Pacific,
and at that time a thousand miles from the utmost verge of civili-
zation, they commenced preparations for founding a colony, which
has since grown into a mighty empire.


During the month of May, 1846, the President called for four
regiments of volunteers from Illinois for the Mexican war. This
was no sooner known in the State than nine regiments, numbering
8,370 men, answered the call, though only four of them, amounting
to 3,720 men, could be taken. These regiments, as well as their
officers, were everywhere foremost in the American ranks, and dis-


tinguished themselves by their matchless valor in the bloodiest
battles of the war. Yeterans never fought more nobly and effect-
ively than did the volunteers from Illinois. At the bloody battle of
Buena Vista they crowned their lives — many their death — with the
laurels of war. Kever did armies contend more bravely, determinedly
and stubbornly than the American and Mexican forces at this famous
battle; and as Illinois troops were ever in the van and on the blood-
iest portions of the field, we believe a short sketch of the part they
took in the fierce contest is due them, and will be read with no lit-
tle interest.


General Santa Anna, with his army of 20,000, poured into the
valley of Aqua Nueva early on the morning of the 22d of February,
hoping to surprise our army, consisting of about 5,000 men, under
Gen. Taylor and which had retreated to the " Narrows." They
were hotly pursued by the Mexicans who, before attacking, sent
Gen. Taylor a flag of truce demanding a surrender, and assuring
him that if he refused he would be cut to pieces; but the demand
was promptly refused. At this the enemy opened fire, and the con-
flict began. In honor of the day the watchword with our soldiers
was, " The memory of Washington." An irregular fire was kept up
all day, and at night both armies bivouacked on the field, resting on
their arms. Santa Anna that night made a spirited address to his
men, and the stirring strains of his own band till late in the night
were distinctly heard by our troops; but at last silence fell over the
hosts that were to contend unto death in that narrow pass on the

Early on the following morning the battle was resumed, and con-
tinued without intermission until nightfall. The solid columns of
the enemy were hurled against our forces all day long, but were
met and held in check b}' the unerring fire of our musketry and ar-
tillery. A portion of Gen. Lane's division was driven back by the
enemy under Gen. Lombardini, who, joined by Gen. Pacheco's divis-
ion, poured upon the main plateau in so formidable numbers as
to appear irresistible.


At this time the 2d Illinois, under Col. Bissell, with a squadron
of cavalry and a few pieces of artillery came handsomely into action


and gallantly received the concentrated fire of the enemy, which
they returned with deliberate aim and terrible effect; every dis-
charge of the artillery seemed to tear a bloody path through the
heavy columns of enemy. Says a writer: "The rapid mus-
ketry of the gallant troops from Illinois poured a storm of lead
into their serried ranks, which literally strewed the ground with
the dead and dying." But, notwithstanding his losses, the enemy
steadily advanced until our gallant regiment received fire from
three sides. Still they maintained their position for a time with
unflinching firmness against that immense host. At length, per-
ceiving the danger of being entirely surrounded, it was determined
to fall back to a ravine. Col. Bissel, with the coolness of ordinary
drill, ordered the signal "cease firing" to be made; he then with
the same deliberation gave the command, "Face to the rear, Bat-
talion, about face; forward march," which was executed witli the
regularity of veterans to a point beyond the peril of being out-
fianked. Again, in obedience to command these brave men halted-
faced about, and under a murderous tempest of bullets from the foe,
resumed their well-directed fire. The conduct of no troops could
have been more admirable; and, too, until that day they had never
been under fire, when, within less than half an hour eighty of their
comrades dropped by their sides. How different from the Arkansas
regiment, which were ordered to the plateau, but after delivering
their first volley gave way and dispersed.


But now we have to relate the saddest, and, for Illinois, the most
mournful, event of that battle-worn day. "We take the account

Online Librarypub Chas. C. Chapman & Co.History of Tazewell county, Illinois ; together with sketches of its cities, villages and townships, educational, religious, civil, military, and political history; portraits of prominent persons and biographies of representative citizens. History of Illinois ... Digest of state laws → online text (page 9 of 79)