Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Missouri 1833-1839

Stephen Jones left Indiana and joined the Mormon community in Missouri. The facts presented here relating to the Mormon enterprise in Missouri between 1831 and 1839 provide historical context to Stephen Jones' experiences while he lived in the area of Jackson, Clay and Caldwell counties, Missouri.


In October of 1830 Mormon missionaries left Ohio and undertook a mission to western Missouri to preach the Book of Mormon to the descendants of the Lamanites (Native Americans); in January 1831 three missionaries crossed the state boundary into Indian Territory; on their return, the missionaries stayed and preached to white settlers in Jackson County, Missouri. This mission ultimately brought Joseph Smith to Jackson County. In June of 1833 Joseph Smith sent a plan for the building up of "Zion" in Jackson County. (Sometime later Smith is reported to have told Brigham Young that Jackson County, Missouri had been the location of the Garden of Eden, and he named Adam-ondi-Ahman, an area in Daviess County, as the area where Adam and Eve lived after being expelled from Eden.) Mormons then began settling in Jackson, Clay, and Daviess counties, claiming land through preemption rights.

Stephen Jones reported to the court during his pension hearing that on 7 Jun 1832 he had resided in a remote area of Indiana. Joseph Smith, writing in Times and Seasons, indicated that Stephen Jones had settled near Independence, Jackson County, Missouri sometime before 24 Dec 1833.

Earlier settlers looked on the Mormons as 'clannish' and 'fanatics.' In April of 1833 three thousand original settlers of Jackson County met to plan the removal of the Mormons. On 26 October 1833 a mob attacked a number of Mormon families recently arrived from Indiana; on 31 October mobs destroyed homes and drove women and children into the wilderness. Attacks continued around Independence on 1 November, culminating on 4 November, with a confrontation between Mormons and a mob that ended in several deaths. Between November 6th and 13th, groups of Mormons fled from the mobs in Jackson into Clay County, Missouri. The mobs then warned away any Mormons remaining in Jackson County.

Joseph Smith wrote in Times and Seasons (pages 960, 961): "On the night of the 24th of December, four aged families living near the village of Independence, whose penury and infirmities incident to old age forbade a speedy removal, were driven from their houses by a party of the mob, who tore down their chimneys, broke down their doors and windows, and hurled large rocks into their houses, by which the life of old Mr. Miller, in particular, was greatly endangered. Mr. Miller is aged sixty-five years, being the youngest man in the four families. Some of these men have toiled and bled in the defense of their country; and old Mr. Jones, one of the sufferers, served as lifeguard to General George Washington, in the Revolution. Well may the sol-dier of Seventy-Six contemplate with horror the scenes which surround him at this day in Jackson County, where liberty, law, and equal rights are trodden under foot.” [History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints 1805-1835; written and compiled by President Joseph Smith and Apostle Herman C. Smith of the Reorganized Church; Vol. 1, 9th Edition; Lamoni, Iowa 1917; pg. 393; www.google.com/ Google Books] (Newel Knight reports this event as having taken place in 'midwinter' 1838/39, and the families having fled to Clay County, Missouri.)["Newel Knight's Journal," Classic Experiences and Adventures (Salt Lake City. Bookcraft, 1969), pp. 46-104; Book of Abraham Project; Hugh W. Nibley]

(One will recall that the anecdotal story of Stephen Jones serving as lifeguard to George Washington has been previously noted by both Levi W. Hancock in his journal, and also by Stephen Jones, himself, in his testimony given at his pension hearing. This clearly places Stephen Jones living near Independence, Jackson County, Missouri before 24 Dec 1833, Joseph Smith's recounting being more contemporary than Newel Knight's.)

It soon became clear that Mormons and non-Mormons would not be able to co-exist peacefully in Missouri. In response to a separate-but-equal proposal, the Missouri legislature established Caldwell County in 1836 as a "Mormon Reservation," however, mass emigration soon resulted in the Mormon population continuing to spill over into neighboring counties.

On 30 Sep 1837 in a deposition at Terre Haute, Indiana, Walter Dickerson identified "Stephen Jones Sr. of Clinton County, Mo., aged about 75 years." [Revolutionary War Pension File S15,903]
It is a matter of record that on 4 Dec 1837 Stephen Jones appeared in the court convened in Caldwell County, Missouri, and made a statement of his Revolutionary War service. On the same date Levi W. Hancock and Alfred Lee appeared in court as witnesses for Stephen Jones. [Revolutionary War Pension Files Roll: 1445 Image: M804 File S15,903]
On 1 May 1838 Stephen Jones wrote a letter from "State of Missouri, Caldwell County, Far West." describing his trip to the Wabash on a borrowed mare, to obtain the deposition of Walter Dickerson in the matter of his pension petition. Later in the letter, Stephen Jones stated he had sold his 'improvement' for fifty dollars, and was settling about 5 miles north of Far West. Stephen also stated he had applied for a pension the previous December, but had not yet had an answer from Washington. [Stephen Jones letter; 1 May 1838]

By 1838 some six thousand Saints had settled in western Missouri. The troubles which began for the Mormons in 1833 in Jackson County did not relent, and what became known in Missouri as the "Mormon War" broke out in the summer of 1838. Then, in response when a Mormon group attacked a duly sworn militia, on 27 Oct 1838 Governor Lilburn W. Boggs of Missouri issued an Extermination Order, which read in part "The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the state if necessary for the public peace." [Missouri Digital Heritage: The Missouri Mormon War; Missouri Office of the Secretary of State; c.2010]

Click to see a scan of Governor Boggs' Extermination Order.

The phrase 'extermination order' was understood at that time to be policy of expulsion, and had been in use by the Federal Government against groups of Native Americans, and even in several Missouri counties against the Mormons; Boggs’ order was simply reiterating a policy already being enforced by Missouri counties. On the issue of the order, the Missouri troops surrounded Far West. Militia leaders used the order to impose four terms upon the conquered Mormons: take their leaders into custody for trial and punishment; give over their personal property to repay costs incurred in the 'war;' surrender all arms; and leave the state immediately under militia escort. The Mormons now recognized the need to seek safety outside Missouri. Due to their willingness to comply with the order, and due to early snows, the order was modified to allow the Mormons remain until spring, but they were warned not to plant any crops. [Richard L. Anderson, "Clarification of Boggs' 'Order' and Joseph Smith's Constitutionalism," Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint History: Missouri, Arnold K. Garr and Clark V. Johnson, eds. (Provo, Utah: Department of Church History and Doctrine, Brigham Young University, 19894), 27-83]

Discussion turned to where and how the Saints should resettle, and after some debate Quincy, Illinois became the immediate, if not permanent, destination. Many Mormons who had remained in Missouri did not have adequate shelter, and with their property surrendered, and no crops, had little or no food. Many decided not wait for spring, but set out during a short-lived mild turn in the winter weather.

"While most Latter-day Saints evacuated individually, using their own resources, many lacked wagons, teams, resources, and needed assistance." [William G. Hartley: Missouri's" 1838 Extermination Order and the Mormon's Forced Removal to Illinois; Mormon Historic Studies; 2001]. By January, the first wave of Mormons had crossed Missouri, and were camped at the Mississippi River in bitter weather, while the wagons returned to Caldwell County to remove more of the brethren.

As a final note to Stephen Jones' time in Missouri, on 29 Jan 1839 he signed a resolution, which had been introduced by Brigham Young, to help remove the poor from the state. The agreement read in part "We, whose names are here-under written, do each for ourselves individually hereby covenant to stand by and assist each other, to the utmost of our abilities, in removing from the State in compliance with the authority of the State...for providing means for the removing of the poor and destitute...Far West, Missouri, Jan. 29th, 1839," and was signed by both Alfred Lee and Stephen Jones, among others. [Latter Day Saints Millennial Star No. 46 Vol XVI Saturday, November 18, 1854, pp. 730-732; Google Books].
As the resolution was signed in Far West, it appears that Stephen Jones probably left Caldwell County mid-winter of 1839, traveling eastward across, and crossing the Mississippi River to Quincy, Illinois with the main body of the Saints.
Coincidentally, Quincy, Illinois was the city where Stephen's son, Moses, had purchased a lot and house; Moses and his family had been living in Quincy since before 1835. It is a probable assumption that Stephen would have been taken in by his son upon arriving in Quincy.


By February most of the emigrants crossed the Mississippi and arrived at Quincy, where they were offered aid and refuge.

In an undated petition to the Commissioner of Pensions, Stephen Jones requests a change of address to pick up his pension payment from St. Louis, Missouri to Quincy, Illinois, due the fact that he is "one of those People who have been lately compelled to leave the State of Missouri in conformity to an Order made by Governor Boggs, and is now a resident, in the City of Quincy, State of Illinois and has been at considerable trouble, loss of time, and much expense, by being obliged to go from Quincy to St. Louis to receive his last payment, in the Month of September last."

Pension payment records indicate Stephen Jones’ pension was paid in Missouri through September 1839.

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