Chapter 13: 1838 Haun's Mill Massacre, Part II
The foregoing statements are fully verified by the account given in the History of Caldwell and Livingston Counties, Missouri, with affidavits attached:-
"In the afternoon of October 30, 1838, the day the militia arrived at Far West, occurred what has since been generally known as 'the Haun's Mill Massacre.' Following is perhaps the first complete and correct account of this affair ever published.
"At Jacob Haun's mill, on the north bank of Shoal Creek, in the eastern part of the county in what is now Fairview Township (nw. 1/4 ne. 1/4, section 17-56-26), were besides the mill, a blacksmith shop and half a dozen or more houses, and perhaps twenty Mormon families. Some of these families were living in tents and covered wagons, having recently come into the country, or having lived elsewhere in the county had become alarmed at the aspect of affairs, and had come to the mill for safety. News that the militia of the State had been ordered to expel them had reached the Mormons, and following these tidings word was brought that a considerable number of men living in Livingston County, together with some from Daviess, had organized near Spring Hill, in Livingston County, and were preparing to attack them. A company of about thirty men, indifferently armed with shot guns and squirrel rifles, was organized, and David Evans, a Danite, was chosen captain. It was determined to defend the place.
"Learning that the force organizing against them numbered some hundreds, some of the older men among the Mormons urged that no resistance should be made, but that all should retreat to Far West. It seems that the Prophet had advised this, but nevertheless had given them permission to remain if they thought they could protect themselves.
"Others opposed retreating and the abandonment of their property to the 'mob of Gentiles,' and when an old man named Myers reminded them how few they were, and how many the Gentiles numbered, they declared that the Lord would send his angels to help them when the day of battle should come. Some of the women, too, urged the men to stand firm, and offered to mold bullets and prepare patching for the rifles if necessary.
"North of Haun's mill, a short distance, was a body of timber and brush, and north of this, towards where Breckenridge now stands, was a stretch of prairie for miles. For a day or two Captain Evans kept a picket post in the northern edge of the timber, but having entered into a truce with Captain Nehemiah Comstock, commanding one of the Livingston County companies, and no other enemy appearing, this post was withdrawn.
"This truce was effected by means of a messenger, who rode between Comstock and Evans, and its terms were that the Gentiles were to let the Mormons alone as long as they were peaceable, and vice versa. The Mormons agreed also to disband their military organization if the Gentiles would disband theirs, and this it is claimed was agreed to. But the Mormons heard that over in Livingston, directly east of them, another company of Gentiles, under Captain William Mann, was menacing them; and so they did not disband; for while they confided in Comstock's company, they had no confidence in Mann's, which for some time had been operating at and near Whitney's mill, on Shoal Creek (where Dawn now is), stopping Mormons on their way to Caldwell from the East, turning them back in some instances, taking their arms from them in others, etc. The Gentile force in Livingston County numbered about two hundred men, and was under the command of Colonel William O. Jennings, then the sheriff of that county. Three companies composed it, led by Captain Nehemiah Comstock, Thomas R. Bryan, and William Mann. It took the field in earnest about the 25th of October, and for a few days prior to the 30th was encamped about three miles northeast of Breckenridge, at least Comstock's company was. Perhaps Mann's was employed in the southern portion of the county until the 29th.
"Learning that the Mormons at Haun's mill had not disbanded, and yielding to the almost universal desire of his men, who were eager to seize upon any pretext for a fight, Colonel Jennings set out from his camp last-mentioned, after noon of the 30th of October, intending to attack and capture Haun's mill, and encamp there that night. The route lay via where Mooresville now stands, or between Mooresville and Breckenridge, and on across the prairie, and the march was made swiftly and without interruption.
"Within two miles of the mill Colonel Jennings left his wagons and two Mormon prisoners, captured some days before, in charge of a squad of men, of whom James Trosper, now of Breckenridge, was one, and pressed rapidly on. Entering the timber north of the town, Jennings' men passed through it unobserved right up to the borders of the hamlet. Captain Nehemiah Comstock's company had the advance.
"The Mormon leader, David Evans, had become apprehensive of an attack, and was about sending out scouts and pickets. It was arranged to use the blacksmith shop as a fort or blockhouse. This structure was of logs, with wide cracks between them, and had a large door. The greater portion of the Mormons were unsuspicious of imminent danger, and the women and children were scattered about. Nearly every house contained two or more families. There were two or three small houses on the south bank of the creek thus occupied. It was now about four o'clock in the afternoon of a warm and beautiful Indian summer day.
"Suddenly from out of the timber north of the mill the Livingston militia burst upon the hamlet. In a few seconds the air was filled with wild shouts and shots, and the fight was on. It can scarcely be called a fight. The Mormons were thrown into confusion and many of them ran wildly and aimlessly about. The women and children cried and screamed in excitement and terror, and the greater number, directed by the men, ran across the milldam to the south bank and sought shelter in the woods south of the creek. Perhaps half of the men, Evans among them, ran with their guns to the blacksmith shop and began to return the fire. Some were shot down in an effort to reach the shop or as they were trying to escape.
"The fire of the Mormons was for the most part wild and ineffective; that of the militia was accurate and deadly. The cracks between the logs of the shop were so large that it was easy to shoot through them, and so thickly were the Mormons huddled together on the inside that nearly every bullet that entered the shop killed or wounded a man. Firing was kept up all the while on the fleeing fugitives, many of whom were shot down.
"Seeing that he was placed at a decided disadvantage, Captain Evans gave orders to retreat, ordering every man to take care of himself. The door of the shop was thrown open and all the able-bodied survivors ran out, endeavoring to reach the wood. Some were shot before they got to shelter. Captain Evans was somewhat excited, and, as he afterwards related, ran all the way to Mud Creek with his gun loaded, not having fired it during the fight. The militia fired at the fugitives until they were out of range, but did not pursue them, as the few who escaped scattered in almost every direction.
"After the engagement was over and all the able-bodied male Mormons had been killed, wounded, or driven away, some of the militiamen began to 'loot' the houses and stables at the mill. A great deal of property was taken, much of it consisting of household articles and personal effects, but just how much cannot now be stated. The Mormons claim there was a general pillage and that in two or three instances the bodies of the slain were robbed. Some of the militia or their friends say only two or three wagons were taken, one to haul off the three wounded, and sufficient bedding to make their ride comfortable; but on the other hand two of those who were in a position to know say that the Mormon hamlet was pretty thoroughly rifled. One man carried away an empty ten gallon keg, which he carried before him on his saddle and beat as a drum. Another had a woman's bonnet, which he said was for his sweetheart. Perhaps a dozen horses were taken.
"Colonel Jennings did not remain at Haun's mill, in all, more than an hour or an hour and a half. Twilight approaching, he set out on his return to his former camp, for one reason fearing a rally and return of the Mormons with a large reinforcement, and doubtless desiring to reflect leisurely on his course of future operations.
"Reaching his camp near Woolsey's, northeast of Breckenridge, Colonel Jennings halted his battalion and prepared to pass the night. But a few hours later he imagined he heard cannon and a great tumult in the direction of Haun's mill, betokening the presence of a large Mormon force, and rousing up his men he broke camp, and moving rapidly eastward never halted until he had put the west fork of Grand River between him and his imaginary pursuers!
"From the records of the Mormon Church it seems that seventeen men of the Mormons were either killed outright or mortally wounded. Their names, as kindly furnished for this history by Rev. F. D. Richards, assistant historian and custodian of the church records at Salt Lake, are:-
|"Thos. McBride,||Alex. Campbell,||Hiram Abbott,|
|"Levi N. Merrick,||Geo. S. Richards,||John York,|
|"Elias Benner,||Wm. Napier,||John Lee,|
|"Josiah Fuller,||Augustine Harmer,||John Byers,|
|"Benj. Lewis,||Simon Cox,||Warren Smith,|
|"Sardius Smith, aged 10,||and Chas. Merrick, aged 9.|
"Esq. Thomas McBride was an old soldier of the Revolution. He was lying wounded and helpless, his gun by his side. A militiaman named Rogers came up to him and demanded it. 'Take it,' said McBride. Rogers picked up the weapon, and finding that it was loaded, deliberately discharged it into the old man's breast. He then cut and hacked the old veteran's body with a rude sword, or 'corn knife,' until it was frightfully mangled. William Reynolds, a Livingston County man, killed the little boy Sardius Smith, ten years of age. The lad had run into the blacksmith shop and crawled under the bellows for safety. Upon entering the shop the cruel militiaman discovered the cowering, trembling little fellow, and without even demanding his surrender fired upon and killed him, and afterwards boasted of the atrocious deed to Charles R. Ross and others. He described, with fiendish glee, how the boy struggled in his dying agony, and justified his savage and inhuman conduct in killing a mere child by saying, 'Nits will make lice, and if he had lived he would have become a Mormon.'
"Charlie Merrick, another little Mormon boy, was mortally wounded by another militiaman. He too was hiding under the bellows.
"The Mormons wounded, according to the Mormon records, numbered twelve, as follows:-
|"Isaac Laney,||Wm. Yokum,||Jacob Potts,|
|"Nathan K. Knight,||Tarlton Lewis,||Chas. Jimison,|
|"Jacob Myers,||Jacob Haun,||John Walker,|
|"George Myers,||Jacob Foutz,||A1ma Smith, aged 7.|
"A young Mormon woman, Miss Mary Stedwell, was shot through the hand, as she was running to the woods. Doubtless this shooting was accidental.
"The militia, or Jennings' men, had but three men wounded, and none killed. John Renfrow, now living in Ray County, had a thumb shot off. Allen England, a Daviess County man, was severely wounded in the thigh, and the other wounded man was named Hart.
"Dies irœ! What a woeful day this had been to Haun's Mill What a pitiful scene was there when the militia rode away upon the conclusion of their bloody work! The wounded men had been given no attention, and the bodies of the slain were left to fester and putrefy in the Indian summer temperature, warm and mellowing. The widows and orphans of the dead came timidly and warily forth from their hiding places as soon as the troops left, and as they recognized one a husband, another a father, another a son, another a brother among the bloody corpses, the wailings of grief and terror that went up were pitiful and agonizing. All that night they were alone with their dead. A return visit of Jennings' men to complete the work of 'extermination' had been threatened and was expected. Verily the experience of the poor survivors of the Haun's Mill affair was terrible; no wonder that they long remembered it.
"The next morning the bodies had changed, and were changing fast. They must be buried. There were not enough men in the place to dig graves, and it could not be determined when relief would come. There was a large unfinished well at the place, and the bodies were gathered up, the women assisting, and borne, one at a time, all gory and ghastly, to this well and slid in from a large plank. All of the corpses were disposed of in this way; then some hay or straw was strewn over the ghastly piles and then a thin layer of dirt thrown on the hay.
"Soon after the burial was over, the same day, Comstock's company was sent back to give the dead a decent sepulture. Seeing what had been done already, they rode away, glad to be relieved from the job. The next February Mr. Charles R. Ross moved into the house and occupied the property to which the well belonged. Soon after his arrival some warm days came, and an offensive smell arose from the well. Mr. Ross at once set to work and filled up the loathsome sepulcher, even making a good sized mound over it. In time this mound was leveled, and now it is almost impossible to fix the exact location of the pit.
"Whatever of merit there was in the attack on Haun's Mill, and whatever of glory attaches to the famous victory, must be given to Colonel William O. Jennings mainly. He made the attack on his own responsibility, without orders from Governor Boggs, or any other superior authority, although the Governor afterwards approved what was done. True, Jennings' subordinates must be given their share, in proportion to the part they bore, but Colonel Jennings stands among them all as a Saul among his fellows, the Ajax Telamon of the contest, the Hector of the fight!
"It is but proper that both sides of the story of the affair at Haun's Mill-fight, skirmish, massacre, or butchery, whatever it was-should be given. The best Mormon account extant is embodied in an affidavit of Joseph Young, a brother of Brigham Young, made at Quincy, Illinois, the June following the occurrence. This affidavit, much of which is undoubtedly true, is yet among the Mormon records, and a copy has been furnished for use in this history by F. D. Richards, the Mormon custodian of records. Following is the copy:-
Joseph Young account
"'SWORN STATEMENT OF JOSEPH W. YOUNG.
"'On the 6th day of July last I started with my family from Kirtland, Ohio, for the State of Missouri, the county of Caldwell, in the upper part of the State, being the place of my destination. On the thirteenth day of October I crossed the Mississippi at Louisiana, at which place I heard vague reports of the disturbances in the upper country, but nothing that could be relied upon.
"'I continued my course westward till I crossed Grand River, at a place called Compton's Ferry, at which place I heard, for the first time, that if I proceeded any further on my journey I would be in danger of being stopped by a body of armed men. I was not willing, however, while treading my native soil and breathing republican air, to abandon my object, which was to locate myself and family in a fine healthy country, where we could enjoy the society of our friends and connections. Consequently I prosecuted my journey till I came to Whitney's Mills, situated on Shoal Creek, in the eastern part of Caldwell County. [Southwestern part of Livingston.-Compiler.]
"'After crossing the creek and going about three miles, we met a party of the mob, about forty in number, armed with rifles, and mounted on horses, who informed us that we could go no farther west, threatening us with instant death if we proceeded any farther. I asked them the reason of this prohibition; to which they replied that we were "Mormons;" that every one who adhered to our religious faith would have to leave the State in ten days or renounce their religion. Accordingly they drove us back to the mills above-mentioned. Here we tarried three days, and on Friday, the 26th, we recrossed the creek, and following up its banks we succeeded in eluding the mob for the time being, and gained the residence of a friend in Myers' settlement.
"'On Sunday, the 28th of October, we arrived about twelve o'clock at Haun's Mill, where we found a number of our friends collected together, who were holding a council and deliberating upon the best course for them to pursue to defend themselves against the mob, who were collecting in the neighborhood under the command of Colonel Jennings, of Livingston, and threatening them with house burning and killing. The decision of the council was that our friends should place themselves in an attitude of self-defense. Accordingly 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 upon them.
"'The same evening, for some reason best known to themselves, the mob sent one of their number to enter into a treaty with our friends, which was accepted, on the condition of mutual forbearance on both sides, and that each party, as far as their influence extended, should exert themselves to prevent any further hostilities upon either party. At this time, however, there was another mob collecting on Grand River, at William Mann's, who were threatening us, consequently we remained under arms.
"'Monday passed away without molestation from any quarter. On Tuesday, the 30th, that bloody tragedy was acted, the scenes of which I shall never forget. More than three fourths of the day had passed in tranquillity, as smiling as the preceding one. I think there was no individual of our company that was apprised of the sudden and awful fate that hung over our heads like an overwhelming torrent, which was to change the prospect, the feelings and circumstances of about thirty families. The banks of Shoal Creek on either side teemed with children sporting and playing, while their mothers were engaged in domestic employments, and their fathers employed in guarding the mills and other property, while others were engaged in gathering in their crops for the winter consumption. The weather was very pleasant, the sun shone clear, all was tranquil, and no one expressed any apprehension of the awful crisis that was near us-even at our doors.
"'It was about four o'clock, while sitting in my cabin with my babe in my arms, and my wife standing by my side, the door being open, I cast my eyes on the opposite bank of Shoal Creek, and saw a large company of armed men on horses, directing their course towards the mills with all possible speed. As they advanced through the scattering trees that stood on the edge of the prairie they seemed to form themselves into a three square position, forming a vanguard in front.
"At this moment, David Evans, seeing the superiority of their numbers (there being two hundred and forty of them according to their own account), swung his hat and cried for "peace." This not being heard, they continued to advance, and their leader, Mr. Nehemiah Comstock, fired a gun, which was followed by a solemn pause of ten or twelve seconds, when all at once, they discharged about one hundred rifles, aiming at a blacksmith's shop into which our friends had fled for safety; and charged up to the shop, the cracks of which between the logs were sufficiently large to enable them to aim directly at the bodies of those who had there fled for refuge from the fire of their murderers. There were several families tented in rear of the shop, whose lives were exposed, and who amidst a shower of bullets fled to the woods in different directions.
"'After standing and gazing on this bloody scene for a few minutes, and finding myself in the uttermost danger, the bullets having reached the house where I was living, I committed my family to the protection of heaven, and leaving the house on the opposite side I took a path which led up the hill, following in the trail of three of my brethren that had fled from the shop. While ascending the hill we were discovered by the mob, who immediately fired at us, and continued so to do till we reached the summit. In descending the hill I secreted myself in a thicket of bushes, where I lay till eight o'clock in the evening, at which time I heard a female voice calling my name in an undertone, telling me that the mob was gone and there was no danger. I immediately left the thicket and went to the house of Benjamin Lewis, where I found my family (who had fled there) in safety, and two of my friends mortally wounded, one of whom died before morning. Here we passed the painful night in deep and awful reflections on the scenes of the preceding evening.
"After daylight appeared some four or five men, with myself, who had escaped with our lives from the horrible massacre, repaired as soon as possible to the mills to learn the condition of our friends, whose fate we had too truly anticipated. When we arrived at the house of Mr. Haun we found Mr. Merrick's body lying in rear of the house. Mr. McBride's in front was literally mangled from head to foot. We were informed by Miss Rebecca Judd, who was an eyewitness, that he was shot with his own gun after he had given it up, and then cut to pieces with a corn cutter by a Mr. Rogers, of Daviess County, who keeps a ferry on Grand River, and who has since repeatedly boasted of this act of savage barbarity. Mr. York's body we found in the house, and after viewing these corpses we immediately went to the blacksmith's shop, where we found nine of our friends, eight of whom were already dead, the other, Mr. Cox, of Indiana, struggling in the agonies of death, who expired. We immediately prepared and carried them to the place of interment. This last office of kindness, due to the relics of departed friends, was not attended with the customary ceremonies or decency, for we were in jeopardy every moment, expecting to be fired upon by the mob, who we supposed were lying in ambush waiting for the first opportunity to dispatch the remaining few who were providentially preserved from the slaughter of the preceding day. However, we accomplished without molestation this painful task. 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. Among those slain I will mention Sardius Smith, son of Warren Smith, about twelve years old, who through fear had crawled under the bellows in the shop, where he remained till the massacre was over, when he was discovered by a Mr. Glaze, of Carroll County, who presented his rifle near the boy's head and literally blowed off the upper part of it. Mr. Stanley, of Carroll, told me afterwards that Glaze boasted of this fiend-like murder and heroic deed all over the country.
"The number killed and mortally wounded in this wanton slaughter was eighteen or nineteen. . . .
"Miss Mary Stedwell, while fleeing, was shot through the hand, and, fainting, fell over a log, into which they shot upwards of twenty balls.
"To finish their work of destruction this band of murderers, composed of men from Daviess, Livingston, Ray, Carroll, and Chariton counties, led by some of the principal men of that section of the upper country (among whom, I am informed, were Mr. Ashley, of Chariton, member of the State Legislature, Colonel Jennings, of Livingston County, Thomas R. Bryan, clerk of Livingston County, Mr. Whitney, Dr. Randall, and many others), proceeded to rob the houses, wagons, and tents of bedding and clothing, drove off horses and wagons, leaving widows and orphans destitute of the necessaries of life, and even stripped the clothing from the bodies of the slain. According to their own account they fired seven rounds in this awful butchery, making upwards of one thousand six hundred shots at a little company of men about thirty in number.
"I hereby certify the above to be a true statement of facts, according to the best of my knowledge.
"Subscribed and sworn to by Joseph Young, June 4,1839, before C. M. Woods, clerk of the circuit court of Adams County, Illinois, at Quincy, in said county.
Amanda Smith account
Let us now hear the story as told by Mrs. Amanda Smith, whose husband, Warren Smith, and little ten year old son, Sardius Smith, both perished in the massacre. page 248
"'To whom this may concern:-I do hereby certify that my husband, Warren Smith, in company with several other families, were moving from Ohio to Missouri. We came to Caldwell County. Whilst we were traveling, minding our own business, we were stopped by a mob; they told us that if we went another step they would kill us all. They took our guns from us (as [we] were going into a new country, we took guns along with us); they took us back five miles, placed a guard around us, there kept us three days and let us go.
"'I thought: Is this our boasted land of liberty? For some said we must deny our faith, or they would kill us; others said we should die at any rate. The names of this mob, or the heads, were Thomas R. Bryan, county clerk, Jefferson Bryan, William Ewell, and James Austin, all of Livingston County. After they let us go we traveled ten miles, came to a small town composed of one grist mill, one saw mill, and eight or ten houses belonging to our brethren; there we stopped for the night.
"'A little before sunset a mob of three hundred came upon us. The men hallooed for the women and children to run for the woods; and they ran into an old blacksmith shop, for they feared if we all ran together they would rush upon us and kill the women and children. The mob fired before we had time to start from our camp. Our men took off their hats and swung them and cried "quarter" until they were shot. The mob paid no attention to their cries nor entreaties, but fired incessantly.
"I took my little girls-my boys I could not find-and started for the woods. The mob encircled us on all sides but the brook. I ran down the bank, across the mill pond on a plank, up the hill into the bushes. The bullets whistled all the way like hail, and cut down the bushes on all sides of us. One girl was wounded by my side and fell over a log, and her clothes hung across the log; and they shot at them, expecting they were hitting her; and our people afterwards cut out of that log twenty bullets.
"'I sat down to witness the dreadful scene. When they had done firing they began to howl, and one would have thought that all the infernals had come from the lower region. They plundered the principal part of our goods, took our horses and wagons, and ran off howling like demons.
"'I came down to witness the awful scene. Oh horrible! what a sight! My husband, and one son ten years old, lifeless upon the ground, and one son seven years old wounded very bad; the ground covered with the dead. These little boys crept under the bellows in the shop; one little boy ten years old had three wounds in him; he lived five weeks and died; he was not mine.
"'Realize for a moment the scene:-It was sunset; nothing but horror and distress; the dogs, filled with rage, howling over their dead masters; the cattle caught the scent of innocent blood, and bellowed; a dozen helpless widows, thirty or forty fatherless children, screaming and groaning for the loss of their fathers and husbands; the groans of the wounded and dying-all these were enough to have melted the heart of anything but a Missouri mob.
"'There were fifteen dead and ten wounded; two died the next day. There were no men, or not enough to bury the dead; so they were thrown into a dry well and covered with dirt. The next day the mob came back. They told us we must leave the State forthwith or be killed. It was cold weather and they had our teams and clothes; our men all dead or wounded. I told them they might kill me and my children and welcome. They sent to us from time to time if we did not leave the State they would come and kill us. We had little prayer meetings. They said if we did not stop them they would kill every man, woman, and child. We had spelling schools for our little children; they said if we did not stop them they would kill every man, woman, and child. We did our own milking, got our own wood; no man to help us.
"'I started the 1st of February for Illinois without money (mob all the way), drove our own team, slept out of doors. I had five small children; we suffered hunger, fatigue, and cold; for what? For our religion; where in a boasted land of liberty "deny your faith or die" was the cry.
"'I will mention some of the names of the heads of the mob: Two brothers by the name of Comstock, William Mann, Benjamin Ashley, Robert White, one by the name of Rogers, who took an old scythe and cut an old white-headed man all to pieces.
"'I wish further also to state that when the mob came there (as I was told by one of them afterwards), their intention was to kill everything belonging to us that had life; and that after our men were shot down by them they went around and shot all the dead men over again, to make sure of their lives.
"'I now leave it with this honorable government to say what my damages may be, or what they would be willing to see their wives and children slaughtered for, as I have seen my husband, son, and others.
"'I lost in property by the mob-to goods stolen, $50; one pocketbook and $50 cash, bank notes; damage of horses and team, $100; one gun, $10; in short, my all. Whole damages are more than the whole State of Missouri is worth.
"'Written by my own hand, this 18th day of April, 1839.
"'Quincy, Adams County, Illinois.'
Hyrum Smith account
"'Hyrum Smith, the brother of the 'prophet,' in his 'statement' on record in the archives of the church at Salt Lake makes the following reference to the affair at Haun's Mill:-
"'Immediately after this there came into the city a messenger from Haun's Mill, bringing the intelligence of an awful massacre of the people who were residing in that place, and that a force of two hundred or three hundred detached from the main body of the army, under the superior command of Captain Nehemiah Comstock, who, the day previous, had promised them peace and protection, but on receiving a copy of the Governor's order to exterminate or to expel, from the hands of Colonel Ashley, he returned upon them the following day and surprised and massacred the whole population, and then came on to the town of Far West and entered into conjunction with the main body of the army. The messenger informed us that he himself with a few others fled into the thickets, which preserved them from massacre, and on the following morning returned and collected the dead bodies of the people and cast them into a well. There were upwards of twenty (?) who were dead or mortally wounded. One of the name of Yocum has lately had his leg amputated in consequence of wounds he then received. He had a ball shot through his head, which entered near his eye and came out the back part of his head, and another ball passed through one of his arms.'
Nthan Knight account
"Extracts from a statement of Nathan K. Knight.
"'. . . We traveled through the lower part of Missouri without any difficulty, the people treating us kindly and advising us to leave the main road, as mobs were collecting on it. We traveled on byroads and came out at Compton's Ferry, on one fork of Grand River, where we camped. Next day we traveled across a prairie of thirty miles without inhabitants, and arrived at Whitney's mill, on Shoal Creek, Livingston County, Missouri. We crossed over the mill pond next morning in a flat boat and started across to Caldwell County, a distance of fourteen miles. When we were about two miles out we met a party of sixty men, armed and mounted, led by Thomas Bryan, who compelled us to give up our arms and return to Whitney's mill, where we remained a week. . . . While they were drunk and asleep one afternoon we hitched up, recrossed the mill pond, told the women living there that we were going back out of the State, and took the back track for two miles, where we halted a few minutes and requested Elder Joseph Young to take the lead of the company, which now numbered eleven wagons and families. He objected, but appointed Bro. Levi Merrick to take charge. We started on, leaving the main road and taking a dividing ridge without any track and traveled on that afternoon and night and halted just before daybreak to bury a son of mine, sixteen years old, who had just died. . . . The next day Bro. Walker's son-in-law [of Caldwell County] piloted us to Haun's mill, where we arrived in the afternoon, found a number of brethren waiting to get grinding done. We remained until next morning, and, as we had been on short rations for a number of days, we purchased some grain, and, as we could not get it ground until late in the day, we concluded to wait till next morning.
"'About thirty minutes past three o'clock p. m. that day (October 30) Bro. David Evans, Father Myers, and another brother returned from an appointed meeting with the mob, who agreed in writing to let the saints alone if the saints would let them alone. Bro. Evans said he did not feel like the mob intended to keep their word, and advised the brethren to keep out a double guard, and while he was organizing it and within half an hour after his return his fears were confirmed. . . . I had just finished eating. I caught my gun and hung my powder horn over my neck, when the buckskin string was cut by a ball fired by their leader, which also passed through my vest pocket, taking out my pocket knife. . . . The women and children were so terrified that some of them would run in front of the mob's guns and cry, "Murder! Murder!" . . . As one man was running to help cut him [Esq. McBride] down, swearing as he went, I fired my gun the first time. The ball passed through one hip and lodged in the other. He was always a cripple afterwards. . . . Two men had Bro. Warren Smith stripped of his coat, hat, and boots, and were dragging him around after he was dead and kicking him.... The first wound I received was in the finger of my right hand. The next in my left leg, and the next in my body, the ball entering just above the small of my back and lodging just below the pit of my stomach. The last shot brought me to my hands and knees. I recovered myself and tried to escape. . . . I made out to get three quarters of a mile farther through timber and brush, and secreted myself in some fallen tree tops. . . . I remained about three quarters of an hour. A little after sunset I saw Sister Polly Wood (formerly Miss Polly Merrill). I motioned for her to come to me. I could not call her, neither could I stand up. She came and tried to lead me back, but I was too weak. She then kneeled down and placed her hands on my wounds and prayed the Lord to strengthen and heal me. I never heard a more powerful prayer. The Lord answered her prayer, and I received strength and walked back to Haun's house by resting three or four times. . . . The mob were all gone and had taken with them all our horses, wagons, cows, and all of our property of every description, both belonging to our camp and the settlement, which numbered a half dozen houses or more. Bro. Haun's house escaped their ravages, but his horses were taken from the stable. I had nothing left but a small trunk; the contents were gone excepting a bottle of consecrated oil, which they had left on the ground. Sister Haun and my wife passed the night in dressing the wounds and making comfortable, as far as possible, the wounded and dying. Their groans and shrieks made the night hideous and horrible beyond description, and the women were the only ones to administer comfort during that night of desolation and suffering; I prevailed on them to sing "Moroni's Lamentation," contained in our hymn book. . . .
"'A few days after the massacre the mob returned to the mill and ground up all the brethren's grain in that region of country. They numbered about one hundred and remained about a month, killing hogs, robbing bee stands and hen houses. I and my family suffered much for food. At the end of six weeks I began to get around a little, and was again fired upon by a mob of fourteen. I escaped into the woods unhurt. . . .
"'About the first of February I and three or four of the brethren left for Illinois, locating near Lima. The next fall I gathered with the saints at Nauvoo. In September, 1842, my wife died from injuries and hardships received and endured at Haun's mill, and during the Missouri persecution.
"'Nathan Kinsman Knight.'"
-History of Caldwell and Livingston Counties, Missouri, pp. l45-l58.