The John Taylor Papers, by Samuel W. & Raymond W. Taylor Volume I, The Apostle

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By the time Taylor's wagon company arrived in Missouri, the society

had been driven from Jackson County. The Saints sought refuge in Clay

County. Then, after three years, they had been "invited" to go elsewhere,

because they didn't amalgamate with the Missouri citizenry. Taylor

arrived at DeWitt, and described conditions there:

A number of our brethren who had located themselves and bought property

on the banks of the Missouri [27] River, in Carroll County, were threatened

with extermination by the mob if they would not, evacuate that place and leave

the county . . . .

At the appointed time the mob came, amounting to upwards of a hundred,

with the Rev. Sashiel Woods and Abbott Hancock, two Presbyterian Priests, at

their head in company with the sheriff . . . .

The activities of rival ministers as leaders of mob action was

convincing evidence that the basic issue was religious persecution.

This was the first mob I had ever seen, and the whole affair was new to

me, especially when I considered the kind of officers they had. I had

heretofore looked upon gospel ministers as messengers of peace; here they came

not only in a warlike capacity, but as leaders of an armed moba gang of

marauders and freebooterswith the avowed object of driving peaceful

citizensmen, women and childrenfrom their homes.

Taylor carried no weapons, and was incapacitated by an accident: he

had fallen under the wheels of his wagon and was severely bruised.

I had no arms, and heretofore considered that I needed none in a

Christian, civilized land; but I found I had been laboring under a mistake . .

. . I therefore threw off the sling and bandages from my lame arm, suppressed

my repugnance to fighting, borrowed a gun, bought a brace of pistols, and

prepared myself at least for defensive measures. (5)

When met by determined resistance, the mob at DeWitt dispersed,

after warning the Saints to leave the place within ten days or face

extermination. Taylor went on to Far [28] West, where he joined the

prophet and other brethren, including Parley Pratt.

On one occasion, when some thirtyfive hundred of the mob forces were

approaching Far West, our officer, Colonel Hinkle, sought to betray us, and as

a preliminary step, ordered us to retreat.

"Retreat!" exclaimed Joseph Smith. "Why, where in the name of God shall

we go?" Then turning to our men he said, "Boys, follow me." About two hundred

men went out on the open prairie to meet the thirtyfive hundred. While these

forces faced each other, a flag of truce came in from the mob. The person

bearing it said that some of their friends were among our people, for whose

safety they felt anxious. I rather think it was a case in which the wife was

in the Church but not the husband, and the mob wished these parties to come

out. . . . as they were going to destroy every man, woman and child in the


But these folks had a little "sand" in them . . . . They sent word back

that if that was the case, they would die with their friends.

Joseph Smith, our leader, then sent word back by this messenger. Said he,

"Tell your general to withdraw his troops or I will send them to hell." I

thought that was a pretty bold stand to take, as we only numbered about two

hundred to their thirtyfive hundred. . . . But they took the hint and left.


The betrayal of two Apostles, Thomas B. Marsh, president of the

Twelve, and Orson Hyde, did enormous damage to the Mormon cause at this

critical time. "It was a horrible affair," Taylor said, "as I look at



"They have among them a company, considered true Mormons, called the

Danites, who have taken an oath to [29] support the heads 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 and

destroying, and that if the people of Buncombe came to do mischief upon the

people of Caldwell, and committed depredations upon the Mormons, they were to

burn Buncombe; and if the people of Clay and Ray made any movement

against them, this destroying company were to burn Liberty and Richmond.

"The plan of said Smith, the Prophet, is to take this state; and he

professes to his people to intend taking the United States, and ultimately the

whole world. This is the belief of the Church, and in my own opinion of the

Prophet's plans and intentions. The Prophet inculcates the notion, and it is

believed by every true Mormon, that Smith's prophecies are superior to the

laws of the land. I have heard the Prophet say that he would yet tread down

his enemies, and walk over their dead bodies; that if he was not let alone, he

would be a second Mohammed to this generation, and that he would make it one

gore of blood from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean; that like

Mohammed, whose motto in treating for peace was `The Alcoran or the Sword,' so

should it be eventually with us, `Joseph Smith or the Sword.' . . .

"Thomas B. Marsh. . . .


"The most of the statements in the foregoing disclosure I know to be

true; the remainder I believe to be true.

"Orson Hyde

Richmond, Missouri

October 24, 1838." (7)

[30] I will here state that I was in Far West at the time these affidavits

were made, and was mixed up with all prominent church affairs. I was there

when Thomas B. Marsh and Orson Hyde left there . . . and I know that these

things referred to in the affidavits are not true. . . .Thomas B. Marsh was

unquestionably "instigated by the devil" when he made this statement. . . .

I remember a circumstance that occurred. A number of us had been out to a

place called DiAhmanits proper name was AdamOndiAhman. In coming into Far

West, I heard about him and Orson Hyde having left. It would be here proper to

state, however, that Orson Hyde had been sick with a violent fever for some

time, and had not yet fully recovered therefrom, which, with the circumstances

with which we were surrounded and the influence of Thomas B. Marsh, may be

offered as a slight palliation for his default.

Brother Heber C. Kimball and I were together, and I said to him, "I have

a notion to take a team and follow after these brethren, and see if I cannot

persuade them to come back."

Speaking particularly of Brother Marsh, "Well," said he, "if you knew him

as well as I do, you would know that if he had made up his mind to go, you

could not turn him."

Betrayal, to John Taylor, was "truly infamous," a "shocking course

for a man to pursue." Regarding this, he received counsel from Joseph

Smith that became his guideline to the day of his death:

I am here reminded of the words of Joseph in exhorting the Twelve. He


"O ye Twelve, and all Saints, profit by this important key, that in all

your trials, troubles, and temptations, afflictions, bonds, imprisonment and

death, see to it that [31] you do not betray heaven, that you do not betray

Jesus Christ, that you do not betray your brethren . . . . Yes, in all your

kicking and floundering, see to it that . . . whatever you do, do not betray

your friends."

After Governor Boggs issued his order for the militia to expel or

exterminate the Mormons in Missouri, a number of prominent brethren were

delivered as hostages to General Lucas of the militia. The prisoners

included Joseph Smith, his brother, Hyrum, Sidney Rigdon, Parley Pratt,

and others.

We were next called to give up our arms. This we as readily complied

with. We then expected to be protected by that authority, but in vain; for

while we were thus deprived of our arms . . . the mob, which had been in our

neighborhood previous to the arrival of the militia, joined their ranks and

became part and parcel of their number . . . .

Several of the houses of our brethren were robbed by them of their

blankets, wearing apparel, money, etc.; a great number of horses and some

wagons were stolen; one man had upwards of three hundred dollars in specie

taken . . . . Our cornfields in the vicinity of Far West were laid waste,

cattle were killed in great numbers, the best parts of them taken and the

remainder left to rot on the ground. Hogs and sheep in many instances were

shot for amusement, and left lying for dogs, hogs, or birds of prey to feed

upon. . . .

A number of these wicked men combined together and perpetrated personal

violence too disgraceful to insert in this paper, upon two defenseless women.

Many other outrages were committed by these troops under command of Gen.

Lucas, while we were prisoners under a strong guard . . . with little else in

general than boiled corn to live upon . . . .

[32] In the meanwhile, we were called together and presented with a deed of

trust, by signing of which we were forced to make over all our properties to

pay the expenses, etc., of the war. This we were obliged to do at the point of

the bayonet. . . .

General Clark having arrived, a committee of our people convened for the

purpose of soliciting an interview with him. We sent a note to him to that

effect. (8)

"Far West, Nov. 4, 1838

To Major General Clark

Commander of the Military

Forces of Mo. 

Sir: The peculiar situation that we as a people are placed in consequence of

the circumstances that have recently transpired, render it very desirable that

something should be done for the amelioration of our condition and the redress

of certain grievances that have been practiced and do exist. A few of the

citizens of Far West have conferred on the propriety of appointing a committee

and have appointed one for the purpose of conferring with you and putting you

in possession of information which owing to your recent arrival in this place,

you are probably unacquainted with.

Should you, sir, deem it expedient to comply with our requisition, we

will wait upon you at any time or place mentioned by you. You will oblige us

by returning an answer by the bearer.

Written in behalf of the Committee by your most obedient and humble


John Taylor" (9)

We obtained for answer that he would be in Far West in the morning; but

we did not obtain an interview . . . .

[33] At length we were called together at his command; upwards of fifty

prisoners taken from amongst us, and then had the following speech delivered

to us by the General:

"GentlemenYou whose names are not attached to this list of names, will

now have the privilege of going to your fields, and of providing corn, wood,

etc., for your families. Those that are now taken will go from this to

prison, be tried, and receive the due demerit of their crimes . . . .

"It now devolves upon you to fulfill the treaty that you have entered

into, the leading items of which I shall now lay before you:

"The first requires that your leading men be given up to be tried

according to law; this you have already complied with.

"The second is that you deliver up your arms; this has been attended to.

"The third stipulation is that you sign over your properties to defray

the expenses of the war; this you have already done.

"Another article yet remains for you to comply with, and that is that you

leave the state forthwith; and whatever may be your feelings concerning this,

or whatever your innocence, it is nothing to me. General Lucas, who is equal

in authority with me, has made this treaty with youI approve of itI should

have done the same had I been hereI am therefore determined to see it

fulfilled. The character of this state has suffered almost beyond redemption

from the character, conduct and influence that you have exerted, and we deem

it an act of justice to restore her character to its former standing among the

states, by every proper means.

[34] "The orders of the governor to me were, that you should be exterminated,

and not allowed to remain in the state, and had your leaders not been given

up, and the terms of the treaty complied with, before this you and your

families would have been destroyed and your houses in ashes . . . .

"You must not think of staying here another season, or of putting in

crops, for the moment you do this the citizens will be upon you. If I am

called here again, in case of noncompliance of a treaty made, do not think

that I shall act any more as I have doneyou need not expect any mercy, but

extermination . . . .

"As for your leaders, do not once thinkdo not imagine for a momentdo

not let it enter your mindthat they will be delivered, or that you will see

their faces again, for their fate is fixedtheir die is casttheir doom

is sealed.

"I am sorry, gentlemen, to see so great a number of apparently

intelligent men found in the situation that you are; and, oh! that I could

invoke that Great Spirit, the unknown God, to rest upon you, and make you

sufficiently intelligent to break that chain of superstition, and liberate you

from those fetters of fanaticism with which you are boundthat you no longer

worship a man.

"I would advise you to scatter abroad, and never again organize

yourselves with Bishops, Presidents, etc., lest you excite the jealousies of

the people, and subject yourselves to the same calamities that have now come

upon you.

"You have always been the aggressorsyou have brought upon yourselves

these difficulties by being disaffected and not being subject to ruleand my

advice is, that you become as other citizens, lest by a recurrence of these

events you bring upon yourselves irretrievable ruin."

[35] Taylor concluded his Short Account with sardonic thanks to the

general for his tender mercies.

Brigham Young led the Saints across the State of Missouri to refuge

in Illinois during midwinter. John Taylor was coordinator between the

Mormon people and the Missouri militia. Of this period, Taylor said:

My heart recoils when I reflect upon the scenes we then passed through.

Our beloved brother P. P. Pratt was in prison at that time, as also were our

dear brethren, Joseph Smith, Jr., Hyrum Smith, and many others. I have

witnessed thousands of our brethren and sisters, together with their helpless

offspring, driven from their homes during the inclement season of an American

winter, robbed of their all, and wandering as fugitives, wending their way to

a strange land, houseless, homeless, and friendless, except what friendship

they experienced from the hands of the people of the state of Illinois,

pitching their tents by the way, or laying under the canopy of heaven, until

with fatigue and cold, and privations, many of them sickened and died. (10)

With the Saints driven from Missouri, what should be done about the

revelation that the Twelve should "take leave of my Saints from the city

of Far West, on the 26th of April next," and go to England?

Under these circumstances, with our families most of them more or less

afflicted, our brethren expelled from the state, our prophet and many of the

brethren in prison at a distance of 200 miles from where we were directed to

start by revelationand that starting place, and the way to it, also, in the

midst of our enemies, where most of the people through whom we had to travel,

if they had known us, would as soon have shot us as they would a dog, our

enemies boasting that this prophecy would never [36] receive its

accomplishmentyet in the midst of these things, we knew that the word of the

Lord could not be broken . . . .

We started, while many of our brethren trembled for our safety, and

arrived at Far West unknown to our enemies. It was early morning when we rode

into the square, but beautifully clear and moonlit. All seemed still as death,

except for the noise that was made by the trampling of our horses and the

rumbling of our wagons, for we had met with some of our other brethren who had

just got out of prison, who accompanied us to the place.... There were about

thirty of us rode into Far West . . . . But it seemed as though a deep sleep

had fallen upon , for although we rode into the place right among

the houses, with a number of horses and two fourwheeled carriages, we were

not observed.

We held a conference on the foundation of the house of the Lord, which

was surrounded by houses at not above 100 yards distance all round; we rolled

a stone up to the foundation, and laid it; this was upwards of a ton weight .

. . .

The following of the Twelve were presentBrigham Young, Heber C.

Kimball, Orson Pratt, John E. Page, and John Taylor, who proceeded to ordain

Wilford Woodruff and George A. Smith . . . to the office of the Twelve, to

fill the places of those who had fallen. Darwin Chase and Norman Shearer (who

had just been liberated from Richmond prison, where they had been confined for

the cause of Jesus Christ) were ordained to the office of the Seventies . . .


We wandered among our deserted houses, and saw the streets in many places

grown over with grass, and many of our houses in ruins. We then took our leave

of the Saints according to I the word of the Lord . . . . That day we rode

thirty miles. (11)

[37] The Apostles returned to Illinois from Far West, to make final

preparations for embarking on the mission call. On arriving at Quincy,

Illinois, Taylor was thrilled to greet Joseph Smith and his companions

who had escaped the jail at Liberty, Missouri.

Though the refugee Saints had been welcomed into Illinois only a

short while previously, already friction was arising between them and

their new neighbors. At the prophet's suggestion, Taylor wrote the Quincy

Argus, 1 May 1839: "Sir: In consequence of so great an influx of

strangers arriving in this place daily, owing to their late expulsion

from the State of Missouri, there must of necessity be . . . many

individuals . . . who never did belong to our Church, and others who once

did but who for various reasons have been expelled from our fellowship .

. . .

"We wish further to state that we feel ourselves laid under peculiar

obligations to the citizens of this place for . . . the hand of liberality and

fellowship which had been extended to us in our late difficulties; and should

feel sorry to see that philanthropy and benevolence abused by wicked and

designing peoplewho under pretense of poverty and distress should try to

work upon the feelings of the charitable and humane, get into their debt

without any prospect or intention of payingand finally, perhaps, we as a

people be charged with dishonesty. We say that we altogether disapprove of

such practices, and we warn the citizens of Quincy against such individuals,

who may pretend to belong to our community."

In Illinois, the Saints gathered at a bend of the Mississippi, on

the site of the hamlet of Commerce, which they named Nauvoo. Some settled

across the river at the abandoned army barracks of Montrose, Iowa.

[38] We found many of the Saints severely afflicted with fevers, ague, and

other diseases, in consequence of the many privations, fatigue, cold and

hardships that they had endured. Our families shared more or less in this

affliction, and we ourselves were taken sick . . . . In Nauvoo many were in a

wretched condition, living in poor tents;. and many, almost shelterless,

drooped; sickened and died.

Joseph Smith, who had obtained a comfortable house in Commerce, or

Nauvoo, left it with his family, and moved into tents, leaving his house for

the sick to occupy. I, as a great boon, with some others had the privilege of

occupying a room in a miserable, old log barrack . Here I parted

from my family to continue on my mission to England. Most of the Twelve were

sick, and a more dilapidated set of men could scarcely be found.

I left Montrose, Lee County, Iowa, August 8th, 1839, having previously

dedicated my wife and family to the care of the Lord and blessed them in His

name. The thoughts of the hardships they had just endured, the uncertainty of

their continuing even in the house they were in, the prevalence of

diseasemore than one half of the Saints being afflicted with bilious fever,

there not being a sufficient number well to wait upon the sickthe poverty of

the brethren, their insecurity from mobs, together with the uncertainty of

what might happen during my absence, produced feelings of no ordinary kind; .

. . but the thought of going forth at the command of the God of Israel to

revisit my native land, unfold the principles of eternal truth, and make known

the things that God had developed for the salvation of the world, overcame

every other consideration. (12)

[39] (1) This call was for the second mission to England.

(2) Succession in the Priesthood. 7 October 1881.

(3) JD, 9 Nov. 1881.

(4) Short Account.

(5) Short Account.

(6) JD, 5 March 1882.

(7) Succession in the Priesthood.

Orson Hyde repented of his betrayal and was taken back into the

Quorum. Years later, Thomas B. Marsh came to Utah, broken in health,

declaring himself a living example of the fruits of apostacy.

(8) Short Account.

(9) Authors' collection, "John Taylor Letters, 18381887."

(10) MS, 10 May 1841.

(11) Ibid; also Report of Far West Conference, John Taylor, clerk.

(12) MS, 10 May 1841; Juvenile Instructor, 30 Oct. 1875.

[40] Chapter 4


John Taylor left for England in company with Wilford Woodruff, "who,

when he started, was severely afflicted with fever."

Elder Wilford Woodruff and myself were the first members of the Quorum of

the Twelve Apostles who left on this mission. We started in company without

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