A Young Folks' History of the Church by Nephi Anderson - HTML preview

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Far West


We must now leave the pleasant scenes of preaching the gospel in England, and go back to the more troubled times among the main body of the Saints in the State of Missouri.

You will remember that when the Saints were driven from Jackson county, they found a place to rest in Clay county just north across the river. The people of Clay received them kindly, and the Saints stayed for about three years in that county. During this period, they tried many times to regain their homes by asking the governor and even the president of the United States to enforce the laws and see that their lands and homes were given back to them. Governor Dunklin talked very pleasantly about the rights of the Saints, but in the end he did nothing to protect the people or help them to gain possession of their property.

At a large meeting held in Liberty, the county seat of Clay county, on the 16th of June, 1834, in order to try to settle the trouble between the Saints and the Jackson county people, the following offer was made by the Jackson men to the Saints:

The Jackson people offered to buy all the land of the "Mormons" in Jackson county, paying them a high price for it within thirty days, or the people of Jackson offered to sell all their lands to the "Mormons" at the same high price to be paid for in thirty days. This offer may seem to be fair, but when it is remembered that the Lord had revealed to them that the city of Zion should be built in Jackson county, and had told the Saints to buy and not sell, it will be seen that this offer was not meant in good faith. Again, the Saints could not buy out all the mobbers' land in Jackson, much as they would have liked so to do, as there was so much of it, and they had no money to pay for it in thirty days. The Saints therefore could not agree to this, but they made an offer to buy out the lands of those who could not live in peace with them, and pay them in one year.

Nothing came of these offers.

And now the people of Clay county asked the Saints to remove from their midst. The country was again getting excited about the "Mormons," and the Clay county people were afraid that the mobs would come to disturb them; so in order to be on good terms with the people who had been friends to them, the Saints again left their homes and traveled north- east, away out into the country where there were hardly any settlers. Here they began to build a city which they called Far West, and after a time they had a county laid off which was named Caldwell.

This movement began in September, 1836, and by the next summer nearly all the Saints had left Clay county.

You will call to mind that the Prophet Joseph, with the brethren in Zion's Camp had visited the Saints while in Clay county. In the spring of 1838 Joseph arrived at Far West from Kirtland, and from that time on the Prophet remained with the main body of the Saints in Missouri and Illinois.

The Saints now had peace again for a season. They gathered to Far West and surrounding places from Kirtland and other eastern localities. Farms were made, houses built, townslaid out, and it seemed as if the Saints could at last live and enjoy their rights as Americans.

Joseph was busy setting the Church in order and in receiving the word of the Lord for the guidance of the Saints.

One of the most important revelations given at this time was regarding the law of tithing. This law says that the Saints should first put all their surplus property into the hands of the bishop to be used for the benefit of the Church, and then after that, they should pay one tenth of all they made, as a tithing to the Lord; and the Lord further said that if the Saints did not keep this law, the land whereon they dwelt should not be a land of Zion unto them.

In the year 1838 the Saints in and around Far West numbered about twelve thousand. Thus you see they began to be a power in the land, especially when it came to voting for officers of the state and county. At these times the Saints would of course vote for good men, men who were their friends, and this often made the Missourians angry.

At an election in Gallatin, the county seat of Daviess county, August 6, 1838, a mob of Missourians tried to prevent the brethren from voting. A general fight was the result, in which the "Mormons" defended themselves with umbrellas, sticks, whips, and their stout fists.

Reports came to Joseph and the people in Far West that some of the brethren had been killed and that the mobbers would not let their bodies be buried. At this, Joseph, with about twenty armed men, rode towards the scene of trouble. On the way he learned that the report was not true. They then called on a justice of the peace, named Adam Black. Mr. Black promised Joseph that he would not aid the mob, but would enforce the laws justly. Next day Joseph and his party held a meeting with some leading men of the county, wherein both parties promised to keep the peace, and if any person broke the law in this respect he was to be given up to the officers of the law and punished.

Some twenty days after Mr. Black had made such good promises, he and some others had papers made out for the arrest of Joseph Smith and Lyman Wight for coming into Daviess co., and doing all kinds of wicked deeds. When the constable called on Joseph at Far West, Joseph said he was willing to stand trial, but he wanted it to be in Caldwell, instead of Daviess county, as in the latter there existed too much excitement and ill- feeling. The officer did not arrest the Prophet at this time, but the report spread that Joseph had resisted the officer and would not be arrested. To prove how false this was, Joseph with his brother Hyrum and some others, went to Daviess county for trial. At this trial Mr. Black swore to some wicked falsehoods, and although four witnesses told the truth of the matter, Joseph and Lyman were bound over, that is, they were to be ready to stand trial when the regular court should meet.

False reports now flew far and wide again, and the mobs began to gather from other counties to "help drive the Mormons from the State." Some of the mob painted and dressed themselves up as Indians. The Saints, especially in the smaller settlements, were attacked, until they had to flee to Far West for protection. The Saints now thought it time to protect themselves from the mobs, so they organized a company of state militia. Lyman Wight was an officer in this militia and he commanded the men. He succeeded in driving the mob from Daviess county, but this of course, only made the excitement the greater.On the evening of October 24, 1838, news reached Far West that a Methodist preacher by the name of Bogart was leading a mob to destroy the property of the Saints on Log Creek. That same evening a company of about seventy-five men led by Captain David W. Patten mounted their horses and rode to the scene of trouble. Early the next morning, just as it was getting daylight the mob was found encamped on Crooked River. The Far West Militia dismounted and marched on to the enemy. A battle took place. The mob took refuge behind the river bank, while the brethren charged them sword in hand. The enemy was soon put to flight across the river. As they were fleeing, one of the mobbers wheeled around from behind a tree and shot Captain Patten, who instantly fell. A number of brethren were badly wounded, and two died the next night. One was Patterson O'Banion, and the other Captain Patten.

Brother Patten was a member of the first quorum of Twelve Apostles. He had taken an active part in the affairs of the Church up to the time of his death, having filled many missions and done many great works in the name of Jesus Christ. Apostle Patten was one of the first martyrs of the Church. Of him Joseph the Prophet said at his funeral:

"There lies a man who has done just as he said he would; he has laid down his life for his friends."

Topics.—1. The Saints in Clay county. 2. Removed to Caldwell county. 3. The beginning of trouble. 4. The Crooked River battle. 5. Apostle David W. Patten.

Questions and Review.1. From Jackson county where did the Saints go? 2. How did they try to get their homes again? 3. What did Governor Dunklin do? 4. What offer did the Jackson people make to the Saints? 5. Why did not the Saints accept this offer? 6. What did the Saints offer to do? 7. Why did the people of Clay county wish the Saints to leave them? 8. When and where did the Saints then go? 9. What is the law of tithing? 10. What was the case of the new trouble between the Saints and the Missourians? 11. What came of Joseph's trip to Daviess county? 12. Describe the Crooked River battle. 13. Tell about David W. Patten.