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

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The Haun's Mill Massacre

 

In this chapter I wish to tell you about one of the saddest events that happened in all that sad time of persecution in Missouri.

It occurred on October 30, 1838, during the time of great excitement, when bands of armed men roamed over the country doing what damage they could to the homes of the Saints.

At a point on Shoal Creek, about sixteen miles from Fat West, a brother by the name of Haun had built a flour mill. Besides the mill there were a blacksmith shop and half a dozen houses. About thirty families lived here, some of which had just arrived from the Eastern States and were yet camping in their tents.

This little body of Saints had been threatened by mobs a number of times, but on the 28th, a treaty of peace was made in which each party agreed not to molest the other. Before this, however, Joseph had advised the Saints at Haun's Mill to move into Far West, which advice they had not taken.

October 30th was a beautiful autumn day. The air was warm, and the breeze stirred the fields of wheat and rustled the corn. The children were playing on the banks of the creek, and their merry laugh was echoed by the birds in the forest close at hand. All seemed peaceful and lovely.

About four o'clock in the afternoon, a company of two hundred and forty men dashed up to the clearing. Brother David Evans who had command of the few brethren, ran out to meet them, swinging his hat and crying, "Peace, peace." The leader of the mob told all who desired to save their lives and make peace to run into the blacksmith shop. Some of the brethren did this, but in a few seconds after, a volley was fired into the shop. The bullets went between the logs, which were far apart, and in at the open door, killing and wounding the brethren within. Some few shots were fired back, but the brethren soon saw it was useless to resist, so they tried to save themselves as best they could. Men, women and children scattered in every direction taking refuge in the woods, while the bullets of the mobbers flew thick and fast among them, wounding and killing.

The mob kept on firing at the shop until they thought all within were killed; then they went about the place killing all they could find alive, and robbing the houses of everything they could carry off. They even stripped the dead and dying of their clothes. They went into the blacksmith shop for this purpose, and there they saw dead men lying in piles, and wounded men groaning in pain, while pools of blood stood on the floor. A little ten year old boy named Sardius Smith had crawled under the bellows, trying to hide from the wicked mobbers; but one of them saw him and dragged him out. Then putting the muzzle of his gun to the boy's head he killed him instantly. Sardius' little brother, Alma, seven years old had a great hole shot in his hip; but he lay still, fearing that if he moved they would shoot him again. Another boy by the name of Charles Merrick was discovered. He pleaded with the mobbers not to kill him: "I am an American boy," he said "O! don't kill me!" The mobber heeded not, but blew out his brains.

Thomas McBride, an old, gray-haired man who had fought in the Revolutionary War under Washington, gave up his gun to a mobber, and then pleaded for his life. The cruelmobber took the gun and shot the old man dead, and then another mobber cut him to pieces with an old corn cutter.

Thus it continued. I cannot tell you half of the horrible things which happened. At last the mobbers departed, and night came on. Then, lowly and fearfully, the women and children and what few men were left crept out of their hiding places to see what had been done and to help as best they could. Perhaps you can imagine what they saw and how they felt during that long, dark night in the midst of dead and dying husbands, brothers and sons.

Next morning it was found that nineteen men and boys were dead, or wounded so badly that they could not live, and about fifteen others were wounded. What to do with the dead was the question. There were not men enough to dig graves; besides, the mob might come back again and finish their awful work; so the best they could do was to put the nineteen bodies into a large, dry well that was close by. This was done, and straw and earth placed on top.

Sister Smith, mother of Sardius and Alma, has told some of the experiences which she passed through during that awful time. Her husband and one son were killed, while another son had his hip nearly shot away. During that first night she says that she prayed to God to know what to do for her wounded boy, and the Lord distinctly whispered to her what kind of poultice to put on the wound and how to treat him.

"I removed the boy to a house next day," she says, "and dressed his hip, the Lord directing me as before."

"'Alma, my child,' I said, 'you believe that the Lord made your hip?' "'Yes, mother.'

"'Well, the Lord can make something there in place of your hip, don't you believe he can, Alma?'

"'Do you think that the Lord can, mother?'

"'Yes, my son,' I replied, 'He has shown it all to me in a vision.'

"And then I laid him comfortably on his face and said: 'Now you lay like that and don't move, and the Lord will make you another hip.'

"So I laid Alma on his face for five weeks, until he was entirely recovered, a flexible gristle having grown in place of the missing joint and socket."

Alma grew up to be a man and became a useful member of the Church.

Topics.—1. The massacre at Haun's Mill. 2. Sardius and Alma Smith.

Questions and Review.—1. Where was Haun's Mill. 2. What advice did Joseph give the Saints who lived there? 3. What happened October 30, 1838? 4. Tell about the Smith boys and Charles Merrick. 5. Tell about Thomas McBride. 6. How many were killed?