United States Senate
Document Showing The Testimony...
on the Trial of Joseph Smith, jr.
(Washington D. C.: Blair & Rives, 1841)
D O C U M E N T
State vs. Joseph Smith, jr., Hiram Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Parley P. Pratt, Lyman Wight, Amasa Lyman, George W. Robinson, Caleb Baldwin, Alanson Ripley, Washington Voorhees, Sidney Turner, John Buckhannon, Jacob Gates, Chandler Haldbrook, George W. Harris, Jesse D. Hunter, Andrew Whitlock, Martin C. Alred, William Alred, George Grant, Darwin Chase, Elijah Newman, Alvin G. Tippetts, Zedekiah Owens, Isaac Morley, Thomas Buck, Moses Clawson, John J. Tanner, Daniel Shearer, Daniel S. Thomas. Alexander McRay, Elisha Edwards, John S. Higby, Ebenezer Page, Benjamin Covey, Ebenezer Robinson, Lyman Gibbs, James M. Henderson, David Pettigrew, Edward Partridge, Francis Higby, David Frampton, George Kimble, Joseph W. Younger, Henry Zabriskey, Allen J. Stout, Sheffield Daniels, Silas Manard, Anthony Head, Benjamin Jones, Daniel Carn, John T. Earl, and Norman Shearer; who were charged with the several crimes of high treason against the State, murder, burglary, arson, robbery, and larceny.
Sampson Avard, a witness, produced, sworn, and examined, in behalf of the state, deposeth and saith:-- That about four months since, a band called the Daughters of Zion, (since called the Danite band,) was formed of the members of the Mormon church, the original object of which was to drive from the county of Caldwell all those who dissented from the Mormon church; in which they succeeded admirably, and to the satisfaction of all concerned. I consider Joseph Smith, jr., as the prime mover and organizer of this band. The officers of the band, according to their grades, were brought before him, at a school house, together with Hiram Smith and Sidney Rigdon; the three composing the first presidency of the whole church. It was stated by Joseph Smith, jr., that it was necessary this band should be bound together by a covenant, that those who revealed the secrets of the society should be put to death. The covenant taken by all the Danite band was as follows, to wit: They declared,
Blair & Rives, printers.
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holding up their right hand, "In the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, I do solemnly obligate myself ever to conceal and never to reveal the secret purposes of this society, called the Daughters of Zion. Should I ever do the same, I hold my life as the forfeiture." The prophet Joseph Smith, jr., together with his two counsellors, (Hiram Smith and Sidney Rigdon,) were considered as the supreme head of the church; and the Danite band feel themselves as much bound to obey them as to obey the Supreme God. Instruction was given by Joseph Smith, jr., that if any of them should get into difficulty, the rest should help him out; and that they should stand by each other, right or wrong. This instruction was given at a Danite meeting, in a public address. As for Joseph Smith, jr., and his two counsellors, the witness does not know they ever took the Danite oath. He knows that all the rest of the defendants are Danites, except Sidney Tanner. Andrew Whitlocj, Zedekiah Owens, Thomas Rich, John L. Tanner, Daniel S. Thomas, David Pettigrew, George Kimble, Anthony Head, Benjamin Jones, and Norman Shearer.
At the election last August, a report came to Far West that some of the brethren in Daviess county were killed. I called for twenty volunteers to accompany me to see into this matter. I went; and about one hundred and twenty Mormons accompanied me to Adam on Diahmon -- Mr. Joseph Smith, jr., in company. When I arrived there, I found the report exaggerated. None were killed. We visited Mr. Adam Black -- about 150 or 200 men of us armed. Joseph Smith was commander; and if Black had not signed the paper he did, it was common understanding and belief that he would have shared the fate of the dissenters Sidney Rigdon and Lyman Wight were at Adam when we went to Black, and advised the movement.
As regards the affair at De Witt, I know little personally; but I heard Mr. S. Rigdon say they had gone down to DeWitt, where it was said a mob had collected to wage war upon the Mormons residing in Carroll county; and that Joseph Smith, jr., with his friends went down to De Witt to give aid and help to his brethren. The company, as I presume, were armed. They returned armed. Hiram Smith and Geirge W. Robinson were in the company. Amasa Lyman went to see what was going on. He heard these persons say they were in Hinkle's camp (at De Witt) several days. When the Mormons returned from De Witt, it was rumored that a mob was collecting in Daviess county. Joseph Smith, jr., the Sunday before the late disturbances in Daviess, at a church meeting, gave notice that he wished the whole county collected on the next day (Monday) at Far West. He declared (on Sunday or Monday -- I don't recollect which) that all who did not take up arms in defence of the Mormons of Daviess should be considered as tories, and should take their exit from the country.
At the meeting on Monday, when persons met from all parts of the county of Caldwell, Joseph Smith, jr., took the pulpit, and delivered an address, in which he said that we had been an injured people, driven violently from Jackson county; that we had appealed to the Governor, magistrates, judges, and even to the President of the United States, and there had been no redress for us; and that now a mob was about to destroy the rights of our brethren of Daviess county, and that it was high time that we should take measures to defend our own rights. In the address he related an anecdote about a captain who applied to a Dutchman to purchase potatoes, who refused to sell. The captain then
charged his company several different times, not to touch the Dutchman's potatoes. In the morning the Dutchman had not a potatoe left in his patch. This was in reference to touching no property in our expedition to Daviess county that did not belong to us, but he told us that the children of God did bot go to war at their own expense. A vote was taken whether the brethren should embody and go down to Daviess to attack the mob. This question was put by the prophet. Joseph Smith, jr., and passed unanimously, with a few exceptions. Captains Patten and Brunson were appointed commanders of the Mormons, by Joseph Smith, jr., to go to Daviess. He frequently called these men generals. I once had a command as an officer, but Joseph Smith, jr., removed me from it, and I asked him the reason, and he assigned that he had another office for me. Afterwards Mr. Rigdon told me I was to fill the office of surgeon, to attend to the sick and wounded. After we arrived at Diahmon in Daviess, a council was held at night, composed of Joseph Smith, jr., George W. Robinson, Hiram Smith, Captains Patten and Brunson, Lyman Wight, President R. Cahoon. P. P. Pratt, and myself, and perhaps Mr. Hinkle. President Rigdon was not present. He remained at Far West; a correspondence was kept up between him and Joseph Smith, jr. I heard Mr. Rigdon read one of the letters from Smith, which, as I remember, was about as follows; That he knew, from prophecy and from the revelation of Jesus Christ, that the enemies of the kingdom were in their hands; and that they (the Mormon church) should succeed. Rigdon, on reading the letter, said it gave him great consolation to have such authority that the kingdom of God was rolling on. In the above referred to council, Mr. Smith spoke of the grievances we had suffered in Jackson, Clay, Kirtland, and other places; declared that we must, in future, stand up for our rights as citizens of the United States, and as saints of the most high Gof; and that it was the will of Gof we should do so; that we should be free and independent, and that as the State of Missouri, and the United States, would not protect us, it was high time that we should be up, as the saints of the most high God, and protect ourselves, and take the kingdom. Lyman Wight observed, that, before the winter was over, he thought we would be in St. Louis, and take it. Smith charged them that they should be united in supporting each other. Smith said, on some occasions, that one should chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight; that he considered the United States rotten. He compared the Mormon church to the little stone spoken of by the Prophet Daniel; and the dissenters first, and the State next, was part of the image that should be destroyed by this little stone. The council was called on to vote the measures of Smith; which they did unanimously. On the next day Captain Patten (who was called by the prophet Captain Fearnaught) took command of about one hundred armed men, and told them that he had a job for them to do, and that the work of the Lord was rolling on, and they must be united. He then led the troops to Gallatin, saying he was going to attack the mob there. He made a rush into Gallatin, dispersed the few men there, and took the goods out of Strolling's store, and carried them to Diahmon, and I afterwards saw the storehouse on fire. When we returned to Diahmon, the goods were deposited in the Lord's storehouse, under the care of Bishop Vincent Knight. Orders were strictly given that all the goods should he deposited in the Lord's storehouse. No individuals were to appropriate any thing to themselves until a general distribution should be made. Joseph Smith, jr., was at Adam on Diahmon,
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giving directions about things in general connected with the war. When Patten returned from Gallatin to Adam on Diahmon, the goods were divided or apportioned out among those engaged; and these affairs were conducted under the superintendence of the first presidency. A part of the goods were brought to Far West. On their arrival, under the care of Captain Fearnaught, President Rigdon shouted three hosannahs to the victors. On the day Patten went to Gallatin, Colonel Wight went to Millport, as I understood. I saw a great many cattle, beds, furniture, &c., brought into our camp by the Mormons. After we returned to Far West, the troops were constantly kept in motion, and there was a council held at the house of President Rigdon, to determine who should be chiefs. It was determined that Colonel Wight should be commander-in-chief at Adam on Diahmon; Brunson, captain of the flying horse of Daviess; Colonel Hinkle should be commander-in-chief of the Far West troops; Captain Patten, captain of the flying horse, or cavalry; and that the prophet, Joseph Smith, jr., should be commander-in-chief of the whole kingdom. The council was composed of Joseph Smith, jr., Captain Fearnaught, alias Patten, Colonel Hinkle, Colonel Wight, and President Rigdon. The object of the council was in furtherance of the scheme proposed in council in Daviess, referred to above. After this council, Fearnaught disputed as to the chief command of the Far West troops, and had a smart altercation about it with Hinkle, but Smith proposed that they agree to disagree, and go on for the good of the kingdom. The troops were kept together until the militia came out lately. There were five hundred to eight hundred men, as I should suppose, under arms. It was about this time that the militia came out lately to Far West, under General Lucas, that our prophet assembled the troops together at Far West, into a hollow square, and addressed them, and stated to them that the kingdom of God should be set up, and should never fall; and for every one we lacked in number of those who came against us, the Lord would send angels, who would fight for us; and that we should be victorious. After the militia had been near Far West awhile, in an address, Smith said that those troops were militia, and that we were militia too, and both sides clever fellows; and he advised them to know nothing of what had happened; to say nothing; and to keep dark; that he, Smith, had forgotten more than he had ever known. After it was ascertained that the militia had arrived, intelligence was immediately sent to Diahmon to Colonel Wight. Next morning Colonel Wight arrived in Far West with about one hundred mounted and armed men. The troops were constantly kept prepared, and in a situation to repel attack. The evening the militia arrived near Far West, it was the general understanding in the Mormon camp that they were militia legally called out; and indeed, previous to their arrival, it was ascertained that there were militia on their way to Far West. Some months ago I received orders to destroy the paper concerning the Danite Society; which order was issued by the first presidency, and which paper,, being the constitution for the government of the Danite Society, was in my custody, but which I did not destroy. It is now in General Clark's possession. I gave the paper up to General Clark after I was taken prisoner. I found it in my house, where I had previously deposited it, and believe it never had been in any person's possession after I first received it. This paper was taken into President Rigdon's house, and read to the prophet and his councillors, and was unanimously adopted by them as their rule and guide in future. After it
was thus adopted, I was instructed by the council to destroy it. as, if it should be discovered, it would be considered treasonable. This constitution, after it was approved by the first presidency, was read, article by article, to the Danite band, and unanimously adopted by them. This paper was drawn up about the time that the Danite band was formed. Since the drawing up of the paper against the dissenters, it was that this constitution of the Danite band was draughted; but I have no minutes of the time, as were directed not to keep written minutes; which constitution, above referred to, is as follows:
"Whereas, in all bodies laws are necessary for the permanency, safety and well-being of society, we, the members of the society of the Daughter of Zion, do agree to regulate ourselves under such laws as, in righteousness shall be deemed necessary for the preservation of our holy religion, and of our most sacred rights, and the rights of our wives and children. But, to be explicit on the subject, it is especially our object to support and defend the rights conferred on us by our venerable sires, who purchased them with the pledges of their lives and fortunes, and their sacred honors. And now, to prove ourselves worthy of the liberty conferred on us by them, in the providence of God, we do agree to be governed by such laws as shall perpetuate these high privileges, of which we know ourselves to be the rightful possessors, and of which privileges wicked and designing men have tried to deprive us, by all manner of evil, and that purely in consequence of the tenacity we have manifested in the discharge of our duty towards our God, who had given us [those] rights and privileges, and a right in common with others, to dwell on this land. But we, not having the privileges of others allowed unto us, have determined like unto our fathers, to resist tyranny, whether it be in kings or in the people. It is all alike unto us. Our rights we must have, and our rights we shall have, in the name of Israel's God.
"ART. 1st. All power belongs originally and legitimately to the people, and they have a right to dispose of it as they shall deem fit. But as it is inconvenient and impossible to convince the people in all cases, the legislative powers have been given by them from time to time, into the hands of a representation composed of delegates from the people themselves. This is and has been the law in both civil and religious bodies, and is the true principle.
"ART. 2d. The executive power shall be vested in the president of the whole church and his counsellors.
"ART. 3d. The legislative powers shall reside in the president and his counsellors, together with the generals and colonels of the society. By them all laws shall be made regulating the society.
"ART. 4th. All offices shall be during the life and good behaviour, or to be regulated by the law of God.
"ART. 5th. The society reserves the power of electing all its officers with the exception of the aides and clerks which the officers may need in the various stations. The nomination to go from the presidency to his second, and from the second to the third in rank, and so down through all the various grades, branch or department retains the power of electing its own particular officers.
"ART.6th. Punishment shall be administered to the guilty in accordance to the offense, and no member shall be punished without law, or by any others than those appointed by law for that purpose. The Legislature shall
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have power to make laws regulating punishments as in their judgment shall be wisdom and righteousness.
"ART. 7th. There shall be a secretary whose business it shall be to keep all the legislative records of the society, and also to keep a register of the names of the members of the society, also the rank of the officers. He shall also communicate the laws to the generals, as directed by laws made for the regulation of such business by the Legislature.
"ART. 8th. All officers shall be subject to the commands of the Captain General given through the Secretary of War. And so all officers shall be subject to their superiors in rank, according to laws made for that purpose.
In connection with the grand scheme of the prophet, his preachers and apostles were instructed to preach and instruct their followers (who are estimated in Europe and America at about 40,000) that it was their duty to come up to the State called Far West, and to possess the kingdom; that it was the will of God they should do so; and that the Lord would give them power to possess the kingdom. There was another writing drawn up in June last, which had for its object to get rid of the dissenters, and which had the desired effect; (this is the paper drawn up against the dissenters, referred to by the witness.) Since that time, and since the introduction f the scheme of the prophet made known in the above constitution, I have [heard] the prophet say that it was a fortunate thing that we got rid of the dissenters, as they would have endangered the rolling on of the kingdom of God as introduced, and to be carried into effect, by the Danite band; that they, the dissenters, were great obstacles in the way; and that, unless they were removed, the aforesaid kingdom could not roll on. This paper against the dissenters was draughted by Sidney Rigdon, and is as follows:
"FAR WEST, June, 1838.
"To Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, John Whitmer, William W. Phelps, and Lyman E, Johnson, greeting:
"Whereas the citizens of Caldwell county have borne with the abuse received from you at different times, and on different occasions, until it is no longer to be endured; neither will they endure it any longer, having exhausted all the patience they have, and conceive that to bear any longer a vice instead of a virtue. We have borne long, and suffered incredibly; but we will neither bear nor suffer any longer; and the decree has gone forth from our hearts, and shall not return to us void. Neither think, gentlemen, that, in so saying, we are trifling with either you or ourselves; for we are not. There are no threats from you -- no fear of losing our lives by you, or by any thing you can say or do, will restrain us; for out of the county you shall go, and no power shall save you. And you shall have three days after you receive this communication to you, including twenty-four hours in each day, for you to depart with your families peaceably; which you may do undisturbed by any person; but in that time, if you do not depart, we will use the means in our power to cause you to depart; for go you shall. We will have no more promises to reform, as you have already done, and in every instance violated your promise, and regarded not the covenant which you made, but put both it and us at defiance. We have solemnly warned you, and that in the most determined manner, that if you do not cease that course of wanton abuse of the citizens of this county, that vengeance would overtake you sooner or later, and that when
it did come it would be as furious as the mountain torrent, and as terrible as the beating tempest; but you have affected to dispise our warnings, and pass them off with a sneer, or a grin, or a threat, and pursued your former course; and vengeance sleepeth not, neither does it slumber; and unless you heed us this time, and attend to our request, it will overtake you at an hour when you do not expect, and at a day when you do not look for it; and for you there shall be no escape; for there is but one decree for you, which is depart, depart, or a more fatal calamity shall befall you.
After Oliver Cowdery had been taken by a state warrant for stealing, and the stolen property found in the house of William W. Phelps; in which nefarious transaction, John Whitmer had also participated. Oliver Cowdery stole the property, conveyed it to John Whitmer, and John Whitmer to William W. Phelps; and then the officers of law found it. While, in the hands of an officer, and under arrest for this vile transaction, and, if possible, to hide your shame from the world, like criminals (which indeed you were), you appealed to our beloved presidents, Joseph Smith, jr. and Sidney Rigdon, men whose characters you had endeavored to destroy by every artifice you could invent, not even the basest lying excepted; and did you find them revengeful? No; but notwithstanding all your scandalous attacks, still such was the nobleness of their character, that even vile enemies could not appeal to them in vain. They enlisted, as you well know, their influence, to save you from your just fate; and they, by their influence, delivered you out of the hands of the officer. While you were pleading with them, you promised reformation; you bound yourselves by the most solemn promises that you would never be employed again in abusing any of the citizens of Caldwell; and by such condescensions did you attempt to escape the work house. But now for the sequel. Did you practice the promised reformation? You know you did not; but, by secret efforts, continued to practise your iniquity, and secretly to injure their character, notwithstanding their kindness to you. Are such things to be borne? You yourselves would answer that they are insufferable, if you were to answer according to the feelings of your own hearts. As we design this paper to be published to the world, we will give an epitome of your scandalous conduct and treachery for the last two years. We wish to remind you, that Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer were among the principal of those who were the means of gathering us to this place, by their testimony which they gave concerning the plates of the Book of Mormon, that they were shown to them by an angel, which testimony we believe, now, as much as before you had so scandalously disgraced it. You commenced your wickedness by heading a party to disturb the worship of the saints in the first day of the week, and made the house of the Lord, in Kirtland, to be a scene of abuse and slander, to destroy the reputation of those whom the church had appointed to be their teachers, and for no other cause only that you were not the persons.
"The saints in Kirtland, having elected Oliver Cowdery to be a justice of the peace, he used the power of that office to take their most sacred rights from them, and that contrary to law.
"He supported a parcel of blacklegs, and disturbing the worship of the saints; and when the men whom the church had chosen to preside over their meetings endeavored to put the house to order, he helped (and by the authority of his justice's office, too) these wretches to continue their confusion; and threatened the church with a prosecution for trying to put them
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out of the house; and issued writs against the saints for endeavoring to sustain their rights; and bound themselves under heavy bonds to appear before his honor; and required bonds which were both inhuman and unlawful; and one of these was the venerable father, who had been appointed by the church to preside -- a man upwards of seventy years of age, and notorious for his peaceable habits. Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Lyman E. Johnson, united with a gang of counterfeiters, thieves, liars, and blacklegs of the deepest dye, to deceive, cheat, and defraud the saints out of their property, by every art and stratagem which wickedness could invent, using the influence of the vilest persecutions to bring vexatious law suits, villainous prosecutions, and even stealing not excepted. In the midst of this career, for fear the saints would seek redress at their hands, they breathed out threatenings of mobs, and actually made attempts with their gang to bring mobs upon them. Oliver Cowdery and his gang (such of them as belonged to the church) were called to an account by the church for their iniquity. They confessed repentance, and were again restored to the church; but the very first opportunity they were again practising their former course. While this wickedness was going on in Kirtland, Cowdery and his company were writing letters to Far West, in order to destroy the character of every person that they thought was standing in their way; and John Whitmer and William W. Phelps were assisting to prepare the way to throw confusion among the saints of Far West. During the full career of Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer's bogus money business, it got abroad into the world that they were engaged in it, and several gentlemen were preparing to commence a prosecution against Cowdery; he, finding it out, took with him Lyman E. Johnson, and fled to Far West with their families; Cowdery stealing property, and bringing it with him, which has been, within a few weeks past, obtained by the owner, by means of a search-warrant; and he was saved from the penitentiary by the influence of two influential men of the place. He also brought notes with him, upon which he had received pay, and made an attempt to sell them to Mr. Arthur, of Clay county. And Lyman E. Johnson, on his arrival, reported that he had a note of one thousand dollars, against a principal man of the church; when it was a palpable falsehood, and he had no such thing; and he did it for the purpose of injuring his character. Shortly after Cowdery and Johnson left Kirtland for FarWest, they were followed by David Whitmer; on whose arrival a general system of slander and abuse was commenced by you all, for the purpose of destroying the characters of certain individuals, whose influence and strict regard for righteousness you dreaded; and not only yourselves, but your wives and children, led by yourselves, were busily engaged in it. Neither were you content with slandering and vilifying here, but you kept up a continual correspondence with your gang of marauders in Kirtland, encouraging them to go on with their iniquity; which they did to perfection, by swearing falsely to injure the character and property of innocent men; stealing, cheating, lying; instituting vexatious lawsuits; selling bogus money, and also, stones and sand for bogus; in which nefarious business, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmar, and Lyman E. Johnson, were engaged while you were there. Since your arrival here, you have commenced a general system of that same kind of conduct in this place. You set up a nasty, dirty, pettifogger's office, pretending to be judges of the law, when it is a notorious fact, that you are profoundly ignorant of it, and of every other thing which is calculated to do mankind good, or if you know it, you take
Transcriber's Note: LaRoy Sunderland, in his 1842 quotation of this document, inserts at this point: "of course, then, they were ignorant of the 'plates' which they said an angel had 'made known' to them," -- this wording is not in the 1841 text as published by the U. S. Senate. Rev. Whitsitt, on page 392a of his unpublished Rigdon biography, mistakenly follows Sunderland here.
good care never to practise it. And, in order to bring yourselves into notice, you began to interfere with all the business of the place, trying to destroy the character of our merchants, and bringing their creditors upon them, and break them up. In addition to this, you stirred up men of weak minds to prosecute one another, for the vile purpose of getting a fee for pettifogging from one of them. You have also been threatening continually to enter into a general system of prosecuting, determined, as you said, to pick a flaw in the titles of those who have bought city lots and built upon them -- not that you can do any thing but cause vexatious lawsuits.
"And, amongst the most monstrous of all your abominations, we have evidence (which, when called upon, we can produce,) that letters sent to the post office in this place have been opened, read, and destroyed, and the persons to whom they were sent never obtained them; thus ruining the business of the place. We have evidence of a very strong character, that I you are at this time engaged with a gang of counterfeiters, coiners, and blacklegs, as some of those characters have lately visited our city from Kirtland, and told what they had come for; and we know, assuredly, that if we suffer you to continue, we may expect, and that speedily, to find a general system of stealing, counterfeiting, cheating, and burning property, as in Kirtland -- for so are your associates carrying on there at this time; and that, encouraged by you, by means of letters you send continually to them; and, to crown the whole, you have had the audacity to threaten us, that, if we offered to disturb you, you would get up a mob from Clay and Ray counties. For the insult, if nothing else, and your threatening to shoot us if we offered to molest you, we will put you from the county of Caldwell: so help us God."
The above was signed by some 84 Mormons.
About the time the dissenters fled, President Rigdon preached a sermon from the text, "Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt hath lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and be trodden under foot of men" -- commonly called the salt sermon; in which the dissenters were called the salt that had lost its savor, and that they should be trampled upon and driven out by the saints; which was well understood by the Danites to be part of their duty to do.
When General Lucas's men marched up to Far West, Smith told me, as I understood him, that he had said it to one of the militia captains not to come any farther, as he might get into danger. Smith, after erecting his bulworks, (the night after General Lucas arrived,) asked me if I did not think him pretty much of a general; and I answered in the affirmative. We were advised, all the time, to fight valiantly, and that the angels of the Lord would appear in our defence and fight our battles.
In reference to Bogart's battle, I know but little, personally, as to the start of the troops to fight Bogart. I was called upon to go along with the company (which was commanded by Patten) as surgeon. This was about mid-night; but as I thought a little sleep would do me more good than fighting, I remained at home. In the morning of the fight, about 6 o'clock, I was called upon by a Mr. Emmett, who informed me that Captain Fearnaught was wpunded mortally. I went to Patten, about three miles from the battle-ground, where I found Jos. Smith, jr., present, laying hands on the wounds, and blessing them to heal them. A Mr. O'Bannion was also mortally wounded. I heard the following of the prisoners say he was present in the fight, to wit: Norman Shearer --
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[The gap in the testimony is not supplied from the Evidence on file. For the remainder of Dr. Avard's testimony, see page 21.]
(under construction)Morris Phelps, a witness, produced, sworn, and examined for the State, deposeth and saith: That Parley P. Pratt was in the battle with Bogart. Darwin Chase was one of the expedition, but not in the battle. Lyman Gibbs was in the battle; thinks Benjamin Jones was in the battle. Norman Shearer was also, and wounded. I was called upon by Charles C. Rich, to go down to Crooked river, to help relieve some Mormon prisoners, who, it was said, had been taken by a mob. I first refused to go; but, being threatened with force, I consented to go...
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in an address, told an antecdote of a Dutchman, who had been applied to by a captain to purchase potatoes, &c. Rigdon, in speaking of dissenters, who were unwilling to fight mobs, said that they ought to be pitched upon their horses with pitchforks and bayonets, and forced into the front of the battle, and their property confiscated to the use of the army. The anecdote spoken of above, about the Dutchman, was told by Smith after Rigdon's address, and without any application of it by him. And further this deponent saith not.
John Corril, a witness produced, sworn, and examined in behalf of the State, deposeth and saith: That about las June I was invited to a private meeting...
President Rigdon, in a speech, said, that those who were unwilling to go into the war, ought to be put upon their horses with guns and bayonets, and forced into the front of the war -- having reference to those who heretofore had been backward in defending themselves and families. No persons were suffered to leave the country in this extreme time, and I met with Phelps to consult as to what we ought to do.
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John Cleminson, a witness, produced, sworn, and examined, in behalf of the State, deposeth and saith: Sometime in June, I attended two or three of the Danite meetings; and it was taught there, as a part of the duty of the band, that they should support the presidency in all their designs, right or wrong; that whatever they said was to be obeyed, and whoever opposed the presidency in what they said, or desired done, should be expelled from the county, or have their lives taken. The three composing the presidency was at one of the meetings, and, to satisfy the people, Dr.Avard called on Joseph Smith, jr., who gave them a pledge, that if they led them into a difficulty, he would give them his head for a foot-ball, and that it was the will of God that these things should be so. The teacher and active agent of the society was Dr. Avard, and his teachings were approved of by the presidency. Dr. Avard further taught, as a part of their obligation, that if any one betrayed the secret designs of the society, they should be killed, and laid aside, and nothing said about it.
I heard Sidney Rigdon's sermon, commonly called the "salt sermon," and its purport and design was about as other witnesses have stated before me. When process was filed against Joseph Smith, and others, in my office as clerk of Caldwell circuit court, for tresspass, Joseph Smith, jr., told me
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not to issue that writ; that he did no intend to submit to it; and that it was a vexatious thing, and I had a right to judge whether a suit was vexatious or not, and that he would see me out of it. Hiram Smith, (who was not a defendant in that suit,) also koined him in this promise, if I would not issue the writ. This was previous to the last term of the Cladwell circuit court. I considered myself not as a proper judge as to whether it was a vexatious suit or not. Joseph Smith, jr., said it was a vexatious thing and that he would not suffer it to be issued; and I felt myself intimidated and in danger, if I issued it, knowing the regulations of the Danite band.
On the Monday prior to the last Daviess expedition, I heard Mr. Rigdon say that those who had heretofore been backward in taking up arms in defending themselves, ought to, or should, be put upon their horses, with bayoneta and pitchforks; and Smith said, forced into the front of the battle; and that the property of those who would not go into the war should be consecrated to the use of those who did. Mr. Smith said their beef corn, and potatoes, they would take.
I went in the expedition to Daviess in which Gallatin was burnt, as I felt myself compelled to go from the regulations which had been made
It was generally understood that every movement made in Daviess was under the direction and supervision of the first presidency -- of whom, Joseph Smith, jr., and Hiram Smith were in Daviess. The following of the defendants were in the expedition to Daviess, viz: Joseph Smith, jr., Hiram Smith, P. P. Pratt, Lyman Wight, Caleb Baldwin, and Alanson Ripley. John Buckhannon was not there; George W. Harris was there; Darwin Chase was there; Elijah Newman was not there; Isaac Morley was not there; Moses Clawson, I think, was there; Alexander McRay was there; John S. Higbey, I think, was there; Ebenezer Robinson and Daniel Pettigrew were there; Edward Partridge was there; David Frampton was not there; Sheffield Daniels, I think, was not there; Daniel Carr was there; James H. Rawlins was there; Morris Phelps, I think. was there.
Of the troops at Diahmon, in this expedition, some were sent on one expedition, and some on another; but all were there mutually to aid and assist each other in all that they undertook or did on that occasion
When we first went to Daviess, I understood the object to be, to drive out the mob, if one should be collected there; but when we got there we found none. I then learned the object was, from those who were actively engaged in the matter, to drive out all the citizens of Daviess and get possession of their property. It was understood that they burnt Mormon houses, as well as the houses of the other citizens. The burning of the Mormon houses was to bring the Mormons into Diahmon, as I understood it. It was said by some that the Mormons were burning their own houses, and, by others, that the mob was burning them; and so much was said about it, that I did not know when I got the truth. I heard Demick B. Huntington one of the Mormon troops, say that the Missourians at Gallatin, had taken the goods out of Stolling's store, and piled them up and set fire to the storehouse, and had gone off for wagons to haul off the goods; but that our wagons had got there first, and had hauled them off. I understood that the goods were deposited with the bishop of the church at Diahmon, as consecrated property to the church. A great deal of other property was brought into the Mormon camps; but (I do not) know where it came from, but understood it to be consecrated property. It was frequently observed among the troops, that the time had come when the riches of the Gentiles should be consecrated to the Saints.
From the time of the return of the troops from Diahmon, the town of Far West was kept under military rule; troops paraded abd disciplined every day. It was a generally prevailing understanding among the troops -- and seemed to be so much so towards the last, that no other impressions prevailed -- "that they would oppose either militia or mob, should they come out against them; for they considered them all mob at heart." This was about the time the militia arrived there. As to Hiram Smith, personally, I have thought him to be a good-meaning man; but, in connexion with others, under the order of the Danite Society, I thought I had as much to fear from him as from others. As to the constitution, testified to by Dr. Avard, I never heard of it until he disclosed it when he was taken prisoner. I did not attend the first meeting in which the Danite band was formed. I did not see Hiram Smith, in the last expedition to Daviess, have arms upon his person; but he constituted one of the counsellors of Joseph Smith, jr.; and it was not usual for any of the presidency, composed of President Smith, and his counsellors, to take arms and go into the ranks.
When I arrived at Diahmon, I staid the first night at Lyman Wight's house, and informed Wight that General Parks was coming out with the militia. Wight answered, that he did not wish Parks to come, and sent an express to him not to come. He remarked, they could settle the difficulties themselves. And further this deponent saith not.
Reed Peck, a witness, produced, sworn, and examined, on behalf of the state, deposeth and saith:
A short time after Cowdery and the Whitmers left Far West, (some time in June,) George W. Robertson and Philo Dibble invited me to a Danite meeting. I went, and the only speaker was Dr. Avard, who explained the object of the meeting, and said that its object was, that we might be perfectly organized to defend ourselves against mobs; that we were all to be governed by the presidency, and do whatever they required, and uphold them; that we were not to judge for ourselves whether it were right or wrong; that God had raised up a prophet who would judge for us; and that it was proper we should stand by each other, in all cases -- and he gave us an example; if we found one of the Danites in difficulty, in Ray or Clay for instance, we should rescue him, if we had to do with his adversary as Moses did with the Egyptian -- put him in the sand. It made no difference whether the Danite was to blame or not; they would pack to Far West, and be taken care of. The question was asked, whether it would extend to a legal process? Avard answered, not. The Danite oath was administered to about 30 or 40 persons at this meeting. Philo Dibble told me who the head officers of the Danite band were: that George W. Robertson [sic] was colonel, that he (Dibble) was lieutenant colonel, and Semour Brunson major, and that I was chosen adjutant. After that, I had a talk with George W. Robertson and Philo Dibble together, in which I was informed who the officers were, as above; and further, that Jared Carter was captain general of the band, Cornelius P. Lott major general, and Sampson Avard brigadier general. This is as I recollect it. Dr. Avard, in speaking to the society, remarked, that it would be impossible for the presidency to explain their views or wishes to the head officers, and they to the members of the society. I was present at one meeting when the officers of the society were present and introduced to the presidency, each
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officer receiving a blessing from them. Avard stated that he had procured the presidency to come there, to show the society that what he had been doing was according to their direction or will; and while there, the presidency approved of Avard's course in the society. Dr. Avard, however, did not explain to the presidency what his teaching had been in the society.
I heard Avard, on one occasion, say, that the Danites were to consecrate their surplus property, and to come in by tens to do so; and if they lied about it -- he said Peter killed Ananias and Sapphira, and that would be an example for us.
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George M. Hinkle, a witness for the State, produced, sworn and examined, deposeth and saith: I was in Far West when the last Mormon expedition went to Daviess county. We heard of a great number of men gathering in Daviess, (mob;) I went down without being attached to any company, or without having any command; I found there were no troops (mob) gathered there. The Mormon forces consisted of about three hundred, as I suppose; they were engaged in scouting parties; some, it is said, went to Gallatin, and much mysterious was had in camp about goods, and that they were much cheaper than in New York. This last remark was made by Parley P. Pratt. I saw goods of various kinds; but know not from whence they came. It was a common talk in camps that the mob were burning their own houses and fleeing off
There was much mysterious conversation in camps, as to plundering and house-burning; so much so, that I had my own notions about it; and, on one occasion, I spoke to Mr. Smith, jr., in the house, and told him that
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this course of burning houses and plundering, by the Mormon troops, would ruin us; that it could not be kept hid, and would bring the force of the State upon us; that houses would be searched, and stolen property found. Smith replied to me, in a pretty rough manner, to keep still; that I should say nothing about it; that it would discourage the men; and he would not suffer me to say any thing about it...
I saw a great deal of plunder and bee-stands brought into camp; and I saw many persons, for many days, taking the honey out of them; I understood this property and plunder were placed into the hands of the Bishop at Diahmon, named Vincent Knight, to be divided out among them, as their wants might require.
There were a number of horses and cattle drove in; also, hogs hauled in dead with the hair on; but whose they were, I know not. They were generally called consecrated property. I think it was the day Gallatin was attacked. I saw Colonel Wright [sic] start off with troops, as was said, to Millport; all this seemed to be done under the inspection of Joseph Smith, jr. I saw Wright, when he returned; the troops from Gallatin returned about the same time; and I heard Smith find fault with Wright for not being as resolute as to serve Millport as they had served Gallatin; this was remarked to me alone.
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Allen Rathbun, a witness for the state, produced, sworn, and examined, deposeth and saith: On the day before the battle with Bogart, I was in Far West; and early in the morning Daniel Carn, one of the defendants here, asked me to help him grease his wagon. I did so, and asked him where he was going. He said he was going out to Raglin's, in Daviess county; that there were about forty bee stands there that they were going for. Directly after, I was down in Morrison's store, in Far West. There was a company of ten or a dozen men there, with two or three wagons. I heard Mr. Huntingdon ask for brimstone. Some of the company said they had two pounds. Huntingdon said that would do. Mr. Hunter, of the defendants, here gave the word of command, and they marched off. Mr. Daniel Carn was in the wagon with them. Late that evening I saw Mr. Carn's wagon at his grocery down in Far West. I saw Carn and Huntingdon unloading it. The wagon was loaded with one bee gum, and household stuff; consisting of beds, or bed clothes, kinder tied up; also, there were onions in the wagon. Mr. Carn that evening remarked that there would be in that evening a considerable number of sheep and cattle; and further remarked, that it looked to him sometimes, that it was not right to take plunder, but that it was according to the directions of Joseph Smith, jr., and that was the reason why he did it. The next morning I saw a considerable number of sheep on the square, in Far West -- near about one hundred. I then left Far West and returned home, (in the east part of Caldwell county,) having been summoned to Far West by my militia captain, but performed no military duties while there. And further this deponent saith not.
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George Walter, George M. Hinkle, James C. Owens, Nathaniel Carr. Abner Scovel, John Cleminson, Reed Peck, James C. Owens (re-examined,) William Splawn, Thomas M. Odle, John Raglin, Allen Rathbun, Jeremiah Myers, Andrew J. Job, Freedurn H. Gardner, Burr Riggs, Elisha Camron, Charles Bleckley, James Cobb, Jesse Kelly, Addison Price, Samuel Kimbel, William W. Phelps, John Whitmer, James B. Turnur, George W. Worthington, Joseph H. McGee, John Lockhart, Porter Yale, Benjamin Slade, Ezra Williams, Addison F. Green, John Taylor, Timothy Lewis, Patrick Lynch.
For the defendants.Malinda Porter, Delia F. Pine, Nancy Rigdon, Jonathan W. Barlow, Thorit Parsons, Ezra Chipman, Arza Judd, jr.
Rebutting testimony for the State. -- Asa Cook.
(There are occasionally a few words in the testimony inserted in brackets; these are not in the original, but are inserted for better understanding of what the witness testified.)
William W. Phelps, a witness on the part of the State, produced, a sworn, and examined, deposeth and saith: That, as early as April last, at a meeting in Far West of eight or twelve persons, Mr. Rigdon arose, and made an address to them, in which he spoke of having borne persecutions, and law-suits, and other privations, and did not intend to bear them any longer, that they meant to resist the law, and if a sheriff came after them with writs they would kill him, and if any body opposed them, they would take off their heads. George W. Harris, who was present, observed, You mean the head of their influence, I suppose? Rigdon answered, he meant that lump of flesh and bones called the skull, or scalp. Joseph Smith, jr. followed Mr. Rigdon, approving his sentiments, and said that was what they intended to do. Both, in their remarks, observed, that they meant to have the words of the presidency to be as good and undisputed as the words of God; and that no one should speak against what they said. Hiram Smith was not in Far West at the time, and (I) think he was not in the country. Some time in June, steps were taken to get myself and others out of the county of Caldwell, and efforts were made to get the post office from me, (being post master,) by a demand for it. I explained the law, which I then informed the second presidency of the church, by letter, that I was willing to do any thing that was right, and, if I had wronged any man, I would make satisfaction. I was then notified to attend a meeting. Sidney Rigdon, in an address, again brought up the subject of the post office. I told them if public opinion said I should give it up, I would do so; but they (would) have to await the decision of the Postmaster General; which they agreed to do, with the understanding that a committee of three should inspect the letters written and sent by me, as well as those received by me. This committee, however, never made their appearance. After my case was disposed of, another man's was taken up; he attempted to speak in his defence, and said he was a republican. Several rushed up towards him,
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and stopped him, telling him if he had any thing to say in favor of the presidency, he might say it, and that was their republicanism. Joseph Smith, jr., Sidney Rigdon and Hiram Smith, who compose the first presidency were there. It was observed in the meeting that, if the person spoke against the presidency, they would hand them over to the hands of the Brother of Gideon. -- I knew not, at the time, who or what it meant. Shortly after that I was at another meeting, where they were trying several -- the first presidency being present; Sidney Rigdon was their chief spokesman. The object of the meeting seemed to be to make persons confess, and repent of their sins to God and the presidency; and arraigned them, for giving false accounts of their money and effects they had on hand; and they said, whenever they found one guilty of these things, they were to be handed over to the Brother of Gideon. Several were found guilty, and handed over as they said. I yet did not know what was meant by this expression, "the brother of Gideon." Not a great while after this, secret or private meetings were held; I endeavored to find out what they were; and I learned from John Corrill and others, that they were forming a secret society called Danites, formerly called the Brother of Gideon. In the meeting above referred to, in which I was present, one man arose to defend himself; and he was ordered to leave the house, but commenced to speak; Avard then said, "Where are my ten men?" Thirty or more arose up; whereupon the man said he would leave the house. At this meeting I agreed to conform to the rules of the church in all things, knowing I had a good deal of property in the county, and if I went off I should be (obliged) to leave it. For some time before and after this meeting an armed guard was kept in town and one of them at my house, during the night, as I supposed, to watch my person. In the fore part of July, I being one of the justices of the county court, was forbid by Joseph Smith, jr., from issuing any process against him. I learned from the clerk of the circuit court that declarations had been filed against Smith, Rigdon, and others, by Johnston; and, in reference to that case, Smith told Cleminson, the clerk, that he could not issue a writ against him. I observed to Mr. Smith that there was a legal objection to issuing it; that the cost (meaning the clerk's fee) had not been paid. Smith replied, he did not care for that; he did not intend to have any writ issued against him in the county. These things, together with many others, alarmed me for the situation of our county; and at our next circuit court, I mentioned these things to the judge and several members of the bar. A few days before the 4th day of July last, I heard D. W. Patten, (known by the fictitious name of Captain Fearnaught) say that Rigdon was writing a declaration, to declare the church independent. I remarked to him, I thought such a thing treasonable -- to set up a government within a government. He answered, it would not be treasonable if they would maintain it, or fight till they died. Demick Huntington, and some others, made about the same remark. Sidney Rigdon's 4th of July oration was the declaration referred to. Along through the summer and fall, a storm appeared to be gathering; and, from time to time, I went out into Ray and Clay counties; saw and conversed with many gentlemen on the subject, who always assured me that they would use every exertion, that the law should be enforced; and I repeatedly made these things known in Caldwell county, and that there was no disposition among the people to raise mobs against them from these counties. I never was invited, nor did I
attend any of their secret meetings. I was at the meeting the Monday before the last expedition to Daviess, having learned that steps would be taken there which might affect me. At this meeting, the presidency, together with many others, were there, to the number of perhaps 200 or 300, or more. Joseph Smith, jr., I think it was, who addressed the meeting, and said, in substance, that then they were about to go to war in Daviess county; that those persons who had not turned out their property should be taken to maintain the war. This was by formal resolution, and was not objected to by any present. A motion was then made by Sidney Rigdon, that the blood of those who were thus backward should first be spilled in the streets of Far West; a few said, Amen to this. But immediately Mr. Joseph Smith, jr., before Rigdon's motion was put, rose and moved that they be taken out into Daviess county, and, if they came to battle, they should be put on their horses with bayonets and pitchforks, and put in front: this passed without a dissenting voice. There was a short (speech) made then, by Joseph Smith, jr., about carrying on the war; in which he said it was necessary to have something to live on; and, when they went out to war, it was necessary to take spoils to live on. This was in reference to the dissenters, as well as to the people of Daviess, where they were going. In this speech he told the anecdote of the Dutchman's potatoes.
Finding I should have to go out, and not wishing to be put in front of the battle, I sought a situation, and went out with my wagon. This was the expedition in which Gallatin and Millport were burnt. I went on to Diahmon a few days after the Mormon troops had gone out. I went to the tavern, late at night, where I found Joseph Smith, jr., Hiram Smith, and others. I informed J. Smith that the Clay troops had returned home, some 40 or 50 in number; but told him that General Parks was in Far West and his troops just behind.
There was a conversation among them as to what they would (do); and they came to the conclusion to send down to Lyman Wight, at his house, for him to send an express to General Parks that his troops were not needed. Some time before day I awoke, and found Lyman Wight and Captain Fearnaught in the house; he said he had an express to General Parks informing him that his militia was not needed. Wight asked J. Smith, twice if he had come to the point now to resist the law; that he wanted this matter now distinctly understood. He said he had succeeded in smoothing the matter over with Judge King, when he was out, and that he defied the United States to take him, but that he had submitted to be taken because he (Smith) had done so. This was in reference to the examination for the offence for which he and Smith had been brought before Judge King in Daviess. Smith replied, the time had come when he should resist all law. In the fore part of the night after my arrival I heard a good deal of conversation about drawing out the mob from Daviess. I heard J. Smith remark there was a store at Gallatin, and grocery at Millport; and in the morning after the conversation between Smith and Wight about resisting the law, a plan of operations was agreed on, which was, that Capt. Fearnaught, who was present, should take a company of one hundred men, or more, and go to Gallatin, and take it that day; to take the goods out of the store in Gallatin, bring them to Diahmon, and burn the store. Lyman Wight was to take a company and go to Millport on the same day; and Seymore Brunson was to take a
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company, and go to the Grindstone fork on the same day. This arrangement was made in the house, before day, while I was lying on the floor. When I arose in the morning, some of the companies were gone; but I saw Lyman Wight parade a horse company, and start off with it towards Millport. I also (saw) a foot company the same day go off.
On the same day and evening I saw both these companies return; the foot company had some plunder, which appeared to be beds and bed-clothes, &c. They passed on towards the bishop's store, but I know not what they did with the plunder. I remained in the camps one day and two nights at Diahmon, when I returned to Far West. The night before I started to Far West, an express was sent from Joseph Smith and Lyman Wight's to Rigdon, at Far West; but what was the contents of the express I know not. When I returned to Far West, I had a message in reference to having wood and provisions provided for the families of those persons in Far West, who were in Daviess; and for the purpose of giving that information, I was invited to a school house, where I was admitted. The men being paraded before the door when I arrived, in number about 40 or 50. It was remarked that these were true men; and we all marched into the house. A guard was placed around the house, and one at the door.
Mr. Rigdon then commenced making covenants, with uplifted hands. The first was, that if any man attempted to move out of the county, or pack their things for that purpose, that any man then in the house, seeing this without saying anything to any other person, should kill him, and haul him into the brush, and that all the burial he should have should be in a turkey buzzard's guts, so that nothing of him should be left but his bones. That measure was carried in form of a covenant with uplifted hands. After the vote had passed, he said, Now see if any one dare vote against it, and called for the negative vote; and there was none. The next covenant, that, if any persons from the surrounding country came into their town, walking about -- no odds who he might be -- any one of that meeting should kill him, and throw him aside into the brush. This passed in a manner as the above had passed. The third covenant was, "conceal all these things." Mr. Rigdon, then observed, that the kingdom of heaven had no secrets; that yesterday a man had slipped his wind, and was dragged into the hazel brush; and, said he, "the man who lisps it shall die." There were several companies organized at this meeting, and volunteers called for; and I, having (been) assigned the command of the express company, called for volunteers -- wanting to be doing something yo make a show. Amasa Lyman, a defendant, was in that meeting, and was appointed by Mr. Rigdon captain of a company whose duty it was to watch the movements of the enemy, or mob in Buncombe; and if they hurt one house in Caldwell, his company was to burn four of theirs; and men were selected, who were strangers in the community where they were, to act towards the latter part of the instructions. To Lyman's company, Rigdon observed, that if the inhabitants in the surrounding country commenced burning houses in Caldwell, if they could not get clear of them in any other way, they would poison them off. This last remark I did not understand as being particularly addressed to Lyman as a part of the duties of his company, but seemed (to be) addressed to the meeting generally. This meeting was on Saturday, and
on the next Monday I returned to Diahmon, with seven or eight wagons, three of four of which were moving some families, that I had been directed to take to Diahmon for use there. I arrived at Diahmon that evening, and, next morning four of the wagons were loaded and sent back to Far West. Joseph Smith, jr., and Hiram Smith, perhaps, informed me they wanted four wagons -- a part of which was to haul beef and pork to Far West; and what the balance of the loading was, I did not know; but these wagons, brought out by me, were pointed out, and taken back to Far West. I remained in the camps in Diahmon that day; my wagon and another went down to Millport, and brought up Slade's goods which were there. Slade is not a Mormon, but has three brothers residing in or about Far West, who are Mormons.
The following of the defendants were in the last expedition to Daviess:
Joseph Smith, jr., P. P. Pratt. Lyman Wight, George W. Robinson. Alanson Ripley, George W. Harris, Elijah Newman was one of my men. Isaac Morley was not there. Alexander McRay was there. Ebenezer Robinson was there. Edward Partridge was there. James H. Rawlins was there. Sheffield Daniels, I think, was not there. Samuel Bent was there, and he was called Captain Black Hawk. While in Adam on Diahmon, I saw George W. Robinson, with a clock under his arms, which I afterwards saw in Far West, and which was claimed by a Mr. McLaney, of Daviess county, as his property, after the arrival of General Clark at Far West.
W. W. PHELPS.
Missouri, City of Jefferson, office of the Secretary of State:
I, James L. Miner, Secretary of State of the State of Missouri, do hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and correct copy of the evidence on file in this office, purporting to have been taken before the Hon. A. A. King in November, 1838, on a court of inquiry into certain charges against the persons herein named, so far as the same appears from the records.
[L. S.] In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and affixed the seal of said office, this first day of February, A. D., eighteen hundred and forty-one
JAS L. MINER,
Secretary of State, Missouri.