Far West from Our Ancestors’ Perspectives

Far West from Our Ancestors’ Perspectives August 6, 2022
After visiting Adam-ondi-Ahman, we drove to Far West. I timed our arrival at sunset. I wanted to be on the temple site after dark as we talked about the fulfillment of a dated prophecy—meeting to continue the foundation of the Far West Temple. The Saints had been driven from the state and a few people gathered in the very early hours of April 26th to see that prophecy fulfilled. Our ancestor was there.
Far West, Missouri at sunset
We circled our camp chairs in the parking lot as thunder and lightning menaced in the distance—but never disturbed us. (Rain poured on us as we drove away.) No one else visited the site while we were there! We had the space all to ourselves for several hours. Our cousin Jenni Clark Andersen shared some history of Far West. Every family shared an ancestor’s story from the Far West era and then two hours later we ended with the story of the temple prophecy.
Then, because the grounds are open 24 hrs a day, we entered the sacred space as a family. It was even better than I had imagined while planning the moment. The children handled an incredibly long day so well. I’m so grateful for a family who knows how to be real and have fun together and also can worship in sacred spaces.

The Lord Favors Far West, Missouri

Kyla Bushman reading the Far West Temple Lot Monument

Doctrine and Covenants 115:5-8

Verily I say unto you all: Arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations;

And that the gathering together upon the land of Zion, and upon her stakes, may be for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth.

Let the city, Far West, be a holy and consecrated land unto me; and it shall be called most holy, for the ground upon which thou standest is holy.

Therefore, I command you to build a house unto me, for the gathering together of my saints, that they may worship me.

 

Doctrine and Covenants 118:4-5

And next spring let them depart to go over the great waters, and there promulgate my gospel, the fulness thereof, and bear record of my name.

Let them take leave of my saints in the city of Far West, on the twenty-sixth day of April next, on the building-spot of my house, saith the Lord.

Far West Temple southeast cornerstone
Southeast cornerstone

John Tanner (60 years old) and Sidney Tanner (30 years old)

Dad’s 3rd and 2nd great-grandfather

When John Tanner left Kirtland for Missouri his outfit consisted of one broken down stage horse a turnpike cart, twenty dollars in money and a keg of powder. This was a considerable change of fortune from when he arrived in Kirtland four years earlier a wealthy man.

John Tanner had an excellent farm and home which were exempt to him from sale by law, and he could have retained these and remained in Kirtland in comfort, but he had signed as surety for the Church and no financial promise of his had ever before gone unfulfilled; now would he now fail to meet his obligations if it took all he had. He sold his farm and enough other property to pay his obligation and was consequently left with only one horse, a turn-pike cart, a keg of powder, and $20 in cash, with which to transport himself and family of eleven a distance of a thousand miles.  This was quite a change for Father Tanner; from a condition of wealth in which he was enabled to assist many people and the Church in general, he was left in a condition without means to assist himself at the age of sixty years.

In a financial way, he had staked his all on his faith, the Prophet, and the Church, and had lost.  No doubt this happened to try his faith, for it was not traceable to his lack of business sagacity or thrift. But all this did not cause Father Tanner to lose his faith in the gospel nor in the mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith, for he had a firm testimony of the truth of the gospel and believed firmly in the latter-day dispensation; hence, he could not be moved out of the chosen path.  By the aid of his horse and cart and a wagon and three horses, which he succeeded in borrowing, he was enabled to carry his family safely to Missouri, receiving some help from the people along the way. But the journey was not without hardships, which caused the death of one of his daughters. Arriving in Missouri, and relating his experiences to some of his friends, he remarked that if others had come up to Missouri easier than he, they had not learned so much and had not, therefore, received so much benefit from the journey, thereby acknowledging the hand of the Lord in his privations. He arrived at Far West, Missouri, on July 3, 1838, where with his characteristic thrift and the aid of his sons, he soon paid off the debts and had the means of a comfortable living. 

Clash at Far West

Sidney Tanner
Sidney Tanner

Sidney and his brother Nathan (23 years old) were in the company that took the cannon from the mob.

Brother Amasa M. Lyman who was Sidney’s brother-in-law (25 years old) and Brother Dunn had been taken prisoners. They were abused by the mob and were made to ride on the cannon. Amasa’s arms were lashed to his body and he had only the use of them below the elbow to fend off any attacks. Two big ruffians were asked if they could cut a Mormon’s head off, and if so, they were to try him. They were later released and went into the camp to which Sidney and Nathan were assigned.

A company was soon formed to go after the cannon. Nathan described the scene.

The enemy was camped at one corner of a forty acre lot and we came to the opposite corner and divided our company, sending fifty men on each side of the field. We made a charge on their camp. The side Brother Sidney and I were on had been partly cleared. There had been log heaps piled up, and a second growth of young hickories had grown up. We had to ride in open ranks, so if they fired the cannon on us, it would take but little effect, as they could only hit one man. I well remember Brother Sidney as I rode by him through brush and over log heaps. He lost his hat and his thin white hair floated in the air as his horse leaped a log heap clearing twenty feet from where she rose. He was a young man, full of life and vigor, and he knew no fear.

The mob had buried the cannon but it was soon found. The cannon and a number of cartridges were hauled back to Far West.

Mob Assault on John at Far West

While John (60 years old) and his son Myron (8 years old) were returning from a mill in the fall of 1838 and were about nine miles from home, they saw a company of state militia coming in their direction, and their appearance was so much like that of a mob that, suspecting their evil intentions, Father Tanner told his son Myron to run and secret himself so that he could be spared to tell what become of his father. Myron ran and secreted himself beneath a heap of brush.

The mob came up, and, as Father Tanner had suspected they would, they sought to take his life. Captain M. Meyer Odell, snapped his gun with deadly aim at him and the gun failed to fire. The misfire so enraged him that he swore and turned his gun and he seized it by the muzzle and dealt Father Tanner a heavy blow upon the head. Had not Father Tanner worn a thick felt hat at the time, it is very probable that it would have proved fatal. The mob then took him prisoner and held him and his team for several days. In order to wipe out the evidence of the murderous assault, they ordered him to wash off the blood from his head and face, but this he refused to do. They killed one man by the name of Carey and upon Father Tanner’s word of honor that he would return, they allowed him with others to go and take the corpse to his family, and ever faithful to his promise he returned to their custody. During the militia raid, Father Tanner lost heavily in stock stolen by the mob. As soon as he was released, he went to work at once making preparations to remove to Illinois. 

Elizabeth Beswick Tanner’s Record

John Tanner’s wife during this time was Elizabeth Beswick Tanner.  His wife who is our ancestor died in New York before John and his family joined the church. From Elizabeth Beswick Tanner’s autobiography:

During the winter Mr. Tanner and our son Myron, then twelve years old, went to mill and took a grist of corn to be ground. On their return when near Durphy house [we’re unsure if this is our ancestor Durfee’s house,] they were informed that a company of mob was scouring the country pillaging and harassing the Saints and taking them prisoners. They hastened to unharness their horses intending to turn off through the woods and make their escape but before they could accomplish it, the mob was on them full blast. He told his little boy to run for his life and tell his mother that his father was a prisoner. He accordingly dodged into a pile of brush and hid until the mob passed on, when he went to the Durphy’s house and stayed all night returning home the next day.

In the meantime, the mob rushed up, Myre Odell the captain, snapping his gun twice at Mr. Tanner. That failing to go off enraged him so that with a fearful oath, calling him a [blankety-blank] old Mormon he turned his gun and struck him on the head inflicting as 7-inch gash to the bone near the temple from which the blood ran into his boots.

Nathan, standing guard that night confessed that “when I let my father through…I did not know him only by his voice as he was so covered with blood.”

The Rest of the Story

The mob took him to their camp and kept him there all night. In the morning they released him on parole when he visited his family and returned to camp without allowing his wounds dressed or cared for. He returned in time to see Joseph Smith and other leading men brought into camp as prisoners. Sidney Tanner was there too. They heard the trial by the pretended court-martial, and the order to shoot Joseph and other leaders. They also heard General Doniphan’s response saying it was murder in cold blood which he refused to do, which saved the lives of the prisoners.

A table was brought to the public square and the Mormons were marched up to it at the point of a bayonet, and required to sign away everything they had to pay the expenses of the mob that had driven them out. They then took their acknowledgment that it was their free voluntary act and deed. After signing, Nathan threw the pen down and said that it looked like a free volunteered act and deed—at the point of a bayonet as they were presented to us. He was immediately knocked senseless with the breech of a rifle. He later said they had taken our prophet and patriarch and sentenced them to be shot, and had required all they would find—anything against us to be given up or imprisonment or death. The rest of the saints could have their choice to leave the state in six months, or be exterminated—men, women, and children.

Sidney and John were marched to Richmond, a distance of thirty miles, during severely cold weather and kept there three weeks where they suffered very much from cold and privation in the company of sixty others. They had to cook for themselves and made all their bread in two small bake kettles.

Sidney may have performed his greatest service to the church during the trouble in Missouri, the sojourn in Montrose and the trip to Utah. He has been described by one writer as a man “of marvelous constitutional powers.” He needed it during these trying years. He was thirty-one years of age when he left Far West for Montrose, Iowa,  and thirty-seven when the Saints left for the West. These were times which tried men’s souls, and the Tanner men were brought up for just such times.

Southeast cornerstone plaque

Lucius Nelson (32 years old) and Lury Snow (31 years old) Scovil

Dad’s 3rd great-grandparents

Lucius Nelson Scovil

Soon after being shot at by a mob at Adam-ondi-Ahman, Lucius and about 50 men arrived from Far West saying that a mob of several thousand strong were gathering near that place and intended to attack the next morning. This information was received about midnight and at 1 am, a large party, under the direction of Colonel Lyman Wight of the 5 Regiment, left for Far West, arriving there about 7am, having covered the 28 miles in about six hours. The mob had by this time moved up to within three-quarters of a mile of the town and were camped in plain view, they being on one rise of ground and the town on another with a small valley between them. 

The heads of the mob sent word that unless the leaders of the Church were handed over to them they would attack at 8 am the following morning. The answer to this demand was made by the people erecting large defensive breast-works made of logs, agons, and heavy house articles. This work was carried on before the eyes of the thousands who made up the mob.

The mob was known for their brutality. 

No shots having been fired, Lieutenant Colonel George M. Hinckle took a white flag and went out to talk to the mob leaders. After being with them for some time he returned saying that they wished to talk to the leaders of the Church in order that they might come to some sort of agreement. Trusting in Hinckle, the Prophet Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and Parley P. Pratt went out to meet the mob leaders, meeting them about halfway between the camps.  Hinckle then turned to the mob leaders and said, “Gentlemen, here are your prisoners.” The church leaders were marched into the enemy camp. 

Hinckle, after turning traitor, returned to the ranks of the Saints saying that he had the confidence of Joseph Smith and that it was his suggestion that all arms be laid down. A consultation was held where it was decided that this would probably be the best and wisest move. They had no way of telling what might happen to the men who had been made prisoners if they did not comply.  They were out number one hundred to one. 

The camp was very reluctant to give up the few arms and little ammunition they had as it was the only protection they had. They finally laid down their arms and all were marched into the enemy camp as prisoners where about seventy were placed under heavy guard. The rest were refused permission to return to their homes and could not even go in or out of town without a special pass.

The following morning the prisoners were brought from the camp to the public square in the town and it was decided to place the prisoners in the Richmond Jail. A column was formed and the Saints were forced to march toward Richmond. Some thousand men then stationed themselves at Far West, establishing what they called martial law, but really was just another form of persecution. At the point of a bayonet, citizens were forced to sign a deed of trust, which they said was to defray the expenses of the war.

The Church leaders were not taken to Richmond, but were taken to Independence and there thrown in jail and shackled in irons. They were kept in Independence for a short time and then taken to Liberty Jail where they were kept for several months.

Checking In on Lury and the Children (who had been fending for themselves!)

Things were still at a very high pitch in Far West, many fearing to return to their homes, but even though things were still bad, Lucius decided to return.  He had not seen or heard anything of his family for over two weeks and felt that perhaps something was wrong.  He started for home but had not gone far when he met a number of families who had just left Far West, his family among them. So after satisfying himself that they were all well, he continued his journey, thinking he might be of some assistance to the families who were left in Far West.

He stayed about 10 days and then went to Log Creek where he started to work building a log cabin on some property he had previously purchased. It was late in the year and a shelter had to be built before winter set in. He was able to get it finished before the snow fell and then was fortunate in finding a job where he earned enough money to pay for provisions, buy a wagon, harness, and many things they had been forced to leave behind when they were driven from town.  The family stayed here until the last week in February when they received word that the Saints were gathering in Quincy, Illinois. After debating the question, they decided to load their things and move on to a new settlement. They started for Illinois the same week and arrived there on 6 March 1839.

When so many Saints poured into Quincy, they decided to branch out. That’s when they went to Nauvoo.

Lucius kept his family in Quincy for a few more months because they needed clothes and Quincy provided a great chance to earn the money than Nauvoo did.

Scovil Family Taken Ill

He was making headway in his work when July 6th, he fell ill. A few days later, his wife and children were also sick in bed. 

From Lucius’ journal:

Some had bilious fever and the rest had chills and fever. We continued in this situation for three months, sometimes one was up and then another. In about two months from the time we were taken sick, Sariah, our youngest one, [Sariah is dad’s 2nd great-grandmother and was about 2 years old] was taken with the black canker and it commenced to eating and ate a hole through her under lip and ate out two teeth and ate most of her chin. She was very low before she was taken with this disorder and we almost despaired of saving her life, but through the mercies of God, her life was preserved and we all got well.  During this time, we had spent all of the money that I had earned before I was sick. It had gone for necessities and I was compelled to get some things on credit to keep my family from suffering. Therefore, I was obliged to stay there and pay what I was owing.

Sariah Scoville Marsden

Lucius went to a conference held October 6th in Nauvoo. At that conference, the heads of the Church sent a party to Washington, DC to see if something could be done about the treatment of Church members by the State of Missouri. Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and Judge Rigby went to Washington, but the government refused to do anything about the existing conditions.

He paid all of his bills during the winter of 1839-1840 and started to save to move to Nauvoo.  He was called to a General Conference on April 6, 1840. At this conference, Orson Hyde and John M. Hyde were appointed to go on a mission to Jerusalem.  Seventy-five people were baptized. 50 were ordained in the Seventies. 

Lucius returned home after the conference and then returned with his family to Nauvoo on 5 May 1840. 

Far West Temple northeast cornerstone
Northeast cornerstone

Silas (59 years old) and Mary Aikens (41 years old) Smith 

Dad’s 3rd great grandparents

Silas Smith
Mary Aikens Smith

In 1838, Silas’ family left to join the Saints in Far West, Missouri. When they reached Huntsville, Randolph County, Missouri, they were met by Mormons fleeing the state because of Governor Boggs’ extermination order. They turned around and camped where the Salt River ran into the Mississippi River ten miles above Louisiana, Pike County, Missouri. Their middle son, John Aikens Smith, age 6, died of exposure. Our ancestor, Jesse Nathaniel Smith, would have been around 4 years old at this time.

Jesse Nathaniel Smith

 

Northeast cornerstone plaque

Enos (55 years old) and Ruth Franklin (48 years old) Curtis

Mom’s 3rd great-grandparents

Enos Curtis
Ruth Franklin Curtis

In the Redress Petition, Enos Curtis made statements concerning his personal losses. From the move from Rutland to Missouri, he lost $300.  Because of being driven from Clay County to Calwell County, he lost $150. He said their home was plundered of clothing and furniture at a loss of $200.  They lost their crops including corn and potatoes totaling $100. Cattle and hogs came to $50. Two destroyed bee stands came to $8. Four muskets were $40.00.  The tallied loss of their land was $409. Being driven from Missouri cost them $500.  The total of their losses was $1648.  Enos signed the same saying, “I Do Certify the above count to Be Just and true according to the Best of my Knowledge, Enos Curtis”

Enos’ sons (including our ancestor John White Curtis, aged 18) were out on the prairies putting up wild hay. The situation became so tense that Enos became worried about his sons. So he rode out in the night to get them. They were asleep but were awakened by the noise of a horseman coming toward their camp. They were frightened as they’d lived for quite a while with the anxiety and nervousness of a people who constantly feared the mob. Enos had a peculiar cough and as he rode toward then, he happened to cough. They gave a sigh of relief and said to the others who were with them, “Do not fear, it is Father.”  They started home as daylight approached and could see that they were being followed by a mob. Enos and his sons increased the speed of their horses as the mob gained on them until they were running for their lives. They reached town just ahead of the mob who finally turned away.

John White Curtis

While the mobs were doing their vicious raids, two or three families would gather together in one home for protection. On one such occasion, the mob came to the home of Enos Curtis, but the men were away.

The mob ordered the occupants out of the house. The family told them that Ruth Curtis was ill and could not leave the house. The mob left but came back a second and third time and finally set fire to the house. The women carried Mother Ruth out of the house on a sheet. As the men heard about the raid, they rushed back and carried Ruth away in a wagon as she could not walk.  The mob even chased the wagon, but they finally got away.

In an affidavit, Enos Curtis said that on 18 Oct 1845, in the Morley Settlement, he saw two houses and three stables burning, and also saw mobbers armed with guns going away from the same. He said that on the 21st, he saw another house burning, said to belong to the widow Boss containing her vegetables and other vegetables.

After leaving Nauvoo with the Saints, the Curtis family and a family named Stowell were being ferried across a large river in a fierce windstorm when the cable broke, leaving them to drift downstream into the rapids and certain destruction. When this happened, Enos Curtis raised his arm to the square and commanded the wind to take them to shore. It ceased its velocity and changed direction so the ferry drifted to shore and both families were saved. However, as soon as they were safely on shore, the gale began as fiercely as before.

Far West Temple northwest cornerstone
Northwest cornerstone

Tamma Durfee Miner Curtis (25 years old)

Mom’s 2nd great-grandmother

Tamma Durfee Miner Curtis

Tamma married Albert Miner before she married our ancestor John White Curtis. 

From Tamma’s journal:

We went back to Kirtland and sold the farm, put some of his means into the Kirtland camp and took the balance started for Far West, Missouri. About the middle of June 1838, bidding Albert’s mother, sisters, and brothers, all farewell for the Gospel’s sake. We traveled until we ran short of means, and then we stopped and worked until we got enough to go ahead. We went on to Missouri and got to Dewitt the last of August. The children were all sick, and I had been so sick that I could not walk, and Albert was so sick he could not harness and take care of the team. We soon got better, we stayed one week at DeWitt and then started for Far West all alone, we got to father’s (Edmund Durfee) about the 1st of September. The children were all sick, but father said we would all get better which they did in a few days, all except Silva who did not recover and died about the first of October 1838.

The mob gathered and killed many and drove all the Mormons from Adam Diamon to Far West. Not being satisfied, the whole state with the Governor at their head gathered by the thousands to drive them from Far West. They wanted Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, our leaders, and the Twelve, and all they could get and put them in prison and they got mad. Some were bailed out and others had to stay and take up with such a fare as they could get and be fed on human flesh, but Joseph told them “not to eat it,” for the spirit of the Lord told him that it was human.

Thus we were plundered, smitten and driven from out homes, our lives were threatened and we were ill-treated on every side by our enemies. Enemies to the truths of heaven came along, one to five hundred right to our houses and nobody around but women and little children, take our men prisoners without any cause, only because they were Mormons and believed in the truths of the Gospel. They wanted to know if we had any guns, pistols or ammunition or butcher knives and such things. No one can tell, only those that passed through it and was an eyewitness to it can describe the feeling of the Saints and what they passed through.

Albert and Tamma Miner with five children got to the Missouri River on the first of September 1838 and lived on what they called “Log Creek” six miles from Far West. I was there when they killed David Patten when they took a lot of prisoners and the Saints had to lay down their lives to their enemies.

Albert Miner was one that had to take a load to the Mississippi River so we did not get away until the first of April 1839. We had witnessed a good leaving in the cold and dreary winter. We crossed over to Quincy, went up the river to place called Lima, Hancock county, Illinois. There we built us a house and bought a small place and fixed to live here a short time. But the devil wasn’t dead yet. In a short time there was some that would go to Lima and get drunk and come back swearing and tearing enough to frighten men, let alone women and children. I told Albert that I didn’t like to live there and hear them swear.

Northwest cornerstone plaque

Theodore (37 years old) and Frances Kimberley (38 years old) Turley

Dad’s 3rd great-grandparents

Theodore Turley
Theodore Turley

In 1838 Theodore and Frances traveled with a group of fellow Latter-day Saints to settle in Far West, Missouri, led by Elder Almon W. Babbitt. Theodore later recalled that he, Frances, and their six children (Frances A., Mary Ann, Priscilla, Frederick, Sarah, and Isaac) made the journey with two wagons and four horses. Isaac is our ancestor and was born in November 1837.

December 19: Theodore was a member of the High Council.

December 22: Theodore was ordained a Seventy by Heber C. Kimball.

1839 – January 26: At a meeting in Far West, Theodore was appointed to a committee to “ascertain the number of families who are actually destitute of means for their removal.”

January 29: At the following meeting, Theodore was appointed to the seven-member committee of removal. The purpose of this committee was to “superintend the business of our removal and to provide for those who have not the means of moving till the work shall be completed.

April 4: Theodore Turley and Heber C. Kimball visited Joseph Smith and other imprisoned church leaders at Liberty Jail. “[B]rothers Kimball and Turley were not permitted to enter the Prison, and all the communication we had with them, was thro’ the grate of the dungeon.”

Theodore Turley Confronts John Whitmer

Excerpt from History of the Church, Vol.3

On the fifth day of April 1839, a company of about fifty men in Daviess county swore that they would never eat or drink, until they had murdered “Joe Smith.” Their captain, William Bowman, swore, in the presence of Theodore Turley, that he would “never eat or drink, after he had seen Joe Smith, until he had murdered him.” This was the attitude of the men in Daviess and Caldwell Counties.

At this same time Captain Bogart, who was the county judge, a priest, and eight other men, one of them being John Whitmer, came to the room of the committee on removal where they found Theodore Turley. Bogart presented the revelation of July 8, 1838 (Doctrine & Covenants Sec. 118) in which the apostles were directed to leave the saints in Far West on the building site of the Lord’s House on the 26th of April 1839, and with a sneer and a vulgar laugh, asked Elder Turley to read it.

Elder Turley said, “Gentlemen, I am well acquainted with it.”

They said, “Then you, as a rational man, will have to give up Joseph Smith’s being a prophet and an inspired man. He and the twelve are now scattered all over creation; let them come here if they dare; if they do, they will be murdered. As that revelation cannot be fulfilled, you will now give up your faith.”

Turley jumped up and said: “In the name of God that revelation will be fulfilled!”

They laughed him to scorn. John Whitmer hung down his head. The Bogart group said, “If they (the apostles) come, they will get murdered; they dare not come to take their leave here; that is like all the rest of Joe Smith’s damn prophecies.” They then attempted to persuade Elder Turley to do what John Corrill had done, and they said: “He (Corrill) is going to publish a book called ‘Mormonism Fairly Delineated!’ he is a sensible man, and you had better assist him.”

Elder Turley replied: “Gentlemen, I presume there are men here who have heard John Corrill say that ‘Mormonism’ was true, that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and inspired of God. I now call upon you, John Whitmer. You say Corrill is a moral and a good man; do you believe him when he says the Book of Mormon is true, or when he says it is not true? There are many things published that they say are true, and again turn around and say they are false?”

Whitmer, asked, “Do you hint at me?”

Elder Turley said, “If the cap fits you, wear it; all I know is that you have published to the world that an angel did present those plates to Joseph Smith.”

Whitmer replied to this: “I now say, I handled those plates; there were fine engravings on both sides. I handled them.” Then he described in the presence of these bitter enemies how the plates were fastened and he said, “they were shown to me by a supernatural power.”

After making this statement, Elder Turley asked, “Why is not the translation now true?”

Whitmer answered, “I could not read it (the writing on the plates) and I do not know whether it (the translation) is true or not.” Whitmer testified all this in the presence of eight men. This testimony may have been surprising to John Whitmer’s companions, but not enough to make any deep impression. They had hailed him, as they did others who had turned away from the Church, as being “brave” and “sensible.” Down in their hearts, however, we may wonder if they did not really despise him.

Far West Temple southwest cornerstone
Southwest cornerstone

Theodore Turley, the Removal Committee, and Mob Violence at Far West

From Family Records:

While the Saints were making preparations to move away as fast as possible the mob was continually threatening the lives of the members of the committee and others. Thus frequently armed bands of mobbers came into Far West and abused men, women and children, stole horses, drove off cattle, and plundered houses of everything that pleased them… Because of the persecutions, the committee, on the 14th of April, 1839, moved thirty-six families into Tenny’s Grove, about twenty-five miles from Far West, and a few men were appointed to chop wood for them, while Elder Turley was to furnish them with meal and meat, until they could be removed to Quincy. The corn was ground at the committee’s horse mill at Far West.

On the morning of the 18th Elder Kimball went into the committee room and told the members of the committee who were present to wind up their affairs and be off, or their lives would be taken. Later in the day a number of mobbers met Elder Kimball on the public square in Far West and asked him with an oath if he was a ‘Mormon.’ He replied, ‘I am a “Mormon”‘. ‘Well,’ they said, ‘We’ll blow your brains out, you blankety-blank Mormon,’ and they tried to ride over him with their horses. This took place in the presence of Elias Smith, Theodore Turley and others of the committee. Almost immediately afterward twelve men went to Elder Turley’s house with loaded rifles intending to shoot him. They broke seventeen clocks into matchwood, broke tables, chairs and looking-glasses, smashed in the windows, etc., while Bogart, the county judge, looked on and laughed. One mobber by the name of Whitaker threw iron pots at Turley, one of which hit him on the shoulder, at which Whitaker jumped and laughed like a mad man. The mob shot down cows while the girls were milking them, and threatened to send the committee ‘to hell jumping,’ and ‘put daylight through them.’

The brethren gathered up what they could and left Far West in one hour. The mob stayed until they left, and then plundered $1,000 worth of property which had been left by the more well-to-do Saints to help the poor remove. One mobber rode up and finding no convenient place to fasten his horse, shot a cow that was standing near, and while the poor animal was yet struggling in death, he cut a strip of her hide from her nose to the tip of her tail, which he tied around a stump and fastened his halter to it.

During the commotion of the day, a number of records, accounts, history, etc., belonging to the committee were destroyed or lost, on account of which the history of the Church only contains a few definite dates of the doings of the committee.

On the 20th of April, 1839, the last of the Saints left Far West. Thus a whole community variously estimated from twelve to fifteen thousand souls, had left, or were about to leave the State of Missouri, where they had experienced so much sorrow, and found a temporary shelter in the State of Illinois, chiefly in Quincy and vicinity and a few in the territory of Iowa on the north.

From Theodore’s journal:

I left in Caldwell a dwelling house and stable, garden, well of water with conveniences, a work shop well fitted up, ten acres of timber land, two town lots. Unrighteously driven from the same, with about 10,000 (ten thousand) souls in company, trusting till God shall redeem us from the injustice of man. In consequence of the extreme forteage of labors of fitting up teams, etc., to convey the poor to the State of Illinois; being appointed one of the committee for that purpose. The journeys to the various prisons; the journeys with Petitions to Governor Boggs and to the Supreme Judge of the Courts of the State of Missouri laboring variously for the relief of my brethren and sisters for the space of nearly six months; after the fatigues of war. The particulars of which is impossible to describe. Then journeying with my wife and children 200 miles in a wet time; living in a tent for the space of 13 weeks and never having the privilege of sleeping under a roof for this time.

Southwest cornerstone plaque

Theodore Turley and the Far West Temple Prophecy April 26, 1839

“And next spring let them depart to go over the great waters, and there promulgate my gospel, the fulness thereof, and bear record of my name. Let them take leave of my saints in the city of Far West, on the twenty-sixth day of April next, on the building-spot of my house, saith the Lord.” Doctrine and Covenants 118:4-5, Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet at Far West, Missouri, July 8, 1838 in response to the supplication, “Show us thy will, O Lord, concerning the Twelve.”

This was the only revelation received by the Prophet with a specific date of fulfillment. Following the Missouri-Mormon War during the fall of 1838, and the expulsion of the Saints from Missouri during the winter of 1839, members of the Missouri mob swore they would kill any Mormons attempting to return to Far West in fulfillment of this prophecy.

Elder Wilford Woodruff describes the background and circumstances of the revelation.

“The Twelve Apostles were called by revelation to go to Far West, Caldwell county, to lay the foundation of the cornerstone of the Temple. When that revelation was given this Church was in peace in Missouri. It is the only revelation that has ever been given since the organization of the Church, that I know anything about, that had day and date given with it. The Lord called the Twelve Apostles, while in this state of prosperity, on the 26th day of April 1839, to go to Far West to lay the cornerstone of the Temple; and from there to take their departure to England to preach the Gospel. Previous to the arrival of that period the whole Church was driven out of the State of Missouri, and it was as much as a man’s life was worth to be found in the State if it was known that he was a Latter-day Saint; and especially was this the case with the Twelve. When the time came for the cornerstone of the Temple to be laid, as directed in the revelation, the Church was in Illinois, having been expelled from Missouri by an edict from the Governor. Joseph and Hyrum Smith and Parley P. Pratt were in chains in Missouri for the testimony of Jesus.”

Months earlier, Theodore Turley had defended Joseph Smith to a group of hostile men that vowed to keep this meeting from happening. During that same time, Isaac Russell had apostatized from the Church and had advised Missouri officials concerning the prophecy—who vowed to kill any Mormons attempting to fulfill this prophecy—since this doctrine had a date attached to it. [Isaac Russell had baptized Theodore and Frances into the church. They remained close friends. Theodore and Frances named their son Isaac (our ancestor) after their missionary, Isaac Russell.]

By the twenty-sixth of April, the day set for them to take leave of the Saints to start on their mission, nearly all the members of the Church had been driven from Far West. It seemed almost impossible that the prediction could be fulfilled, as the Saints had all been driven out of Missouri, and it would, according to the threats of the mob, be as much as an Apostle’s life was worth to be seen in Far West.

Some of the leading men in the Church thought that in view of the persecutions and scattered conditions of the Saints at that time, the Lord would not require the Twelve to fulfill His words to the letter but that, under the circumstances, He would take the will for the deed. The apostates and mobbers rejoiced at what they thought would be the failure of one of the revelations given through the Prophet Joseph; they thought that surely in this instance, at least, his words would be vain.

But this was not the feeling of President Young and those of the Twelve Apostles who were with him. He asked them individually what their feelings were upon the subject. Their desires were, they said, to fulfill the revelation.

He told them that the Lord had spoken, and it was their duty to obey, and leave the event in his hands, and he would protect them. Consequently, Brigham Young, Orson Pratt, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, George A. Smith, and Alpheus Cutler left Quincy for Far West to fulfill the revelation. They met John E. Page, who was an Apostle at the time, on the road, and told him they wanted him to go to Far West with them, which he did.

Just before reaching Far West (at Tenney’s Grove) Brigham Young and his traveling companions met Brothers Smith, Turley, and Clark of the committee who had been left there to attend to the removal of the poor Saints but had been driven from town.

They told the Apostles that members of the mob had come into Far West and tantalized them on the subject of the revelation, saying that it was one of Joseph Smith’s revelations which could not be fulfilled, as the Twelve Apostles were scattered to the four winds; and they threatened them severely if they were found in Far West the next day.

In the face of these threats, Elders Smith, Clark, and Turley turned around and accompanied the Apostles and the other brethren to Far West, having faith that the Lord would protect them.

Early on the morning of the 26th of April–the day mentioned in the revelation–a conference was held, 31 persons were cut off from the Church, and the Apostles and Saints proceeded to the building spot of the Lord’s house. Elder Cutler, the master workman of the house, then recommenced laying the foundation, agreeable to revelation, by rolling up a large stone near the southeast corner.

Seven of the Twelve Apostles were present. They then sang ‘Adam-ondi-Ahman;’ after which they took leave of eighteen Saints, agreeable to the revelation. The conference was then adjourned.

Theodore Turley was fortunate enough to be present at the fulfillment of the revelation he verbally defended.

Brigham Young recorded the following interchange regarding Theodore.

As the Saints were passing away from the meeting, Brother Turley said to Page and Woodruff, “Stop a bit, while I bid Isaac Russell good-bye;” and knocking at the door called, “Brother Russell.” His wife answered, “Come in, it is Brother Turley.” Russell replied, “It is not; he left here two weeks ago,” and appeared quite alarmed; but on finding it was Turley, asked him to sit down; but he replied, “I cannot; I shall lose my company.”

“Who is your company?” inquired Russell.

“The Twelve,” replied Turley.

“The Twelve!” exclaimed Russell.

To which Turley responded: “Yes. Don’t you know that this is the twenty-sixth, and the day the Twelve were to take leave of their friends on the foundation of the Lord’s House, to go to the islands of the sea? The revelation is now fulfilled, and I am going with them.”

Russell was speechless, and Turley bid him farewell. Theodore Turley then accompanied members of the Quorum of the Twelve on their missions to the British Isles. Thus was Doctrine and Covenants 118 fulfilled.

Far West Temple prophecy fulfilled plaque
Plaque proclaiming that the prophecy is fulfilled

 

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