In Clay Caldwell And Daviess Counties





The counties in which the Mormons settled after leaving Jackson

County were thinly populated at that time, Clay County having

only 5338 inhabitants, according to the census of 1830, and

Caldwell, Carroll, and Daviess counties together having only 6617

inhabitants by the census of 1840. County rivalry is always a

characteristic of our newly settled states and territories, and

the Clay County people welcomed the Mormons as an addition to

their number, notwithstanding the ill favor in which they stood

with their southern neighbors. The new-comers at first occupied

what vacant cabins they could find in the southern part of the

county, until they could erect houses of their own, while the men

obtained such employment as was offered, and many of the women

sought places as domestic servants and school-teachers. The

Jackson County people were not pleased with this friendly spirit,

and they not only tried to excite trouble between the new

neighbors, but styled the Clay County residents "Jack Mormons," a

name applied in later years in other places to non-Mormons who

were supposed to have Mormon sympathies.



Peace was maintained, however, for about three years. But the

Mormons grew in numbers, and, as the natives realized their

growth, they showed no more disposition to be in the minority

than did their southern neighbors. The Mormons, too, were without

tact, and they did not conceal the intention of the church to

possess the land. Proof of their responsibility for what followed

is found in a remark of W. W. Phelps, in a letter from Clay

County to Ohio in December, 1833, that "our people fare very

well, and, when they are discreet, little or no persecution is

felt."*



* Millennial Star, Vol. XIV, p. 646.





The irritation kept on increasing, and by the spring of 1836 Clay

County had become as hostile to the Mormons as Jackson County had

ever been. In June, the course adopted in Jackson County to get

rid of the new-comers was imitated, and a public meeting in the

court house at Liberty adopted resolutions* setting forth that

civil war was threatened by the rapid immigration of Mormons;

that when the latter were received, in pity and kindness, after

their expulsion across the river, it was understood that they

would leave "whenever a respectable portion of the citizens of

this county should require it," and that that time had now come.

The reasons for this demand included Mormon declarations that the

county was destined by Heaven to be theirs, opposition to

slavery, teaching the Indians that they were to possess the land

with the Saints, and their religious tenets, which, it was said,

"always will excite deep prejudices against them in any populous

country where they may locate." In explanations of the

anti-Mormon feeling in Missouri frequent allusion is made to

polygamous practices. This was not charged in any of the formal

statements against them, and Corrill declares that they had done

nothing there that would incriminate them under the law. The

Mormons were urged to seek a new abiding-place, the territory of

Wisconsin being recommended for their investigation. The

resolutions confessed that "we do not contend that we have the

least right, under the constitution and laws of the country, to

expel them by force"; but gave as an excuse for the action taken

the certainty of an armed conflict if the Mormons remained. Newly

arrived immigrants were advised to leave immediately,

non-landowners to follow as soon as they could gather their crops

and settle up their business, and owners of forty acres to remain

indefinitely, until they could dispose of their real estate

without loss.



* Millennial Star, Vol. XV, p. 763.





The Mormons, on July 1, adopted resolutions denying the charges

against them, but agreeing to leave the county. The Missourians

then appointed a committee to raise money to assist the needy

Saints to move. Smith and his associates in Ohio had not at that

time the same interest in a Zion in Missouri that they had three

years earlier, and they only expressed sorrow over the new

troubles, and advised the fugitives to stop short of Wisconsin if

they could. An appeal was again made by the Missouri Mormons to

the governor of that state, but he now replied that if they could

not convince their neighbors of their innocence, "all I can say

to you is that in this republic the vox populi is the vox dei."



The Mormons selected that part of Ray County from which Caldwell

County was formed (just northeast of Clay County) for their new

abode, and on their petition the legislature framed the new

county for their occupancy. This was then almost unsettled

territory, and the few inhabitants made no objection to the

coming of their new neighbors. They secured a good deal of land,

some by purchase, and some by entry on government sections, and

began its improvement. Many of them were so poor that they had to

seek work in the neighboring counties for the support of their

families. Some of their most intelligent members afterward

attributed their future troubles in that state to their failure

to keep within their own county boundaries.



As the county seat they founded a town which they named Far West,

and which soon presented quite a collection of houses, both log

and frame, schools, and shops. Phelps wrote in the summer of

1837, "Land cannot be had around town now much less than $10 per

acre."* There were practically no inhabitants but Mormons within

fifteen or twenty miles of the town,** and the Saints were

allowed entire political freedom. Of the county officers, two

judges, thirteen magistrates, the county clerk, and all the

militia officers were of their sect. They had credit enough to

make necessary loans, and, says Corrill, "friendship began to be

restored between them and their neighbors, the old prejudices

were fast dying away, and they were doing well, until the summer

of 1838."



* Messenger and Advocate, July, 1837.



** Lee's "Mormonism Unveiled," p. 53.





It was in January, 1838, that Smith fled from Kirtland. He

arrived in Far West in the following March; Rigdon was detained

in Illinois a short time by the illness of a daughter. Smith's

family went with him, and they were followed by many devoted

adherents of the church, who, in order to pay church debts in

Ohio and the East, had given up their property in exchange for

orders on the Bishop at Far West. In other words, they were

penniless.



The business scandals in Ohio had not affected the reputation of

the church leaders with their followers in Missouri (where the

bank bills had not circulated and Smith and Rigdon received a

hearty welcome, their coming being accepted as a big step forward

in the realization of their prophesied Zion. It proved, however,

to be the cause of the expulsion of their followers from the

state.





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