Haun's Mill massacre

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Haun's Mill massacre
Haun's Mill by C.C.A. Christensen.png
"Haun's Mill" by C.C.A. Christensen
LocationFairview township in eastern Caldwell County, Missouri
Coordinates39°40′13″N 93°50′21″W / 39.670241°N 93.839035°W / 39.670241; -93.839035Coordinates: 39°40′13″N 93°50′21″W / 39.670241°N 93.839035°W / 39.670241; -93.839035
DateOctober 30, 1838
Weaponsmuskets and rifles
Deaths19
Non-fatal injuries
13, plus 3 of the attackers
Perpetrators~240 Livingston County Missouri Regulators militiamen and volunteers
 
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Haun's Mill massacre
Haun's Mill by C.C.A. Christensen.png
"Haun's Mill" by C.C.A. Christensen
LocationFairview township in eastern Caldwell County, Missouri
Coordinates39°40′13″N 93°50′21″W / 39.670241°N 93.839035°W / 39.670241; -93.839035Coordinates: 39°40′13″N 93°50′21″W / 39.670241°N 93.839035°W / 39.670241; -93.839035
DateOctober 30, 1838
Weaponsmuskets and rifles
Deaths19
Non-fatal injuries
13, plus 3 of the attackers
Perpetrators~240 Livingston County Missouri Regulators militiamen and volunteers
Haun's Mill Historic Site
The Haun's Mill stone is now in Breckenridge, Missouri
A millstone shortly after being recovered
This marker and the red millstone was intended to mark the well where the victims were buried. In 1941 the landowner moved them, unaware that he had moved the marker over the burial point. The exact location of the well is now not known.

The Haun's Mill massacre was an event in the history of the Latter Day Saint movement. It occurred on October 30, 1838 when a mob/militia unit from Livingston County, Missouri, attacked a Mormon settlement in eastern Caldwell County, Missouri, United States, after the Battle of Crooked River.[1] By far the bloodiest event in the 1838 Mormon War in Missouri, it has long been remembered by the members of the Latter Day Saint movement. The fifty-five attackers known by name to be involved were never prosecuted.

Haun's Mill[edit]

Haun's Mill was a mill established on the banks of Shoal Creek in Fairview Township, Caldwell County, Missouri in 1835–1836 by Jacob Haun (Hawn), who was not a Mormon.[2] However, by October 1838 there were approximately 75 Mormon families living along the banks of Shoal Creek, about 30 of them in the immediate vicinity of Haun's Mill and the blacksmith shop.[3]

Missouri militia[edit]

The militia involved in the massacre was led by Colonel William Jennings, Sheriff of Livingston County. At the time of the attack it consisted of 240 men from Daviess, Livingston, Ray, Carroll, and Chariton counties and included prominent men such as Charles Ashby of the Missouri state legislature and Thomas O. Byron, Clerk of Livingston County.[4]

Although the massacre took place a few days after Missouri's governor, Lilburn Boggs, issued his infamous Extermination Order, most historians have now concluded that the militia unit had neither the time nor the opportunity to have received news of the order.[5]

Truce[edit]

The threat posed by the growing strength and animosity of the Missouri militia caused considerable concern among the Mormon settlers at Haun's Mill. They held a council on Sunday, October 28, and decided to organize a defensive force. 28 men were armed and held in readiness against an attack. That same evening, one of the militia groups sent a representative who negotiated a truce with the settlers. Monday the 29th and most of Tuesday the 30th passed without incident.[4]

Massacre[edit]

On October 30 at approximately 4 p.m., the militia rode into the community. David Evans, a leader in the community, ran towards the militia, waving his hat and calling for peace. Alerted to the militia's approach, most of the Latter-day Saint women and children fled into the woods to the south, while most of the men headed to the blacksmith shop. Unfortunately, the building was a particularly vulnerable structure as the widely spaced logs made it easy for the attackers to fire inside. The shop became a deathtrap, since the militia gave no quarter, firing about one hundred rifle and musket shots into the building.

After the initial attack, several of those who had been wounded or had surrendered were shot dead. Members of the militia entered the shop and found ten-year-old Sardius Smith, eight-year old Alma Smith, and nine-year-old Charles Merrick hiding under the blacksmith's bellows. Alma and Charles were shot (Charles later died), and William Reynolds put his musket against Sardius's skull and blew off the top of his head, killing him.[6] Reynolds later explained, "Nits will make lice, and if he had lived he would have become a Mormon."[7] Seventy-eight-year-old Thomas McBride surrendered his musket to militiaman Jacob Rogers, who then shot McBride and hacked his body apart with a corn knife. Several other bodies were mutilated or clothing stolen, while many women were assaulted. Houses were robbed, wagons, tents and clothing were stolen, and horses and livestock were driven off, leaving the surviving women and children destitute.

By the end of the massacre at least seventeen Mormons were dead: Hiram Abbott, Elias Benner, John Byers, Alexander Campbell, Simon Cox, Josiah Fuller, Austin Hammer, John Lee, Benjamin Lewis, Thomas McBride (78), Charley Merrick (9), Levi Merrick, William Napier, George S. Richards, Sardius Smith (10), Warren Smith (44), and John York. Thirteen more had been injured, including a woman and nine-year-old child. A non-Mormon sympathizer was also killed. Three of the 250 militiamen were wounded, but none fatally. After the massacre, the dead were placed in an unfinished well and covered with dirt and straw. The survivors and their wounded gathered at Far West for protection.[4]

Aftermath[edit]

After the massacre, Philo Dibble stated that "Brother Joseph had sent word by Haun, who owned the mill, to inform the brethren who were living there to leave and come to Far West, but Mr. Haun did not deliver the message." Of the matter, Joseph Smith recorded, "Up to this day God had given me wisdom to save the people who took counsel. None had ever been killed who abode by my counsel." Then he recorded that innocent lives could have been saved at Haun’s Mill had his counsel been received and followed.[8][9] It appears that Haun had received the direction to relocate to Far West from Joseph Smith and did not convey this direction to any of the others at Haun's Mill.[10]

Although participants in the massacre boasted of their acts for years, none of the Missouri attackers were ever brought to trial,[4] and the Latter Day Saints' efforts at receiving justice in the Missouri courts failed.

Through 2012 the grounds of the massacre are maintained as a historic site by the Community of Christ. In May 2012 it was announced that the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had acquired the property from the Community of Christ. The church had also acquired the Far West burying ground from the Community of Christ.[11]

This event was dramatized in the Latter-day Saint film Legacy.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Mormon Hierarchy, D. Michael Quinn, pp 99-100[full citation needed]
  2. ^ Jensen, Emily W. (May 30, 2010), "Setting the record straight on the 'Hawn's' Mill Massacre", Deseret News 
  3. ^ Historical Record, Jenson, Vol. 7 & 8, p 671.[full citation needed]
  4. ^ a b c d History of the Church, Vol. III, pp 182–186.[full citation needed]
  5. ^ Hartley, William G. (2001). "Missouri's 1838 Extermination Order and the Mormons' Forced Removal to Illinois". Mormon Historical Studies 2 (1): 6. 
  6. ^ "Part III: Individual Affidavits from the National Archives (M–Z)," in Mormon Redress Petitions: Documents of the 1833–1838 Missouri Conflict, ed Clark V. Johnson (Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1992), 493–559.
  7. ^ Andrew Jenson, Historical Record, Dec. 1888, p. 673.[full citation needed]
  8. ^ Eyring, Henry B. (June 2008). "Safety in Counsel". Ensign. 
  9. ^ Joseph Smith, History of The Church, vol. 5, p.136-137[full citation needed]
  10. ^ R. Scott Lloyd, "Hauns Mill Massacre: 'New Insights and Interpretations'", Church News, November 9, 2013.
  11. ^ Stack, Peggy Fletcher (May 8, 2012), "Mormons buy property at site of Missouri massacre", The Salt Lake Tribune 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]