Mormon Exodus to Far West, MO

At Far West began the first attempt at the City of Enoch, the New Jerusalem, and to Far West the faithful began to gather. From apostasy-riddled Kirtland, on July 6, 1838 started a caravan composed of fifty-eight wagons and 515 people and hundreds of cattle, sheep, swine-the first of the villages on wheels that would rock through Mormon history. Like most of those later caravans it was fleeing trouble and hunting sanctuary. Unfortunately, on July 4, two days before it set out, Joseph’s counselor Sidney Rigdon had made a fire-eating speech at Far West, daring the Gentiles to come on and threatening what would happen to them if they did. The Lord three days later sent a sign, ambiguous and troubling, by blasting the flagpole in the square of Far West with a thunderbolt. Rumors of Rigdon’s words and rumors of the Mormon secret avengers who called themselves the Sons of Dan spread through Gentile Missouri growing more fearsome with each repeating, and all Missouri that was not already in arms to harass the Mormons flew to arms to repel them, When the Kirtland company dragged wearily in on October 4 they found not sanctuary but bloody crisis. Missourians and Danites were raiding each other and burning farms and looting. On October 26 they clashed at the Battle of Crooked River, with casualties on both sides. Three days later two hundred men, either militiamen or mobbers ( the Mormons saw no reason to make a distinction), burst upon a little group of Mormon families gathered for safety at Haun’s Mill. They killed several at the first fire. The women and children ran screaming for the woods, men and boys dove for shelter into the blacksmith shop. The mobbers put their guns to the cracks and shot them as they huddled together or tried to hide behind the forge. When the women crept back later they found seventeen dead and fifteen others shot to bi~s but still living. Stiff with horror, terrified for their own lives if the mob should return, they dragged the bodies of their husbands and sons across the yard and dumped them into the well, and with their wounded escaped to Far West.