May 11, 2015
THE SIEGE OF DEWITT
we had a sick week! here's the coolest story!
this week we went out to a little town called Dewitt because we felt the spirit tell us that we needed to go out there to find someone. this is the history that i know about DeWitt.
Siege of DeWitt
During these conflicts, equally ominous events occurred between the Saints and their neighbors in DeWitt, Carroll County. A few Mormons had been welcomed earlier when they began settling in DeWitt in June 1838, but by July it was obvious to the citizens of Carroll County that the Latter-day Saints would soon outnumber them. As in Jackson, Clay, and Daviess counties, the fear of losing political control motivated the “old settlers” to believe the false reports about the “deluded Mormons” and to develop a pretext for driving them out. Three separate meetings were held in July to unify the citizens to expel the Mormons.
When approached with the ultimatum telling them to leave, George M. Hinkle, leader of the Saints and a colonel in the Missouri state militia, defiantly declared that the Saints would defend their rights to remain in DeWitt. Conditions throughout September remained at a standoff. Violence was avoided partly because many Carroll militiamen were away fighting in Daviess County during September. Late in September, the Saints at DeWitt sent a letter to Governor Lilburn W. Boggs asking for assistance in defending themselves against “a lawless mob” from Carroll and other counties, but they received no response.
Meanwhile the non-Mormon forces in DeWitt continued to increase as troops from Ray, Howard, and Clay counties arrived almost daily. The Latter-day Saints also received reinforcements and began building barricades.
The first week in October was a fearful one for the Saints because fighting broke out between the two camps. John Murdock recorded: “We were continually employed day and night guarding [the Saints]. … One night … I traveled all night from one sentinel to another to keep them to their duty.”14The need for food and shelter became critical. The anti-Mormon forces considered this siege “a war of extermination.”15
While exploring for a new settlement, the Prophet Joseph Smith was met by a harried emissary headed for Far West to inform the brethren of the situation in DeWitt. Disappointed, the Prophet said, “I had hoped that the good sense of the majority of the people, and their respect for the Constitution, would have put down any spirit of persecution which might have been manifested in that neighborhood.”16Changing his plans, Joseph traveled secretly on back roads to avoid enemy guards and slipped into DeWitt, where he found a few defenders opposing the large mob. The Prophet found that the Saints were experiencing systematic starvation and grievous privations.
Church leaders decided to appeal once again to the governor for assistance. They obtained affidavits from sympathetic non-Mormons about the treatment of the Saints and their dangerous situation. On 9 October they received the governor’s reply that “‘The quarrel was between the Mormons and the mob,’ and that ‘we might fight it out.’”17This blasted whatever hopes the Saints may have still entertained for executive relief.
Under these circumstances the earliest Mormon settlers of DeWitt urged their brethren to leave in peace. The Saints, Joseph Smith included, gathered up seventy wagons and sadly abandoned DeWitt on 11 October. “That evening a woman, of the name of Jensen, who had some short time before given birth to a child, died in consequence of the exposure occasioned by the operations of the mob, and having to move before her strength would properly admit of it. She was buried in the grove, without a coffin.” The mob “continually harassed and threatened” the traveling Saints, and several more of them died from “fatigue and privation.”
the rumor is, that when the saint were leaving DeWitt, Joseph Smith dusted his shoes at the city and the city was cursed. and let me tell you the curse is real! the city isnt very friendly to Mormons but we knew we had to be there. while we were walking around trying to find this lady, we both felt super uneasy. miraculously we saw the lady that we were trying to find. we had moved her out of her home in Carrolton and we had been praying to get her address so we could get her information switched over to the missionaries in her area and the ward that her family was going to be attending. as soon as we were done talking with her the spirit told us to leave so we left DeWitt very quickly!