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Martyrdom of James Strang (Part 4 of 6)

Both Joseph Smith and James Strang died in a hail of bullets.  In our next conversation with historian Bill Shepard, we will learn more about the martyrdom of James Strang.

GT: So he’s on Beaver Island. He creates a lot of political enemies and I guess religious as well.

Bill: Not only that, there’s Alexander Wood Wentworth and Thomas Bedford, two obviously ex- Mormons. One of them, with the strict laws that the Strangites tried to enforce, there was a case of adultery.  The grieved man testified.  So, this seducer is whipped. Of course, he hated Strang for that. There was a merchant, an ex-Mormon by name of McCullough on Beaver Island, and we think that McCullough was in league with the United States government with the steamship Michigan.  It is going to steam into the port.  Strang is going to be a his home and they’re going to say, “They want you on the dock,” and he’s going to walk down to the dock and Wentworth and Bedford are going to jump out behind him and shoot him down. Particularly, one ball goes clear up near his skull and he is mortally wounded at this time. Bedford and Wentworth are going to run down to the ship, and the ship’s going to take them out of there. They’re going to take them to Mackinaw and put them in jail, I think for just a couple minutes.  They’re going to come out and celebrate. These two fellows are never, never brought to justice for what they did.  They were greeted as heroes among the non-Mormons. It looks like there is some kind of an evil cabal or something with some elements of the government because of the role of the steamship coming in the United States.

Bill:  It was a navy ship, right?  U.S. Navy?

Bill:  Yeah. So, whatever the course, a man I know a lot about and have written about is through Wingfield Watson, a settler that lives six miles inside the island with his wife, with his homestead.  He had a son and a daughter about one, and then an infant. So these people that ransack the island, basically, as the books seem to indicate, drunken Irishmen, these people that are on the fringes of law.  They come to this Wingfield Watson’s house and they say, “You have an hour to get your stuff and get out.  Take what you can carry.” So this is repeated all over the island. But these people six miles inside, it’s really a hard trip. Once a lot of people take their goods down to the pier or the dock just so they could take them with them, and, of course, they’re confiscated.  So the Mormons are stuck on these ships, penniless. It’s really heartfelt. Here’s the Watson family. They have a young boy, but they have a year old and they have an infant, walking six miles and carrying the kids. It is really a tragedy to the Strangites, and many Strangites are going to say, “Enough.”

Followers of James Strang were persecuted unmercifully.  Check out our conversation…

James Strang was shot and his murderers escaped on a U.S. Navy ship.

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Bill Shepard!

399: Strang’s Prophetic Role as Translator

398: Strang’s Mormon Missions

397: “The Other Mormons”-Intro to James Strang

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Message to Critics & Believers of Joseph Smith (Part 6 of 6)

One of the things I find really interesting about Dr. Larry Foster is that he seems to disagree with both critics and supporters of Joseph Smith.   In our final conversation with Larry, we will close up some loose ends and seek to find a middle ground that best explain Joseph Smith.

Larry:  I think it’s really hard for people who have the sort of complete hero worship idea, or sort of a pasteboard saint, to really understand Joseph Smith. It’s really hard for people who think he was just a total scoundrel and crook and con man and confidence man, or whatever it was, to see him properly. I think that there’s an element of both in him. So, my latest piece on trying to reconcile the fact that so many people for so many years, have either thought that he was a true prophet of God that could do no evil, or he was a terrible scoundrel and con man.

I think that the fact that so many people have had those opposing viewpoints [means that neither can be the whole truth.] I always believe that most people are trying to do the right thing or be honest, unless I see otherwise. So, I think there’s something that’s very special about Joseph Smith. There’s also some stuff about him that looks like he’s manipulative, and so forth. So, I argue that he was genuinely committed to his religious beliefs and ideals, but that he was also willing to cut corners and even lie or make false statements in order to try to accomplish his goals.

GT:  Now, I just spoke with Dan Vogel recently.

Larry:  Yeah, we’re very much on the same page on this.

GT:  So, you would go with pious fraud?

Larry:  No, I don’t use that. [I call him] a sincere charlatan. That was the term that I developed. I think pious and fraud both are [problematic.] Pious sounds like you’re not really true, and fraud is fraud. I mean, charlatan, trickster would be better, maybe than charlatan. But I think that he really had a genuine religious vision and ideals. I also think that he was willing to manipulate other people as part of that in ways that from outsiders’ perspective look like he was a fraud. If you don’t bring the two together, you can’t understand the overall dynamic. He was a great man. He was also a flawed man. And he, of course, recognized that the prophet is a prophet only when it’s acting as such. But even though he was acting as such, sometimes he may have deviated.

Dr. Larry Foster addresses both fans and critics of Joseph Smith.

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Halloween Massacre at Hawn’s Mill (Part 6 of 7)

Seventeen Mormon men and boys were killed at Hawn’s Mill, Missouri on October 30, 1838.  Dr. Alex Baugh describes the awful tragedy that includes mutilation of corpses, and gruesome injuries to a boy as young as 7 years old.  As we approach Halloween, it is a very sad anniversary to the awful tragedy.  If you are sensitive to these kinds of descriptions, you may want to skip this episode.

Alex:  So we’ve got 30 plus men. But they had thought if there was conflict, that perhaps they could use this unfinished blacksmith shop as a garrison, a place of defense.  That was a bad choice, because, unfortunately, it was not finished. But they thought, “Well, this will be good. It wasn’t chinked or daubed, so we can shoot through the cracks. But that’s going to prove fatal. What ends up happening then is they start attacking and so the women immediately leave.  I’m sure this was pre-arranged. They get out of there. Most of them fled across the river, across the Mill, and race up the hill into the woods. They shot at a woman, her name was Mary Steadwell, and she was shot in the hand. So they’re indiscriminate. They’re not just firing at men. They’re firing at women and children.  These women are making their way out. She was injured, and she fell behind a log and her dress was over the log. So they kept pelting the log. There were 20 bullets right in the log itself, but she only had the hand injured. But they’re after these the women and children, too. So, the men try to find some sort of defense in the blacksmith shop. They’ve got the numbers, but about 30 some odd men went in there and four boys with the intent of defending themselves and the community. But as these waves come in, they were slowly able to get under the fire, and eventually come right on to [shop.] The south end is where the door was, and that faced the river.

Again, this is Thomas McBride. He was 62 years old.  He was probably the oldest guy there. He makes his way out and gets hit a couple of times….McBride is just wounded terribly….A guy named Jacob Rogers from Daviess County, he’s one of the ones [the Mormons] expelled. He finds Thomas McBride and he says, “Give me your weapon.”  He’s thinking, “Okay, I’m wounded, but he won’t hurt me. I’m giving up my weapon.” He gives it to him and he actually shoots him. Then he takes a corn cutter and cuts off some of his fingers. He mutilates him. I mean, this is a terrible, horrific killing.

Isaac Leaney was pelted and he made his way and eventually was able to get into the home of Jacob Hawn, where some of the women had assembled and were praying.  They took care of him….What’s interesting is years later, and Wilford Woodard talks about this, and I may be off a little bit on the figures, but he was walking in Nauvoo, and Isaac Leaney goes, “Brother Woodruff, do you want to see the clothes I was shot in?” They said, “He went in, he laid out his clothes.” I think he said there were 28 bullet holes.

17 Mormon men and boys were killed in the massacre.  Check out our conversation….

17 Men and boys were killed by a Missouri mob. The dead ranged in age from 10-62. Women and children were also wounded severely in the Hawn’s Mill Massacre on October 30, 1838.

Don’t miss our other conversations with Dr. Baugh.

332: Finding Jacob Hawn

331: Was Extermination Order a License to Kill?

330: Mormon Dissent Leads to Salt Sermon

329: Mormon Expulsion from Jackson County

328: Trouble in Missouri 1833