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Warsaw: Boom or Bust?

Following the acquittal of the murderers of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, what happened to the town of Warsaw, Illinois.  Was it a boom-town, a bust, or both?  Brian Stutzman will answer that.

Brian:  After the church left the area in 1846-47, and moved West, Warsaw prospered for about 30 years because of these rapids. The lightening had to happen. Then in 1877, the government spent $4.5 million at the time and built an eight mile canal on the other side of the river from Keokuk north and it made it so most river boats didn’t have to stop anymore at Warsaw they could just march right up the Mississippi. Within a couple decades, the population of Warsaw went from 4500 down to 2000. Now imagine a frontier town with houses and buildings and stores and hotels for 4500, and all of the sudden, within a couple decades, you’re down to 2000.  You’ve got a lot of empty real estate. That continued to decline.  Today there’s 1550 people on the last census. They’ve got a lot of old, decrepit broken-down buildings.

Brian also tells a chilling story about early Mormon convert Dan Jones.

Brian: They’re lying on the floor and Joseph offers his arm to Dan for a pillow. They’re sitting there talking about life and death and asked if they were ready to die. They suspected that the end might be there. Dan says, “Well, I think I’m ready to die.”  Joseph gives his last prophecy. He gives it to Dan Jones, who was converted because of Thomas Sharp and had just talked to Frank Worrell.  Joseph says, “Dan you will yet see Wales and fulfill the mission appointed to you.”

Brian  This is that night. The next morning Dan Jones is in the jail.  Joseph says, “I’m not feeling good about things. Will you go and get my attorney down in Quincy?” Dan says, “Sure, I’ll leave,” and as he leaves. He goes down the stairs and gets on his horse, and as he leaves he’s shot at by some anti-Mormon mobster. He gets so turned around, he actually takes the wrong road out of town, not to Quincy and he later learns that there was a mob of several hundred people just down the road waiting to kill him, if he went down to Quincy.  The mob was on the correct road. Dan got confused and turned and went down the wrong road and it saved his life. Otherwise, he would have been killed.

Check out our conversation….

Warsaw experience both a boom and a bust following the Mormon exodus from Illinois.

Don’t miss out other conversations with Brian!

310: Kangaroo Court at Carthage

309: Gov. Thomas Ford’s Role in Martyrdom & Trial

308: Profile of Anti-Mormon Thomas Sharp

307: The Warsaw-Nauvoo Rivalry

306: The Anti-Mormon Triangle: Warsaw, Carthage, Nauvoo

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Gov. Thomas Ford’s Role in Martyrdom & Trial (Part 4 of 7)

Thomas Ford was governor of Illinois in 1844 when Joseph Smith was killed. Brian Stutzman will talk about his role in Joseph Smith’s surrender, as well as his role in making sure a trial was held over the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum Smith.

Thomas Ford goes to Nauvoo and he’s got 400 troops up from Warsaw. And he goes to Nauvoo.  This June 27th to scold the Saints, basically.  Word in Warsaw is that Thomas Ford may be in trouble.

GT  55:24  Governor Ford.

Brian  55:25   Yes, Governor Ford. They gather two battalions of men in Warsaw, and one in nearby Green Plains, and that was led by Colonel Levi Williams.  They meet and on June 27th, they gather in the morning and they’re marching toward Nauvoo.  There’s about 300 or 400 of them, and they get to a crossroads. It’s called Golden’s Point. It’s still there today. They are met by a messenger from Nauvoo, the governor’s messenger. The governor heard that there were some troops coming to Nauvoo to make war on the disarmed Latter-day Saints. So the messenger says, “The governor says he knows that you’re coming, and he wants you to disperse and he wants you to go home.” So they meet and they talk and some say, “Yeah, let’s do what the governor says.” One was at the doctor. His name is Charles Hay, and he goes back to [Warsaw.]  His son, John Hay, who was by far Warsaw’s most famous person. He was Secretary of State to several presidents and opened up the Panama Canal and China and did some things and he also wrote about the murder later on. I’ll tell you about that. So Charles Hay goes back with a bunch of people. But Thomas Sharp and a bunch of them stand up and say, “You know what? We’ve gone this far. Instead of going to Nauvoo to rescue the governor, let’s just go and get rid of Joseph Smith.” He’s up talking, and he says, “If we get rid of Joseph Smith right now, the Mormons will hear about it and they’ll kill Governor Ford, and we’ll have two of our problems solved on the same day.” They were having problems with Governor Ford because Governor Ford was kind of playing both sides and wasn’t getting rid of the Mormons.  They’d asked Governor Ford to expel the Latter-day Saints earlier.

GT  57:16  As had been done in Missouri earlier.

Brian  57:18  So they were trying to follow that. So, while Thomas Sharp’s talking, a messenger comes from Carthage.  There’s a guard there named Frank Worrell. Frank Worrell writes a note and he says, “Now is the time to do the deed.” He sends it to Sharp.  Sharp reads it and he rallies the troops and they go on to Carthage and commit the crime of murdering Joseph and Hyrum.

Brian  57:36  That night, they make a beeline back to this Warsaw House Hotel. It’s run by Sam and Ann Graham Fleming. Sam’s out in Boston, but it’s a restaurant, it’s a hotel, it’s a livery and some other things. It’s a big facility. Thomas Sharp’s the first one back at about 9pm on June 27, 1844. He asks a waitress, 18-year-old Eliza Graham. Eliza Graham is the niece of Ann, the owner, for a glass of water. Nobody knew that Eliza and her dad, they were living in Nauvoo.  Eliza came down to help her Aunt run the Warsaw House. She was a member of the church, 18 years old. Thomas Sharp comes in. Other people come in, Jacob Davis. People who would eventually stand trial [came in], and they started talking and bragging about how they’d just killed Joseph Smith. Eliza was like whoa.  Her aunt is in the back, cooking. Fifteen men gather and they go from 9 PM to 2 AM, and they’re all talking about who did what.  “I was climbing the stairs to Carthage Jail and it was my gun that shot Joseph.”  And then somebody else’s say, “No, it was mine.”  Thomas Sharp and Jacob Davis together said, “We have finished off the leading men of the Mormon church.”  Eliza, brilliant, remembers and she later testifies at the trial, and so does her aunt, for the opposite side. About 2 AM they go upstairs, the people who live there, Jacob Davis and another go upstairs.

Check out our conversation….

Brian Stutzman describes Illinois Governor Thomas Ford’s role in the martyrdom and trial of Joseph Smith’s killers.

Don’t miss our other conversations with Brian!

308: Profile of Anti-Mormon Thomas Sharp

307: The Warsaw-Nauvoo Rivalry

306: The Anti-Mormon Triangle: Warsaw, Carthage, Nauvoo

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Early Mormon Pioneer John Pierce Hawley (Part 1 of 8)

I’m excited to introduce historian Melvin Johnson.  He’s written a biography on early Mormon pioneer John Pierce Hawley.  Hawley traveled extensively among several Mormon groups from Nauvoo to Salt Lake to Texas.  Johnson tells about some of the early Mormon persecutions, and this was one I hadn’t heard of!

GT : Okay, so what you’re saying is, as Joseph was building the city of Nauvoo, that he sent Lyman Wight on a mission to Wisconsin to get wood so that they could build all the buildings in Nauvoo.

Mel: Almost right.  The earlier story is the Nauvoo House committee, with Apostle Wight, Bishop George Miller, Peter Hawes, Lucien Woodward, Alpheus Cutler and others were on the committee, and they were cast to go to the territory of Wisconsin to locate existing sawmills, purchase them, and then begin the program of making lumber and timber for the temple, house and other projects. That began in 1841. It was not a good start. George Miller was drafted because of his business ability. He could be a cranky, irritable person. The only two church authorities–religious authorities that he ever followed closely and trusted implicitly, was Joseph Smith Jr. and later, after his death, James Strang in Wisconsin and Michigan. He distrusted almost everybody else.  [He was] not impressed with Brigham Young in the slightest and would quarrel with Lyman Wight in their five-year association in Wisconsin and elsewhere.

Mel:  Miller went up to the territory, in the winter, with James Emmett, his guide.  Emmett was the great Mormon frontiersman. I think George Miller became almost as good as he [Emmett] was. Later on, we can talk about those exploits. Miller put the sawmills and the logging fronts on a good, sound financial basis.  By 1843, the Spring, it was time to expand the logging and milling effort, so Lyman Wight went recruiting for people to go to Black River Falls in the area. He recruited The Hawleys, Curtis’s, Ballentines, Moncurs, and others who ended up in Wisconsin territory from Iowa. There they remained for more than a year, finishing the milling and the lumbering for the effort down in Nauvoo.

GT:  So this is getting close to the time of the martyrdom, it sounds like, so how did how did Hawley react to that?

Mel:  Early in the winter of 1843 and 1844, the federal agents for the Native Americans there, got involved and refused to let the Native Americans market their standing timber beyond the contracts they had already signed to the Mormons. In other words, by the Spring of 1844, the black pine mission was going to come to an end.

GT:  So let me make sure I understand that. So it sounds like the Native Americans had some sort of a logging contract with the Mormons in Wisconsin.

Mel:  That’s correct, and the federal agents…

GT:  Put a kibosh on that.

Mel:  That’s right. So the colony… was a typical frontier myth among the anti-Mormons that Joseph and the leadership, were going to ally with the Indian tribes, which would, as Will Bagley liked to call it, make them the war hammer, the Mormons and they would beat up on all the non-Mormons.

GT:  So this was to not only stop the Indians, but to stop the Mormons, as well. It was basically to quash them both.

Mel:  No, the Mormons.

GT:  Just the Mormons.

Mel:  Yeah. The Menominee were not going to go anywhere. They had no great power of Native Americans. Federal Indian agents just wanted to mess with the Mormons, and they were very effective at it.

Check out our conversation….

Historian Melvin Johnson describes persecution against early Mormons
Historian Melvin Johnson describes persecution against early Mormons