Tanner Family -- Missouri


TROUBLES IN MISSOURI -- Although in debt and destitute of means, Father Tanner's faith and courage did not falter. Through the blessings of God he knew that he had acquired his previous fortune, and he knew that God lived and that he was His servant. He had a large family depending upon him, and a long journey was before them, so in April 1838 they set out with a turnpike cart, one "old broken down stage horse," $7.50 in cash, and a keg of powder for their rifles, to shoot game along the way. With this meager equipment, they started for Missouri with eight children:

                Martin Henry     17,
		Albert Miles     14,
		Myron            11,
		Seth Benjamin    10,
		Freeman Everton	  8,
		Joseph Smith	  4,
		Philomelia        3,
		David Dan         2 months.
    

When the money and powder were gone, his family was under the necessity of appealing to the benevolence of inhabitants along the road for buttermilk and some other food to sustain life. The old wagon broke down on the road, and his youngest daughter Philomelia, who was 3 years old, died and was buried along the way (the baby, David Dan, survived). On his arrival in Missouri, John told a friend of his hardships and privations, but then in conclusion he philosophically said, "well, if others have come up easier, they have not learned so much." This expression was characteristic of Elder Tanner's faithfulness throughout all of his trials and tribulations. He always acknowledged the hand of God in all things.

Father Tanner arrived in Far West on the 3rd day of July 1838. His sons Sidney and John Joshua and their families had been the first Tanners to move to Missouri, in 1835. It is uncertain where they first settled, but most of the Saints were in Clay County, Missouri for the two and a half years from late 1833 (when they were driven from Jackson County), until mid-1836, when Far West was established and two new counties, Caldwell and Daviess, were created out of northern Ray County for the settlement of the Saints. A few non-Mormons had previously settled in the area which would become Daviess County, near the Grand River (north of Far West and Caldwell County), but the area was mostly still uninhabited. In 1831 a family named Peniston had been the first white settlers in what was to become Daviess County. The next year they built a mill on the Grand River to grind flour and meal for incoming settlers, and developed the village of Millport. When the county was created in Dec. 1836, there were still fewer than a hundred settlers there. The town of Gallatin was platted to serve as the county seat in early 1837, and as it grew, Millport, three miles to the east, declined. It wasn't until 1837 that a few Latter Day Saints began settling in Daviess County, in accordance with the "gentleman's agreement" that they obtain permission from the "gentile" inhabitants to settle. The most prominent Mormon to settle in Daviess County was Lyman Wight, who founded Wight's Settlement on a beautiful hillside overlooking the Grand River, and established Wight's Ferry.

In mid-May 1838, the Prophet Joseph Smith and other leaders, after setting affairs of the Church in order in Far West and Caldwell County when they arrived there from Kirtland in March 1838, headed northward in an exploring expedition. When they reached Wight's Ferry on the Grand River, the Prophet directed the laying out of a city at that location. He also received a revelation that this was the site of Adam-ondi-Ahman, which means "Valley of God, where Adam dwelt." This was about three miles north of the county seat of Gallatin, upstream and across the river from that gentile town. Saints arriving from Kirtland and elsewhere began pouring into "Di-Ahman" throughout the summer of 1838, and also settling other sites along the heavily timbered and navigable Grand River. About 75 miles downstream to the southeast, where the Grand River enters the Missouri in Carroll County, Mormons also started the town of DeWitt, which had a steamboat landing so that immigrants and supplies could come there by boat up the Missouri River, and from DeWitt travel easily to the other LDS settlements.

Family records say that John Joshua Tanner's oldest child, Lydia Jane, was born Nov. 28, 1836 at Gallatin, Missouri; but in light of the preceding historical facts, this appears to be in error, since the town didn't yet exist at that time, and no Saints were living in that area. It appears that John Joshua and Sidney Tanner and their families had moved into Caldwell County, Missouri in the late summer of 1836 along with a large number of Saints, and they started a nice farm a few miles out from Far West (the town was established in August 1836). Probably Lydia Jane Tanner was born at or near Far West. Sidney and John Joshua had been joined in 1837 by Nathan Tanner's family and Louisa Maria Tanner Lyman and family.

Nathan wrote, "On our way from Kirtland to Far West we came to the Mississippi River, and the stream had been very high (that season) ... The river bottom was four miles wide and the high water had washed away the bridge across a stream. We had to unload our goods and pack them across the stream and carry our wives across on our backs, as it was all our team could do to take the wagon across. And dark came on and Amasa Lyman and I took hold of hands and led the way across the bottom through the mud as deep as we could wade. It was night and there was not a dry spot where we could stop for the night. We were nearly all night going through a muddy timber bottom 11 miles and we could do it as well as any other men." (Nathan liked to use this expression a lot.)
Nathan said that when they arrived in Far West, he felt "we had found a paradise, the land was delightful, and my brother had secured some good timber ... had built houses, broke up land and was then making rails to fence the land." Since they needed money to purchase more land, livestock, equipment, etc. from the "old settlers," and to get food and supplies to last their families through the winter of 1837-38,

Nathan, John Joshua, Sidney Tanner, and Amasa M. Lyman in the fall of 1837 went to Fort Leavenworth, about forty miles away, where they worked for two and a half months at ten dollars per month apiece, leaving their wives and children at the farm in Caldwell County, Missouri during this time. Sidney's daughter Mary Louisa Tanner was born at Far West in Sept. 1837, and Nathan's second daughter Lydia Jane Tanner was born in Jan. 1838 at Far West (since many of the Tanner families repeatedly used the same names for their children, it gets rather confusing).

Nathan arrived home from Ft. Leavenworth just a few hours before his daughter's birth. Nathan wrote, "We had only time to get a few of the necessities of life before the mob began to threaten; as we prospered by our industry, the mob became enraged ... My folks (after they arrived in 1838) had bought lands and hogs and some cattle of the old settlers with a view to settling there ... As the mob rose I was on hand to guard the Saints." After Father Tanner had arrived, with his hard-working sons all pitching in and working together, they were able to earn sufficient means to buy more land and get on their feet again. But since the persecution against the Saints in Missouri was intensifying again, they were not able to stay as they had planned.

Nathan and the other Tanner men frequently stood guard in the town of Far West, and also many times rescued frightened women and children out in the countryside who were hiding in the brush after their houses had been burned, or who had fled their homes to hide from the mobs. On October 25, 1838, Sidney and Nathan Tanner took part in the battle of Crooked River, in which Apostle David W. Patten was killed.

Nathan wrote, "Brother Sidney Tanner, Jacob Gates, George Grant and myself rode side by side with 'Captain Fear-Not' (David W. Patten), till his horse failed and he gave us the word, 'Go ahead boys; rake them down,' and we saw them going down the bank into the Grand River. It was as rough a ride as Old General Putnam had when he rode down the stone tavern (referring to a battle in the Revolutionary War). Sidney and I were in the company that took the cannon from the mob. Brother Amasa M. Lyman and Brother James Dunn had (earlier) been taken prisoners. They were abused by the mob and were made to ride on the cannon. Amasa's arms were lashed to his body and he had only the use of them below the elbow. Two big ruffians were asked if they could cut a Mormon's head off, and if so, they were to try that man. Think of a man in this condition with only his bare hands to ward off sharp bowie knives. Brothers Lyman and Dunn were later released and came to our camp. A company was soon on the march after the cannon. We made a charge on their camp (this became known as the battle of Crooked River) ... We had to ride in open ranks, so if they fired the cannon on us, it would take but little effect as they could only hit one man. I well remember Sidney as I rode by his side through brush and over log heaps. He lost his hat and his thin hair floated in the air as his horse leaped a log heap, clearing twenty feet from where she rose. He was a young man (age 29), full of life and vigor, and he knew no fear."
Nathan continued, "We took a couple of prisoners ... they told our Captain that our men fought like devils. 'No,' said the Captain, 'you are mistaken. They fight like angels.'"
"The mob was now increasing, and they were killing our cattle and feeding on our crops. I had killed a fat cow to keep it from the mob, and sent my brother Albert (age 13) to Far West for some salt (to preserve the meat), and told him not to go within gunshot range of any brush as the mob was taking every good horse they could get by any means, fair or foul. The boy went, and on his return some men came out of the brush and called to him but he (galloped off, with two men chasing him on horseback). He came up to the door and my wife saw him as he rode up. He told her that the mob was after him. She lay down her baby and sprang to the door, untied the other horse that was tied to the wagon, and held them both by the halters. Two men rode up and said, 'We see the mob has not taken your horses yet.' She answered, 'No, sir, nor do I mean they shall.' One of the men had got down off from his horse (ready to take the Tanners' horses) and he looked back at the other, but seeing my wife so firm and determined, they seemed ashamed to force the halters out of the hands of a woman, and rode off. My wife (Rachel Winter Smith Tanner) was a woman of great fortitude."


Soon after this, John Tanner (60) and his son Myron (12) went one day to a mill about nine miles from Far West, and after they started for home in their wagon, the state militia (which was really just an organized mob), came upon them. Father Tanner saw them coming and told his boy Myron to run and take care of himself, which the boy did by crawling under a large pile of clearing brush. Here he was not discovered by the mob, and he witnessed what the mob did to his father. Myron sought refuge that night at a neighbor's house, and in the morning made his way home to relate the following story to his family. The mob had come up to Father Tanner in his wagon, and Captain O'Dell pointed his gun at him and pulled the trigger twice, but it refused to go off. This enraged him, and with a fearful oath, he took hold of the muzzle and struck Elder Tanner over the head with the breech of the gun. This blow would probably have killed him had it not been for his heavy felt hat, the double thickness of which saved his life, but he had a large, ugly gash on his head which bled profusely. "His skull was laid bare to the width of a man's hand" above the temple, and "from the bleeding of his wounds he was besmeared from head to foot," and "the blood ran into his boots" according to various accounts (this incident was mentioned in several affidavits which the Saints wrote up of the wrongs which they had suffered in Missouri, and submitted to government officials. They emphasized Father Tanner's age, that he was an unarmed farmer simply returning home from the mill, and that he was hit over the head for no reason at all). "He was taken prisoner and held for two or three days, during which he wore his bloody clothes and refused (or was not allowed) to wash the blood from himself. He was allowed to keep his team and wagon, and the mob allowed him to go temporarily, on his word of honor, to take the body of a Brother Carey, who had been brutally killed by the mob, to his family."

Brother Carey and his family had only just arrived in Missouri when he was ambushed by the mob and struck over the head similarly to John Tanner. He was left lying in a wagon (probably John Tanner's wagon) near the other prisoners, but no one was allowed to tend to his wounds or do anything for him for over 24 hours. After Brother Carey died, John Tanner was sent to return his body to Far West (probably the mob did this for the shock effect it would have on the Saints in Far West).

Nathan Tanner says, "I was Captain of the guard that nite and when I let my father through the guard I did not know him only by his voice as he was so covered with blood." John Tanner kept his word and returned to the custody of the mob.



At this time the Prophet Joseph Smith was sentenced to be shot (Amasa M. Lyman and other Church leaders along with him), but General Doniphan protested and withdrew his men. On the day the execution was to take place, all of the Saints laid down their arms, leaving themselves totally at the mercy of the cruel mobbers, and some of the prisoners, among whom was Elder Tanner, were released. Amasa M. Lyman was kept in jail along with the Prophet and other leaders for a while, where "they were chained together and confined to a filthy dungeon while the mad mob went on with the governor's stern orders." Amasa was there chained with Joseph when the prophet arose and rebuked the guards, by the power of God.

Nathan says that "My wife had an only child, a little girl about a year old ..." (His first daughter, Romelia, had died in Kirtland; Nathan says her death was caused by the mob when they burned the printing office which he was guarding, and as a result his wife had gone into labor prematurely. He said he had been mobbed twice before he was 21 years old). Their second child, Lydia Jane "... lay sick, and my wife expected it would die in her arms. She dug its little grave under the floor in case it died before they were compelled to run before the mob, and she kept it wrapped in mantle and hood in case they had to run before it died. While (the Prophet and other men) were kept under guard in the city, the mob was turned loose to abuse the Saints in the countryside as much as they pleased ... and we could not go to them by day or night."

Then the military leaders decided that since the Mormons were "in rebellion" against the state of Missouri, they should be required to pay for all they had cost the state, to pay the wages of the state militia (the mob), even though the mob had actually started and carried on the violence, in retaliation for falsely reported and greatly exagg- erated acts of "rebellion," when the Saints were merely trying to defend themselves and their rights, their lands, their families, their religion, their liberty, etc.

Nathan says, "A table was brought out on the public square (of Far West), and we were marched up to it at the point of the bayonet, and required to sign away everything we had, to pay for the expense of the mob that drove us out. And they took our acknowledgement that it was our free volunteered act and deed. After signing this article, I said, throwing down my pen, 'it looks like a free volunteered act and deed -- at the point of a bayonet.' At this moment one of their men struck me in the left side with the breech of a rifle, which took my senses, and I was carried off the ground."
Nathan continues, "(The next morning) as I was walking across the public square in company with two or three of our brethren, seven of the mob on horseback, great rough-looking men, well armed with rifles laying across the horns of their saddles, accosted me and said, 'How are you this morning, Mormon? Do you feel as much like a fight as usual?' 'About the same,' was my reply. 'Well, come ahead then, G-- d--- you,' he said, and drew his rifle on me. I threw my old hat on the ground and said, 'You poor pusillanimous cowardly cur, to draw firearms on a bare-handed man. Get down off from your horses and lay down your arms, and come at me two at a time, and if I don't thrash the ground with you, then G-- d--- me.' They said they brought their guns to fight with, and I told them that they needed them. You will pardon me for my rough expressions, as I did not know I had anything to live for. My prophet and patriarch had been led off and sentenced to be shot, my father's head had been split to the skull, my wife and child, I did not know if they were alive or dead, and no protection for life or property in the least, even though we had agreed to leave the country rather than be exterminated. The mob was not satisfied with the first batch of prisoners, but gathered up another herd and took them to Richmond to tantalize."

Sidney Tanner, John Joshua Tanner, and Amasa M. Lyman were among the prisoners. They were marched to Richmond, a distance of thirty miles, during severely cold weather and kept three weeks where they suffered very much from cold and privation, with not much food.

In Ebenezer Robinson's account, "The Return," he lists 46 prisoners including Sidney Tanner, John J. Tanner, and Amasa M. Lyman as well as the Prophet Joseph and other Church leaders. They were taken before a Judge in the Richmond, Missouri courthouse and underwent an "ex parte examination" from the 11th to the 28th of November 1838, charged with high treason against the state, murder, burglary, arson, robbery and larceny. (Also among the prisoners were our ancestor Joel Shearer's twin brother Daniel, and Daniel's son Norman Shearer, one of the six men who had been wounded in the Battle of Crooked River. Nathan Tanner was not among the prisoners, being one of those who fled from the state to avoid falling into the hands of their enemies). Ebenezer Robinson wrote, "After the (examination) had progressed a few days, we understood the judge to say that 'nothing but hanging would answer the law,' thinking perhaps, from the testimony, that we were all guilty of treason. On another occasion we understood him to say, speaking of the prisoners, that, 'if they would deny the BOOK OF MORMON they might go clear.' These things were talked over among the prisoners, but not one of our number would accept of freedom upon such unholy terms, notwithstanding it might possibly save them from the gallows."

However, on Saturday, 24 November 1838, the judge discharged 23 of the prisoners, against whom nothing had been proven, including Amasa Lyman, John J. Tanner, and Daniel Shearer. The court continued in session a few days after this, then most of the others (including Sidney Tanner) were also discharged or released on bail. Eleven men were kept in the Missouri prisons all winter while the rest of the Saints were driven from the state.

Nathan Tanner wrote, "the Saints had to leave their homes in the winter, without compensation ... many left cribs of corn, potatoes, hay baled up for winter and wheat crops on the ground. The poor had to go even if they had to walk and carry their food ... women in all the varied circumstances of their sex had to go. If there is justice in Heaven, let the Gods record our credits."


According to Parley P. Pratt's HISTORY OF PERSECUTION, and other sources such as THE LIFE OF JOSEPH THE PROPHET and Wilford Woodruff's LIFE AND LABORS ... "Norman Shearer, Morris Phelps, Luman Gibbs, Darwin Chase, and Parley P. Pratt were kept all winter in the jail at Richmond, Missouri, to await trial on the charge of murder for participating in the Battle of Crooked River; while Joseph and Hyrum Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Lyman Wight, Caleb Baldwin, and Alexander McRae were kept in the jail at Liberty, Clay County to await trial on the charge of treason ... As our people were compelled by the memorable treaty of Far West, to leave the state by the following spring, they now commenced moving by hundreds and by thousands, to the State of Illinois ... Meantime, bands of murderers, thieves, and robbers were roaming unrestrained among our unarmed and defenseless citizens; committing all manner of plunder, and driving off cattle, sheep, and horses; abusing and insulting women, etc ... The mob shot down the cattle and hogs of the Saints wherever they could find them, and robbed the people of nearly everything they could lay their hands on. The Saints were treated with merciless cruelty, and had to endure the most outrageous abuses. It was with the greatest difficulty that many of them, especially the prominent ones, got out of Missouri, for at that time many people of that state acted as though they thought it no more harm to shoot a Mormon than to shoot a mad dog ... On the 26th of April, 1839, the last of the (Saints) departed from Far West. Thus had a whole people consisting of about ten or eleven thousand souls, been driven from houses and lands, and reduced to poverty and had removed to another state during one short winter and part of a spring. The sacrifice of property was immense, probably amounting to several millions, and one of the most flourishing counties of the state, and part of several others, were reduced to desolation or inhabited by gangs of robbers.

"On the 24th of April, our cases were had before the grand jury of the county of Ray, and Darwin Chase and Norman Shearer were dismissed, after being imprisoned nearly six months. This release happened just as Mr. (Daniel) Shearer came to visit his son for the last time before he left the state. He came into the prison to see us, and not knowing of the intended release, he took an affectionate leave of his son, who seemed to weep with brokenhearted anguish. But while he yet lingered in town, his son was called before the court, and with Mr. Chase, was told that they might go at liberty. The father and son then embraced each other, almost overcome with joy, and departed."

The mob had set April 26th as the deadline for all of the Saints to be gone from the state or be exterminated, because of the revelation the Lord had given directing the Twelve to depart on their missions to Europe from Far West on that date: "Let them take leave of my Saints in the city of Far West, on the 26th of April next, on the building spot of my house, saith the Lord." The enemies of the Saints swore that they would see to it that this revelation was one which would never be fulfilled. Those of the Twelve who were not in prison had left the state long before; however, in order to fulfill the Lord's commandment, they came back to Far West at great peril to their lives.

Brigham Young and Wilford Woodruff wrote that early on the morning of April 26th, 1839 (just after midnight, by the light of the moon), they and a small number of the Saints met at Far West and held a conference. They ordained Wilford Woodruff and George A. Smith to the office of the Twelve to fill the places of those who had fallen, and also excommunicated 31 persons from the Church who had become its enemies. Then Darwin Chase and Norman Shearer (who had just been liberated from Richmond prison, as described above, and had arrived the previous evening), were ordained to the office of the seventies. 'The Mission of the Twelve' was sung, and "we repaired to the southeast corner of the Temple ground, where, with the assistance of Elder Alpheus Cutler, the master workman of the building committee, we laid the southeast chief cornerstone of the Temple, according to revelation. The Twelve then offered up vocal prayer in the following order -- Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Pratt, John E. Page, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and George A. Smith; after which we sung 'Adam-ondi-Ahman,' and then took our leave of the following Saints, agreeable to the revelation, viz.: Alpheus Cutler, Elias Smith, Norman Shearer, William Burton, Stephen Markham, Shadrach Roundy, William O. Clark, John W. Clark, Hezekiah Peck, Darwin Chase, Richard Howard, Mary Ann Peck, Artimesia Granger, Martha Peck, Sarah Granger, Theodore Turley, Hiram Clark, and Daniel Shearer.
Bidding good-by to this small remnant of the Saints (18 in all) who remained on the temple ground to see us fulfill the revelation and commandment of God, we turned our backs on Far West, Missouri, and returned to Illinois. We had accomplished the mission without a dog moving his tongue at us, or any man saying, 'Why do ye so?' We crossed the Mississippi River on the steam ferry, entered Quincy on the 2nd of May, and all of us had the joy of reaching our families once more in peace and safety. Thus the word of God was complied with."

While they had been in Missouri, unknown to them, the Prophet Joseph Smith had also been liberated from the prison at Liberty and made his way to Illinois, and had arrived there before them.


Information Compiled
by Karen Bray Keeley

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