Sunday, April 9, 2017

Remember the trials of Missouri; forget not the courage of Nauvoo . . .

The years of 1838–1839 were a tragic and unstable time in our nation's history as the Mormon War raged in Missouri. The Mormons were trying to protect their right to establish homes as a religious and cultural minority, and although they may have acted unwisely, nothing they did justified being driven out of their lawful homes and persecuted and murdered and the women and girls subjected to awful crimes.

At the time the state of Missouri sought to prosecute him for a variety of charges, Sidney Tanner had a wife, Louisa, and four young children, Allen, Lydia, Emma, and Mary. The oldest was only seven years old. Like so many others, the Tanners left few records of their sufferings, but Sidney's father, John Tanner, was taken prisoner and badly injured, struck on the head with a gun, "which laid his skull bare to the width of a man's hand."

Here is Sidney Tanner's land patent from July 28, 1838. He filed two claims at the General Land Office in Lexington.

The first land was eighty acres in Clinton County, Missouri, Township 56N, Range 30W, Aliquots W1/2SE1/4, Section 13. It was just north of what is now Wallace State Park, and is just west of Plum Creek, and located on the eastern edge of Clinton County.

The second land was forty acres in Clay County, Missouri, Township 56N, Range 29W, Aliquots NW1/4NE1/4, Section 21. It was a couple of sections east of the first land, just over the county line in Clay County, and just west of Goose Creek.

When the conflict heated up, the local government indicted many of the Mormon residents. Here is some news coverage from New York.

"The St. Louis Republican is doubtful as to the final result of these prosecutions," wrote the reporter. He noted that after driving out and indicting so many Mormons, the Missourians were snapping up their land and homes. "Great distress and suffering exists among the plundered Mormons, many of whom were formerly quiet, inoffensive residents of northern Ohio. . . . There can be no possible excuse for the murder and rapine with which they have been desolated since emigrating. The infamy will be as lasting as the name of Missouri." (January 15, 1839, Hudson River Chronicle (Ossining, New York), 3.)

The Missouri officials pretended to continue with the legal proceedings, but released most of the prisoners. Joseph Smith and five others were taken to Liberty Jail and held until they were allowed to escape. The Mormons fled the state and resettled in Illinois and Iowa for a time.

Sidney Tanner is not known to have filed a redress petition with the federal government about the loss of his land. It's too bad, since the Redress Petitions contained many good biographical and historical details from those who wrote them. Note, in closing, that Sampson Avard testified under oath that Sidney Tanner was not a Danite.

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