Lesson 11: Persecution in Jackson County

“Lesson 11: Persecution in Ohio,” Latter-day Saint History: 1815–1846 Teacher Material (2018)

“Lesson 11,” Latter-day Saint History: 1815–1846 Teacher Material

Lesson 11

Persecution in Jackson County

Introduction and Timeline

On July 20, 1833, citizens from Jackson County, Missouri, confronted Church leaders and demanded that the Saints close their printing office and store and leave Jackson County. Church leaders would not consent to leave the county, so a mob destroyed the Church’s printing office and tarred and feathered Bishop Edward Partridge and Church member Charles Allen. Three days later, a mob threatened further violence and, under duress, local Church leaders signed a document promising that the Saints would leave the county by the following spring. After receiving news of the dire circumstances in Jackson County, Joseph Smith sent word to the Missouri Saints not to sell their lands. In late October and early November 1833, mobs violently drove the Saints from their homes and lands in Jackson County. Most of the displaced Saints fled across the Missouri River into neighboring Clay County.

July 20, 1833Local citizens demanded that the Saints leave Jackson County.

July 23, 1833Threatened with violence by a mob, the Saints agreed to leave the county.

October 20, 1833Church leaders announced their intent to stay and defend themselves legally against physical attack.

Late October and early November 1833Mobs attacked the Saints’ settlements and violently expelled them from Jackson County.

Student Readings

Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days, Volume 1, The Standard of Truth, 1815–1846 (2018), chapters 16–17

Suggestions for Teaching

A Jackson County mob demands that the Saints leave Jackson County

Write the following sentence on the board: The Mormons must leave!

Explain that on July 20, 1833, a group of citizens from Jackson County demanded that the Mormons close their printing office and store and leave the county.

  • How would you feel if a similar demand were made of Church members where you live? Would you leave? Why or why not?

  • Based on your reading of chapter 16 of Saints: Volume 1, what were some of the reasons the citizens of Jackson County demanded that the Saints leave? (The local residents and the Saints clashed over religious beliefs and differing views on slavery. Jackson County residents were concerned about the growing number of Latter-day Saints in the area and saw them “as threats to their property and their political power” [Saints: Volume 1, 174].)

Remind students that the Jackson County citizens refused to give Church leaders in Missouri sufficient time to consult with Church leaders in Ohio and with the local Saints about what they should do. A mob of about 500 people then formed with the intent of forcing the Saints to agree to leave the county.

  • What did the mob do to harrass and intimidate the Saints? (They destroyed the Church printing office and the home of William W. Phelps and scattered the unbound pages of the Book of Commandments into the street. They also tarred and feathered Bishop Edward Partridge and Charles Allen.)

Invite a student to read the following statement by Bishop Edward Partridge aloud:

Edward Partridge

“Before tarring and feathering me, I was permitted to speak. I told them that the Saints had had to suffer persecution in all ages of the world; that I had done nothing which ought to offend anyone; that if they abused me, they would abuse an innocent person; that I was willing to suffer for the sake of Christ; but to leave the country, I was not then willing to consent to it. …

“… I bore my abuse with so much resignation and meekness that it appeared to astound the multitude, who permitted me to retire in silence, many looking very solemn, their sympathies having been touched as I thought; and as to myself, I was so filled with the Spirit and love of God, that I had no hatred towards my persecutors or anyone else” (Manuscript History of the Church, vol. A-1, p. 327–28,; spelling, capitalization, and punctuation standardized).

Vienna Jacques picking up pages of the Book of Commandments

Display the accompanying image of Vienna Jaques, and explain that she was a Church member who was present when Bishop Partridge was abused by the mob. Invite a student to read the following account aloud:

“Sister [Jaques] was picking some of [the scattered revelations] up, and while doing so, a mobber came along and remarked to her, ‘Madam, this is only a prelude to what you have to suffer,’ and said, ‘There goes your Bishop, tarred and feathered.’ She looked … and saw him going along, encircled in a bright light, surpassing the brightness of the sun. She exclaimed, ‘Glory to God! For he will receive a crown of glory for tar and feathers’” (Vienna Jaques, Statement, Feb. 22, 1859, Church History Library, Salt Lake City; spelling, capitalization, and punctuation standardized).

  • What stands out to you in these two accounts?

Explain that later that year the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith important truths regarding the afflictions Church members were experiencing. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 101:35 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for a truth similar to what Sister Jaques said about Bishop Partridge’s suffering.

  • What does the Lord promise in this verse? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: Those who suffer persecution for Christ’s name and endure in faith will partake of the Lord’s glory.)

  • How did Edward Partridge exemplify what it means to endure persecution in faith?

  • When have you seen someone endure persecution in faith?

Explain that as violence and chaos spread through Independence, some of the Saints took refuge in the woods and nearby settlements. One of them was William E. McLellin.

Ask students to locate chapter 17 of Saints: Volume 1. Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from page 182, starting with the paragraph that begins “Alone and afraid …” and concluding with the paragraph on page 183 that begins “‘I believe you’ …” Ask the class to follow along, looking for how William’s faith was tested.

  • What truths can we learn from this account about how to strengthen the faith of others? (Students may give several responses, including the following: When we have questions and experience difficulty, listening to the testimonies of others can strengthen our faith. We can help strengthen the faith of others by sharing our testimony with them.)

  • What opportunities do we have to be strengthened by the testimonies of others?

Display the following questions:

When have you helped strengthen the faith of someone by sharing your testimony with him or her?

When have you been strengthened by the testimony someone has shared with you?

Ask students to write down their answers to one or both of the questions. As time permits, invite one or two students to share what they wrote with the class.

Encourage students to seek opportunities to share their testimony with others.

The mob compels Church leaders in Missouri to sign an agreement to leave Jackson County

Explain that the violence against the Saints in Jackson County continued after the initial attack. Invite a student to read aloud the following paragraphs describing what happened on July 23, 1833, three days after Bishop Edward Partridge was tarred and feathered.

“Large companies of the mob rode into Independence bearing red flags, threatening death and destruction to the Mormons. … Seeing the determination of the mob, [Edward Partidge, John Corrill, John Whitmer, William W. Phelps, Sidney Gilbert, and Isaac Morley] offered their lives, provided that would satisfy [the mob] … ; they would not agree to this, but said that everyone should die for themselves or leave the county. At that time, the most, if not all, of our people in Jackson [County] thought they would be doing wrong to resist the mob, even by defending themselves. …

“With these views, [local Church leaders] … thought it best to agree to leave the county, upon the terms agreed upon, [namely]: that those elders should go themselves, and also use their influence, with the society, to have one half of them leave the county by the first of January, and the other half by the first of April, 1834; hoping that before either of those dates would expire, providence would kindly open the way for them, to still live there in peace. The mob party agreed to not molest the saints, during the time agreed upon for them to stay” (“A History, of the Persecution, of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter Day Saints in Missouri,” Times and Seasons, Dec. 1839, 18–19,; spelling and punctuation standardized).

  • Why did Church leaders agree to leave Jackson County?

Explain that after Church leaders in Missouri agreed to the demands imposed on the Saints, Oliver Cowdery traveled to Kirtland, Ohio, to inform the Prophet Joseph Smith of the developments. While Oliver was still traveling, Joseph Smith and other Church leaders in Kirtland sent a letter dated August 6, 1833, to Church leaders in Missouri. This letter contained a transcription of the revelations known today as Doctrine and Covenants 94, 97, and 98. When Oliver arrived in Kirtland on August 9 and related news of the attacks in Missouri, Joseph Smith was deeply troubled. On August 18 Joseph Smith sent another letter in which he counseled the Saints not to abandon or sell their property in Jackson County. In October 1833, Church leaders in Missouri hired attorneys to seek legal means for the Saints to keep their property. These actions infuriated the Missouri citizens, who determined to expel the Saints by force. (See The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 3: February 1833–March 1834, ed. Gerrit J. Dirkmaat and others [2014], 228–237, 258–69, 333.)

Missouri mobs drive the Saints from Jackson County

Saints driven from Jackson County, Missouri

C. C. A. Christensen (1831–1912), Saints Driven from Jackson County Missouri, circa 1878, tempera on muslin, 77¼ x 113 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of the grandchildren of C. C. A. Christensen, 1970.

Display the accompanying image, and explain that during the end of October and the first part of November 1833, the Saints were repeatedly attacked. Although they took some defensive measures, they were driven from Jackson County.

Display the accompanying map of Missouri, and explain that most of the Saints who lived in Jackson County fled across the Missouri River into Clay County.

map of Missouri

Divide the class into small groups, and give each group a copy of the accompanying handout, “‘They Who Suffer Persecution for My Name’ (D&C 101:35).” Ask students to read the handout together in their groups and discuss their responses to the question on the handout.

“They Who Suffer Persecution for My Name” (D&C 101:35)

Parley P. Pratt wrote about the tribulations of the Saints who were expelled from Jackson County, Missouri:

Parley P. Pratt

“Companies of ruffians were ranging the county in every direction; bursting into houses without fear, … frightening women and children, and threatening to kill them if they did not flee immediately. …

“… Women and children fled in every direction. One party of about one hundred and fifty fled to the prairie, where they wandered for several days, mostly without food; and nothing but the open firmament [sky] for their shelter. Other parties fled towards the Missouri River. During the dispersion of women and children, parties were hunting the men, firing upon some, tying up and whipping others, and some they pursued several miles” (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, ed. Parley P. Pratt Jr. [1938], 101–2).

Lyman Wight, a Church leader in Missouri, later said of the Saints’ experience:

Lyman Wight

“I saw one hundred and ninety women and children driven thirty miles across the prairie, with three decrepit men only in their company, in the month of Nov[ember], the ground thinly crusted with sleet, and I could easily follow on their trail by the blood that flowed from their lacerated feet … on the stubble of the burnt prairie” (Lyman Wight, in “Trial of Joseph Smith,” Times and Seasons, July 15, 1843, 264).

Parley P. Pratt wrote about the Saints who waited to cross the Missouri River to flee from Jackson County into Clay County:

Parley P. Pratt

“The shore began to be lined on both sides of the ferry with men, women and children; goods, wagons, boxes, provisions, etc., while the ferry was constantly employed. … Hundreds of people were seen in every direction, some in tents and some in the open air around their fires, while the rain descended in torrents. Husbands were inquiring for their wives, wives for their husbands; parents for children, and children for parents. … The scene was indescribable, and, I am sure, would have melted the hearts of any people on the earth, except our blind oppressors, and a blind and ignorant community” (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, ed. Parley P. Pratt Jr. [1938], 102).

  • If you had been among these Saints, what thoughts or feelings do you think you might have had?

“They Who Suffer Persecution for My Name” (D&C 101:35)

Explain that although the Saints experienced severe persecution, they also witnessed miracles because of their faith in the Lord. For example, after Philo Dibble was shot by members of a mob, he was miraculously healed after receiving a priesthood blessing from Newel Knight (see Saints: Volume 1, 189–90, 192–93).

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, one of the Saints who was forced to flee Jackson County. Ask the class to listen for another miracle some of the Saints experienced.

“While we were camped on the banks of the Missouri River waiting to be ferried over, [we] found there was not money enough to take [everyone] over. One or two families must be left behind, and the fear was that if left, they would be killed. So, some of the brethren by the name of Higbee thought they would try and catch some fish, [and thinking that] perhaps the ferryman would take them, they put out their lines in the evening; it rained all night and most of the next day, [and] when they took in their lines they found two or three small fish, and a catfish that weighed 14 pounds. On opening it, what was their astonishment to find three bright silver half dollars, just the amount needed to pay for taking their team over the river. This was considered a miracle, and caused great rejoicing among us” (Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, “Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner,” Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, July 1926, 197).

  • Why do you think this was such a meaningful experience for the Saints who were forced to flee from Jackson County?

To conclude, refer to the principle you wrote on the board earlier in the lesson: Those who suffer persecution for Christ’s name and endure in faith will partake of the Lord’s glory. Share your testimony of this principle, and encourage students to endure whatever persecution they may experience with faith in the Savior.

Invite students to prepare for the next class by reading chapters 18–19 of Saints: Volume 1. Encourage them to look for what the Lord instructed Church members in Ohio and other states to do to help the suffering Saints in Missouri.

“They Who Suffer Persecution for My Name” (D&C 101:35)