About David Lewis
David Lewis and Duritha Trail
EXCERPTS FROM THE DIARY OF DAVID LEWIS
Son of Neriah Lewis and Mary Moss
I was born in the state of Kentucky on Easter, 10 April 1814, in the county of Simpson. I lived in the same state and county until I was 22 years of age. I was married in my twentieth year. It being Nov, 23, 1834. My wife’s name was Duritha Trail. She was born January 5,1813. She being one year, three months and five days the oldest. We were both baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints in the year 1835. I lacked 17 days of being 21 years old, when we were baptized. In August 1834 I was ordained an Elder under the hands of Benjamin, my brother. We Left Kentucky our native land on the 29th of April, 1837 for the state of Missouri where the Church of Later-day Saints was gathering. I was the sixth son and the ninth child of my parents, they having twelve children in all, eight boys and four girls. My father was a large man, he weighed about three hundred and thirty pounds. His name was Neriah Lewis. He left Kentucky with his family and went to Illinois State, Macoupin county and there he died in about his sixty third year. My mother was also a large woman, she weighed about two hundred and forty pounds. Her name was Mary, her maiden name was Mary Moss, her father was named Samuel Moss, her mother was Rachel, and Lived in South Carolina, Pickins County or District. My father’s father lived in South Carolina, his name was David, and his wife I think was Rosannah .
My father emigrated from South Carolina to Kentucky among the first settlers or emigrants to that country. My mother died in the state of Illinois when she was about sixty-five years old. My mother and father was not professors of religion, nor none of my connections with whom I was acquainted. My father’s mother was turned out of the Quaker Church for marrying my grandfather, who was not a member of the church and refusing to acknowledge that she was sorry for the deed. My father and mother believed in a universal salvation but belonged to no church. I believe they were both honest, and I know they taught their children to be honest. My father was a farmer and possessed a sufficient substance to make his family comfortable.
At my first recollection I was a very fleshy little boy with very black hair and blue eyes which both was often spoken of by the neighbors. I was not grossly mischievous only to plague and tease the other children which often caused me stripes, sometimes when I was innocent, because I was so often guilty no excuse would redeem me. My oldest sister Ann often screened me from the lash by telling my mother that all that had happened was accidental and not by design. I was kept closely at home and taught all, or most all, the lesson of labor that was common for boys of my size and age to know. I was not allowed to go off the place without the consent of one or both of my parents. I was not allowed to have no little boys notions without giving a strict account of who and how I got it. I was seldom allowed to go in company and learn the ways of the world so that I thought myself green, or more inexperienced than others of my size. I often felt embarrassed on this account and did not enjoy myself on this account when in company. I was not quarrelsome with other boys and never had but three fights in all my life, I came of conquer each time. The last time I had my oldest brother’s consent, under whose charge I was at that time. I was about ten or eleven years old but very well grown, when a very bad saucy boy came to my father’s orchard and after pulling and thrashing down fruit of many descriptions and was about to leave (and I having had a fight with his brother for abusing my youngest brother who was very small) I told him to tell his brother if he did not pay me for the marbles I sold him I intended to whip him, he replied, "What did you say?" My brother said to tell him again, and I did so. He then commenced to curse me and said if I would come over the fence he would whip me. My brother said to me go and whip him, well, this was an unexpected privilege as I had never before been allowed to fight under any circumstances whatever. I went and did what I was told and rejoiced at the chance and when my brothers thought that the boy had had enough, he said to me, let him up he is whipped enough. I immediately obeyed him and the boy started for home. Why I mention this circumstance was because it was connected with a cruel act that the same boy committed on the next day. Next morning a boarder in the presence of the boy’s father whetted a sharp pointed knife and told the boy to take it and stick it in me. "Yes," said the father "I am determined that my boys shall defend themselves." George and Turner Miller was the boy’s names and James Miller the father’s name. "Go my sons," said James Miller to his two sons, " and defend yourselves." They had scarcely got out of sight of his dwelling when screams was heard to the alarming of all those present, they immediately ran to the two boys, who had fell out by the way, about which one should kill a bumble bee, the youngest having the knife he plunged it full length in his brothers breast.
Fighting with knives, dirks, stones and clubs was common in my country but I never had taken a part in no such wickedness. I have often seen several in number, on each side fight with these weapons with intent to kill until all would be so tired that none was able to do each other harm, come black eyes, other bloody noses and others in gores of blood which was frightful to see.
My father had four hundred acres of beautiful land, about one hundred acres in farm and the remainder of land was timber land, a large two story double house on a public road three miles east of the town of Franklin. A beautiful. yard surrounded the house about one acre square, neatly covered with blue grass, two beautiful mulberry trees and one beautiful cedar tree growing in the south yard. Beautiful cherry trees grew on the south end of the yard about a rod distance from each other. These mulberry and cherry trees bore splendid fruit. A beautiful orchard on the west which joined to the yard, in it was most all the varieties of fruits that was common for the country. There was apples, both early and late, sweet and sour, pears, peaches, plums, persimmons, and cherry, and on the farm fruits was all very good.
We chiefly raised corn in our country, wheat, oats and tobacco, sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes, beans, peas, cabbage, onions, melons and pumpkins, cotton, flax, and rye. But wheat was the most uncertain crop we tried to raise. It was a very mild and pleasant climate, the land was not very rich, it takes a great deal of work to cultivate the land. Time was plenty and good range for stock is poor, wild game scarce! The people are generally very kind to each other, except when angry at each other, then they are cruel.
When I was twelve years old I was taken from the farm to aid my mother, as my two oldest sisters, Ann and Martha, were married and left home. I was put to cording and spinning cotton and wool, as it was common for women to make there own wearing apparel in that country, I soon became skilful in this business so that I could even beat my sisters, that was grown, at cording and spinning. I was also trained at the wash tub, at cooking and all the common house work and spent three years of my tine in helping my mother in this way. This was not common employment for boys or men folks in that country so I often felt ashamed when the neighbors came in, but, at about fifteen I again went to the field. .
I well recollect the first time I ever heard my mother talk about God and the devil. She said that there was a good man and a bad man lives above in the clouds and if I done bad the bad man would get me when I died! But if I was a good boy and would mind her and father and wouldn't tell lies nor swear nor steal, that when I died the good man would take me to live again with him up in the clouds, and told me of many good things that I would be entitled to by being good. This had a deep impression on my mind, I told my older brother the story when they came from the field, thinking it would be news to them, I then firmly thought, I would be good. I remember at another time when very young, my mother was combing my hair, she said to me there was a mole on my neck and that is a sign if you ever steal anything that you will be hung. This alarmed me very much and often I have thrown down apples after I had commenced to eat them because I remembered the mole on my neck, and knowing that father had told me not to pull the apples. I have thrown them down, I have thrown down flints and little rocks that I thought was very pretty, after picking them up for fear that it was stealing and the mole on my neck would cause me to be hung.
My parents, not being religious folks they very seldom told me anything about heaven or God, and seldom went to meeting and when I did, I got no understanding of the plan of salvation, and as there were Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterian, Universalists or Dunkards, and they disagree about the scriptures, I asked father which one of these was right, he said he did not know, and I thought it strange that my father did not know bout those things. So I always wanted to know that thing, and if I could find a little book like I had heard of John the
Revelator having one, given to him by an angel, I should be better pleased than with any other present, provided it would decide that point, or teach to me the true plan of salvation for this was a subject that I greatly desired to know. Although I was young, and to all appearances thoughtless of any such matter, I was often vexed at preachers exhorting the people, telling then to cone to Christ and never telling them how to come. I never got any understanding from none of the preachers how the plan was, but I always thought if I could find out to my satisfaction I would obey it and I promised to myself when I got to be a man I would then find out to my satisfaction and do right and be honest and try to get to heaven where the good man lived.
I do not intend to give a full history of my childhood for it mould be tedious, but nearly touch on .few things and pass on the things that I have passed though and witnessed myself. The persecutions, trials and hardships on the account of "believing and obeying the gospel of Christ, which I know to be true and of God.
I commenced to write this book January 18th 1854. In two months and six days I will have been in the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints 19 years. I am in my 39th year of my age and on the 14 day of next April I will be 40 years of age, and as my portrait or likeness in the first part of this book, I will also give a description of my size, and in after years the rising generations will know what my size and looks was. I am six feet one inch high, my weight two hundred pounds, I am well built with black hair and blue eyes. I am fair skinned and in full vigor of life and health.
At the commencement of the book I give a sketch of my birthplace, my baptism and first ordination. and left the subject which related to my going to the gathering place in Missouri, which I now will take up again and continue my subject from that date, but I shall only speak of right, of some of the most important things which take place under my own observation.
The distance from Kentucky, my birthplace, to Missouri, the gathering place was about six hundred miles. I stopped in Caldwell County, entered land, built me a house, commenced to make a farm and to till the ground when the cry of war was heard around us, the people that lived in that country became alarmed to see so many people gathering in one place, all of one religion and politics. They raised many false accusations against us, in
order to have us driven away from the state that they might possess our homes and farms, we being too few in number to defend ourselves against them, many thousands gathered against us. They commenced stealing our cattle, driving them off by the droves and all manner of robbing and abusing us, was carried on by the people of Missouri. A history of which has been fully given, but as there is some circumstances that came directly under
my own observations I will write them, that others may know what I passed through and witnessed.
I lived about eighteen miles east of Far West, and Shoal Creek around one quarter of a mile from Haun’s Mill where a bloody butchery takes place, wherein I was present and one who barely escaped. I will now proceed to give an account of the massacre at Haun’s Mill and the circumstances connected with it.
Some weeks previous to this transaction the people living on Grand River about 6 or 8 miles north of the mill began to come over to Shoal Creek settlements where the Mormons lived and drove off a drove of our cattle and made some threats that they intended to come and burn the mill. We then sent delegates to them to see if we could not compromise with them and live in peace. They met our delegates with guns and in a hostile manner, but finally they agreed with our men that they would be at peace with us. We had mostly gathered at the mill awaiting to hear from our delegation and to organize so that if they should come in hostile force we might be the better prepare to defend ourselves, for about thirty of them had come and taken the guns of all them that lived at the mill, except Hyrum Abotts who would not give up his, although they had snapped their guns at him several times. There was also several brethren stopped at the mill that was just moving into the country from the eastern states, amongst whom was Joseph Young the Present President of the Seventies and a brother of Brigham Young, the President of the church. There was several tents in the mill yard with wagons, horses and all their substance and there was intermixed with women and children, there being but thirty men with guns only. We were in no state of defense, for we were not expecting but that they would abide the treaty we had made with them and felt as if we were safe,
Although we had been counceled by Joseph the Prophet to leave the mill and go to Far West, our being deceived by the messenger we sent to him for council, we understood it not, for our messenger said to Joseph what shall we do that is at the mill? Joseph said, "Gather up all of you and come to Far West. What said the messenger, whose name was Jacob Haun the owner of the mill, leave the mill and let it be burned down? We think we can maintain it. If you maintain it you will do well--do as you please. The messenger returned and said if we thought we could maintain the mill it was Joseph's council for us to do so, if we thought "no" to come to Far West and we thought from the way the thing was represented, it would be cowards to leave and not try to maintain it, and as they agreed to be at peace, we thought to gather up all our effects and leave our houses would be useless, for we did not know that it was Joseph's decided council for us to do so.
And while thus situated on Tuesday the 30 day of October 1838 about three hundred armed men on horseback came in full lope towards us, until they got in about one hundred yards of us, when they immediately halted and commenced firing at us. At their first appearance we did not know but they were brethren of the Church and did not try to place ourselves in a situation to defend ourselves, but soon we found them to be a hostile force deprived of all humanity or mercy, for so many of our people cried out for mercy with uplifted hands when they were immediately shot down. David Evans was our captain, he cried out for quarters, they gave none and he immediately fled giving no official orders. By this time we were completely surrounded. We then, seeing ourselves surrounded immediately ran into a blacksmith shop. This was a fatal move, for the shop was very open, it being made of large logs. One log was entirely out on the north side, on the west was a window, on the south was a door, and the cracks all open. We were surrounded by a raging force, who screamed as loud as they could yell, every breath, and fully determined to say, "I killed a Mormon." Each bullet as it passed through these openings was bound to prove fatal to some of us within. The first man that fell was Simon Cox, he was standing close to my side when he received the fatal blow. He was shot threw the kidneys and all the pain and misery I ever witnessed a poor soul in, his seemed to excel. It seems as though I could yet hear his screams.
They came there about four o'clock in the afternoon and continued about one hour and a half. There was eight of our numbers fled at the start. Such groans of the dying, such struggling in blood. I hope that none of those that reads this account will ever have to witness such a thing, unless it is in avenging the blood of these that was slain, for truly they shed innocent blood, which must stand against then until it is avenged.
I remained calm in my feelings without being muted, excited, and realized all that was happening. I thought for a moment that perhaps in the next minute I may be like these, my brethren, struggling in my blood, and my spirit take its flight to the spirit world. But soon this thought left me, and I possessed an unshaken faith that my life would be spared, although to all natural. appearance, there was no way for my escape.
They was still continuing their firing with an increased rapidity and closing the circle around us as they were not meeting much resistance from the few that was left. I looked to the west and I discovered a ruffian who had crawled within about forty steps of the shop and had secured himself behind a large log in the yard of the mill. His head was raised above the log, I went immediately to the west window and stepped upon a block to make myself high enough to shoot at his head, I then saw his gun was to his face and he had a sight on me. I immediately desisted from trying to shoot at his head and dismounted from the block. When I did another mounted the same block and was immediately shot down.
Our number had now decreased to about seven or eight, when Hyrum Abbot, the man who had refused to give up his gun, said, "It is useless to stay in here any longer, let us leave." I believing him to be a brave man, thought myself justifiable in leaving, he started himself and three others. As they left the door of the shop he was immediately shot through the body which proved his death. I nursed him in my own house for five weeks and he was removed to his father’s and died. My brother, Tarlton, was one that started with him, he was shot through the shoulder but his wound was not mortal. The names of the other two I do not remember. There was now four on foot besides myself: Benjamin Lewis, Isaac Leany, Jacob Botts and Brother Yokem.
I now left the shop alone, I went towards the east where it seemed to be the most strongly guarded. I thought at first I would go into their ranks and surrender myself their prisoner, but seeing the way they were shooting and yelling as demons, I felt as no mercy would be shown me, I concluded to try and pass them. I went almost in their midst and then turned down a steep bank of the creek, crossed the creek and ascended a steep bank on opposite side of the creek in front of Haun’s house. I then passed around the house and went towards the south and crossed the fence which was about two hundreds yards from the shop. While crossing the fence close by my side, they had me in fair view for two hundred yards and constantly firing at me, the bullets seemed to be as thick as hail stones when it is falling fast, and none of them entered my flesh or drew blood, but five holes was shot through my clothes three in my pantaloons and two in my coat.
Here let me remark that I did not run one step of the way, for I had been confined to my bed for three months with the fever and at that time was just able to walk about, and it was about the second or third time I had left the house. The distance from my house was about a quarter of a mile, I proceeded on towards my house, my tongue had lolled out of my mouth like that of a dog, by being overcome with fatigue and the whole distance was up hill. A little ways from my house I met my wife who had been in hearing of the whole scene, for she had heard the first guns that had been fired
Her first salutation to me, "Are you hurt, are you wounded?" I told her I was not hurt, and we went with Arminda our only child and secreted ourselves in a. thicket until dark.
I will now return to the fate of the four I left in the shop--Potts while leaving was shot in his legs he crawled to my house, caught horse at my door and rode home. Leany was seriously wounded having either four bullets in his body, or two pass threw his body in direct opposition to each other, leaving four wounds in his body, and several other severe wounds, but he survived and is now alive in the valley. Yokem fell just as he crossed the mill dam, he was taken in Haun’s house and laid on the floor without attention until the next morning. He was shot between the point of his nose and his eye to the back of his head, leaving him senseless on the ground. He was also wounded in the leg, which has since been cut off, he is also alive.
Benjamin Lewis, my brother, was found about three hundred yards from the shop by some of the women who had him concealed in the brush during the fracas, he was yet alive and in his proper senses. I went to him with the aid of a horse and slide, I got him to my house. He lived for a few hours and died. I dug a hole in the ground, wrapped him in a sheet and without a coffin buried him.
Early the next morning I returned to the shop to learn the facts of the rest of my brethren. 1 first stopped at Haun’s house, where I found McBride laying dead in the yard. He was a very old man, he left the shop before me and started to go the same route I went but stopped in their ranks, as I first intended to do, and when he did, he gave up his gun and himself a prisoner. He was shot with his own gun, as I was informed by a sister that was concealed under the bank and witnessed the scene, and Jacob Rogers then took an old scythe blade and literally gashed his face to pieces. He was taken and laid in the yard where I found him the next morning. Merick and Smith was also lying dead in the yard. York and Yokem was in the house of Haun, but entirely senseless. York soon died but Yokem lived, Leany, Kights, and Haun was also in at Haun’s house and wounded, all of which recovered, and none of them had the aid of a physician to probe or prescribe for their wounds.
I then went over to the shop where I found Fuller, Cox, Lee, Hammer, Richards, and two small boys dead on the ground, and several others whose names I do not remember, but whose names has been given in history of our persecutions. The dead numbering in all eighteen, the wounded fifteen. A few of the brethren who assembled there, with myself, dragged the slain to the side of a well, which was about 12 feet deep and tumbled them in, as we had not time to decently bury them, for we knew not how soon they would be upon us again. This was the most heart-rending scene that my eyes have ever witnessed. There two little boys was not shot accidentally, by being in the crowd, but after all the men was down and gone, and none to resist, one man discovered these boys concealed under the blacksmith bellows and he deliberately stuck his gun in a crack of the shop and fired at them as they were concealed together. One of their own men reproved him, saying it was a d—d shame to shoot such little fellows and he calmly replied that little shoots make big trees, as much as to say they will make Mormons after while if not killed. They, perceiving all to be dead or dying that remained in the shop, came in the shop and all that was struggling they shot again, taking deliberate aim at their head and then boasted that they had killed a Mormon--and afterwards to the wives of those that were killed saying, "Madam I am the man that killed your husband."
There was many other acts and circumstances which was equally aggravating that I will omit writing for I have no design to enlarge on the tale but to tell the plain facts as they did exist, that following generations might see and know the things that I have witnessed.
I was then in the twenty-fourth year of age, and my own life was miraculously spared for some unknown purpose to me, but I am willing to bear testimony to all mankind that God will save and deliver those that exercise an-unshaken faith in him, for I did exercise an unshaken faith in him at that time, and fully believed that I would make my escape and my life be spared. And then I said , "Lord thou hast delivered me for some purpose and I am willing to fulfill that purpose whenever thou makes it known to me, and to do all duties that thou enjoins upon me from this time henceforth and forever."
On the second day after this bloody transaction took place this company of murders returned to the shop blowing there bugles firing there guns and yelling like demons., and as I lived near I could hear all their proceedings, and myself and Joseph Young went and concealed ourselves in the brush nearby, for fear they would come to my house and renew their slaughter. The weather had now become cold and it began to rain. We had no cover with us but one thin quilt, very much tattered. We lay down on the ground covered with the quilt and slept comfortable, knowing they could not find us, neither could they set the brush on fire on account of the rain, and although I was just recovering from a long spell of sickness, I taken no hurt from the exposure, whereas I would expected in a common case it would have produced sudden death. I cautiously crept to my house next morning, not knowing but some of them was at my house awaiting to take my life. These murderers now taken possession of the mill. They ground the grain that was in it for their own use, killed hogs, robbed and lived well, going from house to house taking all the guns and ammunition they could find--their faces was often painted which made them look disgraceful to the human race.
I kept out of their way for nearly three weeks, when a scouting party came across me, and as I was not fond of their company I was about to leave them when one of them told me to wait until the captain seen me. The captain, whose name was Nehemiah Comestock, said he, "Mr. Lewis have you heard of the new orders of the governor!" I told him, "No sir." " Well," said he, "our orders from the governor is that all Mormons must leave the state forthwith." " Indeed" said I. "I thought we was to stay until spring."
"That" said he, "was the first order, but he has now changed his orders and you must be off by Wednesday at ten o'clock." It then being Sunday evening I replayed, "This was a very short notice for one to start in and it is now cold winter." I then told him I had no wagon or team, my wife was sick and I did not know how to go so soon. Then said he, you must either go now or deny your religion, or go to Richmond and stand trial for your life, for said he, there was one of our men killed at the blacksmith shop and said he you was there, and all that was there will be tried for murder and be hung. And said Hyrum Comestock, the Captain’s brother, if they are not hung they won’t none of them get back again for our boys don't intend for any of them to escape. I then said I would not mind being tried for my life by the laws of the land for I have not violated any law, but I would not like to be tried by mob law for I know, said I, that no Mormon could have justice done to him in this state while their prejudice is so high. I said to him, I believe Joseph Smith was once a Prophet but as whether he is dead or alive now I know not, for the last that I heard of him he was a prisoner and it was supposed he would be killed. Then said he you must leave the state by next Wednesday. I then said that the ferry and roads is all guarded so that no Mormon could pass safely. I know that said he but I will give you a pass and then you can go safe. He then gave me the following pass,
November 13, 1838
This is to certify that David Lewis, a Mormon is permitted to leave
And pass through the State of Missouri in an eastward direction unmolested
during good behavior.
Nehemiah Comestock, Capt. Militia
I taken my pass and studied on it and thought to myself it would be death to undertake to go, and it can’t be no more if I stay and if I have to be killed let it be at home, for I thought it was too bad to take my flight in winter. So Wednesday came and I not gone, so they sent up a guard from their encampment, headed by Hyrum Comestock to see if I was gone, and with them a Mormon prisoner, whose name was Kelly, although he was a stranger to me. Mr. Comestock said, " Mr. Lewis do you know that man?" I replied that I did not. "Have you ever seen him before?" "I believe I have." "Where?" "Over on Muddy Creek if I am not mistaken in the man." "Was he at the mill on the day of the battle?" "I do not know but I think riot." "Is he a Mormon?" "I do not know but I judge not." " You know his name do you?" "I do not." "Go with us Mr. Levis to our encampment." Hyrum Comestock said to me, "Mr. Lewis, you have lied, this prisoner is a Mormon, he was in the battle, he says he knows you perfectly well and you have been lying to us trying to screen him." The prisoner said, "That aint the Mr. Lewis l know." "Hush your mouth," said Comestock, "and wait until you are spoken to before you speak. You may consider yourself our prisoners." Their entire number gathered around me and the following interrogations taken place:
"Mr. Lewis who of your neighbors was in the difficulties that was in Davis County?" "I do not know." " Who amongst you Is Danites?" "I don't know?" "Are you a Danite?" "What is a Danite?" said I. "All those that has taken an oath to kill and rob and steal plunder, take bear meat and sweet oils." "I am no Danite," said I, "for I never taken no such oath." "Let us now have him sworn." "It is of no use to swear him," said a voice, "for he would just as soon swear a lie as the truth." "I then said, gentlemen I am your prisoner you can talk to me as you please but I have seen the time when with a fair chance that I would not take such talk as that, you know gentlemen that kind of talk did not pass current in our country, I am a Kentuckian but now I am your prisoner."
Dinner now came on, which consisted of stewed pork and bread, each taking a piece from a large pot, and with the aid of a jack knife each worked his piece to his own notion. I stood around as an orphan for a while as though I was not going to get any dinner, when Hyrum Comestock said to me, "Mr. Lewis won’t you eat something with us, our fare is very rough, but if you will eat come up." "0h yes," said I, "for I an just recovering from a spell of sickness and my appetite is very good." I gathered a bone which was well supplied with meat, they handed me a hunk of bread and I went at it as though all was well. "Come," said they to the other prisoner, "and eat." " No," said Kelly, "I am well and I cannot eat." Said they, "We will have hands laid on you brother Kelly and you will then get better." Said they, "Mr. Lewis is this man given to be delirious and swearing, he swore harder last night than any man we ever saw, he curses Jo Smith." I said, " I know him not," still picking my bone as though times was better with me than common.
They seeing that I was enjoying myself better than they wanted me to they turned their discourse on me. "Mr. Levis are you not a good hunter?" "I do not prize myself at that business." "We went you to take a hunt with us after dinner. We do not care much for the game but some of our boys is of the notion to try it over with you again we hear that you can’t be hit with a bullet and our boys is good marksmen and they want you to go out with them this afternoon so they can have another chance. What do you think about dying?" " I don't think much about it, if I could have my freedom life then would be sweet but without it I care not to live. Who told you I said that a bullet could not hit me. I think," I said, "they came very near hitting me," showing them the holes in my clothes. "How," said one, "did you get away without being killed?" "I walked away." "Well I suppose you had so much faith you couldn't be hit." " If I had faith I had works to put with it, and my works was to try to get away as fast as I could."
I then spoke to them as follows, in order to touch there humanity if there was any in them. "Gentlemen I think this is a pretty pass we have got things to. We are living in the same country and almost neighbors, we speak the same language and should be able to understand each other better than this and communicate our grievances to each other, before making such rash moves. Our fathers no doubt fought side by side to gain liberty why not us, their children, maintain this liberty and be willing to have it extended towards each other. If we differ in our religions or, political views we should not make it a matter of shedding each others blood, but know the world is large and there is room for us all. You shot at me very carelessly the other day, although when you came to this mill and was detained all night I fed you and your teams and you slept in my home free of charge. Many of us came from the same state and the same soil nourished us, and there is a better way to settle difficulties than to take each other’s lives. What crimes have I done, that I must be thus treated?" And one cried out, "Poor Tray he was used bad for being in bad company." This talk seemed to have good effect, for they ceased to threaten me or talk of trying me over again but seemed to soften down, and said to each other, "that man has too good a countenance to be a thief."
Evening soon came on and I said to the Captain, "Can you let me go home to chop a fire of wood, my wife is sick the widow and orphans of my brother that you have killed is there and a wounded man is there." "What!" said Hyrum Comestock, "do you mean Abott that was wounded, there?" I replied, "Yes." "Well," said he, "damn him, he ought to die, I snapped at the ---- rascal seven times, because he refused to give up his gun, but it was a gun I had just taken from a Mormon and the damn thing would not go off, if it had been my own gun I should of killed the damn rascal." ‘Well can I have the privilege to go or not, you can send a guard with me if you cannot trust to my coming back."
The Captain said, "We will hold a council over you and let you know." Then Bob White, an apostate Mormon who was with them, pled to let me go for said he I know that Mr. Lewis has been sick and is now unable to stay in our camp while it is as cold. This kindness White done because he hated Haun as he did Lucifer.. and he knew that I did not like Haun and I believe he thought it done him good to have me help hate Haun, and for this reason he had before been kind to me But White, in my estimation, was no better than Haun, for self interest had caused Haun to stand up for us, whilst White was fighting against us, yet for me it had good effect.
So they agreed that I might go and stay, until next morning if I would promise to be in encampment by sunrise next morning, this I agreed to and went home and after chopping a fire of wood I was taken with a severe chill and then a fever for I had not as yet recovered from my sickness.
Next morning I was on hand according to promise. "Well," said the Captain, "you are on hand." "Yes sir," was the reply. "Well have you not got a gun?" " Well I had one the other day but on the evening of the difficulty I left it in the brush! I have not seen it since." "Take a guard of six men and go with Mr. Lewis and find that gun." "I do not know that I can find that gun." "We can make you find it." So I was marched as near the place as I knew, and after we had searched about one hour and had not found it they began to threaten me and accuse me of not trying to find it, but this was false, for I new that they would show me no mercy if it was not found. The snow had fallen very deep on the ground and the place assumed a very different appearance At length we found it. We then started to the camp and we passed by door, I then stopped in my yard and asked the privilege to go cut for my family a fire of wood. They halted and granted me this privilege, after chopping a few sticks I became faint and weak and I said to them, "Gentlemen won’t one of you please to chop a few sticks for me?" Their immediate replies was, "I shant, Well I be damed if I do. Well if he wants it chopped let him do it himself," and so on. I then thought, 0h wicked and degraded wretches, how far you have sunk beneath the honor of man, had I Lucifer a prisoner as you have me, I could not of denied him so small a favor as to refuse to help him chop, a fire of wood. After chopping my wood I politely invited them in to take a warm, they accepted the invitation and went in. After warming we again went to the camp taking with them my two guns, for I had another gun in the loft which they got when they went in. These guns was never returned to me or paid for and one cow that they drove off which has not been settled for.
But I will go on with my story: They made some parade over the guns, their conversation was chiefly in presumptuous talk about those that was dead in the well—"I heard one say in the well, damn it, hand me the bottle," another damn it got further, another said, "Quit eating my back," and old York they talked of making soap grease of because he was so fat. These words they thought so shrewd they produced great laughter, this was the entertainment of the day.
Toward night I again asked for the privilege of going home, this was granted on the same conditions as on the evening before. I went home, in the night it rained very hard so as to raise the creek that was then between us, so I could not get to them or they get to me. I went to the bank and hollered for them to get me across, this I knew they could not do, they seemed to be vexed at my impertinence and consulted among themselves what to do, they finally hollered to me to go about my business for they could not get over, so with joy I obeyed their orders and went to my home.
. . . . . . . . . .
We have no information as to when he left and went to Utah. He lived in Parowan, Utah at the time of his death 2 September 1855, seventeen years after this incident.
A first-hand account by David Lewis of the incidents involved in the Haun’s Mill Massacre, October 30, 1838. This is a sworn deposition, which was later presented to the State of Missouri for redress of grievances. (Note: The spelling is left in its original context.)
[Sworn to before H. Kimball, J.P. Hancock Co., IL, 11 Mar 1840.]
LEWIS, David JSC fn
Settled with the rest we felt to rejoice we had neither Spyes nor guards out nor was aprehending danger, when about three hundred mounted men came in atack and fell upon us without Showing us any mercy what ever we never saw them until they was as near as one hundred & fifty yards of us we then amediately ran into ablacksmith Shop, they began fyering on us without asking us to Surrender without giving us the chance to Surrender when we called up on them to Spare our lives when men ran out & held up there handkerchiefs & hats for peace they Shot them down when they attempted to run they was Shot down & when they Stood Still they Shot them down threw the cracks in the Shop there was also a window in the end & another in the Side of the Shop, the Shop was neither chinked nor daubed So they had all chances to make a Speedy Slaughter of us, we Saw that they would Show us no murcy we then begun fyering at them but in this time our number was but few and the enemy mostly behind trees & logs So that there was but few of them killed or wounded.
I think that I could venture to Say that neither ancient or modern times have ever witnessed Sutch a cenery of things as was thare witnessed, there was a few men women & children in consequence of threts & the abuse that they had received had guethered themselves toguether in defence of there own lives & there property when they was fell upon by a lawless band, without being Shown the least murcy without Spareing men women or children there was one woman Shot threw the hand othe[rs] had holes Shot threw there clothes, they continued there bloody works until 17 was killed and 15 wounded I must here remark that this woman that was wounded was not in the Shop but was in a tent & when they commenced fyering at hur She run & hid hurself behind a long & it is Said that there was 12 or 14 bullets Shot in the log that She was behind, the other women that was Shot threw there clothes ran out of the houses that was near the shop knowing that there husbands was in the Shop & Screamed for murcy but instead of haveing murcy Shown to there husbands & friend they had to make a quick retreat to Save there own lives, there was one Small boys branes was Shot out, there was too other little boys during the fray consealed themselves under the Bellas & those cruel harted retches after killing both of there fathers came & Stuck there guns threw a crack of the Shop & Shot them both One dyed & the other recovered, they then came in to the Shop among those that was dyining & struggleing in there blood & them all that they could perceive life in they blown there branes out curseing them as loud as Screams could yell, there was too men that laid among the Slain that passed for dead men that escaped being Shot again one of them was wounded & the other was not.
And after these cruel retches had found out that these men had escaped there notice I heard them Sware that if they ever got in another engagement that they would enspect more closer by Sticking there k[n]ife in there toes, this barberous work commenced on TueSday evening about an hour by Sun, they kep on Shootin as long as they could find any to Shoot untill Sun down, it would be miraculous to tell how them escaped that did escape & also to tell how Some was Shot that did recover, how painful it is, when I think upon it my heart is filled & my eyes is ready to drip with tears to See my friend & near neighbors a falling around me, groaning & dying Struggleing in there blood, & to See the widows tears & to hear the orphants cry, to See the helpless babes a weeping Standing by, there was Thomas Mc bride a verry old man & justice of the [——] after he had gave up his gun & Surrendered himself a prisner he was Shot dow & after laying a little while he attempted to rise he was hewn down with an oald peace of a Sythe blade after a while he attempted to rise again he then was hacked down and hacked into peaces this was done by Jacob Roggers.
I had one brother killed & an other wounded I escaped myself but had Several holes Shot threw my clothes, the dead was thrown into a well about 8 or ten feet deep, because there was no one left that was able to burry them, this was too days before the Surrender at Far West, and the Second day after the masacre took place a large company of them came back and fyered there guns & blowed there bugle & frightened the neighbourhood, but did not kill any more, I had forgot to mention there Stealing & robing the houses on the day after the masacre, there was Several that was on there way to Far West from the east that in consequence of the way being guarded by the mob Stoped at the mill five of them was killed & after they was done Shooting the wounded over they then went into the houses & tents & robed the widows of there beds & clothing & left them to perish with the cold they als[o] took off those movers waggons & teams in order to hall off the goods that they had taken they took Several valuable horses they robed the women of there mantles & the men of there clothes, they Striped the boots off of the dead & Sold them, Steaven Runels boasted of Shooting the too little boys, Some of them thou[ght] it was not right others said a littl Sprout would be a big tree afte the mob had left the ground & it began to get dark I crep from my hideing place & went down near the mill & found my brother which was ga[s]peing & groaning in his blood I brought him to my house which was in a few hundred yards of the Shop he lived a few hours & dyed & while he was dying his wife loaned a young man his noble gildon to go to Far West to get assistance to burry the dead, the young man Started in haste & got in too or three miles of Far West & thare he met a company of men they ast him where he was from & where he was going he told them they then ast him where the militia was, he told them he did not know of any. they then told him to turnabout & go with them & they would Show him where they was, for they Said that there was 5 or 6 thosand out here a little piece, they then took him to ray county to Samuel McCristens & Stay all night. they thare robed him of a fine fur cap & threatened to take his over coat telling him that it was too fine for a mormon they thereatened to Shoot him & disputed among themselves who Should have the horse, in the morning Sashel Woods the Same that took his cap & threttened to take his coat & Shoot him Saddled up his horse & rode him round the lot & then Stoped & couneled with his company & then put his Saddle on an other horse and Samuel McCriStin Saddled up the horse & rode him off the young man told them that the horse belonged to a woman that hur husband was dying, this company then took the young man to Richmon & kep him a prisner this companys, names was as follows Sashel Woods Joseph Ewen Jacob Snordan Wiley Brewer John Hille and four more there names not recollected,
I Shall next proceede to give an account of the treatment that we had to endure after our friends was Slain, capt. Nehemiah Cumstock with 40, or 50 men came to the mills & located themselves for too or three weeks & took possession of the mille, dureing this time they lived on the best that the neighbourhood could afford, the industry of the mormons had procured to them Selves a plenty of that which was palatable & good, the capt & his company went from house to hous & plundered & Stold & burnt Some books they robed Some houses of every thing that belonged thare to, they, killed our hogs robe[d] beegams they ground the wheat that was in the mill & mad[e] use of it ther was ten widows in the neighbourhood, whoos husband they had killed & many helpless orphants whoo was dependent on gooing to these wicked retches for there meal & flower there was many exposed to the cold that was left destitute of meanes to Subsist on, there was many laying wounded & no one Scarcely to attend to there wants & there lives was day threattened, it was dreadfull to tell the awfullness of our Situation.
And this abuse we received from men of our own coular & of our own nation & we now not but our four fathers have fought Side and Side for our liberty, they told all manner of lyes & falsehoods against us in order to justify the evil conduct that they done, if we had done any crime we never refused to have the law put in force against us but they new that we had not violated the law & new that takeing us to the law would not accomplish the object that they had in view, for they had not forgot the Spoil that they had gained by driveing the mormons from jackson county, it was our farmes & our Stock & our property that they wanted, I Stand in defyance of the State of Misourie to proove one acusation against us that they So cruely treated that was worthy of the notice of the law for there was many of us in consequence of Sickness had bin confined dureing all of the difficultys & there was five that was killed that had jus came to the country too days before they was killed. Now those wicked retches went from house to house on Search of gunes & other other things that they wanted I was at the house of Jacob Foutz who was laying wounded when capt comstock with a company came in with there faces painted black with a half moon painted under each eye they begun to question Mr. Foutz if he knew where Sutch & Sutch of his neighbours was he told them that he did not.
I then got up & Started out I was ammediately followed out by Some of his company they told me to not go away until the capt Seen me they then went in and Saw the capt & he came out & told me that I must begaune or on the act of Starting by Tuesday evening this was on Sunday evening or denounce mormonism or go to richmond & Stand a trial I ast him what it was I must deny, he Said I must deny Jo Smyths being a prophet, I told him as for going to richman & Standing a triel I did not regard Standing a trial according to law for any thing that I had done, but to be tried by a mob law I did not like it for they heaped the mormons all in a lump & what they had against one they had against all, & as for moveing I thought it quite a Short notice for aman to have to move in when the weather was So cold & had neither waggon or team I told him that my wife was Sick & I did not know how I Should go So Soon I told him that the road was Said to be guarded that none was allowed to pass must I be drove off by one company and another to kill me as I went I told him that I thought the conditions of the treaty was that we might Stay untill Spring, he said that, that was the first conclusion but that he just had received new orders from the General & that was that all mormons Should be driven out forthwith, I then ast him if the way was not guarded So I could not go Safely he Said that he would give me a ticket that would take me Safely I then went my way & we parted, on the next day I hapened at the mill where the capt & his company was he the[n] rote a pass & gave it to me which reads as follows, November the 13th 1838 this is to certify that David Lewis a mormon is permitted to leave and pass through the State of Misourie in an Eastward direction unmolested during good behaviour Nehemiah Comstock, Capt Militia
on the next day after I got my pass Hiram comstock the capts brother came with too or three others men to my house & brought with them a prisoner, they told me that they had a prisner they ast me if I new him I told them that I had Saw him but did not know his name, they after asking Several questions, told me to go with them to there c[a]mp, I went down with them they told me that the prisner Said that he was well acquainted with me they then told me that I might considder my Self a prisner they then gave me plenty to eat & drink but kep me until next day & Set me at liberty
-- David Lewis
I was born Aprile the 10th 1814 in the State of Kentucky Simpson County & remained in the Same Stat & County untill Aprile the 22th 1837 I then went to the State of Missouri I there witnessed thos horred Senes of which I have Spoken, & my real losses, besides my difficulty troubles & vexations is not les than, 400 dollars all accasioned by those difficultys & those difficultys was accasioned by mobs
this March the 14th, 1839 David Lewis
(Clark V. Johnson, ed., The Mormon Redress Petitions: Documents of the 1833-1838 Missouri Conflict [Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1992], 276 - 278.)
David Lewis's Timeline
April 10, 1814
Franklin, Simpson, KY, USA
October 20, 1835
Franklin, Simpson County, Kentucky, United States
November 15, 1838
Franklin, Simpson, Kentucky, United States
March 1, 1843
Nauvoo, IL, USA
August 1, 1848
Council Bluffs, IA, USA
August 1, 1848
Council Bluffs, IA, USA