Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Missouri Mormon Experience conference


Jefferson City September 7th and 8th

There is Weeping, and Wailing, and Gnashing of Teeth: The Struggle to Build Zion and Mormon Conflicts in Missouri
Angela Bell

The Mormon War represents the ends to which nineteenth-century Mormons and Missourians would go to defend their way of life and eradicate threats to their religious, personal, and political freedoms. In the years between 1831 and 1840, Mormons sought to solidify three interrelated factors that defined their religion—the importance of Zion building in Missouri, acceptance and expectation of persecution as a factor in millenarian thought, and the utilization of political and legal venues to enjoy the rights of citizenship. These three factors led to increased tension between Mormons and their Gentile neighbors that reached its apex in Missouri in the conflicts of November 1833 and between October 1838 and June 1839.

Lessons Learned -- The Nauvoo Legion and What the Latter-day Saints Learned Militarily from their Missouri Difficulties
Richard Bennett

When the Latter-day Saints arrived in western Missouri they were unprepared for the militaristic, basically Southern slave culture that they encountered in Jackson County. In response, Zion's Camp was a case of a militia in transit to join up with detachments of the Missouri militia. It was not well prepared to engage in actual combat, and it was hardly was a useful model for future military activity. The ensuing difficulties in Daviess and Caldwell counties and the rise of the Danites and other Mormon responses brought no end of grief. This presentation explores the way all these lessons were put to good use when the Nauvoo Legion was chartered in 1840.

The Unheralded Role of Martin Harris in Missouri
Susan Easton Black

Remembered as the fiancier of the publication of the Book of Mormon and the only one of the Book of Mormon witnesses to gather with the Saints in the Utah, this paper highlights two of Martin Harris' contributions to the Church on Missouri soil. The first is Martin's call as primary financier of the New Zion, including the purchase of the Independence Temple site. The second is Martin's ongoing commitment to the Church and the Prophet Joseph Smith as evidenced by his participation as a wagon master for Zion's Camp. That humble experience prepared him for his later significant role as one of the three who selected those to serve in the original quorum of the Twelve Apostles, men who, in turn, would have an important role in Missouri Mormon history.

After Far West: Using Local Land Records to Document the David Whitmer Family in Ray County
Becky Carlson

In 1838 David Whitmer departed the Far West, the Mormon settlement he had helped to establish in Caldwell County, and settled in Richmond Missouri. Whitmer, the longest living and most interviewed of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon, was a Ray County resident and businessman until his death in 1888. During their 50 years in Richmond family members were litigants in a number of legal proceedings including those dealing with debts, manumission, divorce, and a charge of breaking the Sabbath, for which Whitmer was convicted. This paper uses recently discovered Ray County Circuit Court criminal and civil cases to shed new light on Whitmer's business, family life, and standing in the Richmond, Missouri community.

A Temple in Zion
Richard O. Cowan

In addition to attempts to build a temple in Jackson County and at Far West, the Saints were mindful of a grand temple, which one day would be a key part of the New Jerusalem or City of Zion, which was to be built at Independence in preparation for Christ's Second Coming. Previous research concerning these temples has used statements made long after the Saints had been forced to leave Missouri. By contrast, this study focuses on statements made by Saints while still in Missouri and especially in Jackson County. This approach brings together, in a new way, information concerning the Latter-day Saints' vision of building temples in Zion and shows how that hope impacted their experience in Missouri during the 1830s.

The State of Missouri v. Joseph Smith, Jr.: An Overview of the 1838 Mormon War Criminal Cases
David Grua

In April 1839 a Daviess County, Missouri grand jury indicted Joseph Smith for six crimes--treason, riot, larceny, receiving stolen goods, and two separate charges of arson. These charges resulted from Smith's alleged involvement in the 1838 conflict between members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and their Missouri neighbors in Daviess County. Historians have largely ignored the legal aspects of these cases, a deficiency that I seek to correct with this paper. After providing an overview of the cases, I will further define the significance of the legal
cases in understanding the complexities of the conflict.

"Overwhelmingly Democratic": Cultural Identity in Jackson County, Missouri, 1827-1833
Steven Harper

Conflict followed the movement of the Mormons into Missouri in 1831. The cultural roots of the immigrant Mormons contrasted sharply with those of the earlier settlers of Jackson County. A culture war resulted, waged over fundamentally different ways of locating authority: Missourians by the qualified popular sovereignty of Jacksonian democracy, Mormons by direct revelation to a prophet. Economic, political, and social aspects of the conflict are traceable to this basic difference.

An Analysis of the Removal from Clay County
Ronald E. Romig and Michael S. Riggs

Accounts of the removal of the Latter-day Saints from Clay County in 1836 have traditionally told the story of the relatively peaceful manner in which this process took place. The impression typically left is that "their welcome was worn out and it was just time to go." This paper provides a contextual analysis detailing Joseph Smith's intended military redemption of Zion in September 1836 and the non-Mormon reaction to the possibility. These data suggest that a revised view of events is in order, although the result was indeed the amicable separation of the Mormons out of Clay County and the establishment of a new religious sanctuary in Caldwell County, Missouri.

Missouri as a Motif in Mormon History
Jan Shipps

This paper explores the importance of Missouri as the Center Place, as the Saints' initial geographical Zion. It considers the impact of Missouri on Joseph Smith's thinking after he escaped from prison and went to Nauvoo. It explores how Missouri became synonymous with persecution in Mormon minds at the same time "return to Jackson County" became a way for the Saints to think about the eschaton. Finally, it will examine how Jackson County became disputed territory between the mountain Saints and the prairie Saints.

Mormon Land Rights in Caldwell and Daviess Counties and the Mormon Conflict of 1838: New Findings and New Understandings
Jeffrey N. Walker

In the context of the use of preemption land rights in early 19th century America frontier, this paper explores the use of land rights by Mormons in Caldwell and Daviess Counties. Recent efforts have uncovered some important documentary findings about these rights and practices. These findings, when placed in the context of the conflict between the Mormons and the Missourian, provide us with some new insights as to the timing and motivations of the Extermination Order and ultimate displacement of the Mormons. This will be followed by an analysis of the patent rights obtained, principally in Daviess County, after the Mormons fled Missouri in late November 1838.

Between the Borders: Mormon Transmigration Through Missouri
Fred E. Woods

This paper examines how the 1838 Extermination Order may have impacted Mormon migrants passing through Missouri during the Nauvoo period (1839-1846) and particularly the Utah-bound European LDS immigrants as they crossed over the Missouri borders during the trail years (1848-1868). What attitudes existed in the minds and hearts of both the Mormon converts and the Missouri citizens during the subsequent decades which followed the Order? What challenges did the Latter-day Saint migrants face as they traversed this American Mesopotamia stretching from the Mississippi to the Missouri River during this tumultuous period? Were the passing Mormons and the Missourians sometimes willing to strike an "uneasy truce" for economic reasons?

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