For an unknown reason, Ellis Eames is misidentified in this account as "Ellis Eamut." This mistake has been corrected.
HAUN'S MILL MASSACRE.
[by Ellis Eames]
On the 15th day of August, 1837, I moved from Far West to Haun's Mill, 16 miles from the former place, with a quantity of merchandise intending to keep store in that place; having settled there, and liking the country very much, I purchased a saw mill from Mr. Myers, and in the spring Mr. Myers and son and I built a grist mill which was furnished that season. All things continued to move on well; the inhabitants behaved themselves very friendly and purchased goods from and used my mill for grinding and sawing. This continued until the disturbances broke out in Daviess County, when I observed from the conversation that they did not like the proceedings of our brethren. However, they seemed to be kind as usual to me and the rest of our people, who were in the immediate neighborhood.
As the disturbances increased, and the excitement prevailed they partook of the same spirit and some threats were made by them of burning the mills. Three men, viz. Lardus Smith, George Miller, Robert White (one once a member of the Church) and the other two men left the place to move up to the Grand River. Thinking they would be protected in that place from the mob whom they feared would soon fall upon the brethren who were settled in Caldwell, these men who had left nearly all their property behind them agreed with the inhabitants amongst whom they had gone to reside to give them half of their stock, if they would drive it home for them.
Accordingly, about eighteen or twenty came for that purpose, but did not content themselves with driving off the property of the individuals, but likewise drove off two cows belonging to Gilman Merrick and several young stock from me. At the time they were coming they met a man by the name of Miller who was on horseback; they took his horse from him.
A few days after this Mr. Isaac Calkin had a beautiful span of horses which he secreted in the corn field, for fear the mob would steal them, but notwithstanding this precaution they succeeded in finding them and took them away.
The next important transaction that took place was that a company was raised on Grand River, but without any legal authority whatever and came to our neighborhood and took a quantity of guns from our people. When they came up to my place I immediately went up to them, conversed with them and asked what was their object in the strange move they were making. One of them named, Molsey, told me that they were taking the guns from the Mormons, wanting to put a stop to the damned fuss. One young man named Hiram Abbot who was with me, and with whom I was about making arrangements to put up a store, who had a gun with him was told to give up his gun, but he refused, knowing they had no authority for such strange proceedings, when several of the mob while on their horses immediately cocked their guns and took aim at him, but did not fire.
Three of them then dismounted viz: Hiram Cumstock, Trosher, and Whitney and pursued after him across the mill dam -- he got up to the side of a hill and Cumstock got by the side of the house, Comstock then drew up his gun and snapped it three times at him, but without effect; his gun would not make fire. Abbott seeing that, cocked his gun, but Comstock got behind the hen house and screened himself from danger. Abbott then made his escape as fast as possible. The mob then rode off. Very soon after it was reported that they intended to come and burn the mills. On receiving this intelligence the neighbors assembled together to consult what was best to be done, and after some deliberations it was agreed that there should a few remain at the mill to guard it from the attack of any individuals who might feel disposed to put their threats into execution, and from that time there were generally some of the men about the mills in order to protect it, it being their chief and only place where they could get any flour or meal.
The mob understanding that we had made such a movement, sent word to us that they wished to meet a committee of our people and have an understanding of each other's movements and expressed their wish to live in peace and friendly terms with us. We immediately sent a committee who met them at the house of Mr. Myers, and after a short interview and explaining to them the object we had in view and that we desired to live in peace, and they separated both parties seemed satisfied and manifested a kind spirit. The committee on the part of the mob were Samuel S. Todd, Paceriah Lee, Isaac McCaskie, Thos. R. Brien, Clerk of the Circuit Court at Livingston, and William F. Ewell, Esq. The names of our brethren were David Evans, Jacob Myers and Anthony Blackburn. After this interview we felt more satisfied, having, as we thought, a perfect understanding of their intentions, but at the same time we thought it best to keep up a watch at the mills--for fear any individuals might come privately and burn them.
About this time a number of movers from the East came up, intending to settle in that section of the country, but had not determined where. They stopped a few days at the mills and purchased some provisions until they should find a place to settle.
We continued to hear of mobs in different directions, but at the same time we felt ourselves measurable safe after being given to understand by the committee from Capt. Mattison's company that they would not molest us, if we were peaceable, etc.
On the 31st of October things moved on as usual, we were occupied in our usual occupations and heard of nothing to increase our fears and were in hopes that soon such proceedings and alarm would cease and we should again enjoy the blessings of liberty and peace. The day was far spent; the sun was sinking fast in the western hemisphere, being only about an hour and a half high. A number of us where at a short distance from the mill between it and the blacksmith's shop when one observed there was a mob coming, and immediately we saw a large company of between 200 and 250 within about one hundred yards from us. Thinking their movements were hostile, we immediately ran into the blacksmith's shop, for safety. Some of our brethren had camped a little behind the shop; one of them by the name of Knight, had just taken up his gun and was going down to the small lake for the purpose of shooting ducks when the mob came upon him. One of their leaders named Comstock observing him immediately fired upon him and shot the strap off his shot pouch. He then ran into the shop whither we had taken shelter, the mob then kept rushing on towards the shop and shooting at us. David Evans then ran out and called for peace and solicited them to desist. Knight also went out again and joined him supplicating for peace, but all to no effect; they continued to fire upon them and shot Brother Knight in the hand, taking off one finger and disabling another, he then retreated towards the mill to cross on the dam, when he was shot in the back, the ball lodging in the pit of his stomach.
The women seeing our situation and expecting no better treatment took to flight, taking their little ones along with them and running away from a scene of murder, which it is impossible to portray. As the mob approached nearer the shop, (indeed if we had all been armed it would have been impossible for us to have resisted them) took deliberate aim through the cracks and the shop being crowded almost every ball that entered the shop took effect and every moment some one was exclaiming, "Oh, I am shot," and first one and then another kept sinking down upon the ground, writhing in agony, while the blood flowed from their wounds and steamed upon the floor. One young man standing immediately next to me was shot, seeing no prospect before us but death, the mob manifesting all malice possible, and would not listen to our cries, and seemed determined to murder us all, we thought it advisable for us to try to make our escape by running out of the shop and cross the mill dam. Those of us who were able ran out and endeavored to make our escape in doing which as many were shot down while making the attempt and the mob firing upon us all the time as long as we were within reach. The mob then rushed into the shop where the wounded and dying were laying and those in whom the spark of life was not extinct were then shot over again. A little boy about nine years old who had hid himself under the bellows being observed and on being threatened to be shot, he earnestly desired and prayed for them to spare him, plead for his life, but to no purpose, for a muzzle shot gun was placed to his head and his brains were literally blown out, another little boy was likewise shot and died soon after, still another was shot, but has survived. One old gentleman who was immediately behind, named Thos. McBride, Esq., ran when we fled from the shop and was pursued, having a gun in his hand. This was demanded by his pursuer, he immediately turned round and delivered it up. The monster then took a corn cutter which he had by his side and cut the old man into pieces.
Some of the women were shot. Mrs. Merril's clothes were cut in two or three places with bullets and a young woman named Mary Studwell who was running away, at a distance from any one else was shot through the hand. Hearing the balls whistling by her she took shelter behind some logs which screened her from the balls as several lodged in the logs.
After they had finished their bloody work, the mob next commenced to plunder, and seeing some teams standing by belonging to the movers who had lately come along, they loaded the wagons with our goods. They entirely stripped me of all my clothing as well as my wife's and the clothes belonging to a young man who was boarding at our house, and all our bed clothes and beds likewise a quantity of merchandise which they carried away. Nor did this satisfy them, but those who were murdered were then robbed of their clothes, watches and everything else of value. The mobbers took their booty to Grand River and there made a distribution of the spoils amongst themselves.
I went about two miles and hid in the Hazel brush and then returned with Mr. Blackburn about ten O'clock at night. I went amongst my friends who had been shot, and those who had been wounded, I assisted all I could and administered to their necessities, and early in the morning a few of us got together and interred the dead in a hole which had been dug for a well, and then we went and hid in the hazel brush, expecting the mob would probably be coming to massacre the remainder. Some came, but they did not appear so hostile, but satisfied themselves with carrying off 2 or 3 horses. A few days after the same company came and pretended that General Clark had sent them to take prisoners and send them to Richmond jail. They took me prisoner and kept me in close confinement for nine days and would not let me converse with any one. They then took possession of my mills and ground up all the wheat and corn and took it home to their families and after taking about all the spoil they could and killed nearly all my hogs, they departed and left me at liberty and drove off the cattle, etc. They went all around the neighborhood and threatened the lives of all the Mormons and ordered them out of the state upon pain of extermination. The names of those who were killed were as follows:
Elias Benner, Josiah Fuller, John Boyers, from Ohio, Richland County, Simon Cox, George Richards, Thos. McBride, Levi McMerrick, John York, Austin Hammer, Warren Smith, Benjamin Lewis, Hiram Abbott, John Lee, Sardius Smith, Wm Roper and Merrill.
Wounded Elimar Merrill, Isaac Laney, William Yokum, Jacob Hammer, Jacob Foutz, George Meyers, Jacob Meyers, Jun., Jacob Potts, Charles Jameson, Carlton Lewis.
The names of the leading characters who took part in this outrage and inhuman butchery were as follows: Nehemiah Comstock, John Conmer, --- Gee, Jennings, Sheriff of Lewiston County, etc.
These acted without any authority and committed all these murders, and robberies, yet none of them have been brought to punishment. The affair was left without investigation and the poor afflicted broken-hearted survivors left without any redress.
The above is one account of the Massacre at Haun's Mill. This was written by Ellis Eamut (actually Eames) and was copied at the Church Historian's Library in Salt Lake City from the Journal History of the [LDS] Church, 30 October 1838, pp. 11-16.
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To read Olive Eames' account of the Massacre, click here. To see the source page for this document, click here. To return to the Eames Family page, click here. To learn more about Mormon history in northwest Missouri, click here. To return to the Richardson Family page, click here.