Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate/Volume 2/Number 11/Letter from Warren Parrish (June 28, 1836)
For the Messenger and Advocate.
Hickman county, Tenn. June 28, 1836.
This evening, while meditating upon the variegated scenes of human existence, the ever fluctuating current of mortal life, which sometimes threatens to overwhelm the way wandering son of men like an irresistible torrent, and hurry them to an untimely grave, while far separated from those who are bound by the dearest ties of consanguinity, my mind flits back to those happy seasons I have enjoyed in Kirtland, in the society of my brethren and friends.—The loss of this society is more than usually impressed on my mind from a combination of circumstances which have transpired since I last wrote.
On the return of brother Patten and myself from Clarks river, to brother Utley's, we were informed that many of the citizens of that county (Benton) and some of the citizens of Carroll county, had met in convention, headed by a Methodist priest, who was called to the chair, and the County Clerk appointed Secretary. They drew up resolutions to drive all the "Mormon" (Latter Day Saint) preachers from their coast. These resolutions were signed by the Sheriff and many who are sworn to be civil peace officers, to suppress all riots and unlawful assemblies and support and defend the constitution of the United States and of the state of Tennessee; also military officers who are sworn to do the same.—From Colonels and Majors down thro' all the grades of officers, enrolled their names, with this lawless banditti, to abuse the servants of the living God, by abridging their privileges and trampling upon their rights.
We enjoyed our meeting unmolested at br. Utley's, on Saturday the 19th inst. although almost every breeze brought us news that the mob intended to carry their resolutions into effect, and that some hundreds had entered into this conspiracy. In the afternoon, a little before sunset, a company of some forty or fifty men made their appearance, some on foot, others mounted two on a horse, with guns, sticks, clubs, &c.; they were led by a Sheriff, Colonel, first and second Major, with some other officers, and a Methodist priest, with a gun on his shoulder.
The Sheriff informed us that he had a State's warrant for D. W. Patten, W. Parrish and W. Woodruff; issued on complaint of Mathew Williams, the Methodist priest and chairman spoken of above, who sware that we had put forth the following false and pretended prophecy, viz. That Christ would come the second time before this generation passed away, also that four individuals should receive the Holy Ghost within four and twenty hours.
We were credibly informed, that the company that were under the control of these noble chieftains, consisted of Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, liars, drunkards, hog and horse thieves. And so determined were they to force us off at that late hour, that it was with much difficulty we could prevail on them to show us any lenity. However they protracted the time of our appearance before the court until Tuesday following, by our giving a bond of two thousand dollars, signed by ourselves and two of our brethren.
They intended to have led us into the woods under the dark curtain of night, (the emblem of their corrupt and wicked hearts,) with the pretension of taking us before the magistrate, that they might the better execute their diabolical designs upon us.
On Tuesday in company with about twenty brethren and warm friends, who were ready and willing to lay down their lives for us, we went before our rulers. We found about one hundred persons assembled whose countenances too plainly indicated the black designs of their hearts. They were armed with guns, dirks, pistols, clubs, sticks, &c. At a late hour, we prevailed on the Sheriff to have the court called, which consisted of three magistrates, one of whom was rejected from the judgment seat because some of his family were members of our church. The Sheriff then asked of the court the privilege of divesting us of our arms, if any we had; it was granted. Elder Patten had a pistol which he had taken that morning in consequence of our having heard that the mob did not expect to sustain a lawful charge against us; but intended to rise up and overpower us by their numbers; he also had a walking stick. I had a cane and common pocket knife; these were taken from us.
A man by the name of Perkins (who report says, had run his country for hog stealing and also had been guilty of concealing a stolen horse for which he had lost a part of his nose,) was appointed by the court to act as State's Attorney, or in other words, mob solicitor general, to abuse the innocent and screen the guilty. We were abused by any and every scoundrel that saw fit to do so, and the court allowed them this privilege. After they had brought many of those who had entered into a conspiracy to witness against us; we called on our witnesses, but the court refused to hear any testimony on our part, because the mob objected and they dare not do otherwise, but were controlled by the lawless banditti that surrounded them and us, who were determined on our destruction. Said Perkins made a plea against us, and we were not permitted to reply or speak in our own defence. Thus ended this mock trial, and the court after retiring a few minutes, returned with this verdict: That they concluded that the charges preferred against us had been sustained, and that we were bound over to court for trial.
Our accusers did not attempt to prove that those individuals who were promised the Holy Ghost on condition of obedience to the gospel did not receive it, for they if called upon would have testified otherwise; and let the candid judge, whether any man can in truth testify, that he who prophecies, that Christ will come the second time in this generation, is a false prophet. And furthermore our complainant testified that the above named crimes were committed in October, 1834. It is a well known fact that Elder Woodruff, whose name is included in the warrant (tho' not arrested) was not in this state until the spring of 1835. So much for the oath of a Methodist priest.
While the court was preparing our bonds, another warrant was served on Elder Patten; the mob without and the mob within, whose intoxicating zeal, had risen to its zenith were threatening our lives, and seemed only waiting the dark shades of night, which were fast gathering round, to cover them while they should wreak their hands in our blood; the influence of our friends as instruments in the hands of God kept this gathering storm from bursting upon our heads. About this time the Sheriff proposed to us that if we would leave the county in ten days and pay the cost, they would set us at liberty; at the same time informing us that it was the only way for us to escape the hands of the mob, who were hardly restrained from acts of violence. One of the brethren present offered to pay the cost and all advised us to accept the offer, although in its nature most insulting, for if we were really guilty of a violation of the laws of this state, their oath of office obligated them to bind us over to trial before the circuit court. But this was not the fact; we were not guilty, and this last step proves to a demonstration that they (the court) did not consider us so; and shows that oaths, obligations and the rights of man were disregarded, and the whole scenery from beginning to end was controlled and governed by a set of ruthless ruffians, who are sunk in the lowest depths of degradation and infamy, of whom the devil himself ought to be ashamed.