Lucius Nelson Scoville


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This Story was taken from the diaries and journals that were kept by Lucius Scoville, and so the facts as written here are authentic and reliable, he having kept his diary from day to day. Little, however, is know of his boyhood days, a great many valuable and important papers having been lost at some time about 1885. The facts contained in these papers and journals, covering his life from birth, to the age of twenty-two, will necessarily have to be omitted.

Lucius N. Scoville was born in the little town of Middleberry, New Haven County, Connecticut March 18, 1806. The son of a Joel and Lydia Manville Scoville. Nothing is known of his life from that time until his marriage to Lura Snow, daughter of Lydia Alcott Snow, on June 15, 1828, in Middleberry, Connecticut. (The name of the town has since been changed to Waterberry).

He and his wife continued to live in Middleberry until 1835, at which time they moved to Mantua, Ohio. They, however, did not stay long in Mantua, for toward the end of the year they left, moving to Kirtland, Ohio. It was here that both he and his wife joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, on July 2, 1836 and were baptized by President Joseph Smith.

Soon after it was found necessary for them to return to Mantua, in order to dispose of the home and property that would be of no further use to them, as it had been definitely decided that they would establish residence in Kirtland. It took much longer to find a buyer for the property than had been contemplated, making it necessary for them to remain in Mantua. It was at last disposed of, and on June 9, 1837 they returned to Kirtland, where, in the meantime he had made two or three trips in order to build a house and have things ready for his wife and family.

In the month of October, following their arrival, he was ordained an Elder in the Church by Reuben Hadlock, First Counselor to the President of the Elders Quorum. And in the month of November he was called on his first mission, being appointed in Delaware County, Ohio.

On December 25th, in company with Harrison Burgess, he left home, going south to the appointed mission field. At times it was very difficult for them. They were traveling without purse or script and were forced to depend upon the hospitality of the people they called on. Some were very kindly, inviting them to share their meals, then giving them lodging for the night. This treatment, however, was very much in the minority, for at a great many homes where they would ask for lodging the doors would be slammed in their faces, some people even threatening to turn the dogs on them. It was not unusual occurrence for them to have to apply at six or eight homes in order to find food and lodging, and in some cases after having walked from eighteen to thirty miles in one day, to be absolutely refused food of any sort or even allowed to sleep in the hay loft. But they continued their way, going from town to town, making the best of conditions and doing what they felt was the right thing.

On January 8, 1838, while traveling to Kingston, they met Brigham Young and a man by the name of Richards, they were advised by them to return to their families in Kirtland as there was some rumor of mobs, this bore out the things they had heard while in Lexington. While there they had heard repeated cries of "Joseph Smith", and had felt some misgivings at that time, so with this second warning it was decided to return home at once. They had arrived within some forty miles of home, when they encountered Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, who with their families were in route to Missouri. From them they learned the reasons of secret whisperings, and the cries of "Joseph Smith", they had heard in Lexington, in effect, the same things that had been told them by Brigham Young, that things were not as they should be at home, and so, continuing their way in all possible haste, they arrived in Kirtland, and home after an absence of six weeks.

Here everything was in great commotion, the families all preparing for a move to Missouri. They hoped in this way to escape the persecution which they were suffering in the State of Ohio.

Soon after arriving home he left again, going on to Pennsylvania where he had business to transact, the business being some land which he was anxious to sell. Arriving at a small town just north of Pittsburgh, where the land was located, he was soon able to find a buyer for his property. He then bought a wagon and team and returned home. Upon his arrival he found conditions worse than when he left, a great many families had already left Kirtland, but there were many who were not able to leave as they had no means of hauling their household goods and personal belongings.

Lucius, even though anxious to move his family out of Kirtland, because of the threatening attitude of the mob, hauled the household goods of a great many families from Kirtland to the Ohio river, a distance of one hundred miles each way. He made five trips, a total distance of one thousand miles. After helping transport the families who needed help, he left Kirtland with his own family on July 6,, 1838, in company with 536 others, traveling in sixty-two wagons, headed for Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio, arriving there August 2, 1838.

Here the wives of the company kept school, and the men started the work building a turnpike, earning money to enable them to continue the journey. The camp was conducted by James Foster as the head, with Josiah Butterfield, Zerah Pulsper, Henery Herryman, Joseph Smith, Elias Smith, and Benjamin S. Wilbur as counselors. It was the intention of the leaders when this camp was organized that it should be conducted on the principles of equality, and that everyone with means, and were able to do so, should turn whatever they could over to the heads of the camp, so that all, including the poor and destitute could go on to Missouri.

All members of the company made a pledge to this effect before leaving Kirtland. But soon after leaving Dayton, the leader who had charge of all the funds of the company showed very unfavorable symptoms, by granting very scanty rations of food for the members of the company, and only half rations for the teams of horses and oxen. He was keeping his own team well fed with full rations, which included three feedings of grain every day. In this way, his team was able to travel much faster, and with less difficulty than the other teams, covering without effort twenty five to thirty miles each day. The teams of the others were experiencing great difficulties, in many instances being unable to pull the loads without additional help. The leader payed no attention to the trouble so many were having, and continued at the fast pace he had already set. Great hardships were suffered, many of the company were sick and unable to help. Eleven children had died during this stop at Dayton, and it was apparent that many more would unless another stop was soon made, a stop that would enable them to take care of the sick, and also get food and a much needed rest, a place where they would be able to buy food for their horses and cattle, and give them a chance to recuperate after the hard trip.

Only a short distance had been covered from Dayton, and though most of the company thought it best that a temporary stop be made, James Foster began talking of a definite stop, trying to get different ones to give up the trip and turn off with him. He said that they did not have the means of carrying them through, whether or not this was the actual truth was not definitely known, there was some doubts felt by a great many. So soon after arriving in the eastern part of Illinois, a great many families did stop, feeling that they could not continue. Some were even left by the side of the road without food or money, and in a number of cases actually sick. Even though other members of the company disliked this idea very much, they could not be prevailed upon to continue, so having no alternative, the wagon train continued on its way, leaving them, the people as was their wish.

Arriving within some seventy or eighty miles of Far West, which at the time was their destination, the company again heard rumors which caused some excitement. Although at the time things seemed to be quieting down, there were still some cause for anxiety because of the mobs.

Here it was that James Foster, the leader of the company, in spite of the strong pledges made before leaving Kirtland, suggested the party break up, and everyone go his own way, looking out for his own interests but the majority were in favor of staying together and continuing their journey, which they did. Foster, however, was the first to break the pledge made in Kirtland, turning off toward Dewitt, taking three or four families with him, he did this he said, to avoid troubles and difficulties which, he predicted would overcome if they continued on together.

After the departure of Foster and the others who had turned away from the main body, the journey was continued to Far West, and completed in good time without having any of the troubles which it was said they would have to overcome if they continued on together.

Here members of the Church were in very good spirits, and it was hoped by them that the wagon train would stop there. But after a one night stop, it was decided by the leaders to continue on their way. The following day they departed for a place called Adam-Ondi-Ahman, which was on the Grand River, in Daviess County, about twenty-eight miles from Far West.

The company arrived there on October 6, 1838, just three months to the day from the time they left Kirtland. A great many privations and sufferings were experienced, both in body and soul during this journey, but as Lucius Scoville wrote in his diary of this period;

"I feel very grateful for the privilege I had in traveling with a large body of Saints, as we had good opportunity to observe and learn human nature".

At Adam-Ondi-Ahman, Oliver Snow, an uncle of Lucius Scoville's wife, found them a lot in town. Scoville immediately set to the work of getting materials for building, and buying provisions for the approaching winter.

The mobs were still busy, and some two weeks after the arrival at Adam-Ondi-Aliman, again started to stir up trouble, threatening all who were in any way connected with the Church. They began their actual depredations in Dewitt, and the Saints upon being driven from that town, came to Far West, but it was not long before they began their hostilities against those living in Far West, in fact, all the Saints in Daviess County. These persecutions were carried so far as the burning of homes and the destroying of property in various ways. Conditions at last became so bad, that it was necessary for a guard to be placed night and day. As all members were required to take their turn at this guard duty, Lucius Scoville in company with Noah Rogers was one day doing picket guard about four or five miles from town. They had been riding through timber most of the time but had left it sometime before.

They were about a mile and a half from where it was, when suddenly they found themselves confronted by a large mob which had seen them leave the timber and had ridden into a gully to hide, until the two men approached. Scoville and Rogers were almost upon them when they rode into view and told them to halt. Instead of doing as they were told, they turned the horses and rode hard for the timber line. Two members of the mob had faster horses than the others, and had drawn steadily away and were rapidly over taking the two men, who were riding for their lives, because it was known to them if they allowed themselves to be caught, the mob might shoot them down in cold blood, all of them were heavily armed and it was the practice of the mobs to fire on the Saints whenever the opportunity arose. And now, as they were about to ride into the timber, which meant safety, they were confronted by a deep ravine with perpendicular walls. This ravine was fully sixteen feet wide, and the horses were running with such speed that stopping was almost out of the question, but it was not left for them to decide, the horses kept straight on making a tremendous leap, spanned the ravine, landing with safety on the other side.

Members of the mob who were close behind at once started to fire upon them. None of the shots at first took effect, but were so close they could be heard whistling by their heads. One shot, just before they rode out of range, did take effect, grazing Lucius Scoville's ear which caused a slight deafness he was to suffer all his life. They were soon in timber and safety. They wound their way through the heavily wooded country, in order to lose anyone that might be following, they at last arrived back in town, so thankful that they had escaped the assassins who would have taken their lives, for no other reason than that they believed in a different faith.

About this time members of the Church were attacked on Crooked Creek, where David Patten, among others, was killed. People living in various parts of Daviess County were forced to leave their homes in such haste, that they did not have time to gather things that were actually needed, many being forced out in the cold rainy weather without adequate clothing. They would go out on the prairie for some distance where it was possible to see the approaching of any mobs. Needless to say, there was a great deal of confusion.

Some were living in tents, others were using green beef hides which were procured from the slaughter house soon after the cattle were skinned, these stretched over poles to give shelter, other had no protection from the weather and when it rained just had to make the best of it. People who a day or two before had a home and ways of making a living, now had nothing in the world, their home~ and properties had been burned, or in some way destroyed, innocent women and children turned out of homes, away from shelter, beds, food and warmth 0 f their fires, all this suffering because a murdering mob said, "they must go". A party of fifty arrived from Far West saying that a mob of several thousand strong were gathering near that place, and intended to attack next morning. This information was received about midnight, and at one A.M. a large party under the direction of Colonel Lyman Wight, of the 5th. regiment, left for Far West, arriving there about seven A.M. having covered the twenty-eight miles in about six hours. The mob had by this time moved up to within three-quarters of a mile from the town and were camped in plain view; they being on one rise of ground and the town on another with a small valley between them.

The heads of the mob sent word that unless the leaders of the Church were handed over to them they would attack at eight A.M., the following morning. The answer to this demand was made by the people erecting large defensive breast-works which were made of logs , wagons and heavy household articles, using anything that would help withstand the attack with which they had been threatened, this work was carried on before the eyes of the thousands who made up the mob.

Some days previous to this, the Governor had received a report that was very much misrepresented, and had to do with the battle at Crooked Creek. The report being to the effect that the Saints were in the wrong, and had started the hostilities, which was anything but true. The Governor, however, ordered the mob to

"exterminate those Mormons, drive them out of the State".

This mob was stationed just on the outskirts of Far West, in addition to being several thousand strong, also had number of pieces of heavy artillery which were trained on the town, and it was not known from one minute to the next when they would open fire, most of them being cold blooded and only too anxious to begin their unreasonable warfare. Some of them seemed to take a fiendish delight in being brutal, and having managed to capture a few of the Saints who had been Out in the country for provisions, took them to their camp and treated them worse than the savages would.

One incident that was particularly brutal was the case of a man named Carey, who after being taken prisoner, was sitting on the tongue of a wagon when one of the mob approached, and without saying a work, &truck him over the head with a butt of his gun, striking him so hard that even the heavy stock of the rifle was shattered. Such cases of cold blooded murder and wanton brutality were not uncommon in the lives of those connected with the Church in the days of its infancy. Lucius Scoville was personally acquainted with Carey, having recently traveled with him from Kirtland to Missouri, he was known as a very mild mannered, inoffensive man, who was well liked by members of the company.

Another case of the mob's absolute savageness was their attack on an old man, John Tanner, who alter his capture, was tortured and wounded before being turned loose. After he was liberated and sent back as a warning to the others, their full force drew up in line of battle, but the Saints were determined that they would no longer suffer at the hands of those men without trying to protect themselves in some way, and now even more determined, since having sent word to the Adjutant General, of the difficulties and persecution they were suffering, and he had sent word for them to protect themselves against all marauders, they drew up in line of battle against the mob.

No shots having been fired, Lieutenant Colonel George M. Hinkle, took a white flag and went out to talk to the mob leaders. After being with them for some time he returned, saying that they wished to talk to the leaders of the Church in order that they might come to some sort of an agreement. Trusting in Hinckle, Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon and Parley P. Pratt went out to meet the mob leaders, meeting them about half way between the two camps, Hinckle turned to the leaders and said, "Gentlemen, here are your prisoners". The Church leaders were marched into the enemies camp amid much shouting and screaming.

Hinckle, even alter turning traitor, returned to the ranks of the Saints, saying that he had the confidence of Joseph Smith, and it was his suggestion that all arms be laid down. A consultation was held where it was decided that this would probably be the wisest move. They had no way of telling what might happen to the men who had been made prisoners if they did not comply, and, too, they were out-numbered one hundred to one, their number being only six or seven hundred, to the mob's six or seven thousand, and even though it was thought advisable to follow this course, the camp was very reluctant to give up the few arms and little ammunition they had as it was the only protection they had. They finally did, and all were marched into the enemy camp as prisoners.

About seventy were placed under heavy guard. The rest were refused permission to return to their homes and could not even go in or out of the town without a special pass. The following morning the prisoners were brought from the camp to the public square in the town, when it was decided to place the prisoners in the Richmond jail. A column was formed and the Saints forced to march toward Richmond. Some thousand men then stationed themselves at Far West, establishing what they called a martial law, but which in reality was just another form of persecution. At the point of a bayonet citizens were forced to sign a deed of trust, which they said was to defray expenses of the war.

The leaders of the Church had not been taken to Richmond as were the others, but were taken to Independence, there thrown in jail and shackled in irons. Among the men taken to Independence were Joseph Smith the Prophet, and Sidney Rigdon. They were kept but a short time and then taken to the town of Liberty, in Clay County, where they were kept for several months.

Things were still at a very high pitch in Far West, many fearing to return to their homes. But even though things were still bad, Scoville decided to return. He had not seen or heard anything of his family for over two weeks, and he felt that perhaps something was wrong. He started for home but had not gone far when he met a number of families who had just left Far West, his family was among them. So, after satisfying himself that they were all well, he continued his journey, thinking that he might be of some assistance to the families who were left in Far West. He stayed about ten days, then went to Log Creek where he started to work, building a log cabin on some property he had previously purchased. It was late in the year and a shelter had to be built before winter set in. He was able to get one finished before the snow fell, and then was fortunate in finding a job where he earned enough money to pay for provisions, buy a wagon, harness and many things they had been forced to leave behind when they were driven from town.

The better part of the winter was spent in recuperation some of the losses suffered at Far West, and making new household goods. The family stayed here until the last week in February, when word was received that the Saints were gathering in Quincy, Adams County, Illinois. After debating the question, it was decided to load their things and move on to the new settlement. They started for Illinois the same week and arrived there March 6, 1839.

A great many others were arriving daily, among them a number of the leaders who, up to that time had been imprisoned. A General Conference was called, and it was decided that all members of the Church unite in one locality. In case of trouble this would be more to their advantage than if they were scattered all over two or three states. In April the number of people had so increased in the town of Quincy that it was thought best to branch Out even more. It was at this time that they started to settle in Commerce, Hancock County, about fifty miles north of Quincy. A large tract of land was purchased and a town laid out which was called "Nauvoo" which means beautiful.

Lucius Scoville decided to remain in. Quincy for a few months as he and his family were much in need of clothes, and the chance to earn the much needed money was greater in Quincy at the time, than it would be in Nauvoo. He was making much headway in his work, when on July 6th, he was taken ill, and it was only a matter of a few days until his wife and children were also sick in bed. The situation looked quite critical as there was no one to turn to at the particular time, the families who had remained were in practically the same position as the Scovilles. At the end of three months things were indeed bad, the money that had been earned prior to the sickness of the family, and which had been saved in order for them to go to Nauvoo had all been spent, and now, too weak from his recent illness to go back to work, someone had to be found who would furnish provisions or credit. He managed to find a farmer who was willing to provide them with food until he was able to go back to work, and with the understanding that it would be paid back before the family left for Nauvoo.

On October 1st, word was received that a General Conference was to be held in Nauvoo. He made arrangements so tbat his family would be taken care of, then left to attend this meeting. It was at this Conference that the heads of the Church sent a party to Washington D.C. to see if something could be done about the treatment of the members of the Church were receiving in the State of Missouri. Judge Rigby, in company with Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, went to Washington, but the trip proved to be useless as the government refused to do anything about the conditions existing in Missouri.

In the meantime Scoville returned to Quincy where he worked that winter in order to liquidate the debts that had been contracted during and just after the illness of the family. All bills were paid up during the winter of 1839-1840. After which the family again started to save money which would enable them to move to Nauvoo. He was again called to General Conference in April, and at the close he returned to Quincy for his family, to return to Nauvoo, May 5, 1840.

In December the same year, the city of Nauvoo was incorporated under the laws of the State of Illinois. The charter of the city proved to be very liberal. It was more than the Saints, so long harassed by mobs, had hoped to receive. It gave the full protection of the State. In the year 1841 another provision granted the City Council, power to "organize the inhabitants of the city, into a military body to be known as the 'Nauvoo' Legion" and which would afford protection to the citizens of the city. Lucius Scoville was a member of this organization.

In the four years following the incorporation of the city of Nauvoo homes were built, ground broken and farms laid out. At the same time the Saints were putting a portion of their time, money and labors into the building of the Temple. But even though they thought they were at last established, it was to be proven that the labor and time spent in building their city and temple was to be undone at the hands of the mobs. Their dreams of peace in this locality, and the right to worship as they desired, was to be shattered. To again be forced even farther west into the wilderness in search of a place where they would forever be free of the enemies they had encountered wherever a settlement had been attempted.

All this was predicted by the Prophet Joseph Smith, and though he did not live to see the exodus of the Saints, or to send out the first pioneer party, his predictions that within five years the Saints ~would be free of their old enemies, came true. The Prophet's life was drawing to a close, and on the 27th of June, 1844, he and his brother Hyrum were assassinated in the Carthage Jail.

  • Life of Lucius Nelson Scoville cont...




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