|Haun's Mill massacre|
"Haun's Mill" by C.C.A. Christensen
|Location||Fairview township in eastern Caldwell County, Missouri|
|Date||October 30, 1838|
|Weapon(s)||muskets and rifles|
|Injured||13, plus 3 of the attackers|
|Perpetrator(s)||~240 Livingston County Missouri Regulators militiamen and volunteers|
The Haun's Mill massacre was an event in the history of the Latter Day Saint movement. It occurred on October 30, 1838 when a militia unit from Livingston County attacked a Mormon settlement in eastern Caldwell County, Missouri, United States, in retaliation for the killing of one Missourian and mutilation of another, as well as attacking Missouri State Troops, at the Battle of Crooked River. By far the bloodiest skirmish in the 1838 Mormon War in Missouri, the events have long been remembered by the members of the Latter Day Saint movement. The fifty-five men known by name to be involved were never prosecuted.
Haun's Mill was a mill established on the banks of Shoal Creek in Fairview Township, Caldwell County, Missouri in 1835–1836 by Jacob Haun, an early Latter-day Saint settler. By October 1838 there were approximately 75 Mormon families living along the banks of Shoal Creek, about 30 of them in the immediate vicinity of Haun's Mill and the blacksmith shop.
The militia involved in the massacre was led by Colonel William Jennings, Sheriff of Caldwell County. At the time of the attack it consisted of 240 men from Daviess, Livingston, Ray, Carroll, and Chariton counties and included prominent men such as Charles Ashby of the Missouri state legislature and Thomas O. Byron, Clerk of Livingston County.
Although the massacre took place a few days after Missouri's governor, Lilburn Boggs, issued his infamous Extermination Order, most historians have now concluded that the militia unit had neither the time nor the opportunity to have received news of the order.
There was considerable concern among the Mormon settlers at Haun's Mill due to the threat of the growing strength of the militia. On Sunday, October 28, a council was held to discuss how to defend themselves. It was decided to organize a defensive force and 28 men were armed and held themselves in readiness against an attack. That same evening, one of the militia groups sent a representative who negotiated a truce with the settlers. Monday the 29th and most of Tuesday the 30th passed without incident.
On October 30 at approximately 4 p.m., the militia rode into the community. David Evans, a leader in the community, ran towards the militia, waving his hat and calling for peace. Alerted to the militia's approach, most of the Latter-day Saint women and children fled into the woods to the south, while most of the men stayed behind to fight, entrenching themselves in the blacksmith shop. Unfortunately, the building was a particularly vulnerable structure as the widely spaced logs made it easy for the attackers to fire inside. The shop became a deathtrap, since the militia gave no quarter, firing about one hundred rifle and musket shots into the building.
After the initial attack, several of those who had been wounded or had surrendered were shot dead. Members of the militia entered the shop and found ten-year-old Sardius Smith hiding under the blacksmith's bellows. William Reynolds put his musket against the boy's skull and blew off the top of his head. Reynolds later explained, "Nits will make lice, and if he had lived he would have become a Mormon."  Seventy-eight year old Thomas McBride surrendered his musket to militiaman Jacob Rogers, who then shot McBride and hacked his body apart with a corn knife. Several other bodies were mutilated or clothing stolen, while many women were assaulted. Houses were robbed, wagons, tents and clothing were stolen, and horses and livestock were driven off, leaving the surviving women and children destitute.
By the end of the skirmish at least eighteen Mormons were dead: Hiram Abbott, Elias Benner, John Byers, Alexander Campbell, Simon Cox, Josiah Fuller, Austin Hammer, John Lee, Benjamin Lewis, Thomas McBride (78), Charley Merrick (9), Levin Merrick, William Napier, George S. Richards, Sardius Smith (10), Warren Smith, and John York. Thirteen more had been injured, including a woman and nine-year-old child. A non-Mormon sympathizer was also killed. Three of the 250 militiamen were wounded, but none fatally. After the fighting, the dead were thrown in an unfinished well and covered with dirt and straw. The survivors and their wounded gathered at Far West for protection.
After the massacre, Philo Dibble stated that "Brother Joseph had sent word by Haun, who owned the mill, to inform the brethren who were living there to leave and come to Far West, but Mr. Haun did not deliver the message." Of the matter, the LDS prophet-president Joseph Smith recorded, "Up to this day God had given me wisdom to save the people who took counsel. None had ever been killed who abode by my counsel." Then he recorded the sad truth that innocent lives could have been saved at Haun's Mill had his counsel been received and followed.
Although participants in the massacre boasted of their acts for years, none of the Missouri militiamen were ever brought to trial, and the Latter-day Saints' efforts at receiving justice in the Missouri courts failed.
Today, the grounds of the massacre are maintained as a historic site by the Community of Christ. The Church is also conducting ongoing archaeological research to identify the former buildings and grounds of the Haun's Mill settlement.
This event was dramatized in the Latter-day Saint film Legacy.
Currently the stone marker is difficult to read due to weathering and parts of the stone missing. The Historical Marker is also missing due to vandals. The pictures that are on this site are accurately depicted as opposed to the present state of the Haun's Mill Site.
- The Mormon Hierarchy, D. Michael Quinn, pp 99-100
- Historical Record, Jenson, Vol. 7 & 8, p 671.
- History of the Church, Vol. III, pp 182–186.
- Hartley, William G. (2001). "Missouri's 1838 Extermination Order and the Mormons' Forced Removal to Illinois". Mormon Historical Studies 2 (1): 6. http://www.mormonhistoricsitesfoundation.org/publications/studies_spring_01/spring_01.htm.
- Andrew Jenson, The Historical Record, Dec. 1888, p. 673.
- Eyring, Henry B. (June 2008). "Safety in Counsel". Ensign. http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=f318118dd536c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=22a73b4c3713a110VgnVCM100000176f620a____&hideNav=true.
- Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, vol. 5, p.136-137
- Media related to Haun's Mill on Wikimedia Commons
- List of persons involved in performing massacre and town of residence
- Accounts of the massacre
- Legacy at the Internet Movie Database
- Haun's Mill Massacre from LightPlanet.com
- Haun's Mill Massacre from Encyclopedia of Mormonism
- Haun's Mill massacre is at coordinates Coordinates:
hu:Mészárlás a Haun malomnál