Little Bits of History

Tarred and Feathered

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 24, 2015
Joseph Smith, Jr.

Joseph Smith, Jr.

March 24, 1832: Joseph Smith, Jr. is tarred and feathered. Smith was the leader and founder or Mormonism. He was born in Vermont in 1817 but the family soon moved to western New York, a hotbed of religious revivalism during the Second Great Awakening. Smith experienced visions where he was directed to a buried book of golden plates. In 1830 he published an English translation of the texts found on the plates – the Book of Mormon. He also organized a Church of Christ and claimed it to be a restoration of the early Christian church. Later visions instructed Smith to rename his church the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. In 1831, he and his followers moved west and hoped to form a commune of the American Zion.

Smith and his wife, Emma Hale Smith, moved to Kirtland, Ohio. There is a possibility they moved west in an effort to get away from persecution in Pennsylvania and New York. They lived with Isaac Morley while they waited for a house to be built for them on the family farm. Others of their group went to Jackson County, Missouri where Smith had been instructed to build the new Zion. While in Ohio, Smith was dragged from his bed in the middle of the night, beaten, strangled, poison pressed against his teeth, and tarred and feathered. He was left for dead, but managed to survive the degradations.

Tarring and feathering have been in use as a means of unofficial justice or revenge since feudal days in Europe. It was mostly a type of mob vengeance, similar to lynching. A typical attack had the victim stripped to the waist, as Smith was, and then tar applied. The victim was then covered in feathers or possibly rolled in a pile of feathers. Usually, the next step was to parade the humiliated person through town. Petroleum tar, what is used to tar roads, would have been so hot it would have burned skin off the individual. Pine tar has a lower melting point. While it would be very hot, it would not be as extreme. Unless the tar was boiling, it was not necessarily a brutal procedure. Smith’s friends scraped the tar and feathers off until his skin was raw.

The speculation for what incited the crowd is varied. There are some who believe that Eli Johnson, a son of Smiths’ host, wanted to punish Smith with castration for his closeness to Nancy Miranda Johnson (his sister). Another possible motive was that Symonds Ryder, another participant in the night’s events, was fearful Smith was trying to take property from members of the community. This was to warn him against such actions. Whatever the reasons for the attack, the person who paid the highest price was an adopted child of the Smiths. This baby was torn from Smith’s arms and put on a trundle bed. The child was knocked from the bed as the adult Smiths were dragged from the house. The child died of exposure, possibly pneumonia, five days after the event.

We teach them proper principles and let them govern themselves.

The best way to obtain truth and wisdom is not to ask from books, but to go to God in prayer, and obtain divine teaching.

If you do not accuse each other, God will not accuse you. If you have no accuser you will enter heaven. What many people call sin is not sin; I do many things to break down superstition, and I will break it down.

I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book. – all from Joseph Smith, Jr.

Also on this day: Alaska Mess – In 1989, the Exxon Valdez ran aground and began to spill oil.
Cruising – In 1898, the first American built automobile was purchased.
Metropolitan Life – In 1868, the insurance company was formed.
Beating a Killer – In 1882, Robert Koch announced the cause of TB.
You’re in the Army Now – In 1958, Elvis Presley was inducted into the US Army.

Inspired Writing

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 26, 2014
Joseph Smith, Jr.

Joseph Smith, Jr.

March 26, 1830: The Book of Mormon is published. Joseph Smith, Jr. was born in 1805 in Vermont and at age seven suffered a bone infection which left the boy crippled and using crutches for three years. He and his family moved to western New York by 1817. The family moved to Palmyra which was created as Swift’s Landing in 1789. By the time the Smith family moved it had changed names and by 1822 the Erie Canal reached this far. The family’s 100-acre farm was mortgaged after three years of crop failures and a failed business venture by Smith senior.

Between 1817 and 1825 was a period know as the Second Great Awakening and there was an increased religious zeal in the young nation. There were several camp meetings in the area of Palmyra and although the Smith family was divided over religious beliefs, they were willing to let their teen son become involved in the movement. Joseph, his parents, and his grandfather all reported visions and dreams where they believed God was delivering messages to them. While praying in a woods near his house, Joseph received a vision from God which altered the course of his life. He was forgiven all sins and was warned that all churches had “turned aside from the gospel”. He was seventeen when the angel Moroni appeared to him.

He was told that a collection of ancient writings were engraved on golden plates and buried on a nearby hill in what is now Wayne County, New York. These writings described the group of people God led from Jerusalem to the Western Hemisphere 600 years before Jesus was born. Moroni was the last prophet of this lost tribe and he had buried the plates and God had promised to bring them up in the latter days. Smith was to meet with the angel every year on September 22 to get more instructions. In 1827 he was finally permitted to take the golden plates and translate them into English. To translate them took divine intervention and there are several tales of how this took place.

The title of the book was, according to Smith, taken from the very last of the golden plates which had been secured together in the form of a book by wires. The purpose of the Book of Mormon was to show the lost tribe what their God had done for them as well as proclaim to both Jews and Gentiles that Jesus Christ was the eternal God. The book is actually a series of books, much like the Bible is a series of books. There are six books to the Small Plates of Nephi; three books which are further subdivided in the Contribution of Mormon; and three books in the Additions by Moroni. There were eleven men who testified to seeing the golden plates before they were returned to the angel, Moroni.

The best way to obtain truth and wisdom is not to ask from books, but to go to God in prayer, and obtain divine teaching.

A man filled with the love of God is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race.

If you do not accuse each other, God will not accuse you. If you have no accuser you will enter heaven. What many people call sin is not sin; I do many things to break down superstition, and I will break it down.

Noah came before the flood. I have come before the fire. – all from Joseph Smith, Jr.

Also on this day: Stella! – In 1911, Tennessee Williams was born.
Cruising Legally – In 1934, Britain began testing drivers.
Dr. Death – In 1999, Dr. Kevorkian was found guilty of second degree murder.
Mother Ship – In 1997, the Heaven’s Gate suicides were discovered.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 14, 2012

Joseph Smith, Jr. portrait

February 14, 1835: The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is first named. On April 6, 1830 Joseph Smith, Jr. founded the Latter Day Saint movement in New York. In 1827, when he was 27 years old, he announced an angel showed him some golden plates five years earlier. These were eventually translated and published as the Book of Mormon in 1830. The plates came into Smith’s possession and sworn affidavits by eleven others say they also saw and handled the ancient plates, too.

The Three Witnesses, three of those who had seen the golden plates, were instructed by Smith to select the original twelve members for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Quorum of Twelve. The chosen were announced on this day and anointed as apostles. These were the leaders of the church, also called LDS or Mormons. They are Restorationist Christians. They are not part of the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church, or any variety of Protestant religion.

Smith moved to Kirkland, Ohio in 1831. He continued to preach the tenets of his church and proffer the Book of Mormon for instruction. While preaching, Smith and his family lived as guests in believers’ homes. He met with problems and one night an angry mob dragged him from his bed, beat him unconscious, and tarred and feathered him. He was almost castrated, as well. This hastened his move to Missouri. The group arrived in Independence, then a small village of about twenty homes.

The Mormons met with disapproval in Missouri, too. There were also problems within the ranks of church members and some of the twelve apostles were expelled. Hostilities between Missourians and Mormons escalated. Smith was jailed but was permitted to “escape” on his way to trial. Brigham Young had assumed leadership while Smith had been incarcerated. Smith was killed by a group of assailants when he was once again in custody. There was a mad dash to see who could manage to take over the leadership of the church. Brigham Young suggested the Quorum lead the church together. He was the leader of the group of twelve.

Mormons think they live in their own world, … and that Utah’s this place where it’s supposed to be perfect. “God is here.” But he’s not. Not any more than he is in Compton. – Quinn Allman

It’s a lot more common now for someone to know a Mormon rather than just know of Mormons out in Utah, … We seem more normal. We’re not as exotic. – Brigham Young

Education is the power to think clearly, the power to act well in the worlds work, and the power to appreciate life. – Brigham Young

If my life is of no value to my friends, then it is of no value to me. – Joseph Smith, Jr.

Also on this day:

Opening Night – In 1895, The Importance of Being Earnest opened in London.
Smooch – In 270, St. Valentine was executed.
Scarface vs. Bugs – In 1929, the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre took place in Chicago.