The story of the apostasy and return to the faith of Thomas B. Marsh and Orson Hyde is a complicated one. When teaching about the history of the church in 1838, I find that it is vital to emphasize the humanity of all of the people involved in this conflict, from both sides. Thomas B. Marsh and Orson Hyde are important persons in this part of Mormon history, and their signed statements that they made to the governor of the state of Missouri, Lilburn W. Boggs, are important components in understanding this complex time in our history. This signed affidavit, I believe, played an important role in Boggs’ decision to issue Executive Order 44, or the Extermination Order of 1838 that authorized agents of the state of Missouri to drive members of the Church from the state by any means necessary.
Thomas B. Marsh Affidavit October 24, 1838
At the request of a committee of the citizens of Ray County, I make the following statement in relation to the recent movements, plans & intentions of the Mormons in the counties of Caldwell & Daviess.
Shortly after the settlement of the difficulties at De Witt in Carroll County, a call was made up by the Mormons at Far West in Caldwell County for volunteers to go to Daviess County, to disperse the mob as they said. On the day before this Joseph Smith the prophet in which he said that all the Mormons who refused to take up arms, if necessary in difficulties with the citizens, should be shot, or otherwise put to death. And as I was there with my family I thought it most prudent to go, and did go with my wagon, as the driver.
We marched to Adamondeoman and found no troops or mob in Daviess County. Scouting parties frequently went out & brought in intelligence that they had seen from three to five men. We got to Diamon on Tuesday evening, & on the next day a company of about eighty of the Mormons, commanded by a man fictictiously named Captain Fearnot, marched to Gallatin. They returned and said they had run off from Gallatin twenty or thirty men and had taken Gallatin, had taken one prisoner and another had joined the company. I afterwards learned from the Mormons that they had burned Gallatin, and that it was done by the aforesaid company that marched there. The Mormons informed me that they had hauled away all the goods from the store in Gallatin, and deposited them at the Bishop’s storehouses at Adam on diahmon. On the same day, Lyman Wight marched about eighty horsemen for Millport. He returned before night and called for Joseph Smith & Hiram Smith to report to them (said Hiram being counsellor of said Joseph the prophet) and said Wight reported that he had been in sight of Millport, saw no one to fight, but that the people generally had gone & left their houses & property. The prophet, on hearing the property was left, commenced a reply & said “We had better see to it.” When Wight stopped him by saying “Never mind, we will have a private counsel,” and Smith replied “Very well.” The private counsel I did not hear. The men were dismissed to go to their camps.
The same evening a number of footmen came up from the direction of Millport, laden with property which, I was informed, consisted of beds, clocks & other household furniture. The same night, I think, about three wagons were dispatched for about forty bee gums, and the next day saw several gums where they were splitting them up & taking the honey & burning the gums, in which business of taking out the honey, but few were engaged for fear, as they said, they would be called on as witnesses against them. When Wight returned from Millport & informed Smith that the people were gone & the property left, Smith asked him if they had left any of the Negroes for them, & Wight replied no. Upon which someone laughed and said to Smith, “You have lost your Negro, then.”
During the same time, a company called the fur company was sent out to bring in fat hogs & cattle, calling the hogs “bears” and the cattle “buffaloe.” They brought in at one time seven cattle and at another time, four or five belonging to the people of Daviess. Hogs were brought in dead, but I know not how many. I saw only two.
They have among them a company consisting of all that are considered true Mormons, called the Danites, who have taken an oath to support the heads of the church in all things that they say or do, whether right or wrong. Many, however, of this band are much dissatisfied with this oath as being against moral and religious principles. On Saturday last, I am informed by the Mormons, they had a meeting at Far West at which they appointed a company of twelve, by the name of the destruction company, for the purpose of burning & destroying, and that if the people of Buncombe came to do mischief upon the people of Caldwell & committed depredations on the Mormons, they were to burn Buncombe & if the people of Clay & Ray made any movement against them, this destroying company was to burn Liberty & Richmond. This burning was to be done secretly by going as incendiaries. At the same meeting I was informed they passed a decree that no Mormon dissenter should leave Caldwell County alive, & that such as attempted to do it should be shot down & sent to tell their tale in eternity. In a conversation between Doct. Avard & other Mormons, said Avard proposed to start a pestilence among the gentiles, as he called them, by poisoning their corn, fruit &c and saying it was the work of the Lord. And said Avard advocated lying for the support of their religion, & said it was no harm to lie for the Lord.
The plan of said Smith, the prophet, is to take the State, & he professes to his people to intend taking the U.S. & ultimately the whole world. This is the belief of the Church & my own opinion of the prophet’s plans & intentions.
It is my opinion that neither said Joseph Smith, the prophet, nor any one of the principal men who is firm in the faith could be indicted for any offense in the county of Caldwell. The prophet inculcates the notion, & it is believed by every true Mormon, that Smith’s prophecies are superior to the law of the land. I have heard the prophet say that he should yet tread down his enemies & walk over their dead bodies; that if he was not let alone he would be a second Mahamet to the generations, & that he would make it one gore of blood from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic ocean. That like Mahamet, whose motto in treating for peace was the Alcoran or the sword, so should it be eventually with us – Jo Smith or the sword.
These last statements were made during the last summer. The number of armed men at Adamondiamon was between three & four hundred.
Thomas B. Marsh
October the 24th 1838
Sworn & subscribed before me the day hereon written
Henry Jacobs, J.P., Ray County, Mo.
The most of the statements in the foregoing disclosed of Thomas B. Marsh I know to be true. The remainder I believe to be true.
Richmond, Oct 24th 1838
Sworn to & subscribed before me on the day above written
Henry Jacobs, J.P.
The undersigned committee on the part of the citizens of Ray County have no doubt but that Thomas B. Marsh & Orson Hyde, whose names are signed to the foregoing certificates, have been members of the Mormon Church in full fellowship until very recently when they voluntarily abandoned the Mormon Church & faith. And that said Marsh was, at the time of his dissenting, the President of the Twelve Apostles & President of the Church at Far West, and that said Hyde was, at that time, one of the Twelve Apostles. And that they left the church & abandoned the faith of the Mormons from a conviction of their immorality & impiety.
Richmond, Oct 24th 1838
Thomas C. Burch
J. R. Hindley
C. R. Morehead
O. H. Learcey