[Following the expulsion from Jackson County, Missouri, in 1833,] At length we settled in Clay County, Missouri where my mother married a Mr. John M. Burke, a widower with two children, his wife having died with the cholera in St. Louis in 1831. I stayed with Uncle Gilbert most of the time until Zion's Camp came up in 1834.
When the cholera broke out Uncle Gilbert was preparing to go on a mission, but he was among the first to die; then Jess Smith. Five died at Uncle's house and nine at a neighbor's house, named Burkett. The bodies were wrapped in blankets and buried as everyone was too frightened to go near. This was in the month of June. But not one died after the Prophet came and administered to them. Uncle died on the 29th of June, 1834. Shortly after this the Camp left for their homes in Kirtland. I began teaching a few children writing, reading and arithmetic. I did not know so much about grammar but had commenced the study of it in Jackson County, Missouri along with Sabrina Phelps, Oliver Cowdery, John Whitmer and others, but the mob stopped us. Being well versed in geography, I continued teaching with success for two years. On the 11th of August, 1835, I married Mr. Adam Lightner of Liberty County, Missouri.
Shortly after this our people moved to Far West, Caldwell County and soon had a flourishing town and settlement of farms all around. The Brethren persuaded Mr. Lightner to move there and keep a store as the Church was not able to start one then, as most everyone had been stripped of all they had. He went, built a log house for the store, leaving me in Liberty until it was finished, after which we moved there. My husband furnished supplies for the farmers until they could harvest their crops, it being customary among the Missourians to credit the farmers until harvest was gathered. There a son was born to us, on June 18, 1836, named Miles Henry. In the latter part of 1837 we went to Milford to start another store for my brother, James H. Rollins to care for. But rumors were about of troubles again with mobs so we hurried back to Far West. We had left our store in charge of a Mr. Slade. We found all our provisions gone, our carpets ruined and mobs gathering in great numbers, threatening our people, driving off their stock, committing depredations too numerous to mention. Grievances were almost unbearable. The Brethren determined to defend [p.310] themselves and as there was very little powder in the place, they decided to send for some and as Mr. Lightner was not a Mormon they asked him to go to Liberty for a keg. Homer Duncan went with him. They got the keg, bought 20 yards of carpet, wrapped it around the keg and placed it in a barrel of beans. On returning their wagon was searched twice by ten men who thrust their bayonets into the barrel but did not hit the powder. They arrived home safely to the joy of all. Then men with teams were sent out into the settlements to collect all the provisions they could. Two men armed with guns to guard each wagon went along. Mr. Lightner and George A. Smith were guards over one wagon. Plenty of provisions were brought in and stored in Sidney Rigdon's and other men's houses. We soon heard the heart-rending news of a battle between our people and the mob at Crooked River in which David W. Patten, Patrick O. Banion and Gideon Carter were killed.
About this time occurred the Haun's Mill massacre where the mob killed 17 men and hurled their bodies down a well. Oh, what a time that was! One man was shot several times. He crawled into the brush. The men followed him. One said, "Shoot him." Another said, "No, let him suffer. He's dying anyway." But he did not die; he lived to go to Utah and lived to a good old age. He lived in the same town as I did and I've heard him tell many times that story as well as other incidents connected with that terrible massacre. His name was Charles Jameson. He told of a boy whose mother dragged him away from the mob when he was very weak from loss of blood. In despair she prayed to know what to do. A voice told her to take slippery elm bark and bind on the wound. She did so, the bleeding stopped; he got well. This boy was Warren Smith.
In the midst of all this sorrow word was received that the militia and hundreds of men were marching to our city to destroy its inhabitants. A part of the bloodthirsty mob camped near the outskirts; placed a cannon in the road intending to blow up the place. They sent in a flag of truce demanding an interview with John Clemensen and wife and Adam Lightner and wife (John Clemensen's wife was my husband's sister). The four of us went out to meet them. A number of Brethren were there well armed. General Clarke, who was with the mob, shook hands with Mr. Clemensen as he knew him, and said that Governor Boggs had given him an order for safe removal before they destroyed the place. I asked General Clarke if he would let all the Mormon women go out. He said "No." I asked if my mother's family could go out. He said that the Governor's orders were that only the two families were to go out; all others to be destroyed. I said, "If that is the case, I refuse to go; for where they die, I will die. I am a full-blooded Mormon and not ashamed to own it." He said, "Oh, you are infatuated. Your Prophet will be killed with the rest." I said, "If you kill him today, God will raise up another tomorrow." He answered, "Think of your husband and child." I said my husband [p.311] could go if he chose and take the child with him, but I would suffer with the rest.
Just then a man who was kneeling near some brush jumped up. I saw it was Heber C. Kimball. He stepped between the General and myself and said, "Sister Lightner, God Almighty bless you! I thank my God for a soul that is ready to die for her religion. Not a hair of your head will be harmed for I will wade to my knees in blood in your behalf." "So will I," came from Hyrum and others. The General pleaded with my husband without avail. The next morning, the Prophet and his brother Hyrum were given into the hands of the mob militia. A few days later my husband's brother came from Lexington for us to go to his home 40 miles away. As we found our people were not to be massacred, we concluded to go for a time. Clemenson's family and ourselves took a change of clothing and were ready to start when we heard a posse was hunting for my brother Henry, who had not been married long, so we took him in the back end of the wagon, covered him with a feather bed, his wife sitting near to uncover his head when no one was around. We passed through Clarke's troops of 500 men, one half on each side of the road. They did not molest us as we feared they would. We had a Negro driver and Mr. Lightner's brother who was well known, walked beside the team. Henry would have been killed had they found him with us. We reached Lexington safely, but had a hard time crossing the Missouri River as large cakes of ice would almost upset the boat. The officers found where brother Henry was and came for him. They put him in Richmond jail with the Prophet, Hyrum and others. They were treated like brutes and threatened to be shot every day.
My husband being a non-Mormon, the mob was always trying to find some way to work through him. But Adam loved these men and wanted to do all he could for them. We found that they were hunting Mr. Lightner to make him go against the Prophet so we hurriedly packed a few belongings, took a quilt for a wrap and a change of clothes and rode day and night to Louisville, Kentucky where his Uncle lived.
Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 5: 309-311
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MARY E. LIGHTNER
We soon left Far West behind and reached Lexington in safety, though we had a hard time in crossing the Missouri River at that place, large cakes of ice would almost upset the boat, and we were in great danger of drowning. The ferryman said that he never came so near going to the bottom before. The officers found where we were, and came and took Henry and put him in Richmond jail, with Joseph, Hyrum and other brethren; where they were treated like brutes, and threatened to be shot every day or two. What their sufferings were was only known to God and themselves. But General Doniphan was disposed to favor the brethren as much as he possibly could.
About this time we decided to go to Louisville, Kentucky. We rode day and night until we reached there. We took a change of clothes for myself and babe, a shirt for Mr. Lightner, (we had left our goods in Far West) took a quilt for a wrap, and that was all we had. We expected to find an uncle of my husband's there, with whom we could stay for awhile, as we had but little means; but in this we were disappointed, for he had moved to Pennsylvania. We rented a house of four small rooms for six months, and gave a gold watch that cost two hundred dollars in New York City for the rent. We bought a second hand bed and bedstead and two chairs, a kettle and skillet, 3 or 4 plates and cups, and commenced housekeeping.
Mary Lightner, Autobiography, Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, 17 (1926): 200-201.
Other Mary E. Lightner sources may be found at: http://www.ldshistory.net/pc/merl.htm Source: Mary Lightner, "Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner," Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, 17 (1926): 193-205, 250-260
For more information on facilities and events at the Far West Cultural Center: