Postcards: The ‘Flat Man’ gets a taste of Far West and the Mormon War

By Linday Emley

I seldom have a boring day at the Ray County Museum. My Wednesday started out normally, but that soon changed when I got a phone call from my friend Keith Bowen.
He invited me to a meeting that was being held to start a Far West Historical Society. It was scheduled later that day so I checked my calendar and told him I would be there.
After work, I drove up to Caldwell County and spent the evening with my new freinds. We did introductions and I told them that I was from the Ray County Museum and I was known as Alexander Doniphan’s girl. They all thought that was great because Doniphan was a key player at Far West.
As we were planning what we were going to do at our future meeting, it was suggested that I do a program about Doniphan. I told them I would be glad to. That’s when I heard a chuckle from across the room and I knew I had to confess. I’d been seen around town with another man, so I had to share his story. I told them Alexander Doniphan was taking the year off and I explained that Capt. Bill Anderson was my man for the next nine months as we promote the Battle of Albany.
I’ve been posting pictures of my “flat man” on Facebook for several weeks, and he’s becoming well known across the country.
I’ve been contacted by Civil War buffs from Virginia all the way across the country to Colorado. I even got a message from one of my friends in California but he doesn’t seem to understand. I think the words he used are, “Honey we need to do something about that cardboard man you are seeing.” He’s from Texas originally, so I would have thought he would understand but he didn’t.
Since we are talking about Texas, I want to share something I learned about Texas at the Far West meeting. We were talking about old land records when one of the ladies asked if we knew what it meant when we found “GTT” written in a land document. GTT means “Gone to Texas”. Many people from this area migrated to Texas.
My grandmother told me a story about her grandparents moving to Texas when she was a little girl. She was born in 1907, so it would have been a few years after that. She traveled by train to Texas with her mother and her little sister. They always stayed overnight in a boarding house near the train Depot in Oklahoma. They stayed with the same lady on every trip. Her father never went with them because he had to stay home and take care of the farm.
For those that don’t know what Far West is, please see the story below that I wrote last fall.
“In Caldwell County, there is a field that has four corner stones from the Far West Temple. It was the headquarters for the LDS Church from March 14, 1838 until the spring of 1839. I’ve often wondered what it would have been like be at Far West when the corner stones were placed and I finally got a glimpse when I found the following story on a LDS history page:
“On July 4, perhaps as many as two to three thousand persons assembled on the public square for the temple site dedication and cornerstone-laying ceremonies for the Far West temple. The day’s activities were conducted in grand style. The festivities commenced at 10 a.m. with a grand parade consisting of military infantry, church leaders according to their offices, ‘ladies and gentlemen,’ and cavalry. The entire procession marched to the public square to the music of a brass band led by Dimick B. Huntington. After assembling at the temple site, the entire company formed a circle around the excavation, with the ladies in front. Joseph Smith offered the opening prayer.”
“I’ve visited Far West many times over the years and I’ve always enjoyed the peaceful feeling that comes with this quiet country location. It’s hard to believe this spot was once part of a troubled time in our Missouri history. The fighting in the late 1830s is  called “The Mormon War,” but I think of it as a conflict. Twenty-two people died during a conflict that started Aug. 6, 1838 and ended Nov. 1, 1838 when Joseph Smith surrendered to Alexander Doniphan.
“As always, I had to look up this story in our 1881 Ray County history book. It may have started in Caldwell County, but Ray County was also part of the story.
“Page 275 is where the story starts: “Mormon War. In the fall of 1838, the Mormon war caused great excitement in Ray County. A considerable force of Mormons under their leader, Joe Smith, had assembled at Far West, in Caldwell County, and serious apprehensions were entertained that they intended to make a descent upon Ray County. A portion of the force of Mormons, under the command of Capt. Patton, did march into Ray County, as far as what is now called “Bogart’s Battle Field,” on Crooked River, in the northwest part of the county, on, or about the 15th of November, 1838, and met a company of Ray County militia, under the command of Capt. Samuel Bogart. After a sharp engagement, the militia were repulsed and fell back to the southern part of the county, leaving the Mormons the masters of the battlefield. In this engagement, the Mormons lost Capt. Patton, and the day following fell back to their main force at Far West, Caldwell County. The wildest excitement prevailed in Ray County after this slight action.
“A large number of people in the northern part of the county removed their families and their effects to places of safety in the southern part of the county.
“Lilburn W. Boggs, who was then governor of Missouri, issued a proclamation and ordered Maj. Gen. David Rice Atchison to call out the militia of his division, in order to put down the insurgents and enforce the laws. Gen. Atchison called out a part of the first brigade of Missouri state militia, under the command of Gen. Alexander W. Doniphan who proceeded at once to the seat of war.
“There were called out in this expedition from Ray County four companies of militia, commanded respectively by Captains Samuel Bogart, Israel R. Hendley, Nehemiah Odell, and John Sconce. The militia were placed under the command of Gen. John B. Clark.
“Gen. Doniphan, on reaching Far West, in Caldwell County, after some slight engagements, where the principal Mormon forces had assembled, numbering about 1,000 men, commanded by Col. G. W. Hinkle, demanded their surrender, on the following conditions, viz: That they should deliver up their arms, surrender their prominent leaders for trial, and that the remainder of the Mormons should, with their families, leave the state. After some parlaying, Joe Smith surrendered on Gen. Doniphan’s conditions. The leaders were taken before a court of inquiry at Richmond, Ray County, Judge Austin A. King, presiding. He remanded them to Daviess County to await the action of the grand jury on a charge of treason against the state.
“The Daviess County jail being very poor, they were taken to Liberty, Clay County, and confined in the jail at that place. Indictments were presented against Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Lyman Wright, Col. G. W. Hinkle, Charles Baldwin and Amos Lyman. Sidney Rigdon was released on a writ of habeas corpus, at Liberty.
“The others applied for a change of venue, which was granted by Judge Austin A. King, and their cases were sent by him to Boone County for trial. On their way to Columbia under a military guard, Joseph Smith and his fellow-prisoners effected their escape. It is claimed, that the guard, or a portion of it was bribed.”
“As a result of this conflict, nearly all the 10,000 Mormons in Missouri relocated to Nauvoo, Ill. They were then one step closer to their finally destination in Salt Lake City, Utah.”

Have a story about the Mormon War? Contact Linda  at

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