by Julia Ann Vilate Young, 1907
Transcribed from photocopy of holograph by Jared and Ben Parkinson, December 20051
Father and mother were married on the eighteenth of February 1834 in Geneseo, Livingston Co—N.Y. Mother wore a pink gingham dress that she had made the summer before, and which she had washed and ironed for the occasion. It was cut a little low in the neck—and she had a very sheer white kerchief pinned up at the throat and crossed in front. John Murdock performed the ceremony. Father & mother went right away in a buggy to Mendon some twenty miles distant and stayed there with friends two or three days—Returned to Grandfather Bicknell’s house and mother remained with her parents until September, at which time father returned from his journey to Far West with Joseph Smith & others and father always called this the time when he went up to Zion’s Camp. [p. 1½] At the end of this same September father and mother started for Kirtland Ohio. Lived here until the June after Seymour was born. During this time when father was at home he worked on the Temple. Before he went away on his first mission to New England with Uncle Brigham he built a shanty of one room for mother adjoining John P. Greene’s house. This was the spring after Adaline was born and father was away some six months.
When he left mother she had part of the milk from a young heifer and ten pounds of rye flour in the house and the promise of thirty pounds of white flour from the mill owned by Bates Nobles which she never received. There was a small grocery store kept by a young man and mother hearing that he wanted some [p. 2] one to do his washing—went to him for the same and so earned a few groceries and a pair of shoes.
Brother Greenes folks were very kind to mother. In June 1838 they left Kirtland with some two hundred others. The whole camp stopped and worked for a time in Dayton, Ohio. Every one was out of provision—and the larder had to be replenished. Then journeyed on from Dayton to a place in Illinois called Richardson and here father resigned from the camp giving as the reason which was true that one of his horses had given out—but he was disgusted with the way some men were trying to run things. Here they camped out in Swinerton’s Woods and it was at this place the old bull tried to take the corn bread from the Skillet [p. 3] over the camp fire and father threw hot water on his nose to drive him away. After two weeks Mr Richardson let mother have a room in a house of his and the folks were here alltogether about five weeks. Some time in September 1838 started with a company of nine wagons for Far West.
Were some weeks getting to Haun’s Mill. Several days before they reached this place father stopped at a farm house to get some milk for the children and the woman at the place begged him to go back—she said if you are mormons you will surely be killed—she seemed much concerned for mother and her babies.
Traveled on very slowly and were stopped early one morning by a company of fifty armed men who asked if they were mormons and [p. 3½] were going to Far West? Receiving an affirmative answer—they said no more emigrants would [p. 4] would be allowed to go to Far West & demanded their arms and threatened their lives and insisted that they go back or stay there. Father went about in the camp and advised every one to give up their arms—and while some objected all finally did as requested. After the men had given up their arms—father asked of the militia “Which is the captain?”
One man rode out from the others and said “I am the captain.” He and father had quite a conversation and father told him that they were journeying west to find and make homes and asked if we stay here can we get work—and something to eat? The captain said every man can I believe find work here & I will interest the people around here to give you work.” A man by the name of Merrick was very angry with father because of what he advised and because [p. 5] of the promise made that they would go back or remain there—at least until they had further orders. Mr Merrick and one or two others did some very foolish talking and some of the militia one in particular talked back and said “You ought all to be killed and I think the best thing we can do is to make and end of you all right here”. At this the captain called him to order and told him to be quiet or he would be discharged from the company. A little later on the captain had the nine wagons move on to an open place—circled the wagons around—“camped them”—then rode away.
That night after the militia left there was held a sort of council—some were for pushing right on—and some agreed with father that the only thing to do was to stay there as they had promised. Some of them taunted father with being [p. 6] a coward and said to him many disagreeable things especially Mrs Merrick and Mrs. Smith. He listened in silence for a time—then he stood up and mother said he talked to them in a way to raise their hair. He told them that if they persisted in breaking their promise and pushing on to Haun’s Mill that they would sup sorrow and wail and weep.
Mr Merrick was still very dissatisfied & declared his intention of getting orders from head quarters. That night he started on horseback for Far West—was gone two nights and one day, returning on the second day—immediately calling the camp together to hear what word he had brought. Father was at work in a cornfield near by & when he was sent for to come in went right on with his work and did not respond until sent for the third time. After listening to Merrick he said to mother—I do not believe [p. 7] this man has any authority for what he says but they nearly all believe him what shall we do? Mother was so frightened she did not know whether they ought to go or stay. That night the company after dark under Merricks orders went back about two miles—then started for Haun’s Mill by a short cut through the timber country over rocks and fallen trees. The road was so rough mother could not sit up at all—but lay in the bottom of the wagon with the children. Father walked all night beside the wagon and George Richards drove the team. Arrived at Haun’s Mill about three afternoon on October 28th.2 Seymour just over one year old. Father found a room for mother—the only one to be had. All were willing she should have it because Seymour was so ill. As mother had this room she was at once asked to get supper for two men. [p. 8] Mother consented but said some one would have to hold Seymour every minute. And father asked George Richards to stay in the house and hold the baby—telling mother it was rather hard but they must get along the best they could.
Mother was to have supper ready at or near half past five. It was nearly ready when father came in and said to George which would you rather do stay here & hold the baby or go out and stand guard?” and to mother “which do you think he had better do?” “He is pretty tired of this & if he wants to go let him.”
He took his gun and made some laughing remark and went out—mother never saw him again. As she was setting the table father went to the door with Seymour in his arms—called to mother—“Look—look there!
It was almost dusk and mother [p. 9] could not at first make out what father meant. Father exclaimed “There is the mob! They were on the other side of Shoal Creek. At that moment came a shot—then another father pulled mother in quickly and shut the door which only closed with a wooden latch. Father said that mother raised both hands and said “O! God, save my husband”. At once mother told father to get away as fast as possible.
Father did not like to leave but mother insisted. There was a slide window at the back—father pushed it to one side stepped out to the ground and disappeared in the hazel brush. The mob did not kill any women purposely though one was shot. The whole thing was over in a few minutes—and the mob left as fast as horses could take them.
As soon as the noise of the shooting ceased some one came to the door and said [p. 10] Sister Young the mob has gone.”
Mother started out of the house with Joseph & Seymour in her arms and Addie clinging to her skirts. Just as she was trying to climb a high rail fence a man and his wife who had been at Haun’s Mill for two weeks and whom father and mother had befriended on the road when they were sick came running after her and took the children. Mother said never was she so thankful to hear the voice of a friend. She did not know where she was going—but felt she must get away fearing as many others did that the mob would return and burn the houses. Just as this man and woman had taken the children and were talking to mother a man who had been shot through the shoulder came along and directed mother to his brothers house. Entering the house and room she found no one there. In about half and hour [p. 11] there was brought in a young man who had been shot—then directly another—one died almost immediately.
This Mr Dunn & his wife who came to mothers assistance went out into the hazel brush and found father and brought him to the house where mother was three or four hours after the shooting. Later on in the evening father & Mr Dunn went to the cabin where mother had been in the afternoon to get her some bedding and cloths for the children. There they found the room filled with dead and wounded and mothers bedding all in use. The only thing father could do was to get mothers cloak—and the childrens coats and night-gowns and what ever there was of their clothing. Mrs Lewis in whose house they were let mother have a small blanket which she spread in one corner of the room and putting the childrens cloaks on to them—leaving on their clothing [p. 12] she put them to bed on this blanket—it was also her bed with her cloak for a cover.
Father & Mr Lewis sat up all night—it rained hard and they felt the mob would not return. Very early in the morning Mr Lewis and father buried in an old well seventeen who had been killed the night before. (Mr Merrick was the first man killed and Mrs Smiths husband and two sons were killed and a third son wounded. Years ago in the twelfth ward meeting one night when father was there—she told all about the affair—how she had ridiculed father, and publicly begged his pardon & said that if they had all been wise enough to listen to father the Haun’s Mill massacre had never taken place.)
One of the wounded men who had been brought to Mr Lewis’ house lived some time and as long as mother was there she nursed him. Many many times he [p. 13] said “God bless you sister Young—what would becomes of me but for you!”
Father & Mr Lewis did not stay in the house during the day, but hid in the brush About four oclock in the afternoon of this day after the murder mother went to a spring in a ravine near by to get some water—Two men stepped out from the bush and asked if she were in the massacre? Yes—Then you are sister Young? Yes. Who are you? We are mormons—going to Far West by travelling through cornfields and if your husband is obliged to be in hiding he had better come with us The men returned to the house with mother—some one went out and found father and he left that night with the two new friends for Far West.
While father was away brother Lewis advised mother to go to the mill and ask for some white flour—they had lived for [p. 14] so long on corn meal and as mother especially wanted some white flour to make gruel for Seymour she took one of Mrs Lewis’s pillow cases and went to the mill. There were some pretty rough looking men there and they asked where her husband was—mother said I don’t know—perhaps you have killed him. They gave her some flour and avowed their intention of doing all they could to help the women left there who had been in the massacre. In a little more than two weeks father came back—got his team—and mothers bedding which she washed and they again started for Far West. Arrived there the last of October or early in November and left there the following January. The next stopping place was at Louisiana where mother only stayed four or five weeks—as Uncle Lorenzo who was living on a sort of farm some seven miles from [p. 15] Exeter came over and urged them to go to his place. Father had gotten work in the Quarry and would not leave but wanted mother to take the children and go with Uncle Lorenzo. Mother cannot remember whether they were more than one day making the trip. At this place mother found Aunt Persis and her children, brother Decker and his family and Grandfather Young all living together in one big room. Aunt Persis was in bed with a very young baby and mother had plenty to do in the way of work. (See note) Mother stayed here several weeks and during this time brother Decker hired Uncle Lorenzo to build for him a large log room adjoining his own for Aunt Harriet. While the place was being built Aunt Harriet said to mother as soon as that cabin is finished I want you to move right in there with me. Brother Lorenzo will probably object [p. 16] but you must not mind that—but be sure to move in with me. Soon after brother Decker came and moved Aunt Harriet to another place where he was running a saw mill. Mother lived in this cabin for some time. Aunt Fanny who had been living with John P. Greene’s family coming to stay with mother after Aunt Harriet moved away. In March father came from Louisiana and stayed a few days and then went on to Quincy to attend the conference. After the Quincy conference John P. Green and his wife came to see Aunt Fanny. Brother Green had a big wagon and fine team and father had asked him to bring mother and the children back with him. Mother says he was always the kindest of men and he took them in his wagon to Quincy and right into his home when he got there. Here they stayed a few days—and then father [p. 17] secured a room in what was known as the Committee House. It was a large room and here John Taylor and his wife and father & mother lived together about one month. Brother Taylor and his wife then moved away and mother stayed on in the room until September—when she moved to what was known as the Baily Place and Grandfather Young came to live with father & mother—& died here. Father & mother lived here five or six months & father brought the corn and pumpkins which were on the farm. Though there was only one room at the Baily Place—father finding a family by the name of Drury living out in a tent and suffering with cold & hunger asked mother’s consent to bring them in and they were all made welcome at the cabin. There were five of them and the father was blind.
In February 1840 father and mother moved about twenty miles away to a place called Bear River into a small log cabin old and dirty. The nearest neighbor was half a mile away.
Here mother stayed alone two weeks while father went to Nauvoo to attend the conference. At the end of that time father hired Guernsey Brown whose father owned a fine team to come for mother and bring her to Nauvoo. He arrived one night and told mother that she must have everything in readiness for an early start next morning as he intended to make the drive—(sixty miles) in one day. Brother Young said I could not do it—but I know I can and he did arriving with mother and children at Doyles Woods just at twilight. Here father had a log cabin [p. 19] partly finished and Guernsey unloaded mother—her babies—their bedding trunks and all she had and drove away as he said he had some distance to go to put out his team. He probably thought that father would be along soon—but father had not believed they could make the drive in one day and so remained at Sister Kimballs over night.
Mother did not know whether there was any person within miles—had no idea in what direction to look for help. There was no place for a fire and mother cannot remember whether she could find a candle. She spread out the bedding and laid down with the children—but could not sleep.
The next morning she found there was a creek near by and with the food she had brought along prepared [p. 20] some sort of breakfast. About nine oclock Father came intending to work on the house and mother said he felt very badly to find she had been there all night alone and explained how he had not believed it possible for them to arrive before the second day.
He persuaded mother to go with him over to Sister Kimballs who was most kind and had them stay to dinner. Grandy was born at Doyles Woods and the folks lived alltogether about five years in Nauvoo—then started again on the road—the next stopping place was Winter Quarters—now called Florence. When the first pioneers started for Salt Lake father and many others moved back across the river to a place called Carterville—stayed there until summer of 50—then began their journey to Salt Lake.
(note) It was in Doyles woods where Grandy was born that mother whitewashed the inside of the cabin with an old broom and whitewash she mixed herself. Then she hung the bed and the windows with pink flowered chintz and she said that father could not believe his eyes when he came home one evening and found the place transformed. Alladin and his wonderful lamp were no where.
Calvin Field Bicknell was a second son—his mothers name was Huldah Field.
He had four brothers James—Moses—Bennett & Daniel. Chloe Seymour Bicknell had five sisters Tryphena the eldest then Asenath—Susan—Amanda & Elmira—two brother Elias and Josiah Seymour.
Grandfather & Grandmother Bicknell had eight children. Clarissa—Seymour—Julie Ann—Jane Adeline—Hurlburt—Marcus—Eliza & Mary.
Mother was only two & a half years old when her father & mother left Utica & moved to the town of Geneseo—some time after moved out of the town to the Orton Farm—then afterward to Lavonia and after that again to Geneseo.
Bit of history in connection with Lavonia
Louisiana—a post village of Pike Co. Missouri on the Mississippi river, one mile below the mouth of Salt River—88 miles N.E. of Jefferson.
Exeter a post village of Scott Co. Illinois about fifty miles west of Springfield.
1. Title added. An earlier transcript includes this note at the top: “From the statement of Vilate Young, 1907. (Notes on the life of her mother, Jane Bicknell Young.)”
2. Date unclear. Joseph’s account says they arrived at Haun’s Mill on October 28, 1838. (The massacre was on the 30th.)