Hawn’s Mill, Caldwell County, Missouri
Hawn’s Mill, Caldwell County, Missouri is the site of one of the great tragedies in early Mormon history. It was here that a mob of some 240 men attacked the LDS settlement centered around a mill on Shoal Creek operated by Jacob Hawn. At least seventeen men were killed and others wounded.
Hawn’s Mill was named after Jacob Hawn who built a mill on Shoal Creek between 1835 and 1836.1 In October 1838, there were an estimated 75 families living there, although there were only perhaps a dozen or so houses along with a blacksmith shop and a mill.2
For many years the name “Hawn” was misspelled as “Haun,” making it difficult to do research on the life of Jacob Hawn. BYU professor, Alex Baugh, found Hawn’s grave in Yamhill, Oregon. In doing so, he learned the correct spelling. Baugh subsequently learned that Hawn was not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Evidently, Hawn decided not to pass on a warning from Joseph Smith that the settlers should move to Far West for safety because of the potential economic loss. Had he done so, the tragedy may have been averted.
In the afternoon of October 30, 1838 a mob consisting of more than 200 men descended upon the settlement. Many of the Saints ran into the blacksmith shop where members of the mob placed their rifles in the cracks between the logs and opened fire.
At least seventeen LDS men and boys were killed during the attack or died shortly thereafter because of wounds inflicted by the attack.3 After the massacre, the mob looted the houses and tents and drove off horses and wagons.4
Joseph Young, Brigham Young’s older brother gave an account of the events at Hawn’s Mill in response to Joseph Smith’s request to gather information about the atrocities that they endured while in Missouri.5 After being driven out of the state, the Saints then fled to Quincy, Illinois before settling the city of Nauvoo.
For many years historians believed that the spelling of Hawn’s Mill was with a “u”, but recent research has corrected the spelling to a “w’.
1 Andrew Jenson, Encyclopedic History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Publishing Co., 1941), 320.
3 Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., introduction and notes by B. H. Roberts (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1932-1951), 3: 186.
5 See Doctrine & Covenants 123:1-3.
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Articles & Resources
Joseph Young's Account of the Massacre at Haun's Mill
Author(s): Joseph Young
Type: First-person account
Source(s): Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols., introduction and notes by B. H. Roberts (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1932-1951), 3: 178.
On Sunday, twenty-eighth October, we arrived about twelve o’clock, at Haun’s Mills, where we found a number of our friends collected together, who were holding a council, and deliberating on the best course for them to pursue, to defend themselves against the mob, who were…
Amanda Smith's Account of the Healing of Her Son Alma Smith
Flesh, hip bone, joint and all had been ploughed out. We laid little Alma on a bed in our tent and I examined the wound. It was a ghastly sight. I knew not what to do.yet was I there, all that long, dreadful night, with my dead and my…
Alexander L. Baugh, “A Call to Arms: The 1838 Defense of Northern Missouri,” Ph.D. dissertation, 1996.
Alexander L. Baugh, “The Haun’s Mill Massacre and the Extermination Order of Missouri Governor Lilburn W. Boggs,” Religious Studies Center Newsletter, 1997.
Alexander L. Baugh, “Joseph Young’s Affidavit of the Massacre at Haun’s Mill,” BYU Studies, 1999.
Alexander L. Baugh, “A Rare Account of the Haun’s Mill Massacre: The Reminiscence of Willard Gilbert Smith,” Missouri Mormon Frontier Foundation Newsletter, 1998.
Alma R. Blair, “The Haun’s Mill Massacre,” BYU Studies, 1972.
Alma R. Blair, “Haun’s Mill Massacre,” Encyclopedia of Mormonism, ed. Daniel H. Ludlow et al., 1992.
A. K. Benson, “The Haun’s Mill Massacre: Some Example of Tragedy and Superior Faith,” Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint Church History, ed. Arnold K. Garr and C. V. Johnson, 1994.
John P. Greene, Facts Relative to the Expulsion of the Mormons, or Latter-day Saints from the State of Missouri, under the “Exterminating Order,” 1839.
Paul W. Hodson, Never Forsake: The Story of Amanda Barnes Smith, Legacy of the Haun’s Mill Massacre, 1996.
Andrew Jensen, “Haun’s Mill Massacre,” Historical Record, 1888.
Maurine C. Ward, “The Sacrifice of a Mother,” Nauvoo Journal, (Fall 1998), 33.