Thomas McBride and Catherine John

The year was 1838. Tension between the Mormons and their Missouri neighbors was running high. On October 27 the governor of Missouri, a Mr. Lilburn W. Boggs directed General John B. Clark of the state militia "Your orders are, therefore, to hasten your operations with all possible speed. The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State if necessary for the public peace"

Into this charged situation a group of unsuspecting mormons, 20 emigrant families, had stopped to rest in a small mormon settlement. The settlement, consisting of 15 families, was in southeastern Missouri. They welcomed the weary travellers who needed a place to rest from their journey.

In the afternoon of October 30, about 250 armed men surrounded the settlement. At first sight the mormon inhabitants thought the invaders might be reinforcements sent by Joseph Smith. Captain Comstock, of the mob (or militia, depending on the account) fired his rifle into the air and waited for a reaction. Gradually the truth dawned on the mormons.

The following is from


David Evans, commander of the local Mormon militia ran toward the advancing Missourians waving his arms and yelling that he wanted to surrender. So did several other Mormons. But the Missourians gave them no quarter. The guns of the mob were turned on them and they shot them all. Fifteen men and three boys ran into the blacksmith shop to take up a defensive position. They drew the majority of the fire which undoubtedly gave others time to flee into the woods. The Missourians bombarded the blacksmith shop killing everyone inside, or so they thought.

Thomas McBride, a sixty two year old veteran from the War of Independence with England, ran from the shop but was caught by Jacob Rogers. McBride surrendered and gave his rifle to Rogers. Rogers took the rifle and then turned it on McBride and shot him in the chest. Rogers was on horseback. McBride raised his hand and tried to surrender. Rogers took hold of McBride’s hand and with his free hand, took his knife and cut off McBride’s hand. Rogers then commenced to butcher the old patriot alive.

While not entirely accurate, this bit of the story of Hauns Mill at least gives the flavor of that dark day. Of course a bit of math proves that Thomas McBride wasn't a veteran of the war of Independence. He was born in 1776, so if he was a veteran he entered the army at a very tender age. It's probable that his father, an Irish immigrant was the veteran of the Revolutionary War. Most accounts of Hauns Mill have Rogers wielding a corn cutter - a scythe-like instrument - rather than a knife.

In any event the results were horrifyingly the same. 17 or 18 mormons were killed that dark day and many more wounded. The members of the mob helped themselves to whatever they wanted of the mormon families' belongings. The saints in Missouri were left destitute. The dead were buried in the well the next day.

Thomas and his wife, Catherine John, had 15 children. At the time of the Missouri persecution, there were just 4 of the children with their parents. Amos at 36 was the oldest son and he had a wife and family. James was 20 while Catherine or Kit as she was known was 17 and Dorcas was 15. What a sorry sight as this extended family managed to get just an old wagon, an equally decrepit horse and a mare after the mob finally let them go. They also had a yoke of oxen and a two-wheeled cart. Into the wagon and cart they loaded whatever of their belongings that they could find and headed east for Illinois.

There were a few other families travelling with them. They suffered greatly from the cold and exposure. There were some in their company who died along the way. Eventually they arrived at Quincy, Illinois.

The 1,500 or so people in Quincy were true heroes. They welcomed about 5,000 mormon refugees in the middle of a brutal midwest winter, sharing food, clothes and shelter with the destitute saints.

The Meridian Magazine says of this:

'Looking back at that era, current mayor of Quincy, Charles W. Scholz, suggests, "In 1839 there were about 1,500 people here in Quincy. And those settlers welcomed 5,000 Mormons that had been forcibly driven from the state of Missouri under harsh winter conditions, had walked across the frozen Mississippi. And, they were offered food and clothing and shelter. Now to put that in perspective, that would be like the 42,000 residents of Quincy today taking care of 150,000 refugees. . . . That is one of the most incredible acts of humanity, I think, in the history of this country." '

Apparently the McBrides rented a farm and built a house 4 miles south of Payson. Payson is about 15 miles South and East of Quincy.

About 1840 the McBrides would help build Nauvoo. There the matriarch, Catherine would die in 1841 and be buried in the old pioneer cemetery on the east side of town.