Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Family of Edmund and Magdalena (Lana) Pickle Durfee

·         Edmund Durfee was born 3 Oct 1788, married 18 Oct 1809 (age 21), age 31@FV, baptized 15 May 1831 (age 42), murdered by mobbers 15 Nov 1845 (age 57), in front of Solomon Hancock’s farm house.
·         Magdalena (Lana) Pickle Durfee was born 6 Jun 1788, married 18 Oct 1809 (age 21), age 31@FV, baptized 1 Jun 1831 (age 42), died 17 May 1850 (age 61), Council Bluffs.

Edmund was murdered at age 57 outside a Hancock County farm house by a mob. 
Lana died at age 61 at Council Bluffs, Musketol (Mosquito) Creek, Pottawatamie, Iowa. 
Edmund was born in October in Tiverton, RI, on the inland coast of the bay south of Providence, 60 miles south of Boston, and 60 miles east of Barnstable, MA, where Alpheus Gifford was born and raised.  Edmund was 5 years older than Alpheus Gifford and 5 years younger than Enos Curtis.    He was the 2nd child and 1st son of Perry Durfee and Annie Martha Salisbury, both born in Tiverton.  They were 23 and 22 when he was born.  Perry died in 1800, at the age of 34 (an accident?), at Broadalbin, NY, but Annie died in Tiverton, having lived to be 101.   See story below for more details.  Edmund’s grandparents and great grandparents had lived in the general area around Tiverton.  Edmund was at least a 6th generation American from multigenerational American families in the years leading up to the Revolutionary War.   

Edmund and Lana were both 21 when they married and 31 with 3 girls and 2 boys when this dispensation began in 1820.  Edmund and Lana were baptized 15 May 1831 when they had 9 living children of 11 born to them.  They received their endowments and were sealed in the Nauvoo Temple in 1845.    

As near as we can determine, in our ancestry, Edmund and Lana and family were the third First Convert family to join the Church. 

Special thanks to William G. Hartley, Provo, UT, for his Nov. 1995 document titled, The Murder of Edmund Durfee, prepared for Albert and Tamma Durfee Miner Family Organization)

Edmund Durfee (sometimes spelled Durphy) was born in Tiverton, Rhode Island, on 3 Oct 1788, a fifth-generation descendent of Thomas Durfee, an English immigrant to Rhode Island.  Other ancestors were America pilgrims born in the late 1500’s and early 1600s.  Edmund’s parents were Perry and Annie Salisbury Durfee.  (Of biographical sketches circulating among descendents, the one most relied on is Dora D. Flack, “Edmund and Magdalena Pickle Durfee,” a typescript written in 1955.  Use details are found in “Tamma Durfee Miner.”)

Edmund was seventeen when his father died.  The next year, Edmund’s grandparents, James and Ann Durfee, moved from Tiverton to New York state and took with them Edmund and his brother, Jabez, James, and Perry.  They settled in Broadalbin, Montgomery (now Fulton) County.  In 1810, Edmund moved to Madison County, a bit farther west.  There, he married Magdalena Pickle. 

Magdalena’s ancestors had immigrated from Germany and Prussia to America and had lived in Stone Arabia, Montgomery County, New York.  Magdalena was born on 6 June 1788, in Stone Arabia, New York, a daughter of John and Dolly Pickle.  In 1790, her family moved to Lincoln, New York, where she grew to young adulthood.  She met and married Edmund in Tiverton, Newport County, Rhode Island.

Edmund and Lana, as she was called, made their home in Lennox, Madison County, New York, where six children were born to them by 1820.  About the year 1822, Edmund and Lana moved their family to Amboy, in Oswego County, New York, where they lived for the next eight years.  They bought land, built a home, farmed, tapped a large stand of maple trees, and Edmund worked in the area as a carpenter and millright.  Lana tapped the abundant Maple trees and made maple syrup. 

Four more children were born into the family there, and two in Williamstown, New York.  Their last child would be born in Ohio in 1835.  (Sharon Beeson, “Edmond Durfee and Magdalena Pickle,” in Sharon Beeson, Ed., Edmond Franklin and Nancy Ellen Durfee, N.p.:  Durfee Family Organization, 1991, 1-4; other branches of the family and early LDS records spell his name Edmund, not Edmond.)

Edmund and Lana’s children, their birthdates, marriage dates, and spouse names, and year of death are:

1-      Martha was born in 1811, married Lyman Stevens in 1836, and died in 1874.
2-      Tamma was born in 1813, married Albert Miner in 1831, and died in 1885.
3-      Edmund, Jr. was born in 1814, married Caroline Eliza Clark sometime, and died in 1861.
4-      Dolly was born in 1816, married David Gardner in 1842, and died in 1885.
5-      John was born in 1818, married Sarah Ann Wilcox sometime, and died in 1850.
6-      Lana was born in 1820, married William Davis Dudley in 1838, and died in 1896.
7-      William was born in 1822 and died in 1850.
8-      Ephraim was born in 1824 and died in 1825.
9-      Abraham was born in 1826, married Ursula Curtis sometime, and died in 1862+.
10-  Henry was born in 1827 and died in 1827.
11-  Jabez ws born in 1828, married Celestia Curtis in 1850, and died in 1883.
12-  Mary was born in 1830, married Dominicus Carter in 1844, and died in 1885.
13-  Nephi was born in 1835, married Amanda Thomas in 1857, and died in 1880.

New lands farther west attracted Edmund, and in June 1830, he sold his property and moved his family from New York state.  Traveling via the Erie Canal to Buffalo, they sailed on Lake Erie and landed near Cleveland.  In the township of Ruggles in Huron County (now Ashland County), about sixty miles southwest of Cleveland, they bought property and settled.

Religiously, the Durfees were Methodists and Campbellites, according to daughter Tamma.  (Edmund and Lana’s daughter, Tamma, who later married Albert Miner, wrote an autobiographical sketch in 1880, “Tamma Durfee Miner.”  Copies of it widely circulate among her descendents and one is filed in the LDS Church Historical Department Archives, cited hereafter, as LDSHD.)

During the Durfee’s first winter in Ohio, missionaries representing Mormonism, a new faith not yet a year old, won converts in the Kirtland area just east of Cleveland.  By early 1831, founding Prophet Smith moved his followers from New York to Kirtland.  From Kirtland, missionaries fanned out across northern Ohio.  Two came to the Durfee’s neighborhood, Simeon Carter and Solomon Hancock, and converted the Durfees to Mormonism.  (Solomon Hancock was born Aug. 15, 1794, in Maine, a son of Thomas Hancock and Amy Ward.  His better-known brother, Levi Ward Hancock, became an LDS General Authority.  Levi was nine years younger than Solomon.  Solomon married Alta Adams in 1815, and he remarried in 1836 to Phoebe Adams.  Solomon died near Council Bluffs, Iowa, on 2 Dec 1847.  Simeon Carter was born on 7 June 1794 in Vermont or Connecticut, the son of Gideon Carter and Johannah Sims.  In 1818, he married Lydia Kenyon.)

Edmund was baptized on 15 May 1831, by Simeon Carter and Lana on June 1, by Solomon Hancock.  Children Martha and Edmund were baptized the same day as their mother.  Daughter Tamma waited until after she married Albert Miner in August.  Edmund was ordained an elder soon after his baptism.  That fall, Edmund was listed as one of the local elders attending a major Mormon conference held in Orange, southeast of Cleveland.  During the conference, he was ordained a high priest. (Minutes of a General conference of the Church at the dwelling of Brother Serenes Burnett in the town of Orange, Cayahoga County, Ohio,” in LDS Journal History of the Church, 25 Oct 1831.)

That December, 1831, he left home to do missionary work, leaving Lana alone with their family.  He accompanied Elder Joseph B. Brackenbury on a mission to Chautauqua County, New York.  They converted several before Elder Brackenbury became ill and died on 7 Jan 1832, apparently from being poisoned by opposers of Mormonism.  (Journal History, Dec. 31, 1831, History of the Church, 7:523-524.)

In the spring of 1832, Edmund, with nine other converts, went to new Mormon settlements in Jackson County, Missouri, to put in grain and build houses, and then returned home.  That fall he left home to go out proselyting as a missionary once again in New York.  In May, 1833, he and his family moved into Kirtland, Ohio, and he was one of the twenty-four elders who laid the cornerstones of the Kirtland Temple.  (Milton V. Backman, Jr., The Heavens Resound:  A History of the Latter-day Saints in Ohio,  1830-1838, SLC, Deseret Book Company, 1983, p. 149.)

At a meeting on 7 Mar 1835, Joseph Smith noted down the names of all those who had assisted to build the Kirtland Temple, and then, those workmen present received blessings under the hand of Joseph Smith’s counselor, Sidney Rigdon.  Edmund Durfee was one of them.  (HC, 2:206.)

In 1837, the Durfees moved to Caldwell County, Missouri, and settled at Log Creek, six miles south of Far West.  Inn 1838-1839, they were expelled from Missouri with the Saints.  Edmund’s namesake son signed a petition, seeking redress for losses his own family suffered when forced out of Missouri.  His petition is illustrative of one type of loss out of many suffered by LDS families, including his parents. 

I Edmund Durphy, Jun., solemnly declare that sometime in October in year of our
Lord One Thousand eight Hundred and thirty eight the Militia under the command of Generals Lucas Willson & Clark took possession of a house belonging to Uriah B Powell contrary to his wishes likewise that they the said militia burned timber belong to me that I moved in to the Citty Far West for a dwelling House.

Forced from Missouri by orders of the state’s governor, Lilburn Boggs, the Mormons headed east for the Mississippi River and crossed into Illinois for safety.  Edmund and Lana settled in Yelrome, or Morley’s Settlement, Hancock County, Illinois, 23 miles south of where Nauvoo soon sprang into existence.  (Ibid., 7:523-524).

Surrounding Nauvoo, which served like a hub, there grew up a ring of LDS branches in nearby towns or in solidly LDS settlements.  Morley’s Settlement, also known at the time as Yelrome (Morley spelled backwards), and sometimes called Lima, stretched out near Hancock County’s southern line, shared with Adams County, Ill, a little south and west of present Tioga.  When two Mormons, Isaac Morley and Titus Billings, made plans to settle there in early March, 1839, only one partial building stood in the area.  That spring, many Mormon refuges from Missouri settled in the area, bought or rented land, and started farming.  (Richard H. Morley, “The Life and Contributions of Isaac Morley,” (Master thesis, BYU, 1965, pp. 75-77, subsequently referred to as “Morley.”)

Apparently, the Durfees lived near the Hancock family---Solomon was one of the elders who converted Edmund and Lana back in 1831.   Their area was sometimes referred to as the Hancock Settlement (within Morley’s Settlement).  Another Mormon cluster was centered at Lima, within three miles of Morley’s Settlement, and just across the county line in Adams County.  Church authorities in Nauvoo organized these two settlements into a single branch which became a stake, the Lima Stake.  (Andrew Jenson, Encyclopedic History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, p. 434.)

Lima existed before the Mormons arrived, and from the ranks of settlers already there came several anti-Mormon activists by 1844.  Five miles north of Morley’s Settlement was a non-Mormon district, Green Plains, which became a staging place for raids against the Mormons.  Warsaw, which became a hotbed of anti-Mormon activity leading to the murders of Joseph and Hyrum in 1844, was just ten miles northwest of the Durfees, and Carthage was seventeen miles northeast. 

The Durfees lived in a community of practicing religionists, with Church meeting and weeknight prayer meetings held regularly.  Church authorities often visited and preached there.  Saints were the urged to donate money and materials for the building of the Nauvoo Temple.  They participated in baptisms for the dead, apparently in Nauvoo.  Branch records record that on 7 Nov 1840, Edmund and Lana Durfee, along with Albert Miner and five others, were baptized for the dead in behalf of people they once knew.  A week later, Edmund and Lana were again baptized as proxies for deceased people.  Some Saints in Yelrome were taught the not-publicly-announced doctrine of plural marriage.  (Morley, p. 81.)

Yelrome was a stopping place for Saints and others traveling between Quincy and Nauvoo, so residents entertained lots of visitors.  On 23 Oct 1841, Apostles Brigham Young, John Taylor, and Willard Richards held a two-day conference for the Lima Branch, consisting of 424 members, “mostly in good standing.”  It was agreed that they men would donate one-tenth of their time and property to the building of the temple at Nauvoo.  (History of the Church, 4:439-440.)  During a conference on 13 May 1843, Elders Woodruff and George A. Smith lodged with “Bro. Durfee,” probably Edmund and Lana.  A month later, a twelve-man high council was approved, making the stake organization much more complete.  Isaac Morley was the stake president.

In mid-June, 1844, twelve days before Joseph and Hyrum were killed in Carthage Jail, several local anti-Mormons called on President Morley on a Saturday night and gave until Monday morning to make one of three choices for the settlement:  (1) take up arms and ride with a vigilante group to Nauvoo to arrest Joseph and others; (2) move their own families to Nauvoo; or, (3) surrender their arms to the vigilantes and remain neutral during upcoming hostilities against Nauvoo.  President Morley wrote and reported this to the Prophet Joseph, who told him to call up the troops of the Nauvoo Legion who lived nearby, and prepare to defend the settlement.  He said, “Instruct the companies to keep cool, and let all things be done decently and in order.”  Finally, the Prophet told Morley to report the threats to a judge and to the Illinois governor. 

During the next two weeks, Mormons at Morley’s Settlement received personal threats from the “mob committee,” causing President Morley to have affidavits formally registered with the justice of the peace and given to Joseph Smith.  One of these was signed by Edmund Durfee.  The Prophet forwarded these complaints to Governor Tom Ford and U.S. President John Tyler.  (HC, 6:481-483, 505-514.)

One affidavit said that two named men went to where Edmund Durfee was at work in a field and “said they had come to notify him that said Durfee must comply with one of the above propositions:  if not that said Durfee would smell thunder” (HC 6:510).  The ongoing threats and abuses eventually forced the Morley Settlement Saints to leave their homes and move to Nauvoo for protection.

The anti-Mormon zeal ultimately led to the murders of Joseph and Hyrum and the serious wounding of John Taylor on 27 June 1844.  After those murders, the mobbers expected retaliation by the Nauvoo Legion.  But the Mormons obeyed their leaders’ counsel to be calm and not seek revenge.  The mobs disappeared and relative peace settled over Hancock County for about a year.  The Morley Settlement Saints returned to their homes and resumed something of their normal family, farming, and community life. 

Peace was short-lived, however.  In February, 1845, trouble started all over again and lasted throughout the summer.  In September, 1845, almost every Saint living in Morley’s Settlement was forced from home and their houses and outbuildings were torched by mobs.  At this time, Edmund was about to turn 57 and Lana was 57.  They were the parents of 13 children, 10 still living, 6 married, and 4 still at home, Abraham (18), Jabez (17), Mary (15), and Nephi (10). 

President Morley had stayed until the end of summer, when he obeyed Brigham Young’s counsel to place Solomon Hancock in charge and move to Nauvoo.  On September 12, Hancock called a council that decided to propose to the mob that the Saints would sell their deeded lands and improvements at low prices, “reserving to ourselves the crops now on the premise,” and as payment for their houses and farms would accept cattle, wagons, store goods, and other property.  Their proposal received no particular answer.  That evening, “they set on fire three buildings…, and we expect them to renew their work of destruction” (HC 7:441-42, CDHC, Roberts, 2:477).

Daughter Tamma Durfee Miner, living east of Nauvoo at the time, later told what she had heard from her parents about the burnings.  “The mobocrats drove all of the people out of Father Morley’s Settlement, turned the sick ones out, drove them all out to live or die, rolled my brother Nephi up in his bed and threw him out doors when he was sick, and then set fire to their house by throwing some bundles of oats that were afire, on top of the house….They plundered, made fires, burned houses, furniture and clothing looms, yarn, cloth, carpenter tools.  Even the iron from the tools they picked up and carted away in barrels.  Every wall burned to ashes, and the mob went from house to house driving them out, it made little difference if they were sick or well, until every house in that town that a Mormon lived in was burnt” (Tamma Durfee Miner typescript).

Enos Curtis, who also lived with his family in Morley’s Settlement, and who would marry Tamma later (after she became a widow and he a widower), saw his family burned out too.  Mobs came to the Curtis home while the men were away.  They ordered the Curtises to vacate the house.  Enos’ wife Ruth Franklin Curtis was too ill to move.  Mobbers twice asked the family to leave and the third time they set fire to the house.  “The women rolled Ruth up in a blanket and carried her out of the burning house.”  When Mormon men rushed to the rescue, they put Ruth in a wagon because she could not walk.  Mobbers chased the wagon, but when more Mormon help showed up, they desisted.  (Fmily manuscript in the possession of William G. Hartley).  When word of the depredations reached Nauvoo, Brigham Young called for volunteers to take teams to Morley’s Settlement and assist President Hancock in moving people, goods, and grain to Nauvoo (HC 7:440-41).  Albert Miner, Edmund’s son-in-law, married to daughter Tamma, was among those who went to Yelrome to help.  Over one hundred teams performed this rescue. 

When the burnings stopped, Solomon Hancock returned to his property—his home had not been torched.  The Durfees, however, their home burned to the ground, remained in Nauvoo, although Edmund was determined to go to harvest his crops (Nauvoo Neighbor, Extra, 19 Nov 1845).  Refugees from the surrounding countryside poured into Nauvoo that fall, bring with them thousands of pounds of harvested grain.  Placed in storehouses, it was sufficient to feed the populace of Nauvoo for perhaps two years (Morley, p. 95).

At October General Conference, LDS leaders instructed the Saints to be ready to leave Illinois by the next spring.  But despite the promises to depart, arsonists resumed their work that month.  Enos Curtis, in a 25 Oct 1845 affidavit, testified that on or about October 18, he saw two houses and three stables burning and two mobbers with guns running from the fires.  He also saw a widow named Boss’s house burning on October 21 in the same area (HC 7:488).

While most of the residents of Morley’s Settlement had fled, a few remained or returned.  Solomon Hancock, whose home had not been burned, was one of them.  His home became a temporary inn and his yards a place to deposit the gathered crops until they could haul them away (Charles Hancock Recollections, p. 35).

Major William H. Warren and his troops were in the area, sent to guard the Hancocks and the crop gatherers.  Militia officers had boarded with the Hancocks for some ten days, but then they left to visit friends and said they would be back soon.  Almost immediately, the mob spirit rekindled and arsonists again went on the war-path.  On Saturday, November 15, Edmund Durfee returned from Nauvoo to Morley’s  Settlement “for a load of grain.”  He and relatives dug potatoes and gathered corn that day, took the harvest to Solomon Hancock’s, and went to bed for the night. 

Charles Hancock was there that night when nightriders torched his family’s buildings and shot and killed Edmund Durfee.  He wrote down what happened:

“Some boys were a sleeping in our barn, it being well filled with unthreshed wheat, oats, corn and hay.  Horses in the stable and cows in the yard, it being well nigh covered with dry rubbish where feeding was done.  About 11 o’clock the boys were awakened by the noise of fire, smoke and light, they saw the fire running to the barn, as the wind blew lightly that way; my brother George informed father at the house, he came to the scene in his night clothes, they raked the straw from the barn, took the horses from the stable and let the cows out of the yard, they ran from the barn when out, as scared.

Father went to see what was there, a man stepped from behind a tree and fired a gun at him the shot taking no effect, a shrill whistle was heard and some sixteen men arose that were secreted behind the log fence, with which the yard was built and shot at the boys in the yard, the bullets lodging in the barn and fence on the opposite side, no one being hit but an elderly man by the name of Edmund Durphy.  A bullet striking him in the hollow of the neck, cutting but one thread in a woolen necktie that was around his neck and he fell dead at once.”

Charles said that his father told the boys to get their guns and defend themselves.

“The mob fled, setting some fires as they went back from whence they came, I followed some distance the moon shining bright, I could plainly see their tracks in the road as they came and went back towards Lyma, a town some five miles off from whence they came.  Durphy and some of his boys had been gathering their corn and digging their potatoes, and securing them at our place, so that they could be got for winter, his house and wheat being previously burned by mob violence.”

(Charles Hancock Recollections, p. 34)

Edmund’s grandson, Mormon Miner, who was very young at the time, wrote in his autobiography that his grandfather was shot by a man named Snyder who did it to win a bet of two gallons of whiskey.  According to Mormon, some time after this, Snyder, in a drunken row, was shot and the wound never healed.  He actually rotted alive with the stench so offensive that his friends forsook him, although he lingered for months before he died.  How Mormon ever learned this is not known—the story needs corroboration before it can be trusted.  However, Joseph Smith’s History of the Church mentions the whiskey bet, saying the mob boasted, after the murder, that they had fired at Durfee on a bet of a gallon of whiskey that they could kill him the first shot, and they won (HC 7:524).

Such a story, if true, indicates that Durfee was the selected target, not Solomon Hancock or simply any Mormon in rifle range.  Durfee’s house was the first one torched back in September, so if he were singled out to be shot in November, possibly somewhere, somehow, he had become a personal enemy of one or more men in the anti-Mormon crowd.  There is no evidence whatsoever that Durfee or his family members were ever accused of any wrongdoing or misbehavior, let alone some major act that would warrant his being killed.  No anti-Mormons afterwards said or even hinted that Durfee might hae “had it coming.”

Not until the next morning, Sunday, November 16, did the Quorum of the Twelve learn of Durfee’s murder.  That day Sheriff Backenstos rushed this message to the Twelve:

“On last night Elder Edmund Durfee was basely murdered by the mob in the Green Plains precinct, what shall be done to avenge his blood?  The troops afford us no protection” (Ibid., 7:525).

The sheriff attended the LDS leaders’ council meeting that evening and gave a verbal report about the murder (Willard Richards Journal, Nov. 16, 1945).  Nauvoo police officer Hosea Stout recorded in his diary entry for November 16, that after dinner he met with the Nauvoo Police “and there was informed that Br Edmund Durfee had been shot dead by the mob on Bear Creek.”  Stout then penned the detailed about the mobbing that he had heard:

“The mob had set some straw on fire which would communicate with his bard & he on discovering the fire ran in company with some other brethren to put it out and was fired upon by the mob who concealed in the darkness.  One ball went through his breast and he died in a few moments.  He had been driven into the City by the mob during their house burning in September last & had gone down there in company with some other brethren to take care of his grain and thus fell a martyr to his religion.”

Stout diaried that Edmund’s body had reached Nauvoo that day and he, Stout, went to view it—“a melancholy scene” he said.

He was in a heart rending condition all steeped in his gore and his numerous family all weeping around him.  The scene is one not to be forgotten.  He was one of the oldes(t) in the church having been in the church almost from its rise and had passed through all the persecutions & vicissitudes of the Church & was a faithful brother” (Diary entry for 26 Nov 1845, in Juanita Brooks, ed., On the Mormon Frontier:  The Diary of Hosea Stout, 1844-1861, 2 vols., 1964, University of Utah Press, 2:92).

That Sunday night, November 16, state attorney Mason Brayman in Carthage wrote to a state official, possibly Governor Ford, and shared what he had heard about the murder:

“Today information came of an attempt to burn the house of one Hancock, a Mormon near Lima during last night—and the murder of a man named Durfee under the following circumstances, as related by a son of Hancock, who brought the intelligence this afternoon.  Hancock’s house had been threatened.  Last night, a company of men set fire to a stack of straw near the barn.  Persons sleeping in the barn came out, and while endeavoring to prevent the fire from reaching the barn, were fired upon.  They started to go to the house—a general volley was fired, killing Durfee on the spot.  No shots were fired by the Mormons.  On firing, the villains fled, setting fire to a crib of some hundred bushels of corn as they went.  None were identified, but I think they can and will be” (Mason Brayman Papers, Nov., 16, 1845, microfilm copy, HBL Library, BYU).

Edmund’s daughter, Tamma, heard that the attackers started fires in different places—corn, rib, shucks of corn, dry rails and dry shacks “and it burned a little and went out” (Tamma Durfee Miner)

James H. Woodland, who was at the Hancocks’ when Edmund was killed, filed an affidavit, sworn before Justice of the Peace Aaron Johnson.  Woodland testified that on Saturday night he saw fire, and he with others “turned out to suppress the flames.”  While raking hay away from the barn, he heard a whistle on the east and one of the west, after which six guns were discharged at him and others.  The fourth shot killed Durfee who was hit just above his heart and died instantly (HC, 7:529-30).

A brief description of the murder was included in History of the Church, under the date of November 15, 1845:

“A considerable party of the mob set fire to a stack of straw near Solomon Hancock’s barn and concealed themselves.  Hancock and others went out to put out the ifre which was the only way to save the buildig, whenthey wer fired upon by the burners, and Elder Edmund Durfee was killed on the spot, many balls flew around the rest of the brethren, but none of the rest were hurt.” (HC, 7:523)

Governor Ford’s history of Illinois says of the Durfee murder:

“The anti-Mormons also committed one murder.  Some of them, under Backman, set fire to some straw near a barn belonging to Durfee, an old Mormon seventy (really 57) years old; and then lay in ambush until the old man came out to extinguish the fire, when they shot him dead from their place of concealment.”  (Ford, History of Illinois, 2:299-300)

Edmund Durfee’s body was buried in the cemetery east of Nauvoo up Parley’s Street.  His brother James is also buried there, whose headstone is still standing in the north part of that recently reclaimed and beautified cemetery. 

A few hours after Durfee’s murder, before daybreak, Solomon Hancock sent his young son Charles to look for officers and soldiers—the ones who were supposed to be protecting the Mormons in the area.  On the way to Lima, Charles met a man named Snyder, whom he knew was of the mob party, and was afraid of him.  When he found the soldiers in Lima, he told them what had happened, and they told him to go home and they would be there soon.  When Charles reached his house, his father sent him to Carthage to report to Major Warren.  Charles eventually got to Major Warren, then helped him and his men locate the suspects and they took into custody fourteen out of sixteen.” (Charles Hancock Recollections)

The following morning, November 17, the prisoners were brought to the Hancock house “to see if any could be recognized.”  But the Hancocks had been unable to see the attackers because of nighttime darkness.  With officers present, Solomon Hancock asked the accused if any of them had anything to say against his character.  Had he not been an honest man, a true patriot to the laws of country and God?  They all agreed they knew nothing against the Hancocks.  (Charles Hancock Recollections)

That same day, November 17, Apostle Orson Hyde, acting on behalf of the Twelve, wrote to Major Warren.  Durfee was murdered by a mob, he said, “who fired a quantity of straw to decoy him out, and while he engaged in raking the straw so that the fire might not communicate with the buildings, six shots were made a him, one of which took effect in his breast and he died immediately…. Mr. Durfee was one of the most quiet and inoffensive citizens in these United States, and from our acquaintance with him, and from the nature of his business in securing his crops we are persuaded that his murder was wholly unprovoked.” (HC, 7:525)

The fourteen suspects were taken to Carthage and charged with killing Edmund Durfee.  When court was convened, they were arraigned and proofs offered that they, plus two that escaped by taking a steamboat to Warsaw, were the ones who had loaded their guns at Lima, the evening of Durfee’s death, taken their liquor, gone to the Hancocks’ corral, set fire, and shot at the boys and men who were putting out the fire, and then returned to Lima the way they had come.  (Charles Hancock Recollections)

But, as Charles Hancock recalled, even though Durfee had been killed and the Hancock family threatened, “the prisoners were discharged.  The Prosecuting Attorney exclaimed, justice cannot be done in Hancock County, Illinois.” (Ibid.)

The official history of the Church notes that by November 18, the Twelve had received a letter from state attorney Mason Brayman desiring that any witnesses against Durfee’s murderers go to Carthage.  He told the Twelve that three men had been arrested and charged with murdering Durfee:  George Backman, a Mr. Moss (or Morse), and a Mr. Snyder.  The Twelve called for any witnesses to go to Carthage the next day “to perform their part in another judicial farce.” (HC, 7:527)

The next day, November 19, the Nauvoo Neighbor issued an “Extra” edition with the headline:  “Murder and Arson.  Edmund Durfee Shot—Two Houses Burned.”  It contained the basic facts of what it called the “bloody outrages of a midnight mob.” 

On November 24, nine days after the murder, Apostle Willard Richards stated in a letter to Theodore Turley that the accused would not be tried:

“We have learned that the person who murdered Edmund Durfee…were discharged by the magistrate without examination.  Our brethren went…as witnesses…, but returned unheard, and the farce closed sooner than…anticipated.” (HC, 7:532)

Governor Ford admitted that “The perpetrators of this (Durfee) murder were arrested and brought before an anti-Mormon justice of the peace and were acquitted, though their guilt was sufficiently apparent.” (Ford, History of Illinois, 2:300)

On 21 January 1846, two months after Edmund’s death, Lana received her endowment in the Nauvoo Temple and was sealed to Edmund, with Edmund’s brother Jabez standing in as proxy.  On that same day, Lana and Jabez, who was himself a widower, were married for time only.  Durfee children who also received their endowments were Martha, Tamma, Edmund, Jr., John, Delana, Abraham, and Mary. 

Within three months of Edmund’s murder, the exodus of Latter-day Saints from Illinois began, and by fall, the vast majority had left for the Rocky Mountains.  Lana and Jabez took her sons Jabez and Nephi with them, crossed the Mississippi River on the ice, and spent the winter in Winter Quarters.

We do not know for sure when Edmund and Lana’s son, Abraham Durfee, and Ursula Curtis were married, but both were nineteen years old at the time of the exodus, and on 17 May 1850, while crossing the plains, they had Mahala Ruth Durfee, who married Samuel Parker, Jr. about 1872 in Utah and had Mahala Strong Parker who married John William Hepworth 2 Dec 1891. 

They were making plans and preparations to leave from Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie, County, Iowa, for Utah in 1850, when Lana died at Mosquito Creek, close to Kanesville (Council Bluffs), Iowa on 19 May 1850.  She was possibly buried in the Mormon Cemetery that is now the southeast part of Fairview Cemetery in Council Bluffs.

Charles B. Hancock, who went west and lived the rest of his life in Utah, wrote his recollections about the murder of Edmund Durfee, and also contracted with LDS painter, C.C.A. Christensen, to paint two LDS Church history scenes that depict the mob’s activities at Morley’s Settlement.  

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