Wednesday, July 20, 2016


The story behind the two previous deeds (land purchased from his sons John Jr and William) was the end result of the schism in the family that had begun with the conversion of Hannah to Mormonism some 11 or 12 years earlier.  The family had since 1836 been moving apart and coming back together as the Mormon part of the family traveled and was driven by mobs with the other Saints from Ohio to Missouri to Illinois.   John had somewhat followed behind the bulk of the family but had finally settled with them in the far southern part of Hancock County.  Possibly he hoped that mob violence was finally over as they were in an area where the issues of North vs. South were not an issue as it was in Missouri.  Another possibility was that he felt that if there were mob problems in Illinois that they were far enough from Nauvoo that they might be able to avoid problems in Morleyville (or Yelrome) as it was known.

            Life in Morleyville, as a result of the anti-Mormon mobs, turned ugly:

            “While the residents of Yelrome had their share of blessings, they also had problems with persecution.  As pressures against the Saints in Hancock County increased, Yelrome became the target of mob attacks.  Yelrome was vulnerable to attack for several reasons.  First it was rather isolated.  Second, it was situated between Warsaw on the north and Adams County on the South – both of which contained strong anti-Mormon elements.

            The people of Yelrome were especially vulnerable to attack because of the presence of the noted anti-Mormon leader Colonel Levi Williams, who lived in Green Plains, about ten miles distant.”[1]

            In Hannah’s life story the following is recorded:

            “In the space of 5 years fertile farms had been developed and the community was a veritable hive of industry.  On June 15, 1844, a mob of two thousand men headed by the bitter anti-Mormon Col. Levi Williams, came upon the Saints at Morley’s Settlement and ordered them to make a choice of one of three alternatives.  First they were to take up arms, join the mob and go with them to Nauvoo and help them arrest the Prophet Joseph Smith and 17 other leaders.  They must abandon their homes and go to Nauvoo, or third give up their arms and remain neutral.  They were given until eight o’clock to decide and told that if they did not join the mob they would ‘smell thunder.’

Martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith 
            These brave and devoted Church members did not join the mob or remain neutral, so they were compelled to leave their homes and flee to Nauvoo for safety.  The Prophet heard their story and sent messengers to report this outrage to Governor Ford.  Before any action was taken, however, the martyrdom of the Prophet and Hyrum occurred on June 27 at Carthage Jail.

Morleyville Burning
              In the months that followed the situation became more peaceful and the group returned to their homes in Morley’s settlement, and peace reigned until September 10, 1845.”[2] 

            This story can be continued from one of the life stories of John’s son William Furlsbury Carter:

Morleyville Burning
            “On September 10, 1845, another mob bent on destruction came upon the settlement at Morelyville.  For eight days and nights they fired upon the settlers, burned between seventy and eighty homes, all of their stacks of hay and grain, shops and other buildings.  The inhabitants were forced out into the cold night in a drenching rain.  The aged, sick, and little ones suffered intently, and many deaths occurred.  Brigham Young and the leaders advised them to abandon their homes and possessions to the mob, but to save as many of their families as they could and again flee into Nauvoo.  Teams and wagons were sent from Nauvoo to assist in bringing them in.”[3]  It was during this September persecution that town leader Edmond Durfee was shot and killed by the mob.

            In most of the records of the family there is never any mention of John and Hannah having to move or having their home burned.  William’s home and shop were burned in this September attack on Morleyville.  It isn’t known about the other family members but most likely those of the Mormon faith lost their homes.  The fate of John and Hannah’s home is actually noted in the biography of their grandson Charles Carter, son of Philip Carter who would eventually move to Hancock County.[4] In the article on Charles Carter (1846 – 1925) he states in referring to John and Hannah Carter: “With a band of colonists they came westward to Hancock County at an early day and were owners of a cottage which was torn down during the attack made upon the Mormons by settlers of this part of the state.”   It would have to be presumed that they then moved either into Nauvoo or more likely to the homestead of either Mary Jane Carter Dooley or Almira Carter Tripp.

            It was apparent by the beginning of 1846 that the Saints were going to have to move once again.  It was at this point that John finally put his foot down and refused to move yet again.  In Dominicus Carter’s life story this situation is well described:

            “Hannah Knight Libby Carter, Dominicus’ mother, had cast her lot with the Saints nearly twelve years previously in the waters of the Bear River in Newry, Maine.  Somehow she had managed to keep her family together through all the troubles in Ohio, Missouri and Illinois.  Now, however, her non-member children and husband refused to go further.  John elected to stay at Morley Settlement and there he died.  Hannah came west with Dominicus and was buried in the Provo City Cemetery.  Before leaving Nauvoo she was sealed for time and eternity to Isaac Morley.

            Let us be kind in our judgment of those who stayed in Illinois.  John Carter was at the time nearly sixty-four years old.  Though he was not of the faith, his love for his wife and family had steeled him to endure the same hardships as they.  He must have been at the end of patience and just plain tired and wanting to settle down.  He had worked all his life for that.  Sadly without the passion of belief, he chose rest and repose rather than his wife and her religion, his other children and the rigors of another trail.  If he had gone ahead, the others in the family might ultimately have followed.”[5]  Some of the “facts” in the forgoing are not accurate but the general picture is true.

            At this point the last two deeds, mentioned above can be put into context.  When John purchased these lands from John Jr. and William C Wilson it was at the height of the departure of the Saints from Nauvoo.  As the summer of 1846 arrived the Carter’s left in Nauvoo were John, and his children:  Almira Carter Tripp and family in Lima and Mary Jane Carter Dooley and family in Tioga (Morleyville), with whom he probably lived.  His remaining non-Mormon son, Philip Libby Carter and family were at this time living in Lowell, Middlesex, Massachusetts.

[1] Reference Book for Nauvoo Family History and Property Identification Department, op. cit., p. 23.
[2] Anonymous, Biography of Hannah Knight Libby (1786 – 1867 in Arthur D. Coleman: Carter Pioneers of Utah, (Provo UT: J. Grant Stevenson, 1966), pp.137-145.
[3] Leora Carter Scharrer; Life of William F. Carter, op. cit., page 5.
[4] Biographical Review of Hancock County, Illinois : containing biographical and genealogical sketches of many of the prominent citizens of today and also of the past,” Chicago : Hobart Pub. Co., 1907, pages not cited but transcribed by Leslie A Carter.
[5] Barton L Carter; Dominicus Carter, Latter-Day Pioneer, (self-published, no date), p. 30

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