Tuesday, March 14, 2017

HANNAH KNIGHT LIBBY - Part 20 - Morleyville (Yelrome)

Upon leaving Missouri, Hannah and John moved onto land a stone’s throw from Yelrome (Morleyville) in Section 31 of Township 3 (Walker Township).  This was land directly west of Yelrome – just one section of 640 acres away.  In the immediate vicinity, would be found virtually all her children – with the exception of Philip Libby Carter who was still in Massachusetts.  John, though, nearing 60 was still farming.  John and Hannah were all alone now as their last child to marry – Richard Harrison Carter – married Hannah Parker on 29 Nov 1840 in Carthage, Illinois and appears to have moved to the Lima, Adams County, Illinois area after their marriage.  There is no record of Hannah attending this wedding but it is possible that she (and possibly John) made the trek from their home in Missouri for the event.  The area around Yelrome might have made a favorable impression on John as within seven months he made the purchase of the land mentioned above.

Nothing is known specifically about their home.  They were a family of means, as compared to their Mormon neighbors.  John always seemed to have sufficient cash to pay for his lands and so it would have been expected that their home would have been well furnished by frontier standards.  Having moved previously to Missouri and now to Illinois it is doubtful that they had much personal property from their days in Maine.  The only thing we know that they had – that has thankfully survived to this day – is the leather box that appears to have belonged to Hannah’s father, Zebulon Libby.  (see Chapter  of this story for more on this treasure.)

In any case Hannah had to be thrilled to be surrounded by her family.  If they didn’t live in Yelrome, they all lived less than a day from their new home.  Hannah would now get to see her children on a regular basis and get to see the grandchildren as they grew up.  At least for the first few years life was probably fairly peaceful in the Yelrome area.  The community grew and became relatively prosperous as the crops they grew found a willing market in Nauvoo.  It was the plan of the Mormon leaders to have numerous settlements in the outlining areas that would supply the urban center (Nauvoo) with most food items so the Mormon community could be self-sufficient as possible.

Morley Settlement’s place in history is well described in an article in the February, 1986 Ensign entitled “Spokes on the Wheel: Early Latter-day Saint Settlements in Hancock County, Illinois" by Donald Q. Cannon.  The following are excerpts from this article:

While much is known about Nauvoo, relatively little is known about other Latter-day Saint settlements in Hancock County. Joseph Smith’s vision of settlement was not limited to Nauvoo. On 1 March 1843 he said: “There is a wheel; Nauvoo is the hub: we will drive the first spoke in Ramus, second in La Harpe, third Shokoquon, fourth in Lima: that is half the wheel. The other half is over the river.” (History of the Church 5:296)

The Latter-day Saints either planned or established seventeen communities in Hancock County besides Nauvoo. Of these, Ramus (Webster and Macedonia) and Lima are what I would call major colonies. Other settlements, such as Plymouth, Green Plains, Golden’s Point, Yelrome (Tioga), and Camp Creek I would designate minor colonies.

Yelrome, or Morley’s Settlement, was located twenty-five miles south of Nauvoo and approximately three miles north of Lima. Although Lima is technically in Adams County, it was so close to the Hancock County settlements that for all intents and purposes it can be included with them. Indeed, Lima, when combined with the minor colonies of Yelrome and Bear Creek, was one of the two major LDS colonies in Hancock County. It was also referred to by Joseph Smith as one of the “spokes on the wheel.”

Isaac Morley was the first member of the Church to settle in the area that was later to be called Yelrome. Seeking refuge in Illinois after being driven from Missouri in 1839, the Morleys purchased a partially completed cabin, which they furnished and made suitable for a home. A few other Saints joined them, and Yelrome began to grow.

Yelrome is Morley spelled backwards, with an extra “e” for good measure. The name may have originated from an early penchant of the Saints to spell backwards. (The Council of Fifty was also called “Ytfif.”) Yelrome also had other names: Morley Town, Hancock Settlement, Tioga, and Bear Creek. The name Bear Creek has often been a source of confusion, since it was also the name of another LDS settlement located along the stream. (The settlement of Bear Creek was also called Knowlton’s Settlement to further distinguish it from Yelrome.) The small town where Yelrome once was located is called Tioga, a name that may also have LDS origins, since one of the early Latter-day Saints who lived there was Alpheus Cutler from Tioga County Pennsylvania.

When a branch of the Church was organized at Yelrome, the members sustained Isaac Morley as branch president, with Frederick Cox and Edward Whiting as counselors. Later, when the Yelrome Branch became part of the Lima Stake, the stake had 424 members. (Richard Henrie Morley, “The Life and Contributions of Isaac Morley,” M.A. thesis, Brigham Young University, 1965, p. 81)

Members of the Church in Yelrome had almost as many opportunities to hear the Prophet Joseph Smith speak as the members in Ramus did. On Sunday, 14 March 1843, the Prophet preached on the subject “Salvation through Knowledge,” teaching that “knowledge through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the grand key that unlocks the glories and mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.” (Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, comp. and ed., The Words of Joseph Smith (Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1980), p. 201.)

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 located on the outskirts of Hancock County and 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.

Whatever the reasons, trouble came in great measure. On 14 February 1845, Isaac Morley arrived in Nauvoo with news of the arrest of five brethren on false pretenses. By September, reports from Yelrome indicated that mobs had burned some LDS homes in the vicinity. An editorial in the Times and Seasons in November 1845 reported that nearly two hundred buildings had been burned. Many of these buildings belonged to settlers in Yelrome. On Saturday, 15 November 1845, a mob shot and killed Elder Edmund Durfee, a resident of Yelrome. Members of the mob later boasted that they killed Durfee over a bet of a gallon of whiskey that they could kill him with one shot. (History of the Church, 7:373, 439, 444, 523–24.)

The savage attacks against Yelrome attracted not only the attention of the Saints, but of nonmembers as well. Describing these events, Governor Thomas L. Ford wrote:

“At a Mormon settlement called Morley a few miles from Nauvoo, a band of incendiaries, on the night of September 19th began operations. Deliberately setting fire to the house of Edmund Durfee, they turned the inmates out-of-doors and threatened them with death if they did not at once leave the settlement, Durfee they subsequently killed. The mob continued its nefarious work until Morley was in ashes, and its people homeless.” (Thomas L. Ford, History of Illinois, From Its Commencement as a State in 1818 to 1847 (Chicago: S. C. Griggs and Co., 1854), p. 406)

The account of this time differs slightly: “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.’

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.
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.”  (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.)

Hannah’s world was rapidly unraveling.  In September, 1845 the Carters and the others from Morley Settlement were forced to flee.  Most of those from the settlement fled to Nauvoo for safety.  John and Hannah may have done so but it is likely that they could have gone to their daughter, Mary Jane Carter Dooley, to live.

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