Sunday, April 24, 2011

Incidents in the Life of James Powell as Related by his Wife After his Death

One day while we were living in Caldwell County, Mo. We were visited by what might be termed a mob, composed of the following persons: Arthur F. Wethers, John Gardner, Riley Sanders, Clark Ellis and Philon Ellis. They requested my husband to join the forces against the Mormons. He told them that if they had no Federal Authority to molest them he could not go. They replied warningly, “If you do not join us we will kill you.” Following this they went in the direction of my father’s home. Fearing for the safety of our small daughter, who at the time was at my father’s place, we followed them, little knowing what might occur. As we were about to overtake them, they stopped and ordered us back. My husband said we were going after our little child.

At this remark three of the men sprang from their horses, and one a Mr. Wethers, caught up a stick and struck my husband between the shoulders, causing him to turn around and grapple with Wethers, who then shouted for help. Gardener shot at my husband, missing him, and not wanting to endanger a fellow posse man, Gardner then used his gun as a club and struck him on the head several times. I ran for help, but as the posse left I ran and lifted my husband’s head, thus relieving his pain as best I could until my mother and two sisters came to my assistance. They were Latter-Day Saints so they immediately administered to him by laying on of hands. After they had administered the ordinance he arose and walked to my father’s house about two hundred yards away.

When the men left they gave us warning that if we were not out of the place by the time the sun was a yard high the next morning they would return and kill all of us. Thinking that these fiends might return and carry out their hellish threats we decided it was best to leave. We packed up our things in the wagon and started that very night for Huntersville (a town about four miles away). We arrived there the next afternoon after driving all night through wooded country; being followed by the posse who were determined to see us well out of the country.

Upon our arrival in Huntersville we were immediately surrounded by a crowd of about three hundred men. They asked what he had in the wagon. They then asked if we had anything done for him and if we were Mormons. We had done very little for him and neither one of us was a Mormon, and had never heard a Mormon preach. One of the men then told us to go to a certain vacant house. Arriving there they took my husband out of the wagon, laid him on a door and the Doctors performed an operation on his head. They cut his scalp in four parts, drew down as far as his ears and forehead. Then thinking we would tell the posse they left him in this condition.

During my husband’s illness nearly one fourth of this brains were taken out. The Doctors were showing them to some persons who were present, when my husband requested to see them. They were handed to him. He seemed to scrutinize them closely and then threw them into the fire, remarking, “There is a miracle for you” (A man holding his own brains in his hands and then throwing them into the fire and living to see them burn).

We were transferred to the Doctor’s office where we remained for nine weeks and by the time he was able to walk around the office we were moved about a mile and a quarter out of the town. While we were staying at this place he complained of a severe pain in his head. I prepared to go for the Doctor, but he objected saying I could do just as well. I worked at the wound in his head until I could work my fingers the whole length of it and removed pieces of bone from the size of a grain of wheat, to a piece one inch long an inch and a half wide, about sixty pieces in all. Of this fact there are many who can bear witness. Previous to this the Doctor had also taken out about fourteen pieces.

We moved from this place to a house still further out of town, and during our stay here we were presented (by ten men) with a written agreement saying that if we would agree to leave, the state would support us. This we refused to do. I told them I was an American Citizen and knew my rights and I wanted those men who had ruined my husband to be dealt with according to the law and justice, but they said it couldn't be done.

My husband and I walked. I carried my three year old daughter in my arms and led a heifer. It rained six days in succession and when we arrived at Salt Creek, it was very high. I got a man to take my husband and child across in his wagon. He refused to take me, but I was determined to go and just as the wagon entered the stream I managed to get on top of the bows, and in this way I got across without any of them knowing it.

We traveled on until we arrived at Mt. Hope, Adams Co. Ill. Where my brother Robert Wimmer lived. (We lived with father). After we had been there some time our little girl died. We remained in Mt. Hope about eighteen months, then moved to Green Plains, Hancock, Ill. From there we moved to Nauvoo, where we staid until the Saints were driven out.

We then moved to Harris Grove, twenty miles north of Cainsville and from there we came to Salt Lake City; arriving on Oct. 1, 1852. We traveled on to Ogden, about forty miles north of Salt Lake City; where we made our home. We owned a farm on the opposite side of the river, and one day when my husband was crossing over, he was caught in a fit and being alone he fell into the river and was drowned. His body was found the next day and was buried.

By Jemima Wimmer Powell Springville City, Utah, Feb. 1860

This story about James Powell, written in the hand writing of Jemima Wimmer, the story of Robert Wimmer, written in his own hand, were found in an old family record book of Peter and Elizabeth S. Wimmer in the possession of Robert Wimmer a grandson of afore mentioned Robert Wimmer. Compiled by Mary L. Powell (Blackburn) about 1930. Also present was Elizabeth M. Powell and Mr. and Mrs. Robert Wimmer; Robert’s sister, and Mrs. David Huish.

Note by Michael Leonard: This text is from a transcript given to me by my father that was typed by his relatives from hand written accounts by the authors of the accounts. James Powell and Jemima Wimmer Powell are the parents of John Ammon Powell who was married to Sarah Jane Shields Plumb Powell and they are the parents of Zoe Ellen Powell who was married to Leopold Leonard who were the parents of my father Max Gene Leonard.

Here is a link to some history of the Powells: and here is some history of the Leonards:

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