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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Hendricks Family Flees to Illinois

Drusilla Hendricks demonstrated remarkable strength and heroism as she and her family continued to persevere through unimaginable trials.  Her husband, James, remained completely paralyzed.  Even with the help of ten-year-old Elizabeth [James Gammell's future wife] and nine-year-old William, she could not lift the weight of his body.  In addition to caring for James, she bore the full responsibility for the needs of her family, including two younger children and a nursing baby.  In mid-January 1839, Joseph Smith, Sr. (father of the Prophet), Isaac Morley, and several others came to the Hendricks home and anointed and administered to James.(1)  When they had completed the blessing, they stood James on his feet and held him upright, and “he began to work his shoulders.”  In the days to come Drusilla continued to “rub him with strong vinegar and salt and liniments.”(2)

As the winter wore on, many families were leaving Missouri as quickly as they could, but Drusilla had no idea how she could possibly go, until Brother Leaney “came to see us and said we should not be left behind.” Leaney had been shot and wounded at Haun’s Mill a few months before.  He “had been shot through and through from both sides, the balls passing through the lungs, but he was miraculously healed.  He had twenty-seven bullet holes in his shirt. I [Drusilla] counted them myself.  He only had eleven wounds to be dressed.”(3)

By the time Drusilla and her family left Missouri and started for Illinois, James Hendricks had learned to pull himself to his feet without help. On the first day of April 1839, when Joseph Smith, Sr. learned that the Hendricks family had arrived in Quincy, he went immediately to visit them at their campsite. Father Smith, as they called Joseph, Sr., assisted by several other brethren, gave James a second priesthood blessing. They “then assisted him to his feet and he walked, between two of them, some thirty yards and back.”(4)

Quincy, Illinois (2008)
on the Mississippi River
in public domain

Drusilla was now faced with the responsibility of finding lodging for her family, and she soon found out how difficult that would be.  Quincy, Illinois, a town of about two thousand residents, was completely unprepared for the influx that winter of five thousand refugees,(5)  members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who had been driven from their homes in Missouri.  Nevertheless, the people of Quincy responded with great empathy and kindness, and did all they could to provide the exiles with food and shelter.  Soon Drusilla was able to find makeshift lodging for her family, a small room, “partly underground and partly on top of the ground.”(6)

Living in such damp and confined quarters, James fell ill.  Within two weeks they ran out of food and lost their small heifer that had provided them with a little milk twice a day.  As Drusilla described, “we were like Job of old and my husband was as sore, for his blood cankered and he broke in sores all over his body so that you could not put a pin point on him without putting it on a sore, from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet.”(7)

Though Drusilla’s trials were of biblical proportion, so were the miracles that sustained her and her family. As she prepared mush for her children with her last spoonful of sugar and last saucer of corn meal, doubt and conflict began to fill her mind.  She answered it with her usual faith and courage.  Soon a feeling of peace came over her, and these words came into her mind: “Hold on, for the Lord will provide.”  She resolved that she “would trust Him and not grumble,” and then went about washing everything and cleaning her house thoroughly, saying: “If I die, I will die clean.”  That afternoon Brother Rubin Allred drove fifteen miles to the Hendricks’ home and delivered a sack of meal.  “I felt you were out of bread,” he said, “so I came by the mill to get my grinding done before I came here and it made me late.”  A few minutes later her son William came home with fifty cents he had earned, and with that Drusilla bought six pounds of flour, a few pounds of pork, and half a bushel of potatoes.  Though they ate sparingly, the supply was gone in two weeks, and again they had nothing.  Drusilla recalled, “I felt awful, but the same voice that gave me comfort before was there to comfort me again, and it said, Hold on, for the Lord will provide for his Saints.”  She washed and cleaned, the same as before, and soon Brother Alexander Williams appeared at the back door with two bushels of meal on his shoulder:

I looked up and said, Brother Williams, I have just found out how the widow’s cruse [of oil] and barrel [of meal] held out through the famine.(8)  He asked how.   I said just as it was out [empty] someone was sent to fill it.  He said he was so busy with his crop that he could hardly leave it, but the Spirit strove with him saying Brother Hendricks’ family is suffering, so I dropped everything and came by and had it ground lest you would not get it soon enough.   I [Drusilla] soon baked a cake of the meal and he blessed it and we all partook of it and water.(9)

Brother Williams promised to bring more corn meal to the Hendricks when their supply ran low.  At that time he was living with a family named Edwards and tending their farm.  When he approached him for more corn, Mr. Edwards replied, “You shall not work for me for corn and take it to the Saints who have been driven and robbed.  Tell me where you go and I will go myself.”  Edwards arrived just in time to refill the Henricks’ empty barrel with cornmeal.(10)

View of Nauvoo on a bend of the Mississippi River
Unknown artist.  Oil on canvas, 1848-50
Painted after the Saints fled to the West in 1846,
and after the temple (center white) was burned by a mob in 1848.
in public domain

In late 1839 the Mormons purchased the small town of Commerce, Illinois, located forty miles up the Mississippi River from Quincy.  In April 1840 they renamed it “Nauvoo”.(11)  (Within four years, Nauvoo's population had grown to twelve thousand, rivaling the size of Chicago at the time.)  Brother Lewis moved the Hendricks family to Nauvoo in March 1840.  The High Council “voted to donate a city lot to Brother James Hendrix (sic), who was shot in Missouri; also voted to build him a house.”(12)

At this point Drusilla was supporting her family herself by taking in washing and sewing.  She was able to hire a man to cover the newly built log house and build a chimney.  She and Sister Melinda Lewis chinked and plastered the house, while the hired man plowed her lot and made it ready for a garden.  Her husband, James, was strong enough now to “turn on his elbow, turn his feet out of bed, and take things in one hand.”  He contributed to his family’s support by borrowing enough money to a buy large quantity of flour at the mill to sell for profit.  They took in boarders to earn money, and were able to pay a carpenter and a mason to build a new brick house, finished in 1842.

The Hendricks lived in Nauvoo for about seven years, then again “persecution began to rage and we had hard times again.”  By 1844 the family was again destitute.  Drusilla left Nauvoo and went to St. Louis for eight weeks to earn money for food and clothing.  Catherine went along; Elizabeth stayed behind to care for the family.  She started back to Nauvoo on Friday, June 28, and heard while on the riverboat that Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet, and his brother Hyrum had been martyred the day before.  Her grief was almost more than she could bear.  In Illinois “they killed our Prophet and Patriarch and drove us out again.”(13)

William Dorris Hendricks (1829-1909)
His sister Elizabeth Hendricks married James Gammell

After their winter expulsion from Nauvoo, Illinois, in February 1846, the Latter-day Saints began a 300-mile trek across Iowa.  It proved to be the hardest leg of their westward journey, averaging less than three miles a day.  Reaching the Missouri River they camped on both sides, Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Winter Quarters, Nebraska, near Omaha.  Here, while they were making preparations to continue the journey the following spring, William Hendricks was called to join the Mormon Battalion.  Drusilla was heartbroken: “…my son was all I had to depend on, his father being helpless and Joseph, my other son, being in his ninth year only and my girls not healthy.  One would say to me, Is William going. I answered, No, he is not.”  (At this time James Hendricks could walk with the aid of a cane.)  Drusilla said she knelt down and told the Lord if He wanted my child to take him, only spare his life and let him be restored to me and to the bosom of the church.”(14)

Drusilla’s prayers were answered when eighteen-year-old William returned to his family ten days after they reached the Salt Lake Valley in October 1847.  William immediately “went to work and built [them] a house in the Fort wall so we made ourselves as comfortable as possible.”(15)
  1. The brethren laid their hands on James’ head, anointed his head with oil, and administered a priesthood blessing for the healing of the sick.
  2. Robert Raymond, ed., Historical Sketch of James Hendricks and Drusilla Dorris, chapter 5.
  3. Robert Raymond, chapter 6.
  4. Robert Raymond, chapter 6.
  5. “Eight to ten thousand Latter-day Saints migrated to western Illinois that season. The community of Quincy could not accommodate all the new arrivals. During the spring and summer of 1839 many people were forced into surrounding farmlands and adjoining counties wherever they could find a place to stay.” (See Church History in the Fulness of Times, chapter 17.)
  6. Robert Raymond, chapter 6.
  7. Robert Raymond, chapter 6.
  8. I Kings 17:16.
  9. Robert Raymond, chapter 6.
  10. Robert Raymond, chapter 6. (Alexander Williams baptized Mr. Edwards and his wife.)
  11. The name Nauvoo is derived from traditional Hebrew with an anglicized spelling. The word comes from Isaiah 52:7, “How beautiful upon the mountains...”
  12. History of the Church, Vol. 4, Ch. 4, p. 76.
  13. Robert Raymond, chapters 6, 7, and 8.
  14. Robert Raymond, chapter 8.
  15. Robert Raymond, chapter 9.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The James and Drusilla Hendricks Family

James and Drusilla Dorris Hendricks
with grandchild, thought to be
James Gammell's daughter Elizabeth
ca. 1852

The James Hendricks family entered the Salt Lake Valley on October 2, 1847, with the Jedediah M. Grant – Joseph B. Noble Wagon Company. James and Drusilla were accompanied by four of their five children: Elizabeth (19), future wife of James Gammell, Catherine (15), Rebecca (11), and Joseph (9). The Grant/Noble Company, consisting of 171 souls, had started its three and one-half month journey on June 19 at the outfitting post on the Elkhorn River about twenty-seven miles west of Winter Quarters, Nebraska.(1)

One year earlier (June 1846) William Hendricks, then age 16, along with five hundred other men, volunteered to join the Mormon Battalion. President James K. Polk had authorized Colonel Stephen W. Kearny to enlist a battalion of Mormon men to help fight the war with Mexico. Initially the Saints opposed the request for volunteers, but the negotiations proved to be a benefit to both parties: the United States would retain the loyalty of the Saints, whose persecutions had all but destroyed their trust in the federal government, and the Mormons could “earn desperately needed capital for the exodus.” They were able to purchase the necessary wagons and supplies with army wages totaling $30,000. In his effort to encourage support for the venture, Brigham Young said, “Let the Mormons be the first men to set their feet on the soil of California…This is the first offer we have ever had from the government to benefit us.” He promised that the families of the volunteers would be carefully provided for, and also counseled the volunteers to conduct themselves properly, and if they did so, they would not have to fight. (As it turned out, their only battle was with a herd of wild bulls near the San Pedro River in Arizona.) The 2,000-mile Mormon Battalion march from Council Bluffs, Iowa, to San Diego, California, was the longest single military march in U.S. history, and served to help the United States secure the lands of California, Utah, Arizona, and other Western states.(2)  The battalion was discharged one year later, and William Hendricks was reunited with his family two weeks after they arrived in the Salt Lake Valley.

James and Drusilla Hendricks were first introduced to the Mormon missionaries while living in Franklin, Kentucky, and were converted and baptized in March 1835. They left Kentucky to join other Mormons in Clay County, Missouri, in May 1836. Since childhood Drusilla had demonstrated a strong faith in God and in the Bible. Later in her life she was revered as a woman of great faith and courage. In her autobiography she wrote about one habit she struggled to overcome:

I had been in the habit of using snuff and was just out. I knew it was a disgusting habit and I had heard the Word of Wisdom read, also my husband desired that I discontinue its use. I went quite a way out of camp. I there pled with the Lord to take away the desire for snuff from me and if he would do this, it would be a sign unto me that I would know he had caused the revelation (Word of Wisdom) to be written.(3)   I then went back to camp, and forgot that I used snuff for four days after and I never wanted it again. I had often tried to quit but this time the Lord took the desire away from me and gave me a testimony of the truth of the Word of Wisdom.(4)

Drusilla recorded that the hostility and persecution against the Mormons in Clay County became so great that “we all gave up our land and agreed to go to Caldwell County. We were to be let alone there so we were glad to do so.”  By August 1838, James was called to take his turn standing guard to protect the settlement from the gathering mobs. On the evening of October 24, the mob began to burn the crops and take Mormon men as prisoners, in order to force the Latter-day Saints to leave Caldwell County. James and a large group of men tried to form a line of defense that night at Crooked River. At dawn Drusilla stood looking out her window:

I saw a Mr. T. Snider (he did not belong to the church, but a good man) get off his horse at the gate. (I saw him wipe his eyes, I knew that he was crying.) He came to the door and said Mr. Hendricks wishes you to come to him. I asked where. He said to the widow Medcalf's and that he had come for me. I asked where and how he was shot and he thought he was shot in the hip.(5)

Upon reaching the widow’s house, Drusilla saw nine of the men, “wounded and pale as death.”  She found her husband lying in a bed in the same room with Apostle David W. Patten, who was taken to the Winchester home, where he died that night.  (Patten is now considered Mormonism's first martyr for the faith.)  When she spoke to James:

He could speak but could not move any more than if he were dead. I tried to get him to move his feet but he could not. This was Thursday, October 25, 1838, and the next Tuesday was the Battle of Haun’s Mill,(6) where men and boys were slaughtered and thrown into a dry well 18 or 48 in number, out of which only one (Benjamin Lewis) received a decent burial.

My husband was shot in the neck where it cut off all feeling of the body. It is of no use for me to try and tell how I felt for that is impossible, but I could not have shed a tear if all had been dead before me. I went to work to try and get my husband warm but could not. I rubbed and steamed him but could get no circulation. He was dead from his neck down.(7)

Drusilla was advised that it wasn’t safe to return to their home, so that evening a neighbor came with a wagon with a bed in it for James and took them to Far West, while another neighbor went to their home to care for their five children.

Two days later on October 27, Missouri governor, Lilburn W. Boggs, issued the infamous Extermination Order, in which he instructed the militia to drive the Mormons from the state of Missouri because of their and avowed defiance of the laws, and of having made war upon the people of this State ... the Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State if necessary for the public peace—their outrages are beyond all description.(8)

(Governor Christopher “Kit” Bond rescinded the order in 1976, after nearly 138 years. He declared that the original order violated legal rights established by the U.S. Constitution, and offered his regrets on behalf of the State of Missouri.)

General Samuel D. Lucas, leading a militia of 7,000 men, informed the Mormons at Far West that "...they would massacre every man, woman and child..." if Joseph Smith and several other church leaders were not given up. Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Parley P. Pratt, Lyman Wight, and George W. Robinson surrendered the first day of November.(9)  Soon after the surrender, Drusilla and James ventured to leave Far West and return to their home and children. They found that the mob had “robbed the house of [the] bedding and in fact everything but [the] beds.” James was still paralyzed from head to foot, leaving Drusilla with the task of settling their business matters and preparing to leave the state of Missouri. She sold what she could and gave up their land for enough money to buy two yoke of cattle.  The following spring they left behind everything, except what they could fit into their small wagon.(10)
  2. Church History in the Fulness of Times, chapter 25.
  3. For an explanation of the Word of Wisdom see then scroll down to “Obey the Word of Wisdom.”
  4. Robert Raymond, ed., Historical Sketch of James Hendricks and Drusilla Dorris, chapter 4.
  5. Robert Raymond, ed., Historical Sketch of James Hendricks and Drusilla Dorris, chapter 5.
  6. Haun’s Mill is in Caldwell County, Missouri. The fifty-five perpetrators of the massacre were known by name, but never prosecuted.
  7. Robert Raymond, ed., Historical Sketch of James Hendricks and Drusilla Dorris, chapter 5.
  8. See Although the Haun’s Mill massacre took place a few days after Missouri governor Boggs issued the Extermination Order, most historians have now concluded that the militia unit had neither the time nor the opportunity to have received news of the order.
  9. Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, 1888, p. 229.  Joseph Smith, Parley P. Pratt, and others were incarcerated in Liberty Jail for more than four months.
  10. Robert Raymond, ed., Historical Sketch of James Hendricks and Drusilla Dorris, chapter 5.