|Vol. 2, No. 2 - Oct. 2005
Joseph F. Buchanan
[Beginning of quotes from the book]
When young John William Dutson was just past 11 years of age, Wilford Woodruff, an apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, arrived in Hereford in the summer of 1840 preaching the restored gospel. The Greens and Dutsons were touched by the message of the restoration and left their Methodist faith in order to be baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ. John William was baptized by Elder Phillip Green, September 24, 1840, and was also confirmed by the same elder.
In accordance with this spirit of gathering, Ann Dutson disposed of her property, and with her parents and other members of her family left her native England, to sail for an unknown life in the new land of America. In addition to her parents, William Green and Jane Prosser, Ann and her two children were accompanied by her brothers and their families and some of her sisters.
In April while the travelers were still in St. Louis, Grandfather William Green, Sr. (Ann Dutson's father) died of "debility" (infirmity) following a short illness. He was approaching 88 years of age....
The family buried their aged and loved father; and on May 3 boarded the steamboat "Lander" to continue their journey up the river to Nauvoo. They reached their destination May 6, 1843 after a pleasant trip. At Quincy the wind blew the boat out of the channel for a short time, but this was the only incident worthy of note.
John William was a fine, dependable lad of 15 as the family settled down in Nauvoo to become a part of that thriving community. Naturally much of the responsibility of the support of his mother and sister fell upon his shoulders. First he worked in the Nauvoo brickyard through the summer where he earned brick to assist in building a four-room, two-story brick home for the family. Because of his diligent work, John William was entitled to half the house.
The following winter he went to Camp Creek island, 22 miles north of the city, for the purpose of chopping wood and rafting. There he obtained fencing for his lot which adjoined the entrance to Hyrum Smith's farm. Brigham Young had sold him the lot.
At the age of 16 John William enlisted in the Nauvoo Legion.
The second summer at Nauvoo he worked at Hill's brickyard making brick for the Nauvoo House. In payment he received provisions and "due bills" in the amount of $40 00 on the Nauvoo House.
The following winter he worked at "Fauks Farm".
June 10, 1844, Ann Dutson (the mother of John William) married John Carling.
The summer of 1845 John William had charge of the work "on Pratt's farm near Daniel Brewets". He also worked in "Spencer's Wagon Shop" hauling timber and working to outfit the first company. For his pay he received "running gears of wagon not ironed, and 3 days' provisions" with which to begin his journey westward.
However, his plans were not consummated since his elderly grandmother wished him to remain behind so that he could take her and her daughter Jane to Utah with him.
THE BATTLE OF NAUVOO
When the mob observed that most of the able-bodied men had left Nauvoo they continued their indignities to those remaining. This continued through the summer. They were determined that all the Mormons should go. The remnant of saints asked for sixty days' time in which to prepare to leave. However, this did not satisfy the mob's thirst for blood. Constable Carlin placed Thomas S. Brockman in charge of the mob and gave orders for them to march on Nauvoo. Many of the new citizens who had purchased property from the saints, seeing the danger fled from the city. This left only a small force of the Mormons to defend Nauvoo. On September 10 Brockman and his mob marched on Nauvoo. The defenders were organized into three small companies under the command of Captain Gates, Captain William Anderson, and Repshaw. John William was a member of the latter company. ... The mob advanced on the city, firing their cannon. During the night there was some skirmishing between the hostile forces. The saints had been promised reinforcements by Major Parker but none came. Since they realized they must rely upon their own resources; they converted into cannon steamboat shafts which had lain for years on the shore of the river. During the night they built forts for defense. Each company built a fort and John William worked until 2 or 3 a.m. when the forts were completed. The fort built by John William's group was situated on the road running north where the enemy was camped on Hyrum Smith's farm. As soon as their fort was finished they fired their cannon at the enemy's campfire close by. At such an early hour this caused considerable confusion in the camp.
At daybreak fire from the enemy continued. The defenders returned the fire. John William's company was commanded to advance in an effort to prevent the enemy's entrance into the city. They advanced to the left of the enemy and laid a "powder plot" in the road, then concealed themselves in General Wells' cornfield. By chance the mob spotted them and fired at them, splitting the fence, cutting down corn, and greatly endangering the lives of the defenders. They were ordered to retreat but none were wounded or killed in the encounter.
The morning of the 12th the enemy were even more determined, having received a few wagon loads of ammunition. A number of the defenders who could be spared, were making chain shot slugs, etc. The enemy was forced back several times during the day by the defenders firing on them from behind houses. There was scarcely a minute without the report of cannon fire cracking the air. However, that day some of the defenders fled, leaving a force of only 150 men. It was rumored among them that the enemy numbered 3,000, some said about 1,700; but the Historian's office places the number at about 1,500. The defenders picked up many of the cannonballs which were fired at them (being the same size as their own) and fired them back. Some of the women courageously helped to gather these balls in their aprons and made them available to the fighting men. Of course, this enraged the mob, but they were kept outside the city.
The day of the 12th three of the defenders were killed - two of them were Captain Anderson and his son, August L. who was a lad of 15. Captain Anderson's company passed John William's group with the statement that he would cut off their left flank. Just as he passed he was hit by a musketball which was shot from a nearby house where some of the mob were concealed. He died encouraging his men.
The small house where John William and other men were concealed was battered with cannon fire, and they were ordered to march double file to another house. As this move took place, they were spotted by the mob and fired upon. At the moment, they were passing behind a strip of corn and could not see to dodge the mob fire. David Norris (the man with whom John William was marching) was shot, [and killed - the more graphic details left out here]. He reportedly left a wife and five children to mourn his loss.
These were the only three fatalities during the entire battle of Nauvoo... John William felt that the reason his companion was felled by the shot instead of him was that he was marching about six inches behind him, since his waning strength would not permit him to keep in step. John William had been ill for about seven months with chills and fever and was having great difficulty staying on his feet. Such was the condition of many of the defenders.
That night John William was stationed to guard the southeast corner of the temple. He was thinly clad and the night was very cold. He suffered greatly with chills. Near midnight he heard something approaching on the road, and called, "Who goes there?" No answer. He cocked his gun to fire. Then he saw that it was a horse and buggy trying to pass and he caught the bridle. At that moment he saw that two persons rode in the buggy - General Wells and Captain Clifford. Of course, he allowed them to pass on to the main entrance to the temple. Several others tried to pass in the night but not having the watchword, he did not allow them to pass.
AFTER THE WAR
Two nights following the acceptance of the treaty John William, his Uncle William Green, and three others had just returned from Montrose, having ferried some of their possessions across the River that day. It was about 8 or 9 p.m. They were hailed by a company of 30 men and asked if they were Mormons. The reply was, "Yes." The men advanced, each of whom bore a U. S. musket. At the order to "Take aim!" each man lifted his gun and took aim to fire on the five defenseless men who had just alighted from the ferry. The word "Halt!" rang out clearly. "The power of God saved us," John William states. Uncle William Green, being the eldest of the five, told the soldiers how they happened to be there. As they advanced they recognized the officer in charge to be Captain Smith of the Carthage Greys, stationed in Nauvoo as guards. They held a consultation concerning the disposition of the 5 prisoners. Some of the soldiers suggested shooting, some suggested throwing them in the River, Mr. Hendricks, the owner of the ferry, was called to the scene. When Mr. Hendricks arrived, Captain Smith asked if he knew the five men.
Mrs. Hendricks replied, "Yes, and Smith, you are anything but a gentleman. You are not satisfied with driving these men out but you still want to treat them like dogs. And if you don't like me talking to you in this way help yourself the best way you can. "
He then turned to the five prisoners and said "Men, follow me. I have a spare room in my house and you shall sleep there tonight."
Captain Smith sent seven men to guard the prisoners. They locked the door and took the key. In the morning someone knocked at the door and unlocked it, saying they were now free to go about their business. As they descended the stairs, one of the guards was still there. John William turned to his companions and asked how they had slept. He said, "I would not care if they put me in that room again tonight for I have not slept for about three weeks and it is quite a treat."
Uncle William Green and John William then went to the River again to ferry across their few remaining possessions.
During the war John William had known nothing of the whereabouts of his grandmother or aunt. Nor had Uncle William Green heard of his family. Some people at Montrose mentioned seeing wanderers who answered their descriptions and said they had gone to Keokuk. They said most of them were without bonnets, hats, shoes, or coats. In their extreme haste and fright, they had left without taking a mouthful of bread with them.
John William suggested that his Uncle go down the River in search of their families while he remained behind to care for their belongings. Uncle Green was gone for three weeks. The weather was inclement during most of that time and John William was without shelter of any kind. He had to sleep on the ground or on boxes. He "had two shakes of ague a day nearly all the time".
At one time he lay sick under a bush Ann Cowley saw him and said to her daughter, "That boy is sick." She immediately fixed him some food and sent her daughter Elizabeth Jane to take it to him. That was the first meeting of John William and Elizabeth Jane Cowley [who he later married]. Of course, he would never forget one who had befriended him at a time of such dire need. However, it was some time before they met again in St. Louis.
Finally Uncle Green returned with the news that he had located their families in St. Louis- where they wished to remain for the present.
[They remained in St. Louis until June 1857]
This history summary will be continued in the next issue.
The only picture I have of John William Dutson (shown above) is of the Oak City Sunday School (over which he presided), and he is holding a book up in the air, the book appears to be a Book of Mormon. This picture was take in about 1885 a few years before he died. He appears to have a full head of hair, which trait was inherited by his grandson, Eddie, who had a full head of hair to the end of his life.