Haun's Mill Historic Site
Haun's Mill was the site of the deadliest event of the 1838 Mormon War, the infamous Haun's Mill Massacre. At this location on October 30, 1838, an unauthorized force of militia with 240 soldiers surprised and surrounded a settlement of LDS Church members. Despite signalling their intent to surrender rather than fight, the militia fired into a blacksmith shop that had become something of a garrison and was occupied by Mormon men who had previously made efforts to defend their settlement against the increasingly hostile non-Mormons in this part of Missouri. The massacre was the bloodiest chapter in the 1838 Mormon War which ended with the arrest of Joseph Smith and an agreement by church members to leave the state of Missouri. The mill was built on Shoal Creek between 1835 and 1836 and actually owned by a man named Hawn, but has long been known as "Haun's Creek."
Backstory and Context
Many Mormons fled out of Jackson County to the surrounding counties of LaFayette and Van Buren, however, the majority went north across the Missouri River to Clay County in Liberty. The locals initially gave the fleeing Mormons some help. Members of the LDS church arrived in large numbers in this part of Missouri in 1838, leading many non-Mormon residents to fear that the church would soon control the politics and economy of the area. The bill to establish the new counties was introduced by Missouri legislator Alexander Doniphan who was friendly with the Mormons. The settlement of Far West along Shoal Creek was approximately 12 miles from Haun’s Mill.
In 1838, Mormon populations grew to over 5,000 in Caldwell County and Joseph Smith led settlers north to Daviess County in order to help the incoming settlers from the Ohio division of the church.
The massacre at Haun's Mill was the high water mark of the Missouri Mormon War of 1838. The massacre occurred after the Governor Lilburn Boggs issued Missouri Executive Order 44, known as the Mormon Extermination Order. Finally, the aftermath of Haun's Mill Massacre and the capture of Joseph Smith and the migration of Mormons to Nauvoo, Illinois.