34 – William Stewart

1: What is your full name, Mr. Stewart?
William Stewart

2: You may state your age and where you reside, Mr. Stewart?
Well, sir, I was born in 1819, and I will be seventy three years old the 25th day of June next, – if I live to see the day. Now do you want to know where I was raised?

3: No sir, – where you reside at the present time will do
Where I reside now?

4: Yes sir?
Out here at Norwood station.

5: That is between this and Kansas City?

6: That is between this place, – Independence, – and Kansas City?
About a mile from this place on the Dummy.

7: How long have you lived there?
Well, I haven’t lived there but about ten years.

8: Where did you live previous to that?
In Westport, – well not in Westport exactly, but there close to Westport, in Westport township.

9: In what county was that?
In this county, in Jackson County?

10: How long did you live there?
Twenty four years.

11: What time did you first come to Jackson County?
In 1836 it was when I first came here.

12: Where did you live when you first came here?
I lived out here about two miles from town here when I first came here from ’36 to’43, I lived during that time out here close to town, – but that was when I was young, – a young man, – before I was married.

13: Where have you lived since that time?
Well, out there where I told you, –

14: Well where was that?
Out there where I told you, and close to Westport, I lived out there where I told you close to Westport and where I live now out there at Norwood station on the Dummy.

15: So you have lived continuously in Jackson County, Missouri, since 1836?
Yes sir, with the exception of one year.

16: What year was that?
That was in ’36 when I went to Kentuckey and I was gone from this county for about a year. I went in the fall of ’38 to Kentucky and in ’39 I came back and I have lived here ever since. I have lived in this county about fifty five years, all told.

17: What official position or positions have you held in this county since you have resided here?
Well I was a Deputy Sheriff for a couple or three years under old Billy Butts, – he was elected Sheriff and I was Deputy Sherriff under him.

18: What years were you Deputy Sheriff?
In 1856, ‘7 and ‘8 I believe. But I don’t know about that. I can’t say just what the years were, for I resigned before his time was out, but it was about these years that I was deputy sheriff under him.

19: Well you were a deputy sheriff under him?
Yes sir.

20: For three years?
Yes sir. I can’t remember the years though exactly, but I think they were the years I have given you. He was elected for two terms, for they elected their sheriffs every two years then, and he was elected for two terms, and he made his deputy in his first term, and I served over into the second term, but resigned before that term was out. He served four years, and I don’t think I was under him all the time he was sheriff, for I resigned the latter part of the term before it was out, but I was his deputy all right enough his first term.

21: Well during the time you have lived in this county, have you mixed with the people of the county and got acquainted with them?
Yes sir.

22: To what extent did you get acquainted with the people of this county?
Well sir, it was just this way when I first came here there was but very few men in this county that I was not wall acquainted with, – I think I knew almost every man in it, but of late years there has been so many new comers come in here that I know hardly any one but the old times, and there ain’t many of them left now. There wasn’t but a very few men here in ’36 compared with what there is here now, but what there was I soon got acquainted with.

23: Well how was it with reference to being conversant with the sentiments of the people in the county during those years, – that is, from the time you came here down to say 1870?
In what respect?

24: Well particularly with reference to their views regarding the people called “Mormons” that were driven out?
Well those first settlers here, such as the Nolands, – say the whole Noland family, – and there was a good many of that family, – and there was old Collier and his family, – and they all talked very hard against them, – they did not seem to have much use for them, and said lots of hard things against them. 25 (marked as a second 26)

24: Well what other parties was there here besides the Nolands?
Well all the first settlers here, – the old settlers here, were bitter against them. I mean those that lived here with them at the time the Mormons were here, for I was not here with them when they were here. I came here after they were driven out, and so of course I don’t know anything about how it was when they were here, but after I came here I know the old settlers said many rough and bitter things against them. They told me a heap of yarns and tales about them, – about old Joe walking the water and such as that, and the fact is that they couldn’t speak any good words for them at all. They made out they were a bad people, – thieves and everything that was bad. How that was the way they talked of them at the time I first came here and for years afterwards every time they had an opportunity, or a chance to talk of them at all, – they couldn’t say anything good of them.

26: I will ask you whether from your knowledge of the sentiment of the people as you have seen and heard it expressed during the years you have lived here, what would be your opinion with reference to the safety of those people, – the Mormons, or Latter Day Saints, – if they had come back here to settle?
In what years?

27: Well any time, – any time from the year 1836, the time you came here first?
Well in 1837 the year after I came here, – in the spring of ’37 this Platte Purchase was first opened for settlement and a great many of these people I have spoken of, – those people who spoke ill of the Mormons, – they sold out and went over to Platte County. I went myself and took up a claim, and a great many of these first settlers here I spoke of, sold out here and went there, and some went to Texas, and about from ’36 to ’40 I don’t think it would have been very safe for a Mormon to have been caught in this country, – at least if I had been a Mormon I know I would not have felt safe, – I would not have considered myself safe here at all; but after that the people that came in here from Kentucky, Virginia and elsewhere, there was nothing wrong with them. I don’t think these later settlers that came in here would have done the Mormons any harm, – for it was the first settlers here that had to do with them. I know I had a cousin that was wounded in that right at Westport, – Miles Cockrell, – a cousin to Frank Cockrell, our senator, and in ’36 I was where they had the fight, and there was a bi tree full of bullets where showing that they had a pretty lively engagement.

28: Well that is immaterial. Now did this feeling continue up to the time of the war?
No sir.

29: It did not continue up to the time of the war?
No sir, and in ’40 I don’t think there would have been much danger, because there was not any of the first settlers here at that time, – they had some to Platter County and to Texas and elsewhere, and a good many had died, so that at that time I don’t think there would have been much danger. About all the danger there was to the Mormons here so far as I could see was from these old timers, – old settlers that were at the time the Mormons were driven out, – and when they left and went elsewhere or died there wasn’t any danger from the settlers that were coming in all the time.

30: Who were the first settlers here, – whom do you reckon amongst the first settlers?
Well there was the Nolands, – they were the first settlers here, and there was Tom Pitcher and the Bradys and the Glasscocks, I don’t think of all of them now, but these were some of the oldest settlers here, and they were the ones that were so bitter against the Mormons, but they all left here about, and after they got away I do not think there was much danger to be apprehended.

30: What time did the Nolands leave here?
In ’37 was the time they left here.

31: Well was there not a good many of them continued here?
Well, not a great many of them, – only old Uncle Will Noland, and some of the rest of them stayed here.

32: Did you hear of the parties that came here to preach along about 1856 or 1857 or ‘8, – a fellow calling himself, – a man calling himself “Potter Christ”?
No sir.

33: You do not recollect about that?
No sir, I don’t recollect about any Christ being here at all. I don’t recollect about that at all, and I never saw a Mormon until “38, and that was at, – well it was in the ’38 when I was going to Kentucky, and I met them at Phillips Ferry on the Illinois river, and he Will Anderson’s father were together, and they were camped there.

34: What time was that?
That was in ’38 and it was on a Sunday, and it was the first time I ever saw a Mormon. We stopped to feed our horses and take a lunch, and they found out from some cause we were from Jackson County, Missouri, and so an old man came to me and wanted to know if I was from Jackson County, and I told him I was, and then he went on and asked me what the feeling was against the Mormons in Jackson County, – and I told him, – I told him they did not stand well there. I told him they did not stand well there at all. Now you asked me about these people, or this man that was called “Christ” something. I don’t remember anything about him, but there is one thing I want to say, and that is that in the spring of ’38 I understood there was a couple of Mormons said to be, – that is, they were said to be Mormons, for understand I don’t know a thing about this of my own knowledge, – that is all hearsay and I don’t know anything about it.

35: Well you need not state anything that is hearsay?
Well I don’t know how to state it, – I am satisfied that it is right, –

36: Well state only what you know of your own knowledge for that is the only competent evidence, – what some one else told you is not competent at all, – what some one else told you is not competent at all, – anything you know personally of your own knowledge is proper so far as that is concerned, and that you may state and nothing else.
Well this was going to prove what I said about their not being safe here at that time, – that was the point I was at.

37: Was this a transaction in which two of them lost their lives?
What is that?

38: Was this a transaction in which any of them lost their lives?
Well it was said that way, – I don’t know how true it was.

39: When was that?
In ’38.

40: That was in ’38?
Yes sir. Must I tell that?

41: You did not see it?
No sir.

42: You know it from the common reports that were afloat in the neighborhood?
That was the report in the neighborhood, and at that time I lived here close to town, and that was the report that was around that there was a couple of the Mormons had crossed the river and come over here, – they had crossed the river at a place called “Owen’s Landing” and there was some fellows that were there and saw them cross the river. Well they never returned and it was the supposition that they killed them. Now I don’t know that to be true, but that is the way I heard it.

43: When you were speaking to these Mormons, or Latter Day Saints, over there in Illinois on that occasion you told them of this occurrence did you not?
Yes sir. I told the old man what I had heard about it to give them an idea of how things stood here, you know.

44: Was he making inquiries to know whether it would be safe for them to come back here again?
Yes sir.

45: Well what did you tell him?
I told him that I didn’t think it would be safe for them to come here at that time. They were on their way to Far West at the time, so he told me, and after I left the Governor ordered out the militia, and he got into trouble sure enough.

46: What year did you say that was in?
That was in ’38.

47: Well not I will ask you, Mr. Stewart, whether or not this feeling has not existed right along so far as that is concerned, and parties here wouhd look down upon any body that would undertake to teach the faith of the Latter Day Saints here?

48: What is your answer to that question?
He objects to it. Shall I answer it?

49: Yes sir, answer the question, and pay no attention to his objections beyond delaying your answer until he is through making his objection?
Well what do you want to know, – what period of time do you have reference to?

50: I mean the time that these old settlers were here?
The first settlers?

51: Yes sir?
Yes sir.

52: What do you mean by that answer?
I mean that they did not take any stock in that, no way at all. That is, the first settlers didn’t. The first settlers when I came here first were down on them, and didn’t take any stock in them at all or their doctrines, and had no use for them or any one that preached or believed in them. They could not say anything good about them and they said a heap of bad mean things about them, but whether what they said was true or false I could not say, for I was not there at the time they had the trouble with them, or the time that they went away, for they went away in ’33 and I came here in ’36, – but they said they were a damned set of thieves and rogue and all that, and of course I don’t know anything about it, but the new comers that came in afterwards, – the Kentuckians and Virginians and Tennesseeans, they had nothing to do with that, and I don’t think the Mormons had any fear of them, or had any cause to fear them particularly.

53: Well is it not a fact that these new comers that would come in here would be prejudiced more or less by these stories that they would hear from these sources? And these reports that would be poured into their ears be the first settlers as you call them that were here at the time the Mormons were here?
Well I can’t say. I don’t think they would be to any very great extent, for I know I was not prejudiced at all. I know that and there was some as good men as me came here from Virginia and Kentucky, and I know that I would not have hurt them at all, for I always felt that a man has a right to his opinions political or religious. Now that is what I formed my opinion of them from, – from what I heard said, and it did not have any particular effect on me as I know.

54: Have you any idea about how many of these people were here in ’38 or 40 when you came here?
I –
What is that? That is a question I don’t understand?

55: Have you any idea about how many of these old people were here in ’38 or ’40 when you came here?
I came here in ’36 I said.

56: Well have you any idea of how many of them were here at the time I have stated In my previous question?
The first settlers do you mean?

57: Yes sir?
No sir, I couldn’t say how many of them were here.

58: What was the population of the county at that time?
I can’t tell you now, but it was bot a great many.

59: Was there many people living in Independence then?
No sir, not a great many at that time.

60: Was there a great many people living in Kansas City at that time?
No sir.

61: How many people was there in Kansas City at that time?
There was no Kansas City there at all. It was before Kansas City was thought of.

62: Well there was no one living where Kansas City is now?
No sir, there was no city there at all. Of course there might have been a few people living where Kansas City is now, but there was no city there.

63: Was there any people living in Westport?
Only a few people living there either.

64: Well about how many people were living at Westport?
Not many.

65: Was there two hundred or three hundred, or about how many?
No sir, there wasn’t two hundred or three hundred, not the half of it.

66: Well was there that many living in Independence?
I can’t say. I think there was, and more than that but that is all guess work you know, judge. I couldn’t say how many there was here that time, and anything I might say would be guess work.

67: Well about 1840 a great many of the people that had been here in the Mormon times had left, you stated, I believe?
Yes sir, a good many of them had left, for in 1837 that country, the Platte purchase was open for settlement, and a great many of the old timers sold out here and went over there.

68: Well is it not a fact that in this country at that time was what was known as the “Border Ruffians”?
No sir, that was before their day. All the federal there was about that was the time of the war, or just before the war and after it, and during the time of the war, and we had lots of “border ruffians” here at that time. The time of the war and when it was talked about is the time that they raised all the trouble in this country. I never heard anything about “border ruffians” until 1856.

69: Then they had nothing to do with the Mormons?
No sir. The reason they got that name was because to run over in Kansas, the ones that were in this state, and were in favor of slavery, they would run over in Kansas and stick a stake down and claim they were citizens of Kansas and then they would vote. I never heard of the “border ruffians” or “red legs” until 1856, for that was about the time they first came on the field.

70: Well what was the condition of this section of the country in 1860, that was some time or 12 years later still?
Well as it came down towards the time of the war and the troubles that led up to the war began to agitate this country it kept getting more unsettled all the time.

71: But you say there was nothing heard of these border ruffians as they were called until 1856, and I am asking you about 1850 which was six years earlier? Was there many of the old people that had been in the previous troubles with the Mormons here then?
Well there was a few scattered around, but not as many as in 1837 and 1838. They had a good many of them gone out of the country at that time, there was not as many of them here then as there was in 1837 and 1838 you know, for they had a good many of them sold out here and gone over to the Platte purchase and entered lands there.

72: Well in 1850 say, how many of them were here?
Well now when I was deputy sheriff in this county as I told you, my business was up in Kaw township across the Blue. You know at that time Kaw township went right up to Washington, and it is now made into two townships, – Kaw township and Westport township, and my business was up there across the creek you know, and I did not have so much to do down this way, only at the time when court would be in session, and so I can’t say so much about what was going on in this part of the country, only from what I heard, and of course I heard about everything that happened, but then you know I don’t know it of my own knowledge, for it is hearsay like.

73: Were you the only deputy sheriff there was in the county?
No air. Burris was deputy down there at that time you know, and I was the deputy up at Westport, and the country was not so well well settled up there at that time.

74: You mean Sni-a-bar township was not so very well settled?
Yes sir. I mean that part of the county down there.

75: You mean the eastern part of the county was not so very well settled?
Yes sir. There was very few people lived out there then.

76: Where were the settlements?
Down here and about Westport were the best settled part of the county and out east of here and down south it was very thinly settled, and in some places for miles there was no settlement. It was settled pretty well comparatively up here around Raytown and St. Fee and around there and here in Independence and at Westport. When I came here in ’36 at Raytown that land was all taken.

77: How far is that from here?

78: Yes sir.
Well it is two or three miles I suppose or something like that.

79: Well the country was pretty considerably settled about 1850 was it not?
Yes sir, but that time the county here was pretty tolerably settled.

80: The St. Fee trade was in full blast then, wasn’t it?
Yes sir.

81: And there was a great many people coming and going through here between here and the west, from the eastern and southern states?
Yes sir, but they did not live here, – they passed through here going to California and so on.

82: Did not a great many people come here between 1850 and 1860, – just prior to the war of the rebellion?
Well now I was pretty well acquainted with ever man here in ’36 and ‘7 and ‘8 I might say, and for several years afterwards, for they came in here one or two at a time, and when a stranger would come here why of course I would get acquainted with him right away.

83: Well that is not an answer to my question, – I asked you if at that time there was now a good mane people came into this section of country about that time, – a good many people came here to reside permanently did there not?
Yes sir. There was some people came in here between ’40 and 1850.

84: Well about what proportion would the new comers bear to the old settlers, – that is, the new comers that came in here between ’40 and 1850, – about what proportion would they bear to the old settlers?
Well as I said, that is hard to say, for a good many of the old ones went out, and these new ones came in, but I could not tell you how many there was. Washington township had condemned land in it, and about all that land was vacant, for the government did not think it was worth surveying, and it laid there for years before it was opened for entry.

85: And now that is a very thickly settled part of the county?
Yes sir. It is now, but for years there was nobody lived there, unless it was a few squatters for it was not open for entry and settlement for good many year after I came here.

86: It has been settled pretty well ever since the war has it not?
Yes sir. I should judge so,-there was some settlers on it before the war, but the most of them went in there since the war I think.

87: There was some pretty good settlements out there just before the war, was there not?
Yes sir.

88: And just before the war there was some pretty good settlements just east of Independence,-out east here was there not?
Well I judge where was. That is something thought that I can’t say much about, for I never traveled down there much, for my business was of the west side of the Blue, up about St. Fee and Hickman’s mills and around there.

89: Well just prior to the war in 1850 and 1860,-or between these years,-didn’t a good many people gather in where Kansas City now is?
Yes sir.

90: There was a pretty considerable town there in 1860 was there not?
Yes sir.

91: Kansas City was larger than Independence in 1860, was it not?
Yes sir, I guess that it was.

92: And these people that came here after you come to the state?
Yes sir, certainly the most of them were. The Holmes lived there at the time and it was called “Goose Neck” country, but there was no Kansas City there at the time I first passed through there, there was not a house in the town, and nothing that looked like a city, and nobody I guess thought at that time that there ever would be a city there like there is, for at that time there was no landing there. That was made after I came here first.

93: Did you know of any of the Latter Day Saints coming back here between 1850 and 1860?
No sir.

94: You did not know of any of them coming here?
No sir, I didn’t know of any of them coming here until they began to come in here a few years ago.
Yes sir. They began to come here I think after the war, and there is lots of them here now.

96: I will ask you if it is not a fact that most of the settlements that have been made in this county west of here, have not been made since 1870,-has not Kansas City and all that country been settled since that time?
Since 1870?

97: Yes sir, since 1865 and 1870,-since the war?
Well most of the people of course have come in since that time,-nearly all of them,-that is began to build up pretty strong where Kansas City is now.

98: What began to build up pretty strong?
Kansas city did. That was where they changed the trade, for they had all the goods landed in Kansas City at that time, and that is what gave Kansas City its start at first.

99: But the settlements did not reach out here as they do today?
No sir, there were very few settlers between this and Kansas City until you got on this side of the Blue.

100: And during all this time you have lived here, you never heard of any Latter Day Saints coming in here until since the war, or lately?
No sir, not until since the war, or about that time.

101: Since the war?
Yes sir.

102: And how late since the way?
“How late”. What do you mean by that?

103: Can you mention about the year when you first knew of any of them coming back?
No sir, I could not keep account of the year I first knew of any of them coming in here, and this old man Mayo was the first Mormon I knew anything about for I got acquainted with him when he came here, or right after the time he came here. I know when he came, that is I remember the fact of his coming, but I can’t say what year it was, or how many more of them came with him, but there was others came about that time too.

104: Well now was not that about the year 1870?
Well now I could not say.

105: Well if you don’t remember the year it is immaterial?
No sir I don’t know when it was. This man could tell you better than I could. Mayo was the first man I got acquainted with that was a Mormon, but I have got acquainted with several of them since.