As persecution increased, more and more Saints moved to the outskirts of the United States to seek refuge from their enemies. The population of the Saints seemed to increase daily in Jackson County, Missouri. The members of the Church built home, worked large farms, built businesses, and contributed in a positive way to the community. The Saints were friendly to those not of their faith, hoping to have finally found a place of peace.
Soon after, the local Missourians feared that the Mormons would overrun their county by entering politics. In July of 1833, about 500 Missourians gathered at the Independence courthouse to draft a document outlining their demands that no Latter-day Saint would be allowed to move to or settle in Jackson County, and that those who were already there must pledge to leave in a reasonable time.
The leaders of the Church requested three months to consider the matter with Church leaders in Ohio. This request was denied. The local Church leaders then asked for 10 days for consideration. The Missourians provided the local Saints just 15 minutes to look over the resolution and to agree to it.
Hatred and anger ruled the next few minutes and soon homes, farms, and businesses of many members of the Church were destroyed and burned. Men forced their way into W.W. Phelps’s home where the Church newspaper, The Evening and Morning Star, was being published. Furniture was thrown out of the home, they destroyed the press, and scattered the print job in process out of the building into piles to be burned. This current print job was a copy of revelations given to Joseph Smith to this point in time.
Two sisters, Mary Elizabeth and Caroline Rollins, ages 14 and 12, ran from their hiding spot and scooped up as many of the sheets as possible. The mob spotted them and shouted at them from the windows of the building. Mary Elizabeth and Caroline ran frantically to a nearby cornfield. Here they lay on the sheets of paper, praying for protection. The men searched the cornfield for what seemed to the girls to be hours. Passing close by them, but never finding them, the mob finally left.
The revelations were returned to Brother Phelps. Those salvaged pages were later combined with other pages that had been saved, and a small book called the Book of Commandments was printed. Two years later, those same commandments and revelations were combined with additional revelations from the Lord and printed in a new book called the Doctrine and Covenants.
“…my scritures shall be given as I have appointed, and they shall be preserved in safety.” D&C 42:56
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