Hawn's Mill

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Hawn’s Mill, also identified as Haun's, was a settlement in Missouri on Shoal Creek established by Jacob Hawn (Haun). Hawn was not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His settlement had a mill and a blacksmith shop, In October 1838, there were an estimated 75 families living there, although there were only perhaps a dozen or so houses.


On October 25, 1838, there was a battle at Crooked River between the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a group of men who had been terrorizing Latter-day Saint families for days. Following this battle, Joseph Smith told members that all of the Saints should move into Far West for protection. Jacob Hawn didn’t want the potential economic loss, and evidently, he may not have passed on the warning from Joseph Smith and convinced many of the settlers to stay at Hawn’s Mill. They decided that if they were attacked, they would use the blacksmith shop as a fort. Guards were posted around the settlement to protect and watch over the area.

On October 28, the Livingston County (the county in which Hawn’s Mill stood) Militia Colonel, Thomas Jennings, sent a man to arrange a peace treaty with the residents of Hawn’s Mill. Both sides agreed that they would keep the peace. The following day a group of men decided that they would attack Hawn’s Mill. During the afternoon of October 30, 240 men approached Hawn’s Mill. Joseph Young Sr. described in his journal what they had been doing that day,

The banks of Shoal Creek on either side, teemed with children sporting and playing, while their mothers were engaged in domestic employments, and their fathers employed in guarding the mill and other property, while others were engaged in gathering in their crops for their winter consumption. The weather was very pleasant, the sun shone clear, all was tranquil, and no one expressed any apprehension of the awful crisis that was near us—even at our doors (History of the Church, 3:184-85).

Around 4:00 that afternoon, the 240 men arrived at Hawn’s Mill. The women and children ran to the woods to escape. One woman, Amanda Smith, stated, “Yet though we were women, with tender children, in flight for our lives, the demons poured volley after volley to kill us” (Jenson, LDS Biographical Encyclopedia vol. 2). Amanda Smith was able to save her two daughters, but her ten-year-old son, who was in the blacksmith shop when the mob attacked, was killed, and her seven-year-old son (who witnessed his brother’s murder as well as his father’s), was badly wounded.

David Evans, who was the military leader for Hawn’s Mill, yelled for peace as the mob arrived and waved his hat in the air, but his cries were answered with rifle shots. At least 17 Saints were killed in the attack, and 13 were wounded, including Jacob Hawn. Much later, the prophet Joseph Smith said, “At Haun’s Mill, the brethren went contrary to my counsel; if they had not, their lives would have been spared” (History of the Church, 5:137).

Today, Hawn’s Mill, located several miles northwest of Braymer, Missouri, is a peaceful commemorative landscape with trees and Shoal Creek on one side of a large, open field and farmland on the other. In 2012, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints purchased the land where the attack occurred. The only markers on the land are signs placed by the Community of Christ, which once owned the land. The grounds are always open.

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