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), a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from Green Bay, Wisconsin. In 1835, he moved to the area hoping to avoid some of the persecution other Saints in the area were experiencing. The settlement had a mill, blacksmith shop, and a few homes. About 20-30 families lived near the mill, and another 100 families lived in the surrounding area.

On October 25, 1838, there was a battle at Crooked River between the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint 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 to lose his property and convinced many of the other residents 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).