Richard S. Van Wagoner summarizes 1832 tar and feathering of Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigon.

Richard S. Van Wagoner

Richard S. Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy: A History (Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 1989), 4, 13

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But from the early days of the church rumors hinted that Smith maintained a private position different from his public posture. His abrupt 1830 departure with his wife, Emma, from Harmony, Pennsylvania, may have been precipitated in part by Levi and Hiel Lewis's accusations that Smith had acted improperly towards a local girl. Five years later Levi Lewis, Emma's cousin, repeated stories that Smith attempted to "seduce Eliza Winters &c." and that both Smith and his friend Martin Harris had claimed "adultery was no crime" (Susquehanna Register, 1 May 1834, reprinted in Howe 1834, 268; see also Newell and Avery 1984, 64). Similar allegations in Hiram, Ohio, reportedly caused problems for Smith in 1832. One account related that on 24 March a mob of men pulled Smith from his bed, beat him, and then covered him with a coat of tar and feathers. Eli Johnson, who allegedly participated in the attack "because he suspected Joseph of being intimate with his sister, Nancy Marinda Johnson, ... was screaming for Joseph's castration" (Brodie 1975,119).


4. That an incident between Smith and Nancy Johnson precipitated the mobbing is unlikely. Sidney Rigdon was attacked just as viciously by the group as was Smith. And the leader of the mob, Simonds Ryder, later said that the attack occurred because members of the mob had found some documents that led them to believe "the horrid fact that a plot was laid to take their property from them and place it under the control of Smith" (Hill 1977, 146). Besides, John Johnson had no son Eli. His only sons were John, Jr., Luke, Olmstead, and Lyman (Newell and Avery 1984, 41).

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