Today would have been mine and Amos’s 25th anniversary. He and I dreamed of living in Missouri. Finally being here has been surreal and I’ve felt him close.
Michael and I have felt many others close in this place as well. Before moving here, we had no idea that all of us have close ancestors who lived in this area at the same time. As we were touring one of the historical sites, we learned that Michael’s ancestor, David Patten, died here.
In October 1838 the persecutions of mobs in Missouri threatened not only the property of the Saints but also their lives. A group took three prisoners and promised to murder them, saying they would come the next morning to burn the Saints out. The Prophet Joseph Smith appointed Elder Patten to lead seventy-five volunteers against the mob of thirty or forty, hoping to rout them without bloodshed and free the three prisoners. In the confrontation Elder David Patten was shot in the stomach and died that night. The Prophet said, “He was one of the Twelve Apostles, and died as he had lived, a man of God, and strong in the faith of a glorious resurrection in a world where mobs will have no power or place.”
Two months earlier, Joseph Smith wrote in his own journal about Amos’s third great grandfather, John L. Butler, after a mob attacked a group of Saints attempting to vote in a local election. “The principal men who faught so bravely were John L Butler, Hyram Nelson, whose names aught to be immortalized, from the courage they possessed and their determination in this thing and for the victory they gained.”
As I continue to do my genealogy, I’m learning about my many ancestors who called Missouri their home. They were more like outlaws than Saints—even famous ones like Jesse James. There’s a tour here for my people too. I’m just crossing my fingers that my great grandparents weren’t among the mobs who drove the Saints out.
It seems that these relationships we have now and my connections to both Michael and Amos may be part of a bigger picture than just our 25 year old love story. The past, present and future seem to all blend together here. We love this place and we are thankful for the time we have.