Edmund Durfee Murder Timeline
from news/journals

November 1845 


                  Saturday, November 15, 1845
Green Plains, Illinois:
At about midnight, near Solomon Hancock's house, a stack of straw was discovered on fire and several people went out to try to put out the flames.  They raked away the straw to prevent the barn from catching on fire.  While they were doing this, they heard a whistle from the east, one from the west, and soon a shot was fired at them.  Six guns were fired and one of the balls entered the body of Edmund Durfee, just above his heart. He died instantly.  No one else was hurt.  After his death, the mob boasted that they fired at Brother Durfee on a bet for a gallon of whiskey that they could kill him on the first shot. *
*Earlier in September, Edmund Durfee's house in Morley's Settlement was burned down and he had come to Nauvoo to live.  He had recently returned to the southern part of the county to take in his grain.
 
                     Sunday, November 16, 1845
Nauvoo, Illinois:
Edmund Durfee's body was brought into the city to be buried.  He was in a “heart rending condition, all steeped in his gore and his numerous family all weeping around him.”
On hearing of the Durfee murder, Major Warren immediately left with thirty men to search for those who committed the murder.
...  The Twelve met in council during the afternoon.  They worked on a letter that would be sent to Major Warren the following day.  Brigham Young received a letter from Sheriff Backenstos stating that Edmund Durfee was murdered and that the troops were not giving protection.  He asked what should be done to avenge Durfee's blood.
Mason Brayman, attorney for the State of Illinois, wrote a letter this day, probably to Governor Thomas Ford:
Depredations on both sides continue, and I am convinced that a general outbreak is intended.  Several robberies have been committed by the Mormons during the past week.  A pair of horses, two fat oxen, sheep, hobs, &c., are 'among the missing.'  They continue to send out spies, patrols, and armed companies, prowling about the prairies and interrupting travellers. . . . I am in possession of information which convinced me that a Secret but general organization has been in progress in this and the Surrounding Counties for the purpose of depredating upon the Mormons and producing a State of things which will bring on a Collision--to End in their expulsion from the State at once.
 
In the evening, it was still raining very hard and it was very cold.
 
                    Monday, November 17, 1845
Nauvoo, Illinois:
Orson Hyde finished the letter from the Twelve to Major Warren.  It told him about the murder of Edmund Durfee and the burning of Brother Rice's home.  “We look to you to take such steps and adopt such measures as you, in your wisdom, shall deem expedient, and that you will make your views public as early as consistent.”  They asked if they should send a number of men to the southern part of the county to protect their men who were gathering crops.
Affidavits were taken before the justice of the peace in regards to the murder of Brother Durfee and the burning of Brother Hicks and Brother Rice's homes. 
 
                    Tuesday, November 18, 1845
Nauvoo, Illinois:
The weather was nice.  The Twelve met in council at Willard Richards’ home.  They received a letter from the attorney of the state, a Mr. Brayman, requesting affidavits and witnesses against the murders of Brother Durfee, to be sent to Carthage.  They were also told that George Backman, Mr. Moss and Mr. Snyder were charged with the murder of Brother Durfee.  The council immediately requested that witnesses leave in the morning for Carthage to testify at another expected farce.  Brigham Young also received a letter from Solomon Hancock, letting him know that Major Warren appeared to be doing all he could to find those who have been committing the crimes in the southern portion of the county.

Carthage, Illinois:
In the evening, the less‑violent anti‑Mormons in the area held a public meeting in the Court House for the purpose of  “rejecting and deprecating such Acts . . . and perpetrations” against the Mormons.  Thomas L. Barnes was appointed secretary of the meeting.  At this anti‑Mormon meeting, the group tried to distance themselves from the crimes.  “Resolved‑‑that we prefer, and the history of our difficulties shows that we have ever preferred, to suffer wrong rather than become wrong doers; and that the public abroad would do great injustice to us, and to their own candor, to confound us with, or hold us in any way accountable for the violent Acts of a few reckless individuals, such as civil commotions will always bring together for mischief.”  They looked forward to the time when the Mormons would leave the county and pledged to keep the peace.

Major Warren, in charge of the state troops,  made several very sharp speeches to the anti‑Mormons and let them know that if they did not help bring the murders of Edmund Durfee to justice, that he would withdraw his troops from the county and leave them to Sheriff Backenstos who was friendly to the Mormons.  He also mentioned that if he could not bring the murders to justice, he would establish martial law for a little while, try them by court martial, and have them shot.
 
 
                  Wednesday, November 19, 1845
Nauvoo, Illinois:
The weather was fine.  An “extra” issue of the Nauvoo Neighbor was published that reported the murder of Edmund Durfee and the arson to Brothers Rice and Hick's homes.  It reported that nearly 2,500 wagons were being built for “our Pacific journey” in the spring.  The Saints were asked not to take actions of revenge, but to look forward to a time of peace when they would be in the west.
Carthage, Illinois:
Activity started to take place in relation to apprehending the murderers of Edmund Durfee.  A Mr. Stephens arrested some men and brought them to Carthage and wanted the privilege of trying his own arrests.  Major Warren knew that Stephens was a mobocrat and made Mr. Bartlett issue new writs and took the prisoners out of Stephens' hands.
 
                   Thursday, November 20, 1845
Carthage, Illinois:
Major Warren was very busy and active in arresting the murderers of Edmund Durfee and those who burned William Rice's home.  He had several of them under guard at Carthage while in pursuit of more.  He had chased one of them into Missouri and forced him back at gunpoint without any requisition from the governor.  He admitted to Sheriff Backenstos that Durfee would not have been murdered if the troops had not been in the county.
 
                      Friday, November 21, 1845
Nauvoo, Illinois:
The weather was quite cold.  The Twelve met in council and prayer in the evening.  Willard Richards was sick.  At about 7 p.m., Sheriff Backenstos came into the council and reported that he had been watching Major Warren very closely for the last four days.  He commented that he thought Major Warren had turned “Jack‑Mormon” because he was so active in pursuing the murderers of Edmund Durfee.  He also told them that he was served with an injunction by the clerk of the commissioners' court, and they have refused to issue orders granted by the last court to pay the sheriff's posse for quieting the rioters and house‑burners.

                    Saturday, November 22, 1845
Nauvoo, Illinois:
The weather was very windy and cold. 
 
                     Sunday, November 23, 1845
Nauvoo, Illinois:
The day was very cold, with thick ice on the river.  At 11 a.m. the seventies met in the Concert Hall.  Brigham Young met with the captains of the emigrating companies and gave them instruction to prepare themselves for the journey to the west.  It was reported that 3,285 families had been organized into companies, 1,508 wagons were on hand and 1,892 wagons were being built.
 
                    Monday, November 24, 1845
Nauvoo, Illinois:
The weather was cold and overcast. 
News came to Nauvoo that the men who murdered Edmund Durfee and also those who burned the Rice and Hicks houses were released by the magistrate without trial.  Many brethren had gone to Carthage to testify as witnesses, but returned unheard.  The grand jury was not even called to hear the case.