Edmond Durfee: A Martyr for the Cause of God
Excerpts taken from Tamma Durfee Miner White’s reflections of her father Edmond Durfee (1788-1845). Edmond joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often inadvertently called the “Mormon Church,” in 1831. He was shot by an angry anti-Mormon mob at the Isaac Morley settlement at Green Plains, Hancock, Illinois in 1845.
My father’s name was Edmund Durfee, he was born in Rhode Island on the 3rd October 1788 of Dutch decent [SIC]. My mother’s name was Magdalena “Lana” Pickle and she was born 6 June 1788. Her father and mother were from Holland. I was born 6 March 1813 in Lennox, Madison County, New York and lived there until I was about nine years old when we moved to Amboy, Oswego County. Father bought some land, built him a house, made a small farm, and worked at his trade that was mostly carpenter and millwright. We lived there until the first of June 1830, father bought more land. There were lots of maple trees. Then father wanted to go West so he sold his sugar bush and farm and started for the south of Ohio. We went through Camden Village to the canal, went on the canal to Buffalo, we went to Briggles (Ruggles) in Huron County.
Mormon Missionary Introduces The Book of Mormon
Father bought land and went to work to make a home, and the next winter in 1830 we heard about the Mormons and the “Gold Bible.” The next spring Solomon Hancock came preaching about Joseph Smith and said that the Angel Moroni had revealed them to Joseph Smith. Solomon Hancock joined in with us, the Methodists and Campbellites, and he would preach in our meetinghouse. We would go to hear him and many were astonished at his message for it was so much different from what had been reported.
This was sometime in April 1831, and my father Edmond Durfee was baptized about the middle of May and my mother and sister, Martha and brother, Edmund were baptized about the first of June by Solomon Hancock.
Edmond served a Mormon Mission to Chautauqua, Genesee, New York in December 1831-February 1832.
Gathering with the Saints in KirtlanD
My father gathered some of his carpenter tools, seed grain, farming tools and in a company with others, he started for Kirtland, Ohio, on the first of February 1832 to build a place for all his family to go. He came home in the fall of 1832, sold his farm and all his possessions and we started for Kirtland, Ohio on the first of May 1833. The Lord had said “He would keep a strong hold” for five years in Kirtland. We bought us a farm, built us some houses and prepared to live.
A great many things transpired about this time that I haven’t time to write and some that I can’t place them. Land came up and sold for a large sum of money and they had a great land speculation, and many left the Church of the Latter-day Saints.
Missourian Mob Violence Against the Mormons
In the Spring of 1837, my father sold his farm and all his possessions and started for Caldwell County, Missouri, where we stayed that summer and fall, and lived on what they called “Log Creek” six miles from Far West. I was there when they killed David Patten, when they took a lot of prisoners and the Saints had to lay down their lives to their enemies.
The mob gathered and killed many and drove all the Mormons from Adam-ondi-Ahman to Far West. Not being satisfied, the whole state with the Governor at their head gathered by the thousands to drive them from Far West. They wanted Joseph Smith & Sidney Rigdon, our leaders and the Twelve, and all they could get and put them in prison. Some were bailed out and others had to stay and take up with such a fare as they could get and be fed on human flesh, but Joseph told them “not to eat it,” for the spirit of the Lord told him that it was human. Thus we were plundered, smitten and driven from our homes, our lives were threatened and we were ill-treated on every side by our enemies. Enemies to the truths of heaven came along, one to five hundred right to our houses and nobody around but women and little children. Took our men prisoners without any cause, only because they were Mormons and believed in the truths of the Gospel. They wanted to know if we had any guns, pistols or ammunition or butcher knives and such things.
No one can tell, only those that passed through it and was an eye witness to it can describe the feeling of the Saints and what they passed through.
In 1839, we crossed over to Quincy, went up the river to a place called Lima, Hancock county, Illinois. There we built us a house and bought a small place and fixed to live here a short time. But the devil wasn’t dead yet. In a short time there was some that would go to Lima and get drunk and come back swearing and tearing enough to frighten men, let alone women and children.
Mobbers Murdered Edmond in Cold Blood in Lima, Illinois
The gentiles and the mobocrats threatened us and told around how they would kill and drive them (the Mormons). They did kill and drive us from Lima, and shot my father Edmund Durfee and killed him instantly on 19 November 1845. He who had never done them any harm in his life, but on the contrary, had always taught them good principles of truth and uprightness and greatness and morality and industries all the days of his life.
But before this, they drove the Saints out of Father Morley’s Settlement and turned their sick ones out. Drove them all out to live or die. Rolled my brother, Nephi, up in a bed and threw it outdoors when he was sick. Went to the oat stack and got two bundles of oats and put a brand of fire in them and threw them on top of the house and said they would be back next morning. Father was trying to move some place and they came back and shot all their guns and ran them all off, and plundered and made a fire, burned houses, furniture, clothing, yarn looms, cloth, carpenter tools. The iron from the tools they picked and filled a barrel. Everything all around burned to ashes, and the mob went from house to house driving them out, sick or well, it made no difference, till they burned every house in the town that was Mormons.
The men from Nauvoo got their teams and started for Lima and traveled all night and day to get the families that had been burned out doors. My husband was one that traveled all night and got cold, took a chill and was ill for a long time. The mob said that they could come back and gather their crops. They were nearly done, so decided to stay over Sunday. When it got dark the mob came back and built a fire close by the barns. The Mormons thought they meant to burn their houses and rushed out. The mob stood back in the timber and as the men got between them, they shot off about a dozen guns, my father was the only one killed.
The mob built a fire in different places, one in the corn crib and the shucks was on and dry rail and dry shucks and it burned a little and went out, so you see, they couldn’t go any further than the Lord let them. This was the fall of 1845.
B.H. Roberts wrote of Edmond, “Mr. Durfee was one of the most industrious, inoffensive and good men that could be found.” This description was published in the ‘History of the Church’ by B.H. Roberts, on page 2024.
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 67 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.