Saturday, March 01, 2014

The Danites. Revelations by an Ex-Member of the Mormon Church.

This is a find, if I do say so myself, which didn't turn up in any searches ( The long shadow that runs straight down the column of type isn't an artifact from some Mesolithic scanning technology, but likely a coding hindrance disguised as such.) I found it as a cross-reference in an article that did turn up in a search, so thank God for an imperfect world.

The marriage ceremony described is an especially impressive bit of nonsense, which I find to be utterly believable as historical fact, and probably near accurate in the modern practice. The kinetic activity that goes on right before they go into a private room for the not-for-publication Sealing ceremony reminds me of a good old game of naked, greased Twister, but not while wearing the gaping hospital gowns cinched at the waist like a potato sack. The man wearing the "black tights" who plays the devil, and writhes on the floor in imitation of the tempting snake could be a C-student dance major from BYU.

The oath that's recited is a very troubling jolt, however. The throat-slashing and threats-to-disembowel ("motioning with the hand") unto the "third- and fourth generation" would sound bestial in a war dance, let alone a commitment ceremony. But then again, so much of 19th-century Mormon history bears just this depraved mark. While they look like glassy-eyed Stepford wives singing in their modern choir, you have to wonder about the karmic legacy---that is, if you believe in karma.

I've appended an article I found along the way to the bottom of this blog, from the May 18, 1857, New York Evening Express--printed on page one--titled: A Night of Excitement—Three Negroes Hung—The Fourth Having Committed Suicide in the Jail-Yard—The Cannon Brought Out and the Police Overpowered—Intense Indignation,

....a razor was given to the fourth in the jail (Jack, the property of Mr. Samuels, of Bullitt County,) and he cut his throat, severing the jugular vein and windpipe and producing instant death. The wound was of the most horrible character, and a more ghastly spectacle was scarcely ever witnessed than the dead body when it was brought to the yard....

So it's not so uncommon for men to be yanked from the security of their jailers and murdered by an enraged mob, like Joseph and Hyrum Smith. In the case of these four black men, however, their deaths followed their acquittals in a trial by jury (made up of whites, needless to say). One can only imagine the terror of facing eminent emasculation, and being burned alive--the co-committals of a "lynching"--that would impel someone to escape that end by slashing their own jugular with a razor

There is a certain hole in the spiritual logic in vowing undying vengeance on behalf of a martyr anyway. Especially when it isn't belief at stake, but behavior:

William Hickman, one of Brigham Young's old Danite band of persecutors and murderers, lay in a recanting and confessional state of mind. While attending a horse-race over in Nevada, recently, he was taken sick, and being charged with murders innumerable, said he had never killed anybody on his own account, but only for Brigham Young and the church's sake. On a rough calculation he thought he had committed about four hundred murders on their account.
December 9, 1869, Troy (NY) Daily Times, William Hickman.

January 17, 1880, Brooklyn Daily Union-Argus, The Danites. Revelations by an Ex-Member of the Mormon Church.

The Danites.
Revelations by an Ex-Member of the Mormon Church.

Experience of Mr. J. Hawkini [Hawkins?] in Salt Lake City---His Initiation into the Church and Subsequent Withdrawal---The Oath as Taken by Those Admitted to the Church---The Marriage Ceremony and Attire Described---The Hatred of the Mormons for the U.S. Government---Tracing the Indian Troubles to the Mormons

A brief mention of the experience of Mr. J. Hawkini, formerly a Mormon and a member of the terrible order of the Danites, was given in this paper Thursday. As Mr. Hawkini but recently returned to this city from Salt Lake City, and appeared to be in possession of many startling facts, it led to a more extended interview with him by a reporter of the Union-Argus. Mr. Hawkini was found at his residence, No. 77 South Eighth street, E.D., and on being informed of the reporter's errand, readily consented to give further details. Mr. Hawkini began his narrative from the time he left the Eastern District to proceed to Salt Lake City, he having been previously converted to Mormonism, He said:

I left here in May, 1867, and on arriving at Salt Lake City, secured a situation on the Union Pacific Railroad. I became a Danite believing it to be my duty to do so. I had not been there long when I was surprised to learn  that there were others  than Mormons employed, and on inquiring the reason, I was told if I did not keep my mouth closed I would


This surprised me very much as I had been informed that Utah was the chosen country of the Mormons, who were God's select people. A number of men who were employed by a man named James McKnight, received no pay from him and called on Brigham Young with a request for money. The latter said he had no money, and swore that he would hang McKnight. These things together with the fact that the Sabbath was desecrated by card playing and the use of blasphemous language first opened my eyes to the true state of Mormonism, but I did not turn back then because I was afraid to.

My first wife having no children, Brigham Young told me I must take another to raise up a posterity to the Kingdom of God, and that if I did not take another my first wife would be taken from me. This is an invariable rule when a man refuses to marry when ordered to do so; sometimes his first wife is killed to bring him to a fulfillment of the order. Fearing to lose my first wife, I took a second wife who, however, died in 1874. In 1875 I became so disgusted that I resigned from the Church, and when I informed the Bishop of my determination he handed me over to the "buffeting of Satan," as they term it. I was turned over to the care of a noted Danite by the Church he to attempt to win me back to the Church or destroy my life. My wife and I  were shot at in open daylight. A large bottle of nitro-glycerine was thrown against my house but failed to explode, the weather being very cold and the glycerin having frozen. The window shutters of my house were smashed in with stones and lighted fireworks were thrown on the roof.  I was shot at so many times that finally it was not safe for me to stand at the door of my house at night.

I went to the office of the Salt Lake City Tribune and made a statement of the attempts on my life, and that paper mentioned my case several times. The shooting at me then ceased. On the 25th of June the Danite who had been detailed to watch me, and his son Elmer, came to my house, knocked my wife down, and stood over her


The father swore that he would be my wife's Danite and murderer, and said to me: I'll have the drop game on you yet." On August 2 last, while I was in front of my house, the same Danite presented a pistol at my breast and swore that he would shoot me, but was prevented by the appearance of his wife and a number of neighbors. He said that I had insulted his boys: but such was not the case, as I knew his character too well to do such a thing. I went to U.S. Commissioner Sprague, who directed me to Judge Piper. The latter was a Mormon Bishop, and had three wives. The Danite was a pet officer of his as a member of the "Private Police."

When the Danite was brought before Judge Piper he was discharged and I was fined $12.50 costs. My assailant is the man who was ordered to "Danite" Judge James B. McKeon because the latter had Brigham Young locked up for twenty-four hours for contempt of Court in the case of Ann Eliza, one of his wives against him. In this connection I might state that Danite and myself had previously watched the Walker House, at which Ann Eliza was staying, to see that she did not escape. As you know, however, she eluded our vigilance. In regards to the swearing of Mormons in court, they do not consider an oath holding unless it be administered by a Mormon Priest. They are supposed to do all they are told under hope for the future.

Mrs. Hawkini here brought into the room a quantity of white robes, used by Mormons during their marriage. Mr. Hawkini stated that they were the only robes of the kind ever taken out of Utah, and that he would not have been allowed to depart with his life had it been known that he had the articles in his possession. He described the use of them, and with his wife recited the marriage ceremony oath, giving a description of the various forms.


for both are similar, with the single exception that the man wears a hat, while the woman wears a veil. The dress consists of a white linen garment, cut somewhat in the shape of a loose dress, but is joined at the top only, the sides being open.  The portion which is joined is placed on the right shoulder, the dress hanging about the limbs loosely. It is drawn in at the waist by a band of an inch in width. The hat worn by the man resembles closely that worn by bakers. The woman's veil is an ordinary one of white lace. An apron of green, on which are worked figures in brown floss to represent fig leaves as worn by Adam and Eve is also put on.

Mr. Hawkini continued:

The Marriage Ceremony

The couple about to be married enter the Endowment House and pass into the room of Adam and Eve. A man attired in black tights and representing the devil enters the room and tempts Eve (the woman about to be married) with a bunch of grapes. The aprons are not worn at this time. Eloim, representing God, comes in at this point and calls the man who is about to be married, and who is supposed to fall asleep. Eloim then goes through a series of movements in which he is supposed to remove a rib from the man. When the man awakes, the woman, who was previously on the right of him, is on the left, from where the rib was taken. Eloim then calls for Adam and the latter cries: "We are naked!" Aprons are then given to the couple who are supposed to be turned out into the cold world, the devil following and tempting Adam all the while. Eloim appears again and curses the devil, and the latter lies on the ground wriggling like a snake. Eloim then leaves and the couple take the oath.

In explaining the ceremony, Mr. and Mrs. Hawkini assumed their robes and recited the oath. With right hands held aloft they spoke the following"

Holding my right hand to Heaven, I swear to avenge the blood of Joseph and Hiram Smith on the American Government, even if by so doing I have my throat cut from ear to ear (drawing the hand across the throat). I further swear to bring up my children of the third and fourth generation to avenge the blood of Joseph and Hiram Smith again, under the penalty of being disemboweled (motioning with the hand) or having my tongue torn out by its roots (seizing the tongue with the fingers).

After participating in prayer circle we pass up stairs to go behind the veil. This is a room at the end of which is a frame, covered with a large sheet. The person officiating knocks at the door with a small gavel, and it is opened by another representing Peter. We here change our outer robe from the right to the left shoulder but Peter says we cannot enter in that way, as there must be nothing but order in the kingdom of God. We then replace our robes to the right shoulder and enter. We approach the sheet, near the top of which is a large oval cut. The sheet is cut the same as the garments. Behind the former is a man who puts his arms through the holes representing the compass and square. I do the same, he placing his hands on my shoulders and I mine on his. He places his right knee to mine and I whisper my new name to him. He then admits me and I take his place. My wife embraces me the same as I did him and whispers her new name to me. This is the last time she speaks her new name. The husband never tells the wife his new name. We then go into a small room to be


The proceedings here are not of a fit nature for publication.

We then change our dress to our street clothing. The ceremony takes from seven o'clock in the morning to three or four in the afternoon. If any person joining the Mormon Church has been married elsewhere, he must go through the above form just the same as if he were single.

When a man takes a second wife he is not obliged to ask the consent of the first, but does so as a matter of form. Should she object It would spoil her chance of being the queen is heaven. The first wife is supposed to be the queen hereafter.

Referring to the hatred of the Mormons for the United States Government and for its soldiers, Mr. Hawkini made the following statement:

In the fall and winter of 1871 there were stationed at Fort Douglas about forty soldiers. One night at twelve o'clock the Danite to whom I referred as having afterwards been detailed to "Danite" me, roused me from my bed and told me to come with him and bring my "shooting irons" with me. We were to pick a quarrel with the soldiers and shoot at them. I never was a murderer, and did not propose to be one then, but went with him nevertheless, as I was obliged to under the rules of the Order. He went on one side of the street, with a companion to pick a quarrel with the soldiers, and I with a number of men took the other side. The soldiers had been to the theatre, and were going back to camp very quietly. The Danite leader's idea was to corral and shoot them. He gave me directions, but instead of carrying them out I followed him up, and the soldiers seeing so many men became suspicious and took to flight. The leader and the rest of the men fired at the soldiers, and the latter returned the shots. I did not fire. When the leader angrily demanded to know why I did not carry out his orders, I told him that I understood him to say that I was to follow him up. His excuse for wanting to


was that they were '"a stench in the nostrils of Brigham Young'' Had the plan as arranged been consummated  we were to reply on being asked why we shot the soldiers, that they had broken into the Eleventh Ward school-house, which was not true. The Danites are bound to obey orders even to committing approved murder.

In July, 1878, Brigham Young's trial in Ann Eliza's case was held before Judge James B. McKeon. An order was issued that the Judge must be "Danited." We were called to the City Hall, and were under the command of the notorious Danite to whom I have referred. He was captain of Eleventh Ward Bond. Each band has a captain. The captain of the polios called us upstairs over the Justice's Court and there they took the oath to stand by each ether. After Brigham Hampton had offered a prayer instructions were given to go to Judge McKeon's house in the Eleventh Ward. One man was to call him out and then we were to fire at him. I had heard the plan previously and informed Judge McKeon. The men gathered in front of the house and when Judge McKeon was summoned he failed to appear so the men dispersed. The next man who was ordered to be "Danited" was Mr. George Black, Secretary of Utah. On the night set the men assembled together and proceeded to his house. He chanced to look from a window and saw the crowd. When he was requested to come to the door he refused to do so and in that way escaped.

In 1875 238 Indians were baptised in the Mormon faith. They went through the Endowment House as we did and took the oath to avenge the blood of Joseph and Hiram Smith on the American Government. One Indian stood up and preached. I preached myself shortly after at a place called Sessions. The Indian said he was an elder and was about to leave. He was going to


He said that the Lord told him through Brigham Young, the prophet, that they (the Indians) were to be the battle axes of the Lord. The converted Indians were called Lamanites. Brigham Young once remarked that the time would come when the Indians would fight the Mormons' battles, and that then Uncle Sam would find who be had to contend with. These were the sentiments of the Mormons all through, and they never lost an opportunity to incite the Indians to deeds of violence against the Government and the soldiers.

Mr. Hawkini showed a photographic picture of the baptism of some Indians by the Mormons taken at the time by C. R. Savage, photographer, of Salt Lake City. Mr. Hawkimi regards the influence of the Mormons over the Indians as pernicious and as leading to war often against the settlers in adjoining territories. He thinks the Government does not apprehend the full importance of the situation in that respect. In concluding his narrative Mr. Hawkimi said:

I left Salt Lake City on September 18, 1879, selling my house and 100 rods of ground on which was a fine orchard, for $1,600.  It was worth $5,000, but I had to sell it at that price or not at all, as I could not have got away.


if not to be killed, as the Mormons not only refused to give me work but threw every obstacle they could in my path, and prevented others from employing me. I am a trunk maker by occupation, and had a store of my own. Before selling my property I had to mortgage it, as I could get no money. They persecuted me in every way in their power, and swore that I should not live in the city. It was hard for me, an old man over sixty years of age, to lose my all. It was better, however, to loss my property than my life, so I left. I was followed to St. Louis by Danites.

Had they known that I had in my possession the dresses I have shown you I would not have got off the tram alive. Had the Danites who followed me known that I proposed relating the secrets of the Church they would have taken desperate chances to end my life.


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