Missouri Mormon Ancestor - Daniel Wood


Daniel Wood, in his personal history, clearly states he “arrived in Davis [Daviess] County [Missouri] – our place of destination – on the eleventh of June [1838].” I think we take him at his word that he knew what county he was in but unfortunately he gave no other specific location. There is no record of any land patent or purchase or property holding that I have been able to find on the web or in the history books consulted. In fact, he also states that he “took up a farm the land being unclaimed” which indicates he likely settled under preemption rights, a precursor to the Homestead Act whereby settlers built a home and began farming and then filed for a patent when the government land office offered the land in the area. Lamarr C. Berrett confirms in Sacred Places: Vol. IV, Missouri – A Comprehensive Guide to Early LDS Historical Sites (Deseret Book, 2004), p. 360, that most of the Mormons in Daviess County never had a chance to file for patents but had only claimed land under preemption rights before they were driven from the County. However, Daniel Wood leaves a few tantalizing clues as to the area of the county in which he settled that check out independently and confirm each other to place him in the southeast part of the county, in or near Section 23, Monroe Township (Township 58 North, Range 27 West).


When Daniel took his family for safety from the mobs, they “gathered up and went to Farwest which was about eighteen miles.” He didn’t round it to 20 or down to 15, he seemed pretty exact at 18. The 18 miles was probably by whatever road route there was at the time and not in a straight line. Drawing an eighteen mile arc into Daviess County from Far West gives an outer limit to the location. And, it includes nearly the entire county except for the far north around the arc.


Daniel Wood tells an interesting account in his personal history:
"One day there was quite an army of mormons past near my house on their way to an encampment of the mob. As soon as the mob saw them, they prepared to leave. They buried their cannon and put their ammunition in a house under the floor. When our Folks arrived to the camp ground the mob had all left. There was an old sow rooting about. She happened to uncover the cannon so our folks got both the cannon and the ammunition. They then returned to Far West. This occurred in September."
This story matches well with what I read in Berrett:
"A cannon used by the Missouri mobs in there attack on DeWitt in Carroll County was transported to Livingston County and buried in the road near a Methodist campground, 15 miles southeast of Adam-ondi-Ahman, perhaps at Sampsell or Mooresville, three miles east of the Daviess and Livingston county line. Members of the Mormon militia found the cannon and took it to Adam-ondi-Ahman, where they fired it on Tower Hill."
Id., p. 499. See also, October 22, 1838 Letter from Gen. Atchison to Gov. Boggs, and October 23, 1838 Letter from Sam'l Bogart to Gen. Atchison, (Missouri State Digital Archives). The mob siege on DeWitt, Carroll County, ended on October 11 when the Mormons there left for Far West. Berrett, supra at 511. The Mormon Militia set out from Far West on October 18. Id., at 390. So, Daniel Wood may be off by a couple of weeks and the cannon may have been taken to Adam-ondi-Ahman instead of Far West. As he says “about the first of October” he and his family left for Far West so he could have heard this story later and not seen the Mormon Militia “pas[s] near his house.” But he seemed to know for some reason that the Mormon Militia "past near [his] house" and the story is otherwise too similar to discount. Berrett believes the cannon was captured in either of two towns in southwest Livingston County, just east of Daviess County, and the letters from Bogart and Atchison of the mob/militia seem to comport. Across the county line to the west is the southeast corner of Daviess County. This then is a likely location to search for Daniel Wood’s home as he appeared to have some personal familiarity with this story as “an army of mormons past near [his] house” on their way to meet the mob and obtain the cannon.

In the southeast corner of Daviess County is the Lick Fork area. Lick Fork is a stream (probably named for a salt lick) that runs west to east and then northeast into the Grand River in the far south east of center in Daviess County. There was no established town but a general area where some Mormon families settled. Barrett, Id. at 495. Today, Highway M travels through this area. There is still no town or distinct settlement. There is a lonely Lick Fork Church and cemetery south of Highway M.  (To get there turn south south from Highway M on 278th Street, then east on Waltz Avenue to a turn to the south again to Lick Fork Church.  This is where I drove and took pictures on August 18, 2009.)


Daniel Wood twice refers to an individual by the name of Mr. Fox:
"This spirit of mobbing kept working and brewing till one night the mob shot at a Mormon guard. The next morning I saw a number of persons coming over the prairie and I went out toward them. I knew them to be gentiles and I said to one of them called mr Fox, which way are you a going. He said they were going to leave the County. Says I, what’s the matter? He said that one of his folks had shot at a Mormon guard and we of this County are all warned to leave forthwith. And he also said that his folks were all mobocrats. I told him to come to my house to stop but he said he durst not for if he did he would be mobbed. The same as we were. He also said that on of his girls talked of going over to Mr. Woods but he told her she durst not go. He stayed away a week or two and then returned again. . . ."
"The mobocrats still kept gathering round in various places setting the prairie on fire all around and warning us to leave that we were in danger. So about the first of October we gathered up and went to Farwest which was about eighteen miles. On the way we met Mr. Fox, before alluded to and he commenced to cry out. I said to him, Mr. Fox, do not be troubled. Our Folks are sober people and they will not harm any man if people will only stay at home and I told him what time I lived I intended to live in peace and that I was fleeing from Davis [Daviess] County to save my life and the lives of my Family."
Passing by his Gentile friend on the way to Far West would likely place Daniel Wood’s home to the east or north of Mr. Fox's. I found a BLM website with searchable databases for initial government patents. In 1843 two patents issued to a Benjamin Fox of Daviess County for the west and east halves of the southwest quarter of Section 23, Township 58 North, Range 27 West in the District of Lands subject to sale at Lexington, Missouri. If this is the same Mr. Fox, this would place Daniel Wood’s home somewhere just to the north and or east of this location which is just west and north of the Lick Fork Church and Cemetery and north of Highway M just a couple of miles east of State Road 13 between Hamilton and Gallatin. This matches up perfectly with the knowledge of the story of the cannon in relatively close proximity.

It is also entirely possible that Mr. Fox could have patented the very land that Daniel Wood had settled since many Missourians filed for patents on the lands abandoned by the Mormons. However, I would like to think not because the amazing thing about the story of Mr. Fox and Daniel Wood is that here are two men, one a Mormon and one not, neither one directly involved as a member of mobs or militias, and both felt the necessity at some point to flee for safety from the county. One returned and likely stayed and one never returned but it was not because of animosity between these two friends.

Zion is the Pure in Heart.
Just south of Highway M on road from Lick Fork Church, Daviess County, Missouri looking northwest over the country where Daniel Wood may have settled in 1838 (for all of 3 1/2 months) before gathering to Far West. 8-18-2009
Addendum:  I found on-line a link to Daniel Wood's Autobiography (1868) which was my principal source above.  (I have a photocopy of the history from the LDS History Library).  The web page is found at BOAP a wonderful site that includes numerous histories of early Latter-Day Saints.  And here's some background info on Daniel Wood, the founder of Woods Cross, Davis County, Utah.

Addendum No. 2: Daniel's son by second wife Peninah Cotton (1827-1879) was George C. Wood (1854-1923), my 2nd Great Grandfather. I have blogged about him here, here, and here. George's oldest child by first wife, Adelaide Ridges (1857-1927), was Addie May Wood Peterson (1880-1909). I have blogged about her in a guest post at keepapitchinin.org here