The Traitor and the Lady
All other sins are not to be compared to sinning against the Holy Ghost. & proving a traitor to thy brethren. So said the Prophet Joseph Smith in July of 1839…and he would know.
George M. Hinkle joined the Church in Kentucky in 1832. By 1838 he was among the saints at Far West, Missouri where he owned a home. In June of 1838, he sold that home to Bishop Edward Partridge and with John Murdock bought land in Carroll County and moved there to begin a new settlement of Latter-day Saints called Dewitt. His Far West home was subsequently sold to another Latter-day Saint family settling in Far West.
Hinkle was commissioned a colonel in the Missouri State militia, and when the Mormon War broke out in October 1838, it was Hinkle who commanded the Mormon forces defending Far West. When thousands of Missouri state militia troops descended on Far West determined to conquer the Mormons, it was Hinkle who sent a message to General Samuel D. Lucas requesting a meeting to negotiate a peaceful settlement. Accordingly, on October 31, 1838, Lucas brought his troops to bear on the city and then rode out with a phalanx of men on approaching on three sides.
As requested by the General, the Prophet Joseph and several others rode to meet Lucas, believing they had the pledge of the State for peaceful negotiations and a safe return to their people. However, as Joseph approached Colonel Hinkle announced, “General, these are the prisoners I promised to deliver.” Lucas and his men surrounded Joseph and company and took them prisoner.
Hinkle then led state troops into Far West to the home of Hyrum Smith, called him out, and delivered him to the mob. Joseph, Hyrum, and scores of others would be arrested, and while most were subsequently released, Joseph and Hyrum, Parley Pratt and a number of others would spend the next several months in jail in Liberty and Richmond.
Hinkle knew the threats against Joseph, and understood that he was delivering the prophet to his death. Moreover, the next day, after the fall of Far West, Hinkle returned to the city and by whatever assumed right, evicted from the premises of the home he no longer owned, the wife and children of one of the prisoners. She was forced from the home, leaving all her possessions behind, and fled to a neighbor, Lucinda Harris, in tears. Sister Harris took her in, while Hinkle took the home, her food, clothing, and bedding—all she owned. He even laid claim to her husband’s horse, saddle, and bridle.
Who was the wife forced into the cold of oncoming winter—it was Emma Smith. While Hinkle further ingratiated himself with the ruthless mob, Emma and her children fled the state to Quincy, Illinois and safety. Because of Hinkle and traitors like him, countless lives were lost, property was stolen, horrible atrocities committed, and Joseph and others would languish in a dungeon called Liberty Jail for the next four months. It is no wonder Joseph would later say, all the world and God hates a traitor.
From the research of Jeffrey L. Walker
Image used with permission from the artist