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Amanda Barnes Smith

Question: What was Amanda inspired to do for her son when his hip was shot off by the mob at Hawn’s Mill?

Answer: Amanda Barnes was born on February 22, 1809, in Becket, Massachusetts, to Ezekiel and Fanny Johnson Barnes. After her birth, the family moved to Ohio, where she grew up. Amanda married Warren Smith when she was 18. She joined the Campbellites when Sidney Rigdon and Orson Hyde shared their beliefs with her. She was baptized by Sidney Rigdon.

After she had a set of twins, Alma and Alvira, missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, one being Simeon Carter, taught her of their beliefs. She was baptized on April 1, 1831, and her husband was baptized shortly thereafter. In 1832, the family moved to Kirtland, Ohio, selling their house in Amherst, Ohio. Her parents did not approve of their decision to convert and wished to never see them again.

      Village of Hawn’s Mill

In 1838, the family moved to Missouri and ended up traveling with ten other families that were led by Joseph Young. They arrived at Hawn’s Mill, Missouri, on October 28, 1838, on their journey to Far West, Missouri.

      Hawn’s Mill

“According to Daniel Taylor, a contemporary, who later wrote in the February 1, 1892, Juvenile Instructor, some time between two and four days prior to the massacre, Brother Haun[sp] sought advice in Far West, only twenty miles away, about what to do regarding the armed men who were gathering in the vicinity. He was advised by both Captain John Killian of the Caldwell County Militia and by Joseph Smith himself, to leave the mill to the mob and move into the city. When Haun[sp] said that the settlers thought they could defend the mill, Joseph said, ‘If you think you are strong enough to hold the mill, you can do as you think best.’ Instead of reporting Joseph’s advice to the concerned settlers at the mill, Haun[sp] told them that Brother Joseph counseled them to stay and protect or hold the mill.’ (Life History of Amanda)

After being in Hawn’s Mill for only two days, a mob of anti-Mormons attacked the settlement. The mob comprised over 200 men. Amanda recorded in her journal:

“I sat in my tent. Looking up I suddenly saw the mob coming—the same that took away our weapons. They came like so many demons or wild Indians. Before I could get to the blacksmith’s shop door to alarm the brethren, the bullets were whistling amongst them. I seized my two little girls and escaped across the mill pond on a slab-walk. Another sister fled with me. Yet though we were women with tender children, in flight for our lives, the demons poured volley after volley to kill us. A number of bullets entered my clothes, but I was not wounded…When the firing had ceased I went back to the scene of the massacre, for there were my husband and three sons, of whose fate I as yet knew nothing.’ (Amanda’s journal)

The family’s house had been robbed and their money was stolen, leaving them with nothing.

Amanda’s son Sardius [age 10] and her husband were killed in the massacre. Her son Alma [age 6] was shot and there was nothing remaining of his left hip. Her oldest son, Willard [age 11], had escaped being hurt. Amanda recorded in her journal:

“Yet was I there all that long, dreadful night, with my dead and wounded, and none but God as our physician and help. ‘Oh, my Heavenly Father,’ I cried, ‘what shall I do? Oh Heavenly Father, direct me what to do!’ And then I was directed as by a voice speaking to me. The ashes of our fire were still smoldering. We had been burning the bark of the shag-bark hickory. I was directed to take those ashes and make a lye and put a cloth saturated with it right into the wound. It hurt, but little Alma was too near dead to heed it much. Again and again I saturated the cloth and put it into the hole from which the hip joint had been ploughed, and each time mashed flesh and splinters of bone came away with the cloth, and the wound became as white as chicken’s flesh. Having done as directed I again prayed to the Lord and was again instructed as distinctly as though a physician had been standing by speaking to me. Nearby was a slippery-elm tree. From this I was told to make a slippery-elm poultice and fill the wound with it. I sent Willard to get the slippery-elm roots, [and I ground them,] and the poultice was made, and the wound, which took fully a quarter of a yard of linen to cover, so large was it, was properly dressed.’ (Amanda’s journal)

      by Julie Rogers

Amanda recalls then crawling to a corn field and offering a prayer. After praying, she recorded that she heard a voice that repeated the words from the hymn How Firm a Foundation:

That soul who on Jesus hath leaned for repose, I cannot, I will not desert to its foes:

That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, I”ll never, no never, no never forsake!

After that experience, Amanda states that she had the faith that she and her remaining family would be all right and that God would heal her son.

      by Megan Rieker

“I removed my wounded son [Alma] to the home of David Evans, some distance off, the next day, and dressed his hip, the Lord directing me as before. I was reminded that in my husband’s trunk there was a bottle of balsam. This I poured into the wound, greatly soothing Alma’s pain. ‘Alma, my child,’ I said, ‘do you believe that the Lord made your hip?’ ‘Yes, Mother.’ ‘Well, the Lord can make something there in the place of your hip, don’t you believe he can, Alma?’ ‘Do you think that the Lord can, Mother?’ inquired the child, in his simplicity. ‘Yes, my son,’ I replied, ‘he has shown it all to me in a vision.’ Then I laid him comfortably on his face, and said: ‘Now you lie like that, and don’t move, and the Lord will make you another hip.’ So Alma lay on his face for five weeks, until a flexible gristle having grown in place of the missing joint and socket, which remains to this day a marvel to physicians.

“[Amanda did housework in a nearby village while waiting for Alma to heal.] On the day that he walked again I was out of the house fetching a bucket of water, when I heard screams from the children. Running back, in affright, I entered, and there was Alma on the floor, dancing around, and the children screaming in astonishment and joy. It is now nearly forty years ago, but Alma has never been the least crippled during his life, and he has traveled quite a long period of the time as a missionary of the gospel and a living miracle of the power of God.’ (Amanda’s journal)

When Alma was healed, the remaining family members moved to Quincy, Illinois, on February 1, 1839. In Quincy, she became a schoolteacher to support her family. Amanda married another Warren Smith, who was not related to her first husband. With him she had three children. The couple later divorced. She saw the completion of the Nauvoo Temple in July 1847, where she received her endowment. Amanda was a member of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo. She traveled with Emma Smith and Eliza R. Snow to visit the governor of Illinois, Thomas Carlin.

In 1850, Amanda traveled westward to the Salt Lake Valley. She helped organize the first Relief Society in Salt Lake City. She was called as the Assistant Secretary of the organization on January 24, 1854. She later served as the President of Relief Society in the 12th Ward. She also helped in the organization of Sunday School.

Amanda died on June 30, 1886, and was buried in Richmond, Utah. At the time of her death, she was visiting her daughter Alvira Hendricks.

Sources:, Life Sketch of Amanda Barnes Smith; A Life History of Amanda Barnes Smith, Drawn Primarily from Her Journal and from Family Histories, Amy Wright Phister, third-great-granddaughter,who typed journal entries and histories in March 2006, Organized and expanded by Judith L. Merrell, great-great granddaughter, June 2011;

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