University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Minor and Abigail Deming Correspondence (Digitized Content)

The digitized content of the Minor and Abigail Deming Correspondence consists of both personal and family letters of the Demings from 1844-1846 as well as official correspondence related to the role of the governor and state militia around the time of the arrest and subsequent murder of Joseph and Hyrum Smith in 1844.

In 1838, two years after marrying, Minor Rudd Deming (1810-1845) and Abigail Barnum Deming (1810-1890) moved to St. Mary's in Hancock County, Illinois, where Minor worked on their farm and taught school. He also served as a brigadier general in the state militia. Minor was elected sheriff of Hancock County in 1844 following the murder of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. This was a time of significant conflict between Mormon and anti-Mormon citizenry in the area. After seeking to arrest those charged with the murder of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, Minor was perceived to have pro-Mormon sympathies and was targeted by anti-Mormon factions. Minor died a few months after killing a prominent anti-Mormon in self-defense.

The digitized content contains letters of personal and family correspondence primarily between Minor and Abigail Deming and their family in Litchfield, Connecticut. These letters document their personal experiences of living in Ohio and Illinois, and discuss their strong religious faith and trust in God. There are also letters of official correspondence and proclamations relating to Minor Deming's service as a Brigadier General during the arrest and subsequent murder of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. These include letters to and from Governor Thomas Ford, letters to the citizens of Hancock and Adams counties, and a letter to the editor of a newspaper in Warsaw, Illinois.

The Illinois History and Lincoln Collections unit at the University of Illinois Library manages the physical items of the Minor and Abigail Deming Correspondence (MS 491). The collection was completely digitized between 2017 and 2019. For more information, contact an archivist at