Waste family history section


Warren Waste and the tarring and feathering of Joseph Smith

Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, was tarred and feathered on March 24, 1832. Here are several old accounts of this incident. Warren Waste was involved. Some of the accounts are Smith's highly imaginative version, others are more factual.


The following autobiographical sketch is part of a series, "History of Brigham Young," published in the Millennial Star, 1863–1865. The "History of Luke Johnson" appeared first in the Deseret News of May 19, 1858. Also see the biographical sketch, Luke S. Johnson.

History of Luke Johnson

Tarring and feathering of Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormons. "Satan Came Also"

George A. Smith recalls the unusual characters and spiritual manifestations of the early Kirtland period, especially Ezra Booth. Joseph and Sidney tarred and feathered. Dedication of the House of the Lord at Kirtland. The bank failed because Warren Parrish and other apostates embezzled funds. Councils and trials were held constantly in Kirtland.

Joseph tarred and feathered

These nine letters had been republished several times as evidence against "Mormonism;" and his apostacy culminated in collecting a mob who tarred and feathered Joseph Smith, and inflicted upon his family the loss of one of its number at Hyrum, Portage county, Ohio.

Living in Johnson home

Mob seize him

Joseph Smith was occupying the room of a house brother Johnson was living in, at the same time; it was a two story building, had steps in front. The mob surrounded the house, the twins being afflicted with measles, Joseph was lying upon a trundle bed with one of them. The mob rushed in, gathered up Joseph while in his bed, took him out in his night clothes, and carried him out on to the top of the steps.

1832 Tarring

Joseph kicks

Joseph got a foot at liberty and kicked one of the men, and knocked him down off the steps, and the print of his head and shoulders were visible on the ground in the morning.

Warren Waste

Warren Waste, who was the strongest man in the western reserve considered himself perfectly able to handle Joseph alone, but when they got hold of him Waste cried out, "do not let him touch the ground, or he will run over the whole of us." Waste suggested in carrying him to cross his legs, for they said that would make it easier for the Prophet, but that was done in consequence of the severe pain it would give to the small of the back.

Joseph tarred, etc.

He was daubed with tar, feathered and choked, and aquafortis poured into his mouth.
Aqua fortis, in the old chimistry, is now called nitric acid.—Webster's 1828 American Dictionary

Doctor backs out

Dr. Dennison had been employed to perform a surgical operation, but he declined when the time came to operate.


Alarm, mob flees

The liquid they poured into his mouth was so powerful, that it killed the grass where some of it had been scattered on the ground. Joseph is reported by the mob to have said, be merciful, when they told him to call upon his God for mercy. They immediately, as he began to pray, heard an alarm which made them think they were about to be surprised, and left suddenly.

Sidney also tarred and feathered, crazy

Sidney Rigdon, who resided near by, had been dragged by the heels out of his bed at the same time, and his body stripped and a coat of tar and feathers applied. The next morning he was crazy, his head greatly inflamed and lacerated.
Joseph finds his way

Joseph found his way in from the light of the house, the mob having abandoned him. While he was engaged in getting off the tar by the applicaton of grease, soap and other materials, Philemon Duzette, the father of our celebrated drummer, came there, and seeing the Prophet in this condition, took it as an evidence of the truth of "Mormonism," and was baptized.
Child dies

These circumstances exposed the life of the child, the measles struck in and caused its death, and the whole of this persecution was got up through the influence of those apostates; and it made it necessary to keep up a constant watch lest some violence should be repeated.
Fate of Warren Waste, Dr. Dennison

Luke Johnson informed us that Warren Waste was afterwards a cripple, rendered so by weakness in the small of the back, and Dr. Dennison died in the Ohio Penitentiary where he was incarcerated for procuring an abortion, which caused death; Luke's history does not mention the fate of Warren Waste but does say that Carnot Mason "had an attack of the spinal affection" and Dr. Dennison died in prison (does not cite offense).
Joseph moves to Kirtland

Joseph soon after located in Kirtland . . . .

 Nancy Johnson

"Marinda Nancy Johnson (Hyde) (Smith), 1815-86, married Joseph Smith polyandrously in April 1842, at age twenty-seven, when her husband Orson Hyde was on his mission to Palestine. She had married Hyde, one of the prominent nineteenth century apostles, on September 4, 1834. She bore Hyde ten children and lived with him until their divorce in 1870. She died in Salt Lake City."



 Orson Hyde

Mormon History - a chronology


 27-Mar, 1832

"Joseph Smith (while living at the Johnson's in Hirum, OH) and Sidney Rigdon are tarred and feathered by Simons Rider (a former Campbellite preacher), Warren Waste, Eli Johnson, Edward Johnson, and John Johnson upon rumors of Smith's intimacy with Nancy Marinda Johnson (16) (Eli Johnson's sister).
The mob also brings Joseph Smith to Dr. Dennison for castration but Dennison refuses to perform the operation.
Next day, Sidney Rigdon crazed and wants to kill Joseph Smith with his razor [per Smith]"

*Nancy was 16

 Nancy Johnson

"Marinda Nancy Johnson (Hyde) (Smith), 1815-86, married Joseph Smith polyandrously in April 1842, at age twenty-seven, when her husband Orson Hyde was on his mission to Palestine. She had married Hyde, one of the prominent nineteenth century apostles, on September 4, 1834. She bore Hyde ten children and lived with him until their divorce in 1870. She died in Salt Lake City."



 Orson Hyde

 (From the Observer & Telegraph, a local Ohio newspaper)

-- Several verbal statements agree in establishing the following facts."

"That on Saturday night, March 24, a number of persons, some say 25 or 30, disguised with coloured faces, entered the rooms in Hiram, where the two Mormonite leaders, Smith and Rigdon were sleeping, and took them, together with the pillows on which they slept, carried them a short distance and after besmearing their bodies with tar, applied the contents of the pillows to the same.

Now Mr. Editor, I call this a base transaction, an unlawful act, a work of darkness, a diabolical trick. But bad as it is, it proves one important truth which every wise man knew before, that is, that Satan has more power than the pretended prophets of Mormon. It is said that they (Smith and Rigdon) had declared, in anticipation of such an event, that it could not be done - that God would not suffer it; that those who should attempt it, would be miraculously smitten on the spot, and many such like things, which the event proves to be false."


From: Hiram 1800-1850, Portage County, Ohio Genweb


"The famous Mormon episode in Hiram occurred in 1831-32. At this distance it looks like a comedy; to the Mormon leaders and the Hiram church it was more of a tragedy. The new ark of Mormonism had recently been set up at Kirtland. There was a serious attempt to transfer it to Hiram. The Mormonism of 1831 was not that of Brigham Young, with its "revelation" of polygamy. John Johnson had built a fine large frame house on Ryder street. The Johnsons visited Joseph Smith at Kirtland and Mrs. Johnson was miraculously (?) healed of a rheumatic arm by the Mormon prophet. They became confirmed converts to the delusion. For a time their home was both palace and temple to Smith. Sidney Rigden, who furnished the brains for the Mormon movement in its infancy, took up his abode in a log house across the street from the Johnsons. Ezra Booth, a Methodist minister of some culture, from Mantua and Symonds Ryder, the leading Hiram Disciple, fell temporary victims. For a few months it seemed as though the whole Hiram church would be swept into the Mormon fold. But the real drift of Mormonism was soon apparent, and the end came suddenly, when on a March night in 1832 Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigden were treated to a coat of tar and feathers. Smith was taken from the Johnson house, Rigden from his own log cabin across the road. In the confusion Miss Vashti Higley was dragged from her bed. The mistake was soon discovered. Miss Higley afterward married Peter Whitmer, one of the original witnesses to the "golden plates" on which the Mormon bible was based. She left with the Mormons, but returned on the death of her husband. The Johnson family went out with the Mormon exodus."


 John Johnson's Farm House, Hiram, Portage County, Ohio

Joseph Smith was in the farm house of John Johnson when he was taken outside and tarred and feathered. Remarkably the house is not only still standing but was later acquired by the Mormons and refurbished. Today it is included on tours as a "historic site of the Church of Latter-Day Saints". The LDS website contains this summary of the Johnson farm's historical significance. Here is another of their pages about the Johnson house. Critics of the Mormon religion have other interpretations for what occurred while Smith was living there but to the true believers the Johnson site is almost sacred ground.

Ohio is the location of several important locations in Mormon history including Kirtland.


 Hiram and Kirtland, Ohio

Locations of Hiram and Kirtland, Ohio Mormon historical sites

John Johnson Farm House, Hiram



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