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The Terror of 1833's Halloween

October 31, 2020

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4
    Five-year old John D. Page was sleeping peacefully. His stomach moved up and down in a calming motion as he breathed. His sister, Elizabeth A. Page, who was one-year younger than him, slept as peacefully as he did. She would turn four on the morrow. Their two-year old brother, Philander A. Page, was sleeping In-between them. The calminity of the three sleeping siblings did not describe what would happen in the next second. 
    A sound like wood being chopped apart came echoing through the silent house. John stirred, but then fell back to sleep. The chopping stopped, and then a bunch of running footsteps and yelling came blasting into the children's ears. 
    John bolted up, awaked by the sound. Elizabeth slowly got up, too, nightcap tumbling off her head, as she rubbed her eyes. When a loud yell came across, Elizabeth's eyes opened wide. John and Elizabeth looked at each other. 
    "What's happening, Johnny?" Elizabeth whispered. 
    Before John could even try to answer, Philander started crying. Elizabeth tried to shush him, awkwardly trying to rock him, and then tried to cover his ears. When this offered no prevail, John used his hands to clamp Philander's lips shut. Philander tried to open his mouth, but John was much too strong for him. After a few minutes, Philander's shoulders slumped in defeat. John let go. 
    "Wha da loud an-oise?" Philander asked. 
    "I don't know," John whispered. 
    Philander cocked his head to the side, a smile playing on his lips. He was used to everyone else always knew what was going on; he had never imagined that someone might not know what was going on. He thought that his brother was pulling his leg. But when saw that both of his older sibling's sober faces, his eyes widened in fear. 
    "I sca'ed!" He cried in a whispered, buring his face into John's arm. 
    "So am I, Johnny," Elizabeth whispered. 
    John was about to say the same thing, but stopped himself. What good would it do if they all were scared? Father wasn't here for them to look up to, so John would have to be the brave one. 
    After a big swallow, John whispered, "I'm going to go peek around and see what's happening." 
    Elizabeth gasped, fear evident in her deep blue eyes. She clutched John's hand. However, Philander lit up and smiled his toothy grin. 
    "Yay!" he cried. Elizabeth shushsed him, so he whispered, "Johnny will he'p us be not sca'ed!" 
    "John," Elizabeth whispered, using his real name instead of his nickname. "What if you get hurt?"
    "I'll be okay," John reassured her.
    John picked up Philander and set him in Elizabeth's lap. He then slowly climbed out of their creaking bed. He quietly walked to the door, balancing the weight of his feet with each step. When he got over to the door, he tried to gently open the door. The squeaking of the door seemed to echo in John and Elizabeth's ears. However, the yelling was so loud that it seemed like the people who were yelling didn't notice. The two older sibling's eyes met for a brief second. Then John peeked out the door. 
    He didn't have time to look around at what was happening outside the door. When he had looked out, a hairy man had met his eyes. 
    John closed the door as fast and quiet as he could. A loud groan came from the door. John ran and leaped into the bed, emitting a loud cr-EEEEEEEAAAKK from the bed.
    "Someone saw me!" John cried in a whisper. "Liza, we got to hide Philander!" 
    Elizabeth turned pale but did what she was told. John threw the pillows to Elizabeth, and then set Philander on the bed where the pillows had been. Elizabeth and John quickly covered him with pillows, but gave him an air way to breath. 
    "Don't make a sound, Phily," John instructed. 
    They heard the door squeak open. 
    "Under the blankets!" John urgently whispered to his sister. 
    They dashed under their blankets and tried to make themselves flat. Elizabeth and John tried to make their breathing as slow as possible. But it was already too late. 
    The blankets were ripped from John and Elizabeth's grasps. Elizabeth gave a yip. Arms unmercifully grabbed them and carried them outside. After a few seconds, the pain was too much for Elizabeth and she fell limp like a rag doll, letting the men drag her. But she screamed as they dragged her against the floor. John, however, kicked, punched, bit, and more. But it offered no prevail. 
    When they got outside, a gibbous moon lit up the ominous scene. Our of the corner of his eye, John could see men inside ransacking their house. But John and Elizabeth could see their mother, Catherine Whitmer Page, against the wall of their house, hands spread out. A man was by her, holding something that John and Elizabeth couldn't see. Their mother saw them, and her face drained of even more color than it was before. 
    The men threw John and Elizabeth to their mother. John landed on his feet, and rushed towards his mother. But Elizabeth had been hanging like a limp doll and with a yelp, fell upon the ground, dirt flying into her fair face. She dragged herself up with her not-limp arm, and looked around. 
    "Back against the wall!" a man in front of John barked. 
    John blinked at the man and saw that he had a silver pistol that gleamed in the moonlight. John saw that the man in front of his mother also had a pistol. He hurriedly backed against the wall. 
    "You, too!" A man came to Elizabeth and aimed the pistol at her.
    Elizabeth also backed against the wall, her pale face and peanut-brown hair a deep contrast to the dark wood of the Whitmer cabin. 
    A man came over to Elizabeth and John's mother, wearing a disapproving frown. John realized he wore a general's coat, and John's head whipped up with a start. 
    "Are you Mrs. Page?" He asked. 
    "Whose asking?" She asked in defiance. 
    He gave a mean laugh and answered, "Wilson. General Wilson." 
    "Yes, sir," she said. John saw her chin tremble. "I am Mrs. Page." 
    The general strode over to Elizabeth. He lifted her chin up with clammy finger. The odd, tingly sensation through his finger to Elizabeth's chin made her gasp. 
    "And, you," He said. "Are you Hiram Page's daughter? Miss Page?" 
    "Yes, sir," Elizabeth squeaked. 
    He spun on his heels and turned to John. John involuntarily shuddered. He scolded himself for showing fear in front of this man, so he straightened his shoulders and lifted his chin. 
    "And you must be his oldest son," he said. "Is that correct?"
    The slithering voice jolted through John as if lighting struck him. Part of him wanted to freeze there and say nothing. Another part of him wanted to run and kick this man, for ordering these men to point their evil pistols at them. And another part of him wanted to run away. But John knew he couldn't do any of this, with the pistols pointing at him, Elizabeth, and his mother. So he decided he would answer any questions in a brave manner. 
    "I see you know me, and know what I'll do to you if you hurt any of my family, sir," John said in a voice so calm he was surprised it was his own. "Wait, sorry, not sir, because sirs don't break into innocent people's homes and they certainty don't point a pistol to innocent mothers and children." 
    Elizabeth gasped at John's foolhardiness. John gave a smug smile up at the general. But it instantly fell when he saw the general's reaction. A wave of rage came sweeping onto his face. It was so monstrous that John wanted nothing more than to hide from the man. But just like a tide, the wave of fury washed away and was replaced with a wicked grin. So wicked was it that Elizabeth opened her mouth to scream, yet no sound came out. 
    "Hiram Page!" General Wilson called in a sing-song voice. "If you don't come out, on the morrow you'll find bullet-holes in your wife and children's chests!" 
    Elizabeth couldn't get paler any more. She felt like she was going to faint. She swayed a bit, and slid down the cabin wall until she was siting down. Her heartbeat yelled in her head, but she didn't say anything. She just sat there like a little, trembling ghost. 
    John, however, heard the words the general had said over and over in his head. He didn't need to say it literally: if his father didn't come out, they would all be shot. His sweaty forehead started to cling on to his chocolate-brown hair, but John didn't raise a single finger to wipe it. He had to stand tall. Stand tall for his mother and Elizabeth. Stand tall for his father. And stand tall for himself. 
    "He's not here," his mother said. "He's, er, on a mission. But my, uh, sister, is here to take care of my youngest son." 
    John's head whipped around to look at his mother while Elizabeth looked at her with wide eyes. They knew their father was here, not on a mission. They also knew that none of their aunts were at the house. Their mother was lying! But wasn't one of the ten commandments not to lie? Then, again, John was quite sure one of the commandments was not to murder, and these guys were literally pointing pistols at them. 
    "Then they better come out," General Wilson said. 
    Right at that moment, their father came out. John gave a smile of relief as tears of joy welled up in Elizabeth's eyes. John saw a tuft of sun-white blonde hair and a pair of green eyes and he felt very relived that Philander was okay. 
    But as their father stepped into the moonlight, Elizabeth and John saw what their father was wearing. He was wearing one of their mother's shifts and one of her nightcaps. It was quite a hilarious sight.
    Elizabeth put her hand over her mouth and make some chuckling noises. They weren't the loudest, but it seemed to John that they echoed across the eerie silence. Well, not silence, because their were some muffled yelling and breaking of wood inside the cabin, but outside it was as quiet as a funeral. 
    "Hush, Elizabeth!" John whispered out of the side of his mouth. "He's in disguise."
    Elizabeth nodded, but then struck a glance at their father again. She started laughing again, but covered it with some coughs this time. John thought that was good enough. He turned his attention back to his father, and the general studying him. John's father was crouching and setting Philander to the ground.
    Philander waddled to Elizabeth, the first familiar girl he could see. He hugged her waist, but then saw his mother. He brightened, then tottered to his mother. He made a gesture with his arms to be lifted up. Mother lifted him up, always glancing to the man in front of her, holding the pistol. Philander didn't know what the pistol was nor what it could do, but, frankly, he didn't care. He only cared about being hugged by his mother until it was all over.
    "Too ---- tall," The general barked. 
    John almost gasped. He recognized the second word the general said. He had heard it only once in his lifetime. His mother and him had been waiting second in line for the butcher, where the man in front of him had been negotiating with the butcher. The butcher had said he won't go lower than 3 dollars, and the man had said that he was "---- greedy". His mother had stomped on the mans foot and started yelling how he shouldn't say that word where there were children around. John would never forget that day, when his mother got angry. She almost never got angry.  
    Some men started grabbing John's fathers hands. That brought John back to the present. The whipped off the night cap and ripped the shift off of his father. They could now see his father's short hair and his long shirt. The general strode over to John's father in his confident and catlike manner. He got a button out of his pocket and started tossing it in the air and catching it, as if he didn't care a single bit of what would happen to the man he was standing in front of. 
    "I questioned your bishop, a few months ago," he said. "He wouldn't deny his treacherous 'faith'."
    "I know," their father said. "I was there."
    "Good." the general smiled. "Then you know that this is serious business." 
    "Yes," their father said in a sarcastic manner. "Very serious, attacking people who you believe are converting to a 'demonic faith'." 
    An irritated look flashed on the general's face, then he straightened, pointing his noise down at the father, saying, "Well, then. Answer the question correctly, you will have no cuts, bruises, scars, or anything of the sort. However, answer it incorrectly, well, let's just say you might not survive the night." 
    John's long shirt was now damp with cold sweat as the night's breeze pulled it this way and that. But it was not because of the coldness that John shivered. He just hoped that his father would answer the question correctly. In his heart, John prayed with all his might; the way his father taught him to do when he wasn't allowed to pray out loud. 
    The general leaned down until he was an inch from his father's face, "Do you believe that Joe' Smith is your God and that the Book of Mormon is his great and only book?"
    John's father examined the general's face, as if looking for something on there. John wished he would quit and just answer the question. The general may think he was taking too long. But the general just stood there, grinning. 
    "No," he finally said. "I don't believe that."
    The general stood back up, his smile gone. Instead a bewildered expression made it's way up his face. He brushed his coat and straightened.
    "Well, boys," he said. "You may smash some of his stuff, but have mercy. Also, don't hurt him." He turned back to their father. "Well, you just denied your church. I don't know how Ol' Joe' Smith will feel about that, but I'm certainty glad."
    "Instead," their father continued. "I believe that Joseph Smith is our living prophet, and that God speaks through him. I believe that the Book of Mormon, along with the Bible, are the works of God. I believe that everything that the prophet has directed his church is right." 
    The general frowned, his jaws hardening. The general looked at the two hairy men on his right, then gave a little smile that seemed a bit forced.
    "Will, Henry, " he said. "Get the whips." 
    The men named Will and Henry nodded eagerly, their eyes dancing like a wildfire. They ran to the oak tree, where Elizabeth and John loved to climb up it's branches. A bunch of stuff was piled on the base of the tree- hammers, whips, wheelbarrows, pistols, and whatnot. Will and Henry grabbed the whips. One of the men slashed the whip through the air, breaking the wind. It made a deafening sound that made Philander's eyes go big. 
    "Beautiful, Will," said the man John thought was Henry, twisting one of his red curls on his beard. 
    They came over to their father as John and Elizabeth watched. The man named Will slashed the whip down, but their father dodged out of the way. General Wilson rolled his eyes. 
    "Jack," the general sighed. "Tie him."
    A man with a shiny, bald head and a bushy beard came over, holding a long rope in his hand. Henry hit John and Elizabeth's father so that he fell down, ending up in a kneeling position. Furiously, the man called Jack tied John and Elizabeth's father, all over his hands, knees, neck, and whatnot. He did it in a way so that when their father moved, it would choke him a bit. 
    "Now," the general chuckled. "Now, we can begin."
    The men started whipping Elizabeth and John's father. On purpose! Their father didn't complain, but they saw him wince and grit his teeth harder when he got whipped. When he had gotten whipped about 5 times, John looked frantically around. He had to do something! Even if it might cost him his life. 
    John ran out to where the general was. It seemed like time stood still in a numbing manner. Elizabeth gasped. Will and Henry froze. Jack peered at John. The general stopped smiling and throwing his button, and instead looked at John, prodding him with his eyes to say what he wanted to say. 
    "Stop! Stop, stop! Stop! Please," John cried. "You're hurting him!" 
    The general's eyebrows flew up. Then he squinted at John, scrutinizing him. John guessed that he was thinking something along the lines of, "This child is so imprudent! Now, how hard do I chastise him for his brashness?" Then, the general crouched down until he was inline with John's face, and put on a smug smirk. If John wasn't so scared for his father, he probably would've punched the egotistical smile right off his face.
    "I know," he said. "We're trying to hurt him." 
    John's legs felt like molasses and ice at the same time. He barely felt the smash of the pistol on his chest from the man who had been assigned earlier to direct the pistol at him. He unconsciously walked back to where he was before, against the wall. 
    John shook his head, trying to clear the fog in his brain. Finally, it cleaned. Just in time to see the men whip John's father. And they wouldn't stop this time. 
    John almost wanted the fog to come back, so he wouldn't have to watch his father. But he knew he must watch. Besides, even if he wanted to, he couldn't take his eyes off his father. 
    Elizabeth, however, couldn't stand to watch. She buried her head into her knee caps and stuck her fingers into her earholes. However, even with her ears plugged, she could still hear the whips cracking and how it echoed throughout her body. 
    Philander kept whispering in her mother's ear, "Wha' goin' on?" But she wouldn't answer. She would just stare ahead of her, like she didn't hear Philander, while tears slipped out of her eyes. Philander wanted to scream and wail, but he didn't; there was enough yelling, from inside the cabin, for Philander's taste. So, instead, Philander followed her gaze and saw the men and their whips and his father. Remember, he was two years old, so he didn't know what was happening. So he just watched, trying to make sense of it all. 
    After about 60 or 70 lashes, John, Elizabeth, and Philander's father's eyes closed, and he fell and hit the ground. To the Page children, it looked like he fell asleep. But John was quite sure he wouldn't wake up. 
    "No!" John bawled, as the tears he had tried to hold back all night came rushing down his face. "Father! Dad! Don't leave us! Please!"
    Philander looked at John with shock. He had never seen John cry before, Philander thought crying was only for little babies, not big boys like John. Philander didn't know what made John cry so hard, but he guessed it must be something horrible. 
    Elizabeth was also shocked, but for a different reason. She thought John was big enough to know that wailing right now could mean getting shot. She looked at the general and the man in front of John, and watched in horror to their reactions to John's outburst. 
    "Well, Mister Carelessness," the man in front of John laughed, coming closer to him. "It's time you get your consequences."
    The general put his pistol on the man's chest, stopping him from moving any closer. The man looked both angry and startled. 
    "Jake, let him cry," the general said. "He lost his father, after all. We're not monsters, they are the monsters. We can't be like them."
    The man named Jake muttered something under the breath, that Elizabeth couldn't hear from where she was. But she guessed it was something bad. 
    "Besides, we have more business in the other Whitmer cabins," The general said. He then turned, and, cupping his hands by his mouth, called, "Come on, boys; we're done here! Time to go loot some more Mormons!
    Jack cut their father's rope off and tied it around his own belt.  The men in the Page cabin then came out, running to the oak tree tot get all their stuff. Elizabeth and Philander could see them all together, the whole lot of them. And there was a lot. It looked like about 50 men, maybe a little less. Philander had never seen so many men in his life. His green eyes widened in amazement, while Elizabeth's blue eyes narrowed in disgust. Many of them were now wearing her father's ties or suits, and a lot of them were carrying her mother's dresses. 
    But the men left as quickly as they came. They were very eager to go loot the other cabins. Soon enough, Elizabeth was waving away the dust that the men left behind. 
    "John," his mother said. "We need to get your father inside. It's too cold for him out here." 
    John straightened, stood up, and tried to wipe the tears off his face. More tears came after, but he didn't care. He had a job to do. Elizabeth nearly clapped with delight when John went back to normal. 
    "Mother, you carry Father's chest and head," John instructed. "Elizabeth, you carry Father's legs over your shoulders. Philander, you go under Father, and lift up his torso. I'll lift up his hips." 
    Everyone nodded, then went to where they would lift up Father Page. After a count of three, they lifted him up. It was quite low, but that was okay. They just needed to get him inside. And they did, they moved him inside. 
    But when Elizabeth saw the inside of her cabin, she nearly let go of her father. It was more than a mess, it was a chaotic eyesore! Glass and wood splinters was scattered everywhere, so that you had to tip-toe and watch where your feet were going to avoid glass and wood splinters coming into your skin. And everything was broken. The table's legs were cut off, and the top of the table was split in half. The vanity's mirror was cracked so much that the biggest section of mirror was as big as John's thumb. The children's bedroom door was off of it's middle hinge, while parent's bedroom door had been completely pulled off of all it's hinges. 
    "Let's set him on the couch," Mother Page suggested. 
    The couch's cushion stuffing had been pulled out, and all of it's leather had been ripped off. However, it was still in a good shape, and it could support a grown man. The children nodded, then set their father on the couch. 
    "Children, time for bed," their mother instructed. "It's late enough as it is." 
    Philander and Elizabeth nodded, their eyelids suddenly seeming heavy. Elizabeth murmured a good night, then trudged to her room with Philander; both eager to get to the comforts of their bed. But John stayed. 
    "Mother, may I ask you a question?" John asked. 
    Mother nodded. John waited until he saw the door close, and heard two bodies getting into their bed, before turning back to his mother. Elizabeth wanted to listen and hear what John was going to ask, but she was too tired. So she just let her eyelids fall as she dreamt a nightmare. 
    "Mother, why did those guys ki-" John stopped himself. He started again, "Mother why did those guys do what they did to Father?" 
    Mother sighed, then said, "John, it's very late. You ne-" 
    "Mother!" John said. "Father's probably- he's- he's- he's probably dead. I deserve to know!" 
    Tears burst out of John's eyes with rapid speed. That was the first time he admitted that his father was actually dead out loud, and it hurt to think about it. 
    Mother sighed- not a "okay, fine" sigh, nor a tired and annoyed sigh; but a sad sigh. She got up, and grabbed the broom from behind the couch. She started sweeping the glass and wood splinters into a neat little pile. 
    "Because we're Mormons," she answered quietly. 
    "What?" John asked. "Just because we believe in something else? Laura is a Methodist, and Isaac is a Baptist. But their houses never get attacked."
    "Well, we're very different," his mother explained. "We believe that the Indians are ancestors of the Lamanites in the Book of Mormon, but the Missourians have grown a giant animosity towards the Indians; and they think we are, well, great friends with them. They also think that we want free blacks to move here, but they like having slaves. Also, there are so many of us. They believe that we'll take over there government, and we also are taking some of their customers. They also don't like how clean and learned we are, since most of us came from Ohio or New York." 
    "Still," John said, lip trembling. "I can't believe they killed Father over something as petty as religion." 
    Mother came over to John and wrapped her arms around him in a warm hug. He had needed it all night long, but couldn't get it until this moment. He hugged her as hard as he could. 
    "He'll go to the Celestial Kingdom in heaven," Mother whispered in his ear. "He died with his testimony, and Heavenly Father will love that. And guess what? Once you die, you'll get to see him again! We all will!" 
    "Really?" John lit up.
    "Really." 
    John's heart felt as if it was on fire. Yea, it felt so hot, he was afraid to touch it. But it was not hot with anger, no, it was hot with joy. John remembered what his parents had told him about how the holy ghost felt like, and this matched their description. He smiled as tears of joy came dancing down his cheeks in a dazzling performance. So much was his joy that he didn't feel a third set of arms hugging him. 
    After a long while, that felt like a short while to John, they parted and stepped back. And that's when John saw the man. John jumped and wrapped his arms around him. 
    "Father!" he cried. "I thought you were dead! Wait- are you dead? Are you an- are you a holy angel?" 
    "No," he laughed. "Not yet." 
    John buried his face into his father's shoulder and whispered, "I thought you were dead." 
    "I know," he said, lifting his son's chin up. "I woke up and heard what you were saying about me." 
    "How?" Mother asked. "How are you a-alive?" 
    John's father turned so he could look at his wife, and then said, "I just got knocked out for a while, yea, the pain was so great. But, no, don't you worry about me, I will be fine." 
    John's mother wrapped her arms around her husband, engulfing John as well. They stood there for a while- those three against the world, never wanting to leave. But after a while, reality pulled their arms apart. 
    John's mother looked up at the shelf clock. It was almost one o'clock. That meant it was the morrow. It was now Elizabeth's birthday. John thought, as he looked up at his father, that if this was his birthday, he would've already have gotten the best present ever. 
    "Johnny," Mother said. "It's quite late. You need to get to bed." 
    "Yes, mother," John said as his father set him down on the floor. "Goodnight, Mother. Goodnight, F-F-Father."
    "Sleep well," Mother said before she kissed him on his forehead. 
    "Goodnight, John," Father said. 
    John tiptoed back into his room, stepping over the mess on the floor. He creaked open the door and closed it quietly behind him. He slipped into the bed, then tried to fall asleep.
    But the darkness reminded John of earlier that night, outside in the dark. On the ceiling, he kept seeing pictures of his father getting whipped. He glanced over at his younger siblings, who were fast asleep. How they could fall asleep, John did not know. But he did know one thing.
    He would never be able to forget the terror's of 1833's Halloween.
   This is based off of a true story, and I have tried to make this as accurate as possible. The Pages were real people, and a lot of the stuff that happened that night happened to them, such as: their age, the mob breaking in, Hiram Page trying to disguise himself, the whipping, and more. However, the part where Hiram Page didn't deny his faith was incorrect. The bishop not denying his faith is correct, though. I had decided to add this to the story so that it seems like he had more of a choice. Also, Hiram Page's "death" wasn't part of it. One of my sources said that Hiram Page died, and another said that he didn't die until 1852; so I decided to do both and make it seem like he died, but didn't actually. Here are my sources that I used: 
  • https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/bc/content/shared/content/english/pdf/language-materials/32502_eng.pdf?lang=eng 
  • https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/details/KWJY-B3C?icid=amp_hdr_signin
  • https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=6141&context=etd
  • http://astropixels.com/ephemeris/phasescat/phases1801.html
  • https://concordmuseum.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Good-Night-Sleep-Tight.pdf
  • http://www.sewhistorically.com/history-of-the-nightcap-victorian-and-edwardian-hair-care/
  • https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-chronicle-of-timekeeping-2006-02/

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3 Comments
  • Stone of Jade

    oh i've read this before!! I forgot about it XD this is great!


    about 2 months ago
  • Emi (Revival Year #NEWYEAR)

    This is so cool! I love that it's based off of a true story; it's such an amazing tale. I would totally read more of this sort of writing if you wrote other historical fiction stories.


    3 months ago
  • Stone of Jade

    Oh wow this is great! So it's kinda like a historical fiction? It's really well written!
    re: I'm in Skagit Valley, on the west side. The north part, close to the Sound. That is so cool! XD


    3 months ago