March 2, 2023

Pioneer woman, Laura Clark Phelps-Helping her Husband escape from Missouri Jail

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Prisoners of Siege of Far West

Laura Clark Phelps lived in Far West Missouri when he husband and 150 other men were arrested at the Siege of Far West. Many were released soon after being arrested but many were kept in jail for a long time, including the Prophet Joseph Smith who was sent to Liberty Jail.

Morris Phelps, Parley P. Pratt and King Follett ended up in Columbia Jail where they stayed for eight months! Laura Phelps visited her husband and friends consistently every two weeks, the whole time they were in jail.

To visit the men she had to travel the distance of 139 miles from Far West, Missouri. One day while on her way to visit her husband in jail she decided she was going to help the men escape from jail and then she had a dream that solidified her desire to help the men escape, and showed her the way to get them out!(how cool is that?!)

Her story was recorded by her grandson Will Holmes.

Dream of the Escape

“Here was her plan to free them:

She would secret three horses in some brush a short distance from the jail. As an excuse to get the jailer to unlock the prison door, she would suggest to the jailer that he open the door and pass the coffee pot to the prisoners through the open door. . . Should the jailer unlock the door, it would be the signal to get busy, pull the door wide open, grab the jailer, throw him to the floor and flee for their lives.

When Laura arrived in Columbia she learned that Parley had received a very similar dream twice. His brother Orson soon thereafter arrived “with a firm impression they were about to be delivered,” and they moved forward.

The scheme worked but not without difficulties. The second door was unlocked and King Follet pulled the door open and Parley P. Pratt was to follow and grandfather [Morris] Phelps, being an athlete and wrestler, was to throw the jailer down and he would follow. It proved to be an exciting event. . . It was the fourth of July and nearly hundreds were nearby celebrating.

The plan worked as it had been shown in their dreams; however, they did not plan the details of where Laura’s would go after the escape. The jailer exposed her to the mob that had gathered around the jail. Thankfully, a young boy saw what had happened and told his mother. The family rescued Laura from the mob. She gave them a Book of Mormon, sang hymns with them, and left with a promise that if she learned of great destruction to come upon the state of Missouri she would warn them. Laura did not know that her husband was safe until she met up with him three weeks later.”

On the website it finishes Laura Clark Phelps story saying:

“After 10 days of not hearing about her husband, Laura could stand it no longer and started off for home. Mr. Richardson arranged for her to travel with the mail boy. They left in the afternoon and traveled thirty miles before night and then got up at the daylight and traveled thirty more miles before breakfast. She then left the mail boy and rode by herself and soon struck the Mississippi River and traveled another fifty miles and was starting into the woods that were very thick. . . For the first time her courage failed her; she had such a lonesome, dismal feeling come over her, and there was six miles to travel before she could reach a hotel, and she knew not what would accost her. . . She looked into the woods and saw a man’s coming on horseback. As he approached they looked at each other and he said, “I wonder if you are not the woman I am looking for?” She said, “I believe you are the man I am looking for,” for he was Mr. Follet’s son and had a note from Morris saying he was all right. They arrived safely at the hotel and the next day they got to Quincy where Morris was.”

More Blog Posts:

Mary Fielding Smith, Hyrum Jailed in Liberty

Eunice McRae Pioneer Women

Alexander Doniphan Historical Marker

Overview of the Missouri Years

Missouri Mob and Amanda Barnes Smith Prayer

Places to Visit:

Laura is buried in Nauvoo, Illinois

Troost Park Monument in Kansas City, Missouri

Fun facts about the Kansas City, Missouri Temple

Fun Facts about the St. Louis, Missouri Temple

Alexander Doniphan Historical Marker


“The Witness of Women, Firsthand Experiences and Testimonies from the Restoration” by Janiece Johnson and Jennifer Reeder (p.42-43)

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