Lilburn Williams Boggs was born Dec. 14, 1796, in Lexington, Kentucky. He moved to St. Louis, Missouri, in 1816 and for the next couple of years made his living as a cashier in one of the first banks in St. Louis. His first wife was Julia Ann Bent whose father was Judge Silas Bent. Unfortunately, Julia died in September 1820 following the birth of their second child.
Boggs married Daniel Boone’s granddaughter, Panthea Grant Boone, in 1823. They spent the next twenty-three years in Jackson County raising their ten children while Boggs served Missouri as a politician. He was a Missouri state senator from 1825 to 1832, lieutenant governor from 1832 to 1826, governor from 1836 to 1840, and a state senator again from 1842 to 1846.
One of his first acts as governor was officiating at laying the corner stone of the second capital building in 1836 or 1837. His most notable act as governor was Executive Order No. 44, which was issued on Oct. 27, 1838. Otherwise known as the Extermination Order, this act removed the Mormons from Missouri.
In 1842, Mormon prophet, Joseph Smith, prophesied from their temple that Boggs would die by violence within twelve months, and then sent an assassin to Independence to fulfill the prophesy.
Orin P. Rockwell was the assassin.
On May 6, 1842, from a distance of less than 4 feet, Rockwell fired through a window with a large German holster pistol at the back of Boggs’ head, discharged a load of 17 bullets, and hit the former governor four times. Boggs’ six-year-old daughter was in the line of fire, rocking her infant sister in a crib cradle, but neither child was injured. The pistol kicked out of Rockwell’s hand and was left behind when he fled.
Once caught, the sheriff placed fifty men around the jail to protect the prisoner. However, Rockwell escaped after getting a change of venue and was never prosecuted for attempted murder. Boggs survived.
The couple moved to California in 1846 where Boggs planned to retire. Instead, he was called into service to the office of alealde of the Northern District of California by U.S. Military Gov. Gen. Bennett W. Riley following the war with Mexico. Boggs opened a store in Sonoma during the 1849 gold rush and did very well. He resigned as alealde Nov. 8, 1849, and became the local postmaster.
In 1852, Boggs was elected to the California State Assembly. He retired to Napa County, California in 1855 where he died on March 14, 1860. Panthea joined her husband in death twenty years later on September 23, 1880.
Elizabeth Davis was born and raised in Cooper County, Missouri, and has written HISTORICALLY YOURS for the Boonville Daily News since April 2008, She has covered the War Between the States, US history, and Cooper County history. In celebration of Missouri’s upcoming Bicentennial, she syndicated her column statewide in September 2018 and encourages readers all over the Show Me State to submit topic suggestions for future columns to HistoricallyYours.firstname.lastname@example.org