Summary of AN ADDER IN THE PATH
A novel by Bill Jensen
The Mormon War in Missouri was a mere blip in American History, but it sent out shock waves that reverberate to this day. In the crucible of this bloody clash, the Mormons came to believe that they are a peculiar and persecuted people. However, many of the precepts of Mormonism ran counter to the customs of the frontier. In an effort to stamp out dissention and ensure conformity, the Mormons organized a secret band of “enforcers.” This band, locally known as the Danites struck fear in the hearts of Missourians and Mormons alike. The existence of the Danites has been denied by the Mormons and ignored by historians. Through the medium of a historical novel, I have touched on this “forbidden” bit of history.
The human aspects of this story are told through the lives of the members of two very different families. John Evans, the head of the Evans family, joined the church and migrated to Missouri. John, a thoughtful and gentle man is forced to embrace Mormonism by his shrewish, fanatical and domineering wife, Agnes and constantly struggles to find the moral courage to stand up for his convictions. When he finally does he pays a dreadful price.
Sam Devine, an abusive and opinionated Missouri frontiersman, fears the coming of the Mormons, because they seem strange and different. Sam’s son Jake, who suffers physical and verbal abuse at the hands of his father, struggles to define his own spirituality in the crucible of the war and finds redemption in its aftermath. Jake sees his father degrade and cruelly mistreat his beloved mother and vows to avenge her. He eventually falls in love with Jenny, John Evan’s daughter, a love that causes him soul soaring joy and heart wrenching grief.
The book chronicles the Mormon War in Missouri and closely follows the actual events and characters of that brutal religious conflict. It analyzes the causes of the war and finds both sides guilty of intolerance and bigotry. It deals with the eternal struggle of man to find God in his own way and be true to his own convictions. I think you will find it interesting.