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MOUNTAIN MEADOWS MASSACRE
The Mountain Meadow's Massacre was a dark chapter in Mormon history. More than 120 pioneers, families traveling from Arkansas to California in 1857, were attacked and slaughtered by Mormons at Mountain Meadows, a grassy oasis in southern Utah. Most of the victims, which included infants in their mothers' arms, were executed after the travelers surrendered their weapons. Mormonism has covered up the truth about the MMM.
A fledgling Idaho film festival, founded by former Gilligan's Island co-star Dawn Wells, has pulled a University of Utah
professor's documentary about the Mountain Meadows Massacre from its lineup.
Organizers of the first Spudfest Drive-In Film and Music Festival, starting Wednesday in Driggs, Idaho, say filmmaker Brian
Patrick's Burying the Past: Legacy of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, is too violent for the family-oriented event. Patrick said
festival officials told him last week that they received calls from members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
threatening to picket the film or boycott the festival.
They said, 'The local bishop and church authorities here are up in arms,' Patrick said Monday. These people have said the film is
hateful and mean-spirited, and they don't want their people to see it and, if [the festival] is going to show it, there's going
to be big trouble.
Patrick countered that his award-winning film - which details the 1857 incident in which a group of Utah Mormons killed 120
Arkansans headed to California - is a balanced presentation, featuring independent historians and those representing the LDS
Church. The church even helped me make the film, he said.
Patrick got a call Thursday from an attorney on SpudFest's board, saying the film would be pulled.
SpudFest's publicist, Kim Wells (no relation to Dawn Wells), said organizers did not hear complaints from LDS members. It's just
not family-friendly, Wells said of Patrick's film. After the board of directors of the festival saw it, they said because it's
about a massacre, frankly, it is too adult for a family film festival.
Another film on the SpudFest schedule, the Utah-made World War II drama Saints and Soldiers, had to undergo minor editing to
avoid an R rating for its wartime bloodshed. Wells said the festival's board of directors watched both films, and The violence in
'Burying the Past' was more disturbing than the violence in 'Saints and Soldiers.' Also, Wells said, Saints and Soldiers is
scheduled for evening screenings, while Burying the Past was slated for daytime shows.
It tells how more than 120 pioneers, families traveling from Arkansas to California in 1857, were attacked and slaughtered by Mormons at Mountain Meadows, a grassy oasis in southern Utah.
Most of the victims, which included infants in their mothers' arms, were executed after the travelers surrendered their weapons.
"One reason so few people know about it is that it was very effectively covered up by the Mormon church," Hutton said. "Another reason is nobody in this country likes to criticize religious organizations. It makes people nervous."
Santa Fe resident and former Interior Secretary Stewart Udall, great-great-grandson of the only person convicted in the killings, appears in "Mountain Massacre."
So does Ferenc "Frank" Szasz, a UNM professor whose specialty is history of American religion.
"Frank calls the massacre the greatest act of religious violence on American soil up until the Sept. 11 (2001) terrorist attacks," Hutton said.
As cruel coincidence would have it, the Mountain Meadows executions happened on Sept. 11, 1857.
Two months before the MMM, the "Alta California" newspaper referred to the anger of Utah Mormons upon learning of the murder of Parley P. Pratt in Arkansas in June:
"Whether the hot blood which must now be seething and boiling in the veins of Brigham Young and his satellites in Salt Lake is to be cooled by the murder of Gentiles who pass through their territory, whether the destroying angels of Mormondom are to be brought into requisition to make reprisals upon travelers, whether, as has been done before, saints disguised as Indians are to constitute themselves the supposed ministers of God's vengeance in this case, we are not informed, but have no doubt that such intentions are prevalent among those saintly villains, adulterers, and seducers of Salt Lake." (July 9, 1857.)
This one statement, published two months before the MMM, is more than enough to show that the attack on the Fancher train was not an isolated incident perpetrated by "renegade Mormons" acting out of revenge for alleged wrongdoings of the Fancher party, as Mopologists deceitfully continue to assert. When this article was written, the Fancher train was traveling across the Great Plains, and yet a newspaper in California predicted the fate of such passing emigrants and the method by which the Mormons would exact vengeance for Pratt's murder: "Mormons disguised as Indians" made the initial attack on the Fancher train.
Southern Utah Mormons in cahoots with Indians also attacked the Dukes train, which had preceded the Baker/Fancher train through southwestern Utah. A member of the Dukes train, S. B. Honea, stated "that he passed through Great Salt Lake
City on August 17, that he saw everywhere preparations for war, that the company were harassed by Indians all the way, that in southern Utah they hired Mormon guides and interpreters to the sum of $1,810, and then were robbed on
the Muddy [River] of 375 head of cattle. [George B.] Davis described the Indians who stole the cattle as having among them some with light, fine hair and blue eyes, and light streaks where they had not used sufficient paint. He gave the number of cattle taken as 326 head.....On October 17, the first members of the Duke train of emigrants arrived half-starved at San Bernardino with the Mormon theft of their cattle to add to the tale of the massacre."
(Juanit Brooks, "The Mountain Meadows Massacre," pp. 125, 126, 146.)
From Josiah Gibbs' 1910 book "Mountain Meadows Massacre":
"(Note - Charles Fancher was the son of Capt. Charles Fancher, who was in command of the train, and was 11 years old. He was small for his age. He had a brother about 9 years of age, who was also small for his years, and which, no doubt, was the reason for their escape from the fate of those who were believed to be over 8 years old. Mormon children are baptised at 8 years, when, from the Mormon viewpoint, they reach the age of responsibility. Thus it was that the emigrant children under 8 years were not regarded by the Mormon priests as being responsible for the sins of their parents, who were murdered in obedience to the endowment oath to 'avenge the blood of the (Mormon) prophets and martyrs.' It was from the lips of Charley Fancher, soon after his arrival from the vicinity of the tragedy, that I heard the first story of the massacre. In
his childish way he said that 'some of the Indians, after the slaughter, went to the little creek, and that after washing their faces they were white men.' During his stay in Salt Lake City I frequently played marbles with Charley Fancher on First South, a half block or so west of Main street. - The Author.)"
The Mountain Meadow Massacre wasn't the only Massacre that Utah Mormons did…
Following is an excerpt from "A History of Paiute Country" by Linda King Newell which was published in 1999 with a grant from the State of Utah Centennial History Project. Newell is co-author of "Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith". You can check this book out of about any library in Utah. I'm not sure of its availability outside the state. In April 23, 1866 an unknown number of friendly and innocent Paiute Indians were taken into custody in Circleville Utah for their own "protection". Although there were Indian problems with the Utes during this time period, the Paiutes of Circleville were a peaceful band that tried to live peacefully among the Mormons (kind of like some of us ex-mormons are trying to do).
From the James Munson and Oluf Larsen journals:
They (the Mormon townspeople) sent messengers requesting that the Paiutes go into town and hear a letter read to them. Many did. They gathered in the meetinghouse to hear Bishop William Allred address them. According to a previous plan, the Circleville men who outnumbered the Indians three to one came in unarmed and intermingled with them. The bishop read the message from Fort Sanford, stressing that the settlers wanted only peace with their band, but the Indians would have to help by lending them their guns. In return, the Paiutes could work for the whites and be paid in goods. When the Indians showed reluctance to give up their weapons, the settlers acted: "each man knowing his place and what was expected of him, grabbed hold of his Indian… to disarm [him]. They all showed resistance but their bows and arrows and knives were taken from them." Next, "their arms were tied to a stick which was passed behind their backs and under their arms." Bishop Allred would later put his own twist to the incident in his report to LDS church authority George A. Smith, writing that it took some time to convince the Indians, but they "reluctantly surrendered their weapons". Captain James Allred (Mormon army) and his men went to the camp to apprehend those who had earlier refused the "invitation"…
The rest of the Paiutes were taken to the meetinghouse, where the women and children were separated from the men and taken to an unused cellar that had been dug for a proposed flourmill. The prisoners numbered about sixteen men and probably about as many women and children (undetermined- I think many more).
Rex Fullmer's account from James Munson's journal:
"Towards evening…some of the [captives] succeeded in getting loose and commenced an attack upon the guard, knocking two of them down. The guard was afraid of a general break… hence the guard opened fire and shot two of the Indians. ….after a short consultation it was decided that the settlement would be in danger if the Indians were allowed to escape. Though the people loathed the thought of killing them, it was nevertheless concluded to do so."
Although no account tells who gave or carried out the instructions no decision of this sort would have been without the knowledge and consent of those in charge, namely Captain James Allred and Bishop William Allred. Fullmer estimated that about a dozen Paiute men remained in the meetinghouse. One by one the guards began taking them outside, leading them around to the side of the building, where one person clubbed them in the back of the head, stunning them, then another cut their throats with "a large sharp knife"…. Once the Paiute men were dispatched the settlers began taking the women and older children from the cellar, killing them by the same method. Fullmer wrote that," A number of children were spared alive, and also an older boy, who however, was killed the next day as he was considered dangerous to the peace of the settlement." After the carnage, the settlers placed all the bodies in the cellar and filled it with dirt. Nothing today remains to mark the common grave….
Flew the Coop continues:
This tragic event near Utah highway 89 probably will never be marked with a historic marker like other historic spots in Utah. Perhaps when we drive through Circleville on the way to Lake Powell or Arizona, we can pause for a moment of silence for these murdered innocents and vow to ourselves to not let the sordid history of these extreme religionists be forgotten.
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Jon Voight and Lolita Davidovich are starring in "September Dawn," an indie Western written and directed by Christopher Cain, the father of actor Dean Cain.
"Dawn" is a love story set against the 19th century massacre of a wagon train of settlers in Utah at the hands of a renegade Mormon group. Voight plays the leader of the renegade Mormon faction, while Davidovich is a member of the wagon train who stands up to Voight's threats.
The feature, which sources said is budgeted in the $11 million range, started shooting this week in Alberta, Canada.
Cain is no stranger to Westerns, having directed "Young Guns" and 1998's "Magnificent Seven" TV series.
Oscar winner Voight will appear in the upcoming "Glory Road." Davidovich last appeared in "Hollywood Homicide" and "Dark Blue." She is best known for her title role in "Blaze" opposite Paul Newman.
The first time I recall reading or hearing anything about Mountain Meadow Massacre was a couple of years ago, during my "awakening." I read the 19th Wife by a divorced wife of BY. What was her name.... Eliza or Ann Webb??? Anyways, the narrative in that book on MMM stems primarily from J.D. Lee's Confession. As I understand it, although Lee's confession brought to light important information, the details lack some credibility. Bagley essentially states that because the only information we have from the situation comes from the people who perpetrated the murders, including Lee, we will never really know the full scope of what happened. Anyways, when I read the 19th Wife, the walls came tumbling down for me. The impact of the MMM as a singular event was lost for me in the crumbling of my faith.
I started reading Will Bagley's, The Blood of the Prophets this week. I have been impressed with the balance and objectivity that he brings to the work. As I read the book and went back and forth to the footnotes and bibliography, understanding the sources of who said what and what particular bias may exist in each statement, waves of grief came over me. As a man, I consider myself to be pretty ordinary. I am not particularly stoic, nor am I particularly prone to tears, but reading this book has had me in tears several times. It is heart wrenching to understand the circumstances that would lead a group of people to commit the atrocities and then to hide it so well.
I kept asking myself, how could the Saints allow themselves then and now to give up their right and even obligation for individual moral decisions to a hierarchy of a church that has shown again and again and again that it will use lies of commission, lies of ommission, half truths, inuendo, etc. to avoid tarnishing the image of the organization leaders or the organization? How can the ends justify the means? Why don't we discuss this more openly so that people can take this information and use it to help themselves assess this line of perceived priesthood authority and apostolic succession? What is a prophet? If a prophet lies, does that invalidate his claim to status as prophet?
I know that this post may properly fit in the closed "Angst" section, but I figured it may fit under support because I'm looking for someone to lean on. Understanding the MMM as a singular event has been devastating. I am only about half way through Bagley's book, but at this point, I cannot say enough about his clear writing, his objectivity, the clarity he brings to the potential distortions in the data, and ultimately laying out the conclusion that we will never know what really happened, we can only get closer to understanding what really happened.
I was just looking at an ad for Will Bagley’s book about the Mountain Meadows Massacre. There's an excerpt from the book’s dust jacket explaining the tragedy of MMM and citing evidence of Brigham Young’s involvement.
"Title: Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows
Author: Will Bagley
Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press"
"The massacre at Mountain Meadows on September 11, 1857, was the single most violent act to occur on the overland trails, yet it has been all but forgotten. Will Bagley’s Blood of the Prophets is the most extensive investigation of the events surrounding the mass killings since Juanita Brooks published her groundbreaking study, The Mountain Meadows Massacre, in 1950.
At Mountain Meadows, local settlers and Southern Paiute warriors waylaid the Fancher party, a wagon train bound from Arkansas to California. Pinned down in a circle of wagons in a remote corner of southwestern Utah, some forty men, thirty women, and seventy children fought for their lives for five days before surrendering under a promise of safe conduct. As the Mormon militia and their Indian allies escorted the emigrants away from their wagons, they killed all of them except seventeen children below the age of seven.
Bagley draws on unpublished journals, letters, and documents from Mormon archives as well as from accounts by Mormons who opposed subsequent efforts to cover up or expunge the record. He explains how the murders occurred, reveals the involvement of territorial governor Brigham Young, and explores the subsequent suppression and distortion of the events surrounding the massacre. Also included here are maps and photographs never before published."
I lost all my bookmarks the other day and when searching for this site found Mormonism.com instead where I saw, to my surprise, that BY was apparently sorry for what happened at MMM.
A letter from Brigham Young giving his sympathies to the family of a victim of the Mountain Meadows Massacre
Either sorry or a murderous hypocrite. Which one I wonder?
Jaunita Brooks Destroyed Historical Documents, When Writing Her Famous Book On The Subject Of Mountain Meadows Mascare Because They Were "Too Incriminating To The Church" Tuesday, Jan 3, 2006, at 07:55 AM Original Author(s): Randy Jordan Topic:MOUNTAIN MEADOWS MASSACRE-Link To MC Article-
"Dudley Leavitt also was the grandfather of Juanita Brooks, whose 1950
benchmark book on the atrocity was the first attempt at exposing the covered-up
details. Yet Brooks, who three months ago was selected as one of the 20 most
influential Utahns of the 20th century, also was conflicted by her convictions
to her LDS faith and family in learning the awful truth.
In a letter to her sister while she was compiling research, Brooks related
that Dudley Leavitt apparently rode picket duty as the surrendering emigrants
were being marched away from the valley. That would make him responsible for
preventing anyone from escaping once the executions began. Brooks said her
father "cautioned his children not to marry Higbees or Haights or Dames or
Klingonsmiths because he believed the sins of the fathers would be visited upon
the heads of the children until the third or fourth generations."
Brooks once told a friend in St. George, current Washington County medical
examiner Bart Anderson, that she even burned several important historical
documents regarding Mountain Meadows. The flames in her fireplace, related
Brooks, turned an eerie blue as she placed the old papers in the fire.
"I asked her why she would ever burn such important documents," Anderson
told reporter Smith recently. "And she told me, 'Bart, they were just too
In addition to the fact that Brooks admitted burning documents that were "too
incriminating," Will Bagley points out in his "Blood of the Prophets" that
Brooks didn't have access to Dimick Huntington's journal when she published her
book. If she had, she certainly would have had a fuller picture of the
councils Young held with Indians, and his orders therein, which revealed his
direct orders to attack and plunder emigrant trains. In the final edition of
her book, Brooks wrote in the preface:
"Recently I was given access to an electrostatic copy of the daily journal of
Brigham Young. Under date of September 1, 1857, the entry reads: 'Kanosh the
Pavaunt chief with several of his band visited me gave me some council and
presents. A spirit seems to be takeing possession of the Indians to assist
Israel. I can hardly restrain them from exterminating the Americans.'
"This seems very significant. The 'Journal History of the Church' under this
same date tells of the visit of Jacob Hamblin and twelve Indian chiefs from the
south. President Young talked with them all, but it seems that Kanosh was
given private audience. He was the chief who had killed Captain John W.
Gunnison and several of his men as they were camped on the Sevier River on
October 28, 1853. Whether or not Kanosh and his band were at the Mountain
Meadows we do not know, but we can now be certain that the Mormon war strategy
was to use the natives as 'the battle-ax of the Lord,' as some of the early
missionaries had stated." ("Mountain Meadows Massacre," Juanita Brooks,
After Huntington's journal had come to light in LDS archives later, Provo
historian David Bigler fleshed out the details of that September 1 council:
"Hamblin and some twelve Indian chiefs on September first met with Brigham
Young and his most trusted interpreter, 49-year-old Dimick Huntington, at Great
Salt Lake. Taking part in this pow-wow were Kanosh, the Mormon chief of the
Pahvants; Ammon, half-brother of Walker; Tutsegabit, head chief of the
Piedes;Youngwuds, another Piede chieftain, and other leaders of desert bands
along the Santa Clara and Virgin Rivers. Little was known of what they talked
about until recently when it came to light that Huntington (apparently speaking
for Young) told the chiefs that he 'gave them all the cattle that had gone to
Cal[ifornia by] the south rout[e].' The gift 'made them open their eyes,' he
said. But 'you have told us not to steal,' the Indians replied. 'So I have,'
Huntington said, but now they have come to fight us and you for when they kill us
they will kill you.' The chiefs knew what cattle he was giving them. They
belonged to the Baker-Fancher train." ("Forgotten Kingdom: The Mormon
Theocracy in the American West," David Bigler, 1998, pp. 167-168.)
Utah historian Hubert Bancroft shed further light on
Dimick Huntington's activities:
"Major Carleton, of the first dragoons. In a despatch to the assistant
adjutant-general at San Francisco, dated Mountain Meadows, May 25, 1859, he
says: 'A Pah Ute chief of the Santa Clara band, named Jackson, who was one of
the attacking party, and had a brother slain by the emigrants from their corral
by the spring, says that orders came down in a letter from Brigham Young that
the emigrants were to be killed; and a chief of the Pah Utes, named Touche, now
living on the Virgin River, told me that a letter from Brigham Young to the
same effect was brought down to the Virgin River band by a man named
Huntingdon.' A copy of the major's despatch will be found in the Hand-book of
Mormonism, 67-9. Cradlebaugh says that after the attack had been made, one of
the Indians declared that a white man came to their camp with written orders
from Brigham to 'go and help to whip the emigrants.' " ("History of Utah," p.
Juanita Brooks quoted from Young's letter to Jacob Hamblin of August 4, 1857:
"Continue the conciliatory policy towards the Indians.....for they must learn
that they have got to help us or the United States will kill us both......We
have an abundance of 'news.' The government have appointed an entire set of
officials for the Territory. These Gentry are to have a bodyguard of 2500 of
Uncle's [Sam's] regulars."
Of this excerpt, Brooks comments: "In the version
of this letter.....printed in 'Jacob Hamblin, Personal Narrative,' by James A
Little, the phrase 'for they must learn that they have either got to help us or
the United States will kill us both' is not included. Neither is the entire
paragraph which gives the 'abundance of news.' The reason for this deletion
seems clear." (Brooks, p. 35.)
The reason for the deletion of this passage in a pro-Mormon edition of
Hamblin's narrative is INDEED clear: The passage clearly shows that Young
instructed Hamblin to prepare the southern Indians to help the Mormons act
against the U. S. government forces. The excerpt also makes clear that,
contrary to some Mormon apologists' assertions that Young had no foreknowledge
of why the Army was marching on SLC, and that therefore 'justified' Young in
prosecuting his guerrilla war against Johnston's Army, Young in fact knew very
well that the army was sent to depose Young as governor and escort the
newly-appointed governor and "an entire set of officials" to replace the
territorial judges who had fled Utah fearing for their lives at the hands of Young's "Danites."
Young's foreknowledge of the army's
mission means that his orders to prevent the army from entering the Salt Lake
Valley constituted an act of treason against the United States, as also did his
illegal declaration of martial law; so that is why Mormon apologists
deceitfully omit this part of Young's letter when writing on the subject.
Brooks further offers: "Jacob Hamblin.....decided to take a group of the chiefs
to Great Salt Lake City for an interview with the great Mormon chief, Brigham
Young. His handwritten diary, as yet unpublished, says:
'I started for Great
Salt Lake City in company with Thales Haskell and Tutsegabit...He had felt
anxious for a long time to visit Brigham Young. We fell in company with George
A. Smith. Conosh [Kanosh, the Pauvant chief] joined us. Other Indian chiefs
joined our company. When we arrived in the city there were ten of them went up
to see Brigham Young, the great Mormon chief. We encamped on Corn Creek on our
way up; near a company of Emigrants from Arkansas, on the-----'
account stops abruptly, for the next leaf is torn out.....What Brigham Young
told the chiefs in that hour was not recorded, but we might hazard an opinion
that it was not out of harmony with his written instructions that 'they must
learn that they have got to help us or the United States will kill us
both.'.....At that time Brigham Young had to be sure of his allies, for he was
conducting a war against tremendous odds. The previous Mormon policy had been
to keep the natives from stealing and plundering and to teach them the peaceful
pursuits of farming and cattle raising, but now Brigham Young seemed determined
that he would no longer "hold them by the wrist," as he told Captain Van Vliet
a few days later. The Indians must have started back home immediately, for in
seven days they were harassing the emigrants at Mountain Meadows, and in ten
days they participated in the massacre of the company." (Brooks, pp. 40-42.)
In light of this information, it doesn't take a Sherlock Holmes to deduce what
Young told the Indians in that meeting ten days before the MMM. It also
doesn't take a great brain to understand why someone tore the next page out of
Hamblin's diary: it probably gave more details of Young's "counsel" to
Hamblin, Huntingdon, and the Indians as to what to do with the Baker-Fancher
train. Bagley documents in "Blood of the Prophets" where pages of journals and
other incriminating documents were torn out and destroyed, to eliminate the
"paper trail" of evidence which points to Brigham Young's involvement in the
But unfortunately for Young, Mormon apologists, and the church's claims of
institutional innocence, Huntington's journal reveals the whole story that the
church has tried to keep hidden for 145 years.
My father did a pretty good job of explaining the MMM to the campers. Only a small handful of them actually went to the site. About 7 fathers and about a dozen children. As we climbed the trail at Sutter's Hill, we stopped to read the markers that told the condensed church version of the massacre. I could tell that a couple of the men had never heard of the MMM and were shocked by what they were reading. When we arrived at the 1990 memorial on top of Sutter's Hill, my father started to explain what occured there. Most of the kids were already climbing all over the memorial. I don't know why but I was very offended by this. More so, by the fact that the fathers did not tell them to get down.
Like I said, my dad did a very good job (for a believer) of explaining the events. There were many details he left out (we were only there 30 minutes tops), but he didn't shy away from calling the MMM a "black mark on our history". He mentioned the context of the time. Things like "blood atonement", the "Reformation", religous zealotry, etc. were all things he breifly mentioned. He repeated a few rumors that arent true like, the emigrants causing trouble, poisoning some indians, having the gun that killed JS, etc., but he commented that most of those were just rumors to justify what happened.
He talked about apostate historians trying to implicate BY, but not really being able to.
There was one guy who kept putting his two cents worth in. He was repeating faith promoting rumors he had read on the internet. I interjected when I thought a well placed detail might cause people to think. I reminded them that John Lee was BY adopted son by sealing, and that he was fully reinstated by the church in 1961.
While at the 1999 memorial this same dufus made a statement commending Hinkley's 1990 statements regarding the MMM, and the legalistic terms in which Hinkley spoke (never accepting blame for the massacre). He said this was good because the church should not be legally liable for reimbursing the descendants. I could't take this guy and longer. I finally spoke directly to him and said, "They ought to be reimbursed. All the victim's property ended up in the Tithing house in Cedar City." He looked like a deer caught in the head lights. Finally, he said, "Yeah but, a lot of these guys remembered what happened to the Saints in Missouri." To which I responded, "What do people from Arkansas, have to do with what happened in Missouri?" I walked off at this point. I am not sure if anyone sense my irritation by I clearly was.
The whole time, the men kept speaking in terms of "us/we" and "them", as if the actions of the mormons and the church were their actions.
One of the greatest things I ever heard was at the 1999 Mogatsu Creek memorial. My 5 yr old asked me "Who is buried on this big pile of rock?"
I said, "A group of pioneers that got killed."
She asked, "How did they die?"
I replied, "They were shot with guns."
She asked, "Who killed them?"
I replied, "A group of Mormons."
She asked, "What is a Mormon."
No lie! That is what she said. She goes to church almost every week with he mom. I smiled at her and gave her a big hug.
I took some pictures but they aren't anything more that what you can already find on the net.
From The Life and Confessions of John D. Lee - Written by John D. Lee, May 17, 1877:
I am not a traitor to my people, nor to my former friends and comrades who were with me on that dark day when the work of death was carried on in God's name, by a lot of deluded and religious fanatics. It is my duty to tell facts as they exist, and I will do so.
I have said that all of the small children were put into the wagons; that was wrong, for one little child, about six months old, was carried in its father's arms, and it was killed by the same bullet that entered its father's breast; it was shot through the head.
When we had got out of sight, as I said before, and just as we were coming into the main road, I heard a volley of guns at the place where I knew the troops and emigrants were. Our teams were then going at a fast walk. I first heard one gun, then a volley at once followed.
McMurdy and Knight stopped their teams at once, for they were ordered by Higbee, the same as I was, to help kill all the sick and wounded who were in the wagons, and to do it as soon as they heard the guns of the troops.
McMurdy was in front; his wagon was mostly loaded with the arms and small children. McMurdy and Knight got out of their wagons; each one had a rifle. McMurdy went up to Knight's wagon, where the sick and wounded were, and raising his rifle to his shoulder, said: "0 Lord, my God, receive their spirits, it is for thy Kingdom that I do this." He then shot a man who was lying with his head on another man's breast; the ball killed both men.
Knight then shot a man with his rifle; he shot the man in the head. Knight also brained a boy that was about fourteen years old. The boy came running up to our wagons, and Knight struck him on the head with the butt end of his gun, and crushed his skull. By this time many Indians reached our wagons, and all of the sick and wounded were killed almost instantly.
I saw an Indian from Cedar City, called Joe, run up to the wagon and catch a man by the hair, and raise his head up and look into his face; the man shut his eyes, and Joe shot him in the head.
The Indians then examined all of the wounded in the wagons, and all of the bodies, to see if any were alive, and all that showed signs of life were at once shot through the head.
Just after the wounded were all killed I saw a girl, some ten or eleven years old, running towards us, from the direction where the troops had attacked the main body of emigrants; she was covered with blood. An Indian shot her before she got within sixty yards of us. That was the last person that I saw killed on that occasion.
About this time an Indian rushed to the front wagon, and grabbed a little boy, and was going to kill him. The lad got away from the Indian and ran to me, and caught me by the knees; and begged me to save him, and not let the Indian kill him. The Indian had hurt the little fellow's chin on the wagon bed, when he first caught hold of him. I told the Indian to let the boy alone. I took the child up in my arms, and put him back in the wagon, and saved his life. This little boy said his name was Charley Fancher, and that his father was Captain of the train. He was a bright boy. I afterwards adopted him, and gave him to Caroline. She kept him until Dr. Forney took all the children East. I believe that William Sloan, alias Idaho Bill, is the same boy.
After all the parties were dead, I ordered Knight to drive out on one side, and throw out the dead bodies. He did so, and threw them out of his wagon at a place about one hundred yards from the road, and then came back to where I was standing.
I then ordered Knight and McMurdy to take the children that were saved alive, (sixteen was the number, some say seventeen, I say sixteen,) and drive on to Hamblin's ranch. They did as I ordered them to do.
Every witness that claims that he went to the Meadows without knowing what he was going to do, has lied, for they all knew, as well as Haight or any one else did, and they all voted, every man of them, in the Council, on Friday morning, a little before daylight, to kill all the emigrants.
While going back, to the brethren, I passed the bodies of several women. In one place I saw six or seven bodies near each other; they were stripped perfectly naked, and all of their clothing was torn from their bodies by the Indians.
I walked along the line where the emigrants had been killed, and saw many bodies lying dead and naked on the field, near by where the women lay. I saw ten children; they had been killed close to each other; they were from ten to sixteen years of age. The bodies of the women and children were scattered along the ground for quite a distance before I came to where the men were killed.
I do not know how many were killed, but I thought then that there were some fifteen women, about ten children, and about forty men killed, but the statement of others that I have since talked with about the massacre, makes me think there were fully one hundred and ten killed that day on the Mountain Meadows, and the ten who had died in the corral, and young Aden killed by Stewart at Richards' Springs, would make the total number one hundred and twenty-one.
When I reached the place where the dead men lay, I was told how the orders had been obeyed. Major Higbee said, "The boys have acted admirably, they took good aim, and all of the damned Gentiles but two or three fell at the first fire."
He said that three or four got away some distance, but the men on horses soon overtook them and cut their throats. Higbee said the Indians did their part of the work well, that it did not take over a minute to finish up when they got fairly started. I found that the first orders had been carried out to the letter.
Three of the emigrants did get away, but the Indians were put on their trail and they overtook and killed them before they reached the settlements in California. But it would take more time than I have to spare to give the details of their chase and capture. I may do so in my writings hereafter, but not now.
After the dead were searched, the brethren were called up, and Higbee and Klingensmith, as well as myself, made speeches, and ordered the people to keep the matter ,a secret from the entire world. Not to tell their wives, or their most intimate friends, and we pledged ourselves to keep everything relating to the affair a secret during life. We also took the most binding oaths to stand by each other, and to always insist that the massacre was committed by Indians alone. This was the advice of Brigham Young too, as I will show hereafter.
After breakfast we all went back in a body to the Meadows, to bury the dead and take care of the property that was left there.
When we reached the Meadows we all rode up to that part of the field where the women were lying dead. The bodies of men, women and children had been stripped entirely naked, making the scene one of the most loathsome and ghastly that can be imagined.
Colonel Dame was silent for some time. He looked all over the field, and was quite pale, and looked uneasy and frightened. I thought then that he was just finding out the difference between giving and executing orders for wholesale killing.
We then went along the field, and passed by where the brethren were at work covering up the bodies. They piled the dead bodies up in heaps, in little gullies, and threw dirt over them. The bodies were only lightly covered, for the ground was hard, and the brethren did not have sufficient tools to dig with. I suppose it is true that the first rain washed the bodies all out again, but I never went back to examine whether it did or not.
We then went along the field to where the corral and camp had been, to where the wagons were standing. We found that the Indians had carried off all of the wagon covers, and the clothing, and the provisions, and had emptied the feathers out of the feather-beds, and carried off all the ticks.
After the dead were covered up or buried (but it was not much of a burial,) the brethren were called together, and a council was held at the emigrant camp. All the leading men made speeches; Colonel Dame, President Haight. Klingensmith, John M. Higbee, Hopkins and myself. The speeches were first--Thanks to God for delivering our enemies into our hands; next, thanking the brethren for their zeal in God's cause; and then the necessity of always saying the Indians did it alone, and that the Mormons had nothing to do with it.
The most of the speeches, however, were in the shape of exhortations and commands to keep the whole matter secret from every one but Brigham Young. It was voted unanimously that any man who should divulge the secret, or tell who was present, or do anything that would lead to a discovery of the truth, should suffer death.
The brethren then all took a most solemn oath, binding themselves under the most dreadful and awful penalties, to keep the whole matter secret from every human being, as long as they should live. No man was to know the facts. The brethren were sworn not to talk of it among themselves, and each one swore to help kill all who proved to be traitors to the Church or people in this matter.
It was then agreed that Brigham Young should be informed of the whole matter, by some one to be selected by the Church Council, after the brethren had returned home.
It was also voted to turn all the property over to Klingensmith, as Bishop of the Church at Cedar City, and he was to take care of the property for the benefit of the Church, until Brigham Young was notified, and should give further orders what to do with it.
- Lee, John Doyle. The Life and Confessions of John D. Lee, the Mormon. Philadelphia, Barclay, and Co., 1877, 46 pages; (187?), 64 pages.
At the site of the Mountains Meadow Massacre where, on September 11th, 1857, 120 men, women and children in an immigrant wagon train were slaughtered by murderous Mormon marauders, is an American flag--part of an LDS-erected memorial site/public relations ploy to downplay the Mormon role in, and cover-up of, the atrocity.
The flagpole boasting the Stars and Stripes is positioned near the fenced-in memorial area, where the skeletal remains of 29 victims of the Massacre are buried--bodies that were accidentally unearthed in the 1990s by a backhoe making badly-needed repairs to the neglected site.
The remains were quickly reburied, under intense pressure from then-Utah governor Mike Leavitt, who is a descendant of one of the Massacre participants.
Leavitt "encouraged state officials to quickly rebury the remains, even though the basic scientific analysis required by state law was unfinished. . . . The end result may be another sad chapter in the Massacre's legacy of bitterness, denial and suspicion. (Salt Lake Tribune, March 12, 2000, p. A-1)"
Leavitt's Mormon-protecting haste to literally cover up the crime is further detailed as follows:
"Utah state law required that the bones be studied, a job that went to forensic anthropologist Shannon Novak from the University of Utah. Novak and her colleagues found entrance and exit holes in the skulls of men that could only have come from gunshots fired at close range, while most women and children found died of blunt force.
"In her analysis of more than 2,600 bone fragments, Novak found no evidence of knives used to scalp, behead, or cut the throats, as well as no evidence of trauma from arrows. Although the study cannot determine what weapons Paiutes might have used in the Massacre (if they were involved), it brings up the possibility that white men murdered all of the victims, contradicting John D. Lee's testimony accusing Native Americans of slaughtering the women and children.
"To Shannon Novak, the bones could provide information that incomplete or biased histories could not. 'Prior to this analysis, what was known about the massacre was often based on second-hand information, polemical newspaper accounts, and the testimony of known killers,' said Novak. 'Furthermore, what had come to be merely an abstract historical event, the "tragedy at Mountain Meadows," now became a mass murder of specific men, women, and children with proper names and histories.'
"The analysis of the remains questioned the accuracy of the historical accounts and stirred up many emotions. After five weeks, Novak's analysis was cut short by an order from the governor of Utah, Mike Leavitt, that the bones be re-interred in time for the September  anniversary. . . .
"Leavitt, whose grandfather participated in the Massacre, circumvented the law and ordered that the bones be re-interred before the minimum required study was finished because he 'did not feel that it was appropriate for the bones to be dissected and studied in a manner that would prolong the discomfort' (Salt Lake Tribune, March 2000)."
As one looks at the American flag fluttering in the wind, casting its shadow over the scene of a bloodbath perpetrated by conspiring Mormon religious fanatics, it would do well to remember the words of American historian Howard Zinn:
"There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people."
We're Still Waiting For The Mopologists To Publish Their "Most Extensive Research Ever Conducted" On The Mountain Meadows Massacre Thursday, Nov 16, 2006, at 06:54 AM Original Author(s): Randy Jordan Topic:MOUNTAIN MEADOWS MASSACRE-Link To MC Article-
"Finally, the actions of the modern Church seem anything but a struggle to suppress its history, as Denton alleges. My co-authors, Richard E. Turley Jr. and Glen M. Leonard, and I have received full Church cooperation for what must be the most extensive research ever conducted on this episode. That research will be published in 2004 by Oxford University Press, and will shed more light and understanding on the event than any other previous publication." Ronald W. Walker, Professor of History - Brigham Young University - 3 June 2003"
Hmmmmm, I must have missed it. Does anybody know if such a work has been published?
Strange---Will Bagley published his book on the MMM in 2002, and Sally Denton's followed soon after. Considering the exhaustive detail in those books, what further research do Walker and Co. need to conduct before they can publish their (supposed) rebuttal? Surely, if there is information out there which contradicts the documented evidence which shows that Brigham Young planned and approved the attack on the Baker/Fancher train, these eminent historians would have rushed it out to the world in short order, to save their pioneer forefathers' reputations.
The Mountain Meadows Massacre, told by Sandra Tanner. Parley P. Pratt's murder in Arkansas. Also noted is Scott Fancher, the Mountain Meadow Massacre Mounument Foundation.
The Francher Party left Arkansas in April of 1857 in route to California. On September 5th, the Party was attacked and held under siege for 5 days. John D. Lee approached the camp in a flag of truce. The truce was a lie. When the Party gave up their weapons and lined up their wagons, the Mormons executed the entire party, including women and children. In a few minutes, 120 human beings were massacred.
Today the site is marked with plaques and signs - but only one name is mentioned - Gordon B. Hinckley.
Perhaps the most frequently asked question is, did Brigham Young's policies and/or orders factor in to the crime? The following comments and links are intended to lay out for newbies to the subject the documentation about who said and did what and when.
I'll put this info in the form of "assertion of Mormon apologists versus documented fact." I'll provide links to some of my old posts from alt.religion.mormon which include documentation from various historical sources and historians.
Apologist assertion: President James Buchanan unjustifiably sent federal troops to Utah because false reports had alleged that Brigham Young and other church leaders were defying and harrassing federal officials and engaging in an insurrection against the government. Government officials didn't tell Young why the troops were coming, so that's why he ordered that the army be prevented from entering the territory.
Fact: The reports of the Mormon lawlessness and insurrection were true. Young's plea of ignorance as to the purpose of the army's mission was a lie on his part. See details at
Apologist assertion: Mormon apologists typically claim that the MMM was a single, isolated incident committed by unauthorized, "rogue" Mormons, and that such activity was not a product of the institutional church.
Fact: The MMM was merely one of many incidents of the time wherein Mormons conspired with various Indian tribes to attack and plunder emigrant trains. See details at
Apologist assertion: Some members of the Baker-Fancher train committed atrocities against southern Mormons and local Indians, such as poisoning cattle or springs, insulting church leaders, boasting that they were amongst the murderers of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, etc. Those acts incited the rage of the local Mormons to the point of massacring the emigrants.
Fact: Historical research shows that such reports of atrocities were concocted by Mormons in order to explain and justify the massacre. See details at
Furthermore, as Utah historian Will Bagley noted, "all information about the emigrants' conduct came from men involved in their murder or its cover-up...In light of their origins, all reports of the reckless behavior of a company composed mostly of women and children must be regarded with profound skepticism...these impressions of the Fancher party's behavior were based on hearsay. Reliable accounts consistently identified the company's large cattle herd, not intentional insults, as the main cause of friction...Such confusion [in the Mormons' allegations of atrocities] led historian Josiah Gibbs to conclude that the poison stories were sheer nonsense...without the poison tales, there is no proof the Fancher party did *anything* to provoke Utah's Indians." (Excerpts, "Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows," pp. 99-110.)
Apologist assertion: Brigham Young did not know about, nor approve of, the attack on the Baker-Fancher emigrant train beforehand.
Fact: Brigham Young clearly planned and approved of the specific attack on the Baker-Fancher train, during a war council which he held with 12 southern Indian chiefs six days before the attack. Some of the documentation for that is in the above link. Here's more info on it:
Apologist assertion: Brigham Young sent a letter to southern Mormon leader Isaac Haight instructing him to not meddle with the emigrant train; this is evidence that Young didn't approve of the attack, and therefore Young was innocent of wrongdoing.
Fact: Since multiple documentation shows that Young planned and approved the attack, the meaning of his remarks in his letter to Haight reflected what was planned in that September 1 war council: Young originally planned for *only* the Indians to attack and plunder the emigrant train. He didn't want any Mormons to personally help in the crime, because he wanted to be able to "plausibly deny" any Mormon involvement in such incidents in the event of future investigations. See details at
Mormons were forced to aid in the destruction because
a) The Indian attack failed because the emigrants fortified themselves
b) the Mormons feared that some of the emigrants would be able to identify white men amongst the Indian attackers if they were allowed to live (and some of the youthful survivors indeed did just that later on.) The Mormons also feared that some of the emigrants might escape at night to seek rescue along the trail. So that's why the Mormons decided to go ahead and massacre all those whom they believed were "above the age of accountability" (age eight in Mormon dogma,) without waiting for Young's reply to arrive.
Apologist assertion: After the massacre, Brigham Young tried to help the government to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Fact: Young and other church leaders pretended to help government officials in prosecuting the killers, but in actual fact, they helped to protect the criminals for about 20 years. Young's true attitude towards the crime and its victims is displayed by his own words which are documented at
I didn't see it and hadn't heard that it was going to be shown last night, but I did see a thread on the oddly-named "Recovery" board in which several of those "recovering," plainly inflamed by the show into even more vigorous "recovery," expressed contempt for Rick Turley and the other authors of Massacre at Mountain Meadows for failing to deal with the aftermath of the Massacre (e.g., Brigham Young's alleged cover-up, and the like).
They evidently failed to notice the fact that Massacre at Mountain Meadows, as it itself explains, is the first volume of a two-volume work, and that, as the first volume itself indicates, the second volume will deal, precisely, with the aftermath of the Massacre.
I mention this just in case anybody here happens to be afflicted with the same basic incapacity to read.
I can't imagine why so many of you have a poor opinion of this ambassador of the Lord.
I answered this with the following:
I am certainly aware that the trembling trio's work (Massacre at Mountain Meadows--a book by LDS historian Richard E. Turley, Jr. and two Brigham Young University professors of history, Ronald W. Walker and Glen M. Leonard) detailed that "too much information existed for a single book", and that the second half of the story would be written in a future volume. This is contained in the introduction. There was, strangely enough, sufficient space to include details of Lee's execution. An obvious ploy to assuage the fears of the lds faithful that justice was indeed served on the guilty leader of a rogue band of zealots.
I will tell you why they didn't want to include the details of the Massacre's aftermath. Details like the circus that was the trial proceedings. Details like the victims' remains were not properly interred (by the 'rogue' lds members or 'non-rogue' members). Like the fact that no effort was made by lds leaders to either inform the victims' families back in Arkansas or return the children. Like the fact that Brigham Young ordered the only marker--the cairn erected by Gentiles (since no lds members had bothered to mark the site)--to the victims be razed.
Fearful that an actual timeline with accompanying actions/inactions of the lds leadership (and 'faithful' membership) in the aftermath of the Massacre could cause a tsunami of member resignations (and tithing revenue reductions), the "historians" decided that breaking the story into two volumes would be "better". I suspect they believe a little "breathing room" between the works may soften the "blow to the head" that is the details of the lds church's actions/inactions after the Massacre (all the way to present day). I also suspect the three may even secretly wish that they may escape to the afterlife before volume #2 has to be produced. After all, the "definitive" work has been done....the lds members can now proudly point to the "already put to bed" analysis that "conclusively" shows that the heinous crime was the result of a rogue band of jack mormons who acted on their own and that the leader of that band was summarily executed.....and that their beloved prophet Brigham Young had absolutely nothing to dowith it.
Of course the facts...yes, THOSE stubborn facts...point in a different direction. After all, a prophet who razes graves is hard to defend. The trail of the facts--especially the facts of the aftermath--point to complicity. Complicity in the pre-massacre events, complicity in the execution of the massacre (pun intended), and complicity in the cover-up. The complicity extends far beyond a small, rogue band of southern utah zealots. The sticky web of this complicity starts with Brigham Young, extends through the twelve, and stretches through the 19th, 20th, and into the 21st century....culminating (at least for the time being) in the novel "Masscare at Mountain Meadows".
The intended purpose of the novel was to exonerate Brigham Young...period.
Brother Brigham's actions in the massacre's aftermath are damning--a fact the trembling trio chose to side-step.
I submit one question as evidence: How many of the 'rogue band' that pulled the triggers were excommunicated?
Danny, do you have the number handy?
To finish the logic trail, I submit the following.
If BY was complicit [and I submit the facts point plainly to that conclusion] in the planning, execution, and cover-up of the massacre, then the LDS faithful would have to face up to some 'other' truths. Here's a few:
A prophet of the lord ordered the slaughter of unarmed Gentiles.
A prophet of the lord razed the mass gravesite marker [the cairn] of the victims.
A prophet of the lord refused to be subject to the government of the US by obstructing justice.
A prophet of the lord never ordered excommunications for those involved.
A prophet of the lord, if not forced otherwise, was prepared to keep the victims' children in Utah forever.
A prophet of the lord watched as one man was executed for the crimes of many.
The list goes on.....but this will suffice for now.
So you can see how a complicit prophet poses a significant issue for the lds church. Not solely because it shows BY in a bad light [and that is waaaay too kind].....it questions his legitimacy as prophet in the first place.
Tying BY to MMM means the "Succession Crisis of 1844" comes into play. It means members of the Utah church are really Brighamites and the RLDS/Community of Christ is right. It means there is a university named after a mass murderer.
It means crisis.
It means Turley, Walker, and Leonard had but one purpose....
As I look back on more than ten years of posting on RFM, the single factor that led me to this site was curiosity over LDS History, specifically the Mountain Meadows Massacre. In 1999, the church had financed construction of a new memorial at the site, and the Salt Lake Tribune had run a story about the scandal when some of the victims' remains were uncovered by a back hoe.
At the time I knew very little about MMM even though the late Harold Schindler was a family friend, and he and my grandfather had co-founded a local Western History group. I did know it was a sensitive subject among Mormons, and perhaps it was not having anyone to discuss it with that kept me from exploring the subject further.
That situation has changed substantially, of course; two weeks ago I stopped into Will Bagley's office to share some information with him, and in addition to thanking me for posting links to his material here, he paid me a compliment that still has me blushing (I won't repeat it because the trollish sorts will just take it as a red flag).
Friendships with Will, Steve Benson--I'd followed his troubles with the church as well in the media--Simon Southerton, and a host of others have been among the benefits I've accrued as a member of this community.
Anyway, when I came here, I was probably the furthest thing from an "anti-Mormon" in terms of wanting to vilify the LDS culture. Even though I hated the influence of the LDS Church on Utah politics, I'd just spent a number of years in therapy with a TBM therapist who helped me immensely with issues attendant to sober alcoholism, and he's still a valued friend.
I had read "No Man Knows My History" as well as Taylor's "Nightfall at Nauvoo," and I had little respect for Joseph Smith, but I did regard Brigham Young as a powerful figure in history I felt deserved my grudging admiration.
I offer that as evidence that I came here with essentially an open mind. Bagley's "Blood of the Prophets" hadn't been published yet, so I started by reading Brooks' "The Mountain Meadows Massacre" and "John D. Lee: Zealot, Pioneer Builder, Scapegoat." I followed that with a trip to the Tanners, picking up LeSuer's "The 1838 Mormon War in Missouri" and John D. Lee's "Confessions."
About that time the 2002 Ex-Mormon Convention came up, and Will was featured along with Simon Southerton and Sandra Tanner. I had him sign a first edition of "Blood of the Prophets," and I began devouring everything I could read on the subject.
For the newer sorts, here's Will's presentation at that Conference along with links to all of the books mentioned above.
Obviously I've made substantial progress since reading these original works, a situation that was probably foreshadowed when I published a modest letter debunking a claim that "It was never proven that any Mormons besides John D. Lee were involved in the Mountain Meadows Massacre." My phone rang the next morning; it was a woman in Southern Utah thanking me for what I'd written. She claimed--and I have every reason to believe her--that she was descended from the Fanchers but had joined the LDS Church. She also said she had some family documents which showed Alexander Fancher had made two trips through Utah--at least one via the "Southern Route"--prior to the doomed 1857 trek. I confirmed the truth of her claim a few months later when I read Will's book.
Moving on, one challenge I've encountered in my research is what I've come to term "Mormon smear." Quite frankly, LDS historians, many of whom I've concluded are only writing badly biased historical fiction, only have to characterize an author as a "rabid anti-Mormon," and they consider their task of dismissing them as accomplished.
Here's a sample involving two prominent 19th century victims of the Mormon libel machine, J.H. Beadle, and Wm. Wyl (Wilhelm Wymetal). The latter interviewed William Law in the following, which appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune in 1887. The Law interview was one I read early on (he was someone I was familiar with), and it's been a favorite link of mine to post because his voice is so credible and authentic.
>Without an introduction or overview, however, the reader knows little of the context or background of the interview. Given the strong antipolygamy sentiment in America, the anti-Mormon bent of interviewer Wilhelm Wyl, Law's bitter opposition to the Prophet Joseph Smith, and publication of the interview in an openly anti-Mormon Salt Lake newspaper, it comes as no surprise that Law's recollections were predominately negative.
And another, quoting no less than Richard Bushman...
Biographer Richard L. Bushman provided this assessment of Wyl: “[He] introduced a lot of hearsay into his account of Joseph. Personally I found all the assertions about the Prophet's promiscuity pretty feeble. Nothing there [was] worth contending with.” L.D.S. General Authority, B. H. Roberts, assessed: “[Mormon Portraits] follows very much in the style and tone of Bennett's exposé, and severer criticism than this could not be passed upon it."
Wyl, whose real name was Wilhelm Wymetal, published "Joseph Smith, The Prophet, His Family and Friends," and excerpts are available here.
A brief biography of Wymetal is available on Wiki in German, but more significant are the following character references from, among others, the Territorial governor of Utah, and Chauncey G. Webb, who oversaw the construction of handcarts during that infamous episode in LDS history.
Dr. W. Wyl, a representative of the Berliner Tageblatt, and who is commended to me from a high personal and official source as a "highly cultivated and thoroughly reliable gentleman," has for four months assiduously labored in the investigation of the questions involved in Mormonism. I am satisfied that he has given the subject careful study, and is therefore qualified to write advisedly of the situation, past and present.
Respectfully, ELI H. MURRAY, Governor.
"I have been thoroughly acquainted with the Mormon Church for over fifty years. I attended grammar school with Joseph Smith in Kirtland, Ohio, in the winter of 1834 and 1835, and assisted in teaching Joseph Smith, the prophet, English grammar. I witnessed the history of the Church in Kirtland, Ohio, in Caldwell and Davies counties, Mo., in Nauvoo, Ill., and in Salt Lake City. I was intimately acquainted with Joseph Smith and his family for eleven years, also with all the leading men of the Church down to the present time. I have been thoroughly acquainted with the system and all the important facts of the history of the Mormon Church. In many interviews during March, April and May, 1885, I have given all the facts within my knowledge to Dr. W. Wyl, who wrote them down in shorthand. I think Dr. Wyl has enjoyed the best facilities for obtaining a thorough knowledge of Mormon History, and I look forward to his intended publication with great interest."
C. G. WEBB. , SALT LAKE CITY, May 14, 1885,
One "anti" did offer his testimony as well, none other than William Godbe, founder of the "Godbeites" Movement.
We, the undersigned, hereby certify that we know that Dr. W. Wyl, a German author and correspondent, has worked very earnestly for months to collect facts from a number of witnesses living in Salt Lake City, relating to the history of Mormonism. We believe that Dr. Wyl has done his work in a thoroughly honest and truth-loving spirit, and that his Book will be a valuable addition to the material collected by other reliable writers.
W. S. GODBE, H. W. LAWRENCE, E. L. T. HARRISON. SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH TER., April 28, 1886.
Dr. Wyl's own introduction can be read by scrolling down to page 10, where he takes his critics to task for characterizing him as being in league with Satan, and I think he makes a persuasive case for his claims.
J.H. Beadle suffers similarly at the hands of Mormon detractors. It was Beadle who arranged for William Hickman to make his confessions that became the basis for "Brigham's Destroying Angel."
A number of individuals, including one LDS attorney who also doubles as an apologist as well as a descendant of Hickman's who maintains a website, have insisted Beadle "fabricated" the murder charges that Hickman laid at Brigham Young's feet. However, one of the books Bagley and I discussed in the conversation that began this treatise was Robert N. Baskin's "Reminiscences of Early Utah." Baskin would later rise to become Chief Justice of the Utah Supreme Court after statehood was achieved.
My copy has become dog-eared from late night re-reading sessions, but the following is noteworthy:
"Hickman confessed to me that he personally knew of thirteen persons having been murdered, some by him, and others by various Danites; that at one time he murdered a man by the name of Buck at Brigham Young's behest. Hickman's statement of this affair is substantially the same as given to me, in fuller detail..."
I think this adequately debunks the following that Jeff Lindsay attributes to Hugh Nibley...
"Nobody had been able to pin anything on the Mormons until 14 years later, when Bill Hickman came to the rescue with his thrice-welcome 'confessions'... a long and lurid catalogue of blood in which every major crime committed in Utah is mechanically and unimaginatively pinned on Brigham Young.... Hickman, as we shall see, never dreamed of such a thing until Beadle put him up to it... Beadle was a professional purveyor of scandal... we believe that those tales are Beadle's invention... The patent absurdity of the 'Confessions' becomes apparent on the most superficial investigation and grows with every monotonous episode.... The Hickman stories were not true." (Sounding Brass, 1963, pp. 254, 256, 263-65)
As I said, very bad and biased historical fiction... Lindsay also quotes Nibley as wondering why, if the Danites actually existed, they never killed Hickman for violating his oaths...
Nibley's deserved reputation for scurrilous scholarship is untarnished with this one. There were few men in Utah willing to take on Bill Hickman if firearms were involved.
A last link to one of Beadle's pieces describing events at Mountain Meadows clearly demonstrates that any claims of "anti-Mormon" bias are thoroughly unwarranted. The following, written in 1870, gives an accounting of the attack on the Fancher/Baker party that is entirely consistent with Brooks and Bagley's accounts. Yet it even suggests Brigham Young probably didn't give the order to destroy the emigrants wagon train.
Two Pro-Mormon Sites Appropriate Mountain Meadows Massacre Internet Domain Names...
Last week a poster, who claimed to be as unaware of the Mountain Meadows Masscre as many LDS are--and non-LDS as well; growing up in Utah I heard next to nothing about it--asked about what happened with "America's First September 11th"? This, of course was wholesale slaughter of 120 men, women and children from Arkansas in Southern Utah on September 11, 1857.
My interest and knowledge on this subject is well known here; it was wanting to learn more that first led me to RFM, and I've followed discussions on the subject closely and read every piece of literature I could find on the matter for over ten years. When Will Bagley published "Blood of the Prophets" in 2002, I attended the promotion he gave at the 2002 Exmormon Foundation Conference, and a solid friendship followed.
Not wanting to be overly provocative with an initial introduction, I stuck with a bare-bones description of what happened (Indeed, I made no mention of the murder of Parley P. Pratt a few months before the massacre and the Arkansas connection with that event). I purposely stayed away from anything congroversial even though my personal view is Brigham Young probably ordered the massacre, and one factor rarely mentioned--other than by Ann Eliza Webb Young--was the wealth and size of the Fancher/Baker train and how that was perhaps a greedy plum for impoverished Southern Utahans that ensured their participating in the grisly deed.
I merely mentioned that most of the initial attackers were probably Mormons dressed as Indians, that a five day siege occurred where the emigrants were cut off from water, and that they were lured out from their stronghold under a flag of truce presented to them by John D. Lee. The wholesale cold-blooded killings followed after the emigrants were disarmed and promised safe passage to Cedar City when accompanied by Mormon militia men.
I even included a link I thought would provide an opportunity for further exploration; I found it on after a Google search where I was looking for links to the writings of Juanita Brooks, Will Bagley, and some others. Here's that link...
Warning - PRO Mormon site: http://www.mountainmeadowsmassacre.com
Fifteen minutes or so later, I was horrified to realize I had linked to what was obviously a Mormon apologist site that purported to explain the roots of the massacre and claimed it stemmed from LDS persecution endured in Missouri (there's absolutely no evidence that any of the Fancher/Baker wagon train members were from Missouri, and they all departed Arkansas before the death of Apostle Pratt).
I put up a "Sorry, should've posted a 'Barf Bag Warning'" post, and I e-mailed the news to Will Bagley, wondering if he'd heard it already (It wouldn't be surprising at all if he had).
Here's his reply, reprinted with permission...
The bad news is that it's the mission of the Corp of the Pres to flood the world with b******t, but the good news is that nobody but Mormons believes any of it.
As one of Turley's employees told me, "We've got our story and we're sticking to it." It's a pretty sorry-a***d story.
It occurred to me that perhaps those Mormon apologists had borrowed a tactic from Ed Decker (Decker registered Exmormon.com after he was asked to leave this site by the owner; that site's current domain status is unknown to me, but someone does own it).
So I typed this one into my web browser...
Warning - PRO Mormon site: http://www.mountainmeadowsmassacre.org
And incredibly, I arrived at a site promoting the Turley/Walker/Leonard "rebuttal" to "Blood of the Prophets" that the LDS Church underwrote.
I've been promised a copy of this bit of literature that a number of my friends assure me is nothing but bad historical fiction and nonsense that should only be read in small doses with an added advisory that one should refrain from throwing it at anything breakable.
Unbelievable. I'm far more disturbed by these revelations than the knowledge that the LDS Church owns the lands where the massacre victims are buried.
The LDS Church is most unlikely to desecrate a grave site, but they have no qualms about descrating the truth.
Editor's Note From Infymus:
Both of these domains are owned by the "More Good Foundation", which is owned and operated by Allen Wyatt. This is very typical of Allen. Allen Wyatt has been doing this for years. His goal with the MGF is to try and create more "pro" sites than "anti" purely to trick people searching the Internet to land on his sites, rather than what he considers "Anti-Mormon". His sites then show a white washed, watered down, or blatantly false information.
More Good Foundation
Domain Admin ()
1569 N. Technology Way
Building A, Suite 1100
Orem, UT 84097
I reported a week or so ago on how two website domain names, http://www.mountainmeadowsmassacre.com and http://www.mountainmeadowsmassacre.org had been "appropriated" by Mormon apologists and used to further the LDS church's disinformation campaign about what really occurred in Southern Utah on September 11, 1857. Another poster identified FAIR and Allen Wyatt as the proprietors of those sites. Wyatt previously attempted similar shenanigans with the Tanners' Utah Lighthouse Ministry organization, but a Utah court declined to order compensation for any damages UTLM might've occurred as a result of Wyatt's cybersquatting.
Now have a gander at the "Mountain Meadows Association" website. This association is an organization of descendants of that horrific event and includes others, many of them Mormons whose ancestors were involved in the atrocity. Their stated goal is to "remember the victims killed," although there doesn't appear to be much focus on the particulars of their deaths.
I'm also left a bit dumbfounded, as well, at the omission of the word "Massacre" from the Association's name...
In order to glean some understanding of what happened, one has to click on the link "Mtn. Meadows Massacre" in the left hand column...
This link takes one to a page on titled "1999 Plaques," and one is immediately informed that the LDS Church maintains the grave site memorial "out of respect for those who died and were buried here." One has to scroll down half a dozen paragraphs to find the following:
THE MOUNTAIN MEADOWS MASSACRE
Led by Captains John T. Baker and Alexander Fancher, a California-bound wagon train from Arkansas camped in this valley in the late summer of 1857 during the time of the so-called Utah War. In the early morning hours of September 7th, a party of local Mormon settlers and Indians attacked and laid siege to the encampment. For reasons not fully understood, a contingent of territorial militia joined the attackers. This Iron County Militia consisted of local Latter-day Saints (Mormons) acting on orders from their local religious leaders and military commanders headquartered thirty-five miles to the northeast in Cedar City. Complex animosities and political issues intertwined with deep religious beliefs motivated the Mormons, but the exact causes and circumstances fostering the sad events that ensued over the next five days at Mountain Meadows still defy any clear or simple explanation. During the siege, fifteen emigrant men were killed in the fighting or while trying to escape. Then late Friday afternoon, September 11th, the emigrants were persuaded to give up their weapons and leave their corralled wagons in exchange for a promise of safe passage to Cedar City. Under heavy guard, they made their way out of the encirclement. When they were all out of the corral and some of them more than a mile up the valley, they were suddenly and without warning attacked by their supposed benefactors. The local Indians joined in the slaughter, and in a matter of minutes fourteen adult male emigrants, twelve women, and thirty-five children were struck down. Nine hired hands driving cattle were also killed along with at least thirty-five other unknown victims. At least 120 souls died in what became known as the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Seventeen children under the age of eight survived the ordeal and were eventually returned to Arkansas. One or more other children may have remained in Utah.
One could drive an entire Arkansas wagon train through the historical gaffs and holes-in-the-truth in that one.
During the siege, fifteen emigrant men were killed in the fighting or while trying to escape.
Killed in the fighting? Most were shot down in cold blood during the initial sneak attack... And the ones who tried to escape were captured by Mormons and murdered as well...
Similarly, a more honest account of the stories of the survivors would read, "Seventeen children were spared by the individuals who'd executed their parents. After two years, federal officers removed them from the Mormons who'd been keeping them, and eventually the United States government facilitated their return to their Arkansas relatives."
There is, incidentally, no hard evidence that one or more of the surviving children may have been hidden away and remained in Utah. Popular stories exist to this effect, and Juanita Brooks appears to have believed them, but there's little consistency in their telling. (per Will Bagley's "Blood of the Prophets")
Incredibly, the site also appears to serve LDS genealogy purposes. I happened on it by doing a bit of Googling about Isaac C. Haight, and the following appeared. I was so dumbfounded by what I encountered, I've forgotten what I wanted to learn in the first place...
This one ripped me right in my innards...
"The territorial militia (affectionately, the Nauvoo Legion)"
BTW, I've had an e-mail dialogue with an individual whose ancestors were from Cedar City and elected to "hide out" when the call for said militia was given. This is pretty conclusive evidence they were aware what fate was planned for the emigrants, and they elected to avoid participating in the slaughter.
And even the report on the Haight history is strong evidence the massacre was planned well in advance and claims the emigrants provoked the Cedar City residents amount to a lot of nonsense.
"Several meetings were held in Cedar City and Parowan to determine how the "War Orders" should be implemented. The militia decided that the Fancher train should be eliminated."
The Fancher/Baker Train arrived in Cedar City on Friday afternoon, left soon afterwards, and the intial attack took place fifty miles away on Monday morning. That's clearly close to the limit of how far a wagon train with 800 head of cattle and several hundred horses could travel in that length of time.
And it's absurd to suggest that it's possible to hold a meeting on Saturday afternoon, decide to commit mass murder, and assemble 40 or more men and a number of Indians and launch a sneak attack within that time frame.
Finally, in hopes of seeing at least some in-depth reporting and analysis on the subject, I clicked on the link "Reports - Scientific Data"
This gave me a second link that only offered an "inventory" of the forensic remains accidentally uncovered during the 1999 monument reconstruction.
Here's a more comprehensive report on that subject:
MORMON Massacre at Mountain Meadows:
Forensic Analysis Supports Paiute Tribe's Claim of Passive Role
A new forensic study lends credence to Paiute Indian claims that the tribe did not participate in the infamous Mountain Meadows Massacre of 1857 to the extent history has recorded.
First Findings: The Tribune reported Novak's preliminary findings from the massacre remains last March. Her research was prematurely terminated when Gov. Mike Leavitt asked state officials to order immediate return of the bones to BYU for the reburial ceremony when Hinckley dedicated a new monument to the victims. In an e-mail sent to state history officials, the governor -- whose ancestor Dudley Leavitt was one of the participants in the slaughter -- wrote he did not want controversy to highlight "the rather good-spirited attempt to put [the massacre] behind us."
Novak's final study, which was presented in October to the Midwest Bioarchaeology and Forensic Anthropology Association conference in Missouri, upholds most of those preliminary findings. At least 28 victims were discerned from the 2,605 pieces of bone, most of which were broken by a backhoe digging a foundation for the new monument. The skulls of 18 victims were partially reconstructed for trauma analysis.
The majority of gunshot wounds were in the heads of young adult males, although one child, aged 10-15, also was shot in the head. That gunshot victim "suggests the killing of women and children may have been more complicated than accounts described in the diaries," wrote Novak, who has since joined the faculty of Indiana State University.
Another indication of women and children being executed is the fractured palate of a female, aged 18-22. The pattern of the bone fracture, along with the blackened and burned crowns of the woman's teeth, is consistent with a gunshot wound.
Suggestions that most emigrant men were shot in the back of the head and from the rear while fleeing also are questioned by bullet trajectories through the skulls. Six individuals were shot in the head from behind, while five were shot in frontal assaults.
See p. 136 of "Blood of the Prophets." You and I might be the only ones with copies of "Innocent Blood."
A copy of Brigham Young's letter to Haight was found in 1884, and Will discusses the wording as well as noting that events in Cedar City indicate Haight received something consistent with it. Too, Garland Hurt notes that a messenger was sent north (pp. 163-64: BOP... Hurt was the non-Mormon Indian agent in Spanish Fork and learned the essential details within two weeks of the killings).
The cryptic wording in BY's note to Haight: "The Indians we expect will do as they please but you should try and preserve good feelings among them. There are no other trains going south that I know of."
Even Juanita Brooks was puzzled by this one although she felt it exonerated BY from direct complicity in the killings.
The claim by BY of knowing of "no other trains" is extremely dubious; the Duke and Turner parties weren't far behind the doomed Arkansans, and the Duke train lost all of their stock to "Mormons and their allies." (p. 164-68)
The question I keep asking regarding Haslam's ride is "Why didn't the Iron County Militia wait for his return before proceeding with the massacre?"
Will addressed that one over lunch a few years ago, noting that they knew the Duke train was approaching as well... Haight's note to Young was on the order of "Lee and the Indians have the emigrants corraled" and it was a request for further instruction. So one wonders what was in the original orders that were probably conveyed south by George A. Smith.
This stuff is complicated and nuanced (and no doubt the apologists will toss turds all over such interpretations); even the dates of the actual killings aren't chiseled in stone, but only represent the "best guesses" of competent historians. On that one, if the encounter at Cedar City and the massacre took place later--after Haslam's arrival--then BY's guilt is clear. Some additional message must've been transmitted--perhaps by word of mouth--from Young to Haight.
That's all conjecture on my part, however, and I think I'm working from memory of some stuff Brooks mentioned.
These men were participants at Mountain Meadows September 11 1857:
William H. Dame - Stake President (Parowan)
Isaac C. Haight - Stake President (Cedar) and mastermind
John H. Higbee - 1stCounselor to Haight
Philip Klingensmith - Bishop (Cedar)
John Doyle Lee - Bishop
Nephi Johnson later became presiding elder, acting bishop, and bishop's counselor in succession
George Albert Smith - 2nd in command of LDS church, in 1868 made 1counselor to Brigham Young
William C. Stewart High Priest
Daniel Hanmer Wells Apostle and 2nd Counselor to Brigham
Perhaps the blessings of following the Priesthood can be counted on 240 fingers.
"We have heard men who hold the priesthood remark that they would do anything they were told to do by those who preside over them -- even if they knew it was wrong. But such obedience as this is worse than folly to us. It is slavery in the extreme. The man who would thus willingly degrade himself should not claim a rank among intelligent beings until he turns from his folly.
"A man of God would despise this idea. Others, in the extreme exercise of their almighty authority have taught that such obedience was necessary, and that no matter what the Saints were told to do by their presidents, they should do it without any questions.
"When Elders [leaders] of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they [the leaders] have it in their hearts to do wrong themselves."
-- Joseph Smith, Jr.
Millenial Star, Archive Volume 14, Number 38, Pages 593-595
Reported by Dudley Leavitt (from Bagley's Innocent Blood p. 461)
In 1861 "Brigham Young made his only visit to the [massacre] site and saw the monument of granite stones and the cedar cross that Major Carleton and his men had erected and inscribed with the words, "Vengeance is mine: I will repay, saith the Lord." Young studied it a moment, then said: "It should be Vengeance is mine and I have taken a little" (Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 5:577.) That was all he said, Dudley Leavitt recalled. "He just lifted his right arm to the square and in five minutes there wasn't one stone left upon another". Even more revealing was the fact that Young gave no spoken order. "He didn't have to tell us what he wanted done," Leavitt said. "We understood." (Brooks, The Mountain Meadows Massacre, p183.)
There have been a few threads here discussing John G. Turner's new biography of Brigham Young, and since the wholesale mass killing of men, women, and children in an Arkansas wagon train on Sept. 11, 1857 figures prominently in the life and tenure of the second LDS president, the subject certainly needs to be brought up. It's fair then, as well to evaluate Turner's conclusions on the thorny question of whether Brigham Young ordered the attack or, as LDS historians stubbornly insist, the event was orchestrated strictly by fanatic Southern Utah pioneers operating from the hysterical fear of renewed persecution by outsiders, a rekindling of memories of events in Missouri and Illinois before their exodus to Utah.
My association with Will Bagley is well known to RFM readers, as is my passion for "all things MMM." I was privileged this last week to be part of an e-mail dialog between two editors of MormonThink and Will where he asked that a reply to a Huffington Post piece by Turner be posted (since HuffPo had declined to print his essay). Here is a link to the original article by Turner:
In the interest of wider exposure, Will e-mailed me this morning with request that I put his reply to the Huffington article--he affectionally referred to it as "Brigham Did It"--on RFM. The following is reprinted with permission in its entirety.
THE PROBLEM WITH A GUILTY MASS MURDERER
A response to John G. Turner's "The Mountain Meadows Massacre Revisited"
John G. Turner's stellar biography of Brigham Young fills the telling lack of a great biography of the singular theocrat who ruled the Great Basin for two decades. For the first time, a gifted scholar with no personal connection to Mormonism has gained access to Latter-day Saints' archives, long a lockbox of the sources critical to any historian. His book supplants generations of bad work by Mormon historians, whose preposterous pieties and revealing silences about their second prophet's crimes against his own people expose a fundamental dishonesty. Turner looks at the great man warts and all, but too often turns a blind eye to Young's most brutal acts.
In his New York Times review of Pioneer Prophet, Alex Beam asked, "Can a biographer be too fair? Perhaps." Beam called Turner's handling of polygamy "squishy in the extreme." Turner is a careful and fair religious historian, but when faced with the hardest questions about Young's pathological violence, he often tows the apologist line. Following the fearless Mormon historian Juanita Brooks, his biography's account of the Mountain Meadows Massacre clearly assigns moral responsibility to Young-everything else is mere detail. His Huffington Post essay, unfortunately, is a testament to squishiness.
Since the Huffington Post declined to post a counter argument and the evidence that contradicts Turner's vindication of President Young, here goes: Turner ignores too many missing documents and known facts about Young's worst atrocity when he concludes, "the existing evidence suggests that Young did not order the crime." As Andrew Hamilton argued at the trial of Peter Zenger in 1735, "the suppressing of evidence ought always to be taken for the strongest evidence." The documentary record of the massacre is full of missing critical letters, unwritten orders, and journals with the entire year of 1857 torn out. U.S. Attorney Sumner Howard convicted and executed John D. Lee, Young's ritually adopted son and the only Mormon to ever stand trial for the mass murder of some 80 women and children and 30 men. He wrote in 1877, "whatever written communications were sent by Brigham were sent to persons other than Lee and have long since been taken care of by Brigham Young." No one ever accused Young of being either a fool "or so indifferent to his own safety as to allow written evidence of his own guilt to remain in the hands of men over whom he had supreme control."
Most of the evidence that survived this purge comes from the murderers who executed the crime. Their accounts are self-serving lies. Lee's version-a bestseller when it appeared-is the most skillful and extravagant. Even Lee concluded that Young's emissary, General George A. Smith, visited Southern Utah "to prepare the people for the work of exterminating Captain Fancher's train of emigrants, and I now believe that he was sent for that purpose by the direct command of Brigham Young." As horrific as the massacre was, the truth about the murders is probably much worse than the corrupted surviving record reveals.
To argue, "there was no good reason for Young to order a massacre with the potential to focus the full fury of the American government on Utah" is disingenuous. Young, perhaps America's all-time worst Superintendent of Indian Affairs, had already encouraged his Native American wards to plunder wagon trains. Turner ignores a very good political reason: Young orchestrated violence to demonstrate his power to cut communications between the Atlantic and Pacific. If the U.S. sent an army to Utah, he blustered in August 1857, "travel must stop; your trains must not cross this continent." Young boasted only his influence restrained Indian attacks on overland emigration, and if war came, "I will say no more to the Indians let them alone, but do as you please. And what is that? It is to use them up; and they will do it." At Mountain Meadows, Mormons dressed as Indians "used up" an entire wagon train.
As Turner notes, a local militia and religious leader, Isaac Haight, "sent a letter asking Brigham Young for advice. For unclear reasons, local leaders did not wait for the church president's response." That's true as far as it goes-Haight's letter is not among "the existing evidence." What does survive is Young's extremely odd response to Haight, hailed by Turner and others as Young's alibi, which said in regard to civilian wagon trains "passing through our settlements, we must not interfere with them until they are first notified to keep away. You must not meddle with them. The Indians we expect will do as they please but you should try and preserve good feelings with them."
Young's alibi begs several questions: Why did Governor Young have to send orders to the south not to 'interfere' with the emigrants? As historian David White concluded, Young's shrewd reply appears calculated to correct a policy gone wrong if it arrived in time and to cover his tracks if received too late. Whatever the letter's intent, it carried a hidden but clear message: make sure the Mormons could blame whatever happened on the Indians.
Mountain Meadows, an atrocity executed by religious fanatics who mindlessly obeyed their religious leaders, says a lot more about modern Mormonism than apologists like to admit. The theocratic police state Young created as the Corporation of the President is still under the control of its sole proprietor, the current LDS prophet. ""I am watching you," Young boasted in 1855. "Do you know that I have my threads strung all through the Territory, that I may know what individuals do?" Church security stills keeps close tabs on its "lost sheep"; as evidence shortly after publishing a brilliant novel about the wives of John D. Lee, Judith Freeman received an invitation from her Los Angeles stake president "to discuss your feelings concerning the Church and what, if anything, should be done about them" with his "presidency." When my father met with his California bishopric after we moved to California in the late 1950s, those church leaders told him, "We know a lot more than you think."
Proving a negative--i.e. that Brigham Young did not order murders--is impossible, but for historians, proving anything is hopeless. Archbishop Richard Whately demonstrated as much when he published "Historic Doubts Relative to Napoleon Buonaparte" in 1819 (Napoleon was still alive) and questioned the very existence of such an outlandish character. But having studied all the evidence about Mountain Meadows for twenty years, the simplest, least convoluted answer to the perennial question, "Did Brigham Young order the attacks that led to a massacre?" is yes. Or hell yes.
The problem with a guilty client, any lawyer will tell you, is he acts guilty. From 1857 till his death, Brigham Young sweated guilt, denying, revising, intimating, lying, and finally sacrificing his adopted son to justice. Recent evidence confirms the charge. "The Mormons supposed that the U.S. Government was going into war with them, and intended killing all parties who came on to here," Lee's neighbor Peter Shirts told a federal official in 1871. "This was the idea of the leaders in the southern country at least." This was the essence of Young's order.
If you think official histories died with the fall of the Soviet Union, you're unaware of events in Utah. During the last decade, the Mormon Church has engaged in a massive effort to refute books by David L. Bigler, John Krakauer, and myself and wash the blood off Brigham Young's hands. They won't say how much they spent to publish the officially unofficial "Massacre at Mountain Meadows: An American Tragedy" in 2008, but three church historians and dozens of employees spent eight years researching and writing a book that stops the day after the massacre. Volume Two is still keeping a dozen faithful historians busy. I estimate it cost more than ten million dollars to get the job half done: the Church itself refuses to divulge how much the project cost.
If Brigham Young were truly innocent, I'd have done the job for free.
>Will Bagley is the author of more than twenty books on overland emigration, railroads, mining, frontier violence, and the creation of digital search technology. David Roberts called him the "sharpest of all thorns in the side of the Mormon historical establishment." His book with David L. Bigler, "The Mormon Rebellion: America's First Civil War," won a 2012 Spur Award from Western Writers of America and recently appeared in paperback.
And for those interested, here's a link to the Turner biography: