It was named for "Colonel" Alexander Fancher who, having already made the journey to California twice before, had become its main leader. See. It is speculated that they wanted no “adult” survivors who could give credible testimony to … Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). Young issued various orders, urging the local population to prepare for the arrival of the troops. The adult men were separated from the women and children. Carleton interviewed a few local Mormon settlers and Paiute Native American chiefs, and concluded that there was Mormon involvement in the massacre. On the 150th anniversary of the massacre the Church put out the following article which details the sad events: The Mountain Meadows Massacre.  The Council resolved to take no action until Haight sent a rider, James Haslam, out the next day to carry an express to Salt Lake City (a six-day round trip on horseback) for Brigham Young's advice, as Utah did not yet have a telegraph system. Covered wagons traveling in Utah shortly before the Mountain Meadows Massacre, September 1857. These children were taken in by local Mormon families. Sixteen more were wounded. As the Baker-Fancher train camped at Mountain Meadows, some of the residents of Cedar City and the surrounding areas determined that some action needed to be taken against the emigrants. In January 1856, Young said "the government of God, as administered here" may to some seem "despotic" because "...judgment is dealt out against the transgression of the law of God. This tragic event, which spared only 17 children age six and under, occurred in a valley called the Mountain Meadows, roughly 35 miles southwest of Cedar City. After gathering up the skulls and bones of those who had died, Carleton's troops buried them and erected a cairn and cross..  "It was in accordance with Mormon policy to hold every Arkansan accountable for Pratt's death, just as every Missourian was hated because of the expulsion of the church from that state. The Mountain Meadows massacre occurred on September 11, 1857, and resulted in the deaths of 120 pioneers on their way to California.  The Baker–Fancher party defended itself by encircling and lowering their wagons, wheels chained together, along with digging shallow trenches and throwing dirt both below and into the wagons, which made a strong barrier. Categories & Site Details: Gold, Gold & Doubloons, Lost Forgotten History, Massacre Sites, Mountain Meadows Massacre, Mysteries Mountain Meadows… They were camped near what is the present-day town of Enterprise when they were besieged by what they thought were Indians. , While most witnesses said that the Fanchers were in general a peaceful party whose members behaved well along the trail, rumors spread about misdeeds. This massive slaughter claimed nearly everyone in the party from Arkansas and is the event referred to as the Mountain Meadows Massacre.  National newspapers covered the Lee trials closely from 1874 to 1876, and his execution in 1877 was widely covered. Among Smith's party were a number of Paiute Native American chiefs from the Mountain Meadows area. That’s the basic story of what Mountain Meadows is, and why it horrifies the rest of the United States so much, and why it gets the Mormons in such deep trouble. Retried the following year, he was convicted of first degree murder and on March 23, 1877, was shot at the site of the massacre. The locations of the possible graves are on private land and not at any of the monument sites owned by the LDS Church. The massacre has been treated extensively by several historical works, beginning with Lee's own Confession in 1877, expressing his opinion that George A. Smith was sent to southern Utah by Brigham Young to direct the massacre..  By contemporary standards the Baker–Fancher party was prosperous, carefully organized, and well-equipped for the journey. Doug McCormick. 10, 1857, Letterpress Copybook 3:827–28, Brigham Young Office Files, LDS Church Archives. On 11 September 1857, some 50 to 60 local militiamen in southern Utah, aided by American Indian allies, massacred about 120 emigrants who were traveling by wagon to California. After walking a distance from the camp, the militiamen, with the help of auxiliary forces hiding nearby, attacked the emigrants. Whitman)", "THE POWERS OF THE PRIESTHOOD NOT GENERALLY UNDERSTOOD--THE NECESSITY OF LIVING BY REVELATION--THE ABUSE OF BLESSINGS", "To the Honorable Judge of the Court, in the town of Van Buren, State of Arkansas, May 12, 1957 (Mrs. Pratt's Letter to the Judge)", "Further Particulars of the Murder - To Brother Orson (A letter from Eleanor McLean Pratt)", "Murder of Parley P. Pratt, One of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints", "Fulfilment of Prophecy—Wars and Commotions", "Malinda (Cameron) Scott Thurston Deposition", "The Mountain Meadows Massacre: An Aberration of Mormon Practice", "Correspondence: Trip to the Santa Clara", "Mountain Meadows Massacre affidavit linked to Mark Hofmann", "Mountain Meadows Massacre Artifact Now Believed To Be A Fake", "Mountain Meadows affidavit Hofmann forgery?  By some reports, the monument was destroyed in 1861, when Young brought an entourage to Mountain Meadows. Only 17 survived, all under the age of 7. [I]f those who are there will leave let them go in peace. The Mountain Meadows Massacre happened on September 11, 1857. In this episode, we’re just going to talk about what happened. Omissions?  Col. William H. Dame, the ranking officer in southern Utah who ordered the Mountain Meadows massacre, received a patriarchal blessing in 1854 that he would "be called to act at the head of a portion of thy Brethren and of the Lamanites (Native Americans) in the redemption of Zion and the avenging of the blood of the prophets upon them that dwell on the earth". A notable report on the incident was made in 1859 by Carleton, who had been tasked by the U.S. Army to investigate the incident and bury the still exposed corpses at Mountain Meadows. Whatever the legal situation, she thought of herself as an unmarried woman. Massacre at Mountain Meadows offers the most thoroughly researched account of the massacre ever written. The horrific crime, which spared only 17 children age six and under, occurred in a highland valley called the Mountain Meadows, roughly 35 miles southwest of Cedar City. There is a consensus among historians that Brigham Young played a role in provoking the massacre, at least unwittingly, and in concealing its evidence after the fact. During the mid-1850s, Young instituted a Mormon Reformation, intending to "lay the axe at the root of the tree of sin and iniquity".  Dame, Philip Klingensmith and two others (Ellott Willden and George Adair, Jr.) were indicted and arrested while warrants were obtained to pursue the arrests of four others (Haight, Higbee, William C. Stewart and Samuel Jukes) who had gone into hiding. The Baker/Fancher Wagon Train consisted of more than 150 men, women and children. ", In addition, during the prior decades, the religion had undergone a period of intense persecution in the American Midwest. Rumors spread in the territory about the motives for the federal troop movement. In 1873, the massacre was a prominent feature of a history by T. B. H. Stenhouse, The Rocky Mountain Saints. At sentencing, Lee chose to be executed by firing squad. Seven emigrants were killed during the opening attack and were buried somewhere within the wagon encirclement. On Sept. 7, 1857, Paiutes and some Mormons dressed as Paiutes first attacked. The attacks culminated on September 11, 1857 in the mass slaughter of the emigrant party by the Iron County district of the Utah Territorial Militia and some local Indians. The Church of Latter-Day Saints was technically not involved in the Mountain Meadows massacre; rather, it’s thought that the Mormons at Cedar City acted alone. , According to historian MacKinnon, "After the [Utah] war, U.S. President James Buchanan implied that face-to-face communications with Brigham Young might have averted the conflict, and Young argued that a north-south telegraph line in Utah could have prevented the Mountain Meadows massacre. Brooks found no evidence of direct involvement by Brigham Young, but charged him with obstructing the investigation and provoking the attack through his rhetoric. Following the massacre, Young stated in public forums that God had taken vengeance on the Baker–Fancher party. , The Baker–Fancher party were refused stocks in Salt Lake City and chose to leave there and take the Old Spanish Trail, which passed through southern Utah. In the summer of 1857, however, the Mormons expected an all-out invasion of apocalyptic significance.  The attack continued for five days, during which the besieged families had little or no access to fresh water or game food and their ammunition was depleted.  It was rumored that Pratt's wife recognized some of the Mountain Meadows party as being in the gang that shot and stabbed Pratt. On Sept. 7, 1857, Paiutes and some Mormons dressed as Paiutes first attacked. Members of the militia were sworn to secrecy. A federal judge brought into the territory after the Utah War, Judge John Cradlebaugh, in March 1859 convened a grand jury in Provo, concerning the massacre, but the jury declined any indictments. John Cradlebaugh to the Grand Jury, Provo, Tuesday, March 8, 1859)", "Tragedy at Mountain Meadows Massacre: Toward a Consensus Account and Time Line", "Horrible Massacre of Arkansas and Missouri Emigrants (Letter to G.N. , Scholars have asserted that George A. Smith's tour of southern Utah influenced the decision to attack and destroy the Fancher–Baker emigrant train near Mountain Meadows, Utah. Haight and Dame were, in addition, the senior regional military leaders of the Mormon militia. Mountain Meadows Massacre, (September 1857), in U.S. history, slaughter of a band of Arkansas emigrants passing through Utah on their way to California. War hysteria preceding the Mountain Meadows Massacre, Conspiracy and siege of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, Killings and aftermath of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, Investigations and prosecutions relating to the Mountain Meadows Massacre, Mountain Meadows Massacre and Mormon public relations, Mountain Meadows Massacre and Mormon theology, Brigham Young and the Mountain Meadows Massacre, Remembrances of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, Utah State Division of Parks and Recreation, Burying The Past: Legacy of The Mountain Meadows Massacre, American Massacre: The Tragedy At Mountain Meadows, September 1857, National Register of Historic Places portal, List of National Historic Landmarks in Utah, National Register of Historic Places listings in Washington County, Utah, "Jacob Hamblin: A Narrative of His Personal Experience Fifth Book of the Faith-Promoting Series (Chapter VI)", "Laban Morrill Testimony—Witness for the Prosecution at Second Trial of John D. Lee September 14 to 20, 1876 (Mountain Meadows Massacre Trials (John D. Lee Trials) 1875–1876)", "Mountain Meadows Massacre Site in Utah by Phil Konstantin", "Mountain Meadows Massacre, Affidavit of Philip Klingensmith", "Visit of the Superintendent of Indian Affairs to Southern Utah", "Charge (Orally delivered by Hon.  Cradlebaugh publicly charged Brigham Young as an instigator to the massacre and therefore an "accessory before the fact.  The monument was found destroyed and the structure was replaced by the U.S. Army in 1864. , On Friday, September 11, 1857, two militiamen approached the Baker–Fancher party wagons with a white flag and were soon followed by Indian Agent and militia officer John D. Lee. Seventeen of the children were later reclaimed by the U.S. Army and returned to relatives in Arkansas.. (A Mormon who listened to a sermon by Young in 1849 recorded that Young said "if any one was catched stealing to shoot them dead on the spot and they should not be hurt for it"); See Patriarchal blessing of William H. Dame, February 20, 1854, in Harold W. Pease, "The Life and Works of William Horne Dame", M.A.  This trial led to a hung jury on August 5, 1875. After two trials in the Utah Territory, Lee was convicted by a jury, sentenced to death, and executed by Utah firing squad on March 23, 1877. Investigations, after interruption by the American Civil War, resulted in nine indictments during 1874. However, in May 1857, just months before the Mountain Meadows massacre, apostle Parley P. Pratt was shot dead in Arkansas by Hector McLean, the estranged husband of Eleanor McLean Pratt, one of Pratt's plural wives. , A modern forensic assessment of a key affidavit, purportedly given by William Edwards in 1924, has complicated the debate on complicity of senior Mormon leadership in the Mountain Meadows massacre. The Mountain Meadows Massacre is an American tragedy in a West full of atrocities. They had traveled the 165 miles (266 km) south from Salt Lake City, and Jacob Hamblin suggested that the wagon train continue on the trail and rest their cattle at Mountain Meadows, which had good pasture and was adjacent to his homestead.  Cradlebaugh attempted to arrest John D. Lee, Isaac Haight, and John Higbee, but these men fled before they could be found. Lee was entitled under Utah Territorial statute to choose the method of his execution from three possible options: hanging, firing squad, or decapitation. The men were paired with a militia escort. The militia did not kill some small children who were deemed too young to relate the story. They anticipated several days of rest and recuperation there before the next 40 miles (64 km) would take them out of Utah.  Carleton later said it was "a sight which can never be forgotten."  As a result of this oath, several Mormon apostles and other leaders considered it their religious duty to kill the prophets' murderers if they ever came across them.  Eventually fear spread among the militia's leaders that some emigrants had caught sight of white men, and had probably discovered who their attackers really were. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. “The Mountain Meadows Massacre,” Ensign, Sept. 2007). ", Mormon leaders immediately proclaimed Pratt as another martyr, with Brigham Young stating, "Nothing has happened so hard to reconcile my mind to since the death of Joseph." (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1984), 5:577. Initially, the LDS Church denied any involvement by Mormons, and was relatively silent on the issue. Lee. The four Mountain Meadows Massacre sites are along Highway 18 about 30 miles north of St. George, Utah. He issued a report in May 1859, addressed to the U.S. Assistant Adjutant-General, setting forth his findings. He claimed that he reluctantly participated in the massacre and only to bury the dead who he thought were victims of an Indian attack.  Parley Pratt and Eleanor entered a Celestial marriage (under the theocratic law of the Utah Territory), but Hector had refused Eleanor a divorce. The leaders of the militia, wanting to give the impression of tribal hostilities, persuaded some Southern Paiutes to join with a larger party of militiamen disguised as Native Americans in an attack. A plan was set to blame the massacre on the Native Americans. , The somewhat dispirited Baker–Fancher party found water and fresh grazing for its livestock after reaching grassy, mountain-ringed Mountain Meadows, a widely known stopover on the old Spanish Trail, in early September. This group was initially referred to as both the Baker train and the Perkins train, but after being joined by other Arkansas trains and making its way west, was soon called the Baker–Fancher train (or party). Mountain Meadows Massacre Mountain Meadows Massacre (1875-76) Called "the darkest deed of the nineteenth century," the brutal 1857 murder of 120 men, women, and children at a place in southern Utah called Mountain Meadows remains one of the most controversial events in … Initial reports of the incident date back at least to October of 1857 in the Los Angeles Star. " In 1932 citizens of the surrounding area constructed a memorial wall around the remnants of the monument. , In Cedar City, the teachings of church leaders were particularly strident. But, on September 7, the party was attacked by Mormon militiamen dressed as Native Americans and some Native American Paiutes. For the decade prior to the Baker–Fancher party's arrival there, Utah Territory existed as a theodemocracy led by Brigham Young. PBS Frontline documentary: The Mormons, Part One, episodes 8 & 9: Mountain Meadows.  Since then, the LDS Church has condemned the massacre and acknowledged involvement by local Mormon leaders. The militia members assured the emigrants they were protected, and after handing over their weapons, the emigrants were escorted from their hasty fortification.  This group was relatively wealthy, and planned to restock its supplies in Salt Lake City, as did most wagon trains at the time. During the militia's first assault on the wagon train, the emigrants fought back, and a five-day siege ensued. Many Mormons held the people of Arkansas collectively responsible.  In the afternoon of Sunday, September 6, Haight held his weekly Stake High Council meeting after church services, and brought up the issue of what to do with the emigrants. The Aftermath of Mountain Meadows The massacre almost brought the United States to war against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but only one man was brought to … When Smith returned to Salt Lake, Brigham Young met with these leaders on September 1, 1857, and encouraged them to fight against the Americans in the anticipated clash with the U.S. Army.  Young's letter arrived two days too late, on September 13, 1857.  This time, Lee was convicted. 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