An Arkansas Emigrant Party Arrives at Salt Lake City Assassination of Parley P. Pratt Ill Feeling Against the Emigrants Alleged Outrages Their Arrival at Mountain Meadows They Are Attacked By Indians a Flag of Truce Plan of the Massacre Surrender of the Emigrants the Butchery Burial of the Slain the Survivors Judge Cradlebaugh's Investigation the Aiken Massacre John D. Lee on Trial the Jury Disagree the Second Trial Lee Convicted and Sentenced His Confession and Execution.
The threat uttered by Brigham during his interview with Captain Van Vliet, on the 9th of September, 1857, was speedily fulfilledso speedily that, at first sight, its execution would appear to have been predetermined. "If, he declared, the government dare to force the issue, I shall not hold the Indians by the wrist any longer." "If the issue comes, you may tell the government to stop all emigration across the continent, for the Indians will kill all who attempt it." Two days later occurred the Mountain Meadows massacre,1 at a point about three hundred miles south of Salt Lake City.
1In Forney's Rept, in Sen. Doc., 36th Cong. 1st Sess., ii. no. 42, p. 79, and the Hand-Book of Reference, p. 75, Sept. 9th is given as the date of the massacre. Forney, as superintendent of Indian affairs, made a close investigation into the details of this tragedy, the result of which is given in his report ut supra, pp. 87-9, and elsewhere in this document, which occupies 139 pages, and contains all the official information then to be had on the subject. His reports are dated Salt Lake City, 1859. He states that the attack began on Monday, Sept. 5th, and lasted till Friday, Sept. 9th, when the massacre occurred; but Friday of that week fell on Sept. 11th. Burton, City of the Saints, 411-12, note, also quotes an official report, in which Sept. 4th or 5th is given as the date of the first attack. See also Lee's confession in Mormonism (cont.)
The threat and the deed came so near together as to lead many to believe that one was the result of the other. But a moment's reflection will show that they were too nearly simultaneous for this to be the case; that in the absence of telegraph and railroad, it would be impossible to execute such a deed three hundred miles away in two days. Indeed, it may as well be understood at the outset that this horrible crime, so often and so persistently charged upon the Mormon church and its leaders, was the crime of an individual, the crime of a fanatic of the worst stamp, one who was a member of the Mormon church, but of whose intentions the church knew nothing, and whose bloody acts the members of the church, high and low, regard with as much abhorrence as any out of the church. Indeed, the blow fell upon the brotherhood with threefold force and damage. There was the cruelty of it, which wrung their hearts; there was the odium attending its performance in their midst; and there was the strength it lent their enemies further to malign and molest them. The Mormons denounce the Mountain Meadows massacre, and every act connected therewith, as earnestly and as honestly as any in the outside world. This is abundantly proved, and may be accepted as a historical fact.
I will now proceed to give the incidents as they occurred. In the spring of 1857 a party of one hundred and thirty-six Arkansas emigrants,2 among whom were a few Missourians,3 set forth for southern California.
(1cont.) Unvailed, 218, 237, 239, where Lee states that the massacre occurred on Friday, and that the attack began on Tuesday. At Lee's trial James Haslem testified, as we shall see later, that he was sent from Cedar City by Isaac C. Haight, with a letter to Brigham, on Monday, Sept. 7th, and that he reached S. L. City at 11 A. M. on Thursday. Deseret News, Sept. 20, 1876. The next day was the 11th. Other accounts differ slightly as to date.
2U.S. Attorney Wilson, in his report in Sen. Doc., 36th Cong. 1st Sess., ii. no. 42, p. 102, states that 119 were killed, and it is certain that 17 children were rescued. Forney and Burton say that 115 to 120 were massacred; Waite, The Mormon Prophet, 66, that the party consisted of 150 men and women, besides a number of children. Stenhouse, Tell It All, 324, mentions 120 to 130. Other reports vary from 120 to 150.
3Stenhouse, Rocky Mountain Saints, 424-8, says that the Arkansas and Missouri emigrants formed two separate parties, the latter naming themselves (cont.)
It included about thirty families, most of them related by marriage or kindred, and its members were of every age, from the grandsire to the babe in arms. They belonged to the class of settlers of whom California was in need. Most of them were farmers by occupation; they were orderly, sober, thrifty, and among them was no lack of skill and capital.4 They travelled leisurely and in comfort, stopping at intervals to recruit their cattle, and about the end of July arrived at Salt Lake City,5 where they hoped to replenish their stock of provisions.
For several years after the gold discovery the arrival of an emigrant party was usually followed, as we have seen, by friendly traffic between saint and gentile, the former thus disposing, to good advantage, of his farm and garden produce. But now all was changed. The army of Utah was advancing on Zion, and the Arkansas families reached the valley at the very time when the Mormons first heard of its approach, perhaps while the latter were celebrating their tenth anniversary at Big Cottonwood Cañon. Moreover, wayfarers from Missouri and Arkansas were regarded with special disfavor; the former for reasons that have already appeared, the latter on account of the murder of a well-beloved apostle of the Mormon church.
(3cont.) Missouri 'wild-cats,' and that the Arkansas party was advised by a friend of his to keep clear of the Missourians while passing through the Utah settlements and the portion of that territory occupied by Indians. I find no confirmation of this in other authorities, though, according to Mrs Stenhouse, Tell It All, 325, her husband's friend, whose name was Eli B. Kelsey, 'said that the train was divided into two parts, the first a rough-and-ready set of menregular frontier pioneers; the other a picked community.' The truth appears to be, that there were a few Missourians in the Arkansas party, as stated in Hutchings' Cal. Mag., iv. 345.
4They had about 600 head of cattle, 30 wagons, and 30 horses and mules. Forney's Rept, ut supra, p. 75. Stenhouse mentions that they had also several travelling-carriages. Rocky Mountain Saints, 424. At least $30,000 worth of plunder was collected after the massacre, besides what was appropriated by the Indians. Cradlebaugh estimated the value of their property at $60,000 to $70.000.
5I find no mention of their arrival in the files of the Deseret News, although the names of passing emigrants were registered in that paper at a nominal charge; and when the party was a large one, its passage was usually noticed among the local items of news.
In May of 1857 Parley P. Pratt was arraigned before the supreme court at Van Buren, Arkansas, on a charge of abducting the children of one Hector McLean, a native of New Orleans, but then living in California. He was acquitted; but it is alleged by anti-Mormon writers, and tacitly admitted by the saints, that he was sealed to Hector McLean's wife, who had been baptized into the faith years before, while living in San Francisco, and in 1855 was living in Salt Lake City.6 McLean swore vengeance against the apostle, who was advised to make his escape, and set forth on horseback, unarmed, through a sparsely settled country, where, under the circumstances, escape was almost impossible. His path was barred by two of McLean's friends until McLean himself with three others overtook the fugitive, when he fired six shots at him, the balls lodging in his saddle or passing through his clothes. McLean then stabbed him twice
6The account given in the Millennial Star, xix. 417-18, is that McLean, after treating his wife in a brutal manner for several years, turned her into the streets of San Francisco, and secretly conveyed the children on board a steamer for New Orleans, where the woman followed him; but finding that her parents were in the plot, set forth for Salt Lake City. Returning to New Orleans in 1856, she rescued her children and fled to Texas; but was followed by her husband, who had previously returned to California, and now regained possession of the children. Parley, who had already befriended Mrs McLean, had written to inform her that her husband was in pursuit. Hence the prosecution. McLean and his wife finally separated in San Francisco in 1855. See also Autobiog. of Parley P. Pratt, app. Stenhouse relates that Mrs McLean was married or sealed to Pratt in Utah, that she met Pratt in Arkansas on her way to Utah, and that the apostle was acquitted on account of her assuming the responsibility for the abduction. He admits, however, that the apostle did not abduct the children. Rocky Mountain Saints, 429. Burton says that Pratt converted Mrs McLean and took her to wife, but on what authority he does not state. City of the Saints, 412. The fact, however, that Mrs McLean arrived on the scene of the apostle's assassination just before his death, as mentioned in the Millennial Star, xix. 478, wears a suspicious look. In the S. F. Bulletin of March 24, 1877, it is stated that the apostle made the acquaintance of Mrs McLean while engaged in missionary work in San Francisco; that her husband, who was a custom-house official and a respectable citizen, ordered him to discontinue his visits, and kicked him out of the house for continuing them surreptitiously; and that the woman was so infatuated with the Mormon Elder that she devoutly washed his feet whenever he visited her. On arriving at Fort Smith (near Van Buren), McLean found letters from Parley Pratt addressed to his wife, one of them signed 'Your own,. 'The McLean residence in San Francisco, on the corner of Jones and Filbert streets, was in 1877 a dilapidated frame building, a story and a half in height. As to the apostle's assassination, the Bulletin merely states that he was overtaken by McLean and shot within eight miles of Van Buren, and that he died of his wounds an hour afterward.
with a bowie-knife under the left arm, whereupon Parley dropped from his horse, and the assassin, after thrusting his knife deeper into the wounds, seized a derringer belonging to one of his accomplices, and shot him through the breast. The party then rode off, and McLean escaped unpunished.7
Thus, when the Arkansas families arrived at Salt Lake City, they found the Mormons in no friendly mood, and at once concluded to break camp and move on. They had been advised by Elder Charles C. Rich to take the northern route along the Bear River, but decided to travel by way of southern Utah. Passing through Provo, Springville, Payson, Fillmore, and intervening settlements, they attempted everywhere to purchase food, but without success. Toward the end of August they arrived at Corn Creek,8 some fifteen miles south of Fillmore, where they encamped for several days. In this neighborhood, on a farm set apart for their use by the Mormons, lived the Pah Vants, whom, as the saints allege, the emigrants attempted to poison by throwing arsenic into one of the springs and impregnating their own dead cattle with strychnine. It has been claimed that this charge was disproved; and what motive the Arkansas party could have had for thus surrounding themselves with treacherous and blood-thirsty foes has never been explained. In the valleys throughout the southern portion of the territory grows a poisonous weed, and it is possible that the cattle died from eating of this
7This account of Parley's murder is based on the testimony of Geo. Higginson and Geo. Crouch, whose letter, dated Flint, Arkansas, May 17, 1857, was first published in a New York paper. Copies of it will be found in the Millennial Star, xix. 478, and Burton's City of the Saints, 419,-13, note. They state that the tragedy occurred close to the residence of a farmer named Win, and was witnessed by two men who were in the house at the time, and from whose evidence at the coroner's jury the above version is taken. Pratt lived long enough to give instructions as to his burial and the disposition of his property. The account given by Stenhouse, in Rocky Mountain Saints, 429-30, does not differ materially, except that he makes no mention of any accomplices.
8In his deposition at the trial of John D. Lee and others, George A. Smith, the prophet's cousin, states that he found them at Corn Creek on Aug. 25th. Millennial Star. xxxvii. 675; Lee's Mormonisrn Unvailed 307.
weed.9 It has been intimated that those who accused the emigrants of poisoning the Pah Vants were not honest in their belief, and that the story of the poisoning was invented, or at least grossly exaggerated, for the purpose of making them solely responsible for the massacre.10 The fact has never been so established, notwithstanding the report of the superintendent of Indian affairs, who states that none of this tribe were present at the massacre.
Continuing their journey, the emigrants proceeded to Beaver City, and thence to Parowan. Grain was scarce this year, and the emigrants were unable to purchase all they desired for their stock, though for their own immediate necessities they obtained what they required at this place. Arriving at Cedar City, they succeeded in purchasing about fifty bushels of wheat, which was ground at a mill belonging to John D. Lee, formerly commander of the fort at Cedar, but then Indian agent, and in charge of an Indian farm near Harmony.
It is alleged by the Mormons, and on good authority, that during their journey from Salt Lake
9Sen. Doc., 36 Cong. 1st Sess., ii. no. 42, p. 76. Forney mentions that an ox belonging to a Dr Ray of Fillmore died from this cause while the emigrants were in that neighborhood, that his wife was taken ill while rendering the tallow, and that a boy who was assisting her died a few days afterward. One or two Indians who ate some of the meat were also poisoned.
10John D. Lee, living 150 miles south of Fillmore, informed me that about twenty Indians and some cattle died from drinking of the poisoned water, and Indians from eating the poisoned meat.' Forney's Rept, in Id., p. 75. This report was dated S. L. City, Aug. 1859. In a letter to Brigham, dated Harmony, Nov. 20, 1857, Lee writes: 'The company there [at Corn Creek] poisoned the meat of an ox, which they gave the Pah Vant Indians to eat, causing four of them to die immediately, besides poisoning a number more. The company also poisoned the water where they encamped, killing the cattle of the settlers. This letter was used in evidence at Lee's trial in 1876.' Mormonism Unvailed, 254-5. At this trial was also placed in evidence a letter from Brigham to the commissioner of Indian affairs, dated Jan. 6, 1858, in which Lee's statement is repeated almost verbatim. Id., 313-15. In his confession, made a few months after his trial, Lee declares that President Isaac C. Haight told him of the poisoning and other atrocities committed by the emigrants, and gave him instructions as to the part he should take in the massacre. After that event Lee states (still in his confession), 'I thought over the matter, and made up my mind to write the letter to Brigham Young and lay it all to the Indians.' Id., 254.
City to Cedar the emigrants were guilty of further gross outrage. If we can believe a statement made in the confession of Lee, a few days before his death, Isaac C. Haight, president of the stake at Cedar, accused them of abusing women, of poisoning wells and streams at many points on their route, of destroying fences and growing crops, of violating the city ordinances at Cedar, and resisting the officers who attemped to arrest them. These and other charges, even more improbable,11 have been urged in extenuation of the massacre; but little reliance can be placed on Lee's confession, and most of them appear to be unfounded.12 It must be admitted, however, that rather than see their women and children starve, they perhaps took by force such necessary provisions as they were not allowed to purchase.
Near Cedar City the Spanish trail to Santa Fé branched off from what was then known as Frémont's route. About thirty miles to the south-west of Cedar, and within fifteen of the line of the route, are the Mountain Meadows, which form the divide between the waters of the great basin and those that flow into the Colorado. At the southern end of the meadows, which are four to five miles in length and one in width, but here run to a narrow point, is a large stream, the banks of which are about ten feet in height. Close to this stream the emigrants were encamped on the 5th of September, almost midway between two
11'They proclaimed that they had the very pistol with which the prophet Joseph Smith was murdered, and had threatened to kill Brigham and all of the apostles. That when in Cedar City they said they would have friends in Utah, who would hang Brigham by the neck until he was dead, before snow fell again in the territory. They also said that Johnston was coming with his army from the east, and they were going to return from California with soldiers, as soon as possible, and would then desolate the land, and kill every damned Mormon man, woman, and child that they could find in Utah.' Lee's Mormonism Unvailed, 218-19.
12'Conflicting statements were made to me of the behavior of this company,' says the superintendent of Indian affairs. 'I have accordingly made it a matter of material importance to make a strict inquiry to ascertain reliable information on this subject The result of my inquiries enables me to say that the company conducted themselves with propriety.' Forney's Rept, ut supra, p. 88.
ranges of hills, some fifty feet high and four hundred yards apart. On either side of their camp were ravines connected with the bed of the stream.
It was Saturday evening when the Arkansas families encamped at Mountain Meadows. On the sabbath they rested, and at the usual hour one of them conducted divine service in a large tent, as had been their custom throughout the journey. At daybreak on the 7th, while the men were lighting their camp-fires, they were fired upon by Indians, or white men disguised as Indians, and more than twenty were killed or wounded,13 their cattle having been driven off meanwhile by the assailants, who had crept on them under cover of darkness. The survivors now ran for their wagons, and pushing them together so as to form a corral, dug out the earth deep enough to sink them almost to the top of the wheels; then in the centre of the inclosure they made a rifle-pit large enough to contain the entire company, strengthening their defences by night as best they could. Thereupon the attacking party, which numbered from three to four hundred, withdrew to the hills, on the crests of which they built parapets, whence they shot down all who showed themselves outside the intrenchment.
The emigrants were now in a state of siege, and though they fought bravely, had little hope of escape. All the outlets of the valley were guarded; their ammunition
13Seven were killed and sixteen wounded. Lee's Confession, in Mormonism Unvailed, 226-7; see also Forney's Rept, in Sen. Doc., 36th Cong. 1st Sess., ii. no. 42, p. 88.
was almost exhausted; of their number, which included a large proportion of women and children, many were wounded, and their sufferings from thirst had become intolerable. Down in the ravine, and within a few yards of the corral, was the stream of water; but only after sundown could a scanty supply be obtained, and then at great risk, for this point was covered by the muskets of the Indians,14 who lurked all night among the ravines waiting for their victims.
Four days the siege lasted; on the morning of the fifth a wagon was seen approaching from the northern end of the meadow, and with it a company of the Nauvoo legion. When within a few hundred yards of the intrenchment, the company halted, and one of them, William Bateman by name, was sent forward with a flag of truce. In answer to this signal a little girl, dressed in white, appeared in an open space between the wagons. Half-way between the Mormons and the corral, Bateman was met by one of the emigrants named Hamilton, to whom he promised protection for his party on condition that their arms were surrendered, assuring him that they would be conducted safely to Cedar City. After a brief parley, each one returned to his comrades.
By whose order the massacre was committed, or for what reasons other than those already mentioned, has never yet been clearly ascertained; but as to the incidents and the plan of the conspirators, we have evidence that is in the main reliable. During the week of the massacre, Lee, with several other Mormons, was encamped at a spring within half a mile of the emigrants' camp; and, as was alleged, though not distinctly proven at his trial, induced the Indians by promise of booty to make the attack; but, finding the resistance stronger than he anticipated, had sent for
14'Thursday morning I saw two men start from the corral with buckets, and run to the spring and fill their buckets with water, and go back again. The bullets flew around them thick and fast, but they got into their corral in, safety.' Lee's Mormonism Unvailed, 230.
aid to the settlements of southern Utah.15 Thus far the evidence is somewhat contradictory. There is sufficient proof, however, that, in accordance with a programme previously arranged at Cedar, a company of militia, among whom were Isaac C. Haight and Major John M. Higbee, and which was afterward joined by Colonel William H. Dame, bishop of Parowan,16 arrived at Lee's camp on the evening before the massacre.
It was then arranged that Lee should conclude terms with the emigrants, and, as soon as they had delivered themselves into the power of the Mormons, should start for Hamblin's rancho, on the eastern side of the meadows, with the wagons and arms, the young children, and the sick and wounded. The men and women, the latter in front, were to follow the wagons, all in single file, and on each side of them the militia were to be drawn up, two deep, and with twenty paces between their lines. Within two hundred yards of the camp the men were to be brought to a halt, until the women approached a copse of scrub-oak, about a mile distant, and near to which Indians lay in ambush. The men were now to resume their march, the militia forming in single file, each one walking by the side of an emigrant, and carrying his musket on the left arm. As soon as the women were close to the ambuscade, Higbee,17 who was in charge of the detachment, was to give the signal by saying to his command, "Do your duty;" whereupon the militia were to shoot down the men, the Indians were to
15See the district attorney's opening address to the jury, in the Deseret News, Sept. 2, 1877. Lee states that his object in sending for aid was to protect the emigrants. Confession, in Mormonism Unvailed, 229.
16A full list of the company is given in Id., 379-80, and a list of all the Mormons who took part in the massacre in the S. L. City Tribune, June 2, 1877. See also the speech delivered by Judge Cradlebaugh in the house of representatives, Feb. 7, 1863. Cong. Globe, 1862-3, app. 119. The speech was afterward published in pamphlet form, one copy of it being entitled Mormonism, and another Utah and the Mormons. The former was reprinted from the S. L. Daily Tribune, Apr. 8, 1877. The parts of it relating to the massacre will be found in Waite's The Mormon Prophet, 65, and Stenhouse's Rocky Mountain Saints, 447-50.
17First councillor to Haight.
slaughter the women and children, sparing only those of tender age, and Lee with some of the wagoners was to butcher the sick and wounded. Mounted troopers were to be in readiness to pursue and slay those who attempted to escape, so that, with the exception of infants, no living soul should be left to tell the tale of the massacre.
Entering the corral, Lee found the emigrants engaged in burying two of their party who had died of wounds. Men, women, and children thronged around him, some displaying gratitude for their rescue, some distrust and terror. The brother played his part well. Bidding the men pile their arms in the wagons, to avoid provoking the Indians, he placed in them the women, the small children, and a little clothing. While thus engaged, one Daniel McFarland rode up, with orders from Major Higbee to hasten their departure, as the Indians threatened to renew the attack. The emigrants were then hurried away from the corral, the men, as they passed between the files of militia, cheering their supposed deliverers. Half an hour later, as the women drew near the ambuscade, the signal was given, and the butchery commenced. Most of the men were shot down at the first fire. Three only escaped from the valley; of these two were quickly run down and slaughtered, and the third was slain at Muddy Creek, some fifty miles distant.18
The women and those of the children who were on foot ran forward some two or three hundred yards, when they were overtaken by the Indians, among whom were Mormons in disguise. The women fell on their knees, and with clasped hands sued in vain
18Forney's Rept, ut supra, 89; Burton's City of the Saints, 412, note. Lee also says that three escaped, but were overtaken and killed before reaching the settlements in California. Mormonism Unvailed, 244. Cradlebaugh states that two escaped and were overtaken in the desert 150 miles distant. Mormonism, 12. Beadle mentions three, one of whom starved to death in the desert, another was murdered by Indians, 90 miles south of the desert, and a third was killed on the Colorado River by persons unknown. Life in Utah, 184.
for mercy; clutching the garments of their murderers, as they grasped them by the hair, children pleaded for life, meeting with the steady gaze of innocent childhood the demoniac grin of the savages, who brandished over them uplifted knives and tomahawks. Their skulls were battered in, or their throats cut from ear to ear, and, while still alive, the scalp was torn from their heads. Some of the little ones met with a more merciful death, one, an infant in arms, being shot through the head by the same bullet that pierced its father's heart. Of the women none were spared, and of the children only those who were not more than seven years of age.19
To two of Lee's wagoners, McMurdy and Knight, was assigned the duty, as it was termed, of slaughtering the sick and wounded. Carrying out their instructions, they stopped the teams as soon as firing was heard, and with loaded rifles approached the wagons where lay their victims, McMurdy being in front. "O Lord, my God," he exclaimed, "receive their spirits, it is for thy kingdom that I do this." Then, raising his rifle to his shoulder, he shot through the brain a wounded man who was lying with his head on a sick comrade's breast. The Mormons were aided in their work20 by Indians, who, grasping the helpless men by the hair, raised up their heads and cut their throats. The last victim was a little girl who came running up to the wagons, covered with
19In the official report quoted by Burton, City of the Saints, 419, it is stated that a girl 16 years of age knelt before one of the Mormons imploring mercy, but he led her away into a thicket, violated her, and then cut her throat. Beadle attributes this deed to President Haight, and says that after violating the girl he beat out her brains with a club. He also accuses Lee of selecting one of the young women for his harem, and relates that, when he made known his purpose, she attempted to stab him, whereupon he shot her through the head. Life in Utah, 183-4.
20Lee, in his confession, denied having killed any of them, but admits that he intended to do his part. He says: 'I drew my pistol and cocked it, but somehow it went off prematurely, and I shot McMurdy across the thigh, my pistol-ball cutting his buckskin pants. McMurdy turned to me and said: "Brother Lee, keep cool; you are excited."' Mormonism Unvailed, 242. As we shall see later, it was clearly proved at his trial that he killed several of the wounded.
blood, a few minutes after the disabled men had been murdered. She was shot dead within sixty yards of the spot where Lee was standing. The massacre was now completed, and after stripping the bodies of all articles of value,21 Brother Lee and his associates went to breakfast,22 returning after a hearty meal to bury the dead.
21Lee states that only a little money and a few watches were found on them. Id., 244. This is improbable, and other accounts show that the Mormons gathered considerable booty.
22'After breakfast,' says Lee, 'we all went back in a body to the meadows, to bury the dead and take care of the property that was left there.' The above account of the Mountain Meadows massacre is taken mainly from Forney's Rept, in Sen. Doc., 35th Cong. 1st Sess., ii. no. 42, pp. 87-9; Cradlebauqh's Mormonism, 12; the affidavit of Philip Klingon Smith (Klingensmith), bishop of Cedar City, who was present at the massacre, made in 1871 before the clerk of court of the seventh judicial district of Nevada, in Stenhouse's Rocky Mountain Saints, 439-42; the confession of Lee, in Mormonism Unvailed, 244, and his trial in Id., 302-78. In the S. F. Call, July 30, 1881, it is stated that Bishop Klingensmith was murdered in Mexico. There is no important discrepancy in the several versions. Forney and Cradlebaugh officially investigated the matter in 1859. The statements of both are very brief, and why the investigation was not made sooner does not appear. News of the massacre was first received in Washington in Feb. 1858. See letter of C. E. Mix, acting commissioner of Indian affairs, to Senator W. K. Sebastian, and of the secretary of war to Representative A. B. Greenwood, in Sen. Doc., 35th Cong. 1st Sess., ii. no. 42, pp. 4, 42. On the 18th of this month Senator Gwin of California moved that the secretary of war be called upon to report what steps had been taken to bring the offenders to justice. Gwin's Memoirs, MS., 138 a, 138 e. No steps had been taken, and for reasons that will presently appear, none were taken—or none that were effectual—until nearly 20 years later. For other accounts of the massacre, see Stenhouse's Rocky Mountain Saints, 435-9; Stenhouse's Tell It All, 328-37; Beadle's Life in Utah, 180-4; Waite's The Mormon Prophet, 60-9; Beadles' Western Wilds, 306-7, 496-501; Young's Wife No. 19, 228 et seq.; Bowle's Our New West, 266-8; Ruslinq, Across America, 188-90; Hayes' Scraps, Los Angeles, viii. 228-31, xvii. 3-7; Hutching's Cal. Mag., iv. 345-9; Utah Review, Feb. 1882, 243-6. The story of the massacre has, of course, been related thousands of times in the magazines and newspapers of Europe and America. Some of these accounts are substantially correct and some are absurd. One writer, for instance, attemps to throw new light on the subject by giving what is claimed to be a copy of the original order for the massacre, signed 'Daniel G. Wells,' and dated S. L. City, Apr. 9, 1858. The massacre occurred, as we have seen, on Sept. 11, 1857. For statements and comments of the press of the Pacific slope, see, among others, the Deseret News, Dec. 1, 1869; S. L. City Tribune, Jan. 3, Aug. 22, Oct. 3, Nov. 28, 1874; Aug. 14, 1875; Sept. 9, 1876; Apr. 23, 1879; S. F. Bulletin, Oct. 12, 27, Nov. 12, 1857; Apr. 13, May 14, Aug. 12, 1858; Apr. 23, Aug. 25, Oct. 28, 1859; Sept. 23, 27, Nov. 27, 1872; Nov. 17, 1874; July 26, 1875; March 24, Apr. 12, 1877; S. F. Call, July 21, 1866; May 23, Sept. 23, 1872; Oct. 14, 1874; July 18, 22, 25, 1875; Feb. 16, March 9, 24, 25, May 29, 1877; S. F. Alta, Oct. 12, 21, 1857; Aug. 13, 1858; Jan. 6, May 8, June 26, 1859; Feb. 9, 1873; July 28, Aug. 23, 1875; March 24, Apr. 7, 1877; S. F. Chronicle, March 22, 23, 31, Apr. 8, 1877; S. F. Post, March 22, 23, 1877; S. F. Herald, Oct. 12, 27, Nov. 2, 1857; Mining and Scientific Press, July 31, 1875, March 31, 1877; Pacific Rural Press, March 31, 1877; Oakland Tribune, Apr. 9, 1877; Sac. Daily Union, Oct. 13, Dec. 18, 1857; March 1, Aug. 14, 1858; Apr. 14, 25, 1859; (cont.)
It was a ghastly sight that met them at this Wyoming of the west, amid the peaceful vales of Zion, and one that caused even the assassins to sicken and turn pale. The corpses had been entirely stripped by the Indians, who had also carried off the clothing, provisions, wagon-covers, and even the bedding of the emigrants. In one group were the naked bodies of six or seven women, in another those of ten young children, some of them horribly mangled and most of them scalped. The dead were now dragged to a ravine near by and piled in heaps; a little earth was scattered over them, but so little that it was washed away by the first rains, leaving the remains to be devoured by wolves and coyotes, the imprint of whose teeth was afterward found on their bones. It was not until nearly two years later that they were decently interred by a detachment of troops, sent for that purpose from Camp Floyd. On reaching Mountain Meadows, the men found skulls and bones scattered for the space of a mile around the ravine, whence they had been dragged by wild beasts. Nearly all the bodies had been gnawed by wolves, so that few could be recognized, and their dismembered skeletons were bleached by long exposure. Many of the skulls were crushed in with the but-ends of muskets or cleft with tomahawks; others were shattered by fire-arms, discharged close to the head. A few remnants of apparel, torn from the backs of women and children as they ran from the clutch of their pursuers, still fluttered among the bushes, and near by were masses of human hair, matted and trodden in the mould.23
(22cont.) Jan. 29, 1867; Nov. 28, 1872; Nov. 24, 1874; Cal. Mercantile Journal, 1860, pp. 153-4; Stockton Independent, June 11, 1879; San José Weekly Arqus, Dec. 5, 1874; Santa Cruz Sentinel, May 12, 1877; San Buenaventura Signal, June 23, 1877; Winnemucca Silver State, July 19, 1875; Antioch Ledger, Nov. 21, 1875; Austin Reese River Reveille, July 12, 1564; Gold Hill News, Sept. 21, 1872; Feb. 1, 1875; Sept. 12, 1876; Carson State Register, Sept. 26, 1872; Prescott Miner, Dec. 12, 1874, Apr. 11, 1879; Idaho World, Oct. 1, 1875; Portland Weekly Standard, Apr. 6, 1577; Or. Argus, Dec. 12, 1857, July 16, 1858; Or. Statesman, Nov. 3, 1857. For cuts of the massacre, see Beadle's Western Wilds, 495; Beadle's Life in Utah, facing p. 183; Stenhouse's Rocky Mountain Saints, facing p. 424; Lee's Mormonism Unvailed, facing p. 240.
23Rept of Assistant Surgeon Brewer, dated Mountain Meadows, May 6, (cont.)
Over the last resting-place of the victims was built a cone-shaped cairn, some twelve feet in height, and leaning against its northern base was placed a rough slab of granite, with the following inscription: "Here 120 men, women, and children were massacred in cold blood, early in Sept. 1857. They were from Arkansas." The cairn was surmounted by a cross of cedar, on which were inscribed the words: "Vengeance is mine: I will repay, saith the Lord."24
The survivors of the slaughter were seventeen children, from two months to seven years of age, who were carried, on the evening of the massacre, by John D. Lee, Daniel Tullis, and others to the house of Jacob Hamblin,25 and afterward placed in charge of Mormon families at Cedar, Harmony, and elsewhere. All of them were recovered in the summer of 1858, with the exception of one who was rescued a few months later, and though thinly clad, they bore no marks of ill usage.26 In the following year they were
(23cont.) 1859, in Sen. Doc., 36th Cong. 1st Sess., ii. no. 42, pp. 16-17; Captain Campbell's rept, in Mess. and Doc., 1859-60, pt 2, p. 207; Hutchings' Cal. Mag., iv. 346-7. A correspondent of the New York Herald, writing from S. L. City, Nov. 8, 1574, states that William H. Rogcrs, Indian agent, was ordered to proceed from Camp Floyd with a party of cavalry and bury the remains in the summer of 1558. I find no mention of this in the official documents, though the massacre was known to Sup. Forney at least as early as June 22d of that year. See his letter to C. E. Mix, in Sen. Doc., ut supra, pp. 44-5.
24Cuts will be found in Stenhouse's Tell It All, 335; Hutchings' Cal. Mag., iv. 347. The cairn, cross, and slab are said to have been destroyed by order of Brigham. Cradlebaugh's Mormonism, 14.
25Forncy's rept, in Sen. Doc., 36th Cong. 1st Sess., ii. no. 42, pp. 79-80, where their names are given; see also p. 87; Lee's Mormonism Unvailed, 243. Bishop Smith's statement, in Stenhouse's Rocky Mountain Saints, 441-2. In giving the result of his investigation, Forney states (p. 76) that Hamblin had left; his home several weeks before the massacre, and did not return until several days after it occurred. This statement was confirmed, at the trial of Lee, in the deposition of George A. Smith, who alleged that Hamblin was encamped with him at Corn Creek on Aug. 25, 1857. Millennial Star, xxxvii. 675. See also Little's Jacob Hamblin, 45. Nevertheless Hamblin was accused of complicity. Affidavit of Capt. Jas Lynch, in i., 36th Cong. 1st Sess., ii. no. 42, p. 83.
26'I succeeded in getting sixteen children, all, it is said, that remain of this butchering affair. I have the children with me; they seem contented and happy; poorly clad, however.' Forney's letter to General Johnston, in Sen. Doc., ut supra, p. 8. 'The seventeenth child was recovered last April.' (1859.) 'It is proper to remark that when I obtained the children they were in a better condition than children generally in the settlements in which they lived.' Forney's Rept, in Id., pp. 87, 89. On the other hand, Captain James (cont.)
conveyed to Arkansas, the sum of $10,000 having been appropriated by congress for their recovery and restoration.27
To Brigham Young, as governor and superintendent of Indian affairs, belonged the duty of ordering an investigation into the circumstances of the massacre and of bringing the guilty parties to justice. His reasons for evading this duty are best explained in his own words. In his deposition at the trial of John D. Lee, when asked why he had not instituted proceedings, he thus made answer: "Because another governor had been appointed by the president of the United States, and was then on the way here to take my place, and I did not know how soon he might arrive; and because the United States judges were not in the territory. Soon after Governor Cumming arrived I asked him to take Judge Cradlebaugh, who belonged to the southern district, with him, and I would accompany them with sufficient aid to investigate the matter and bring the offenders to justice."28
(26cont.) Lynch, who accompanied Forney's party, states under oath that when he first saw them the children were 'with little or no clothing, covered with filth and dirt.' Id., p. 81. Judge Cradlebaugh says nothing about their being ill treated. It was at first supposed that the children had been left in the hands of Indians, but this is denied by all the officers and officials whose reports are given in Id., passim. 'No one can depict the glee of these infants,' remarks Cradlebaugh, 'when they realized that they were in the custody of what they called "the Americans"for such is the designation of those not Mormons. They say they never were in the custody of the Indians. I recollect one of them, John Calvin Sorrow, after he found he was safe, and before he was brought away from Salt Lake City, although not yet nine years of age, sitting in a contemplative mood, no doubt thinking of the extermination of his family, saying: "Oh, I wish I was a man! I know what I would do: I would shoot John D. Lee. I saw him shoot my mother." I shall never forget hew he looked.' Mormonism, 13.
27For further particulars as to the treatment and disposition of the children, see Sen. Doc., 36th Cong. 1st Sess., ii. no. 42, passim; S. F. Alta, Feb. 23, March 12, May 29, July 10, 20, 1859; S. F. Bulletin, May 30, 31, June 6, Aug. 13, 1859; Sac. Union, July 19, 1859. Cradlebaugh says that on their way back they frequently pointed out carriages and stock that had belonged to the train, and stated whose property they were. Mormonism, 14.
28The Lee Trial, 37; Lee's Mormonism Unvailed, 305-6; Millennial Star, xxxvii. 675; Tullidge's Hist. S. L. City, 243. In a conversation with Governor Cumming, George A. Smith remarked: 'If the business had not been taken out of our hands by a change of officers in the territory, the Mountain Meadows affair is one of the first things we should have attended to when a U. S. (cont.)
The Mormons concerned in the massacre had pledged themselves by the most solemn oaths to stand by each other, and always to insist that the deed was done entirely by Indians. For several months it was believed by the federal authorities that this was the case; when it became known, however, that some of the children had been spared, suspicion at once pointed elsewhere, for among all the murders committed by the Utahs, there was no instance of their having shown any such compunction. Moreover, it was soon ascertained that an armed party of Mormons had left Cedar City, had returned with spoil, and that the Indians complained of being unfairly treated in the division of the booty. Notwithstanding their utmost efforts, some time elapsed before the United States officials procured evidence sufficient to bring home the charge of murder to any of the parties implicated, and it was not until March 1859 that Judge Cradlebaugh held a session of court at Provo. At this date only six or eight, persons had been committed for trial, and were now in the guard-house at Camp Floyd,29 some of them being accused of taking part in the massacre and some of other charges.
Accompanied by a military guard, as there was no jail within his district and no other means of securing the prisoners, the judge opened court on the 8th. In his address to the grand jury he specified a number of crimes that had been committed in southern Utah, including the massacre. "To allow these things to pass over," he observed, "gives a color as if they were done by authority. The very fact of such a case as the Mountain Meadows shows that there was some person high in the estimation of the people, and it was done by that authority You can know no law but the laws of the United States and the laws you have here. No person can commit crimes and say
(28cont.) court sat in southern Utah. We should see whether or not white men were concerned in the affair with the Indians.' Little's Jacob Hamblin, 57.
29Cradlebaugh's letter in Mess. and Doc., 1859-60, pt ii. 140.
they are authorized by higher authorities, and if they have any such notions they will have to dispel them."30 The grand jury refused to find bills against any of the accused, and, after remaining in session for a fortnight, were discharged by Cradlebaugh as "a useless appendage to a court of justice," the judge remarking: "If this court cannot bring you to a proper sense of your duty, it can at least turn the savages held in custody loose upon you."31
Judge Cradlebaugh's address was ill advised. The higher authority of which he spoke could mean only the authority of the church, or in other words, of the first presidency; and to contemn and threaten to impeach that authority before a Mormon grand jury was a gross judicial blunder. Though there may have been cause for suspicion, there was no fair color of testimony, and there is none yet, that Brigham or his colleagues were implicated in the massacre. Apart from the hearsay evidence of Cradlebaugh and of an officer in the army of Utah,32 together with the statements of John D. Lee,33 there is no basis on which to frame a charge of complicity against them. That the massacre occurred the day after martial law was proclaimed, and within two days of the threat uttered by Brigham in the presence of Van Vliet; that Brigham, as superintendent of Indian affairs, failed to embody in his report any mention of the massacre;
30A copy of the judge's charge will be found in Stenhouse's Rocky Mountain Saints, 403-6.
31Cradlebaugh's Mormonism, 11; The Lee Trial, 6.
32Major 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, new 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.' Mormonism, 11.
33Lee's confession, in Mormonism Unvailed, passim.
that for a long time afterward no allusion to it was made in the tabernacle or in the Deseret Newsthe church organ of the saintsand then only to deny that the Mormons had any share in it;34 and that no mention was made in the Deseret News of the arrival or departure of the emigrants;all this was, at best, but presumptive evidence, and did not excuse the slur that was now cast on the church and the church dignitaries. "I fear, and I regret to say it," remarks the superintendent of Indians affairs, in August 1859, "that with certain parties here there is a greater anxiety to connect Brigham Young and other church dignitaries with every criminal offence than diligent endeavor to punish the actual perpetrators of crime."35
The judge's remarks served no purpose, except to draw forth from the mayor of Provo a protest against the presence of the troops, as an infringement of the rights of American citizens. The judge replied that good American citizens need have no fear of American troops, whereupon the citizens of Provo petitioned Governor Cumming to order their removal. Cumming, who was then at Provo, was officially informed by the mayor that the civil authorities were prepared and ready to keep in safe custody all prisoners arrested for trial, and others whose presence might be necessary. He therefore requested General Johnston to withdraw the force which was then encamped at the court-house, stating that its presence was unnecessary. The general refused to comply, being sustained in his
34The massacre is thus mentioned for the first time in the Millennial Star, xxxix. 785 (Dec. 3, 1877). 'The reader cannot fail to perceive that any overt actmuch less the terrible butchery at Mountain Meadowswas farthest from Brigham Young's policy at that time, to say nothing of humanitarian considerations. There can be but one just view of that melancholy eventthat it was an act of retaliation by the Indians.' The emigrants are then accused of the poisoning at Corn Creek, and blamed for taking the southern route contrary to the advice of the Mormons. Forney states that the names of the guilty parties were published in the Valley Tan. Sen. Doc., 36th Cong. 1st Sess., ii. no. 42, p. 86.
35Letter to the commissioner of Indian affairs, in Sen. Doc., 36th Cong. 1st Sess., ii. no. 42, p. 74. Capt. Lynch, Id., p. 84, calls Forhey 'a veritable old granny,' but, with the exception of Gov. Cumming, he appears to be the only one who kept his head at this juncture.
action by the judges;36 and on the 27th of March Cumming issued a proclamation protesting against all movements of troops except such as accorded with his own instructions as chief executive magistrate.37 A few days later the detachment was withdrawn.
Notwithstanding the contumacy of the grand jury, Cradlebaugh continued the sessions of his court, still resolved to bring to justice the parties concerned in the Mountain Meadows massacre, and in crimes committed elsewhere in the territory. Bench-warrants, based on sworn information, were issued against a number of persons, and the United States marshal, aided by a military escort, succeeded in making a few arrests.38
Among other atrocities laid to the charge of the Mormons was one known as the Aiken massacre, which also occurred during the year 1857. Two brothers of that name, with four others, returning from California to the eastern states, were arrested in southern Utah as spies, and, as was alleged, four of the party were escorted to Nephi, where it was arranged that Porter Rockwell and Sylvanus Collett should assassinate them. While encamped on the Sevier River they were attacked by night, two of them being killed
36Copies of all the correspondence in this matter, which is somewhat voluminous, will be found in Mess. and Doc., 1859-60, ii. 139 et seq. The action of Cumming was afterward sustained by the secretary of war, in a letter addressed to Johnston, in Id., p. 157. The judges also received a sharp rebuke at the hands of Attorney-general Black, who thus sums up the case: 'On the whole, the president is very decidedly of opinion: 1. That the governor of the territory alone has power to issue a requisition upon the commanding general for the whole or part of the army; 2. That there was no apparent occasion for the presence of the troops at Provo; 3. That if a rescue of the prisoners in custody had been attempted, it was the duty of the marshal, and not of the judge, to summon the force which might be necessary to prevent it; 4. That the troops ought not to have been sent to Provo without the concurrence of the governor, nor kept there against his remonstrance; 5. That the disregard of these principles and rules of action have been in many ways extremely unfortunate.'
37For copy of protest see Deseret News, March 30, 1859, where is also a protest from the grand jury against their dishonorable discharge.
38Cradlebaugh relates that when these arrests were made a general stampede occurred among the Mormons, especially among the church dignitaries, who fled to the mountains. Mormonism, 11.
and two wounded, the latter escaping to Nephi, whence they started for Salt Lake City, but were murdered on their way at Willow Springs. Although the guilty parties were well known, it was not until many years later that one of them, named Collett, was arrested, and in October 1878 was tried and acquitted at Provo.39 All the efforts of Judge Cradlebaugh availed nothing,40 and soon afterward he discharged the prisoners and adjourned his court sine die, entering on his docket the following minute: "The whole community presents a united and organized opposition to the proper administration of justice."
This antagonism between the federal and territorial authorities continued until 1874, at which date an act
39Deseret News, Oct. 16, 23, 1878, where is a report of Collett's trial. A sensational account of this affair is given in Hickman's Destroying Angel, 205-9. It is there stated that the party had with them money and other property to the amount of $25,000. See also Young's Wife No. 19, 270-6; S. F. Bulletin, May 30, 1859; S. F. Post, Oct. 11, 1878; S. L. City Tribune, Oct. 12, 1878. In the report of the trial I find no mention of the murdered men's property.
40Among others, an attempt was made to investigate what were known as the Potter and Parrish murders at Springville, an account of which is given in Stenhouse's Rocky Mountain Saints, 462-7. The proceedings in these cases will be found in the Deseret News, Apr. 6, 1859. In his address to the grand jury, Cradlebaugh states that three persons were killed on this occasion, and that young Parrish, who was among the intended victims but made his escape, could certainly identify the parties. The judge also mentions the cases of Henry Fobbs, murdered near Fort Bridger while on his way from California, and of Henry Jones, said to have been castrated at S. L. City, and afterward shot at Pond Town, near Payson. Stenhouse's Rocky Mountain Saints, 404-5. This writer relates that the marshal and his posse approached Springville before daylight and surrounded that settlement, but on entering the houses, it was found that the culprits had already escaped, and after searching the cañon some few miles farther on, the party returned, having accomplished nothing. See also Deseret News, Apr. 6, 1859. For reports of other murders committed about this period, some of them being attributed to Mormons, see Sen. Doc., 36th Cong. 1st Sess., xi. no. 42, passim; Burton's City of the Saints, 274; Hickman's Destroying Angel, 122 et seq.; Bowles' Our New West, 266. At this date the newspapers of the Pacific coast were teeming with accounts of atrocities said to have been committed by Mormons, for which I refer the reader to the S. F. Bulletin, May 20, Nov. 26, Dec. 21, 1858; Jan. 4, 24, Apr. 25, May 9, 30, Aug. 8, 24, 25, 30, 1859; S. F. Alta, May 15, Oct. 28, Nov. l, 1857; Jan. 25, Nov. 4, 1858; Jan. 13, May 9, Aug. 30, 31, Sept. 14, Nov. 20, 1859; Sac. Union, May 15, 1857; Jan. 6, 18, May 11, 14, Sept. 8, 1859; Jan. 16, 1860. Most of the murders committed appear to have been those of desperadoes who defied the law. On May 17, 1860, for instance, two men of this stamp were shot in the streets of Salt Lake City. Commenting on this affair, the Deseret News of May 23d remarks: 'Murder after murder has been committed with impunity within the precincts of Salt Lake City, till such occurrences do not seemingly attract much attention, particularly when the murdered (cont.)
was passed by congress "in relation to courts and judicial officers in the territory of Utah," and commonly known as the Poland bill,41 whereby the summoning of grand and petit juries was regulated, and provision made for the better administration of justice. The first grand jury impanelled under this law was instructed by Jacob S. Boreman, then in charge of the second judicial district, to investigate the Mountain Meadows massacre and find bills of indictment against the parties implicated. A joint indictment for conspiracy and murder was found against John D. Lee, William H. Dame, Isaac C. Haight, John M. Higbee, Philip Klingensmith, and others.42 Warrants were issued for their arrest, and after a vigorous search Lee and Dame were captured, the former being found concealed in a hog-pen at a small settlement named Panguitch, on the Sevier River.43
After some delay, caused by the difficulty in procuring evidence, the 12th of July, 1875, was appointed for the trial at Beaver City in southern Utah.44 At eleven o'clock on this day the court was opened, Judge Boreman presiding, but further delay was caused by the absence of witnesses, and the fact that Lee had promised to make a full confession, and thus turn state's evidence. In his statement the prisoner detailed minutely the plan and circumstances of the
(40cont.) have had the reputation of being thieves and murderers or of associating with such characters.'
41Approved June 23, 1874. See Deseret News, July 8, 1874.
42The Lee Trial, 6. Forney states that Smith, Lee, Higby, Bishop Davis, Ira Hatch, and David Tullis were the most guilty. Letter to the commissioner of Indian affairs, in Sen. Doc., 36th Cong. let Sess., ii. no. 42, p. 86.
43A detailed account of the arrest of John D. Lee by Wm Stokes, deputy U.S. marshal, is given in Lee's Mormonism Unvailed, 293-301. See also Beadle's Western Wilds, 490-2, where is a cut showing the scene of this incident. The two versions differ somewhat, Beadle stating that the arrest was made by Marshal Owens.
44More than 100 subpoenas had been issued, but though many obeyed the summons, several material witnesses were not forthcomingamong them being Philip Klingensmith, Joel White, and William Hawley, all of whom were present at the massacre. Klingensmith, who had promised to make a confession, arrived a day or two later, in custody of a deputy, and Joel White was induced to trust himself to the notorious Bill Hickman, then acting as special deputy marshal. The Lee Trial, 8.
tragedy, from the day when the emigrants left Cedar City until the butchery at Mountain Meadows. He avowed that Higbee and Haight played a prominent part in the massacre, which, he declared, was committed in obedience to military orders, but said nothing as to the complicity of the higher dignitaries of the church, by whom it was believed that these orders were issued.45 The last was the very point that the prosecution desired to establish, its object, compared with which the conviction of the accused was but a minor consideration, being to get at the inner facts of the case. The district attorney46 refused, therefore, to accept the confession, on the ground that it was not made in good faith. Finally the case was brought to trial on the 23d of July, and the result was that the jury, of whom eight were Mormons, failed to agree, after remaining out of court for three days.47 Lee was then remanded for a second trial, which was held before the district court at Beaver City between the 13th and 20th of September, 1876, Judge Boreman again presiding.48
45Portions of this first confession will be found in Id., 8-9; S. F. Call, July 21, 1875; S. F. Bulletin, July 21, 1875.
46William C. Carey, who was assisted by R. N. Baskin. Sutherland and Bates, Judge Hoge, Wells Spicer, John McFarlane, and W. W. Bishop appeared for the prisoner. Sutherland and Bates were the attorneys of the first presidency.
47For names of jurors, see The Lee Trial, 11. On p. 52, it is stated that the foreman, who was a gentile, sided with the Mormons, the three remaining gentiles being in favor of a conviction. In The Lee Trial, published in pamphlet form by the S. L. Daily Tribune-Reporter (S. L. City, 1875), we have a fair account of the proceedings at the first trial, except that the publishers seem unduly anxious to cast the onus of the charge on the first presidency. Other reports will be found in the files of the Deseret News, commencing July 28, 1875; Beadle's Western Wilds, 504-13; Young's Wife No. 19, 256-60; the Elko Independent, Aug. 7, 1875; the Helena Independent, July 29, 1875.
48For names of jurors, see Deseret News, Sept. 20, 1876. Lee had been cut off from the church in 1871, and among anti-Mormon writers it is stated that the church authorities now withdrew all assistance and sympathy, and determined to sacrifice him. Lee's Mormonism Unvailed, 32; Beadle's Western Wilds, 515. In his introduction to the Mormonism Unvailed, W. W. Bishop says that the attorneys for the defendant were furnished with a list of jurymen, and that the list was examined by a committee of Mormons, who marked with a dash those who would convict, with an asterisk those who would probably not convict, and with two asterisks those who would certainly not convict. The names of the jurors accepted were, of course, marked with two asterisks, but they found Lee guilty, as directed by the church authorities.
The court-room was crowded with spectators, who cared little for the accused, but listened with rapt attention to the evidence, which, as they supposed, would certainly implicate the dignitaries of the church. They listened in vain. In opening the case to the jury, the district attorney49 stated that he came there to try John D. Lee, and not Brigham Young and the Mormon church. He proposed to prove that Lee had acted in direct opposition to the feelings and wishes of the officers of the Mormon church; that by means of a flag of truce Lee had induced the emigrants to give up their arms; that with his own hands the prisoner had shot two women, and brained a third with the but-end of his rifle; that he had cut the throat of a wounded man, whom he dragged forth from one of the wagons; and that he had gathered up the property of the emigrants and used it or sold it for his own benefit.50
These charges, and others relating to incidents that have already been mentioned, were in the main substantiated. The first evidence introduced was documentary, and included the depositions of Brigham Young and George A. Smith, and a letter written by Lee to the former, wherein he attempted to throw the entire responsibility of the deed upon the Indians. Brigham alleged that he heard nothing about the massacre until some time after it occurred, and then only by rumor; that two or three months later Lee called at his office and gave an account of the slaughter, which he charged to Indians; that he gave no directions as to the property of the emigrants, and knew nothing about its disposal; that about the 10th of September, 1857, he received a communication from Isaac C. Haight of Cedar City, concerning the Arkansas party, and in his answer had given orders
49Sumner Howard, who was assisted by Presley Denny. The prisoner's counsel were Wells Spicer, J. C. Foster, and W. W. Bishop. The trial of John Lee, in Mormonism Unvailed, 302.
50A summary of Howard's opening address to the jury, which was forcible and well studied, will be found in the Deseret News, Sept. 20, 1876.
to pacify the Indians as far as possible, and to allow this and all other companies of emigrants to pass through the territory unmolested. George A. Smith, who had been suspected of complicity, through attending a council at which Dame, Haight, and others had arranged their plans, denied that he was ever an accessary thereto. He also deposed that he had met the emigrants at Corn Creek, some eighty miles north of Cedar, on the 25th of August, while on his way to Salt Lake City, and that when he first heard of the massacre he was in the neighborhood of Fort Bridger.
The first witness examined was Daniel H. Wells, who merely stated that Lee was a man of influence among the Indians, and understood their language sufficiently to converse with them. James Haslem testified that between five and six o'clock on Monday, September 7, 1857, he was ordered by Isaac C. Haight to start for Salt Lake City and with all speed deliver a letter or message to Brigham Young. He arrived at 11 A. M. on the following Thursday, and four hours later was on his way back with the answer. As he set forth, Brigham said to him: "Go with all speed, spare no horse-flesh. The emigrants must not be meddled with, if it takes all Iron county to prevent it. They must go free and unmolested."51
Samuel McMurdy testified that he saw Lee shoot one of the women, and two or three of the sick and wounded who were in the wagons. Jacob Hamblin alleged that soon after the massacre he met Lee within a few miles of Fillmore, when the latter stated that two young girls,52 who had been hiding in the underbrush at Mountain Meadows, were brought into his presence by a Utah chief. The Indian asked what should be done with them. "They must be shot," answered Lee; "they are too old to be spared."
51Ibid. Haslem's testimony, together with other evidence tending to exculpate the dignitaries of the church, is omitted in the account of the trial given in Lee's Mormonism Unvailed.
52From 13 to 15 years of age.
"They are too pretty to be killed," answered the chief. "Such are my orders," rejoined Lee; whereupon the Indian shot one of them, and Lee dragged the other to the ground and cut her throat.53
On the testimony which we have now before us I will make but one comment. If Haslem's statement was true, Brigham was clearly no accomplice; if it was false, and his errand to Salt Lake City was a mere trick of the first presidency, it is extremely improbable that Brigham would have betrayed his intention to Van Vliet by using the remarks that he made only two days before the event. Moreover, apart from other considerations, it is impossible to reconcile the latter theory with the shrewd and far-sighted policy of this able leader, who well knew that his militia were no match for the army of Utah, and who would have been the last one to rouse the vengeance of a great nation against his handful of followers.54
Lee was convicted of murder in the first degree, and being allowed to select the mode of his execution, was sentenced to be shot. The case was appealed to the supreme court of Utah, but the judgment was sustained, and it was ordered that the sentence should be carried into effect on the 23d of March, 1877.55 William H. Dame, Isaac C. Haight, and others who had also been arraigned for trial, were soon afterward discharged from custody.
A few days before his execution, Lee made a confession,56
53Deseret News, Sept. 20, 1876; confirmed in the trial of John D. Lee, in Mormonism Unvailed, 361, 365-7.
54In a sworn statement made at S. L. City, Oct. 24, 1884, Wilford Woodruff states that he was present when Lee had an interview with Brigham Young in the autumn of 1857; that the latter was deeply affected, shed tears, and said he was sorry that innocent blood had been shed. A copy of it will be found in The Mountain Meadows Massacre, 51-3, a republished lecture by Elder C. W. Penrose (S. L. City, 1884).
55Reports of the proceedings at the second trial will be found in Lee's Mormonism Unvailed, 302-78; The Deseret News, Sept. 20, 27, 1876; Beadle's Western Wilds, 515-19. In passing sentence, Judge Boreman remarked: 'The men who actually participated in the deed are not the only guilty parties. Although the evidence shows plainly that you were a willing participant in the massacre, yet both trials taken together show that others, and some high in authority, inaugurated and decided upon the wholesale slaughter of the emigrants.'
56It will be found entire in Lee's Mormonism Unvailed, 213-92; and in part in Beadle's Western Wilds, 519-23, Stenhouse's Tell It All, 633-48, the last of these versions being somewhat garbled. For other accounts and comments, see Deseret News, March 28, 1877; S. F. Post, March 22, 23, 24, 1877; San Buenaventura Signal, March 31, 1877; Sonoma Democrat, March 31, 1877; Napa County Reporter, Apr. 7, 1877; Los Angeles Weekly Express, March 24, 1877; Los Angeles Herald, March 24, 1877; Anaheim Gazette, March 24, 1877; Western Oregonian, Apr. 7, 1877; Portland Weekly Oregonian, Apr. 7, 1877.
in which he attempts to palliate his guilt, to throw the burden of the crime on his accomplices, especially on Dame, Haight, and Higbee, and to show that the massacre was committed by order of Brigham and the high-council. He also makes mention of other murders, or attempts to murder, which, as he alleges, were committed by order of some higher authority.57 "I feel composed, and as calm as a summer morning," he writes on the 13th of March. "I hope to meet my fate with manly courage. I declare my innocence. I have done nothing designedly wrong in that unfortunate and lamentable affair with which I have been implicated. I used my utmost endeavors to save them from their sad fate. I freely would have given worlds, were they at my command, to have averted that evil. Death to me has no terror. It is but a struggle, and all is over. I know that I have a reward in heaven, and my conscience does not accuse me."
Ten days later he was led to execution at the Mountain Meadows. Over that spot the curse of the almighty seemed to have fallen. The luxuriant herbage that had clothed it twenty years before had disappeared; the springs were dry and wasted, and now there was neither grass nor any green thing, save here and there a copse of sage-brush or of scrub-oak, that
57He mentions the case of an Irishman, whose throat was cut by John Weston, near Cedar City, in the winter of 1857-8; of Robert Keyes, whose assassination was attempted about the same time by Philip Klingensmith; of three California-bound emigrants, who were suspected of being spies and were slain at Cedar in 1857. An attempt was made, he says, to assassinate Lieut Tobin in the same year. A young man (name not given) was murdered near Parowan in 1854. At the same place William Laney narrowly escaped murder, his skull being fractured with a club by Barney Carter, son-in-law to William H. Dame. Rosmos Anderson, a Dane, had his throat cut at midnight by Klingensmith and others near Cedar City. Lee's Confession, in Mormonism Unvailed, 272-83. Some of these cases are imputed to the Danites, but I find no mention of them in Hickman's Destroying Angel, whose narrative covers the period 1850-65.
served but to make its desolation still more desolate. Around the cairn that marks their grave still flit, as some have related, the phantoms of the murdered emigrants, and nightly reënact in ghastly pantomime the scene of this hideous tragedy.
About ten o'clock on the morning of the 23d a party of armed men alighting from their wagons approached the site of the massacre. Among them were the United States marshal, William Nelson, the district attorney, a military guard, and a score of private citizens. In their midst was John Doyle Lee. Over the wheels of one of the wagons blankets were placed to serve as a screen for the firing party. Some rough pine boards were then nailed together in the shape of a coffin, which was placed near the edge of the cairn, and upon it Lee took his seat until the preparations were completed. The marshal now read the order of the court, and, turning to the prisoner, said: "Mr Lee, if you have anything to say before the order of the court is carried into effect, you can do so now." Rising from the coffin,58 he looked calmly around for a moment, and then with unfaltering voice repeated in substance the statements already quoted from his confession. "I have but little to say this morning," he added. "It seems I have to be made a victim; a victim must be had, and I am the victim. I studied to make Brigham Young's will my pleasure for thirty years. See now what I have come to this day! I have been sacrificed in a cowardly, dastardly manner. I cannot help it; it is my last word; it is so. I do not fear death; I shall never go to a worse place than I am now in. I ask the Lord my God, if my labors are done, to receive my spirit." A Methodist clergyman,59 who acted as his spiritual adviser, then knelt by his side and offered a brief prayer, to which he listened attentively. After shaking hands
58He first requested one James Fennemore, who was taking photographs of the group in which Lee formed the central figure, to send a copy to each of his three wives, Rachel, Sarah, and Emma. Fennemore promised to do so.
59The Rev. George Stokes.
with those around him, he removed a part of his clothing, handing his hat to the marshal, who bound a handkerchief over his eyes, his hands being free at his own request. Seating himself with his face to the firing party, and with hands clasped over his head, he exclaimed: "Let them shoot the balls through my heart. Don't let them mangle my body." The word of command was given; the report of rifles rang forth on the still morning air, and without a groan or quiver the body of the criminal fell back lifeless on his coffin. God was more merciful to him than he had been to his victims.60
60The body was afterward inferred by relatives at Cedar City. Accounts of the execution will be found in Lee's Mormonism Unvailed, 383-90; Stenhouse's Tell It All, 627-31; Stenhouse's Western Wilds, 524-5; S. L. City Tribune, March 31, 1877; S. L. Herald, March 28, 1877; S. F. Bulletin, March 24, 1877; S. F. Post, March 24, 1877; Oakland Tribune, March 24, 1877; Los Angeles Weekly Express, March 31, 1877; Los Angeles Reporter, March 23, 24, 1877; Sonoma Democrat, March 31, 1877; Anaheim Gazette, March 31, 1877; Mariposa Gazette, March 31, 1877; Jacksonville (Or.) Dem. Times, March 31, 1877. Portraits of Lee will be found in the frontispiece of Lee's Mormonism Unvailed, and in Stenhouse's Tell It All, facing p. 632; cuts representing the execution in Id., facing p. 630; Beadle's Western Wilds, 525; Lee's Mormonism Unvailed, facing p. 384.
John Doyle Lee was a native of Kaskaskia, Ill., where he was born in 1812. After engaging in the several occupations of mail-carrier, stage-driver, farmer, soldier, and clerk, he joined the Mormon church at Far West in 1837. At Nauvoo he was employed as a policeman, one of his duties being to guard the person and residence of Jos. Smith. After the migration he was one of those who laid out and built up the city of Parowan. He was later appointed probate judge of Iron co., and elected a member of the territorial legislature, holding the former position at the time of the massacre.
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