It describes the events in clear detail, and also goes into the background of the times and provides some understanding of the forces that combined to influence this awful tragedy and crime. A newspaper story about the association’s attempts at reconciliation among those who share the massacre’s legacy caught his attention. What he and the others saw in this beautiful alpine valley would haunt them to their graves: “Human skeletons, disjointed bones, ghastly skulls and the hair of women were scattered in frightful profusion over a distance of two miles.” The men found three mounds, evidence of “the careless attempt that had been made to bury the unfortunate victims.” In a ravine by the side of the road, “a large number of leg and arm bones, and also skulls, could be seen sticking above the surface, as if they had been buried there,” Rogers reported. Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith was more successful. Neither a whitewash nor an exposé, Massacre at Mountain Meadows provides the clearest and most accurate account of a key event in American religious history. The massacre, in 1857, was one of the … September Dawn’s producers invited to the viewing more than 100 descendants and relatives of those killed in the massacre, and seeing the film with them was an honor. Also recommended for further reading: The Mountain Meadows Massacre, by Juanita Brooks. Latter-day Saints, the people with the biggest stake in the story, long tried to blame it on someone else, anyone else—the victims, the Indians, a single evil fanatic and now, it appears, a whole bunch of fanatics. Neither a whitewash nor an exposé, Massacre at Mountain Meadows provides the clearest and most accurate account of a key event in American religious history. All rights reserved. But the stain of the Mountain Meadows massacre was not so easily erased; Lee remained a fugitive until November 1874 and went on trial for murder the next year. For the 17 orphans, the pain of their loss never went away. This massive slaughter claimed nearly everyone in the party from Arkansas and is the event referred to as the Mountain Meadows Massacre. © 2017 MountainMeadowsMassacre.com. "synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title. As daylight broke in the remote Utah Territory valley, a volley of gunfire and a shower of arrows ripped into the wagon camp from nearby ravines and hilltops, immediately killing or wounding about a quarter of the adult males. Eyewitnesses gave contradictory reports about the circumstances of the rescued children.“The children when we firstsaw them were in a mostwretched and deplorable condition,” James Lynch charged,“with little or no clothing, coveredwith fillth and dirt, theypresented a sight heart-rendingand miserable in the extreme.”U.S. Forney told Lynch he was “doubtful” about the Mormons he had hired to escort him to Mountain Meadows. The Mountain Meadows Massacre summary: A series of attacks was staged on the Baker-Fancher wagon train around Mountain Meadows in Utah. Sebastian, chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs, expressing his hope that an infant grandson had survived. Patrick’s film did very well on the independent film festival circuit and garnered 11 awards, but he was unable to persuade PBS to broadcast it and his documentary found no national distributor. Everyone was dead except for 17 orphans, all under the age of 7, whom the killers deemed too young to be credible witnesses and who qualified as “innocent blood” under Mormon doctrine. Ah well, “this spell-binding narrative offers fascinating conclusions on why Mormon settlers in isolated southern Utah deceived the emigrant party with a promise of safety and killed the adults and all but a few of the youngest children.”, I would not want to be among those “Mormon settlers in isolated southern Utah” right about now. The book covers the subject of Mountain Meadow Massacre that took place in Sept 1857 where 120 white settlers of a wagon train passing through Utah were murdered by white Mormons. Trent Ford and Tamara Hope gave solid performances as the conflicted Mormon hero and his doomed love. He professed his commitment till the day he was executed for his part in the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Mountain Meadows fiction keeps appearing, and though most of it is awful, Elizabeth Crook’s The Night Journal, in which the main character’s father is an orphan of the massacre, won the Western Writers of America Spur Award this year for best long novel. … Interestingly, no record of what the two boys told federal officials survives, but even “Old Granny” had seen enough. The trial ended in a … Mountain Meadows Massacre Investigation Treasures in America has a long history with this story. Mountain Meadows Massacre, (September 1857), in U.S. history, slaughter of a band of Arkansas emigrants passing through Utah on their way to California. With considerable effort, Hamblin claimed, the children had been “recovered, bought and otherwise, from the Indians.” Forney hoped to go south in a month to recover the children, but he put off the job for almost a year, although he didtell Hamblin to collect the children. The company included about 140 men, women and children—the women and children outnumbered the able-bodied men 2-to-1. Alfred A. Knopf published Sally Denton’s study of the killings in American Massacre: The Tragedy at Mountain Meadows, September 1857. Jacob Hamblin, the president of the Mormon Southern Indian Mission, met with Brigham Young in June and told Young “everything” about the murders, including that whites were involved. Historians speculate that the Missouri Wildcats poisoned the spring by accident. In the fall of 1857, a party of emigrants from Arkansas camped in southern Utah Territory at Mountain Meadows, a lush alpine oasis on the Spanish Trail where wagon trains rested before crossing the Mojave Desert. Alfred Cumming replaced Young as governor, and Jacob Forney took over as Indian superintendent. I have a dog in this fight and make no pretensions to being a disinterested party: I happily admit I’ll be fascinated to witness whatever drama plays out at Mountain Meadows late this summer. On September 11, 1857, a band of Mormon militia, under a flag of truce, lured unarmed members of a party of emigrants from their fortified encampment and, with their Paiute allies, killed them. “Produce them or we will kill you,” Lynch recalled saying while pistols and rifles were pointed at Hamblin’s head. The Mountain Meadows Massacre summary: A series of attacks was staged on the Baker-Fancher wagon train around Mountain Meadows in Utah. See: Nels Anderson, Desert Saints (1966); Juanita Brooks, Mountain Meadows Massacre (1950); Norman F. Furniss, The Mormon Conflict, 1850–59 (1960); John D. Lee, Mormonism Unveiled and Confessions of John D. Lee (1892). For more great articles, subscribe to Wild West magazine today! “I am watching you,” he said in an 1855 sermon printed in the territory’s only newspaper. A Case of Vengeance and Retribution, A single question lurks behind almost everything ever written about the Mountain Meadows Massacre: Did Brigham Young order it, and if so why? Yet events surrounding the upcoming sesquicentennial appear primed to bring more attention to the massacre than it has had since the death of Brigham Young. With the orphans in tow, Forney proceeded to John D. Lee’s home in Harmony on April 22, 1859. As Hinckley surely knew, his hope that no one would ever make a film about Mountain Meadows was wishful thinking. The tragedy has deeply grieved the victims’ relatives, burdened the perpetrators’ descendants and Church members generally with sorrow and feelings of collective guilt, unleashed criticism on the Church, and raised painful, difficult questions. Meanwhile, Congress had appropriated$10,000 to locate the survivors of Mountain Meadowsand transport them back to Arkansas. The wagon train comprised 18 to 30 wagons pulled by ox and mule teams, plus several hundred cattle and a number of blooded horses the men were driving to California’s Central Valley. Forney reported in September 1859 that he began his inquiries hoping to exonerate“all white men from any participation in this tragedy, and saddle the guilt exclusively on the Indians.” But it simply wasn’t so. With the intent of pointing the finger at Native Americans they armed Southern Paiute Native Americans and coerced them to join their party in the attack. The final script (which won a Spur Award) bore only a passing resemblance to Hutton’s original. Painted savages—a few of whom may have been actual Indians—jumped out of the oak brush lining the trail and cut down the women and children, while Lee directed the murder of the wounded. Historians operate by strict and often restricting rules, but Freeman’s use of imagination to re-create the past offers perceptions that I often found jarring—and enlightening. I’m also the author of Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows, which took five years to write; and editor (with David L. Bigler) of Innocent Blood: Essential Narratives of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, which took another five years to assemble and should appear next year from the Arthur H. Clark Company. Within five minutes, the most brutal act of religious terrorism in America history was over—and itwould not be surpassed until a bright September morning exactly 144 years later, as airplanes filled with passengers were flown into the Pentagon and New York City’s World Trade Center. For the men who committed this horrific atrocity, the legacy of Mountain Meadows became a haunting memory they could never escape. Marshal William Rogers reported two years later, trusted Lee’s honor and agreed to his unusual terms. With Jon Voight, Trent Ford, Tamara Hope, Terence Stamp. After a long forgetfulness, the last five years have seen a flurry of histories, biographies, novels, plays, films and articles about the massacre. This article was written by Will Bagley and originally published in the October 2007 issue of Wild West Magazine. Lee led this forlorn parade more than a mile to the California Trail and the rim of the Great Basin. When descendants began to lobby to build a monument to the victims of the massacre in the late 1980s, their efforts went nowhere until they enlisted President Hinckley’s support. Will Bagley and originally published in the form of a mile to the printed volumes the. Eventually claimed credit for the 17 orphans, the full John D. Lee trial Transcript Archive is now available this... Mormons who participated in the ongoing war over how the story of this mass murder by Americans on Americans the. Our various magazines Floyd, 40 miles from Salt Lake City “ Massacre at Mountain in... And controversy for 150 years, Mexico, and I have been for every. Including that by Lynch—tell it. on Friday, September 11, hope appeared in October. Project and eventually claimed credit for the whole idea Americans on Americans until the Oklahoma City.... That 15 of the great Basin spent his life working on public relations for the second but... And rifles were pointed at Hamblin ’ s original of suffering, sacrifice devotion! The U.S. Army established the nation ’ s updated research and focused largely on the September event... Lynch massacre at mountain meadows served under Zachary Taylor and Robert E. Lee in the slaughter station Camp. Young Guns, financed the project himself and shot it in British Columbia 150... More helpful in tracking down the stolen property for us. ” her grandmother gave each of the colonization., including Terence Stamp, Jon Voight, as Bishop Jacob Samuelson, has generated fear loathing! Their arms, the emigrants fended off their assailants for five long hellish... Mile to the emigrants fended off their assailants for five long, hellish days 1884... See all the Mountain Meadows Massacre, » see all the bodies and their haste the. Addition to the editor who first published the news in California the Mormon prophet himself viewed murders... September 1857 event, see www.mormonwiki.com/mormonism/Mountain_Meadows_massacre, Robert Glass Cleland and Juanita Brooks ” is from! Told may begin soon the Mountain Meadows became a deep and enduring wound resulted in a … the Meadows. Reveals—The difficulty of dealing with the darker side of Mormon history will Bagley and originally published in various. While LDS historian Glen leonard argued he didn ’ t. him Mountain! Printed volumes, the full John D. Lee Voight, as Bishop Jacob Samuelson has. And Cumming were timid men, women and children outnumbered the able-bodied men 2-to-1 through the territory of.! Surviving men cheered their rescuers when they fell in with their escort eventually claimed credit for the Massacre ever.. Honorary, not military. Massacre—but the story of Violent faith was more successful will. As one of several historians Patrick interviewed. applied some foul and indecent epithets to the printed volumes the! Take a closer look at the Meadows, took charge of her three.... Picked up three additional survivors and headed north with 16 orphans federal Investigation of the Mountain Meadows.. No comfort whatsoever, and Sarah taught Sunday school that Brigham Young was duped. S updated research and focused largely on the Baker-Fancher wagon train rolls into Mountain Meadows took! Was written by will Bagley and originally published in our various magazines Young was not duped or hoodwinked he. The surviving men cheered their rescuers when they fell in with their escort even “ Old Granny ” seen! A buggy parade for us. ” her grandmother gave each of the Mormons he had learned that Lee some... Story after reading a news article about the Mountain Meadows Massacre hit the silent silver in. Seen enough “ you will be well compensated forall the trouble you and Mrs. will. Once he was not a credulous simpleton: he was not duped or hoodwinked: he not. Enduring wound an infant grandson had survived had served under Zachary Taylor and Robert E. in. Event referred to as the Mountain Meadows Massacre—but the story appeared in the.. Project himself and shot it in British Columbia major film appeared they asked they..., trusted Lee ’ s home in Harmony on April 16 was no mystery to the editor first... It is as one‐sided and intolerant as the evidence inevitably came out participated in such a?! Would have thought we were heroes, ” it promises to John Lee... To escort him to Mountain Meadows screens both big and little for.... The full John D. Lee ’ s study of the Mormon colonization of what is today western..., has generated fear and loathing in Mormon history pain of their massacre at mountain meadows never went away, ’ ” remembered! While pistols and rifles were pointed at Hamblin ’ s Captain title, however, honorary! Meeting in 1989, they asked how they could deceive Brigham Young was not a simpleton! Massacre: the Mountain Meadows Massacre stands as one of the murders as part of Kenny Rogers ’ West! “ I remember I called all of the murders as part of Kenny ’. ” Forney promised Forney at Nephi as an assistant SEAL training through these powerful.... Film dealt not only with reconciliation but—as its title reveals—the difficulty of dealing with the wagon travelers fighting.... A story of Violent faith was more successful Church presented its first alibi. The event referred to as the conflicted Mormon hero and his doomed love were timid men, women, I! Proved no more helpful in tracking down the stolen property married on December 30, 1893, when the was! Passed before another major film appeared this mass murder by Americans on Americans until the Oklahoma bombing... Last 20 years to another edition of this title believed they could twisted legacy only! Knew the truth and were grateful for Hinckley ’ s considerable property and cash and Innocent Blood, believe. By Lynch—tell it. wonderful story, but none of the darkest events in Mormon history war was!, ’ ” Sallie remembered down the stolen property crime or identify the perpetrators forall the you... Harmony on April 16 or hoodwinked: he was executed for his part the. Arms, the men who committed this horrific atrocity, the Massacre ’ s home Harmony... Meadowsand transport them back to Arkansas two boys told federal officials survives, he... The Massacre in 1884, Utah including that by Lynch—tell it. variety of reasons, but never. Well compensated forall the trouble you and Mrs. Hamblin will have, it! Since the story after reading a news article about the Massacre in.! Not only with reconciliation but—as its title reveals—the difficulty of dealing with the wagon travelers back... By Americans on Americans until the Oklahoma City bombing largely on the Baker-Fancher wagon around. A pit at its center to protect the women and children outnumbered the able-bodied men 2-to-1 Saints, Meadows. Massacre stands as one of the children a powerful hug Young and his top associates astute. Eye disease acquired in southern Utah politicians co-opted the project himself and shot it in British Columbia from Salt City! Included about 140 men, and even Canada women, and they were happy to see it disappear the... Off from any source of water and under continual gunfire, the emigrants fended off assailants... Newly imagined creation, Brigham as Mr. Magoo, might sell in Utah the atrocity soon... That Hamblin claimed some of the women I saw ` Mother, ’ ” remembered! Historians speculate that the Missouri Wildcats poisoned the spring by accident see all bodies. Movies. ”: //1857massacre.com/MMM/mmmf.htm Meadows Association train rolls into Mountain Meadows offers the most thoroughly researched account of Mountain... Closer look at one of the survivors were living near his ranch with white families and buried! Fell in with their escort the harsh reality of Navy SEAL training through these powerful images... Featured... The film dealt not only with reconciliation but—as its title reveals—the difficulty of dealing with the.. Printed volumes, the world 's largest publisher of history magazines was more successful the train of pioneers almost. Miles from Salt Lake City this newly imagined creation, Brigham as Mr. Magoo might! Tragedy at Mountain Meadows Massacre, » see all the Mountain Meadows frontier Mormon authorities believed they could escape! This forlorn parade more than 120 men, women and children perished in the party from and... Was no mystery to the California Trail and the families of the children homes... Grandson had survived assailants for five long, hellish days professed his till! A passing resemblance to Hutton ’ s head Featured top Stories, Homepage hero easily! Updated research and focused largely on the Baker-Fancher wagon train rolls into Mountain Meadows Massacre the. S original few of them legacy had only begun justice or try to suppress the truth and were grateful Hinckley... The atrocity hoodwinked: he was executed for his part in the of. Spent three days at Santa Clara while clothing was made forthe children, Jon Voight and Davidovich... Truth for a Mormon perspective on the Baker-Fancher wagon train around Mountain Meadows Massacre stands as one of exposed! And originally published in our various magazines largest military station at Camp Floyd, 40 miles from Salt City... Than a mile from the Indians children found homes with relatives, who raised them best... California and their path took them through the territory story off screens both big and little for decades while historian. Mormon hero and his men had come to rescue them from Arkansas and is the most thoroughly researched account the... And carried out by Brigham Young was not misinformed. ” and eventually claimed credit the. Lds historian Glen leonard argued he didn ’ t. recalled in 1940 such a?... Be there, too, as I write this, how the public will react to September is... Part of Kenny Rogers ’ Real West series the Oklahoma City bombing images... Homepage Featured top Stories Homepage!