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St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

St. Louis, Missouri,  July, 1893.


Arkansas' Great Tragedy, the
Mountain Meadows Slaughter
in Utah Recalled.

The Emigrants Murdered by Mormons
in 1857 Were Arkansas Pioneers.

How J. P. Fancher of Berryville, Ark., Has Kept Track of the Surviving Children in His State, Missouri and Texas, Working for Government Aid Seeking to Bring About a Reunion -- Formation and Departure of the Emigrant Train -- Hostility of the Mormons -- Arrival at Mountain Meadows -- The Massacre, as Told in the Confession of Bishop Lee of the Mormon Church -- Servitude of Children Spared From the Slaughter -- Their Rescue and Return to Arkansas.

This is the story of the greatest tragedy connected with the history of the State of Arkansas -- the Mountain Meadows massacre -- and of the strange afventures, rescue and after life of the few survivors of the great tragedy, the children of Arkansas parents.

The latest effort in the direction of bringing about a reunion of these survivors of the Mountain Meadows massacre. Should this prove practicable, one of the most picturesque and pathetic spectacles possible would then be presented.

Some point in the State of Arkansas will be chosen for the reunion, if it is found that the survivors of the Mountain Meadows massacre can again be brought together. It would be the first time they have met in a body since that day, many years ago, when, rescued from the Mormons and brought back to their native State, they were received by old neighbors, friends and kinfolk as though coming back from the dead.

For more than a quarter of a century one man in Carroll County, Arkansas, has watched over the firtunes of these survivors of a historic tragedy with almost a fatherly interest. That man is James Polk Fancher, and the objects of his persistent care are the little remnant of that train of emigrants who escaped the bloody fate of their parents and friends at the Mountain Meadow massacre in the southern part of the Territory of Utah nearly forty years ago. The nephew of the brave commander of the train, and related to many other victims of the unparalleled butchery of more than 100 defenseless men, women and children, Mr. Fancher, the present County Clerk of Carroll County, has had good reason to exercise a kindly guardianship over that now scattered and diminished band of orphans whose infant eyes beheld one of the most terrific spectacles of inhumanity ever perpetuated in any land.

"Polk" Fancher, as everybody in Carroll County calls the Berryville attorney and official, has never lost any of his zeal for the seventeen boys and girls spared by the Mormons and their Indian allies on that bloody day in September, 1857, when the Arkansas emigrants "surrendered" to John D. Lee and his trecherous associates after a week of fighting accompanied by horrors that to-day make the minds of thousands of people shudder when the Mountain Meadow massacre is mentioned. It was more than twenty-five years ago when Polk Fancher began to urge the claims of the survivors for Congressional aid. He thought the national Government should assume some parental care over the few persons who lost the dearest interests of life and every heritage of material wealth in that awful destruction of the train of emigrants. Many other prominent citizens of Nirthwest Arkansas have hoped that Congress would take some action in favor of the Mountain Meadow survivors.

As the history [sic - historian?] of the great Mormon crime and the earnest and generous champion of the rights and interests of every survivor of the train, Polk Fancher has done more than any other person to keep alive the public sympathy in this matter. Related to Unoted States Senator James H. Berry and ex-Congressman Samuel W. Peel, both of whom were Carroll County men, Mr. Fancher has had some able workers in his cause at Washington City, but thus far no recognition of the claims of the survivors has been secured.

With a view to the possible success of his laudable efforts to obtain some appropriation in favor of the Mountain Meadow people, the Clerk of Carroll County has through all these long years [kept] up a correspondence with most of the survivors, and the question of a reunion of the scattered remnant of the unfortunate train has often been contemplated, though the obstacles in the way of such a desirable event have so far prevented its achievement.

But he has not despaired, and at the present time is renewing his efforts in this direction. The "Mountain Meadows Reunion" may yet be brought about in the near future.

In the early spring of 1857, now a little more than thirty-eight years ago, a large and well-equipped train of emigrants left Northwest Arkansas for California. The counties of Carroll, Madison, Searcy, Marion and Crawford furnished the majority of the fortune-seekers, who were thus allured away from their quiet homes in the Ozark Mountains by the golden promises of the far-famed Eldorado of the Pacific Slope.

The preparations for the momentous journey had begun long before the melting of the winter snows, and tradition says that all the country for many miles around Berryville, the county seat of Carroll County, knew of the contemplated adventure and talked much about the coming event. A trip across the plains then seemed a marvelous undertaking to the people of the White River region, who lived at least 500 miles from a railroad, and had but a vague idea of the nature of the outside world. So the approaching departure of these Arkansas argonauts naturally provoked a great deal of comment, for those were days when the pioneer settlers did not soon tire of a theme of local interest. The appetite of the mountaineers for news was fresh and vigorous. Books were few, and newspapers almost unknown in that rugged section of the Union, and the people discussed the current happenings of their territory of acquaintance when they met at house-raisings, log-rollings, shooting matches, camp meetings and other gatherings characteristic of pioneer life over a generation ago. Perhaps every man, woman and child in Carroll and the adjacent counties had heard about the prospective train weeks before the emigrants departed for the wonderland at the western end of the continent.

When the emigrants assembled and organized for the trip they numbered about 140 souls, comprising over twenty families, most of these connected by various kindred ties. The heads of the families were yet in the prime of life. The men were stalwart pioneers of the East Tennessee type -- tall, muscular and resolute fellows -- trained in that rugged school of unconscious heroism that has given to the great West its forest-tamers and path-finders. The boys, just entering manhood, lacked the physical grace of the city youths of to-day who attend gymnasiums and participare in athletic contests, but the young mountaineers knew much about woodcraft, and in the arts of pioneer life they were very resourceful, in the use of the old flint-lock rifle, hammered out in a Tennesee forge years ago, these awkward lads seen about the camp of the emigrants were marvelous experts, and they looked forward to the prospect of drawing a bead on the big game of the plains as the most eventful feature of the journey. There were coy and modest maidens in the train, who had never been twenty miles from their mountain homes, and these fair young daughters of the Arkansas border looked westward with hearts full of romantic dreams as the train made ready to start on the long strange journey to the treasure-laden shores of the great ocean. About the camp fires little children frolicked and prattled, half wondering what the show of covered wagons, cattle, horses and people meant.

There were forty wagons and a number of carriages in the train; about 1,000 head of cattle and several hundred horses. A magnificent stallion, worth $2,000, the finest animal, it was claimed, that ever crossed the plains up to that time, constituted a noble feature of the train. The value of the property which the emigrants took with them aggregated over $100,000. the old settlers of Northwest Arkansas to-day believe. It was an unusually rich company, and attracted attention everywhere along the way on this account.

Capt. Alexander Fancher of Carroll County was the organizer and commander of the train. He had crossed the plaind twice before, and being a man of superior intelligence, integrity and courage, was well fitted for the leadership in the expedition which his followers by a unanimous choice assigned him. The commander was about 40 years old, tall and rather slender than heavy in body, his old neighbors say. He was a Tennessean by birth, had married in Cumberland County, Illinois, and settled on the Osage Creek in Carroll County, Arkansas, many years before the beginning of this story.

Many relatives and friends came to the camp of rendezvous to tell the emigrants good-bye and wish them a safe journey. Tears dimmed hundreds of eyes at that memorable parting, and yet none in the weeping multitude dreamed that the separation would end all earthly relations between most of the members of that fated train and their kindred at home. Never did a company of brave adventurers turn their backs on loved ones and fond associations to march to a more terrible doom.

The Fancher train, as it was called, moved out of Arkansas to the prairies of Kansas, taking the regular California route through that territory and Colorado. At every fort and station where letters could be mailed some of the emigrants wrote to the kindred and friends they had left behind. The news of the progress of the train was eagerly received at home, and through the local agencies for the distribution of this information thousands of people in Northern Arkansas and the border counties of Missouri knew all the incidents of the trip as they were told by mail from week to week. At all the camp-meetings, wool-pickings and quiltings held in Carroll County, Arkansas, during the summer of 1857 the latest report from the train was a preferred topic of conversation, and many letters written on the burning plains were actually worn out in passing from hand to hand among the numerous relatives and friends of the now distant reavelers.

Letters came regularly till the train reached the southern part of Utah, The emigrants arrived at Salt Lake City late in August. Here they took what was known as the "Southern route," which ran through Provo, Nephi, Fillmore and Cedar City. At this time the Latter Day Saints were in a state of great excitement. The Unoted States mails had been stopped on Utah, a Governor had been appointed to supplant Brigham Young, who, in addition to his ecclesiastical sovereignty as President of the Mormon Church, was also the Chief Executive of the Territorial Government, and an army under the command of Albert Sidney Johnston was then marching toward Salt Lake City to see that the prophet and his followers did not longer defy the laws of Congress. It was an ill-fated time for the Arkansas emigrants to attempt to pass through the Territory, now so thoroughly dominated by the blind and zealous votaries of this un-American religious fanaticism. Never had the Mormon faith burned with more bigoted fervor than in the summer of 1857, when President Young issued his proclamation declaring war against the United States and commanding his followers, if necessary, to burn their homes, devastate the whole country around Salt Lake and flee, with what sustenance they could carry, to the mountain fastnesses and there defy the pursuit of the enemy.

There is another fact of Mormon history which many persons have thought sheds some light on the events that will follow in the course of this story. Among the early teachers of the doctrine first promulgated by the prophet Joseph Smith was Parley P. Pratt, brother of Orson Pratt, whose zeal for the new faith would dare all opposition and danger. He was gifted with an eloquent tongue and something of a poetic fancy, it is said, and could urge the claims of the alleged golden plates and the mission of the Latter Day Saints as none of Smith's other co-laborers were able to do. Pratt went to Arkansas [sic - California?] on a proslyting tour, and while in that State converted the wife of a citizen of considerable prominence, who lived near Ft. Smith. The faithless wife went to Utah with Pratt and became one of the priest's household. In after years the woman returned with her Mormon husband to Arkansas. The injured husband now suspected that the woman was trying to steal away her children from their home and take them to Utah, so tradition says, and he chased Pratt out of the State, and after running him some distance into the Indian Territory overtook the fugitive and ended with a dirk the career of this Mormon evangelist.

On this account, it is claimed, the people of Arkansas became peculiarly hateful to all loyal disciples of the Prophet of the Saints. Whether the fate of the Fancher train can in any way be connected with the killing of Pratt the writer will not attempt to say. The circumstance is given here as one of the many elements that make up the story of this tragedy.

The train passed through Provo, Nephi, Filmore and Cedar City, and was about to leave the Great Utah Basin and cross over the summit of the cintinent to the Pacific slope, when all news from the emigrants suddenly stopped.

Every mail for months had brought to the relatives in Arkansas letters from the moving train, but now there came an ominous silence. Weeks came and went, summer faded into autumn, the frosts of October were followed by the first harbingers of winter, and yet no word or trace of the lost train could be had. A thousand hearts in the mountain homes of Arkansas beat anxiously as the last days of the memorable year dragged heavily on and no tidings came of the missing ones. Doubts became fears, and fears grew into convictions of an awful calamity before the slightest clue of the mystery reached the friends of the vanished train. At last on the 31st day of December, 1857, William C. Mitchell, a memver of the Arkansas Legislature from Carroll County, received the first information of the massacre of the immigrants at Mountain Meadows in the southwestern part of Utah. Mr. Mitchell had obtained the news of the shocking butchery from Los Angeles, Cal., where the story of the massacre had been conveyed by other emigrants who passed through the meadows while signs of the crime were yet unmistakable.

The Legislature of Arkansas at once took steps to investigate the affair, and so did the United States authorities. It was first reported as an Indian massacre, and a long time elapsed before the awful truth became known that Mormon hate treachery directed and abetted the savages in this almost unparalleled slaughter of 121 helpless men, women and children. Only the most convincing evidence could force such a revolting revelation on the public. That proof, however, came after Nemesis had seemed to sleep for years, and the details of the Mountain Meadows massacre were given to the world in the trial of the Mormon bishop, John D. Lee.

On the 22nd of June, 1858, nine months after the massacre, Dr. Jacob Forney, United States Superintendent of Utah, discovered the whereabouts of some children supposed to be survivors of the Mountain Meadows tragedy. Up to that time it was not known by the relatives and friends of the Fancher train that a single soul had escaped death. The investigation went on so slowly, however, that another year elapsed before the children were gathered together. On the 15th of June, 1859, the following survivors of the massacre were placed in charge of Maj. Whiting of the Unoted States Army: Rebecca, Fannie and Sarah Dunlap, daughter[s] of Jesse Dunlap, deceased, from Carroll County, Ark.; Prudence. Angelina and Georgiana Dunlap, daughters of L. D. Dunlap, Marion County; Martha, Sarah and William T. Baker, heirs of G. W. Baker, Carroll County; Carson and Tryphenia Fancher, son and daughter of Capt. Alexander Fancher, commander of the train, Carroll County; John C. Mary and Joseph Miller, Crawford County; Milum and William Tackett, sons of Pleasant Tackett, Carroll County; Sophronia and F. M. Jones, children of J. M. Jones, Carroll County.

When the children were found and rescued from the Mormons they had been in captivity nearly two years. The majority of the little orphans had no recollection of the massacre and supposed they were at home among those whose hands helped shed their kindred blood. A few of the older children remembered the awful scene of slaughter and the says of siege and fighting which preceded the final destruction of the train, but they were separated from the other survivors and had no means of telling their sad story to friendly ears.

The children, except Milum Tackett and John C. Miller, were sent by Maj. Whiting to Fort Leavenworth, the two survivors named being detained in Utah as witnesses for the Government. At Fort Leavenworth the [----- band] of boys and girls stopped for a while until met by William C. Mitchell, special agent for the Government, and one Mrs. Railey of Arkansas, who took the survivors on to the homes of their relatives. Mr. Mitchell was the member of the Arkanasa Legislature who first heard of the massacre of the train. On the 16th of September, 1859, two years and four days after the Mountain Meadows horror, Mr. Mitchell and Mrs. Railey reached Carrollton, Carroll County, Ark., with their charge. Carrollton had been the home of many of the families that perished in the massacre, and it was here that most of the children were to be distributed among their relatives.

The scene which characterized the reception of the surviving orphans at Carrollton is described by those who witnessed the event as one of the most affecting spectacles ever known and the old men and women who still tell the story seldom get through with the incidents without shedding tears.

Some of the children were recognized by their relatives and claimed at once. Others could not be clearly identified, as they were so young. The survivors found homes among kindred or the friends of their parents, and each one of them became an object of especial interest to all the people of the surrounding country. The older children were talked to constantly for days about the massacre, and no doubt the little ones learned to believe some of the stories which fancy created where memory failed in trying to recall the details of the tragedy and its consequences.

John C. Miller and Milum Tackett, the two witnesses, were taken to Washington City by Dr. Forney in January, 1860. After being examined by the government authorities the boys were taken to Carrollton, Ark., by Maj. John Henry of Van Buren. These children, though the oldest of the survivors, were too young to be used as legal witnesses and they did not testify in the trial of John D. Lee, which occurred after Tackett and Miller had grown to manhood.

The full enormity of the crime of Mountain Meadows was not known till the details of the massacre were brought out in the trial of John D. Lee and his Mormon accomplices, and the confession of the only man who died to expiate the wholesale murder of the Fancher train paints this picture as one of the darkest combinations of cowardly treachery and fiendish barbarity ever held up to the view of a civilized people.

At the time of the massacre of the Arkansas emigrants John D. Lee was living near the Mountain Meadows and acting as farmer for the Pah Utes Indians. Isaac C. Haight was President of the State [sic - stake?] of Zion and second in Mormon authority in Southern Utah to Colonel William. Dame, who commanded that military district. On or about Friday, Sept. 9, 1857, Capt. Fancher and his train reached the Mountain Meadows, eight miles siuth of the village of Pinto. This place was then a grassy valley about five miles long and one mile wide, walled in by high mountains. At either end of the pass was a good spring. West of this divide, which connects the Utah basin and the Pacific slope, lies what is known as the Ninety Miles Desert, and emigrant trains usually stopped here a few days to rest their stock and prepare for the journey across the waterless region beyond.

Capt. Fancher, having traveled the route twice before, decided to stop at the Meadows and refresh his train. At the northern end of the valley or pass was the "corral" of Jacob Hamblin, sub-agent for the Pah Utes. It was at the southern spring that the Arkansas emigrants made their camp.

The spring was in a gulch or ditch about eight feet deep. From the bank above the water the ground was nearly level for a distance of 200 yards, and on this part of the Meadows the wagons of the train were corralled.

This must have seemed a pleasant camping place to the weary emigrants. They had now been on the road nearly five months and were about to cross over the great mountain range that divides the Father of Waters from the Pacific slope of the continent. Behind them were the memories of home and loved associations, while to the westward lay the goal of their new hopes. How these people, over whom the shadow of an impending doom was then gathering so darkly, spent the time from Friday till Monday morning will never be known. The oldest survivors of the train brought home with them only dim and shadowy memories of the stay at Mountain Meadows till the cruel scene of death began. Those days of rest were no doubt full of interest to the older emigrants. They talked of their old homes and wrote letters to relatives and friends -- letters that were destined never to enter the mails. The children played on the beautiful wild meadow and perhaps gazed in wonder at the towering mountains which walled in the little valley. Some of the men were perhaps busy repairing the harness of their teams, while the women washed and mended clothing and cooked a supply of food for the journey beyond the mountains. Thus, might fancy sketch, that the pen of the historian can never describe in musing on the last peaceful hours of the Arkansas emigrants who perished at the Mountain Meadows.

At daylight on Monday morning, Sept. 12, while the emigrants were preparing breakfast, a volley of rifle shots startled the camp, and seven members of the train fell dead, while more than twice that number were wounded. The shots came from the gulch near the corral of wagons and savage yells told, as the emigrants supposed, the nature of the secret foe.

A scene of terror and confusion indescribable must have followed this attack, as the train realized the effects of the first fire and saw the peril of the situation, but those Arkansas men were brave and heroic, and they soon had their long rifles in hand and drove the murderous assailants from the gulch to a more distant place of concealment. Then the besieged emigrants began to fortify their position.

The wagon wheels were chained together, a ditch dug for the riflemen and to protect the women and children, and Capt. Fancher arranged his forces for the battle which he knew had only begun. The Indians kept up the fire from their new position, which the emigrants returned from time to time when they saw a good chance to do effective work. The dead were buried, uncoffined, in rude graves dug within the corral, and the wounded received such attentions as the situation would allow. Thus the first day of the siege wore on while the savage enemy received new recruits from the surrounding mountains.

The first attack had stampeded the cattle and the Indians drove off the animals and butchered some of them in sight of the emigrants. Night came and brought new fears and perils to the beleagured train. There was no sleep during the long, terrible hours till the dawn of the second day of the siege. All night the Indians had feasted and yelled around the camp and by morning they could be seen in larger numbers. It was evident that other tribes were joining the cruel Utes in their blood-thirsty war on the emigrants.

The men of the train saw the increasing danger of their situation and resolved to try to reach aid by sending two trusty messengers to the Mormon settlement at Cedar City. The men started on their perilous trip and the emigrants fiught on and waited for help. That night while the two scouts were telling their sad story to some of Brigham Young's disciples at Richard's Spring and begging for assistance one of the men, Adam [sic - Aden?], was shot and killed by a Mormon assassin, and the other messenger, though wounded, made his escape back to the Meadows and disclosed to his companions the awful truth that the Indians were but the allies of the whites in the attack on the train.

Hope must have died in the hearts of the weary and doomed emigrants when they learned that the Mormons were aiding the savages. Soon they saw the story of their wounded messenger confirmed when white men appeared among the war-paonted Indians and became open and active allies of these howling fiends. These inhuman fanatics of the Mormon faith were signaled by the people in the camp, but they refused to recognize a flag of truce even when carried by a little child.

One last effort to reach some friendly hand beyond the besieging foes was made. A statement of the condition of the train was set forth in writing, addressed to Masons, Odd Fellows, Methodists, Baptists and all humane people. This was signed by the emigrants and given to three of the most active and resolute men in the camp with instructions to go westward in search of help. There was no hope of aid from the other end of the route, as the fate of Aden had already shown. The three messengers stole out of the corral at night and started on their mission. They were pursued, overtaken in the Santa Clara Mountains and all slain.

The cowardly foes hung around the camp day and night, firing whenever they could see one of the emigrants. If a man, woman or child left the corral to go to the spring or to get firewood a shower of bullets fell around the exposed person. Hunger and thirst wwere added to the miseries of the camp and the stench of the putrefying carcasses of horses and cattle killed on the first day of the fight poisoned the air.

The days and nights came and went, but no sign of relief or mercy could be duscerned by a member of the train. The tragedy that began on Monday morning was soon to end with a scene of horror which would give to the Mountain Meadows a name unparalleled in the catalogues of great crimes. To show how the emigrants were butchered by the treacherous Mirmons who led the Indians in this most atrocious massacre let the Mormon bishop John D. Lee, who wrote his confession under sentence of death, tell the sickening story. It was about daylight Friday morning, the fifth day of the siege, when a council was held by the Mormons taking part in the fight decided that the emigrants must be decoyed out of their camp and then murdered. Lee says about the massacre:

"The emigrants had kept a white flag flying in their camp ever since they saw me cross the valley. Bateman took a white flag and started for the emigrant camp. When he got about half way to the corral, he was met by one of the emigrants, that I afterwards learned was named Hamilton. They talked some time, but I never knew what was said between them. Brother Bateman returned to the command and said that the emigrants would accept our terms * * *

Samuel McMurdy and Samuel Knight were ordered to drive their teams and follow me to the corral to haul off the children and arms. The troops formed in two lines as had been agreed upon, and were standing in that way with arms at rest, when I left them. I walked ahead of the wagons up to the corral. When I got to the camp I was met by Mr. Hamilton on the outside. He loosened the chains from some of their wagons and moved one of them so that our teams could drive inside of the corral and into the camp. It was then noon or a little after.

"I found that the emigrants were strongly fortified; their wagons were chained together in a circle. In the center was a rifle pit large enough to contain the entire company. This had served to shield them from the constant fire of the enemy which had been poured into them from both sides of the valley. The valley at this point was not more than 500 yards wide, and the emigrants had their camp near the center of it. On the east and west a low range of mountains afforded splendid protection of the Indians and Mormons, leaving them in comparative safety while they fired upon the emigrants. The valley at this place runs nearly due north and south.

"When I entered the corral I found the emigrants engaged in burying two men of note among them who had died but a short time before from the effect of wounds received at the first attack. They wrapped the bodies in buffalo robes and buried them in a grave in the corral. I was told by some of the men that seven persons were killed and seventeen were wounded, and that three of them had died, making a loss of ten during the siege. As I entered the fortifications the men, women and children gathered around me in wild consternation. Some felt that the time of their happy deliverance had come, while others, though in deep distress and all in tears, looked upon me with doubt, distrust and terror. * * *

"I ordered the children and wounded, some clothing and the arms to be put into the wagons. Their guns were mostly rifles of the muzzle-loading style. Their ammunition was about all gone. I do not think there were twenty loads left in their camp. If the emigrants had had a good supply of ammunition they never would have surrendered, and I do not think we could have captured them without great loss, for they were brave and determined men.

"Just as the wagons were loaded, Dan McFarland came riding into the corral and said that Major Higbee had ordered great haste to be made, for he was afraid that the Indians would return and renew the attack before he could get the emigrants to a place of safety. I hurried up the people and started the wagons off towards Cedar City. As we went out of the corral I ordered the wagons to turn to the left, so as to leave the troops to the right of us.

"Dan McFarland rode before the women and led them right up to the troops, where they still stood in open order as I had left them. The women and larger children were walking ahead as directed, and the men following them. The foremost man was about fifty yards behind the hindmost woman. The women and children were hurried right up to the troops. When the men came up they cheered the soldiers as if they believed the militia were acting honestly. Higbee then gave the order for his men to form in single file and take their places as arranged, that is, at the right of the emigrants. I saw this much, but about this time our wagons passed out of sight of the troops over the hill. I had disobeyed orders in part by turning off as I did, for I was anxious to be out of sight of the bloody deed that I knew was to follow. I knew that I had much to do yet that was cruel and unnatural. It was my duty with the two drivers to kill the sick and wounded who were in the wagons, when we heard the guns of the troops fire. I was walking between the wagons, the horses were going in a fast walk, and we were fully half a mile from Maj. Higbee and his men, when we heard the firing. As we heard the guns I ordered a halt and we proceeded to do our part. * * *

"I have said that all of the small children were put into the wagons; that was wrong, for one little child, about 6 months old, was carried in its father's arms, and it was killed by the same bullet that entered its father's breast. It was shot through the head. Haight told me afterwards that the child was killed by accident. I can not say whether that is a fact. I saw it lying dead when I returned to the place of slaughter. When we got out of sight, as I have said, just as we were coming into the main road, I heard a volley of guns at the place where I knew the troops and emigrants were. I first heard one gun, then a volley followed.

"McMurdy and Knight stopped their teams at once, for they were ordered by Higbee the same as myself, to help kill the sick and wounded in the wagons, and to do it as soon as they heard the guns of the troops. McMurdy and Knight got out of their wagons, each with a rifle. McMurdy went up to Knight's wagon, where the sick and wounded were, and raising his rifle to his shoulder, said: 'O Lord, my God, receive their spirits; it is for thy Kingdom that I do this.'

"He then shot a man who was lying with his head on another man's breast; the ball killed both men.

"I then went up to the wagon intending to do my part of the killing. I drew my pistol and cocked it, but somehow it went off prematurely, and shot McMurdy across the thigh, the ball cutting his buck-skin pants. McMurdy turned to me and said: 'Brother Lee, keep cool; you are excited; you came very near killing me.'

"Knight then shot a man in the head with his rifle. Knight also brained a boy that was about fourteen years old. The boy came running up to the wagon and Knight struck him on the head with the butt of his gun, crushing his skull. By this time many Indians reached our wagons and all the sick and wounded were killed almost instantly.

"I saw an Indian from Cedar City called Joe run up to the wagon and catch a man by the hair and raise his head up and look into his face. The man shut his eyes and Joe shot him in the head.

"The Indians then examined all of the bodies to see if any were alive; all that showed signs of life were shot through the head. I did not kill any one there, but it was an accident that kept me from it, for I fully intended to do my part of the killing. By the time I got over my excitement the killing of the wounded was done. There is no truth in the statement of Nephi Johnson that I cut a man's throat.

"Just after the wounded were all killed I saw a girl, some 10 or 11 years old, running towards us from the direction where the troops attacked the main body of the emigrants. She was covered with blood. An Indian shot her before she got within sixty yards of us. That was the last person I saw killed.

"About this time an Indian rushed to the front wagon and grabbed a little boy, and was going to kill him. The lad got away from the Indian and ran to me and caught me by the knees, begging me not to let the Indian kill him. The Indian had hurt the little fellow's chin on the wagon when he first caught hold of him. I told the Indian to go away and let the boy alone. I took the child up in my arms and put him back in the wagon and saved his life. This little boy said his name was Charley Fancher, and that his father was captain of the train. He was a bright boy. I afterwards adopted him, and gave him to Caroline. She kept him till Dr. Forney took the children East. I believe that William Sloan, alias Idaho Bill, is the same boy.

"After all the parties were dead I ordered Knight to drive out on one side and throw out the bodies. He did so, and threw them out of his wagon at a place about 100 yards from the road and then came back to where I was standing. I then ordered Knight [and McMurdy] to take the children that were saved (sixteen was the number, some say seventeen, but I say sixteen) and drive on to Hamblin's ranch. * * *

"While going back to the brethren I passed the bodies of several women. In one place I saw six or seven bodies together. They were stripped perfectly naked, the Indians having torn off the clothes. I walked along the line where the emigrants had been killed and saw many bodies on the field, all naked. I saw ten children near together. They were from 10 to 16 years of age. * * * I do not know how many were killed, but I thought then that there were some fifteen women, about ten children, and about forty men, but the statement of others I have since talked with about the massacre makes me think there were fully 101 [sic - 110?] killed that day on the Mountain Meadows, and the ten who had been killed in the corral, and young Aden, shot by Stewart at Richard's Spring, would make the total number 121."

The present survivors of the Mountain Meadows massacre now claim a mention in this story. The children were raised in Northwest Arkansas and Southwest Missouti by their kindred and friends. Some of them died before reaching the years of maturity. The surviving members of the little band, orphaned so cruelly, shared the common lot of the young people of the Ozark country. The[y] worked at rural avocations, attended such schools as the White River region afforded a few weeks each year, learned the practical ways of life through some hard experiences, loved, wedded, and became, as a rule, the heads of numerous families.

Tryphena Fancher, the only daughter of Capt. Fancher, whom the Mountain Meadows murderers spared, is now Mrs. J. C. Wilson, and lives on Osage Creek, eleven center of Carroll County, Ark. She is a pleasant, motherly woman, about 41 years old, and has nine children. Mrs. Wilson's husband is a well-to-do farmer and stock raiser. In speaking of her family and the massacre this only heir now left to cherish the memory of the brave commander of the butchered train, says:

"I am the youngest daughter of Capt. Alexander Fancher. My mother's name was Eliza. I had three or four sisters and four brothers. I do not know the names of any of them, except my oldest sister, Mary, and my youngest brother, Kit Carson, who was rescued with me and brought back to Arkansas. Kit died eighteen years ago. I do not know how old my people were when killed. My father was about 40, I think. Kit and I were the only members of our family spared. I do not remember anything about the massacre or our stay with the Mormons. The first thing I can remember was seeing was sseing the lake. The next thing I recollect was our arrival at Carrollton when brought home. I do not call to mind any incident that occurred on the way home. Kit and I were taken and kept by John D. Lee. Kit was two years younger than me."

Milum Tackett, one of the two survivors taken to Washington City, lives about fifteen miles from Berryville, Ark., and is the father of a large family. He remembers some of the incidents of the trip to Utah and much about the massacre. He says that a distinct picture of the fight with the Indians and Mormons, which has always been in his mind, was the heroic part taken by his aunt, Mrs. Jones, who fought with the men after the first attack on the train, the courageous woman using the gun of one of the fallen emigrants. During the butchery of the people after the surrender the little fellow thought he was to be killed and ran to a white man and begged for mercy, offering to give the Mormon, as a reward for his life, a new coat much prized by the boy. Milum Tackett returned to the West after he grew to manhood and revisited, it is said, the fatal Meadows, the only one of the survivors who has ever beheld the scene of the massacre since the awful day of death.

William Tackett, the other member of that family spared, some two years younger than Milum, died near Proteus, Taney Co., Mo., in the summer of 1893. His grave in the lonely cemetery near White River is marked by a tomb stine bearing the inscription: "One of the survivors of the Mountain Meadow Massacre." This grave always attracts the attention of strangers, and all the children throughout the country can tell every word of the inscription. William Tackett left a wife and five or six children, who a short time ago moved to Orange City, Cal.

The Baker children were raised near Harrison, Boone Co., Ark. Sarah married J. A. Gladen, and has to-day seven children, one of whom took the premium at a baby show in Harrison several years ago. Mrs. Gladen remembers but little, if anything of the killing of her parents and one suster at the massacre. She tells this story for the Sunday Post-Dispatch:

"My father's name was George W. Baker, and my mother's name was Marvena. I have but a very faint recollection of the murder of our people at the Mountain Meadows. There is a hole through the lower part of mt left ear which I suppose was made by a bullet, but I do not remember being shot. My sister, Martha, says that I was sitting on father's lap in the camp when I received the wound in the ear. Our sister, Vina, was never heard of after the massacre, but Martha says she saw men leading her away about the time the murdering stopped. She thinks that Vina was spared. I have some recollection of living with the Mormons. They did not violently abuse us, but we were poorly fed and clothed. They sold us from one family to another. They dod not allow the children to stay together, but kept us mostly in separate families."

William Baker lives near Harrison, and is a prosperous farmer. Fannie Dunlap married a Linton, and her Post-office is Valley Springs, Boone County, Ark. The other survivors are scattered, Texas being the home of one or two of them.

William C. Mitchell, the man who went to Fort Leavenworth after the children, has been dead for many years. Mrs. Railey, the woman that assisted in bringing the survivors home, now lives near the "Old Camp Ground," three miles from Lead Hill, Boone County, Ark. She is a very old lady and the event of her life was that trip to Fort Leavenworth and back when the rescued little ones were returned to their relatives. Mrs. Railey always speaks of the survivors as "my children," and the aged lady tells many interesting stories of that memorable journey from Fort Leavenworth to Carrollton, Ark., with the orphan band. She has always desired to have a reunion of the Mountain Meadows survivors, but could never get the "children" together.

Note 1: James "Polk" Fancher's efforts in organizing a reunion for the 1857 massacre survivors seem to have have been brought to fruition by James Lynch, one of the heroes of their 1859 rescue in Utah. The following news item appeared in the New York Times of Oct. 10, 1893: "A reunion of the survivors of the Mountain Meadow massacre is to take place here [at Harrison, Ark.] this week. James Lynch of Washington, represents the survivors in a suit against the United States, and he reached Harrison a day or two ago. The massacre occurred in September, 1857, and only fifteen children escaped death, ten of whom are now living, five of them in Boone county. -- Capt. Lynch says the Mormon Church has been sued for $256,000, and that the case is likely soon to be settled in favor of the plaintiffs. The wagon train had $70,000 in money, and $26,000 in cattle, besides household effects. -- Capt. Lynch was in the United States Army and assisted at the rescue. He has since devoted almost his entire attention to the survivors."

Note 2: Despite newspaper notices, no documented evidence for a 1893 survivors' reunion has yet been located. Possibly the reunion was postponed for two years -- a page in the Sept. 19, 1895 issue of the Fort Worth Gazette reprinted the lengthy St. Louis Post-Dispatch article, with no mention of an 1893 meeting.


(view images from this Aug. 25, 1940 A.W. article:   No. 1  |  No. 2  |  No. 3  |  No. 4

The  Mountain  Meadows  Massacre

an Episode on
The Road to Zion

by Mrs Sallie Baker Mitchell,
Sole Survivor

In a recent instalment of "The Road to Zion," published in this magazine, Mr. Joseph E. Robinson, noted Mormon pioneer and Utah legislator, gave a vivid and impartial account of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, which occurred 83 years ago in southern Utah.

On that frightful occasion, a party of well-to-do settlers from Arkansas, on their way to California, were attacked in a narrow valley by Indians and Mormons and everyone murdered except 17 young children, who were taken into Mormon homes and kept there until rescued about a year later by Federal soldiers and returned to their relatives in Arkansas.

One of those children was Mrs. Sallie Baker Mitchell, who will soon be 86 years old and who is now the sole survivor of that tragedy.

From the home of her daughter near Wainwright, Oklahoma, Mrs. Mitchell has written for readers of The American Weekly her version of what led up to the massacre, what happened on that dreadful day and what came afterwards.

Her account is based upon her own memories and upon what she learned from reading about the tragedy and discussing it with many of her contemporaries, particularly her older sister, Mrs. Betty Baker Terry, who was also one of the youthful survivors and who died only a few months ago; and it is presented here as an intimate and remarkable footnote to a dark chapter in American history, written by one who was present at the time.

I've been interested in the series of articles running in The American Weekly about the Mormons, specially what's been said about the Mountain Meadows Massacre, way back in September 1857.

I'm the only person still living who was in that massacre, where the Mormons and the Indians attacked a party of 137 settlers on the way to California, murdering everybody except 17 children, who were spared because they were all under eight years of age.

I was one of those children and when the killing started I was sitting on my daddy's lap in one of the wagons. The same bullet that snuffed out his life took a nick out of my left ear, leaving a scar you can see to this day.

Last November, I passed my 85th birthday and at the time of the massacre I wasn't quite three years old. But even when you're that young, you don't forget the horror of having your father gasp for breath and grow limp, while you have your arms around his neck, screaming with terror. You don't forget the blood-curdling war-whoops and the banging of guns all around you. You don't forget the screaming of the other children and the agonized shrieks of women being hacked to death with tomahawks. And you wouldn't forget it, either, if you saw your own mother topple over in the wagon beside you, with a big red splotch getting bigger and bigger on the front of her calico dress.

When the massacre started, Mother had my baby brother, Billy, in her lap and my two sisters, Betty and Mary Levina, were sitting in the back of the wagon. Billy wasn't quite two, Betty was about five and Vina was eight.

We never knew what became of Vina. Betty saw some Mormons leading her over the hill, while the killing was still going on. Maybe they treated her the way the Dunlap girls were treated -- later on I'm going to tell about the horrible thing that happened to them. And maybe they raised her up to be a Mormon. We never could find out.

Betty, Billy and I were taken to a Mormon home and kept there till the soldiers rescued us, along with the other children, about a year later, and carried us back to our folks in Arkansas. Captain James Lynch was in charge of the soldiers who found us, and I've got an interesting little thing to tell about him, too, when I get around to it.

But first I want to tell all I remember and all I've heard about the massacre itself, and what lead up to it.

My father was George Baker, a farmer who owned a fine tract of "bottom" land on Crooked Creek, near Harrison, Arkansas. He and my grandfather, like a lot of other men folks at that time in our part of the country, had heard so much about the California gold rush of '49 that they got the itch to go there. So my father and some of the other men from our neighborhood went out to California to look over the lay of the land and they came back with stories about gold that would just about make your eyes pop out.

There wasn't anything to do but for everybody in the family to pack up, bag and baggage, and light out for the coast. Everybody but Grandma Baker. She wouldn't budge. She put her foot down and said:

"Arkansas is plenty good enough for me and Arkansas is where I'm going to stay."

Her stubbornness saved her life, too, because if she had gone along she would have been killed, just as were all the other grown-ups, including my grandfather, my father and mother and several of my uncles, aunts, and cousins.

Our family joined forces with other settlers from neighboring farms under the leadership of Captain Alexander Fancher, and the whole outfit was known as "Captain Fancher's party."

It wasn't made up of riff-raff. Our caravan was one of the richest that ever crossed the plains and some people have said that that was one of the reasons the Indians attacked our folks -- to get their goods.

We traveled in carriages, buggies, hacks and wagons and there were 40 extra teams of top­notch horses and mules, in addition to 800 head of cattle and a stallion valued at $2,000. Altogether, the property in our caravan was valued at $70,000.

Captain Fancher's party spent the Winter getting ready and when Spring came and everything was all set to go, John S. Baker, who was related to us, was sick with crysipelas and couldn't travel. So he and his family, along with some of his wife's relatives, waited a few days and then set out to overtake us. A number of times they came across places where we had camped and found the coals from our camp­fires still warm, but they never did catch up with us, and that's why they missed the Mountain Meadows Massacre -- but they ran into the tail-end of the trouble, just the same, and had a terrible time themselves.

A lot has been said, both pro and con, about what caused the massacre. It wasn't just because we had a lot of property the Indians figured was well worth stealing. There were several other things that entered into it.

In the first place, the members of our party came from a section of the country not far from the district in Missouri and Illinois where the Mormons had been mighty badly treated. If you've been reading Mr. Robinson's articles in The American Weekly, you'll recall how the Mormons were driven out of Missouri into Illinois, where Joseph Smith, their Prophet and the founder of their religion, and his brother, Hyrum, were assassinated. Then they were driven out of Illinois and, after suffering all sorts of hardships crossing the plains, they finally got themselves established in Utah.

So it ís only natural that they should feel bitter about anybody who came from anywhere near the part of the country where they had had so much trouble. I'm sure nobody in our party had anything to do with the persecution of the Mormons in Missouri and Illinois, or anything to do with the assassination of Joseph Smith and his brother. But that didn't make any difference. The word got around, somehow, that somebody in our party was bragging about having in his possession the very same pistol that was used to kill the Mormon Prophet, and that he even said he aimed to use it on Brigham Young, who had taken over the leadership of the Mormons.

So far as I know there wasn't a word of truth in that, but the rumor got around, right after we reached Utah, and it made a lot of Mormons see red. Then somebody started working the Indians up against us, by telling them our party had been poisoning springs and water holes, to kill their horses. Now that just isn't so -- nobody in our party would do a thing like that. Even if they had been mean enough, they wouldn't have been such fools as to do a thing like that in a country filled with Indians that were none too friendly to begin with.

Then there was the fact that our party came from the same general district where Parley Pratt, a Mormon missionary, had been murdered by J. H. McLean, because Pratt had run away with McLean's wife and two small sons.

McLean didn't live in Arkansas. That just happened to be the place where he caught up with Pratt, after tracking him back and forth across the country.

The McLeans lived in New Orleans , and in the Summer of 1854 Parley Pratt went there, hunting for new recruits- married women or unmarried women, it didn't seem to make much difference, so long as they would drop everything and follow him. I don't know why she did it, but Mrs. McLean listened to his arguments, took up with him and ran away with him taking her two children with her…

McLean was away from home at the time, and when he came back and found out what had happened he was fighting mad. It was bad enough to have her run away with another man, any man, let alone somebody who already had I don't know how many wives. But what made him frantic was the thought of his two sons being raised way off somewhere in a household filled with somebody else's children.

So he sold out everything he owned, which took him about three months, and then hit the trail, swearing he would never rest easy till he found Parley Pratt and got his sons back.

When McLean landed in Salt Lake City [sic -New York City?], he discovered that Brigham Young had sent Pratt to San Francisco, to round up some more converts, and that the missionary had taken Mrs. McLean and the boys with him. I don't know why he did that, unless he figured that McLean was on his trail and that was the only way to hang on to them.

At any rate, McLean took out after him, but when he reached San Francisco, he learned that Pratt had doubled back across the plains, taking Mrs. McLean and the boys along, in a wagon.

With hostile Indians lurking all over the plains, it was a dangerous business crossing the country in those days, even in a big party. So I reckon Parley Pratt wouldn't have set out with just one wagon unless he had a mighty good reason for running ahead -- and that reason seems to have been Mr. McLean, on horseback.

McLean kept gaining on him and finally overtook him at Fort Gibson, near what was then the boundary between Indian Territory and Arkansas.

But McLean didn't start shooting right away. He wanted to be law-abiding, if he could, so he got a warrant for Pratt's arrest and had him brought before John B. Ogden, the United States commissioner at Van Buren, Arkansas.

Pratt didn't testify. But Mrs. McLean took the stand and said she had followed Pratt of her own free will and become a Mormon without any special urging.

That settled it. Commissioner Ogden said there wasn't enough evidence to hold Pratt and he'd have to let him go, but Pratt was so scared he asked the commissioner to lock him up in jail till morning, which was done.

In those days, Van Buren wasn't much more than a steamboat landing at the head of navagation on the Arkansas River, but it had a pretty fair tavern, and that was where Mrs. McLean and the boys put up for the night. She slipped out after supper, though, and went over to the jail, to have a talk with Pratt. about his plans for making a getaway the next morning.

Practically everybody in the town was on McLean's side, and he probably could have worked up a mob and broken into the jail, if he had wanted to. But he was the kind of man who would rather deal out his own brand of justice, single handed, once the courts had turned him down.

Pratt lit out the next morning about daylight. He didn't even wait to eat any breakfast. A horse was all saddled and waiting for him and he struck out along the old stage route toward Little Rock.

McLean followed him for miles and finally caught up with him deep in the woods, near a blacksmith shop run by Tealy Wynn. After shouting to him to defend himself, McLean opened fire.

I've heard it said that Mormon leaders like Parley Pratt believed that bullets couldn't hurt them, but why they should entertain such notions is a mystery to me. At any rate, Pratt didn't try to get away, or defend himself, and McLean kept on shooting till his postol was empty -- without hitting either Pratt or the Mormon's horse.

Pratt could have shot McLean after that, or outrun him. But for some reason he didn't seem to want to do either thing. He just sat there till McLean galloped up to him, pulled a Bowie knife and stabbed him to death.

Then McLean rode back to Van Buren, got his sons away from Mrs, McLean and took the next steamboat for New Orleans.

Mrs. McLean took charge of the funeral. She got Blacksmith Wynn to order some boards, all planed and dressed, from a sawmill run by the father of John Steward, who was 16 at the time and afterwards became deputy sheriff of Crawford County, and the coffin was made out of them. Then young Steward hauled the body in the coffin out to the burial grounds in his daddy's ox-cart. They didnít have any preacher. Mrs. McLean did the only talking that was done and among other things she said Pratt had been crucified.

After that, she went on to Salt Lake City, and nobody in our part of the country ever heard anything more about her. But early in 1857, just before our party set out for California, two Mormons showed up at Wynn's blacksmith shop and asked him a lot of questions. Then they turned back north, along the same route our party followed a few weeks later, and it certainly looks like those two Mormons found out that we were figuring on passing through Utah on our way to California and told the Danites, or Destroying Angels of the Mormons, to be on the lookout for us, because we were from the same district where Pratt was murdered.

At any rate, we sure did get a mighty unfriendly reception when we finally did reach Utah. By that time, the Mormons didn't have much use for anybody who wasn't a Mormon.

Off and on, ever since they took over Utah, the Mormons had been bickering with the Federal Government, insisting that they had a right to run everything to suit themselves. It finally got so bad President Buchanan issued an order removing Brigham Young as governor of the territory and appointing Alfred Cumming to take his place. And just before we landed in Utah, the Mormons heard that Cumming was on his way out, backed up by an army of 2500 men.

That made the Mormons mad as hornets, so mad, in fact, that Brigham Young issued a proclamation defying the Federal Government and proclaiming martial law -- but the members of our party didn't know anything about that, and walked right into the hornet's nest.

When our caravan reached Salt Lake City in August -- our supplies just about out, everybody tired and hungry, and our horses and cattle lean and badly in need of rest and a chance to graze -- we were told to move on and be quick about it. On top of that, the Mormons refused to sell us any food -- that ís what I was told when I was growing up and I've always believed it was so.

So we had to move on, down to Mountain Meadows, in what is now Washington County, Utah. Mountain Meadows was a narrow valley, lying between two low ranges of hills, with plenty of fresh water, supplied by several little streams, and lots of grass for our stock to graze. So it looked like a good place for our party to rest up before tackling the 90-mile desert that lay just ahead.

A lot has been written about what was going on among the Mormons while our party was resting at Mountain Meadows. Both sides of the question have been gone into pretty thoroughly, with a lot of arguments and evidence on each side, so anybody who wants to form his own opinion can took up the books on the subject and make his choice.

Some writers say that officials of the Mormon church stirred the Indians up and kept egging them on till they attacked us, and then told their own folks to jump in and help the Indians finish up the job, after tricking our men into giving up their guns. But the Mormon writers insist that nobody with any real authority in the church organization knew what was going on till it was too late for them to stop it, even though they tried their best. They admit, though, that there were some Mormons mixed up in it, and years after it was over, they laid most of the blame on John D. Lee, who was a Mormon and an Indian agent. But I'll tell about that later.

On the morning of September 7, our party was just sitting down to a breakfast of quail and cottontail rabbits when a shot rang out from a nearby gully, and one of the children toppled over, hit by the bullet.

Right away, the men saw they were being attacked by an Indian war-party. In the first few minutes of fighting, twenty-two of our men were shot down, seven of them killed outright. Everybody was half scared to death and I reckon the whole crowd would have been wiped out right then and there if Captain Fancher hadn't been such a cool-headed man.

He had things organized in next to no time. All the women and children were rounded up in the corral, formed by the wagons, and the men divided into two groups, one to throw up breastworks with picks and shovels and the other to fire back at the Indians.

The fighting kept up pretty regularly for four days and nights. Most of our horses and cattle were driven away. Our ammunition was running out. We were cut off from our water supply. Altogether, it looked pretty hopeless but I don't think our men would have ever surrendered if John D. Lee and his crowd hadn't tricked them.

According to the way I heard it, while we were trapped down there in the valley, just about perishing for lack of water and food, John D. Lee and some of the other Mormons held a strange kind of prayer meeting back in the woods, just out of sight of our camp. They knelt down and prayed for Divine instructions, and then one of them named John M. Higbee, who was a major in the Mormon militia, got up and said:

"I have evidence of God ís approval of our mission."

He said all of our party must be "put out of the way," and that none should be spared who was old enough to "tell tales." Then they decided to let the Indians kill our women and older children, so no Mormon would be guilty of "shedding innocent blood." They figured that more than likely all of our men were guilty of some sin or other, if it wasn't any thing worse than hating Mormons, and really should be killed, but maybe the women and older children were innocent of any wrong-doing, and it seems Mormons prided themselves on being right scrupulous about "shedding innocent blood."

Years later, when he was put on trial, John D. Lee insisted he was against the whole idea and tried to talk the others out of it, but that Major Higbee, Philip Klingensmith, who was a Mor­mon bishop, and some of the others told him he would have to go through with it, He said Higbee told him:

"Brother Lee, I am ordered by President Haight to inform you that you shall receive a crown of Celestial glory for your faithfulness, and your eternal joy shall be complete."

I don't know whether or not that ís true, but that ís what Lee said, and he claimed he had to follow orders because Haight was president of the Stake of Zion, or division of the church, at Cedar City .

But anyway, on the morning of September 11, John D. Lee and another Mormon came down toward our camp carrying a white flag and our men sent out a little girl dressed in white, to show that they were ready to come to terms.

Then Lee came on down to the camp and said the Indians had gone hog wild but that the Mormons would try to save us and take us all to Cedar City, the nearest big Mormon settlement, if our men would give up their guns.

Well, our men didn't have much choice. It was either stick it out and fight till the last of us was killed or starved, or else take Lee up on his proposition, even though it did sound fishy.

So the guns were all put in one wagon and sent on ahead. Then the wounded and the young children, including me, my two sisters and my baby brother were put in another wagon. My mother and father had been wounded during the fighting, so they were in the wagon with us children.

It ís funny how you will recall unimportant details, after so many years. I remember, for instance, that the blankets we had with us in that wagon were bright red and had black borders.

After the wagon I was in had set out, the women and the older children followed us on foot. Then the Mormons made the men wait until the women and children were a good ways ahead before starting the men out single file, about ten feet apart. I think my grandfather must have been in that procession. Betty and I never could find out for sure just when he was killed, all we could learn was that he was killed dur­ing the massacre.

Each of our men had an armed Mormon walking right by his side. They said that was because the Indians might start acting up again, but that wasn't the real reason, as you will soon see.

The line had been moving along slowly for some little distance, when all of a sudden the figure of a white man appeared in the bushes with Indians all around him. I've heard that he was Higbee and that he shouted: "Do your duty!"

Anyway, the Indians opened fire and then charged down with their tomahawks. Each Mormon walking along with our men wheeled around suddenly and shot the man next to him, killing most of them on the spot.

The women and older children screamed at the top of their lungs and scattered every which way, but the Indians ran them down. They poked guns into the wagon, too, and killed all of the wounded. As I have already said, my father and mother were killed right before our eyes.

One of the Mormons ran up to the wagon, raised his gun and said:

"Lord, my God, receive their spirits, it is for Thy Kingdom that I do this."

Then he fired at a wounded man who was leaning against another man, killing them both with the same bullet.

A 14-year-old boy came running up toward our wagon, and the driver, who was a Mormon, hit him over the head with the butt end of his gun, crushing the boy's skull. A young girl about 11 years old, all covered with blood, was running toward the wagon when an Indian fired at her point blank.

In the midst of all the commotion, the two Dunlap girls I spoke about before, Ruth, who was 18, and Rachel, who was 16 made a wild dash for a clump of scrub oaks on the far side of a gully.

Hidden in the scrub oaks, they must have thought they were safe -- but they weren't. Their bodies were found later, and the evidence is that they suffered far worse than any of the other women.

John D. Lee confessed to a lot of things about the Mountain Meadows Massacre before he was finally executed for his part in it, but he never would admit that he had anything to do with what happened to the Dunlap girls. Just the same, a 16-year-old Indian boy, named Albert, who worked on the ranch of Jacob Hamblin, a Mormon who lived near the Meadows, said that he saw the whole thing and here ís the way he told it:

Albert said another Indian found the girls, and sent for Lee. At first, Lee wanted to kill them then and there, because they were "old enough to tell tales," but the Indian begged him to wait a while, because they were so pretty. Ruth was old enough to realize what that meant, so she dropped on her knees and pleaded with Lee to spare her, promising that she would love him all her life if he would.

But, according to Albert, Lee and that Indian mistreated those poor girls shamefully and then slit their throats.

I don't know whether or not Lee himself attacked the Dunlap girls and murdered them, or was directly responsible for what happened to them. But there doesn't seem to be much doubt that they were brutally mistreated by somebody, before being murdered, just as Jacob Hamblin's Indian boy said they were.

Hamblin was on his way back to his ranch from Salt Lake City at the time of the massacre and when he got home Albert told him about the Dunlap girls. Then the Indian boy led Hamblin to a clump of oak bushes not far from where the massacre took place and showed him the bodies of the two girls, stripped of all their clothing.

At Lee's second trial, Hamblin took the stand and testified that what he saw seemed to bear out Albert's story, and that later on he talked to the Indian who was supposed to have been with Lee at the time, and that his account of it was pretty much the same as Albert's.

There has been a lot of argument over how much part the Indians played in the massacre and how much of it was due to the Mormons, some people even saying that the Indians didn't have anything to do with it at all, and that some of the Mormons disguised themselves as Indians, just to lay the blame on them. I can't say as to the truth of that, but I do know that my sister Betty, who died only a few months ago, always insisted that she had seen a lot of the Mormons down at the creek, after it was all over, washing paint off their faces, and that she some that some of them, at least, had disguised themselves as Indians.

At any rate, while the Indians, or a crowd of savage-looking men that appeared to be Indians, went around making sure that all the grown-ups were dead and giving a final shot to any who looked as if they had a spark of life left in them and also robbing the bodies of valuables -- well, while that was going on the Mormons rounded up all us children and took us off to their homes.

As I said, there were 17 of us -- John Calvin Sorel, Lewis and Mary Sorel, Ambrose, Miriam and William Tagget, Francis Horn, Angeline Annie and Sophronia Mary Huff, Ephriam W. Hugg, Charles and Triphenia Fancher, Rebecca, Louise and Sarah Dunlap and us three Baker children, Betty, Sallie and William Welch Baker.

I remember that we were treated right well in the Mormon home where we lived until we were rescued.

I recall, too, that we had good food, and plenty of it. We had lots of rice and also honey right out of the comb. The only unpleasant thing that happened while we were there was when one of the older Mormon children in the house got mad at me and pushed me down stairs. I hurt my right hand, pretty badly and as a result of it I still have a long scar across the knuckles. That makes two scars I got from the Mormons.

The way Captain Lynch and his soldiers found us was by going around among the Mormons in disguise. I got to know him right well later on, and, he used to slap his leg and laugh like anything, as he told how he said to those Mormons:

"You let those children go, or I'll blow you to purgatory."

I never will forget the day we finally got back to Arkansas. You would have thought we were heroes. They had a buggy parade for us through Harrison.

When we got around to our house, Grandma Baker, the one who refused to go to California, was standing on the porch. She was a stout woman and mighty dignified, too. When we came along the road leading up to the house she was pacing back and forth but when she caught sight of us she ran down the path and grabbed hold of us, one after the other and gave us a powerful hug.

Leah, our old Negro mammy, caught me up in her arms and wouldn't let me go. She carried me around all the rest of the day, even cooking supper with me in her arms. I remember she baked each of us children a special little apple turn-over pie. We had creamed potatoes for supper that night, too, and they sure tasted good. I've been specially fond of creamed potatoes ever since.

I remember I called all of the women I saw "mother." I guess I was still hoping to find my own mother, and every time I called a woman "mother," she would break out crying.

A good ways back I spoke of how the John S. Baker party set out behind our party but never could catch up with us, and now I want to tell what happened to them.

At the time of the massacre, they were only about two days travel behind us, and somebody came along and told them about it. They were just about scared out of their wits, of course, so the next morning they broke camp early and set out to skirt around the Meadows and head on across the desert.

The women had just tied their sunbonnets to the covered wagon bows and taken off their shoes, as they usually did while traveling, when somebody shouted:

"Indians coming!"

I don't know whether they were some of the same Indians that were in on the Mountain Meadows Massacre, or another band that heard about it and decided to do a little killing on their own hook.

But anyway, they opened fire and galloped around and around, whooping and yelling.

As near as I can recollect, the members of the John S. Baker party were: Mr. and Mrs. Baker; their young daughter, who later became Mrs. Perry Price and died a few years ago near Berryville, Arkansas; their baby son, William Baker, who shouldnít be confused with my baby brother, Billy Baker; Dal Weaver, Mr. Baker's uncle; Mrs. Dal Weaver; Dal's brother, Pink Weaver; two Weaver sisters; and three young men named Smith and their old mother.

Dal Weaver was shot and killed in the first attack and later robbed of $1,000 in gold he had in a money belt. One of his sisters was killed in the first attack, too, and a bullet hit little William Baker, inflicting a scalp wound, but he got over it. Several others were also wounded, but not seriously.

There were several wagons in the train and before the men could wheel them around and form a corral, one of the teams got away and lit out with its wagon. Some of the Indians took out after that wagon and when they captured it they found it had a couple of ten-gallon kegs in it -- one of whisky and the other of peach brandy. So that whole band of Indians took time out from the pleasure of killing for the pleasure of getting drunk.

That ís the only reason any of the John S. Baker party managed to escape,it gave them a chance to figure out a trick.

Meanwhile, one of the Smith brothers jumped on a horse and took out in the hope of getting help. but the Indians saw him and one of them lassoed him. The last anybody saw of him he was being dragged away.

When the Indians were all good and drunk they started to close in on the little party, huddled behind their wagons. But just as the Indians were about to pounce on them, the men ripped open all the feather beds they had, and threw a big cloud of feathers into the Indians faces, setting up a kind of "smoke" screen. Before the stupefied Indians had time to figure out what had happened, the grown folks in the party lit out for the bushes, carrying the children. Two of the Smith boys carried their old mother by making a pack-saddle with their hands. I guess by that time the Indians were too drunk to follow them up.

Pink Weaver hurried on back down the trail as fast as he could, looking for help, and finally he ran across some of the soldiers sent out to back up Governor Cumming. Meanwhile, the others followed him, as best they could. When the soldiers finally located them they were so weak they could hardly walk. They were taken to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and cared for till they were able to travel on back to Arkansas.

In the Spring of 1859, Major James H. Carlton passed through Mountain Meadows and stopped there long enough to gather up the bones of the victims of the massacre. He found 34 skeletons and buried them in one place, under a heap of stones, and put up a cedar cross with these words on it: "Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, saith the Lord."

Later on, Captain R. P. Campbell passed through the Meadows and found 26 more skeletons, which he also buried there. That only accounts for about half of the victims. Nobody knows what became of the other bodies.

In later years, a granite slab was put up in the Meadows, and on it were these words: "Here one hundred and twenty men, women and children were massacred in cold blood in September, 1857. They were from Arkansas."

Long after I had grown up and married and settled down, Captain Lynch, the man who rescued us, came to see me one day. He was in mighty high spirits and I could see right away he had something up his sleeve. He asked me if I remembered little Sarah Dunlap, one of the children he had rescued, and a sister of the two Dunlap girls who were killed. I said I sure did. Sarah was blind and had been educated at the school for the blind in Little Rock. I don't recall whether any injury she might have gotten in the massacre was what made her blind, but I do remember she grew up to be a really beautiful girl. Well, Captain Lynch said:

"Guess what? I'm on my way to see Sarah."

When he mentioned her name it looked like he was going to blow up with happiness. Then he told me why. He was on his way right then to marry Sarah -- and he did. I guess he must have been forty years older than she was, but he sure was a spry man just the same. I never saw anybody could beat him when it came to dancing and singing.

Some time after the massacre, Federal Judge Cradlebaugh held an investigation and tried to bring to trial some of the Mormons. He was convinced were responsible for the crime, but he never got anywhere with it, and he was finally transferred from the district at his own request. Then the Civil War came on and nothing more was done about it until 1875.

All over the country, there was still so much feeling about the massacrethat it was finally decided to put the blame on John D. Lee -- at least,that's the way I've always heard it. So a United States marshal went out toarrest him. The marshal had a lot of trouble locating him and had to trackhim around for quite a while, but after several weeks, somebody told him theplace to look was at a house on the outskirts of a little town called Panguitch, where one of Lee's wives was supposed to be living.

So the marshal and a couple of his deputies went up to the house, and right away they saw a number of men and half-grown boys around, and it looked like they were in for trouble. The marshal asked a young man where they could find John D. Lee and the young man said:

"He's my father. I'm Sam Lee."

"I don't care if he's your grandmother," the marshal replied. "I'm going to search the house and I want you to come with me."

Sam Lee said he couldn't do it because he had to go down to the threshing machine, to see his brother Alma, and with that he turned away. The marshal pulled his pistol but Sam told him to go ahead and shoot. About that time up came Alma Lee.

"This officer has come to arrest father," Sam said.

"Oh, is that all?" replied Alma. "I thought it was a dogfight."

Sam and Alma whispered to each other a few moments and then Sam said he would go into the house with the marshal while he searched it. But Lee wasn't in the house, so the marshal started on to the stable lot and when he did, Sam looked worried.

The marshal went on out to the lot and walked around a log pen, filled with straw. He peeped through a hole and saw a face partly covered by straw. He was sure it was Lee's face. When he turned around, Henry Darrow, one of Lee's sons-in-law, was standing right behind him.

"Somebody's in that pen," the marshal said.

"I reckon not," replied Darrow.

"I'm sure of it," said the marshal.

"Well, then it must be one of the children."

One of the deputies was a little ways off with his rifle ready. The other one was way up by the house and when the marshal waved to him to come on down to the lot, he didn't move. That made the marshal look closer. Then he saw the reason. A couple of guns were pointed through chinks in the house.

The marshal pulled his pistol.

"Come out of there, Lee." he said. "I've come to arrest you."

Lee didn't say anything.

"All right," the marshal stuck the muzzle of his pistol through a crack in the pen, and then turned to the deputy who was nearest him. "Go in there and disarm Lee, and I promise you that if a single straw moves, I'll blow his head off, for my pistol's not a foot form his head."

the deputy started to go into the pen when Lee called out.

"Hold on boys, don't shoot. I'll come out."

And he did. After that they all went up to the house and the marshal sent out and bought some wine and gave everybody a drink, including the women. One of Lee's daughters was crying but she took a glass of wine and said;

"Here's hoping father gets away from you."

"Drink hearty miss," the marshal said.

Then Lee apologized for not offering him anything to eat, so they all had breakfast. By that time quite a crowd of Mormons had gathered outside the house and one of Lee's sons took him aside and told him they would rescue him if he said so. Lee told the marshal about it, and the marshal said:

"If trouble commences, I will shoot those nearest us, and make sure of them, and then keep it lively while it lasts."

"Well," Lee replied, "I don't want anything like that to happen, so I'll tell the boys to behave themselves."

The marshal didn't have any more trouble after that and took Lee on back to the jail at Beaver City, Utah.

I understand that at Lee's first trial there were seven Mormons and five "Gentiles" on the jury and that that was the reason the jury disagreed.

I've heard too that the leaders of the church were afraid the prosecution might bring out something that would put the blame on some of the other Mormons, so it was mighty hard for the Government to make out a case at that first trial. But when Lee was put on trial again in September 1876, the prosecution let everybody see right away that if Lee was convicted that would be the end of it. So they got all the witnesses they needed. And he was convicted and sentenced to be shot.

They took him to the scene of the massacre for the execution. That was on the morning of March 23, 1877, and before the execution, Lee went around with the marshal and some of the spectators and pointed out places where different things had happened during the massacre. But he didn't tell anything of any importance.

Then a coffin was taken out of a covered wagon and put over near the mound of stones that covered the grave of the victims. An army blanket was fastened around the wheels of the wagon and eight holes cut in it. Eight soldiers were stationed behind the blanket. Five had rifles that were loaded and three held blanks, but no one knew whether or not his rifle was loaded.

After the marshal read the death warrant, he asked Lee if he wanted to say anything. Lee replied that he never meant to do anything wrong and claimed that he had been sacrificed in the interest of the church.

"But I'm not afraid to die," he continued "I never expect to get in any worse place than I am now in, nor any worse condition. I have only one regret at dying, and that is leaving my wives and children on the mercies of a cold world. I am ready for my doom!"

After a preacher had knelt down and prayed, Lee shook hands with everybody nearby and then sat on the end of the coffin. Sitting there on the coffin he obligingly posed for a photographer who had come along with the party to take his picture. Then the marshal walked up and said, "The time has come."

"Don't tie my hands, marshal," Lee said, "and don't bind my eyes."

"If I leave your hands free you might dodge." the marshal objected.

"No, I won't!" Lee replied, so the marshal didn't tie his hands but a bandage was put on his eyes. Then a white piece of paper was pinned over his heart for a target. At the last minute, Lee called out:

"Take good aim, boys. Hit my heart, and don't mangle my body."

The marshal gave the order to fire -- the rifles cracked, and Lee fell across his coffin, lifeless.


The Mountain Meadows Massacre


by Elizabeth Baker Terry

Note: The account given in this August, 1941 magazine article is substantially the same as that reported by Clyde R. Greenhaw. in his Sept. 4, 1938 Arkansas Gazette article entitled, "Survivor of a Massacre: Mrs Betty Terry..."

"Even today I can see her [Grandma Baker] standing there, erect and defiant while her world smashed before before her. I remember how the wind whipped a ribbon of her white hair across her face, how she brushed it aside with a quick gesture. she stood as if carved from the very land itself, and looked beyond us into the future.

"It's death to go," Grandma Baker said at last. "Jim, I've had a warning."

My grandfather stirred the dust with the toe of his boot. Behind us I heard the dull sound of a mallet striking home a loose linchpin. The wagon train was ready to move.

"Maw," he said, "we've been all over this before. That's hill-folk rubbish, warnings and such."

"I've seen signs," she said, as if she had not heard him. "And the dogs cried at daybreak."

"Nothing wrong with the dogs, Maw. It's you."

Grandmother said, "I'll never see you again."

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