Mountain Meadows massacre

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Mountain Meadows Massacre
Part of the Mormon wars
Mountain Meadows massacre (Stenhouse).png
Date September 7–11, 1857
Location Mountain Meadows, Utah Territory, United States
Deaths 120–140 members of the Baker–Fancher wagon train
Non-fatal injuries Around 17
Accused Utah Territorial Militia ( Iron County district), Paiute Native American auxiliaries
Weapons guns, Bowie knives

The Mountain Meadows massacre was a series of attacks on the Baker–Fancher emigrant wagon train, at Mountain Meadows in southern Utah. The attacks began on September 7 and culminated on September 11, 1857, resulting in the mass slaughter of the emigrant party by members of the Utah Territorial Militia from the Iron County district]. The militia, officially called the Nauvoo Legion, was composed of southern Utah's Mormon settlers (members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the LDS Church). Intending to leave no witnesses and thus prevent reprisals, the perpetrators killed all the adults and older children—about 120 men, women, and children in total. Seventeen children, all younger than seven, were spared.

The wagon train, mostly families from Arkansas, was bound for California on a route that passed through the Utah Territory, during a conflict later known as the Utah War. After arriving in Salt Lake City, the Baker–Fancher party made their way south, eventually stopping to rest at Mountain Meadows. While the emigrants were camped at the meadow, nearby militia leaders, including Isaac C. Haight and John D. Lee, joined forces to organize an attack on the wagon train.

Intending to give the appearance of Native American aggression, the militia's plan was to arm some Southern Paiute Native Americans and persuade them to join with a larger party of their own militiamen—disguised as Native Americans—in an attack. During the militia's first assault on the wagon train the emigrants fought back, and a five-day siege ensued. Eventually fear spread among the militia's leaders that some emigrants had caught sight of white men and had likely discovered the identity of their attackers. As a result militia commander William H. Dame ordered his forces to kill the emigrants.

By this time the emigrants were running low on water and provisions, and allowed some approaching members of the militia—who carried a white flag—to enter their camp. The militia members assured the emigrants they were protected and escorted them from the hasty fortification. After walking a distance from the camp, the militiamen, with the help of auxiliary forces hiding nearby, attacked the emigrants and killed all of them that they thought were old enough to be potential witnesses to report the attack.

Following the massacre, the perpetrators hastily buried the victims, leaving the bodies vulnerable to wild animals and the climate. Local families took in the surviving children, and many of the victims' possessions were auctioned off. Investigations, after interruption by the American Civil War, resulted in nine indictments during 1874. Of the men indicted, only John D. Lee was tried in a court of law. After two trials in the Utah Territory, Lee was convicted by a jury, sentenced to death, and executed by a Utah firing squad on March 23, 1877.

Today, historians attribute the massacre to a combination of factors, including war hysteria about possible invasion of Mormon territory and hyperbolic Mormon teachings against outsiders, which were part of the excesses of the Mormon Reformation period. Scholars debate whether senior Mormon leadership, including Brigham Young, directly instigated the massacre or if responsibility lay with the local leaders in southern Utah.


Baker–Fancher party

In early 1857, the several groups of emigrants from the northwestern Arkansas region started their trek to California, when they later joined all together to form a group known as the Baker–Fancher party. The groups were mostly from Marion, Crawford, Carroll, and Johnson counties in Arkansas, and had assembled into a wagon train at Beller's Stand, south of Harrison, to emigrate to southern California. This group was initially referred to as both the Baker train and the Perkins train, but after being joined by other Arkansas trains and making its way west, was soon called the Baker–Fancher train (or party). It was named for "Colonel" Alexander Fancher who, having already made the journey to California twice before, had become its main leader. [1] By contemporary standards the Baker–Fancher party was prosperous, carefully organized, and well-equipped for the journey. [2] They were joined along the way by families and individuals from other states, including Missouri. [3] This group was relatively wealthy and planned to restock its supplies in Salt Lake City, as did most wagon trains at the time. The party reached Salt Lake City with about 120 members.

Interactions with Mormon settlers

At the time of the Fanchers' arrival, the Utah Territory was organized as a theocratic democracy under the lead of Brigham Young, who had established colonies along the California Trail and Old Spanish Trail. President James Buchanan had recently issued an order to send troops to Utah. Rumors spread in the territory about the motives for the federal troop movement. Young issued various orders, urging the local population to prepare for the arrival of the troops. Eventually Young issued a declaration of martial law. [4]

The Baker–Fancher party were refused stocks in Salt Lake City and chose to leave there and take the Old Spanish Trail, which passed through southern Utah. In August 1857, the Mormon apostle George A. Smith, of Parowan, traveled throughout southern Utah, instructing the settlers to stockpile grain. While on his return trip to Salt Lake City, Smith camped near the Baker–Fancher party on August 25 at Corn Creek, (near present-day Kanosh) 70 miles (110 km) north of Parowan. They had traveled the 165 miles (266 km) south from Salt Lake City, and Jacob Hamblin suggested that the wagon train continue on the trail and rest their cattle at Mountain Meadows, which had good pasture and was adjacent to his homestead.

Christopher Kit Fancher (survivor of the Mountain Meadows massacre)

While many witnesses said that the Fanchers were in general a peaceful party whose members behaved well along the trail, rumors spread about aggressive and threatening behavior and other misdeeds. Brevet Major James Henry Carleton led the first federal investigation of the murders, published in 1859. He recorded Hamblin's account that the train was alleged to have poisoned a spring near Corn Creek; this resulted in the deaths of 18 head of cattle and two or three people who ate the contaminated meat. Carleton interviewed the father of a child who allegedly died from this poisoned spring, and accepted the sincerity of the grieving father. But, he also included a statement from an investigator who did not believe the Fancher party was capable of poisoning the spring, given its size. Carleton invited readers to consider a potential explanation for the rumors of misdeeds, noting the general atmosphere of distrust among Mormons for strangers at the time, and that some locals appeared jealous of the Fancher party's wealth. [5]

Conspiracy and siege

The Baker–Fancher party left Corn Creek and continued the 125 miles (201 km) to Mountain Meadows, passing Parowan, and Cedar City; southern Utah communities led respectively by Stake Presidents William H. Dame and Isaac C. Haight. Haight and Dame were, in addition, the senior regional military leaders of the Mormon militia. As the Baker–Fancher party approached, several meetings were held in Cedar City and nearby Parowan by the local Latter Day Saint (LDS) leaders pondering how to implement Young's declaration of martial law. [6] In the afternoon of Sunday, September 6, Haight held his weekly Stake High Council meeting after church services, and brought up the issue of what to do with the emigrants. [7] The plan for a Native American massacre was discussed, but not all the Council members agreed it was the right approach. [7] The Council resolved to take no action until Haight sent a rider, James Haslam, out the next day to carry an express to Salt Lake City (a six-day round trip on horseback) for Brigham Young's advice, as Utah did not yet have a telegraph system. [7] Following the Council, Isaac C. Haight decided to send a messenger south to John D. Lee. [7] What Haight told Lee remains a mystery, but considering the timing it may have had something to do with Council's decision to wait for advice from Brigham Young. [8]

The somewhat dispirited Baker–Fancher party found water and fresh grazing for its livestock after reaching grassy, mountain-ringed Mountain Meadows, a widely known stopover on the old Spanish Trail, in early September. They anticipated several days of rest and recuperation there before the next 40 miles (64 km) would take them out of Utah. But, on September 7, the party was attacked by Mormon militiamen dressed as Native Americans and some Native American Paiutes. [9] The Baker–Fancher party defended itself by encircling and lowering their wagons, wheels chained together, along with digging shallow trenches and throwing dirt both below and into the wagons, which made a strong barrier. Seven emigrants were killed during the opening attack and were buried somewhere within the wagon encirclement. Sixteen more were wounded. [10] [11] The attack continued for five days, during which the besieged families had little or no access to fresh water or game food and their ammunition was depleted. [9] Meanwhile, organization among the local Mormon leadership reportedly broke down. [12] Eventually fear spread among the militia's leaders that some emigrants had caught sight of white men, and had probably discovered who their attackers really were. This resulted in an order to kill all the emigrants, with the exception of small children. [13]

Four of the nine Utah Territorial militiamen of the Tenth Regiment
"Iron Brigade" who were indicted in 1874 for murder or conspiracy
(Not shown: William H. Dame • William C. Stewart • Ellott Willden • Samuel Jukes • George Adair, Jr.)
Isaac Haight.jpg John H. Higbee.jpg JohnDoyleLee.jpg Philip Klingensmith.jpg
Isaac C. Haight—Battalion Commander—died 1886 Arizona Maj. John H. Higbee, said to have shouted the command to begin the killings. He claimed that he reluctantly participated in the massacre and only to bury the dead who he thought were victims of an "Indian attack." Maj. John D. Lee, constable, judge, and Indian Agent. Having conspired in advance with his immediate commander, Isaac C. Haight, Lee led the initial assault, and falsely offered emigrants safe passage prior to their mile-long march to the field where they were ultimately massacred. He was the only participant convicted. Philip Klingensmith, a Bishop in the church and a private in the militia. He participated in the killings, and later turned state's evidence against his fellows, after leaving the church.

Killings and aftermath of the massacre

On Friday, September 11, 1857, two militiamen approached the Baker–Fancher party wagons with a white flag and were soon followed by Indian Agent and militia officer John D. Lee. Lee told the battle-weary emigrants that he had negotiated a truce with the Paiutes, whereby they could be escorted safely the 36 miles (58 km) back to Cedar City under Mormon protection in exchange for turning all of their livestock and supplies over to the Native Americans. [14] Accepting this, the emigrants were led out of their fortification. The adult men were separated from the women and children. The men were paired with a militia escort. When a signal was given, the militiamen turned and shot the male members of the Baker–Fancher party standing by their side. The women and children were then ambushed and killed by more militia that were hiding in nearby bushes and ravines. Members of the militia were sworn to secrecy. A plan was set to blame the massacre on the Native Americans. The militia did not kill some small children who were deemed too young to relate the story. These children were taken in by local Mormon families. Seventeen of the children were later reclaimed by the U.S. Army and returned to relatives in Arkansas. [15]

Some of the property of the dead was reportedly taken by the Native Americans involved, while large amounts of their valuables and cattle were taken by the Mormons in southern Utah, including John D. Lee. Some of the cattle were taken to Salt Lake City and sold or traded. The remaining personal property of the Baker–Fancher party was taken to the tithing house at Cedar City and auctioned off to local Mormons. [16]

Investigations and prosecutions

An early investigation was conducted by Brigham Young, [11] who interviewed John D. Lee on September 29, 1857. In 1858, Young sent a report to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs stating that the massacre was the work of Native Americans. The Utah War delayed any investigation by the U.S. federal government until 1859, when Jacob Forney, [17] and U.S. Army Brevet Major James Henry Carleton conducted investigations. In Carleton's investigation, at Mountain Meadows he found women's hair tangled in sage brush and the bones of children still in their mothers' arms. [18] Carleton later said it was "a sight which can never be forgotten." After gathering up the skulls and bones of those who had died, Carleton's troops buried them and erected a cairn and cross.

Carleton interviewed a few local Mormon settlers and Paiute Native American chiefs, and concluded that there was Mormon involvement in the massacre. He issued a report in May 1859, addressed to the U.S. Assistant Adjutant-General, setting forth his findings. Jacob Forney, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Utah, also conducted an investigation that included visiting the region in the summer of 1859 and retrieved many of the surviving children of massacre victims who had been housed with Mormon families, and gathered them in preparation of transporting them to their relatives in Arkansas. Forney concluded that the Paiutes did not act alone and the massacre would not have occurred without the white settlers, [19] while Carleton's report to the U.S. Congress called the mass killings a "heinous crime", [5] blaming both local and senior church leaders for the massacre.

A federal judge brought into the territory after the Utah War, Judge John Cradlebaugh, in March 1859 convened a grand jury in Provo, concerning the massacre, but the jury declined any indictments. [20] Nevertheless, Cradlebaugh conducted a tour of the Mountain Meadows area with a military escort. [21] Cradlebaugh attempted to arrest John D. Lee, Isaac Haight, and John Higbee, but these men fled before they could be found. [22] Cradlebaugh publicly charged Brigham Young as an instigator to the massacre and therefore an "accessory before the fact." [21] Possibly as a protective measure against the mistrusted federal court system, Mormon territorial probate court judge Elias Smith arrested Young under a territorial warrant, perhaps hoping to divert any trial of Young into a friendly Mormon territorial court. [23] When no federal charges ensued, Young was apparently released. [21]

The scene at Lee's execution by Utah firing squad on March 23, 1877. Lee is seated, next to his coffin.
Justice At Last! – Leslie's Monthly Magazine article of 1877.

Further investigations, cut short by the American Civil War in 1861, [24] again proceeded in 1871 when prosecutors obtained the affidavit of militia member Philip Klingensmith. Klingensmith had been a bishop and blacksmith from Cedar City; by the 1870s, however, he had left the church and moved to Nevada. [25]

During the 1870s Lee, [26] Dame, Philip Klingensmith and two others (Ellott Willden and George Adair, Jr.) were indicted and arrested while warrants were obtained to pursue the arrests of four others (Haight, Higbee, William C. Stewart and Samuel Jukes) who had gone into hiding. Klingensmith escaped prosecution by agreeing to testify. [27] Brigham Young removed some participants including Haight and Lee from the LDS Church in 1870. The U.S. posted bounties of $500 (equivalent to $9,470 in 2016) each for the capture of Haight, Higbee and Stewart, while prosecutors chose not to pursue their cases against Dame, Willden and Adair.

Lee's first trial began on July 23, 1875, in Beaver, before a jury of eight Mormons and four non-Mormons. [28] This trial led to a hung jury on August 5, 1875. Lee's second trial began September 13, 1876, before an all-Mormon jury. The prosecution called Daniel Wells, Laban Morrill, Joel White, Samuel Knight, Samuel McMurdy, Nephi Johnson, and Jacob Hamblin. [29] Lee also stipulated, against advice of counsel, that the prosecution be allowed to re-use the depositions of Young and Smith from the previous trial. [30] Lee called no witnesses in his defense. [31] This time, Lee was convicted.

At Lee's sentencing, as required by Utah Territory statute, he was given the option of being hanged, shot, or beheaded, and he chose to be shot. [32] In 1877, before being executed by firing squad at Mountain Meadows on March 23, 1877, Lee professed that he was a scapegoat for others involved. [33] Brigham Young stated that Lee's fate was just, but not a sufficient blood atonement, given the enormity of the crime. [34]

Criticism and analysis of the massacre

Media coverage about the event

The cover of the August 13, 1859, issue of Harper's Weekly illustrating the killing field as described by Brevet Major Carleton "one too horrible and sickening for language to describe. Human skeletons, disjointed bones, ghastly skulls and the hair of women were scattered in frightful profusion over a distance of two miles." "the remains were not buried at all until after they had been dismembered by the wolves and the flesh stripped from the bones, and then only such bones were buried as lay scattered along nearest the road".

The first published report on the incident was made in 1859 by Carleton, who had been tasked by the U.S. Army to investigate the incident and bury the still exposed corpses at Mountain Meadows. [35] Although the massacre was covered to some extent in the media during the 1850s, [36] the first period of intense nation-wide publicity about the massacre began around 1872, after investigators obtained Klingensmith's confession. In 1867 C.V. Waite published "An Authentic History Of Brigham Young" which described the events. In 1872, Mark Twain commented on the massacre through the lens of contemporary American public opinion in an appendix to his semi-autobiographical travel book Roughing It. In 1873, the massacre was a prominent feature of a history by T. B. H. Stenhouse, The Rocky Mountain Saints. [37] National newspapers covered the Lee trials closely from 1874 to 1876, and his execution in 1877 was widely covered.

The massacre has been treated extensively by several historical works, beginning with Lee's own Confession in 1877, expressing his opinion that George A. Smith was sent to southern Utah by Brigham Young to direct the massacre and stating that the local church and city leaders had prayed together in a circle and told him it was their duty to kill the emigrants. [38] [39] In 1910, the massacre was the subject of a short book by Josiah F. Gibbs, who also attributed responsibility for the massacre to Young and Smith. [40] In 1915, the massacre was described in Jack London's novel " The Star Rover" from the point-of-view of a young boy, Jesse, son of Captain Fancher. The first detailed and comprehensive work using modern historical methods was The Mountain Meadows Massacre in 1950 by Juanita Brooks, a Mormon scholar who lived near the area in southern Utah. Brooks found no evidence of direct involvement by Brigham Young, but charged him with obstructing the investigation and provoking the attack through his rhetoric.

Initially, the LDS Church denied any involvement by Mormons, and was relatively silent on the issue. In 1872, it excommunicated some of the participants for their role in the massacre. [41] Since then, the LDS Church has condemned the massacre and acknowledged involvement by local Mormon leaders. In September 2007, the LDS Church published an article in its publications marking 150 years since the tragedy occurred. [42] [43]

Historical theories explaining the massacre

Historians have ascribed the massacre to a number of factors, including strident Mormon teachings in the years prior to the massacre, war hysteria, and alleged involvement of Brigham Young. According to author Sally Denton, the involvement of Young and other LDS Church leaders is further complicated by the LDS Church's reluctance to assume responsibility for the massacre, which, Denton argues, is because it would risk "calling into question Brigham Young's divinity and the Mormon belief that they are God's chosen people." [44]

Strident Mormon teachings

For the decade prior to the Baker–Fancher party's arrival there, Utah Territory existed as a theodemocracy led by Brigham Young. During the mid-1850s, Young instituted a Mormon Reformation, intending to "lay the axe at the root of the tree of sin and iniquity". [45] Mormon teachings during this era were dramatic and strident.

In addition, during the prior decades, the religion had undergone a period of intense persecution in the American Midwest, and faithful Mormons moved west to escape persecution in midwestern towns. In particular, they were officially expelled from the state of Missouri during the 1838 Mormon War, during which prominent Mormon apostle David W. Patten was killed in battle. After Mormons moved to Nauvoo, Illinois, the religion's founder Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum Smith were killed in 1844. Just months before the Mountain Meadows massacre, Mormons received word that yet another apostle had been killed: in April 1857, apostle Parley P. Pratt was shot in Arkansas by Hector McLean, the estranged husband of one of Pratt's plural wives, Eleanor McLean Pratt. [46] Mormon leaders immediately proclaimed Pratt as another martyr, [47] and many Mormons held the people of Arkansas responsible. [48]

In 1857, Mormon leaders taught that the Second Coming of Jesus was imminent, [49] and that God would soon exact punishment against the United States for persecuting Mormons and martyring Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, Patten and Pratt. [50] In their Endowment ceremony, faithful early Latter-day Saints took an oath to pray that God would take vengeance against the murderers. [51] As a result of this oath, several Mormon apostles and other leaders considered it their religious duty to kill the prophets' murderers if they ever came across them. [52]

The sermons, blessings, and private counsel by Mormon leaders just before the Mountain Meadows massacre can be understood as encouraging private individuals to execute God's judgment against the wicked. [53] In Cedar City, the teachings of church leaders were particularly strident. [54]

Thus, historians argue that southern Utah Mormons would have been particularly affected by an unsubstantiated rumor that the Baker–Fancher wagon train had been joined by a group of eleven miners and plainsmen who called themselves "Missouri Wildcats", [55] some of whom reportedly taunted, vandalized and "caused trouble" for Mormons along the route. Various rumors asserted that the Wildcats had bragged of killing Mormons at Haun's Mill massacre; [56] John D. Lee claimed they bragged that Buchanan's army would wipe out the Mormon population. [57] [58] They were also affected by the report to Brigham Young that the Baker–Fancher party was from Arkansas where Pratt was murdered; [59] It was also rumored – as presented in the "Argus" letters later published in the Corinne Daily Reporter – that Eleanor McLean Pratt, one of Pratt's plural wives, recognized one or more of the Mountain Meadows emigrants as being present at her husband's murder. [60] Other sources, however, state that Eleanor Pratt herself was not present at or during the murder (and so could not have identified the murderers). [61] [62] [63]

War hysteria

George A. Smith Apostle who met the Baker–Fancher party before touring Parowan and neighboring settlements before the massacre

The Mountain Meadows massacre was caused in part by events relating to the Utah War, an 1857 deployment toward the Utah Territory of the United States Army, whose arrival was peaceful. In the summer of 1857, however, the Mormons expected an all-out invasion of apocalyptic significance. From July to September 1857, Mormon leaders and their followers prepared for a siege. Mormons were required to stockpile grain, and were enjoined against selling grain to emigrants for use as cattle feed. As far-off Mormon colonies retreated, Parowan and Cedar City became isolated and vulnerable outposts. Brigham Young sought to enlist the help of Native American tribes in fighting the "Americans", encouraging them to steal cattle from emigrant trains, and to join Mormons in fighting the approaching army. [64]

Scholars have asserted that George A. Smith's tour of southern Utah influenced the decision to attack and destroy the Fancher–Baker emigrant train near Mountain Meadows, Utah. He met with many of the eventual participants in the massacre, including W. H. Dame, Isaac Haight, John D. Lee and Chief Jackson, leader of a band of Paiutes. [65] He noted that the militia was organized and ready to fight, and that some of them were eager to "fight and take vengeance for the cruelties that had been inflicted upon us in the States." [66] Among Smith's party were a number of Paiute Native American chiefs from the Mountain Meadows area. When Smith returned to Salt Lake, Brigham Young met with these leaders on September 1, 1857, and encouraged them to fight against the Americans in the anticipated clash with the U.S. Army. They were also offered all of the livestock then on the road to California, which included that belonging to the Baker–Fancher party. The Native American chiefs were reluctant, and at least one objected they had previously been told not to steal, and declined the offer. [67]

Brigham Young

Historians debate the role of Brigham Young in the massacre. Young was theocratic leader of the Utah Territory at the time of the massacre.

There is a consensus among historians that Brigham Young played a role in provoking the massacre, at least unwittingly, and in concealing its evidence after the fact; however, they debate whether Young knew about the planned massacre ahead of time and whether he initially condoned it before later taking a strong public stand against it. Young's use of inflammatory and violent language [68] in response to the Federal expedition added to the tense atmosphere at the time of the attack. Following the massacre, Young stated in public forums that God had taken vengeance on the Baker–Fancher party. [69] It is unclear whether Young held this view because he believed that this specific group posed an actual threat to colonists or because he believed that the group was directly responsible for past crimes against Mormons. However, in Young's only known correspondence prior to the massacre, he told the Church leaders in Cedar City:

In regard to emigration trains passing through our settlements, we must not interfere with them until they are first notified to keep away. You must not meddle with them. The Indians we expect will do as they please but you should try and preserve good feelings with them. There are no other trains going south that I know of[.] [I]f those who are there will leave let them go in peace. [70]

According to historian MacKinnon, "After the [Utah] war, U.S. President James Buchanan implied that face-to-face communications with Brigham Young might have averted the conflict, and Young argued that a north-south telegraph line in Utah could have prevented the Mountain Meadows massacre." [71] MacKinnon suggests that hostilities could have been avoided if Young had traveled east to Washington D.C. to resolve governmental problems instead of taking a five-week trip north on the eve of the Utah War for church related reasons. [72]

A modern forensic assessment of a key affidavit, purportedly given by a elderly man named William Edwards in 1924, stating that when he was 15 years old he was ordered by Mormon leadership to assist the Indians in the attack, has complicated the debate on complicity of senior Mormon leadership in the Mountain Meadows massacre. Analysis indicates that Edwards's signature may have been traced and that the typeset belonged to a typewriter manufactured in the 1950s. The Utah State Historical Society, who maintains the document in its archives, acknowledges a possible connection to Mark Hofmann, a convicted forger and extortionist, via go-between Lyn Jacobs who provided the society with the document. [73] [74] Similarly, a letter supposedly written by John D. Lee, stating he was given direct orders from Brigham Young, is also suspected to be a forgery after being compared with other samples of Lee's handwriting. [75]


The first monument for the victims was built two years after the massacre, by Major Carleton and the U.S. Army. This monument was a simple cairn built over the gravesite of 34 victims, and was topped by a large cedar cross. [76] The monument was found destroyed and the structure was replaced by the U.S. Army in 1864. [77] By some reports, the monument was destroyed in 1861, when Young brought an entourage to Mountain Meadows. Wilford Woodruff, who later became President of the Church, claimed that upon reading the inscription on the cross, which read, "Vengeance is mine, thus saith the Lord. I shall repay", Young responded, "it should be vengeance is mine and I have taken a little." [78] [79] In 1932 citizens of the surrounding area constructed a memorial wall around the remnants of the monument. [80]

The 1999 burial site monument

Starting in 1988, the Mountain Meadows Association, composed of descendants of both the Baker–Fancher party victims and the Mormon participants, designed a new monument in the meadows; this monument was completed in 1990 and is maintained by the Utah State Division of Parks and Recreation. [81] In 1999 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints replaced the U.S. Army's cairn and the 1932 memorial wall with a second monument, which it now maintains. [82] [83] [84]

In 1955, to memorialize the victims of the massacre, a monument was installed in the town square of Harrison, Arkansas. On one side of this monument is a map and short summary of the massacre, while the opposite side contains a list of the victims. In 2005 a replica of the U.S. Army's original 1859 cairn was built in Carrollton, Arkansas; it is maintained by the Mountain Meadows Monument Foundation. [85]

In 2007, the 150th anniversary of the massacre was remembered by a ceremony held in the meadows. Approximately 400 people, including many descendants of those slain at Mountain Meadows and Elder Henry B. Eyring of the LDS Church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles attended this ceremony. [86] [87]

In 2011, the site was designated as a National Historic Landmark after joint efforts by descendants of those killed and the LDS Church. [88]

In 2014, California archaeologist Everett Bassett, after an examination of U.S. Army records and a site visit, concluded that two mass graves of the massacre victims, which had been thought to be at the site of the memorial erected by the LDS Church, were actually on private land nearby. The Mountain Meadows Association is trying to come to an agreement with the land owner for conservation of the sites via National Monument status. [89]

Media detailing the massacre


  • Los Angeles Star, 3 October 1857, Rumored Massacre on the Plains, p. 2, col.3 [90]
  • Los Angeles Star, 10 October 1857; Horrible Massacre of Emigrants! Over 100 Persons Murdered!, p. 2, col.2–3 [91]
  • Daily Alta California, 12 October 1857, Horrible Massacre of Emigrants! Over 100 Persons Murdered!, p. 1 col.1 [92]
  • Los Angeles Star, 17 October 1857, The Late Horrible Massacre, p. 4, col.2–4 [93]
  • Los Angeles Star, 24 October 1857, More Outrages on the Plains!! Two Men Wounded!! 326 Head of Cattle Run Off, &c., &c!!, p. 2, col.1–3 [94]
  • Daily Alta California, 27 October 1857, Later From The South, p. 1, col.2–5 [95]
  • Los Angeles Star, 31 October 1857, The Late Outrages on the Plains – Another account, p. 2, col.1–3 [96]
  • Daily Alta California, 1 November 1857; LETTER FROM ANGEL'S CAMP. [FROM AN OCCASIONAL CORRESPONDENT.] [97]
  • Los Angeles Star, 7 November 1857, The late Outrages on the Plains – Further Particulars., p. 2, col.1–3 [98]




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