There are still a lot of myths surrounding the Massacre at Mountain Meadows. How many were killed? Historian Barbara Jones Brown says it could be a few dozen lower than original estimates.
Barbara: You know what’s really interesting about that number is that number comes from Jacob Hamblin who buries the bodies later….He tells federal army officials, federal officials, that it was 120, and then they go with that number. What’s interesting is the earliest sources, the earliest body counts, put the number at 95, 96, which surprised me when started getting into those earliest primary sources because I said, “No, it’s supposed to be 120.” So then I just thought, “Well, where does this number come from?” I looked at all of the sources and they are what I just described to you. So the earliest body counts say about 95 or 96. The number of people who’ve been identified in the train is about the same. It’s about that.
GT: So, it might not be as bad as we thought.
Barbara: It is as bad as we thought. Even if one person, a massacre [is bad.]
GT: That’s true.
Barbara: Yeah. I mean 95, 120–either way. It still is as bad as we thought.
GT: It’s terrible.
Were children under age 8 spared due to Mormon theology? Barbara Jones Brown will give us some of the latest information surrounding the massacre, and it likely is different than you’ve heard.
GT: The other question I wanted to ask, so you said that the oldest child that lived was six? I know that there’s some Mormon theology. Why six years old?
Barbara: So the non-Mormon attorneys that investigated and talk about it later. It says, “Because they were too young to give evidence in court.”
GT: Oh really? Oh, I always thought it was because children under eight are not capable of sin.
Barbara: That theory came much later.
GT: Oh, okay.
Barbara: It’s a modern theory. It doesn’t hold up because babies were killed. Some babies were killed in the massacre and seven year-olds were killed. Again, the oldest survivor was six. So, what all of the perpetrators said was they were too young to tell tales. Again, there’s a federal district judge named John Cradlebaugh, and he says they were spared because they were too young to give evidence in court.
GT: Okay. So it was a legal issue. It wasn’t a theological issue.
Barbara: That’s what the historical sources say. Yeah. I can’t find a single historical source that says, “Oh, we’re not going to kill them because they’re not eight yet.” There’s not a single historical source that says that.
Find out what other myths Barbara can dispel! Check out our conversation….
Here are our other conversations with Barbara:
257: Revenge for Haun’s Mill & Pratt’s Murder? (Jones Brown)
256: Utah War & Mountain Meadows Massacre (Jones Brown)