When the Fancher-Baker Party did not make it to California, news traveled fast. Congress asked federal investigators to find out what happened in Mountain Meadows. Was it an all-Indian attack, or were Mormons involved?
Turley: But the word made it quickly to California and then quickly to the eastern United States. So, people knew that their loved ones were killed or missing in late 1857 and early 1858, so it didn’t take long at all. At that point people in Arkansas, whose relatives were killed began to write to their congressional representatives saying, “We need to do something about this.” It wasn’t long before officials in Washington were demanding that something occur as well. So, they were sending orders with their people who were headed west with the Utah expedition telling them that they needed to do something about the massacre.
GT: Okay. So, because, if I remember right, didn’t it take about 10 years before they brought anybody up for trial? Or what was the time frame before they actually brought legal action?
Turley: So the Utah War ended in 1858, and before it ended, there was not anything done. In 1858, when the federal judges arrived, one of the federal judges, John Cradlebaugh, became responsible for that portion of the territory of Utah that included the South. So in 1859, in March, he convened a court and as part of that court had a grand jury, and he wanted the grand jury at that point to indict those who he felt were responsible for the massacre.
Without spilling a lot of the details of what’s going to be in our second volume, I’ll tell you that that was a complicated event. We explained in there exactly what happens during this trial. By the time you get to the middle of 1859, Church leaders are also concerned about what they’re hearing, and so they want to have some type of judicial proceeding as well. But for reasons, again, that we explain in our book, based on evidence no one’s ever seen before, that doesn’t work out. Then we get to the Civil War. After the Civil War, we get judges back in Utah, who are turning their attention to this crime again. So then in 1874, you finally have your first indictments, and then two trials of John D. Lee: one in 1875, and in 1876.
Check out our conversation….
Don’t forget to see our previous conversations with Richard Turley.
267: Was John D. Lee Most Guilty? (Turley)
266: Richard Turley on Saints… & Sinners (Turley)