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Brigham Knew About MMM?

There is dispute among historians about Brigham Young’s knowledge about the Mountain Meadows Massacre.  Is it true Brigham knew in Sept 1857?  Did John D. Lee tell him the truth about the massacre?

Mel  Well, Brigham Young argued that he didn’t know the story for a long time after. I agree with Will Bagley and others that John D. Lee did not lie to Young and that Jacob Hamblin told him the truth within two weeks. Hamblin is reciting second hand what the killers had told him.

GT  Because I know Barbara said that John D. Lee went up, I want to say September 29 to Salt Lake to talk to Brigham and Barbara says that John D. Lee lied and blamed it on the Indians.

Mel  That has been one of the standards of protection for President Young for a very long time, that John D. Lee lied.

GT  Okay, so you’re saying that Will Bagley believes that John D. Lee told Brigham the truth right from the get go?

Mel  And I do, too.

GT  You do, too.

Mel  And some other historians do. Jacob Hamblin was up there within 10 or 11 days. And I can imagine…

GT  Well, Jacob wasn’t part of the massacre.

Mel  No, he was not.  He would be repeating what he heard second hand. But everybody lived in everybody’s hip pocket down there. You know, we have this idea that Dixie is this vast place, which it is, that takes forever for people and information to travel. No. On horseback from what is now Panguitch, or say, Circleville, the fort there is no more than a two-day travel down to Santa Clara. Native Americans, Mormons, other whites, Mexicans, and what they know are moving through this area all the time. It’s fluid, it’s constant.

Historian Mel Johnson tells us what he thinks, and discusses pioneer John Hawley’s possible involvement, and his vocal disagreement, with the massacre.

Mel:  Medical forensics work showed that there were a number of pistol holes in the skeletons and skulls of men, women and children. The only two revolvers that I can find in the Iron County Militia Musters: men who owned revolvers that were thought to be at the killing fields was Indian missionary Ira Hatch and John Pierce Hawley.

Check out our conversation….

Historian Mel Johnson believes John D. Lee told Brigham Young the truth about the Mountain Meadows massacre. (Others think Lee lied.)

Don’t miss other other conversations with Mel!

279: Hawley’s Opposition to MMM

278: Mormon Pioneers in Texas & End of Wightites

277: More on the Zodiac Temple in Texas

276: Lyman Wight & Mormon Colonies in Texas

275: Intro to Hawley

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Hawley’s Opposition to MMM

John Pierce Hawley rode with the Fancher-Baker party through Utah for a short time.

Mel: On the way back, the Hawleys end up riding along for about a week with the Fancher-Baker wagon immigrant train, and then they go on their way.

GT: So they got on their way before they got to the Mountain Meadows,

Mel: Yes.

GT:  Good thing for them.

Mel:  Well, they still met up again. John says that he was very opposed to the plans to wipe out the train.

GT:  So he was aware of these plans?

Mel:  Early on [he was aware]. He was part of the men that were called out.

GT:  So part of the Nauvoo Legion?

Mel:  Well, it wasn’t the Legion, though they were Legion members. Notice the units were not called out. They were called out by priesthood relationship, and family relationships. Look at the number of brothers, uncles, nephews, cousins, that are among those 50 men. You don’t have a pattern, a militia organization. You have a pattern of family and relationships, and that makes sense.

Was his pistol used in this atrocious crime?

Mel:  Several Masonic Mormon scholars have suggested that John D. Lee gave Masonic signs and promises that the immigrants would be protected. Whatever. They were lured out and we have all read the stories of the massacre. The only small thing other than John Hawley’s story that I’ve come up with would have been…

GT:  Because you said the John Hawley was involved in the planning?

Mel:  No, no, not at all. Let me finish this, then we’ll go to John Hawley. Medical forensics work showed that there were a number of pistol holes in the skeletons and skulls of men, women and children. The only two revolvers that I can find in the Iron County Militia Musters: men who owned revolvers that were thought to be at the killing fields was Indian missionary Ira Hatch and John Pierce Hawley.

Mel:  Now Hawley says that he did not approve. Hawley says he was not there. But his brother, George, was there. His brother, William, was there and at least one, if not both, actively participated.  Maybe George or William borrowed John’s pistol. I don’t know. But, also, there’s another possibility for those pistol shots. Maybe revolvers were removed from the possession of the immigrants and then used against them.  But, there’s indication that John could have been there. John D. Lee said John was there.

Historian Mel Johnson tells us that Hawley was a vocal critic of the crime.   Check out our conversation….

John P. Hawley was opposed to the Mountain Meadows Massacre, but was his pistol used in the crime?

Don’t miss our previous conversations!

278: Mormon Pioneers in Texas & End of Wightites

277: More on the Zodiac Temple in Texas

276: Lyman Wight & Mormon Colonies in Texas

275: Intro to Hawley

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Mormon Pioneers in Texas & End of Wightites (Part 4 of 8)

We’re continuing our conversation with Mel Johnson and we’ll finish out the Wightites settlement in Texas.  What happened to them?

Mel  49:24  After 1853 they take about a year to get down to their final colony place, down in Bandera, Texas, in Bandera County. It is West of San Antonio about 55 miles. Bandera is a typical Texas western town and county. The Frontier Times Museum is located there. I am the staff historian for the Frontier Times Museum. They have a good Mormon exhibit there and there they were for four years. That is where the colony finally dissolved, and more than half of the Wightites stayed in Bandera and their descendants are there today.

Mel  50:21  They became cattlemen, they became storekeepers, they became farmers. They owned lots and built houses in Bandera. Some are still there. An 1865 RLDS revival mission came to Bandera, Texas after the Civil War, and all of the Banderites supported the Confederacy, so did the Mormons, they were very militant, very anti-union.

GT  50:54  Because of states’ rights because the Mormons wanted to practice polygamy and they thought that was the…

Mel  50:59  And the government, the federal government had not protected them in Missouri or Illinois.

GT  51:04  Right.

Mel  51:06  And 40 of them were baptized into the RLDS church, and they had an active chapel there in Bandera for 120 years. For any of you watching and listening, I’m going to put in a plug for 2021 John Whitmer Historical Conference is going to be held in Fredericksburg, Texas. I am trying to get the leadership to organize tours down to Bandera and up to Burnet County into the cemetery.

GT  51:42  What’s the nearest airport to Fredericksburg?

Mel  51:44  San Antonio.

So there you have it!  Are you going to check out the JWHA meetings?  Check out our conversation….

Many of the Wightites joined the Reorganization.

Don’t miss our other episodes with Mel!

Melvin Johnson on Life of John Pierce Hawley

277: More on the Zodiak Temple in Texas

276: Lyman Wight & Mormon Colonies in Texas

275: Intro to Hawley