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.
Check out our conversation….