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Tackling Myths of Mountain Meadows (Part 3 of 6)

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….

Public Domain photo of painting from 1800s of Mountain Meadows.
Public Domain photo of painting from 1800s of Mountain Meadows.

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)

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Revenge for Haun’s Mill & Pratt’s Murder?

20 years before the Mountain Meadows Massacre, 17 Mormons were killed in Haun’s Mill, Missouri.  And just four months earlier, Parley P. Pratt, a beloved Mormon apostle was killed May 13, 1857 in Arkansas.  Just a few months after Pratt’s death, around 100 immigrants from Arkansas were killed.  Is it true that Mormons sought revenge for the Haun’s Mill and Pratt’s murder?  Barbara Jones Brown will answer that question.

Barbara: So I looked at that theory and all I can find is proximate cause, meaning, so okay, this happened in Arkansas, therefore these people were from Arkansas, therefore that must be the reason. But when I looked at it, I don’t think that was the motive. I think these other things that I’ve been talking about were the motive. Here are my reasons. Quite a lot of the perpetrators eventually come out and say why this happened as well as local people. They give a whole slew of motives and reasons for why this happened. Not one of them ever said that Parley P. Pratt’s murder was a motive.

GT: Hmm. That’s among the principal people that were involved.

Barbara: Yeah. Anyone. Anyone. You can’t find a single Mormon that ever said that.

GT: So, do you think that’s overplayed then?

Barbara: I do.

Were you surprised to hear Brown downplay Pratt and Haun’s Mill in the Mountain Meadows Massacre? Check out our conversation….

Barbara Jones Brown disputes the idea that Mountain Meadows was revenge for Haun's Mill or Parley Pratt's murder.
Barbara Jones Brown disputes the idea that Mountain Meadows was revenge for Haun’s Mill or Parley Pratt’s murder.

Don’t miss our other episodes about the massacre.

256: Utah War & Mountain Meadows Massacre (Jones-Brown)

194: What is the Dead Lee Scroll? (Mayfield)

193: John D. Lee’s Role in Mountain Meadows Massacre (Mayfield)

074: CSI: Mountain Meadows – Using DNA to Solve 2 Mysteries (Perego)

 

 

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Utah War & Mountain Meadows Massacre (Part 1 of 6)

If you didn’t grow up in Utah, you’ve probably never heard of the Utah War.  Federal troops came to Utah in 1857 creating great anxiety among the Mormons.  This war footing led to the Mountain Meadows Massacre, the lowest point in Mormon history.  Barbara Jones-Brown tells about these events that led to the greatest atrocity in American history up to that point in 1857.

Barbara: A memorial from Utah’s legislature [was sent to Washington] saying, “Look, if you keep sending us federal officials that we don’t like, that we don’t agree with, we’re going to send them away. Please choose appointees that are from among us and represent our values.” Basically one legislator said it was practically a declaration of independence. So there’s these kinds of stories, these kind of rumors, some based in fact, some exaggerated that reach Washington. So the new president concludes that he needs to send a whole new set of territorial appointees to Utah, including one to replace Brigham Young as governor and that he’s going to send federal troops with them to ensure that they are placed successfully and with no resistance from local Utahans.

So Brigham Young and church leaders interpret this as a threat and they vowed that the army, the troops will never enter into their settlements. I’m really glossing over things quickly here, but you have what came to be called the Utah War erupt where the troops and the federal appointees, as they are nearing settlements of what was then Utah Territory. Young and other church leaders send out Mormon militia men to hamper their way. So they’re running off their cattle, they’re burning the grass in front of them. They are burning their supply wagons, doing everything they can to try and get the troops to be stopped on the plains that year. So that’s the environment and you’ve got this war hysteria going, on if you will, in Utah Territory.

These heightened tensions contributed to Mormons in Utah committing the worst war atrocity in U.S. history up to that time in 1857.  Approximately 100 settlers from Arkansas were killed.  Check out our conversation….

President James Buchanan sent federal troops to Utah to quell the "Mormon Rebellion." The Utah War indirectly led to the Mountain Meadows Massacre.
President James Buchanan sent federal troops to Utah to quell the “Mormon Rebellion.” The Utah War indirectly led to the Mountain Meadows Massacre.

Check out our other conversations about the Mountain Meadows Massacre.

194: What is the Dead Lee Scroll? (Mayfield)

193: John D. Lee’s Role in Mountain Meadows Massacre (Mayfield)

074: CSI: Mountain Meadows – Using DNA to Solve 2 Mysteries (Perego)