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What is the Dead Lee Scroll? (Part 5)

A lead scroll was found at Lee’s Ferry in Arizona, now known as the Dead Lee Scroll.  What is it exactly?

Steve:    Well, one of the documents or artifacts that came up in 2002 was a lead plate they found down in Lee’s Ferry and it’s been given the nickname of Dead Lee Scroll. Will Bagley gave it that name. It’s a piece of lead. [It’s] very thin. So, it’s not the hardest thing.

So, he is in there cleaning. And all of the sudden he come across this thing rolled up. He opens it comes up and starts reading John D. Lee. Whoa! That has something to do with it. So, he cleans it off and they look at and they come up, hey, is this a confession? Is just some document that points out to it. Well, of course, boom, everybody loves it. Well, March of 2002, the archeologist for the Park Service, she’d taken it to Phoenix and showed it to Bill Flynn who worked with George Throckmorton on the Hofmann documents. Bill Flynn’s not LDS. Then she brings up to Salt Lake to George Throckmorton who was my boss at the time in Salt Lake Police crime lab. And so, he examined it, taking pictures of it and everything.

Was it a long-lost admission of guilt from the only person convicted of participating in the Mountain Meadows Massacre, John D. Lee?  Steve Mayfield will tell us more about it and attempts to authenticate it.  (It features forensic expert George Throckmorton, who we interviewed previously!)  If you want to see photos of the scroll and Lee’s Ferry, Go to Youtube.com/GospelTangents to see the video.  Steve was kind enough to share some of his photos with me.

Does the Dead Lee Scroll implicate Brigham Young in the Mountain Meadows Massacre?
Does the Dead Lee Scroll implicate Brigham Young in the Mountain Meadows Massacre?

Check out our conversation…

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John D. Lee’s Role in Mountain Meadows Massacre (Part 4)

September 11, 1857 was the largest mass-murder in American history.  Over 100 immigrants from Arkansas were killed in southern Utah.  John D. Lee was the only person executed for this atrocity.  In our conversation with Steve Mayfield, we’ll talk more about Lee’s involvement in the Mountain Meadows Massacre.

GT: So as I understand it from what I understand what the Mountain Meadows Massacre, there’s a lot of tensions going on. John D. Lee kind of spurs the Indians to attack, says it’s going to be an easy target, but it’s not an easy target. And so, they surround themselves. So, John D. Lee and William Dame and Klingonsmith and Higbee, they’re kind of the leaders of this whole thing. So, they come out and they say, “Well, if you’ll turn over your weapons we will save you from the Indians.”

Steve: Yeah.

GT: So as I understand it, every Mormon man had a gun. [Each Mormon] was walking each man from the Fancher Party out. And then the women and children were kind of in the back and somebody gave a signal. Was it Lee that gave the signal?

Steve: I can’t remember.

GT:  There was something to the effect of “Do your duty,” and then every Mormon man turned to the Fancher [Party] and shot and killed them. And then they left the women and children to be attacked by the Indians.

Steve:  Yeah. Again, you’ve got so many different stories and the fact is I think they realized, whoops. Because when they reported back to Brigham in Salt Lake, what happened is not what they actually did. You know, they, they kind of lied to Brigham.

GT: Because Lee was one of the people that went to Brigham and told him what happened. But he lied about it.

Steve: Yeah. One of the interesting things is that supposedly the church or the church leaders trying to hide this. But I saw an article in New York Times two months later, before the end of the year, were talking about this massacre of white people done in southern Utah. I mean, it’s not like we have instant news today. But it was very quick when this started going around and when the government comes and then they to look into it. And again, the Johnston’s army there and all the government investigation. Here comes Mountain Meadows in the middle of it. Now of course, you know Brigham kind of telling John D. Lee to take off and hide because they were trying to find him. And of course, it was 20 years later when they [try him.]

GT: Ok, let’s make sure we’ve got those details there. So, Lee participates in the massacre. Of course, he wasn’t the only person that was in the massacre.

Check out our conversation, as well as our other segments on Mormons & Crime!

John D. Lee was the only person executed for involvement in the Mountain Meadows Massacre, Sept 11, 1857.
John D. Lee was the only person executed for involvement in the Mountain Meadows Massacre, Sept 11, 1857.

192: Mormons & the FBI

191: Steve Mayfield: Crime Photographer

190: Mormon Connection in Patty Hearst Kidnapping

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Critiquing the Gospel Topics Essays

Between 2013-2015, the LDS Church published a series of essays dealing with sensitive topics in the LDS Church.  They are known as the Gospel Topics Essays.  Dr. Newell Bringhurst and Dr. Matt Harris have produced an anthology that will be released later this summer critiquing these Gospel Topics Essays.  In our final conversation, Dr. Newell Bringhurst will tell us more about the work that he’s been putting together on these essays.

Newell:  We go through all 13 Gospel Topics Essays.  It’s composed of 13 chapters.  I probably should pull out my notes so I can remember the name of all the contributors.  We start with the Book of Mormon and look at the historicity of the Book of Mormon, critiquing that essay, critiquing the essay on DNA and the authenticity of the Book of Mormon and of course the different accounts.  We critique the essay that was written on the various accounts of the First Vision, the historicity and authenticity of the Book of Abraham which is another very controversial topic.

We look at peace and violence along the Mormon frontier.  John Turner who did the biography on Brigham Young did the essay on that for us.  He is kind of a marquis figure.  He really did an outstanding job in looking at the whole issue of violence and how it involved the saints.  Although I think one of the strongest essays in there is Gary Bergera who presented at [Sunstone.]  He presented on Joseph Smith and his involvement with polygamy.  Of course, he has a much different spin on whether Joseph had sex with those other women.  {chuckles}

We’ll talk about the other authors as well!  Check out our conversation, and don’t forget to hear our other episodes on polygamy, blacks, and women in religion!  (A transcript of the entire interview will be available soon!)