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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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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