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After the Killing (Part 5 of 6)

The day after approximately 100 immigrants from Arkansas were killed, Mormon leaders in Iron County got together to discuss how to explain the deaths.  Barbara Jones Brown tells how leaders dealt with Brigham Young’s message to leave the immigrants alone, and how they decided to blame the Indians for the atrocity.

Barbara:  On the day after the massacre Haight and Dame arrive at the Mountain Meadows to see what’s happened, what’s been done. Lee and Klingensmith are already there because they were major participants in the killings, in the atrocity. They come and then Lee talks about watching Haight and Dame argue over who’s to blame for this as they see the horrible, butchering, just the horrible, butchered bodies lying all across the meadows, including all of the women and children. Dame says, “We have to report this.”

And Haight says, “How? As an Indian massacre?”

And Dame says, ” I’m not sure I would report it just as that, because Dame knows he’s ordered out the Iron County militiamen to do this.

Isaac [Haight] says, “You have to report it as an Indian massacre or you’ll implicate yourself.”

Dame says, “Isaac, I didn’t think there were so many of them. You told me that most of them were already dead, that there were just a few more witnesses that had to be killed.”

Haight yells at him and says, “If you blame this whole thing on me, I will follow you to hell to make sure you pay for it,” basically. So there’s just this horrible argument going on the day after. So, Lee gets back to Fort Harmony and starts bragging to his congregation about what he’s done. He’s proud of it.

A letter from Brigham Young arrives on September 13th, two days later. It arrives in Cedar City telling Isaac Haight, “The Indians will do as they please, but you must not meddle with the immigrants. If those who are there will go, let them go in peace.”

Isaac Haight receives that letter and says, “Too late, too late.” So he forwards that message to Harmony and also to Washington. The same thing happened in Washington. The militiamen returned to Washington and they’re bragging about what they’ve done. They’re proud of it, until that message arrives, that Brigham Young had said, “No. Let them go in peace.”

So Haight calls Lee to him in Cedar City and says, “We’re in a muddle.” He says, “You need to go report this to Brigham Young and take as much of the blame for it as you can.”

So Lee says, “Why don’t you just tell him you’re the [leader.]”

He [Haight] says, “Well, you could tell him better than I.”

So he sends Lee north to report the massacre to Brigham Young.

And so the blame game begins.  Check out our conversation….

What Happened after the Killing at Mountain Meadows?
What Happened after the Killing at Mountain Meadows?

Don’t miss our other conversations with Barbara!

259: Cattle Rustling Turns Deadly (Jones Brown)

258: Tackling Myths of Mountain Meadows (Jones Brown)

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)