Saturday, February 28, 2009

Mountain Meadows Massacre: Descendants Of Victims And Perpetrators Working Together In Arkansas On Two Friendship Quilts To Memorialize Victims

Although the Mountain Meadows Massacre occurred in 1857, some hard feelings remain even today, although most of the fuel is generally applied by anti-Mormons who have an axe to grind against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

But descendants of both the victims and the perpetrators are working together to erase any lingering hard feelings. Their latest project is to create two friendship quilts - one destined for Cedar City, Utah, and the other for Northwest Arkansas. The fabric squares will pay tribute to emigrants who were slaughtered by Mormon militiamen and Paiute Indians as they passed through southern Utah in September 1857. Media story from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Barbara Jones Brown is a South Jordan, Utah, Mormon who helped edit the critically acclaimed "Massacre at Mountain Meadows". Her white fabric square states, "I am so sorry members of my church committed this crime. I believe earth has no sorrow that cannot be healed by the grace of God and the goodness of the human family".

Meanwhile, Diann Fancher of Green Forest, Arkansas is related by marriage to 28 of the people who died. Her squares state: "Love is from God" and "Vengeance is mine. I will repay, says the Lord". According to Fancher, the friendship quilt is another opportunity for healing. "Hopefully, the quilt will show all the dreams we have and the forgiveness and the love and the opportunity we have to make a better tomorrow", Fancher said.

Also involved in this project, but in a different way, is Richard Turley, the Assistant Church Historian for the LDS Church. On Thursday February 26th, Turley, accompanied by Barbara Jones Brown, addressed members of Arkansans for Gifted and Talented Education about the massacre as well as efforts to promote reconciliation, including the quilts. Turley co-authored "Massacre at Mountain Meadows", and said they did research in 31 states and the District of Columbia. It takes 100 feet of shelf space to hold all the documents, and those documents will be useful in helping to construct a second book about the massacre which will detail the 20-year effort to bring John D. Lee, considered the leader of the massacre, to justice. Turley recently signed a contract with Oxford University Press to write the new book.

A short summary of the massacre is in order. During the time period leading up to the massacre, the LDS community in Utah felt like they were under siege. A misguided President James Buchanan, led to believe the Utah Mormons were in rebellion, sent a military force commanded by future Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston to subjugate them in May 1857. This was occurring a mere 13 years after the Saints were driven from Nauvoo, Illinois, and before that, from Missouri and Ohio. In addition, one of their Apostles, Parley P. Pratt, had been murdered near Van Buren, Arkansas earlier in 1857. So when the Fancher-Baker Party arrived in Utah with their wagon train in late 1857, enroute to California, feelings were already at a fever pitch.

As the Fancher-Baker Party traveled south, some settlements refused to sell them provisions. This generated hard feelings on both sides, and a few of the hot-tempered young bloods in the party issued threats. That's all it took to light the match, and Mormons in the area organized with local Indians to attack the party. The attack took place in Mountain Meadows on September 11th, 1857 (what an auspicious date). Led by an estimated 50-60 Mormon militiamen, it resulted in the death of roughly 120 men, women and children; most of them from Arkansas and Missouri. Only 17 of the youngest emigrants were spared; they were farmed out to various families in the area (but later returned to their own relatives). As the bodies began to decay, militiamen divided up the spoils and tried to conceal their crimes. Initially, church members blamed Paiute Indians for the attack. Eventually, a lone militia leader, former Bishop John D. Lee, was convicted of the crime and executed.

In recent years, the church has acknowledged and expressed regret for the role its members played in the mass murder. Church officials have traveled to Arkansas repeatedly to meet with descendants of the Fancher-Baker party and officials with three organizations dedicated to keeping the massacre victims' memories alive.

Other information about the Massacre can be found on the Mountain Meadows Massacre website, which shows pictures and maps, an article from LDS Ensign Magazine, and a website dedicated to the victims of the massacre.

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

Unfortunatly, Massacre at Mountain Meadows devolved
into an exercise in Propaganda. There isn't a
statement in this summary that is accurate, and does not show disrespect to the Utah Historians, now dead, who spent their lives preserving the hard human realities.

Can you erase a Genocide
of many thousands, 600,000 if you include the Genocide of California Indians that
fueled the fire of terror
that led to the massacre
of the Fancher/Baker train.

The Young bloods would have had to have found the fountain of youth to
have known the details of
rapes committed Twenty Years before. What they
threatened to do was to
lead a mob/militia, whose
business was Indian Genocide, many who had followed the frontier to California and REPEAT the
Genocide of the past.

I have no idea what the purpose of compressing
two years of War into one. Buchannon's folly was the sending of Squaw Killer Harney with a good part of the Federal Army to Utah.

Squaw Killer is a corruption of Woman Killer. It was a crime for a man to rape a woman
during a raid on another
tribe, so whatever his name, it was changed to
Woman Killer, i.e., Rapist and he wore this as a brand the rest of his life to warn people
that he had committed this War Crime.

If he raped a member of his own tribe or even more so of his family, even as a boy,among the Chippawa, he was castrated by the old women of the tribe. If it was in the family he was castrated by his grandmother.

My informant was the grandson of an elderly shaman who was trained by
an Uncle who went Indian
on the first mission of Seal Team Two and was the
only survivor. No member
of Seal Team One survived.

Tribal societies are similar and the tribesmen
laughed when they found a 18 year old boy who, exhausted, had crawled into the bushes and gone to sleep.

I have added this detail
because it is verifiable.
I spent many hours with this particular Indian's
nephew because it was from these East Coast
Tribes that Joseph Smith drew his bodyguards and the top officers of the Nauvoo Legion. Without
these the Emigration West
would never have been sucesfull, and the mountain villages where the Danes initially settled in Sanpete County and East of Fountain Green, would have not understood the balance of
terror on which peaceful co-existence was based.

These were about the age
of the Missouri Wildcats,
having been unsuccesful
in protecting the Prophet
Joseph, though they did lead the saints west and
settle them in Villages,
allying them with the Indians.

During the first year of the 'war'--Like the early
American Colonists they adopted Indian tactics,
burning supply wagons, driving off stock until by the time they reached
Fort Bridger they had little more on which to
subsist than the 1300 Wagons (I'm assuming this includes handcarts) still
on the trail when the handcart companies were rescued and led through the snow and around Fort Bridger.

A popular song of the day expresses this event and
kept morale up:

Now they were going up the Platt
singing many a lusty ditty,
Saying we'll do this and we'll do that when we get to Salt Lake City.

And sure enough when they got there--they made the
Mormons stir, Sir.
I mean of course they would have done,
But oh, they didn't get there.

There's great commotion in the East about the Mormon question,
The problem is to say the least too much for their

Harney returned to Washington with his tail
between his legs and his hapless men unable to fight to due to starvation.

Year two involved the sending of Johnson's Army
to seat Governor Cummings, a man sympathetic to the Mormons who Brigham Young had given his assurance
to seat without resistance.

The terms were the same. If one soldier set one foot into the city of Salt Lake, the houses were filled with hay and
the Aaronic Priesthood,
consisting of boys from 12-16 stood ready to burn
the city to the ground.

Salt had been mined from
the Salt Lake sufficient to salt every cultivated field in Utah. This is
why the saints were caching food for seven years.

Utah would no longer have been used as an overland
route to California and
Emigrants would have been
rerouted to the Oregon Trail. Southerners, even at this date, used a seperate trail from the
Mormons and Northerners
to avoid conflict.

I cannot see how the bulk of collected material has any bearing on the inclusiveness of the final account. I think
President Hinkley, being a professional propogandist of more than 50 years,would not have allowed this book to go to print in this form.

The full truth in no way dishonors either the Fancher/Bakers or the young men who, at least some of them, were hornswoggled into commiting this Massacre of Innocents.

There were wise men in the leadership of Southern Utah, but they
were called to a meeting in Salt Lake at a time when outcomes required consensus. This could take days to reach.

Those who were left behind, to put it mildly,
lacked wisdom. The saints had nothing but time in reaching their decision.
With 800 cattle and the fat of the land, it is difficult to see that they had any pressing need for provisions.

Your website name drew me
"Mormonism Unveiled - Separating Fact From Fancy." I am sorry at the outcome.

I am happy to learn of the quilt. I am only sad that Juanita Brooks, Governor Matheson,
President Hinkley, and my Grandparents did not live
to see this milestone in the process of reconciliation.

Lying and omitting critical information, well documented by excellent scholars who I
spoke to personally is not a foundation on which
true understanding can be built.

This book in this form should not have any place in that foundation. The deadline should have been pushed way back and trust
built up with the California Archives, The
Society of the California Pioneers, relevant archivists, and the Riverside Library.

Material cited does not just dissipear. Monson
likes to come off as a compassionate tough guy.
He failed to convince me
and I hope enough others that the full truth will
come forward.

And I don't mean that the book should be filled, as
September Dawn was, with
formula, genre based, anti-Mormon cribbing.

I wish President Hinkley
had been well enough to
deliver the apology and
oversee the book research
himself. The trouble with
the dead is that they are not forthcoming enough.