*MEMORIAL (FAMOUS), MOUNTAIN MEADOW - Boone County, Arkansas | MOUNTAIN MEADOW *MEMORIAL (FAMOUS) - Arkansas Gravestone Photos

Mountain Meadow *MEMORIAL (FAMOUS)

Harrison Courthouse Cemetery
Boone County,

Mountain Meadows Massacre Memorial

September 1857

Sometime during the early days of 1857 several groups of families, primarily from the Northwest part of Arkansas, gathered in an area known as Caravan Springs, just about four miles south of this memorial. The group totaled about 140 men, women, and children. The group was rather wealthy and prosperous and composed primarily of families from Marion, Crawford, Carroll, and Johnson counties. Collectively, they thought that a better life for all could be found in California. They were well equipped and carefully organized. The leaders of the wagon train were Captains Alexander “Piney Alex” Fancher and John T Baker. Fancher was elected the leader because he had led two previous wagon trains to California and Baker was his second in command. Along the way they were joined by wagons from other states, especially Missouri where the Mormon leader, Joseph Smith, had been recently assassinated. The plans were to stop in Salt Lake City, Utah to replenish supplies and repair equipment as most wagon trains headed west were inclined to do. In early September of 1857 the train reached the area known as Mountain Meadows, about 300 miles south of Salt Lake City. The noted Mormon leader Jacob Hamblin owned the grazing rights to the meadow and invited them to rest there for a few days and to graze their approximately 800 head of cattle. Unfortunately, Hamblin then departed the area for Salt Lake City and in the early morning hours of September 7 the wagon train was attacked by a band of Mormon settlers and possibly some Piute Indians. The attacking party was then joined by the Iron County Militia made up of Mormons acting under the orders of their local religious leaders. The attackers held siege on the train for the next three days during which 15 of the wagon train members were killed in the fighting or while trying to escape. On September 11 the emigrants, under a white flag of truce carried by Mormon leader John Doyle Lee, were finally convinced to surrender, give up their weapons, their cattle and leave the wagon train. Lee promised them in exchange to lead them to safe passage out of the area. Not wishing anyone to survive who could possibly testify of the events that were to come all children under the age of five, 17 0f them in total were placed in a separate wagon. Each adult from the train was escorted by one armed Mormon. When about a mile from the abandoned train a signal was given and each escort shot his assigned captive. In a matter of moments all the men and women and 35 older children were all killed. At least 120 innocent people were killed in what was the most violent attack on a wagon train in the entire history of the California and Oregon Trails. Seventeen children under the age of seven survived the ordeal and Mormon families made an attempt to assimilate them into their families. The children were eventually rescued by the US Army and returned to family members in Arkansas. It is believed that at least one child may have remained in Utah. As young as the children were, some were still able to tell a little of what they had witnessed. Some reported seeing Mormon adults wearing the clothes and jewelry that had belonged to their parents and riding the family horses. Twenty years after the massacre John Doyle Lee was tried for the murders. The prosecuting team tried to lay the blame at the feet of Brigham Young. This resulted in a hung jury and he was convicted at the second trial and sentenced to death. He was given a choice of hanging, beheading, or firing squad. He chose the firing squad and was taken to Mountain Meadows where he sat on the end of his coffin and told the firing squad, “Center my heart, boys.” He fell back into his casket and was the only person ever convicted for any crime relating to the worst wagon train massacre in American history.

Reference material: Refhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_Meadows_massacre (Accessed 10/6/2008)
Refhttp://www.religioustolerance.org/lds_mass.htm (Accessed 10/6/2008)
Recommended further reading:
“Blood of the Prophets, Brigham Young and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows” by Will Bagley
“The Mountain Meadows Massacre” by Juanita Brooks
“John Doyle Lee: Zealot, Pioneer Builder, Scapegoat” by Juanita Brooks

Contributed on 10/6/08 by tomtodd
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Record #: 73881

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Submitted: 10/6/08 • Approved: 10/7/08 • Last Updated: 7/30/12 • R73881-G0-S3

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