A few days ago, my husband asked me if I had ever heard of the Mountain Meadows Massacre. I had not, so he sent me a link about this horrific event in American history.
This unthinkable massacre of men, women and children is one of the largest mass murders in the history of this country. Ironically, this happened on September 11th of the year 1857.
Don’t look for the possibility of Muslims being the perpetrators. No, this planned massacre of Arkansas emigrants trying to reach California, was carried out at the hands of Mormons. Cold blooded murder – done in the name of God; well, for Mormons we will spell that “god.”
Before I write about this blood stained event in the history of our country, I want to show the reader a blog post from Eric Barger (of Olive Tree Ministries and Take A Stand Ministries). This is from 2011:
The Similarities of Muhammad and Joseph Smith (Islam and Mormonism)
– Each claimed to be visited and guided by an angel.
– Each was allegedly given visions.
– Each was told that no true religion existed on the earth.
– Each claimed to be sent to restore the long lost faith as the one true religion.
– Each had a book produced from his teachings claiming to be “inspired by God.”
– Each claimed to be illiterate or uneducated and used this as proof the book was inspired.
– Each claimed the Bible was lost, altered, corrupted and unreliable.
– Each claimed his new holy book was the most correct and perfect book on earth.
– Each claimed to be a final prophet of God.
– Each claimed he was persecuted because of his pure faith.
– Each was a polygamist who had many wives.
– Each borrowed from paganism/polytheism.
– Immediately after their deaths, fights broke out from among the “faithful converts” as to who would succeed the deceased prophet.
– Each of their religions has those who follow the “original doctrine” and like both Muhammad and Smith, have exhibited violence, are polygamists, and have claimed “spiritual revelation” to justify evil actions.
– Both Islam and Mormonism claim to hold strictly to the path of their founders yet they are at least partially led by progressive revelation. (“New” revelation always replaces older revelation that becomes inconvenient to the current leaders.)
– Islam and Mormonism each sanction deception – even lying about their doctrines and true intentions – for the good of the cause of their religion. In Mormonism it is acceptable to obfuscate on one’s affiliations and beliefs to non-Mormons and to new Mormon recruits under the ‘principle’ of “milk before meat.” In Islam, Surah 4:142 of the Qur’an clearly teaches the practice of of deception for the good of Islam. These are the Islamic edicts of “Kitman,” which is half truths meant to mislead an infidel and “Taqiyya” which is complete deception to subvert and deceive unbelievers.
– Neither Islam or Mormonism offers true salvation and a path to eternity with God.
Eric Barger has discernment. In this wicked day, if a Christian is lacking discernment, it is nothing short of tragic.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).
This article is quite long. I have included most of it, but the reader is encouraged to read about the trials of these killers – I will place another a link to the website at the end.
The Mountain Meadows Massacre of 1857 and the Trials of John D. Lee: An Account
Called “the darkest deed of the nineteenth century,” the brutal 1857 murder of 120 men, women, and children at a place in southern Utah called Mountain Meadows remains one of the most controversial events in the history of the American West. Although only one man, John D. Lee, ever faced prosecution (for what probably stands as one of the four largest mass killings of civilians in United States history), many other Mormons ordered, planned, or participated in the massacre of wagon loads of Arkansas emigrants as they headed through southwestern Utah on their way to California. Special controversy surrounds the role in the 1857 events of one man, Brigham Young , the fiery prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who led his embattled people to the “promised land” in the valley of the Great Salt Lake. What exactly Brigham Young knew, and when he knew it, are questions that historians still debate.
The tragedy in Mountain Meadows on September 11–a date that would later come to stand for another senseless loss of life–can only be understood in the context of the colorful history of the most important American-grown religion, Mormonism. Today, Mormonism has gone mainstream and Mormons seem to be just one more strand among many in the nation’s religious fabric. Mormonism, however, as it existed in the mid-nineteenth century, was an altogether different matter. Brigham Young’s provocative communalist religion endorsed polygamy, supported a theocracy, and advocated the violent doctrine of “blood atonement“–the killing of persons committing certain sins as the only way of saving their otherwise damned souls. It is not surprising that practicioners of such a religion might grow suspicious of persons outside of their religious community, nor should it be surprising that non-Mormons living in, or traveling through, the very Mormon territory of Utah might feel like “strangers in a strange land.”
In July 1847, seventeen years after Joseph Smith and a group of five other men founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in New York and three years after an Illinois lynch mob killed Smith, Brigham Young and his band of followers entered Salt Lake valley. When a territorial government was formed in Utah in 1850, Young, the second head of the Church of Latter-day Saints, became the territory’s first governor. The principle of “separation of church and state” carried little weight in the new territory. The laws of the territory reflected the views of Young. In a speech before Congress, federal judge and outspoken Mormon critic John Cradlebaugh said, “The mind of one man permeates the whole mass of the people, and subjects to its unrelenting tyranny the souls and bodies of all. It reigns supreme in Church and State, in morals, and even in the minutest domestic and social arrangements. Brigham’s house is at once tabernacle, capital, and harem; and Brigham himself is king, priest, lawgiver, and chief polygamist.”
Tensions between federal officials and Mormons in the new territory escalated over time. Historian Will Bagley, author of Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows, wrote that “the struggle often resembled comic opera more than a political battle.” According to Bagley, “As both sides talked past each other, hostile rhetoric fanned the Mormons resentment of government. From their standpoint, they had patiently endured two decades of bitter persecution with great forbearance, but their patience with their long list of enemies had worn thin.” As early as 1851, Governor Young said in a speech, “Any President of the United States who lifts his finger against these people shall die an untimely death and go to hell!”
When drought and grasshopper infestations produced desperate economic conditions in Utah (or Deseret, as the Mormons called the territory), Brigham Young concluded that the problem stemmed from a loss of righteousness among his people. In early 1856, Young launched the Reformation, a campaign to arouse religious consciousness. Mormon leadership urged spiritual repentance and rebaptisms. All those unwilling to make the necessary religious sacrifices were invited to leave Utah. The most troubling aspect of the Reformation was its obsession with the doctrine of blood atonement. Young asked his followers to kill Mormons who committed unpardonable sins: “If our neighbor…wishes salvation, and it is necessary to spill his blood upon the ground in order that he be saved, spill it.” While Young aimed his fiery words about blood atonement at Mormons who committed serious sins, his speeches undoubtedly contributed to a growing culture of violence. The Reformation might have had a spiritual goal, but it fueled a fanaticism that led to the tragedy at Mountain Meadows.
In 1857, conflict between the Mormon leadership and Utah and the federal government reached the boiling point. Worried that a federal army might be sent to the territory, the Mormon-dominated Utah legislature enacted legislation in January reactivating the territorial militia, called the Nauvoo Legion. Federal officials in Utah complained of harassment and destruction of records by Mormon citizens. On April 15, 1857, a federal judge, the territorial surveyor and the U. S. Marshal (all the federal officials in Utah except one Indian agent) fled the state, convinced that they were about to be killed. President James Buchanan responding by ordering an army to Utah to quell what he called a “rebellion.”
Buchanan’s order alarmed Utah’s Mormon population, who saw it as nothing less than a threat to the existence of their religion. Past persecution experienced by Mormons in the Midwest made the danger seem especially real. Church officials referred to Federal officials and the U. S. army as “enemies,” and Utahans readied for what many saw as a life-or-death struggle for their faith. Young embarked on an effort to rally Indian support for the Mormon cause–support that he saw as potentially critical in the battle to come.
Meanwhile, several extended families left Arkansas by wagon train on what they planned to be their long emigration to southern California. Unfortunately for the groups of families (which came to be called “the Fancher party”), a revered Mormon apostle (and the great-great grandfather of 2008 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney), Parley Pratt, was murdered in western Arkansas within two weeks of their departure. News of the Pratt murder, committed by a non-Mormon angered over Pratt’s taking of his wife, soon reached Utah, and greatly inflamed local hostility toward non-Mormons. When further word reached Salt Lake in July 1857 that the army was headed its way, Utah became a place hungry for retribution.
On September 1, 1857, Brigham Young met in Salt Lake City with southern Indian chiefs. According to an entry in the diary of Dimick Huntington, Young’s brother-in-law who was present at the meeting, Young encouraged the Indians to seize “all the cattle” of emigrants that traveled on the “south route” (through southern Utah) to California. (The journal entry actually says Young “gave” the Paiute chiefs the emigrant’s cattle.) The meeting increased the likelihood of a violent encounter between Indians and emigrants, something Young apparently saw as a useful shot across the federal government’s bow. In fact, Young had been working on such a plan even before his September 1 meeting, having sent apostle George A. Smithsouth with instructions to let the Indians know that Young considered emigration through Utah a threat to the well-being of both Mormon and Indian residents of the territory.
George A. Smith
The same day that Young talked with Paiute leaders, the Fancher Party, consisting of about 140 Arkansans, camped about seventy miles north of Mountain Meadows. On the Fancher party’s way through Utah, rumors spread that some of its members participated in the killing of Parley Pratt and the lynching of Joseph Smith in Illinois. John D. Lee, a Mormon living in southern Utah, believed the stories to be true: “This lot of people had men amongst them that were supposed to have held kill the prophets in the Carthage jail.” (Later, in attempts to rationalize the slaughter, Utahans would accuse the Fancher party of committing all sorts of manufactured sins and depredations: “tormenting women,” swearing, insulting the Mormon Church, brandishing pistols, and even poisoning cattle. There is virtually no evidence to support any of these charges. Undoubtedly, the Fancher party understood it was not welcome in the territory and simply wanted to get out as fast as possible.)
On September 4, Cedar City was gripped in the white heat of fanaticism as the Fancher train rolled into the southwestern Utah town. The wagon train’s imminent arrival had prompted Isaac Haight, second in command of the Iron Brigade (the Nauvoo Legion’s force in southern Utah) and President of the Cedar City Stake of Zion (the highest Mormon ecclesiastical official in southern Utah), to call a meeting to discuss the course of action to be taken against the emigrants. According to Lee’s later account of the meeting, Haight said it was “the will of all in authority” to arm Paiute and incite them to “kill part or all” of the party. Haight sent Indian interpreter Nelphi Johnson off on a mission to “stir up” the Indians so that they might “give the emigrants a good hush.” Haight shed no tears for the party’s fate, telling Lee, “There will not be one drop of innocent blood shed, if every one in the damned pack are killed, for they are the worse lot of outlaws and ruffians that I ever saw in my life.”
Sunday, September 6 was a day for dramatic speech making at Mormon services around Utah. In Salt Lake City, Brigham Young took the occasion to declare that the Almighty recognized Utah as a free and independent people, no longer bound by the laws of the United States. In Cedar City, meanwhile, Isaac Haight told those gathered at the morning service that “I am prepared to fee to the Gentiles the same bread they fed to us. God being my helper, I will give the last ounce of strength and if need be my last drop of blood in defense of Zion.” That Sunday evening, the Fancher party crossed over the rim of the Great Basin and encamped at a place called Mountain Meadows.
The next morning’s calm at the meadows was interrupted by gunfire. A child who survived the attack wrote later, “Our party was just sitting down to a breakfast of quail and cottontail rabbits when a shot rang out from a nearby gully, and one of the children toppled over, hit by a bullet.” The shots came from forty to fifty Indians and Mormons disguised as Indians. The well-armed emigrants returned fire. Soon the gun battle turned into a siege. Meanwhile, in Cedar City, Isaac Haight, responding to pressure from Mormons lacking enthusiasm for the attack on the emigrants, sent a courier on a 600-mile trip (that will take six days, round trip) to inform Brigham Young of the situation at Mountain Meadows and ask his guidance about what to do next.
Col. William Dame and his wives
Over the next three days, Mormon reinforcements, totally about 100 men, continued to arrive at the battle scene. Men on horseback carried messages back to Haight, and his immediate superior in the Nauvoo Legion and head of southern Utah forces, William Dame. Dame reportedly reiterated his determination to not let the emigrants pass: “My orders are that all the emigrants [except the youngest children] must be done away with.” On September 10, the messenger send to Salt Lake City arrived and handed Haight’s letter to Young. Young, according to published Mormon reports, sent the messenger back to Haight with a note telling him to let the Indians “do as they please,” but–as for Mormon participation in the siege–if the emigrants will leave Utah, “let them go in peace.” The message will be too late.
By September 11, Legion officers had devised a plan for ending the stand-off. Most of the Paiutes had left after growing weary of the siege and could play no role in the bloody conclusion. The plan was devious, but effective. Major John Higbee, in command of the forces at Mountain Meadows, persuaded John Lee and William Bateman to act as decoys to draw the emigrants out from the protection of their wagons. Lee and Bateman, carrying a white flag, marched across the field to the emigrants’ camp. The desperate emigrants agreed to the terms promised by Lee: They would give up their arms, wagons, and cattle, in return for promise that they would not be harmed as they embarked on a 35-mile hike back to Cedar City. Samuel McMurdy, a member of the Nauvoo Legion, took the reigns of one of the wagons into which were loaded some of the youngest children. A woman and a few seriously injured emigrant men were loaded into a second wagon. John Lee positioned himself between the two wagons as they pulled out. Following the two wagons, the women and the older children of the Fancher party walked behind. After the wagons had moved on, Higbee ordered the emigrant men to begin walking in single file. An armed Mormon “guard” escorted each emigrant man.
Maj. John M. Higbee
When the escorted men had fallen a quarter mile or so behind the women and children, who had just crested a small hill, Higbee yelled, “Halt! Do your duty!” Each of the Mormon men shot and killed the emigrant at his side. Meanwhile, on the other side of the hill, Nelphi Johnson shouted the order to begin the slaughter of the women and older children. Men rushed at the defenseless emigrants from both sides, and the killing went on amidst “hideous, demon-like yells.” Nancy Huff, four years old at the time of the massacre, later remembered the horror: “I saw my mother shot in the forehead and fall dead. The women and children screamed and clung together. Some of the young women begged the assassins after they run out on us not to kill them, but they had no mercy on them, clubbing their guns and beating out their brains.” It was over in just a few minutes. 120 members of the Fancher party were dead. The youngest children, seventeen or eighteen in all, were gathered up, to later be placed in Mormon homes. None of the survivors were over seven years old.
Looking to site of Fancher camp and siege from Dan Sill hill
The next day, Colonel Dame and Lt. Colonel Haight visited the site of the massacre with John Lee and Philip Klingensmith . Lee, in his confession, described the field on that day: “The bodies of men, women and children had been stripped entirely naked, making the scene one of the most loathsome and ghastly that can be imagined.” Dame appeared shocked by what he found. “I did not think there were so many of them [women and children], or I would not have had anything to do with, Dame reportedly said. Haight, angered by Dame’s remark, expressed concern that Dame might try to blame him for an action that Dame had ordered. The men agreed on one thing, however: Mormon participation in the massacre had to be kept secret. Within twenty-fours hours, Haight had another reason for concern. Brigham Young’s reply to his inquiry arrived in Cedar City. “Too late, too late,” Haight said as he read Young’s letter and began to cry.
Brigham Young declared martial law on September 15. In his proclamation (of dubious legality), Young prohibited “all armed forces…from entering this territory” and ordered the Nauvoo Legion to prepare for an expected invasion by federal forces. The proclamation also prohibited any person from passing through the territory without a permit from “the proper officer.”
Shortly after his proclamation, Young learned of the tragic events at Mountain Meadows, first from Indian chiefs and then from John Lee, who traveled to Salt Lake City to provide a detailed account of the massacre. According to Lee, Young at first expressed dismay about the Mormon participation in the massacre. He seemed especially concerned that news of the massacre would damage the national reputation of the Latter-day Saints The next day, however, Young said he was at peace with what happened. According to Lee, Young said, “I asked the Lord if it was all right for the deed to be done, to take away the vision of the deed from my mind, and the Lord did so, and I feel first rate. It is all right. The only fear I have is from traitors.”
Response to the Massacre
The first published reports of the massacre begin appearing in California newspapers in October. One came from John Aiken, who with mail carrier John Hunt, passed by Mountain Meadows in late September with a pass signed by William Dame. Aiken wrote, “I saw about twenty wolves feasting upon the carcasses of the murdered. Mr. Hunt shot at a wolf, and they ran a few yards and halted. I noticed that the women and children were more generally eaten by the wild beasts than were the men.” The Los Angeles Star called it the “foulest massacre ever perpetrated,” and added that responsibility for the attack “will not be known until the Government makes a full investigation of the affair.” The San Francisco Bulletin was far less restrained, calling for “a crusade against Utah which will crush out this beast of heresy forever.” Public outrage grew. Americans from California to Washington, D. C. begin calling for military action against those responsible for the crime.
Sketch of massacre site that appeared in Harper’s Weekly issue of 8/13/1859
Aware of the sensitivity of the events at Mountain Meadows, Mormon officials from Young on down worked to shift the blame for the massacre either to Indians or the emigrants themselves. By November, John Lee completed a fictionalized account of the massacre, attributing all the killing to Indians, and sent the report on to Young. Young, as Superintendent of Indians in addition to his other titles, prepared a report blaming the massacre on the mistreatment of Indians by non-Mormons, and sent it on to the Indian Commissioner. “Capt. Fancher & Co. fell victim to the Indians’ wrath near Mountain Meadows,” Young wrote. “Lamentable as the case truly is, it is only the natural consequences of that fatal policy which treats Indians like wolves, or other ferocious beasts.”
None of the Mormon-drafted reports, however, prevented Congress from debating the massacre. On March 18, 1858, Congress ordered an official inquiry into the cause of the tragedy of September 11. The next month, one fourth of the United States army reached Fort Bridger, in present-day Wyoming. Rather than fight the Nauvoo Legion forces guarding the canyons leading to Salt Lake, General Albert Alston decided to overwinter at the Fort. President Buchanan expressed his determination to put down the “rebellion” in Utah, with force if necessary: “Humanity itself requires that we should put it down in a manner that it shall be the last.”
In this dark moment of Mormon history, Brigham Young had the good fortune in April 1858 of being replaced as Governor of Utah by Alfred Cumming, a gullible man who believed Young’s promise to get to the bottom of the Mountain Meadows matter, and who established, as his principal goal, preserving peace in the Utah territory. Governor Cumming planned a trip south to Mountain Meadows almost as soon as he took office to investigate “that damned atrocity,” as he put it. Young, in a visit to Cumming’s office, succeeded in convincing the governor of his genuine desire to identify the perpetrators. Cummings decided to put “the whole matter” in Young’s hands, trusting him “to put the finger upon the miscreants.” He also recognized, as he later told Young, “I can do nothing here without your influence.” Pushing to open again free emigration on the south route, Cummings took pleasure in announcing on May 11, “the Road is now open.” Over time, Cummings became convinced that the threats to the territory’s peace of an aggressive inquiry into the Mountain Meadows massacre, in his mind, outweighed the benefits. He also lacked the will to challenge Young and was, in the words of one observer, “mere putty” in the Mormon leader’s hands.
Federal Judge John Cradlebaugh
In the latter half of 1858, the federal government began to reassert some measure of federal control in the Utah territory. On June 26, federal troops marched through Salt Lake City, on their way to a fort forty miles from the city under the terms of a deal brokered with Young. (The deal included a pardon for those acts considered part of “the rebellion.”) In November, U. S. District Judge John Cradlebaugh arrived in Utah and, unlike the governor, saw no reason not to aggressively pursue justice for the victims of the Mountain Meadows massacre. After several months of investigation, Judge Cradlebaugh issued arrest warrants for John Lee, Isaac Haight, and John Higbee for the murders. Angered by his discovery that the massacre was committed “by order of council,” the judge wrote a letter to President Buchanan seeking his commitment to secure convictions for the guilty. Cradlebaugh’s efforts, however, were frustrated when the federal case is essentially dropped after the U. S. marshal declared his unwillingness to execute arrest warrants without federal troops to protect him from local citizens–and that help was not provided.
By 1860, with the Union ready to split apart, interest in prosecuting the Mountain Meadows case waned. Governor Cumming saw little reason to press for prosecution, especially in a territory where the law put jury selection entirely in the hands of Mormon officials. “God Almighty couldn’t convict the butchers unless Brigham Young was willing,” Cumming said.
The Trials of John D. Lee
Renewed interest in the Mountain Meadows case developed in the early 1870s, thanks largely to a series of stories in the Utah Reporter by Charles W. Wandell, writing under the pen name “Argus,” that challenged Brigham Young’s response to the massacre. Wandell’s articles produced the first confession in the case when, on April 10, 1871, Philip Klingensmith, a former LDS bishop who subsequently left the Church, appeared in a Nevada court and swore out an account of the massacre, including a detailed description of his own role in the crime. Still, however, Mormon control of the Utah justice system stymied any prosecution in Utah.
Phillip Klingensmith, Bishop of Cedar City
The key to a possible successful prosecution finally came in 1874. Congress passed the Poland Act, which redefined the jurisdiction of the courts in Utah. The law restricted the authority of Mormon-controlled probate courts and opened all Utah juries to non-Mormons.
Within months of passage of the Poland Act, arrest warrants for nine men: Lee, Higbee, Haight, Dame, Klingensmith, Stewart, Wilden, and Jukes. Federal authorities arrested John Lee, long considered Mormon officials’ most likely candidate for scapegoat for the massacre, after finding him hiding in a chicken coop near Panguitch, Utah, on November 7, 1874. Shortly thereafter, Dame was also arrested. The best prospects for conviction seemed to rest with Lee, so the decision was made to proceed first with his trial.
Brethren, I had never heard of this unthinkable “terrorist” act by the Mormons. How is this any different from the Jihadist plan for world domination and their mass murders? There is no difference. This ghastly act of cold blooded murder was demonically inspired – that is a given.
A movie was made about this massacre. My husband and I watched it last night. I cannot put into words how horrified I was watching the depiction of the horrific events of the massacre.
My Mormon friend
When I was a young woman, I worked for a store and met a woman who was a Mormon. I had never known anyone from that “religion” before. This was during the time when a Mormon Tabernacle was constructed in Washington D.C. near where I grew up.
My friend invited me to the Tabernacle. She said that it would only be opened to the public for a short period; and then closed forever to outsiders. I declined her offer. Even though I did not know the Lord Jesus at that point in my life, something inside of me made me very wary of the religion and its secrecy.
Since I have been born again, I alway knew that Mormonism was a cult. What I did not know is that they are dangerous and very much like fundamentalist Muslims.
I felt the urging of the Holy Spirit to bring this out for the Christian world to see.
Satan never ends in his quest to create “religions” which are diametrically opposed to the Word of God!