Isaac C. Haight

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Isaac Chauncey Haight
Isaac Haight.jpg
Latter-day Saint school master,
member of Utah Territorial Legislature,
colonist of American West
Born May 27, 1813
Windham, Greene County, New York
Died September 8, 1886
Thatcher, Graham County, Arizona
Spouse(s) Eliza Ann Snyder (m. 1836)
Mary Spring Murray (m. 1849)
Eliza Ann Price (m. 1853)
Annabella Sinclair MacFarlane (m. 1853)
Elizabeth Summers (m. 1858)

Isaac Chauncey Haight (May 27, 1813 – September 8, 1886), an early convert to Mormonism, was a colonist of the American West remembered as a major conspirator of the Mountain Meadows massacre.

A constable in the Mormon city of Nauvoo in Illinois, Haight was the first Mormon (member of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) to hear of the murder of Joseph Smith, Junior, the founder of Mormonism, when the messenger delivering the news rode up to the Nauvoo Temple, which Haight at the time was guarding.

Emigrating with the Latter-day Saints to Utah in 1847, the following year Haight and about fifty others were sent by Brigham Young about 300 miles south from Salt Lake City to establish the city of Parowan. Among these settlers was Mormon apostle Parley P. Pratt; and apostle George A. Smith also established a winter home there.

Mountain Meadows massacre[edit]

At the time of the massacre, Haight was the Stake President over several Mormon wards in the area. He served in the Utah Territorial Legislature and was the mayor of Cedar City, Utah. Haight was in command of the Second Battalion, Tenth Regiment (or Iron County Militia), in which capacity he ordered the massacre of September 11, 1857, of the Baker-Fancher party of emigrants during the Utah War.

The Baker-Fancher train was one of several emigrant trains traveling through the area on their way to California at the time. Apostle George A. Smith had come down to southern Utah settlements and given orders for residents to prepare for war with United States troops then approaching Utah to replace Governor Brigham Young. Haight promised Smith that the Tenth Regiment (of which Haight was second-in-command) could accomplish the ambush and destruction of "invading" federal troops before the troops would be able to make their way down through the canyons into the valleys of the Mormons' settlements.

Jacob Hamblin had just been called to be the new president of a mission to Utah's Native Indian tribes. Hamblin had been dispatched to escort Chief Tutsegavit and other southern Utah Paiute chiefs to Salt Lake City where they were to meet with Brigham Young. At this meeting, Young communicated to them the policy that if the natives assisted the Mormons in fighting the Americans, the tribes were to be granted all the cattle on the California trails. Meanwhile, militia in southern Utah were mustered to search the canyons for invading troops and assist natives raiding settlers' stock.

1857 Chronology
(by July 24) Southern Utah Mormons receive reports that 2,500 federal troops are approaching Utah.
August 4 Brigham Young writes Hamblin concerning Hamblin's appointment as liaison to Native tribes.
August 8 George A. Smith is in Parowan.
August 21 Smith in Cedar City hears report (believed at the time but only later found to be false) of 600 federal troops in the mountains immediately east of the settlements. Thereafter, Smith leaves the settlements for Salt Lake City.
September 5 Haight meets with John D. Lee in the early a.m. at the at-that-hour deserted location of the settlements' iron works and together they plan the "Paiute" attack on the first emigrant train.

Later in the afternoon of September 5:

at a meeting of the high council in Cedar City, a divisive and quarrelsome debate was held to discuss the recent troubles with the passing emigrant train. Those present - stake president Haight, his counselor John Higbee, Bishop Klingensmith and high councilor Laban Morrill among others - generally agreed on the grievances they perceived in the company that had passed the previous Thursday. The cloud of war spreading over the territory prompted open debate of such extreme measures as attacking the train. Other, more moderate options were proposed. But there was no consensus on what action to take. Morrill extracted a promise that an express rider would be dispatched immediately for Great Salt Lake Valley to get directions from Brigham Young.[1]

On September 6, Haight gave a speech in which he said, "I am prepared to feed 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."[2]

That evening, the extended families making the Baker-Fancher train set up their camp in Mountain Meadows. After a siege of the train by Paiutes and militiamen (some of whom were disguised as Natives) for four or five days, militiamen ceremoniously arrived at the scene without disguise and approached the embattled train. For reasons still unclear, the militia used a subterfuge of offering safe passage to the emigrants in exchange for the emigrants' disarming and turning their cattle over to the Paiutes—but after the emigrants were disarmed, militia members and Paiutes murdered all of the emigrant party except young children: about 120 slaughtered with seventeen children spared.

Scholars[who?] still debate whether senior Mormon leadership, including Brigham Young, directly instigated the massacre or if responsibility lies with the local leaders of southern Utah.[citation needed]

Investigation and indictment[edit]

Investigations were interrupted by the U.S. Civil War. Brigham Young removed Haight and certain others of the conspirators from good standing (excommunicated them) from the LDS Church in 1870. By 1874, Haight and eight others (John D. Lee, John M. Higbee, William H. Dame, Philip Klingensmith, William C. Stewart, Elliot Willden, Samuel Jukes, and George Adair, Jr.) were indicted. Haight, Higbee, Stewart, and Jukes successfully went into hiding. A reward of $500 each was posted for the capture of Haight, Higbee and Stewart. Only John D. Lee ever stood trial. Lee was convicted and executed in 1876.

Death[edit]

Haight died in Thatcher, Arizona at the age of 73.

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Briggs, Robert H. (2002), The Tragedy at Mountain Meadows Massacre: Toward a Consensus Account and Time Line, Saint George, Utah: Dixie State College of Utah .

External links[edit]