Remembrances of the Mountain Meadows massacre
There have been several remembrances of the Mountain Meadows massacre including: commemorative observances, the building of monuments and markers, and the creation of associations and other groups to help promote the massacre's history and ensure protection of the massacre site and grave sites.
- 1 Markers and Monuments
- 2 Commemorative observances
- 3 Associations and groups
- 4 Notes
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Markers and Monuments
In the State of Utah
In May 1859, Major James H. Carleton, of the U.S. Army, and Cavalry arrived at Mountain Meadows with orders to bury the bones of the massacre's victims. After searching the area, the remains of 34 victims were buried on the northern side of a ditch. (This ditch was a defensive trench dug by the emigrants to protect themselves from their attackers.) Around and above this grave a rude monument was built of loose granite stones, creating a cairn. It was conical in form, fifty feet in circumference at the base, twelve feet in height and supported a cross hewn from red cedar wood. From the ground to the top of the cross was twenty-four feet. On the transverse part of the cross, facing towards the north, was an inscription carved in the wood.
Vengeance is mine, I will repay saith the Lord
On a crude slab of granite set in the earth and leaning against the northern base of the monument were cut the following words:
Here 120 men, women, and children were massacred in cold blood early in September, 1857. They were from Arkansas
Prior to this, while waiting to rendezvous with Major Carleton at Mountain Meadows, assistant surgeon Charles Brewer was placed in charge of a burial detail by Captain Reuben T. Campbell of Camp Floyd. Brewer gathered the remains of 39 victims, burying the remains in three mass graves located one and one-half miles north of Carleton's monument. Each of these gravesites were marked by a mound of stones.
During a tour of southern Utah Brigham Young, along with some 60 other Saints visited the massacre site in May 1861. After viewing the inscription on the cross, Wilford Woodruff recorded President Young as saying “it should be vengeance is mine and I have taken a little.” The cross was then torn down and the rocks of the cairn were dismantled, leaving little of the original marker. Sally Denton, in her book, records Young as saying "Vengeance is mine, and I have taken a little" before having the monument torn down.
In May 1864, Captain George F. Price and a company of Cavalry found the 1859 memorial and grave had been desecrated. The monument had been torn down, the cross taken away and the stones forming the monument scattered on the valley floor; while the mass-grave underneath had been defaced.
Captain Price and the Cavalry immediately proceeded to repair the grave and rebuild the monument. The structure erected was of stone, creating a new cairn, measuring twelve feet square at the base and four feet high, compactly filled in with loose stone and earth. From the square rose a pyramidal column seven feet high. The center of column supported a cedar pole with a horizontal member attached representing the Christian Cross and making the height of the monument fourteen feet. On the side of the cross facing east were inscribed the words:
Vengeance is mine, I will repay saith the Lord Mountain Meadows Massacre, September 1857
On the opposite side were the words
Erected by the officers and men of Company M, 2d California Cavalry May 24 and 25th, 1863.
The grave was repaired by filling it with earth, rounding it on the surface and covering it with a layer of protective stones.
Lorenzo Brown, recorded that when passing through Mountain Meadows, on July 1, 1864, he noticed someone had carved “Remember Haun’s Mill and Carthage Jail” just below the biblical passage on the cross.
Following its reconstruction, the monument continued to face vandalism and was torn down at least one more time in 1870, only to be rebuilt soon after.
Because the cairn had been vandalized, destroyed and rebuilt several times over the 70 years since its original construction, the citizens of southern Utah decided that something more needed to be done. On August 20, 1932, 73 men began work on a new wall which would surround the remains of the 1859 cairn. This wall enclosed an area of about 30 X 35 feet (11 m) and averaged 4 feet (1.2 m) high. A small set of steps on the western side allowed access into the enclosed area so visitors could view the remains of the cairn. The Utah Pioneer Trails and Landmarks Association installed a bronze plaque near the steps on which was written:
No. 17 – Erected 1932This monument was reverently dedicated September 10, 1932 by The Utah Pioneer Trails and Landmarks Association and The People of Southern Utah.
A favorite recruiting place on the Old Spanish Trail
In this vicinity, September 7–11, 1857 occurred one of the most lamentable tragedies in the annals of the west. A company of about 140 Arkansas and Missouri Emigrants led by Captain Charles Fancher, en route to California, was attacked by white men and Indians. All but 17, being small children, were killed. John D. Lee, who confessed participation as leader, was legally executed here March 23, 1877. Most of the Emigrants were buried in the own defense pits.
The dedication of this new memorial wall and plaque was held on September 10, 1932 and as many as 400 persons were reported to have been present. In the group was local LDS Stake President, William R. Palmer, the main instigator of the project.
32 years later, in April 1965, the property (2.5 acres) on which the 1859 cairn and 1932 memorial wall stood was donated to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) by the Lytle Family. Following this donation the Church began to “discourage visitors” to the site. Signs were removed along with a picnic table, and the condition of the road leading to the monument degraded and became impassable. Later the signs were replaced and the County of Washington began to maintain the road so visitors could once again visit the site.
On September 15, 1990, descendants with support from the LDS Church and the State of Utah dedicated a new monument to the victims. The monument was constructed atop Dan Sill Hill, on property owned by the U.S. Forest Service, which overlooks the meadows. The monument is accessible from a small parking lot and is located on a path which winds its way around the rim of the hill.
This monument was built of granite and the names of the victims and survivors are inscribed on the front. In the middle of the monument a small inscription gives some interpretive information:
In the valley below between September 7 and 11, 1857, a company of more than 120 Arkansas emigrants led by Capt. John T. Baker And Capt. Alexander Fancher was attacked while en route to California. This event is known in history as the Mountain Meadows Massacre.
During the dedication of this monument more than 2,000 people attended a memorial service at Southern Utah University. Participants in the memorial service included Judge Roger V. Logan, Jr. of Harrison, Arkansas, J. K. Fancher, representing the emigrant families, tribal chairwoman Geneal Anderson and spiritual leader Clifford Jake, representing the Paiute tribe, Rex E. Lee, representing descendants of LDS pioneer families from the area, and then–First Counselor in the LDS Church’s First Presidency Gordon B. Hinckley, representing the Church.
The following are quotes from an article, written about the event, in the Saint George, Utah, Spectrum newspaper:
J.K. Francher, a Harrison, Ark., pharmacist and freelance writer, said...[that he] never dreamed that a memorial service would come to fruition but "the spirit kicked in" and people of differing religious beliefs have reconciled. "The most difficult words for men to utter is 'I'm sorry and I forgive you'."Easing the burden of the victims was also the goal of Paiute Indian Tribal Chairwoman Geneal Anderson of Cedar City....
During the ceremony, descendants of both the victims and perpetrators joined arms on stage hugging and embracing each other following a challenge by Rex E. Lee, Brigham Young University president.... Gordon B. Hinckley...said he came as a representative of a church that has suffered much over what happened. While people can't comprehend what occurred...Hinckley said he was grateful for reconciliation by the descendants on both sides...."Now if there is need for forgiveness, we ask that it be granted."
By 1999, President Hinckley's tone would change dramatically during a speech given at Mountain Meadows when he stated, "That which we have done here must never be construed as an acknowledgment of the part of the church of any complicity in the occurrences of that fateful day." Following the memorial service at SUU buses took descendants and other guests to tour the new monument.
In 1998 damage from frost and a small earthquake toppled the slabs of granite and the monument lay in pieces until the fall of that year. Today the monument is maintained by the Utah State Division of Parks and Recreation.
In preparation for this new monument’s dedication in 1990, improvements were made to the massacre area including a replacement for the 1932 bronze plaque. The new plaque read:
MOUNTAIN MEADOWS MASSACRE
This stone memorial marks the burial site for some of those killed in the Mountain Meadows Massacre in September 1857. The Baker-Fancher party camped here – a well-known stopping place along the Old Spanish Trail.
The first memorial was erected at this location in May 1859 by Brevet Major James H. Carleton and 80 soldiers of the First Dragoons from Fort Tejon, California. Assisting were Captains Reuben P. Campbell and Charles Brewer, with 201 from Camp Floyd, Utah. The bones of about 34 of the emigrants were buried here. The remains of others were buried one and one-half miles to the north, near the place of the massacre.
The original memorial – consisting of a stone cairn topped with a cedar cross and a small granite marker set against the north side of the cairn – was not maintained. The Utah Trails and Landmarks Association built a protective wall around what remained of the 1859 memorial and, on September 10, 1932, installed a bronze marker. That marker was replaced with the present inscription in conjunction with the dedication of the nearby memorial on September 15, 1990.
Following the visit of Church President, Gordon B. Hinckley, to the Meadows in October 1998, the Church announced plans to improve their property in the area, which included the 1859 cairn and 1932 memorial wall. The Church’s architects drew up plans for the new Monument and meetings were held with church representatives and descendants of the victims. Work began on the new marker in May 1999, with much of it being contributed by a local Enterprise LDS Ward.
This monument was dedicated September 11, 1999, the 142nd anniversary of the massacre. 1,000 people attended including LDS Church President, Gordon B. Hinckley, along with locals and many descendants.
This new monument consisted of a reconstructed cairn surrounded by a rock wall which in turn was surrounded by a small plaza and black iron fence. To ensure that the walls of the monument would last longer than the original it was required to dig footings, and a backhoe was brought in to do the work. On August 3, 1999 after only a few scoops of dirt the backhoe’s bucket brought up a large amount of skeletal remains, and the digging was immediately stopped. Prior to the digging, the area had been tested and examined by experts from Brigham Young University, the U.S. Forest Service and The Army Corps of Engineers. They all agreed that the area was clear and okay to dig into.
By August 6 Kevin Jones, the Utah State archeologist, had issued a permit to excavate the site and gather up the remains for the examinations (as required by state law). At first the remains were taken to BYU where they were cleaned and sorted. Kevin Jones asked Shannon A. Novak of the University of Utah and her intern Derinna Kopp to do the analysis, and soon the remains were taken to the University of Utah’s Department of Anthropology. After learning of this accidental discovery of the remains, many of the descendants were upset and requested that the study not be released to the public and the remains be immediately reinterred. Originally it was decided that the remains, with the exception of the skulls and other cranial fragments, would be reinterred on September 10, 1999 in a family service. The skulls were to remain at the University of Utah for further study and analysis and would be interred with the other remains following the study. Both the descendants and LDS Church were opposed to this plan, so on September 8 Utah Governor Michael Leavitt ordered that all the remains, including the skulls, were to be reinterred during the family service in two days. Shannon A. Novak had to rush through the remainder of the analysis to finish in time, but this was virtually impossible. Laurel Casjens of the Utah Museum of Natural History was brought in to photograph the bones and they were packed up and returned to BYU. Shannon A. Novak later published a book, entitled House of Mourning: A Biocultural History of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, containing some of the results of her analysis.
On the morning of September 10, BYU transported the remains to Spilsbury & Beard Mortuary in St. George, Utah where they were packed into four oak ossuaries by some of the descendants. Family members then held a small memorial service in the meadows and interred the ossuaries into a specially built vault under the newly finished 1999 monument. Family members who had arrived from Arkansas brought dirt from that state which was added into the vault along with the ossuaries. Following the burial service preparations began for the dedication of this new monument which was to be held the following day.
The same day in which the remains were reinterred, the Mountain Meadows Association added two new interpretive signs along the path leading to the older 1990 monument in order to help visitors understand the significance of the site better.
Unfortunately soon after construction, this new 1999 monument began slipping into the nearby ravine, so during the summer of 2004 a cement retaining wall was constructed by the Church to help stabilize the area. In 2007 the State of Utah constructed a new vault toilet, so that visitors could have restroom facilities. These restrooms are maintained by the State of Utah.
During May 2009, in accordance to the wishes of some decedents, the LDS Church purchased 16 more acres of land in the Meadows. This parcel of land is believed to be the location where the men and boys of the wagon train were killed and may contain the "upper gravesite." On September 10, 2011 a new memorial site, built by the LDS Church in remembrance of the men and boys who were killed, was dedicated on this land. The memorial, located a mile northeast of the siege site and 1999 monument, includes a large polished stone monument and a rock embedded in the surrounding cement. Etched into the rock is a cross and it is believed the rock was once part of a cairn erected to cover the human remains found in the years proceeding the massacre; two stone benches and an interpretive marker were also erected as part of the memorial.
There are possible other burial sites throughout the Meadows and Elder Marlin K. Jensen, former Historian for the LDS Church, has said that if it can be proven the sites contain graves, the LDS Church will attempt to purchase the land in order to protect them.
Historical site status
A majority of the Mountain Meadows massacre site is listed on the National Register of Historical Places and has been since 1975; the site was also designated a National Historic Landmark in 2011. The LDS Church began working on National Historic Landmark status for the site—following requests from descendant groups—in 2007. The Church hired an independent company, Paula S. Reed and Associates, Inc., to research the massacre and prepare the necessary documentation for the landmark application. The application for landmark status was presented to the Landmark Committee of the National Park Service Advisory Board by representatives of the Church and descendant groups in Washington, D.C. on November 3, 2010. The Landmark Committee reviewed the application and took public comment on the issue, and then recommended to the National Park Service Advisory Board approval of the nomination. The Advisory Board met on April 13, 2011 to review the application and submitted their recommendation to the Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar. On June 30, 2011, it was announced by Salazar that the site had been designated a National Historic Landmark.
In the State of Arkansas
A small metal marker was placed near Milum Spring, (Also known as Beller’s Spring or Caravan Spring) the site where some of the emigrants began their journey from Arkansas to California. The following is inscribed upon this marker:
Boone County – Caravan Spring
Near this spring, in September 1857, gathered a caravan of 150 men women and children. Who here began the ill-fated journey to California. The entire party with the exception of seventeen small children was massacred at Mountain Meadows, Utah, by a body of Mormons disguised as Indians.
To commemorate the massacre a monument was installed in the town square of Harrison, Arkansas. On one side of this monument is a map and short summary of the massacre, while the opposite side contains a list of the victims.
During the summer of 2005 permission was granted to construct a replica of the 1859 cairn in Carrollton, Arkansas. This replica was built between a cemetery and the Old Yell Lodge. It was here at the site of the lodge that the surviving children of the massacre were returned to their relatives in 1859. The original lodge was destroyed by fire around the time of the Civil War, and the current lodge was not constructed until 1879 for a local group of Freemasons. But still The Mountain Meadows Monument Foundation along with a local chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars have renovated and restored the lodge and it currently houses displays and interpretive information about the massacre and surviving children.
The replica was dedicated in September 2005 with many descendants of the massacre victims and locals in the crowd. During the dedication the stories of the surviving children were told while their descendants placed stones brought from southern Utah upon the cairn. This replica is much smaller in terms of stones than the original, but it does include a large cross facing west, towards Utah, with the words “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” carved into it. To the side of the replica cairn sits a large interpretative sign with the following inscription:
The Mountain Meadows Massacre
In early 1857 a large wagon train known as the Fancher-Baker train left Caravan Spring (South of Harrison) and headed for California. They camped at this site en route to intercept the Cherokee Trail at the Grand Saline in Indian Territory. Months later, the wagon train came under siege by the Mormons and Indians in Southwest Utah at a place called Mountain Meadows. On September 11, 1857 the Mormons brutally murdered 121 Men, Women, and Children after assuring their protection. Only 17 Small Children were spared from the massacre.
The dead were left exposed to the elements until 18 months later, when U.S. Army Troops led by Major James H. Carleton buried the remains in several mass graves. A cross and stone were placed over one such gravesite containing 34 of the victims. This is a scaled replica of Carleton’s original cairn.
The surviving children were brought back to Arkansas and spent their first night at the site of the Old Yell Lodge. On September 25, 1859, the orphaned children were reunited with relatives in the Carrollton Town Square.
Source: Mountain Meadows Monument Foundation, Inc.
Today this monument is often the site of descendant gatherings.
Other markers and monuments
The Mountain Meadows Monument Foundation as been instrumental in making sure the gravesites of all the surviving children have been marked with special plaques telling their stories.
150th Anniversary of the Massacre
On September 11, 2007, approximately 400 people, including many descendants of those slain at Mountain Meadows, gathered to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the massacre. At this commemoration, Elder Henry B. Eyring of the LDS Church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issued a statement on behalf of the LDS Church's First Presidency expressing regret for the actions of local church leaders in the massacre. During the commemoration, Elder Eyring stated, "We express profound regret for the massacre carried out in this valley 150 years ago today, and for the undue and untold suffering experienced by the victims then and by their relatives to the present time... What was done here long ago by members of our church represents a terrible and inexcusable departure from Christian teachings and conduct. We cannot change what happened, but we can remember and honor those who were killed here."
150th Anniversary of the Return of the Children
To celebrate when the surviving children were returned to their relatives in Arkansas a commemoration was held at the Mountain Meadows massacre site on May 30, 2009. A similar commemoration was held in Arkansas on September 15, 2009 to celebrate “The Return of the Children”.
A commemorative wagon-train encampment assembled at Beller Spring, Arkansas on April 21–22, 2007, with some participants in period dress, to honor the sesquicentennial of their ancestors' embarkation on the ill-fated journey. Some descendants gathered at the meadows on May 30, 2009 in memorialize the burial of their ancestors by Major J.H. Carlton, and to begin the year-long celebration of the "Return of the Children".
Several other smaller observances, family reunions, and other group gatherings have occurred throughout the years and many still continue to be held on regular basis.
Associations and groups
Mountain Meadows Association
Following a meeting between massacre victim descendant Ron Loving, and John D. Lee descendant, Verne Lee, the decision to form an association, to ensure the protection of the site and proper remembrance of the massacre, was made. By the end of 1988 the Mountain Meadows Association (MMA) had been formed and was beginning to work with the LDS Church and State of Utah towards a proper memorial at the massacre site. Following the dedication of the 1990 monument the MMA became almost non-existent, but was reorganized following the 1998 earthquake which damaged that monument. Today the MMA serves as a middle-man between the LDS Church and many of the descendants of the massacre victims.
Mountain Meadows Massacre Descendants
The Mountain Meadows Massacre Descendants (MMMD) organization was created to help descendants of the victims stay in touch with one another, and to work with the other organizations in helping protect the massacre site and ensure proper remembrance of the massacre and victims.
Mountain Meadows Monument Foundation
During 1999 some members of the MMA had become dissatisfied with the organization and created their own, The Mountain Meadows Monument Foundation, Inc. (MMMF). The main goal of the MMMF is to get the massacre site in the control of the U.S. Federal Government instead of the LDS Church. The MMMF as been instrumental in making sure the gravesites of all the surviving children have been marked with special plaques, and have helped to gather books about the massacre to donate to local libraries.
- Carleton, James H. (1902). Special Report of the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Government Printing Office. p. 15.
- Thompson, Jacob (1860). Message of the President of the United States: communicating, in compliance with a resolution of the Senate, information in relation to the massacre at Mountain Meadows, and other massacres in Utah. U.S. Dept. of the Interior. pp. 16–17.
- Mountain Meadows Association. "1999 Plaques". Retrieved July 30, 2010.
- Woodruff, Wilford (May 25, 1861). Personal Journal.
- Denton, Sally (2003), American Massacre: The Tragedy at Mountain Meadows, September 1857, New York: Vintage Books, p. 210, ISBN 0-375-72636-5.
- George F. Price (June 8, 1864). "Letter from Captain George F. Price". Union Vedette.
- "Mountain Meadows Monument". The Salt Lake Tribune. May 27, 1874.
- Bagley 2002, p. 247
- "Marker Erected at Mountain Meadows on September 10th". Millard County Chronicle. September 15, 1932.
- Shirts, Morris A. (1994), "Mountain Meadows Massacre", in Powell, Allan Kent, Utah History Encyclopedia, Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah Press, ISBN 0874804256, OCLC 30473917,
The most enduring was a wall which still stands at the siege site. It was erected in 1932 and surrounds the 1859 cairn.
- Bagley 2002, p. 351
- Bagley 2002, p. 371
- Brooks, Juanita (1991). The Mountain Meadows Massacre. University of Oklahoma Press. p. xxiv.
- "Mountain Meadows Association – 1990 MONUMENT". Mountain Meadows Association. 2007. Retrieved August 21, 2007.
- "Mountain Meadows Memorial" (PDF). Mtn-meadows-assoc.com. Retrieved 21 October 2014.
- Webb 1990[full citation needed]
- Wadley, Carma (September 12, 1999). "Monument instills healing at Mountain Meadows site: Pres. Hinckley dedicates massacre-site memorial". Deseret News.
- Bagley 2002[page needed]
- See pictures of 1999 Monument at mtn-meadows-assoc.com
- Bagley 2002, p. 372
- Bagley 2002, p. 373
- Novak 2008, p. xv
- Novak 2008, p. 7
- "2004 Archived Guest Book". Mtn-meadows-assoc.com. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
- "Men & Boys Memorial". Mountain Meadows Association website. Mountain Meadows Association. Retrieved May 16, 2014.
- "NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES INVENTORY: NOMINATION FORM" (PDF). Pdfhost.focus.nps.gov. Retrieved 21 October 2014.
- "Secretary Salazar Designates 14 New National Historic Landmarks" (Press release). U.S. Department of the Interior. June 30, 2011. Retrieved July 13, 2011.
- "News Story", MormonNewsroom.org, LDS Church, retrieved 2014-10-21
- Groote, Michael De (February 14, 2010). "Monument to a massacre". Deseret News.
- Paula S. Reed and Associates, Inc. (2010). "Projects". CulturalResourceEvaluation.com. Retrieved July 13, 2011.
- Mountain Meadows Association August 2010 Newsletter Late News From The Meadows; August 2010
- National Park Service (November 9, 2010). "Fall 2010 NHL Nominations". Retrieved November 9, 2010.
- Stack, Peggy Fletcher (July 5, 2006). "Mountain Meadows now a national historic landmark". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
- Novak 2008, p. 1
- Novak 2008, p. 6
- Novak 2008, pp. 2–3
- "Booklet" (PDF). 1857massacre.com. Retrieved 21 October 2014.
- Foy, Paul (September 11, 2007). "Eyring expresses regret for pioneer massacre". Provo Daily Herald. (AP). Retrieved 2014-10-21.
- Ravitz, Jessica (September 11, 2007). "LDS Church Apologizes for Mountain Meadows Massacre". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 2014-10-21.
- "First Presidency's Mountain Massacre Anniversary Statement". The Salt Lake Tribune. September 11, 2007. Retrieved 2014-10-21.
- http://www.mountainmeadowsmonumentfoundation.org/documents/newsletters/2009/NL41%20Nov%202009.pdf Archived July 27, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
- Brown, Barbara Jones (April 24, 2007). "Mountain Meadows relatives mark 150th anniversary". Deseret Morning News. Retrieved 2014-10-21.
- "Late News From The Meadows: The Mountain Meadows Association Newsletter: Honoring the Dead, Historic Preservation, Fellowship, & Reconciliation" (PDF). The Mountain Meadows Association. July 2009. Retrieved 2014-10-21.
- "Mountain Meadows Association". Mtn-meadows-massacre-assoc.com. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
- "Mountain Meadows Massacre Descendants". Mtn-meadows-massacre-descendants.com. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
- "Mountain Meadows Monument Foundation". Mmmf.org. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
- "Mountain Meadows reconciliation". Provo Daily Herald. June 19, 2007. p. A5.
- "Mountain Meadows Monument Foundation". Mmmf.org. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
- Bagley, Will (2002), Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows, University of Oklahoma Press, ISBN 0-8061-3426-7, OCLC 48550932
- Novak, Shannon A. (2008), House of Mourning: A biocultural History of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, University of Utah Press, ISBN 9781607811695, OCLC 171111731
- Walker, Ronald W.; Turley, Richard E., Jr.; Leonard, Glen M. (2008), Massacre at Mountain Meadows, New York: Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-516034-5, OCLC 220099516