Waikato Times, Volume X, Issue 730, 20 February 1877, Page 3
The Mountain ' Meadow Massacre.
A Mormon Bishop Sentenced to Death.
We have referred- briefly from time to time to the extraordinary trial which for weeks was proceeding in -the United States, m which John D Lee, a Mormon Bishop, figured as the. culprit. .. We have now to hand, the details of the dreadful crime, of which he stood charged, and the record is certainly one of lhe most diabolical massacres of innocent, unoffending, and helpless people that it is possible to conceive. None of the records of history afford a stronger instance, of coldblooded and hideous cruelty than, the Mountain Meadow Massacre, planned and perpetrated by a demon m human forrnj named Lee, a Bishop of the Mormon Church j who has lived m an odour of sanctity, and has only: just received the ipunr ishment of his long-committed crime. The massacre was perpetrated nineteen yegrs ago, and m the, interval outraged justice has slumbered. The facts of this extraordinary case are as follows : — 'ln the month of July, 1857, a large body of immigrants, numbering about 150 persons of every age and both sexes, proceeded westward from the State of Arkansas m search of a fresh settlement; Their ultimate destination appears to have been California j they crossed the Rocky Mountains, and after many difficulties and hardships they reached the ' plains of Utah, and found themselves approaching Salt Lake City! • Brigham Young was at this time m the zenith ■ of his power, aided and abetted by several leading- Mormons, one of the chief of them being this John D Lee. Apparently the desire of these Mormon leaders was to prevent the intrusion of strangers into their immediate neighbourhood, either from a dread -that their unfettered opinions might influence the enslaved followers of the " Prophet," as Brigham Young was termed by them, or lest a report being carried abroad of the strange doings : prevalent m Utah should lead to an investigation which Should be prejudical to the' maintenance of the Morman rule. The chiefs of the" Mormon Government learned the approach of this large cavalcade of emigrants? They knew that they had been long on the road,' that they were weary and footsore, their provisions nearly exhausted, and that they were m need of supples of alljdnds, both for themselves and for the horses' and battfe. they had brought ■' with ■ them. Several consultatipps were ".held, the result being that strict orders were issued to all .the. towns -and' settlements of Utah that, on no account whatever was, any aid to be, afforded those emigrants from Arkansas. ' All' provisions were to be refused to them ; all •intercourses denied' them,'* and they were to be compelled by everj possible means "to remove themselves from,the locality, pn then arrival outside Salt' Lake City, thej were imperatively refused . admittance, and ; desired ito proceed or their journey without delay. AI theii entreaties for permission tc purchase were sternly rejected They traversed tlie vast plains thai still lay r before i 'them v ; : the sam< churlish behavour being observed ii every village or farmsteading tha they passed. They neared a towi called Corn Creek, the head quar ters of the commander of the force of Southern Utah, and when the; tried to 'obtain the necessary sup plies, he informed them that the; nrould he permitted to encamp at i spot m tbe" neighbourhood, calle< -■ Mountain Meadows, where good pas
turage could be bad. The poor features eefc_ qufc for the place pointed out, to them; a retired valley some little distance from the town. For a few days all went well, but numerous Mormon meetings hiad been held, and it was' generally understood throughout Utah that the total destruction of the emigrants had been resolved on. Not one of the many who were well aware of the meditated atrocity gave the slightest hint or warning to the doomed wretches of the cruel fate that was m store for them; To John D Lee must be ascribed the fiendish cunning qf managing matters m a way that almost the enth*e guilt of the transaction was - set to the rapacity and cruelty of the Indians. Lee had acted as a kind of factor or agent between the Indians and the Mormon rulers, they were perfectly willing to do anything that he required of them. On lhe morning of the 7th of Sep. the unsuspecting emigrants found themselves suddenly assailed by a large body of Indians, who with wild shouts and whoops fired a volley of musketry into their camp. Several of the emigrants were killed on the , spot, and many- were wounded; the remainder raised a bar'acade of their waggons, iand bravely determined to sell their lives as dearly a^ ; possible, ; ! The attempt of the -Indians was- -thus 'foiled,' Lee aiid fii&' 'confederates seeing that the emigrants, were resolved to defend themselves, and the process of starving them out might be more tedious than was convenient agreed to, terminatethe bloody business as quickly as they could. They determined to acomplish by stratagem what they had been unable to secure by force. A trbop of soldiers was directed to march to Mountain " Meadows from Cedar City, a Mormon military station not far distant. Then John D Lee, and a few others with him proceeded towards the emigrants camp, , holding up a flag of truce., and desiring to hold a parley with some of the leading settlers. This was at once consented, to, and a- long, conversation ensued.; The specious villain represented that ; he had come to their assistance, and was quite prepared to defend them against the Indians, But he declared that the Indians insisted that the entii'e stock of the -emigrants, their arms, provisions, and cattle, should be yielded up to them; unless they did this they were resolved on their destruction, and he added the Mormons were powerless; to prevent them. The poor settlers were m a terible strait. Certain death awaited -them m one case, and m the other they could not but ;feel very grave misgivings as to the ultimate result of their submission. In the end they yielded-— ; urged to do so partly by the 1 treacherons arguments of Lee, and partly/ .' : ; % ;> the' - utter hoplessness ,'• of ; "their 7 ; position some brave spirits coiln^lled resistence to the last ; but this advice was soon overruled, and the wretched emigrants laid down their arms gathered together their wives and children, and slowly quitted the shelter of their waggons. They were then desired to separate into two parties; all women and children, and such men as were wounded, were either placed m the waggons, or ordered td : walk beside them, and they wera immediately driven off to a spot where the Indians were lying m rimbush and awaiting them. The men were directed to march m single file, each defenceless prisoner accompanied by a Mormon soldier carrying a loaded musket. After they had silently proceeded m this manner for sume little way, a sudden halt was made, a signal given, and m a moment every soldier •. fired on the man . uext him, most of the wretched emigrants being- killed on the spot ; those who were not, were instantly butchered. At* the "same time the Indians fell on the helpless womenand children, and m less than half-an-hour after their departure from their little camp, the entire party bf ArkanSan settlers, with the exception *of two Or three infants carried off by ; the lay weltering k iri i,: 'their ^blood:> m the valley 'of Mountain Meadows. So complete was the slaughter that not one reniain^d to tell the tale ; and owing to the remote neighbourhood m which the hideons deed was committed, and the silence imposed on every one who had been connected with it, a considerable time elapsed before inythnVg but' faint rumours transpired regarding the massacre. The bones of the poor emigrants-r--inen, women j and . children— -la j bleaching on thegroiind as they had fallen there. Travellers passing thai way ; had told , of the bloody deeds ol the' Indians. ;iand for. many, years il was generally* believed that thej were • the /principal, if not th< only actors m the cruel tragedy Eighteen months afterwards, how ever, owing to some rumours tha had spread abroad; a district Judgi # of's-, Utah tried to investigate thi i but the attenipt totally failed tTheMormou leaders were too powei *-fnl for any one to be found to witness against them, no jury could b , got, to indict, and the whole busi ness fell to the ground. * Year rolled on ; the remorseless villian chiefly concerned m the. massacr must have thought themselves tolei ably safe. Ea idence.*had. graduall; transpired which had> brought com plicity m the murders clearly homi to John P Lee ; and m the 'montl of August, 1875, he was tried befor a jury m? the District Court c Beaver, m Southern Utah. Un fortunately, the majority of th
jury were Mormons j aiid though the guilt of the prisoner >w^s,proved, ohlythree of the jiiry decided for a conviction, the temainihg nine gave their verdict for acquittal, and the prisoner had, m consequence, to "be 'disch arged . A fresh, only lately concluded before the same judge, Judge Boremau,' with on this occasion, however, a different conclusion. John D Lee was proved guilty, and the sentence 'of death pronounced upon him. By. the laws of the territory of Utah, he was permitted to chose 'whether- he would be hanged, shot, or beheaded. He decided that he woxild be shot, and the sentence of the. law' was carried out. He died lite a miserable coward, whining for mercy.