What was the actual reason for the Mountain Meadows Massacre?

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Hagoth
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What was the actual reason for the Mountain Meadows Massacre?

Post by Hagoth » Wed Jun 01, 2022 6:16 am

I know about the trumped-up lies that led to the massacre, but why were the people in the Baker-Francher train seen as such a threat that they had to die?
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Re: What was the actual reason for the Mountain Meadows Massacre?

Post by alas » Wed Jun 01, 2022 7:48 am

Hatred is a weird thing, all they had to do is come from Missouri and they would have been hated. I think the animosity grew as they moved through Utah. All those “trumped up reasons” of all the stories about the party raping women, them stealing stuff, and rustling cattle, show that as the party moved through Utah there was conflict. Sure, there was little truth to the rumors, but the truth was that the settlers were having conflicts with these people from Missouri. I think probably the Mormons showed hostility and the Francher party reacted defensively. But there was conflict, and the rumors about it escalated.

My dad had talked to someone who knew the inside story, and the attackers believed the rumors.

And 50 years later my great grandmother who came from a prominent family in Provo married a guy from Missouri and the hatred for people from Missouri was still so strong that she and her new husband had to leave the state. She came back after he died when my grandfather was 12. But the “Saints” harbored real hatred for Missouri. And it lasted a few generations.

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Re: What was the actual reason for the Mountain Meadows Massacre?

Post by deacon blues » Wed Jun 01, 2022 2:42 pm

This question made me envision a series of dominoes: the first being Mormon Jesus telling Joseph Smith that the city of Zion would be in Jackson County, Missouri. The second is the conflict that arose between the Saints and the predominant southern culture of Missouri that favored slavery and accepted violence as justified. The third is the Haun's Mill Massacre which created memories of horror and inspired justified ideas of vengeance. A fourth domino could be the temple oath of vengeance which created the idea of (Mormon) God putting the Saints under oath to kill those they believed responsible for the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum. There could be many other dominoes mentioned, but consider this: what If the Saints had not been commanded to go to Missouri? what if (Mormon) God had told them to go directly to Utah? Things might have been very different.
As for the way things turned out, should we blame Joseph Smith or Mormon God?
This sends us back the the other thread: "Follow the Prophets.... at your own peril." :?
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Re: What was the actual reason for the Mountain Meadows Massacre?

Post by wtfluff » Wed Jun 01, 2022 5:56 pm

deacon blues wrote:
Wed Jun 01, 2022 2:42 pm
...
A fourth domino could be the temple oath of vengeance which created the idea of (Mormon) God putting the Saints under oath to kill those they believed responsible for the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum.
...
The "oath" popped into my head at some point whilst reading this thread. I can't see any reason why it's not a contributing factor.
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Re: What was the actual reason for the Mountain Meadows Massacre?

Post by Hagoth » Thu Jun 02, 2022 7:56 am

deacon blues wrote:
Wed Jun 01, 2022 2:42 pm
As for the way things turned out, should we blame Joseph Smith or Mormon God?
Those were pretty much the same thing at the time. Or, at least, one was the source of the other.

I would add to the list the intervention of George A. Smith, who rode from Salt Lake City to St. George just before the massacre, spreading wild rumors about the Baker-Francher party all along the way. Whether or not it is true, I believe it is, he appeared to be doing this at Brigham's command. George was a real piece of work. He was telling people, if I remember correctly, that the people on that train actually killed Joseph and that they were en route to SLC to kill Brigham with the very same gun. Also, somehow they managed to kill Parley Pratt. This is the same George A. Smith who invented the milk strippings story, and the Brigham-transformed-into-Joseph story, among others.
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Re: What was the actual reason for the Mountain Meadows Massacre?

Post by Rob4Hope » Thu Jun 02, 2022 10:50 am

So, did this same George A get his second anointing?


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Re: What was the actual reason for the Mountain Meadows Massacre?

Post by moksha » Thu Jun 02, 2022 6:38 pm

The wagon train originated in Arkansas, and the Saints had received word that Parley P. Pratt had been killed by a jealous husband from San Francisco who had tracked Pratt and the purloined wife all the way to Arkansas. Brigham wanted vengeance on someone and when the word came that a wagon train full of Arkansas travelers would be passing through... well, the temptation proved too great.

It was a good thing the Paiutes saw thru this Saintly scheme and refused to have anything to do with it.

A very sad part was when Brigham later saw the grave cairn erected by the US Army, he ordered it destroyed and uttered the words, "Vengence is mine saith the Lord and I have taken some". That was Brigham's epitaph for the 120-140 men, women, and children slaughtered by the Mormons.
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Re: What was the actual reason for the Mountain Meadows Massacre?

Post by Cnsl1 » Fri Jun 03, 2022 2:30 am

moksha wrote:
Thu Jun 02, 2022 6:38 pm
The wagon train originated in Arkansas, and the Saints had received word that Parley P. Pratt had been killed by a jealous husband from San Francisco who had tracked Pratt and the purloined wife all the way to Arkansas. Brigham wanted vengeance on someone and when the word came that a wagon train full of Arkansas travelers would be passing through... well, the temptation proved too great.

It was a good thing the Paiutes saw thru this Saintly scheme and refused to have anything to do with it.

A very sad part was when Brigham later saw the grave cairn erected by the US Army, he ordered it destroyed and uttered the words, "Vengence is mine saith the Lord and I have taken some". That was Brigham's epitaph for the 120-140 men, women, and children slaughtered by the Mormons.
Interesting.

Source?

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Re: What was the actual reason for the Mountain Meadows Massacre?

Post by moksha » Fri Jun 03, 2022 7:58 am

Cnsl1 wrote:
Fri Jun 03, 2022 2:30 am
Interesting.

Source?
Years of reading on this subject. Much of it was on the internet.
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Re: What was the actual reason for the Mountain Meadows Massacre?

Post by blazerb » Fri Jun 03, 2022 10:09 am

moksha wrote:
Fri Jun 03, 2022 7:58 am
Cnsl1 wrote:
Fri Jun 03, 2022 2:30 am
Interesting.

Source?
Years of reading on this subject. Much of it was on the internet.
I thought Blood of the Prophets by Will Bagley was a good source for a lot of the information. I'm not sure I believe BY ordered the massacre, but it's clear that he tried to protect those who carried it out, at least until it was politically feasible to throw one man under the bus.

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Re: What was the actual reason for the Mountain Meadows Massacre?

Post by deacon blues » Sun Jun 05, 2022 8:23 am

MormonThink: "
The oath of vengeance was an addition made to the Nauvoo endowment under the direction of Brigham Young by 1845 in the Nauvoo Temple, soon after the 1844 death of Joseph Smith.[1] Participants agreed to be bound by the following oath:
"You and each of you do covenant and promise that you will pray and never cease to pray to Almighty God to avenge the blood of the prophets upon this nation, and that you will teach the same to your children and to your children's children unto the third and fourth generation."[2]
"The prophets" referred to Joseph and Hyrum Smith, who were killed in 1844 by a mob while in jail in Carthage, Illinois. "This nation" referred to the United States.[3]
The oath entered the endowment at a time when many Mormons hoped for retribution for the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum Smith.[4] At least one member of the LDS First Presidency understood the oath to include a personal obligation that, "if he had ever met any of those who had taken a hand in that massacre he would undoubtedly have attempted to avenge the blood of the martyrs."[5] However, other Mormons understood the oath to require only prayer for God's vengeance, and not any obligation to take vengeance personally.[6]
The prayer to which endowed Mormons obligated themselves took place, in at least some cases, as part of the Mormon prayer circle ceremony,[7] which was also part of the endowment, but was often performed separately.

Dialogue : (Winter 1987) "On 21 December 1845, Heber C. Kimball recorded in his diary of "seven to twelve persons who have met together every day to pray ever since Joseph's death... and I have covenanted, and never will rest... until those men who killed Joseph & Hyrum have been wiped out of the earth." During an 1889 meeting of the First Presidency, George Q. Cannon reminisced about his experience there:
He [Cannon] understood when he had his endowments in Nauvoo that he took an oath against the murderers of the Prophet Joseph as well as other prophets, and if he had ever met any of those who had taken a hand in that massacre he would undoubtedly have attempted to avenge the blood of the martyrs. The Prophet charged Stephen Markham to avenge his blood should he be slain: after the Prophet's death Bro. Markham attempted to tell this to an assembly of the Saints, but Willard Richards pulled him down from the stand, as he feared the effect on the enraged people (A. Cannon 1889, 205)."
Last edited by deacon blues on Sun Jun 05, 2022 8:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What was the actual reason for the Mountain Meadows Massacre?

Post by AllieOop » Sun Jun 05, 2022 8:26 pm

Hagoth wrote:
Wed Jun 01, 2022 6:16 am
I know about the trumped-up lies that led to the massacre, but why were the people in the Baker-Francher train seen as such a threat that they had to die?
After conversing with Will Bagley back and forth (and reading his books), I came to believe the main motive was wealth (I also must add that I believe Brigham Young used the oath of vengeance to incite the members.....for the murder of Parley P. Pratt in Arkansas). This wagon train passed through Salt Lake (I can't remember how long it was there, but it was at least weeks, iirc, and drew a lot of attention from Brigham Young).

Bagley writes about the victims and researched them thoroughly. He firmly believed they were good people. They were young families traveling out to live in California and were not going to look for gold there. Many of the young husbands and Fathers had earlier left their families in Arkansas to go out to California and had become established there, so they could move their wives and children out. There were many young mothers who were on their way out (with their children) to meet their husbands.

These people were nearly all wealthy and there were at least 1,000 head of prime cattle with them (bringing them out to Ca.). They had a lot of expensive guns, nice wagons, family treasures, furniture, clothes, etc. that looked real good to BY as they traveled through SLC (and they also had at least $1,000 in gold between them). According to Bagley, this was the wealthiest wagon train to ever pass through Utah. This group was doomed from the moment they left Salt Lake and they were watched (by BY's men) all along their travels south from then on.

Most members (who even know about the MMM) believe it was mostly men who were killed along with some women and children. But, Will Bagley found records of all involved and has been able to break it down. He states that we will probably never know the exact number of people who were killed because there were some members of the church who'd joined them as they traveled through Utah (who were trying to escape the reformation, Brigham Young, and get to California).

Here's what he writes about the numbers:

"No one knows for sure the exact number they killed because there were no survivors old enough to tell, but my research shows that there were some thirty unarmed men, about forty women, most of them young mothers, and fifty or more terrified children who were slaughtered in cold blood. They struck them down one at a time, children watching their mothers and fathers killed first. They killed their victims face to face, with knives, hatchets, pistols, and muskets at point-blank range. There is evidence and testimony that some of the older girls were sexually molested and assaulted, in front of their younger brothers and sisters, before they were murdered. Mercy was shown only to those too young to give credible testimony and who qualified as 'innocent blood' under a doctrine revealed in Joseph Smith's last revelation (D&C, 132:19, 20, 26, 27)."
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Re: What was the actual reason for the Mountain Meadows Massacre?

Post by AllieOop » Sun Jun 05, 2022 8:44 pm

Hagoth wrote:
Thu Jun 02, 2022 7:56 am
deacon blues wrote:
Wed Jun 01, 2022 2:42 pm
As for the way things turned out, should we blame Joseph Smith or Mormon God?
Those were pretty much the same thing at the time. Or, at least, one was the source of the other.

I would add to the list the intervention of George A. Smith, who rode from Salt Lake City to St. George just before the massacre, spreading wild rumors about the Baker-Francher party all along the way. Whether or not it is true, I believe it is, he appeared to be doing this at Brigham's command. George was a real piece of work. He was telling people, if I remember correctly, that the people on that train actually killed Joseph and that they were en route to SLC to kill Brigham with the very same gun. Also, somehow they managed to kill Parley Pratt. This is the same George A. Smith who invented the milk strippings story, and the Brigham-transformed-into-Joseph story, among others.
Yes, my research showed that George A. Smith played a huge role and did what he was ordered to do (by Brigham Young, IMO). You are 100% correct. He was not a good man (again IMO) and really set the stage for the massacre.

So many use the argument that Brigham Young did send orders not to kill the people in this wagon train, but word arrived too late. But, WHY did the local leaders even need to ask that question? Why did they even have to send off this messenger to race up to Utah and ask Brigham Young if they should kill these men, women and children or allow them pass? What kind of Prophet of God was he if the members didn't already know they should treat them kindly and not murder them in cold blood?

Was this messenger really sent to confirm the orders already given or possibly to plead NOT to have to follow his orders?

I don't know the answer to that, but I feel it's odd they had to even ask....
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Re: What was the actual reason for the Mountain Meadows Massacre?

Post by AllieOop » Mon Jun 06, 2022 7:24 am

blazerb wrote:
Fri Jun 03, 2022 10:09 am
I thought Blood of the Prophets by Will Bagley was a good source for a lot of the information. I'm not sure I believe BY ordered the massacre, but it's clear that he tried to protect those who carried it out, at least until it was politically feasible to throw one man under the bus.
No one researched the MMM more thoroughly than Will Bagley....what a great man he was!! He even traveled to Arkansas and went through state archives researching all the victims and their families (I was amazed at the amount of documents, journals, etc., that he discovered). The families tried for years to get justice and had to fight to get the surviving children back. They were heartbroken of course and most were prominent families in the area.

If one knows what was going on in Utah at that time (the reformation), the members were terrified of BY. Many had tried to leave Utah and were hunted down and killed. He ruled with an iron fist. I personally believe that no one would massacre members of a wagon train on their own, but only if BY ordered it.

Remember all those who did the killing were in the militia and were under orders. Many did not know what they were going to be ordered to do until they got out the the meadow. My great-great grandfather was Jesse N. Smith (counselor to William Dame in the stake presidency). I have Jesse's journal and Will Bagley used it to help form a timeline in one of his later books. I became very interested in the topic and spent over 2 years reading all sources I could find. Jesse N. Smith and his brother Silas were very involved (and were both at Corn Creek where the supposed poisonings took place). They were step brothers to George A. Smith (& first cousins) and were very close to him.

The origins of the rumor behind the poisoning at Corn Creek was traced back to Silas and both Jesse and Silas were with George A. on his trip throughout Southern Utah prior to the massacre holding "firesides" and getting the people worked up & terrified.

Bagley wrote about what happened to many of the men who were participants in the massacre. Once again, I firmly believe that many (if not most) of the participants were tricked into going out to the meadows. The leaders all knew what was happening and it was well planned. It was all done as a military operation and all participants were in the Iron County Militia (Dame was the head of this militia...he was Stake President in Parowan and Jesse N. Smith was his counselor....both Jesse and his brother Silas Smith had just been promoted by Dame to Captains in July, 1857 and the massacre was in Sept. of 1857).

Bagley writes that many of the men who learned of what was to take place tried to run or escape the area and some were hunted down and killed for doing this. Others shot themselves in their foot or did other things so they wouldn't have to go. But most who went out there that day didn't know what they were going to be ordered to do. They had been told that the emigrants were already dead (killed by the Indians) and that they were going out there to bury the dead and clean up the area. It wasn't until they got out there that they realized what they were going to be ordered to do. Of course it's easy to judge them, but they were under orders.

Bagley found that many of the men who participated that day committed suicide either right afterwards or later in their lives. Others were haunted with nightmares for the rest of their lives. He writes:

"For those who died with a shot to the head or a knife to the throat, it was over in minutes. But for the seventy or more white men who did the killing, the wounds from that day were soul-deep and lasting. For them, it was never over; the horror never stopped."

Bagley writes about Nephi Johnson (who was a Lieutenant and who led the killing of the women and children) and how he was never the same after this day. He was one of the leaders who was in on the planning, but he could never get the images out of his mind. He finally went insane and would travel around preaching in Indian tongue, repeating things he saw that day and things he did. He would sing hymns and pray out loud in public. He died at the age of eighty-four and journals of his family members who were there say he was moaning, crying and pleading for forgiveness for what he had done during the massacre. "He suddenly opened his eyes wide, staring straight up, and cried, 'Blood, Blood, Blood!' and then fell back dead. He was reliving the horror, and he was afraid to die."
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Re: What was the actual reason for the Mountain Meadows Massacre?

Post by blazerb » Mon Jun 06, 2022 10:39 am

AllieOop wrote:
Sun Jun 05, 2022 8:44 pm
Yes, my research showed that George A. Smith played a huge role and did what he was ordered to do (by Brigham Young, IMO). You are 100% correct. He was not a good man (again IMO) and really set the stage for the massacre.

So many use the argument that Brigham Young did send orders not to kill the people in this wagon train, but word arrived too late. But, WHY did the local leaders even need to ask that question? Why did they even have to send off this messenger to race up to Utah and ask Brigham Young if they should kill these men, women and children or allow them pass? What kind of Prophet of God was he if the members didn't already know they should treat them kindly and not murder them in cold blood?

Was this messenger really sent to confirm the orders already given or possibly to plead NOT to have to follow his orders?

I don't know the answer to that, but I feel it's odd they had to even ask....
Wasn't there something weird about how the order not to kill was worded? Something about "Let the Indians do what they will." I thought there was a possibility that he was just asking for the members not to get caught and to blame it on the Paiutes.

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Re: What was the actual reason for the Mountain Meadows Massacre?

Post by AllieOop » Mon Jun 06, 2022 11:58 am

blazerb wrote:
Mon Jun 06, 2022 10:39 am
Wasn't there something weird about how the order not to kill was worded? Something about "Let the Indians do what they will." I thought there was a possibility that he was just asking for the members not to get caught and to blame it on the Paiutes.
The message was written to Isaac C. Haight, who was the Stake President in Cedar City. He was 2nd in command (Lt. Colonial) in the Iron County Militia. William Dame was the Stake President in Parowan and he was the highest ranking in command as a Colonial. The two were meeting together (with other local leaders) trying to decide how to proceed. Because of the murder of William Aden (a 19 year old who had joined the wagon train in Provo), Haight and Dame realized they could no longer blame the attacks on the Indians.

When the party was attacked by what they thought were Indians on September 7, Aden and another man were sent to Cedar City for assistance. They were attacked by white men at Richard’s Spring and Aden was killed. However, his companion returned to camp, at which time the wagon train figured out that the Indians were being helped by or that the attacks were being instigated by the Mormons.

Because the emigrants had learned of Mormon participation in the attacks, Haight argued that the company had to be silenced. At Haight's insistence, Dame approved an order authorizing further attacks on the train if such was deemed necessary to maintain peaceful relations with local Indians.

This is when the messenger was sent up to SLC. As far as I know, a copy of Haight's message to BY has not ever been found.

This was BY's response from what we now have (dated September 10th):
"In regard to emigration trains passing through our settlements, we must not interfere with them until they are first notified to keep away. You must not meddle with them. The Indians we expect will do as they please but you should try and preserve good feelings with them. There are no other trains going south that I know of[.] If those who are there will leave let them go in peace."
Here is what Will Bagley wrote about Brigham's response:
"Whatever the letter's intent, it carried a hidden but clear message for Isaac Haight: make sure the Mormons could blame whatever happened on the Paiutes."
Of interest to note, two days after the massacre, Brigham is quoted in his Sunday morning sermon:
Journal of Discourses 5:236;
“I want the people in the west and in the east to understand that it will not be safe for them to cross the Plains…”
– Brigham Young, Salt Lake City, Sunday, September 13, 1857


Bill Hickman wrote in his book Brigham's Destroying Angel:
“He [Brigham Young] professed great ignorance; but I knew no such raids dared be made without his orders.”
– Bill Hickman; Mormon Danite; 1870


In the end, we each just need to do our own research (if this topic is of interest) and form our own opinions!



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Re: What was the actual reason for the Mountain Meadows Massacre?

Post by moksha » Mon Jun 06, 2022 9:02 pm

AllieOop wrote:
Mon Jun 06, 2022 7:24 am
If one knows what was going on in Utah at that time (the reformation), the members were terrified of BY. Many had tried to leave Utah and were hunted down and killed. He ruled with an iron fist. I personally believe that no one would massacre members of a wagon train on their own, but only if BY ordered it.
Brigham Young's assassins were effective in bringing terror to the hearts of Mormons and engendered faith for fear of being murdered. That is enough to help Orin Porter Rockwell gain Mormon sainthood.
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Re: What was the actual reason for the Mountain Meadows Massacre?

Post by AllieOop » Tue Jun 07, 2022 11:56 am

moksha wrote:
Mon Jun 06, 2022 9:02 pm
AllieOop wrote:
Mon Jun 06, 2022 7:24 am
If one knows what was going on in Utah at that time (the reformation), the members were terrified of BY. Many had tried to leave Utah and were hunted down and killed. He ruled with an iron fist. I personally believe that no one would massacre members of a wagon train on their own, but only if BY ordered it.
Brigham Young's assassins were effective in bringing terror to the hearts of Mormons and engendered faith for fear of being murdered. That is enough to help Orin Porter Rockwell gain Mormon sainthood.
Very true, moksha. Another very interesting topic to study :)
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Re: What was the actual reason for the Mountain Meadows Massacre?

Post by Red Ryder » Tue Jun 07, 2022 12:30 pm

Thanks for the insight Allie!

I wonder what will happen with Will Bagley’s research materials and information he’s collected now that he has died?
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Re: What was the actual reason for the Mountain Meadows Massacre?

Post by AllieOop » Tue Jun 07, 2022 2:24 pm

Red Ryder wrote:
Tue Jun 07, 2022 12:30 pm
Thanks for the insight Allie!

I wonder what will happen with Will Bagley’s research materials and information he’s collected now that he has died?
Hello RR!! :)

I would imagine his wife, Laura has all of his files, documents and writings. She is a researcher and historian as well. But, what a treasure trove!

I have to add that he was one of the kindest, most generous men I've ever known. I never had the privilege of meeting him in person, but we emailed back and forth quite a bit at one time and he always made time for me & sent me such great information and insight. I have kept all of those emails and I still refer back to them!

And...sorry for the long posts here, this is a topic that I became obsessed with because of my ancestor's involvement. Believe it or not, I contained myself, haha.
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