The Mountain Meadows Massacre Site
Events played out in eastern Millard County in September of 1857 that led up to the worst public relations disaster in all of Utah’s history and brought on one of the worst atrocities in the history of the westward movement. The Fancher Company from Arkansas and Missouri was passing through on its way to California when Paiute Indians, with Mormon accomplices, massacred the entire company except for eighteen small children. Worst of all, some reports indicate that most of the killing was done, execution style, by the Mormon Militia after the emigrants had agreed to accept protection offered by their supposed Mormon protectors. These were the darkest days of the Mormon War and contributed to over twenty years of animosity, hatred, verbal recrimination, court proceedings, and political action from Territorial Officials against the supposed Mormon participants. Eventually, after many years had passed, guilt gradually settled upon primarily one individual, a Mormon named John D. Lee; he was taken to the site of the massacre and while seated on his own coffin, was shot and killed by firing squad. LDS officials hoped that this would end the controversy, but it has not. Today books are still being written about the infamous events of that day and historians still debate who was responsible and what actually happened; the most important details have been lost by now and will never be known but still the controversy lives on.

Wreath left at Mountain Meadowse

Indian Agent George W. Armstrong wrote from Provo, Utah, to Brigham Young, September 30, 1857. The original of this document is found in the records of the Utah Superintendency of the Office of Indian Affairs, in the National Archives. “…..While the Fancher Company was camped a short distance from Fillmore City for the purpose of recruiting their teams a number of the Parvantes visited the emigrant camp which is their custom for the purpose of begging. They asked for something to eat which was denied them, but was answered if they did not immediately leave that they would receive a volley of bullets. This answer displeased the Indians, when some of the citizens of the settlement interfered and to prevent bloodshed informed the camp that they had better give the Indians a small present which would settle the difficulty. The captain of the Emigrant train after consultation with his company told the Indians that they would give them a beef the next day but claimed the privilege of killing it themselves. The Indians then left but previous to their return…. the beef was killed and poisoned and given to the Indians. They cut up the beef and packed it to their lodges several miles distant from the emigrant camp. After partaking of the beef four of the Indians died and a large number taken dangerously sick. When the cause of this unhappy circumstance was discovered by the Indians they held a council and determined to be revenged upon the camp. The citizens of Fillmore on learning what had been done as well as the determination of the Indians endeavored to appease their savage vengeance but without the desired result. The Indians followed them to a place known as Mountain Meadows where they attacked the camp and after a desperate fight they killed fifty-seven men and nine women.”

“I have always advised emigrants who have consulted me on such matters to treat the Indians Kindly and wherever my advice was taken they traveled in safety.”