Mountain Meadows Massacre Historical Accounts

I could get no information of these emigrants of a date anterior to this. Here seems to be given the first glimpse of their number, character, and condition; and an authentic glimpse, too, if the train destroyed was the one seen by the doctor, of which there can hardly be any doubt. The doctor was confirmed his belief that the train he saw was the one destroyed, by many reasons. Among them, one fact seemed to be very convincing. He observed a carriage in the train in which some ladies rode, to whom he made one or more visits as they journeyed along. There was something peculiar in the construction of the carriage and its ornaments its blazoned stag’s head upon the panels, etc. This carriage, he says, is now in the possession of the Mormons. Besides, he afterward heard as a fact that this train had been entirely destroyed.

The people who owned it would not have been likely to have to sell such an important part of their means of transportation midway their journey. The road upon which these emigrants were seen by Dr. Brewer crosses the Rocky Mountains through the South Pass, and thence goes on down into the Great Basin to Salt Lake City, and thence Southward along the western base of the Wasatch Mountains to what is called the rim of the basin. Here the “divide” is crossed, when it descends upon the valley of the Santa Clara affluent toward the Colorado [River.] Fillmore City is upon one of the many streams which run westward down from the Wasatch Mountains into the basin. It is about 140 miles from Salt Lake City; then upon another stream, 90 miles farther south, is Prawn [Parowan] City; then upon still another stream, 18 miles south of Parowan, is Cedar City; then to a settlement on Pinto Creek is 24 miles; thence to Hamblin’s house, on the northern slope of the Mountain Meadows, 6 miles.

From Hamblin’s house over the rim of the basin to the southern point of the Mountain Meadows, where there is a large spring, is 4 miles, 1,000 yards. This swell of land or watershed, called the rim of the basin, runs west across nearly midway the valley called the Mountain Meadows. This valley runs north and south; its northern portion is drained into the basin, its southern toward the Santa Clara. Down on the Santa Clara is a Mormon settlement called “The Fort”: here some 30 families reside. It is 34 miles from Mountain Meadows. East of Cedar City, say 18 miles, on the east slope of the Wasatch Range, drained by Virgin River, is the town of Harmony, of 100 families; and farther down the Virgin River, 12 miles from “The Fort,” on the Santa Clara, is Washington City, also of 100 families. The Santa Clara joins the Virgin River near Washington City.

The Paiute Indians live near Fillmore City. The Paiute Indians are scattered along from Parowan southward to the Colorado.

The train of emigrants proceeding southward from Fillmore toward the Mountain Meadows are next seen, so far as my inquiries go, by a Mr. Jacob Hamblin, a leading Mormon, who has charge of “the Fort,” on the Santa Clara, and resides there in the winter season, but who has a cattle ranch and a house, where he lives in the summertime, at the Mountain Meadows. I here give what he said, and which I wrote down sentence by sentence, as he related it. He told me he had given the same information to Judge Cradlebaugh:

“About the middle of August 1857, I started on a visit to Great Salt Lake City. At Corn Creek, 8 miles south of Fillmore City, I encamped with a train of emigrants who said they were mostly from Arkansas. There were, in my opinion, not over 30 wagons. There were several tents, and they had from 400 to 500 head of horned cattle, 25 head of horses, and some mules.

This information I got in a conversation with one of the men on the train. The people seemed to be ordinary frontier homespun people, as a general thing. Some of the outsiders were rude and rough and calculated to get the ill will of the inhabitants. Several of the men asked me about the condition of the road and the disposition of the Indians, and where there would be a good place to recruit their stock.

I asked them how many men they had. They said they had between forty and fifty “that would do to tie to.” I told them I considered if they would keep a good lookout that the Indians did not steal their animals, half that number would be safe, and that the Mountain Meadows was the best place to recruit their animals before they entered the desert, I recommended this spring, and the grazing about here, four miles south of my house, as the place where they should stop. Most of these men seemed to have families with them. They remarked that this one train was made up near Salt Lake City of several trains that had crossed the plains separately, and being Southern people, had preferred to take the southern route. This was all of importance that passed between us, and I went on my journey and they proceeded on theirs. On my way back home, at Fillmore City, I heard it said that that Company, meaning the train referred to, had poisoned a small spring at Corn Creek, where I had met them.

There was some considerable excitement about it among the citizens of Fillmore and among the Paiute Indian who live within 8 miles of that place. I was told that eighteen head of cattle had died from drinking the water; that six of the Pah-Vents had been poisoned from eating the flesh of the cattle that died, and that one or two of these Indians had also died. Mr. Robinson, a citizen of Fillmore, whose son was buried the day I got there, said that the boy had been poisoned in ‘trying out’ the tallow of the dead cattle. I am satisfied that he believed what he said about it. I thought at the time that the spring had been poisoned as stated. I encamped that night with a company from Iron County, who told me that the Company from Arkansas had all been killed at Mountain Meadows except seventeen children.

I afterward met, between Beaver and Pine Creek, Colonel Dame of Parowan, who confirmed what these people from Iron County had said. He further stated that the Indians were collecting on the Muddy with a determination to ‘wipe out’ another company of emigrants which was several days in the rear of the first. He mentioned that the Indians had supplied themselves with arms and ammunition from the train destroyed at the Meadows. After consulting with him, he advised me to go forward and spare no pains in trying to prevent their carrying their purpose into execution, and he gave me an order to press into service any animal I might require for that purpose. I got a horse at Beaver about 8 o’clock that evening, and the next evening at Pinto Creek, 83 miles distant, I met Mr. Dudley Leavitt from the settlements on the Santa Clara.

I told him what I had heard. He told me it was true, and that all the Indians in the Southern Country were greatly excited and “All Hell” could not stop them from killing or from at least robbing the other train of its stock. He further stated that several interpreters from the Santa Clara had gone on with this last grain. I told him to return and get the best animal he could find on my ranch and go on as fast as he could and endeavor to stop further mischief being done. That is, if the Indians ran off the stock of the train, for himself and all the interpreters to go and recover it, if possible, and prevent further depredation. He left me under these instructions.

The next morning, which, I think, was the 18th of September 1857, I arrived at my ranch, 4 miles from the Meadows. Here I had left my family. I found at the ranch three little white girls in the care of my wife, the oldest six or seven years of age, the next about three, and the next about one. The youngest had been shot through one of her arms below the elbow by a large ball, breaking both bones and cutting the arm half off. My wife, having a young child of her own, and these three little orphans besides, my home appeared to be anything but cheerful. About one or two o’clock that day I came down to the point where the massacre had taken place, in company with an Indian boy named Albert, who had been brought up in my family.