Mountain Meadows Massacre Historical Accounts

The women scattered and tried to hide in the bushes, but the Indians shot them down; two girls ran up the slope towards the east about a quarter of a mile; John and I ran down and tried to save them; the girls hid in some bushes. A man, who is an Indian doctor, also told the Indians not to kill them. The girls then came out and hung around him for protection, he trying to keep the Indians away. The girls were crying out loud. The Indians came up and seized the girls by their hands and dresses and pulled and pushed them away from the doctor and shot them. By this time it was dark, and the other Indians came down the road and had got nearly through killing all the others. They were about half an hour killing the people from the time they first sprang out upon them from the bushes.

Some time in the night Tullis and the Indians brought some of the children in a wagon up to the house. The children cried nearly all night. One little one, a baby, just commencing to walk around, was shot through the arm. One of the girls had been hit through the ear. Many of the children’s clothes were bloody. The next morning we kept three children and the rest were taken to Cedar City; also the next morning the train of wagons went up to Cedar City with all the goods. The Indians got all the flour. Some of it I saw buried this side of Pinto Creek. There were two yoke of cattle to each wagon as they passed up. The rest of the stock had been killed to be eaten by the Indians while the fight was going on, except some which were driven over the mountains this way and that.

The Indians stripped naked the dead bodies; that is all the men; some of the women had their underclothes left. There were a good many men who came over from Pinto Creek and about, and stayed around the house while the fight went on. I saw John D. Lee there about the house during that time. He lives in Harmony — and Richard Robinson, Prime Coleman, Amos Thornton, Brother Dickinson, who all live at Pinto Creek. Thornton I saw at the house. When father (John Hamblin) came back, I came down with him onto the ground. The bodies were all buried then so we could not see them. There were plenty of wolves around. The two girls had been buried also and I did show them to father, the Indians buried the bodies taking spades from the wagons. The people from Cedar City came down three days later, after the massacre, but the Indians had buried all the bodies before they came. This is all I know about it.”

This Albert Hamblin is nearly a grown man in point of size, and from appearance and bearing has evidently had engrafted upon his native viciousness all the bad traits of the community in which he lives. Two of the children are said to have pointed him out to Dr. Forney as an Indian whom they saw kill their two sisters.

His story is artfully made up, evidently part truth and part falsehood. Leavitt could not have passed up from “The Fort” to Cedar City without knowing where the emigrants were besieged, as the road runs near the spring where the corral was, and between it and some hills occupied by the Mormons and Indians. That Albert stayed upon a neighborhood hill “herding sheep” day after day while the fight lasted, and then to the house of nights to go to sleep cannot be true. That Mormons were passing and re-passing upon the road, day and night, and did not know what was going on is simply absurd to one conversant with the surroundings of the place.

In this Indian’s statement that some of the Mormons at the house were “pitching horseshoe quoits,” a glance is given at the fiendish levity with which the murdering, day by day, of this artfully entrapped party of gentile men, women and children was regarded. This “pitching of horseshoe quoits” was during the time when dropping shots from the Indians and the other Mormon concealed around the springs and behind the crest of hills kept back the perishing emigrants from water. There was time enough for some to go up to Hamblin’s house for refreshments. No danger of the emigrants getting away. It was all safe in that quarter. “There is time enough for us to have a game of quoits, the other boys will take care of matters down there.”

The general will hardly fail to observe the discrepancy between Hamblin’s statement and that of Albert in relation to the burial of the two girls and in relation to the burial of the bodies of the others who had been murdered. Hamblin says the people from Cedar City buried them; Albert that the Indians did it, taking spades from the wagons, not a likely thing for bona fide Indians to do. My own opinion is that the remains were not buried at all until after they had been dismembered by the wolves and the flesh stripped from the bones, and then only such bones were buried as lay scattered along nearest the road.

Albert had evidently been trained in his statement. He gave much of it after cross-questioning, keeping always the Mormons in the background and the Indians conspicuously the prominent figures and actors, as Hamblin and his wife had endeavored to do. It was not until after I told him that Hamblin and his wife had informed me that John D. Lee and other Mormons were there and had asked him how it was possible he had not seen them, that he recollected about “Brother Lee” and “Brothers” Prime Coleman, Amos Thornton, Richard Robinson, and “Brother” Dickinson from Pinto Creek. He too had fallen into the general custom of the people and called every man “brother.”

I questioned other Mormons in relation to the massacre, but many of them said they had moved from the northern part of the Territory since it took place; others, that they were harvesting at Parowan, Cedar, and at “The Fort,” and knew nothing of it until it was all over. Even “Brother” Prime Coleman said that he was harvesting near Parowan just before that time with Brother Benjamin Nell, but when the massacre took place he was down on the Muddy River with Brother Ira Hatch to keep down disturbances there among the Indians. He said that as he and Hatch were coming back they saw in the sand the tracks of three men who wore fine boots. This was at Beaver Dams.

He and Hatch were frightened at this sign, were afraid of robbers, and did not stop, even for water, until they reached the Santa Clara, 2 miles off. At Pine Valley, near Mountain Meadows, they first heard of the massacre. There is no doubt but that all three of these men were active participants in the butchering at the Meadows. The foregoing is the Mormon story of the Massacre. As it took place on Hamblin’s ranch and within hearing of his family, it was impossible for them to be “out harvesting” or “up north” or “down on the Muddy”; he himself had gone to Salt Lake City. At least he says so; but even this, I think, needs proof. Some account had to be made up, and the one most likely to be believed was that the whole matter had been started by the Indians and carried out by them because the emigrants had poisoned a spring near Fillmore City. Mr. Rodgers, United States Deputy Marshal, who accompanied Judge Cradlebaugh in his tour to the South, told me that the water in the spring referred to runs with such volume and force “a barrel of arsenic would not poison it.”

While the Mormons say the Indians were the murderers, they speak with no sympathy of the sufferers, but rather in extenuation of the crime by saying the emigrants were not fit to live; that besides poisoning the spring “they were impudent to the people on the road, robbed their hen roosts and gardens, and were insulting to the church; called their oxen “Brigham Young,” “Heber Kimball,” etc., and altogether were a rough, ugly set that ought to have been killed anyway.”

But there is another side to this story. It is said that some two years since Bishop Parley Pratt was shot in Cherokee Nation near Arkansas by the husband of a woman who had run off with that saintly prelate. The Mormons swore vengeance on the people of Arkansas, one of who was this injured husband. The wife came on to Salt Lake City after the bishop was killed and still lives there.

About this time, also, the Mormon troubles with the United States commenced, and the most bitter hostility against the Gentiles became rife throughout Utah among all the Latter-Day Saints. It will be recollected that even while these emigrants were pursuing their journey overland to California, Colonel Alexander was following upon their trace with two or more regiments of troops ordered to Utah to assist, if necessary, in seeing the laws of the land properly enforced in that territory.