Mountain Meadows Massacre Historical Accounts

The Mormons and the Late Massacre, San Francisco Evening Bulletin, November 5, 1857

Three emigrant families arrived yesterday in Sacramento, by the Carson Valley route. They report, says the Union, many sad evidences of outrage and murder at different points along the route, particularly in the vicinity of Goose Creek. Near this creek, their attention was attracted by the appearance of a human foot protruding from the ground, and on examining the spot, the remains of three murdered men were found buried only three or four inches below the surface. Upon another grave there lay two dogs, alive but much emaciated, and so pertinacious in retaining their lonely resting place that no effort could entice or drive them from the spot. Their master was, most probably, the occupant of that grave, and their presence there, under such circumstances, was a touching exhibition of canine instinct and devotion. A few miles further on, they came upon another scene of murder, where, upon the ground, were strewn a few bones, and also knots of long, glossy hair, torn from the head of some ill-fated woman. near by were the remains of three head of cattle, with arrows still sticking in them.

Reports brought by these families tend strongly to corroborate the suspicion already existing against the Mormons as the instigators, if not the perpetrators, of the recent wholesale massacre of emigrants at Santa Clara canyon. Mr. Pierce, who came by way of Salt Lake, and joined the other two families at the Sink of the Humboldt, reports some five hundred Indians encamped near Salt Lake, who, as he learned from the Mormons, were retained as allies to operate against the troops sent out by the Government. He was also assured that these Indians had been instructed not to molest the emigration this year, as preparations were not sufficiently complete to enable the Mormons to make a stand against the United States. In the city itself, large crowds of Mormons were nightly practicing military drill, and there was every evidence of energetic preparations for some great event. Before his family left Salt Lake, vague declarations of a threatening character were made, to the effect that, next year, “the overland emigrants must look out;” and it was even insinuated that the last trains this year might be destroyed. From the Mormon train which recently left Carson Valley, and which these families met on the way, similar statements were vaguely communicated, one Mormon woman even going so far as to congratulate an old lady in one of these families upon her safe arrival so near her destination, and assuring her that “the last trains of this year would not get through so well, for they were to be cut off.” We give these statements as we received them from members of these families, and, admitting their correctness, which we have no reason to doubt, they certainly go far to confirm a terrible suspicion.

Killing of Immigrants — Mormons Falsely Accused, Western Standard, San Francisco, November 6, 1857

Further Endurance No Longer a Virtue

After this, we presume, there will not be a white man killed, or an emigrant train attacked between the Sierra Nevada and the Western or Southern States, on any route, at what will be credited to the Mormon. They may be as innocent as angels, but that will make no difference; the determination is apparent to heap upon them the odium of every such deed. The published estimate of the man, Abbot, which has obtained considerable circulation lately, is, that the Mormons and Indians have killed five hundred immigrants on the road between Salt Lake and California during this year alone. Trains have been attacked by Indians led on by white men, and the white men were, of course, concluded to be Mormons. One statement says, that they were known to be Mormons because they swore. The statement made by Mr. Hones, who came by way of the Southern Utah route, via San Bernardino, and whose testimony is adduced as evidence that the Mormons were the instigators if not the perpetrators of the massacre at Mountain Meadows — goes to prove that the Mormons were distinguished from the Gentiles, by the Indians on that route, by their swearing. This person says that the Mormon interpreters urged them to refrain from swearing, as the Indians would know that they were not Mormons if they did not take this precaution. The swearing therefore of those whose men who were among the Indians on the Northern route, is not evidence that they were Mormons, but rather that they were Gentiles; moreover, it is preposterous to suppose that, if they were Mormons, they would let expressions drop, such as we see reported that immigrants have heard, which would lead those whom they attacked to recognize them as Mormons. If they were Mormons disguised as Indians, and they considered such disguise necessary for the concealment of their identity, they would be very sure to let nothing escape them that would cause suspicion to fall upon them; but if they were rascals who wished suspicion to be diverted from themselves and to fall upon the Mormons, it is quite reasonable to suppose that the would disguise themselves as Indians, and also be sure to let some expression fall from them that would lead those whom they assailed and whose minds were already filled with suspicion and fear about the Utah, to suppose that the Mormons were leading on and instigating the Indians to plunder and murder them.

The course that editors and others in California have taken in their treatment of the Mormons, has given all the encouragement needed to scoundrels of every grade to rob, murder and attack trains with impunity between here and Salt Lake. They have seen the disposition which is everywhere manifest to charge the Mormons with the commission of every conceivable crime, and have had every opportunity of knowing that all that is necessary to escape detection is to arrange their plundering schemes in such a manner that suspicion will fall on that people. Let the story be started that the Mormons have had a hand in any wickedness, and there is an end to the investigation. A question is never asked about the rebutting testimony; it is enough to know that the Mormons are the accused party, and it is at once concluded that, of course, the allegations must be true. Every penny-a-liner in the country then immediately begins to threaten and pile abuse on to the Mormons and has any number of suggestions to make for their extermination.

This is literally the truth, and it must be familiar to every reader of public journals in California. We have had an illustration of it before us this past week or two in the reports that have obtained circulation relative to the massacre of the company of emigrants at the rim of the Great Basin, or Mountain Meadows. No sooner was it known that a massacre had taken place than it was charged to the Mormons. Innocent or guilty, it made not a particle of difference, they had to bear the onus of the butchery. With such a state of feeling–such a pre-disposition to saddle them with the bloody deed whether or no, the testimony of a damning character was not long wanting to fully confirm all that they had been charged with. Could it not have been found on earth, the lower regions would have been raked to obtain it.

But it was found, and the thousand-tongued press heralded it forth. Every circumstance, however trivial; every word, however idly spoken; every look, however innocently given, was misconstrued, and a list of charges based upon them against the people of Deseret which find a place in the columns of every newspaper, and are industriously blazoned throughout the civilized world. What if they should prove to be baseless and utterly false, who cares? they are only Mormons that will suffer. It is not worthwhile to make an inquiry relative to any rebuttal that may be offered of charges against them; if they were successfully rebutted, the refutation would not attract notice. Is not this the idea indulged in, we ask? Examine the case in point. Sift the evidence that these charges are based upon. It is said that the Mormons killed or caused this train to be killed because they were from Arkansas and Parley P. Pratt was murdered in Arkansas. It is said that the train was blotted out because they had property, and the Mormons coveted it. It is said that they were Gentiles and that the Mormons had said they would be the means of killing every Gentile — of cutting off every train.