J. H. (John Hanson) Beadle.

Western wilds and the men who redeem them : an authentic narrative embracing an account of seven years travel and adventure in the far West ... online

. (page 30 of 62)
Online LibraryJ. H. (John Hanson) BeadleWestern wilds and the men who redeem them : an authentic narrative embracing an account of seven years travel and adventure in the far West ... → online text (page 30 of 62)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

settling into Arizona as fast as they can. Will settle Potato Valley
first, then down in the White and San Francisco Mountains," etc.

Her own history was both sad and interesting. She was born in
Brighton, England, and reared in London. Her folks were well-to-do
English, and signs of early education and refinement showed plainly
through the rough coating of a frontier and Mormon life. She had
embraced Mormonism at the age of twenty, and come at once to
Utah (sixteen years before) in the first hand-cart company. They
got through with little suffering. It was the company after
that suffered so. She "had gone in second to Major Doyle,"
by express request of Brigham Young. They had pioneered
all the new towns south. Had a fine place in Harmony, and
sold it for $4,000, when ordered here on a mission. She was living
here, a hundred miles from the nearest settlement, in the extreme of
hardship, and her folks begging her to come to them. And now, at
the end of all these sacrifices, a growing skepticism was evident in her
talk. It was plain that she doubted seriously whether all this had not
been vain worse than useless. She firmly believed in polygamy, she
said, when she came a girl from England, but not now ; there was so
much evil in it that it could not be from God.

Four days had passed, and still no "old gent." The Indians lost
heart, and John came to request a nclsoass my certificate that he
had seen me safe across the Colorado. I furnished them all the bread
and cheese Mrs. Doyle could spare, and at noon they started to return.
I watched them for hours, as they slowly climbed the red cliffs, and
with a feeling near akin to sorrow, for the simple aborigines had been
more company to me than I could have believed possible. It was my
last sight of the Navajoes a most interesting race of barbarians, and
the only Indians for whom I could ever feel any personal friendship.
In three hours after their departure " Major Doyle " returned, and we
crossed my horse without difficulty. The method pursued is for one
to row the skiff, while another holds up the horse's head by the bridle,
*he animal swimming just behind the boat.



THE hot July day drew to a close, and my host and I sat before
his log-cabin and gazed upon the red lulls, which took on a pleasing
softness in the light of the declining sun. The view was one for the
poet, the
painter, and
the novel-
i s t . The
lofty mount-
ains which'
wall in the
here gave
back a few
rods from
the water's
edge. From
the mount-
ain s u m -
mits, forty
miles north-
ward, Pah-
reah Creek
down by a
scries of
w i 1 d cas-
cades into a
deep gorge,
which, me-
andering across the plateau, grew into a rugged canon, and here, at
its junction with the Colorado, widened its granite jaws to inclose a
small plat of level land. On all sides rose the red and yellow hills,
by successive "benches," to a plateau five thousand feet above; ou




that again red buttes rose thousands of feet higher, their wind-worn
and polished summits ever inaccessible to man, and barely brushed by
the bald eagle in his loftiest flights.

To this little glen, the only cultivable land to be found for hun-
dreds of miles along the Colorado, there were three entrances : by a
hidden and rocky trail up Pahreah Cafion, leading over the summit
and down the Sevier River; by the way we came in, and by a narrow
track leading up to the Kanab Plateau, and thence south-west around
the point of the mountain. A quick eye could command every ap-
proach; a quick hand could deal destruction upon all comers if so dis-
posed, or a fugitive in a few minutes reach concealed places where a
regiment of soldiers could not find him. It seemed a place by nature
fitted for the retreat of the hunted for an "old man of the mount-
ains " who had nothing to expect from the world but its hostility.
And such, in solemn truth, it was.

A surprise of no ordinary kind was in store for me. I had grown
well acquainted with "Major Doyle," as his wife called him, and in
two days' intercourse w r e had learned considerable of each other's
views and experiences. Like many Mormons with whom I have
stopped he had "a word of prayer" after supper; asked fervently for
God's blessing on " Thy Servant Brigham," and that " Thou would'st
turn away the hearts of the Lamanites from making war on thy
people," besides referring warmly to "our making the desert blossom
as the rose ; " and not long after in conversation referred to the Gov-
ernment's dealings with the Indians as a "d d shame, that hadn't
ought to be allowed." But this sort of incongruity is so common in
Utah that I did not notice it. At supper, on the third of July, he
grew very animated while telling of some horses he had lost, and how
they were recovered from the thieves; and used this sentence :" The
sheriff said, ' These are Lee's horses I know 'em."' "Lee's! "said
I, " Does he live near here ?" for they had told me at Defiance that
I ought to go by Lee's Ferry. My host hesitated. I fancied there
was a faint flush on his weather-beaten face, as he replied:

" That's what they sometimes call me."

''What!" exclaimed I; "I thought your name was Doyle."

"So it is John Doyle Lee." I almost jumped out of my chair
with astonishment and confusion. Here I was the guest of, and in
familiar conversation with, this most notorious of all notorious Mor-
mons the reputed planner and leader in the Mountain Meadow
Massacre ! My confusion was too great to be concealed, and I blun-
dered out: "I have often heard of you."


"And heard nothing that was good, I reckon." This, with some
bitterness of tone. He then continued, speaking rapidly :

"Yes, I told my wives to call me Doyle to strangers; they've been
kicking up such a muss about polygamy, McKean and them, and
I'm a man that's had eighteen wives; but now that the Supreme
Court has decided that polygamy's part of a man's religion, and the
law's got nothin' to do with it; it don't make no difference, I reckon."

Of course this was only a subterfuge^ but I could not have ventured
to recur to the real reason of his being located in this wild place, if
he had not approached the subject himself soon after. Then I hinted
as delicately as possible, that if it were not disagreeable to him, I
should like to hear " the true account of that affair which had been
the cause of his name being so prominent." It had grown dark mean-
while, and this gave him, I thought, more freedom in his talk. (It is
to be noted that he did not know my name or business.) Clearing his
throat nervously, he began, with many short stops and repetitions :

"Well, I suppose you mean that well, that Mountain Meadow af-
fair ? Well, I'll tell you what is the exact truth of it, as God is my
Judge, and the why I am out here like an outlaw but I'm a goin' to
die like a man, and not be choked like a dog and why my name's
published all over as the vilest man in Utah, on account of what
others did but I never will betray my brethren, no, never which it
is .told for a sworn fact that I violated two girls as they were kneel-
ing and begging to me for life ; but, as God is my Judge, and I expect
to stand before Him, it is all an infernal lie."

He ran off this and much more of the sort with great volubility;
then seemed to grow more calm, and went on :

"Now, sir, I'll give you the account exactly as it stood, though for
years I've rested under the most infamous charges ever cooked up on
a man. I've had to move from point to point, and lost my property,
when I might have cleared it up any time by just saying who was
who. I could have proved that I was not in it, but not without
bringing in other men to criminate them. But I wouldn't do it.
They had trusted in me, and their motives were good at the start, bad
as the thing turned out.

" But about the emigrants. They was the worst set that ever crossed
the plains, and they made it so as to get here just when we was at
war. Old Buchanan had sent his army to destroy us, and we had
made up our minds that they should not find any spoil. We had been
making preparations for two years, drying wheat and caching it in the
mountains; and intended, when worst come to worst, to burn and





destroy every thing, and take to the mountains and fight it out guer-
rilla style. And I tell you this people was all hot and enthusiastic,
and just at that time these emigrants came.

" Now they acted more like devils than men ; and just to give you
an idea what a hard set they was: when Dr. Forney gathered up the
children two years after fifteen, I believe, they was and sent word
back to their relatives, they sent word that they didn't want 'em,
and wouldn't have any thing to do with 'em. And that old Dr.
Forney treated the children like dogs, hammer-in' 'em around with
his big cane.

" The company had quarreled and separated east of the mountains,
but it was the biggest half that come first. They come south of Salt
Lake City just as all the men was going out to the war, and lots of
women and children lonely. Their conduct was scandalous. They
swore and boasted openly that they helped shoot the guts out of
Joe Smith and Hyrum Smith, at Carthage, and that Buchanan's
whole army was coming right hehind them, and would kill every
G d d n Mormon in Utah, and make the women and children

slaves, and They had two bulls, which they called one

'Heber' and the other 'Brigham,' and whipped 'em thro' every town,
yelling and singing, blackguarding and blaspheming oaths that
would have made your hair stand on end. At Spanish Fork it can
be proved one of 'em stood on his wagon-tongue, and swung a
pistol, and swore that he helped kill old Joe Smith, and was ready
for old Brigham Young, and all sung a blackguard song, 'Oh, we've
got the ropes and we'll hang old Brigham before the snow flies,' and
all such stuff. Well, it was mighty hard to bear, and when they got
to where the Pahvant Indians was, they shot one of them dead and
crippled another. But the worst is coming.

"At Corn Creek, just this side of Fillmore, they poisoned a spring
and the flesh of an ox that died there, and gave that to the Indians,
and some Indians died. Then the widow Tomlinson, just this side,
had an ox poisoned at the spring, and she thought to save the hide
and tallow ; and rendering it up, the poison got in her face, and
swelled it up, and she died. This roused every body. Well, they
came on down the road, and with their big Missouri whips would
snap off the heads of chickens and throw 'em into their wagons; and
when a widow, Missis Evans, came out and said: 'Do n't kill my
chickens, gentlemen, I'm a poor woman,' one of 'em yelled, 'Shut up you
G d d d Mormon, or I'll shoot you ! ' Then her sons and all her folks

got out with guns, and swore they'd have revenge on the whole outfit.


"By this time the Indians had gathered from all directions, and
overtook 'em at Mountain Meadow. They planned it to crawl down
a narrow ravine and get in close, and make a rush altogether. But
one fool Indian fired too soon and gave the alarm. This spoilt the
plan, but all in reach fired, and killed, well, five or six men. Then
a sort o' siege began. The men inside did well the best they oould
have done. They got the wagons corraled and dug rifle-pits. The
Indians could not hit any more of the people, but shot nearly all
their oxen and some horses. I believe it was after three or four
days' siege that I went to the Indians and tried to persuade them
away ; for our folks had had a council, and while I said, ' Persuade
the Indians away, the other brethren said, 'Let the Indians punish
them.' I said to the Indians ' You've killed more of them than died
of your men, and you've harassed them a good deal, killed their
stock, and punished them enough now let them go.' But they said
these white men were all bad, and they would kill all. Jacob Ham-
lin, the agent, you know, was away from home then, and I had n't
much control over the Indians. We was weak then in that section
to what we are now, and did not really have the upper hand of the
Indians ; and maybe, if we interfered with 'em, it would dause trouble
with us. I heard women inside begging and praying, and saying
that if the Mormons knew how they were situated they would come
and help, no matter if some had treated 'em badly. And they begged
some of the fellows to break out and go and get help. Then I run
a big risk to get inside the corral. It was pitch dark, and I could see
the line of fire from the guns, and the balls whistled all about me.
One cut my shirt in front, and another my sleeve, and I could not get
through. But I went back, and was pretty near getting the Indians
all right, and would have succeeded fully, but then come the thing
that spoiled all.

" Three of the emigrants had broken out of the corral and gone
back for help; and next day met some of our boys at a spring. Well,
I don't excuse our men they were enthusiastic, you know, but their
motives were good. They knew these emigrants at once; one of them
wa? the man that insulted widow Evans, another the one that swung;

7 O

his pistol and talked so at Spanish Fork. The boys fell on them at
sight, shot one dead and wounded another. But the two of them got
back to the company.

" Then came another council, and all our men said : ' We can't let
'em go now ; the boys has killed some, and it won't do to let one get
through alive, or here they'll come back on us with big reinforce-


ments.' And, to be sure, why should we risk any thing, and maybe
have a fuss with the Indians, to save people who done nothing but
abuse us? But I still said, 'Let'em go; they've been punished

" I never will mention any names, or betray my brethren. Those
men were God-fearing men. Their motives were pure. They knelt
down and prayed to be guided in council. But they was full of zeal.
Their zeal was greater than their knowledge.

" I went once more to the Indians, and begged them to kill only the
men. They said they would kill every one; then I told them I would
buy all the children, so all the children was saved. There was not
over fifteen white men actually went in with the Indians, and I don't
believe a single emigrant was actually killed by a white man.

"An express had been sent to Brigham Young at first to know what
to do, and it is a pity it didn't get back; for those enthusiastic men will
obey counsel. The president sent back orders, and told the man to
ride night and day, by all means to let the emigrants go on; to call off
the Indians, and for no Mormons to molest them. But the thing was
all over before the express got back to Provo. There was about eighty
fighting men that was killed. I don't know how many women, though
not many. All the children was saved. The little boy that lived with
us cried all night when he left us, and said he'd come back to us as
soon as he got old enough. Old Forney, when he come for 'em,
got all in his tent and would not let 'em visit or say good-bye to any
body. One run away and hid under the floor of the house, and For-
ney dragged him out and beat him like a dog with his cane. They
say he murdered the baby on the plains, because it was sickly and

" It is told around for a fact that I could tell great confessions, and
bring in Brigham Young and the Heads of the Church. But if I was
to make forty confessions, I could not bring in Brigham Young. His
counsel was: 'Spare them, by all means.' But I am made to bear the
blame. Here I am, old, poor, and lonely, away down in this place
carrying the sins of my brethren. But if I endure, great is my reward.
Bad as that thing was, I will not be the means of bringing troubles on
my people; for, you know yourself, that this people is a misrepresented
and cried-down community. Yes, a people scattered and peeled, whose
blood was shed in great streams in Missouri, only for worshiping God
as he was revealed to them ; and if at the last they did rise up and
shed blood of their enemies, I won't consent to give 'em up."

Such was the remarkable story told me by Major John Doyle Lee. I


will not now anticipate my story by pointing out its truth and errors ;
for in later chapters I give the facts, and have here set down but a
small part of our conversation only such as I could remember beyond
doubt, and jot down at my first halting-place next day. Lee talked
over the whole history of his life, before and since the massacre.
After that event he continued to reside in Harmony, was a leader
in all public affairs there, and often entertained Brigham Young
when the latter visited that section. Thence he was ordered " on
a mission " to establish new settlements further into the wilderness ;
and obeyed, as do all good Mormons, without a murmur, selling his
fine place in Harmony for four thousand bushels of wheat. From
Cedar City to Santa Clara, and thence to Kanab and Mangrum's set-
tlement, he had continued to remove, and was finally sent down here
to maintain a ferry and act as interpreter and mediator among the
Indians. He spoke the tongues of all adjacent tribes, and had their
good will. He dwelt at some length on his liking for the boy whom
he had saved from the massacre and taken to live with him ; and re-
lated with pride the boy's promise to come back as soon as he got old
enough. Unfortunately for his own good, that boy, now a man, did
return. He became a noted desperado, under the name of Idaho Bill,
and is now serving out a long sentence in the Utah penitentiary !

Misfortune followed the poor children to the last. Mormon ac-
counts say that eighteen were saved alive. Of these Jacob Hamlin
says that one was captured by, or went off with, the Xavajo Indians,
and may now be among them ; another was killed " because he knew too
much," and the youngest, a mere baby, died on the way to the States,
after being recovered by Dr. Jacob Forney, Indian Agent in 1859.
Of the fifteen who reached St. Louis few could find any relatives, and
the remainder were sent to the Orphan Asylum, and in time scattered
thence all over the South-west, knowing of their families only by hear-
say or vague remembrance. John Calvin Sorrow, the only one who
remembered the massacre, lives somewhere in Arkansas ; the girl who
was supposed to be his sister, is married to a resident of East Ten-
nessee. With no family ties and no parental care, it is not surprising
that some of the survivors have done badly.

Midnight had come before we finished our talk, and turned in to-
gether upon a straw tick beside the house. Little did I think that
three years from that time I was to see Lee a prisoner before the
Federal courts ; for, like all old residents of Utah, I had long aban-
doned hope that the Government could be spurred into doing any
thing to execute justice in that Territory. Even then I had no doubt


of his guilt, though I could, and can now, see extenuating circum-
stances. John D. Lee was a born fanatic. Of good size and physical
frame, with light hair, fiery blue eye, gross composition and warm red
blood, he was also a sensualist. His high but narrow forehead, his
education first as an intense sectarian, accustomed to destroy the
spirit of Scripture by twisting the letter; then as a Mormon made
him a thorough casuist; so thorough that he deceived himself first of
all. The man who deliberately refuses to look at the doubtful points
in his religion, from that hour ceases to be intellectually honest.
Thence, by successive steps, he often convinces himself that any thing
is right which helps his church, and compounds for gross indulgence
in one direction by religious zeal in another. Mormonism aggra-
vated all of Lee's faults ; it gave free rein to his all-engrossing lust, and
spurred his savage temper on to deeds of blood. In Ohio he would
have been a sour Puritan, compounding for little tricks in trade or
big fits of passion, "by austerity in religion and extreme decorum. In
Utah he became what I have described. As said by a Mormon elder,
later an apostate, who had known him long and well: "John D. Lee
is a man who would divide his last biscuit with the traveler upon the
desert, and cut that traveler's throat the next hour if Brigham Young
said so."

Independence Day, 1872, I celebrated by a ride of thirty-five miles.
Bidding the Lees good-bye at an early hour, I slowly ascended the
winding trail which leads to the great plateau between the Colorado
and the Wasatch. Here this plateau runs to a narrow point, there
being but little more than room for a wagon between the cliff on one
side and the river gorge on the other. Here, at the head of the long
cafion, the Powell party had their rendezvous; they were now in
Kanab for a midsummer's rest, but their boats were moored here.
From the bridle path I looked straight down the river, which ap-
peared to soon loose itself between red battlements. On both sides
rose the water-worn walls, for two thousand feet nearly perpendicular,
the lines on every foot of their faces showing the successive points at
which the water had stood during all the countless thousands of years
in which it slowly fashioned this passage for itself. When it ran in a
shallow channel along the present summit, all the Colorado Basin was
a region of lakes and marshes, with here and there an island of firm
earth, covered by dense forests, and rich in matted grasses and flowers.
Then the mist from this inland sea washed the western base of Pike's
Peak, and the Colorado descended by a series of cascades, through a
fall of four thousand feet, into the head of the Gulf of California.


A little later, and it had cut so deep as to drain the shallower lakes
and marshes; then all the interior between the Wasatch and Rocky
Mountains was covered by dense forests, lively with game. A little
later, and the regions became the abode of strange semi-civilized races.
Their remains are found over an area of three hundred thousand
square miles. Still the river went on cutting deeper and deeper,
draining the last reservoirs, and opening a way for the springs to dis-
charge at lower points ; and slowly sucking the life out of its own
basin. It cut down through sandstone to limestone, through lime-
stone to granite, and deep into the granite, till the former fertile vales
were changed to barren plateaus ; the semi -civilized races vanished,
leaving few survivors, and the " backbone of the continent " became
a desert, with only here and there an oasis.

From the point where I reached the plateau, it slowly widens west-
ward for a hundred miles, the mountains continuing due west, and the
river bearing south-west. Fifteen miles south-westward, over a desert
and along the foot of the mountains, brought me to the first gulch con-
taining water and grass, where I rested till 2 P. M. Thence over
another barren mesa, twenty miles brought nie to Jacob's Pool, where
the pasture lands begin. The pool is a clear, cold spring, at the head
of a gulch, sending out a stream the size of one's wrist, which runs
two or three hundred yards down the plain before it disappears. The
largest mountain streams in this section never run more than a mile or
two on to the plain. In some places a channel can be traced nearly
to the Colorado. The Wasatch here has an average elevation of five
thousand feet above this plateau, and there are but three places in a
hundred miles where horses and footmen can get down through side
gulches to the river.

John D. Lee had preempted the pool, and had his wife Rachel liv-
ing there in a sort of brush-tent, making butter and cheese from a
herd of twenty cows. She and her son and daughter of sixteen and
eighteen years were the sole inhabitants, no neighbors within less
than forty miles either way. Lee's other wives were scattered about
on ranches farther north ; four at Mangrum's settlement and two oth-
ers at Harmony. One left him, and lives at Beaver; another went to
Montana with a Gentile, and still another is in the States, "living
fancy, I reckon," said the wife at the river, who gave me this informa-
tion. There was no room in the tent, and Mrs. Lee gave me a straw
tick out doors luxury enough for one who had slept with only a
blanket between him and the ground for many weeks; and at this
oasis I rested a day and a half.


Online LibraryJ. H. (John Hanson) BeadleWestern wilds and the men who redeem them : an authentic narrative embracing an account of seven years travel and adventure in the far West ... → online text (page 30 of 62)