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

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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 50 of 62)
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together; they appeared to have been massacred. Should judge there
were sixty or seventy bodies of women and children ; saw one man in
that pile; the children were aged from one and two months up to
twelve years ; the small children were most destroyed by wolves and
crows; the throats of some were cut, others stabbed with knives; some
had balls through them. All the bodies were more or less torn to
pieces, except one, the body of a woman, which lay apart a little
south-west of the pile. This showed no signs of decay, and had not
been touched by the wild animals. The countenance was placid, and
seemed to be asleep. The work was not freshly done supposed the
bodies had been here fifteen or sixteen days. Witness passed the
ground October 2d, 1857. There were eleven in the company. Seven
went to see the pile of slaughtered men which lay a few rods off.
Witness did not go. All the clothing he saw was a stocking on the
leg of one of the bodies. The woman lying apart had a bullet hole
on the left side, a little below the heart."

Asahel Bennett, of the same party, testified to substantially the same
facts. Then Philip Klingensmith was called, and there was a general
movement in the audience. Every eye and ear was strained, and the


man was thoroughly photographed by every attendant. He was a
heavy, rather stolid looking Dutchman, six feet high, well muscled,
slow, heavy, and phlegmatic. He had been indicted along with the
others, and a nolle entered. He began with extreme slowness, amount-
ing almost to stupidity, but as he went along gradually grew more ani-
mated ; his dull eye lit up, the blue veins stood out on his forehead,
and his every feature and muscle seemed to work as in sympathy with
the horrors he was reciting. In the most blood-curdling scene, where
he told of the shooting of some women who had children in their
arms, every eye in the room turned as with one impulse to Lee. His
light hair fairly vibrated with emotion ; his Hibernian features were
mingled red and purple ; and, as he literally shook in his chair, the
great veins stood out on his neck like cords, and he seemed to grasp at
his throat as if choking ! In that awful moment he tasted the bitter-
ness of death. I would not have recognized him as the man at whose
table I ate, three years before, on the Colorado. Beside him sat two
of his wives, and close by, most of the Gentile ladies of Beaver.
The material part of Klingensmith's testimony ran thus :
" We were halted a quarter of a mile from the emigrants, and in
full sight. A man went on with a flag of truce. A person came out
from the emigrant camp, and Lee went down, and he and the emigrant
negotiated. They sat down and had a long talk. Lee then went in-
side the camp, and the soldiers stood in line three or four hours. Lee
was inside the intrenchment most of the time, and finally the emi-
grants came out.

" Higbee ordered the proceedings. Lee went ahead with the
wagons containing the men wounded in the attack made by the
Indians. The young children and women were marched behind.
The men came out next in double rank. The soldiers marched
by their side with their pieces across their arms. We were protect-
ing the emigrants. Some expressed their thankfulness at being de-
livered from the Indians. We marched from a quarter to half a
mile, and command was given to halt. The soldiers had been in-
structed when they halted to fire on the emigrants ; might have been
shifted to single rank ; think they were. Higbee gave the orders to
fire ; suppose there were fifty men killed ; might have been more ;
none escaped; saw some attempt; there were mounted men to dis-
patch the fugitives. Bill Stewart chased one fleeing man ; I think I
saw him fall ; he did not go far. Ira Allen was mounted and placed
on the left wing. Witness was "with the men in the ranks and fired
one time. John M. Higbee cut one man's throat. One large woman


came running from the wagons calling for her husband. A man
standing near to me shot her in the back, and she fell dead. Being
ordered to gather up the children, I went a quarter of a mile to the
wagons ; the wounded men had been killed before we got there ; did
not see Lee put the children in the wagon ; went to Hamlin's house.
The soldiers then dispersed. The company from Washington County
went south ; the company from Cedar City went to Hamlin's. I had
my hands full with the children ; seventeen of them, from two to seven
or eight years of age ; two were wounded, and one died on the way.
[The witness then details the gathering and distribution of the prop-
erty.] The draught animals, wagons, and clothing were taken to Cedar
City ; fifty head of the emigrants' stock were branded with the church
brand (a cross). [He also describes the meeting of Lee in Salt Lake,
where he had been sent to report the massacre to Brigham Young.]
Witness and Charley Hopkins called upon Brigham ; he directed wit-
ness to turn over the property to Lee. Brigham turned to witness
and said : l What do you know about this affair ? Keep it secret and
don't talk about it among yourselves.' Lee was present at this inter-
view. Fifty head of cattle were driven to Salt Lake, and sold to
Hooper, formerly delegate to Congress, for boots and shoes." [Wit-
ness then tells how he was sent to the old lead mines at Vegas,
Arizona, with two others to get lead, and when he returned, the
property at Cedar City had been auctioned off.]

Judge Sutherland subjected the witness to a long and searching
cross-examination, but failed to shake his testimony in the slightest.
Joel White testified at great length as to the orders issued for calling
out the militia, which he understood to come from Col. Dame ; of the
massacre and distribution of the property ; of the seventeen little
children saved, and of afterwards seeing the Indian, deputed for that
purpose, cut the throat of the boy who was " big enough to remember
and talk about it." He insisted that he took no part in the massacre,
and only went with the militia because he feared death if he refused.
Klingensmith had admitted actual participation in the killing.

Mrs. Ann Eliza Hoge testified to what was done at both councils,
'where the massacre was determined and where Lee made his report.
Also to hearing the boy say of an Indian : "He killed my pa he's
got on my pa's clothes," and that this boy was taken away by John D.
Lee, and never seen again. Witness was a French Mormon; at the
time of the massacre the wife of an elder at Harmony. I afterwards
talked at great length with her, in Salt Lake City, and gained many
important particulars.


Thomas D. Willis told of a council Haight had with him and his
father as to the best way to kill the emigrants, and confirmed other
witnesses as to the goods distributed. John H. Willis, brother of
Thomas, told of driving the team which conveyed the children ; and
confirmed many other points. William Matthews described the rich-
ness of the train ; the orders to sell no corn to the emigrants ; of the
circulation of the story that the emigrants had poisoned a spring, and
other matters. William Young gave more in detail the facts of the
massacre, where he was present, and confirmed previous testimony on
other points. Samuel Pollock told substantially the same story. John
Sherratt testified to the storing of the goods, including clothing from
the dead bodies, in the cellar of the tithing house at Cedar City, and
seeing it sold by Lee at auction. William Bradshaw told of sermons
preached to excite the people against the emigrants, and threats of
death to all who did not aid the Church in whatever was commanded.
Robert Kershaw told the same story ; also as to the orders not to trade
with the emigrants. He wanted to sell them some vegetables and was
forbidden. The bishops had employed Samuel Dodge as special
policeman to watch the train and see that no Mormon sold them any
thing. John Morgan traded them a small cheese for a bed-quilt, and
was "cut off " for it. This man's testimony was of more interest as
showing the rigid discipline maintained in the Church, and the danger
of disobedience, than as to the massacre. Many other witnesses con-
firmed the foregoing, and testified to facts I have set forth in the pre-
vious summary. All were severely cross-examined, but their testi-
mony remained unshaken.

Five days had passed when the defense began. They first attempted
to prove the old slander, invented in 1859, to deceive Judge Cradle-
baugh, that the emigrants had poisoned a spring near Corn Creek, and
then that they had poisoned the flesh of an ox and given it to the
Indians to eat ; but broke down completely on both charges. On this
point Elisha Hoops testified :

"Lived in Beaver in 1857, and knew George A. Smith and Jesse N.
Smith, ex-Bishop Farnsworth, and other shining lights of the Mormon
Church. On September 27th of that year he accompanied the Smith
party as guard as far north as Fillmore ; camped at Corn Creek, and
found the Arkansas emigrants encamped there, about 150 paces distant.
Some members of the company came and talked to the Smith party;
they inquired of George A. Smith where they could get grass and
water to recuperate their animals, who referred them to Jacob Ham-
lin, and he designated Mountain Meadows as the best grazing ground.


An ox lay dead between the two camps, and just as witness' party was
about to start, he saw a little German doctor, who belonged to the
emigrant company, draw a two-edged dagger with a silver guard
such as gentlemen carry and make three thrusts into the ox. Next
he produced a small, half-ounce vial, filled with a light colored liquid,
which he poured into the knife-holes. The question had previously
been asked by these men whether the Indians would be likely to eat
the carcass, and some thought they would. Witness did not see the
train again. Ten or fifteen minutes after the German had poisoned
the ox, some Indians came up and dickered with him for it. They
finally gave him some buckskins, and then began skinning the ox.
Witness supposed the Indians wanted the hide to cut up into soles for
their moccasins. Don't know how long they were flaying the animal,
as witness' party was driving away at the time."

During noon recess, as it appears, some one suggested to this witness
that he had missed his mark in saying that the ox was poisoned just as
they started away, and that fifteen minutes afterwards the Indians came
and bought the ox (which they could have for nothing as soon as
the emigrants left), and then flayed it ! Afternoon he tried to piece
out his testimony by saying that the hame-strap broke and they were
delayed to fix it. Mr. Baskin pressed him so closely on the cross-
examination that he was completely tangled. The other witnesses for
the defense produced very little of consequence.

Meanwhile the country had been heard from. A roai of execration
had sounded from Maine to California, and Brigham felt the necessity
of being exonerated. He filed a deposition, and Judge Sutherland
attempted to get it admitted on the trial, on the plea (sworn to in the
deposition) that Brigham's health forbade his making the journey.
Only a short time before he had gone to St. George, a hundred and
fifty miles further south than Beaver. It was not age and ill health,
but the dread of Mr. Baskin's cross-examination that kept him out of
the court-room. But his deposition was published in the papers, and
proved an extraordinary document. Here is the material part of it :

Q. When did you first hear of the attack and destruction of this Arkansas company
at Mountain Meadows, in September, 1857 ?

A. I did not learn any thing of the attack or destruction of the Arkansas company
until some time after it had occurred, then only by floating rumors.

Q. Did John D. Lee report to you at any time after this massacre what had been done
at that massacre; and if so, What did you reply to him in reference thereto?

A. Within some two or three months after the massacre he called at my office and
had much to say with regard to the Indians, their being stirred up to anger and threat-
ening the settlements of the whites, and then commenced giving an account of the


massacre. I told him to stop, as, from what I had already learned by rumor, I did not
wish my feelings harrowed up with a recital of details.

Q. Did Philip Klingensmith call at your office with John D. Lee, at the time of Lee's
making his report ; and did you at that time order him to turn over the stock to Lee,
and order them not to talk about the massacre ?

A. No. He did not call with John D. Lee, and I have no recollection of his ever
speaking to me, nor I to him, concerning the massacre or any thing pertaining to the

Q. Did you ever give any directions concerning the property taken from the emi-
grants at the Mountain Meadows massacre, or know any thing as to its disposition ?

A. No. I never gave any directions concerning the property taken from the emi-
grants at the Mountain Meadows massacre ; nor did I know any thing of that property
or its disposal, and I do not to this day, except from public rumor.

Q. Why did you not, as Governor, institute proceedings forthwith to investigate the
massacre and bring the guilty authors to justice ?

A. Because another Governor had been appointed by the President of the United
States, and was then on the way here to take my place, and I did not know how soon he
might arrive; and because the United States Judges were not in the Territory. Soon
after Governor Gumming arrived, I asked him to take Judge Cradlebaugh, who belonged
to the Southern District, with him, and I would accompany them with sufficient aid to
investigate the matter and bring the offenders to justice.

Q. Did you, about the 10th of September, 1857, receive a communication from Isaac
C. Haight, or any other person of Cedar City, concerning a company of emigrants, called
the Arkansas company?

A. I did receive a communication from Isaac C. Haight or John D. Lee, who was
then a farmer for the Indians.

Q. Have you that communication ?

A. I have not. I have made a diligent search for it, but can not find it.

Q. Did you answer this communication ?

A. I did, to Isaac C. Haight, who was then the acting President at Cedar City.

Q. Will you state the substance of your letter to him ?

A. Yes. It was to let this company of emigrants and all companies of emigrants
pass through the country unmolested, and to allay the angry feelings of the Indians as
much as possible.


Here was a Governor, Prophet, Indian Superintendent, and absolute
head of a theocracy, who only heard of a massacre " some two or three
months after it occurred," by "floating rumors," and refused to listen
to an account of it lest he might have his "feelings harrowed up!!"
Too tender-hearted to do his sworn duty ! And so ignorant of what
was going on that he heard " only rumors." Verily, the world has
been sadly mistaken about Brighani Young.



THE case went to the jury, and all Utah Avaited in deep suspense
for the verdict. Among Gentiles the general voice was: " Brigham
can't afford to let him be convicted the Church must stand by Lee."
The evidence was conclusive of guilt, but we all knew that Church
policy alone would dictate the verdict; and it was evident the jury
had been " counseled." Agreeable to Western instincts, there was
much betting on the result, the odds largely against conviction. But
Hon. George C. Bates, the Church attorney, soon arrived at Salt
Lake City, and telegraphed to John W. Young, Brigham's " apostate
son," as- he was then called, that conviction was agreed upon; and
John W. took all the bets offered. He was in the Board of Trade
rooms at Chicago, while Johnnie Young, Brigham's nephew, went
about Salt Lake City doing the same. Then it was known that the
Church had taken the least of two evils, and resolved to convict.

But all parties were mistaken. And this from a miscalculation on
the part of the Church. It appears that just before the trial the Mor-
mon leaders concluded that they could keep away the most important
witnesses; that the prosecution would therefore break down, and it
would be safe to acquit. So the Mormon jurymen were "counseled"
to that effect. But Baskin and Carey completely outgeneraled the
Church and its attorneys; the vigor and daring of the United States
marshals insured the attendance of the proper witnesses, and a far
worse case was proved than even the bitterest anti-Mormon had
looked for. It was then decided by the Church to convict; but it
\vas too late. Seven deputy marshals had been sworn in to watch
the jury; and of the three Gentiles on the panel, each constituted him-
self a special detective to see that no hint from outside reached his
Mormon colleagues. Even their correspondence was withheld unless
they would consent to have it first read by the judge. Signals were
made to them in open court, but they failed to understand what was
wanted. They were in blissful ignorance of the storm of rage sweep-
ing over the country, and its effect on their priestly masters, and so
obeyed their first instructions. They had all sworn they knew nothing




of the case; but on reaching the jury room, they proceeded to contro-
vert the testimony for the prosecution by facts within their own
knowledge. The vote stood from first to last, nine for acquittal and
three for conviction. The majority first installed the Jack-Mormon,
J. C. Heister, in the chair, and then one by one delivered elaborate
Mormon sermons : against the prosecuting attorneys, against the
court and all Federal officials, against the emigrants, against the
United States, against all who were not of the Mormon Church or
its most subservient tools. It was perhaps the most curious and
irregular jury proceeding ever had in any civilized country. The
three Gentiles on the panel held their ground for two days, smiling
grimly on their foes, and willing to see the latter commit themselves;


then consented to a disagreement. Promptly, as if pulled by one
string, all the Mormon papers appeared with articles having a won-
derful family resemblance, and claiming that the verdict was a com-
plete vindication of the Church, and a "pointed rebuke to the prose^
cution ! " And to cap the climax of absurdity, Captain John Cod-*
man, their Eastern apologist, rushed into the New York prints with
an effusive statement that " Gentile slanderers were at last silenced,
and President Brigham Young fully exonerated ! "

One can scarcely say whether the Americans in Utah were pleased
or chagrined at the result of this trial. They knew that justice
would some day be done, and meanwhile the action of the Church
would rouse the indignation of the whole country. But even they
had underrated this effect. There was a storm of rage in the Rockv


Mountains; the Pacific Coast papers bristled with denunciations of
Brigham and the leading Mormons. The staidest journals seemed to
grow wild. One advocated a reign of martial law till every murderer
in Utah was executed. Another called for the immediate arrest of
Brigham, on a bench warrant, before he could fly the country. And
still another complained that the civil law was too slow : " The
streets of Salt Lake should be ornamented with the heads of the
Mormon leaders." Then came answering echoes from the East.
Nearly every influential paper in the country called for prompt jus-
tice. Utah was excited as I never saw it before. The six Mormon
papers literally bowed before the blast, and appeared afraid to say any
thing, or had nothing to say. Beyond a few commonplaces about
"waiting for the facts," and deprecating "the mob spirit," they
attempted no defense. In the States were two journals which can
always be depended on to espouse the cause of the Mormons in every
emergency the Omaha Herald and the Washington Capital. But
both remained silent over this affair, virtually admitting that the
worst was proved against the Mormons. Captain Codman, with a
faithful friendship that did him honor, came to the rescue of Brigham-
in the columns of the New York Post; and the editor of that paper
mildly hinted that the Mountain Meadow massacre was " a feature of
the Mormon rebellion of 1857," and had perhaps been condoned by
Buchanan's proclamation of amnesty, made in 1858. Beyond these
no word of palliation was heard ; the press and the country were
unanimous in the opinion that the Mormon theocracy was morally
responsible for this great crime, and that a solemn duty devolved
upon the government to see that full justice was done.

But of all the Mormons in Utah, the case of none excited such
horror and regret among the Gentiles as that of Hon. W. H. Hooper.
It is proved that he received forty head of the murdered emigrants'
cattle ; and it is scarcely possible that he, a Mormon high in the con-
fidence of the Church, could have been ignorant of the matter. And
yet he, through all his congressional career, again and again, and that
most bitterly, laid the whole affair on the Indians; and more than
once, in company with senators, he solemnly swore that no Mormon
had any thing to do with it. He even employed journalists to \vrite
up the Mormon view of the case. And can it be possible that all
that time he knew it was a cruel lie? Can it be that he has taken the
money of the Government even while employing fraud and perjury to
defeat j ustice, and shield those who had murdered its citizens? If so,
this earth has no damnation deep enough for him. But among his


Gentile friends there is still some hope. It is barely possible that he
may have been deceived ; that while all other leading Mormons knew
the facts, he was kept in ignorance. From every part of Utah came
implorings for some explanation in his favor; and if it shall appear
that he acted innocently and ignorantly, ten thousand Gentiles will be

A calm followed the storm, and Utah took a rest till the next
term of court. It was proposed by a few Mormons that Lee should
be brought to Salt Lake City and tried ; but the proposition was so
readily favored by the prosecution that it was promptly withdrawn.
Fourteen months passed, and Lee came to his second trial in Sep-
tember, 1876. It excited far less attention in the East, for the
nation was then busy with national concerns. But it was evident,
almost from the start, that the Church had at last decided to sacrifice
Lee. The evidence, as on the former trial, was overwhelming, and
Daniel H. Wells, Brigham's right-hand man, was present all the time
to see that every thing went right. The witnesses for the defense had
forgotten all they ever knew; Mormons, for the prosecution, testified
with amazing fluency. Lee was doomed. The Church was present
in spirit, and by her representative, consenting unto his death.
W. "W. Bishop, Esq., the prisoner's counsel, was completely taken by sur-
prise when he saw that the Church was actually aiding the prosecu-
tion. It was so totally unlike what he had a right to expect. His
theory now is that the prosecuting attorney, or some one in author-
ity, had a secret understanding with Brigham Young to the effect
that if Lee were convicted and executed, the matter would stop there,
and the main obstacle to the admission of Utah as a State be
removed. Mr. Bishop has a great deal to learn about the duplicity
and treachery of the Mormon leaders. Five years residence in
Utah would clear his vision considerably.

And now occurred one of those strange transformations for which
Utah is notorious. On the former trial the prosecution had sought
to show that Lee acted as a Mormon, inspired by some orders or
hints from the heads of the Church. Now Sumner Howard, Esq.,
U. S. District Attorney, emphatically disclaimed all intention to im-
plicate the Church, and hinted that the conviction of Lee would be
the exoneration of Brigham. Mr. Bishop, for the defense, on the
other hand, made a fierce assault on the heads of the Church, for
their evident intention to sacrifice Lee. He said :

"I see a State government looming up in the distance. I see a
future prospect for individuals, political and financial. I see a shift-


ing of the responsibility for this crime upon John D. Lee, and I see
the Gentiles, who aid the shifting, riding into the United States
Senate." Mr. Howard disclaimed any such bargain, but stated his

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 50 of 62)