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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satisfaction at the fact that the jury was composed entirely of Mor-
mons. He told them that Mormon juries were now on trial, and
their verdict must decide whether their church was to stand before
the world convicted of shielding assassins. Despite his disclaimer, it
is generally believed in Utah that the Mormon authorities were led
to believe the death of Lee would strengthen them before Congress.
As strategy, this was a great success for the prosecution; whether it
was "professional," lawyers must decide. One thing, however, is
certain: it did not produce the effect desired by Brigham; the world
is more than ever convinced of his connivance at crime or conceal-
ment of crime.

. My sometime friend, Jacob Hamlin, figured extensively on this
trial. Without a blush he succeeded in remembering a score of
things he had forgotten on former occasions ; and gave, at great
length, Lee's statement to him, made soon after the tragedy. Lee
told him in detail of the murder of the two girls who escaped the
general massacre ; and the manner in which Hamlin recited Lee's ac-
count convinced some who heard it that another crime was com-
mitted before the girls were killed.

Hamlin testified that he had never before repeated Lee's words
except to George A. Smith and Brigham Young, and that Brigham.
told him "to keep still about these things till the proper time came
to tell it all ! " I ask the Eastern reader to pause at this point, and
ponder this startling fact. Here was Jacob Hamlin, a most reputa-
ble citizen of southern Utah, a man whom I know to be in many
respects high-toned and honorable, receiving the confession of a
double-dyed murderer, carrying it in his mind all these nineteen
years, and never going near a court or grand jury, never breathing it
to an officer, just because Brigham Young so commanded ! And in the
spring of 1859, when Brigham made a great show of wanting the
matter investigated, Hamlin was with General W. H. Carleton and
other U. S. officials gave them a circumstantial account of " this In-
dian massacre," assisted them to gather up the children, and could
not remember any thing whatever tending to criminate a white man.
At the mere request of Brigham Young this most excellent citizen,
whom I know by personal intercourse to be a pleasant gentleman, a
patriarch in his town, told lie on top of lie, and covered himself
fathoms deep with perjury to screen his brother Mormon. And


"when the proper time came," with sublime coolness he came into
court and told it all, still at the command of Brigham Young !
And yet there are lawyers in the East, and statesmen in Congress,
who will maintain that Brigham had no control in southern Utah in
1857 ; that the massacre was done against his wish ; that he did not
know of it, in fact!

"Oh, judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason."

Samuel Knight and Samuel McMurdy testified to seeing Lee kill
several persons; that he blew a woman's brains out, beat one man to
death with a gun, and shot others; then came to the wagons and shot
all the wounded men with a pistol. At this point in the testimony
Lee broke down, and when remanded to his cell walked the floor a
long time, cursing the Mormon leaders who, he said, had betrayed
him. He knew, even before his attorney did, that the Church had
decided to give him up; he had suspected this at the start, and urged
his attorney to secure a few Gentiles on the jury, in the hope that
they might revolt against this conspiracy. But this had proved im-
possible. All the Gentiles called had heard or read of the case ; the
Mormons called "had never heard of it, and had formed no opinion."
For "model jurors" they could beat New York City. When the
argument of counsel began, the defense had no recourse but to
abuse the witnesses. Mr. Bishop took the broad ground that all
those present at the massacre were equally guilty and not to be be-

At noon of September 20th, Judge Boreman delivered his charge
to the jury; they retired, and at 3:30 P. M. returned into court with
this verdict:

BEAVER CITY, Sept. 20, 1876.

We, the jurors, duly sworn and impaneled to try the case wherein John D. Lee is in-
dicted for murder, do find the said John D. Lee guilty of murder in the first degree.

A. M. FARNSWORTH, Foreman.

By order of the Court, the Marshal brought Lee to the bar. The
Court asked :

"John D. Lee, have you any thing to say why the sentence of
death should not be pronounced against you in accordance with the
verdict of the jury?"

Lee : " I have not."

Court : " You, John D. Lee, prisoner at the bar, have, by the ver-
dict of a jury, been found guilty of murder in the first degree. The
proof was clear and positive. At the trial last year the evidences of


guilt were plain, but three-fourths of the jury, from some cause, were
then for your acquittal. The testimony on the present trial is mainly
from witnesses who could not then be obtained. From some cause
this evidence is now unsealed, and the witnesses are found ready in
your case to tell what part you played in the great crime. They will
hereafter have opportunity of telling what others did to aid in plan-
ning and executing it. The fact that the evidence was not brought
out on this trial to criminate some other leaders, does not show that
such evidence does not exist. * * * According to the evidence
on the former trial, the massacre seems to haye been the result of a
vast conspiracy extending from Salt Lake City to the bloody field.
The emigrants were hounded all along the line of travel, and no-
where were the citizens permitted to give or sell them any thing to
sustain life in man or animal, though they were in great need

"The men who actually participated in the deed are not the only
guilty parties. Although the evidence shows plainly that you were
a willing participant in the massacre; yet both trials taken together
show that others, and some high in authority, inaugurated and de-
cided upon the wholesale slaughter of the emigrants. That slaughter
took place nineteen years ago. From that time to the present term
of court there has been throughout the Territory a persistent and
determined opposition to any investigation of the massacre. * * *
But their efforts to smother and crush out investigation were found
to avail them no longer. It was impossible to longer delay when
the inside facts of the conspiracy should be brought out; and they
have suddenly changed their policy, and seem now to be consenting
to your death. * * * The unoifending victims, though their
mouths are closed in this world, will meet you at the bar of Al-
mighty God, where the secrets of all hearts shall be made known.
And the guilty can not avoid that tribunal. * * * In accordance
with the verdict of the jury, and the law, it becomes my duty to pass
the sentence of death upon you ; and in doing this the statute requires
that you may have a choice, if you desire, of three different modes
of execution, to-wit : by hanging, by shooting, or by beheading.
If you have any choice or desire in this respect, you can now ex-
press it."

Lee : " I prefer to be shot."

Court : " As you have made choice, and expressed it, that you be
executed by being shot, it follows that such shall be the judgment
of the Court. The judgment of the Court, therefore, is, that you be


taken hence to a place of confinement within this Territory; that
you there be safely kept in confinement until Friday, the 26th day
of January, 1877 ; that between the hours of 10 o'clock A. M. and
3 o'clock P. M. of that day, you be taken from your place of confine-
ment and in this district publicly shot until you are dead; and may
Almighty God have mercy on your soul ! "

But an appeal was taken, and the Supreme Court of Utah sus-
pended the execution. The case was heard in that court, and an able
opinion delivered by Justice Philip H. Emerson, fully sustaining the
court below, and concurred in by all the justices. The mandate di-
rected the Second District Court to fix a new date for execution, and
Judge Boreman named Friday, March 23, 1877. There was much
talk of an appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States, but
none was taken, though Congress has granted this. privilege in murder
cases to Utah alone of all the Territories. Still Lee did not give up
all hope. There are mysterious hints of a secret understanding be-
tween him and the district attorney, by which the latter was to secure
a pardon or commutation in return for evidence that would convict
all the others guilty of complicity in the massacre. Lee's wife, Rachel,
shared his confinement to the last, and Lee worked steadily on his
confession. But if there was any such agreement, it was set aside, and
the convicted man at last resigned all hope. He then wrote out a
full confession, and gave it to the district attorney ; but the latter has
only published such portions as would in no way interfere with his
plans for convicting others. A previous confession written by Lee,
and delivered to his attorney, W. "VV. Bishop, Esq., has also been pub-
lished the lawyer having agreed with Lee to sell the paper to the
press, take his fee therefrom, and pay over the remainder to Rachel.
In these confessions Lee at last tells nearly all the truth, still shield-
ing himself, however, and denying any actual killing. I append the
most important sections :

My name is John Doyle Lee. I was born September 6, 1812, at Kaskaskia, Kandolph
County, Illinois. My mother belonged to the Catholic Church, and I was christened in
the faith. My parents died while I was still a child, and iny boyhood was one of trial
and hardship. I married Agatha Ann Woolsey in 1833, and moved to Fayette County,
Illinois, on Sucker Creek. There I became wealthy. In 1836 I became acquainted with
some traveling Mormon preachers. I bought, read, and believed *Jie Book of Mormon.
I sold my property in Illinois, and moved to Far West, in Missouri, in 1837, where I
joined the Mormon Church, and became intimately acquainted with Joseph Smith, Brig-
ham Young, and other leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I
was subsequently initiated into the order of Danites at its first formation. The mem-
bers of tnis order were solemnly sworn to obey all the orders of the priesthood of the
Mormon Cnurch, to d,o any and all things as commanded. The " destroying angels "


of the Mormon Church were selected from this organization. I took an active part as a
Mormon soldier, as it was the recurring conflicts between the people and the Mormons
which made Jackson County, Missouri, historic ground. When the Mormons were er.-
pelled from Missouri, I was one of the first to settle at Nauvoo, Illinois, where I took an
active part in all that was done by the Church or city. I had charge of the construc-
tion of many public buildings there, and was the policeman and body-guard of Joseph
Smith at Nauvoo. After his death I held the same position to Brigham Young, who
succeeded Joseph Smith as Prophet, Priest, and Revelator in the Church. I was Ke-
corder for the Quorum of Seventy, head clerk of the Church, and organized the priest-
hood in the Order of Seventy. I took all the degrees of the Endowment House, and
stood high in the priesthood. I traveled extensively throughout the United States as a
Mormon missionary, and acted as trader and financial agent of the Church. From the
death of Joseph Smith until the settlement at Salt Lake City, I was one of the locating
committee that selected sites for various towns and cities in Utah Territory. I held
many offices in the Territory, and was a member of the Mormon legislature, and was
probate judge of Washington County, Utah. Immediately after Joseph Smith received
the revelation concerning polygamy, I was informed of its doctrines by said Joseph Smith
and the Apostles. I believe in the doctrine, and have been sealed to eighteen women,
three of whom are sisters, and one was the mother of three of my wives. I was sealed
to this old woman for her soul's salvation. I was an honored man in the Church, flat-
tered and regarded by Brigham Young and the Apostles, until 1868, when I was cut off
from the Church and selected as a scapegoat to suffer for and bear the sins of my people.
As a duty to myself and mankind I now confess all that I did at the Mountain Mead-
ow Massacre, without animosity to any one, shielding none, and giving the facts as they
existed. Those with me at that time were acting under orders from the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints. The horrid deeds then committed were done as a duty
which we believed we owed to God and our Church. We were all sworn to secrecy be-
fore and after the massacre. The penalty for giving information concerning it was
death. As I am to suffer death for what I then did, and have been betrayed both by
those who gave orders to act and those who were the most active of my assistants, I
now give the world the true facts as they exist, and tell why the massacre was com-
mitted, and who were the active participants.

In the month of September, 1857, the company of emigrants, known as the " Arkansas
Company," arrived in Parowan, Iron County, Utah, on their way to California. At
Parowan young Aden, one of the company, saw and recognized one William Laney, a
Mormon resident of Parowan. Aden and his father had rescued Laney from an anti-
Mormon mob in Tennessee several years before, and saved his life. He (Laney), at the
time he was attacked by the mob, was a Mormon missionary in Tennessee. Laney was
glad to see his friend and benefactor, and invited him to his house, and gave him some
garden sauce to take back to the camp with him.

The same evening it was reported to Bishop (Colonel) Dame that Laney had given
potatoes and onions to the man Aden, one of the emigrants. When the report was made
to Bishop Dame he raised his hand and crooked his little finger in a significant manner
to one Barney Carter, his brother-in-law, and one of the " Angels of Death." Carter,
without another word, walked out, went to Laney's house with a long picket in his
hand, called Laney out, and struck him a heavy blow on the head, fracturing his skull,
and left him on the ground for dead. C. Y. Webb and Isaac Newman, President of the
" High Council," both told me that they saw Dame's maneuvers. James McGuffee, then
a resident of Parowan but through oppression has been forced to leave there, and is
now a merchant in Pahranagat valley, near Pioche, Nevada knows these facts.

About the last of August, 1857, some ten days before the Mountain Meadow Massa-


ere, the company of emigrants passed through Cedar City. George A Smith then
First Councilor in the Church and Brigham Young's right-hand man came down from
Salt Lake City, preaching to the different settlements. I, at that time, was in Washing-
ton County, near where St. George now stands. He sent for me. I went to him, and
he asked me to take him to Cedar City by way of Fort Clara and Pinto settlements, as
he was on business, and must visit all the settlements. We started on our way up
through the canon. We saw bands of Indians, and he (George A. Smith) remarked to
me that these Indians, with the advantage they had of the rocks, could use up a large
company of emigrants, or make it very hot for them. After pausing for a short time
he said to me, " Brother Lee, what do you think the brethren would do if a company
of emigrants should come down through here making threats? Don't vou think they
would pitch into them?" I replied that "they certainly would." This seemed to please
him, and he again said to me, "And you really think the brethren would pitch into
them?" "I certainly do," was my reply; "and you had better instruct Colonel Dame
and Haight to attend to it that the emigrants are permitted to pass, if you want them to
pass unmolested." He continued: "I asked Isaac (meaning Haight) the same question,
and he answered me just as you do, and I expect the boys would pitch into them." I
again said to him that he had better say to Governor Young, that if he wants emigrant
companies to pass without molestation, that he must instruct Colonel Dame or Major
Haight to that effect ; for if they are not ordered otherwise, they will use them up by the
help of the Indians.

The confession then tells of the councils in which the destruction
of the emigrants was decreed ; the gathering of the Mormon militia,
and the siege down to the time treachery was decided upon, and con-
tinues as follows :

The plan agreed upon there was to meet them with a flag of truce, tell them that the
Indians were determined on their destruction; that we dare not oppose the Indians, for
we were at their mercy ; that the best we could do for them (the emigrants) was to get
them and what few traps we could take in the wagons, to lay their arms in the bottom
of the wagon, and cover them up with bed-clothes, and start for the settlement as soon
as possible, and to trust themselves in our hands. The small children and wounded
were to go with the two wagons, the women to follow the wagons and the men next, the
troops to stand in readiness on the east side of the road ready to receive them. Shirtz
and Nephi Johnson were to conceal the Indians in the brush and rocks till the company
was strung out on the road to a certain point, and at the watchword "Halt! do your
duty ! " each man was to cover his victim and fire. Johnson and Shirtz were to rally
the Indians, and rush upon and dispatch the women and larger children.

It was further told the men that President Haight said that if we were united in car-
rying out the instructions, we would receive a " celestial reward." I said I was willing
to put up with a less reward, if I could be excused. " How can you do this without
shedding innocent blood?" Here I got another lampooning for my stubbornness and
disobedience to the priesthood. I was told that there was not a drop of innocent blood to
the whole company of emigrants, and was also referred to the Gentile nation who refused the
children of Israel passage through their country when Moses led them out of Egypt
that the Lord held that crime against them; and that when Israel was strong the
Lord commanded Joshua to slay the whole nation, men, women, and children.
" Have not these people done worse than that u to us? Have they not threatened to
murder our leaders and Prophet? and have they not boasted of murdering our patriarchs
and prophets, Joseph and Hyrum? Now talk about shedding innocent blood !" They


said I was a good, liberal, free-hearted man, but too much of this sympathy would be
always in the way ; that every man now had to show his colors; that it was not safe to
have a Judas in camp. Then it was proposed that every man express himself; that if
there was a man who would not keep a close mouth, they wanted to know it then. This
gave me to understand what I might expect if I continued to oppose. Major Higbee
said: "Brother Lee is right. Let him take an expression of the people." I knew I
dare not refuse, so I had every man speak and express himself.' All said they were
willing to carry out the counsel of their leaders ; that the leaders had the Spirit of God,
and knew better what was right than they did.

The massacre is then related in detail down to the time when the
wounded men in the wagons were killed, after which the confession
continues :

At this moment I heard the scream of a child. I looked up and saw an Indian have
a little boy by the hair of his head, dragging him out of the hind end of the wagon, with
a knife in his hand, getting ready to cut his throat. I sprang for the Indian, with my
revolver in hand, and shouted to the top of my voice : "Arick, ooma, cot too sooet," (stop,
you fool.) The child was terror-stricken. His chin was bleeding. I supposed it was
the cut of a knife, but afterward learned that it was done on . the wagon-box as the In-
dian yanked the boy down by the hair of the head. I had no sooner rescued this child,
than another Indian seized a little girl by the hair. I rescued her as soon as I could
speak ; I told the Indians that they must not hurt the children that I would die before
they should be hurt ; that we would buy the children of them. Before this time the
Indians had rushed up around the wagon in quest of blood, and dispatched the two
runaway wounded men.

* : ******** * -

I got up, saw the children, and among the others the boy who was pulled by the hair
of his head out of the wagon by the Indian and saved by me. That boy I took home
and kept home until Dr. Forney, Government Agent, came to gather up the children
and take them East. He took the boy with the others. The boy's name was Fancher.
His father was captain of the train. He was taken East, and adopted by a man in Ne-
braska, named Richard Sloan. He remained East several years, and then returned to
Utah, and is now a convict in the Utah penitentiary, having been convicted the past
year for the crime of highway robbery. He is well known by the name of "Idaho
Bill," but his true name is William Fancher. His little sister was also taken East, and
is now the wife of a man working for the Union Pacific Railroad Company, near Green

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Some two weeks after the deed was done, Isaac C. Haight sent me to report to Gov-
ernor Young in person. I asked him why he did not send a written report. He replied
that I could tell him more satisfactorily than he could write, and if I would stand up
and shoulder as much of the responsibility as I could conveniently, that it would be a
feather in my cap some day, and that I would get a celestial salvation, but the man
that shrunk from it now would go to hell. I went and did as I was commanded.
Brigham asked me if Isaac C. Haight had written a letter to him. I replied, not by
me; but he wished me to report in person. "All right," said Brigham. " Were you an
eye-witness? " " To the most of it," was my reply. Then I proceeded and gave him a
full history of all, except that of my opposition. That I left out entirely. I told him
of the killing of the women and children, and the betraying of the company; that, I
told him, I was opposed to; but I did not say to him to what extent I was opposed to it,
only that I was opposed to shedding innocent blood. "Why," said he, "you differ from


Isaac (Haight), for he said there was not a drop of innocent blood in the whole

When I was through he said it was awful; that he cared nothing about the men, but
the women and children was what troubled him. I said : " President Young, you should
either release them from their obligation, or sustain them when they do what they have
entered into the most sacred obligations to do." He replied: "I will think over the
matter, and make it a subject of prayer, and you may come back in the morning and see
me." I did so. He said: "John, I feel first-rate. I asked the Lord, if it was all right
for the deed to be done, to take away the vision of the deed from my mind, and the Lord
did so, and I feel first-rate. It is all right. The only fear I have is of traitors." He
told me never to lisp it to any mortal being, not even to Brother Heber. President
Young has always treated me with the friendship of a father since, and has sealed
several women to me since, and has made my home his home when in that part of the
Territory until danger has threatened him. This is a true statement, according to my
best recollection.

This statement I have made for publication after my death, and have agreed with a
friend to have the same published, with many facts pertaining to other matters connected
with the crimes of the Mormon people under the leadership of the priesthood, from a period
before the butchery of Nauvoo, to the present time, for the benefit of my family, and that
the world might know the black deeds that have marked the way of the Saints from the
organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to the period when a
weak and too pliable tool lays down his pen to face the executioner's guns for deeds
which he is not more guilty than others, who to-day are wearing the garments of the
priesthood, and living upon the " tithing " of a deluded and priest-ridden people. My
autobiography, if published, will open the eyes of the world to the monstrous deeds of
the leaders of the Mormon people, and will also place in the hands of the attorney for
the Government, the particulars of some of the most blood-curdling crimes that have

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 51 of 62)