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You are here: Greater Things > Topical > Mountain Meadows Massacre (INDEX)

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Mountain Meadows Massacre
Sept. 11, 1857
(144 years before NYC/Pentagon)
A Pain that Only Truth, Honesty, Recognition, and Repentance Can Heal


This site featured at
Yahoo! > History > American West, Utah, LDS
Index of investigative news articles, books, documents, and sites related to this tragic massacre whose culpability continues to be denied by the Utah power base.  Only when the LDS Church confesses its role will the deep wounds begin to heal.  Compiled by Sterling D. Allan, a direct descendant of a survivor of the Martin Handcart company.

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Statement by John D. Lee
Who was executed as scapegoat for the massacre

    "I had many to assist me at the Mountain Meadows. I believe that most of those who were connected with the Massacre, and took part in the lamentable transaction that has blackened the character of all who were aiders or abettors in the same, were acting under the impression that they were performing a religious duty. I know all were acting under the orders and by the command of their Church leaders; and I firmly believe that the most of those who took part in the proceedings, considered it a religious duty to unquestioningly obey the orders which they had received. That they acted from a sense of duty to the Mormon Church."  (...Life and Confessions of John D. Lee..., p. 213)

This 1870s T.B.H. Stenhouse sketch depicts 
the horrors at Mountain Meadows.


bullet New

September Dawn
$11 million film being shot in Calgary.  Oscar-winner John Voight plays John D. Lee in this romance portraying the darkest hour in Mormon history.

bullet Quotes

"That which we have done here must never be construed as an acknowledgment of the part of the church of any complicity in the occurrences of that fateful day"

-- President Gordon B. Hinckley
dedicating the monument, Sept. 11, 1999
[See Sept. 11 2001 "This day in history"]

* * * * * * * * * * *

"I wonder what the apologists were and are thinking--that God has to be made to look good, or that He can't defend Himself when it comes to facing the truth?"

-- David Skousen
feedback to this page, March 14, 2000

* * * * * * * * * * *

"Up until now the story was that little children were spared.  But in the short time the bones were studied they found a couple children who had been murdered."

-- Sarah Webb
(prenatal instructor)

* * * * * * * * * * *

"Mr. Allan, I am a GGGgranddaughter of Captain Alexander Fancher of the wagon train that was murdered at Mountain Meadows.  I just wanted to thank you for your web site.  It is very informative and contains resources not available anywhere else.  I will share it with others.   Thank you!"

-- Pat Norris

* * * * * * * * * * *

"The only thing I want is to be able to honor our dead, protect their graves and allow them to rest undisturbed forevermore."

-- Mary Baker Ledbetter
Great Granddaughter of one of the victims
click here for full statement

bullet Introduction

* * * * * * * * * * *
120 California-bound pioneers massacred by a Mormon militia and American Indian allies in 1857 (Sept. 11)
* * * * * * * * * * *

Map of Moutain Meadows

Last year when creating a monument for the massacre, a BYU team's backhoe accidentally uncovered some bones from a known grave site. With pressure from the LDS church and Governor Leavitt, the bones were in short order reburied without the tests being done on them as are called for by Utah law -- which law, some argue, is unfair to the sensibilities of respect for the dead. Nevertheless, this sloppy cover-up is symbolic of the yet unconfessed culpability of the LDS church in that tragedy of so many decades ago.

This index includes links to documentation regarding LDS leadership culpability.  The persecution burnout factor, the Mormon mindset of "just follow the prophet," the temple oath to avenge Joseph's death (in place until 1939), and the doctrine of blood atonement all combined to pave the way for this atrocity to occur.

Let honest hearts help heal the wounds of this travesty by acknowledging, repenting, and learning from the mistakes of the past. Oh that we might see an end to the cover-ups which have become an unfortunate trademark of Mormon PR that whitewashes ancient sepulchers which inside are filled with dead men's bones.  Only with such repentance and humility will this black eye in Mormon history be healed.

This index is not intended to diminish faith, but to strengthen it through the truth and honest introspection.

Sterling D. Allan
March 14, 26, 2000
Copyright Greater Things

See: Rebuttal/Correction by Shane Baker of BYU Archeology Department


bullet Features

Essay > 9/11 Attack 144 Years Prior
Parallels to parallel between events of the massacre and the attack of Sept. 11, 2001. (June 22, 2003)

Alphabetics > John D. Lee -- Portrait of a Mormon Scapegoat; Again the Second Time
"Perhaps the most controversial figure in Mormon history" now incarnate as a modern spokesman for avoiding violence.  Foretold in Alphabetics Bible code. (July 6, 2003)

Review > Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith
Book written by acclaimed author deals with frightening fundamentalist manifestations of LDS doctrines no longer actively practiced by Mormonism. (July 16, 2003)

Red Water by Judith Freeman
Novel about
Mountain Meadows Massacre

"One of the best novels
I have ever read."

-- Sterling D. Allan (ref)

click here for excerpts


bullet Movies

Burying the Past -- Legacy of the Mountain Meadows Massacre -
Documentary movie directed by Brian Patrick, won "Best of Fest" from the Berkeley Film Festival.
September Dawn
$11 million film being shot in Calgary.  Oscar-winner John Voight plays John D. Lee in this romance portraying the darkest hour in Mormon history.

bullet  News Reports

(Newspapers discontinue their links after a fairly short time)

Mountain Meadows massacre analysis ends with an accusation (SL Tribune, June 22, 2003) - "Brigham Young, as portrayed in Sally Denton's American Massacre, is a murderer and liar and commits treason. Her case is strongly stated."
'Massacre' Novelist May Face LDS Excommunication (SL Tribune, May 22, 2003) - Judith Freeman, author of Red Water, tackles the controversial subject with bravery.
Mountain Meadows: The Movie (SL Tribune, Feb. 20, 2003) - Brian Patrick's "Burying the Past" movie shows re-enactments of the perpetrators and victims.
John D. Lee Statue Vexes Town of Washington (SL Tribune, July 6, 2002)
Mountain Meadows debate still smolders (Deseret News, Jan. 9, 2003) - Oral histories of descendants rife with controversy
Salt Lake Tribune three-part series (March 12-14, 2000)
Back-up: - The Center for Studies on New Religions has a page contains the transcript of all three parts of the Tribs Mountain Meadows series.
A Brief History of the Mountain Meadows Massacre [link dead]
Letter from the Editor [link dead]
The second worst case of civil terrorism in U.S. History needs to be healed by the truth, not by cover-up.
(I) Backhoe at a S. Utah killing field rips open 142-year-old wound [link dead]
A project to rectify a historic injustice accidentally reopens an ugly past, prompting vain attempts at a cover-up and a high-level decision to skirt state law.
(II) Voices of the Dead [link dead]
After a century of conflicting accounts of a horrible crime, science begins to piece together the unvarnished truth from the victims themselves.
(III) The Dilemma of Blame [link dead]
Although the modern LDS Church has declared the book closed on the massacre, its legacy is not easily put to rest.
Lead Scrolls Controversy
Expert: Flaws Reveal Lee Scroll as a Forgery (SL Tribune, May 1, 2002)
Story breaks > Lead Scrolls purport Mormon leader purportedly ordered massacre (News Telegraph UK, 2/27/02)
[Salt Lake Tribune also covered the story, Feb. 26, 2002]
Scroll will be Subjected to Scientific Analysis (SL Tribune, March 9, 2002)
Other SLTrib Stories
Church to Produce Book on Massacre - quasi official publication will have advantage of having access to archives not available to other researchers. (5/19/02)
Massacre: Forensic Analysis Supports Tribe's Claim of Passive Role [dead link] (1/21/01)
Massacre Victims Will Get a 'Fitting' Memorial [dead link] (4/1/99)
Since the day it happened, the massacre has represented a disturbing chapter in LDS history. It is known that Mormons and Paiutes took part in the killings, but what exactly happened and who was involved never has been fully explained to everyone's satisfaction. Instead, it has fostered a legacy of guilt among some church members and rendered the church an easy target of ridicule from critics.
BYU Unearths Bones of 1857 Massacre Victims [dead link] (8/14/99)
The bones of 10 men, women and children believed to have been among 120 California-bound pioneers massacred by a Mormon militia and American Indian allies in 1857 have been unexpectedly unearthed at the site. 
Mountain Meadows Massacre  (11/30/99)
Reburying the Evidence
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints made a distressing discovery while restoring a monument to the victims of the 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre in southwest Utah: the bones of at least 29 of the 120 pioneer men, women, and children killed in the bloodbath. Ground-penetrating radar revealed three other anomalies, perhaps graves, not threatened by the restoration work. The Church, at the request of descendant families, did not allow the testing of those sites or any further excavation of the site in question."

Mountain Meadows Massacre Site
Photo by Terry Nolan Fancher

bullet  Books

Red Water by Judith Freeman, presents in novel format.
American Massacre by Sally Denton, convincingly portrays Brigham Young as a murderer, liar and committer of treason.
Book Reviews > The Mormon Murder Case - The New York  Review previews Blood of the Prophets by Bagley, and Red Water by Freeman.
Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows by Will Bagley; University of Oklahoma Press. (Oct. 2002)
The Mountain Meadows Massacre by Juanita Brooks, 1991
Reader Review at Juanita Brook's book was objective on both sides, pointing out the atmosphere among the LDS people at the time of the Mountain Meadows Massacre while also showing the inconsistencies in some of the LDS explanations. If there is one clear point in the book it is that in times of prejudice and war, even good people will do horrific things. This does not justify the massacre but does attempt to explain the paranoia and fear which existed in Southern Utah at that time. I find Juanita's research to be very fair and quite accurate. It parallels the research done by Josiah F. Gibbs in his book which was printed in 1910, much closer to the time of the massacre. Mr. Gibbs is not LDS and it is obvious he does not like the LDS, but certainly his book verifies that the research which Juanita performed was very accurate. Having read many of the books and information regarding this massacre, I believe Juanita has done her research well and attempted to get the truth out. One painfully obvious truth which comes out is the quickness with which the U.S. Government took action in trying to find the guilty parties. Perhaps if they had taken such quickness with the killings and mobbings upon the LDS in Missouri, Illinois and other states, this massacre could have been avoided.
Mormonism Unveiled or Confessions of John D. Lee and Brigham Young - written by JD Lee and published posthumously.
See online excerpts - chapters 9 and 10, deal extensively with Mountain Meadows Massacre.
Mormonism Unveiled or Confessions of John D. Lee
Massacre at Mountain Meadows : An American Legend and a Monumental Crime by William Wise
Mountain Meadows Massacre (on-line too) by Josiah F. Gibbs, 1910
Written closer to the time of the massacre, though composed by one who does not view the LDS favorably, provides a service in probing the role of the Mormon doctrines of leader infallibility and blood atonement in spurring this tragedy.
Forgotten Kingdom : The Mormon Theocracy in the American West, 1847-1896 by David L. Bigler
"Widely recognized at the best available account." Examines early Mormon efforts to establish in Utah an independent, theocratic Kingdom of God.
John Doyle Lee: Zealot, Pioneer Builder, Scapegoat by Juanita Brooks
Hiking and Exploring the Paria River : Including : The Story of John D. Lee and Mountain Meadows Massacre  by Michael Kelsey, 1997
David A. White, ed., News of the Plains and the Rockies, 1803-1865, Volume 3, Missionaries, Mormons, 1821-1864; Indian Agents, Captives, 1832-1865 (Spokane: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1997).
Fielding, Robert Kent and Dorothy S. Fielding. The Tribune Reports of the Trials of John D. Lee for the Massacre at Mountain Meadow. Higganum, Conn: Kent's Books, 2000.


bullet  Related Stories

Parrish Perishes - 10% offering of gold not enough. Danites massacre party.


bullet  Relevant Sites

Encyclopedia of Mormonism on MMM
Official LDS sanitized version of the event and obfuscation of the culpable parties.
Mountain Meadows Association
    After reviewing your web site, would you please immediately remove any links to the Mountain Meadows Associations Web Site, --  NOW -- What your site expresses is something that the association does not care to get into.
    This Association set out to take care of the 120 that were murdered and not argue about who killed them or why. The last three days of the newspapers has forgotten about who was killed and about keeping their good names known to history. Any time in the next 100 years these newspaper articles will be forgotten but the monument, those of us who put it up and the names and honor of the dead will be remerged. We do not have the time for those who want to stir up things based on a bunch of untrue articles by mean spirited individuals who want to sell newspapers.

--From Ronald Loving, MMA Chairman of the Board
to Sterling Allan, webmaster for this site,
March 14, 2000 e-mail correspondence.
(A link to their site may be found from a SL Tribune page.)

see John D. Lee's great great grandson's reply

The Mountain Meadows Association was organized in 1989 as a joint effort by the descendants of both sides of this tragedy. Its purpose was to erect a suitable memorial to honor the memory of those who lost their lives in the massacre in September of 1857.
Mountain Meadows Massacre
Brief overview of the events reported by Mormon Research Ministry.
"Exacerbating suspicions were rumors that some of the party had expressed joy in the thought of the coming army possibly annihilating the Mormons. Adding fuel to the fire was talk that some of the party had actually participated in the killing of Joseph Smith, including one of them who supposedly had a gun used in their prophet's death. This was no small offense. At that time, Mormons who participated in the temple endowment were also making vows to avenge the blood of the "martyrs" Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum."
Lee, John D. - People in The West
PBS profile of the Mormon whose life was haunted by his alleged role in the 1857 Mountain Meadows massacre of 120 non-church members.
Lee's Last Words
The New West: Lawlessness, Cultural Genocide, and the End of the "Frontier"


bullet  Reference Documents

Mormon Blood Atonement -- Fact or Fantasy?
The Life and Confessions of John D. Lee
Embracing a history of Mormonism from its inception down to the present time, with an exposition of the secret history, signs, symbols and crimes of the Mormon church. Also the true history of the horrible butchery known as The Mountain Meadows Massacre. --published 1877--
Chapter XVIII Last Confession and Statement of John D. Lee--Pages 213-248, The Mountain Meadows Massacre.
Chapter XIX--The Life and Confessions of John D. Lee: The conclusion of Lee's testimony tells how church leaders attempted to cover-up the massacre at Mountain Meadows. When testimony from Mormons and Gentiles pointed to church leaders' involvement in the affair, Lee was used as a scapegoat to appease the American people, and protect "God's Anointed." Lee's testimony, given just seven days before his execution, gives additional information on the Danites or "Avenging Angels." He details the murders, and attempted murders, of both Gentiles and church members ordered by LDS leaders. Included are the willing "blood-atonement" of Rasmos Anderson for adultery, and the castration of a young man who would not give his fiancee as a plural wife to Bishop Snow of Manti, Utah.
Deposition of Brigham Young Regarding the Mountain Meadows Massacre
Brigham Young declined to be deposed for John D. Lee's first trial, but he agreed to the following deposition for Lee's second trial, in which Lee was found guilty of the Mountain Meadows Massacre.
List of victims who died in the Mountain Meadows Massacre


bullet  Feedback

Monday, February 05, 2001 9:12 AM

Dear Sterling,

Your website has helped me so much with my research. When I had viewed The Mountain Meadow Associations website prior to uncovering the remains I had mixed emotions and a tremendous amount of questions. Your sight is providing answers for me in search of....Liberty...Truth and Justice For Us All!

Thank you,
Vicki Odell

 This page created by SDA on March 14, 2000
Last updated on October 01, 2014

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