Mountain Meadows Massacre – Remembering the Surviving Children


Rocky and HelenThose who have followed Helen and my ministry since we began in January of 2002 know that we have been very faithful at reporting on the atrocity of the massacre at Mountain Meadows on America’s First 911, September 11, 1857. This initial act of terrorism by Americans, against Americans, stands in a class all its own in sheer brutality, deceitfulness, and human depravity.

For those who may not be aware of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, I highly recommend spending some time on Frank Kirkman’s Website: Frank and Diane Kirkman have become very close friends of Helen and me. The captain of the ill-fated wagon train at Mountain Meadows, Alexander Fancher, had a brother named John, with whom he had established a ranch in Tulare County, California; it was the destination of this wagon train. John Fancher was Frank Kirkman’s great-­great-great grandfather.

Two years ago, September 11, 2007, Helen and I had the privilege of attending the ceremony commemorating the 150th year since the dastardly massacre occurred on September 11, 1857.  This was just prior to when my book, When Salt Lake City Calls, was published, November 2007, in which I dedicated Chapter 9 to this horrific event.

Helen and I will again have the privilege of joining the descendants of this tragic event as we will attend the 150th year remembrance of the return of the surviving children of this slaughter. The 150th commemoration will begin on September 18th at the Yell Lodge, Carrollton, Arkansas, where the surviving children spent their first night upon being returned to the family members who had seen the wagon train off in April of 1857.


In April of 1857 a wealthy wagon train, reported to have had as many as one thousand head of cattle, left Caravan Spring, Arkansas, known as the Fancher-Baker Train. Following the Cherokee Trail, they arrived in Salt Lake City on August 3rd, and were met with a very chilly reception.

Two important events happened in Salt Lake City just prior to their arrival:

(1) News had come that a popular Mormon Apostle, Parley P. Pratt, had been murdered “as he attempted to escape from one Hector McLean, the angry husband of a woman he had taken as his tenth wife. But to overheated emotions in Utah, the apostle was killed for his religious beliefs. Like Joseph and Hyrum Smith, he was a martyr whose blood cried for vengeance” (Forgotten Kingdom, page 146). The wagon train members’ only crime was having come from the state of Arkansas, yet totally untrue rumors circulated among the Mormons that members of the train had been involved in Apostle Pratt’s murder as well as having been in the mob which killed Joseph and Hyrum Smith.

(2) Utah was in a state of rebellion.  Leaving Illinois to get away from the laws of the United States, when the Mormons arrived in Utah, it was a Mexican territory. With the United States the victor in the War with Mexico, Utah became a Territory of the United States; the Mormons were once again under U.S. law. Brigham Young ran Utah as a theocratic state and refused to be governed under U.S. law. Then-President James Buchanan dispatched Colonel Johnson of the Second U.S. Cavalry to bring Utah back into control. This news arrived in Salt Lake City just one week prior to the train’s arrival.

On August 5th, the Fancher-Baker train headed south, continuing its trek to California. The train met much hostility, as no one would sell provisions to them, and the Mormons would not allow them to stop and graze their cattle along the way where they could prevent it. They arrived at Mountain Meadows, Utah, on September 5th and encamped, intending to allow their cattle to graze on the luscious grass of the meadow.

On Sunday, the 6th of September, the day before the first attack, a council was held in Parowan to discuss the fate of the wagon train. The Mormon historian B. H. Roberts admits that such a meeting was held: “It was customary for the local leading men at Cedar and from the smaller settlements in its vicinity to gather in a council meeting after the close of the regular Sunday services of the church, to consider the questions of local community interest. At such a meeting on the 6th of September the question concerning the conduct of, and what ought to be done with, the Arkansas emigrants was brought up and debated. Some in the council were in favor of destroying them, and others were not.” (Comprehensive History of the Church, vol. 4, page 149)

On the morning of September 7th, under direction of Mormon Bishop John D. Lee, as ordered by Mormon Stake President Isaac C. Haight, the Indians surprise-attacked the wagon train, killing and wounding many. The immigrants quickly returned fire, killing several Indians, and fortified the train for battle. The Indians, not expecting such resistance, quickly lost their taste for this battle and a state of siege set in, which lasted four days until September 11th.

News of the failed Indian attempt to wipe out the train reached the Mormon authorities in Iron County. They met, decided, and dispatched militia to the Meadows to deal with the immigrants.  The decision delivered by John M. Higbee, the First Counselor to Stake President Haight and a Major in the Iron County Militia, was to have John D. Lee, a Mormon Bishop, lure the immigrants under a white truce flag to surrender and lay down their arms for safe passage to Cedar City. Once the immigrants were lured out on the meadow away from the wagons and their arms, they were to be massacred, leaving “none who could tell the tale” alive.

On the morning of September 11, 1857, John D.  Lee and William Bateman approached the train with a white truce flag and laid out the diabolical offer. The immigrants agreed, believing the militia awaiting escort duties on the meadow were their deliverers. The women and children eight years old and older were led out in single file first, followed by the men. Each man had an armed militia member at his side. The wounded and children seven years of age and under were loaded into two separate wagons. Upon the command of Major Higbee “Do your duty,” the Mormon militia turned and killed the men and then the Indians, having laid in wait in ambush, joined by Mormons disguised as Indians, brutally murdered the women and children. The militia on the wagons turned and, at point blank range, executed the wounded. In just a matter of minutes the horrific deed was done. The seventeen children under the age of eight that were spared were then distributed to various Mormon homes.

These seventeen children were spared because of a unique Mormon Doctrine known as “Innocent Blood.” Any child under the age of eight is “Innocent.” In Mormon Doctrine, the killing of “Innocent Blood” allows no forgiveness in this world or the world to come. This is why these seventeen children were spared; this is the ONLY reason these children were spared!

When word eventually leaked out about surviving children, the Mormons claimed that the Indians had taken them and held them. This was blatantly false. The children themselves, when recovered, unilaterally reported that they were never in the custody of the Indians.


Rumors circulated throughout the West concerning the wagon train massacred in Utah by the Mormons. When the Fancher-Baker wagon train was long past due to its destination, Tulare County, California, the expecting family members contacted the U.S. Government, who dispatched the U.S. Army in California, and Government agents in Utah, to investigate.

Captain James Lynch, a seasoned frontiersman, left Camp Floyd (Fairfield, Utah) in the spring of 1859 with thirty-nine men headed for Arizona. He found Indian Agent Dr. Jacob Forney deserted at Beaver City. Dr. Forney had set out in March of 1859 to locate the reported surviving children of the massacre. Dr. Forney had employed Ira Hatch, one of the perpetrators of the massacre, and his Mormon guides to assist him in locating the children. In Will Bagley’s magnificent book Blood of the Prophets we read:

“Lynch found Forney at Beaver City, deserted by Hatch and his Mormon guides. The agent was ‘without a man, … guarding his mules and wagons.’ Forney’s guides had warned that if he went south, the people would ‘make a eunuch of him.’ Lynch cheerfully placed his party at the agent’s command, though he was suspicious that Forney had employed ‘the very confederates of these monsters, who had so wantonly murdered unoffending emigrants, to ferret out the guilty parties.’ At Parowan, the people showed great hostility and would not communicate with the gentiles. Risking their own lives, Lynch and two companions drove Forney’s teams to Mountain Meadows … Lynch left a vivid a record of what he saw: ‘Human skeletons, disjointed bones, ghastly skulls and the hair of women were scattered in frightening profusion over a distance of two miles.’ … After visiting the meadows, Forney and Lynch found Jacob Hamblin (the Mormon man on whose land Mountain Meadows was located) at Santa Clara. Lynch recalled that Hamblin ‘repeated the story of the children being held captive by the Indians.’ Angered at the deception, the federal officers pointed their pistols and rifles at Hamblin’s head and said, ‘Produce them or we will kill you.’ Hamblin quickly delivered the orphans.” (Blood of the Prophets, p. 219)

Isn’t it amazing, when Captain Lynch threatened to blow Hamblin’s head off, he suddenly remembered — it’s almost like he had an epiphany: “Oh, you mean those children. I just didn’t understand who you meant.” If it hadn’t been for the brazen guts of Captain Lynch, the children may never have been recovered. Continuing the above quote in Blood of the Prophets: “Lynch claimed the young survivors were ‘in a most wretched condition, half starved, half naked, filthy, infested with vermin, and their eyes diseased from the cruel neglect to which they had been exposed.’” (Blood of the Prophets, p. 219)


Brevet Major James H. Carleton, Captain of the First Dragoons from California, arrived at the Meadows at approximately the same time as Captain Lynch and Dr. Forney. Major Carleton’s men gathered the bones and buried them under rock cairns that they erected. Major Carleton filed a report to the Congress of the United States concerning Mountain Meadows. The following is an excerpt from his report concerning the children:

“The first is a boy named Calvin, between 7 and 8; does not remember his surname; says he was by his mother when she was killed, and pulled the arrows from her back until she died; says he had two brothers older than himself, named Henry and James, and three sisters, Nancy, Mary, and Martha.

“The Second is a girl who does not remember her name. The others say it is Demurr.

“The third is a boy named Ambrose Mariam Tagit: says he had two brothers older than himself and one younger. His father, mother, and two elder brothers were killed, his younger brother was brought to Cedar City; says he lived in Johnson County, but does not know in what state; says it took one week to go from where he lived with his grandfather and grandmother who are still living in the States.

“The fourth is a girl obtained of John Morris, a Mormon, at Cedar City. She does not recollect anything about herself.

“Fifth. A boy obtained of E. H. Grove, says that the girl obtained of Morris is named Mary and is his sister.

“The sixth is a girl who says her name is Prudence Angelina. Had two brothers, Jessie and John, who were killed. Her father’s name was William, and she had an Uncle Jessie.

“The Seventh is a girl. She says her name is Francis Harris Horne, remembers nothing of her family.

“The eighth is a young boy, too young to remember anything about himself.

“The ninth is a boy who says his name is William W. Huff.

“The tenth is a boy who says his name is Charles Fancher.

“The eleventh is a girl who says her name is Sophronia Huff.

“The twelfth is a girl who says her name is Betsy. The thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth are three sisters named Rebecca, Louisa and Sara Dunlap. These three sisters were the children obtained from Jacob Hamblin.

“I have no note of the sixteenth.

“The seventeenth is a boy who was but six weeks old at the time of the massacre. Hamblin’s wife brought him to my camp on the 19th instant. The next day they took him on to Salt Lake City to give him up to Dr. Forney. He is a pretty little boy and hardly dreamed he had again slept upon the ground where his parents had been murdered.

“These children, it is said, could not be induced to make any development while they remained with the Mormons, from fear, no doubt, having been intimidated by threats.  Dr. Forney, it is said, came southward for them under the impression that he would find them in the hands of the Indians.

“The Mormons say the children were in the hands of the Indians and were purchased by them for rifles, blankets, etc., but the children say they have never lived with the Indians at all.  The Mormons claimed of Dr. Forney sums of money, varying from $200 to $400, for attending them when sick, for feeding and clothing them, and for nourishing the infants from the time when they assumed to have purchased them  from the Indians.

“Murders of the parents and despoilers of their property, these Mormons, rather these relentless, incarnate fiends, dared even to come forward and claim payment for having kept these little ones barely alive; these helpless orphans whom they themselves had already robbed of their natural protectors and support. Has there ever been an act which at all equaled this devilish hardihood in more than devilish effrontery? Never, but one; and even then the price was but ‘30 pieces of silver.’” (Mountain Meadows Massacre, Special Report 57th Congress 1st Session, House of Representatives, Document No. 605)

Mountain Meadows just won’t go away. Why? It’s simple really: The Mormon Church is hiding the truth to protect Brigham Young. I believe evidence shows he ordered this brutal massacre.

God bless you all! – Rocky

(Article written by Rocky and Helen Hulse, Issue No. 34, September 2009, The Midwest Expositor publication of Mormon Missions Midwest Outreach – Reprinted and posted on our website by permission.)

Watch September Dawn – The Full Movie on Mountain Meadows Massacre


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

This post is also available in: Spanish