Mountain Meadows Massacre Anniversary Reflections on Visiting the Site of the Covered-Up Mormon Cult Murders of 120 American Immigrants . . .

steve benson Sep. 11 2012

Below are some lingering thoughts and images of my visit a few years ago to the site of the Mountain Meadows Massacre:

The highway signs indicating one's approach to the Mountain Meadows Massacre site are innocuous and give absolutely no hint of the horrible atrocity that occurred there. The roadside signs, at both the one mile and half-mile mark on opposite sides of the highway, simply say, "Mountain Meadows."

No mention of "Massacre."

Once one leaves the highway to follow the "Mountain Meadows" sign, one enters a weathered asphalt parking lot. There are no parking lot lights in this area and a wooden, informational backboard covered with plexiglas at the parking lot site is completely empty of maps, brochures or any other informational material.

From the parking lot, a narrow, asphalted footpath snakes up a small hill, with a sign indicating by arrow the direction to a "Mountain Meadows Monument."

This sign, as well, makes no mention of a "Massacre."

Ascending the small hill, one comes upon two small, black-colored, separate signs, mounted on bases at about waist level, on the left side of the trail. The signage indicates that local Mormon settlers, along with native Indians from the area, laid siege to the Fancher party for several days at the Fancher campsite, killing 15 men in that party during that initial period, then negotiating an arrangement with the Fancher party under which the migrants surrendered to the Mormons.

The informational signage indicates that the Fancher migrants were led out by Mormon escort under a white flag and then, without warning, were shot and killed by their LDS escorts.

The posted account records that a total of 120 members of the Fancher party were killed, that several surviving children of the Massacre were eventually returned to Arkansas and that at least one child from the Fancher group remained behind in Utah.

The walkway information says that the Massacre occurred during the "so-called Utah War" and that the reasons for the Massacre's occurrence are not known to this day.

One of the pathway signs indicates that the Massacre occurred on September 11, 1857. Someone has permanently etched a scratchy line in the metal under the date "September 11."

Upon reaching the summit of the hill, one comes upon a granite plaque, several feet in length, upon which are listed in capital letters the names (in some cases, by first name only) and ages of the Massacre's murder victims. This plaque was erected by descendants of the Mountain Meadows Massacre victims in 1990.

Some of the victims identified on the plaque are children, as young as five years of age.

The plaque looks out on the Mountain Meadows Massacre site, which is located in a flat, wind-swept stretch of land that runs for what appears to be about two miles. The Meadow itself butts up against a backdrop ridge of low-lying, sage- and cedar-covered hills. The Meadow is on private property, with a few farm buildings dotting the area near the Massacre site. The Meadow features tall, bent-over grass and squatty brush, is rooted in rocky soil and shows some signs of farming.

Close to the plaque, atop the hill, are three informational signs, facing outward toward the Meadow and located at approximately knee-high level, which provide details about the settlement of the area by the Mormons, together with maps of where the Fancher Party initially camped and faced siege, where from the campsite its ill-fated members were led away to be massacred and where the actual spot of the Massacre site is situated, together with locations of early memorials and burial plots for the victims.

Also atop the hill are two fixed, simple pipes, attached to metal poles. Through the pipe on the left, one can view the Mormon Church-dedicated memorial site, established in 1999 at the site of initial siege at the Fancher campsite. Through the other pipe, one can see the actual site of the Massacre, which is out in the open Meadow, near the right sloping edge of the ridge.

From the hill, one then descends by foot back to the parking lot and follows a vehicular dirt road down to the Mormon-dedicated site, which is also the burial spot for 29 victims of the Massacre.

This site is flanked by a parking lot, with another wooden plexiglas-covered informational backboard that is completely devoid of any information.

The LDS-erected memorial site is surrounded by a wrought-iron fence and gate with a heavy latch. A sign on the fence near the gate requests that one close the gate when leaving.

An American flag snaps and flutters in the strong wind on a pole located outside the fence.

The memorial site features a large mound of stones, approximately 15 to 20 feet tall, in the center of the fenced-in area. On opposite ends from each other, separated by this rock mound, are two informational stones at the base of the rock pile, on which are etched details, among other memorial-related points, of the eventual dedication of the site by Mormon Church President Gordon B. Hinckley on September 11th, 1999.

In one corner of the enclosed memorial is a small, metal plaque, embedded at ground level, indicating in small print that the remains of 29 victims are actually buried at this site. (The remains of these murder victims are, in fact, entombed--along with some Arkansas soil--in a vault at this location after having been accidentally unearthed by a backhoe in the late 1990s during efforts to shore up a retaining wall that undergirds the memorial. Information on the hill up behind the memorial indicates that these victims were originally buried by Federal troops after the Massacre, before being inadvertently uncovered by the earthmover).

Returning to the highway and heading north, the road skirts the area where the members of the Fancher party were actually massacred. After the Mormon attackers duped the Fancher migrants into surrendering, they were escorted by their Mormon murderers several hundred yards away to an area out of sight of the Fancher encampment and, there, brutally massacred.

Although the highway runs very close to, and within clear line of sight of, the spot of the Massacre, there is no signage or other indicators provided to identify this spot from the roadway.

As a personal afterthought, down from the Mormon Church memorial area, off-site, is a small stream, from which I collected three small stones by which to remember my visit. These stones had been washed clean through the years by the waters of that tiny tributary.

The Mormon Church, in contrast, will never be able to wash the blood off its hands for what occurred on September 11th, 1857, at Mountain Meadows.

Some additional observations, this time on perverse Mormon PR in covering up (literally) the corpses of Mountain Meadows Massacre victims with the American flag:

At the site of the Mountains Meadow Massacre where, on September 11th, 1857, 120 men, women and children in an immigrant wagon train were slaughtered by murderous Mormon marauders, is an American flag--part of an LDS-erected memorial site/public relations ploy to downplay the Mormon role in, and cover-up of, the atrocity.

The flagpole boasting the Stars and Stripes is positioned near the fenced-in memorial area, where the skeletal remains of 29 victims of the Massacre are buried--bodies that were accidentally unearthed in the 1990s by a backhoe making badly-needed repairs to the neglected site.

The remains were quickly reburied, under intense pressure from then-Utah governor Mike Leavitt, who is a descendant of one of the Massacre participants.

Leavitt "encouraged state officials to quickly rebury the remains, even though the basic scientific analysis required by state law was unfinished. . . . The end result may be another sad chapter in the Massacre's legacy of bitterness, denial and suspicion. ('Salt Lake Tribune,' March 12, 2000, p. A1)"

Leavitt's Mormon-protecting haste to literally cover up the crime is further detailed as follows:

"Utah state law required that the bones be studied, a job that went to forensic anthropologist Shannon Novak from the University of Utah. Novak and her colleagues found entrance and exit holes in the skulls of men that could only have come from gunshots fired at close range, while most women and children found died of blunt force.

"In her analysis of more than 2,600 bone fragments, Novak found no evidence of knives used to scalp, behead, or cut the throats, as well as no evidence of trauma from arrows. Although the study cannot determine what weapons Paiutes might have used in the Massacre (if they were involved), it brings up the possibility that white men murdered all of the victims, contradicting John D. Lee's testimony accusing Native Americans of slaughtering the women and children.

"To Shannon Novak, the bones could provide information that incomplete or biased histories could not. 'Prior to this analysis, what was known about the massacre was often based on second-hand information, polemical newspaper accounts, and the testimony of known killers,' said Novak. 'Furthermore, what had come to be merely an abstract historical event, the "tragedy at Mountain Meadows," now became a mass murder of specific men, women, and children with proper names and histories.'

"The analysis of the remains questioned the accuracy of the historical accounts and stirred up many emotions. After five weeks, Novak's analysis was cut short by an order from the governor of Utah, Mike Leavitt, that the bones be re-interred in time for the September [1999] anniversary. . . .

"Leavitt, whose grandfather participated in the Massacre, circumvented the law and ordered that the bones be re-interred before the minimum required study was finished because he 'did not feel that it was appropriate for the bones to be dissected and studied in a manner that would prolong the discomfort' (Salt Lake Tribune, March 2000)."

(for accounts used for reference regarding Mormon complicity in covering up the Mountain Meadows Massacre, see "The Mountain Meadows Massacre" in "Archaeology: A Publication of the Archaeological Instituyte of America," at:; and Sandra Tanner, "One of My Family's Best-Kept Secrets," at:; and )

Re: With the Mountain Meadows Massacre Anniversary Upon Us, Reflections on Visiting the Site of the Covered-Up Mormon Cult Murders of 120 American Immigrants . . .
"I don’t remember when I first heard about the Mountain Meadow Massacre. It was, I think, in a classroom, probably high school level, maybe college, I heard that the terrible atrocity was perpetrated by the Indians in southern Utah." Dallin Oaks

Thank you for your tour and insites. What a terrible atrocity against innocent men, women, and children.
There is a h*ll, and I hope those involved burn to a crisp.

The first version of the story that I heard indicated that Indians had slaughtered the Francer party.
Then someone else added that there were white men with purposefully muddy faces that assisted the Indians. First red flag.

The next version of the story came complete with a photo of John D. Lee sitting on his coffin ready to be executed. He was the perpetrator of the massacre and certainly deserved shooting. Second red flag.

Then I saw the History Channel's documentary on the massacre and realized how horrific the situation was.

Finally, I read the journal of one of the survivors whom wrote the story in collaboration with a couple of other childhood survivors. Good Gawd!

Re: The first version of the story that I heard indicated that Indians had slaughtered the Francer party.
Can I get my hands on a copy of that journal? Link or book reference?
Re: With the Mountain Meadows Massacre Anniversary Upon Us, Reflections on Visiting the Site of the Covered-Up Mormon Cult Murders of 120 American Immigrants . . .
The events that happened and then covered up... makes me absolutely sick. Thank you for your thoughts and words on this!
Re: With the Mountain Meadows Massacre Anniversary Upon Us, Reflections on Visiting the Site of the Covered-Up Mormon Cult Murders of 120 American Immigrants . . .
Thank you for the reminder and vivid description. My mother's maiden name is Fancher, and Capt Alexander a distant cousin.
Re: With the Mountain Meadows Massacre Anniversary Upon Us, Reflections on Visiting the Site of the Covered-Up Mormon Cult Murders of 120 American Immigrants . . .
Mormons really don't like this event brought up, because it damages the effects of their persecution complex. They like to pretend they never did this @#$%&, and a lot of other killings by Danites and the like.
John Wesley
Yea, it appears that despite....
...all the talk of how Mormons were persecuted, the biggest most murderous mass-killing by far in American history was perpetrated by Mormons against non-Mormons. The murderous Mormon Church. The plans for the massacre were hatched in the offices of the local Stake Presidency and High Council, and then covered up for years by the First Presidency itself. Even now, as typified by the vague ambiguous downplaying of the facts of the massacre, today's LDS Church continues to minimize, confuse, and obfuscate.

But I have sat in several Bishoprics and Stake High Councils, working side by side with modern Mormons priesthood holders who I believe would willingly perpetrate similar murders if commanded by "the Prophet".

"Recovery from Mormonism -"