"Horrible Massacre of Emigrants!!" The Mountain Meadows Massacre in Public Discourse


The People’s Column 


Editor Salt Lake Tribune:—

Of all the persons either immediately or remotely connected with the massacre at the Mountain Meadows who could testify to ex-Governor [Brigham] Young’s complicity in, and responsibility for that horror, Geo. A. Smith is that man. There is no denying the fact that the weary and way-worn company were ordered to break up their camp at the Jordan [River] before they had time to replenish their stores, or even to partially rest and recruit their jaded teams. It is undeniable that after they had started upon their southern course which ended at the Mountain Meadows, in Iron county, Utah, George A. Smith passed them in his carriage on a “mission” to the southern settlements, and particularly Parowan, the residence of Col. [W.H.] Dame. It is un-deniable that this same George A. Smith, upon that trip, did stop at the several settlements through which this company must and did pass, and that he did exhibit and read, or caused to be read, a paper purporting to have been written by Governor Young, in which the people of said settlements were advised and counseled (which was equivalent to an absolute order) to a full and complete non-intercourse with said company; and that this same George A. Smith, Brigadier General and Aid-de-Camp to the Commander-in-chief of the Territorial militia, addressed large public meetings during that trip, the spirit of which was hostile to the peace and welfare of the emigrant travelers. There are persons now living in Southern Utah who have a distinct recollection of that trip of Geo. A.’s, and of some of the things he said, and of the paper here referred to, who in the recent past have recommunicated these facts to certain parties. It is also a fact well known that this aide-de-camp was at Col. Dame’s headquarters during the siege of the emigrant’s camp and the slaughter which followed their surrender; that he was there when Col. Dame’s messenger from Salt Lake City and Major Lee’s from the battle ground simultaneously entered Col. Dame’s office; the one bearing an uncertain message, the other announcing that the slaughter had been accomplished and that he [G.A.S.] immediately returned to Salt Lake City, traveling day and night. It certainly was advisable, in view of the re-election of President [U.S.] Grant and the probability of a full investigation of the Mountain Meadow horror, the disgrace of Utah and the shame of Gov. Young’s administration, that this high priest of the (professed) New Dispensation of the Gospel of the Divine Saviour should be sent upon a foreign mission involving great probable hardships which he is physically incapable of enduring, and dangers which he is illy prepared to overcome.

If I am right in this surmise, then it is possible that other missionaries may be needed whose presence in Utah would be very undesirable at a certain time to come. But, sir, there are witnesses who tho’ dead yet live; tho’ mute, yet speak, and their testimony is conclusive that the skirts of ex-Governor Young are not clear in this bloody matter. What those testimonies are is not for me now to write; but to show that this assertion is truthful, I will give an example: The Iron Manufacturing Company at Cedar City was at the time of the massacre in full blast, and there was a store in that city belonging to the company. Governor Young was one of the principal stock-holders in that company. Now at the October conference, 1857, held at Salt Lake City, directly after the massacre, Isaac C. Haight, the superintendent of the company’s works, with a large drove of the emigrant’s cattle appeared in the city, and traded them off to a prominent merchant for merchandise for this store. There can be no question that this merchant’s books will show this transaction, and living witnesses are ready to swear that the cattle so traded off had been the property of the murdered emigrants. As to the remainder of the emigrant property, it was by Governor Young turned over to the care of Major J. D. Lee, to be disposed of as he (Lee) might think proper. There is a witness now living and will testify that he was present when the Governor gave Lee the charge of that property as last above stated. The Gov. Young did not at that time know of the massacre, even to the most harrowing details, is impossible. That he did not know that those cattle were a part of the herd of the emigrants’ which had but a short time previously passed through the streets of the city, is equally impossible. It is true he tried to be very prudent in this matter. He shut himself up in his room, and it was reported shed tears when Geo. A. brought him the report from Parowan. It was further reported that he refused to receive the tithes of the emigrants’ spoils: but his avarice overcame at last, and a large amount of this ill-gotten property went to replenish his store at the iron works. Joseph once told Brigham in Nauvoo, “That greed of gain would yet send him to hell.” More anon.