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

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Well, to get on with my story about young Billy Tate. Some time back in the fifties, 1857 it was, a family name of Tate was with an emigrant wagon train comin' from the East to settle in Southern California. There was about one hundred and twenty people … men, women, and children … in that group. Well, most of 'em were Methodists, and they had mornin' and evenin' prayers, when they halted on the long trek. One day they halted at Cedar City, and, after their prayers, started out again, and met with a fate that has left a blot on the history of the settlin' of the West.

At Mountain Meadows the emigrants were overtaken by a band of Mormons and Indians. Some of the Mormons was dressed like Indians … and they commenced firin' on the surprised emigrants. However, the emigrants was courageous, and they circled their wagons, and prepared to defend themselves. But they was too far from water to hold out. For four days they fought valiantly. During the third day it became necessary for them to get water … the women and the small children was cryin' that their throats was parched. That water hole was in plain sight, but it was covered by the fire of the enemy. Well, the poor emigrants talked it over, and then, hopin' that the Mormons would have some pity on them, even if the Indians wouldn't, they dressed two little girls in white, and sent them, carryin' a bucket between  
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them, toward the spring. The two little things was shot down, in sight of their horrified mothers.

A man named Lee was in charge of the Mormons. On the mornin' of the fourth day, he sent a message to the men of the emigrant wagon train that he had orders to kill the entire company, except the children. He offered 'em a truce, if they would lay down their arms. What could the men do? If they didn't take this chance, they would all die of thirst anyway, and they could no longer stand the pitiful cryin' of the children for water. So they marched out in good faith, and put themselves under the protection of this man, General Lee. Well, he ordered the train and all to take up the line of march, and when they'd gone scarce half a mile he halted, and gave the command to shoot … and all of 'em was shot down, in cold blood, in full sight of their wailing wives and sisters and little ones. Some of the women was killed, too … but all the children was carried away … and the idea was so make Mormons of 'em.

In 1859 General Carlton put a cairn of stones on that spot, and this is what he had writ on it: "Here lie the bones of one hundred and twenty men, women, and children, from Arkansas, murdered on the 10th day of September, 1857." And on a sort of cross-beam he had painted: "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord."

And it sure do look as though the Lord doesn't forget, for, later, John D. Lee was tried and executed by the Government, for his part in the Mountain Meadow massacre.

Well, as I was tellin' you, little Billy Tate and his father and mother was with this wagon train, and in the bloody massacre I've been tellin' you about. The Mormons stole the mother, but some way Billy and his father got away, with three others … and they got finally to Silver City, Nevada, which was then a pretty flourishin' mining town. Later on, they drifted still further west, and Billy was about fourteen when I first met him, and we was both ruin' the Pony Express.