Mountain Meadows Massacre

Danites and the Mountain Meadows Massacre

The Tribe of Dan, one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, and one of the Lost Tribes, was known both as Israel’s defender and for seafaring. The Danites of the 19th century were a secret society of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) dedicated to preserving the Mormons by force formed in 1838.

Danites fought against the United States in the Mormon War (1857-1858). The U.S. Forces, at the very end of a long logistical tether, did not come off well at all. There are actually three events known as Mormon Wars: the one listed above, the Illinois War (1844-46) and the Missouri War (1838). Wherever the Mormons went they formed militias frightening their neighbors. They voted as a block electing Mormons and excluding their neighbors from political office while using office to the benefit of fellow Mormons. The 1857-58 war in Utah was triggered the Morons sent the appointed territorial governor packing. They selected Brigham Young as prophet/governor of a theodemocracy wherein God gave the prophet his orders and he told everyone else what to do.

In Illinois, the governor welcomed the Mormons. The Grand Master of Freemasons in Illinois made their first leader, Joseph Smith, a mason-on-sight. This is a rare event and the power to make such a determination is solely that of a Grand Master. It recognizes a person of such high moral character that they have already achieved what other Freemasons spend years learning from their brethren as they proceed through the degrees. Joseph Smith, with neither power nor authority, began making all Mormon males master masons on sight, taking them through the degrees in a day. He adopted Masonic symbols which appear in Mormon ceremonies and on their temple undergarments to this day. They are said to have adopted a corrupted form of Masonic Ritual as their own. The Grand Master told Smith to desist; he did not. And so, Joseph Smith was expelled from the Masons.

The Danites certainly had some degree of legitimacy as a militia, but there was a rumored darker side. There were persistent claims  of total numbers of kills for their holy gunmen that would have left Billy the Kid and John Wesley Hardin envious. It is hard to know what is true or fair. The Church of Latter Day Saints has used its great influence to obscure and distort much of its history. One supposes its enemies may have also distorted history to some degree.

The Danites became enforcers for Brigham Young responsible for Blood Atonement. There were certain religious crimes so evil that one could not possibly atone for them in a lifetime. The only way one who had committed such a crime could have his eternal soul saved was for someone else to spill their blood, that is, murder them. One such crime was apostasy, leaving the faith.

The Mountain Meadows Massacre, September 11, 1857, was the worst wagon train massacre in U.S. history, leaving approximately 130 Americans dead.

The Fancher Party crossed Utah in 1857 en route to southern California. It was a wealthy party taking, among other things, race horses to the coast. It was customary to make purchases to replenish supplies at such places as Fort Bridger, but the Mormons were at war with the U.S. and had driven Bridger out of his fort and they denied supplies to the wagon train. The situation persisted as the train passed through Utah and finally they were directed to Mountain Meadows by Mormons as a place, on the western border of Utah, where they could rest and let their stock feed before they crossed the deserts.

While there they were attacked. On the first day, some Piutes friendly to the Mormons may have participated. After several days with the Fanchers low on ammunition and water and with many wounded, Mormons offered to negotiate with the ‘Indians.’ The party was to load wounded in one wagon, all their weapons in another and children in a third. Each adult male would be accompanied by an armed Mormon. So organized, they began their departure from Mountain Meadows.

The Mormon leader signaled, “Mormons! Do your duty!” Each Mormon shot and killed the man with him. Then they started on the wounded and the women. The youngest children, deemed unable to remember or report, were taken into Mormon homes. Fancher property was distributed among the Mormons. My friend, Gene Baker, who is often mentioned on my Facebook Page, had a great aunt who was one of these children. Major James Carlton investigated for the U.S. government in 1859 after rumors of the massacre leaked out. Only John D. Lee, who said he had opposed the Mormon leadership, was ever punished for this great crime.

I didn’t write this to be the ultimate source on Mormon Danites or on the Mountain Meadows Massacre. This is a very brief summary of the history behind my novel and not a comment on LDS theology which changed drastically after the death of Brigham Young. What happened during Young’s tenure is hidden from most Mormans and the church has tried to hide it from the rest of the world. This is history, not theology. If you are interested in more of this history, I suggest to try: Bigler, David L. and Bagley, Will, The Mormon Rebellion: American’s First Civil War 1857-1858, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 2011.

8 Responses to Mountain Meadows Massacre

  1. dhocking says:

    My thanks to all those in Portugal and/or Brazil who have said such kind words. For further in depth reading and research please allow me to recommend the work of author Will Bagley.

    Meus agradecimentos a todos aqueles que, em Portugal e/ou Brasil que disseram essas palavras amáveis. Para ainda mais na pesquisa e leitura de profundidade permita-me recomendar o trabalho do autor será Bagley.

  2. Doda says:

    Institutional racism in the Mormon chcruh (blacks not allowed to participate in certain ceremonies or to be ordained to the priesthood keep in mind that in Mormonism every male over the age of 12 is ordained as a matter of course) ended in 1978, and the chcruh has done an admirable job of speaking out against racism since then.Unfortunately, there’s still the Book of Mormon, with its basic narrative of righteous white Nephites versus wicked black Lamanites (who were formerly white but were “cursed” by God with dark skin). Not all the white guys are good, and not all the black guys are bad, but the overall pattern is glaringly obvious and easy for a kid to pick up on, whether the parents want them to or not.

  3. Ginevra says:

    I have no idea how to describe how I feel. I left the Mormon chucrh about 7 months ago now and I am making my way through the aftermath of that. I was deaf, dumb and blind to the plight of LGBT Mormons. I feel deeply ashamed and sorry for my ignorance. I believed the lies fed to me by chucrh leaders and the Ensign, that LGBT people were choosing their lifestyle and that they could change!!! Aaaaahhhh! I am so sorry LGBT community for my stupidity and for blindly accepting the discriminatory views of a religion that was built on lies. RIP Todd Ransom.

  4. Mila says:

    Wm,It is maybe a bit unfair to state that the hisgeht level of the celestial kingdom is reserved for polygamous Mormons you can argue that is what JS originally stated, but that is certainly no long mainstream Mormon doctrine.Joseph

  5. Neusa says:

    I’m speechless. This can be a surpeb blog and very attractive too. Nice work! That’s now not actually a lot coming from an newbie publisher like me, however it’s all I may just say after diving into your posts. Nice grammar and vocabulary. Not like other blogs. You actually recognise what you?re talking about too. Such a lot that you made me want to discover more. Your blog has develop into a stepping stone for me, my friend.

    • Efrain says:

      The movie more or less made an LDS bisohp look like the anti-Christ. Especially apt is the scene where Jon Voight (the LDS bisohp) leads a gathering of priesthood holders in a chant of Blood atonement! Blood atonement! Blood atonement! You know, ’cause that what Mormons are all about .

      • dhocking says:

        I didn’t care for the movie myself but it did a much better job of portraying historical truth than most movies do. I try to draw on primary sources. Have you read Carlton’s report or talked to any of the descendants of the surviving children?

  6. Marshdevan says:

    , “I don’t know WHERE that came from!”Does he really not know where that came from? I thhogut the Mormons had quietly tucked away their racism. Is it so ingrained that the kids are still picking up on it?

Leave a Reply