HE MOUNTAIN MEADOWS MASSACRE.
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JOHN D. LEE;
(Written by Himself)
CONFESSION CONTINUED AND CONCLUDED, MARCH 16, 1877, SEVEN DAYS PRIOR TO HIS EXECUTION
COLONEL DAME then blest the brethren and we prepared to go to our homes. I took my little Indian boy, Clem, on the horse behind me, and started home. I crossed the mountains and returned the same way I had come.
When I got in about two miles of Harmony, I overtook a body of about forty Indians, on their way home from the massacre. They had a large amount of bloody clothing, and were driving several head of cattle that they had taken from the emigrants.
The Indians were very glad to see me, and said I was their Captain, and that they were going to Harmony with me as my men. It was the orders from the Church authorities to do everything we could to pacify the Indians, and make them the fast friends of the Mormons, so I concluded to humor them.
I started on and they marched after me until we reached the fort at Harmony. We went into the fort and marched round inside, after which they halted and gave their whoop of victory, which means much the same with them as the cheers do with the whites. I then ordered the Indians to be fed; my family gave them some bread and melons, which they eat [sic], and then they left me and went to their tribe.
I will here state again that on the field, before and after the massacre, and again at the council at the emigrant camp, the day after the massacre, orders were given to keep everything secret, and if any man told the secret to any human being, he was to be killed, and I assert as a fact that if any man had told it then, or for many years afterwards, he would have died, for some "Destroying Angel" would have followed his trail and sent him over the "rim of the basin." --Page 250--
From that day to this it has been the understanding with all concerned in that massacre, that the man who divulged the secret should die; he was to be killed, wherever he was found, for treason to the men who killed the emigrants, and for his treason to the Church. No man was at liberty to tell his wife, or any one else, nor were the brethren permitted to talk of it even among themselves. Such were the orders and instructions, from Brigham Young down to the lowest in authority. The orders to lay it all to the Indians, were just as positive as they were to keep it all secret. This was the counsel from all in authority, and for years it was faithfully observed.
The children that were saved were taken to Cedar City, and other settlements, and put out among different families, where they were kept until they were given up to Dr. Forney, the Agent of the United States, who came for them.
I did not have anything to do with the property taken from the emigrants, or the cattle, or anything else, for some three months after the massacre, and then I only took charge of the cattle because I was ordered to do so by Brigham Young.
There were eighteen wagons in all at the emigrant camp. They were all wooden axles but one, and that was a light iron axle; it had been hauled by four mules. There were something over five hundred head of cattle, but I never got the half of them. The Indians killed a large number at the time of the massacre, and drove others to their tribes when they went home from Mountain Meadows. Kingensmith put the Church brand on fifty head or more, of the best of the cattle, and then he and Haight and Higbee drove the cattle to Salt Lake City and sold them for goods that they brought back to Cedar City to trade on.
The Indians got about twenty head of horses and mules. Samuel Knight, one of the witnesses on my trial, got a large sorrel mare; Haight got a span of average American mules; Joel White got a fine mare; Higbee got a good large mule; Klingensmith got a span of mules. Haight, Higbee and Allen each took a wagon. The people all took what they wanted, and they had divided and used up much over half of it before I was put in charge.
The first time I heard that a messenger had been sent to Brigham Young for instructions as to what should be done with the emigrants, was three or four days after I had returned home from the Meadows. Then I heard of it from Isaac C. Haight, when he came to my house and had a talk with me. He said: "We are all in a muddle. Haslem has returned from Salt Lake City, with orders from Brigham Young to let the emigrants pass in safety."
In this conversation Haight also said: "I sent an order to Highee to save the emigrants, after I had sent the orders for killing them all, but for some reason the message did not reach him. I understand the messenger did not go to the Meadows at all." I at once saw that we were in a bad fix, and I asked Haight what was to be done. We talked the matter over again.
Haight then told me that it was the orders of the Council that I should go to Salt Lake City and lay the whole matter before Brigham Young. I asked him if he was not going to write a report of it to the Governor, as he was the right man to do it, for he was in command of the militia in that section of country, and next to Dame in command of the whole district. I told him that it was a matter which really belonged to the military department, and should be so reported.
He refused to write a report, saying: "You can report it better than I could write it. You are like a ember of Brigham's family, and can talk to him privately and confidentially. I want you to take all of it on yourself that you can, and not expose any more of the brethren than you find absolutely necessary. Do this, Brother Lee, as I order you to do, and you shall receive a celestial reward for it, and the time will come when all who acted with us will be glad for the part they have taken, for the time is near at hand when the Saints are to enjoy the riches of the earth. And all who deny the faith and doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints shall be slain--the sword of vengeance shall shed their blood; their wealth shall be given as a spoil to our people."
At that time I believed everything he said, and I fully expected to receive the celestial reward that he promised me. But now I say, Damn all such "celestial rewards" as I am to get for what I did on that fatal day.
It was then preached every Sunday to the people that the Mormons were to conquer the earth at once, and the people all thought that the millennium had come, and that Christ's reign upon earth would soon begin, as an accomplished fact. --Page 252--
According to the orders of Isaac C. Haight, I started for Salt Lake City to report the whole facts connected with the massacre, to Brigham Young. I started about a week or ten days after the massacre, and I was on the way about ten days. When I arrived in the city I went to the President's house and gave to Brigham Young a full, detailed statement of the whole affair, from first to last--only I took rather more on myself than I had done.
He asked me if I had brought a letter from Haight, with his report of the affair. I said:
"'No, Haight wished me to make a verbal report of it, as I was an eye witness to much of it."
I then went over the whole affair and gave him as full a statement as it was possible for me to give. I described everything about it. I told him of the orders Haight first gave me. I told him everything. I told him that "Brother McMurdy, Brother Knight and myself killed the wounded men in the wagons, with the assistance of the Indians. We killed six wounded men."
He asked me many questions, and I told him every particular, and everything that I knew. I described everything very fully. I told him what I had said against killing the women and children. Brigham then said: "Isaac (referring to Haight) has sent me word that if they had killed every man, woman and child in the outfit, there would not have been a drop of innocent blood shed by the brethren: for they were a set of murderers, robbers and thieves."
While I was still talking with him, some men came into his house to see him, so he requested me to keep quiet until they left. I did as he directed.
As soon as the men went out, I continued my recital. I gave him the names of every man that had been present at the massacre. I told him who killed various ones. In fact I gave him all the information there was to give.
When I finished talking about the matter, he said: "This is the most unfortunate affair that ever befel [sic] the Church. I am afraid of treachery among the brethren that were there. If any one tells this thing so that it will become public, it will work us great injury. I
want you to understand now, that you are never to tell this again, not even to Heber C. Kimball. It must be kept a secret among ourselves. When you get home, I --Page 253– want you to sit down and write a long letter, and give me an account of the affair, charging it to the Indians. You sign the letter as Farmer to the Indians, and direct it to me as Indian Agent. I can then make use of such a letter to keep off all damaging and troublesome enquiries." I told him that I would write the letter. (I kept my word; but, as an evidence of his treachery, that same letter that he ordered me to write, he has given to Attorney Howard, and he has introduced it in evidence against me on my trial.)
Brigham Young knew when he got that letter just as well as I did, that it was not a true letter, and that it was only written according to his orders to throw the public off of the right trail. He knew that it was written simply to cast all the blame on the Indians, and to protect the brethren. In writing that letter I was still obeying my orders and earning that Celestial reward that had been promised to me.
He then said, "If only men had been killed, I would not have cared so much; but the killing of the women and children is the sin of it. I suppose the men were a hard set, but it is hard to kill women and children for the sins of the men. This whole thing stands before me like a horrid vision. I must have time to reflect upon it."
He then told me to withdraw and call next day, and he would give me an answer. I said to him, "President Young, the people all felt, and I know that I believed I was obeying orders, and acting for the good of the Church, and in strict conformity with the oaths that we have all taken to avenge the blood of the Prophets. You must either sustain the people for what they have done, or you most release us from the oaths and obligations that we have taken."
The only reply he made was, "Go now, and come in the morning, and I will give you an answer."
I went to see him again in the morning. When I went in, he [sic] seemed quite cheerful. He said, "I have made that matter a subject of prayer. I went right to God with it, and asked Him to take the horrid vision from my sight, if it was a righteous thing that my people had done in killing those people at the Mountain Meadows. God answered me, and at once the vision was removed. I have evidence from --Page 254--God that He has overruled it all for good, and the action was a righteous one and well intended.
["]The brethren acted from pure motives. The only trouble is they acted a little prematurely; they were a little ahead of time. I sustain you and all of the brethren for what they did. All that I fear is treachery on the part of some one who took a with you, but we will look to that."
I was again cautioned and commanded to keep the whole thing as a sacred secret, and again told to write the report as Indian Farmer, laying the blame on the Indians. That ended our interview, and I left him, and soon started for my home at Harmony.
Brigham Young was then satisfied with the purity of my motives in acting as I had done at the Mountain Meadows. Now he is doing all he can against me, but I know it is nothing but cowardice that has made him turn against me as he has at last.
When I reported my interview with Young to Haight, and gave him Brigham's answer, he was well pleased; he said that I had done well. He again enjoined secrecy, and said it must never be told.
I remember a circumstance that Haight then related to me about Dan. [sic] McFarland. He said: "Dan will make a bully warrior." I said, "Why do you think so?"
"Well," said he, "Dan came to me and said, 'You must get me another knife, because the one I have got has no good stuff in it, for the edge turned when I cut a fellow's throat that day at the Meadows. I caught one of the devils that was trying to get away, and when I cut his throat it took all the edge off of my knife.' I tell you that boy will make a bully warrior."
I said, "Haight, I don't believe you have any conscience." He laughed, and said, "Conscience be d--d, I don't know what the word means."
I thought over the matter, and made up my mind to write the letter to Brigham Young and lay it all to the Indians, so as to get the matter off of my mind. I then wrote the letter that has been used in the trial. It was as follows: --Page 255--
LETTER OF JOHN D. LEE TO BRIGHAM YOUNG.
HARMONY, WASHINGTON Co., U. T.,
November 20th, 1857.
To His Excellency, Gov. B. Young, Ex-Officio and Superintendent of Indian Affairs:
DEAR SIR: My report under date May 11th, 1857, relative to the Indians over whom I have charge as farmer, showed a friendly relation between them and the whites, which doubtless would have continued to increase had not the white mans been the first aggressor, as was the case with Capt. Fancher's company of emigrants, passing through to California about the middle of September last, on Corn Creek, fifteen miles south of Fillmore City, Millard County. The company there poisoned the meat of an ox, which they gave the Pah Vant Indians to eat, causing four of them to die immediately, besides poisoning a number more. The company also poisoned the water where they encamped, killing the cattle of the settlers. This unguided policy, planned in wickedness by this company, raised the ire of the Indians, which soon spread through the southern tribes, firing them up with revenge till blood was in their path, and as the breach, according to their tradition, was a national one, consequently any portion of the nation was liable to atone for that offense.
About the 22d of September, Capt. Fancher and company fell victims to their wrath, near Mountain Meadows; their cattle and horses were shot down in every direction, their wagons and property mostly committed to the flames. Had they been the only ones that suffered we would have less cause of complaint. But the following company of near the same size had many of their men shot down near Beaver City, and had it not been for the interposition of the citizens at that place, the whole company would have been massacred by the enraged Pah Vants. From this place they were protected by military force, by order of Col. W. H. Dame, through the Territory, beside. providing the company with interpreters, to help them through to the Los Vaagus. On the Muddy, some three to five hundred Indians attacked the company, while traveling, and drove off several hundred head of cattle, telling the company that if they fired a single gun that they would kill every soul. The interpreters tried to regain the stock, or a portion of them, by presents, but in vain. The Indians told them to mind their own business, or --Page 256– their lives would not be safe. Since that occurrence no company has been able to pass without some of our interpreters to talk and explain matters to the Indians.
Friendly feelings yet remain between the natives and settlers and I have no hesitancy in saying that it will increase so long as we treat them kindly, and deal honestly toward them. I have been blest in my labors the last year. Much grain has been raised for the Indians.
I herewith furnish you the account of W. H. Dame, of Parowan, for cattle, wagons, etc.
From the above report you will see that the wants of the Natives have increased commensurate with their experience and practice in the art of agriculture.
With sentiments of high consideration, I am your humble servant,
JOHN D. LEE,
Farmer to Pah Utes Indians.
Gov. B. Young, Ex-officio and Superintendent of Indian affairs.
I forwarded that letter, and thought I had managed the affair nicely.
I put in the expense account of $2,220, just to show off, and help Brigham Young to get something from the Government. It was the way his Indian farmers all did. I never gave the Indians one of the articles named in the letter. No one of the men mentioned had ever furnished such articles to the Indians, but I did it this way for safety. Brigham Young never spent a dollar on the Indians in Utah, while he was Indian Agent. The only money he ever spent on the Indians was when we were at war with them. Then they cost us some money, but not much.
Brigham Young, well knowing that I wrote that letter just for the protection of the brethren, used it to make up his report to the Government about his acts as Indian Agent. I obeyed his orders in this, as I did the orders of Haight at the Mountain Meadows, and I am now getting my pay for my falsehood. I acted conscientiously in the whole matter, and have nothing to blame myself for, except being so silly as to allow myself to be duped by the cowardly wretches who are now seeking safety by hunting me to the death.
The following winter I was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, that met in Salt Lake City to form a constitution, preparatory to the application of Utah for admission into the Union. I attended during the entire session, and was often in company with Brigham Young at his house and elsewhere, and he treated me all the time with great kindness and consideration.
At the close of the session of the Convention, I was directed by Brigham Young to take charge of all the cattle, and other property taken from the emigrants, and take care of it for the Indians. I did as I was ordered.
When I got home I gathered up about two hundred head of cattle, and put my brand on them, and I gave them to the Indians, as they needed them, or rather when they demanded them. I did that until all of the emigrant cattle were gone.
This thing of taking care of that property was an unfortunate thing for me, for when the Indians wanted beef, they thought they owned everything with my brand on it. So much so, that I long since quit branding my stock. I preferred taking chances of leaving them unbranded, for every thing with my brand on was certain to be taken by the Indians. I know that --Page 258--it has been reported that the emigrants were very rich. That is a mistake. Their only wealth consisted in cattle and their teams. The people were comfortably dressed in Kentucky jean, and lindsey, but they had no fine clothing that I ever saw.
They had but few watches. I never owned or carried one of the watches taken from the emigrants in my life, or had anything to do with any of their property, except to take care or the cattle for the Indians, as ordered to do by Brigham Young, as I have before stated in this confession.
There is another falsehood generally believed in Utah, especially among the Mormons. It is this. It has generally been reported that Brigham Young was anxious to help Judge Cradlebaugh arrest all the guilty parties. There is not one word of truth in the whole statement. Brigham Young knew the name of every man that was in any way implicated in the Mountain Meadows Massacre. He knew just as much about it as I did, except that he did not see it, as I had seen it.
If Brigham Young had wanted one man, or fifty men, or five hundred men arrested, all he would have had to do would have been to say so, and they would have been arrested instantly. There was no escape for them if he ordered their arrest. Every man who knows anything of affairs in Utah at that time knows this is so.
It is true that Brigham made a great parade at the time, and talked a great deal about bringing the guilty parties to Justice, but he did not mean a word of it--not a word. He did go South with Cradlebaugh, but he took good care that Cradlebaugh caught no person that had been in the massacre.
I know that I had plenty of notice of their coming, and so did all the brethren. It was one of Brigham Young's cunning dodges to blind the government. That this is true I can prove by the statement of what he did at Cedar City while out on his trip with Judge Cradlebaugh to investigate the matter and arrest (?) the guilty parties.
Judge Cradelbaugh [sic] and his men were working like faithful men to find out all about it, but they did not learn very much. True, they got on the right track, but could not learn it all, for Brigham Young was along to see that they did not learn the facts.
While at Cedar City, Brigham preached one night, but none of the Judge's party heard him. In his sermon, when speaking of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, he said: --Page 259-- "Do you know who those people were that were killed at the Mountain Meadows? I will tell you who those people were. They were fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins and children of those who killed the Saints, and drove them from Missouri, and afterwards killed our Prophets in Carthage jail. These children that the government has made such a stir about, were gathered up by the government and carried back to Missouri, to St. Louis, and letters were sent to their relatives to come and take them; but their relations wrote back that they did not want them--that they were the children of thieves, outlaws and murderers, and they would not take them, they did not wish anything to do with them, and would not have them around their houses. Those children are now in the poor house in St. Louis. And yet after all this, I am told that there are many of the brethren who are willing to inform upon and swear against the brethren who were engaged in that affair. I hope there is no truth in this report. I hope there is no such person here, under the sound of my voice. But if there is, I will tell you my opinion of you, and the fact so far as your fate is concerned. Unless you repent at once of that unholy intention, and keep the secret of all that you know, you will die a dog's death, and be damned, and go to hell. I do not want to hear of any more treachery among my people."
These words of Brigham Young gave great comfort to all of us who were out in the woods keeeping [sic] out of the way of the officers. It insured our safety and took away our fears.
There has been all sorts of reports circulated about me, and the bigger the lie that was told the more readily it was believed. I have told in this statement just what I did at the Mountain Meadows Massacre. The evidence of Jacob Hamblin is false in toto. Hamblin lied in every particular, so far as his evidence related to me.
It is my fate to die for what I did; but I go to my death with a certainty that it cannot be worse than my life has been for the last nineteen years.
FACTS THAT I KNOW TO BE FACTS.
As I have been in some respects a prominent man in the Mormon Church, the public may expect from me a statement of facts concerning other crimes and other things besides the Mountain Meadows Massacre. I do know some facts that I will state. --Page 260--
I could give many things that would throw light on the doings of the Church, if I had my journals, but as I said, nearly all of my journals have been made way with by Brigham Young; at least I delivered them to him and never could get them again.
I have delivered to my Counsel, Wm. W. Bishop, such journals as I have, and shall leave the one that I am now keeping in prison, when I am released by death from the necessity of writing down my thoughts from day to day, and he can make such use of it as he thinks best.
My statement of outside matters must be brief, but such as they are, the public can rest certain of this thing, they are true.
As many people think that Brigham Young cut me off from the Church, and refused to recognize me a short time after the massacre, I will relate a circumstance that took place ten years after all the facts were known by him.
In 1867 or 1868, I met President Brigham Young and suite, at Parowan, seventy miles from Washington, the place where a part of my family resided. Lieut. James Pace was with me. The Prophet said to me, that he wanted uncle Jim Pace to go with me and prepare dinner for him and his suite at Washington, within three days. We were to go by my herd on the plains and in the valleys, and take several fat kids along and have a good dinner for them by the time they got there.
His will was our pleasure. We rode night and day, and felt thankful that we were worthy of the honor of serving the Prophet of the Living God. We did not consider the toil or loss of sleep a sacrifice, in such a laudable undertaking.
The time designated for dinner was one o'clock. The company arrived at eleven o'clock, two hours ahead of time. The Prophet drove up in front of Bishop Covington's house, on the same block where I lived; he halted about five minutes there, instead of driving direct to my house according to the previous arrangement. Then he turned his carriage around and got out with Amelia, his beloved, and went into the Bishop's house, leaving his suite standing in the streets. The peevish old man felt his dignity trampled on, because I was not present to the minute to receive him with an escort, to welcome and do homage to him upon entering the town.
As soon as I learned of his arrival I hastened to make apologies.
The Prophet heard my excuses, and said his family and --Page 261--brethren, all except himself and wife, could go to my house to dinner, that he would not eat until about two o'clock.
He then whispered to me and said, "Cut me a chunk off the breast of the turkey, and a piece of the loin of one of the fat kids, and put some rich gravy over it, and I will eat it at 2 P.M."
At two o'clock I again made his will my pleasure, and carried his dinner to him as requested, when he did me the honor of eating it. The rest of the company went to my house and took dinner.
Among my guests that day were George A. Smith, Bishop Hunter, John Taylor, W. Woodruff, several of the Prophet's sons and daughters, and many others. At dinner, George A. Smith and others of the Twelve Apostles laughed about the anger of Brigham, and said if the Old Boss had not got miffed, they would have lost the pleasure of eating the fat turkey. The party enjoyed themselves very much that day, and had many a laugh over the Prophet's anger robbing him of an excellent dinner.
I had part of my family at Washington, but I also had quite a family still living at Harmony, where several of my wives were staying.
The next morning the Prophet came to me and asked me if I was going to Harmony that night. I told him I did intend going.
"I wish you would go," said he, "and prepare dinner for us."
He then gave me full instructions what to prepare for dinner, and how he wanted his meat cooked, and said the company would be at my house in Harmony the next day at one o'clock, P. M.
I at once proceeded to obey his instructions. I rode to Harmony through a hard rain-storm, and I confess I was proud of my position. I then esteemed it a great honor to have the privilege of entertaing [sic] the greatest man living, the Prophet of the Lord.
My entire family at Harmony were up all night, cooking and making ready to feed and serve the Lord's anointed, and his followers.
I killed beeves, sheep, goats, turkeys geese, ducks and chickens, all of which were prepared according to instructions, and were eaten by Brigham Young and his party the next day.
Prompt to time, the Prophet, the President of the Church --Page 262-and his suite, and an escort on horseback, came into the Fort. There were seventy-three carriages, besides the escort. I entertained the entire party, giving them dinner, supper and breakfast.
In 1858 Governor Young called upon me to go and locate a company of cotton growers, of which Joseph Ham was captain. This company was sent out by Governor Young and the leading men of Salt Lake City, to test the growing of cotton on the Santa Clara and Rio Virgin bottoms. In obedience to counsel, I located the company at the mouth of the Santa Clara River, about four miles south from where St. George now stands.
In 1859 or 1860, the first trip that ex-Gov. Young took from Salt Lake City to Southern Utah, he went by way of Pinto, Mountain Meadows, Santa Clara and Washington. I was then at Washington, building a grist mill, some two miles west of the town, when he came along. I was sitting on a rock about thirty steps from the road. His carriage was in the lead, as was usual with him when traveling. When he came opposite where I was sitting, he halted and called me to his carriage, and bid me get in, I did so. He seemed glad to see me, and asked where I lived. I told him I lived on the same block that Bishop Covington did, that he would pass my door in going to the Bishop's, as I then thought he would put up with the Bishop, and not with a private person.
In crossing the creek, on the way into town, the sand was heavy. I went to jump out and walk. He objected, saying, "Sit still. You are of more value than horse-flesh yet."
When we neared my residence, he said: "Is this where you live, John?"
I said, "It is," pointing at the same time to the east end of the block, and said, "That is where the Bishop lives."
The old man made no reply, but continued on. Then he said, "You have a nice place here. I have a notion to stop with you."
I said, "You are always welcome to my house."
Then he said to the company, which consisted, I think, of seventy-three carriages, "Some of you had better scatter round among the brethren."
About half the company did so. The rest, with the Prophet, stayed at my house.
The next day, the whole company went on to Tokerville, --Page 263--twenty miles from my residence. I went with them to that place. In the evening all went to St. George, and held a two-days' meeting. At the close of the meeting, the Prophet called me to the stand, and said, "John, I will be at New Harmony on Wednesday next." (By way of explanation, I will here say, the town of Harmony changed its location three times. The first fort was built at the crossing of the north fork of Ash Creek, in 1852, and was abandoned in 1853, during the war with the Ute Indians. In 1855, a new site was selected, four miles north-west of Harmony No. 1, and an adobe fort was built two hundred feet square, and twenty-two feet high. In 1860, Harmony No. 2 was demolished by a rain-storm, which continued twenty-eight days without stopping. At once after that, a site was selected at the head of Ash Creek, where a new settlement was started, which was called New Harmony.) "I want you to go and notify the Saints, and have a Bowery built, and prepare for our reception."
Jas. H. Imday was then President of that place, and was at the meeting. I here again tried to make the will of the Prophet my pleasure. I traveled all night, and reported the orders of the Prophet to the people.
Great preparations were made for his reception. A committee of arrangements was appointed, also a committee to wait on his Honor. Also an escort of fifteen men was selected to accompany this committee. They went out fifteen miles, where they met the Prophet and his followers and made a report of proceedings. He thanked them, and said, "I am going to stop with Brother John D.," as he often called me. I took no part in the proceedings except to report the will of the Prophet to the people. I went on horseback alone, and met the President, a [sic] he is now called. I met him a mile or more outside of the town. As I rode up he halted and said, "John, I am going to stop with you."
I replied, "You know you are always welcome."
He then drove to the center of the town and halted; then he said, "John, where do you live?"
I pointed across the field about half a mile.
Said he, "Have they fenced you out? You take the lead, and we will break a road to your house."
It being his will, we started and went to my house, sixteen --Page 264– carriages going along with us. Quite a number of the President's company had gone by Kanab, to Cedar City, to hold meetings in the settlements they would go through. The arrangements of the committee were treated with indifference, if not contempt by the President and his party. All the company but one carriage went to my house, that one stopped at James Pace's. During their stay at my house all were friendly. Brigham Young asked me to go with them to Cedar City, which I did.
In 1870, sometime in the Fall, I went from Parowan, by way of Panguich, up the Severe River with Brigham Young, on a trip to the Pareah country. On this trip I was appointed a road commissioner, with ten men to go ahead, view out and prepare the road for the President and his company to travel over. While at Upper Kanab, I had a private interview with the Prophet, concerning my future destination. Brigham said he thought I had met with opposition and hardships enough to entitle me to have rest the balance of my life. That I had best leave Harmony, and settle in some of those good places farther South; build up a home and gather strength around me, and after a while we would cross over into Arizona Territory, near the San Francisco Mountains, and there establish the order of Enoch, or United Order. We were to take a portable steam saw mill to cut lumber with which to build up the Southern settlements, and I was to run the mill in connection with Bishop L. Stewart. This I then considered an additional honor shown me by the Prophet.
From Upper Kanab, I was sent across the mountains to Lower Kanab, to Bishop Stewart's, to have him carry supplies to the Prophet and company. I had to travel sixty miles without a trail, but I was glad of a chance to perform any duty that would please the Prophet. I again met the company, and went with the party to Tokerville, where I closed arrangements with President Young about the saw mill. All was understood and agreed upon, and we parted in a very friendly manner.
About two weeks after leaving President Young and party at Tokerville, I was notified that I had been suspended from the Church.
The following Spring, I visited the Prophet at St. George, and asked him why they had dealt so rashly with me, without allowing me a chance to speak for myself; why they had waited seven-
--Page 265– teen years and then cut me off; why I was not cut off at once if what I had done was evil.
He replied, "I never knew the facts until lately."
I said, "President Young, you know that is not true. You know I told the whole story to you a short time after it happened, and gave you a full statement of everything connected with the massacre, and I then put more on myself than I was to blame for; and if your late informants have told you a story different from the one that I gave you soon after the massacre, when I reported the facts to you by order of Major Haight, they have lied like h--l, and you know it. I did nothing designedly wrong on that occasion. I tried to save that company from destruction after they were attacked, but I was overruled and forced to do all that I did do. I have had my name cast out as evil, but I know I have a reward awaiting me in Heaven. I have suffered in silence, and have done so to protect the brethren who committed the deed. I have borne the imputation of this crime long enough, and demand a rehearing. I demand that all the parties concerned be brought forward and forced by you to shoulder their own sins. I am willing to bear mine, but I will not submit to carry all the blame for those who committed the massacre.
The reply he made was this: "Be a man, and not a baby. I am your friend, and not your enemy. You shall have a rehearing. Go up to the office and see Brother Erastus Snow, and arrange the time for the hearing."
I did so. We arranged the time of meeting. It was agreed that if the telegraph wires were working, all parties interested were to be notified of the meeting, and required to be present at St. George, Utah, on the following Wednesday, at 2, P. M. All parties agreed to this, and after talking over the whole thing, I again parted with President Young, in a very friendly manner.
I went to Washington and staid at my house and with my family there. The next morning I started for Harmony, to visit my family there, and make arrangements for the rehearing that was to me of the greatest of importance. I then considered that if I was cut off from the Church I had better be dead; that out of the Church I could find no joys worth living for.
Soon after I left Washington, Erastus Snow, one of the twelve apostles, arrived at my house and asked for me. My family told --Page 266--him that I had gone to Harmony to arrange for the new hearing and trial before the Church authorities. He appeared to be much disappointed at not meeting me, and told my family that Brigham Young had reconsidered the matter, and there would be no rehearing or investigation; that the order cutting me off from the Church would stand; that he would send a letter to me which would explain all the matter, and that the letter would reach Harmony about as soon as I did.
On the next Tuesday night an anonymous letter was left at my house by one of the sons of Erastus Snow, with orders to hand it to me. The letter read as follows:
"JOHN D. LEE, of Washington:
"Dear Sir: If you will consult your own interest, and that of those that would be your friends, you will not press an investigation at this time, as it will only serve to implicate those that would be your friends, and cause them to suffer with, or inform upon you. Our advice is to make yourself scarce, and keep out of the way."
There was no signature to the letter, but I knew it came from apostle Snow, and was written by orders of Brigham Young.
When I read the letter I knew I had nothing to hope for from the Church, and my grief was as great as I could bear. To add to my troubles, Brigham Young sent word to my wives that they were all divorced from me and could leave me, if they wished to, do so. This was the greatest trouble that I ever had in my life, for I loved all my wives.
As the result of Brigham's advice, eleven of my wives deserted me, and have never lived with me since that time. I gave them all a fair share of the property that I then owned. I afterwards lost my large ferry-boat at my ferry on the Colorado River. Brigham Young was anxious to have the ferry kept in good condition for passing the river, for he did not know what hour he might need it, so he sent parties who put in another boat, which I afterwards paid him for.
I visited Brigham Young at his house in St. George in 1874, and never was received in a more friendly manner. He could always appear the saint when he was meditating treachery to one of his people. He then promised to restore me to membership in a short time.
Soon afterwards I was arrested (on or about the 9th of No- --page 267– vember, 1874), and taken to Fort Cameron, in Beaver County, Utah Territory, and placed in prison there. A few days after my arrest I was visited in prison by General George A. Smith, Orson Hyde, Erastus Snow, A. F. McDonald, and many other leaders of the Church. They each and all told me to stand to my integrity, and all would come out right in the end.
At this time the Prophet was stopping with Bishop Murdock, in Beaver City. My wife Rachel went at night to see him and have a talk about my case. He received her with the utmost kindness, saying: "Sister Rachel, are you standing by Brother John?"
"Yes, sir, I am," was her reply.
"That is right," said he. "God bless you for it. Tell Brother John to stand to his integrity to the end, and not a hair of his head shall be harmed."
This kindness was continued by the Churchmen until I was released on bail, in May, 1875.
And I will here say, I did not believe, until I was released on bail, that any member of the Church would desert me. I had every confidence that Brigham Young would save me at last. I knew then, as I know now, that he had the power, and I thought he had the will, to save me harmless. No man can be convicted in Utah if Brigham Young determines to save him, and I had his solemn word that I should not suffer. But now, when it is too late for me to help myself, I find I am selected by him as a victim to be offered up to keep the Gentiles from prosecuting any of his pets for murder or other crimes.
When I gained my freedom after nearly two years of imprisonment, I found that some of the good Saints had been tampering with my wife Emma, to get the ferry out of my hands. The "One-Eyed Pirate," as the Tribune calls him, told her that I was not a brother in the Church, and had tried to alienate her affections from me.
Up to this time I had always tried to make the will of the Priesthood my pleasure, but this last act of their kindness towards a brother who had been in prison for nearly two years, began to shake my faith in the anointed of the Lord.
The loss of the ferry--for I virtually lost control of it by their treachery--was a great blow to me in my destitute condition. I then felt that the time was near approaching when they would --Page 268--sacrifice and sell me to screen their pets and cover up their own sins.
When I came before the court, on the 11th day of September, 1876, I was met with the same hypocritical smile and whisper, as on other occasions, and told to "Stand to your integrity. Let the will of the Lord's anointed be your pleasure. My mouth is sealed, but I know you will come out all right."
So they talked to me, the leaders of the Church and its prominent men, all telling me the same thing, while at the same time those low, deceitful, treacherous, cowardly, dastardly sycophants and serfs had combined to fasten the rope around my neck. No doubt they thought they could lull me to sleep, until they could kill and make a scape-goat of me, to atone for the sins of the whole Church, which fully endorsed this treacherous treatment, as has been established by the oaths given by the false, treacherous, sneaking witnesses who came on the stand by order and command of the Church, to consummate the vile scheme formed for my destruction.
This last act of their charitable kindness let me out with them. All that I have made by making their will my pleasure, and yielding myself to their wishes, is the loss of my reputation, my fortune, my near and dear supposed friends, my salvation, and my all. My life now hangs on a single thread.
But is there no help for the widow's son? I can no longer expect help from the Church, or those of the Mormon faith. If I escape execution, it will be through the clemency of the nation, many of whose noble sons will dislike to see me sacrificed in this way. I acknowledge that I have been slow to listen to the advice of friends, who have warned me of the danger and treachery that awaited me. Yet I ask pardon for all the ingratitude with which I received their advice. When the people consider that I was ever taught to look upon treachery with horror, and that I have never permitted one nerve or fibre of this old frame to weaken or give way, notwithstanding the fact that I have been cut loose, and cast off and sacrificed by those who from their own stand-point, and according to their own theory, should have stood by me to the last, they may have some compassion for me. Perhaps all is for the best.
As it now stands, I feel free from all the obligations that have hitherto sealed my mouth, so far as the deeds of which I stand accused are concerned. I now consider myself at liberty to, --Page 269--
and I now will state all the facts in the case, with which I am familiar. I am no traitor; I am only acting just to my own reputation. I am not sorry for the stand which I have taken, or my long silence.
THE TRUTH ABOUT "DIRTY FINGERED JAKE" HAMBLIN AND THE ACTS OF SOME GOOD SAINTS.
Jacob Hamblin, commonly called "Dirty Fingered Jake," when called as a witness, gave as a reason for his long silence, concerning what he says I told him, that he was waiting for the right time to come, and he thought it had come now.
This reminds me of a circumstance that was related by Joseph Knight and John Lay, who were missionaries to the Indians under President Jacob Hamblin, at his headquarters at Santa Clara Fort, in 1859. In the Fall of 1859 two young men, on their way to California, stopped at the fort to recruit their jaded animals, and expecting that while doing so they might be so fortunate as to meet with some train of people going to the same place, so they would have company to San Bernardino, the young men staid at the fort some two months, daily expecting a company to pass that way, but still no one came. Hamblin assured them that they could go through the country with perfect safety. At the same time he had his plans laid to take their lives as soon as they started. The Indians around the fort wanted to kill the men at once, but Hamblin objected, and told the Indians to wait until the men got out on the desert--that if they would wait until the right time came they might then kill the men.
At last these young men started from the fort. Hamblin had told the Indians that the right time had come, and that he wanted the Indians to ambush themselves at a point agreed on near the desert, where the men could be safely killed. The Indians obeyed Hamblin's orders, and as the men came to the place of ambush the Indians fired upon them, and succeeded in killing one of the men. The other returned the fire, and shot one of Hamblin's right-hand men or pet Indians through the hand; this Indian's name was Queets, which means left-handed. By wounding this Indian he managed to escape, and returned to the fort, but doing so with the loss of the pack animals, provisions and the riding animal of his partner that lay dead upon the desert. The survivor stayed with Mr. Judd for a few days, when a com- --Page 270– pany of emigrants passed that way, and with them he succeeded in making his escape from the death that Hamblin had planned for him.
Hamblin was at Salt Lake City when the Mountain Meadows Massacre took place, and he pretends to have great sympathy with and sorrow for their fate. I can only judge what he would have done towards the massacre if he had been at home by what he did to help the next train that passed that way. When this train was passing through the settlements, Hamblin made arrangements with Nephi Johnson and his other interpreters (all of them were tools for Hamblin) how and where to relieve this company of the large herd of stock that belonged to the train. They had a large number of horses and cattle, more than five hundred head in all. Several interpreters were sent on ahead of the train. One of these was Ira Hatch. They were ordered by Hamblin to prepare the Indians to make a raid upon the stock, and these men and Indians obeyed orders then the same as my brethren and I did with the first company. About 10 o'clock, A. M., just after the train had crossed the Muddy, or a few miles beyond it on the desert, at the time and place as agreed on by Hamblin, and just as he had ordered it to be done, over one hundred Indians made a dash on the train and drove all the stock off to the Muddy.
The emigrants fired at the Indians, but the treacherous Nephi Johnson was acting as a guide, interpreter and friend to the whites; in fact that was how he came to be along with them was to pretend to aid them and protect them from Indians, but in fact he was there by order of Hamblin, to make the Indian raid on the stock a success.
Nephi Johnson rushed out and told the emigrants that if they valued their own lives they must not fire again, for if they did so he could not protect them from the cruelty of the savages--that the Indians would return and massacre them the same as they did the emigrants at Mountain Meadows. The acting of Johnson and the other interpreters and spies that were with him, was so good that after a consultation the emigrants decided to follow his advice. The final conclusion was, that as Johnson was friendly with the Indians, and could talk their language, he should go and see the Indians, and try and get the stock back.
The emigrants waited on the desert, and Johnson went to the --Page 271– Indians, or pretended to do so. After a few hours he returned, and reported that the Indians were very hostile, and threatened to attack the train at once; that he was afraid he could not prevent it, and the only chance for the emigrants was in their instant departure; that as the emigrants would be gaining a place of safety, he would, at the risk of his life, make an effort to keep the Indians back, and pacify them. Also that he would report to Hamblin as soon as possible, and raise a force of men at the fort, and get back the stock, if it could be done, and would write to the company, giving an account of his success, so they would get his letter at San Bernardino, and if he recovered the stock, the emigrants could send back a party to receive it, and drive it to California.
Under the circumstances, the company adopted his plan, and he left them on the desert, with all their loose stock gone; but the danger was over, for the stock was what Hamblin and Johnson had been working for.
Johnson returned and ordered the Indians to drive the stock to the Clara. The Indians acted like good Mormons, and obeyed orders. Hamblin gave them a few head of cattle for their services in aiding him to steal the drove. The remainder of the cattle and horses the secret keeper, Hamblin, took charge of for the benefit of the Mission. As the cattle became fat enough for beef, they were sold or butchered for the use of the settlers. Some were traded to other settlements for sheep and other articles. In this way Hamblin used all of the stock stolen from the Dukes Company, except some forty head.
In order to keep up an appearance of honesty and fairness, Hamblin wrote a letter to Capt. Dukes, in the fall of 1860, saying that he had recovered a small portion of the company's stock from the Indians, by giving them presents, and that some of the stock had been traded to the settlers by the Indians. This letter was to be confirmed by all the missionaries and settlers, when the stock was to be called for by the former owners. No one was to give information that would lead to the discovery of the stock.
This was always the way when the Mormons committed a crime against the Gentiles. All the brethren were to help keep the secret. Some of the Dukes Company came back to Hamblin's for their cattle and horses, and after three weeks' diligent search among the secret keepers, they succeeded in getting about --Page 272– forty head of cattle, and returned with them to California. Several of the settlers were severely censured for giving the little information that was given, which led to the recovery of that small portion of the large herd of cattle and horses that the Saints, Hamblin and Johnson, had stolen by the help of the Indians, and the efforts of the brethren.
THE MORMON METHOD OF DISPOSING OF SUSPECTED PERSONS.
In the Winter of 1857-8 John Weston took an Irishman, that had been stopping with him as his guest several days, on a hunt, and when he got him in the brush and timber four miles west of Cedar City, he cut the throat of the Irishman and left the body unburied. A son of Weston said that his father received orders to kill the man because Isaac C. Haight considered him a spy.
Near the same time, Philip Klingensmith laid in ambush to kill Robert Keyes (now a resident of Beaver City, Utah Territory), while Keyes was irrigating in his field. Klingensmith wanted to kill Keyes because Keyes refused to give false testimony when requested to do so by Klingensmith, who was then Bishop of the Church.
When Keyes came within a few feet of the hiding place of Klingensmith, this "holy" man raised his gun and took deliberate aim at Keyes' heart, but the cap bursted without exploding the powder, and so Keyes escaped. After the Massacre, when Haight learned that Brigham Young did not fully approve of the deed, he then sought to screen himself, Higbee and Klingensmith, by putting me between them and danger. He reported that I was the big captain that planned, led and executed it; that the honor of such a noble deed for the avenging of the blood of the Prophets would lead to honor, immortality and eternal life in the kingdom of God; that I must stand to my integrity; that no man would ever be hurt. In this way it soon became a settled fact that I was the actual butcher and leader in that awful affair. Year by year that story has gained ground and strength, until I am now held responsible, and am to die, to save the Church. However, this is a regular trick of the Church leaders--use a man as long as he is of any use, and then throw him aside.
As I have stated in other places in my writings, the people in Utah who professed the Mormon religion were at and for some time before the massacre full of wild-fire and fanatical zeal, anx -
--Page 250--ious to do something to build up the Kingdom of God on earth and to waste away the enemies of the Mormon religion. At that time it was a common thing for small bands of people on their way from California to pass through by way of Cedar City on their journey. Many of these people were killed simply because they were Gentiles. When a Gentile came into a town he was looked upon with suspicion, and most of the people considered every stranger a spy from the United States army. The killing of Gentiles was considered a means of grace and a virtuous deed.
I remember an affair that transpired at the old distillery in Cedar City, just before the massacre. I was informed of it when I went to Cedar City, by the chief men there, and I may say I know it to be true. The facts are as follows: Three men came to Cedar City one evening; they were poor, and much worn by their long journey. They were on their way to California. They were so poor and destitute that the authorities considered they were dangerous men, so they reported that they were spies from Johnston's army, and ordered the brethren to devise a plan to put them out of the way, decently and in order. That the will of God, as made known through Haight and Klingensmith, might be done, these helpless men were coaxed to go to the old distillery and take a drink. They went in company with John M. Highee, John Weston, James Haslem and Wm. C. Stewart, and I think another man, but if so I have forgotten his name. The party drank considerable, and
when the emigrants got under the influence of the whisky the brethren attacked them, and knocked the brains out of two of the men with the king-bolt of a wagon. The third man was very powerful and muscular; he fought valiantly for his life, but after a brief struggle he was over-come and killed. They were buried near Cedar City. This deed was sustained by all the people there. The parties who did the killing were pointed out as true, valiant men, zealous defenders of the faith, and as fine examples for the young men to pattern after.
ATTEMPT TO ASSASSINATE LIEUTENANT TOBIN.
Sometime in the Fall of 1857, not long after the Mountain Meadows Massacre, it was decided by the authorities at Salt Lake City that Lieut. Tobin must be killed. Tobin had left a train at Salt Lake, joined the Church there, and afterwards mar- --Page 274– ried a daughter or General Charles C. Rich, one of the Twelve Apostles. Tobin was quite a smart man, and soon after his marriage he was sent to England on a mission.
While preaching in England, it was reported that he had committed adultery there, and he was ordered home. On his arrival in Salt Lake he was cut off from the Church, and I think his wife was taken from him by order of the Church. He made several efforts to get out of the Territory. Finally he got with a company en-route for California, and left Salt Lake, intending to go to California, to escape the persecutions that were being forced upon him by the Church authorities. After he had been gone a few days the "Destroying Angels" were put on his trail, with orders to kill him without fail before they returned. Two desperate fanatics were selected, who knew nothing but to obey orders. Joel White and John Willis were the parties.
They started on the trail, determined to kill Tobin when they could find him. They had no cause to find fault with him; he had never injured them, but he had in some way fallen under the ban of the Church, and his death had been decreed. These vile tools of the Church leaders were keeping their oaths of obedience to the Priesthood, and were as willing to shed blood at the command of the Prophet or any of the apostles, as ever Inquisitor was to apply the rack to an offending heretic in the dungeons of the Inquisition. In fact Mormonism is Jesuitism refined and perfected.
White and Willis overtook the company that Lieut. Tobin was traveling with, at a point at or near the crossing of the Magottsey. They found where he was sleeping, and going right up to him as he lay on the ground, rolled up in his blanket, they shot him several times, and at last thinking him dead, they concluded to shoot him once more to make certain that he would not escape. So they put a pistol right up against his eye, and fired; the ball put out his eye, but did not kill him.
The "angels " made their escape and returned to Salt Lake City, and reported that their orders were obeyed.
Severely wounded as he was, Lieut. Tobin recovered, and was when I last heard from him in the Union army.
POWER OF THE PRIESTHOOD.
At Parowan, in 1855 or 1856, there was a case that for a while shook my faith in the Church, but I soon got over it and --Page 275– was like others, satisfied that all was done for the glory of God, but that I was so sinful that I could not understand it.
There was a man living there by the name of Robert Gillespie. He was a member of the Church, had one wife, and owned a fine property. Gillespie wanted to be sealed to his sister-in-law, but for some reason his request was denied. He had known of others obtaining wives by committing adultery first and then being sealed to avoid scandal. So he tried it, and then went to the apostle George A. Smith, and again asked to be sealed to the woman; but George A. had a religious fit on him,, or something else, so he refused to seal him or let him be sealed, giving as his reason for refusing, that Gillespie had exercised the rights of sealing without first obtaining orders to do so. A warrant was issued and Gillespie arrested and placed under guard, he was also sued in the Probate Court, before James Lewis, Probate Judge, and a heavy judgment was rendered against him, and all his property was sold to pay the fine and costs. The money was put into the Church fund and
Gillespie was broken up entirely and forced to leave the Territory in a destitute condition.
Many such cases came under my observation. I have known the Church to act in this way and break up and destroy many, very many men. The Church was then, and in that locality, supreme. None could safely defy or disobey it. The Church authorities used the laws of the land, the laws of the Church, and Danites and "Angels" to enforce their orders, and rid the country of those who were distasteful to the leaders. And I say as a fact that there was no escape for any one that the leaders of the Church in Southern Utah selected as a victim.
The fate of old man Braffett, of Parowan, was a peculiar one, and as it afterwards led me into trouble, I will give the story briefly, to show the power of the Priesthood and the peculiarity of the people there.
Old man Braffett lived at Parowan, and in the Fall of 1855 a man by the name of Woodward came to Braffett's house and stopped there to recruit his teams before crossing the deserts. Woodward had two wives. He had lived in Nauvoo, and while there had been architect for the Nauvoo House. While Woodward and his family were stopping with Braffett, one of his wives concluded that she would be damned if she went to live in California--leaving the land of the Saints--and she asked to be divorced from Woodward and sealed to Braffett. At first Braffett refused to take her, but she was a likely and healthy woman. She made love to the old man in earnest, and finally induced him to commit adultery with her. The parties were discovered in the act by old Mrs. Braffett, and she was not so firm in the faith as to permit her husband to enjoy himself without making a fuss about it. The authorities were informed of Braffett's transgressions, and he was arrested and taken before the Probate Judge and tried for the sin of adultery. He made a bill of sale of some of his property to me, for which I paid him before his trial. After hearing the case, the
Probate Judge fined him $1,000, and ordered him to be imprisoned until the fine and costs were paid. Ezra Curtis, the then marshal at Parowan, took all of Braffett's property that could be found and sold it for the purpose of paying the fine, but the large amount of property which was taken was sold for a small sum, for the brethren would not bid much, for property taken from one who had
broken his covenants.
Being unable to pay the fine, the old man was ordered to be taken to Salt Lake City, to be imprisoned in the prison there. I was selected to take him to Salt Lake. I took the old man there, and after many days spent in working with Brigham Young and his apostles, I succeeded in securing a pardon from Brigham for the old man.
Braffett was put to work at Salt Lake by Brigham Young. He dared not return home at that time. His property was all gone, and he was ruined.
The part I took to befriend the old man made several of the brethren at Parowan mad at me, and they swore they would have revenge against me for interfering where I was not interested. I staid in Salt Lake some time, and when I started home there were quite a number of people along. All the teams were heavily loaded; the roads were bad, and our teams weak. We all had to walk much of the time. After we had passed the Severe River the road was very bad. My team was the best in the whole company, and I frequently let some of the women who were in the party ride in my
wagon. One evening, just about dark, I was asked by a young woman, by the name of Alexander, to let her ride, as she was very tired walking. I had her get in the wagon with my wife Rachel, and she rode there until we camped for the night. I got into the wagon after dark and drove the team. We had ridden along this way an hour or so, when Rachel said she was going to ride a while in the next wagon, which was driven by my son-in-law, Mr. Dalton. Soon after Rachel got out of the wagon, a couple of my enemies rode by. I spoke to them, and they rode on. As soon as these men reached the camp they reported that I had been taking improper privileges with Miss Alexander. I was at once told to consider myself under arrest, and that as soon as we reached Parowan I would be tried by the Council for violating my covenants. I was surprised and grieved at the charge, for I was innocent, and the young woman was a very fine and virtuous woman, and as God is soon to
judge me, I declare I never knew of her committing any sin. But she had to suffer slander upon her good name simply because she was befriended by me.
When we reached Parowan there was a meeting called by the Priesthood to try me. This Council was composed of the President of that Stake of Zion and his two Counselors, the High Council, the City Council and the leading men of Parowan. It was a general meeting of the authorities, Church and civil, at Parowan. The meeting was held in a chamber that was used for a prayer circle. It was called a circle room, because the people met there to transact private business and to hold prayer in a circle, which was done in this way. All the brethren would kneel in a circle around the room, near enough to each other for their arms to touch, so that the influence would be more powerful. When the meeting was called to order all the lights were put out, and I was taken into the room and placed on trial. The charge was stated to me and I was ordered to confess my guilt. I told them I was innocent; that I had committed no crime--in fact had not thought of wrong. I told the truth, just
as it was. I was then ordered to stand one side.
The young woman was then brought into the room, and as she came in a pistol was placed to my head and I was told to keep silent. She was questioned and threatened at great length, but not all the threats that they could use would induce her to tell a falsehood. She insisted that I was entirely innocent.
Next her father, an old man, was introduced and questioned. He told the Council that he had diligently enquired into the matter, and believed I was innocent.
Neither the young woman nor her father knew who was in the room. All they knew was that they were being examined before the secret tribunal of Utah, and that a false oath in that place would ensure their death.
When the evidence had been received and the witnesses retired; the candles were again lighted. Then speeches were made by most of the men present, and every one but two spoke in favor of my conviction. Without taking a vote the meeting adjourned, or rather left that place and went somewhere else to consult. I was left in the dark, the house locked and guards placed around the building. I was told that my fate would soon be decided, and I would then be informed what it was to be. I knew so well the manner of dealing in such cases that I expected to be assassinated in the dark, but for some reason it was not done.
Next morning some food was brought to me, but I was still kept a prisoner and refused the liberty of consulting with any friends or any of my family.
Late that day I looked out of the window of the chamber where I was confined, and saw a man by the name of John Steel. He was first Counselor to the President of that Stake of Zion. I called to him and asked him to secure my freedom. After stating the case to him he promised to see what could be done for me, and went off. Through his exertions I was soon released I was told to go home and hold myself subject to orders--that my case was not yet decided.
I went home, but for months I expected to be assassinated everyday, for it was the usual course of the authorities to send an "Angel" after all men who were charged or suspected of having violated their covenants.
Nothing farther was done about the case, but it was held over me as a means of forcing me to live in accordance with the wishes of the Priesthood and to prevent me from again interfering with the Church authorities when they saw fit to destroy a man, as they destroyed old man Braffett, and I believe it did have the effect to make me more careful who I befriended.
In 1854 (I think that was the year) there was a young man, a Gentile, working in Parowan. He was quiet and orderly, but was courting some of the girls. He was notified to quit, and let the girls alone, but he still kept going to see some of them. This was contrary to orders. No Gentile was at that time allowed to keep company with or visit any Mormon girl or --Page 279– woman. The authorities decided to have the young man killed, so they called two of Bishop Dames' Destroying Angels, Barney Carter and old man Gould, and told them to take that cursed young Gentile "over the rim of the basin." That was a term used by the people when they killed a person.
The destroying angels made some excuse to induce the young man to go with them on an excursion, and when they got close to Shirts' mill, near Harmony, they killed him, and left his body in the brush.
The Indians found the body, and reported the facts to me soon afterwards. I was not at home that night, but Carter and Gould went to my house and staid there all night. Rachel asked them where they had been.
They told her they had been on a mission to take a young man, a Gentile, over the rim of the basin, and Carter showed her his sword, which was all bloody, and he said he used that to help the Gentile over the edge. Rachel knew what they meant when they spoke of sending him "over the rim of the basin." It was at that time a common thing to see parties going out of Cedar City and Harmony, with suspected Gentiles, to send them "over the rim of the basin," and the Gentiles were always killed.
This practice was supported by all the people, and every thing of that kind was done by orders from the Council, or by orders from some of the Priesthood. When a Danite or a destroying angel was placed on a man's track, that man died, certain, unless some providential act saved him, as in Tobin's case; he was saved because the "angels" believed he was dead.
The Mormons nearly all, and I think every one of them in Utah previous to the massacre at Mountain Meadows, believed in blood atonement. It was taught by the leaders and believed by the people that the Priesthood were inspired and could not give a wrong order. It was the belief of all that I ever heard talk of these things--and I have been with the Church since the dark days in Jackson County--that the authority that ordered a murder committed, was the only responsible party, that the man who did the killing was only an instrument, working by command of a superior, and hence could have no ill will against the person killed, but was only acting by authority and committed no wrong. In other words, if Brigham Young or any of his apostles, or any of the Priesthood, gave an order to a man, the act was the act of the one giving the order, and the man doing the --Page 280--act was only an instrument of the person commanding--just as much of an instrument as the knife that was used to cut the throat of the victim. This being the belief of all good Mormons, it is easily understood why the orders of the Priesthood were so blindly obeyed by the people.
Another circumstance came to my knowledge soon after it was done that will speak for itself. Not far from the time of the Mountain Meadows massacre, there was an emigrant who claimed to be a Mormon, but I never knew whether he was one or not, that worked a number of months for Captain Jacob Huffine, at Parowan. This man wanted his pay; it was not convenient to pay him; he insisted on being paid, but not getting his wages, he determined to leave there. He started away from the settlement at Summit, about seven miles from Parowan. The Indians of Parowan were sent for and ordered to overtake and kill the man. They did so, and shot him full of arrows. The man called to the Indians and told them that he was a Mormon and they must not kill him.
The Indians replied by saying, "We know you, you are no Mormon, you are a Mericat; the Mormons told us to kill you."
They then beat his head with rocks, and cut his throat, then went back to Parowan and reported what they had done.
I was told all about this by the Indians. But I never enquired into the facts, for I then believed, and still have reasons to think the man was killed by authority. He had offended in some way, and his death was like that of many others, the result of orders from the Priesthood.
KILLING OF ROSMOS ANDERSON, ETC.
William Laney, of Harrisburg, Utah Territory, had formed the acquaintance of the family or Aden while on a mission to Tennessee, and he was saved from a mob who threatened his death because he was a Mormon preacher. When Fancher's train reached Parowan, Mr. Laney met young Aden and recognized him as the son of the man who had saved his life. Aden told him that he was hungry, that he and his comrades had been unable to purchase supplies from the Mormons ever since they left Salt Lake City, and that there appeared to be a conspiracy that had been formed against that train by which the Mormons had agreed to starve the emigrants. Laney took young --Page 281– Aden to his house, gave him his supper, and let him sleep there that night. The next day Laney was accused by leading men with being unfaithful to his obligations. They said he had supported the enemies of the Church and given aid and comfort to one whose hands were still red with the blood of the Prophets. A few nights after that the Destroying Angels, who were doing the bidding of Bishop Dame, were ordered to kill William Laney to save him from his sins, he having violated his endowment oath and furnished food to a man who had been declared an outlaw by the Mormon Church. The "Angels" were commanded by Barney Carter, a son-in-law of Wm. H. Dame, who now lives in Los Angeles County, California. The Angels called Laney out of the house, saying that Bishop Dame wished to see him. As Laney passed through the gate into the street, he was struck across the back of the head with a large club by Barney Carter. His skull was fractured somewhat and for many months Laney lay at the point of death, and his mind still shows the effect of the injury he then received, for his brain has never quite settled since. I have frequently talked with Laney about this matter, but as he was fully initiated into the mysteries of the Church, he knows that he will yet be killed if his life can be taken with safety, if he make public the facts connected with the conspiracy to take his life. He is still strong in the Mormon faith, and almost believes that Dame had the right to have him killed. At the time Carter attempted to take the life of Laney, the Mormon Church was under the blaze of the reformation, and punishment by death was the penalty for refusing to obey the orders of the Priesthood.
One of the objects of the reformation was to place the Priesthood in possession of every secret act and crime that had been committed by a man of the Church. These secrets were obtained in this way: a meeting would be called; some Church leader would make a speech, defining the duties that the people owed to the Priesthood, and instructing the people why it was necessary that the Priesthood should control the entire acts of the people, and it was preached that to keep back any fact from the knowledge of the Priesthood was an unpardonable sin. After one or more such discourses, the people were called upon by name, commanded to rise from their seats, and standing in the midst of the congregation, to publicly confess all their sins. If the confession was not full and complete, it was also made the --Page 282– duty of the members of the Church, or any one of them who knew that the party confessing had committed a crime, which he had not divulged, it was then to he made public by the party knowing the same. Unless the party then confessed, a charge was preferred against him or her for a violation of covenants, and unless full confession and repentance immediately followed, the sinful member was to be slain for the remission of his sins, it being taught by the leaders and believed by the people that the right thing to do with a sinner who did not repent and obey the Council, was to take the life of the offending party, and, thus save his everlasting soul. This was called "Blood Atonement." The members who fully confessed their sins were again admitted into the Church and rebaptized, they taking new covenants to obey any and all orders of the Priesthood, and to refuse all manner of assistance, friendship or communication with those who refused a strict obedience to the authorities of the Church.
The most deadly sin among the people was adultery, and many men were killed in Utah for that crime.
Rosmos Anderson was a Danish man who had come to Utah with his family to receive the benefits arising from an association with the "Latter-Day Saints." He had married a widow lady somewhat older than himself, and she had a daughter that was fully grown at the time of the reformation. The girl was very anxious to be sealed to her step-father, and Anderson was equally anxious to take her for a second wife, but as she was a fine-looking girl, Klingensmith desired her to marry him, and she refused. At one of the meetings during the reformation Anderson and his step-daughter confessed that they had committed adultery, believing when they did so that Brigham Young would allow them to marry when he learned the facts. Their confession being full, they were rebaptized and received into full membership. They were then placed under covenant that if they again committed adultery, Anderson should suffer death. Soon after this a charge was laid against Anderson before the Council, accusing him of adultery with his step-daughter. This Council was composed of Klingensmith and his two counselors; it was the Bishop's Council. Without giving Anderson any chance to defend himself or make a statement, the Council voted that Anderson must die for violating his covenants. Klingensmith went to Anderson and notified him that the orders were that he --Page 283--must die by having his throat cut, so that the running of his blood would atone for his sins. Anderson, being a firm believer in the doctrines and teachings of the Mormon Church, made no objections, but asked for half a day to prepare for death. His request was granted. His wife was ordered to prepare a suit of clean clothing, in which to have her husband buried, and was informed that he was to be killed for his sins, she being directed to tell those who should enquire after her husband that he had gone to California. Klingensmith, James Haslem, Daniel McFarland and John M. Higbee dug a grave in the field near Cedar City, and that night, about 12 o'clock, went to Anderson's house and ordered him to make ready to obey the Council. Anderson got up, dressed himself, bid his family good-bye, and without a word of remonstrance accompanied those that he believed were carrying out the will of the "Almighty God." They went to the place where the grave was prepared; Anderson knelt upon the side of the grave and prayed. Klingensmith and his company then cut Anderson's throat from ear to ear and held him so that his blood ran into the grave.
As soon as he was dead they dressed him in his clean clothes, threw him into the grave and buried him. They then carried his bloody clothing back to his family, and gave them to his wife to wash, when she was again instructed to say that her husband was in California. She obeyed their orders.
No move of that kind was made at Cedar City, unless it was done by order of the "Council" or of the "High Council." I was at once informed of Anderson's death, because at that time I possessed the confidence of all the people, who would talk to me confidentially, and give me the particulars of all crimes committed by order of the Church. Anderson was killed just before the Mountain Meadows massacre. The killing of Anderson was then considered a religious duty and a just act. It was justified by all the people, for they were bound by the same covenants, and the least word of objection to thus treating the man who had broken his covenant would have brought the same fate upon the person who was so foolish as to raise his voice against any act committed by order of the Church authorities.
Brigham Young knew very well that I was not a man who would willingly take life, and therefore I was not ordered to do --Page 284– his bloody work. I never took part in any killing that was desired or ordered by the Church, except the part I took in the Mountain Meadows Massacre. I was well known by all the members of the Church as one that stood high in the confidence of Brigham Young, and that I was close-mouthed and reliable. By this means I was usually informed of the facts in every case where violence was used in the section of country where I resided. I knew of many men being killed in Nauvoo by the Danites. It was then the rule that all the enemies of Joseph Smith should be killed, and I know of many a man who was quietly put out of the way by the orders of Joseph and his Apostles while the Church was there.
It has always been a well understood doctrine of the Church that it was right and praiseworthy to kill every person who spoke evil of the Prophet. This doctrine had been strictly lived up to in Utah, until the Gentiles arrived in such great numbers that it became unsafe to follow the practice, but the doctrine is still believed, and no year passes without one or more of those who have spoken evil of Brigham Young being killed, in a secret manner.
Springfield, Utah, was one of the hot-beds of fanaticism, and I expect that more men were killed there, in proportion to population, than in any other part of Utah. In that settlement it was certain death to say a word against the authorities, high or low.
In Utah it has been the custom with the Priesthood to make eunuchs of such men as were obnoxious to the leaders. This was done for a double purpose; first, it gave a perfect revenge, and next, it left the poor victim a living example to others of the dangers of disobeying counsel and not living as ordered by the Priesthood.
In Nauvoo it was the orders from Joseph Smith and his apostles to beat, wound and castrate all Gentiles that the police could take in the act of entering or leaving a Mormon household under circumstances that led to the belief that they had been there for immoral purposes. I knew of several such outrages while there. In Utah it was the favorite revenge of old, worn-out members of the Priesthood, who wanted young women sealed to them, and found that the girl preferred some handsome young man. The old priests generally got the girls, and many a young man was unsexed for refusing to give up his sweetheart at the --Page 285--request of an old and failing, but still sensual apostle or member of the Priesthood. As an illustration I will refer to an instance that many a good Saint knows to be true.
Warren Snow was Bishop of the Church at Manti, San Pete County, Utah. He had several wives, but there was a fair, buxom young woman in the town that Snow wanted for a wife. He made love to her with all his powers, went to parties where she was, visited her at her home, and proposed to make her his wife. She thanked him for the honor offered, but told him she was then engaged to a young man, a member of the Church, and consequently could not marry the old priest. This was no sufficient reason to Snow. He told her it was the will of God that she should marry him, and she must do so; that the young man could be got rid of, sent on a mission or dealt with in some way so as to release her from her engagement--that, in fact, a promise made to the young man was not binding, when she was informed that it was contrary to the wishes of the authorities.
The girl continued obstinate. The "teachers" of the town visited her and advised her to marry Bishop Snow. Her parents, under the orders of the Counselors of the Bishop, also insisted that their daughter must marry the old man. She still refused. Then the authorities called on the young man and directed him to give up the young woman. This he steadfastly refused to do. He was promised Church preferment, celestial rewards, and everything that could be thought of--all to no purpose. He remained true to his intended, and said he would die before he would surrender his intended wife to the embraces of another. This unusual resistance of authority by the young people made Snow more anxious than ever to capture the girl. The young man was ordered to go on a mission to some distant locality, so that the authorities would have no trouble in effecting their purpose of forcing the girl to marry as they desired. But the mission was refused by the still contrary and unfaithful young man.
It was then determined that the rebellious young man must be forced by harsh treatment to respect the advice and orders of the Priesthood. His fate was left to Bishop Snow for his decision. He decided that the young man should be castrated; Snow saying, "When that is done, he will not be liable to want --Page 286--the girl badly, and she will listen to reason when she knows that her lover is no longer a man."
It was then decided to call a meeting of the people who lived true to counsel, which was to be held in the school-house in Manti, at which place the young man should be present, and dealt with according to Snow's will. The meeting was called. The Young man was there, and was again requested, ordered and threatened, to get him to surrender the young woman to Snow, but true to his plighted troth, he refused to consent to give up the girl. The lights were then put out. An attack was made on the young man. He was severely beaten, and then tied with his back down on a bench, when Bishop Snow took a bowie-knife, and performed the operation in a most brutal manner, and then took the portion severed from his victim and hung it up in the school-house on a nail, so that it could be seen by all who visited the house afterwards.
The party then left the young man weltering in his blood, and in a lifeless condition. During the night he succeeded in releasing himself from his confinement, and dragged himself to some hay-stacks, where he lay until the next day, when he was discovered by his friends. The young man regained his health, but has been an idiot or quiet lunatic ever since, and is well known by hundreds of both Mormons and Gentiles in Utah. After this outrage old Bishop Snow took occasion to get up a meeting at the school-house, so as to get the people of Manti, and the young woman that he wanted to marry, to attend the meeting. When all had assembled, the old man talked to the people about their duty to the Church, and their duty to obey counsel, and the dangers of refusal, and then publicly called attention to the mangled parts of the young man, that had been severed from his person, and stated that the deed had been done to teach the people that the counsel of the Priesthood must be obeyed. To make a long story short, I will say, the young woman was soon after forced into being sealed to Bishop Snow.
Brigham Young, when he heard of this treatment of the young man, was very mad, but did nothing against Snow. He left him in charge as Bishop at Manti, and ordered the matter to be hushed up. This is only one instance of many that I might give to show the danger of refusing to obey counsel in Utah.
It frequently happened that men would become dissatisfied with the Church or something else in Utah, and try to leave the --Page 287– Territory. The authorities would try to convince such persons that they ought to remain, but if they insisted on going, they were informed that they had permission to do so. When the person had started off, with his stock and property, it was nearly always the rule to send a lot of Danites to steal all the stock and run it off into the mountains; so that in the majority of cases the people would return wholly broken up and settle down again as obedient members of the Church. It was a rare thing for a man to escape from the Territory with all of his property, until after the Pacific Railroad was built through Utah. It was the general custom to rob the persons who were leaving the country, but many of them were killed, because it was considered they would tell tales that should not be made public, in the event of their reaching Gentile settlements.
Brigham Young discouraged mining at all times, and when any man found any metal he was ordered to keep it a secret. The people were taught to believe that the Latter-Day Saints would soon own all the wealth of the earth, and that no people but Mormons would be alive in a few years. That when the earth was conquered and the truths of Mormonism were universally acknowledged, the people would then have all the wealth they desired. Gold would be as plenty as silver, silver as plenty as brass, brass as plenty as stone, and stone as plenty as wood. That this gold, silver and other metals and precious stones would then be used for beautifying places of worship, and to make holy vessels of, and each man was to have all the wealth be could use or enjoy, if he was only faithful in these last days.
As a matter to satisfy the public, I will give the following facts connected with my personal history: When I moved to Nauvoo, I had one wife and one child. Soon after I got there, I was appointed as the Seventh Policeman. I had superiors in office, and was sworn to secrecy, and to obey the orders of my superiors, and not let my left hand know what my right hand did. It was my duty to do as I was ordered, and not to ask questions. I was instructed in the secrets of the Priesthood to a great extent, and taught to believe, as I then did believe, that it was my duty, and the duty of all men to obey the leaders of the Church, and that no man could commit sin so long as he acted in the way that he was directed by his Church superiors. I was one of the Life Guard of the Prophet Joseph Smith. --Page 288--
HOW I FIRST HEARD OF THE DOCTRINE OF POLYGAMY.
One day the Chief of Police came to me and said that I must take two more policemen that he named, and watch the house of a widow woman named Clawson. She was the mother of H. B. Clawson, of Salt Lake City. I was informed that a man went there nearly every night about ten o'clock, and left about day light. I was also ordered to station myself and my men near the house, and when the man came out we were to knock him down and castrate him, and not to be careful how hard we hit, for it would not be enquired into if we killed him.
I did not believe that the Chief of Police knew just what he was doing. I felt a timidity about carrying out the orders. It was my duty to report all unusual orders that I received from my superiors on the police force, to the Prophet Joseph Smith, or in his absence, to Hyrum, next in authority. I went to the house of the Prophet to report, but he was not at home. I then called for Hyrum, and he gave me an interview. I told him the orders that I had received from the Chief, and asked him if I should obey or not. He said to me, "Brother Lee, you have acted wisely in listening to the voice of the Spirit. It was the influence of God's Spirit that sent you here. You would have been guilty of a great crime if you had obeyed your Chief's orders."
Hyrum then told me that the man that I was ordered to attack was Howard Egan, and that he had been sealed to Mrs. Clawson, and that their marriage was a most holy one; that it was in accordance with a revelation that the Prophet had recently received direct from God. He then explained to me fully the doctrines of polygamy, and wherein it was permitted, and why it was right.
I was greatly interested in the doctrine. It accorded exactly with my views of the Scripture, and I at once accepted and believed in the doctrine as taught by the revelations received by Joseph Smith, the Prophet. As a matter of course I did not carry out the orders of the Chief. I had him instructed in his duty, and so Egan was never bothered by the police.
A few months after that I was sealed to my second wife. I was sealed to her by Brigham Young, then one of the Twelve. In less than one year after I first learned the will of God concerning the marriage of the Saints, as made known by Him in a revelation to Joseph Smith, I was the husband of nine wives. --Page 289–
I took my wives in the following order: first, Agathe Ann Woolsey; second, Nancy Berry; third, Louisa Free (now one of the wives of Daniel H. Wells); fourth, Sarah C. Williams; fifth, old Mrs. Woolsey (she was the mother of Agathe Ann and Rachel A. I married her for her soul's sake, for her salvation in the eternal state); sixth, Rachel A. Woolsey (I was sealed to her at the same time that I was to her mother); seventh, Andora Woolsey (a sister to Rachel); eighth, Polly Ann Workman; ninth, Martha Berry; tenth, Delithea Morris. In 1847, while at Council Bluffs, Brigham Young sealed me to three women in one night, viz., eleventh, Nancy Armstrong (she was what we called a widow. She left her first husband in Tennessee, in order to be with the Mormon people); twelfth, Polly V. Young; thirteenth, Louisa Young (these two were sisters.) Next, I was sealed to my fourteenth wife, Emeline Vaughn. In 1851, I was sealed to my fifteenth wife, Mary Lear Groves. In 1856, I was sealed to my sixteenth wife, Mary Ann Williams. In 1858, BrighamYoung gave me my seventeenth wife, Emma Batchelder. I was sealed to her while a member of the Territorial Legislature. Brigham Young said that Isaac C. Haight, who was also in the Legislature, and I, needed some young women to renew our vitality, so he gave us both a dashing young bride. In 1859 I was sealed to my eighteenth wife, Teressa Morse. I was sealed to her by order of Brigham Young. Amasa Lyman officiated at the ceremony. The last wife I got was Ann Gordge. Brigham Young gave her to me, and I was sealed to her in Salt Lake by Heber C. Kimball. This was my nineteenth, but, as I was married to old Mrs. Woolsey for her soul's sake, and she was near sixty years old when I married her, I never considered her really as a wife. True, I treated her well and gave her all the rights of marriage. Still I never count her as one of my wives. That is the reason that I claim only eighteen true wives.
After 1861 I never asked Brigham Young for another wife. By my eighteen real wives I have been the father of sixty-four children. Ten of my children are dead and fifty-four are still living.
This is all I care to say about my own acts or the affairs of my family.
I have but little more to say.
To the jurymen who tried me, I say I have no unkind feelings. The evidence was strong against me, and with that, and the in- --Page 290– structions of the Court as they were given, the jury could do nothing but convict.
To the officers who have had me in charge during my confinement I return my thanks for their personal kindness. I give them the thanks of an old man, who is about to leave this earth and go to another sphere of existence.
The few guardsmen who misused me I forgive, for they were not conscious of their own wickedness.
If I have sinned and violated the laws of my country, I have done so because I have blindly followed and obeyed the orders of the Church leaders. I was guided in all that I did which is called criminal, by the orders of the leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I have never knowingly disobeyed the orders of the Church since I joined it at Far West, Missouri, until I was deserted by Brigham Young and his slaves.
I have selected Wm. W. Bishop as the person that I wish to publish my life and confessions, so that the world may know just what I did do, and why I acted as I have done. I have delivered Mr. Bishop all of the manuscripts and private writings that are in my possession, and wish him to have all that I may hereafter write. I have assigned him all my writings, and he is the only person on earth who has a right to publish my life or my confessions.
To my attorneys, one and all, who have given me their valuable services, I return my kindest thanks, and regret that poverty prevents my paying them for what they have done for me.
To my family I say, may God pour rich blessings upon you, one and all. I ask you to live here on earth so that you can justly claim a seat in the realms of bliss after life's troubles are ended.
To my enemies I say, judge not, that ye be not judged. In life you were often unjust to me. After I am dead remember to be charitable to one who never designedly did a wrong.
CONCLUSION OF THE CONFESSION OP JOHN D. LEE.
Written in prison at Fort Cameron, near Beaver City, Utah Territory. Delivered to Hon. Sumner Howard by John D. Lee, on the field of execution, just before the sentence of death was carried into effect. --Page 291--
Forwarded to Wm. W. Bishop, by Hon. Sumner Howard, according to the last request of John D. Lee.
CAMP CAMERON, March 13th, 1877.
Morning clear, still and pleasant. The guard, George Tracy, informs me that Col. Nelson and Judge Howard have gone. Since my confinement here, I have reflected much over my sentence, and as the time of my execution is drawing near, I feel composed, and as calm as the summer morning. I hope to meet my fate with manly courage. I declare my innocence. I have done nothing designedly wrong in that unfortunate and lamentable affair with which I have been implicated. I used my utmost endeavors to save them from their sad fate. I freely would have given worlds, were they at my command, to have averted that evil. I wept and mourned over them before and after, but words will not help them, now it is done. My blood cannot help them, neither can it make that atonement required. Death to me has no terror. It is but a struggle, and all is over. I much regret to part with my loved ones here, especially under that odium of disgrace that will follow my name; that I cannot help.
I know that I have a reward in Heaven, and my conscience does not accuse me. This to me is a great consolation. I place more value upon it than I would upon an eulogy without merit. If my work is done here on earth, I ask my God in Heaven, in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, to receive my spirit, and allow me to meet my loved ones who have gone behind the vail. The bride of my youth and her faithful mother, my devoted friend and companion, N. A., also my dearly beloved children, all of whom I parted from with sorrow, but shall meet them with joy--I bid you all an affectionate farewell. I have been treacherously betrayed and sacrificed in the most cowardly manner by those who should have been my friends, and whose will I have diligently striven to make my pleasure, for the last thirty years at least. In return for my faithfulness and fidelity to him and his cause, he has sacrificed me in a most shameful and cruel way. I leave them in the hands of the Lord to deal with them according to the merits of their crimes, in the final restitution of all things.
TO THE MOTHERS OF MY CHILDREN.
I beg of you to teach them better things than to ever allow --Page 292--themselves to be let down so low as to be steeped in the vice, corruption and villainy that would allow them to sacrifice the meanest wretch on earth, much less a neighbor and a friend, as their father has been. Be kind and true to each other. Do not contend about my property. You know my mind concerning it. Live faithful and humble before God, that we may meet again in the mansions of bliss that God has prepared for His faithful servants. Remember the last words of your most true and devoted friend on earth, and let them sink deep into your tender aching hearts; many of you I may never see in this world again, but I leave my blessing with you.
I wish my wife Rachel to take a copy of the above, and all my family to have a copy of the original. My worthy attorney, W. W. Bishop, will please insert it in my record or history, should I not be able to write up my history to the proper place, to speak of my worthy friend Wm. H. Hooper. Please exonerate him from all blame or censure of buying the stock of that unfortunate company, as there is no truth in the accusation whatever. He is a noble, high-minded gentleman. And let it appear also of Bishop John Sharp, honorably, for the nobleness of the man who advanced me money in the time of trouble, and if my history meet with the favor of the public, pay those two gentlemen. My friends Hoge and Foster, as well as yourself and Spicer, some. You understand our agreement.
JOHN D. LEE.
Other Selections From Mormonism Unveiled or The Life and Confessions of John D. Lee:
Introduction: Preface to Confessions of John D. Lee--Pages vii-ix
Chapter XVIII--Last Confession and Statement of John D. Lee--Pages 213-248, The Mountain Meadows
Other Links to related topics:
Brigham Young and Wild Bill Hickman--Salt Lake City Messenger, February 1991: A comprehensive look into J. H. Beadle's Book on Bill Hickman. Included are answers to Mormon apologist's attempts to discredit Beadle's book, and a look at Hickman's great-granddaughter's book, "Wild Bill" Hickman and the Mormon Frontier,
which confirms much of Beadle's work.
Brigham's Destroying Angel: Chapter V of Bill Hickman's autobiographical manuscript, edited by J. H. Beadle.
Contains the full transcripts of many events referred to in the above article, including the murder of Richard Yates, the Massacre of the Aiken party from California, and other incidents related to Danite activities, "blood atonement," and the "Utah war" of 1857-58.
Mormon Blood Atonement: Fact or Fantasy?--Salt Lake City Messenger, April 1997: Brigham Young taught that there were certain sins not covered by the Atonement of Christ. In a speech given in 1856 he told the Latter-day Saints, "It is true that the blood of the Son of God was shed for sins through the fall and those committed by men, yet men can commit sins which it can never remit . . . they must be atoned for by the blood of the man." (JD, Vol. 4, pages 53-54) Within a year he encouraged faithful church members to assist in this process: "All mankind love themselves, and let these principles be known by an individual, and he would be glad to have his blood shed. That would be loving themselves, even unto an eternal exaltation. Will you love your brothers and sisters likewise, when they have committed a sin that cannot be atoned for without the shedding of their blood? Will you love that man or woman well enough to shed their blood?.... This is loving our neighbor as ourselves; if he needs help, help him; and if he wants salvation and it is necessary to spill his blood on the earth in order that he may be saved, spill it...." (JD, Vol. 4, pages 219-220) Are these quotes out of context? What were these sins that Young referred to? Did the Latter-day Saints obey their leader's council? "Mormon Blood Atonement: Fact or Fantasy," answers these questions, and gives references to many early books, diaries, journals and newspaper articles that document the practice.
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The Last Words of John D. Lee
Spoken at his execution for the Mountain Meadows Massacre March 23, 1877
I have but little to say this morning. Of course I feel that I am upon the brink of eternity; and the solemnities of eternity should rest upon my mind at the present. I have made out -- or have endeavored to do so -- a manuscript, abridging the history of my life. This is to be published. In it I have given my views and feelings with regard to these things.
I feel resigned to my fate. I feel as calm as a summer morn, and I have done nothing intentionally wrong. My conscience is clear before God and man. I am ready to meet my Redeemer and those that have gove before me, behind the veil.
I am not an infidel. I have not denied God and his mercies.
I am a strong believer in these things. Most I regret parting with my family; many of them are unprotected and will be left fatherless. When I speak of these things they touch a tender chord within me. I declare my innocence of ever doing anything designedly wrong in all this affair. I used my utmost endeavors to save those people.
I would have given worlds, were they at my command, if I could have averted that calamity, but I could not do it. It went on.
It seems I have to be made a victim -- a victim must be had, and I am the victim. I am sacrificed to satisfy the feelings -- the vindictive feelings, or in other words, am used to gratify parties.
I am ready to die. I trust in God. I have no fear. Death has no terror.
Not a particle of mercy have I asked of the court, the world, or officials to spare my life.
I do not fear death, I shall never go to a worse place than I am now in.
I have said it to my family, and I will say it today, that the Government of the United States sacrifices their best friend. That is saying a great deal, but it is true -- it is so.
I am a true believer in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I do not believe everything that is now being taught and practiced by Brigham Young. I do not care who hears it. It is my last word -- it is so. I believe he is leading the people astray, downward to destruction. But I believe in the gospel that was taught in its purity by Joseph Smith, in former days. I have my reasons for it. I studied to make this man's will my pleasure for thirty years. See, now, what I have come to this day! I have been sacrificed in a cowardly, dastardly manner. I cannot help it. It is my last word -- it is so.
Evidence has been brought against me which is as false as the hinges of hell, and this evidence was wanted to sacrifice me. Sacrifice a man that has waited upon them, that has wandered and endured with them in the days of adversity, true from the beginnings of the Church! And I am now singled out and am sacrificed in this manner! What confidence can I have in such a man! I have none, and I don't think my Father in heaven has any.
Still, there are thousands of people in this Church that are honorable and good-hearted friends, and some of whom are near to my heart. There is a kind of living, magnetic influence which has come over the people, and I cannot compare it to anything else than the reptile that enamors its prey, till it captivates it, paralyzes it, and rushes it into the jaws of death. I cannot compare it to anything else. It is so, I know it, I am satisfied of it.
I regret leaving my family; they are near and dear to me. These are things which touch my sympathy, even when I think of those poor orphaned children.
I declare I did nothing designedly wrong in this unfortunate affair. I did everything in my power to save that people, but I am the one that must suffer.
Having said this, I feel resigned. I ask the Lord, my God, if my labors are done, to receive my spirit.