Mountain Meadows Massacre Timeline

Most of the details on this post are taken from William Bagley’s book.  Will Bagley is a historian specializing in the history of the Western United States and the American Old West. Bagley has written about the fur trade, overland emigration, American Indians, military history, frontier violence, railroads, mining, and Utah and the Mormons.

His book  Blood of the Prophets,  won numerous awards, including a Spur from Western Writers of America and best book awards from the Denver Public Library and the Western History Association. The New York Review of Books described the study as “an exhaustive, meticulously documented, highly readable history that captures the events and atmosphere that gave rise to the massacre, as well as its long, tortuous aftermath. Bagley has taken great care in negotiating the minefield presented by what remains of the historical record.”

Another section is taken from Juanita Brooks book “The Mountain Meadows Massacre

Juanita Brooks is a historian and author whose ancestor took part in the MMM.

Other sources will be linked to, as well as key information from either of these authors.

Spring 1845 Parley P. Pratt publishes pamphlet identifying mormonism as “Kingdom of God on earth” “The revolutionary purpose of the Kingdom of God and its millenial plan is to reduce all nations and creeds to one political and religious standard, and thus put an end to the battle of forms and names, and to strife and war. The earth’s rulers must take a lively interest with the saints of the Most High and the covenant people of the Lord, or you will become their inveterate enemy.”

Sometime in 1845 Oath of Vengence added as part of the temple introduction at the veil

Mar 1849 Brigham Young to the Council of Fifty, “I want their[adulterers] cursed heads cut off that they may atone for their sins.” “Grant advised sinners to ask Brigham Young to appoint a committee to attend to their case, and let a place be selected, and let that committee shed their blood. ”

Dec 19, 1856 “President John M. Higbee spoke of the benefits of the Society, and of us not encouraging those blood-sucking Gentiles that bring us their goods.” (Bagley)

Dec 21, 1856: “Elder Rufus Allen made remarks on the necessity of the Saints being faithful in all circumstances and of doing the will of the Lord in all things. President John M. Higbee made remarks on the necessity of us as Saints living in subjugation unto those who are placed over us in the Lord (Cedar City Journals)

Apr 16, 1856 “Will you love that man or woman well enough to shed their blood?” – Brigham Young, Deseret News, April 16, 1856

Jan 18, 1857 “”Elder Richard Harrison, having returned from the Legislature, arose to address a large assembly of the Saints: ‘The time has come that we cannot fool with the Almighty. If we do right, we can get forgiveness. The most damnable sins of this people are disregard unto the authorities[Meaning the leaders of the church]*.” (Cedar City Journals)

Jan 14, 1857 Nauvoo Legion re-instated

Feb 1, 1857: “Richard Harrison arose and said ‘We have to bring ourselves into subjugation to the proper authorities, and got to reform in everything, and make things right.”  Mormon Reformation

Apr. 1857  Fancher, Baker, Mitchell, Dunlap, Cameron, and other families leave their homes in Arkansas for California. (Innocent Blood Timeline)

May 13, 1857 Pratt murdered by jealous ex-husband, Hector McLean.  Mclean was an alcoholic who had abused his wife and she had left.  She later married Pratt.  McLean continued to blame mormonism as the cause.

Spring 1857 Buchannon sends army to investigate

July 1857  “P” speaks to a party in California who met “the Arkansas companies” camped “six miles from Salt Lake” including Fanchers, Camerons, and Dunlaps, waiting for the Bakers. (Innocent Blood Timeline)

9 July, 1857 – Alta, California Newspaper publishes article bragging about Pratt’s death

July 20, 1857 First overland emigrants, mostly from Illinois, arrive in Salt Lake.

July 23, 1857 Elias Smith’s journal, “Parley P. Pratt was one of the apostles, and was in Kansas at Fort Scott and Fort Smith for the purposes of enlightening people on Mormonism. He unfortunately for himself was murdered by the heathen Gentiles. This emigrant train happened to be from the same section of the country in which Pratt was killed. The Mormons were so insulted and indignant over the death and the murder of Pratt that they wreaked untold vengeance on the poor emigrants. This is supposed to be the cause of the Mountain Meadow Massacre.” — quote from Ann Gordsley, John D. Lee’s youngest widow. Eleanor Pratt arrives with Porter Rockwell.

24 July 1857 “Our independence was declared as a free people by Brigham Young and his counselors” The journal records all said “Amen”.

July 26, 1857 “We discussed our enemies” -Brigham Young meeting with Apostles

Aug 1st, 1857 – “I took Eleanor Pratt’s statement on the murder of Parley P. Pratt.” Diary of Wilford Woodruff

August 2, 1857 “Brigham Young publicly discusses the possible secession of the Mormon theocracy from the United States and the establishment of an independent kingdom (Young 1857b, p. 98).

August 3, 1857 George A. Smith leaves Salt Lake for the south. Fancher party “arrived in G.S.L. City with a large herd of cattle.

Aug 3, 1857 George A. Smith sets out to tour Southern Utah starting in Parowan

Aug 4. 1857 Brigham Young appoints Jacob Hamblin president of the Southern Indian Mission and orders Fancher party to depart.

Aug 5, 1857 Brigham Young Declares Martial Law (Young 1857). Formal announcement sent out Sept 15th.

Aug. 8 1857 George A. Smith arrives in Parowan.

Aug 15, 1857 Samuel Pitchforth reports Fancher party camped near Nephi. George A. Smith goes to Cedar City Samuel Pitchforth reports Fancher party camped near Nephi. George A. Smith goes to Cedar City

Aug 16 1857 George A. Smith preaches twice at Cedar City. Spends night with J. D. Lee. Brigham Young says in sermon: “I will say no more to the Indians, let them alone, but do as you please. And what is that? It is to use them up; and they will do it.

Aug 17, 1857 A member of the Dukes train, S. B. Honea, stated “that he passed through Great Salt Lake City on August 17, that he saw everywhere preparations for war, that the company were harassed by Indians all the way, that in southern Utah they hired Mormon guides and interpreters to the sum of $1,810, and then were robbed on the Muddy [River] of 375 head of cattle. [George B.] Davis described the Indians who stole the cattle as having among them some with light, fine hair and blue eyes, and light streaks where they had not used sufficient paint. He gave the number of cattle taken as 326 head…..On October 17, the first members of the Duke train of emigrants arrived half-starved at San Bernardino with the Mormon theft of their cattle to add to the tale of the massacre.”

Pitchforth reports Fancher party passes through Nephi.

Aug 18. 1857 George A. Smith “Arrived at Washington City…Preached in afternoon. Dame drilled the militia.” Visited Tutsegabbit

Aug 24, 1857 Woodruff hears Eleanor Pratt describe Parley’s death. George A. and S. S. Smith travel to Beaver (Wilford Woodruff Diary)

Aug 25, 1857 George A. Smith camps near the Franchers at Corn Creek, Jacob Hamblin suggests they continue the trail and rest at Mountain Meadows, next to his homestead.

Aug 28 1857 Fancher party camps on Indian Creek near today’s Manderfield. Silas Smith has supper with the Fancher party.

Betwen Aug 25th and Sept 6th Stake Presidents William H. Dame and Isaac C. Haight, the senior regional military leaders of the Mormon militia, hold meetings about how to implement Brigham’s “Martial Law”

Sept 1 Hamblin and some twelve Indian chiefs on September first met with Brigham Young and his most trusted interpreter, 49-year-old Dimick Huntington, at Great Salt Lake. Taking part in this pow-wow were Kanosh, the Mormon chief of the Pahvants; Ammon, half-brother of Walker; Tutsegabit, head chief of the Piedes;Youngwuds, another Piede chieftain, and other leaders of desert bands along the Santa Clara and Virgin Rivers. Little was known of what they talked about until recently when it came to light that Huntington (apparently speaking for Young) told the chiefs that he ‘gave them all the cattle that had gone to Cal[ifornia by] the south rout[e].‘ The gift ‘made them open their eyes,’ he said. But ‘you have told us not to steal,’ the Indians replied. ‘So I have,’ Huntington said, but now they have come to fight us and you for when they kill us they will kill you.’ The chiefs knew what cattle he was giving them. They belonged to the Baker-Fancher train.” (“Forgotten Kingdom: The Mormon Theocracy in the American West,” David Bigler, 1998, pp. 167-168.)

“Jacob Hamblin…..decided to take a group of the chiefs to Great Salt Lake City for an interview with the great Mormon chief, Brigham Young. His handwritten diary, as yet unpublished, says: ‘I started for Great Salt Lake City in company with Thales Haskell and Tutsegabit…He had felt anxious for a long time to visit Brigham Young. We fell in company with George A. Smith. Conosh [Kanosh, the Pauvant chief] joined us. Other Indian chiefs also joined our company. When we arrived in the city there were ten of them went up to see Brigham Young, the great Mormon chief. We encamped on Corn Creek on our way up; near a company of Emigrants from Arkansas, on the—–‘

“Here the account stops abruptly, for the next leaf is torn out…..What Brigham Young told the chiefs in that hour was not recorded, but we might hazard an opinion that it was not out of harmony with his written instructions that ‘they must learn that they have got to help us or the United States will kill us both.’…..At that time Brigham Young had to be sure of his allies, for he was conducting a war against tremendous odds. The previous Mormon policy had been to keep the natives from stealing and plundering and to teach them the peaceful pursuits of farming and cattle raising, but now Brigham Young seemed determined that he would no longer “hold them by the wrist,” as he told Captain Van Vliet a few days later. The Indians must have started back home immediately, for in seven days they were harassing the emigrants at Mountain Meadows, and in ten days they participated in the massacre of the company.” (Juanita Brooks, pp. 40-42.)

Sept 3 1857 Jesse N. Smith reports Fancher party at Paragonah. Train arrives later at Parowan and is kept outside the town wall.

Sept 4, 1857 Francher Party arrives at Cedar City, camps west of town.

Isaac Haight, second in command of the Nauvoo Legion’s southern brigade, tells John Lee that he planned to arm the Paiute Indians and “send them after the emigrants.” Two chiefs meet with Haight and John Higbee and receive orders to kill the Fancher party members and take their property as spoil. (Last confession of John D. Lee)

Sept 5, 1857 Rachel Lee records that John Lee heads south and camps with his Paiute war party. Men ordered by Haight and Higbee to participate in the action against the emigrants are told to report to a place in the hills near the ranch of Jacob Hamblin. The Fancher party heads south toward Mountain Meadows.

Sept 6, 1857 Brigham Young, in a sermon, declares that the Almighty recognizes Mormon Utah as a free and independent people, no longer bound by the laws of the United States. Fancher party arrives at Mountain Meadows. Cedar City High Council Meeting votes to “do in” the emigrants and then decides to send a message to Brigham Young asking for orders.

Sept 7th, 1857 – Dawn (Mountain Meadows) The Fancher wagon train from Arkansas, bound for California, is attacked at dawn by Lee, about 60 white men, and their allies.

Emigrants “drew their wagons near each other and chained the wheels one to the other.” James Haslam departs Cedar City late in the afternoon.

Sept 10th, 1857 – Daybreak (Mountain Meadows) – Indians Attack, 1 killed 3 wounded. They break off the attack, and drive off cattle

Haight meets with Dame at 2:00 a.m. and returns to Cedar with orders (innocent blood)

Militia commanders ring the town bell in Cedar City, calling out trusted members of the Nauvoo Legion. Indians attack Dukes train at Beaver.

At dawn Haslam arrives at Young’s office, leaves at 1 p.m. Garland Hurt learns emigrants “on the southern route had got themselves into a very serious difficulty with the Piedes.” Nauvoo Legion leaves Cedar City and arrives at Mountain Meadows about 10:00 p. m. Militia leaders hold a council..

7:00 am (SLC) – Haslam arrives at Brigham Young’s office with Haights letter.  Leaves at 1 p.m. Young, according to published Mormon reports, sends a message back to let the Indians “do as they please,” but–as for Mormon participation in the siege–if they will leave Utah, “let them go in peace.”

12:00 pm (Mountain Meadows) – White, Stewart, Arthur, Wilden, Hopkins and Tate arrive

About noon: “Several men” arrived from Cedar City. Move camp 400 yards. Mormons take pot shots at emigrants. Emigrants chain wagons together.

-1:00 pm (SLC): Haslam departs Brigham Young’s office (Cedar City) Main militia party under Higbee leaves Cedar City

Afternoon: Lee reconnoiters camp and is detected; emigrants send out two little boys. Lee persuades Indians not to kill the boys. Stays on west side two hours.

Afternoon: "the messenger from Cedar City returned. He said that President Haight had gone to Parowan to confer with Colonel Dame, and a company of men would be sent out to-morrow (Friday). "The Indians and men were engaged in boiling beef and making their hides up into lassoes."

Nightfall: Three emigrants (including Abel Baker, Joseph Miller, and "William B. Jones, Caldwell County, Missouri"?) leave the wagon fort for the California Road.

Evening: Militia arrives from Cedar [232]. Total force now 54 whites "and over three hundred Indians." All-night council held.

10:00 pm: Nephi Johnson, Higbee, and Militia arrive at Mountain Meadows.

Sept 11, 1857 SUMMARY The Wagon train gives up their guns, and are executed “order 66” style by the men they are riding next to. 120 killed 80 women and children, mostly children.

Mormon leaders devise a plan to end the stand-off. Carrying a white flag, Mormons meet with members of the Fancher party and pledge the emigrants safe passage back to Cedar City as a way of getting them to give up their arms. The Fancher party is divided into two wagons, carrying the wounded and the youngest children (“the innocent blood”), with the older children and women marching behind, followed by the men, marching in single file. The men are led off to a place near the side of the road where Higbee orders a group of Mormons guards to begin the killing: “Do your duty!” A quarter of a mile away, John Lee leads the wagons until they reach a point where Nelphi Johnson orders the slaughter of the women and older children. Men rush at the party from both sides, and the killing continues amidst “hideous, demon-like yells.” It is over in just a few minutes. 120 members of the Fancher party are dead. The youngest children, those under about age seven, are taken away.

Day of the actual Massacre

Friday, Sep 11, 1857

A Utah Indian tells Garland Hurt, “the Mormons had killed all the emigrants.”

Daylight: Council breaks up “a little before daylight.”

Morning: After breakfast, Johnson and Shirts “place the Indians in ambush.”

Morning: Higbee “directed me to explain the whole plan” to the men.

12:00 pm ?: Lee and Batemen enter emigrant camp

1:00 pm: Powers, with Mathews/Tanner train, arrives at Cedar

Noon: “or a little after,” Lee meets “Hamilton” and enters the camp with the wagons. Emigrants are burying “two men of note among them.”

Afternoon: “four wagons drove up with armed men….a council meeting was called.” They pray. Higbee gives orders: “This emigrant camp must be used up.” Higbee tells Lee that Stewart, White and another man had killed Aden and wounded “a Dutchman” who had escaped on Tuesday night at Richey’s Spring. Higbee says the wounded man “was tracked back, and they knew he was there.”

Afternoon: Ira Allen and Robert Wiley reprove Lee, say emigrants would “raise h-l in California.” Lee leaves and [col. 4] Hopkins persuades him to come back and let the priesthood have its way. Higbee says “the emigrants must be decoyed but through pretended friendship.” When Lee protests about innocent blood, “have they not boasted of murdering our Patriarchs and Prophets, Joseph and Hyrum? Now talk about shedding innocent blood.” Lee “had every man speak and express himself. All said they were willing to carry out the counsel of their leaders.” Lee says, “You can do as you please, I will not oppose you any longer.”

4:30 pm: Emigrants leave camp and begin march up Mountain Meadows

5:00 pm: The massacre at Mountain Meadows.  Camp members are slaughtered near the rim of the great basin. Men and women are killed by having throats slit ear to ear.

7:00 pm?: Higbee, Klingensmith, Stewart, and Lee search for valuables.

8:00 pm?: Higbee, Klingensmith, and Lee make speeches.

Night: Lee sleeps at Hamblin’s ranch; “slept soundly until next morning.”

Night: Warn, with Mathews/Tanner train, reports Haight and Dame leave Cedar for the Meadows


Sept 12, 1857 Col. Dame and Lt. Col. Haight visit the massacre site with John Lee. Dame seemed appalled at what he saw and said, “I did not think there were so many of them [women and children], or I would not have had anything to do with it.” Dame’s comment angered Haight, who expressed concern that Dame might try to throw the blame on him for an action that he ordered. (Lee’s account) The men pledge to keep Mormon participation in the massacre secret.

Sept 13, 1857: Lee and Indians arrive at Harmony, where Lee stages a feast.

“At ten o’clock a.m. meeting opened by singing. Patriarch Elisha H. Groves spoke upon the principles of the gospel, and of the Lamanites being the battle-axe of the Lord, and of our faithfulness to the gospel. 2 p.m. meeting opened by singing, prayer by I. C. Haight. Haight spoke upon the spirit of the times, and of cousin Lemuel being fired up with the spirit of their fathers. Singing, benediction by P. K. Smith.” [Philip Klingensmith.]

The messenger sent to ask of Brigham Young what to do with the emigrants at Mountain Meadows returns to Cedar City and presents a letter from Young to Isaac Haight. “Too late, too late,” Haight says as he reads the letter and begins to cry.

Sept 14. 1857 Ira Hatch and others kill the last of the Fancher party messengers. (note: Undertaking to cover sins?) Brigham Young writes to Dame that martial law is enacted.  Individuals are instructed to do everything with peace.

Sept 15, 1857 Brigham Young issues a proclamation (of questionable legality) declaring martial law in the Utah Territory. The proclamation prohibits “all armed forces…from entering this Territory,” orders the Nauvoo Legion to prepare for an invasion, and prohibits any person from passing through the Territory without a permit from “the proper officer.”

Sept 16 – 17 Brigham Young hears his first reports concerning Mormon participation in the massacre at Mountain Meadows. (no sources cited for this in any timeline)

Sept 20 John Lee leaves for Salt Lake, where he will provide Young with a detailed account of the massacre. Arapene tells him some details on this day.  According to Lee, Young first expresses dismay and concern that the massacre will damage the LDS reputation. The next day, however, Young tells Lee,

“I asked the Lord if it was all right for the deed to be done, to take away the vision of the deed from my mind, and the Lord did so, and I feel first rate. It is all right. The only fear I have is from traitors.” — Lee account, transcribed by his lawyer

Sept 23 1857 Pete tells Garland Hurt Paiutes “participated in the massacre of the emigrants, but said that the Mormons persuaded them into it.” Lee meets Hamblin and tells him of the massacre. (Brooks 252)

Sept. 27 1857 Lee speaks at Provo. Garland Hurt escapes Nauvoo Legion. (Innocent Blood timeline)

Sept 28, 1857 Lee arrives in Salt Lake and meets with Young.

Sept 29, 1857 Lee tells “awful tale of blood” to Young and selected Mormon authorities, including Wilford Woodruff.  (Wilford Woodruff Journal for this date)

Sept 30, 1857 Indian agent George Armstrong reports massacre to Young. Matthews reaches San Bernadino with news of massacre.

Oct. 2 1857 Massacre participants Klingensmith, Haight, Dame, and Charles Hopkins meet with Brigham Young.

Oct. 3 1857 LA Star publishes first rumors of the massacre.

Oct. 7 1857 Mormons and “Indians” steal cattle from the Dukes train.

Oct. 12. 1857 A mass meeting in Los Angeles denounces massacre.

Oct 17, 1857 First members of the Dukes train arrive at San Bernardino. Star and Alta California publish detailed reports on the massacre

October 1857 The San Francisco Bulletin calls for “a crusade against Utah which will crush out this beast of heresy forever.”

Nov 1857 Lee writes a fictionalized report of the massacre, attributing all the killing to the Indians, and sends it do Young.

Dec 4, 1857 Garland Hurt submits first federal report of the massacre and says John D. Lee recruited Indians to attack emigrants.

Jan 6, 1858 Brigham Young submits a report to the Indian Commissioner laying the blame for the massacre on mistreatment of Indians by non-Mormons. Claims as the “natural consequence” of poisoning at Corn Creek, the Fancher party fell “victims to the Indians’ wrath.”

February 25, 1858 Thomas Kane, sent to Utah by President Buchanan to attempt to work out a peaceful solution to the Utah problem, arrives in Salt Lake City.

March 18, 1858 Congress debates the massacre at Mountain Meadows. It orders an inquiry.

April 1858 Alfred Cumming, the newly appointed governor of Utah sent from Washington, arrives in Salt Lake to assume office. Cumming announces that he will head south to begin an investigation of the massacre. Young assures Cumming that he is also determined to get to the truth of the matter, and Cumming seems to believe him.

May 11, 1858 Gov. Cumming declares the California trail open and says emigrants can once again “pass through Utah territory without hindrance or molestation.

June 1858 Hamblin tells Young and Smith “everything I could” about the massacre.

June 26, 1858 Federal troops (one-fourth of the United States Army) march through Salt Lake City toward their headquarters at Camp Floyd, forty miles away. They do so after Young, recognizing the overwhelming size of the federal force, accepted federal terms-Brigham Young pardoned for treason

July 8, 1858 New-York Times reports John D. Lee’s involvement in “the Mountain Meadow Massacre.”

August 6, 1858 George A. Smith, one of the twelve apostles in the LDS Church, begins drafting an apostolic report on the massacre. The report blames the emigrants for inciting Indians. It also places John Lee at the scene, thus identifying him as the best possible Mormon scapegoat for the crime.

April 1859 Judge Cradlebaugh issues arrest warrants for John D. Lee, Isaac Haight, and John Higbee. The men, all accused in connection with the Mountain Meadows murders, flee.

May 1859 Indian agent Forney retrieves 17 orphans and U.S. Army and Judge Cradlebaugh investigate the massacre.

May 5-6, 1859 The army and Judge Cradlebaugh inspect the massacre scene. Skulls, bones, masses of women’s hair, and bits of clothing still litter the scene. Remains of the victims are buried by troops. Cradlebaugh follows up his visit with a letter to President Buchanan outlining his conclusion that the murders were committed “by order of council.”

May 12, 1859 An arrest warrant is issued for Brigham Young. He appears voluntarily before Judge Joseph Smith (in a Mormon probate court) to give a statement about the massacre, in which he accused of being an accessory after the fact. The case is apparently dismissed for lack of evidence.

May 17, 1859 Att. Gen, Black orders judges not to use Army to support prosecutions, effectively ending the federal investigation.

May 25, 1859 – “Major Carleton, of the first dragoons. In a despatch to the assistant adjutant-general at San Francisco, dated Mountain Meadows, May 25, 1859, he says: ‘A Pah Ute chief of the Santa Clara band, named Jackson, who was one of the attacking party, and had a brother slain by the emigrants from their corral by the spring, says that orders came down in a letter from Brigham Young that the emigrants were to be killed; and a chief of the Pah Utes, named Touche, now living on the Virgin River, told me that a letter from Brigham Young to the same effect was brought down to the Virgin River band by a man named Huntingdon.’ A copy of the major’s despatch will be found in the Hand-book of Mormonism, 67-9. Cradlebaugh says that after the attack had been made, one of the Indians declared that a white man came to their camp with written orders from Brigham to ‘go and help to whip the emigrants.’ ” (“History of Utah,” p. 561.)

June 3, 1859 The federal case against 38 Mormons for the massacre is essentially dropped when the U. S. Marshal declares his unwillingness to make arrests without federal troops to protect him from local citizens, and that help is not provided.

1860 With the Union ready to split apart, interest in prosecuting the Mountain Meadows massacre begins to wane. In Utah, Governor Cumming is unwilling to press prosecution, which he sees as futile:

“God Almighty couldn’t convict the butchers unless Brigham Young was willing.”

May 30, 1861 Brigham Young tours Mountain Meadows

“Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord.” -mass grave marker.

He later speaks at John D. Lee’s Grave:

“President Young said The company that was used up at Mountain Meadows were the fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and connections of those that murdered the prophets. They merited their fate, and the only thing that ever troubled him was the lives of the women and children, but that under the circumstances, this could not be avoided.”

1862 With the onset of the Civil War, federal troops leave Utah.

March 1864 John D. Lee, a man with a domineering personality who repeatedly boasted of his role in the massacre, is relieved of his position as elder of the Harmony, Utah branch of the LDS. It appears the Nauvoo records of sealings are altered at this point, John D. Lee being the only person in the history of Nauvoo to have a divorce, had all of his wives and children divorced from him in the records.

April 23, 1866 They (the Mormon townspeople) sent messengers requesting that the Paiutes go into town and hear a letter read to them. Many did. They gathered in the meetinghouse to hear Bishop William Allred address them. According to a previous plan, the Circleville men who outnumbered the Indians three to one came in unarmed and intermingled with them. The bishop read the message from Fort Sanford, stressing that the settlers wanted only peace with their band, but the Indians would have to help by lending them their guns. In return, the Paiutes could work for the whites and be paid in goods. When the Indians showed reluctance to give up their weapons, the settlers acted: “each man knowing his place and what was expected of him, grabbed hold of his Indian to disarm [him]. They all showed resistance but their bows and arrows and knives were taken from them.” Next, “their arms were tied to a stick which was passed behind their backs and under their arms.”

1868 Gov. J. Wilson Schaffer, appointed by President Grant, abolishes the Nauvoo Legion. The Mormon political condition generally begins to deteriorate.

1870-1871 Charles W. Wandell, under the pen name “Argus,” writes a series of stories in the Utah Reporter challenging Brigham Young’s response to the Mountain Meadows massacre. Wandell’s articles eventually produce the first confession by a massacre participant. About this time, Young meets with Lee, Haight, Dame, and others involved in the massacre. Historians suggest that Young singles out Lee to take the blame, confident in the belief that Lee will do as he is told at any trial. Lee is excommunicated on Oct 8 1870.

Oct 8 1870 Lee, Haight, and George Wood are excommunicated from the LDS church “for Committing a great Sin.”

April 10, 1871 Philip Klingensmith, a former LDS bishop who subsequently left the Church, appears in a Nevada court and swears out an account of the massacre, including his own role in it.

1874 Congress passes the Poland Act, which redefines the jurisdiction of courts in Utah. The law restricted the authority of Mormon-controlled probate courts and opened Utah juries to non-Mormons. The Poland Act finally makes prosecution for the murders at Mountain Meadows a real possibility.

Sept 1874 The first grand jury called under the Poland Bill indicts Lee, Dame, Haight, Higbee, Klingensmith, Stewart, Samuel Jukes, George W. Adair, and Elliot Wilden (or Willden) for the murders at Mountain Meadows.

October 1874 Arrests warrants are issued for Lee, Higbee, Haight, Stewart, Wilden, Adair, Klingensmith, Jukes, and Dame.

Nov 7-8 1874 John Lee, a fugitive for fifteen years, is captured in a chicken coop near Panguitch, Utah. Soon thereafter, federal authorities arrest William Dame.

July 23,1875 The trial of John Lee opens in the courtroom of Judge Jacob Boreman. Payment for Lee’s defense is arranged by Brigham Young. The prosecution’s star witness is Philip Klingensmith.

Aug 5, 1875 The trial of John Lee ends in a hung jury, with the nine Mormon jurors voting to acquit and the three non-Mormon jurors voting to convict. The trial, however, severely tarnishes the reputation of the LDS Church in the eyes of most Americans.

Summer 1876 Prosecutor Sumner Howard, the new U. S. attorney for Utah, makes a deal with Brigham Young. Young agrees to find witnesses to convict John Lee in return for his affidavit being placed in evidence (largely exonerating him) and charges are dropped against William Dame and other Mormon officials.

Sept 15, 1876 The second trial of John Lee opens in Beaver, Utah. Numerous Mormons testify against Lee, but the testimony does not implicate other Mormons. Lee asks that no witnesses testify in his behalf.

Sept 20, 1876 After only a few hours of deliberation, an all-Mormon jury convicts John Lee.

Winter 1876-77 While his appeals play out, John Lee writes his autobiography and confession, which he gives to his attorney, William Bishop, and which is later published under the title, Mormonism Unveiled.  The majority of the book is a testimony for Joseph Smith Jr., but criticizes Brigham Young on a few counts.  It only gets the Mormons into Utah before the rest of it is written by Lee’s Laywer, who was dictated to by Lee what to write.

Mar 23, 1877 John Lee is executed by firing squad while sitting on his coffin in Mountain Meadows.

Aug 29, 1877 Brigham Young dies

August 3. 1999 A back hoe’s claw exposes the skeletal remains of men, women, and children massacred in 1857.

Sept 11, 1999 Gordon B. Hinckley, President of the LDS Church, dedicates a new monument to the victims of the 1857 massacre. He says, “[The past] cannot be changed. It is time to leave the entire matter to God.”


William Bagley and Juanita Brooks, books[1][2][3] (John D. Lee Autobiography)[4][5]

This entry was posted in Timelines. Bookmark the permalink.
Last edited by Mithryn on July 10, 2013 at 11:42 pm

2 Responses to Mountain Meadows Massacre Timeline

  1. Pingback: Just one more thing… about the Mountain Meadows Massacre | Exploring Mormonism

  2. Pingback: 10 Reasons that Exmormons are not Kylo Ren | Exploring Mormonism

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.