TESTIMONY OF LABAN MORRILL — SECOND TRIAL OF LEE.
Laban Morrill moved from Johnson's fort and became one of the pioneers of Pinto county, settling at Junction, now the county seat. He died some ten or fifteen years ago, leaving a large family which, like their father, is highly respected.
At the second trial of Lee, and after the usual preliminaries, Mr. Morrill testified as follows:
We had formed a kind of custom to come together about once a week, to take into consideration what would be the best good for those places. I happened on Sunday (about September 7) to come to Cedar City, as I usually came, and there seemed to be a council. We met together about 4 o'clock, as a general thing, on Sunday evening after service. I went into the council and saw there a little excitement in regard to something I did not understand. I went in at a rather late hour. I inquired of the rest what the matter was. They said a company had passed along toward Mountain Meadows. There were many threats given concerning this company.
As I said, there appeared to be some confusion in that council. I inquired in a friendly way, what was up. I was told that there was an emigrant train that passed along down near Mountain Meadows, and that they had made threats in regard to us as a people — said they would destroy every d—d Mormon. There was an army coming on the south and north, and it created some little excitement. I made two or three replies in a kind of debate measure that were taken into consideration, discussing the object, what method we thought best to take in regard to protecting the lives of the citizens.
My objections were not coincided with. At last we touched upon the topic like this: We should still keep quiet, and a dispatch should be sent to Governor Young to know what would be the best course. The vote was unanimous. I considered it so. It seemed to be the understanding that on the coming morning, or the next day, there should be a messenger dispatched. I took some pains to inquire and know if it would be sent in the morning. The papers were said to be made out, and Governor Young should be informed, and no hostile course pursued until his return. I returned back to Fort Johnson, feeling that all was well. About eight and forty hours before the messenger returned — business called me to Cedar City, and I learned that the job had taken place. I can't give any further evidence on the subject at present.
W. W. Bishop, counsel for Lee, elicited the information from Mr. Morrill that when be referred to "the job" he meant the killing of the emigrants. United States District Attorney Howard then put the following re-direct questions:
Ques.— Did you say that a messenger was to be sent down to John D. Lee?
Ans.— I did, but I did not see him start. I understood at the time a messenger was to be sent.
Ques.— What did you understand?
Ans.— I understood there was to be word sent down towards Pinto creek.
Ques.— For what purpose?
Ans.— To have the thing stayed according to contract, to agreement made.
Ques.— What do you mean by the thing being stayed? Was the massacre of that emigrant train discussed there at all?
Ans.— It was, sir; and some were in favor of it, and some were not.
Ques.— Who were they?
Ans.— Bishop Smith (Klingensmith) I considered, was the hardest man I had to contend with.
Ques.— Who else spoke about it?
Ans.— Isaac Haight and one or two others. I recollect my companions more than any one else.
Ques.— They were very anxious and rabid were they not?
Ans.— They seemed to think it would be best to kill the emigrants. Some of the emigrants swore that they had killed old Joseph Smith; there was quite a little excitement there.
Ques.— You have given us the names of two who were in favor of killing those emigrants — who were the others?
Ans.— Those were my companions, Isaac C. Haight and Klingensmith. I recollect no others:
And who after reading the testimony of Laban Morrill, and noting his sincerity under the most trying conditions — to tell the truth, and to shield others of the elders, can deny that the conspiracy to murder the emigrants was initiated by the direct agent of the Mormon leaders, and was discussed in a priesthood meeting of the chief ecclesiastical authorities of the Parowan stake of Zion?
Question by Howard — Who else did he mention?
Ans.— He mentioned my brother (Oscar Hamblin) being there, bringing some Indians there. Sent him word of this affair (the massacre) taking place, and for him to go and get the Indians, and bring up the Santa Clara Indians.
Ques.— Your brother, then, brought the Indians to the Meadows, and then left there?
Ans.— Yes, he told me so. (The fact is, if Oscar Hamblin left the Meadows after taking the Indians there, he returned and aided Lee in restraining them when they made their second attack on the emigrants.)
Question by bishop — Have you ever given a report of it (the massacre) to any of your superiors in the church, or officers over you?
Ans.— Well, I did speak of it to President Young and George A. Smith.
Ques.— Did you give them the whole facts?
Ans.— I gave them more than I have here, because I recollected more of it.
Ques.— When did you do that?
Ans.— Pretty soon after it happened.
Ques.— You are certain that you gave it fuller than you have told it here on the stand?
Ans.— I told everything I could.
Ques.— Have you told it all?
Ans.— No, sir, I have not.
Ques.— Then tell it.
Ans.— I will not undertake that now. I would not like to undertake it.
Question by Bishop — State whether you were under any compulsion (to go to the Meadows).
Ans.— I didn't think it was safe for me to object.
Ques.— Explain what you mean, that is what I want. Where was the danger — who was the danger to come from if you objected — from Haight or those around him — from the Indians, or from the emigrants?
Ans.— From the military officers.
Ans.— At Cedar City.
Ques.— Was Haight one of those military officers?
Aris.— Yes, sir.
Ques.— Who was the highest military officer in Cedar City at that time?
Ans.— I think it was Isaac C. Haight.
Ques.— You thought it would not be safe to refuse; had you any reason to fear danger - has any person ever been injured for not obeying, or anything of that kind?
Ans.— I don't want to answer.
Ques.— It is necessary to the safety of the man I am defending, and I therefore insist upon an answer. Had any person been injured for not obeying?
Ans.— Yes, sir, they had.
Question by Howard — Were you acquainted with the Indians — the Pah Vant (Pahvan) Indians?
Ans.— Yes, sir; somewhat acquainted.
Ques.— Were any of the Pah Vant Indians down there?
Ans.— I didn't see any.
During the night of the day of the massacre President Isaac C. Haight and Bishop William H. Dame arrived from Cedar and Parowan, respectively, and camped at Hamblin's ranch. The next morning, with John D. Lee, they visited the scene of the carnage where sixty men, forty women and about thirty children were lying naked on the ground, having been stripped of their clothing and jewelry.
Haight, Dame and other leading elders made speeches, the substance of which may be gathered from answers by Nephi Johnson to questions asked by W. W. Bishop, Lee's attorney.
Ques.— Is it not a fact that after the property was all gathered up at the Meadows, and you were ready to start for Iron Springs, that speeches were made to the men present, by those in authority, in which speeches you were ordered to keep it a secret forever?
Ans.— There were a great many speeches made.
Ques.— At the Meadows, before you left there, was it not told you in a speech then made to you, that it must be kept a secret; that it would be best to keep silent? Were not you so advised by your leaders?
Ans.— Yes, sir.
In reply to my inquiry of Frank E. King as to the conduct of the people who were traveling in the Fancher company, he replied, under date of March 15, 1910, as follows:
From the time that we overtook them (at Pacific Springs) they were not boisterous, or in any way uncivil. You would hardly ever hear an oath from any one.
Although to the point, Mr. King's replies were brief, as he always was in his intercourse with his fellow men.
The following affidavit is self explanatory:
State of Utah, County of Piute—ss.
William L. Jones, Reuben De Wit, George T. Henry and Josiah F. Gibbs, being first duly sworn, and each for himself, deposes and says: We are residents of Marysvale, Pinto county, Utah. And that during our residence in Marysvale we were personally acquainted, during a period of more than twenty years, with Frank E. King who, until about five years ago, was also a resident of Marysvale, Pinto county, and that the said Frank E. King was an industrious, upright citizen, and of unquestioned veracity.
WILLIAM L. JONES, (ex-Postmaster.)
REUBEN DE WIT, (Justice of the Peace.)
GEORGE T. HENRY, (Postmaster.)
JOSIAH F. GIBBS.
Subscribed and sworn to before me, tris 15th day of August, 1910.
WILLIAM E. WHITE, Notary Public.
My commission expires March 16, 1913.
An estimable lady (a Mrs. Evans), yet living at Parowan, visited the camp of the emigrants at Parowan with other Mormon girls, and is earnest in her statement that in every respect the emigrants conducted themselves as ladies and gentlemen. Her statement was made to a gentleman of high repute in the official life of Utah, and is published without the knowledge of either of them.
The charge that the emigrants resisted arrest at Cedar clearly proves that they declined to ask for permits, and for which the inexpressibly detestable ecclesiastical tyrant, Isaac C. Haight, commanded their arrest. The demand was made by the emissaries of a fanatical and brutalized priesthood that was then in open rebellion against the United States. In resisting arrest by the servile agents of the Mormon "prophets," because they ignored the right of bigots and rebels to prevent them from passing through a portion of the domain of the United States until they secured passes, they were guiltless of infraction of any law, rule or order of their country, and were justified in their resistance.
The Arkansas company was composed of representative American citizens — prosperous men and women who were seeking homes in the "Golden West." And after being murdered under a flag of truce they were stripped of their clothing and left naked upon the desert, a prey to coyotes. Their property was divided among their assassins — an aggregation of religion crazed bandits whose only defense of their crime is the unsupported charge that the emigrants cursed the Mormons and boasted of having helped "kill old Joseph Smith."
As an illustration of the desperate and lying defense of the Mormon "prophets," and in defiance of the fact that Jacob Hamblin told him the whole truth of the massacre, Brigham Young, on January 6, 1858, wrote James W. Denver, commissioner of Indian affairs, Washington, D. C. , as follows:
Sir: On or about the middle of last September a company of emigrants traveling the southern route to California, poisoned the meat of an ox that died, and gave it to the Indians to eat, causing the immediate death of four of their tribe, and poisoning several others. This company also poisoned the water where they were encamped. This occurred at Corn creek, fifteen miles from Fillmore City. This conduct so enraged the Indians that they took measures for revenge.
The above. letter from Brigham Young to James W. Denver has been herein proved to be totally and wickedly false, and as such, and as the best that the chief "prophet" could do to besmirch the memory of the emigrants, furnishes a complete vindication of the character of the Company that perished at the hands of Brigham Young's slaves at the Mountain Meadows on or about September 16, 1857.
And, in the final analysis, the reader should remember that Isaac C. Haight and others of the leading priesthood of the Parowan stake of Zion, some seven or eight days before the massacre, sent a message by James H. Haslam, to President Young inquiring as to the disposal of the emigrants. President Young's reply: "Permit the emigrants to go in peace," and his admonition to Haslam "not to spare horseflesh," so often and fervently quoted by Mormons, proves that President Young knew that the fate of the emigrants was at the disposal of the priesthood of the Parowan stake of Zion, and not at the disposal of the Indians. He had guilty knowledge that the massacre was contemplated by his slaves in Iron county. And although his farseeing statesmanship grasped the consequences of the deed, and although, when too late, and as a matter of policy, he did all that lie could to stay the hands of his blood atoning assassins, he knew, when the massacre had been consummated, by whom the hellish deed had been done. Therefore, his letter to James W. Denver is proved to have been false in every respect, and that President Young descended to falsehood — even perjury — as a measure of protection for his people and his church.
On the evening of October 26, 1884, Elder Charles W. Penrose, then editor of the Deseret News, and since elevated to the apostolate, made a lengthy, rambling and mendacious address to a large audience of Saints in the twelfth ecclesiastical ward meeting house, Salt Lake City, and attempted to dispel the shadow that can never be lifted from the memory of those who, by their teachings and gross fanaticism, were responsible for the Mountain Meadows massacre. Penrose's was the first extended attempt to defend the Mormon "prophets," and it was a total failure.
In September, 1875, Brigham Young was summoned to appear as a witness in the first trial of John D. Lee. The condition of his health would not permit of his attendance, and in lieu thereof, certain interrogatories were forwarded to him at Salt Lake City, and which were answered by him under oath.
One question, only, and its answer are all that is required to prove that Brigham Young, or other affiants, testified falsely.
Question ninth — Did John D. Lee report to you at any time after this massacre what had been done at that massacre, and if so, what reply did you make to him in reference thereto?
Answer — Within some two or three months after the massacre he called at my office and had much to say with regard to the Indians, their being stirred up to anger and threatening the settlements of the whites, and then commenced giving an account of the massacre. I told him to stop, as from what I had already heard by rumor, I did not wish my feelings harrowed up with a recital of detail.
With seeming glee Elder Penrose quotes the above affidavit to prove that it was some time after the massacre before President Young knew anything about the affair further than "rumor," and that he would not permit Lee to tell the story. Then, with singular stupidity, Elder Penrose proceeds to prove that President Young was a falsifier by putting his son's affidavit against that of his father's. Elder Penrose's hysterical zeal to also prove that Brigham Young did not know that the massacre had been concocted and perpetrated by the presiding priesthood of Iron county, led him into the fatal error of securing an affidavit from John W. Young to prove that Lee charged the massacre to the Indians. But that affidavit proved too much in another respect.
According to his affidavit, John W. Young, son of Brigham Young, was 13 years old at the time of the massacre, and was office boy for his father. After stating those facts Mr. Young continued as follows:
I distinctly remember one day in the latter part of September, 1857, being in my father's office when John D. Lee, travel worn, entered the office and asked for a private interview with Governor Young.
It is distinctly impressed on my mind beyond the power of time to efface, how Lee described the terrible deed which he said was committed by the Indians at Mountain Meadows.
From John W. Young's affidavit it is learned that Lee's visit was made immediately after the massacre, and that he did not "stop" at the command of President Young.
Not satisfied with pitting the affidavit of John W. Young against that of his father's, Elder Penrose secured a statement from Apostle Wilford Woodruff that, in every respect, supported the statements made by the "prophet's" son.
So eager was Elder Penrose to prove his stupidity and to fix the date of Lee's arrival at President Young's office, that he examined the voluminous diary kept by Apostle Woodruff and discovered that it was on September 29, 1857, or thirteen days after the tragedy at Mountain Meadows. No comment on the Woodruff and John W. Young contradictions to President Young's replies to the interrogatories in the Lee trial, and to his letter to James W. Denver, are necessary.
Elder Penrose's discourse in the twelfth ward was delivered more than seven years after the excution of Lee, and the world then knew a portion of the truth relative to the massacre. And in his anxiety to mitigate the hideousness of the crime, he committed the usual Mormon blunder of attacking the moral status of the murdered emigrants. If that were not his intent why did he quote the following paragraph from Apostle Woodruff's diary, and which had not the slightest bearing on the subject matter of his discourse?
Brother Lee said he did not think there was a drop of innocent blood in the camp, for he had two of the children — (of the seventeen that were saved) in his house, and he could get but one to kneel down at prayer time, and the other would laugh at her for doing it, and they would swear like pirates.
(You elders of Israel will go into the canyons, and curse and swear, G-damn and curse your oxen, and swear by him who created you. I am telling you the truth. Yes, you rip and swear and curse as bad as any pirates ever did.
Doubtless Apostle Woodruff had, for the moment, forgotten the above selection from a sermon by Brigham Young in the early fifties Journal of Discourses, Vol. 1, page 211, and that "swearing like pirates" was not regarded as evidence that there "was not a drop of innocent blood" among the "elders of Israel"; and that profanity among the Saints in 1853 was not regarded as sufficient cause for blood atoning them. But the "elders of Israel" had entered into the "new and everlasting covenant," and were, therefore, immune from all crimes "except the shedding of innocent blood" or the blood of the Mormon prophets.
If the Indians, as alleged by John W. Young and Apostle Woodruff, had been the sole perpetrators of the crime, why the attempt to partially condone the crime of the redskins who knew absolutely nothing, and cared less, of the moral status of those whom they murdered? The more the "prophets" and their agents squirm and wriggle in their attempts to get from under the fearful responsibility for that crime the deeper do they sink into the quicksands of perfidy and guilt.
The massacre occurred on or about September 16, and John D. Lee was at President Young's office on the 29th. During the interim Lee remained a part of one day at the Meadows; it required one day for Lee to reach his home with the girls, and it would require full ten days to make the trip from Harmony to Salt Lake City. Therefore, the girls might, possibly, have been at Lee's residence two days before his departure for Salt Lake City. It was probably the second day after the massacre when Lee first asked the girls to join the family in prayers. Before those children, less than 8 years old, there was ever the vision of the slaughter. No doubt the girls had witnessed the murder of their mother, or mothers. Very likely they were clinging to their skirts when Lee and the others struck them down. Doubtless they had seen their older brothers and sisters slain by those monster fanatics of an alien church. Very likely they had heard McMurdy's frenzied cry of "O, Lord, my God, receive their spirits, it is for thy kingdom that I do this!" Is there wonder, then, that but one of those children knelt at prayer with the inhuman fanatic whose hands were red with the blood of their parents?
And those children "swore like pirates!" On the 16th of this month, September, 1910 — the fifty-third anniversary of the massacre, while on a visit to the Mountain Meadows for the purpose of investigating the condition of the emigrants' grave, and to secure photographs of the grave and vicinity, the writer stood by the cairn on the desert. In imagination, the emigrants filed away up the valley under a flag of truce. Again the silence of that mountain solitude was broken by the cries of women, the screams of children and the rattle of firearms held by those wretched victims of blind obedience. Even after the lapse of fifty-three years, "swearing" would not only have been a relief, but would have been appropriate. Who, then, but arch-hypocrites could blame those girls for swearing? And who, but fiends incarnate, would claim that "there was not a drop of innocent blood in the camp" because one of those children refused to worship at the shrine of a god who would permit the representatives of his "holy prophets" to commit such a diabolical crime?
Apologists for, and defenders, by implication, of the Mountain Meadows massacre have ever attempted to palliate that crime by the besmirchment of the characters of the slain! Out upon such driveling, sickening cant and hypocrisy!
In defiance of the testimony of Jacob Hamblin during the second trial of Lee to the effect that "Pretty soon after it (the massacre) happened," he ''told them (President Young and George A. Smith) everything I could," and his story was complete, Apostle Woodruff, in his affidavit, used by Elder Penrose, affirms that neither he nor Brigham Young knew anything about Lee's participation in the massacre until the year 1870, when they obtained the information from Apostle Erastus Snow of St. George, Utah! (It should be remembered that Jacob Hamblin's report was made to Brigham Young and George A. Smith.) Subsequently Lee was excommunicated in Salt Lake City, instead of in one of the southern stakes of Zion, where he could have secured witnesses, and have been ''present in court." The haste and irregularity of Lee's excommunication prove that the belated act was forced by popular clamor — that it was merely an expedient, or grand stand play, with the express purpose of deceiving the people of the United States!
It may be contended by some of the "prophets" and their agents that the practice of blood atonement is a thing of the past. But, from the saints' viewpoint, it is a law of God, and his laws are eternal.
Given the absolute dominion for which these latter-day "prophets" are sleeplessly working, the torrid sermons of Brigham Young and Jedediah M. Grant would be as mild in comparison as a summer zephyr to the vitriolic mouthings of the present insanely fanatical ruler of Joseph Smith's "Kingdom of God."
The hell born twins of unquestioning obedience and blood atonement are merely sleeping; the fires of Mormon fanaticism are merely smouldering. Yet, from the darkness of moral blindness and bigotry of Mormonism, the personality of Laban Morrill rises like a shaft of light, and serves notice to the world that there are Mormons who are infinitely better than their religion.
On a recent trip to the Meadows I went over to Pinto and from that point visited the scene of the massacre. It was my good fortune to be received at the home of Benjamin Platt, aged 78 years, who was working for John D. Lee at the time of the massacre. Mr. Platt is an intelligent Englishman, and withal a devout member of the Mormon church. It is to Mr. Platt that the public is indebted for the following information which was freely imparted during the ride over to the Meadows for the purpose of securing photographs of the "monument" and vicinity.
In the context of this story of the massacre Lee's version of the first attack by the Indians has been given, and in which Lee claims that he was not present. Mr. Platt avers that Lee's statement was not correct, and that the following version is the truth:
On the Sunday preceding the massacre fourteen Indians, an escort of the Cedar Lamanites, arrived at Lee's home at Harmony. Lee objected to accompanying the Indians, but after a brief consultation Lee departed with them toward the Meadows. Comanche, one of the reds, objected to the program of slaughter, but was finally induced to accompany the expedition.
Mr. Platt is relieved from responsibilty for the following narrative, but it is true, nevertheless. The party camped at Leachy spring. During the night the leader of the Indians dreamed that both his bands were filled with blood, and was alarmed at the significant omen. He related his dream, the next morning, to Lee who interpreted the "double handful of blood" as a victory for the redmen, and that they would secure the blood of the emigrants.
Mr. Platt's statement regarding the day of Lee's departure agrees with all the facts in the case, and which are as follows:
The first attack took place at about daylight on Tuesday, and after which Lee went down to the Santa Clara river where, according to Lee's statement, he met Oscar Hamblin and fourteen other white men with a band of Indians. The second attack was made on Wednesday evening. On Thursday the militia arrived at the Meadows. The massacre was perpetrated on Friday. Early on Saturday morning Haight and Dame went from Hamblin's ranch over to the Meadows, and after viewing the results of the slaughter, and admonishing the elders to keep the fact of their participation a "secret forever," and to lay the burden of the crime on the Indians, the entire party left the Meadows for their homes. They could easily get to Leachy spring in time for the night's encampment, and Lee could easily reach his home early in the forenoon of Sunday, which is the day that Mr. Platt says he arrived in Harmony.
Mr. Platt related how Lee and his Indian escort rode into the stockade fort and around it to the well on the south side. In his autobiography Lee says that the Indians gave a whoop of victory, and after a repast on watermelons departed to their camp. Mr. Platt avers that the Indians made no oral demonstration of victory.
At the afternoon meeting of the Harmony Saints, according to Mr. Platt, John D. Lee gave a lurid description of the massacre, and that he seemed to glory in the deed which he said was the "will of the Lord. Asked if, in after years, Lee exhibited any feeling of remorse, Mr. Platt answered that he did not; that Lee was the same jovial, companionable man that he was prior to the massacre.
While condemning in the strongest and most earnest terms the leaders in the massacre, Mr. Platt averred that John D. Lee was the personification of hospitality toward all who called at Harmony, and related many acts of kindness and generosity to himself.
The years of silence on the massacre have passed, and the people of southern Utah now talk as freely of the tragedy as on any other subject, and deeply lament the ineffaceable stain that, unjustly, is the heritage of those who were residents of Iron and Washington counties at the time of the massacre, but who were guiltless of participation in, or sympathy with, the deed.
Many stories of the awful incidents, some true, others false, are in circulation among the people of southern Utah. Mr. Platt related a pitiful story about Albert, Hamblin's Indian boy, guarding the hiding place of the girls during several days, and secretly sharing his food, which he took over to the Meadows while herding cows in the vicinity, with Rachel and Ruth Dunlap before they were discovered, ravished and murdered as before related. But, unfortunately for the Indian boy, the story is not true.
Another interesting story, of the truth of which there is no doubt, was told by Mr. Platt as follows:
On one occasion when the emigrants were out of water they sent a child, a little girl dressed in white, to the spring. She was fired upon but escaped unharmed.
Notwithstanding that the people of southern Utah are familiar with nearly all the incidents of the massacre they have thus far, as a general truth, failed to grasp the central force that was responsible for the devilish act. Their abiding faith in the "divine mission of Joseph Smith," and their certainty that the Mormon "prophets" can do no wrong, blinds them to the forces that unerringly led up to the massacre. But there are scores of young men and women who are now demanding that the truth be told. Their reason teaches them that the assigned causes, or reasons, for the massacre, are insufficient to account for all the facts. They are now asking: "Why did those fifty-five men, professed followers of the merciful Son of God, commit a crime at which the civilized world stood aghast? If it was murder for plunder, why is it that only one assassin was punished for the crime when the name of every one of the murderers was known to the leading religious and civil authorities of Utah at the time of Lee's trial, or could have been obtained had there been any inclination to punish them? "There is something hidden," they say, ''something mysterious and inexplicable as to the impelling motive to the crime. What is it?"
While not complete, the youth of Utah, and the people of the world, may, in the foregoing pages, learn the basic causes that led up to the Mountain Meadows massacre.