Witness for the Prosecution
at Second Trial of John D. Lee
September 14 to 20, 1876
About This Record
Q: Where do you reside?
County, at what is called
Q: How long have you lived
in the Territory?
A: Since 1852.
Q: Do you know the
location of Mountain Meadows?
A: No, sir. I never was
Q: Where did you live in
A: I think I lived at
Q: How far is
City from Beaver?
A: About thirty miles.
Q: Did you, in 1857, know
anything about an emigrant train, known as the
Arkansas emigrant train, passing through
the Territory to
Southern California, or starting to pass?
A: By report only.
Q: Did you have any thing
to do as an officer or citizen, at
City, with regard to
the passage of those emigrants? If you did, state what you know about their
passage, in your own way.
A: Merely by report, that
there was a company come through
City. I lived off at a
Johnson, six miles and
a half. I was engaged at that time some little in seeing what was called the
best locality, or what would do the best good for some three or four little
Johnson and Shirts'
Creek. We had formed a kind of a custom to come together about once a week,
to take into consideration what would be the best good for those three
places. I happened on Sunday to come to
City, as I usually
came, and there seemed to be a council. We met together about four o'clock,
as a general thing, on Sunday evening after service. I went into the
council, and saw there was 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
was the matter. They said a company had passed along toward Mountain
Meadows. There were many threats given concerning this company.
SPICER - for Defendant - We object to
these conversations, in which the witness has not shown that the defendant
HOWARD - for the People - We expect
to connect Mr. Lee with it in this way: We propose to show that at that
council a report was made that the Indians had stopped this train of
emigrants, or were about to stop them; and we propose to show further that
at that time, in consequence of the condition of the country, it was claimed
by some people that they should be held until a message could be sent to
Salt Lake and their passage secured; that Mr. Morrill appeared there -
others being in favor of stopping the emigrants, and perhaps doing more than
that. Mr. Morrill appeared there and insisted that no interference should be
had with them until orders came from Brigham Young - from headquarters - and
at first insisting that they should be allowed to pass unmolested. That the
Indians should not be allowed to molest them if it could be avoided. That
they should be prevented by all means from interfering with them. Mr.
Morrill made several speeches to that council in favor of that proposition,
and that finally an agreement was made that the emigrants should
not be interfered with, and suspend all proceedings in regard to even
stopping them until a message should come from Brigham Young. At that time
Brigham Young was not only the President of the Church, but Governor of the
Territory, and Indian Agent. We propose to follow it up by showing that an
agreement was made and a messenger sent posthaste to
Lake. We propose to
follow it up by showing that a messenger was sent to see that the Indians
did not interfere with the emigrants. We propose to follow it up by showing
that John D. Lee received that word. That that was the agreement of that
council, and that he must not allow those emigrants to be interfered with.
That he not only received that word, but that he made the
remark that he had something to say about it. The man who carried the
message was told that he had better get out of the way himself, or he would
get hurt. There has been an effort made to show that others besides John D.
Lee commenced this attack. We propose to show to this jury that the attack
was made in defiance of the authorities. That they not only held the lives
of those emigrants secure; were not only anxious that they should be allowed
to pass, but that they should be protected from the Indians, in order to
show their sincerity and do what was right in view of the circumstances,
made a solemn agreement there among themselves that the emigrants
should not be interfered with until a dispatch could be sent to
Governor Young and returned. We propose to show that that dispatch was sent
to Governor Young by that messenger, with instructions not to spare
horseflesh, but to ride there day and night; that before this messenger
returned, John D. Lee, in defiance of that council, massacred the emigrants.
SPICER - If the gentleman proposes to
prove that Lee did anything contrary to the orders of the Church Council,
we will withdraw our objections. But we know the prosecution will fail in
the effort. Lee did nothing that was contrary to Council, and the fact is,
he obeyed orders.
HOWARD - Mr. Morrill, the court
directs that you state what was done at that Council?
A:. 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 to 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 of measures 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 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 till his return. I returned back to
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 been done,
that is, the destruction of the emigrants had taken place. I can't give any
further evidence on the subject at present.
Q: What was the name of
the messenger sent to
A: James Haslem.
Cross examination by W.W. BISHOP –
Q: You think that about
forty-eight hours before the messenger returned from
Lake, you learned that
the job was done, the people killed at Mountain Meadows. Do you mean by
that, the killing that had been talked of at that Council?
A: I suppose it was, sir.
Q: Who was present at that
Council that you recollect?
A: Mr. Smith.
Q: Give me the name of any
there that you can call to mind?
A: I think Isaac C. Haight
Q: Was John D. Lee
A: No, sir, not to my
Q: Did you see that
messenger start to Brigham Young?
A: I did not.
Q: Did you see the message
that he took to Brigham Young?
A: I did not.
Q: Did you ever read it?
A: I did not.
Q: Did you know, or have
any knowledge that any written communication was given by the Council to
anyone to carry to President Young?
A: The understanding of
the Council was that one should be written out for him prior to his
Q: Do you know of your own
knowledge that one was written out?
A: I didn't see Mr.
Haight, but he should have made it out in time. I didn't see the paper
Q: Then the understanding
of the Council, as I take it, was this, that different parties presented
different plans for having the people follow the emigrants; that after all
this argument it was agreed by the parties there that a messenger should go
to Brigham Young for instructions as to how the people should treat the
emigrants in that train, and nothing should be done with those emigrants
until that messenger returned?
A: That was the agreement
- I understood it so.
Q: Who else did they agree
to send a messenger to?
A: I heard of no other but
Governor Young. That was my proposition.
Q: Then you never heard of
a messenger being sent to any other place, or to any other party, from that
A: No, I did not pay any
attention to any other point, or what was considered; only the one point
that a messenger should go to President Young.
Redirect by HOWARD –
Q: Did you understand that
a messenger was to be sent down to John D. Lee?
A: I did, but I did not
see him start. I understood that at the same time a messenger was to be
Q: What did you
A: I understood that there
was to be word sent down towards Pinto Creek.
Q: For what purpose?
A: To have the thing
stayed according to contract, to agreement made.
Q: What do you mean by the
thing being stayed? Was the massacre of that emigrant train discussed there
A: It was, sir; and some
were in favor of it, and some were not.
Q: Who were they?
A: Bishop Smith, I
considered, was the hardest man I had to contend with.
Q: Who else spoke about
A: Isaac Haight and one or
two others. I recollect my companions more than anyone else.
Q: They were very anxious
and rabid were they not?
A: 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.
Q: You have given us the
names of two who were in favor of killing those emigrants - who were the
A: Those were my
companions, Isaac C. Haight and Klingensmith. I recollect no others.
Q: You remember that
council, and the agreement that they would not do anything until word came
back from President Young?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Although you didn't see
either of those messengers start, you understood messengers were sent each
A: Yes, sir; to stay the
opposition until that messenger returned.
Re-cross examination –
Q: You say you understood
a messenger was to be sent to Pinto Creek. Did John D. Lee live at Pinto
A: He lived at Harmony.
Q: Was it mentioned in
that Council that a messenger was to be sent to Pinto Creek to stay the
thing until the other messenger got back?
A: Understand me, there
was nothing said in that Council in regard to Pinto, only that the thing
should be stayed. They took such measures to stay it as they thought proper.
After the messenger, Mr. Haslem, returned I asked Mr. Haight about it, and
he said he had sent word to let them pass, of course. That was the end of my
experience in regard to it.
Q: Where did John D. Lee live at that time?
A: He lived at Harmony.
Q: How far is Harmony from
A: I don't know.
Q: What was his position
at that time?
A: He was a man of some
influence among the Indians, and also held a position in the military.
Q: Was he not Indian
A: I think he had done
something towards it. One thing I passed over at that Council; I inquired by
what authority they were doing it, and they said by their own authority.
Says I, has Dame got a letter here; is there anything from Mr. Dame of
Parowan? They said no. I demanded a written letter or order from him before
I would act; they said they had none.