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The Arkansas Emigrants
Today some tales relate a story about one large wagon train, and the men, women, and children who were murdered at Mountain Meadows, which is often referred to collectively as the "Baker-Fancher" Train. As a collective label, the "Baker-Fancher Train", or "Fancher-Baker" Train name is not accurate, and it is also misleading. The "Baker-Fancher" designation developed around 1990; more than 130 years after the Massacre took place. The name evolved during the planning of the Dan Sill Hill Monument at the Massacre Site, and was a well-intentioned attempt to designate that there was more than one wagon train involved in the Massacre. At that time the "Baker-Fancher" Train was named for Capt. John Twitty Baker of the Baker Train, and Capt. Alexander Fancher of the Fancher Train. Unfortunately, this more modern "Baker-Fancher" Train designation still disenfranchised the majority of the other wagon train leaders/captains, who were equally important as Baker and Fancher. It also disenfranchised the majority of the men, women, and children who were victims, all of whom were neither Fanchers or Bakers - just as the earlier "Fancher Train" name had done. (The "Fancher Train", or "Fancher Company" was the earliest name for this entire group of Arkansas Emigrants, and was used primarily from 1857 until about 1990, although it also continues to be used today.) We prefer to call the people who died in the 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre "The Arkansas Emigrants". It is a term that has also been used since the time of the Massacre to describe this group, and it does not give any one individual, or family, more perceived importance than any of the others in the group.
Each Spring, thousands of wagon trains left for California, and the story of the Arkansas Emigrants and the Mountain Meadows Massacre, has incorrectly morphed into one large, all-inclusive, "Baker-Fancher" Train whose members all departed from Bellers Stand/Milum Springs, in Carroll County, Arkansas at the same time. No such train ever existed. The Baker Train did depart from Bellers Stand/Milum Springs, in Carroll County, near present day Harrison. However, the Fancher Train left from Benton County, Arkansas. The Huff Train also left from Benton County. The Poteet Train, the Tackett Train, and the Jones Train (all relatives) originally departed from Johnson County and traveled up through Washington County. (The Poteet Train survived the Massacre.) The Cameron Train and the Miller Train (previously from the Osage area) also left from Johnson County, while the Mitchell Train, Dunlap Train and Prewitt Train departed from Marion County. These trains all departed at different times and were under the organization of each individual wagon train master.
There were many other wagon trains that joined up along the way, broke off, or joined up again during their journey westward from Arkansas. Those other wagon trains included the Crooked Creek Train, the Campbell Train, the Parker Train, and others who remain unknown. (These known trains escaped the Massacre.) The Fancher Train arrived in Salt Lake a week or more before the others who would join up and travel south together through Utah, while the Baker Train was the last to arrive in Salt Lake. It was at Salt Lake, in the Utah territory, not Carroll County, Arkansas, that these individual wagon trains ultimately joined together to form the large group that would travel south together through Utah towards Mountain Meadows.
There were probably individuals and elements of other wagon trains that joined this group in Salt Lake, as was the custom at that time. Because of this, it will never be known with certainty the names of all of those who were members of the trains on the fateful day they reached Mountain Meadows, in the Utah Territory.
(From the upcoming book "1857: An Arkansas Family Primer To The Mountain Meadows Massacre", by Lynn-Marie Fancher and Alison Wallner. Copyright 2010. Re-printed here with the permission of the authors.)
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