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JOHN WHITLEY LITTON
*Not a victim of the 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre*
 


The MMA investigates every person who is believed to have died in the Mountain Meadows Massacre. According to a family tradition, John Whitely Litton died in a "Mormon Indian Massacre in Utah", in 1867. Although the Mountain Meadows Massacre took place in 1857, stories usually get some facts wrong, and he was investigated as a possible victim.

John Whitely Litton was the son of John S. Litton and Catherine Younce, born 5 March 1830 in Elk Grove, Russell County, Virginia. He married Lydia Eva Whitaker on 14 May 1845 in Russell County, Virginia. She was the daughter of Moses Whitaker and Polly Bowman. In the 1850 census, they are enumerated in Russell County, Virginia, and in the 1860 census they are enumerated in the Western District of Washington County, Virginia. Lydia (Whitaker) Litton is enumerated as a widow in both the 1870 and 1880 census for Washington County, Virginia. These census records indicate that Litton probably died sometime between 1860 and 1870, and not before 1860, which would have been the case if he was a victim of the Mountain Meadows Massacre in September 1857.

John W. Litton was in Wade's Regiment, Local Defense (Washington County VA Militia), in April 1862, before he enlisted in the Confederate Army. Litton served the Confederacy during the Civil War, in Company A (originally Stevenson's Company, Ferguson's Battalion) of the 16th Virginia Calvary. This Company was primarily made up of men from Russell County, Virginia. John W. Litton was a wagon master in the Civil War. Most Confederate records from Virginia were burned in Richmond, however a copy of a Company Muster roll for 31 October 1863 to 1 April 1864 shows he enlisted 5 August 1862 at Lebanon, VA. for a period of 3 years. He was signed in by Capt. Stevenson. He appears on a Receipt Roll for pay on 31 December 1863. He was paid $.25 for service from 1 August 1863 to 31 December 1863. These records indicate that Litton was still alive in at the end of December in 1863. There is no record of Litton's wife filing for a widow's pension.

Lydia (Whitaker) and John W. Litton had seven children. The two youngest children were Clementine Catherine Litton, born in September 1861, and Mary Cordelia Litton, born 31 March 1865. The birth of Litton's youngest daughter indicates that he was living in 1864. The census records, military records, and birth date of his youngest daughter, prove that he was not a victim of the 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre.

Another family story states that when he returned from the Civil War, he didn't like the reconstruction, so he enlisted in U.S. Army and was sent to Utah, where he died as an Indian fighter. A different story said that he settled in Texas and married again. He was rumored to have several children and was living in Campbell County, Texas. No evidence, that would support either story, has been found.

In Lydia (Whitaker) Litton's father's will of 31 March 1874, proved 22 November 1875, Moses Whitaker left her land, and other property, and further stated that the "devise to Lydia E. Litton, dau., are not to be liable for any debts due for any one from her husband, John Litton, if he is now alive." When and where John Whitely Litton died remains a mystery. It is evident, from her father's Will, that as late as 1874, Litton's wife did not know what happened to her husband. She never remarried, and Lydia Eva (Whitaker) Litton died 14 May 1901 and is buried in the Hayter Cemetery in Abingdon, Washington County, Virginia.

2013 A.C. Wallner for the Mountain Meadows Association. All rights reserved


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