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TESTIMONY IN TRIALS OF JOHN D. LEE
 


SAMUEL MCMURDY (MCMURDIE)
Witness for the Prosecution at Second Trial of John D. Lee
September 14 to 20, 1876

About This Record

 

Q: Where do you live now?

A: I live In Cache County, Paradise.

Q: Did you live in any other place than Paradise in 1857?

A: I lived at Cedar City. I don't recollect dates.

Q: Did you live there at the time of the Mountain Meadows Massacre?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: State whether you were called upon to go to Mountain Meadows?

A: I was called upon to go and take my team and wagon.

Q: By whom?

A: I believe it was John M. Higbee that called me.

Q: State from that point the circumstances?

A: I was threshing my grain. I had my grain spread out in the yard, and was tramping it with horses at the time I was called upon. I was notified to leave in two hours' notice. It was sometime in the afternoon that I was called upon.

Q: Of what day?

A: I could not state.

Q: With reference to the date of the general massacre?

A: I think It was a day prior to it.

Q: Was it stated to you for what purpose you were to go there?

A: No, sir.

Q: Did you know?

A: No, sir.

Q: Did you go?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Who went with you?

A: There were a number that went in the wagon with me. Some I can recollect, Klingensmith for one, a man by the name of Hopkins, and two or three more besides that went during the time that I went down, I understood from the men that were in the wagon. I asked them what was the matter. They told me that the emigrants had been attacked, and we had to go down and arrest the attack, if possible. That was the purpose that I expected to go for - was to preserve the emigrants from the Indians.

Q: What time did you get there?

A: It was in the afternoon when we started - late. It must have been way in the night when we got there. I could not tell you the time. We traveled a good many hours in the night. Got there and turned out the horses and camped.

Q: Did you stay until morning?

A: Yes, sir; stayed there till morning, and during the next day I got up my horses.

Q: Anybody give you orders?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Who?

A: John D. Lee. He told me to take the wagon and follow him to camp.

Q: What camp?

A: The camp of the emigrants.

Q: The emigrants that were afterwards killed?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Did you go?

A: I did.

Q: State what you saw.

A: I went with him to camp, and there was another wagon, if I recollect right. The man that drove the wagon was a stranger to me. I never saw him before. When we got within a short distance of the camp there was a man with a flag of truce sent out.

Q: Who was that man?

A: His name was Mr. Bateman.

Q: Where is he?

A: Dead.

Q: Where was he sent from?

A: Sent from where we stood with the wagons.

Q: Who went with him?

A: John D. Lee followed immediately afterwards.

Q: What occurred?

A: A man came out from the camp and had an interview with John D. Lee.

Q: What was the substance of that conversation?

A: I was too far off to tell. I saw Lee and this man talking.

Q: Did you hear any of the talking?

A: Not any that I could distinguish.

Q: After they talked what was done?

A: After they talked they seemed to come to an understanding, ten, fifteen or twenty minutes, then Lee ordered us to drive up the wagons. We drove up the wagons. The emigrants, assisted by Lee, loaded the wagons. My wagon was loaded with some bedding, some truck of different kinds, belonging to the people that got in. Some would have their things with them, as if they were going a journey. A number got in, men, women and children, from the emigrant camp, some of them apparently wounded. I could not say how many, it is so long ago. I never charged my memory with it. I could not state how many there were.

Q: Go on.

A: We were ordered to start out by John D. Lee, and we started out from that place.

Q: State whether the other wagon was loaded also?

A: It was.

Q: Were there any guns put into either wagon?

A: There were not in mine.

Q: Did you at any time leave your team?

A: No, sir.

Q: When John D. Lee directed you to drive, what took place?

A: We proceeded some distance on the Meadows. Mine was the head team .

Q: Who accompanied you?

A: John D. Lee was walking behind the wagon, between the two wagons.
 

By THE COURT
 

Q:  Were there any persons in those two wagons?

A: Yes, sir. They were loaded up with persons and things.

Q: Were both of those wagons loaded with men, women and children from that camp of emigrants?

A: Yes, sir, and other things besides.

Q: How many got into your wagon?

A: I could not say. It is impossible for me to tell. I should think half a dozen.

Q: What were they - men and women; any children in yours?

A: I think there were some small children.

Q: And as you started on you saw Lee take a position between the two wagons and walk on behind you?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: How far behind you?

A: I could not tell you. I had as much as I could do to attend to my team. We must have been quite a little distance ahead of the other team. My team was a very fast walking team. Lee checked me up several times. I had to hold on to the lines.

Q: Did he give you any reasons for it?

A: No, sir. I out walked him. We walked very fast.

Q: How many times did he tell you not to walk so fast?

A: Several times.
 

HOWARD

Q:  What occurred from that point?

A: He called to me to halt after we got out of sight of the camp.

Q: Who did?

A: John D. Lee. When we got out of sight, over the hill, there is where we passed out of sight of everything. There is a rising ground there. We were this side of it, and everything back towards the emigrants was out of sight. When we got to this place Lee ordered me to halt. At that instant I heard the sound of a gun. I turned and looked over my shoulder, and Lee had his gun to his shoulder, and when the gun had exploded I saw, I think it was a woman, fall backwards. I had to tend to my team at the time.

Q: Who discharged that gun?

A: John D. Lee must have discharged it.

Q: Did he hold it in his hand?

A: Yes, sir. He must have hit her in the back of the head. She fell immediately.

Q: Go on.

A: I turned round. It seemed to me like I heard sounds of striking with a heavy instrument, like a gun would make, but I never saw any striking done. But I turned round to the other side a few minutes afterwards, and saw Lee draw his pistol and shoot from two to three in the head of those who were in the wagon.

Q: Did he kill them?

A: He must have killed them.

Q: What were these he shot - men, women or children?

A: Men and women.

Q: And they fell off underneath the wagon, then and there?

A: I could not say then and there. They must have been all killed.

Q: Did you go back at all?

A: No, sir.

Q: Never wanted to go back?

A: No, sir - never.

Q: Who fired the first gun - which was the first gun fired?

A: It would be impossible for me to tell. The first gun I heard was the first gun fired right at the back of me that attracted my attention.

Q: You looked around and saw the gun in Lee's hands?

A: Yes, sir; that was the first gun I heard.

Q: Were there immediately volleys of firing?

A: Yes, sir; I heard firing immediately afterwards.

Q: Was that the signal to begin firing?

A: Yes, sir, that was the beginning.

Q: How long after Lee told you to halt was that firing?

A: It was instantly done.

Q: And you looked around and saw the gun?

A: Yes, sir.
 

Cross examined

Q: You say that you got your orders from Higbee to go down there?

A: I believe it was from Higbee, but I am not sure. I am almost positive it was from him.

Q: Did Higbee go with you?

A: I don't recollect.

Q: Where did you camp that night?

A: On the Meadows.

Q: How many men were there?

A: I could not say.

Q: About how many men were there?

A: I could not give it, because I went in the dark, and had my team to hunt next morning. I turned them out, and it took up all my attention.

Q: Next morning how many men did you see there?

A: I don't recollect anything about it.

Q: You did not see anybody there except yourself, and John D. Lee, and the man that carried the flag, did you?

A: I saw a good many there, but they were strangers to me.

Q: You can't tell about how many were there?

A: I might if I had counted them, and impressed my memory with it.

Q: Do you think there is anything you saw, during the time you were absent from home, but what is burned into your memory, so that it is impossible for you to forget it?

A: Yes, sir, a number of things.

Q: One of the principal things that you cannot recollect is the names of your friends who were there?

A: I don't know that I had any friends there, any more than I have here.

Q: Can you give me the names of any of the men that you saw there that day?

A: Well, sir, I could not really recollect. I suppose not, I might if I was to sit down and think for a while. A little thing like that you would not recollect.

Q: Will you please tell me the names of the parties that were present on the ground, at the time you started to drive down to the emigrant camp?

A: It is impossible for me to do it.

Q: How many men were in sight at the time you started to drive down, of your friends, parties from Cedar City or elsewhere?

A: Well, sir, I could not say. I don't recollect seeing any of them. I was too much absorbed in my team and in my own surroundings.

Q: What caused you to be so much absorbed?

A: Any man that has a team to attend to under circumstances of firing of guns...

Q: Were any guns firing then?

A: Not then.

Q: You did not got roused up until after they had loaded your wagon.  Had anything happened to excite you previous to the loading up of your wagon at the emigrant camp?

A:  I am not aware of anything particularly.

Q: You didn't know at that time that anyone was to be killed?

A: No, sir.

Q: You had not even heard that anyone was to be killed?

A: No, sir.

Q: You thought you were on an errand of mercy?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: You thought you had gone there in good faith to help those emigrants back to Cedar City?

A: Yes, sir, that was my understanding.

Q: You had driven down across the valley to the emigrant camp, and the only men you saw during that entire time were John D. Lee and this man that carried the flag?

A: I saw a lot of emigrants around there.

Q: I am speaking now of the people who lived in that vicinity?

A: Outside of the men that lived at Cedar City, they were strangers to me, and I could not tell who they were.

Q: You saw them the night before?

A: No, sir, I did not.

Q: Didn't you see them on the ground before you started to drive down to the emigrant camp?

A: I could not say that I did. I don't recollect of seeing any quantity of men where I was, at all.

Q: You didn't see any Indians that morning?

A: No, sir.

Q: No Indians at the time of the killing?

A: I could not say about that. I believe there were Indians around.

Q: Well, do you know?

A: I don't recollect.

Q: You do not recollect to have seen any Indians?

A: Yes, sir, I saw Indians around there, but at the precise moment of time I could not say.

Q: Did you see more than one or two Indians?

A: I saw a great many Indians there after the firing commenced.

Q: Where did those Indians come from?

A: I don't know.

Q: What were they doing?

A: I could not tell.

Q: Did you see them commit any acts of hostility?

A: I don't recollect. I don't doubt but they did, but I can't recollect of their doing anything of the kind.

Q: You pretend to say now that at the time the gun was fired, and from that time on, your excitement and fear were so great that you can't recollect all that did happen?

A: Yes, sir, that's about true.

Q: How far did you haul those people after they were killed?

A: Left them right there.

Q: Who took them out?

A: John D. Lee.

Q: Don't you think he killed a dozen?

A: I could not tell.

Q: Give us your best impression?

A: My impression is that there might be half a dozen.

Q: You did not help kill anyone - did you kill anyone there?

A: I had nothing to do with it at all.

Q: Then you did not raise your hand against anyone at that time, or do any of the killing of the emigrants?

A: I believe I am not upon trial, sir.

Q: I ask if you refuse to answer the question?

A: No answer.

Q: Did you upon that occasion, on the day when the Mountain Meadows Massacre took place, kill any person upon that ground or assist in the killing of any person?

A: I don't wish to answer.

Q: You say every person that was in the wagons was killed?

A: To my best recollection and knowledge.

Q: Don't you know, as a matter of fact, that there were some seventeen children in those wagons that were not killed?

A: I don't recollect the number.

Q: Don't you know there were a number of children that were not killed?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Explain what you mean?

A: I mean all of the grown persons were killed, the children were saved, sir. I believe I assisted to haul them away, to take them off.

Redirect

Q: How many children were saved from the massacre?

A: I have no recollection.

Q: Where did you take them to - those that you had?

A: They were distributed around; one went to one house, and another to another.

 


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