(Betty) Baker was the daughter of George W. and Minerva (Beller) Baker, and was five
years old at the time of the Massacre. Her younger sister, Sarah
Frances (Sallie), age 3, and younger brother, William Twitty (Billy), age 9 months, also
survived the Mountain Meadows Massacre.
Martha Elizabeth (Baker) Terry
Source: Arkansas Gazette,
Sunday Magazine, September 4, 1938
Clyde R. Greenhaw
Survivor of a Massacre: Mrs.
Betty Terry of Harrison Vividly Recalls Massacre of Westbound Arkansas
Caravan in Utah More Than 80 Years Ago.
High in the Arkansas
Ozarks stands a monument in the form of a historical marker for Caravan
Springs, erected to a band of immigrants who, in the early spring of
1857, began here as ill-fated journey to California, the shining goal of
significance of the marker is contained in the inscription, which says:
Caravan Spring. Near these springs in March, 1857, gathered a caravan of
150 men, women and children who here began their ill-fated journey to
California . The entire party, with the exception of 17 small children,
was massacred at Mountain Meadows, Utah , by a body of Mormons disguised
The marker was sent to
Harrison by the Arkansas Centennial Commission to be erected on Highway
7, at the entrance of the springs. The marker is cast iron and weighs
280 pounds. At the top is the Arkansas state flag.
In the farm home of
her daughter, Mrs. Henry Holt, west of Harrison, Mrs. Betty Terry, 86,
one of the two survivors of the ill-fated journey, is visiting. Mrs.
Terry has been in Missouri the past two years. She arrived in Harrison
this spring, to spend the remainder of her days in this, her native
town. The only other known survivor of that ill-fated journey is Mrs.
Terry's sister, Mrs. Sally Frances Gladden-Mitchell, 83, of Checotah,
Okla. Mrs. Terry was only five years old at the time, but she distinctly
remembers the incident, and clearly recalls many details.
Mrs. Terry's brother,
William Twittie Baker, lived near Harrison for many years, then finally
settled at Marshall, Searcy County, where he was living at the time of
his death in 1937.
A worn reference book
owned by says briefly of the Mountain Meadow Massacre: In Utah, 350
miles south of Salt Lake City, September 7, 1857, about 140 men, women
and children, emigrating from Arkansas and Missouri to Southern
California, were fired upon by Indians, and, it is said, by Mormons
disguised as Indians. They withstood the siege until the 11th, when, on
promise of protection by John D. Lee, Mormon bishop and Indian agent,
they left the shelter of their wagons. All over seven years of age were
killed. Lee was executed for the crime with the Mormons suspected of
complicity in it.
Mrs. Terry celebrated
her 86th birthday anniversary March 7. Even at her advanced age, she
never ceases to work, and with eyes still strong enough to see to read,
write and sew, she pieces quilts for her children and has completed many
handsome articles. She finished a quilt last winter and spent many days
this spring tearing carpet strings. She has lived most of her life here,
and has been an active member of the Baptist church since early girl
hood. She continues to attend services regularly. Mr. Terry died 11
years ago. The couple reared nine children, three boys and six girls,
five of whom are still living. An entry in the family bible reads,
“Married, January 25, 1874, J.W. Terry to Martha Elizabeth Baker, both
of Boone County, by the Rev. Calvin Williams.”
When kinsmen press her
for a story she sometimes tells that of the massacre, saying, “The wagon
train to California made up of folks from our neighborhood and Missouri,
was said to be the richest and best equipped that ever started across
the plains, with goods, wagons, buggies, carriages and hacks. There were
30 extra good teams of mules and horses in addition to a large number of
extra horses, and about 600 to 800 head of cattle, and one of the finest
blooded stallions that had ever been seen in the Ozarks at that time.
Nearly a week was taken for the band to gather here. There were more
than 200 in the train when it started out, but they split, part going a
southern route and our division going on through the Utah way.
My father, mother,
grandfather and several uncles and aunts were among those killed in the
massacre. Our family had a larger number in the company than any other
family and we had an extra wagon and provisions besides the one that
carried the family. My sister and younger brother, William Twittie
Baker, who was only seven months old, were spared. My sister and I were
both kept in the family of John D. Lee until the soldiers came and
rescued us a year later. My brother was being cared for in another
Mormon family. I played with Brigham Young's youngest children. My
grandmother remained at Harrison, and when word came that the children
had been rescued, she went out to bring us back. On the way out we
stopped and made camp many times to rest the weary, footsore cattle,
scouts going ahead to select camp sites.
It took nearly six
months, she recalled, for the immigrants to reach Mountain Meadows,
which is located about 160 miles south of Salt Lake City. Camp was made
at the spring at the west end of Mountain Meadows, Friday night,
September 2 or 3.
Mountain Meadows is
named for the beautiful mountains on the northern and southern borders.
There was good grazing for the cattle and it was a good place to camp
and rest, so the leaders of the caravan of immigrants decided to remain
there several days before pushing on into the plains country.
Early on Monday
morning, September 6, about the time that the earlier risers of the
immigrants were moving about the camp near the spring, they were fired
upon from ambush, Mrs. Terry said. An alarm was sounded, the entire
party was aroused, and soon their more active men were organized with
firearms and they succeeded in temporarily frightening away the
During the quiet that
followed the first brief battle, all wagons were put into a circle, dirt
was shoveled up under the wagon to serve as a breast works for fort like
Several of the men
left the corral to investigate the cause of the earlier firing, and
these again were engaged in another battle at close range, causing
several fatalities to the stronger and braver group of immigrants, but
little loss to the enemy, who took advantage of the boulders and
underbrush for shelter.
Preparations were made
by the men in camp to conceal the women and children and prepare for
battle. The siege continued at intervals of four to five days. Finally
several white men, found to be Mormons and disguised in Indian garb,
under the leadership of three white men, posing as government attaches,
proposed to the wagon train group that if they would surrender their
arms and ammunition they would be escorted back east to the nearest
village of Cedar Valley. The immigrants surrendered all their arms and
ammunition and reluctantly agreed to retrace their steps under escort
toward Cedar Valley . When the party had traveled about one mile from
the spring and campsite the Utah group called a halt, placed all
children under seven years old in one wagon and sent them ahead. With
the aid of a large number in hiding, they immediately opened fire on the
unarmed immigrants, killing the entire band.
The 17 children were
sent ahead to the eastern end of the mountain valley to the home of one
Hamblin, from which place they were distributed among the Mormons. The
children were recovered by the government in the early summer of 1859,
and were returned to Arkansas to their relatives. Names of the 17
children were as follows: John Calvin Sorel, Lewis and Mary Sorel,
Ambrose, Miriam and William Tagget, Francis Horn, Angeline, Annie and
Sophronia (or Mary) Ruff, Ephraim W. Huff, Charles and Triphenia
Fancher, Betsey and Jane Baker, William Welch Baker, Rebecca, Louise and
Mrs. Terry sadly
related that she never knew what became of her older sister, Vina. She
was the prettiest of the three Baker girls, she said, and had beautiful
long black hair. She was eight years old. The last time she remembers
seeing her sister, she was being led away as a captive. "I do not know
whether she was killed or what ever happened to her". Just before the
last attack on the immigrants, Mrs. Terry said she heard her father tell
her mother to get up and put the children in the wagon. That was the
last time she saw her mother, she said. ‘I distinctly remember the group
disguised as Indians. There was not a real Indian in the group, for they
went to the creek and washed the paint from their faces.”
“How was your
grandmother able to identify and claim you?” Mrs. Terry was asked. “By
clothing, and the sunbonnets which were quilted in a certain design
still in our possession. My brother had a peculiar identification mark.
The end of the index finger on each hand was smooth and glistening,
without the sign of a finger nail, with but one joint to the finger,
appearing much as a felon leaves a finger.” She explained that this
disfigurement of the index fingers was a birthmark. “Our aunt lived with
us and worked for our mother for months preceding my brother's birth.
She suffered terribly from a felon and complained much. Her felon was on
an index finger. So when the brother was born, the two index fingers
were marked as if from felons. He carried them that way through life and
never had a felon.”
Before Caravan Springs
are two huge flat rocks, where the family washing was done, she said:
“They were long and broad and were on one side of the creek. Stately elm
trees lined the creek banks, shading these rocks, where I spent many
hours shedding tears.”
“I do hope they get
the marker at the right spring,” she added. “Maybe I should go out there
and point out the right place.'
A number of
descendants, great grandchildren of the wealthy Jack Baker who helped
finance the emigrant train, now live in Harrison . Relatives of the
Beller family who were members of the company, live there also.