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Dr. Jacob Forney, the U.S. Superintendent of Indian Affairs, arrived in Utah to investigate the Mountain Meadows Massacre, and collected the Arkansas Emigrants' seventeen surviving children from Mormon homes in April of 1859. The children remained under the care of Dr. Forney while they were in Utah, and the Salt Lake Probate Court appointed him guardian of the orphans. Dr. Forney's attempts to reclaim any of the Arkansas Emigrants' stolen property, as authorized by the Court at that time, were unsuccessful.

Mormon Jacob Hamblin, who assisted Dr. Forney in retrieving the children from the Mormon homes where they were being kept, was paid handsomely for his efforts. Although it had been claimed otherwise, by this time, Dr. Forney realized that the children "did not live among the Indians one hour". He rejected a number of claims for ransom of the children. He did authorize a payment of $2961.77, from the more than $7000 in claims from the Mormons, for the care of the children. Reports on the condition of the children varied dramatically. Dr. Forney stated that the orphaned children were in better condition than most of the other children in the Mormon settlements, while Captain James Lynch was angered by the childrens' "most wretched and deplorable condition."

In 1859, Congress appropriated $10,000 in the military budget to transport the children back to Arkansas. Fifteen of the surviving children departed Salt Lake City, Utah on Tuesday, 28 June 1859. General Johnston ordered two companies of the Second Dragoons, under Captain R. Anderson from Camp Floyd, to accompany the children as far as Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The children were provided with four female matrons, three male camp assistants, provisions, clothing, blankets, three spring ambulances, and one baggage wagon with teams of six mules each.

Two of the older boys, John Calvin Miller, and Emberson Milum Tackitt, were retained in
Utah as witnesses for the U.S. District Attorney. Dr. Jacob Forney accompanied the two boys on their journey from Salt Lake City to Washington, D.C. Passing through St. Louis, Missouri around December 3, they were interviewed by Federal officials on, or after, their arrival on 12 December 1859 in Washington, D.C. (To date, no record of the boys’ testimony has been located.)

The government had appointed Arkansas State Senator William C. Mitchell as an agent for the children, and authorized him to meet the orphans at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and escort them home. Mitchell had lost two of his adult sons, Charles Roark Mitchell, and Joel Dyer Mitchell,  in the Massacre. His daughter-in-law Sarah C. (Baker) had also died. He was anticipating that his infant grandson, John, would be among the surviving children. Mitchell departed for Fort Leavenworth on 12 August, and arrived there on 22 August, 1859. On 26 August, the fifteen children arrived at Fort Leavenworth, and Mitchell learned that his grandson was not among the survivors.  Captain James Lynch was among those who delivered the children to Kansas. There the children were were met by William C. Mitchell, Eliza Olin (McKennon) Fancher, Elizabeth Dunlap, and possibly others from Arkansas, who cared for the children on the last leg of their journey home. (Thirty-four years later, in 1893, when Captain James Lynch was 73 years old, he married Sarah Elizabeth Dunlap, who was one of the children who survived the Massacre. Sarah was 38 years old at the time of their marriage, and had been blind since the time of the Massacre, due to a gun powder injury that affected her eye sight.)

On Thursday, 15 September 1859, thirteen of the seventeen surviving children were finally reunited with their families at the Carrollton Court House, located in the town square, in Carrollton, Carroll County, Arkansas.  (Two of the children, Christopher Carson Fancher and Tryphenia D. Fancher, were met by members of the Fancher family before they reached Carrollton, and reunited privately with their families. Eliza Olin (McKennon) Fancher, who accompanied the children from Fort Leavenworth, was the wife of Hampton Bynum Fancher. Hampton B. and Eliza O. Fancher became the guardians of the two surviving Fancher children.)

Survivor Accounts of the Massacre

Earliest Accounts of the 17 Children Who Survived

The 37 Children Who Died in the 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre

Visit of the Superintendent of Indian Affairs to Southern Utah - Deseret News, May 5, 1859

Return of Sup't Forney From The Mountain Meadows - Valley Tan, May 5, 1859

Affairs In Utah, The President's Instructions To The District Attorney Of The Territory  - Valley Tan, July 6, 1859

Martha Elizabeth Baker
Sarah Frances Baker
William Twitty Baker

Rebecca Jane Dunlap
Louisa Dunlap
Sarah Elizabeth Dunlap

Prudence Angeline Dunlap
Georgeann Dunlap

Christopher Carson Fancher
Tryphenia D. Fancher

Nancy Saphrona Huff

Felix Marion Jones

John Calvin Miller
Mary Miller
Joseph Miller (aka William Tillman Miller)

Emberson Milum Tackitt
William Henry Tackitt


























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