Welcome to the Read Rinaldo Blog. Over the next several weeks this site will analyze different people involved in the Mountain Meadows Massacre of 1857. This week, MORMON WOMEN.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon) began in rural New York, moved to Kirtland, Ohio, then to Nauvoo, Illinois before stopping in Utah Territory. The LDS experienced a great deal of persecution at each location before settling in the distant and unpopulated Utah Territory. The persecution in Illinois included gunfights between locals and the Mormon Militia, eventually named Avenging Angels or Danites. The Mormons stockpiled weapons for these encounters. Having to guess at the cause of these fights from what I know about humans, I suspect the locals and the Mormons share fault for reaching this level of violence. Prophet Joseph Smith, LDS originator and leader, died when a mob of gentiles lynched him (Mormons define gentiles as non-Mormons). Brigham Young filled the void atop the LDS hierarchy and moved the Church to Utah.
During Brigham's leadership, approximately 150 Arkansans were slaughtered during a four day siege of their encampment in 1857. Eerily, though the siege lasted from September 7th to September 11th, nearly all of the emigrants died on September 11th. This ranked as the most deadly killing of Americans by Americans outside of the Civil War until the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. Local Mormons allegedly committed this atrocity. In 1999 two men digging with a backhoe unearthed bones at Mountain Meadows. Forensic scientists flocked to the area to quickly study the remains. Within days Governor Mike Leavitt ordered the bones reburied. Interestingly, Mike Leavitt is allegedly a direct descendant of one of the killers at Mountain Meadows in 1857. Mormons consider lineage of vital importance, and one's ancestry is something a faithful Mormon would definitely know. Please note that despite Mormons blaming local Paiute Indians for the killings, the scientists definitively concluded that every death they could account for happened with bullets, something the Paiute tribes in the area did not possess. Science, the limited federal investigation in the years following the massacre, and the surviving historical record irrefutably declares that Mormons killed these travelers. In 2007 the LDS officially expressed regret that the local Mormons participated in the massacre, but failed to admit sanctioning these murders.
After the Mormon men slaughtered 150 Arkansan emigrants at Mountain Meadows, they picked surviving children aged seven years and younger to live with them. Picked in the same sense we think of a draft today. The men ranked highest in the hierarchy of the Mormon Church chose first, followed by the next highest and so forth. They doled out the clothing and other booty in similar fashion. One must wonder what the women thought when the men returned home with children, rifles, clothing, shoes, etc.
How did a wife greet her husband? "Thank you for the dress. I'll sew up that hole in the middle of the chest and get that blood stain out. It'll look pre-loved. The kids are another matter. These little orphans better start pulling their own weight around here pretty quick. I'm not raising a couple of slacker-good-for-nothing non-believer's kids unless they know their place and do some work around here. Oh, sweetie! You also got me a pair of earrings. Once I get the blood off of those, they'll look brand new! You're so good to me."
Today we hear the wives of child molesters (Jerry Sandusky) and serial killers (John Wayne Gacy) claim they knew nothing of their husbands' activities. I don't believe the women of today, nor do I believe the Mormon women living in the Mountain Meadows region of Utah Territory in 1857 knew nothing of their husbands' murderous rampage. These women watched their husbands wash Indian paint off their faces, which the men used to hide their true identity, and scrub the blood off their hands before lying beside them the night of September 11th, 1857. Many of these killers possessed multiple wives, and the women were not the ones who eventually leaked news of the massacre to the press.
The devotion these women felt for the Mormon Church and their murderous husbands sickens me. The surviving children often told their rescuers about seeing their Mormon captors wearing their mothers' clothes. How cold-hearted of these women to flaunt the deaths of their parents so brazenly. These women may not have pulled any triggers, but they participated. Someone had to feed the hundred-plus Mormon men besieging the wagon train's camp. Some of the Mormons lived close enough to hear the gunfire; yet, these women went about their lives without questioning the righteousness of these events.
One of John Doyle Lee's wives stayed devoted to him even after he confessed to his role in the massacre in prison [read more about John Doyle Lee below]. Mormon women believe the only way they can achieve heaven is through a husband. I can only hope the women described here descended to the same residence in the afterlife as their husbands.