History of the West; Utes, Mormons, and the USA

utesThe American West, and the use of land there in has become a major political topic in the USA in recent years.  The Mormon Hammond Ranchers were prosecuted for infringements on Federal lands, which sparked the somewhat notorious Mormon Bundy Family and their Militia sympathisers to occupy Government buildings causing an armed stand-off with State and Federal Authorities both in support of the Hammonds and to highlight the issues around use of Land for grazing Cattle.  In the latest turn of events, the Utes and other Native American Tribes are taking on vested commercial interests wishing to mine Uranium in the Bears Ears Mountain, asking President Obama to designate the area a National Monument as it has both cultural and religious relevance to the local Native American Tribes.

What may be less known are that all these issues have their ancestral roots in the mid 19th Century, where the mindsets and relationships of all involved have been formed by a triangular relationship of friction between mainly English descended Mormons, Native Americans, and the US Federal Government.

A typical picture of the history can be seen in the family story of a single Lancashire Family, who were amongst the first European settlers in Utah.  It just so happened that Time Detectives researched the English Branch of this family and, in the process threw up a little known (outside of Utah) history of the American Mormon Branch of the Family.

Go West Young Man

The Story begins in 1837 with a great Mormon Evangelist, Heber Kimball, travelling thousands of miles from the USA to the North of England to find converts for the growing Mormon Church amongst the rich vein of non-Conformist Anglicans in Lancashire.heber-c-kimball-2
Kimball had little in common with the “wooden shoed” common men and women from the Docksides and villages of Lancashire, but used his gift of oratory to sell the Mormon religion.  The upshot was that after high jacking a local Methodist congregation and putting his own ministers, Heber Kimball bowled the locals over  by his charismatic preaching, and his offer of land and a good living on Earth, as well as the obligatory salvation in the after life.  Heber sent the best of his converts to other parts of Northern England to drum up more converts to the Mormon following.  Individuals, families and couples , travelled to the USA with other Mormon converts, up the Mississippi by steamer, to Nauvoo the Mormon Capital City in Illinois.

The Mormons had had a rough time with the State of Missouri, the Governor issuing an infamous extermination order against them if they didn’t leave the state.  This had lead to the Mormons setting up the Church Militant arm of the Danites, a Guerrilla insurgent movement sworn to protect the Mormons against the State Militia.  The most famous of the Danites was one Orrin Porter Rockwell, a dry humoured, psychopathic gunslinger, called The Avenging Angel, it was alleged that he attempted to assassinate the Governor of Missouri in retaliation  for the extermination order, at his trial when asked if that was the case, Rockwell replied sanguinely:

“When I shoot someone they stay shot.  He’s alive ain’t he?”oprockwell

The Mormons had moved on to Illinois, and had built a city on the Mississippi as their new Capital of Nauvoo.  Unluckily for the family I was tracing, a week after they set sail, the Mormon leader Joseph Smith had been captured by the Illinois Militia, and killed by a mob. As Richard the Methodist Carpenter and his young wife Phoebe stepped off of the steamer in Nauvoo the Mormon City on the Mississippi, he became Richard the Mormon Soldier fighting against the State Militia.  Indeed Phoebe would give gave birth to their son whilst the battle for the town was raged on around them.

Outnumbered and out gunned Mormons in Nauvoo fought for their lives.  Although perilously close to losing, the Mormon defenders held out long enough to force a perilous negotiation and a cessation of hostilities in 1845, with agreement that the Mormons would abandon their city by 1846.  However, despite the truce, state and federal agents entered the city and attempted to capture Mormon leaders, prompting a thousand Mormons including Brigham Young and other Church Elders to flee in secret across the frozen Mississippi and head west. Others followed, and eventually only about a thousand of the poorest Mormons, including Richard, Phoebe, and Thomas along with the other mostly recent English immigrants, were left to defend the City of Nauvoo.  They had no choice, as only recently having arrived with a few bags of belongings they had not the time to raise enough money to buy the Wagons and provisions to get out.

On realising that so many Mormons had left, and the remnants were mainly a group of ragged English immigrants, the State Militia broke the truce, about fifteen hundred of them marched on Nauvoo, genocide on their minds.  As the Militia streamed into the City, Richard and a hundred and fifty Mormon men and boys prepared to defend their women and children. They threw up barricades in the streets, and although outnumbered ten to one, fought the Militia to a standstill.

Many of the English Mormon refugees made their way down river to St Louis, where in general they were welcomed, as the time needed craftsmen, and people with skills to service the thriving community there, especially in the less salubrious areas near the waterfront with its bars, whore houses, and gambling dens.  The religious, trustworthy, and hard working refugees.  Richard was a skilled carpenter, others worked as butchers and in other trades.  They caused no trouble, worked hard and saved their money, until they had enough to buy wagons, livestock, and provisions, and moved north from St Louis, through Illinois, to a point where they could join a Mormon Wagon train and head West to Utah, or Deseret as the Mormons called their new land.

oxwagonThe pioneers had many tribulations on the way west, across the plains in their slow
plodding Ox wagons.  Cholera killed a number of them, and the survivors had to bury the bodies as best as they could in unmarked graves on the trail.  During this time the Richard and Phoebe adopted thirteen year old orphan girl whose parents had died during the march west.  More spectacular, were the huge herds of Buffalo which would stampede in panic at the approach of the Pioneers, especially if shot at.  The group would draw up the wagons in a defensive wall, with their oxen and horses drawn up inside the circle, and the pioneers crouching as best they could behind their beasts.  Then it was a matter of keeping their heads down and covered to keep the huge cloud of dust out of their eyes and noses, some of the women even pulling their voluminous skirts up over their faces for protection.  As long as they held their ground the Buffalo would swerve around them, but break ranks and they would be trampled.  Occasionally there was a more insidious fear, as Indians would be seen trailing the Wagon Train, but a small band of Indians would not generally risk an outright attack on a well armed group of settlers, at this time they were largely relegated to spectators as their land was crossed and colonised.

Eventually, after months of travel, the party of Pioneers made it to Salt Lake City, a journey of over one thousand three hundred miles.  Looking forward to settling down to a quiet life now that the summer of 1850 was turning to winter, Richard and Phoebe were to be told by Brigham Young, the Patriarch of the Mormon Church that they had been chosen to help found a new settlement in Southern Deseret (Utah).  Loading their chattels back on the Ox cart, Richard and Phoebe must have needed more than their share of Lancashire stoicism, as they did what they were bidden, and headed south into Ute Indian Territory with another party of Pioneers.  What they probably weren’t aware of was that there was a decided lack of enthusiasm among the established Mormons in Salt Lake City to go south, and so Brigham Young brought as much pressure as he could on the new settlers with less to loose in order to get the wagons rolling.

Into the Wilderness Again

The reason Young was so keen to get a new settlement in the south at a place called Center Creek was that in January 1850 Parley Pratt and an expedition of Mormon explorers had discovered the Valley of the Little Salt Lake, and assessed its nearby Iron Deposits for mining.  They raised a Liberty Pole at Heap’s Spring to claim the land, and named the uninhabited site, rather ambitiously, The City of Little Salt Lake.  They reported back to Brigham Young that the prospects were good, and so Young wanted to dispatch a party of settlers south to set up a farming community that would provide a base for others to prospect, mine, and smelt Iron from the hills, thus making Deseret independent of Iron imports from the USA.

So in December 1850 with about 170 other Mormon Pioneers under the leadership of Mormon Apostle George A Smith, Richard, Phoebe, and their little family, set off as “The Iron Mission”  towards Center Creek. They travelled in 101 Wagons, and on 100 horses, 12 mules, 364 oxen, 166 cattle plus assorted cats dogs and chickens, and tons of food supplies and tools.  For defence against Indian attack the men had, 129 rifles, 52 pistols, and 9 swords, plus 1,000 rounds of ammunition, and a cannon called “The Old Sow” that had travelled across the plains from Nauvoo with the first party of Mormon pioneers.

The real enemy they faced wasn’t the Native Tribes, it was the cold.  To cross the great plains in the summer was one thing, to cross the mountains of Deseret in the winter was quite another.  The portly expedition leader Smith, and the adopted son of Brigham Young, John D. Lee who had reputedly offered to pay Brigham Young $2,000 in order to avoid going on the expedition, were the only two on the expedition to travel in carriages with stoves, the rest of the band would have to make do with heavy clothes and camp fires. Unfortunately they had to set off in the winter in order to get to their destination before the spring in order to get crops planted, and cattle out to grass, otherwise they faced the risk of starving through the following winter.  This was untamed territory, the men would build bridges and roads as they went, Richard Benson as Carpenter and Joiner would have played a crucial role.  On Christmas Day 1850 they encountered the Sevier River and four inches of snow with the thermometer at 16 below zero, but they pushed on, got over the black mountains, firing off a salute on the Old Sow Cannon to celebrate, and after weeks of hardship they circled the wagons at the mouth of the Parowan Valley at one o’clock in the afternoon of 13th January 1851.

Settlement, Growth, Haves and Have Nots

Pleased to be there, the families set about cutting timber and marking out the settlement, a Fort and log cabins were given priority but it would be some months before they were finished.  The settlement was renamed Fort Louisa in memory of Louisa Beaman a wife of first Joseph Smith and then Brigham Young who had died in 1850.  On 16th January the settlers elected a Captain Jefferson Hunt to represent them in the State legislature of Deseret, and celebrated a Thanksgiving service around a bonfire, the worst of their trials seemed to be over.

However not everyone was happy; from their first day of arrival many of the experienced farmers said that the soil and altitude made much of the uplands worthless for farming, and it was not long before those with better land up near Salt Lake City were heading back to a more comfortable and profitable existence there.  However Richard and Phoebe didn’t have this option, they had arrived in Deseret with a little money and the essentials to stay alive in the wilderness, had not had the time to build up any other assets before being dispatched to this wild place, so for them it was make or break.

Come March Wah-Kara, the Chief of the Native American Utes, or wahkaraKing of the Mountain as the settlers called him, paid a friendly visit to Fort Louisa, was entertained with a plentiful rustic banquet by the towns folk, and explained something of their surroundings to them including the Ute name for the area and information about the band of Paiutes who lived near the lake, named “Paragoon” meaning Vile Water and Marsh people depending on which it was applied to.  Brigham Young arrived in May to see progress, and Anglicised the name Paragoon into Parowan.

At this early period the view of the Mormon Native American tribes was a somewhat sentimental one, seeing them as the lost 13th tribe of Israel, and therefore to be treated with respect, who although “tending to sin”, were not intrinsically inferior to Mormons other than in some of their “fallen” morals, a type of noble savage. But allowances weren’t really made for their ignorance of Western Civilisation’s laws and processes, with regard to land and property rights.  The process of unopposed acquisition of Native American land was well underway, without real understanding on the part of the Utes, who saw the settlers as a novelty and source of trade goods, food via stolen cattle, and petty theft, while the average settlers just saw a seemingly empty, unowned landscape, just crying out to be claimed and built upon with settlements.  Richard would have been kept working flat out as logs were dragged from the canyons to be trimmed, sawn, adzed, morticed and tenoned, into homes and public buildings. Once established, non-Mormon settlers started to pass through the town of Parowan on their way to other regions.

The 1850 census of Iron County in the new US Territory of Utah was carried out a year later on May 12th 1851, he federal authorities started to take a much closer interest in the area now that the hard work was already underway by the Mormons.  For their part the Mormons saw “Utah” as “Deseret” their promised land, and could no see how the US Federal authorities thought that they had any claim to it.  The Utes just watched in bemused amazement at the “White Man’s'” strange belief that anyone could “own the land”.

There were some deep divisions between the new English Mormons, and the more established American born Mormon’s.  Richard and Phoebe are shown in the census living in Parowan, and despite the fact that they’d helped build the town in the first place, interestingly,  they are not assessed as owning any property of value, unlike their American born neighbours.  All Richard owned was a Wagon, a log cabin, and as the town carpenter, some tools.  On average the bigger neighbours owned between $40 -$5,000 of land and property, and even other some foreign immigrants owned $100 – $140 worth, whereas Richard and Family had been dispatched south to found the place with next to nothing and at that time remained with next to nothing.  What is also noticeable are the mixed origins of the Benson’s neighbours; England, Ireland, and 12 different US States and Territories, and of these only one, two year old little boy was actually born in Deseret Territory.  All these people, except for the new child, had crossed the great plains, before trekking through the mountains to get to Parowan.   Their average ages were fairly young with a sprinkling of more experienced men.  Everyone here has a hands-on practical job, and knew what was expected of them in this new community, so in many ways those who had got this far must have felt that they could really make something of this fresh start, and perhaps weren’t too upset to see the farmers who wanted an easier life go back north to Salt Lake City. They had braved Native Tribes, Buffalos, Cholera, heat and cold, forded rivers, and built roads, literally to carve a new life for themselves and their families.  Also contrary to popular fiction, and the predilections of the Mormon gentry, the ordinary folks at this time were very solidly monogamous.

By 1852 the promise of better things offered by Heber Kimball to Richard in Lancashire had started to be fulfilled.  Richard registers a Cattle Brand in September a capital “B” on the cow’s left thigh, showing that he was building up some wealth, no doubt trading his carpentry skills for livestock.  This was far beyond what Richard could ever have hoped for in England.

The Ute War

In 1853 relations with the Utes, specifically with Wah-Kara their chief, deteriorated.  The trouble to some extent stemmed from Wah-Kara’s nomadic raiding lifestyle, which involved mounting raids against other tribes to take captives who were sold on as slaves to the Spanish settlers in the South West of the USA along the Spanish Trail that ran through Parowan.  This trade was very profitable for Wah-Kara, and helped him keep control as pre-eminent Chief of the Ute tribes.  All the tribes in the area did the same, it was an accepted, and indeed highly praised part of their way of life, and in general they made a point of not taking Mormon slaves, as the repercussions were likely to be too high coming from a culture that did not partake in the culture of slavery.

The Mormons philosophically objected to slavery, and it was especially alien to the English born working class Mormons in the area, slavery having been outlawed in the British Empire two decades before.  At this time the Royal Navy actually intercepted slaving ships and freed the captives, as well as sending Royal Marines in to attack Arab and African slave trading posts on the coasts of Africa. So there was a heavy cultural aversion to the practice amongst the British, more so than some of the American Mormons who were from Slave owning US States.  This came to a head when Mormon settlers started to break up such deals, and the Mormon trail had opened up the area to many non-Mormon “Gentiles” who regarded the Indians in a much more hostile way than the Mormons.  There were a number of incidents where Natives had been murdered by these non-Mormon “Gentiles”

There were a number of other violent incidents with such Gentiles.  One particular score stretching back years lead to The Danite Destroying Angel, Orrin Porter Rockwell, being accused (but never convicted) of attacking one such Gentile group.  This group included a Missourian, one of the great Mormon Leader Joseph Smith’s unconvicted murderers.  The Missourian had been very ill advised in deciding to travel through Deseret on his way West; the man was discovered dead with his head cut off by a Bowie knife.

In 1853 Wah-Kara found himself being squeezed politically by a number of pressures; the Shoshones were starting to raid his lands and muscle in on his trade routes, the Mormons were interfering with his traditional profitable slave trading, the Gentile whites were killing innocent Indians, and a number of outbreaks of measles epidemics had devastating effects on the Utes who had no genetic resistance to it.   The fact that it mainly killed Utes and not the Settlers lead the Utes to believe it was be caused by White Men’s “magic” specifically to kill their enemies.

The Ute War, or “Walker’s War”, (Walker being the Anglicised name of Wah-Kara) started in July 1853 with an argument between settlers and Utes that resulted in the death of a number of the Utes.  The Utes demanded reparations, which amounted to an eye for an eye under their laws, but the Mormons refused to give any settlers up to them.  In order to even things up the Utes started raiding outlying farms, and the Mormons retaliated against groups of Utes.  One family of Mormons were murdered whilst driving their Ox Wagon through the territory, so the Mormons retaliated by capturing a number of young Ute men and executing them two days later, these young men probably had nothing to do with the Ox Wagon massacre, but the sides had become polarised and anyone from the other side was now considered a legitimate target in tit for tat killings.  Brigham Young ordered Mormons from outlying farms to pull back to the safety of Mormon forts like the one at Parowan.  The killings were ended by a personal negotiations between Brigham Young and Wah-Kara in the winter of 1853, with a treaty finally agreed and signed in May 1854, this stopped the immediate killing, shored up the relationship between Mormons and Utes, but did not solve the underlying problems.  A year later Wah-Kara died and relations between Utes and Mormons became much harder to predict.

The Utah War

Things got no easier for the Mormons; during the 1850s the US Federal Government in Washington tried to exert greater control over the various individual states and territories, this would be one of the factors that would eventually lead to the American Civil War in the 1860s, foretaste of this came in 1857.

The senate and Congress in the East had received a series of often highly inaccurate reports from Federal Agents and Journalists in Utah concerning the Mormons, and indeed these were parodied by one Washington commentator who said that the various reports from Federal Agents “left unclear whether the Mormons habitually kicked their dogs” but apart from that they were smeared with every slander available.  For their part Brigham Young the Mormon Leader and Governor of Utah said:

“I love the government and the Constitution of the United States, but I do not love the damned rascals that administer the government.”

The situation was made worse when Brigham Young, fearful of an invasion of Deseret in 1857, declared Marshal Law, and forbade settlers to pass through Deseret without Mormon permits.  Apostle George A. Smith of the Benson’s hometown of Parowan told the people of the isolated fortified townships of Parowan and Cedar City to prepare for the apocalypse by stockpiling supplies and arms ready for an invasion by the United States, not to sell food and fodder to any settlers passing through, and to be prepared to fight, and if necessary burn their homes and take to the Hills, he also advised the local Utes to fight with the Mormons against any invading force from the US.

Mountain Meadows Massacre

Into this powder keg of paranoia trekked a party of settlers from Arkansas and Missouri heading for California.  The Mormons refused to sell them supplies, and resentment between the settler wagon train and the Mormons increased, fuelled by idle boasts from some of the more confrontational members of the wagon train that they had taken part in the assassination of Joseph Smith and were former members of the Missouri Militia.  These were probably empty taunts grown out of bad feeling, but to the minds of the Mormons, worked to a pitch by the exultations of their leadership, these taunts and rumours grew more solid with each retelling, culminating in the Militia from Cedar City to exact “Blood Atonement” on the settlers for the murder of Joseph Smith.

The settler wagon train divided into two parts, the Duke party from Missouri took a johndleenorthern route and made their way to California, the larger group, the Fancher party from Arkansas, on advice from the Mormons took a southern route through Cedar City and up to Mountain Meadows on the Deseret/California borders.  Whilst camped there they were attacked by a group of Natives covertly lead by Major John D Lee the Mormon Indian Agent and a leading member of the Cedar City Militia, Brigham Young’s step son.

Although badly mauled by the attack the settlers circled their wagons and held out, until a group of Iron County Mormon Militia rode up to them under a white flag and offered to negotiate with the Natives for the settlers’ safe passage back to Cedar City.  The settlers quickly agreed, not realising that the Militia were orchestrating the attack, and as part of the agreement gave up their weapons to the Militiamen.  Once they were unarmed and marched out of their defensive formation, Major Lee gave the order to attack and 120 settlers were shot, clubbed, and stabbed to death, the only survivors being 17 children who were thought too young to bear witness.  It was even rumoured that two of the girls in the settlers’ party were raped before being murdered.  Although the massacre was subsequently condemned by the Church authorities in Salt Lake City, the fear of invasion from the US, meant that no attempt was made to bring the perpetrators to justice.  It would be 20 years before the US government was able to bring John D Lee to trial and execution by firing squad on the spot where the original massacre took place at Mountain Meadows.  He had been made a scapegoat and took more or less the entire blame for the massacre, the other perpetrators cutting a deal with the US prosecutors, testified in person or in writing against him, and escaped justice.  Distrust of US law was reinforced.

The United States Invades


With news of the massacre reaching the United States, the scene was set for a reckoning, and shortly after his inauguration in 1857 President Buchanan decided to replace Brigham Young as Governor of Utah, and sent a third of the US Army with the new Governor to make sure it happened.  What he didn’t do was try to talk with Brigham Young about this, and the first the Mormons knew of it was when the lurid reports of impending War reached them from the Eastern News Papers.  Given that the Mormons had already fought two minor wars of extermination against them by the State of Missouri, and the Militia of Illinois, they naturally believed that they now faced another one with the Federal Government.

The US army marched west, and the Mormons again called in the settlers from the outlying farms back into the Mormon Forts, and it appears that English immigrant Richard took a leading role in the evacuations, being mentioned in John D Lee’s journal as taking families by Wagon into fort Parowan.  The Mormon Militia, including the Danites lead by their terrible Avenging Angel, Orrin Porter Rockwell, the men who had served in the Mormon Legion at Nauvoo, and the Mormon Battalion who had served in the US Army during the Mexican War of 1846 (including two men that Richard’s sister would later marry), all took to the saddle along with their Ute Indian Allies and harassed the US Army, ran off their horses, and generally skirmished them to a standstill in the mountains and passes of Utah.


However Brigham Young realised that a political settlement was needed, so after stalling the Army long enough to make them ready to negotiate, Young agreed to step down as Governor, and his federal replacement was put in place.  This allowed the federal agents to say they had won, whilst the Mormons of course carried on governing themselves with their own hierarchy and religious courts, running a parallel administration in the State for many years. To make sure the Mormons were contained, the Army was stationed in Utah  until the American Civil War in 1861, when the US Government sold off their holdings in Utah to the local Mormons at knock down prices.  The Federal soldiers were recalled, some going North, some South, depending on where their loyalties lay, and the Mormons were left in relative peace again.

Black Hawk War


But the frontier was by no means quiet or safe, and in 1865 war with the Utes erupted in what came to be called the Black Hawk War, named after a local Ute Chief Antonga Black Hawk the nephew of Wah-Kara, who led the Ute, Paiute, and Navajo tribes against the Mormons.  Young Indian men lead cattle raids against Mormon settlements, and a number of Mormon men women and children were killed.

This war seriously held up Mormon expansion in Utah, the Mormons considered themselves in a state of open warfare with the Utes, the federal state refused to send help, probably due to the depredations of the Civil War taking its toll on available troops, and so the Mormons took matters into their own hands, building forts, abandoning exposed settlements, and rounding up any groups of Natives they came across whether apparently hostile or not.

Richard’s son also named Richard served in the Indian Wars.  Richard was only 17 when he joined the Deseret Militia as a Scout.  His platoon made up of men from Parowan.

They rode out to join a bigger body of Militia from St George sent out by General Erastus Snow under a Captain Andrus, and formed the 5th Platoon of his Company of men.  The company were all volunteers, hired guns having been allowed to leave. The men rode out on a Scouting expedition to the area of the Green River to locate any enemy Ute activity in the area and deal with it.

Richard and his company subsisted on sweet potatoes and wild chickens they found in the brush as well as a good ration of Beef Jerky.   They had skirmishes with Utes and lost one man and one horse to enemy action, but for the most part the Utes were out of the area, and the few that remained avoided contact with them.

The small band of men travelled up through Rabbit Valley, and crossed Dirty Devil Creek (Fremont River) to within sight of The Green River, but found the going very tough in the area, and so camped before making their way back across country.  What they didn’t realise is that once at the Green River, they were within 3 miles of Black Hawk’s camp and herd, which were only defended by a group of old men, women, and children, Black Hawk and the Warriors being off on a raiding party.  If Captain Andrus had had a little more fortitude, he could have captured Black Hawk’s camp and cattle, and thereby probably single-handedly brought Black Hawk to submission, or at least removed his means of continuing resistance for any length of time.  Such are the fortunes of war.

They trekked down the East Fork of the Sevier River and passed through the town of Circleville, where they they rested and foraged their horses in a field of Oats that had ripened and not been harvested. Now, Circleville was infamous as the site of a recent atrocity.  The town had been subject to raids by Utes, who penetrated right into the town, and initially the locals were not strong enough to defend themselves adequately resulting in the loss of cattle, and the massacre of families on outlying farms, so in response they organised themselves into a Militia, and decided to round up the local Paiutes, who, although peaceful, where armed, and were rumoured to be giving intelligence to the Utes.

The Paiutes were disarmed, and placed under guard in the Town’s Meeting Hall, the men bound, the women and children placed in the cellar.  However one Paiute man had been shot dead during the round up when he tried to escape, and so they must have been extremely nervous as to their fate.  Some of the Paiute men managed to slip their bonds, overpowered the guard in the Meeting Hall and made a break for it; the militia panicked, shot the men, and then, to remove any witnesses who could have told others what had happened, brought the women and children up from the cellar and executed them by slitting their throats.  In the panic and confusion of the executions, three of the Paiute children managed to temporarily escape, by the time they were eventually found, some form of sanity had overtaken the Militia’s bloodlust, and the children were taken in by Mormon families appalled at what had occurred.

There were also stories of the heads of murdered Indians being displayed on poles in the town square, however it is not clear if this is true as it seems that the townsfolk and militia having realised that the violence had gone too far, buried the bodies and tried to cover up what had occurred.  It had such a profound effect on the less blood thirsty town’s folk, that, fearing retribution from the Paiutes and wanting to distance themselves from the perpetrators, they left the town.  By the time that Richard rode into town ahead of the Militia column from St George and Parowan, the town was completely deserted, it had literally died of shame.  However, given the provocation of the Utes, and the fear engendered in the Mormons by their raids and indiscriminate killing of men women and children, the powers in authority in Salt Lake City verbally condemned the massacre but took no action against the perpetrators, however they were generally shunned by the majority of peaceable Mormons, and the Mayor of Circleville was forced to earn a living as a ranch hand, never again able to hold an office of responsibility.

Richard’s Patrol moved off from the ghost town of Circleville through Bear Valley, catching some chickens on the way, before descending into Parowan the following day.  They had been away for two months, had put their lives at risk, and had made sure there was no Ute threat in the immediate future, and to the delight of the Parowan men, the column were greeted as heroes when they entered their home town; the flags were out, the girls put their best dresses on, and tables heaved with food and drink, the band struck up and a dance was organised. The following day the column divided, the men from Parowan, and Captain Andrus took the rest of the company back to Cedar City and from there to their homes.

As for the Utes, Black Hawk eventually surrendered, made his peace with the Mormons and retired to the hills where he died in 1870.  Then, in 1871, with the hard work of the war already done for them, the US federal government sent in troops, rounded up the remaining Utes from the hills and herded them onto a desolate reservation.

Aftermath and betrayal of the Utes


The roots of the War lay partly with the duplicity of the US federal Government, who, signed a treaty with the Utes in 1865 coercing them into giving up most of their land for a pittance of an annual allowance (62 cents per acre) and forcing them to move to a reservation.  This treaty was resisted by a number of Chiefs, especially the relatives of Wah-Kara, but being advised by Brigham Young that it was the best they were going to get from the Federal Government, they signed and for the most part were herded onto the reservation.  However the US Congress subsequently refused to ratify the payments, and the Utes were cheated of their money.  They had been played for fools by grasping and greedy politicians. Between the 1930s and 1980s the Utes managed to buy back and gain jurisdiction over many millions of acres of their former lands, although facing occasional setbacks due to Government duplicity like 100 years before, when in 1965 the Federal Government negotiated the diversion of a major river from Ute land, only to renege on the agreement to provide additional water storage for the Utes, fortunately the modern Utes are much more able to defend themselves legally than in the past, and financial compensation was paid in lieu.

It is estimated that Ute numbers were about 30,000 when the Mormons settled in Utah.  By 1909 more than 90% of them had been wiped out by disease, starvation, and military action.  To add insult to injury, a party of Mormons dug up Black Hawk’s grave in 1919, stole his body and put it on display, first in a Co-op shop in Spanish Fork (the Co-op being another innovation brought over from Lancashire), then in the Mormon Church Museum in Salt Lake City, only being finally returned to the Utes and re-buried in 1996.

The Mormons built a thriving State as part of the USA but always slightly out of step with the Government, and of course the USA is the richest Country on the planet.  For the Utes it was a different story.

If you’ve enjoyed this story from a Family’s History, and would like your own Family History traced, please feel free to drop us a line at paulmcneil@timedetectives.co.uk

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