dee_burris: (Default)
2011-07-02 12:06

Maybe their story will make it into the history books now...

Today's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has a story about the Department of the Interior finally making the site of the Mountain Meadows Massacre a National Historic Landmark.

Descendants of massacre victims at a Utah site say the elevation of the Mountain Meadows area to national landmark status offers some healing.

The 760-acre site marks the spot where 120 members of an Arkansas wagon train were shot and killed Sept. 11, 1857, by a Mormon militia.

The Baker-Fancher wagon train, consisting of 121 men, women and children from Benton, Carroll, Johnson and Marion counties in Northwest Arkansas, was on a stopover in the meadows on its way to California when it was attacked.

Fifty-four members of the Iron County Militia swooped down on the wagon train and killed everyone except 17 children, who were taken into Mormon homes. The children were later returned to relatives.

Only one of the 54 members of the Iron County Militia was ever brought to justice. He was executed at the site of the massacre 20 years later.

The meadows site, which sits 30 miles north of St. George, was elevated to a National Historic Landmark on Thursday by the U.S. Interior Department...

The groups have also fought for years to wrestle an apology for the massacre from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which for decades denied or downplayed the faith’s role in the massacre, with explanations that church leaders did not have any advance knowledge of the attack.

No apology has ever come, but in 2008, a year after a church official expressed “regret” for the Mountain Meadows event, the church joined forces with the descendant groups to pursue the landmark status designation.

For association President Terry Fancher, those efforts speak louder than any words.

“Words wouldn’t be as strong as the actions they’ve taken and I think will continue to take in the future,” said Fancher, of Braintree, Mass., whose father and grandfather had talked about national recognition for the meadows as far back as the 1950s.

Fancher said he finds evidence of healing in the unanimous decision to ask the church’s assistant historian, Richard Turley, to lead a dedication ceremony of the bronze national landmark plaques that is planned for September.

“That wouldn’t have been possible years ago,” Fancher said.