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Dee Burris Blakley ([personal profile] dee_burris) wrote2011-03-05 04:24 pm

Sarah Elizabeth Dunlap, 1856-1901

I have five special cousins in my family tree - Sarah Elizabeth Dunlap, her sisters Rebecca Jane and Louisa, and their first cousins (double cousins, they were), Prudence Angeline and Georgiana Dunlap.

They are my second cousins, three times removed.

But that's not why they are special.

They were the only members of their 20 member extended family to survive the Mountain Meadows Massacre, a mass murder on 11 Sep 1857 that some current day historians call the first 9/11.

I have seen photos of my survivor cousins as adults, and read accounts of the night terrors and problems with readjustment that the 17 surviving children had when they were rescued and returned to their families in Carroll County, AR by Capt. James Lynch and the United States Army. Some of them had been abused and neglected by the Mormon families with whom they were living after the massacre.

Sarah's story just tore at my heart.

She was not thirteen months old when her entire family over the age of 7 was murdered. During the melee, she was shot in the arm, and seated close to her father in the wagon, received gunpowder burns to her eyes as he tried to save his family.

Since she, her sisters, and two young cousins were thought by the Mormons to be too young to identify their attackers, they were spared for a life as servants to Mormon families into which John Lee placed them.

The wounds to her flesh were never treated properly, and as a result, Sarah never regained full use of her arm. Due to untreated infection from the gunpowder burns to her eyes, she also was blind.

It was the wounds to her spirit that scarred even more deeply.

Capt. James Lynch is credited with the rescue of the children of the Baker/Fancher wagon party, a year after the massacre.

What he witnessed moved him deeply, and he stayed in touch with and visited the survivors for the rest of their lives.

When the Dunlap sisters heard that Capt. Lynch had become seriously ill, they were concerned, and Sarah Dunlap wrote to him, offering to come help him and be his nurse. In the meantime, Lynch's health improved but the correspondence continued. The couple were married on December 30, 1893, when the groom was 74 and the bride 37.

Capt. James Lynch

James Lynch took care of Sarah for the rest of her life. She died on 13 Nov 1901, and was buried in the Hampton Church of Christ Cemetery in Calhoun Co., AR.

Lynch died nine years later in 1910, and was buried beside her.

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