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

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.
dee_burris: (Default)
2011-03-05 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.
dee_burris: (Default)
2010-10-31 06:28 pm
Entry tags:

When history comes home...

It was the first Saturday in April, just a little over a year ago. I remember that it was cool and overcast, so instead of going to work in the garden, I decided to work on the family tree.

I decided to fill out some of the great and grand uncles and aunts, and second, third and fourth cousins of my Wharton clan.

And I immediately started finding their tracks. . . I was blowing along quite nicely until I ran into a particular website. Someone else had been researching the same branch, and had listed the date of death of nearly 20 people in the family as September 1857. They were two Wharton sisters, their husbands and kids.

And I thought, "How lazy is that?" I almost closed the browser, but decided to keep it open while I checked one of my favorite research sites - Find A Grave.

The date of death was correct.

The location stunned me.

Mountain Meadows, UT, on September 11, 1857.

The Mountain Meadows massacre.

Three little bitty daughters from the family of Lorenzo Dow and Nancy Jane (Wharton) Dunlap were allowed to live, as were two of their small cousins from the family of Jesse and Mary M (Wharton) Dunlap. All five girls were too young to identify their attackers. One of them was only a month old at the time of the massacre, and none were older than seven.

Out of a wagon party of nearly 140 people, only 18 children were spared.

Two years later, in September of 1859, the United States Army went back to Utah and brought 17 of those kids back to their extended families in Arkansas and Missouri.

In 1894, one of the soldiers, Capt James Lynch, married one of the little girls he saved in 1859 - my great-grandmother's second cousin. Her name was Sarah.

He was 74 and she was 38. According to her memorial, she was never able to work through the fear, pain and trauma of the massacre. It affected her physically, psychologically, and emotionally for the remainder of her life.

She died in 1901, he in 1910.

I've left virtual candles on the Dunlap memorials.

If you wish, you can too...