by Edward Leo Lyman
Chapter Seven: Alienation
[p.313]During a peak of bitterness in May 1856, San Bernardino’s branch historian noted with sadness that “the spirit of disunion, like a devastating sickness, was spreading over our once happy place.” He found it “almost impossible to insure a concert of action upon any object of public interest.” This was the exact opposite of the dedication and commitment to the common good of the settlement frequently demonstrated in the earlier period. Explaining this change, Richard Hopkins observed that “the grand object appears to be the aggrandizement for private interests”—which is partially correct. He also lamented that “to be a Latter-day Saint [was] becoming quite unpopular” as the number of dissidents increased. True Latter-day Saints held a majority, but the number arriving and aligning with the opposing side was alarming. Certainly the growing rift between the dedicated and the disaffected threatened the continued well-being, if not future existence, of Mormon San Bernardino.1
[p.314]Throughout the Latter-day Saint occupation of the southern California colony there had been a few periodic abandonments by individuals and families, most of whom returned to Utah. Others, like Robert M. Smith, who had become dissatisfied over economic or ecclesiastical issues, had left for other destinations. But to a far greater extent, San Bernardino remained the haven for the disaffected who continually gathered there from throughout Mormondom. There were basically two categories of these, including those who simply wished to separate themselves from what they considered overly domineering ecclesiastical authority and perhaps were more willing to associate with people outside the church, and those more extreme in their feelings who wished to resist and curb the power of church leaders, even in California. The entire conflict, until the fall of 1857, was between those who maintained allegiance to the church and its current leadership and those who had once embraced the faith but no longer did.
Further causes for the more extreme opposition include not only the bitterness often present in abandonment of formerly held religious devotion, along with the strife between cooperators with and opponents to the Lyman and Rich land policies, but also those barred from political power while ambitious to obtain it. Although the Mormon leaders were far from blameless, there was a good deal of greed and unscrupulousness among the opposition underlying developments related to both politics and land claims. Those no longer willing to “follow counsel” felt that any action was justifiable in eradicating this theocratic regime, and an appeal for support to outside citizens was the logical avenue. The other important motivation for opposition and hostility was the conviction that Brigham Young and his chosen local ecclesiastical officials had strayed from true religion sufficiently that they should at least be exposed. The efforts of the first two years of anti-Mormon activity, based on all of these motives, were notably unsuccessful, largely because of the positive reputation San Bernardino church members had acquired. But in 1857 an escalating number of negative reports, emanating [p.315]mainly from Utah, eventually eroded that cordial regard even toward the California Saints. Thus by the end of that year, with outside help, the so-called Independents accomplished their aims beyond their fondest expectations.
At the beginning of 1856 the foremost of the apostates was Henry G. Sherwood, who had once served with Charles C. Rich on the Nauvoo high council. Rich and Amasa Lyman regarded him as defiant from the time of his arrival in San Bernardino. Sherwood may have left the colony temporarily, but his wife refused to leave. At least one of her grown sons resided there. By the end of 1855 Sherwood, angry because he believed church authorities had interfered in his marriage, reportedly threatened to expose Mormonism in general and the current authorities in particular. The specific items he intended to divulge included the extent of polygamy at San Bernardino and Young’s alleged assassinations, including one Sherwood claimed he was ordered to commit, supposedly to rob a man of some $1,500 dollars while in Nauvoo, Illinois. Rich informed Young that Sherwood had commenced to “blow his horn” and that his days in the church were numbered, although to that point, Rich stated, leaders had “done nothing but extend kindness to him.” It was reported that Sherwood’s marriage to a woman some twenty years younger had dissolved, and Rich held some hope of guiding her back into full church fellowship.
By the time of open conflict Rich concluded that Sherwood had been disaffected when he came from Salt Lake City the first time and that he was probably not a good man even before that. The main basis for his observation was an affidavit obtained from a woman named Elizabeth Jones who recalled that when she moved to Nauvoo in the winter of 1840, Sherwood had accused her of “not being a virtuous woman and he [supposedly] knew it by the Spirit of God.” In desperation Jones had gone to Joseph Smith who instructed her to tell Sherwood “he is a liar,” prophesying that she would “live to see him fall.” Rich informed Young in May 1856 that the prophecy had been fulfilled: “H. G. Sher-[p.316]wood now stands at the head of the ‘anti-Mormon’ movement in this place, he makes speeches and uses his influence against the church.”2
Sherwood held that he had been falsely accused by “sycophants.” With his long service in church leadership positions, equal perhaps to either of the resident apostles, he felt that he deserved some deference. Also, he believed that church leaders owed him a large sum of money. But the foremost conflict was his belief, confided to returned missionary F. A. Hammond, that “the present administration” of the church, meaning Young and his associates, was “not after the order that Brother Joseph [Smith] established.” On this issue Sherwood would find a considerable number of people who would agree with him.3
Quartus S. Sparks had been a stalwart in education, politics, and oratory, both religious and secular, but he was not without human frailties, as he had demonstrated at Nauvoo, San Francisco, and in his later years at San Bernardino. He had been disciplined by Rich’s 1855 mayor’s court, lost in the lurid divorce proceedings in 1856, and finally, in early 1857, was excommunicated. When he led the resurgent political onslaught on the Mormon hierarchy in the spring of 1856, he was as embittered toward them as it was possible to be. It is clear that Sparks had strong ambitions to wield political power, a natural outlet for his recognized ability as a public speaker and attorney. It is equally apparent that there was no possible avenue for such advancement so long as the Mormons continued to express monolithic political allegiance to candidates designated by their leaders. Yet Sparks’s [p.317]desperate attempts to discredit the Latter-day Saints in politics to achieve his own aims demonstrated unscrupulous tendencies which, when recognized, ultimately thwarted his efforts abroad as well as at home.4
Louis Rubidoux was the most outspoken gentile in the gathering storm. Long friendly with Mormons, he had served on the original county board of supervisors. When his longtime mountain man associates began drifting from church allegiance, he cast his lot with them, especially when Lyman, Rich, and Hopkins failed to repay promptly a loan note of some $4,000. The matter was finally resolved, but the relationship was never again cordial. Later in 1856 Rubidoux and an associate, Dr. Sinclair, were arrested after the latter fired a pistol into a crowd while both were intoxicated. Their subsequent incarceration appeared to some to be harsh. It was well-known that when the prominent rancher went on one of his frequent similar escapades at Los Angeles, city officials cooperated with friendly hotel proprietors who simply put him to bed until he became sober.5
John Brown continued to be among the most prominent opponents in 1856 and thereafter. His mountain man independence made the conflict perhaps inevitable, but there was a much more definite focus of strife. For several years he had occupied the excellent cattle rangeland at Yucaipa which he intended to claim permanently. In early April 1856, when several of southern California’s largest cattle ranchers, including Rubidoux’s neighbor, Bernardo Yorba, were hard-pressed for feed for their herds during the drought, they approached Rich about leasing the Yucaipa Rancho for some nine months for three thousand dollars. Since one of the former owners of the San Bernardino Rancho—Vincente Lugo, a Yorba son-in-law—was [p.318]among the would-be tenants, they understood the quality of the feed in the valley. One of the stipulations for occupancy was the removal of Brown and his family and their livestock, and Rich informed Brown that he needed either to purchase or rent the premises and settle back rent. Brown replied that he was inclined neither to leave nor to pay, though the next morning he concluded that if Rich would cancel the bill for past ranch use he would vacate the property as soon as possible. Rich did not give the final approval of this offer but asked that the rancher return for another conference soon thereafter.
It appeared that the matter was being amicably resolved when during Brown’s ten-mile journey home he claimed to have been shot at three times as he passed through a narrow canyon. Naturally the Mormons were blamed for the alleged attack, and whether it actually occurred or not, nothing could have been better calculated to arouse sympathy and support for Brown. Even after this incident, upon consulting with attorneys in Los Angeles, he concluded to inform Rich that he would vacate by the first of September. But thereafter, probably through receiving a strong commitment of support from others who might be similarly threatened, and after H. G. Sherwood had bolstered their resolve at a meeting featuring a long harangue about Mormon corruption, Brown changed his mind. A petition signed by fifteen residents alleged that since Brown was being forced to vacate, the entire proceedings were illegal and unjust and he should be allowed to remain without further molestation until the government could decide the legitimacy of his claims. They affirmed belief that Brown was in fact occupying public domain and implied that they were united in whatever efforts were necessary to maintain his rights. The Mormon branch clerk noted the seeming desperation of the Brown sympathizers and attributed to them the view that such action was necessary or “the Mormons would drive them [all] out of the country.”
Brown had some basis for doubting that the Yucaipa Valley was part of the old Lugo land grant. But it is also clear that the [p.319]ranch proprietors had been interested in claiming the property for more than a year, since their young surveyor, Fred T. Perris, started urging it upon their attention as some of the most promising land possible to claim. Yet Lyman and Rich felt that the United States Supreme Court case regarding John C. Fremont’s Mariposa rancho in the mother lode helped their own situation because it was known that the original owner there had not fully complied with Mexican law, and yet the claims were confirmed. This court precedent allowed grant holders wide latitude in selecting lands adjacent to the original rancho property. By the time of Brown’s eviction notice, they had filed the proper maps indicating their claims, including the disputed Yucaipa property. Still the action caught Brown by surprise.6
Another consideration that undoubtedly loomed large in the strategy of many of the defiant landholders was the “squatter law” just passed by the California legislature on 26 March. This statute, clearly enacted through pressure from and for the benefit of newly-arrived Anglo-Americans, who challenged the rights of Mexican-Americans and other purchasers of their original grants to possession of such a high proportion of the valuable land, provided that all lands were regarded as public until legal title could be proved by the private claimants. Of perhaps even greater importance to Brown and his supporters was the stipulation that should tide be established by the original land owners or their successors, and the eviction of the squatters accomplished, the former occupants were entitled to reimbursement for whatever improvements and crops had been established on the premises during the time they had resided there. Charles C. Rich lamented [p.320]that the law threatened to be “an injury to every land-holder,” because it appeared to be the sure way for occupants to receive at least compensation for such improvements as Brown and his associates had made. Even more likely, knowing the financial pressures on the ranch proprietors, the threat of having to reimburse additional funds to those occupying such lands may well have been a means of attempting to get the ranch owners to designate other lands, thus leaving Brown and his associates to prove their claims to public lands. Unfortunately for these plans the law was soon declared unconstitutional.7
Rich, who was ill at the time, responded to the demands by reading them and ordering the petition of Brown’s supporters be filed without further action. When nothing was heard from the Mormons, according to Hopkins, Brown concluded that there was “a deep plot to swallow him, cattle, ranch and all and [he] became alarmed and left with his stock.” The new occupants had not yet arrived, but on 21 June the Los Angeles Star reported that Yorba and his associates had 5,000 head of cattle pastured on a part of the San Bernardino Rancho, certainly the far eastern portion at Yucaipa. There is no reason to doubt Brown left the ranch, but according to his son, a good historian, he sold his reoccupied, or possibly purchased, holdings at Yucaipa in 1857 to his friend and fellow mountain man James Waters. From this time on Brown and the other mountain men were united in fervent resistance to Mormon authorities.8
[p.321]The most radical San Bernardino anti-Mormons by this time called themselves “Rakabites,” a name they adopted from an Old Testament group that sought to regenerate their religion. The dissident group concentrated its opposition on political activity, portraying themselves as reformers crusading against an un-American theocratic regime. This, they assumed, was their most effective means of focusing attention on what they perceived as oppression. In the late spring of 1856 they held meetings nightly at a local school to bolster their municipal election campaign. Observers noted the “inflammatory” tone of their speeches, primarily by Sparks, Charles Chapman, William McDonald, and Horace C. Rolfe. Dr. Woodville M. Andrews left his drugstore in a partner’s hands while he ran as the opposition candidate for mayor. At the 5 May election Andrews garnered twenty-six votes, as many as any of the full slate of Independent candidates, but not nearly enough to seriously challenge Andrew Lytle who was elected the city’s third mayor with 138 votes.9
This indicates the relatively small threat the adversaries posed, although at least as many others resided south of the Santa Ana River and thus outside the boundaries of the city voting [p.322]precincts. Subsequent events would demonstrate that a much larger segment of Mormon voters aspired to political independence, but they were never willing to side with the most rabid Rakabites to achieve their aims. The municipal election once again focused attention on the seemingly un-American nature of Mormon bloc voting tendencies, and thus the political activists accomplished their primary purpose.
After the excitement of the previous winter, little further attention was drawn to Indian relations until the April conference of 1856. At that time Nathan C. Tenney and John Harris were designated to work among the Native Americans between San Bernardino and the Colorado River. Tenney made an investigatory visit to several of the villages, arousing neighbors who were already antagonistic to Mormon political influence.
At a meeting on 20 May 1856 Chapman and Sparks alleged Indian excitement in the vicinity “in relation to the Americans.” They had learned of Tenney’s activities, and whether their subsequent actions had a basis in actual evidence of unrest among the Native Americans or such fears were merely of anticipated threats—or perhaps out of total fabrication—the group declared alarm at the prospects of Indian uprisings. They charged that Tenney had convinced the Indians to unite with Mormons against their common foes in southern California. Those present at the meeting resolved to obtain affidavits attesting to these facts. After providing the Indians with a sumptuous banquet using, according to Mormon reports, a generous supply of liquor, the desired documents, allegedly prepared previously, were marked. These and an account of the protest meeting were sent to newspapers and state officials.
Rich reported to church headquarters that the apostate party was “using every exertion to create an excitement.” He agreed with many of his brethren that the group’s sole purpose was to spread anti-Mormon sentiment throughout California. As soon as the rumors started to circulate, Rich took Judge Hayes and the judge’s close friend and excellent interpreter, Louis [p.323]Rubidoux, along with Tenney and several other Mormons to visit the Indians. Like their opponents, they too recognized they would get cooperation from well-fed Serrano-Cahuillas and thus they prepared their own banquet, though not accompanied by alcohol. When Juan Antonio denied the statements contained in Brown’s version of the affidavits, Duff Weaver, described by a Mormon observer as being as “hostile as there is any use for,” called him a “damned old liar.” Weaver alleged that the Indians “would talk to suit their visitors.”
After seeing the exaggerated newspaper accounts generated by his opponents, Rich vented his own anger in an affidavit to the editor of the Los Angeles Star. Clarifying the background and justified motives of Tenney’s mission, he charged his neighbors with “a fabrication, and founded in wickedness.” The entire affair, he went on, was “made to excite the citizens of the adjoining counties against the people of San Bernardino, for political purposes and nothing else.” The church leader then argued that his people had fully demonstrated their loyalty to the United States, citing the Mormon Battalion’s role in the war with Mexico and stating that Mormon militiamen had “assisted [in mobilizing against] all Indian outbreaks in the country” since they had settled there. Rich reminded his readers that during their time in southern California there had not been a “more peaceable and orderly community,” or one more industrious and honest in business dealings than San Bernardino.
Either voluntarily or by assignment, several church members wrote to the newspapers to refute the charges. In correspondence signed “Mormon citizen,” published in a 12 July issue of the San Diego Herald, the church apologist stated that the small clique of men responsible for this “aggregation of falsehood” had long since lost any respect from the community in which they resided. They were labeled apostates who aimed not only at generating strife and plunder but exciting hostile feelings among neighbors. In regard to Tenney’s visit to the Indians, the letter argued that since he had made only one trip he would hardly have [p.324]commenced such insidious talk before gaining their full confidence. The affidavits were clearly obtained from signatories liberally plied with liquor. Judge Hayes and Louis Rubidoux were reported to have witnessed Chief Juan Antonio’s denial of the statements attributed to him. So far as the Mormons were concerned, they had properly demonstrated the falseness and ill intent of the allegations.10
There are several reasons why church opponents reacted so promptly and vigorously to reports of LDS involvement with the Indians. All Mormons who commented on the matter were convinced that the primary motivation was to arouse antagonism toward church members among the citizens of other California communities. As the anti-Mormons comprised a very small minority of the population in the area, the implications for unification of the largest segments of population, the Mormons and Indians, were fraught with negative possibilities for them. There may have been some real fear of a united armed assault, although this seems unlikely. What is more probable, in light of the known disregard for Indian property by Duff Weaver and some of his associates, is the fear that more influential allies of the Indians could not only stop such incursions on farm and grazing land, but perhaps might even lead to Mormon-backed eviction from lands they never had legal title to. Besides this, as Rich privately disclosed to Brigham Young, the mountain men types had long been accustomed to using the Indian women for “corrupt purposes,” which was bound to be discouraged by the Mormon missionaries.
Charges of stirring up Indians was a common emotion-laden tactic used by anti-Mormons on many occasions outside of California as well. Allegations of “blood atonement” were similarly common. There were sufficient reports in circulation, including [p.325]some probably emanating from Sherwood, to lend plausibility to accusations regarding the attempt on John Brown’s life. At about that time Rich noted the “spirit of mobocracy [was] clearly visible in this place in the same way that it always was in false and dissenting brethren,” and he confided that he was “satisfied that when [the opponents] dare not utter their corruption without meeting justice [, only then would] righteousness … prevail.” Rich made several allusions to disciplining those who spoke out against church authorities in both Utah and San Bernardino, though nothing indicates it was more than rhetoric. In Brown’s case, it would have made no sense for Rich to order anyone to harm him when it appeared at that point that he was inclined to comply with the eviction orders.11
This does not mean that no policy toward the dissidents was in operation. On the first of July Rich summoned the high council and other community leaders to a meeting at the council house. There it was “quietly concluded to adopt a policy that was in vogue once in Nauvoo,” when Rich was prominent there, “for some of the boys when they heard these fellows gassing to quietly knock them down and then walk off to the mayor’s office and pay their fines.” This practice of dealing with dissenters was implemented and reported to have “worked so far admirably and ha[d] made them very quiet.” In the first instance of this approach young Price Nelson confronted Chapman on the street corner about the latter having reportedly stated at a public meeting in El Monte that Rich had offered Chief Juan Antonio two white wives if he would help kill off the Americans. At first Chapman started to deny the report, but when he noticed some fellow dissenters nearby, he proudly admitted it and asked Nelson “what are you going to do about it.” According to Hopkins, the man had hardly gotten the words out of his mouth “before he was down and badly whipped.” Before Nelson reached the place [p.326]where he was to pay his fine for disturbing the peace, someone else had gladly done it for him. There were several other such instances during this period, which may have done some good but hardly meshed with conceptions of freedom of expression and public order. It is entirely likely that both this policy of intimidating opponents and organizing a squad of young men uniformed in red shirts, black pants, and black felt hats mounted in paramilitary fashion patrolling the streets, were in response to rumors that dissidents planned to disrupt the elaborately planned exhibition of loyalty to the United States that the Mormons were preparing for the 1856 Independence Day.12
The competition to out-do one another in demonstrating patriotism on 4 July 1856 existed as one of the most interesting incidents in the rivalry between the contesting factions. There is no reason to dispute H. C. Rolfe’s assertion that anti-Mormons began first to plan for the occasion, although he should not have been surprised that the Mormon party refused simply to go along with a program planned and sponsored entirely by their adversaries. Church clerk Richard Hopkins was undoubtedly equally accurate in assuming the rival effort was at least partly “calculated to make an impression on the public,” useful then and in the coming fall elections. For these reasons San Bernardino enjoyed two simultaneous celebrations, each superior to any other staged in the community during the entire decade.
The Mormon party had the advantage of numbers and availability of more volunteer workers. The 80-by-95-foot brush-thatched bowery and the 100-foot flagpole erected for the occasion on the town plaza were accomplished with such labor. The Independents erected a more modest 60-by-20-foot bowery on [p.327]Third Street between C and D streets. Their backers included Louis Rubidoux and John Brown who could well afford to provide plenty of livestock for the barbecue. They also had the area’s best orator, Quartus Sparks, along with the loudest cannon for firing frequent salutes. Although they invited the Indians and other outside residents, their gathering was not nearly as large as their rivals who also had invited guests from abroad.
The Mormon celebration featured an elaborate meal prepared under the direction of carefully organized committees. The 25 to 30 uniformed and mounted young men who served as an escort for the officers of the day paraded through the streets, accompanied by a band playing patriotic music which easily outdid the rivals’ small choir. The greatest difference between the two celebrations was the number of attendees, the church party entertaining between 1,500 and 2,000, while their opponents only several hundred. Actually there was a large measure of friendly rivalry exhibited, particularly when the Mormon band paid a visit to the other celebration where they gave three cheers for flag and liberty, in which they were joined by all other citizens present. Neither group allowed alcoholic beverages, and there was a great deal of visiting back and forth between the two celebrations and no negative incident to mar the occasion.13
This semblance of harmony was short-lived. The anti-Mormon faction had already resolved to publicize the alleged misdeeds of their opponents through a pamphlet presumably intended for wide circulation. The project reportedly received its impetus at a meeting of 76 Independents gathered on 3 July. During the next several weeks the writing was accomplished by Sparks, assisted by Andrews. Judging from the content of the portion of the manuscript that was published, the purpose was [p.328]clearly to convince outside Democrats that Latter-day Saints historically had allied with the opposing Whig party. The facts raised were convincing, including the reason given for the San Bernardino Mormons abandoning that party: one of the foremost California Whigs in 1854, gubernatorial candidate William Waldo, was formerly associated with the hated Governor Lilburn W. Boggs of Missouri. The remainder of the eight printed pages featured the alleged misdeeds of the San Bernardino sheriff, Robert Clift, in regard to the arrest and incarceration of Sparks’s mistress, Jane Coburn, at the time of the recent sensational divorce case. Reiteration of those events, which many remembered from the accounts in the Star, would have done nothing to promote the veracity of the pamphlet. Even more devastating to Sparks’s reputation was the subsequent report that he was seeking to sell the manuscript to the Mormons presumably so they could suppress its circulation. There is no reason to discount the allegations, which were privately made and which, if true, demonstrated him to be the same type of political “blackmailer” he accused the church leaders of being.14
In early August the anti-Mormons met in San Timoteo Canyon to raise the means to publish the entire booklet. It is unlikely they succeeded. By that time it was increasingly clear that the group had a severe credibility problem with outside citizens. Mormons chuckled at reports that their opponents had met with “ill success” at Los Angeles where many of them were remembered for having visited to preach Mormonism. The branch historian noted the anti-Mormons were “convinced that their vile [p.329]tales [were] not credited outside” and that they had a tendency to “cool off their ardor.”15
As some church members were celebrating the ninth anniversary of the Mormon pioneers’ entrance into the Salt Lake Valley on 24 July, notice reached them that someone was circulating “notorious lies” about two of the most popular single girls in the settlement, Harriet Hunt and Matilda Lyman. Even if they had not been daughters of San Bernardino’s most prominent citizens, this would have outraged the community. One visiting diarist noted that “a good deal of excitement prevail[ed] concerning the matter.” He observed that on account of the offense, the “gents” would “get notice to leave the place forthwith.” Apparently it was ascertained that Sparks was not guilty of this slander, but the following Sunday one of the town storekeepers, probably Calisher, felt compelled to abandon the settlement “in consequence of some slanderous reports he had circulated” presumably about the Mormon women. The sheriff did not go in pursuit, and at least one commentator noted the “community was not hurt by his leaving.” It is doubtful if such an incident or its results could have been expected from less emotionally-charged circumstances. But at this time of threats and counter-threats it seemed a natural occurrence.16
Perhaps the most significant failure in the San Bernardino Independents’ effort in 1856 was the attempt to link their own presumed reform crusade to the largest vigilante movement ever at San Francisco. The San Bernardino Independents had appealed for support to newspapers throughout the state and to [p.330]elected California officials, but the group from which they most desired recognition was the vigilance committee, which was then virtually ruling the San Francisco Bay area. In this they were rebuffed. The reason, as Charles C. Rich commented at the time, was “there [was] an excellent feeling among the influential men in the state toward [the Mormon] people,” and the local opponents simply could not overcome this cordiality at that time.17
One aspect of San Bernardino that had impressed even connoisseurs of alcoholic beverages such as Judge Hayes was that the city had no dramshops. This was mainly because the license fee to sell ardent spirits was so high. Hayes also lauded the lack of “billiard saloons or gambling halls and hence there [were] no loafing vagabonds and sharpers.” But not all observers were so certain that the restrictions were wise or fair. Sparks denounced as excessive the $100 per quarter levied on each billiard table and bowling alley and added that similar taxes on theater and concert performances had thwarted those pursuits. Sparks contended that by making it easier to purchase alcohol by the bottle than by the glass, the prospects for intemperance increased.18
It is doubtful if these arguments carried much weight, but the influx of potential consumers occasioned by the hot August weather bringing furloughed U.S. survey crew members into town caused the demand to mount sufficiently to justify whatever the quarterly tax might be. In fact, it was Sparks and George Winner, a fellow lapsed Mormon, who opened a “restaurant,” paying the fee to sell liquor by the glass, and, as the first “grog shop” in the city, in future months it would be the center of considerable dissent and conflict. Later in the year, as U.S. survey [p.331]crews frequented the city, the first full-fledged saloon, the “Rainbow,” was established by outsiders Harris and Myers. The branch recorder noted this to be a key indication of the “growing iniquity” in the settlement. Within a month Daniel M. Taft, a teamster and mail carrier married to a Mormon, was stabbed in a gambling scrape with a surveyor at one of these establishments.19
In the fall of 1856 a group calling themselves the Independent Party mounted a campaign to replace Jefferson Hunt as San Bernardino’s representative in the state assembly. At the nominating convention the delegates deadlocked with equal votes for Alley Dennis Boren, a nominal Mormon who had arrived at old San Bernardino in 1854, and Duff Weaver, a non-Mormon married to the stepdaughter of Zina Ayers, an ex-Mormon mountain man. Since neither side would relinquish support to the other, they resolved the matter by casting lots, through which Boren was selected. When, at the subsequent mass meeting, someone proposed appealing to regular church members by moderating their stance, which was a position Boren approved of, the more extreme element rejected the proposal and renominated Weaver. An intraparty contest ensued over which manner was best for challenging church political supremacy, and, thus split, neither faction could seriously threaten Assemblyman Hunt.
From the viewpoint of the Independent cause, this division was most unfortunate. Although Hunt received 189 out of the total of 348 county votes, to 85 for Weaver and 70 for Boren, the latter, according to participating historian Horace Rolfe, would have garnered far more backing from other Mormons had he not been associated with Weaver. It is difficult to assess the feelings against Hunt, but within the next year his blunt manner would [p.332]alienate many church members. Weaver’s support came primarily from the Hispanic precincts that never before had generated many votes. Had the Independents maintained unity, adopted the more moderate position, and gained all of the potential support then possible among Spanish-speaking residents and moderate Mormons, they may well have succeeded.20
Another potential source of uneasiness, if not conflict, was plural marriage. Lyman, Rich, and the several others who lived in California with more than one wife had done nothing in particular to hide the practice. California had a statute against polygamy, but since most such marriages had been contracted beyond the state, polygamists did not consider themselves to be breaking the law. Assemblyman Hunt, one of the polygamists, had earlier reported that the subject had never been raised, even in casual conversation—at least in his presence—among his associates at Sacramento. Later in the spring of 1856 the state senator from Calabassas introduced a bill against polygamy, but there was no further notice of that legislation. Several newspaper correspondents mentioned the unique practice within the Mormon colony, but nothing really critical was said in the California press. In late February 1856 the San Francisco Alta California began a running debate with George Q. Cannon’s defenses of polygamy in his Western Standard, a dialogue that would become a possible source of strong feelings in 1857 but not in the initial exchanges of the first year. Although Sherwood threatened to stir up controversy over the issue, he had no noticeable success. Traveler William Chandless concluded that California was “too apathetic and immoral to be concerned about Mormon polygamy.”21
[p.333]Polygamy was brought most forcefully into the public consciousness when the infant Republican party linked it to slavery as the “twin relics of barbarism” in its initial presidential election platform of 1856. There is little evidence of actual campaigning in San Bernardino in behalf of the party’s presidential standard bearer, John C. Fremont, although from the vote he garnered in nearby Agua Mansa, party functionaries were certainly active there. However, Lyman’s biographer, who had access to documents no longer available, states that in the heat of the statewide campaign, “Lyman and Rich were approached with an offer of very liberal reductions on the face of their big [ranch] note in exchange for the Mormon vote,” adding that “the men making this offer regarded its refusal as a mark of great stupidity.”22 The California apostles were too committed to what they considered a divinely-mandated marital system to support the party pledged to suppress it.
The Democrats had every reason to consider the Mormon votes as safely within their corner. A contingent of party dignitaries from Los Angeles, including Judge Hayes, visited San Bernardino in late October for a uniquely Californian campaign observance which featured not speeches but the greatest horse race of the season, accompanied by an evening ball. The Star [p.334]predicted the county would certainly go for the Democratic candidate James Buchanan. The correspondent was on safe ground in the prediction. On election day the San Bernardino and mission precincts garnered 258 votes for the Democratic standard bearer compared to 18 for Fremont, although San Salvador (Agua Mansa) and San Mateo (Timoteo) precincts gave the latter 75 votes. When citizens of the Mormon settlements heard of Buchanan’s election, “the news was greeted with great demonstrations of joy.” Latter-day Saints would not be joyful in regard to this president for long. 23
In the summer of 1856, while the political events were yet stirring, at least one San Bernardino polygamist, J. Henry Rollins, expressed apprehension to his brother-in-law, Lyman, over the situation. Both of his wives had recently given birth to sons, obviously the best evidence of what would later become well-known as “unlawful cohabitation.” He confessed uneasiness about having both his families located in the same California community and wanted to take one of them back to Utah. “I do not consider any man safe here who has more than one wife,” he told Lyman, urging the church leader to be more circumspect about his polygamist family arrangements. This apprehension may have stemmed from knowledge that Rich had recently requested Lyman to inquire of Salt Lake City about allowing partner Ebenezer Hanks to take another wife, presumably at San Bernardino. Hanks’s current wife was childless and reportedly willing to enter the “higher law.” Rich assessed Hanks to be qualified, but Young denied the request on the ground that the applicant had not paid sufficient tithing—apparently ignoring the fact that he had devoted most of his earnings to paying the San Bernardino ranch debt. Rollins was undoubtedly correct in assuming that public disclosure of a longtime California resident suddenly having [p.335]a second wife would have stirred up controversy over the entire situation.24
In the late summer and early fall of 1856 several observers noted that the opposition party in San Bernardino was beginning to break up. This may have been through the split between the moderates and extremists or simply out of discouragement from lack of success. Whatever the cause, many were reported to be “hauling in their horns,” with some of the “less desperate” seeking reconciliation with church leaders. After a serious injury in a fall from a wagon, Sherwood made overtures to Rich that he was anxious for a settlement of differences. By that time Salt Lake City authorities had ordered his financial claims resolved, which Rich reported much pleased the old man. The local church leader also expressed confidence that Sherwood would “make a confession of his errors.” Within two weeks his case was taken before the high council and quietly resolved. Benjamin Grouard made no such reconciliation but did split from the other opponents and moved temporarily from the area. At that point, had not their cause been given outside impetus, the Rakabites would probably have faded into oblivion.25
On the other hand, Rich’s effort at regenerating the spiritual fervor among the church members was given a tremendous boost. In early November 1856 Young informed Lyman and Rich that he and his associates had recently commenced what became known as the “Mormon Reformation” and urged them also to “see if you can get the Fire of the Almighty [p.336]kindled in your midst.” Within a month the southern California authorities reported that despite some continuing opposition, “the people [were] beginning to awaken to a sense of the necessity of a reform and a stronger effort to live their religion.” Boards of teachers were reorganized to visit the families in the valley and they reported that most people generally felt “well on the subject of Mormonism and [were] satisfied with the authorities of the church.” While some cases of “hardness” were found among those questioned and a general feeling of “delinquency” regarding such matters as family prayer, most offenders promised to mend their ways.26
Thus at the end of five years in the San Bernardino Valley, the majority of citizens had withstood serious internal conflict and the outlook was bright. Little could anyone anticipate that within another year the opposition toward Mormonism would become so marked that it would no longer be safe to remain so far from the confines of Utah’s mountains. Still, developments leading to the Mormon withdrawal were not as abrupt as has often been portrayed but were actually an accumulation of grievances resulting from a series of negative reports that gradually eroded the long-standing public approval toward the region’s Mormons.
As 1857 was ushered in, the later-infamous San Andreas fault shook San Bernardino and the rest of southern California more severely than ever before in recorded history. This caused a few residents worry, but no serious damage was done.27 Much [p.337] more significantly, a series of Utah incidents, published with some bias in California newspapers, began the crucial process of altering public opinion toward Utah members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and eventually those in California as well. The California Mormons had a solid reputation, well earned since Mormon Battalion days, but the incidents and the somewhat lurid manner in which they were publicized, often with the eager assistance of the then-resurgent local enemies, began undermining that favorable status.
The first of these events, published in early March, was an account of an attack on four men as they were leaving Utah by the southern route. Colonel Peltro had for some months been surveying in the Utah area for a possible military road east. He was well acquainted with many local residents, including some Mormon authorities. When his work was completed, he embarked for southern California with three others, including John Tobin, a Mormon. While the four well-equipped travelers were encamped at night along the Santa Clara River, some forty miles beyond the last settlement, they were fired upon from ambush, three of them wounded in the attack. In attempting to evade further gunfire, they lost their baggage and a half dozen good horses. The next day the colonel examined the footprints of the attackers and concluded they were not Indian but presumably Mormon, an impression he conveyed in his subsequent interview with California newspaper reporters.28
In an attempt to divert the blame from church members, George Cannon soon published a letter from Mormon leader Isaac C. Haight of Cedar City, in Cannon’s San Francisco church newspaper. Haight and his associates claimed to have been in the Santa Clara River vicinity at the time of the attack on Peltro and [p.338]Tobin and had learned from Jacob Hamblin, a missionary to the Indians, that a band of “Mapaches” had quarreled and fought with a group of Paiute associates who had fled to Hamblin’s fort for protection. Haight suggested that the Indians, angry over the death of one of their number and unable to exact the revenge desired, sought another outlet for their vengeance, and in that state Peltro’s group was attacked. Still later Cannon announced that the lost horses had been recovered when an Indian brought them in and that Peltro could claim them at any time.
There was basis for Mormon implication in the affair. Tobin was the son-in-law of Charles Rich, and it appeared to some, including the apostle, that he was in the process of abandoning his family and religious obligations. This was the type of offense which presumably merited the strong disciplinary actions reportedly dispensed by certain Mormon enforcers. After the attack Peltro started back toward the Mormon settlements, but when he encountered the mail carriers headed for California, he returned with them to his wounded companions. Tobin, the only one seriously injured, with a painful bullet wound in his cheek near an eye, elected to face the rigors of the desert crossing without a physician’s care rather than return to Utah.
When the party arrived at San Bernardino, the injured man was placed in a hotel under the care of Dr. Andrews. Significantly, he did not seek out his in-laws, although at some point he and Rich conversed. Rich said the young man insisted he was not running away, but the father-in-law did not believe him.29 When sufficiently healed, Tobin was transported under an armed guard of Rakabites to the supposedly safer Los Angeles, amid reports that Porter Rockwell, Young’s infamous “destroying angel,” had been sighted in the area, presumably to finish the work others had failed to accomplish in Utah. The San Bernardino historian [p.339]recorded the rumor, concluding: “[T]he powers of darkness are exerting themselves to overthrow the Work [of the church] in this land.”30
During the same period, in early March 1857, a renewed clash over ranch lands took place between San Bernardino Mormons and their local opponents. Former church member Jerome Benson had lost his wife in a flood on the Provo River and subsequently became disaffected from Utah church leaders and decided to relocate to California. Even his friends admitted that he was a man “of rather aggressive disposition.” When he came to the San Bernardino area, the ranch proprietors, selective about whom they allowed to acquire lands in their midst, quoted him a substantially higher price than he later discovered others had been asked to pay. Thereafter, he occupied lands south of the Santa Ana River, presumably beyond the bounds of Lyman and Rich’s domain. After he had made some improvements, the ranch owners commenced eviction proceedings. Benson chose to resist.
On 4 March the “apostate squatter” was sued for the land, the local justice court deciding in favor of Lyman, Rich, and Hanks. Several weeks later Benson gathered some two dozen people at his house where they agreed to stand by him in the defense of what he claimed to be his property. That same day several of the party came to San Bernardino with a wagon and stole the cannon that had been used at the previous Independence Day celebration. This was placed in the north wall of a fortification constructed around Benson’s house, subsequently dubbed “Fort Benson.” The other walls contained loopholes for firing rifles. For several days the defiant Benson sympathizers waited for Lyman, Rich, and Hanks to try evicting them. Hopkins surmised that the primary motivation, with at least a semblance of truth, was that “if [his [p.340]supporters] can sustain Benson in unlawful possession of the land, they in time [would] be sustained the same way” in holding the lands they occupied. Indeed concern over land occupancy continued to be a prime issue for many of those involved in opposition to the church authorities. The ranch proprietors ignored the entire proceedings. At the next worship service Lyman cautioned the people “to be calm in the face of the excitement that existed and attend to their own business, not allow[ing] themselves to be aggressors.”31
Fort Benson became, essentially, headquarters for the anti-Mormons for the remainder of the year. Even their 1857 Fourth of July celebration was held there. The land issue hung unresolved until after the faithful Mormons evacuated the area late in the year. Thereafter Benson not only took the opportunity to acquire legal title to other lands but successfully acted to have the court proceedings against him reversed on the basis that Alden Jackson’s term as Justice of the Peace had expired prior to the decision being rendered.32
In the weeks after the Benson land contest, Brown, Benson, and their associates attempted to enlist Judge Hayes to aid them in biasing the government land agent, Mr. Lacroze, against their opponents. They hoped the judge would sympathize with their contention that San Bernardino rancho surveys had been made by Mormons and were patently invalid. Hayes replied with the “sauciest” letter he could muster and instead bolstered the validity of the proprietors’ claims. When ranch agents were apprised of these developments, they were jubilant, feeling Hayes had measurably assisted in swaying Lacroze [p.341]more favorably toward their cause, which his decisions soon proved him to be.33
Another episode in a seemingly endless series of clashes focused on the expected departure of Lyman and Rich for their European missions. According to Hopkins, Sparks, Chapman, and kindred spirits journeyed to El Monte and Los Angeles to raise what he termed a mob to prevent the church leaders from leaving. The clerk alleged that Sparks’s plan was to blockade the Cajon Pass in an attempt to force the Saints into a conflict. If in fact such efforts were being made, they failed to accomplish the purpose. On 11 April Sparks and a dozen well-armed cohorts confronted Lyman and Rich with a claim for an unpaid debt. The ranch proprietors considered the document an “outlawed note” but calmly offered a bond providing that they would pay if proper court proceedings deemed them liable. This matter related to the earlier Sparks divorce and judicial settlements presumed to favor the former wife. Actually Lyman and Rich, with Young’s encouragement, had delayed departure for their missions until they thought they could see the realistic end of their financial obligations. This alleviated further conflict at that time, as did the body of some fifty San Bernardino citizens who accompanied their brethren as far as the first crossing of the Mojave River to assure that no additional incidents would threaten them. The founders of the colony departed 18 April, undoubtedly with mixed emotions about leaving the settlement in such a precarious state.34
The anti-Mormons persistently attempted to capitalize on every possibility to arouse sympathetic public sentiment. In early March they rented the courthouse at San Diego and held a public [p.342]meeting for that purpose. The Herald opined that false statements were made there against the San Bernardino majority. Denying allegations it was a church organ, the paper claimed a practice of publishing whatever news items were presented by either faction when paid for as advertisements. But it is doubtful that the column appearing in the following issue was so subsidized. The Herald cited H. C. Ladd who explained that the opposition stemmed from those unable to secure lands or political offices in the manner desired so long as the Mormon hierarchy held sway. In this way a man respected enough to have once been elected a San Diego judge succinctly pinpointed the basis of the anti-Mormon movement and severely weakened its thrust in the region.35
In early May 1857, as the Star announced discovery of Peltro’s stolen horses, it recounted the details of a much worse Utah tragedy under the inaccurate but telling headline “another massacre.” The article presented details of the murder of three men near Springville, in the center of the territory. The dispatch said the perpetrators of the deed were not known, but rumor had it that one victim, William Parrish, “had a difficulty with the authorities about removing property which he had previously ‘consecrated’ to the church.” While the Los Angeles newspaper mentioned that the deed was supposedly perpetrated by Indians, the editor expressed hope for an investigation so that “the guilty parties [would be] made to feel the heavy arm of the law.” He concluded that “these outrages are of so frequent occurrence that it behooves the local authorities to take steps to bring the perpetrators to punishment.” The Star account mentioned that since the murder victims had family in the California Mormon settlement, the news “caused great excitement in San Bernardino.” The same can be said for the entire Southland both on first notice and later when family members from Utah brought further [p.343]details that hardly needed embellishment in order to alienate the general public from those yet practicing Mormonism in the Southland.36
The Parrish atrocities stood as a clear indictment against real tyranny. Even the local historians of Springville admitted that the “foul crime” would not fade away. William Parrish and his adult son, Beatson, both of whom had apostatized from the Latter-day Saint church, intended to leave for California against the wishes of local church authorities. According to one account, someone infiltrated their circle of friends and learned the time of their contemplated “escape.” The good horses acquired for the journey were secreted in a cane thicket on the edge of town. At early dawn Parrish and two of his sons, along with a man named Duff Potter, walked single file along a trail to the horses. According to Orin Parrish who survived the attack, his father became suspicious of Potter lagging back of the others and insisted that he walk directly behind him. This may have confused those hiding in ambush who shot the first three men—William and Beatson Parrish and Potter—while Orin escaped into a cornfield. All accounts mention that the older Parrish’s body was also lacerated with knife wounds. “[T]he perpetrators of the awful deed were never apprehended,” concluded the local histories. According to historian Nels Anderson, despite attempts by non-Mormon territorial officials to bring the guilty to justice, “the fact remains that the Mormons in charge of the local government did nothing to find the murderers.” 37
[p.344]Perhaps the incident most symbolic of the bitterness existing between the two San Bernardino factions was a tragic clash in the early summer of 1857 between Marion Perkins and William McDonald. One of the outcomes of the two-year conflict was the inclination of faithful Mormons not to patronize certain opponents’ business establishments or favor known Rakabites with employment when jobs were available. This led one of the extreme Independents, William McDonald, to leave for Los Angeles and more cordial business associations. However, at least one of the church party, Marion Perkins, was not inclined to allow McDonald to leave in peace. He divulged, while in a state of inebriation, that he intended to give the man a thrashing prior to his departure. Perkins was known to be quarrelsome when drunk, which some opponents later alleged was well understood by his friends who should have prevented him from proceeding with his intent. Instead, the Rakabites charged, “they seemed willing to let the trouble go on.” McDonald knew of the threats but did not avoid the confrontation, although he did take the precaution of obtaining a “large” knife. While passing Third Street, near what was already becoming notorious as “whisky point,” Perkins grabbed McDonald by the hair and started pulling him to the ground. At that point McDonald drew his knife and stabbed his assailant three times, at least once in the heart, killing him almost instantly.
Few incidents could have further heightened mutual animosities. McDonald promptly surrendered himself to be locked up in a house, serving in place of the yet unbuilt jail. With rumors rife that the anti-Mormons were organizing to rescue their man, other reports claimed several dozen from the Mormon side were [p.345]conspiring to take the prisoner by force and hang him. One observer later stated that this group went so far as to obtain a rope and had fashioned a hangman’s knot, with every intention of a lynching. Fortunately, cooler heads, including local church leaders, counseled working within the bounds of the law. H. C. Rolfe, the contemporary chronicler of the events, conceded with fairness that was evident that a goodly number of the church party were opposed to any wreaking of vengeance in such an unlawful manner.”38
This did not prevent the more extreme anti-Mormons from seeking to capitalize on the incident by spreading inflammatory reports. The branch clerk charged they went so far as to attempt to “create the impression that Young Perkins was a Danite, in the employ of the church to provoke and encounter and abuse McDonald.” Whether they persuaded anyone else of the truthfulness of the allegations or not, they clearly convinced a group of El Monte citizens, who had recently performed lynchings in their own city, to send an appeal addressed “to the authorities of the Mormon church in San Bernardino,” stating that the Independents had informed them of the killing and expressed great apprehension that it was likely to “produce a collision between the Mormons and anti-Mormons” in that county. Informed of the imminent lynching of McDonald, the concerned outsiders stressed that this was contrary to law and thus entered “solemn protest” against such proceedings, appealing for a fair trial before vested legal authorities. The El Monte citizens warned that failure to comply with these requests would “lay a foundation for a general rupture” of relations with those outside San Bernardino, which the Mormons surmised was exactly what their antagonists were hoping to accomplish. Further investigation by their representatives ascertained that San Bernardino officials had conducted [p.346]themselves properly, and even the prisoner’s friends acknowledged that they had probably saved him from harm.39 The branch clerk concluded his treatment of the unfortunate occurrence by observing, “The anti-Mormons find it hard to create an excitement against the Saints.” Several days later he noted that when McDonald was released on bonds he and his friends celebrated with “a drunken spree.” The next day the same biased observer complained they were insulting persons whom they supposed had made negative remarks regarding the “murder” of Perkins. Hopkins quoted the anti-Mormons on the occasion as predicting that “in ten months there would be a premium on Mormon scalps at San Bernardino.” They were not far from accuracy in that boast.40
While the San Bernardino Saints continued to answer each attempt to discredit them, the hierarchy in Utah perceived the need for a church spokesman on the West Coast. For this purpose George Q. Cannon, a young English convert and perhaps the most successful missionary to the Sandwich Islands, commenced publication of the Western Standard at San Francisco in early 1856. Cannon, who would be one of the most articulate spokesmen for Mormonism for almost half a century, took particular care to answer what he deemed to be falsehoods about his religion appearing in other California newspapers. His writing probably accelerated the level of antagonism as he ardently advocated plural marriage and defended his future father-in-law, Brigham Young, who was becoming increasingly unpopular in the golden state.41
Up to that time there was but little negative published in [p.347]California about the Mormons. In fact church members residing there had received consistently positive press comments. But in May 1856 the San Francisco Alta California anticipated the conflicts of the ensuing year and raised an editorial voice in apprehension regarding conditions others within a short time would agree were a problem. After tracing the phenomenal growth of the church in Utah, the editor warned that “the Mormons have now become a powerful, and promise to be somewhat of a troublesome[,] element in the United States.” He was referring partly to their apparent inclination to “dictate” as to “what officers of the federal government they choose to have reside among them.” The other main concern was that the Latter-day Saints were presumably “a military people,” asserting that Salt Lake City probably had “more thoroughly drilled soldiers than there [were] in any city of the United States.” After their bitter experiences in Missouri and Illinois, the Mormon militia maintained a position of readiness, although later events would call into question just how well prepared such men were for actual armed confrontation. More importantly, the San Francisco newspaper raised consciousness concerning the possible threat, mentioning that the church settlement at San Bernardino was growing large and was in constant contact with the Utah church center. The editorial concluded that Mormons were “assuming a bold, rather defiant, and dictatorial air in their dealings with the General Government,” and that the situation bore close scrutiny to prevent problems from getting out of hand.42
Similar statements were repeated in subsequent issues of the California press. Cannon answered some in an editorial addressing “the knotty question of Utah.” He quoted from a San Francisco Bulletin correspondent to the nation’s capital who stated that “one of the most troublesome questions now presenting itself to the new [Buchanan] administration is that of the governorship [p.348]of Utah.” The dispatch predicted that “it is perfectly clear that if the Federal Government attempts to enforce its power in Utah, there will be armed resistance by Brigham Young.” The Western Standard not only denied that Utah citizens would resort to violence to oppose removing the territorial governor, but went on to argue that there was no need for such a replacement since Brigham Young was not only discharging the gubernatorial duties well but was “the unanimous choice of the people” to continue in that office. Cannon alleged that Young and his followers had been “atrociously misrepresented” and that the press was beginning to fear the “monster” they had created themselves, when in fact there was no cause for apprehension.43
Yet before the end of May 1857 reports concerning the Utah situation appeared to bear out the earlier predictions. The Star drew on accounts from the eastern press regarding Young’s misdeeds as alleged by W. W. Drummond who briefly served as chief justice of the Supreme Court of Utah territory but had promptly departed. In his widely publicized letter of resignation to the U.S. Attorney General, he outlined a substantial list of charges, including that “no law of Congress [was] by [the Utah Mormons] considered binding in any manner,” but that church members were oath-bound to follow the dictates of President Young. Federal officials in Utah were said to be “daily compelled to hear the form of the American government traduced” and individual officials slandered. Among the most alarming of Drummond’s accusations was that records and papers of his court were destroyed “by order of the church with direct knowledge and approbation of Governor B. Young.” In addition to these major offenses against the government, the judge alleged the existence of a body of men “set apart by special order of the church to take both the lives and property of persons who may question the authority of the church.” Drummond claimed to [p.349]possess the names of such henchmen. He charged that five young dissenters were being held in the Utah penitentiary despite the fact that they had violated no American law and that Captain John W. Gunnison and his party of government surveyors who had reportedly been massacred by Indians in 1853 were actually killed by order of the Mormon First Presidency. The last of these charges was blatantly false, and the others exaggerated, but they harmonized sufficiently with recent reports to seem credible.44
The same eastern newspapers from which the Star garnered details of Drummond’s charges also provided items indicating that the War Department had issued orders to send a “large body of troops” westward. The California writers correctly surmised that these were not to be used to check the persistent unrest in Kansas or to fight Indians but to offer backing for federal officers in Utah territory. Within a month the same newsmen added that a man named “Cummings” [sic] had accepted appointment as governor of Utah and was on his way west, presumably with the army’s support45
Thus regional newspapers informed San Bernardino Latter-day Saints of the U.S. Army’s approach before first notice reached Utah in late July. Historians throughout the years have attributed the demise of the San Bernardino colony to the coming of what became known as “Johnston’s army.” However, the community’s downfall was much more complex. Despite the concern over these events, neither the church leaders in Salt Lake City nor their loyal supporters at San Bernardino demonstrated any inclination to abandon the California settlement for that reason, at least not in the first months of the crisis. It is true that many of the California settlers pledged that should a clash occur in Utah they would hasten to offer assistance, but in fact both the local leaders and Brigham Young recognized San Bernardino’s value as a [p.350]source of much-needed war material. As Professor Eugene Campbell has pointed out, despite the belligerent rhetoric, by the time Johnston’s invaders were under way, the Mormons “faced the reality of how unprepared they were for any encounter with an organized army.” William Matthews, first councilor in the San Bernardino stake presidency, had an interview with Young while in Salt Lake City that summer, during which they discussed the matter of procuring guns and ammunition to forward to Utah. Stake president William J. Cox also pledged, in response to similar requests, to “improve every opportunity in righteousness to forward the procuring of suitable teams, wagons, arms and ammunition” (emphasis in original), through California citizens. Similarly Young instructed the Carson Valley, Nevada, church members to acquire material and directed Mormon militiaman Peter Conover to evacuate their settlement and “bring in all the ammunition that they can get.”46
When missionary H. G. Boyle and a company of Latter-day Saints gathering from northern California to San Bernardino arrived at Los Angles in mid-November, they complied with Young’s quiet directive. Although Boyle noted “much excitement” in relation to their movements, he also recorded that “the company made many purchases, wagons, harness, revolvers and ammunition.” When Ebenezer Hanks arrived at San Bernardino in early December, he reportedly brought “a great quantity of arms and ammunition” from the San Francisco Bay area. Church leaders understood that their growing number of enemies regarded the Southland colony as an arsenal and acted accordingly with great circumspection. Edwin Pettit recalled that as a young man he had been summoned by the town marshal to accompany [p.351]him on a night trip up Cajon Pass to “carry ammunition and firearms to deliver to those who were [embarking for] Salt Lake.” He later wondered why he had been selected for the undertaking, but it was undoubtedly because he was not among those being watched by church opponents.47
The regional newspapers attempted to arouse the citizenry to prevent such shipments. In mid-November the Alta California asserted that “prudence demands that a military force be stationed at the Cajon Pass to prevent the transportation of munitions and supplies to the enemy camp.” The paper lamented that “arms and ammunition continue to be forwarded from San Bernardino.” A recent mail carrier, the paper reported, took 500 revolvers with him to Utah. The paper also alleged “purchase of powder, pistols and duck for tents have been made to considerable extent in this city [San Francisco] and forwarded to San Bernardino” under heavy guard. Similarly the Star stated that the 1,200 people were estimated to have embarked for Utah by late December 1857, taking “with them not less than from ten to fifteen tons of pow[d]er, two or three thousand guns, revolvers, &c, and other warlike articles in proportion.” The estimates were likely exaggerated, but the Californians did little except talk about halting the flow of munitions which had made the San Bernardino outpost indispensable to the Mormon military effort.48
As news of the U.S. troop movements toward Utah became one of the foremost news items scrutinized by Californians, Mormon spokesman Cannon was hard-pressed to answer the charges of treason and dispel the reports he considered false. At the time a considerable number of items were predicting the [p.352]downfall of the Utah theocracy. Newspapers in both Los Angeles and San Francisco reported that the people of Salt Lake City were so aroused against the high-handedness of Brigham Young as to compel him to flee the city. The Western Standard appropriately denied this, saying it was certainly news to the people of Utah. Similarly the Alta alluded to a fight at San Bernardino between the Mormons and their opponents, presumably a rumor stemming from Lyman and Rich leaving the settlement. Cannon correctly stated that such a clash had not taken place.49
The California church spokesman then offered his best response to such reports of Mormondom’s imminent demise. On May Day 1857 Cannon explained that Mormons understood and expected “trouble likely to stem from former members of the church” even more than from outsiders “who had never known the truth.” The gospel net, he explained, gathered the bad fish with the good and it was expected that those who could “not practice what they [had] embraced, dissent and apostatize from time to time and seek to produce the destruction of those who will do right and are determined to cling to the truth.” Writing to both believers and outside observers, the Western Standard editor argued that whatever troubles were reported from Utah or San Bernardino, there was no evidence whatever that Mormonism was “about to fall to pieces, because men should dissent from it, and seek its destruction and the lives of those who adhere to it.” The movement would never be destroyed, he affirmed, whatever the hopes and actions of its enemies.50
The Western Standard later published another perceptive view of “the Mormon Question” embodied in the Independence Day speech of attorney William Picket who knew the Mormons well, having resided at Salt Lake City and married the widow of [p.353]the founding prophet’s brother Don Carlos Smith. In this address Picket lamented the policy of sending troops against the Mormons. Besides such perceived persecutions healing internal discord, the policy would also likely generate some sympathy among outside observers. It would be better, the attorney averted, to leave Mormonism alone, believing it would cure itself, possessing, he presumed, the seeds of its own demise.51
Later in the summer the Star became more apprehensive about a possible clash when the U.S. Army arrived in Utah. It published a letter, presumably from a recent southern California resident, then in Utah, asking that his Southland property be exchanged for a horse, some firearms, and a sword that might “be the means of saving [his] life” before long. The letter continued: “[T]he United States troops are going to kill us all off, but I think they will smell hell before they accomplish it,” for “there [was] nobody scared [in Utah] that [he knew of] for they think the sooner [the soldiers] come[,] the better.” The Star editor felt that the Utah territory needed to be administered with “consummate prudence and fairness” while the supremacy of the federal laws was fully maintained. He also affirmed hope that the “obstinate fatuity of these poor people” would not embroil them in a contest with the United States, which he predicted could only result in their annihilation.52
In the ensuing week, upon receipt of verbatim transcripts of inflammatory sermons delivered by Young and Heber C. Kimball published in the Deseret News of 5 August 1857, the Star editor, and undoubtedly many other outside readers, changed his mind. While the tragic experiences in Missouri and Illinois gave the church authorities legitimate reason to arouse their followers to defense of their homes and families, many outside readers, including those in California, concluded that the [p.354]speeches incited insurrection and treason. The Star concluded that a “strong effort [was] being made to imbue the people of Utah with a spirit of hatred and defiance to their brethren throughout the Union.” The speeches called the government troops and the officials accompanying them “devils and their imps” coming from the jaws of hell. Kimball was elsewhere cited as saying that “the devil shall have full possession of every man and woman that raises the tongue to sympathize with those poor curses [the troops].” Another Young utterance, “[B]ut woe, woe to that man who comes here to interfere with my affairs,” was a direct threat to gubernatorial appointee Alfred L. Cumming of Georgia. Publication of what the Star editor termed “thundering anathemas” could have no other effect than to convince many readers that the Utah Mormons were led by intemperate fanatics bent on treasonous resistance to the legitimate authority of the U.S. government. Few Americans at any time could hold much sympathy with such views. The Alta California later reprinted the same speeches and agreed with the Star conclusions that the rhetoric “shows how incensed the Mormons are, on account of real and fancied wrongs.” The newspaper warned that “the whole tenor of the Mormon exhortations and sermons at Salt Lake at the present time is one of defiance and violent threats against our government and our people,” which the editor presumed readers would not be inclined to tolerate.53
At about that time Young expressed dismay over the “excitement” generated by “priests, politicians and editors.” Young was aware, mainly through the persistent urging of the Utah territorial delegate to Congress, Dr. John M. Bernhisel, of the need to relieve the “enmity to [the Mormons] in the minds of the people [of the nation] by being quiet awhile,” meaning avoiding untoward public notice. If he or [p.355]his closest associates heeded Bernhisel’s advice and exercised any restraint at all in their public comments, it was hardly noticeable because those remarks, invariably reprinted from the Deseret News, at least in California, markedly exacerbated public feeling toward the church leaders and indirectly their followers. Assemblyman Jefferson Hunt, accustomed to widespread cordiality toward himself and his constituents, said in August that “the prejudice against Utah is very great.” Similarly Hopkins observed, “There does not appear to be much feeling against us [at San Bernardino] at present, but Utah and the Mormons are creating a stir throughout the whole world … .”Linking this hostility to the California Latter-day Saints would soon occur with amazing promptness.54
Added to the seemingly incessant flood of negative news items from Utah published in the California press, there were, if anything, more lurid accounts brought into the state by lapsed Mormon emigrants who claimed to have fled the territory at the peril of their lives. Stake president Cox complained to Young that while some church opponents had left his area, their places were “filled by fresh recruits from Utah who have horrible things to tell about what is being done in Utah, by the [church] authorities.” He claimed that such reports had no effect on the faithful, but they did on occasion help “shake” the faith of some weaker members, while the apostates were reported to “rejoice a great deal” at the added ammunition for their verbal onslaught on Mormondom. Similarly later in 1857 the Alta California observed that “large proportions of our new popu-[p.356]lation in the last year are those who have fled from Salt Lake, almost every one [of whom] has a tale of escape.”55
Among those arriving at San Bernardino that summer was a group of ten mostly English convert families who had quickly concluded that Utah was not for them. Among them was Henry Goodcell, Sr., born at Kent, England, who with his wife converted to Mormonism and immigrated to the United States in 1853. When the family arrived in Zion, they were assigned to the new settlement at Nephi in central Utah. There Henry promptly became disenchanted with the differences he perceived between the Mormon gospel as he had heard and embraced it from church missionaries and what he found to be practiced in Utah. Goodcell later claimed to have thereupon apostatized and refused to affiliate further with the church.
But although Goodcell determined to leave the territory, he found he was without the means. Family recollections claim that their property was “forcibly confiscated under Brigham Young’s authority for the good of the Lord.” This probably meant that they were obligated to repay the Perpetual Emigration Fund. The first year they planted crops at Nephi, they were totally destroyed by grasshoppers. The following season crickets, potato bugs, and other pests eliminated any chance for more than a subsistence yield. After such crop failures there was a period of “great scarcity and almost a famine” not only for the Goodcell family but throughout the settlements. It was only through the utmost “industry and economy” that they survived. Undoubtedly these lean years bolstered their determination to leave the area. Finally in 1856 the harvests were sufficiently abundant to exchange the produce for a team and other necessities for the journey to [p.357]California, planned with nine other English families for the following spring.56
Among these other families, who clearly collaborated on their contemplated departure, were George and Ellen Tolputt Cooley from the same English shire as Goodcell. The Cooleys apparently arrived in Utah at about the same time as Goodcell but located at Salt Lake City. The Cooleys became “dissatisfied” with the religion as they found it in Utah. Specifically, they later recounted, George took exception to a comment by Young that although Franklin Pierce might be president of the United States, he was not president of the Utah territory. Cooley claimed to have stated publicly his opinion that “polygamy was the curse of the community,” to which the local bishop allegedly replied, “[Y]es and your blood shall atone for those remarks before the setting sun tonight.” If such an exchange were in fact made, Cooley undoubtedly waited until he was prepared to leave the area, which he reportedly did with considerable dispatch. The Cooleys and some of their associates made their way to Nephi, 90 miles south of Salt Lake City. There the Goodcells had apparently arranged with a lenient resident bishop, probably Jacob G. Bigler, for the essential permission for the party to leave the territory. Even then there was trouble. A posse pursued the ten-wagon company some 75 miles southward, forcing them to halt while they brought Cooley back to Nephi to verify the validity of his release. The bishop not only upheld the document but ordered the men to escort Cooley safely back to his party’s encampment.57
[p.358]The Goodcells reported that the determined emigrants had their progress impeded by “opposition, dangers and the most violent threats.” Although these accounts are recollections from families who long since had severed their ties with the church and had years to amplify their causes for abandoning the faith, it must be conceded that there was a basic foundation in fact for these accounts, some of which are corroborated by such actual circumstances as the famines and other details. Besides, it is important to consider that in such instances perceived reality is as important as the actual facts, and these were the reports circulated once the group reached its destination in southern California.
The Goodcell family became prominent in San Bernardino over the next several generations, as did others. George Cooley’s family claimed the first millionaire in the county, and the property he and another party member, Ambrose Hunt, soon occupied—the land improved by Jerome Benson, including his recently abandoned fort—would ultimately be some of the most valuable in the area. Another of the immigrants, Sidney Mee, became a prominent political figure in San Bernardino County government. There is evidence that, like Benson, this party was refused the opportunity to purchase town lots from the Mormon land company. Thus all of the “English train” families apparently settled south of the Santa Ana River.58
The greater numbers of dissidents to the San Bernardino area, particularly to the portion of the valley south of the river which represented the main dividing line between orthodoxy and dissent, may have encouraged others heretofore quiet to speak [p.359]out more strongly. Frederick Van Leuven and Jerome Benson had never needed such encouragement, but a neighbor, Bushrod W. Wilson, whose son married Rhoda Van Leuven, made his first public declaration of discontent when he was granted a requested opportunity at a worship service. His story perhaps contained more misfortune than most. Born in New York in 1808, he and his wife joined the Mormon church there in 1836. They moved to Kirtland, then to Missouri where he lost virtually all his property, after which he was sent on a mission to England. Returning to the main body of the church at Nauvoo, he served for a time as a policeman and made generous donations toward completing the temple there. He also performed preaching assignments and held a position in a branch presidency in Iowa, while many of the fellow saints were moving further west.
The Wilson family finally emigrated to Utah in 1852, losing the youngest daughter to cholera while camped on the Platte River. Upon arrival, Wilson was sent to Spanish Fork and subsequently moved to nearby Palmyra, Utah County. At that point, probably during the Walker Indian War, he quarreled with a Captain Wylie who requisitioned his horse. Wilson, already disillusioned over polygamy, was assembling the outfit necessary to move on. The confrontation with the militia leader appears to have been the final breaking point. He recorded in his diary: “I have been mobbed by the Gentiles for being a Mormon and at last I have been mobbed by the Mormons … . So I left for California.”59
Other additions from Utah, bringing undoubtedly the most tragic of tales to be spread through the Southland, were relatives of the Parrish victims of the Springville murders, including Ezra Parrish, brother of the deceased William. According to the [p.360]recollections of both his son and daughter, Ezra had long desired to emigrate to San Bernardino where his older daughter, Harriette Shepherd, had resided since its founding. He had attempted to move once, probably in 1853, but had been compelled to turn back, reportedly because no one was allowed to withdraw during the Indian uprising and martial law. Ezra fostered hopes of leaving “as soon as possible,” and the family’s men finally seized such opportunity during the summer of 1857. Even then they were apprehended and forced to return home for lack of “travel permits.” Such documents were procured within two weeks and the men again made their way to California, although “harassed almost nightly by thieves who stole horses, cattle and equipment.”
The women of the Parrish family arrived the following year. Maryette, the youngest, later married Alexander Kier, Jr., whose family had a similar story of flight from Utah. A half century later she composed her recollections of the horrible events her family had witnessed. Her account is clearly biased and differs somewhat from those mentioned earlier, but again perceived reality was as important as actual facts in their impact on public opinion. Mrs. Kier described her murdered uncle William as a recent arrival at Springville from Missouri, who antagonized fellow church members for reasons she presumed related to his wealth. When Parrish threatened to appeal to Brigham Young for relief from the persistent annoyances, he was supposedly threatened that if he tried to do so he would be killed. Realizing he must do something, the desperate man planned a hunting trip, and while supposedly absent seeking game, he would make his way to the church leader and air his grievances. It was on this journey of justice, Maryette recalled, that Parrish and his son were killed.60
Despite the circulation of horrible tales, the practicing Lat-[p.361]ter-day Saint majority at San Bernardino had little cause for concern that such reports would in any meaningful way affect them. Such things were expected from the growing number of dissidents in their midst. But they shared the assurance that the faithful always had some opposition and that it was expected, if not welcomed. The apostate Mormon faction in the San Bernardino area had essentially given up on efforts to arouse outside support to eliminate perhaps those loyal to the church from the region, with the resultant financial and political benefits accruing to those remaining. But as one correspondent explained to the absent Lyman, “no sooner did the mail arrive” bringing news of a massive murder of gentile emigrants in Utah, than the anti-Mormons “were in the tiptoe” of generating antagonism toward the faithful. This time they enjoyed almost total success.61
During September 1857, amid reports of the United States Army’s approach, and also at the climax of the “Mormon Reformation,” a horrible mass murder occurred at Mountain Meadows on the southwest rim of the Great Basin, the most popular resting place on the emigrant trail to southern California. Utah Indians, assisted by some aroused Mormons, annihilated an entire company of about 140 pioneers reportedly from Missouri and Arkansas, sparing only the seventeen smallest children. This was not only one of the greatest tragedies in the history of the American West, but the event that ultimately led to the demise of the Mormon community at San Bernardino.62
The initial notice of a “rumored massacre” on the trail, published in California in the Star the first week of October, was rushed from San Bernardino to the newspaper by John Brown. The report of incoming mail carriers stated that twenty-five families comprising some 95 individuals had been murdered. [p.362]Brown asserted that most in San Bernardino believed the report, but the Star expressed reluctance to give credence until further information was available. Additional details were forthcoming in the following issue of the Star which reported that in fact over 100 had been killed. The report concluded that it was “the foulest massacre … ever perpetrated on the route” and demanded that “the authorities inflict a terrible retribution on those concerned.”
Attached to this second newspaper notice was a letter from J. Ward Christian, a non-Mormon attorney recently moved to San Bernardino and already married into one of the old church families there. Christian drew on the reports of mail carriers William Matthews and Sidney Tanner who had been in Utah when the emigrant train reportedly from Missouri and Arkansas transversed the territory. He recounted how someone in the party poisoned a carcass of an ox and also a nearby water hole for the purpose of killing Indians. This was denounced as senseless because it endangered not only the emigrant train but subsequent ones. In fact, the letter claimed, the deaths of Indians apparently doomed the perpetrator and his associates. The correspondent correctly concluded that whatever the details of the circumstances and causes, the catastrophe would be attributed to the Mormon people.63
As soon as notice of the massacre arrived at San Bernardino, the citizens there, like the Star correspondent, Christian, recognized that it was likely to affect them in unfortunate ways. Young F. M. Lyman confided to his father that “there is considerable sentiment in this place and Los Angeles on account of the murder of that company of emigrants at the Mountain Meadows,” a ghastly scene which he had passed at night and would never forget. Continuing, he observed that their enemies “lay it to the Mormons,” which he assumed was to be expected. The young man then predicted he would not be surprised “if it raised a beef [p.363]with us” in California. Similarly, Clerk Hopkins predicted that the Rakabites “will create an influence against the saints as it will be attributed to them.” Cox told Young that “the apostates [were] doing all they can to make the citizens believe that the Mormons [were] accessory to the murder.” Such reports, he predicted, “no doubt will give us some trouble at this place.”64
The focal point of outrage over the massacre was a citizen’s meeting held at a circus pavilion near the Los Angeles plaza. The critical feature of the proceedings was the written statement of two emigrants who were traveling through southern Utah just a few days behind the ill-fated Fancher party: George Powers, from the state of Arkansas, and P.M. Warn, from New York. Their depositions, dictated to Star correspondent W. A. Wallace, were essentially accurate in their details. The accounts noted the hostile mood of both Mormons and Indians not only toward the invading army but toward any travelers to whom they essentially refused to sell supplies.
Powers said that on his approach to Salt Lake City he observed church militiamen and well-armed Indians awaiting orders from Mormon authorities concerning the approaching United States troops. In Cedar City, the settlement closest to the scene of the massacre, he claimed to have observed a white man driving a wagon loaded with clothing and Indians driving cattle he asserted belonged to the murdered emigrants. Farther down the trail he recalled a conversation between Indians and his Mormon traveling companions in which the Mormons were [p.364]asked if Young were ready to fight the Americans, to which they responded affirmatively. Warn recounted a conversation with an Indian in the Beaver area, some forty miles from where his people were supposedly poisoned by the dead ox. The well-known Indian named Ammon denied that anyone had died from the poisoning. This created the impression there was absolutely no justification for the crimes.
Certainly the most significant part of the testimony, so far as San Bernardino was concerned, was Powers’s report of the reaction among citizens there to the entire episode. While one Mormon traveling companion, Sidney Tanner, appeared deeply to regret the affair, the other, William Matthews, “considered it the beginning of long-delayed vengeance” against the perpetrators of crimes against Mormons in Missouri two decades previously. Powers stated that while at San Bernardino he heard “many people express gratification at the massacre.” He specifically mentioned Jefferson Hunt who was quoted as saying that “the Hand of the Lord was in it [and that] whether done by whites or redskins, it was right! The prophesies concerning Missouri were being fulfilled.” The witnesses were cautioned by their Mormon associates not to say much about what they had seen, to which Powers retorted that he disliked San Bernardino because it did not appear to have the degree of free expression he believed American citizens should enjoy.
There is no direct evidence that anti-Mormons assisted Powers and Warn with their depositions, but they were certainly present at each phase of the documents’ preparation and at the public meeting. That gathering concluded with a motion from the floor calling for a committee to draft resolutions to be later ratified. Predictably Sparks and his associate Andrews were among the five selected. Most of the resolutions focused on the “persistent and systematic robberies and murders on the Utah to California trail,” blaming Young for each and calling for government action to bring the perpetrators to justice and to make the route safe for all travelers. The exception to this line of attention [p.365]was one resolution pointing specifically at San Bernardino, alleging blatant disregard for California law through the continued practice of polygamy and calling for an investigation into that matter. This was a flagrant attempt to identify the California Mormons in the public mind with those in Utah toward whom hostility was already aroused. In calmer times this effort would have been easily recognized as a self-interested ploy, but during the justifiable outrage over the massacre it appears to have been effective in focusing ill feelings on the local colonists as well.65
Another unfortunate part of the tragedy was the misinformation regarding the origin of the victims. Recent investigation by historian Lawrence Coates reveals that virtually none of the families were from Missouri and but few of the victims were even old enough to have recalled the atrocities committed upon Mormons there. It is not yet clear whether the reports of place of origin of those murdered was intentionally distorted, but, false as the report was, some of the San Bernardino residents seized on the Missouri connection as justification for the deed.66
When the Alta California published first notice of the massacre, it also editorialized that “we were prepared to expect such deeds, and more of them, because everyone who comes from Salt Lake repeats the imprecations that are breathed out” against presumed enemies of the church. The next month the paper contended about Brigham Young: “[T]here is a vein of ferocious denunciation of Americans running through those discourses that chills the blood, and taken in connection with the recent [p.366]massacres and outrages, clearly establishes not only his complicity in them, but his determination to destroy all that comes in his power.” The editor concluded that civil war was being waged, “a war of religious fanaticism.”
There is no doubt that many readers agreed and that Californians in general were truly alarmed over recent developments in Utah. But until these comments in the Alta California in mid-November, there was no linking in the San Francisco Bay area of the California Mormons with such fanaticism. One of the writers significantly divulged the source of that link being correspondence with “the Independent party in San Bernardino.” The indefatigable Rakabites not only convinced the paper to adopt their idea of the existence of civil war, but also the policy of “treating the Saints in that region as traitors.” It was through these efforts, capitalizing on the natural revulsion to the Mountain Meadows Massacre, that the southern California anti-Mormons accomplished their purpose of channeling hostility throughout the state toward Latter-day Saints residing there.67
Many San Bernardino Mormons promptly perceived the source of the threat to their settlement posed by the renewed activity of their longtime adversaries. Just days after first notice of the massacre William Warren informed Lyman that Warn and Powers had “told all they know and probably a great deal more,” implying they had been coached by the anti-Mormons. He added that “no sooner had the apostates heard that [the tragedy] was a fact than they one and all pronounced it a Mormon and no Indian affair at all.” It later was established that church members were involved in the Utah crimes, but such facts were hardly needed to fuel the work that Sparks, Brown, and their associates were engaged in with great success. 68
As if there were not sufficient reports of crimes along the [p.367]Utah-California trail, just weeks after first notice of the Mountain Meadows Massacre reports came that the Duke-Turner emigrant party had also been attacked. This occurred near the southern Utah town of Beaver where three of the party were reportedly wounded by Indians while local citizens allegedly offered little protection. When the travelers were persuaded to engage Mormon interpreters to usher them through the hostile Indian territory, those men not only failed to prevent Indians from stealing 326 head of cattle—200 permanently—but were implicated themselves.69
This time, as the victims approached southern California, Rakabites went to the Mojave River to greet them. One of the most outspoken of the Duke party victims, Mr. Hornea, recounted having seen the highest church authority in Cedar City, Isaac Haight, riding on a horse he recognized as belonging to a former acquaintance who had been killed at Mountain Meadows. Equally sensational was the testimony one week later by another traveler, John Aiken, arriving after the Duke-Turner party, who claimed he had seen the tracks of the cattle stolen from the Duke party, “with tracks of shod horses of those driving them.” This statement attested that those then in possession of the stolen cattle were not Indians—leaving no doubt about whom he presumed was guilty. From this and other statements the Star concluded that “no one … can for a moment doubt the complicity of the Mormon leaders in the scenes of crime and outrage” being perpetrated in Utah.70
Thus by November 1857 southern California antagonism toward all members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as reflected by the only existing media, the newspapers, was aroused to a high peak of antagonism. The events along the [p.368]main emigrant route from Utah were the major cause of this, enhanced by reports of Mormon rebelliousness and by efforts of local anti-Mormons glad to capitalize on the situation for their own purposes. Led by this faction, threats against those still committed to Mormon precepts and leaders soon convinced the faithful that it was no longer safe to sojourn in the colony to which many had devoted a half dozen years of toil and sacrifice. When local church leaders received what was perceived by most to be a release from further mission obligations by Young, they literally traded their homes for travel outfits and headed for the safer environs of Utah.
Just as all of these events were culminating in evacuation, Young asked Cox: “[W]hen have you or any other persons known me to pursue a policy compelling the people to sustain me to their injury?”71 With the benefit of hindsight of historical analysis, one is compelled to reply that in the instance of San Bernardino and its possible future as a viable branch of Mormondom, the church leader’s policies and pronouncements were instrumental in sealing its fate. It is true that laying personal blame usually oversimplifies a more complex causal framework. It is certainly too much to blame Brigham Young directly for the Mountain Meadows Massacre. However, his treatment of many Utah territorial officials, his often defiant attitude toward the U.S. government, and his hostility toward many gentiles, particularly during the current year, were all underlying factors causing the army to be dispatched to Utah. The excitement generated by the threatened invasion deeply affected subsequent events. While it was legitimate to seek the spiritual rejuvenation of the people through the Mormon Reformation, the hostility toward outsiders, along with the intolerance of nonconformity and apostasy in Utah, particularly when it led to unpunished mistreatment of the unfavored, were to a large extent within the realm of Young’s [p.369]control. Likewise, the numerous sermons by him and his close associates, justifiable to those initiated through knowledge of past persecutions, often appeared tantamount to treason to numerous outside readers, many of whom might otherwise have been sympathetic toward Utah citizens facing invasion by soldiers. Young would not have been so effective as the great leader of Mormondom for three crucial decades if he had possessed sufficient tact to allow people to become complacent, but in the case of the future of San Bernardino, his lack thereof was a significant factor in the demise of the colony.
1. Andrew Jensen, comp. “History of San Bernardino, California,” being mainly material recorded by Richard R. Hopkins, San Bernardino branch and stake clerk in his “San Bernardino Branch Record” (hereafter Hopkins-Jensen), 14 May 1856, both in archives, Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah (hereafter LDS archives).
2. Richard R. Hopkins to Amasa M. Lyman, 30 Nov. 1855, Lyman Papers, LDS archives; William J. Cox to Amasa M. Lyman, 8 June 1857, Lyman Papers; Charles C. Rich to Brigham Young, 2 Jan. 1856, with statement of Sister Elizabeth Jones, 20 Dec. 1855, Young Papers, LDS archives.
6. L. A. Star, 21 June 1856; Hopkins-Jensen, 13, 18 Apr. 1856; William Warren to Amasa M. Lyman, 3 Apr. 1856, Lyman Papers; Charles C. Rich to Amasa M. Lyman, 2 June 1856, Lyman Papers; Fred T. Perris to Charles C. Rich, 2 Feb. 1855, Rich Papers, LDS archives; Amasa M. Lyman to Charles C. Rich, 3 Apr. 1855, Rich Papers; Charles C. Rich to Amasa M. Lyman, 1 Feb. 1856, Lyman Papers.
7. Paul Gates, “The Adjudication of Spanish-Mexican Land Claims in California,” Huntington Quarterly 21 (May 1958): 213-36, and Paul Gates, “California’s Embattled Settlers,” California Historical Society Quarterly 41 (June 1962): 101-16; Charles C. Rich to Brigham Young, 3 May 1856, Young Papers; L.A. Star, 5 Apr. 1856, stated “some are disposed to take advantage of the squatter act,” which was a considerable understatement.
8. L. A. Star, 21 June1856; Richard R. Hopkins, “San Bernardino Branch Journal,” 20 Aug. 1856, LDS archives, mentions a later sale of part of Yucaipa to Brown; John Brown, Jr., and James Boyd, History of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, 3 vols. (Los Angeles: Western Historical Association, 1922), 2:677.
9. San Francisco Alta California, 26 May 1856; William Warren to Amasa M. Lyman, 3 June 1856, Lyman Papers, listed the names of opposition participants in the city election, including W. M. Andrews, H. G. Sherwood, H. Williams, D. B. Kipp, Ellis Earnes, Q. S. Sparks, Wm. McDonald, G. K. Winner, C. Chapman, H. C. Rolfe, Samuel Barnett, G. Haskell, E. Dennis, Rich Ralph, Arthur Parks, Rich Varley; Richard Hopkins to Amasa M. Lyman, 1 July 1856, Lyman Papers, added some other opponents from outside the city, including John Brown, Duff Weaver, George Lord, George Gamer, Louis Rubidoux, and “the Cole clan.”
12. Hopkins to Lyman, 1 July 1856; Hammond Journal, 28 June 1856; J. H. Rollins to Amasa M. Lyman, 3 Jan. 1856, Lyman Papers, in which the high councilor confessed even he “took a hand” in the policy in an altercation with Dr. Cunningham in which Rollins “did not get whipped but he [Cunningham] did.”
13. Horace C. Rolph, The Early Political History of San Bernardino County, 3, printed in a scrapbook, San Bernardino County Library, San Bernardino; Hammond Journal, 1, 3, July 1856, mentions assignments by Rich to assist in preparations for the celebration.
14. Hopkins-Jensen, 8 Aug., 16 Oct. 1856; (Q. S. Sparks et al.,) “Mormon Politics and Policies: Political and Judicial and Acts of the Mormon Authorities in San Bernardino, Cal.,” original in Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, copy in Beattie Papers, Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, California; Horace C. Bell, Reminiscences of a Ranger; or Early Times in Southern California (Los Angeles: Yarnell, Caystile & Mathes, printers, 1881), 283, 286.
16. Hammond Journal, 24, 27 July 1857; L. A. Star, 23 Aug. 1856, has a commercial advertisement featuring a new San Bernardino store partnership, M. J. Newmark and S. Cohen. The item mentions the same business was formerly Calisher & Cohen.
21. Jefferson Hunt to Brigham Young, 29 Apr. 1854, Young Papers; William Warren to Amasa M. Lyman, 3 Apr. 1856, Lyman Papers; San Francisco Alta California, 24 Feb., 5 Mar., 12 Aug. 1856; San Francisco Western Standard, 19 Apr., 9 Aug. 1856, 17 Jan., 13 Mar., 10, 17 July 1857; San Francisco Bulletin, 29 Apr. 1856, somewhat condoned the Mormon position, saying “there is not an instance of a second wife having been married here [in California], although a few men brought the united families here from Salt Lake.” This went along with the Mormon argument that the questionable act was the marriage, not the cohabitation with the plural wife thereafter. William Chandless, Visit to Salt Lake; Being a Journey Across the Plains and a Residence in the Mormon Settlements (London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1857), 303. See also San Francisco Chronicle, 1 May 1856.
25. Charles C. Rich to Brigham Young, 5 July, 3 Aug. 1856, Young Papers; William Warren to Amasa M. Lyman, 7 Aug. 1856, Lyman Papers; Kate B. Carter, ed., Heart Throbs of the West, 12 vols. (Salt Lake City: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1947), 8:316; Hopkins-Jensen, 15 Aug. 1856; Hammond Journal, 10 July 1856.
26. Brigham Young to Amasa M. Lyman and Charles C. Rich, 4 Nov. 1856, Lyman Papers; Amasa M. Lyman to Brigham Young, Dec. 1856, Young Papers; Amasa M. Lyman and Charles C. Rich to Brigham Young, 7 Jan., 7 Feb. 1857, Young Papers; Hopkins-Jensen, 16 Nov., 15, 17, 20, 22, 23 Dec. 1856; Paul H. Peterson, “The Mormon Reformation,” Ph.D. diss., Brigham Young University, 1981, 200-16.
34. Hopkins-Jensen, 11, 13, 17, 18 Apr. 1857; Caroline Barnes Crosby Journal, 18 Apr. 1857; Beattie, Heritage of a Valley, 269-71. Brigham Young to Charles C. Rich, 10 July 1856, Rich Papers; Charles C. Rich to Brigham Young, 11 Mar. 1857, Young Papers.
37. Don Carlos Johnson, A Brief History of Springville, Utah from Its First Settlement (Springville, UT: William F. Gibson, 1900), 40-41; Mary J. Chase Finley, A History of Springville (n.p., n.d.), 29-30; Nels Anderson, Desert Saints: The Mormon Frontier in Utah (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1942), 154; Transcript of deposition of Joseph Bartholomew before Second Judicial District Court, Utah Territory, 1859, copy received from Springville historian, Rell G. Fran-[p.344]cis, who obtained it from family member Wayne Bartholomew. The document states the local bishop called a series of council meetings to discuss the Parrish men and their intentions. At one such gathering the church leader was quoted as saying they would “yet see the red stuff run.”
46. William J. Cox to Brigham Young, 7 Sept. 1857, Young Papers; William Matthews to Brigham Young, 7 Oct. 1857, Young Papers; Eugene E. Campbell, Establishing Zion: The Mormon Church in the American West, 1847-1869 (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1989), 243; Brigham Young to Peter Conover, 15 Aug. 1857, Young Papers.
54. Brigham Young to George Q. Cannon, 4 July 1857, Young Papers; Ebenezer Hanks to Amasa M. Lyman and Charles C. Rich, 7 Aug. 1857, Lyman Papers; Richard Hopkins to Charles C. Rich, (summer) 1857, Rich Papers; Ebenezer Hanks to Charles C. Rich, 3 Jan. 1858, Rich Papers; Campbell, Establishing Zion, 219, 224-25.
56. Wallace W. Elliott, History of San Bernardino and San Diego Counties (reprint, Riverside, CA: Riverside Museum Press, 1965 ), 101; Brown and Boyd, San Bernardino, 2:686-89; Luther A. Ingersol, Annals of San Bernardino (Los Angeles: L. A. Ingersol, 1904), 666.
57. Juanita Brooks, Mountain Meadows Massacre (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 1950; reprint, Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1962), 164, describes widespread knowledge of the recommends. Illustrated History of Southern California, 541, quoted a Cooley family member saying they “had much trouble and annoyance from the Mormons.”
58. The party started 6 March and arrived 11 May 1857. Besides Cooley and Goodcell, the company included the families of Isaac Bes-sant, J. Bebeck, William Watts, W. Whitby, James Whiteworth, James Singleton, Ambrose Hunt, and Sidney Mee. See Ingersol, Annals of San Bernardino, 691.
59. Hopkins-Jensen, 8 Nov. 1857; Bushrod W. Wilson Journal, origi-nal in Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum, Salt Lake City, Utah, en-try between 25 May 1852 and 16 Dec. 1853; Brown and Boyd, SanBernardino, 3:1390-92.
64. Hopkins-Jensen, 1, 3 Oct. 1857; F. Marion Lyman to Amasa M. Lyman, 4 Oct. 1857, Lyman Papers; William J. Cox to Amasa M. Lyman, 7 Oct. 1857, Lyman Papers; San Francisco Daily Evening Bulletin, 17 Oct. 1857, the same day as the Alta’s evidence of contact by the San Bernardino anti-Mormons, wrote “the blood of American citizens cries for vengeance, virtue, Christianity and decency require that the blood of incestuous miscreants who have perpetrated this atrocity be broken and dispersed.” See p. 366.
65. L. A. Star, 10, 17 Oct. 1857. The editor concluded that the testimony of Warn and Powers exhibited “a deplorable picture of the working of Mormonism which, if correct show the leaders of this sect to be actuated by the most atrocious designs towards their fellow-citizens of the Union.”