Friday, June 1, 2012
I have always been fascinated by this small event in Utah History.
I think it started when I was at BYU.
My senior course was a class called Mormon Women writers.
It was taught by Maureen Ursenbach Beecher, who taught this one class once a year at BYU.
She ranks right up there at the top of Church Historians on Mormon Women.
I think I did more reading for that class alone than all of my other English classes combined.
One of the books that we read from was a book about the Mountain Meadows Massacre written by Juanita Brooks in 1950.
I also bought this book which was published in 1961, also written by Juanita Brooks...
Juanita Brooks was born in 1998 in Bunkerville, NV.
She was married for less than a year when her husband died, leaving her with a newborn son.
She earned a bachelor's degree from BYU and a Master's degree from Columbia University.
She settled in St. George and became an English instructor at Dixie Junior College.
In 1933, she resigned from teaching to marry Will Brooks.
Brooks was a widower, with four sons.
Within five years they added a daughter and three more sons to the family.
For many years she was on the Board of the Utah Historical Society where she devoted herself to finding diaries and records of early settlers and organized a Utah library of Mormon History.
Because of her close proximity to the location of the massacre and her study of diaries and journals, Juanita Brooks investigated the events thoroughly.
Brooks was a lifelong member of the LDS Church, but was discouraged from pursuing her studies of the Mountain Meadows Massacre.
She never received disciplinary action, but did feel ostracized from her ward and from Church officials for her investigations into Mormon history.
She died in 1989, at the age of 91.
So, for years I have been fascinated by Juanita Brooks and curious about the details of this event.
I remember when the Church announced this memorial would be built.
It was dedicated by Gordon B. Hinckley in 1999.
It has been a sore spot in the hearts of the descendants of those who were killed for generations.
They want the Church to acknowledge and own up to the murders of 120 men, women, and children.
The answers may or may not lie deep in the archives of Church History.
I don't believe that we will ever know EXACTLY what happened or how.
But, after reading about this event, I do not believe that John D. Lee was entirely responsible and should not have been executed for the crime.
It really is located in a beautiful place.
It's volcano country.
I told Rick that it is not what I had imagined as we were driving there.
(It's located just 31 miles north of St. George on hwy. 18)
However, just a mile or 2 before you get there, it levels out and there are a few areas of green where the water runs through the valley.
The Church assumes responsibility for the care of the monument, trials, and parking area.
However, Rick was quite disappointed in the fact that this is the first Church historical site that didn't have immaculately clean bathrooms out in the middle of nowhere. (or at least a port-a-potty--we didn't stick around too long because of it)
Well, I can now check that off of my list of things to do or places to visit.