Thursday, May 28, 2009

Massacre's Descendants Anxious For Skulls Test Results

"For decades it sat on a shelf in a brown cardboard box - a skull pierced in the back with an apparent bullet hole and linked by a typewritten note to a dark and violent chapter in Mormon church history. "

So begins the extensive report on the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

Idaho state archaeologists intend to determine if the skull is indeed from the 1857 Utah massacre of Arkansas wagon-train individuals heading to the infamous Morman area. It is said the Mormon's themselves killed 120 men, women and children from the wagon-train. Descendants of the 17 survivors of the massacre are anxiously awaiting the results.

Jeff Webb discovered the skull on the shelves of a Salt Lake City pawnshop in 1982. A note in the box said the skull was from a female "victim of the famed Mountain Meadows massacre."

"Mountains Meadows marks a dark moment in the history of the Mormon church - one that has often been left out of history books.

On Sept. 11, 1857, the Baker-Fancher party was attacked by area church and militia leaders disguised as a local Indian tribe. After a five-day siege, the Arkansans forged what turned out to be a false truce with a local Mormon church leader, laid down their weapons and were slaughtered as they were being led out of the meadow on foot.

The church had historically denied or downplayed its role in the killings, but in 2007 expressed its regret. Today, two monuments in the meadows memorialize the victims and the church is seeking National Historic Landmark status for the site.

Historical accounts show that after the killings, the bodies of the victims were strewn across the 2,500-acre meadow and left unburied. Then in 1859, U.S. military contingents were sent to bury the dead. Among them was a doctor from Utah's Camp Floyd, who is known to have removed at least two skulls and possibly other bones from the site, Turley said.

It's not known what happened to the doctor's souvenirs and there's no way to know how many other bones or artifacts may have been removed from the massacre site, Turley said. "

Read the complete story here.

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