Massacre survivor Rebecca Dunlap Evins shares her memories of the massacre in 1897.

Aug 20, 1897
News (traditional)
Rebecca Dunlap Evins
Scribed Summary

Rebecca Dunlap Evins, "Mountain Meadow Massacre: The Butchery of a Train of Arkansans by Mormons and Indians While on their Way to California Related by One of the Survivors," Fort Smith Elevator, August 20, 1897, 2. Transcription taken from Innocent Blood: Essential Narratives of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, ed. David L. Bigler and Will Bagley (Kingdom in the West: The Mormons and the American Frontier volume 12; Norman, Oklahoma: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 2008), 427–431

Fort Smith Elevator
Rebecca Dunlap Evins, Jacob Hamblin, John Doyle Lee
Reading Public

Early in September they came to the home of a prominent Mormon, Jacob Hamblin, on the northern slope of the Mountain Meadows. Here they were told that these was a large spring about four miles distant in the southern part of the Mountain Meadows. So the train, went on to the spring and encamped there for the night. After camping at this place for three days and nights, on the fourth day, in the morning just before light about sixty Mormons, disguised as Indians, and a number of Indians attacked the train. The Indians were ordered to stampede the cattle and drive them away from the train. They then commenced firing on the emigrants. The fire was returned by the emigrants, who had corralled their wagons. The Mormons and the Indians had the train completely surrounded and they were cut off from the spring. For about eight days the siege lasted, the emigrants fighting like lions. The Mormons finding they could not whip them by fair fighting, decided to destroy them by treachery. Accordingly, John D. lee, height and Higbee had their paint washed off, and dressing in their usual attire, took three wagons and drove down towards the emigrants’ corral as if they were traveling on thest [sic] ordinary business. Mrs. Evans says her 8-year-old sister, Mary Dunlap, who was dressed in white , went out towards them and waved a white handkerchief in token of peace. The Mormons in the wagons waved one in reply and advanced to the corral. The emigrants, no Indians being in sight at this time, came out, and walked [talked] with these leading Mormons for an hour or an hour and a half. The Mormons told the emigrants that the Indians were hostile, and that if they gave up their arms it would show the Indians that they did not want to fight. If the emigrants would do this the Mormons promised to pilt them back to the settlements. Mrs. Evans, when asked if they did not suspect treachery, says that they did not, and if they did they were about famished from thirst, and were ready to accept almost any terms in order to get out of their distressing situation. The emigrants having agreed to these terms, delivered up their arms to the three Mormons with whom they had counseled. The women and children started back towards Hamlin’s house, followed by the men. The Mormons, with the arms, came along by the side of the men. Mrs. Evans says after they had proceeded about a mile on their way back to Hamlin’s house they came to a cluster of a scrub oaks and safe bushes on both sides of the road. About this time Higbee, who was with them, gave the signal to fire by shooting off his pistol, when a volley poured in from each side and the butchering commenced. Who can picture the horrors of the awful scene? From every bush, demons of the destruction leaped forth to revel in crime and in blood. The Mormons and Indians shot down in cold blood the defenseless men, women, and children, then pierced them with bows and arrows, then cut their throats with knives. With savage whoops and yells, these devils pursued their victims in every direction. Innocent girls fell upon their knees and prayed for mercy, but their cries were unheeded. The massacre commenced about 5 o’clock in the evening. In one-half hour’s time, 120 men, women and children lay cold in death, horribly mutilated and disfigured. Mrs. Evans says that she ran and hid behind a sage bush when the massacre began. Two of her older sisters were killed right near her, and were lying dead by her side. She heard her baby sister crying and ran to find her. She found her entwined in her mother’s arms, but that mother was cold in death. This sister, whose name was Sarah, and who was about a year old at this time, had been shot through her right arm, below the elbow, by a large ball, breaking both bones and cutting her arms half off. Seizing her sister in her arms. Mrs. Evans rushed back to the sage bush where she had been hiding. She remained here until she saw a white man, who proved to be Jacob Hamblin. She went up to him and begged him to safe her and her little sisters. She says that Hamblin was the only white man that she saw who belonged to the massacreing [sic] party. She remembers distinctly that Hamlin was dressed in a suit of green jeans. After the massacre was over, saw quite a number of white men washing the paint from their faces. Mrs. Evans says that she and her sister Louisa begged not to be separated from their baby sister, Sarah. Jacob Hamlin finally agreed to take the three sisters to his home. Just seventeen children survived this horrible massacre, the oldest of whom was not over 8 years of age. All of them were placed in one wagon, several of them being wounded, while the clothing of nearly all of them was bloody with the gore of their kindred. A son-in-law of John D. Lee drove the wagon to Hamlin’s house, where all the children were kept that night. What a pitiful sight these orphans, some of them moaning in pain, all of them bereft of parents and kindred, must have presented, as they were driven away from the scene of this horrible butchery! On the day after the massacre, Lee and the other Mormons started off with the rest of the children, leaving Rebecca, Louisa and Sarah Dunlap with Jacob Hamlin. After the lapse of several weeks, Mrs. Evans says she went back to the scene of the massacre with some Mormon girls. None of the dead bodies had been buried, but wild animals and buzzard were eating the flesh from their bones. She was only able to recognize one corpse and that one was Jack Baker, a very prominent character among the emigrants. She recognized him by his long beard. Mrs. Evans says the report they were kindly treated and well cared for while in hands of the Mormons, is false. To the contrary she says they were only half fed and half clothed and harshly treated. Mrs. Evans and her sisters did not long remain at Mountain Meadows, but soon moved with Hamlin to the fort of Santa Clara. They remained in the hands of Hamlin for nearly two years before they were rescued. The rescue of these children from the Mormons was an undertaking involving a great deal of difficulty and danger. United States Indian Agent Dr. Forney, Deputy Marshal [William] Rogers and Capt. James Lynch, with a body of United States troops, took part in the rescue. The children were kept for some time in Salt Lake City. Capt. Lynch then carried the children back to their homes in Arkansas and other states wherever they had relatives. He carried the three Dunlap girls back to Carroll (now Boone) county. Their uncle, James Dunlap, who was then living in Carrollton, took all three of them and treated them as his own children.

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