Massacre survivor Martha Elizabeth Evins (Baker) shares her memories of the massacre in 1938.

Sep 4, 1938
News (traditional)
Martha Elizabeth Evins (Baker)
Scribed Paraphrase

Clyde R. Greenhaw, "Survivor of a Massacre: Mrs. Betty Terry of Harrison Vividly Recalls Massacre of Westbound Arkansas Caravan in Utah more than 80 years ago," Arkansas Gazette, September 4, 1938, 6.

Daily Arkansas Gazette
Angeline Ruff, Sophronia Ruff, Sarah Dunlap, William Taggit, John Calvin Soriel, Francis Hawn, Charles Francher, Martha Elizabeth Evins (Baker), Ambrose Miram Taggit, William Baker, Annie Ruff, Elisha W. Huff, John Doyle Lee
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My father, mother, grandfather and several uncles and aunts were among those killed in the massacre. Our family had a larger number in the company than any other family and we had an extra wagon and provisions besides the one that carried the family. My sister and younger brother, William Twittie [sic] Baker, who was only seven months old, were spared. My sister and I were both kept in the family of John D. Lee until the soldiers came and rescued us a year later. My brother was being caried for in another Mormon family. I played with Brigham Young’s youngest children. My grandmother remained at Harrison, and when word came that the children has been rescued, she went out to bring us back.” “On the way out we stopped and made camp may times to rest the weary, footsore cattle, scouts going ahead to select camp sites” . . . During the quite that followed the first brief battle, all wagons were put into a circle, dirt was shoveled up under the wagon to serve as a breast works for fort like protection. Several of the men left the corral to investigate the cause of the earlier firing, and these again were engaged in another battle at close range, causing several fatalities to the stronger and braver group of immigrants, but little loss to the enemy, who took advantage of the boulders and underbrush for shelter. Preparations were made by the men in camp to conceal the women and children and prepare for battle. The siege continued at intervals of four to five days. Finally several white men, found to be Mormons and disguised in Indian garb, under the leadership of three white men, posing as government arms and ammunition they would be escorted back east to the nearest village of Cedar Valley. The immigrants surrendered all their arms and ammunition and reluctantly agreed to retrace their steps under escort toward Cedar Valley. When the party had traveled about one mile from the spring and campsite the Utah group called a halt, placed all children under seven years old in one wagon and sent them ahead. With the aid of a large number in hiding, they immediately opened fire on the unarmed immigrants, killing the entire hand. The 17 children were sent ahead to the eastern end of the mountain valley to the home of one Hamblin, from which place they were distributed among the Mormons. The children were recovered by the government in the early summer of 1859, and were returned to Arkansas to their relatives. Names of the 17 children were as follows: John Clavin Sorel, Lews and Mary Sorel, Ambrose, Miriam and William Tagget, Francis Horn, Angeline, Annie and Sophronia (or Mary) Ruff, Ephraim W. Huff, Charles and Triphenia Fancher, Betsey and Jane Baker, William Welch Baker, Rebecca, Louise and Sarah Dunlap. Mrs. Terry sadly related that she never knew what became of her older sister, Vina. She was the prettiest of the three Baker girls, she said, and had beautiful long black hair. She was eight years old. The last time she remembers seeing her sister, she was being led away as a captive. “I do not know whether she was killed or what ever happened to her.” Just before the last attack on the immigrants, Mrs. Terry said she heard her father tell her mother to get up and put the children in the wagon. That was the last time she saw her mother, she said. “I distinctly remember the group disguised as Indians. There was not a real Indian in the group, for they went to the creek and washed the paint from their faces.” “How was your grandmother able to identify and claim you?” Mrs. Terry was asked. “By clothing, and the sunbonnets which were quilted in a certain design still in our possession. My brother had a peculiar identification mark. The end of the index finger on each hand was smooth and glistening, without the sign of a fingernail, with but one joint to the finger, appearing much as a felon leaves a finger.” She explained that this disfigurement of the index finger was a birthmark. “Our aunt lived with us and worked for our mother for months preceding my brother’s birth. She suffered terribly from a felon and complained much. Her felon was on an index finger. So when the brother was born, the two index fingers were marked as if from felons. He carried them that way through life and never had a felon."

Below Caravan Springs are two huge flat rocks, where the family washing was done, she said: "They were long and broad and were on one side of the creek. Stately elm trees lined the creek banks, shading these rocks, where I spent many hours shedding tears.

"I do hope they get the marker at the right spring," she added. "Maybe I should go out there and point out the right place."

A number of descendants, a great-grandchildren of the wealthy Jack Baker who helped finance the emigrant train, now live in Harrison. Relatives of the Beller family who were members of the company, live there also.

BHR Staff Commentary

MMM survivor Martha Elizabeth Evins (Baker) shares her memories of the massacre in 1938.

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