George Cannon's journal entry recollecting Samuel Knight's account of the Massacre.

Jun 13, 1895
Personal Journal / Diary
Abraham H. Cannon

Edward Leo Lyman, ed., Candid Insights of a Mormon Apostle: The Diaries of Abraham H. Cannon, 1889-1895 (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2010), 671-73, June 13, 1895

Signature Books, Abraham H. Cannon
Daniel H. Wells, Abraham H. Cannon, William H. Dame, Samuel Knight, John Doyle Lee
Abraham H. Cannon

I had the pleasure of meeting Brother Samuel Knight with whom I conversed about the Mountain Meadows Massacre, he being able, of all living men, to give the best account of that horrible affair, as he was an eye-witness to part of it. He informed me that there was only one other man, and that [was] Pres. Daniel H. Wells, to whom he had given the narration, but he seemed to have no hesitation in telling me of the event, though he expected me not to use it in any way. He had only recenlly been married when the news of the coming of this emigrant train reached his ears. He and his wife were living at the north end of the Mountain Meadows when the emigrants passed along, and they inquired of him where they could procure pasturage for their animals, and rest for themselves for a few days before starting out on the deserts to the West. He directed them to the south end of the valley where grass and water were abundant. Some of the emigrants were very boastful and seemed to be filled with a wicked spirit. The Territory was at that time under martial law, as the United States army was approaching from the East. These emigrants said that they would go to California and raise a company of soldiers, returning to attack the Mormon people on the west, and thus destroy the people and their homes. These boastings they had expressed through the settlements of the people in the north, and it had a tendency to aggravate the Saints who had already suffered so much at the hands of mobs. After the emigrants had been located at the south end of the valley a day or two, a message came from the authorities in Cedar City, but whether they were the military or ecclesiastical authorities who gave the command Brother Knight does not now remember. This message, which he accepted as an order that could not be disobeyed without imperiling his own life, commanded him to go to the South, in the neighborhood of St. George and Santa Clara, and instruct the Indians to arm themselves and prepare to attack the emigrant train. This attack it was proposed to make at the junction of the Santa Clara and Magotsu [Creeks], a point which we day before yesterday passed, as we came down a very steep incline, before we arrived at Gunlock. Brother Knight did not return with the Indians, but remained to do some necessary work on the ranch which he and another brother owned near where Santa Clara now stands, but after laboring there two days he and his companion, feeling anxious to know what had occurred at the Meadows, mounted their horses and started for the place. While passing through the willows only a short distance to the south of the place, they were accosted by John D. Lee. He informed them that an attack had been made upon the emigrants, who had formed a corral of their wagons and were defending themselves. The Indians had surrounded them as far as they could, without exposing themselves to danger, and some of the emigrants had been killed. As Brother Knight passed on the way to his ranch at the north end of the valley he saw the militia camped at a place where Joseph Burgess’s house now stands, and on reaching his home he heard considerable shooting, which made his wife very nervous, she having but recently given birth to his first child. He did not go to the scene of the firing, however, but remained at his home until a message came requiring him to hitch his team to his wagon, there being only one other team in the valley, and proceed with it to the south end of the valley where the arms of the emigrants were to be loaded into his wagon, together with the children who were unable to walk, he being thus informed that the besieged had surrendered. He refused to go at first but was told that he would himself be punished if not slain, and his team and wagon would be taken any way. Against the protests of himself and wife he was thus forced to answer the call made upon him, though his feelings, as he says, were most terrible. Arriving at the place of attack his wagon was loaded with the arms of the emigrants, on top of which was piled some bedding and thereon the wounded and some women and children were placed until his wagon was loaded to its utmost capacity. He then proceeded on his way, together with the other wagon, which was similarly loaded. Those who were able to walk were then formed in line and they proceeded towards I he north end of the valley where his ranch was located. As they reached the summit of a slight elevation, shots were fired from the oak brush on the side of the road, and then occurred the butchery of the unarmed and helpless men, women and children, the Indians and white men taking part alike in the slaughter. One man he particularly noticed as being blood-thirsty. His name was Stewart, now dead. He seemed to be filled with an insane desire to slaughter as many as possible, and he hewed them down without the least mercy. The scene was most horrible, and the bodies of the victims were left upon the hill until the following day when a slight hole was dug in the ground and the slain were thrown into it, though the wolves subsequently uncovered the remains and picked the bones. Not until some years later were the skeletons buried decently. That same night, [Isaac] Haight, [William] Dame and others took supper at Brother Knight’s house, and he learned from their conversation that none of the general authorities of the Church had sanctioned or encouraged in any way the dastardly deed of which these fanatics were guilty. Indeed the authorities knew nothing about it until after the terrible event had occurred. The then bishop of Cedar City, [Phillip] Klingensmith, died alone and friendless on the desert, an outcast and haunted renegade. Some years after this occurrence Haight died in exile, despised and deserted, and all those who took part in this bloody deed, so far as they are known, lived miserable lives and died horrible deaths. It seems as if the hand of God was against them for their crimes, which no straining of their religion could excuse or justify . . .

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