Massacre participant Nephi Johnson's affidavit concerning the massacre. States that John Doyle Lee lied to Brigham Young when he blamed the Indians and that Brigham wanted to bring those responsible to justice.

Jul 22, 1908
Nephi Johnson
Scribed Verbatim

Nephi Johnson, July 22, 1908, Statement. David H. Wells Collection, Church History Library

Nephi Johnson
Brigham Young, Philip Klingensmith, Daniel H. Wells, Nephi Johnson, John Doyle Lee, Isaac C. Haight
General Public

Affidavit Nephi Johnson, being first duly sworn, deposes and says, I am a resident of Mesquite, Lincoln County, State of Nevada, and of the age of seventy five years, I came to Southern Utah, in the year 1851, arriving at Parowan, on the 13th day of January, of that year. During the year 1857, I was living at what was known as Johnson Springs, where the train of emigrants passed through Cedar, on their way to the Mountain Meadows, where they were afterwards killed, in what is known as the "Mountain Meadows Massacre"; The company was of a mixed class, some being perfect gentlemen, while others were very boastful, and insulting, as they said that they were coming back, and assist the Johnson army to exterminate the Mormons, It will be remembered that at this time there was a United States army, under Ge. Johnson on its way to Utah, with the understood intention of distroying the Mormons, which filled the people with fear, and greatly excited the most of them, I did hear Capt. Francher, who was the leader of the emigrants, rebuke the boastful ones of the company, for making these threats. Two days later Isaac C. Haight, told me that he and John D. Lee, had slept together at the Iron Works, and that Lee had proposed to gather the Indians and distroy the emigrants, and that he (Haight) had consented to it, but he had sent James Haslem to Salt Lake City, with a letter to Pres't. Brigham Young, to learn what he had better do, but that Lee had gone on gathering the Indians together to make the actack, and I then advised him to wait until he received the letter, or the answer, as it was a great responsibility to kill so many people. At that time I was often called to interpret for the Indians, being acquainted with their language, and it was soon after talking with Haight, that Indians came to me and reported that attacks had been made on the company; they reported three different attacks, in the third of which Leel ed the attack in person, and received one bullet through his hat, and one on each side of his body through his shirt, but his skin was not broke, Capt. Francher was killed in the third attack. All the attacks were made at Night time. Several Indians had been killed and others wouunded, also several of the emigrants had been killed and others wounded. I was still staying on my farm at Johnson Springs, but shortly told me that trouble had arose between John D. Lee and the Indians, and he wanted me to go out to the Mountains Meadows, and try and settle the difficulty, as I was a friend of the Indians. In the morning of the same day that I got word from Haight to come to Cedar, Indians had told me that the agreement that they had had with Lee, was that they were to get all the horses, and now Lee had sent some of the best to Harmony, and they were going to kill Lee if he did not return them. Haight also told me that Lee wanted to withdraw, but that he had sent him word that he had commenced, and he must finish it, and that he had sent a company of men to assist him John M. Higbee was also sent to assist Lee, and I went to the Meadows with Higbee, and met with Lee and the Indians at the Meadows, known as Hamblin at the present time, and which was about four miles, north of where the six emigrants were located. Next morning the difficulty was settled, and the Indians agreed to assist in killing the emigrants, and the white men went to within a rifle shot of the emigrant camp, and sent a man with a flag of truce, towards the camp, and he was met with a similar messenger from the camp, and after a consultation had been arranged, in which Lee and Higbee represented the white settlers, an agreement was entered into, by which the emigrants were to give up their arms, and Lee's men were to take the company back to Cedar City, taking the wounded and as many of the women and children as possible in the three wagons, and the rest of them were to walk, behind the wagons, while the men were to walk a little distance behind the women. The emigrant wagons being left on the camping ground, as the horses had been driven off. John D. Lee said when he returned from the consultation above referred to, that the emigrants were very suspicious, and that he had ask them if he looked like a bad man, and they answered no, but that they were sure that white men had been with the Indians when the attacks had been made, but upon Lee giving his word that he would protect them they consented to leave their camp. I was sent to tell the Indians what they were expected to do, and so suspicious was Lee of me, that he sent an Indian boy who could talk English, to see that I carried the right message; the Indians would not believe this Indian, so I had to go, and after telling the Indians what they were to do, I remained on a hill about thirty rods from where the killing was to take place, and could see every thjing that took place. The company moved out from their camp, the wounded, and as many of the women and children as could ride were in the wagons, with the rest of the women and children walking close behind, while the men were walking some little distance behind, with the white settlers walking along side of them, the emigrant men being un-armed, while the settlers had their arms; when the company had reached the divide, where the waters separate, part going down towards the Clara Creek and the other part going towards the Meadows, and on waords the Desert, John M. Higbee gave the agreed signal "Halt", when the Indians who were in ambush, rushed in between the white settlers and the emigrant men, and began the killing of the men, and the white settlers assisted, and the Indians assisted by John D. Lee, killed the wounded and the women and children, except the little chlidren, I saw John D. Lee, kill some of the women and children, for I was in a position to see, and did see it all. I was immediately sent with four men to prevent the Indians from looting the wagons, but when I got there, I would not do so, for I let them do as they pleased. I was tol that at the time, that when they rested from the killing, and I had gone to the wagons that they gathered the children together, and Klingin Smith, selected seventeen of the smallest children, and handed the older ones over to the Indians who killed them, In justice to most of the men that went to the Meadows, I will state that they were mostly young, and were under orders what they did, and most of them thought that when they left Cedar City, that the emigrants had been killed by the Inidans, and that they were going to bury the dead, and for that purpose they took their shovels along, and their arms to protect themselves from any attack from the Indians. When Isaac C. Haight received the answer from James Haslem, in which he was forbidden to injury the Emigrants, but to render them all the assistance possible, he cried like a child, but it was too late; most of the men took part in the killing, also considered them as their common enimies, and under the excitement caused by the advent of the Johnson Army they felt partly justified in distroying them. There is no doubt in my mind that John D. Lee, in reporting the affair to Governor Young, lied to him and laid it on the Indians, for some fifteen or twenty years afterwards, Brigham Young sent me to come to Salt Lake City, and requested me to tell him all I knew of the whole affair which I did, and while I was relating it to him he walked the floor, and was deeply impressed by the statement, and several times said why did Lee lie to me, and soon afterwards John D. Lee and several others were excommunicated from the Church. He said at the time, that the young men who took part in the massacre would not be held responsible, for they were young, and under orders, but there were some who were responsible, and he would hold them responcible. At the time of Lees Trial for murder, which took place at Beaver City, Utah, I was in hiding, for I did not want to have anything to do in the matter, but Daniel H. Wells, sent my son to me, with a request that I come to Beaver, and see him which I did, and after telling him what I knew of the affair, he called in Howard, the Porsecuting attornehy, and introduced me to him, and ask me to relate to him what I knew of it, with the request that go on the witness stand and testify to what I saw, and knew, which I did, and from all that I know, Brigham Young, nor any official in the Mormon Church never tried to hide any part of the truth pertaining to the "Mountain Meadow Massacre" from the proper officials, and rendered all in their power to bring the guilty to punishment.

BHR Staff Commentary

Nephi Morris' 1908 affidavit concerning the Massacre. States that Lee lied to BrY when he blamed the Indians for the massacre and that BY wanted to bring those responsible to justice.

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