John I. Ginn speaks of his interactions with the Aiken party before their murders.

Apr 26, 1859
John I. Ginn
2nd Hand

John I. Ginn to Kirk Anderson, March 26, 1859, in The Valley Tan, April 26, 1859, 2

The Valley Tan
Brigham Young, William Huntington, Horace Clark, Kirk Anderson, Andrew J. Jones, John I. Ginn, William Bell
Kirk Anderson

“Star” Office, Mariposa, Cal.

March 26, 1859

Kirk Anderson, Esq.:

Dear Sir:—Having had some acquaintance with you while you were connected with the Missouri Republican in St. Louis, and having myself had Intimations (while in Utah in November, 1857) made to me that certain persons then in Salt Lake City would be murdered, I have been requested by a friend to write to you or some other reliable person (now in Utah) to obtain, if possible, the particulars in regard to the murder and the disposition made of the bodies.

The circumstances, as far as I know, are about as follows:—Two brothers, Thomas and John Aiken, well known throughout the southern portion of this State; A. J. Jones, commonly known in this State as "Honesty Jones," and three other men (names unknown), left this State in the latter part of the summer of 1857, to join the army in Utah, as they supposed the army would be there by the time they would. In Carson Valley, they fell in with the Mormons, who were going to the city, in accordance with Brigham's call. With these Mormons they traveled to the Goose Creek Mountains where, hearing of the hostility of the Mormons, and consequent halt of the army on Ham’s Fork, they left the Mormons with whom they had been traveling, and, to avoid trouble and delay, cut across, with the intention of leaving Ogden City to the right, and reaching the army without delay or difficulty.

As soon as they had left camp, the Mormons dispatched a messenger, post haste to Brigham, to let him know that these men were passing. His Majesty sent a body of men to cut them off; they were arrested, without resistance, and brought down to the city. I was in G. S. L. City at the time. The first night they were brought in they were kept in the Social Hall; and after that they were kept up stairs in the house next above the Townsend's Hotel, on the same side of the street. (If I mistake not, there was a saddler’s shop in the basement.)

I left Salt Lake City, in company with Wm. Bell (of the firm of Livingston, Kinkead & Co.), Ray (of Gilbert & Gerrish), Horace Clark, and Wm. Huntington, of Springville, as guides, Wilson and others; I left on the 7th of Nov., and I think the Aiken prisoners had been in the city about 10 days. It was intimated to me, by Mormons, that these men would be murdered. I asked one Mormon (whose name I remember) why he thought so; and if any of these men had ever abused Mormons in California or elsewhere. He said that one of them had; "besides," said he, "they have got $8,000 in money, and several first-rate animals, all of which we stand very much in need of, just at this time."

But to return to the subject. When we left the city, it was not known publicly what disposition would be made of the prisoners; but strange as it may appear, before we reached San Bernardino, we heard that these men were killed, and also where they were killed; and to this day I do not know how, when or where the report got into our camp: but certain it is, that the next mail from Utah corroborated the report in every particular.

The report was, that they were surprised and killed by the Indians, just as they were preparing to camp at Chicken Creek, near the Sevier River; four of them killed dead on the spot, and two escaped, badly wounded, and reached Salt Creek, where they died of their wounds the next day. It was also reported that Brigham discharged them, and condition that they would abandon the idea of going to the army, and return to California, and assuring them that they would have no difficulty in getting here. They must have been murdered about 16 November, 1857.

The widow of Andrew J. Jones ("Honesty Jones") has written to an acquaintance in the county to know the fate of her husband. She wishes to know if he was buried—if he was one of the two who reached Salt Creek—or whether or not he was left upon the plains, his flesh to be torn by the wolves, and his bones to bleach in the sunshine. His children (of whom an interesting group now mourn the untimely loss of their long-absent father) also express the most feeling anxiety to know what disposition was made of a body of their father. And as a relative of Jones has recently died, leaving him heir to a handsome fortune, it will probably become necessary to establish the fact that he is dead, in order that his widow and children may receive the benefit of his worldly goods.

I have taken the liberty of addressing you on the subject, because I believed you would do all in your power to obtain the information so earnestly solicited by the disconsolate widow of a most excellent, but unfortunate man.

Perhaps you could obtain the information from the Indian Agent. Or if he has not yet done so, you will confer a favor by suggesting to him the propriety of examining into this massacre.

Your cooperation is earnestly solicited by,

Yours most respectfully,

J. J. G.

P.S.—If you wish it, I will give you some particulars about the scene of the massacre of the Mountain Meadows, as I passed over at the ground a few weeks after the wholesale murder was committed; and as none of the body of immigrants escaped to tell the tale, and the only evidence we will ever have will be circumstantial—I think I can prove, conclusively, to every unbiased mind, that the greatest portion of the company of immigrants were killed by white men—and then it was the most cruel, cold-blooded and treacherous wholesale murder that ever blotted the dark catalog of crime.

I have "notes and observations" taken down on the Meadows, together with the conversations held with different Mormons up on the subject, which would probably be interesting to Americans, and which, I am confident, would cause great unpleasantness among the Saintly murderers.

Hoping to hear from you soon,

I remain, &c.,

J. J. G.

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