William Skeen shares his hearsay account (from Sylvanus Collett) of the Aiken murders.

Oct 11, 1878
News (traditional)
William Skeen
Scribed Paraphrase

The Aiken Massacre, Salt Lake Daily Tribune, October 11, 1878, 2

Salt Lake Daily Tribune
William Skeen, Sylvanus Collett
Reading Public

William Skeen

was next sworn. This witness lives in Plain City. Had been acquainted with prisoner since 1851. Did not see the Aiken party, heard a rumor of their going through the Territory. Collett and witness traveled together in '55, in the fall of the year he (Collett) went to Salmon River. Witness saw him again in the fall of 1857 or early in '58. Was as familiar with Collett as a brother and has been since. Witness then told that about this time he took a trip to California and then went East. On his return from the East he saw Collett at Lehi, he lived there. Will [unintelligible] detailed some conversation he held with the prisoner in relevance to the Aiken party. Had received from the latter as a gift a broad brimmed hat, which he wore for some time. Across the top of it there was a cut three or four inches long. It got [unintelligible] about that this hat belonged to one of the Aikens and some hints were made that witness had had a hand in the business. He asked Collett the history of that hat, and he told witness that he had been an escort to the Aiken party from the north, they having been deliver over to Rockwell, Lott, Murdock and himself, with the order to make away with them. The prisoners being large, strong men, those in charge feared to tackle them. When they arrived at Salt Creek (Nephi) a party was raised to take the lead, and [unintelligible] them at Chicken Creek or Sevier. Arrangements were made to camp together. The parties met and joined forces. After supper the Aiken party sat around the fire singing. Each assassin had selected his man. At a sign from Rockwell, four men drew a bar of iron, each from his sleeve, and struck his victim on the head. Collette did not stun his man and he was getting worsted. Rockwell fired across the fireplace and why did the man in the back. Two escaped and got back to Salt Creek. Murdock and Collette had missed their men. Arrangements were then made to send the two wounded men in a wagon to Willow Creek. Collette and his companions took possession of the herder's house, the wagon was driven down and the horses and hitched under pretense of watering them. Then we stepped out, Collette told the witness, and turned loose our double-barreled shotgun's on them. We put their bodies in the springs (known as Deep or Bottomless Springs).

Cross examined. Witness discarded the hat when he learnt its history. It brought suspicion upon him, and had become the town talk. He is still a friend of Mr. Collette's and much attached to him. Does not recollect any talk with Collette about the murder of Skeen's brother. Don't believe he would take any part in that as he was friendly to the boy. Have inquired of a good many about his brother's death—it was a privilege to do so as there were only comparatively few one could speak to on that subject. Collette lived in Cache Valley, if he had known any thing about witness' brother's death, he would have told it. Believed Collette was driven to crime against his will, and regarded him as an innocent party. The Territory was under martial law, and another influence and control the minds of the people.

Court adjourned till 9 o'clock a.m. Thursday.

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