Carleton’s epithet set off a checkered history of monuments. When the Mormon Church leader Brigham Young visited the site two years later, he pronounced his own imprecation: "Vengeance is mine, and I have taken a little." He then lifted his right arm, according to Mormon histories of the event, and a band of Mormon men, including Governor Leavitt’s ancestor, destroyed the cairn and the cross and scattered the rocks.

U.S. Army soldiers rebuilt the monument a year later, and once more Mormons tore it down. In 1932 the Utah Pioneer Trails and Landmarks Association erected a nearly inaccessible stone marker two miles off the highway and atop a steep climb; it survived until 1990, though the church removed every road sign indicating it.

In the late 1980s, a group of John D. Lee’s descendants, including former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, began working to clear their ancestor’s name. Simultaneously, descendants of the Fanchers and Bakers–two of the families on the wagon train–began pressing the federal government for a new memorial. Responding to the descendants of both the victims and the perpetrators, the state of Utah built a granite wall on Dan Sill Hill, overlooking the site and bearing the etched names of 120 of the slaughtered pioneers and an inscription that read: "In Memoriam: In the valley below, between September 7 and 11, 1857, a company of more than 120 Arkansas emigrants led by Capt. John T. Baker and Capt. Alexander Fancher was attacked while en route to California. This event is known in history as the Mountain Meadows Massacre."

The wall soon fell into disrepair, and within a decade descendants were once again pushing for a new monument. When plans for one got under way, they led to the accidental uncovering of the bones in the summer of 1999. Those examined bones were reburied just a little more than a month later, on September 10, 1999, near yet another plaque installed by the church, which reads in part: "In the early morning hours of September 7, [1857] a party of local Mormon settlers and Indians attacked and laid siege to the encampment." For reasons not fully understood, a contingent of territorial militia joined the attackers. This Iron County Militia consisted of local Latter-day Saints acting on orders from their local religious leaders and military commanders headquartered thirty-five miles to the northeast in Cedar City."

Through every successive version of the monument, the church has denied any responsibility for the massacre on the part of any of its headquarters authorities in Salt Lake City, including Brigham Young. The original official church version of the incident was that local Paiutes, provoked by depredations by members of the wagon train, had led the attack and carried out the executions. Mormon historians eventually included renegade zealots operating outside the control of the church as participants with the Paiutes, attributing their fanaticism to Utah’s pioneer theocratic distrust of government and fear of an impending invasion by American forces. "That which we the church have done here must never be construed as an acknowledgment on the part of the church of any com- next page