Tuesday, September 6, 2011


As we approach the ten year anniversary of the day our country was attacked by terrorists----often called " 9/11 " ----I am reminded that the date of September 11 has been significant in my family's history, long before the September 11, 2001, attacks. That is because my family's history is intertwined with the attack on September 11, 1857, of the Baker-Fancher wagon train, that left Arkansas earlier that year, on its way to California. In that attack, approximately 120 men, women, and children were murdered. However, there were 17 children (all under age 7) who were spared. One of these orphans was returned to Arkansas, and taken in by ancestors in my family, who raised her as their own daughter.

The wagon train camped along the banks of Crooked Creek, near Harrison, Arkansas. The group then proceeded westward, to camp on another night, in the area known as Carrollton. Anyone who has driven Highway 412 between Harrison and Huntsville, Arkansas has passed through the tiny community of Carrollton. Although you may not have seen it, there is a church (now listed on the National Register of Historic Places), just off the highway, with a cemetery next to it. Adjacent to the church, a special memorial was erected in 2005. It was designed to be a replica of the U.S. Army's original 1859 cairn that was at the Mountain Meadows Massacre site in Utah. For decades, at our annual family reunion, I would hear the story told about the Mountain Meadows Massacre, and efforts that were taking place to get the site turned into a national monument, rather than a location owned and controlled by the Mormon church. This goal was realized just this year, and the announcement was made at our family reunion in July, 2011, the Mountain Meadows Massacre site is now designated as a National Historic Landmark.

I was glad to get to visit the site, so close to where I live, and thankful that the Mountain Meadows Monument Foundation is maintaining this location for posterity. As this photo shows, the cemetery adjacent to the church is very old, and a stroll through it, reading the dates on the tombstones if quite interesting. I also had the opportunity to visit the actual Mountain Meadows Massacre site in Utah, in 1999, when my husband and I made a motorcycle trip out west. We rode for what seemed like hours in rural Utah, trying to find the memorial site that we had read was just completed earlier in the year of 1999. We stopped at several places to ask for directions, but when I would ask (with my usual Arkansas drawl) "How do you get to the Mountain Meadows Massacre Memorial?", all I would get would be a blank stare and a shrug of the shoulders. Finally, one young woman, who was a waitress at a cafe in the area, said "I don't know about a Mountain Meadow Massacre site, but I can tell you how to get to Mountain Meadow". It was my first clue, that the word "massacre" was not included in their history of the area! You can see a photograph of the Utah site, as we saw it when we visited in 1999, by going to www.wikipedia.org and typing "Mountain Meadow Massacre" into the search box. The information provided there is a fairly reliable synopsis of the historical events, attempted cover-up, and progress toward resolution of the issues involved. It will link you to numerous sites for more detailed analysis of what took place during those days in September of 1857.

There have been volumes written about the Mountain Meadows Massacre, and the book shown in the top of this photo collage was the first one I read that went into great detail about the events of September 11, 1857. I also was able to attend a showing of a documentary about the Mountain Meadows Massacre at the historic Lyric Theater in Harrison, Arkansas. The film was very well done, and was awarded as the "Best of State" for the Utah 2004 Film Festival. The cover for that video is shown in the bottom two photos of the collage (http://www.buryingthepast.com/ ) I can also recommend the excellent website, www.mtn-meadows-assoc.com/ for further study. Being familiar with the tremendous amount of controversy involved in memorializing the location where around 120 people were murdered, it is not surprising that there is controversy regarding memorializing the site in New York City where thousands of innocent people were murdered. Yet rather than despair over the events of the past, involving 9/11, I suggest going to Psalm 91:1 for comfort. It says "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty." We can be confident that, as verse 2 goes on to say "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." Despite the world problems that rage around us, if we put our trust in God, we can still be confident of "miles of smiles"!! Tricia

Author's August 6, 2016, Addendum:  This photo shows the White River, as it passes through the little community of Beaver, in Carroll County, Arkansas.  I have added it, because I just read that this is the location where the ill-fated Baker-Fancher Wagon Train, crossed the White River, before they proceeded westward to face their death, in the Mountain Meadow Massacre, in Utah.  The incomplete railroad bridge can be thought of as symbolic of their incomplete trip, to make a new home for themselves on the Western Frontier. 
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