Hell on Earth, Part 12

This entry is part 42 of 50 in the series 2011A

From “Brigham’s Destroying Angel,” or “ The Confession of Bill Hickman Danite Chief of Utah,” page 205, I extract the following account of the “Aikin Massacre”:-

“ The party consisted of six men: John Aikin, William Aikin, – Buck, a man known as ‘Colonel,’ and two others. They left Sacramento early in May, 1857. On reaching the Humboldt River they found a train of the Mormons from Carson, who were ordered home about that time. With them they completed the journey. John Pendleton, one of that Mormon party, in his testimony on the case says: A better lot of boys I never saw. They were kind, polite, and brave; always ready to do anything needed on the road.

“The train traveled slowly, so the Aikin party left it a hundred miles out and came ahead, and on reaching Kaysville, twenty-five miles north of Salt Lake City, they were all arrested on the charge of being spies for the Government! A few days after Pendleton and party arrived and recognized their horses in the public Corral. On inquiry he was told the men had been arrested as spies, to which he replied, Spies, hell! Why, they’ve come with us all the way.’ The party in charge answered that they did not care, they would keep them.’ The Aikin party had stock, property, and money estimated at 25,000 dollars.

“They were then taken to the city and confined. They were told they should be sent out of the Territory by the Southern-route. Four of them started, leaving Buck and one of the unknown men in the city. The party had for an escort, O. P. Rockwell, John Lot, Miles, and one other. When they reached Nephi, one hundred miles south, Rockwell informed the Bishop Bryant, that his orders were to ‘have the men used up there.’ Bishop Bryant called a council at once, and the following men were selected to assist: f. Bigler (now a Bishop), P. Pitchforth, his first councillor,’ John Kink, and ___ Pickton.

“The selected murderers, at 11 p.m., started from the Tithing House and got ahead of the Aikins, who did not start till daylight. The latter reached the Sevier River, when Rockwell informed them they could find no other camp that day; they halted, when the other party approached and asked to camp with them, for which permission was granted. The weary men removed. their arms and heavy clothing, and were soon lost in sleep-that sleep which for two of them was to have no waking on earth. The party from Nephi attacked the sleeping men with clubs and the kingbolts of the wagons. Two died without a struggle. But John Aikin bounded to his feet, but slightly wounded, and sprang into the brush. A shot from the pistol of John laid him senseless.

‘Colonel’ also reached the brush, receiving a shot in the shoulder from Port Rockwell, and believing the whole party had been attacked by banditti, he made his way back to Nephi. With almost superhuman strength he held out during the twenty-five miles, and the first bright rays of a Utah sun showed the man, who twenty-four hours before had left them handsome and vigorous in the pride of manhood, now ghastly pale and drenched with his own blood, staggering feebly along the streets of Nephi. He reached Bishop Foote’s, and his story elicited a well-feigned horror.

“Meanwhile the murderers had gathered up the other three and thrown them into the river, supposing all to be dead. But John Aikin revived and crawled out on the same side, and hiding in the brush, heard these terrible words, Are the damned Gentiles all dead, Port?

‘All but one-the son of a bitch ran.’

“Supposing himself to be meant, Aikin lay still till the Danites left, then without hat, coat, or boots, on a November night, the ground covered with snow, he set out for Nephi. Who can imagine the feelings of the man? Unlike ‘Colonel’ he knew too well who the murderers were, and believed himself the only survivor. To return to Nephi offered but slight hope, and incredible as it may appear he reached it next day. He sank helpless at the door of the first house he reached, but the words he heard infused new life into him. The woman said to him, ‘Why another of you ones got away from the robbers, and is at Brother Foote’s.” Thank God; it is my brother,’ he said, and started on.

The citizens tell with wonder that he ran the whole distance, his hair clotted with blood, reeling like a drunken man all the way. It was not his brother, but Colonel.’ They fell upon each other’s necks, clasped their blood-spattered arms around each other, and with mingled tears and sobs kissed and embraced as only men can who together have passed through death. A demon might have shed tears at the sight-but not a Mormon Bishop. The fierce tiger can be lured from his prey, the bear may become -civilized, or the hyena be tamed of his lust for human flesh–religious fanaticism alone can triumph over all tenderness, and make man tenfold more the child of hell than the worst passions of mere physical nature. Even while gazing upon this scene, the implacables were deciding upon their death.

“Bishop Bryant came, extracted the balls, dressed the wounds, and advised the men to return, as soon as they were able, to Salt Lake City. A son of Bishop Foote had proved their best friend, and Aikin requested him to take his account in writing of the affair. Aikin began to write it, but was unmanned, and begged young Foote to do it, which he did. That writing, the -dying declaration of Colonel’ and John Aiken, is in existence today.

‘The murderers had returned, and a new plan was concocted. ‘Colonel’ had saved his pistol and Aikin his watch, a gold one, worth at least 250 dollars. When ready to leave they asked the bill, and were informed it was 30 dollars. They promised to send it from the City, and were told that would not do.’ Aikin then said, Here is my watch and my partner’s pistol-take your choice.’ Foote took the pistol. When he handed it to him Aikin said, There, take my best friend. But God knows it will do us no good.’ Then to his partner, with tears streaming from his eyes, Prepare for death, Colonel, we will never get out of this valley alive.’

They had got four miles on the road, when their driver, a Mormon named Wollf, stopped the wagon near an old cabin; informed them he must water his horses; unhitched them, and moved away. Two men then stepped from the cabin, and fired with double-barreled guns; Aiken and ‘Colonel’ were both shot through the head, and fell dead from the wagon. Their bodies were then loaded with stone and put in one of those ‘bottomless springs ‘- so called-common in that part of Utah.

“Meanwhile Rockwell and party had reached the city, taken Buck and the other man, and started southward, plying them with liquor. It is probable that Buck only feigned drunkenness; but the other man was insensible by the time they reached the Point of the Mountain. There it was decided to use them up,’ and they were attacked with slung-shots and billies. The other man was instantly killed. Buck leaped from the wagon, outran his pursuers, their shots missing him, swam the Jordan, and came down it on the ‘ west side. He reached the city and related all that had occurred, which created quite a stir.

Hickman was then sent for to finish the job.’ He shot Buck through the head, buried him in a ditch, went to Brigham Young and told him Buck was taken care of. Young said he was glad of it. Buck was the last one of the Aikin Party.”

Hickman confesses to scores of murders which he committed in the name -of the Lord, but I have no room to give them.

The late Governor of Utah, Stephen S. Harding, wrote a letter to the publisher of Bill Hickman’s Book which appears on page 210, and from which I extract the following account of the “ MORRISITE MASSACRE.”

The substance of the story is as follows:-” Joseph Morris had been a faithful follower of Brigham Young, but concluded to turn prophet on his own account. He caused a schism in the Mormon Church, calling after him several bishops and elders, with the laymen, including five hundred rank and file. With him was one Joseph Banks, well educated. There was no great difference in the doctrines of Morris and Brigham, except in one particular: Morris taught that he was the true prophet, anointed of the Lord,’ and’ Brigham that he himself was God’s Anointed.’ Taking the testimony of parties, it would be hard to settle the theological muddle, for both claimed to have the gift of tongues,’ the power of healing, and laying on of hands,’ of casting out devils,’ and so on.

It was but the old story over again, There is not room in the Roman Empire for two Czars’

(Note: Joseph Morris also taught about reincarnation)

“The Morrisites left the Mormon settlements and ‘gathered in the name-of the Lord’ on the banks of Weber River, some forty miles north of the city. They took all their moveable property with them, including a large amount of grain.

Some men they had sent to a distant mill with grain were arrested and kept prisoners. Fines were assessed against them, their cattle were seized on execution, and others stampeded and driven off. The last cow of many a poor man was taken, on which they largely depended, and the little children, not able to appreciate the faith of their parents, often went crying and supper-less to bed.

“This deliberate cruelty of course created great excitement in the camp of the new prophet. As might have been expected, he stepped over the commands of Jesus, and went back to Moses for guidance; and, in retaliation ordered a raid upon the Mormon stock, and that their owners should be captured and held as hostages. As this, to say the least, seems to have been the punitive way in which such matters were settled, all this would seem food for laughter, if the ending had not been so tragical.

“There was one easy way to settle it: to stop the wrongs continually inflicted upon these poor and deluded people. But the ‘authorities’ had other views. Twelve hundred miles separated Brigham’s kingdom from the last belt of civilization, and he was monarch of all he surveyed.’ It was somewhat necessary for him to follow legal forms, and writs of habeas corpus and warrants were issued by Judge Kinney (Chief Justice), and placed in the hands of (a. Mormon) Sheriff Robert T. Burton. He called on the acting Governor, Secretary Frank Fuller, for an armed posse; his request was granted, and he left the city with five hundred armed men and five pieces of artillery. On the-way he received volunteers to the number of nearly five hundred more.

“They marched to within half a mile of the Morrisite camp, which consisted of a few log houses, and several others made of willows, interlaced like basket-work, and plastered inside-no more fit for a place of defense than if they had been made of cobwebs. The posse took possession of the Morrisite herd, and killed such as they needed for beef, while the boys in charge of it were sent in by Burton with a paper containing a notice to the commander of the besieged, that if he did not surrender unconditionally within half an hour, firing would begin. Burton had placed his cannon in such a position as to rake the camp with a cross-fire.

“Morris had called his people to the Bowery, their place of worship, to decide what they should do. He told them the Lord would reveal their duty and the whole congregation raised a hymn of their own, hundreds of voices mingling with a wild charm, and producing a spirited effect upon the-fanatical mind which can be imagined. Meantime Morris stood with imploring hands and eyes turned heavenward, and Banks stood by, believing the revelation would come in answer to their prayers. Morris encouraged his people, reminding them of the promises, They who wait on the Lord shall, not perish.’ ‘One shall chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight.

“But no ‘revelation’ came, and as the last hallelujah died away, the sound of a cannon broke upon the melody, but the shot fell short of the camp. The next instant another cannon was fired, the shot struck the Bowery. Two women fell dead, horribly mangled, and a girl of twelve years had her chin shot away. One of the women who fell had a child in her arms, which, –strange to say, was not injured. Unhappily the poor girl did not die. I saw her years afterwards, the most ghastly human face my eyes ever beheld.

“The Morrisites had not more than ninety able-bodied men, all told, with over three hundred women and children. And now commenced assault and repulse, scouting and counterplotting, which continued all night and the next two days. Some ten persons were killed in the camp, of the new prophet. The third day, the besieged being exhausted, a white flag was raised -as a signal of surrender.

The order was given by Burton for the women and children to separate from the men, which was done, and the latter stacked their arms. Burton rode into camp with one of his officers beside him, and holding his revolver in his hand, he said show him to me.’ Morris was pointed out, when Burton rode up and emptied one chamber of his revolver, the shot taking effect in the prophet’s neck. He sank to the earth mortally wounded. Burton then shouted sneeringly, There’s your prophet-what do you think of him now? ‘ He then turned and discharged a second shot at Joseph Banks, who fell dead. A woman named Bowman ran up and exclaimed, ‘Oh! you cruel murderer! ‘

Burton fired his third shot, and she fell dead. Morris was meanwhile struggling in the agonies of death, when a Danish woman raised him in her arms, crying bitterly. Burton rode up to her and shot her through the heart, and the spirits of the victims mingled in one – company to that bourne ‘where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are for ever at rest.’

“The posse at the same time came into camp, and robbed the houses of all valuables – watches, jewelry and money-even tearing off the women’s finger rings.

“The men were marched to the city, and the women taken to different Mormon settlements, after which they roamed about in utter destitution, -scattered and peeled,’ mere Pariahs of the plains, fleeing from the face of their brethren in the Lord,’ and appealing to the Gentile traveler in the name of the merciful Jesus for the pittance of charity.

NOTE: next he gives an account of the Mountain Meadows Massacre from the writings of John D. Lee. This was the slaughter of a 120 immigrants and was even the basis of a recent movie staring John Voigt.

I will not include this story here since it is widely known and accepted as historical truth and accounts of it are readily available. Just Google: “Mountain Meadows Massacre.” Even though Lee claims the massacre was done with Brigham’s knowledge the LDS of today generally believe the deed was performed by a group of rogue Mormons, not endorsed by any General Authority.

Most current day Mormons are completely oblivious to the existence of the Danites in early Utah and some of the cruel acts performed by them and others.

After recounting the Mountain Meadows Massacre John D Lee, the only person prosecuted for the deed, told his story:

“Written in prison at Fort Cameron, Utah Territory. Delivered to Hon. Sumner Howard (United States Attorney) by John D. Lee, on the field of execution (just before the sentence of death was carried into effect), and for warded to Wm. W. Bishop by Hon. Sumner Howard, according to the last request of John D: Lee.

“Death to me has no terror. It is but a struggle, and all is over. I know that I have a reward in heaven, and my conscience does not accuse me. This to me is a great consolation. FAREWELL! JOHN D. LEE”

“On Friday, March 23rd, 1877, the guard having Lee in charge, reached Mountain Meadows, where it had been decided to carry the sentence into execution. Lee pointed out the various places of interest connected with the massacre, and recapitulated the horrors of that event.

“At 10:35, all the arrangements having been completed, Marshal Nelson read the order of the court, and said “Mr. Lee, if you have anything to say before the order of the court is carried into effect, you can do so.”


“I have but little to say this morning. I am on the brink of eternity; I feel resigned to my fate, I have made out a manuscript which is to be published. I am not an infidel. I have not denied God and His mercies. I am a strong believer in those things. Most I regret is parting with my family. (Here he rested two or three seconds). These touch a tender chord within me. (Here his voice faltered) I declare my innocence of doing anything designedly wrong in all this affair. I would have given worlds if I could have averted that calamity.

“Not a particle of mercy have I asked of the court, the world, or officials to spare my life. I do not fear death. I shall never go to a worse place than I am now in. [Lee’s last words admit Utah to be a Hell upon Earth. There’s no place worse than Hell].

“I am a true believer in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I do not believe – everything that is now being taught and practiced by Brigham Young, I do not care who hears it. It is my last word-it is so. I believe he is leading the people astray, downward to destruction.

“Having said this I feel resigned, I ask the Lord my God, if my labors are done, to receive my spirit.”

“Lee ceased speaking at 10:50, A.M. He was then informed that his hour had come and he must prepare for execution. Rev. G. Stokes Methodist Minister, who accompanied Lee as his spiritual adviser, then knelt and prayed. The prisoner listened attentively.

“At the Conclusion of the prayer Lee said to Marshal Nelson, ask one favour-spare my limbs and centre my heart.’ He then shook hands with those around him. The marshal bound a handkerchief over the prisoner’s eyes, but at his request his hands were allowed to remain free. The doomed man then strengthened himself up facing the firing party, as he sat on his’ coffin, clasped his hands over his head, and exclaimed:- 1

Let them shoot the balls through my heart! don’t let them mangle my -body!’ The Marshall assured him that the aim would be true, and then stepped back. As he did so, he gave the orders to the guards: READY AIM! FIRE! A sharp report was heard, and Lee fell back on his coffin{

There was not a cry nor a moan nor a tremor of the body. The spirit’ of John D. Lee had crossed the dark river and was standing before the Judge of the quick and the dead.

“His soul had solved the awful mystery, and the CURSE that hovers over -the Mountain Meadows had marked ‘ONE’ upon its list of Retribution.’ ‘

“A more dreary scene than the present appearance of Mountain Meadows cannot be imagined. The curse of God seems to have fallen upon it scorched and withered the luxuriant grass that covered it 20 years ago, and transformed the fertile valley into an arid and barren plain. Mormons assert, that the ghosts of the murdered emigrants meet nightly at the scene of their slaughter and re-enact in pantomime the horrors of their massacre.”-Lee’s Confession, pp. 384-9.

Sometime after the massacre, a United States officer buried the bones of the victims, erected a monument of loose stones, and placed thereon this inscription:-



I finish this Chapter of Horrors with an extract from The Salt Lake Tribune’ of April 10, 1881:-

“A man ploughing a field between the Apostles Cannons, and Jennings, farms, southwest of the city a few days ago, turned up three skeletons of! human beings, complete, and in a good state of preservation, showing that they had belonged to adults. When discovered they were piled out to one side and left lying there, such developments being too common in the pleasant valleys of Utah to excite much wonder. A gentleman brought a skull to this city and called with it at THE TRIBUNE office.

An examination reveals a distinct fracture across the top of the skull. The discoloration proves that the fracture must have been fatal to the possessor. A similar fracture exists on the left side, a portion of the bone above the eye being broken off and proving that a murderer and not the angel of death cut off the life of this one at least. What the other skulls might have revealed it is impossible to say as they were not seen by our informant. The condition of the one referred to indicates that the burial was made not a great many years 1 ago as the bones present a remarkably smooth surface and the brilliant whiteness of mother of pearl. In the United States these remains would be the subject of an inquest, but in this promised land they are dismembered, dumped in a pile and left to bleach in the sun, which no doubt sees on each day the man or men who did the foul deed walking upon the streets of Zion.

“A gentleman, conversing with THE TRIBUNE, reporter about the find said he it was almost an every day occurrence. There have been not less than five hundred murders committed in this valley aloft (there are scores of valleys in Utah) and its history, if written, would be one of blood. It couldn’t be written properly unless it was written in blood, and it would be too horrible to read and expect thereafter any peace of mind.’“

“When the history of the Mormon Church is faithfully written, it will chronicle such a black and hideous catalogue of crime committed in the name of God, as will forever put to blush the Spanish Inquisition, or the foulest atrocities that the heart of man, possessed of the fiend’s misanthropy and religious fanaticism, has ever conceived. In proof of this, the Mountain Meadows Massacre; the conspiracy against the Morrisites; the murder of the Aikin party; the killing of Yates, and scores of other cold-blooded murders actually ordered by the leaders of the Mormons, incited thereto by their well-sown and undisguised hostility to the human race, stand an eternal monument. It is a fact capable of proof, and generally admitted by the intelligent portion of the Mormon community themselves, that some of the apostles and bishops-the spiritual and temporal heads of the church-are tainted with the crime of murder, fraud, perjury, adultery. assault with intent to kill, and other heinous crimes and misdemeanors; to say nothing of the long list of unaddressed wrongs, oppressions and treachery, not enumerated in the criminal laws, that have been practiced upon their own unsuspecting victims in the church, during the past twenty years, whose cries go up daily to high Heaven against them.”
-Salt Lake Tribune.

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