Return to Home Page

Early Mormonism

"But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!"
Galatians 1:8

"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit."
Matthew 7:15-17

Joseph Smith Jr. and Family
Eyewitness Statements
Divine Revelation
Book of Abraham
Slavery - God's Will

Brigham Young
False Prophecies
Doctrinal Issues
  • Wallace Bowman
  • Jesse Hartly
  • Henry Jones
  • Book of Mormon
    Textual Difficulties
    Modern Words
    Modern Revival Scenes
    Other Modern Ideas
    Modern Discoveries
    Some Additional Self-betrayals

    Reformation of 1856
    Doctrine of Blood Atonement
    Human Sacrifice
    * "Grayed Out" titles will be added soon

    Brigham Young Murder?


          About this period [1] a young man was coming from Mexico in the company of traders; and by chance, he was met by Brigham Young at Utah, who was on his way from Great Salt Lake City to Little Salt Lake.
          The Prophet was accompanied as usual by his "Body Guard," and attracted some notice on the route by the display in which he indulged— a kind of demonstration he was fond of making when well protected by his military attendants.
          It is said all great men have their little weaknesses, and that of the Prophet is well known to be cowardice. He is great in words, however, [and] a shrewd manager of men, and when not threatened with personal violence, he is truly great. On this occasion, the state and display affected by the Governor and Prophet excited the curiosity of the young captain of this band of Mexican traders, whose name was Wallace Alonzo Clark Bowman. This young man was a native of New York, and being of a daring and roving turn of mind, had left his home at the early age of eighteen, and was now in the full tide of successful career, when he thus unfortunately met Brigham Young.
          He [Bowman] was over six feet in height, stoutly built, and well formed, standing straight as an arrow, with fair complexion and light hair, a broad forehead, with a keen blue eye and a Roman nose. He was as fine a specimen of manliness as is often met with in real life. He was, moreover, one of that class of men, with whom the emotions of fear, or the necessity of caution, are entirely unknown. He also entertained the most undisguised contempt for double-dealing and [for] religious affectation of any kind. In short, having no reverence, and unable to comprehend the meaning of discretion, he was the last man to meet the Prophet's approval, but quite the man to awaken his cowardly suspicion, as he was a specimen of the only class of men of whom the Prophet was not a judge.
          The two companies met at Utah, and halted to make of each other mutual inquiries as to the state of the roads and the like, while the animals were being fed. Bowman observed that Brigham was a personage of some consideration among the strangers, and upon inquiry was informed that he was the Governor of the Territory, and the Mormon Leader. "If that is so," said he, "I must make the acquaintance of that distinguished adventurer." He then introduced himself to the "Prophet," by saying, he had heard of him and of his religion often, though he knew but little of the latter, and he would like to be instructed in it somewhat. He then asked him to take a seat for that purpose. He told him further that he had heard much said against the Mormons, and their practices, but he presumed they had been misrepresented, as all such sects were liable to be by their opponents; and he should be pleased to know the facts from the Prophet himself.
          Bowman said this in that easy off-hand manner, which, had it been addressed to an equally brave and simple-minded man, would have been met in a similar spirit of courteous independence— willing to concede as much as it exacted. But the Prophet was not a man of the generous mold to understand on of that nature. Though a good judge of the kind of men of which his Church was composed, the Mexican trader puzzled him; and he assumed at once the young man must have some villainous design upon him. He thereupon retired to his carriage, with an indecent haste, that betrayed his want of either courage or courtesy, and directed his secretary to inform the authorities of the City, that he wished Bowman arrested upon his arrival there, as he knew by the Spirit of God, the trader was a spy sent from the States to take his life.
          The fact was, that nothing could have been farther from the truth; and the pretense of revelation, behind which the Prophet attempted to shield his cowardice, smacked more of unscrupulous villainy than of Divinity.
          Bowman, unawed by this treatment, stepped to the door of the Prophet's carriage, and said to him, in that spirit of defiant independence which a free rover of the plains feels himself at liberty to assume when treated rudely, "Sir, I have seen Governors before, but I never saw one so little a gentleman, or so much a bigot;" and then turning to his men, with a dignity the Prophet might well have envied, ordered his company to move on.
          The whole outfit and other accompaniments of Bowman's party proved he was possessed of wealth, and this was perhaps another inducement with the Prophet for wishing to bring the young rover in collision with his Danite assassins.

    "They will kill him," said I.
    "Certainly," said my mother.

          When Bowman arrived at the city, he was arrested by Robert Burton upon suspicion of various crimes. This was a pretense resorted to for his detention. He was put in charge of John Norton, one of our nearest neighbors, who kept him imprisoned near by, in a place used by the police for that purpose. There was a great curiosity manifested among us to see the man who had made so long a journey to kill the Prophet; and among others, I went to his prison. I was astonished at the courteous good breeding with which we were received. He politely handed us seats, and after some pleasant conversation upon indifferent topics, in which our positions and sex were acknowledged, with an easy and graceful address, his eye rested accidentally upon his jailer, John Norton. At once his wild eye flashed fire, and his whole bearing changed to that lofty mien of daring which characterized him when free. For a moment his chafed spirit roused itself into the fierceness of a caged tiger, and yet the while preserving all the dignity of his exalted manhood. He said, "Sir, I presume I have not fully appreciated the extreme humility of my position in the presence of your exalted Prophet, else I should not have taken the liberty of addressing him upon equal terms."
          It was amusing to note the effect of this upon John Norton, who, though generally a man of commanding presence, now stood abashed before his prisoner. Bowman's eye rested for some time upon him, during which interval, not a word was uttered. At length, with an expression of disgust, and then of pity, he turned from him to us, and apologized for his rudeness in the presence of ladies, by saying, "Imprisonment under any circumstances is beyond endurance to me, who, since finishing my education in my native State of New York, have seldom slept beneath a roof; but particularly so, when I am deprived of liberty in defiance of my natural rights, and without the pretense of justice." When we left, he bade us good morning, with as much gallantry and unconcern as if he had been doing the honors of the drawing-room. I came away with a full understanding of his position. I knew he was innocent; but I knew equally well that would not avail him. I asked my mother, who had accompanied me, what she thought. Without saying a word for some time, she shook her head, and the big tears filled her eyes. "He is about the age Uriah was, when he died among strangers," said she at length. "How should I feel if this brave boy were mine? But he is somebody's boy."
          "They will kill him," said I.
          "Certainly," said my mother; and then we sobbed in silence, and Lizzie joined in our tears without fully understanding why we wept, for she had not heard the foregoing conversation.

    "I saw clearly we were, in some
    manner then unknown to me, to be forced
    into the work of Bowman's destruction."

          Bowman was held a prisoner for several weeks, as the Prophet had not returned. When he came, a trial was had, and great efforts were made to procure some evidence against him; but all rested upon the revelation of the Prophet, except that the latter stated that Bowman was armed when he approached his carriage. Being armed in that country was not a crime, for no man went unarmed there. But it so happened...that Bowman had left them [his weapons] on his horse, as he expected to remount in a few moments. This was proved by all his men. He was therefore set at liberty, after an annoying confinement of nearly two months. But this did not avert his fate.
          The Danites are called in only as a last resort; but are never at fault, when the Prophet's will is known; and in this case, the Prophet had gone too far to think of relenting.
          When free, he was directed by some one to our house, to find a boarding place. His horses were kept near us, and he wished to board close by them, while he remained in the city to complete some further arrangements for continuing his journey. My mother was surprised at the request, as we did not keep boarders; but told him to call again towards evening; and in the meantime, she asked the bishop what to do, well knowing Bowman had been sent there by him, or at least by the Prophet's direction. The bishop appeared to be acting under instructions, and told her, as if prepared with an answer before hand, to allow him to take his meals with her, but not to sleep at her house at night.
          As for myself, I had become so familiar with the Prophet's way of doing business, that I was greatly alarmed at this turn of affairs; for I saw clearly we were, in some manner then unknown to me, to be forced into the work of Bowman's destruction.
          As his prison was in our neighborhood, we had, with most of the other families of the vicinity, visited him frequently, and had become well acquainted by this time. I had never been approached upon this subject myself, but I knew many of our female acquaintances had been directed to visit him, in order to report to the Prophet what he had to say.
          I now felt my time for action had come, and that I was again to be forced into a participation in crime.
          In order that my readers may full understand my connection with what follows, they have only to recollect, that to disobey the Prophet's counsel would have been death to me; and further, I found it would be impossible to effect my escape, until I could disarm the Prophet of all suspicion he might entertain of my intention to escape. My object was to avoid, as much as possible, being useful to him; but, at the same time, to obey his "counsel" when there was no way to avoid it, with a show of cheerfulness and good faith; and thus I hoped again to acquire the reputation of being a good Mormon—whereas I was now regarded, as well among the Gentiles as in the Church, as only a prisoner at large. So much was I looked upon in this light, that even Bowman had heard my story, and had publicly denounced the Prophet for thus holding me a prisoner from my husband. This rash advocacy of my cause, prompted as it was only by his generous and manly nature, probably suggested to the Prophet the idea of using me as a decoy to effect more readily his ruin.
          Soon after Bowman left, John Norton came to the house in some haste saying, "Nett, I have news for your, of great importance, from Brigham."
          "Importance to whom?" said I.
          "To the whole Church, and in this way. The Prophet is satisfied that if Bowman is allowed to leave the territory, he can and will give us great trouble, by raising an excitement against us on account of his imprisonment while here. Now, we wish to hear his mind from his own lips, and we can then judge what should be done. When he returns, Brigham wishes you to bring him to our house, and make such advances to him as you may think best, to draw him out upon that subject, and tell him that you would like to go off with him; that, if he will take you, you will be his wife."
          "I think," said I, "he would not be likely to take me."
          "No fear of that," said Norton, "for we have come to you to do this, from the fact that you are the only person that could approach him. He said only this morning, in the most public manner, in Blain's store, that if he could get you away from this place, he would like to see it sink; and that if he could invent any method of getting you to your husband, he would do so, even at the risk of his life." At this point of the conversation, William Kimball, a young son of Heber C. Kimball, the latter one of the Heads of the Church, came up and said: "John, Bowman will be here soon, for I just saw him go into Blain's store." Then turning to me, he said, "Now, Nett, the Prophet expects you to put in your biggest licks; and if you do not, we shall all know it, for we shall be secreted within hearing of you."
          "Do your best," said John Norton, as they both left me, "and tell him I am hunting cattle, if he inquires for me."
          John Norton then secreted his brother Wiley in our house, to hear what passed between Bowman and myself while there. When they were gone, Wiley said, "Come, Nett, go and slick up, for Bowman will be here very soon."

    "Whatever I say, think not of me; but that Brigham
    Young is speaking through me."

          My readers will understand that even the Mormon boys are trained, at an early age, in this branch of the Church service, and soon become adepts in "milking the Gentiles," as robbing outsiders is termed in their slang vocabulary. One of these boys was under the age of fifteen, and was already well versed in crime.
          It was with a heavy heart that I dressed with unusual care for the occasion, not daring to disregard the counsel I had received. At first, I thought I could place a note in Bowman's hands, by which I should warn him; but this would be attended with greater danger to myself, without a fair prospect of benefitting him; and besides, his known rashness made it hazardous to do anything for his relief, more especially so as I should have no opportunity to explain fully the true state of the case, or how he was threatened—and at most could only give him a glance or a sign of warning.
          The distance from our house to Norton's, although but a step, would perhaps be sufficient to convey this signal and yet I knew many eyes would be upon us.
          When I was dressed, Wiley, who had awaited my return with impatience, complimented my appearance, and pronounced me ready "to do the work of the Lord," with the affectation and solemn cant characteristic among the Saints when they do not wish to call things by their right names. I seated myself in the rocking-chair, to await his coming, racked by anxiety. At about four o'clock he came, and I received him in the presence of my mother, Wiley having slid into a dark room within hearing. I must have concealed my agony badly, for he said with a show of alarm, " How pale you are, Mrs. Smith." Mrs. Coray," bowing to my mother, "what is the matter? Has anything new occurred?"
          "A little excitement," replied my mother, with an assumed calmness, "always makes a baby of her."
          "Her absent husband," said he, "is the subject, I suppose, of a continued anxiety with her."
          I was too much excited to act well the part to which I had been assigned; but I made every possible effort to regain my self command. It was with some exertion, therefore, that I was enabled to say, "I understand you are about to leave us. I wish the Prophet would decide upon my case, and set me at liberty, and I would accompany you." I said this and other things, with a design of encouraging his advances, and he responded with his usual gallantry; and yet, perhaps, contrary to the expectation of the Mormon leaders who had assigned me this duty. In order to corrupt him, he did so with the utmost innocence, and freedom from an improper motive.
          The Prophet had, as usual, reasoned upon the assumed fact that all men were open to the seductive charms of corrupt influences; and much of his own success in governing the men of the Church is to be credited to a skillful application of this principle; and it is for this reason that the condition of a Mormon woman is beyond belief horrible, exposed as she always must be, to the danger of falling a victim to the brutal claims of some one of the Prophet's creatures, as the price of some service or obedience rendered to him.
          I had expected much from the high-toned honor of Bowman; but he rose still higher in my estimation when he refused to understand the meaning of my words. In order to cut the matter short as possible, and to secure the opportunity of uttering to him a single word of caution, while passing to the house of John Norton, I affected some embarrassment at first, to convey to Wiley an idea that I felt myself refused; and then, as if reassured, I said to Bowman, with an easy unconcern, which I was by this time able to assume, "come, let us go over to John Norton's. As you are about to leave, perhaps you would like to bid his wives, Martha and Rebecca, good-bye."
          "Certainly, said he politely. "I reckon those ladies among my friends. They visited me often in prison, and I must pay them my compliments before I take my leave, and I shall have no better time than now."
          As we passed from the front door into the street, I was glad to notice that Wiley did not attempt to follow us. We were the next instant alone, on the public walk, and although we were together but a moment, and while watchful eyes were perhaps upon us, I said to him in a hurried manner, and in a low voice, "Mr. Bowman, I beg you not to speak, but to listen to me for the one moment we are to be alone. I have time to state but one thing, which, if you rightly understand, will be sufficient for your purpose. It is this. I am acting under the direction, and by the instructions of the Prophet. Are you listening? Do you understand me? Whatever I say, think not of me; but that Brigham Young is speaking through me."
          He looked puzzled, then astonished, and was about to speak. But we had arrived at the gate of John Norton, and the door was not many feet off. "Hush," said I, and the next moment he mechanically rapped at the door, and we both waited in silence for admittance. I shall never forget the change that came over his smooth, unruffled face, during the few moments he had listened to me. He was in appearance twenty years older in that time. His eyes were bent in anxious thought upon the ground, and his whole great frame struggled to master the words, by which I had opened to him a new source of danger. He would have faced, undaunted, fifty men in open combat, on a fair field; but now he stood half cowering before a mystery of which his experience furnished no solution. But though at fault in this respect, he was not wanting in intellect; and when our summons was answered from within, he started as if from a painful reverie, and then the sunshine and a clear sky was over him again. Howbeit, I still detected, by certain lines upon his handsome face, traces of anxious thought unusual to it. We were shown into the sitting room, where we were expected.


          Perhaps, the saddest feature of Mormonism as regards its own victims, should be looked for in the influence it necessarily has upon women. It is impossible to convey a clear idea of the absolute slavery of our sex under Mormon influence. I is not enough that all the recognized rights of an isolated domestic life, are invaded by a community of wives; but all these women jointly, and severally, are to be the unquestioning instruments in the hands of their spiritual husbands, in carrying out the merciless designs of the Church, forced to this degrading work by the ever present fear of being denounced, and of imprisonment, and even death, in this world, and of being cut off from the Prophet's Paradise in the next. Innocent women, young and tender girls, and honest mothers, with all the instincts of their true womanhood upon them, are expected at the Prophet's, or the husband's bidding, to look crime in the face, without a shudder, and to prostitute all the sweet, and winning graces with which a Wise Hand has endowed them, as a means of exerting a softening and refining influence upon man's rougher nature, to carry out these designs of the Church against their Gentile victims. But female humanity is unequal to the sacrifice while virtue, the real source of all womanly charms, wields her gentle scepter over the heart.
          This was well illustrated by the manner we were received by Martha and Rebecca. The latter, who was the first wife, and was recognized as entitled to take the lead in doing the honors of the house, received us; handing us seats in the sitting-room, where we found Martha.
          I had by this time fully regained my self-possession, and Bowman, whose buoyant nature would not bear depression, appeared to good advantage; but the ladies, though evidently making an effort to act well their part, were depressed, and solemn as if assisting at a funeral: and indeed, they well knew they were preparing the way for one.
          Bowman, with a tact for which I had not before given him credit, divined, by aid of the key I had afforded him, as to myself, the true state of the case as to them, and said in a light and airy manner, yet with a caution that showed every word was well considered, "How is this, ladies? You look as solemn as a Quaker Synod. Martha, has that ungracious husband been treating you unfairly, by giving Rebecca the finest dress again?[2]
          This allusion to a dispute, which by the indiscretion of somebody had found its way to the public ear, but a short time before, rallied Martha into the mere shadow of a laugh, as she said,
          "Oh no. That difficulty is all settled. He sees the folly of treating Rebecca better than he does me, and is becoming quite a good fellow."
          "By the way," said Bowman, "Where is this husband, John Norton, today?"
          This was the second time this question had been asked by him, and evaded by the ladies; but now it was so direct that Rebecca replied, "He said he was going over Jordan, to look after the cattle."
          My readers will recollect that John Norton and William Kimball were at that moment within full view and hearing of us; separated from the sitting-room by a partition, so constructed as to be conveniently used for that purpose.
          Nothing could reassure Rebecca and Martha, for they grew every moment more and more solemn and constrained, and it was a positive relief to them, when, by a pre-arrangement, Mrs. Burgess, one of the neighboring women, came to the door, and with a dissembled show of haste and alarm said to them,
          "Come over at once; one of my children has been burned terribly."
          "How," said both at once, and without waiting, for an explanation, the three women ran off together, leaving us alone in the sitting-room.

    "I think I know these Saints are making
    arrangements to take my life. I shall never
    be permitted to leave this place."

          The design of this was that I should be enabled to lead Bowman into some developments of his plans and feelings towards the Church, in hearing of the listeners of the next room. Then commenced a series of attacks upon my victim. I felt I could now afford to act my part well: more especially as I had given him what warning I could. I represented to him in my best manner, how much I wished to escape; and that I should be pleased to do so by his assistance; and that I was willing to submit to any conditions he might impose, and hinted further at other possibilities, in a manner not to be mistaken. As a part of my instructions were to ascertain if possible what amount of money he had, I told him, that in case he could not take me, that with a small sum of money, I should possibly be able to get away, in another manner, which I did not mention. To all this he listened in thoughtful silence; and I was pleased to notice that I had not awakened his interest, until I referred to the money. I then asked him in order to draw out a reply of some kind, what he thought of the Mormons.
          "Why as for that," he said slowly, "I have no good reason to think very well of them. I think I know these Saints are making arrangements to take my life. I shall never be permitted to leave this place. I know the man who is to be charged with the duty of effecting my murder. My life is not worth a fig. But should I succeed in getting away, which is now impossible, I should be very glad to restore you to your husband: and then I would come to this accursed den of assassins, with such a company of true men, and such an array of arms, as would sweep this impious Prophet, and his Danites, from longer cursing this beautiful valley." While he said this he rose from his seat, and his eye flashed a proud defiance, and his whole frame swelled with a lofty enthusiasm.
          "But," said he, resuming his seat after a moment's silence, and falling back into his quiet and thoughtful mood again, "you mentioned just now that money might be useful to you. If so, you can have all you wish; as it will be useless to me. All the money in the world cannot save me, Mrs. Smith: and you may as well have it as any one."
          I then took the watch Mr. Smith gave me when he left for California, and handed it to him. This was a keepsake, and I did not wish to part with it; but he looked at it, saying as he did so, "this is worth about one hundred dollars. I will give you two hundred for it." I knew he would have given me the money as soon without the watch, as with it: and that he had chosen to give the transaction a business form, from motives of delicacy to me. I appreciated his motives, but I parted with the watch with regret. But there was no remedy for it, and he took from his pocket a purse of gold, which I should say contained several thousand dollars, and counted me the amount, saying at the same time, I could have more if I wished. The fact was I dare not refuse the money or explain to him why I preferred to keep the watch in the presence of the listeners.
          He then said, "Well, Mrs. Smith, I find I am nearer ready to leave this city, than I had expected; and I may as well meet my fate at once. I have concluded to leave tomorrow morning. If I can once reach the open plains, I can defy them. The difficulty will be to escape beyond the canyons and mountain passes leading from this city. I think I shall never pass them; but we shall see. But it is time I had seen my men, that they may be ready for an early move in the morning."
          We then returned to my mother's who had tea ready, and when the meal was finished, Bowman went up town to put his affairs in readiness for the journey; and we saw him no more that night. With his company he had three Indian slaves, purchased as he said in Mexico.
          That slavery exists not only among these Mexican and Indian traders, but also among the Mormons, and by the authority of the Prophet, is perhaps not generally known; but it has been reduced to a regular system, in the territory, under their administration. Young Indian girls and boys, who are captives among the various tribes, are purchased, and trained as servants, and are now as much a recognized item of property there as the negro slaves of Louisiana or Kentucky.

    "Where is Brigham?" said Bowman, "He should
    be here to preach my funeral sermon."

          The next morning, our house was filled with our immediate neighbors, the acquaintances of Bowman, as it was generally known he was to leave the city at an early hour, and would bid his friends adieu, after he had taken his breakfast at our house. Not withstanding great efforts had been made by the Heads of the Church, to create a prejudice against him, he yet had many true friends among us, though none dare to advocate his cause openly.
          When the time arrived for his departure, he came to the house accompanied by his party. I noticed among the rest, three very formidable looking Spaniards, who had in charge the pack animals. His packs were large and numerous, and were said to contain valuable goods, and other property and money.
          His own dress and appearance on this occasion was very imposing. He wore a sort of over- shirt of brown broad cloth, of very fine fabric, with blue pantaloons, and leggings, fastened above the knee by bands of red velvet, richly ornamented with bead work, which he prized, as having been worked and presented, rumor said, by the fair hands of a distinguished Mexican lady. His buckskin riding gloves were laced from the wrist to the elbow with silken cords, and the Mexican hat, which completed his graceful, and somewhat ambitious costume, was removed when he came in, with an air of good breeding, and consideration for his friends, and he chose to treat us all as such, that would have done honor to a gentleman of any country or position in life. His whole costume, however, was arranged in good taste, and according to the customs of the country.
          As he moved among us, he was acknowledged by all to be a model of grace and manly beauty; and more than one heart deplored his fate, from which every Mormon felt there was no reprieve. He wore a sad and even gloomy face at first, and was much astonished to find so large a company. Seeing many whom he recognized as his friends, he brightened up somewhat, as he said with a touch of sarcasm,
          "Where is Brigham? He should be here to preach my funeral sermon."
          The rebuke was so well deserved, that we looked as guilty as we felt. He saw the effect of his speech; and generously added:
          "My friends, I know who are the guilty ones among you and I have now to bid you a final adieu. I thank you for the honor of your presence here this morning. I wish it was in my power to serve you."
          When he had finished his breakfast, he turned to me and said:
          "Mrs. Smith, I trust I may ask you to accept this sash at my hands."
          He then put a beautiful sash over one of my shoulders, and around my waist, and tied it there. Then placing his hands one on each side of my face, he kissed me, saying:
          "Good-bye, Mrs. Smith;" and then he kissed all the ladies present, in like manner, and bid them good-bye. John Norton and the bishop of the ward were present, with many other men, and a large number of women. It was noticed that when be shook hands with the men, he did so with less cordiality than when he kissed his adieus to the ladies.
          His party moved on at his order, and be left us, bearing with him the sorrowing sympathy of every woman present. I think nothing but the presence of the men restrained our tears.

    "We must adopt some plan by which to end his
    [Bowman's] existence. It will never do to allow him
    to leave the territory." —Brigham Young

          This was Sunday morning; and after meeting, the Prophet came to John Norton's house, accompanied by General Well. I saw them, and feeling an anxiety about the fate of Bowman that would not be appeased nor brook delay, I went there. I was still in mystery as to the particular manner in which he was to be disposed of. I knew my interview with him had not been attended with quite the result the Prophet had anticipated, and that he had changed his policy with regard to him since but in what way I knew not. It was this I wished to know. I concealed my interest in the matter as best I could, and was well and very kindly received by the Prophet, who complimented me upon the skillful management of my "mission," as he was pleased to call it. He placed his hands upon my head, and as the Prophet of God, conferred a blessing upon me, closing with these words: "You, Mary Ettie, shall yet be mighty in word and deed."
          The Prophet then turned the conversation upon the subject nearest my heart. Besides John Norton and family, there were several other persons present of note in the Church, both men and women.
          He said, addressing the company generally, "we must make some arrangements as to Bowman at once. We must adopt some plan by which to end his existence. It will never do to allow him to leave the territory: for if he is once at liberty again, he will set the Spaniards and Indians against us, if not half the world besides, and that will never do."
          General Wells then proposed that two men should be selected from the private police, for the purpose of carrying out the Prophet's "counsel". John Norton volunteered as one, and the General engaged to find another. With these few words, the matter was settled. Some other unimportant conversation passed, and the trial and condemnation of one of the noblest and bravest of men was accomplished. A young and innocent man, one incapable of the commission of a crime, was thus to be cut off, to gratify the craven bigotry of the Prophet. I had often seen Brigham Young in difficult positions before; but I had never known his unworthy fears get so much the better of his judgment. "High Commission" separated, and I went home, sick and disheartened, to mourn for the doomed. A morbid curiosity prompted me to know all the details of the cruel measures taken for his destruction, and circumstances favored my wishes.
          My husband, before our marriage, had been employed by Major Holman, Indian Agent for the territory, to distribute the goods, consisting of beads, blankets, brooches, paints and the like, to some of the tribes; and by accident, a package of the paints used by the Indians had been left at our house. This fact, unimportant in itself, was known to John Norton. Just at night, Norton came to our house with James Ferguson, and asked for some of this paint, and made no reserve in telling us what they wished to do with it. The remainder of this story I learned from Norton and Ferguson themselves. This Ferguson had been selected to accompany Norton. They left the city on horseback, and that night, passed, after dark, the house where Bowman had put up. Knowing the route he must take from there, they went on to Salt Creek canyon, where they disguised themselves as Indians, by painting their faces and putting on blankets and horsehair wigs. It appears that Bowman had sent his main company on, while he remained behind, keeping but four horses and two Spaniards with him. He had purchased a wagon and harnessed two of his horses to it; one Spaniard was driving, and the other was riding one, and leading another horse behind the wagon, and Bowman was riding inside of it. It was in this manner that Bowman entered the canyon, the next morning, nearly alone, probably with the hope of misleading the "Danites," whom he know would be on his track.
          But Norton and Ferguson were in ambush near the road, and as the wagon came on, they both rose from behind some rocks and bushes, and gave an Indian war-whoop, and fired a shot, which took effect in the hat of one of the Spaniards, whom they wished not to kill, but only to frighten. At this, both of these cowards fled with the loose horses, and made their way back to the city, leaving Bowman alone, who now rose in the wagon, and drawing himself up to his full height for a quick survey of the danger, from which he evidently felt there was no escape, looked undaunted upon his assailants. A moment of silence intervened, and the report of two rifle shots rang among the rocks of the canyon, and he fell to the bottom of his wagon dead. Either wound was mortal; one hit him full in the breast, and the other in the forehead. I afterwards heard both Norton and Ferguson relate the circumstances of his death, and both agreed in the statement as above given. The Spaniards, upon their arrival at the city, went before a magistrate, at the suggestion of the Mormons, who affected great alarm, and made oath that Bowman had been shot in Salt Creek canyon by the Indians, one of them showing the ball hole through his hat in confirmation of it; and this statement was credited as well among many of the Mormons as among the Gentiles, and is so received to this day by the masses.
          A posse of the police were sent out to look for his body, and for the property, but returned, after a thorough search, without discovering either; and thus the matter was hushed up with the public. No part of his property, which must have been valued at many thousands of dollars was ever discovered, as far as was generally known; but the following will indicate its probable disposition.
          The first or second night after Bowman's death, John Norton and Ferguson brought his body to the city, in the wagon in which he had been killed, and drawn by his own horses. They took it to Norton's house. When the men had gone out, Rebecca came over and told me what had happened, and I went home with her. We took a light and went to the back room and saw the body. We had no difficulty in recognizing it. I clipped from his head a small lock of hair with my scissors. I afterwards gave this hair to Dr. Hurt, then or afterwards Indian Agent of the Territory; and this, with a note from Brigham Young, received upon a former occasion, and referring to another matter, were sent to Washington by Judge Kinney, as the Doctor informed me. I had afterwards, and at different times, repeated conversation with the actors in the tragedy of Bowman's imprisonment and death, from whom I have gathered what I did not know of my own knowledge. Norton and Ferguson both acknowledged, in my presence, that they killed Bowman in cold blood; and, what will perhaps appear singular to my Gentile readers is, they did not consider it a crime. Hiram Clauson, who, it will be recollected, assisted at the robbery, and probable murder of Dr. Roberts, told me that the body of Bowman was given to Drs. Andrews and Williams, well known physicians of the city, for dissection.
          I have thus sought to do justice to the memory of Wallace Alonzo Clark Bowman; and as his murderers are still living, I can but hope they may yet meet the reward due their crimes.

    FOOTNOTES: [1] Approximately Summer, 1853 [2] See "Early Mormonism - Torture"

    Green, Nelson Winch, Fifteen Years Among the Mormons: A Narrative of Mrs. Mary Ettie V. Smith, H. Dayton, New York, 1860, pages 252 - 277.

    W. M. Religious InfoNet ¤ Box 456 ¤ Forest Lake, MN 55025
    Phone: 651-307-1507

    - Topical Index -

    - Page Top -