Brigham Young Murder?
THE STORY OF HENRY JONES
Like his leader, Porter Rockwell considered that the spring of 1858 was a time for discretion rather than valor. The newcomers in Zion regarded him as the greatest rascal to be found unhanged between Independence and the Golden Gate; the presence of the dragoons at Camp Floyd meant that the season on Gentiles and apostates was no longer open, and the long-haired Danite chieftain retired to his horse ranch in Skull Valley with two mountain ranges and a stretch of desert between him and the boys in blue.
There were many opportunities, of course, to carry out the orders of the priesthood in matters which could be easily concealed from the military authorities. There was, for example, the affair of Henry Jones, which occurred during 1858. Jones, a Mormon, returned to Salt Lake City from California and shortly thereafter was accused of incest with his own mother. The church authorities had no desire to wash such soiled linen in the courts of the land and Jones' punishment was referred to Rockwell and the Danites. Jones was encountered in a saloon, the Avengers drank with their victim until he was maudlin, and then enticed him to an outlying section of the city. He was overpowered, bound and gagged. Porter Rockwell castrated him. Jones recovered from the operation and, with his mother, attempted to escape to California. Porter and several other Danites followed them to Payson, sixty miles south of Salt Lake City, and there cut the mother's throat and shot the son. They then "pulled the building down upon the bodies and there they lie today."
That the Danites were surgeons of no mean ability was well understood in early days and many tales of similar operations are still told in Utah. That method of punishment was practiced in Nauvoo and was introduced in Utah to discourage young men from courting ladies who had been ear-marked for the harem of an apostle or elder. Mormons as well as Gentiles were victims. The usual procedure when attractive females preferred the company of the younger unmarried men was to send the offending young gentleman upon a mission to Europe or the Hawaiian Islands, thereby clearing the field for the older men, more experienced in marital affairs. In the majority of instances the object of apostolic affections yielded to the commands of her parents and the voice of ecclesiastical authority's.
There were occasions, however, when the young Saint was obdurate and heeded not the word of wisdom. Then the Danite surgeons were called upon and their ministrations made of the youth an object lesson of the wisdom of unquestioning obedience. At Manti, in San Pete County, early in 1857, two-thirds of a pawnbroker's sign was nailed to the wall of the ward chapel as a warning to the rebellious. Such disciplinary measures were heartily approved by the priesthood. Referring to the Manti incident Bishop Blackburn of Provo shouted from his pulpit: "I want the people to understand that the boys in Provo can use the knife as well as the boys in San Pete. Boys, get your knives ready, there is work for you. We must not be behind San Pete in good works!"
FOOTNOTES:  "Achilles." The "Achilles" narrative marshals Rockwell's exploits with little regard for their chronological sequence. The circumstances of the Jones affair, omitting only the nature of Jones' original offense, were outlined by Judge Cradlebaugh in his charge to the grand jury at Provo on March 8, 1859. See Stenhouse, T. B. H., p. 405.  Lee, op. cit.  Wilson, Elijah Nicholas, Uncle Nick Among the Shoshones, 1910. First and unexpurgated edition. Subsequent printings were carefully censored.  Lee, op. cit. Confirmed by Stenhouse, T. B. H., and by statement of Josiah F. Gibbs.  Stenhouse, T. B. H., op. cit. Charles Kelly and Hoffman Birney, HOLY MURDER: The Story of Porter Rockwell, Minton, Balch and Company, New York, pages 187 - 188.
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