A Precedent of Exploitation: Nineteenth-century Mormons and Laman’s Wayward Children

The History Bandits

On the morning of September 7th, 1857, a wagon train of 140 or so migrants lay encamped along the headwaters of Magotsu Creek as the sun came up over the Mountain Meadow. The group was mostly comprised of Arkansas uproots travelling to California along the Old Spanish Trail. The party had not bothered to circle the wagons the night before since there were believed to be no hostile Indian tribes in this region of southern Utah, and several Mormon settlements were situated close by their current campsite, adding to their feeling of security. As the migrants stoked their campfires for a breakfast of desert quail, a shot rang out and an Arkansan child fell, mortally wounded. Within minutes, the morning erupted in gunfire as the clamor of breakfast was replaced by chaotic efforts to circle the wagons for defense. In the first few minutes of the attack, seven…

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