An article about a skull posted on the internet caught my attention. The material was a scholarly report on something called a “Le Forte” fracture found on the bones of the exhumed body of Joseph Smith. Exhumed body? Hmmm, this sounded interesting. I’d reconstructed numerous skulls for a variety of cases in the past and had known of, and read about historical reconstructions.
On the web page, the author noted that Joseph Smith’s facial bones were shattered when he fell from a second story window onto his face. They quoted the following as eyewitness proof of this fact:
“He fell on his left side a dead man." –Willard Richards
“He seemed to fall easy and struck partly on his right shoulder and back…” -Wm. M. Daniels
Hmmm again. Left side? Right shoulder? Neither account said he landed on his face. This was enough for me to begin researching the entire event and led me to several obscure books about Joseph Smith’s death, burial, exhumation, death mask, and skull. I will post the research and sources on this blog.
Superman Syndrome contains a number of details which, on the surface, might seem mean-spirited. I used historical facts to weave an interesting story. In this and related blogs, I’ll share where I found my
materials and why I used them. I hope you are as intrigued by the bygone facts
and historical holes that formed my book. You decide: was Brigham Young responsible for the Mountain Meadows Massacre?
We’ll start with the connection between Brigham Young and the Mountain Meadows Massacre. The LDS church has maintained that Brigham Young knew nothing of the massacre until after it happened. Below are some quotes from my research.
Brigham Young denied his involvement, stating, “The horrifying event transpired without my knowledge, except from after report, and the recurring thought of it ever caused a shudder in my feelings.” -Historian’s Office Journal, 8 December 1859, Typescript, LDS Archives, page 88.
So Young can't even think about Mountain Meadows without shuddering. Now let's look at his words and actions. Below is his sermon after the event:
"Do you know who those people were that were killed at the Mountain Meadows? I will
tell you who those people were. They were fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters,
uncles, aunts, cousins and children of those who killed the Saints, and drove
them from Missouri, and afterwards killed our Prophets in Carthage jail. These
children that the government has made such a stir about, were gathered up by the goverment [sic] and carried back to Missouri, to St. Louis, and letters were sent to their relatives to come and take them; but their relations wrote back that they did not want them--that they were the children of thieves, outlaws and murderers, and they would not take them, they did not wish anything to do with them, and would not have them around their houses. Those children are now in the poor house in St. Louis. And yet after all this, I am told that there are many of the brethren who are willing to inform upon and swear against the brethren who were engaged in that affair. I hope there is no truth in this report. I hope there is no such person here, under the sound of my voice. But if there is, I will tell you my opinion of you, and the fact so far as your fate is concerned. Unless you repent at once of that unholy intention, and keep the secret of all that you know, you will die a dog's death, and be damned, and go to hell. I do not want to hear of any more treachery among my people."
Now we’ll examine the action of Young:
Army brevet major James H. Carleton and some soldiers were sent
by the US government to investigate the massacre. They arrived in the spring of 1859 to find unburied bones, shreds of children’s clothing, hunks of women’s hair, and many skulls with bullet holes or shattered. They gathered up all the bones they found and buried them under a rock pile, then topped the memorial with a wooden cross which simply stated “Vengeance is mine: I will repay, saith the Lord.”
“In May 1862, Brigham Young happened upon this memorial as he was passing through the meadow … when Brigham read the inscription on the cross he pondered it for a short while and then proposed an emendation: “Vengeance is mine,” the prophet smugly asserted, “and I have taken a little.” A moment later one of the Saints in his entourage threw a rope over the cross and pulled it down, while others began dismantling the stones and scattering them. By the time Brigham’s party departed the Mountain Meadows, the monument to the slaughtered emigrants had been obliterated.”
-Jon Krakauer, Under the Banner of Heaven, Doubleday, 2003, page 230
“Virtually every federal officer who became involved in future investigations of
the massacre would conclude that Young personally ordered the atrocity, used his
position to shield the killers who had followed his instructions, and personally
directed the elimination of all evidence incriminating himself and his closest
advisors.” -Sally Denton, American Massacre, Vintage Books, 2003, page
What do you think?
Fine artist, forensic artist, author.