"Legacy of the Mountain Meadows Massacre"

A Documentary Feature Film by Brian Patrick

Synopsis:

The Mountain Meadows Massacre took place on September 11, 1857 about 40 miles southwest of Cedar City, Utah. This tragic event marks the worst massacre of Americans by other Americans in our history prior to the Oklahoma City bombing.

One hundred twenty men, woman, and children from Northwest Arkansas, known as the Fancher/Baker wagon train headed for California, were slaughtered by local Mormon settlers and their Indian allies on that fateful day.

The exact cause of this horrific deed has remained mysterious, contentious, and largely unresolved, especially to the descendants of the victims. It is thought that fear of a military invasion, revenge against anti-Mormon sentiments, and greed all played a role. Afterward, the close-knit Mormon society closed ranks to protect its guilty members and only one man was deemed the scapegoat, convicted, and executed for the massacre-John D. Lee.

This little-known story of one of the most despicable crimes in the American West, is told through the actual documented account of a four year old girl named Nancy Saphrona who survived the massacre. Interviews with noted historians and descendants of the 17 children whose young lives were spared, visits to eccentric family reunions, anthropologists analyzing bullet-riddled skulls, plus the reenactment of the wagon train battle and massacre, make this documentary a fascinating, early pioneer story.

The film explores issues of forgiveness, reconciliation, and religious intolerance with the descendants from all sides of this massacre.

"Burying the Past" discusses the involvement, cover-up, and responsibility of the Mormon Church for this horrific event.




Nancy Saphrona Huff

 

 

 

 

 


"Early in the production of the film, I asked descendants in Arkansas if there were any recollections of the massacre that existed from the seventeen children who survived. I was able to locate some statements given to journalists, however, they seemed to be dramatized by the journalists and didn't feel authentic. One day, Will Bagley gave me a statement that Nancy Saphrona gave to the Daily Arkansas Gazette in 1875. The first time I read her words, it brought tears to my eyes. It struck me as a very genuine, honest, heart-rending account of a day this young girl had been haunted by all her life. I knew right then that I had finally found the statement I could base the massacre re-enactment upon and even shot the scenes according to her account. As I began editing the massacre scene, though, I realized that there was a vital piece missing -- a photo of the girl. I searched for months, until finally I was led to the name "Sue Staton". Sue is a descendant of Nancy Saphrona who lives in Muskogee, Oklahoma, and she happened to have a picture of Nancy Saphrona which she graciously sent to me. Nancy Saphrona was twenty two years old, and married to Dallas Cates, when she gave the statement to the Gazette. She was only four years old at the time of the slaughter, and it is believed that she was spared because the Mormons thought she was too young to remember. She was the daughter of Saletia Ann Brown and Peter Huff. Her entire family was killed. She witnessed the murder of her mother, and also lost her father, brothers, and sister to the Mormons that tragic day -- September 11, 1857. Nancy Saphrona was taken away by John Willis, whom she lived with until she was returned to relatives in Arkansas two years later.
Nancy Saphrona's statement for the film was narrated by Jennifer Van Eenenaam who won an "Accolade Award" for voice-over. Nancy Saphrona died at a young age, in her late twenties."