Massacre of Men and Boys
On September 11, 1857, a procession of Arkansas emigrants bound for California marched northward up this valley having been persuaded to leave their beseiged camp by Mormon militiamen, bearing a white flag, who falsely promised them protection. As directed by the militia leaders, the women, children and wounded left the camp first. The men and older boys were last to leave, each escorted by a militiaman. As the men neared this spot, a signal was given. The militiamen at their sides turned and fired upon the unarmed emigrant men and older boys. Within minutes all were dead, their bodies strewn near the wagon road. Further up the road, the women, children and wounded who had traveled ahead were also murdered. Only 17 children, aged six and under, survived.
This ground has traditionally been associated with the burials of the men and boys killed nearby. On the day following the massacre, Mormon militia members hastily buried the victims in shallow graves near where they fell. However, within days, wolves and coyotes had pulled the bodies from the earth. Local ranchers, a federal Indian agent, and soldiers reburied many bones in 1858 and 1859. Small rock cairns once marked the sites of some of the burials, but the stones are now mostly scattered. One of these stones, with a cross on its face, has been incorporated into the memorial. For more than a century, this ground has lain untilled and protected from desecration by its owners out of respect for those who died in the massacre and are buried in the vicinity.