Scroll a forgery? Insight into Mormonism

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Scroll a forgery?

In January this year (2002) a rolled up piece of lead, a cylinder referred to by some as a scroll, was discovered in a national park in Arizona, USA. The find was of immediate interest to Mormons, ex-Mormons and critics of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The cylinder was supposedly authored by John D Lee. Lee, adopted son of Brigham Young, the second LDS leader, had been a member of the notorious and murderous Mormon band of Danites, had served in the Council of 50 under Young, and had been a leader in the terrible Mountain Meadows Massacre in Utah, in 1857.

The Massacre was a joint effort between 53 Mormon men and some 400 Paiute Indians. In five days of fighting they murdered 127 men, women and children from Arkansas, who were moving through Utah on their way to California by wagon train. The group, led by Alexander Fancher, was known as the ’Fancher party’. Most of the murders took place on the last day, by the Mormons luring the settlers out of their barricade. Only 17 children survived because of their age - they were thought to be too young to understand what happened - and were taken back with the Mormon group, along with most of the possessions of the settlers.

In his 1877 book, MORMONISM UNVEILED or The Life and Confessions of the Late Mormon Bishop, JOHN D.LEE (Written by Himself) [and published not long after his execution], Lee said that the attack was, if not directly ordered, then definitely approved of by the Mormon hierarchy, who helped to incite the Indians against the settlers. However, it was Lee who was set up to bear the blame for the attack, while the others involved went without punishment.

John D. Lee was executed by a US firing squad in 1877 for his part in the Mountain Meadows Massacre. He was the only person brought to earthly justice for this crime.

The January-discovered lead ’scroll’ reads: ’At the Pahreah I have now live longer than eccpected tho I am now ill - I do not fear athorty for the timeis closing and am willing to tak the blame for the Fancher - Col. Dane-Maj. Higby and me - on orders from Pres Young thro Geo Smith took part - I trust in God - I have no fear - Death hold no teror - Lord hav merci on this resless soul.’

It was supposedly signed and dated: ’J.D.Lee, January 11th, 1872’ and clearly suggests that the then-President of the Mormon church, Brigham Young, ordered the attack on the wagon train.

However, two professional document examiners have stated that they believe the scroll to be a forgery for several reasons, the most obvious being that aspects of the inscription didn’t match Lee’s.

The finger of suspicion (regarding the scroll) has been pointed at Mark Hofmann, who was arrested in 1986 for the murders of Steven F. Christenson and Gary Sheets. who were both Mormons. They were involved in buying supposed historical Mormon documents from Hofmann; this material indicated that the Mormon’s first and greatest prophet, Joseph Smith, (Junior) was involved with the occult. The documents turned out to be a forgery.

Was it truly John D. Lee’s signed lead ’scroll’; was it a Mark Hoffman forgery; or was it someone’s effort to embarrass the Mormon Church in the year of the ’Mormon Olympics’ - the Winter Olympics held in Salt Lake City??

At this stage there is still no certainty as to who authored the newly uncovered scroll. The only thing we can be reasonably certain about is that whoever wrote upon the scroll wanted people to believe that the Mormon Prophet and President, Brigham Young, was not a true man of God.

Related, indirectly, to the recent question marks comes a wider issue of the details and facts behind the Mountain Meadows Massacre. The official Mormon Church stand has been a refusal to acknowledge that Brigham Young, or any other senior leaders of the time, were involved in what had happened. The claim has been made for years (in spite of contrary evidence) that a few Mormon individuals acted independently and without church approval in these atrocities.

One group, The Mountain Meadows Association, seeking to honour the memory of those who died in the September 1857 massacre, was established in 1989 ’as a joint effort by the descendants of both sides of this tragedy’. (See their website at: The group provide some interesting material on their website, including a power-point presentation. It avoids any controversial examination of the historical facts and the LDS Church ’whitewash’ of the affair, however. So much so, they became upset with one ex-Mormon group that had placed their association’s website as a link on the group’s website.

Sterling D. Allan was born in 1963. His father had been a Mormon Bishop and Stake President. Sterling grew up as a ’model’ Mormon boy, and served as a Mormon missionary in Sapporo, Japan in 1993. That was also the year when he was excommunicated for ’apostacy’ as a result of developing and promoting some extreme ’doctrines’ which are in conflict with both Mormonism and Christianity.

Some of the material on his website, is, however, fairly accurate and very informative - especially some of the material relating to the Mountain Meadows Massacre (see: After having included the Mountain Meadows Association website as a link on his web page, Sterling Allan received the following:

After reviewing your web site, would you please immediately remove any links to the Mountain Meadows Associations Web Site, -- NOW -- What your site expresses is something that the association does not care to get into. This Association set out to take care of the 120 that were murdered and not argue about who killed them or why. The last three days of the newspapers has forgotten about who was killed and about keeping their good names known to history. Any time in the next 100 years these newspaper articles will be forgotten but the monument, those of us who put it up and the names and honor of the dead will be remerged. We do not have the time for those who want to stir up things based on a bunch of untrue articles by mean spirited individuals who want to sell newspapers.

--From Ronald Loving, MMA Chairman of the Board

To which the following reply was given, apparently by the great, great, grandson of the man still at the centre of the controversy - John D. Lee:

Sterling: What a HOOT!!

Clearly, Mr. Loving does not want to ’GET INTO’ the TRUTH - just patch over it and move on. Mr. Loving - this does not work, it has been tried unsuccessfully for over 140 years (Since September, 1857).

[...] Get some backbone and stand for the TRUTH - admit publicly that this terrible event was a direct result of religion- dominated mind controlled fanatics and is what happens when people do not think for themselves and just obey orders blindly, not to mention the poisoned fruit of certain ’endowment covenants’ swearing to exact total and blind vengeance instead of spreading love and forgiveness seventy times seven to ALL enemies - especially those who persecute and ’spitefully use’ you. Why are you continuing to be a party to a modern cover-up and circumvention of state (not to mention Federal) antiquity laws??

Oh yes - one more thing - I am sure you have heard that the PROPHET cannot ever lead the Mormons astray - for if he did - the Lord, the great A-Number One prime ASSASSIN - will ’take him out of his place’!!! Yep, the Southern Utah "Saints" of 1857 who were following Brother Brigham’s ’reformation’ to the letter, definitely needed to exact some ’righteous’ vengeance.[...]

I for one say it is time to set the record straight - John D. Lee was a SCAPEGOAT of the highest order. It is time to put the BLAME where it is deserved - and the HEALING will only come when the TRUTH is OPENLY AND PUBLICLY CONFESSED, and some form of HONEST COMPENSATION is given to the ancestors. (What [...] is the value of the livestock sold to the Indians, the Prize Racehorse, the GOLD COINS, and other booty pocketed by the Church and Sticky-Fingered Jake Hamblin in year 2000 dollars?) Is not pure repentance (as taught by President Kimball in the Miracle of Forgiveness) involve taking these same steps? C’mon, LDS Church officials - practice what you preach for once instead of listening to your corporate attorneys!!!


To which, in turn, Ronald E. Loving, of the Mountain Meadows Association, replied:

’The Mountain Meadows Association set out to take care of the 120 men, women and children who were murdered in 1857. Our intention was not to argue about who killed them or why. It appears that numerous people think we are trying to avoid the truth. We feel quite sure we know what the dynamics were that led to the massacre, but publishing our version would only cause more controversy at this time.

Instead, the MMA has taken the path down the middle. We are asking both sides to honor our fallen kinsmen and are inviting you to join us in this endeavor.

No one in the past 142 years, except Major Carleton in 1860 and the Mormon Church in 1932, has done anything for the dead at Mountain Meadows. As evidenced during the three days of the Salt Lake Tribune’s (March 12th, 13th and 14th, 2000), those who were killed were forgotten and their names not mentioned in any of the articles. In the next 100 years, these newspaper articles will also be forgotten, but the monument and those who put it up and the names of the honored dead will be remembered.

We do not have time for those petty individuals who want to discredit the MMA and people associated with us based on untrue articles by mean-spirited people, who merely want to sell newspapers. If the truth of what happened on September 11th, 1857 were laid out in front of everyone, probably 25 % would believe it and the other 75 % would either be doubtful or no believing. Therefore, I ask that all of you search your souls to find whatever you believe to be the truth. What is so difficult about understanding the concept of honoring those killed at the Meadows?

The truth to us in the MMA is that over the past ten years, we have succeeded in causing two monuments to the victims to be put up, so that they will not be forgotten. Their names were put on the 1990 monument. We found depositions in the National Archives that told us who was in the Baker/Fancher wagon train. We found the journal of Dimic B. Huntington that told us which Indian chiefs met with Brigham Young on September 1st, 1857. At the Meadows, we posted plaques which tell who did the killing and a brief synapses of the massacre.

As soon as we have more to publish that is historically verifiable, we will do so. The key words are "historically verifiable" - not speculation from a questionable source with accusations that are not even close to being verifiable. We also have the largest genealogical database on the pioneers in the train and on their descendants. It is free to everyone as is all the information we gather.

The truth is that at the request of the descendants, President Hinckley caused the 1859 Major Carleton monument to be rebuilt in exactly the same size as the original and at the same place.

The truth is that with love and honor for our dead kinsmen, over two hundred southern Utah Mormons removed the 1932 monument by hand. Little children, who could hardly carry a small stone, and elderly men with wheel barrows full of rocks freely gave their time to the project.

The truth is that hundreds of Mormons donated time and materials to build the 1859 Major Carleton monument.

The truth is that these people and the LDS Church thought it was a sacred and honorable duty to honor our kinsmen, who were murdered in 1857 by the Mormon settlers in southwestern Utah.

The truth is that the LDS Church and the Mormon people have given willingly to this project and understand that what was done was a horrible incident. Otherwise, they would not have gone to so much trouble to rebuild the 1859 monument to honor our murdered kinsmen.

The truth is that the remains were discovered quite by accident on the leading area of the downhill slope of the ravine on the outside of the 1932 monument. The exact location of the grave was lost to history in the eighteen sixties after the original monument was torn down.

The truth is that the remains were removed from the ground with tenderness and caring by a team of professional Archeologists who knew who these people were and honored their remains with reverence.

The truth is that Ron Loving held back information on the find from the newspapers so that as many family members could be notified as possible before the discovery became news in Utah.

The truth is that no unnecessary tests were conducted on the remains.

The truth is that a historical and scientific report on the finding will be forth coming in the future, until then all is speculation.

These are some of the things that we have done over the past twelve years in order to clarify the story and in order to bring forth new verifiable information.

Ron Loving

Chairman of the Board of Directors

literal descendant’

Reports indicate that amongst the remains uncovered during the setting up of monuments a few years ago were the bones of young children. This makes the Mountain Meadows Massacre even more horrifying, and seems to contradict suggestions that young children were spared.

Whatever the real facts behind the Mountain Meadows Massacre AND behind the supposed John D. Lee lead scroll - this incident remains a serious blot in the tainted history of Mormonism - a blot that seems to seep further and wider into the fabric of Mormonism as time goes on.

For further information on the Mountain Meadow Massacre, visit these websites (as well as the ones already mentioned):

(From TACL Vol 23 #4 May/July 2002)