Monday, March 22, 2010
Parley P. Pratt Grave Site - Alma, Arkansas
Called the Mormon or Utah War, the anti-climactic campaign involved key officers of the U.S. Army and consisted of a long and difficult march across the Great Plains to Utah, where President Franklin Buchanan had come to believe that Brigham Young and his followers were spoiling for a war with the United States. The LDS Church members had organized a large militia force, a small portion of which was involved in one of the most tragic incidents of the 19th century.
At a place called Mountain Meadows in Southern Utah, a small force of militia joined with local Native American warriors to attack and massacre a large party of emigrants who were making their way from Arkansas to California. After suffering through an ambush and siege, the members of the Baker-Fancher wagon train were convinced to surrender on September 11, 1857. Every adult and teen in the party was then slaughtered without mercy. At least 120 died.
McLean was the estranged husband of one of Pratt's twelve wives, a woman named Eleanor McLean. Pratt had been arrested near Fort Gibson in the Cherokee Nation after McLean swore out a writ against him, accusing him of theft. The items allegedly stolen were the clothes being worn by Eleanor's children. Brought to Van Buren, he appeared in court and was released. Realizing that McLean was hard on his trail, Pratt hoped to avoid violence by riding alone north into the Boston Mountains and then hitting a road back into the Cherokee Nation.
Instead, he was cornered just off today's Interstate 540 by McLean and six of his followers. Without arms to defend himself, the LDS apostle was stabbed and shot. He died about two and one-half hours later. He was buried on the Wynn farm, where the grave site is marked today by a stone memorial. His murder has been listed by some writers as one of the reasons LDS Church members in southern Utah took it upon themselves to slaughter the Arkansas emigrants.
To learn more about the assassination of Parley P. Pratt and his grave site near Alma, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/parleypratt.