Mountain Meadows Massacre Investigation
Treasures in America has a long history with this story
Documented by Timothy Draper
Mountain Meadows. Theses a lot of history there and I’ve been caught up in the middle of it since 2010. I never meant to get involved in the way that I did. I was looking for lost history and a treasure that is nearby. As a historical treasure hunter must always do his research first before heading out in the field to find that pot of gold. But what I found was much bigger than treasure. I found much much more.
It all started at the end of the summer in 2010. I just relocated to St. George Utah and I was 30 years old looking for the next chapter in searching for my riches. I spent a lot of time looking for clues to anything that may land me a lead to some treasures. I was going to Dixie University at the time and it was easy to get my hands on books and archives at that time. Within 3 months I found some leads that explained there was some Spanish activity near Enterprise Utah along with some 1800’s mining history and at that time I headed out in the field to get a glimpse of the area.
The more research I did the more interesting things I found. I started searching through old forums and social media posts trying to find if others were talking about lost mines and treasures. Then I got a hit. Local people were talking about some lost mines nearby the Mountain Meadows area on a forum and lost mines have always been my thing. I also finally found some information about a lost ledge of gold nearby and much more. Now I was hot on the trail. I knew I couldn’t take on the task of exploring in this area along with so I started to prospect for a partner. Another 6 months went by and after many attempts to find someone that could share my adventure I found Brandon Beneventi. He was very motivated and good in the outdoors, plus he had that type of big brain and knew his way around figuring out problems.
Now I was ready and we did the only thing that I thought would work and that got boots on the ground and start looking and exploring for clues. We spent the next two years looking for anything that was not natural and we did a very good job! We found many things that helped prove that the Spanish was indeed mining in the area hundreds of years before us and found some clues to the Pioneers mining near and around the Mountain Meadows area. Now the battle wasn’t over, not by a long shot. The problem was we found rock monuments, tree symbols, rock structures and more but we couldn’t find any signs of the mines. That’s when I really became a Historical Treasure Hunter. I realized that I found clues but what I was missing was the real untold history.
I spent the next year with my nose in books, researching on the internet, and visiting city records and more. That’s where I found the story of the massacre at Mountain Meadows. Now I still didn’t really want the massacre story but in order to track down my clues I had to learn everything that I could about the area. For the next few years, I went out in the field and searched and every time I came home I researched more. Brandon and I were going out every Saturday and hiking the area.
After all this time learning about the area I was surprised at how much lost history information I had. Some local people knew I was becoming a person with some really good info and that’s how I got involved with the investigation between the LDS church, landowners, Arkansas families, & Utah News. In October of 2015, I saw that an Archaeologist named Everett Basset made a statement with Utah News saying that he found the real grave sites of the murdered Arkansas people. I read the statement and had some wonders on these new grave sites and I was interested. So LeeAnn and I headed out to the area to see what we could find. Within a couple of days of digging around, I was contacted by both St. George News and KUTV Channel 2 and they asked me if they could interview me. I accepted but I told them both that I had to put it off for 3 weeks some I could get my own info on this situation before I go on the News. A year prior I was helping out a group of ghost hunters called The Spirit Stories so I wasn’t new to showing up to the massacre site and setting up for an investigation.
Lucky LeeAnn and I found a couple of landowners that had land that butts up with the LDS Church’s property were the Mountain Meadows monument stands today. To my surprise, they weren’t just landowners, their family owned the land around the time of the massacre itself. Now I knew I just hit a gold mine. To get information from a person that his family was connected with the Massacre and to hear his stories passed down from generations was bigger than the Archaeologist saying he found the real grave sites. Not only did I now have new found, word of month info, he also told me that the new was the so-called new graves sites were and that he will take me there just like he took the Archaeologist. For the next few days I worked with this landowner and he said something to me that I wasn’t expecting. He told me that he respects that I was looking for the real truth and that he wanted his name kept secret but he wanted to truth to come out. Now I was hooked, and I was on a mission to hear and see everything that he was willing to give.
One of the days he took LeeAnn and I to the grave sites and told us that when he showed the Archaeologist, Bassett instantly felt like they were grave sites. But he had another idea of what they were. He first took us to the two sites and let us look around to get our own opinions of the sites before he dropped a new clue my way but before he did that, I started to find my own opinion of the rock piles. I noticed that they were in a dry ravine and that it seemed strange for the military to drop bodies into it from above and then pile rocks on top of the mangled bodies and bones. After some time the landowner asked me if I was done and when I told him that I think I’m good he said: “Now let me take you where the real buried sites are!” I looked at him and say, let’s go. I would love to see what you have to show me. That’s when my take on the whole story turned to a new direction. Not only did he show me a couple area’s that weren’t marked by modern-day monuments, but I also found very old rock monuments that seemed to knock down and left in time to slowly disappear. I took my photos, wrote down my findings, and thanked the landowner for being so helpful and willing to give me this info that he claims to have given the Archaeologist. I said that nothing he told Bassett was in the News and that he just wants people to know the truth and the Arkansas people can come here and sit at the real spot of their murdered descendants.
I quickly went home to and found that he may have been right. Now I’m not going to include everything about our discoveries with this landowner at this time. I do have plans on a continuation to this story due to it having to be condensed at this time but I found a couple of old pictures from only a few years after the massacre that showed a couple of rock monuments that he claims was built by the military and then later kicked down and destroyed by a main LDS Church member himself. The landowner told me that after the rock monuments were kicked down, Brigham Young ordered that the wagon train would be slightly moved around the murder site so, after time, the burial site would be lost. When I reviewed these pictures I remember the landowner telling me that his descendants talked about people coming from all over Utah to take pictures of the rock monuments. He was told by his Grandfather that it was a big deal. People would spend all day long dressing up nice and taking pictures of these sites so they could go home and tell everyone that this was the Mountain Meadows Massacre site. As you can see in the picture to the left, the man does appear to be dressed in the fashion that he explained.
The very next day I was contacted by another landowner and this was a call I didn’t expect what so ever. He started explaining that the first landowner told him about me and that he wanted my help. He then asked me if I would meet him at his home in Santa Clara and sit down and talk with him. When LeeAnn and I entered his house I again was surprised once again. He quickly jumped right into the nitty gritty of the story and told me that many people have been talking with him. The Arkansas family’s of the murdered descendants, the Leaders of the LDS Church, and Utah News channel have been blowing up his phone. When I asked him why he replied that the newfound grave site the Bassett found and claimed to be the real sites were on his land. He then mentioned that it was causing a lot of fiction because now the public was asking him to give up those parts of his land so the Arkansas families could build new monuments for the dead families. He then told me the same thing that he wanted his name out of the picture. I explained that I was going live the next day with the news channels and that I will keep him out of it as well. I told him that I will only give new found information and mention no names of the source. He then showed me confidential court papers that he was given by the Arkansas families with info on them that stated that the lawyer wants the landowner to give the parts of his land to the Arkansas people so they can build monuments for their dead family for the first time in the Mountain Meadows Massacre history.
The next day I completed my news interview and it aired 2 days later. KUTV was making it a big deal with commercials all day stating “Tonight at 6:00 Have new graves been found at Mountain Meadows?” On this one, I feel like they wanted me to be the guy that’s saying Bassett is wrong and in a way I was but not in the way they edited the interview. A couple of days went by and I received another phone call from the 2nd landowner and he told me the LDS church leaders and historians wanted to meet with him the next day and he asked if I would go with. I wasn’t really sure why I was going but he sounded like he really wanted me there.
We meet at the massacre site the next day and I didn’t get the welcoming handshake. When the landowner introduced me to the church officials, let seemed very taken back that I was there. One of the men said “Yeah, I know who you are. You were on the News yesterday.” Even though I felt like they didn’t want me there, I was even more curious at this point. We all hopped into 2 separate cars and made our way to the newly discovered rock piles. When we got out of the cars, I listened for a few minutes wondering where this was going and then when I spoke up to point out a few things to the officials, once again I felt like they didn’t want me there nor my option on the matter. We walked down to the first site to look around and I noticed that the church officials differently had their own agenda and that they were looking for something and that they needed permission to do so. They weren’t listening to the landowner either. Pretty much the whole trip was uncomfortable and I felt like it was a big waste of time. At the end of the tour, one of the men turned to me and said: “Don’t you have a site that you think is the real burial site?” I told him yes, I know where the Men’s murder site was and that there’s still evidence of the rock monument.
I told them I would take them there thinking that maybe they will see what I see and I can show them the old pictures of the freshly build monuments. When we arrived they show that it was on the property that the LDS church owned. Again they were just quiet when I explained the situation to them. When it was all said and done LeeAnn and I headed home and the conversation wasn’t a very clear one for sure. LeeAnn and I both talked about how weird that meeting was. The church officials were to the point of being rude and unclear of their intentions, and more. 3 days later I filmed with St. George news was I had the camera on me the whole time. I was able to tell my story the way I wanted. I felt good about it. I felt like I gave it my best shot and that the story was finally told.
A couple of days later, I was back at Mountain Meadows again, this time filming for the Spirit Stories. They wanted an update on my new discovery of the rock monuments of the murdered men and boys. Within a few minutes the cameras were rolling and I was walking as I explained what I was about to show them. When I approached my rock monuments I noticed that there were tire tracks in the wild grass. It looked like someone drove up to the same spot were my discovery was at. When I got to the area, I noticed the rocks were missing. I instantly started to think thoughts like, I’m in the wrong place. Maybe a few more feet away… After about 20 minutes I knew for sure that someone drove a truck up to the rock pile and took the rocks away. At first, I was very upset. I couldn’t believe that someone would do that. The camera guys stopped filming and we all noticed that there was nothing to show or prove anymore. My evidence was gone. On my way home, I just couldn’t get it out of my mind. Then I came to realized I only showed a few people that spot. 2 people from St. George News, the landowner, and the 4 church officials. The cameramen from St. George News was very careful not to give away the location and I very much doubt that viewers were able to figure out the location. Plus, why would just anyone do that unless there was a hidden motive to do so?
Still today I’m not sure who removed my evidence and it’s still something that I think about now and then. There’s still so much to tell everyone but there’s no way to put it all in this story. There is a treasure hidden in the Mountain Meadows area and I have so much more information than the massacre story as well. To learn more please continue to follow Treasures in America and we’ll release more info on this matter. I think I have learned from this situation, I know why people keep things like this a secret. People destroy and take your treasure way when you’re not looking. More to come! Find Your Adventure.