In 1997 the Utah Board of Education and BYU Public School Partnership banded together to form Heritage Gateways, the official sesquicentennial celebration of the famed Mormon Pioneer exodus to Utah.
The schools gathered drawings and reports from K-12 grade students statewide describing the events and people involved in the original trek west in 1847. The site that hosts this has historical diaries, excerpts from books, articles, and maps, etc.
When I read the report of this young man my mind went back to my 7th grade Utah History class. I gave a report on my uncle Butch Cassidy and shared some stories of his visits with his sister, my Aunt Lula. My personal story didn’t line up with what the history books said, alas, my grades reflected as much…oh well. The history book’s version of truth differed greatly from my family’s experience.
Back to this young man’s story on Rockwell. His short explanation also reminded me of the need the young folks have for us to pray for them. His story was filled with the explanations he’s received from those older than him and the history books provided in Utah.
His understanding of Rockwell depicted someone who stood up for the Church when people were mean to them. Although he did state that Rockwell died of natural causes while awaiting trial for the deaths of the Aiken Massacre there was no explanation of what that was.
The truth is that Porter Rockwell was nicknamed “the destroying angel of Mormondom” for the countless number of people he murdered. He once said; “I never killed anyone that didn’t need killing”. After serving eight months in jail for the attempted assassination of Missouri Governor Lilburn Boggs he was released for a lack of evidence. When Joe Smith saw him after his release, he told Rockwell that if he stayed true to Mormonism and never cut his hair he’d never die from a bullet wound or knife.
Rockwell served as Joseph Smith’s and then Brigham Young’s personal bodyguard until his death in 1878.
My heart is sad for the young man who wrote this report because it tells me that future stories he would’ve been taught in the years to come will mirror the same. There will be half truths, partial stories of what really happens, not in only Utah, but Mormonism as well. While I realize he was only nine or ten years old at the time, his report serves as a good example and reminder for us to pray the Lord will intervene in this precious life – by now he’d be around 22 yrs old.
And for the record –
One month after the slaughter of 120+ innocent people by the Mormon hierarchy another atrocity took place.
Six people traveling from San Bernadino to the eastern states were mercilessly shot down and killed as well.
The six men were arrested in Kaysville, Utah and charged with spying for the US Government. While being transported from Kaysville to Nephi, Utah, Porter Rockwell and Sylvanus Collett were given orders to execute them.
While camped at night the six men were attacked on the Sevier River. Two were killed there, two escaped and the other two were transported to Nephi where they would face execution. The two that escaped tried to make their way to Salt Lake but were gunned down at Willow Springs.
It wasn’t until 1875 that Collett was tried in court for the murders and later acquitted of all charges. Porter Rockwell wasn’t arrested for the murders until twenty years after the fact and died of natural causes while awaiting trial. The two Aiken brothers and four other men’s cattle and $25,000 never made it to the intended destination.
See History of Utah 1540-1886, pgs 562-563, by Hubert Howe Bancroft
My prayer for the Mormon people is that they’d do an honest investigation of the Church’s teachings and history on their own volition. It’s a scary thing to do, but truth is needed!
If you’re LDS I can’t stress enough how my heart hurts for my people. I pray you open a history book and your Bible to investigate these things for yourself. Jesus loves you and wants nothing more for you to ask Him into your life and heart.
With Love in Christ; Michelle Grim