Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Mormon Hunter

It looks like we will have two Mormons running for President this year for the first time. That reminded me of a story about my wife's great great grandfather. In the middle of the 19th century most of the men who went into the western states looking for renegades were called Indian Hunters. His was a different mission.

William Smith Telford was born October 7, 1837 in Ray County Missouri. Like many folks in that area he didn't stay long and moved west. Before he ended up in Abilene, Texas though he did a tour of duty as a Mormon Hunter for the US Army.

He was part of the 1857 US Army expedition headed by General Albert Johnson, sent to Utah to hunt down the Mormons who had tried to set up their own government. There wasn't a lot of actual fighting between the US troops and the Mormon army over the next two years and the Mormons eventually accepted the Governor of the territory sent by the President.

The Mormons massacred 120 people on a California bound wagon train in September 1857 and that is what most people would know of the war, if anything at all. I don't recall it being taught in any of my history classes.

A newspaper article about William Telford, written in the 1930s when he was over 90 years old says:

"Mr. Telford when but 17 went with the Albert Sidney Johnston expedition in 1857 to quell the Mormon rebellion. Returning, he was in the winter of '58-59 in the Black Hills grazing Government oxen. This was the habitat of Sitting Bull and his braves, who frequently visited the camp. White Eagle, one of the principal chieftains, often hunted game with the white men."


Elizabeth said...

I don't remember this in any of my history classes either.

Lisa Wallen Logsdon said...

I think I remember seeing a documentary on that massacre not too long ago. It's sad we are so ignorant of our own history. It should be much more revered in our schools.