Mormon History

Mormon Confessions - 1874

The Salt Lake Daily Tribune August 21, 1874


A Saint of Thirty Years' Standing Unburdens His Bosom.

And Tells What He Knows of the Mountain Meadows Massacre.

Brigham Young and John D. Lee the Twin Assassins.

Massacre of the Innocent Emigrants by the Profit.

               Hamilton's Fort, Aug. 12, 1874.
Eds. Tribune: I ask the indulgence of a little space in your columns for the purpose of relating a few facts which pertain to myself, and may not be uninteresting to the majority of your readers. In the Semi-Weekly Deseret News, for Saturday, May 23d, 1874, appeared the following:

"Excommunications: -- At a public meeting held in Cedar City, Sunday evening, April 26, 1874, Geo. A. Hicks, of Fort Hamilton, was cut off the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for apostasy."

The above is a very brief and unpretentious paragraph, which a business man might never notice -- a paragraph which my friends who are still of the Mormon faith, would feel sad as they read it, and my enemies would perhaps rejoice at my downfall, and then it would be utterly forgotten. Not so with myself. In the notice of my excommunication, the readers only hear one side of the case, "apostasy." I shall endeavor to give


Of the forty years of my life, thirty have been spent in the Mormon Church. I, with my father's family, was expelled from Nauvoo. I thought it very cruel at the time, and still think so in fact. I have shared the joys and sorrows, the victories and defeats of the Church for thirty years.

I came to Utah in 1852, strong in the faith of Mormonism. I have seen the church when it was full of Christian charity and brotherly love. In 1856, came what is called.


which swept over the country like a tornado. It was then for the first time I heard the doctrine of Blood Atonement. Leading men in the church would say if you should find your father or your mother, your sister or your brother dead by the wayside, say nothing about it, but pass on about your own business. The wildest fanaticism prevailed everywhere. Secret deaths began to be


If we heard of a secret murder in San pete or Cache Valley, we knew the work of the Lord was progressing. I was then a citizen of Spanish Fork City, and be it said to the honor of that place, no one has ever been killed by any priestly assassin inside of its borders.


In the year 1857, while Johnson's army was on the plains, a company of emigrants came to Utah. I saw them pass through Spanish Fork; they were quiet and orderly. They traveled on to the south and stopped on the bottom between Spanish Fork and Payson to rest their teams, and in a week or two continued their journey. The next news I heard of them was they had all been killed by the Indians. It was afterwards whispered that white men and Indians together, led by one John D. Lee, had done the deed, but nothing definite was known to the public. In the Autumn of 1858, I, with my family, was "called" on a mission to Washington County to raise cotton. In Washington I was told that many of the men there had been to Sebastapol. "Sebastapol," said I, "what do you mean?" "Oh, the Mountain Meadows -- but don't say that I told you," said my cautious informer. I noticed that all these men were in full fellowship in the church and some of them were the loudest preachers and could bear strong testimony of


I thought I would be able to break down their influence in society, as soon as I got a little acquainted. I staid at Washington one year and a half and then removed to Harmony. That settlement was the residence at that time, of John D. Lee, and he was the presiding elder of that branch of the church. Surely, thought I, Brigham Young does not know that Lee is the man who led the Indians and whitemen who


Lee is a Kentuckian. He is an eloquent preacher of Mormonism, and has been very successful in making converts.

When I had been at Harmony one year, Brigham Young came to Harmony, passed through it, and drove up to the residence of John D. Lee! From that time my confidence in Brigham began to wane. Could it be possible that the Prophet of God could find no better men


Then I tried to argue the circumstance from my mind, by saying it was not my business to say where the servants of God should stop, or whom they should stop with.

Time passed on until the murder of Dr. J. K. Robinson. Soon after that event, Brigham Young preached a sermon in Salt Lake City, in which he used the following language: "There are some things which I cannot bear to contemplate, the hounds will [sic - Brownsville?] massacre; the Mountain Meadows massacre, and the murder of Dr. Robinson are atrocities of this sort. These," said he, "I cannot bear to think about; but


That last remark is significant. The sermon containing that extract, was published in the Deseret News. I read it, and re-read it; my mind, which had wavered between two opinions -- one in favor of Brigham Young's innocence, and the other against it. Brother Brigham is all right, I said, and is not in favor of Lee and crime.

The people of Harmony had got tired of Lee, and had put another man in his place to preside over them, but Lee was still allowed to preach two or three times a month. In one meeting I raised an objection, and noted Brigham Young's sermon against Lee, and thought to silence him in public. Lee, who understood his "relations" with the Prophet better than I did, promptly informed me that I did not know Brother Brigham as well as he did; he (Bro. Brigham)


in his sermon. He had talked that way to blind the eyes of the Gentiles, and to satisfy disaffected individuals, such as I was. I felt indignant in the highest degree that the character of the servant of God should be traduced by a man whose hand I believed to be


I immediately informed Brigham Young by letter, of Lee's slanderous statements. recommending that Lee be cut off from the Church. I waited for an answer; it came promptly to hand. The Prophet, did not thank me for the information I had given him, but on the contrary, he pretended to think that I had taken a part in the Mountain Meadows affair, and on that conclusions, advised me to take a


"with a jerk." That a little bit of prophetic advice I did not obey. From that time forth. I have believed that Lee is better acquainted with the Prophet than I am.

To the honest believing Mormon, these statements of mine will seem incredible, but they are nevertheless true. I do not wish to do Brigham Young any physical harm, but I will say to all men who read this article, that if I had only been


I might have rode "cheek by jowl" with the Prophet as Lee has done, and been in good standing in the Church.

On the seventh day of April 1874, I saw John D. Lee by the side of Brigham Young's carriage, and reported the same to The Tribune. I was suspected of so doing of so doing. Bishop Henry Lunt of Cedar City, questioned me on the subject. I did not deny the fact, and was immediately cut off without even a hearing of any kind.

A few more words, and I will close. I was a member of the Mormon Church for nearly thirty years, and never had a charge of any kind brought against me. I have no faith in any of the religions of the day, but like Madam De Stael, I have loved God, my country, and liberty. The reader must judge whether I have or have not had just grounds for apostacy.

                         Geo. A. Hicks.

Note: For more on Elder George A. Hicks, see Will Bagley's "His Integrity Paid Off For Pioneer," in the Jan. 21, 2001 issue of the Salt Lake Tribune.