Mountain Meadows Massacre Memories - 1905

The Mountain Wave June 17, 1905


Story of the Massacre Retold by Capt. Walter Bradshaw in
Memphis Commercial Appeal.

How Capt. James Lynch Rescued the Survivors
and Became a Hero of War and Romance.


All the old generation of American people now living may remember the terrible massacre of immigrants by the Mormons in the year 1857, known in history as the Mountain Meadows Massacre. How the ground around the camps of Western immigrants was strewn thick with the slain, men, women, children, whose ghastly remains continued to bleach the ground for weeks after that terrible catastrophe. You may remember the accounts of search parties sent out by the frontier commanders to recover possession of the 17 small children who were suffered to survive the terrible slaughter that they might be retained for ransom, but few are given to know the real story of their final rescue or who it was that accomplished such a daring strategy; and that the hero is yet living in the beautiful sunny Southland, the land of flowers, Sunshine and heroes. Let us give a brief account of the rescuer.

Capt. James Lynch was born in the early part of the nineteenth century in Brooklyn, N. Y., from whence he drifted, when a small boy, having been thrown on his own resources by the death of his parents, to New Orleans, where he afterwards took service in the United States Army. He did frontier service as a soldier scout until the breaking out of the Mexican war, when he was made part of Gen. Taylor's invading army. He fought Gallantly in all the battles of the famous Taylor campaign until it was ended and then he was sent with a small reinforcement under Robert E. Lee, who was then a young Captain of engineering, to help Gen. Scott in his advance upon the Mexican capital, In this campaign James Lynch was 3 times mentioned for bravery and gallant service. From Mexico he was brought back to New Orleans and discharged. From there he went to Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where he joined an expedition against some lawless Mormons in the West. With this expedition the adventurer was placed in a responsible position in the commissary department, which position he held till the continual failure of the soldiers to rescue the orphaned children held in a Mormon settlement in the mountains so thoroughly disgusted him that he resigned his post and obtained permission from the post commander to organize a relief expedition on his own account and attempt the rescue of the suffering children.

The bold captain enlisted fifty-one volunteers whom he infected with his own spirit to succeed or die in the attempt.

The repeated attempts of the soldiers to recover possession of the children had caused the Mormon commander to confine them within the walls of a fort, Lynch selected thirteen of those whom he knew he could thoroughly rely upon. These men, with himself, he disguised as immigrants going toward the far West country. He took his small party to the mountain fort and admittance for himself alone. When inside the bold strategist represented to the inmates that his party of immigrants were in dire distress on account of a serious break in a wagon of theirs. The commander gave his permission to bring the broken vehicle inside their shop to have it mended. This required the combined strength of the entire party to drag the old wagon into the enclosure. They were visited immediately by the ruling bishop. They were no sooner in his presence than Capt. Lynch gave a sign to his men, who drew their guns and in an unmistakable voice demanded of the bishop the immediate surrender of the bondaged children or his life would then and there be forfeit. The bishop had no alternative but to comply which he did reluctantly enough. The daring adventurers secured fifteen of the children in the fort, picked up the other two ar a near-by ranch and hastened away to their comrades, who had waited impatiently. The gentlemen found the children dirty, nearly naked and almost starved. The soldiers parted with their own garments to make clothes for the little sufferers, washed them and fed them on the bank of a near-by creek. Soon as possible the rescuing party began their return trip with their little charges. The youngest of the rescued children was little Sarah Dunlap, who was onlv 2 years old, the others ranging from 3 to 10. Several of them had been seriously wounded by the attacking party during the massacre of their parents. The fatal bullet that searched out the life of her mother shattered the arm of little Sarah Dunlap and her eyesight was also destroyed. The party of rescued and rescuers arrived in Salt Lake City, where Captain Lynch turned over his charges to the government authorities. The parting of the children from their brave leader was touching indeed. They clung to him with heart rending cries and weepings. Had he not been father, mother, all to them?

The little orphans were restored to their relatives in Northern Arkansas, where their parents had lived before their ill- fated Western journey. The murdered were of the best families of North Arkansas and started with their property for the gold fields of the West. Many of them had considerable property with them, all of which fell into the hands of the attacking party. It is known to historians that the Mormon elders tried to shift the responsibility of this heinous slaughter to the Pau [sic Piute?] Indians, but unsuccessfully as it terminated.

Soon after the rescue of the children, war between the states began and the affair was never given proper attention. Capt. Lynch refused to raise his arm against his fellow countrymen, and the next time the public heard of him he was in South America doing mining and assay work as an expert. Here he organized a large company of which he was president and prospered. He returned to the United States on a visit thirty-two years after his daring rescue of the orphans. He visited Carroll county, and was greeted as a returned father by his charges who had grown to womanhood and most of them married and doing nicely. Little Sarah Dunlap had been educated at the school for the blind at Little Rock, and was a cultured lady of 34 years. In a short time after the reunion, she and her hero were married and their union was a very happy one, although no children were born to them.

The citizens of Boone county offered Capt. Lynch a splendid home among them, but the old hero indignantly refused it, telling the would-be donors to give it to some of his charges instead. Capt. Lynch and his blind but most excellent wife, soon moved to Southern Arkansas and made their home at Woodberry, a small school town, but soon they moved to Hampton, Calhoun county, where the old hero still makes his home and where his much loved wife died in 1902. In the cemetery at Hampton the captain erected a nice monument to the memory of her whom he loved so well, saving a place for his own remains to be laid beside her.

The Lynch monument bears:

Sarah E. Lynch

Wife of
James Lynch
She was a survivor of the
Mountain Meadows Massacre.

Capt. Lynch refused to leave his wife's grave and the good people of Hampton to live at the soldier's home provided for him. He lives yet at Hampton well respected, gallant and yet fearless. Although 84 years of age he is hearty and rarely ever complains of indisposition. His mind is clear and he remembers well all his former officers and their names. To hear him tell of his travels and adventures is more interesting than to read the accounts of startling adventures. He delights to recount his experience to young people. His eye yet kindles at deeds of daring, and his hand takes a firmer hold on the staff. He is an ardent sympathizer of the Japanese having a personal grudge against the Russians incurred during his European travels. The old hero is one of the most interesting characters of the South,, and strangers never visit his locality without a conversation with him.

The other Dunlap orphan married a Mr. Evans and lives in Bradley county, Arkansas. The other fifteen are living happily in North Arkansas, seemingly none the worse for the mishap of years agone, but they never forget their heroic foster parent, the brave, daring and noble Capt. James Lynch. All those who will take the trouble to look up the Mountain Meadow affair in history and in the government records at Washington, will learn many interesting things of Capt. James Lynch.