HARRISON, Ark. (AP) — A gift of more than 100 books and other research materials to the Boone County Heritage Museum has expanded the museum's collection on the Mountain Meadows Massacre, in which 120 members of a wagon train from Arkansas were killed in Utah in 1857.
The gift from Scott Fancher and Harley Fancher of the Mountain Meadows Monument Foundation, includes 119 books, 72 maps and photos plus magazine articles and audio and video related to the massacre.
The expedition members, led by Capt. Alexander Fancher and John Baker, were in Mormon territory at a time when church members had been attacked in other states and were preparing for the arrival of federal troops who were dispatched to put down a perceived rebellion.
Arkansas members of the Fancher-Baker wagon train were headed for California when they were attacked during a stop at the meadow. After a weeklong gun battle, the group was tricked into a fake truce by a local church leader and killed by a Mormon militia on Sept. 11, 1857.
The collection donated to the Boone County museum was assembled by Burr Fancher, Scott Fancher's father and an authority on the event.
The Mountain Meadows Monument Foundation has worked to put reference material about the massacre into a number of locations, including the Paiute Cultural Center in Cedar City, Utah. According to a recent historical account, Mormon militia enlisted members of the tribe in the final attack on the group, which occurred after they were led from their encampment in a supposed truce.
The only survivors were 17 young children, who were thought to be too young to describe what happened. Two years later, the children were taken by the federal government and reunited with members of their extended families in Arkansas.
Among the books given to the museum is the new Arkansas history textbook that's being used in the state's public schools. Harley Fancher's wife, Diann, was instrumental in getting the account of the massacre, long forgotten in the state, back into the textbooks.
Scott Fancher, like Harley Fancher a descendant of the expedition's leader, said the Mountain Meadows Monument Foundation has marked the graves of the 17 young survivors of the massacre.
Harley Fancher said the donation to the museum was a priority for the group.
"Boone County is very special to us," he said at a Nov. 21 ceremony. "This is where we started."
The Fanchers also presented a plaque of appreciation to Marilyn Breece of the Boone County Heritage Museum. Her support and assistance in getting out the information about the massacre had been invaluable, they said.