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Picturing history: Tragedy Spring

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Following the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill, former members of the Mormon Battalion continued east to find Brigham Young and the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-days Saints who were working their way to the Salt Lake Valley.

They cut a route through the beautiful but rugged Sierra Nevada. On a morning in July 1848, some members of the group, including the road crew, found the gravesite of three of their scouts who had been brutally killed and placed in a shallow grave. The site is located near a freshwater spring about two miles west of Silver Lake in present-day Amador County.

Daniel Browett, the camp leader, was one of murdered scouts. The other two were Ezrah H. Allen and Henderson Cox. Camp members named the site Tragedy Spring.

Some noted in their journals that this event was the most difficult and trying experience of the long journey they were making. Wilford Hudson, a group member, carved the names of the slain members in the trunk of fir tree, preserving their identities and the site of the massacre.

A portion of that trunk has been preserved as a memorial and is on display at the Marshall Gold Discovery Park at Coloma, California.