eleanor mclean

One random thing you probably don’t know about Mitt Romney: his great-great grandfather was the proximate cause of the Mountain Meadows Massacre.

Short version: Parley P. Pratt (the guy in the picture above) was an early LDS apostle known as the “Archer of the Lord."  He helped settle southern Utah and was deeply beloved by pretty much everyone there.  In 1855, he hooked up with a woman named Eleanor McLean in San Francisco.  She was estranged from her husband Hector, who was by all accounts an abusive, alcoholic jerk who didn’t like her newfound LDS faith or the guy who converted her.  Eleanor married Parley despite not being divorced from Hector and tried to bail with their kids to Utah.  Complications ensued.

In May of 1857, Hector tracked Parley down in Arkansas and shot him several times.  He stabbed him, too, just for good measure.  Parley bled to death over the next two and a half hours.  The news did not go over well back in Utah Territory.  In early August 1857, Eleanor arrived in SLC and gave several public speeches blaming the entire state of Arkansas for not protecting Parley, which may have been a tad excessive.  The net result was that when the Fancher-Baker party rolled into southern Utah from Arkansas in early September 1857, they did not get a good reception.  The best modern comparison might be if Lee Harvey Oswald had stood trial for JFK’s assassination in Boston. 

This is one of the big reasons why you will probably be hearing a lot about the MMM in the next several months from people other than me. 

If I am very lucky, someone will make a movie someday about the MMM and cast Richard Kind as Parley:

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