from Times and Seasons, Nauvoo, Illinois, December 1, 1845
The New York Sun, in its own editorial article runs as follows:
William Smith, brother of Joe Smith, the Mormon prophet, states that it is their design to set up an
independent government somewhere in the neighborhood of the Rocky mountains, or near California.
That the plan has been maturing for a long time, and that, in fact, with hate in their hearts, skillfully kept
up by the Mormon leaders, whose pockets are to be enriched by their toil, the mass of the Mormons will
be alike purged of American feeling, and shut out by a barrier of mountains and church restrictions from
any other than Mormon freedom. That the design of Brigham Young and the twelve is to build up a
sacerdotal tyranny, the spirit of which will be more repugnant to the spread of republican principles than
could possibly be the rule of Europe. These are William Smith's views. He is opposed to the plan of
organization and its leaders.
notes on Arthur Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet
by John McDonnell
When A Study in Scarlet appeared in 1887, polygamy was still an official practice of the Mormon church
in Utah. The church's 1890 decision to abandon it was necessary before Utah could become a State (1896).
A recorded 1857 sermon by Brigham Young shows that "blood atonement" (murdering apostates) was once
an accepted practice in Utah: "Will you love your brothers or sisters likewise, when they have committed a
sin that cannot be atoned for without the shedding of their blood? Will you love that man or woman well
enough to shed their blood?" [Journal of Discourses 4:219; Deseret News 6:397]
One of the more interesting accounts of fleeing Utah is in a biographical sketch of Mark H. Forscutt by
Roy A. Cheville:
"Mark Hill Forscutt was born June 19, 1834, at Bath, England. He was one of those persons who have
been considered 'naturally religious.' When a young man, he went with some friends to hear a strange
preacher with a strange message—a Latter Day Saint. It was one of those cases where 'those who came
to scoff remained to pray.' ... At the age of nineteen, he was baptized in spite of the opposition of his family
who immediately disowned him. He went daringly ahead in the life of the Latter Day Saints in the ministry
to which he was soon called.
"On March 25, 1860, he was married to Elizabeth Unsworth. On their wedding day they left England for
America. They were 'gathering' to the 'city of the Saints' in Utah. They made their way to Omaha,
Nebraska, where they joined a caravan and traveled on foot to Salt Lake City. On arrival, Mark Forscutt
became private secretary to Brigham Young, a position he held for four years. He saw the inner workings
of the Utah church. He became heartsick and disillusioned and angry.... For safety and livelihood he joined
the Fifth California Cavalry of the United States Army. Mrs. Forscutt and two small children went along on
excursions into Nevada....
"Mark Forscutt left the Salt Lake City region as a matter of safety. In those days there was an extremely
hostile attitude toward those who left the church as 'apostates.' By exchanging a stagecoach ticket with a
soldier he came out safely without identification. Sometime later Mrs. Forscutt came east with her two
small daughters on the first Union Pacific train out of Ogden for Omaha...."
The sketch goes on to tell of Forscutt joining the Reorganized church in 1865, returning to Utah for a while
as a missionary for the Reorganized church, becoming a close friend of Joseph Smith III (a son of the
church founder and the leader of the Reorganized church), becoming a church music leader, in 1879
preaching the funeral sermon of Mrs. Emma Smith Bidamon (who had been church founder Joseph Smith
Jr.'s one and only wife), and producing the Reorganization's first hymnbook in 1889 (the earliest Latter
Day Saint hymnbook had been produced by Emma Smith in 1835).
In his published memoirs, Joseph Smith III stated:
"... after the death of Brigham Young —and possibly as a partial result of the bloody Mountain
Meadow massacre  and its publicity [in 1877 John Doyle Lee was executed for the murders]—there
ensued a change in the administrative policies of the Mormon Church, and the Danite band was put out
"... Mr. Fennimore was the photographer who took the pictures that appeared in some articles about the
trial and execution of John D. Lee. These pictures included the scene at Mountain Meadows where the
massacre of 1857 occurred when a large party of immigrants was killed and their stock stolen—ostensibly
by Indians. Inquiry under the auspices of the United States Government traced the crime to white men
belonging to the Mormon Church, of whom John D. Lee was but one, though evidently made the scapegoat
in crime for the whole party."
There is a 2004 movie "Burying the Past: Legacy of the Mountain Meadows Massacre", 86 minutes, a
documentary feature about the tragic 1857 immigrant massacre in southern Utah, available in VHS and
In A Study in Scarlet its 1860 date for the murder of John Ferrier by the Danite Band fits the conditions
of the time. In my opinion, A Study in Scarlet would make a great movie, if the exact details of the story
were portrayed. Contrasts between settled London and the Wild West, if skillfully shown, could be
sources of information
The Memoirs of President Joseph Smith III (1832-1914), Herald House, Independence, Missouri, 1979.
Saints' Harmony, edited by Mark H. Forscutt, Lamoni, Iowa, 1889, reprinted by Herald House,
Independence, Missouri, 1974 (the reprint includes Roy A. Cheville's biographical sketch of Mark H.
two letters by Mark H. Forscutt written in 1866
1. from The Saints' Herald, vol. 10, pp. 142-143:
Elder M. H. Forscutt wrote from Salt Lake City, Utah, September 21, 1866, giving an account of a
very disreputable and condemnable effort to destroy him and others. He wrote as follows:—
"During the stay of the brethren at my house, I found the following paper inserted under my window
" 'Aug. 31, 1866.
" 'If not out of this Territory in one week, you will die the death of a miserable apostate dog.
" '(Addressed) MR. FORSCUTT.'
"The following Sabbath several of the saints, Bros. Gillen, Anderson, and my own family took supper
at my house, and all excepting the two brethren and myself, and my eldest daughter, (five years old,)
were immediately taken sick. They vomited most fearfully, and experienced a very peculiar sensation,
accompanied by spasms in the stomach, and numbness of the hands and feet. One of the sisters, Jane
Maloney, wife of Bro. Maloney, (on whose life an attempt was made nearly a year and a half since,
as reported in Herald,) resides at camp. She and her son were very sick, and in conversation with the
army surgeon, her husband was informed there was every indication of strychnine. My wife cooked
down in the cellar, to which there is a separate entrance, and a neighbor's boy, on hearing of the
circumstance, the day following, said he saw two men, whom he described, standing near the stove
on the day in question, during the temporary absence of Sister Forscutt with her company. They
doubtless did the execrable work, but thanks be to God, who gave us the victory, they were foiled
considerably in their nefarious design. All are again restored whom the murderous preparation
affected, excepting Sister Maloney, and she experiences a deadening sensation in her toes only.
Those whom they most designed to destroy were totally unharmed."
2. from The Saints' Herald, vol. 10, p. 175:
November 6, Elder Forscutt wrote from Columbus, Nebraska, of Utah affairs as follows:-
"I wrote you on leaving Great Salt Lake City, and merely drop you a line to state that I spent
Sabbath here, and had a truly soul-refreshing time. I leave here tonight for Omaha, and will be in
Plano as soon as I can manage my affairs enroute.
"Times are lively in Utah. Dr. Robinson, next door but one neighbor to me, and a personal friend,
was murdered two days after I left. I also learned from a gentleman who left there the day after the
doctor's murder, that General Connor and eight others were under orders from the Danite fraternity
to leave or die."
The Book of Mormon, first published in 1830, may contain the strongest denunciation of polygamy
in all of religious literature. In its Book of Jacob there is lengthy condemnation of polygamy, from
which I extract the following:
"... the people of Nephi under the reign of the second king began to grow hard in their hearts, and
indulge themselves somewhat in wicked practices, such as like unto David of old, desiring many
wives and concubines, and also Solomon his son ..."
"... thus saith the Lord: 'This people beginneth to wax in iniquity; they understand not the scriptures,
for they seek to excuse themselves in committing whoredoms because of the things which were
written concerning David and Solomon his son. Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives
and concubines, which thing was abominable before Me!' saith the Lord; wherefore, thus saith the
Lord: 'I have led this people forth out of the Land of Jerusalem by the power of Mine arm, that I might
raise up unto Me a righteous branch from the fruit of the loins of Joseph; wherefore, I, the Lord God,
will not suffer that this people shall do like unto them of old.' Wherefore my brethren, hear me and
hearken to the word of the Lord: 'For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife,
and concubines he shall have none; for I, the Lord God, delighteth in the chastity of women, and
whoredoms are abominations before Me!' "
How the church that Joseph Smith Jr. founded moved from such plain statements to the sort of
polygamy practiced by Mormons in Utah is strange. Due to false accusations by enemies of the
church, the 1835 book Doctrine and Covenants, with the endorsement of Joseph Smith Jr. and
other leaders, had included an official church statement on marriage. One sentence read: "Inasmuch
as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare
that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in
case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again."
Yet, Mormon harems in Utah became a reality. In the memoirs of Joseph Smith III (1832-1914), who,
beginning in 1860, served as president of the Reorganized church, are poignant accounts of his
encountering plural wives during his missionary trips through Utah.
"I was once invited to [cousin] Joseph F.'s. He received me kindly as I arrived, and we chatted for a
little while before supper was announced.... To me the situation in which I found myself seemed very
strange. For the first time in my life I was permitted to see thus at close range the domestic relations
of a polygamous family and the actual operation of a doctrine which had long been unspeakably
repulsive to me. The very fibers of my being seemed to cry out in protest, and so strong was my
prejudice and antipathy that I seemed to feel almost physically ill as I contemplated the scene. There,
at one board sat a complacent man, surrounded by three wives and a large number of children ... The
women did not take much part in our conversation. I thought I detected upon the countenances of two
of them, evidence of some distress of mind, and possibly, regret, as if they were conscious that the
opinions I would form of their family relations were not likely to be very complimentary to them."
Here is a poem I wrote based on A Study in Scarlet:
The Flower of Utah
Before the state of Utah chose
The sego lily for its flower,
'Twas told the flower of Utah was
A fairer girl than Mormon power
Had seen on all the Pacific slope.
But she loved a Gentile man named Hope.
In vales beyond a nation's laws
A sacerdotal rule enthralls.
The priestcraft reach with grasping paws
Confined the girl in harem walls
Until she pined away and died.
Revenge replaced the tears Hope cried:
"Let's see if justice dwells on earth
"Or if we all are ruled by chance."
Death comes to all of human birth.
Beside the salt lake satyrs dance
In darkness, while in the light of day
The sego lilies gently sway.
Now that Mormons have some reputation for happy monogamous marriages, one might see in that a
fulfillment of Isaiah 1:18: "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord; though your sins be
as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."