What Happened At Mountain Meadows?

The truth is still emerging about the mass murder of more than 100 California-bound emigrants in Utah in 1857, and about the role of leaders of the Mormon Church in the atrocity.

On August 3, 1999, a backhoe operator powered his shovel into a hard-packed mound of earth at a remote site in the southwestern corner of Utah, and to the shock of those watching, the bucket emerged with more than 30 pounds of human skeletons. The excavation, part of a renovation of a crumbling monument, had not only uncovered an old burial site but also exposed anew one of the enduring controversies in American history. Read more »

This Is The Place

Retracing the Pioneer Trail in Mormon Utah

On my first visit to Gilgal Garden, a back-yard collection of folk sculpture in Salt Lake City, a Mormon friend who shares my taste for the unusual took my picture. There I am, a smiling, middle-aged Gentile (as Mormons call all non-Mormons) seated on a large stone sphinx that has the face of Joseph Smith, the founder of the faith. I am sitting on the sphinx’s paw. Read more »

My Grandfather, The Mormon Apostle

Discovering a giant in the family

Emerson wrote that “there is properly no history; only biography,” so my brother and sister and I knew that the revered collection of diaries and papers that had once belonged to our grandfather, which during most of our early lives was in a closet in an upstairs bedroom, contained some serious stuff. Our mother was a professional journalist, and it was always assumed that she would write her father’s story. But she intended instead to write a novel based on his life.Read more »

Mirror Of Zion

The Utah Photographs of George Edward Anderson

When George Edward Anderson was born at Salt Lake City in 1860, Brigham Young’s desert kingdom—“the resting place of Israel for the last days”—still stood defiantly apart from the rest of America, embattled and alone. By the time Anderson died in 1928, Utah had been a loyal and contented state of the American Union for more than three decades. Anderson chronicled that peaceful transformation with his camera. Read more »

The Mormons

From Poverty and Persecution to Prosperity and Power

In the month of February, 1846, when conditions for travel were as unpropitious as possible, the Mormons began moving out of their newly built city of Nauvoo, Illinois, in order to cross the ice-strewn Mississippi, on the first leg of a long and uncertain journey. A forced abandoning of barely completed homes, this time with the loss of much property and the necessity for travel in the dead of winter, was no new experience for the adherents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.Read more »