Thursday, August 20, 2015

Sidney Tanner and the Mountain Meadows Massacre

Daily Alta California, Mountain Meadows Massacre, October 27, 1857, 1.

Sidney Tanner and William Mathews were freighting between Salt Lake City and San Bernardino. They left Salt Lake City and made their way down along the rough pioneer road and drove into Cedar City just after the horrible tragedy at Mountain Meadows.

Their wagons were stopped and they were not allowed to go any further. Finally they negotiated travel through the area, guided by Indian missionary Ira Hatch. They could not have known that Hatch had just murdered Abel Baker, the last of the Arkansas emigrants killed in a massacre directed by Isaac C. Haight and John D. Lee and others, and carried out by the men of the Iron County Military District of the Nauvoo Legion. 

The account in the Daily Alta California was collected by a reporter writing under a pseudonym, and included the accounts of two travelers, George Powers of Arkansas and P. M. Warn of New York, who had been traveling with Sidney Tanner and William Mathews.

Sidney Tanner and William Mathews were not participants in the Massacre, and although they were taken past the massacre site at night, they must have seen proof of the awful carnage, which was represented to them as being the work of the local native tribes. Mathews was a former Southerner and a slave-owner and had a fiery temper, which is evident in the newspaper report of his comments after the Massacre.

For reliable information about the massacre, see the book Massacre at Mountain Meadows (Walker, Turley, Leonard), with important data summarized at

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Sidney Tanner Obituary

When Sidney Tanner died, the fact of his advanced age and reputation and large number of relatives meant that his obituary was front page news across the state territory of Utah. 

Here is the article from the Deseret Evening News. It ran from one column into the next so I cut and pasted into a single file and transcribed it while I was at it. 

(I already quoted most of this obituary in his biography, Sidney Tanner: A Life of Remarkable Industry.)

If someone was paying me to do family history I would do this for each of my files, but usually I just do this for my professional work.

An Old Beaver Citizen Passes to Another Life—Salt Lake Relatives to Attend the Funeral.
By a telegram to Mrs. Barlow Ferguson and Mrs. George Crismon, his daughters, in this city, it is learned that Sidney Tanner, of Beaver, died last evening. Elder Tanner was born on the shores of Lake George, in the state of New York, in 1808, and was consequently 87 years old. He was a man of marvelous constitutional powers, and endured the hardships common to the early settlement of this Territory as well as that of southern California. He was one of the earliest settlers of Beaver and has done much to build up that place; and he now leaves behind him a large family of his own, as well as a host of kindred numbering more than 600, all the descendants of John Tanner, who was prominent in the early history of the Church in Kirtland and Nauvoo, and who died soon after his entry into the Territory. The helpless condition of Elder Sidney Tanner during the last few years of his life was such as to make his departure not wholly unexpected to his family and relatives, a number of whom will leave this city and Utah county tomorrow morning to be present at the funeral services which will take place next Sunday in Beaver.

He was known as a man of remarkable industry, temperate habits, generous disposition, and unswerving integrity.

Deseret Evening News, “Sidney Tanner Dead,” December 6, 1895, 1.

Picture from FamilySearch family Tree, courtesy of jonahlstrom.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Media Coverage about James Glade

Toward the end of James Glade's life, he was in extremely poor health. Beverly Wessman thought he had diabetes, but the recorded symptoms are not exact enough to say for sure.

In the 1870s and 1880s there was not anything the doctors could do to help him, besides a little bit of ineffective pain relief mostly based on opiates, so in an attempt to control the excruciating pain he resorted first to alcohol, and then to morphine. None of it worked; in February 1881 he overdosed on morphine. His business partner said it was on purpose; he claimed it was accidental.

Almost two years later he was returning from his job in Ogden to visit his family in Salt Lake City and collapsed in the street. The police assumed he was inebriated, which would confirm a forensic diagnosis of diabetes, since diabetic ketoacidosis can resemble intoxication. An inquest was held, and the officials said his collapse and death were not due to any type of inebriation, but to his health difficulties and "intemperance" (attempts at pain management).

It must have been hard on James's wives Eliza and Isabella to deal with his illness and support the family and maintain a place in society, but they did so. Their children married into other stable families and their descendants have continued to be an important part of intelligent, friendly Utah society.

Here are the articles covering James's unfortunately public state of health.

First, a few background notes from the papers.

Deseret News, December 11, 1878, 1.

Ogden Standard, September 15, 1880, 2.

The newspapers prematurely report James's death.

Ogden Standard, February 12, 1881, 2.

And then they quickly retract the story when he lives and disputes the reported story.

Salt Lake Herald, February 9, 1881, 3.

Ogden Standard, February 12, 1881, 2.

His health only got worse, and at age 51 he collapsed and died.

Ogden Standard, December 5, 1882, 3.

Deseret News, December 6, 1882, 12.

The family held his funeral at home. This was a common arrangement at the time.

Salt Lake Herald, December 6, 1882, 8.

It took years to settle his estate. 

Salt Lake Tribune, April 14, 1892, 8.

The entire file is available in the Utah Probate Records (Series 1621),  Salt Lake County, but the collection is unindexed, and the case files are not organized in a way that makes them easily searchable by date. The James Glade file is Case Number 1547, if anyone would like to locate it. (Click on the first link in this paragraph and select Salt Lake County. The files are marginally sorted by date.)