This summer I am doing some freelance research for a family on one of their ancestors who edited a small community newspaper in Marion, Ohio from 1877-1883. The man, George Christian Sr., was Warren G. Hardings’ neighbor and his son became Harding’s secretary during his senatorial and abbreviated presidential years. Although Christian probably is not particularly relevant to the readership of this blog, I have been surprised to see how often Mormons make an appearance in Christian’s newspaper, the Marion Mirror. The first few references to Utah in the paper comment on the twenty year anniversary of the Mountain Meadows Massacre as well as John D. Lee’s 1877 trial and subsequent execution. I was surprised that coverage of the trial had made it into such a small town newspaper in the Midwest–though this might reflect the revolutionary effects of the telegraph on journalism of the time than the importance. This story was one of at least six or seven that my research partner and I have come across while looking through the small Democratic-leaning paper. The references are generally negative in tone and usually gleaned from the pages of larger newspapers. I was particularly intrigued by the following notice on May 24, 1877:
A New York Herald special from Salt Lake City says the arming and the drilling of the Mormons continues throughout Utah and there is much alarm among the Gentiles. Gov. Emery has written to the Secretary of War at Washington asking for more troops to be stationed at Camps Douglass, Cameron, St. George, Logan and Fort Hall. (1)
Sometimes I bemoan my own ignorance about certain aspects of Mormon historiography. Does anyone have any ideas over what the Latter-day Saints were mustering at this time? And why would such a apparently small event become a national news story? I do know this is about a half a year before Brigham Young’s death. Marion is about 130 miles south and west of Kirtland, so I don’t think its proximity to the former Mormon settlement would have created such interest. I do know that there was at least one prominent Mormon citizen in town because I saw his obituary. I will try to include any more gems from the Marion Mirror that I find in the next few months.
(1) George Cristian Sr. and James Newcomer Sr., eds., no headline, Marion Mirror, May 24, 1877, page 2.