James M. Mangum

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James Mangum, his personal and family background, and his involvement in the Mountain Meadows Massacre

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James Mitchell Mangum


Biographical Sketch

James M. Mangum was a native of rural Alabama with American forebears in Virginia. During his lifetime he moved west to frontier Utah and later to Arizona. He was an American frontiersman who pioneered in Utah and Arizona.

Early Life in the American South

James Mitchell Mangum was born in St. Clair County, Alabama. His earliest American forebears were from Boydton, Mecklenburg County in south-central Virginia, close to the border with North Carolina. His parents moved from Mecklenburg County to Warren County in southwest Ohio before moving south to St. Clair County, Alabama where Mangum was born.

In either 1842 or 1844, Mangum married Eliza Jane Clark (1827-1862), a native of Green County, Alabama. Mangum and his wife as well as his mother and many of his siblings joined the Mormons.

Migration to Utah

Mitchell, his wife, and some members of the Adair family joined the Charles C. Rich Company. There 126 individuals in the company when it began its journey from the outfitting post on the Elkhorn River about 27 miles west of Winter Quarters, Nebraska Territory. At time of departure, Mangum was 27, and his wife, Eliza Jane Clark Mangum, 19.

The Mormon Trail

Brigham Young's Pioneer Company had set out in spring 1847 for the Rocky Mountains. Following it was the Big Company which consisted five companies. Besides the Rich Compnay, there were companies led by Abraham Smoot, Edward Hunter, Daniel Spencer, and Jedediah Grant. Contemporary diarists recorded that they passed Sioux and Cheyenne Indians as well as large herds of buffalo. They passed the usual milestones on the trail: Fort Kearney, the South Fork of the Platte River, Chimney Rock, Fort Laramie, the Sweetwater River, Independence Rock, Devil's Gate, Green River, Fort Bridger, Bear River, and Weber River. While on the Sweetwater River, they encountered Brigham Young's party which was returning to Winter Quarters in Nebraska Territory. Young advised that they had established a settlement in the basin of the Great Salt Lake. This news greatly cheered the company. After suffering the usual hardships of overland trail they arrived in the valley of the Great Salt Lake in early October 1847.

From Great Salt Lake Valley to Utah Valley

In the early years in Utah Territory, Mangum plied his trade as a millwright, operating saw and grist mills on Mill Creek in Great Salt Lake City. The first few years were extremely difficult for lack of provisions and inadequate harvests. Later the Mangums moved to Provo.

By the early 1850s, he and his family had settled in Payson, directly east of the southern tip of Utah Lake. A number of southerners had settled there including Adairs, Mangums, Pearces, and others.

Joining the Southerners in Washington County and the Cotton Mission

The Cotton Mill in Washington County.

In spring 1857, many of the Mangums were part of a migration of southerners to Washington County. These southerners founded the Cotton Mission in what came to be known as Utah's Dixie. James Mangum and his brother John and their families were among the pioneers in Washington County and founders of the new settlement of Washington.

Washington appeared to have many advantages over other nearby locales. It was located near several fine springs and the Washington fields seemed to provide a lush expanse of farmland. However, appearances proved to be deceiving and soon "Dixie" was considered one of the most difficult areas to colonize. The broad fields were actually floodplains so if their dams washed out, as they did with discouraging frequency, their crops were jeopardized. Meanwhile the springs, so inviting in an arid, hot country, created marshes, the perfect habitat for mosquitos. Many of them suffered from bouts of malaria (the "fever and ague" or "chills") for many years.

The Mangums had familial connections with the large Adair clan who settled there. One of the community founders, Samuel Jefferson Adair, had married a Mangum, John Mangum had married Mary Ann Adair, and other Adairs and Mangums would later intermarry. The Mangum brothers would have a life-long association with their cousin, George Washington Adair, and others in the Adair clan.

Although it eventually proved commercially unsuccessful, the Cotton Mission did succeed in producing cotton goods for local use and export at an important stage in Utah Territory's economic development.

Private James Mangum, Company I, John D. Lee's 4th Battalion, Washington

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In 1857, the Iron Military District consisted of four battalions led by regimental commander Col. William H. Dame. The platoons and companies in the first battalion drew on men in and around Parowan. (It had no involvement at Mountain Meadows.) Major Isaac Haight commanded the 2nd Battalion whose personnel in its many platoons and two companies came from Cedar City and outer-lying communities to the north such as Fort Johnson. Major John Higbee headed the 3rd Battalion whose many platoons and two companies were drawn from Cedar City and outer-lying communities to the southwest such as Fort Hamilton. Major John D. Lee of Fort Harmony headed the 4th Battalion whose platoons and companies drew on its militia personnel from Fort Harmony, the Southerners at the newly-founded settlement in Washington, the Indian interpreters at Fort Clara, and the new settlers at Pinto.

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In September 1857, Mangum, 37, was a private in the fourth Washington platoon in Harrison Pearce’s Company I in John D. Lee’s 4th Battalion. Mangum and his older brother John Mangum were among those recruited from Washington to muster to Mountain Meadows. See A Basic Account for a full description of the massacre.

James Mangum was listed in the Judge John Cradlebaugh's 1859 arrest warrant and in Stenhouse's Rocky Mountain Saints, (which follows Judge Cradlebaugh's arrest warrant). William Young testified in the 1875 Lee trial that Mangum was present at Mountain Meadows. However, his exact role in the massacre is unknown.

Although John D. Lee's mentioned John Mangum in his autobiography, Mormonism Unveiled, he makes no mention of John's brother, James. Nor does William Bishop mention James Mangum in his list of massacre participants at the end of Lee's book.

Marriage and Family Life

In 1859, he married his niece, Rebecca Frances Mangum (1843-1928), a Mississippi native and the daughter of his brother John Mangum. His wife Eliza, having borne six children, died in either 1859 or 1862. In 1861, Mangum married Mary Ann Smith (1844-1912), who was born in Hancock County, Illinois but whose forebears were from Tennessee and Georgia. They remained in Washington through the 1860s.

Move to Kanab in Kane County

Map of Kane County, Utah.

A fort had been established at Kanab in the early 1860s but it had been abandoned during the Black Hawk War (1865-68). By 1869 the Black Hawk War had been settled, but the Mormon-Navajo War was still raging, with Navajo raiders crossing the Colorado River to appropriate Mormon livestock in southern Utah. Kanab was the closest settlement to where the Navajos made the river crossing on the Colorado River to enter Mormon lands. Because of Kanab's relatively close proximity to the river crossings on the Colorado River, Jacob Hamblin had his own reasons for liking the location: his expeditions to the Hopi would be much easier to mount from Kanab.

In mid-1869, Mormon leader Brigham Young instructed Hamblin to establish a "Kanab Mission," beginning with an Indian farm at Pipe Springs. This would serve as an early warning outpost to protect other southern Utah settlements. Immediately, Hamblin set out to establish an Indian farm at Pipe Springs. John Mangum, James' brother, accompanied Hamblin to Pipe Springs and planted the first crops of turnips and corn. John was also in the work detail sent from St. George to rebuild the old Kanab fort. After completing the work, he returned to Washington. However, John liked what he saw at Kanab. He convinced his wife, his brother James and their families to relocate to Kanab. In 1870, James and his older brother John and their respective families were living in the fort at Kanab. One early settler recalls that the early fort had two rooms on the west and two on the north. John and James Mangum and others occupied the rooms on the west, while George Adair, Jacob Hamblin and others were living in tents against the east wall.

Hamblin immediately began using Kanab as the staging area for his expeditions across the Colorado to Hopiland. That fall, he mounted his eighth crossing of the Colorado to visit the Hopi. John Mangum remained at Kanab. Presumably his brother James and their respective families were there. After his return, Hamblin, John Mangum and others were assigned to guard the frontiers against Navajo raiders. They crossed the Kaibab Plateau several times and suffered many privations. It is not know whether James joined in this guard duty.

In 1871, a outbreak of measles spread through Kanab resulting in two deaths among whom was a seventeen-year old Indian girl, the adopted daughter of Jacob Hamblin and the wife of John Mangum. The other death was one of James Mangum's sons.

Sometime in the early 1870s, John Mangum and family were beginning to pioneer a new settlement, Pahreah, on the Paria River some miles east of Kanab. I have not been able to determine whether James and his family remained in Kanab or also moved to Pahreah.

Final Move to the Mormon Settlements in Arizona

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Later, Mangum and his family moved to Arizona, joining the stream of Mormon colonizers who pioneered a series of new settlements beginning on the lower Little Colorado River. Gradually they moved upriver in search of more hospitable surroundings. By the 1880s Mangum, his brother John, and his brother-in-law, George W. Adair, were in Nutrioso in the pine forests on the flank of the White Mountains in southern Apache County. In the early to mid-1880s, Apache unrest caused considerable insecurity in the mountain towns of Nutrioso and Alpine. Mangum's wife Rebecca had a handloom that she used to weave rugs and carpets.

The usual hardships of pioneering in southern Utah -- building dams, constructing irrigation ditches, planting, harvesting, heat, drought, crop failure, and dam washouts -- all existed in the Mormon settlements on the Little Colorado of Arizona, plus several additional hardships: the notorious Hashknife outfit of the Aztec Land & Cattle Company, marauding Apache Indians, the Pleasant Valley War, and the uncertainty of Mormon land titles and claims.

Mangum remained in Apache County where he died in 1888. His obituary noted that he had been an invalid for several years. He was survived by his second and third wives and ten of his seventeen children.


Compton, A Frontier Life, 280-83, 286; Esshom, Pioneer and Prominent Men of Utah, 1-21; Fish, Mormon Migrations, 487; Kelly and Lee, Nutrioso and Her Neighbors, 37-39, 51-52; Lee Trial transcripts; New.FamilySearch.org; Robinson, ed., History of Kane County, 223; Walker, et al, Massacre at Mountain Meadows, 170-71, Appendix C, 260; Woodbury, "A History of Southern Utah and Its National Parks," Utah Historical Quarterly, 12/3-4 (Jul.-Oct. 1944), 179.

For full bibliographic information see Bibliography.

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