Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah: History - Circleville Massacre
Circleville Massacre Story (Circleville, Paiute County, Utah)
Dr. Jed Rogers Utah Historical Quarterly
On about April 24, 1866, as many as 30 Paiute Indians of the Koosharem Band were killed by
their white captors. In 1865, Ute Indians went to war with the white settlers
in central Utah. In November 1865 Ute warriors raided the town of Circleville killing
four citizens. In early 1866, Parowan militia officers decided to "take in all straggling
Indians in the vicinity"--Paiutes included--eventually requesting several to come into Fort
Sanford where they were questioned. Primarily due to paranoia and distrust that Paiutes
were in alliance with the Utes.
On April 21, an express sent from Fort Sanford to Circleville stating that two formerly friendly Paiutes had shot and wounded a member of the Utah militia. In fact, not only was the militia man injured, but so was one of the Paiutes. The other Indian was shot and killed by a soldier's long-range rifle. The military commander at Fort Sanford sent an express to Circleville and Panguitch advising that Paiutes encamped near the settlements should be disarmed. Later an express rider also from Fort Sanford to Circleville erroneously reported that supposedly "friendly Paiutes had shot and killed a white man who belonged to the militia"--though no militiamen had been killed.
Settlers and local LDS Church leaders in Circleville met to decide what course to pursue. They decided to take the local Indians prisoner and sent a messenger to the Paiutes to come into town and hear a letter read by Bishop Allred. Those who complied were directed into the log church meetinghouse. When the settlers told the Indians to disarm, and the Paiutes indicated reluctance, the settlers forcefully disarmed them. Men were sent to bring in the other Indians who had refused to come in the first time. One Paiute who attempted to escape was shot These Paiutes, including women and children, were taken to an unused cellar to be held under guard.
LDS Church Apostle Erastus Snow received a report from Circleville and instructed that prisoners should be treated kindly and let go unless "hostile or affording aid to the enemy." But the dispatch arrived too late--except for two prisoners who escaped, and four children thought too young to bear witness, settlers massacred the men, women, and children, mostly by slitting their throats. Reportedly the bodies were taken to the cellar of an unbuilt mill and buried in a mass grave.
In the aftermath, no one was charged with this crime or punished.
On Friday, April 22nd, 2016, 150 years later, a memorial service was held in Circleville, UT and a monument was revealed. Many were in attendance to honor those who were lost.
Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert declared the Circleville Massacre Monument and dedication.
Links of Interest:
Utah History To Go: Paiute History