A manuscript concerning the Mountain Meadows Massacre in State History’s collections has been identified as a forgery probably made by Mark Hofmann.
The document is an affidavit made in 1924 by William Edwards regarding his participation in the massacre as a fifteen-year-old. However, two experts consulting with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) have both stated that the document is a forgery.
This counterfeit document was cited recently in at least two books: Massacre at Mountain Meadows, by Ronald W. Walker, Richard E. Turley, and Glen M. Leonard; and Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows, by Will Bagley.
The Utah Division of State History (Utah State Historical Society) apparently acquired the Edwards affidavit almost 30 years ago. The original paperwork of that acquisition has yet to be found, even though State History, Utah State Archives and the LDS Church History Department staff have conducted a thorough search of State History's catalogs and records. The only information that has of yet turned up relating to the affidavit's acquisition - discovered by Brandon Metcalf of the LDS Church History Department - is a short mention in a quarterly report for the library, dated April-June 1983:
The Library acquired some interesting items from a manuscripts dealer this quarter. In addition to the Kelly letters mentioned above, they include a deposition made in the 1920s by William Edwards, one of the participants in the Mountain Meadows Massacre, a legal document signed by the outlaw Matt Warner, a draft of one of the territorial laws of Utah signed by W. W. Phelps, William Richards, and Brigham Young, and the papers of George Montgomery Scott, prominent hardware dealer, entrepreneur in mining and cattle, Episcopal Church member, and Salt Lake City’s first non-Mormon mayor (1890-1892).
Of the items mentioned, only the George Montgomery Scott papers had been previously noted in the finding aid as having been acquired through Hofmann.
According to State History director Philip F. Notarianni, “The uncovering of this apparent forgery is a fine example of the history community working together to find the truth. The LDS Church has especially helped clear up this mystery, and we are grateful to them. “
Researchers can be assured that State History is taking the necessary steps to properly document and record known forgeries for what they are and will continue to cooperate with the history community to further the truth.