Malinda Thurston Deposition

Malinda’s Depositions

A third company included the inter-related Cameron, Jones, Tackitt, and Miller families and a fourth was led by trail veteran Basil Parker. All the parties traveled in close association, exchanging members as personalities and trail conditions dictated. Contemporary newspaper articles provide invaluable data about the Arkansas trains. From the Arkansas State Gazette, see Extract from a letter [from] Carroll Co., 18 February 1858, 2/2; How Not to do It; 18 February 1858, 2/1; and Public Meeting of the People of Carroll County; 27 February 1858, 3/1. Daily Alta California, The Immigrant Massacre; 17 October, 1/1 and Letter from Angels Camp, 1 November 1857, 1/3 described the missing families.Later that summer in Utah Territory, the Fanchers camped with the Camerons and the two Dunlap brothers, who had eighteen children between them, some of them well grown. The Immigrant Massacre, Daily Alta California, 17 October 1857, 1/1.

Malinda Cameron Scott Thurston

The Cameron, Jones, Tackitt, and Miller families from Johnson County made up the third Arkansas company. P.K. Jacoby recalled in 1877 that the train was organized at Fairsville, [Fallsville] Arkansas, just north of Johnson County. Jacoby was from Ohio, but believed several families joined the train at a
station in Indian Territory, which was the last point of departure from civilization. Malinda Cameron Scott Thurston remembered leaving Clarksville with her son, Joel, and husband, H. D. Scott, on 29 March 1857, along with Scott brothers George and Richard and his sister Martha. They met Malindas relatives in todays Oklahoma. William and Martha Cameron, both fifty-one, left Arkansas with sons Tillman, Isom, Henry, James, and Larkin, and their twelve-year-old niece, Nancy Cameron; and considerable wealth. The Camerons set out with two heavy wagons, a small wagon for traveling, twenty-four oxen, some thirty head of cattle (mostly milk cows), and one full blood race mare named One-Eyed Blaze valued at $3,000. Thurstons brother owned this fine racehorse and rode it every single day that he lived. There never was a morning that he did not get on that horse and ride all day, and come in at camp at evening. Mrs. Thurston claimed her father hid $3000 in a place mortised under the wagon, in the hounds of it. Twenty-six-year-old Matilda Cameron Miller was William Camerons oldest daughter and the wife of Joseph (or Josiah) Miller. The Millers had four children, James William, John Calvin, Mary, and Joseph; whose ages extended from infancy to nine years. They joined the party in the Cherokee Nation to form a company of about four wagons Lees Victims, San Jose Pioneer, 21 April 1877, 1/5. Malinda Cameron Scott Thurston charged in 1877 that Mormons, under the authority of Brigham Young; killed eleven of her relatives and captured four more. Mrs. Thurston recalled that George Baker was the captain of the company. Her Indian depredation case dragged on for almost thirty-five years. See Malinda Thurston statements in the National Archives, cited hereafter as Thurston Claim. A young preacher, Pleasant Tackitt (or Tackett), accompanied his twenty-two-year-old wife, Armilda Miller Tackitt, and their two sons, four-year-old Emberson Milum and the infant William Henry. Legend has it that the wagon train carried a large tent in which a preacher held religious services. Many witnesses commented on the piety of the emigrants. John Milam Jones, 32, his wife, Eloah Angeline Tackitt, their son Felix Marion and a daughter, and brother Newton, constituted one company in family groups that included Eloahs mother, the widow Tackitt. This was forty-nine-year-old Cynthia Tackitt, whose children, Marion, Sebron, Matilda, James M., and Jones M. ranged in age from twelve to twenty. Sebron Tackitt may have brought his own family along. Felix Jones did not know how much money the boys had when they left, but recalled that his brother Newton had about thirty dollars and a rifle. John Milam Jones was armed with a shotgun. Fielding Wilburn spent two or three days with this group while they were in camp on the Indian Line in Washington County. The Jones brothers large good ox waggon was drawn by four yoke of first-rate work oxen and was very heavily laden with clothing, beds and bedding, Provisions, & camp. In addition to work oxen, the Joneses had about sixty head of beef cattle. They all left the state of Arkansas for California together sometime in the month of April 1857. A man named Basham, perhaps George D. Basham, joined this company, which had a general outfit to make the trip comfortable. Along with several people probably from the Poteet family, George W. Baker came up and camped near them. Fielding Wilburn and F. M. Rowan, 1860 Affidavits. The Poteet family survived their trip.

Malinda Cameron Scott Thurston

Deposition in support of H.R. 1459 and H.R. 3945,
15 October 1877
RG 123, Indian Depredation Claim 8479, Thurston vs. the United States and the Ute Indians
National Archives
File: Thurston 15oct77
Will Bagley

To the honorable the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled:

Your petitioner, Mrs. Malinda Thurston, of San Joaquin county, in the State of California, respectfully represents that she is fifty-eight years of age, that she has been twice married, and that her first husband’s name was Henry D. Scott and her maiden name was Malinda Cameron, and that her father’s name was William Cameron and her mother’s Martha Cameron. She further represents that in the year eighteen hundred and fifty-seven her said father, William Cameron, her mother, Martha Cameron, her brothers, Tilghman, Ison, Henry, James, and Larkin Cameron, her sisters, Martha Cameron, and Mathilda Miller, her brother-in-law, Joseph Miller and their children, named William Miller, Alfred Miller, Eliza Miller, and Joseph Miller, her cousin, named Nancy Cameron, her husband, Henry D. Scott, and herself, with their three children, and her husband’s brother-in-law, were in a wagon train en route for California from the East and that on or about the third of August in said year eighteen hundred and fifty-seven they all arrived at Salt Lake City; that at the solicitation and under the advice of the Mormons and the representations that the stock could better be provided with feed, the train was divided, with the understanding that it was to be united outside of Salt Lake City and proceed by the northern route; and under said advice her husband, his brother-in-law, herself, and their three children and others started from Salt Lake and made one days journey, on the third of August, in said mentioned year, and there encamped to await her fathers part of said train; and that they remained at said camp until the seventh day of August in said year, when her husband was killed by one of the men of the train (but not by the Mormons). She further says that on the tenth of said month of August she was confined and was thus left with four small children; that after waiting for her fathers part of the train a long and reasonable time the train proceeded on, and she eventually reached California. She further represents that her said father, while at Salt Lake City, at the time mentioned, was advised to and persuaded to take the southern route, as the Mormons represented the food for their stock was better and more plenty by said southern route; and that her said father, the said William Cameron, acting on said advice (although contrary to the agreement with her husband); did take said southern route, and that when some two or three days journey from Salt Lake City the said Mormons, under the authority of Brigham Young, with force of arms, violently killed and murdered the following persons, to wit, her father, William Cameron, her mother, Martha Cameron, her brothers, Tilghman Cameron, Ison Cameron, Henry Cameron, James Cameron, and Larkin Cameron, her sister, Martha Cameron, her sister, Mathilda Miller, Joseph Miller and their child, William Miller; and also killed other persons to her whose names are unknown; and captured Joseph and Mathilda Millers children, named Alfred, Eliza, and Joseph, and her cousin, Nancy Cameron, who is yet with the Mormons, and who is aged about thirty-two years at this time.

She further represents that her said father, William Cameron, was the owner of the following-named property, stock, and money, all of which was taken possession of by the Mormons at the time of the massacre of the family of the said William Cameron, to wit:

two large emigrant wagons, with outfit, chains, covers, etc., of the value of twelve hundred and fifty dollars ($1,250);
three hundred and fifty number one cows of the value of ninety dollars ($90) each total value; three thousand one hundred and fifty dollars ($3,150);
three head of horses of the value of eighty dollars each ($80); total value, two hundred and forty dollars ($240);
three head of horses of the value of eighty dollars each ($80); total value, two hundred and forty dollars ($240);
one full-blood race mare of the value of three thousand dollars ($3,000) known afterwards among the Mormons as One-eye Blaze,and run by them; and
three thousand dollars in gold coin; and

she says that the total value of the property and money so taken from her father at the time he was murdered as aforesaid was thirteen thousand six hundred and forty dollars.

She further represents that she has one sister living (who was not with the train at the time of the massacre), whose name is Mrs. Nancy Littleton, who resides at Stockton, California, and that said sister and herself are the heirs and only surviving children of the said William Cameron and Martha Cameron who were murdered by the Mormons and robbed as aforesaid and at the time aforementioned, and she respectfully asks that Congress may pass a bill of relief for herself and her said sister, Nancy Littleton, reimbursing them for the property so taken from their father, the said William Cameron, as above state, and that they also be reimbursed for the interest on the value of said property from the time of said massacre and robbery until the present time. She further represents that she verily believes that she, the said petitioner, and the said Nancy Littleton are entitled to receive from the United States the full value of said property and money, as the said petitioner will ever pray.

Malinda (her x mark) Thurston

Jno. H. Webster,
State of California , County of San Joaquin :
Mrs. Malinda Thurston, being duly sworn, says that the statements in the foregoing petition are true as she knows from her own personal knowledge and from authentic information that she has received of the account of the massacre of her family from those who knew the circumstances.

Malinda (her x mark) Thurston.

Jno. H. Webster
Sworn to and subscribed before me this 15th day of October, A.D. 1877.

Jno. H. Webster

Notary Public, San Joaquin County , Cal

Malinda Thurston, Joel Scott, Frederick Arnold, and Andrew Wolf Statements
2 May 1911 RG 123, Indian Depredation Claim 8479, Thurston vs. the United States and the Ute Indians, National Archives
File: Thurston Depositions

State your name, age, occupation, residence and post office address. Are you the Milanda [sic] Thurston named as the administratrix in this claim and what interest have you in this claim?

Malinda Thurston; 83 years of age past; Housewife; 404 N. Center St., Stockton, California, Post-office address, the same.

I am the Malinda Thurston who is named as administratrix, I am also interested as an heir of the original owners of the property claimed for


Q. Where were you born?
A. In Alabama .
Q. What was the name of your father?
A. William Cameron.
Q. He is the William Cameron that is mentioned in this claim?
A. Yes.
Q. And Where was he born?
A. In Illinois.
Q. When did he remove to Alabama ?
A. I do not remember.
Q. How long did you live in Alabama ?
A. I do not remember.
Q. For what place did you leave Alabama ?
A. For Arkansas
Q. How long did you reside in Arkansas ?
A. I left in 1857.
Q. You started across the plains in 1857?
A. Yes, the 29th day of March.
Q. What place in Arkansas ?
A. Clarkesville, Johnson County .
Q. Who did you start with?
A. I left home with my father and his family.
Q. Were you married at that time?
A. Yes.
Q. What was your husband’s name?
A. H. D. Scott.
Q. Had you a family at that time and what were their names?
A. Joel, Martha and George Scott.
Q. Where did you meet your father?
A. In Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory .
Q. Did they form an immigrant train at that place?
A. Yes.
Q. How many were there in this train, have you an idea?
A. I think about four wagons that started from Cherokee Nation with my father and my brother Tillman and your sister\emdash my married sister, Matilda Miller. We met them at Cherokee Nation and well, all that I know about the names of the people, I know well there was my sister-married sister, Mrs. Miller, her husband’s name was Joe Miller. They were traveling with my father and my husband’s sister and her husband.
Q. For what location did you start?
A. We started for Stockton , California .
Q. Had you any acquaintances at Stockton ?
A. Yes, my husband’s sister, she came here in 1854.
Q. Did all of your father’s family come with this train?
A. Yes, all but one sister and she stayed at home.
Q. What was her name?
A. Nancy Littleton.
Q. What property did your father have at that time?
A. You mean how much?
Q. Yes.
A. He had three wagons, two big wagons, immigrant wagons, and a small wagon for traveling, and three horses. There were some mules with the company, but I cannot place them as belonging to my father, but I think they belonged to my brother-in-law.
Q. What kind of horses were they?
A. One was a very fine race horse. My brother rode it every single day that he lived.
Q. What was the name of this horse?
A. One-eyed Blaze. There never was a morning that he did not get on that horse and ride all day, and come in at camp at evening.
Q. What other property did your father have, did he have any oxen?
A. He had twelve yoke of oxen, two big wagons and teams. They had too much they could not drive all the time.
Q. Did he have any cows?
A. Yes, about thirty or thirty-five. I am very sure that in a former statement it is made to read 350 cows. No, that is not correct, that is a mistake.
Q. Was there any other personal property?
A. Yes, there was $3000 in money.
Q. How did he carry that money?
A. I think it was a place mortised under the wagon, in the hounds of it.
Q. Did he have any money besides that?
A. Yes, just enough to pay the expenses along the road.
Q. Did he have provisions too?
A. Yes.
Q. And plenty of wearing apparel?
A. Yes, he started out with a good outfit.
Q. What route did you take from Indian Territory ?
A. Well, at that time there was no place only a little path way.
Q. You took the regular immigrant road then?
A. Yes.
Q. When did you arrive at Salt Lake ?
A. On the 3rd day of August in 1857.
Q. How many people were in the train at that time when you arrived at Salt Lake ?
A. Must have been about 100.
Q. There was other people who joined you at Salt Lake ?
A. Yes, in wagons.
Q. What occurred at Salt Lake ?
A. We stopped at Salt Lake one day, and on the morning of the 5th of august my father came to our wagon and says, I think I am going to take the southern route; and my husband said, for what reason; and my father said that he heard that there was good feed and plenty of water and that was something they wanted, for the stock needed feed and water; and my husband said, I do not think I will take that route, I would rather go the main route.
Q. Did you take a different route?
A. Yes, we took the main road.
Q. And did you start before your father and the other members of the train?
A. They all started the same day.
Q. You took the regular road and your father and the other members of the train took the southern route?
A. Yes.
Q. And what time did you arrive in California , if you remember?
A. Some time in October.
Q. Have you ever seen your father or your mother or any of the members of that train since that time?
A. I expected to have them drive up with us any day.
Q. When was the next time you heard anything from them?
A. When I heard of the trouble and it must have been either before or after Christmas, I do not remember which.
Q. What did you hear? What was it you heard?
A. Of the massacre, and it was George Baker who was the captain of the company.
Q. What did you hear of your father’s people?
A. We heard that they were all massacred.
Q. Was there anyone left from that company?
A. Some small children not over 8 years of age.
Q. Were any of those children members of your family?
A. My married sister’s three children and they were taken back to Johnson County .
Q. Who took charge of them?
A. My sister, Mrs. Littleton, took charge of them, and she said they always acted so strange and seemed to be bewildered and the youngest child was like a wild goose.
Q. Do you know if he is dead or alive?
A. Dead.
Q. Is Mrs. Littleton dead or alive.
A. Dead.
Q. How long has she been dead?
A. Four or five years.
Q. Has she any children?
A. Budd, Mrs. Tate, and Tillman Littleton.
Q. Is Mrs. Tate dead or alive?
A. Dead.
Q. Had she any children?
A. Three children.
Q. Do you know where they are?
A. The last I heard, one was back East and another was in Oregon and the other one was in California .
Q. And you and the children of Mrs. Littleton, and the three Tate children are the only heirs?
A. That is all.
Q. Do you know of your own knowledge that your father and his family were massacred at Mountain Meadow?
A. Yes, sir. I know it to be true only as a matter of history, that they were massacred at a place called Mountain Meadow in Utah .
Do you know who killed them?

A. No, I do not.
Q. You only know as a matter of history that they were massacred?
A. Yes.
Q. Do you of your own knowledge know whether the Mormons or the Indians killed them?
A. I do not.
Q. Well your claim was originally based on the fact that this was done by the Mormons?
A. It was a mistake, certainly, because we do not know. I trusted it all to someone else.
Q. There were two bills introduced at Congress, one by Congressman Page and one by Congressman Budd, and they asked Congress to get $30,000. It was gotten up by your agent, was it not?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Well, your claim is $13,690, but do you know or can you account for the difference?
A. I account for it by the reason that someone got it up that did not know and they added interest to make up the account.
Q. Do you know the value of this property at that time?
A. No, I do not know very much about the value of the property at that time.
Q. Well, did your father have all of this property that he started with at Salt Lake ?
A. The same property, yes.
Q. Had they lost any when they got there?
A. No.
Q. You had property of your own also did you not?
A. My husband and myself, yes.
Q. Then you understand, you do not know of your own knowledge who it was that massacred this train of people?
A. No, I do not.
Q. And you know that your father had all this property when you left him at Salt Lake . Two large wagons and a small wagon, two horses and a race horse, twelve yoke of oxen, cooking utensils, beds, bedding and everything that went to make up an outfit for traveling?
A. Yes.
Q. You do know that they never arrived at California ?
A. Yes, I do.
Q. Now in your statement thus given it mentions two immigrant wagons $1250, it was intended to include the out-fit, covers, beds, and bedding and the contents, was it not?
A. Yes, and this statement does not mention that there was a small wagon.
Q. You are an invalid now, are you not?
A. Yes, I suffer from rheumatism.


Q. Where was your father and his family living in Arkansas prior to starting on this trip to California ?
A. He lived in a small town about 15 miles from Clarkesville.
Q. On the trip to the Cherokee Nation, where you met your father and his family and outfit, you came to Fort Smith , did you not?
A. Yes, my brother was in business at Fort Smith and my father came with them at fort Smith and they met us in Cherokee Nation.
Q. And you crossed the Nation?
A. Yes.
Q. Do you know what place it was you met them in the Cherokee Nation?
A. No, I do not. There was no such a thing as a place from the time we left Cherokee Nation, but just the bare ground and we never saw a place where you could buy a thing from there to Salt Lake.
Q. Did you come up through Kansas on the way?
A. I don’t remember.
Q. Where did you strike the trail knows as the Old Mountain Trail?
A. No, I don\rquote t remember.
Q. Did you go to Omaha ?
A. No, I do not remember.
Q. Do you know where you struck what was known as Salt Lake Trail?
A. No.
Q. How long were you traveling from Cherokee Nation, to what was called Salt Lake Trail?
A. It was just one long traveling road and it was very rough and no place where you could get anything or sell anything.
Q. In what direction did you travel from the Cherokee Nation?
A. I do not know. Any way that we could travel on account of the roads and feed and water for the stock.
Q. Do you know where you crossed the Rocky Mountains ?
A. It all seemed to be Rocky Mountains all the way.
Q. Do you remember passing any place in those days where there were soldiers stationed?
A. No, I do not. I don’t think there was any at that time, we did not see any.
Q. Did you pass any telegraph poles?
A. There were no telegraph poles, no such a thing as a pole.
Q. When you reached Salt Lake City how many of you were there the night you reached Salt Lake City in your train?
A. Well, I knew some of the families that left home the same time, but I could not tell how many.
Q. While you were on the road did you meet with their wagons?
A. Yes, we would drive in with trains and stop over night and then in the morning we would separate.
Q. Do you remember striking the Green River ?
A. I remember the river but not when or where.
Q. Do you remember crossing the Laramie ?
A. I remember crossing the place but not by name.
Q. Did you have any trouble with the Indians before you reached Salt Lake?
A. Yes, many a night we sat up and watched all night.
Q. Do you remember anything of the Platt River ?
A. Yes, I remember going, it seems we went along the side of the Platt River and crossed it a few times.
Q. Do you know whether there were any other wagons stationed there that started from the Cherokee Nation in your company?
A. Yes, quite a few came in our company before we got there because they were afraid that the Indians would break in at any time and so they drove up together.
Q. Who was in charge of the train of which you were a member and of which your father was a member when you reached that city?
A. My husband, H. D. Scott, was there, and when we separated George Baker was the man that took charge of the company.
Q. Where was this George Baker from?
A. From Arkansas some where I can’t remember the name of the place.
Q. While you were in Salt Lake City did you hire anyone to act for your party of the train or your husband?
A. No.
Q. Do you know whether the members of the train of which you your father and his family were members of hired anyone to act as a guide?
A. No, I do not know anything about them after they parted from us at Salt Lake.
Q. Well, you were in Salt Lake that day and two nights?
A. Yes.
Q. Did you see anyone who had formerly lived in Arkansas , who came to your camps.
A. Not only who were traveling with us.
Q. Did you ever know a man in Arkansas by the name of John D. Lee?
A. No. Back in Arkansas ? No.
Q. Did you ever meet a man while in Salt Lake by the name of John D. Lee?
A. No.
Q. You stated that that race horse belonged to your brother, was that true?
A. Yes.
Q. Was he married or single?
A. Single.
Q. What became of him?
A. He was with my father.
Q. Did he own this race horse or was it your father\rquote s property?
A. My brother owned it himself.
Q. Did you brother own any of those wagons or oxen?
A. He had an interest in them, because he started with lots of feed for the horses, they had the wagons together.
Q. Can you read and write, Mrs. Thurston?
A. No sir.
Q. Have you been appointed the administratrix of your brother\rquote s estate, that is the brother that owned this horse?
A. Yes.
Q. Did you see any other trains in and around Salt Lake when you arrived there that were going with your father’s train?
A. No, I did not see them.
Q. Now how many cows did your father have with him when you left him at Salt Lake ?
A. Well, thirty, not over thirty-five nor under thirty.
Q. Were they all good milk cows?
A. Yes.
Q. And you say who ever placed that number in the claim as 300, made a mistake then?
A. Yes.
Q. How did you know that your father had this gold and where it was hidden?
A. Well, I know it because my father told me.
Q. Then you never saw this gold?
A. No, I never saw it.
Q. Then after leaving your father on August 5th, 1857 and his family you never saw or heard of them directly after?
A. No, not until I heard of them in the papers about Christmas time.
Q. Do you know what papers it was in?
A. No.
Q. You being unable to read or write who was it if you remember that read of this killing to you?
A. It was my husband.
Q. When were you married to your present husband, Mr. Thurston?
A. In February of 1859.
Q. Where at?
A. Out in the country 10 or 11 miles in San Joaquin County .
Q. When and where did your husband H. D. Scott die?
A. About two days travel from Salt Lake .
Q. Did he die a natural death?
A. No, the difficulties in the train.
Q. Was he killed by some member of your own train?
A. Yes.
Q. How many of those people that came into Salt Lake with your followed your husband and your party of the outfit?
A. About eight or nine persons. There were only two wagons besides ours, my husband and myself and those two wagons had something like eight or nine with them\emdash yes, I think about that.
Q. And after your husband was killed did you continue on until you reached Stockton here?
A. Yes.
Q. Who took charge of your wagons and outfit?
A. Well, there were four men, one was R. D. Scott and Sam Martin.
Q. And you were all from Arkansas , were you not?
A. Yes, from the same place.
Q. And the most of those people who remained and went with your father and his family from the South route were from Arkansas too were they?
A. Well yes-well there were some of them that I knew and some that I did not know and they had to make up companies there on account of the Indians.
Q. Do you know this man George Baker who assumed charge of the train in which your father’s train was a member of?
A. Yes, I knew him back home, but I don’t remember him as traveling with him [sic] but they drove up with us in Salt Lake and left our train there and Baker, I knew before I left home.
Q. Did you ever hear anyone in your train or in your father’s train or with Baker speak of John D. Lee?
A. No, I never heard his name mentioned.
Q. When that paper was read to you by your husband, Mr. Thurston, did it say who was responsible for the killing of your father and his family?
A. No, I do not remember, it didn’t say who nor how nor very much about it in the paper. They were left on the plains.
Q. It didn’t say whether it was the Mormons who killed them or the Indians, did it?
A. No.
Q. It did not say who killed your parents and their families and took their property?
A. I don\rquote t know.
Q. The same knowledge that you now have you in possession of on October 15th, 1877 , when you filed a petition in congress?
A. Yes, I can remember just the same.
Q. And you have no other evidence of what took place after leaving Salt Lake with your father or his outfit than you had at that time, have?
A. Only by history.
Q. And the same evidence was in existence when you filed your petition in the Senate on December 18, 1887 that is in existence today and you have no more evidence today than you had then?
A. No, I could not have any more.
Q. And the facts and all the facts that you now have in regard to this claim you had when you filed your petition in the House of Representatives and of the Senate of the United States, is that true?
A. They are all just the same.


Q. In preparing your petition for Congress did you furnish any evidence then existing as to the value of the property?
A. I depended upon others.
Q. You knew that your people had lost their property and they had been killed by someone and only by a matter of history?
A. Yes.
Q. You thought that you had a claim against the United States for the destruction of this property and you left this to others, did you not?
A. Yes, I had to leave it to others with the description and value of the property.
Q. And the different descriptions in these matters have been caused by different people taking them up. You being unable to read or write depended upon others to do it for you, did you not?
A. Yes sir.

Malinda Thurston being unable to write, made her mark in my presence, and I wrote her name at her request and in her presence, and I hereby sign the same as a witness

Elizabeth L. Buck

Contributed by Burr Fancher.