Further Particulars of the Murder
Arkansas, America, on board the Steamer H. Tucker, Arkansas River,
May 22, 1857
Dear Brother Orson—It has become my painful duty to send abroad the news of the imprisonment and murder of your beloved brother Parley. I know it will be painful for you to learn that his body was mangled, and that he lay fully an hour without any one coming even to raise his head or give him a drink of water, though he was in full view of a house where a family lived, by the name of Winn.
I was journeying quietly along in a wagon, in an Indian nation, with my children, on the frontiers of Arkansas, when McLean, the demon of my life, met me. He tore the children away, and then had me arrested upon a charge of stealing clothes belong to and worn by my children—Albert and Annie McLean. There were also named in the charge, P.P. Pratt, James Gamwell, and Elias Gamwell, all sought as engaged in this larceny of $10 worth of clothes, on my children’s backs.
The following day, after I was arrested, I heard that your brother was also arrested, the greatest excitement prevailed, and when we rode in sight of where they had Parley, I saw him lying on the ground like a man who had stopped to let his horse graze. He was surrounded by twelve or fourteen armed men—military officers and soldiers. I alighted, with the permission of the marshal, who rode with me, and advanced to brother Parley, and extended my hand saying, “Brother Parley, we have met, it seems, as prisoners.” He said, “How is your health, Madam? have you been well?” I then said, “We have one thing to thank God for; we have learned how to live and how to die.” And then looking around upon the soldiers, I said in a loud tone of voice, “All these armed men and soldiers can only kill the body, and I am as ready to die as to live.” He only answered, “It is all in one little life, and this is only a speck of eternity.”
We were then put upon a forced ride of twenty-five miles, he being bound by a rope around his ankle, which was held by an officer who rode near him. They also arrested another young man, Elder Higginson, who was found preaching to the Creek Nation; and when we left Fort Gibson, he and Parley were in chains, and I in a carriage—because I was so wounded that I could not ride on horseback. Soldiers drove the carriage, and the Marshal rode with the two that were in chains.
We rode from Fort Gibson, Saturday, Sunday, and half of Monday, which brought us to the town of Van Buren, on the Arkansas river, State of Arkansas. We were then taken before the Court, only to be told that we might depart—“FOR WE FIND NOTHING AGAINST YOU.”
I have written a full account to The Mormon, which I hope you will see, but lest it should be intercepted, I will briefly state, that when Parley was liberated from the jail, McLean followed him in about ten minutes, with two men, citizens of Van Buren, close behind him, and then soon afterwards numbers of other men. Twelve miles from the town, on the road leading north, they overtook your beloved brother, fired seven shots, and then stabbed him in his left side—one of the cuts piercing his heart. The first six balls only made holes in the skirt of his coat; he was then headed by one of the men, which threw him in close contact with McLean, and that fiend himself gave him the deadly wound; and after leaving him for dead, came back and fired at him where he lay upon the ground, dropped the pistol by his side, and left!
I went to see him, under the protection of the “real Marshal,” the following day, the details of which I have sent to Brother Taylor, New York.
Brother Higginson and myself rolled his dead body in fine linen, and Brother Higginson stayed to see him put in the ground, about a mile from the place where he was murdered. He lived two-and-a-half hours, and answered a number of questions asked him by the neighbors near the spot.
The citizens of Van Buren furnished me with means to leave in four days after this bloody scene, and I am now alone on my way I know not whither; but I know that the Spirit of God is with me, and I have nothing to fear.
I am very lonely—pray for me, thou man of God, that I may stand firm to the end, and be saved with Jesus, Joseph, and Parley, in the Celestial Kingdom of God. Amen.
Eleanor J. McLean
[Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, May 13, 1857, 9-10]
[Millennial Star, 19:417]