John Doyle Lee papers, 1841-1982  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Lee, John Doyle, 1812-1877
John Doyle Lee papers
1841-1982 (inclusive)
1 box, (0.5 linear feet)
Collection Number
ACCN 0186
The John Doyle Lee papers (1841-1982) comprise two categories of documents: diaries and journals written by Lee between 1841 and 1851 and documents written about Lee at later dates. The latter category includes book excerpts, a legal document, and a research paper.
University of Utah Libraries, Special Collections.
Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library
University of Utah
295 South 1500 East
Salt Lake City, UT
Telephone: 801-581-8863
Access Restrictions

Twenty-four hour advanced notice encouraged. Materials must be used on-site. Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.


Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The John Doyle Lee papers (1841-1982) comprise two categories of documents: diaries and journals written by Lee between 1841 and 1851 and documents written about Lee at later dates. The latter category includes book excerpts, a legal document, and a research paper. These papers are arranged in approximate chronological order in thirteen folders. John Doyle Lee was born in KasKasKia, Williamsburg Township, Illinois, on 6 September 1812 and died, by firing squad, in Iron County, Utah Territory, on March 23, 1877. The documents in the collection authored by Lee comprise ten typescripts of his diaries and journals, some bound, that record missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and assignments by leaders of the Church. These documents have in common logs of travel, including locations visited, mode of travel and distances, points made in sermons and in debates with local clergy (Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist and Campbelite), and a listing of families that provided food, lodging, or gifts. It appears that Lee made friends among his converts, for he was warmly welcomed back in subsequent visits. At times, there are gaps in the text that make Lee's story somewhat difficult to follow. Included in folders 4, 7, and 10 are unbound journals identified with the name Fred Collier. These are copies of the material in the bound journals preceding them, but the text of these is less complete and are annotated. However, these versions do contain material not included in the other, bound copies. These diaries and journals deal almost entirely with church-related activity. There is very little reference to Lee's personal interests or family life. His efforts to keep his reporting impersonal go so far as to refer to his own participation in meetings in the third person. The second category of papers, those written about Lee, include a copy of excerpts from a small book (not identified by title, author or date) that comment on Lee's activities in 1847, a copy of a response to Lee's 1876 indictment, and a research paper (circa 1982) by a Brigham Young University student commenting on Lee's trial and execution.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

The library does not claim to control copyright for all materials in the collection. An individual depicted in a reproduction has privacy rights as outlined in Title 45 CFR, part 46 (Protection of Human Subjects). For further information, please review the J. Willard Marriott Library’s Use Agreement and Reproduction Request forms.

Preferred Citation

Collection Name, Collection Number, Box Number, Folder Number. Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 1 "Diary of John D. Lee"
This document is a bound typescript of 54 pages covering his mission to Tennessee in the area of Murfreesboro. It includes many acrostics and poems. Lee was challenged to debate by local clergy several times (won each time). He received lodging, meals, clothing, schooling, a horse and funds to return home from convert friends.
1 2 "John D. Lee Journal"
This document is a bound typescript of 95 pages covering a second mission to Tennessee. It includes a description of travel by river boats from Illinois. Shortly after arrival in Tennessee, Lee decided to accompany a group of convert families migrating to Illinois; he returned to Tennessee in the spring of 1843. The journal includes the report of a "vision" and witnessing a phenomenon in the sky, a "silver hemisphere." Shortly before leaving his life was threatened by an irate husband objecting to the baptism of his wife.
1 3 "John D. Lee Diary"
This document is a bound typescript of 30 pages, covering his mission to the area of Frankfort, Kentucky. It includes details of river travel to and from Illinois, notes on sermons and debates and more acrostics. The Mission received word of the death of Joseph Smith and was instructed to return to Navoo. The document includes comments on trouble following the death of Smith: the unsuccessful attempt by a Mr. Rigdon to assume leadership of the Church, 100 houses burned and the use of a stand-in for President Young to foil his arrest. Lee was appointed general clerk and recorder for the 70's and Captain of the first 50. This document includes a note: "courtesy of Mrs. J. A. Henrie..."
1 4 "Journal of John D. Lee"
This document is an unbound typescript of 64 pages (Fred Collier). It has many gaps in the text of the sort that might be expected if the typist had trouble reading the original handwritten document and many editing markings. It covers the same journal material as the document in Folder 3 above but continues beyond that document to provide an account of Lee's temple assignments in Navoo.
1 5 John D. Lee diary
This document is a 63 page bound typescript that covers activities in the "Camp of Isreal" with details of preparations and departure for the trip west.
1 6 "John D. Lee Journal"
This document is a bound typescript with a pencil note "Winter Quarters" in the front. In a location referred to as "Camp of Iseral" the Mormon Battalion was assembled and sent south. Lee, serving as historian and clerk for Church President Young, recorded much discussion about leaving for the west as groups became ready or wait until everyone was provisioned. When it was decided to wait, the encampment was named "Cutler Park." Negotiations were carried on with the Omaha Indians for peace during the winter. Lee received assignment to follow the Mormon Battalion and return funds the troops wished to send for the support of their families.
1 7 "Journal of John D. Lee"
This document is an unbound typescript of 111 pages (Fred Collier). It is labeled "From Navoo to Winter Quarters." It is a different, perhaps preliminary, copy of the material covered in the preceding two folders, but it includes a few items not in them.
1 8 John D. Lee "Mormon Battalion Mission Journal"
This document is a bound typescript of 65 pages that covers his journey south to catch up with the main group in mid-September and then accompany them to Santa Fe, New Mexico. This journal includes descriptions of hardships endured by the troops under the command of regular army officers following the death of their original commander.
1 9 John D. Lee "Journal of the Iron County Mission"
This document is a 90 page bound typescript. Lee was reluctant to leave at a time when his personal affairs were not in order, but was persuaded by Church President Brigham Young to accompany President G. A. Smith and party (about 100 wagons) to found a colony in Iron County, Utah Territory. The journal includes much detail about the trip: amounts of provisions, organization, route taken, location and description of daily encampments, weather, severe difficulties encountered in mid-winter stream crossings and even disputes that arose en route. Upon arrival in Iron County they formed the "Iron County Mission Center Creek Encampment" from which they explored to find the best site for a permanent settlement, and negotiations were initiated with the Indian neighbors. A fort was laid out, a Council building erected, and land around it was assigned by lot. County officials were elected (same people as Mission leaders). The permanent camp was named "Louisa Deseret."
1 10 Journal of John D. Lee
This document is an unbound, typescript (Fred Collier) covering the same general activity found in Folder 9 above. The first page is missing; some pages are numbered and there are many editorial markings.
1 11 Court document
This response to indictment is directed to the District Court of the Second Judicial District, Territory of Utah, Beaver County. It is a photocopy of a four-page, handwritten document. The content challenges the applicability of the law cited in the indictment, the jurisdiction of the court and asks for dismissal.
1 12 Timothy J. Flaherty, "The Trial and Conviction of John D. Lee"
This document is a 13-page typed research paper by Timothy J. Flaherty, written while a student at Brigham Young University. Flaherty's research into the records of the two trials and execution of John D. Lee led to his observation that, "The proceedings of the trials, testimonies of eye-witnesses and others involved, and Lee's own personal account indicate that the wrong man was fraudulously tried, convicted and executed."
1 13 Unidentified book excerpts
This item is a photocopy of an annotated text that deals with Lee's activities and family life in 1847. There is much discussion of the "law of adoption" and the addition of ladies into Lee's families is noted. The document includes an illustration of Emma Batchelder with the notation, ". . . was given to Lee in 1858 by Brigham Young (wife no. 17). Operated Lee's Ferry several years after 1874. Remarried, moved to Holbrook, Arizona, and became a famous frontier nurse."

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Mormon Church--History--19th century
  • Mormons--Diaries
  • Mountain Meadows Massacre, 1857
  • Personal Names :
  • Lee, John Doyle, 1812-1877--Diaries
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Diaries
  • Legal documents