The Fancher Train Route
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This Map shows the routes the Fancher Train probably took on their journey toward California. Only portions of their journey can be documented, no one knows exactly what routes the Fancher Train took during each part of the entire trip. This map, and information, is based on the documentation of their journey, and the undocumented segments take into consideration the many factors that would have determined their route in 1857.
The Fancher Train departed in April, 1857 from (1) Benton County, Arkansas, where Captain Alexander Fancher's family lived. (The Fancher Train did not depart from Beller's Stand, Caravan Springs, in Carroll County, Arkansas with Captain Jack Baker's Train, as many Mountain Meadows Massacre stories have said.) The long and difficult overland trip usually took 5 to 6 months. The Fancher Train had a large herd of cattle, so the availability of water and grazing lands would always be an important factor in determining their route. (His cousins Robert Fancher and James Mathew "Matt" Fancher lived in Carroll County at that time and departed from Carroll County.) From Benton County the Fancher Train probably traveled along the Arkansas River to the (2) Cherokee Trail, in Oklahoma. (No documentation exists that would indicate what route was taken before the Fancher Train arrived in Fort Bridger, on the Oregon Trail in southern Wyoming. There is documentation that places the Jack Baker Train on the Cherokee Trail.) The Cherokee Trail followed the Arkansas River from Tahlequah, Oklahoma through Kansas, up the front range of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, and into southern Wyoming. The train would have probably cut north to the Oregon Trail in order to cross (3) South Pass (The Continential Divide, or Great Divide). South Pass was the easiest passage through the Rockies and marked the emigrants' arrival at the Oregon frontier. (Other emigrant trails ran parallel to the Oregon Trail in between Independence Rock and South Pass, where the Fancher Train probably entered the area. They could have joined the Oregon Trail, or one of these other trails, at a location west of Independence Rock in a more direct route to Fort Bridger from the Cherokee Trail. Or they may have joined the trail more easterly at Independence Rock on the Sweetwater River, a traditional stop for emigrants before they crossed South Pass.) Additional map of this segment of the Fancher Train route.
The Fancher Train stopped at (4) Fort Bridger, along the Oregon Trail, an emigrant supply stop in southern Wyoming, where all of the roads to Utah converged. (In October, two months or so after the Fancher Party left Fort Bridger, it was burned to the ground by the Nauvoo Legion, a Mormon guerilla militia force.) The Fancher Party was camped 6 miles east of Salt Lake City in early August, 1857, and it was reported they had been there for a time, waiting for the weather to cool before traveling south through Utah to cross the Mojave Desert. A very hostile atmosphere greeted the emigrant trains when they arrived in Salt Lake City. (See The Mormon War of 1857, also called the Utah War). The emigrant wagons moved on quickly, although it was probably not in their original plans to do so. Some emigrants depended on buying much-needed supplies in places along the trail, like Salt Lake City. The Mormons were under orders there, and in the towns that dotted the trail in southern Utah, to refuse to sell anything to non-Mormons emigrants. By this time, the party was comprised of a large number of individual trains, and was said to be one of the richest wagon trains to California ever assembled. In addition to these wagons and oxen, there were carriages, a herd of horses, and it is estimated that there were more than 900 head of cattle.
At Salt Lake, emigrants had to chose between two roads across the Great Salt Lake Basin: the "Northern Route" along the Humboldt River, or the "Southern Route" along the Old Spanish Trail, which would take them through Utah's southern settlements to the Mojave Desert. There they were informed by the Mormons that the "Northern Route" was dangerous to travel because of Indian attacks. The Fancher Party and other wagon trains made the fateful decision to take the "Southern Route", which Captain Alexander Fancher was already familiar with from his 1850 trip to California. Later, the eyewitness account of Malinda (Cameron) Scott indicated that Mormons informed the Cameron Train the grazing for their stock was better along that southern route.
Approximately 300 miles south of Salt Lake City, the party arrived at (5) Mountain Meadows in Utah Territory on the evening of September 6. In 1857, Mountain Meadows was an "oasis of lush grass and fine spring water" located between the Bully Valley and Pine Valley ranges. It was the last resting place on the trail before beginning the arduous 400 mile journey that would take the Arkansas emigrants across the Mojave Desert and into California; and for these families, it would become their final resting place. At the first light of dawn, on Monday, September 7, they were attacked by Mormon militia, disguised as Indians, and their Indian allies. After a five day seige, under a duplicitous flag of truce and a vow of safe passage by the Mormons, more than 120 men, women and children were murdered in cold blood on Friday, September 11, 1857.
This horrific event is known as the Mountain Meadows Massacre. No men or women survived. 2/3 of the members of these trains were women and children. Of the 50 or more children, under the age of 16, only 17 children, all under the age of 6, survived.
Next ~ Begin Detailed Map & Information Tour
of the Fancher Train Route:
(1) Benton County, Arkansas
Mountain Meadows, Utah in 1857
More Information On The Mountain Meadows Massacre.
Those believed to have been killed at or near Mountain Meadows
Lineage: Captain Alexander and the Fanchers who were killed At Mountain Meadows
The children who survived and were returned to their families in Arkansas
The Fancher Survivors: Christopher "Kit" Carson Fancher & Tryphena D. Fancher
İFancher Family Association