The Juanita Brooks Lecture Series, which was established at Dixie State University by Obert C. Tanner for the purpose of perpetuating the great writing of southern Utah in the tradition of Juanita Brooks, is an annual part of the St. George Tabernacle’s Weekly Music and History series.
Turley will tell the story of “The Trial of John D. Lee,” one of the key figures in the Mountain Meadows Massacre of 1857, in which 122 men, women and children from the Arkansas Fancher Party were killed in a valley west of Cedar City. In 1875, John D. Lee and others were put on trial in Beaver, Utah, for their part in the Massacre. Turley will show how this first trial was part of a national issue—about what to do with the Mormons. Critics of Mormonism hoped to magnify the story of violence and blame Brigham Young for instituting the massacre, thereby increasing the national unrest against the Mormons, thus making the trial much more than just an accusation against John D. Lee.
Turley is an assistant LDS Church Historian and the author of several articles and books. He teamed with colleagues Glen Leonard and Ronald Walker to author the book, Massacre at Mountain Meadows, which was published by Oxford University Press in 2009. Turley completed a Bachelor’s degree at Brigham Young University and earned a Law Degree from the BYU J. Reuben Clark Law School. He has been affiliated with the LDS Church Historian’s Office and the LDS Family History Library for two decades.
Juanita Brooks, who served on the Utah Board of State History for 28 years, was a long-time professor at then-Dixie College, and became a well-known author. She is recognized, by scholarly consent, to be one of Utah’s and the LDS Church’s most eminent historians. Her total honesty, unwavering courage and perceptive interpretation of fact, set more stringent standards of scholarship for her fellow historians to emulate. All of the previous 30 lectures, in addition to this year’s topic, will soon appear as a book titled Honoring Juanita Brooks, which will be published by Dixie State University later this year.