Take a look at the official
John D Lee
Family Association
with more historical info.


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Links to Articles

The Life of John D Lee
in his own words.

John D Lee tells his own story through his diaries and books. In addition we are adding all the details we can find about his life.

Short History of John D. Lee

This has links to each of Lee's wives and their families.

Genealogy Research
This Blog by Renee Durfee is the most up to date research on John D Lee.

PAF - Gedcom
Download the most up-to-date file

  Lee DNA Results
Pictures of
John D Lee and family

These are copies of the best pictures I could find. If anyone has more (or better) pictures please contact me.
New Harmony
In 1851, John D. Lee and several others were called by Brigham Young to make a new settlement in Southern Utah. Archeological Excavations
at Fort Harmony
Lee's Stone Mansion in Washington, UT
Although the original stone mansion in Washington is gone this home is a duplicate and was built at the same time.
click for a larger picture
Lee's Nauvoo
Pictures of John D. Lee's home in Nauvoo
click to see larger picture
map of Lee's Nauvoo
The Last Words of John D. Lee
Spoken at his execution for the
Mountain Meadows Massacre -March 23, 1877

Lee Family News
Commemoration Of The Carleton Reburial At The Site Of The Mountain Meadows Massacre



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Lee DNA research
We have an important break in John D. Lee’s pedigree.

DNA testing is giving us a strong indication that the mother of JDL’s father, Ralph Lee is Hannah Norris, from Baltimore, MD.  This information suggests (not proven)  that Ralph Lee’s father is John Lee of Baltimore, MD and his grandfather is Ralph Lee of Baltimore, MD.

Here’s how we arrived at this information.

First thing about DNA research is that it needs a solid genealogy.  In this respect, Renee Durfee deserves the Lee family’s deepest appreciation.  She has done the hard work of finding the original documents and proving every point of John D Lee’s history.  There is no one that I can put my finger on that has contributed as much to verifying the history.

John D Lee’s father Ralph Lee is the genealogy brick wall for the Lee pedigree.  The information we have is:

“My father, Ralph Lee, was born in the State of Virginia. He was of the family of Lees of Revolutionary fame, and was a relative of General Robert E. Lee, of the late war; he served his time as an apprentice and learned the carpenter's trade in the city of Baltimore.”

Renee found apprenticeship papers for Ralph Lee in December 1785 Orphan Court records in Baltimore, Maryland, stating that he was 17 years old and an orphan.  This tells us that Ralph was born about 1768 and probably resided in Baltimore, MD.  

At the time, the only options for DNA testing was a Y-DNA test.  Y-DNA can measure about 100 markers that are passed only from father to sons.  This means that a direct male descendant of John D Lee  (with a Lee surname) would have the same DNA markers as John D Lee.  

Dr. Terry Lee, Vern Lee and Leroy Lee all stepped up to do a Y-DNA test.  The results gave us several new clues to John’s father.

  • Having 2 tests from different wives verified the DNA signature of John D Lee.  If you have just one test of a descendant, there can be a “non-paternity event” meaning one of the pedigree links might have been adopted or otherwise not a DNA descendant of John D Lee. But with 2 or more tests you can verify that the DNA signature is correct.
  • The tests determined that John D Lee was not related to any known Lee family.  
  • The only viable DNA match with our Lee was a Norris whose DNA did not match any other Norris.  This Norris had an ancestor born 1766 in Baltimore, Md.  Just 2 years before Ralph Lee was born.  
  • The tests also revealed that John D Lee’s DNA family was extremely rare.  There was only one match in a database of 200,000.  
  • John D Lee’s DNA signature was stable.  Some Y-DNA signatures shift rapidly with mutations in almost every DNA sample.  Testing several Lee’s determined that Lee’s DNA signature was stable with only 1 mutation.  If there were a lot of mutations, we would wonder about “close” matches.  However, we would expect some mutations over generations.

At this point we theorized that Ralph Lee was born about 1768, was living in Baltimore, MD in 1785, was not related to any Lee family and that his ancestors had produced few if any other descendants.  

There are a few matches to Lee's DNA signature but only DNA match that stood out as a possibility was a surname Norris who had the same problem we did.  He had an ancestor born 2 years before Ralph Lee in Baltimore, MD who was not a DNA match with any Norris family, but he did match Ralph Lee.  This had to be more than a coincidence.

We got to looking around for Lee's specifically in Baltimore, MD during this period.  

  • We found a John Lee and an older Ralph Lee.  
  • We also found Hannah Norris with a marriage record for her marriage to Nathaniel Armstrong, that named her as Hannah Norris Lee, suggesting she had formerly been married to a Lee.
  • The father of the Norris with a DNA match to Lee was a cousin of Hannah Norris. All living in Baltimore, MD.   

So we made up a story to fit the facts.  

Ralph Lee b.abt 1718 of Baltimore, MD was the father of John Lee b.abt 1743.  John Lee married Hannah Norris about 1765 and had at least 2 boys, Ralph Lee b.1768 and Daniel Norris b.1766.  

John Lee (husband of Hannah Norris) died after the 2 boys were born and the widow Hannah Lee gave one son (Daniel) to be raised by a cousin as a Norris.  The other son (Ralph) went to his grandfather to raise.  About 1785 Ralph Lee (grandfather) died and the boy (Ralph) was apprenticed as an orphan to a carpenter in Baltimore.

Hannah Norris Lee married a second time to Nathaniel Armstrong and had many children.

More DNA testing.
In the last few years a new DNA test had been developed that could identify cousins out to 6 generations.  Previous to this, we could only match to a male Lee.  With this new test we could find matches with any of Hannah Norris Lee Armstrong’s descendants.

If we could find a Cousin DNA match with a descendant of Hannah Norris Armstrong and one of our Lee DNA tests, it would go a long way toward supporting our story.  If we could find 2 matches, it would prove a relationship between the descendants of Hannah Norris and Ralph Lee.

So we began a new round of DNA testing.  In order for this new test to work we had to have a descendant of Hannah Norris Armstrong who also got the same test from the same company and filled out enough of the pedigree surnames so that we could identify a match.  

A second problem is that the DNA match was so far back, it was at the limit of the DNA test’s ability to identify.

We have a match!
As of May 30th, 2012 we have a match with a descendant of Hannah Norris. It appears we will identify a 2nd match soon.  This match tells us that a descendant of John D Lee also has DNA from Hannah Norris.

Where do we go from here in DNA testing?
The first thing we are looking for, is a 2nd match with Hannah Norris. This will strongly confirm the DNA relationship.  

Since our Lee DNA doesn’t match any other Lee DNA in the world, we have to look at other surnames.  We have a partial match to a LeMoine in Quebec, Canada.  By partial match, I mean the DNA matches on every marker that both DNA tests report, but they don’t test all the same markers.  It’s not a huge jump from LeMoine to Lee when to arrive in America.  

So we make up a little story.  “A LeMoine from France arrived in Baltimore, MD (seaport) and anglicized his name to Lee.”  It’s time to find some LeMoine’s and get their DNA sample.

Here’s a proposed pedigree for Ralph Lee (father of JDL)

Ralph Lee (grandfather)
b.abt 1718

John Lee (husband of Hannah Norris)
b.abt 1743
m.abt 1765 to Hannah Norris

Daniel Lee (Norris) b.1766 Baltimore, MD
Ralph Lee b. 1768 Baltimore, MD

Here’s an extended pedigree showing the relationship with the Norris family.

John Norris
B. 1652 in Maryland
B: 1663, Anne Arundel,MD
D: 2 Aug 1710, Anne Arundel,MD

Benjamin B.1698
b.1701 m: Hannah Scott

James b.25 Feb, 1743 (cousin of Hannah Norris)
m. Mary

Daniel Norris b.1766

Joseph Norris b.1705
B: 20 Feb 1705, St James Parish,Anne Arundel,Maryland,USA
D: 14 May 1784, Baltimore MD

Hannah Norris b. 23 Jan 1743
m. John Lee abt 1765 Baltimore, MD
b.abt 1743 d.abt 1768
m. 2nd Nathaniel Shepard Armstrong 14 May 1769 in Baltimore, MD, B: 9 Jul 1749 in Harford, Maryland, USA, D: 4 Jul 1840 in Hamilton, Ohio, USA, had children with Armstrong 1770-1788

Daniel Lee (Norris) b.1766
Ralph Lee b.1768

John D Lee





Introducing Michael R. Kelsey,
author of Hiking and Exploring the Paria River.
Mike is an expert on John D Lee locations and conducts guided tours.

Mountain Meadows Monument Rededication
Saturday, September 11, 1999

Remarks and Dedicatory Prayer
President Gordon B. Hinckley

My dear friends, all of you who are here, together with those in Arkansas and elsewhere who have joined with us.

This is a solemn and significant occasion.  I come as a peacemaker. This is not a time for recrimination or the assigning of blame.  No one can explain what happened in these meadows 142 years ago.  We may speculate, but we do not know.  We do not understand it.  We cannot comprhend it.  We can only say that the past is long  since gone.  It cannot be recalled.  It cannot be changed.  It is time to leave the entire matter in the hands of God who deals justly in all things.  His is a wisdom far beyond our own. 

I first came here nearly 50 years ago.  When my father turned 85,   I brought him down to southern Utah.  We visited this place.  There was no one else around.  My father said nothing.  I said nothing.  We simply stood here and thought of what occurred here in 1857.  The rock cairn was here.  Weeds rustled in the breeze.

We walked back to our car without speaking.  We knew this ground was hallowed, and we were reverent and respectful.

I came here again in 1990.  We met on the campus of Southern Utah University in Cedar City.  That too was a day of solemnity and reconciliation.  There were a number of speakers.  Some were descendants of the Fanchers and Bakers.  Some were descendants of John D. Lee.  I was not related in any way to either side.   I came here representing the Church.  We heard from an old Indian.  We heard from those who came from Arkansas.  I spoke.  But perhaps the most impressive thing to me on that occasion was when Rex Lee, then president of Brigham Young University and who has now passed away asked all to stand and join hands in a gesture of friendship.  We felt a spirit of peace on that occasion and a spirit of appreciation one for another.

We then traveled to the marker on Dan Sill Hill.  I spoke a few words and offered a prayer of dedication there.  We then came to this area.  Many people had been here immediately before us.  The weeds were all tramped down.  We had a brief exercise here.

I came here again last year.  I was shocked by what I found.  The wall of the cairn was beginning to slip in the direction of the small stream in the gully.  The weeds were tall.  There was an ugly barbed-wire fence around this site.

I knew that the Church owned this ground.  I said to myself, " You must do something to make this a more beautiful and attractive and lasting memorial.  This is a sacred place."

I thought much of what we might do.  I had our architectural department work on some drawings.  I called a meeting in the Church Administration Building.  Burr Fancher was there.  Ron Loving was there.  Verne Lee was there, and a number of others.  I expressed my feelings on that occasion to the effect that I felt very strongly that the Church should do something to beautify this place.  We owned the ground.  This was a sacred place of remembrance for many people.  I made alternative proposals and then asked you of the Mountain Meadows Association and the people of Arkansas to look over the alternatives and tell us what you would like to see here.

You came back with the suggestion that the stone walls be preserved, but that they be capped with dressed stone, denoting both the old and the new.

When the responses were in and you had expressed your desires, the Church went to work.  We have spent a very substantial amount of money on what has been accomplished here.  The walls of the cairn have been rebuilt and stabilized.  The dressed  stone has been placed along the top of the walls.  We have not spared expense to do it right and to do it in a fashion that will remain through the years.  We  have gone to great effort and cost to secure water and electricity.  We have fenced it in an attractive and secure manner.  The path has been re-graded and improved.  We have worked with the Forest Service and the county to make it more accessible.

Many, many people have participated.  Volunteers have worked very hard.  We are grateful to everyone.  Dr. Glen Leonard has directed most of the work and has seen that it was properly done.

As you know the remains of some who lost their lives have now been laid at rest within these solid stone walls. We intend to maintain this memorial and keep it attractive.  I am an old man now, in my 90th year.  I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to further this effort.  All of my associates of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of the Church are united in what we have done.

I sit in the chair that Brigham Young occupied as President of the Church at the time of the tragedy.  I have read very much of the history of what occurred here.  There is no question in my mind that he was opposed to what happened.  Had there been a faster means of communication, it never would have happened.  That which we have done here must never be construed as an acknowledgment on the part of the Church of any complicity in the occurrences of that fateful day.

But we have an obligation.  We have a moral responsibility.  We have a Christian duty to honor, to respect, and to do all feasible to recognize and remember those who died there.  May this cairn stand as a sacred monument to honor all of those who fell, wherever they might have been buried in these Mountain Meadows.

The Church is stable.  It grows stronger every day.  It will be here for as long as the earth lasts, and it will take care of this place. May the peace of heaven rest upon this hallowed ground and may no evil hand do damage of any kind.  May all who visit here do so in a spirit of reverence and respect for the honored dead.

One hundred and forty-two years have now passed  All who knew firsthand about what occurred here are long since gone.  Let the book of the past be closed.  Let peace come into our hearts.  Let friendship and love be extended.  May the peace of heaven be felt over this hallowed ground is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Now, my dear friends, if you will close your eyes and bow your heads I will ask you to join in a prayer of dedication.


O God, our Eternal Father, gathered before Thee in this hallowed place, we unitedly bow our heads in a prayer of dedication. We know something of what occurred here 142 years ago.  But our knowledge is limited.  We cannot understand it.  We lack the ability to comprehend it. We are all sons and daughters of Thine, bound together in brotherhood and sisterhood, for Thou art our Father and our God.  We are all Christians.  Our great Exemplar is the Lord who said, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. . . Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27).

Forgive our sins.  Take from our hearts bitterness and rancor.  Instill within us a spirit of love, an outreach toward one another.  Kindle the fires of understanding and respect.  Help us to rise above the evils of the past.  Give us strength to put them behind us and replace them with a spirit of tolerance, and mutual respect.

The fires of bitterness and suspicion have burned long enough, O Lord.  Let the sunlight of goodwill shine upon us.  Dry the tears of those who have wept over these events.  Open their eyes to an understanding of Thine all-encompassing love.  Touch their hearts with a feeling of appreciation one for another as we mingle together on this day of reconciliation.  There has been enough of weeping and grieving.  This is the time to take upon ourselves the mantle of Thy Beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave His life as a ransom for the sins of all men.

We, as Thy servants, have done all we know how to do to enshrine in this sanctuary the memories of the victims.  May we honor those who died here by extending the hand of friendship toward those of this generation who are innocent of the past and have shown their desire to heal the wounds of bitterness.

Now, may we work together as Thy sons and daughters in that spirit of which Abraham Lincoln spoke when he said, "With malice toward none, with charity for all, . .  let us bind up the wounds" (Abraham Lincoln , Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865)  Let us go forward from this day with a renewal of love and an expression of friendship.

In the authority of the holy priesthood and in the name of Jesus Christ, I dedicate this sacred burial place, and all other burial places unknown, that arose out of the tragic events that occurred here.  May this memorial stand through the years as a place held sacred by all who visit it, we humbly pray in the name of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of all mankind, amen.