Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Samuel D. Sirrine

Samuel D. Sirrine

By: Ardis E. Parshall - May 14, 2014

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Salt Lake Tribune
5 December 1875

Sam D. Sirrine

The Theory of His Mysterious Disappearance

Letters from the Stockton Insane Asylum

Some eight months ago, Sam D. Sirrine mysteriously disappeared from his friends in this city. At the time he was a deputy sheriff of this county and his absence for a little time excited no suspicion, as it is not an unusual thing for officers in such positions to be gone from home for some days together and their whereabouts be unknown. A few weeks passed away, nothing was heard of him and the rumor became current that he had been blood-atoned by the priesthood. No one had ever dreamed that Sirrine would ever be singled out as a victim for slaughter, but there was in fact good reason why his brotherhood feared him. He was a member of the police force of this city when that branch of the Danite service was in active operations against the Gentiles, cutting them off from the land of the living almost daily, and it is believed that he was one of the parties who took an active part in the murder of J. King Robinson, or at least knew all the facts concerning that heartless and bloody tragedy. There are a number of anonymous letters in this office, the handwriting of which is precisely similar to Sirrine’s own. The writer of these letters, in them volunteers to lay naked the whole truth of the murder, and give the names of the secret and special policemen who perpetrated the crime, but he feared, as he himself states in one of his letters, to be kno9wn, even to his publishers, lest he should be called upon the witness stand, after which his days would be numbered. Accordingly, this matter there rested, and our anonymous friend remains, like Junius, secure from the world behind his nom de plume, the keeper of his own secrets. Sirrine was dropped from the police force in the course of a short time, a slave, bound to the priesthood by his own crimes. His finances began to fail, and he became disheartened, which, truthfully expressed, means that he was growing weak in the faith, and this apostasy prompted what was for him a violent demonstration at the municipal election two years ago when he actively canvassed for the opposition ticket. His bishop remonstrated with him for daring to oppose the priesthood, but he was inclined to argue the point, and consequently was let severely alone as one who had lost the spirit of his religion. But just prior to the August election Sirrine became reticent, and after the election he was appointed a deputy sheriff under Steve Taylor. The priesthood was furnishing him the means of providing himself with bread and butter, and he therefore continued in the even tenor of his way, keeping mum on all local affairs.

When he was missed last spring, and his friends commenced making inquiry as to his whereabouts, it was whispered that he had been spirited away, to which probable fact the public attention was called. Immediately the Church prints came to the rescue of the Danite band, proclaiming his innocence by asserting that Sirrine had been seen in San Bernardino by Fred. T. Perris since the time of his disappearance, but a denial from that quarter exploded this slimpsy excuse for his absence. The next yarn invented by them to explain away the suspicion of his friends was to the effect that he was wandering about in California in an insane condition, but the people of that State take care of their insane, and on writing to the Stockton Insane Asylum the following answer was received:

Insane Asylum of California, Stockton, Dec. 1st, 1875.

Eds. Tribune: We have carefully examined the books of this asylum, and are satisfied that Sam D. Sirrine has never been received here as a patient.

Respectfully yours,

W.T. Browne.

At about the time he disappeared, a lady, whose affidavit is now in the hands of a detective, while passing the tithing office yard late at night, heard a man crying out, “For God’s sake let me live!”

Sirrine was a soldier in a New York regiment, and served in the Mexican war, in which he was severely wounded, and was in consequence placed upon the pension list of Mexican veterans. If he still lives, he is drawing his pension, and an answer to a letter which has been addressed to the Pension Bureau of the United States, will settle the question of his whereabouts and demonstrate the fact whether he is alive or dead.

Salt Lake Herald
17 July 1877

District Attorney Howard Discovers a Long Lost Danite

Sam Francisco, 15. – Hon. Sumner Howard, district attorney for Utah, informed a Call reporter last evening that the object of his visit to this city was to hunt up a certain witness for the purpose of producing him before the grand jury of Utah now in session investigating Mormon affairs of that territory. This witness was a member of the famous Danite band, and it had generally been assumed that he was murdered many years ago. Howard however succeeded int racing him up and ascertained that he has been living in this state for twenty-five years. His evidence will have an important bearing upon the investigation. For satisfactory reasons, the name of the witness and the nature of his testimony is withheld. Howard left with the witness for Utah this morning.

Salt Lake Herald
18 July 1877

That Danite

District Attorney Howard returned from California yesterday, accompanied by Samuel D. Sirrine, who is presumably that old time “Danite” of which the San Francisco dispatches informed us on Monday. It is understood that Sirrine has been brought here to give testimony concerning the murder of Dr. Robinson, of which brutal deed and its perpetrators it has been asserted he has information. If Sirrine has knowledge of those murderers he is the witness that the people of Utah have long wanted to get upon the stand; and may he and Attorney Howard succeed in bringing the guilty to justice.

The return of Sirrine, by the way, gives the lie direct to the border ruffians who have been loud in charging that he was murdered by the Mormons. However, as the red-headed editor has to swallow a score or two of lies every week, this one will probably have no effect upon him.

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