Battle of Bear River

1976 Exhibit Brochure
In January of 1863 near Franklin, Idaho, the U. S. Army Expedition Force from Fort Douglas under the command of General Connors killed 368 Shoshone Indians encamped on the Bear River.

2023 Exhibit Guide
Due to federal concerns about the state of the Union during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln ordered several regiments to protect mail routes and communication lines to the west. Colonel Patrick Connors was put in command of the 3rd California Volunteer Infantry Regiment and was sent to Utah to protect the overland trail mail route and maintain peace in the region stationed at Fort Douglas in Salt Lake City.
In January of 1863, near Franklin, Idaho, General Connors and the U.S. Army Expedition Force from Fort Douglas killed nearly 400 Northwestern Shoshone Indians encamped along the Bear River. This tragic historical event is known as the Bear River Massacre.

Kaysville Area Connections
When pioneers colonized the Kaysville area, they found that during much of the summer, Shoshone traveled through to camp, hunt game, and gather fruit. Survivors of the massacre continued to visit homes, orchards and farms into the 20th Century.

Richard J. Van Wagoner (1923-2013)

Richard Van Wagoner was born in Midway, Utah and was a Davis High School alumnus. He attended Weber State College, the University of Utah, and Utah State University, graduating with Bachelor and Master of Fine Arts degrees as well as a Master of Science degree.

Van Wagoner began teaching at Weber State College in 1959 and eventually became the chairman of the art department. He was also a member of the board of directors of the Watercolor USA Honor Society. He specialized in watercolor, drawing, painting, and printmaking, and his work often depicts the western urban landscape.


  • “Bicentennial Historical Art Collection.” 1976 Exhibition Brochure, Special Collections, Weber State University.
  • Eyes Toward the Past. DVD.
  • Karras, Marilyn. “Order Sparks Ruthless Massacre”. The Ogden Standard Examiner, 21 March 1976.
  • Parry, Darren. The Bear River Massacre: A Shoshone History, Comment Consent Press, Salt Lake City, 2019.

Copyright owned by Weber State University Storytelling Festival. All rights reserved. Painting shown by Kaysville – Fruit Heights Museum with permission. Painting number two in the 2023 exhibit guide.