Harrison Pearce was born in Jackson County, Georgia, December 17, 1818, a son of James Perry Pearce and Elizabeth Humphries. In 1821, They moved to Marion County, Alabama. His father died December 12, 1827 leaving his mother and six children.
The following is an passage from Sandra Tanner's web site "ONE OF MY FAMILY'S BEST KEPT SECRETS." (Sandra Tanner, is the 3rd great granddaughter of Brigham Young).
While the first attack may have been primarily to obtain the cattle, the final attack, on Sept 11th, seems to have been motivated by the Mormon secret oath to avenge the blood of their prophets. Harrison Pearce, my great-great-grandfather, was one who argued for wiping out the wagon train. Western historian Will Bagley recounts:
"After leaving the Fancher party, John Hawley arrived at the village of Washington to find Lee and the other leaders had sent their interpreters to incite the Paiutes to attack the emigrant camp. The town's military and religious authorities sought to inflame the passions of their followers. The first counselor in the local bishopric, Nauvoo Legion captain Harrison Pearce impressed Hawley as the most militant authority. In a public meeting, Pearce said he wished to 'see all the Gentyles strippt naked and lashed on their backs and have the Sun scorch them to death by inches.'
"Yet the response of the militia companies to their call was not universally enthusiastic, as men of conscience resisted orders to assault civilian Americans. Two other men gave similar harangues, and then Hawley was called on to report as he had just come down from Salt Lake. He argued against Pearce's warlike position. Before he would take another's life, he would have to be convinced his own life was in danger. As for avenging the blood of the prophets, Hawley asked, who could say for certain these people had any hand in killing the prophets? The oath of vengeance required him to be certain he could justify killing a man, but the local Saints had no assurance that anyone in the Fancher party had participated in the murder of Joseph Smith. 'You only suppose and that will not do for me.' Hawley said.
"In retaliation, Captain Pearce called a secret council to debate Hawley's fate. Some thought Hawley ought to die, but others pleaded his case. The next day a friend warned him to be more guarded and not to oppose authority." ( Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows , by Will Bagley, University of Oklahoma Press, 2002, p. 119-120)
Even though James Pearce, my great-grandfather, evidently participated in the Mountain Meadows massacre, it was said he tried to spare one child. Will Bagley writes:
"Legends told that the horrific work turned father against son. An unhappy wife of Brigham Young told the most plausible story, claiming Jim Pearce's father (Capt. Harrison Pearce) shot him as he tried to assist a girl." ( Blood of the Prophets , p.148. Juanita Brookes mentions this incidence but attributes it to Tom, James' brother.)
The "unhappy wife of Brigham Young" referred to above is Ann Eliza Webb Young. In her book, Wife #19 , she related:
"To the honor of many of the men be it said,—the younger ones, especially,—they refused to join in this horrible work, and some of them made efforts to protect these helpless women from their fiend-like tormentors. I used often, while living in Payson, to see a man named Jim Pearce, whose face was deeply scarred by a bullet wound, made by his own father, while the brave young fellow was trying to assist a poor girl, who had appealed to him for succor." ( Wife #19 , by Ann Eliza Webb Young, 1875, p.248)
In 1857, he was called to Dixie in the "Dixie" cotton Mission. They came in the Robert D. Covington Company. Others in the company were Samuel Adair, James B. Regan, Wm. H. Crawford, Umpsted Rencher, John Woodruff Freeman. They arrived in Washington on 5 May 1857. They camped on what is known as Adair Spring in the east side of town. Robert Covington was appointed President for the company, Harrison Pearce, 1 st councilor, and James Regan as 2 nd . This pioneering proved too much for his young wife, so she left him and went back to Salt Lake. She had 2 girls. While he lived in Washington, he was appointed the 1 st sheriff. In 1859, he was appointed to the 1 st postmaster too.
Harrison Pearce was a music teacher, choir leader, also leader in the Dixie brass band. died May 29, 1889 in St. George, Washington, Utah.