Our Family Legacy
I, Edson Whipple, son of John and Basmuth Hutchens (Hutchins) Whipple, was born in the town of Dummerston, Windham Co., Vermont, February 5, 1805. I was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by Benjamine Winchester, on June 15, 1840, and was confirmed on the same day by Elder Lorenzo Barnes. On October 17 of the same year I was ordained a Priest by President Orson Hyde. On April 6, 1842 I was ordained to the office of a High Priest by Brother Hyrum Smith and at the same time I was set apart as First Counselor to Elder Winchester, who presided over the Church in Philadelphia. From there I moved to Nauvoo, Illinois, in September 1842. My wife, LaVina Goss Whipple, born 7 Jul 1811 in Dummerston, Vermont, whom I married February 16, 1832 and my mother were with me.
I was called at the general conference in 1844 to go on a mission with David Yearsley, to the state of Pennsylvania. We were instructed to canvass the state and present to the people Joseph Smith’s views on government, and him for a candidate for the next President of the United States. We left Nauvoo on May 4th, and returned the following November. While we were away, Joseph was martyred.
At the first meeting after my return, I saw the mantle of Joseph Smith rest upon Brigham Young while he spoke to the people.
I assisted in building the city of Nauvoo, and the Temple, and in defending our homes against the mobs. I was present at the laying of the cap-stone of the Temple and received my Endowments in that sacred edifice.
During the winter of 1845 I worked under Captain Charles Rich, making wagons, and was organized in his company in the spring of 1846.
On May 15, 1846 I crossed the Mississippi River on our way to the Rocky Mountains and the valley of the great Salt Lake, with my wife, my mother and my child. We stopped at Garden Grove for two weeks, then rolled out for Council Bluffs. We overtook Bishop Hale’s company and traveled with them. We arrived at the Bluffs about the middle of July. While traveling, we met Brigham Young who was returning from the Bluffs to Piega (Pisgah). He informed us that the government had made a demand on us (the Latter-day Saints) for five hundred men to enlist as volunteers to go to Mexico, and said we should respond.
After arriving at the Bluffs, we were counseled to locate, myself and family with several other families looked out a place some 25-30 miles down the river on Pony Creek where we thought of wintering. We prepared for the winter, but found after remaining there until November that it was so sickly we would have to move on.
While there, myself and family were all sick and on the 9th of November my mother, (Basmath Hutchens Whipple, born 7 September 1769, in Mass.) passed away. On the 13th my wife died; at the same time, myself and child were very sick. The whole camp, 14 families, with the exception of two persons were sick. Many died, some whole families. After our removal [to] another place, some four miles, my little girl, Maria Blanch, born 15 Feb. 1845, died, on December 8th, 1846. She was twenty two months old. She was taken and buried beside her mother. They were buried in a coffin made from planks split from basswood trees. Being driven from our comfortable homes in Nauvoo, exposed as we were to cold and storm and camplife, and deprived from the comforts of life, by a ruthless mob, they died – martyrs to the cause of Christ. And in the resurrection they will receive a martyr’s reward.
In the spring of 1847 I was called, in company with 142 others, and we were organized as a pioneer company, to lead the way into the wilderness. I left Winter Quarters on the 9th day of April 1847, traveling in the first ten of the second division, under Captain Appleton Harmon, in the same company with President Heber C. Kimball. I was one of the guards selected to guard the camp – had to stand guard half of the night every third night.
After arriving at Salt Lake, about one half of the pioneers returned. I remained to take charge of the property and all of Brother Kimball’s family and effects that came up in the company that followed the first company of pioneers. Having buried all of my family on the road, I had nothing to return for. I farmed for Brother Kimball that first year and raised 400 bushels of grain.
I was a member of the first High Council organized in Salt Lake City after the emigration arrived. On the 13th of October 1848, with the company of eleven others, I was called to go to the states on business for myself and the discharged soldiers, the Mormon Battalion.
While I was in the states, Elder Woodruff was sent back to the states with an epistle from the Twelve Apostles to gather the Saints from the earth (East). I was called by a written epistle to assist him in visiting the saints and to help in the gathering. I had been laboring in Maryland, had baptized 16 members, and I had organized a branch there.
I visited Brother Woodruff in Boston and was requested to cross the plains in his company. In the early part of June 1850, I met him at Bethlehem, at the crossing of the Mississippi River, where his company was organized with captains of tens, fifties and hundreds. He appointed me a captain of fifty. Each fifty traveled separately, but sometimes we would camp together on Sundays. Captain Leonard Hardy had charge of the first fifty in which Brother Woodruff started. I had a blacksmith in my company, and when we arrived at Ash Hollow, Brother Woodruff, having ten wagons loaded with merchandise and machinery, moved into my company. His wagons needed repairs. He, with his family, traveled the rest of the way with my company. We arrived in Salt Lake City on the 13th of October 1850. I had then been absent for two years.
Soon after my return, I was re-married, having been single since I buried my family at Pottawattamie in 1846. I was then called with Brother George Albert Smith to settle Iron County. We left Salt Lake City on the 4th of December 1850. There was 101 wagons in all. We arrived at the place where Parowan is now located on the 14th of January 1851.
In organizing Iron County, George A. Smith was appointed judge of the County Court. It required two associates at the time to make a full bench. I was his first associate judge. In our military organization I [was] elected captain of the company, called the home guard. Brother Smith called on us to present plans of locating our houses and for laying the fort. Several of the company presented plans. My plans were accepted and adopted, and Parowan was built according to my plan.
George Brimhall and myself built the first threshing machine and a water power, getting a grant from the Parowan city council to use the water from the creek. I was elected a member of the city council in May 1851. We threshed the first crop of grain raised in Iron County.
In 1851 President Young made us a visit. While he was there President Heber C. Kimball counseled me to return to Provo. In October 1880, I moved with my families to Arizona. We prospered very well there, but when they began to put the Edmons Tucker law into effect, I visited Provo and afterwards moved to Colony Juarez, Mexico.
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