Life Story of Edwin Rushton
Rushton was born June 1, 1824 in Leek, Staffordshire, England into the
family of a silk manufacturer named Richard Rushton.
His family consisted of his wife, Lettice Johnson Rushton, three
sons, and four daughters. This was a united, happy family and much of
their leisure time was spent singing together.
day this father said to his youngest son,
Edwin, “A new religious sect is holding a meeting tonight. I
wish you would go and hear what they have to say.” Edwin
answered, “Why don’t you go yourself? “ His father said, “Because,
son, they are a very unpopular people and it might hurt my business.”
“Then why not send one of the older boys, “ Edwin continued. His
father came back with the answer, “I want you to go because I can depend
on your judgment.” Later during a report of this meeting, Edwin stated,
“These men have the truth.”
result was that this family joined the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints in 1840. Edwin was the last to be baptized, saying he
wished to be sure of what he was doing.
than two years later, Richard and Lettice, Edwin, and one of his sisters
and her husband set forth on the long journey to America; other members of
the family had already gathered with the Saints in Nauvoo. They went by
railroad to Liverpool. The fare to America was 10 lbs ($50. 00) each,
second class, and charges for all luggage over a hundred weight, per
passenger. While in Liverpool Edwin, not yet 18 years of age, married a
young Mormon girl, Mary Anne Fowell, the only one of her family who
belonged to the Church. Thus the Rushton party was increased by one before
embarking on the ocean voyage, the young couple making this their
group along with other Saints took passage for New Orleans on the sailing
vessel, Hope of Duxbury. The ship sailed out of dock Friday, February 3,
1842. Nothing unusual is recorded in Richard’s diary of this voyage. Two
children of Saints died and were buried at sea. One babe was born. On
March 19, the vessel entered the Florida stream. March 30th the
steamboat “Star” reached her and took her in tow; also another sailing
vessel, “The Moscow” which was a little ahead. Towing each in turn
over the bar and both ships up the Mississippi River, March 31, quoting
from the diary, Richard writes, “We came in sight of a most beautiful
country diversified with plantations, farm houses, sugar manufacturers,
beautiful cottages, and wooded on each side of the river.”
reached New Orleans April 1, and immediately chartered a steamboat “The
Louisa” for St. Louis. Before leaving New Orleans, they were examined by
the custom-house officials and obliged to enter all baggage and
merchandise. Richard entered a quantity of silk twist, and as the boat set
out immediately, he had no time to redeem the goods. They arrived in St.
Louis April 10, and here exchanged their English money for American money,
getting a little more than $5. 00 for an English sovereign. They continued
on in the same boat, passed the beautiful city of Quincy, arriving at
Nauvoo the evening of April 13, after being ferried across the river.
was naturally very anxious to find the members of his family already
established there, and hurried towards the town in search of them. He had
gone only a short distance when he met a man riding a beautiful black
horse. The man accosted him, saying, “Hey, Bub, is that a company of Mor
mons just landed?”
much surprise Edwin answered, “Yes, sir.”
you a Mormon?” the stranger continued.
sir,” Edwin again answered.
do you know about old Joe Smith?” the mounted stranger asked.
know that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of God,” said Edwin.
suppose you are looking for an old man with a long, gray beard. What would
you think if I told you I was Joseph Smith? “ the man continued.
you,”said Edwin, “are Joseph Smith, I know you are a Prophet of
a gentle voice the man explained, “I am Joseph Smith. I came to meet
these people, dressed as I am in rough clothes and speaking in this
manner, to see if their faith is strong enough to stand the things they
must meet. If not, they should turn back right now.”
was Edwin’s introduction to the Prophet. He then inquired of and was
directed by the Prophet how to find his people. As he hurried along, a
woman came out of a house and called to him. As he approached, she said,
“Oh, excuse me, I thought you were my brother-in-law.
Edwin replied, “And I thought you were my sister-in-law.
They both laughed, and he explained whom he was trying to find. The
woman then sent her little girl, Sarah, to take him by a path through the
woods to the place where his family lived. This same Sarah, years later in
Salt Lake City, became his wife.
her was at once initiated into the hardships and trials of life in Nauvoo.
His acquaintance with and admiration for the Prophet grew rapidly, and
there developed an intimate friendship between them. Edwin spent many
hours later in life recounting his conversations with this great man, and
describing his physique and personality. The Historical Record of the
Church mentions that the Rushton family often serenaded the Prophet.
July 1845, while Edwin was resting in the middle of the day, he received a
vision, or quoting from his record, “I was caught away by the spirit and
taken on a frequented footpath across lots to a ravine a few blocks south
of Nauvoo Temple. As I stood in contemplation, the earth on the right side
of me opened to the depth of about five feet, and I beheld a pot of
treasure on top of which was a beautiful Seer Stone, clear as crystal,
which I was told belonged to me. At the time I received the vision, I did
not know anything about a Seer Stone and had never sought for a vision.
This same vision was repeated to me three times about two weeks apart.
With this vision ever in mind, the following day I proceeded to hunt for
the Stone, taking three of my relatives with me.
digging for a short time, the Stone was thrown out with a shovel of dirt.
It is my firm conviction that this stone is one of the Stones spoken of by
John the Revelator (2:17).”
History of the Seer Stone.)
Stone is clear and beautiful. It is about the size of an egg and shaped
somewhat like a kidney. It is treasured by the family and has been shown
to hundreds of people.
Joseph Smith organized the Nauvoo Legion, Edwin was commissioned a
lieutenant in that immortal regiment. After the martyrdom, Edwin was one
of four who took part in the second burial of the Prophet to preserve the
body from the hands of ruthless, designing men. Prior to this, Joseph
Smith had prepared a burial vault for the Smith family, and when
persecution became alarming he came to Edwin and requested him, in the
event the Prophet was killed, to see that the remains of the Smith family
were disinterred and put into this vault. This trust he fulfilled. When
Joseph Smith was leaving the Mansion House, on his way to Carthage for
last time, Edwin was standing near the gate when Joseph said to his wife,
“Emma, can you train my sons to walk in their father’s footsteps?”
answered, “Oh, Brother Joseph, you are coming back.”
asked the same question three times and that Emma gave the same answer
time. The Prophet then rode away to Carthage and his death.
desire for a patriarchal blessing was felt ny Edwin and Mary Ann. January
24th 1844 was a memorable day in the life of Edwin and his
wife, Mary Ann. This was the day they received their patriarchal blessing
from Hyrum Smith, Patriarch of the Church and brother of Joseph Smith the
Prophet. These blessings were received just five months before the
martyrdom of these prophets on June 27th 844. Even though the
blessings are short, each contains beautiful, worthwhile promises that
were or will yet be fully fulfilled. Prosperity would come but “bye and
bye”. There would be “trials and sorrows . Both were promised “your
name shall be perpetuated in the lineage of your posterity unto the latest
generation.” This inheritance was to be received “upon Mount Zion, the
city of the New Jerusalem.” Surely these blessings proved comforting as
well as a light and a guide as they faced many sorrows, trials, and
uncertainties in the days that followed.
blessings are reproduced as recorded in the patriarchal blessing records
of the Church as follows:
24, 1844 - A patriarchal blessing of Edwin Rushton son of Richard and
Lettice Rushton born in Leek, Stafford shire Old England June 1st
Edwin, I lay my hands upon your head in the name of Jesus of Nazareth to
place and seal a blessing upon you touching lineage, priesthood and your
rights according to the law of God and the promised blessings unto the
seed of Israel for you shall be blessed in your day and generation both
spiritually and temporary which are the desires of your heart and in due
time you shall realize and enter into a knowledge of all things pertaining
to the priesthood and to an inheritance in the lineage of Jacob both you
and your children after you from generation to generation and again you
shall be blessed in your house and in your habitation and in your
situations of life and in the ministry unto many people, if your faith
shall continue, and you shall go out and come in and have prosperity bye.
and bye and have power to officiate in a sacred calling wherewith you
shall be called to officiate and administer according to the dispensation
that shall be given you and your name shall be perpetuated and have honor
from generation to generation and be written in the chronicles of your
brethren and be commemorated by your posterity unto the latest generation
of man and your inheritance shall be in Ephraim to be received upon Mount
Zion the city of the New Jerusalem and your days and years are numbered
and shall be many. These blessings I seal upon your head even so amen.
Given by Hyrum Smith, Patriarch of the Church of Jesus Christ.”
24th 1844 - Patriarchal Blessing of Mary Ann Rushton, Daughter
of John and Elizabeth Fowell, born in the Town of Leek, Staffordshire,
England, April 23, 1823.
Mary Ann, I lay my hands upon your head in the name of Jesus of Nazareth
and bless and seal you up unto eternal life for what I seal on Earth shall
be sealed in Heaven; the same shall be your blessing and comforter to
comfort your heart in the hour of trial and sorrow. By this you shall know
that your name is written in heaven and that there is a Crown laid up for
you in the Mansion of your Father as a reward for your faith and obedience
and for your pilgrimage in a Land of Strangers far from your native home
and you shall be blessed spiritually and temporally in your house and
habitation in the priesthood and your inheritance in the lineage of your
posterity as also in the New and Everlasting Covenant all to be received
in common with your husband as also you shall be blessed with the spirit
and power of God and shall receive strength in this time of need and be
comforted in the hour of trial. Therefore fear not henceforth but be
steadfast and immoveable and you shall abound in grace and your days be
many and your name shall be perpetuated in the lineage of your posterity
unto the latest generation and shall have a name and a place in the
Mansion of your Father as Sarah and Rachels. These blessings I seal upon
your head, even so, Amen.
by Hyrum Smith, Patriarch of the Church of Jesus Christ, January 24th
1844 in Nauvoo.
was a close friend of the
Prophet Joseph Smith and was a member of the Nauvoo legion. When the
Prophet and Hyrum Smith were killed 27 June 1844, it changed his life and
that of many others. Edwin records this event as follows:
this time (1843) our enemies commenced persecuting and mobbing the saints
and on the 27th of June 1844 our beloved Prophet and Patriarch was
murdered in Carthage Jail. Our enemies did not stop at this but continued
until the fall of 1845 burning the houses of the Saints, destroying their
grain and driving the sick and afflicted from their homes.”
struck on the 29th of October 1845. Pamela,
Edwin’s young 2½ -year old daughter died. It was during these
troublesome times that Edwin had another unusual experience. He relates he
found a “seer stone.” Edith
Rushton Christensen has recorded some details of this experience in her
is difficult today to fully appreciate the joy that came to the Saints at
Nauvoo when they were told the temple was ready for them to receive their
endowments. Undoubtedly the Rushton family looked forward to the
completion of the Nauvoo temple as did other faithful saints of that era.
The first ordinances received in the Nauvoo temple were performed on 10
December 1845. Living endowments were given only from 10 December 1845
until 7 February 1846. There were no endowments for the dead given in the
Nauvoo Temple. Living sealings were performed at the Nauvoo Temple from 9
January 1846 to 22 February 1846. Sealing to couples living/dead were
performed from 9 January 1846 to 22 February 1846. No sealing for couples
who were both dead was done, but children were sealed living/dead from 11
January 1846 to 6 February 1846. (Reference: Fundamentals of Genealogical
Research, by Jaussi and Chaston.)
C. Kimball gives us some insight when he wrote in his journal that, during
the last days of February 1846, groups were going through the temple night
and day, “way into the night and way into the day.” He indicated that
Brother Brigham took a group through, Brother Willard took a group
through, and he took a group through, and so on. They were so anxious to
receive the ordinances and blessings, they virtually lived in the temple
those last few hours before they
records indicate most of the Rushton family obtained their temple
endowments. Richard Senior’s work could not be done by proxy since there
were no endowments for the dead performed in the Nauvoo Temple. Other
sealings that could be done apparently were not done.
Rushton’s, Bullock’s and Wardle’s received their endowments as
20 Dec 1845
20 Dec 1845
23 Jan 1846
Mary Ann Rushton
23 Jan 1846
23 Jan 1846
Frederick Jams Rushton
7 Feb 1846
7 Feb 1846
7 Feb 1846
7 Feb 1846
quickly as the Saints received their endowments and other temple
ordinances, they started preparations to move west because of continued
persecution. On February 4, 1846 the first 20,000 Saints started the
gradual migration from Nauvoo by crossing the Mississippi river from
Illinois to Iowa. On February 15th Brigham Young arrived and they
organized into groups and started westward on March 1st. They
traveled about 144 miles from Nauvoo by April 24, 1846 and arrived at
Garden Grove, Decataur County, Iowa. Mount Pisgah, 30 miles west of Garden
Grove, became a second settlement.
first pioneer company reached Council Bluffs, Iowa on June 14, 1846. They
named the settlement Millers Hollow; later it was named Kanesville; and
after the LDS pioneers left, it was given its present name of Council
Bluffs. In September 1846 more Saints began to locate at Winter Quarters
at what is now Florence, Nebraska. There were 15, 000 Saints gathered in
the Council Bluffs-Winter Quarters area in the fall of 1846.
the above history in mind, let’s see what the Rushton family did. Both
Richard Rushton Jr. and Frederick Rushton and their families decided to go
to St. Louis rather than to Winter Quarters.
Bullock, George Wardle, Edwin Rushton and their families remained in
Nauvoo and were among the last Saints to leave. Thomas Bullock was an
accurate and meticulous record keeper. His letters and journals portray a
descriptive account of this period in Church history.
from Thomas Bullock to Elder Franklin Richards published in Millennial
Star, Volume X, includes information of importance in this history. It
states in part:
the month of August 1846 I was taken very sick with fever and ague,
followed by my wife and four little children; in this condition we
continued until the 16th of September, on which day George Wardle packed
up my goods on two wagons, and removed us to his home to be out of all
danger from the cannon balls, which were flying about in too thick a
manner to be in any way comfortable. He removed us behind his house out of
all danger... On the 17th, 2000 men with 500 wagons marched into the city;
but such yelling, hooting, howling, I never heard from men, or even the
wild savages of the forest (and I have heard and seen them), terror and
dismay surely for once overcame the sick, the poor women and children. ...
such an awful and infuriated noise I never again heard, though I
was in Warsaw Street more than a quarter of a mile off. I, with others who
were sick, was carried into the tall weeds and woods, while all who could,
hid themselves; many crossed the river, leaving everything behind. As
night approached we returned to our shelter, but, oh God, what a night to
next morning at 9 o’clock saw me, my wife, my four children, my
sister-in-law, Fanny (Wardle), my blind mother-in-law, all shaking with
the ague in one house; only George Wardle able to do anything for us, when
a band of about 30 men, armed with guns and bayonets fixed, pistols in
belt, the captain with a sword in his hand, and the stripes and stars
flying about, marched opposite my sheltering roof; the captain called a
halt, and demanded the owners of the two wagons to be brought out. I was
raised from my bed, led out of doors, supported by my sister-in-law and
the rail fence. ...The captain then stepped out to within four feet of me,
pointing his sword at my throat, while four others presented their guns
with their bayonets within two feet of my breast, when the captain told
me, ‘If you are not off from here in twenty minutes, my orders are to
shoot you. ‘ ...’Then said the captain, ‘I am sorry to see you and
your sick family, but if you are not gone when I return in half an hour,
my orders are to kill you and every Mormon in the place. ‘
(Wardle) and Edwin (Rushton) drove my wagons down to the ferry, and we
were searched five times for firearms; ...while on the banks of the river,
I crawled to the margin to bid a sister, who was going to St. Louis,
‘Good Bye’ while a mobber shouted out, ‘Look, there’s a skeleton
bidding Death good bye!’ So you can imagine the poor sickly condition we
Rushton Christensen in her biography states the following:
the time of the great exodus from Nauvoo, Brigham Young, before leaving
the city, asked my Father if he would see that all the sick and poor got
across the river. This, of course, made it necessary for Father to be one
of the last to leave this ill-fated city. As he was leaving Nauvoo, he had
a feather bed tied on his back, and his wife, Mary Anne, who was with him,
was carrying some personal belongings in an apron. One of the mob
following them threatened to shoot. Father, thinking of the feather bed he
was carrying, turned his back and said, “Shoot!” Evidently this
display of courage cowed the mobster, as they were allowed to proceed
Rushton in a partial biography written 6th May 1855, stated he spent about
one-third of his time watching and guarding the City of Nauvoo. Then he
recorded his expulsion from
by mobsters as follows:
the year 1846 the heads of the church moved away to the west. I strove all
in my Power to go with them but I was Sorely afflicted with the ague and
fever. In the fall of 1846 the Mobbers assembled to give us battle with
the Determination of Driving and Distroying (sic) the Saints. On Sept. 16,
1846 we commenced fighting with the Mob they haveing (sic) 15 Hundred and
twenty five against 85 of us. The first (battle) lasted one hour and
twenty Minutes and we drove them from the field. On the (illegible)
a treaty was
entered into by Both Parties. We was to let them Enter the City lay down
our Arms and we could have three days to get away. Instead of that we
where ordered out on twenty Minutes Notice. I was ordered out on twenty
Minutes Notice by thirty five Men with fix Bayonets under the Protecting
flag of the United States. With nothing but what I stood up in with my
wife and a Blind Mother I took up my bed and went. They said they would
shoot me if I did not put it down. I told them to shoot and be damned. “
this point, George Wardle and Thomas Bullock and their families crossed
the river on the ferry in Thomas Bullock’s two wagons to start for
Winter Quarters where the main body of Saints were gathering. Edwin, Mary
Ann, and Lettice Rushton chose to go down river to St. Louis. Why did they
separate at this time? Why didn’t they stay together? Perhaps Edwin felt
the two wagons were not enough for all and rather than be the cause of
added hardships with his two sisters and their families, he would
gallantly refuse to go with them. Perhaps they did not understand the
importance and necessity for the Saints of the Church to be united
together at this time. Many other Saints went to St. Louis at the same
time. Maybe it was Lettice who thought it best to go to St. Louis where
Richard and Frederick had established a residence. There is no written
explanation that has been found. All we can do is speculate. Lettice was
very ill with the ague at the time and undoubtedly her health was a factor
in his decision.
illness “ague’‘ is defined in a medical book as follows: “AGUE A
chill. Ague (pronounced Ay’gyoo) is also the fever associated with
Malaria.” It would be most debilitating and we can understand why Edwin
felt he could not take his mother to Winter Quarters at that time.
Undoubtedly her age and physical condition was a worry to him. He reasoned
the expedient thing to do was to go to St. Louis and prepare to join the
Saints at the earliest possible time.
then states in his history “My mother died one month afterwards. “ The
diary indicates Lettice Rushton died September 20, 1846 aged 64 years. St.
Louis, North America.” So it is assumed that her age, her illness, her
terror of being driven from her home, her exposure to the weather and
possibly great discouragement at the turn of events caused her to give up
the will to live and hastened her death so soon after arriving in St.
winter of 1846 must have been a very trying one for Edwin and his wife.
Where he lived in St. Louis, how he obtained food and clothing we do not
know. He says he was very sick during the winter. If there ever was a time
when a man could get discouraged and begin to waver in his belief in the
Church and wonder why he was in such miserable circumstances in spite of
his good works it was now. Edwin did not waver, neither did his good wife
Mary Ann. Their testimony that Joseph Smith was truly a prophet of God
remained strong. They accepted their circumstances and prepared for the
time they could leave and join the Saints once again. It would be a
struggle judging from the entries in his journal.
journal notes he worked for Mssrs. Coate and Cozens, land surveyors
beginning July 19, 1847. Pay was meager and work in the hot sun must have
been most unpleasant. His wages were one dollar per day when he worked.
Between July 19th and December 30th he earned a total of $104.45. Most of
the time he did surveying work, probably as a chain man, but the diary
notes some time was spent “digin coal”, and working in the “grave
yard”. Some graveyard work consisted of setting headstones, but some
work may have included digging graves. Whatever, it was hard miserable
work at coolie wages. Edwin had another reason to work. He had another
mouth to feed. His diary states: “Francis Elizabeth Rushton born half
past 10 o’clock 18th of November in the morning 1847 St. Louis, Mo.”
year 1848 was also a difficult one for Edwin and family. The diary
indicates he worked all year for Messr. Coate and Cozens, but not every
day. Some months he worked 7 to 9 days, others 16 to 26 days. His salary
did not change- one dollar per day, 50 cents for a half-day’s work.
There were many half days. Mary Ann had a new baby to care for, but in
spite of this, they found it necessary to take in boarders beginning in
April 1848. She also did washing for her boarders. Notations indicate this
continued until April 1849. They received $2.00 per week plus small
amounts for washing and presumably ironing.
1849 Edwin worked from January 15th to March 2lst. Then on May 24, 1849 we
read in the diary: “Francis Elizabeth Rushton died at 5 o’clock in the
morning in St. Louis, Missouri.”
noted in his journal is the following: “Jane Rushton, the wife of
Frederick James Rushton departed this life May 5th 1849. “ Also letter
to Thomas Bullock in June 1849 states:
has assailed the inhabitants on every side in the world and especially in
St. Louis with the Colorea (sic). My brother Fredrick wife took it on the
Friday night and on the Saturday night at sun set she died.” The cholera
epidemic in St. Louis in 1849 took the lives of many people and filled the
cemeteries with the dead.”
can imagine Edwin and Mary Ann’s remorse at losing this sweet 1½-year
old child and a sister-in-law. Perhaps these deaths and the struggle they
were having just to keep themselves alive prompted the decision to
“start west” as fast as possible. Edwin states in his partial
autobiography: “This day (the day his baby Francis Elizabeth died) I
started to Counsel Bluffs and at Ferryville (Nebraska) bought a farm.
was not uncommon during this time period for the Saints to farm long
enough to raise money for their own journey west by providing food for the
migrating Saints. Apparently this is what Edwin had decided to do. He paid
165 hard-earned dollars to a Mr. Pickett for a farm. Unfortunately, Mr.
Pickett turned out to be dishonest and he lost his money. (Mr. Picket sold
the farm twice and the other buyer had already sold it again.) Edwin
apparently bought another farm in the vicinity of Ferryville, facing
Winter Quarters. Mary Ann stayed in Ferryville and Edwin planned to go to
St. Louis to raise money to get off in the spring of 1850, if possible.
Mary Ann was expecting another baby at this time and, in spite of this,
Edwin went back to St. Louis. In
his absence, the baby was born.
autobiography states: “That winter (1849) 1 went to St Louis to work and
obtain more means. While I was away my wife had another daughter born Oct
18th 1849. Named her Martha Celesty.”
worked again for Mssrs Cozens doing survey work beginning some time in
September 1849 and continuing until December. “In the spring,” he
states in his autobiography, “I returned, found my family well but my
farm was all burnt out by Emigrants setting fire to grass. I then returned
to St Louis with my family.”
another sorrowful notation in Edwin’s diary, “Martha Celesty Rushton
departed this life October 11th 1850 in Saint Louis, Mo.”
Since Edwin and Mary Ann had married, they had four children born,
including one stillborn, between 1842 and 1849. Each had died in infancy.
What a tragic experience this had been. Yet their faith in God and their
testimony of the gospel remained strong. They remained in St. Louis until
the spring of 1851.
letter to Thomas Bullock in June 1849 was partially an appeal for
financial help to go west. His plans to earn money from his farm did not
materialize and he was anxious to leave this section of the country and
re-establish a home for his wife. It would almost seem that the Lord
didn’t want him to stay in this section of the country.
By trials, death of his loved ones, sickness and other worries
difficult to solve, Edwin knew he needed to be with the main body of
Saints out west and they needed his strength and testimony to forge a new
life together. Undoubtedly he would have left earlier if circumstances had
appeal for financial help did not go unanswered. We know he received
assistance from the Perpetual Emigration Fund. This fund was set up in
1850 and continued until 1877. The fund made it possible for many Saints
to borrow money to emigrate from Europe to Great Salt Lake City. Edwin’s
company was the 2nd company to use P. E. funds. The first departed 4 July
1850 under the leadership of Edward Hunter. The second departed 7 July
1851 under John Brown. Edwin noted his departure west as follows:
the 15th of April 1851 I started with a company of 35 waggons as their
Captain. They were chiefly from England. We started from Churchville and
arrived at counsel Bluffs on the 3rd of July. On the fifth crossed the
Missouri River at sun down traveled to a camp that night. John Brown being
captain of the same.”
captain of ten green Englishmen who had never seen oxen or a yoke would
have been quite a job. It must have kept Edwin and his young wife busy
showing them how to yoke up their oxen.
They arrived in Salt Lake Valley September 28, 1851.
of the first jobs Edwin had after arriving in the valley was in the
saw-pit at the Public Works. He and Isaac Hunter sawed by hand the lumber
for public buildings with a large crosscut saw. He was road supervisor and
Poll Tax collector for Salt Lake County for many years. Also at one time
with another man had the contract to drive the mail coach from Salt Lake
City to Wanship.
indicates in his autobiography that he “reached the Valley Sept. 31st
1851. “ His diary indicates that beginning in October 1851, he and his
brother-in-law, George Wardle, started sawing wood for the “Public
Works” at three dollars per hundred feet. His diary would suggest he
received most of his pay in kind rather than cash. It is interesting to
note what food cost in 1851 as recorded in his diary.
pound of butter
beef per pound
flour per pound
apparently did many kinds of work, including horse shoeing and
February 14, 1849, Great Salt Lake City had been divided into nineteen
wards of nine blocks each. On February 22, 1849 Bishop William H.
Hickenlooper was ordained Bishop of the Sixth Ward. Those Latter-day
Saints residing in the city bounded on the north by Third South Street, on
the east by Second West Street, on the south by Sixth South Street and on
the west by the Jordan River were members of the Sixth Ward. In 1852, an
adobe meeting and school house 38 x 32 feet was erected on Third West
between Fourth and Fifth South on the west side of the street. It was in
this ward that Edwin and his family resided and were active members of the
Church during their lifetime.
records of the Sixth Ward, Salt Lake City (microfilm 02658) have been
reviewed and there are many references to Edwin Rushton and family that
give us a better understanding of pioneer life and the part Edwin played.
Three months after his arrival, he was actively participating in
major pioneer decisions.
the formative years of settling Utah, many problems had to be solved. One
important action was the establishment of a sound currency system. Without
the support of the loyal priesthood, the following system proposed by
Brigham Young might not have succeeded:
22, 1852 This is to certify that we the undersigned do hereby sign our
names and pledge ourselves to receive the Deseret paper currency as
proposed by President Young at its full value according to the amount
specified on the face thereof and to sustain such measures as may be
adopted by himself and council on the Deseret Banking System”. Edwin
Rushton was number seven on a list of signatures of Sixth Ward members
willing to sign.
September 18, 1852, Mary Ann gave birth to a son named Edwin John Richard.
This was their fifth child and the first one to live beyond childhood.
was determined to improve his economic situation as rapidly as possible.
His journal records that he rented out his horses, with the
understanding that every third day’s work was to be his.
He records payments in kind, cords of lumber.
October 1853, Edwin recorded “Purchase of Property located at 349 West
5th South” (between 2nd and 3rd West). By the sweat of his brow he built
a log house on this property for Mary Ann. It was here Mary Ann Agnes was
born 18 November 1854, then Henrietta 26 January 1857), followed by three
stillborn children: Lenora 7 March 1859, Fortune 7 August 1860 and
Fortunate date not recorded, sex unknown.
held the office of Seventy in the Sixth Ward. He was clerk of the 14th
Quorum of Seventy. In 1854 a
survey was taken and a record made of property owned by Sixth Ward members
and its value. Edwin Rushton’s assets were recorded as follows:
No. of Sons
No. of Daughters
Houses and lots
Amount of Property $470.00
purpose of the 1854 survey was not stated in the records, but it is not
difficult to imagine that, with a swelling number of emigrants arriving
that fall, with the imminence of winter, the bishopric needed to know who
might need assistance before another crop could be harvested and who might
have a surplus that could be requested if needed by less fortunate saints.
winter of 1855-56 was a trying and difficult time for the pioneers. First
of all, there were more mouths to feed. Edwin’s food storage was not
large but apparently adequate. However, his two children, Edwin then three
and Mary Ann Agnes, one, needed milk in addition to other food and a warm
home to survive the bitter winter ahead.
History shows: “The winter of 1856 proved to be a very trying time for
the Saints. Not only was it one of the severest winters on record, the
deep snows killing thousands of cattle, but crops of the previous two
seasons had failed because of grasshoppers and drought. Severe famine
faced the Saints.
the early months of 1856 the sufferings were widespread. Fewer than half
of the people had any bread, and those who did had but one half or one
quarter pound per day per person. Some people dug roots for food. Others
fished. Farmers, their oxen killed by famine or cold, had to pull their
own plows in the fields as soon as snow cleared off.
not all the barns and bins were empty. Some Saints, following Church
leaders’ counsel during the previous three years, had stockpiled food in
case just such a famine came.
is evidence Edwin lost some cattle that winter as the milk cow reported in
the 1854 survey was not reported in the Dec. 6, 1856 survey. Surely he
wouldn’t sell his milk cow. His stores for the 1856 winter were recorded
Rushton A seventy
of Property $450
½ cord wood
Ann Rushton occupation - dressmaker
he was able to receive commodities in return for work performed at the
Public Works, there is no indication he and his family suffered too much
during this famine and hard winter. Mary Ann apparently helped provide
some cash or commodities for the family as a “dressmaker”. She
reportedly made clothing for her sister Henrietta Bullock who was much
better off financially at this time than Edwin and Mary Ann.
later, Henrietta Rushton Evans stated her mother “worked in the family
of Brigham Young.” It is possible she was a dressmaker for some of the
wives and children of Brigham Young, though we do not have documentary
proof at this time.
most dramatic religious event of the 1850s was the reformation of 1856-57.
While new communities were being settled, many members of the Church had
drifted into spiritual lethargy as they struggled to survive on the
frontier. During their first decade in the West, most Saints had
concentrated on temporal affairs and had often neglected individual
spiritual matters. The need for a reformation became especially apparent
in 1856 when the effects of rapid immigration into Utah and the severe
drought and grasshopper plague of 1855 combined to threaten the economic
stability of Utah. Many Saints wore threadbare clothing and were on the
verge of starvation. Church leaders taught that these conditions had come
about partly because of the Saints' laxity in keeping the commandments.
December 6, 1856 Census indicated Edwin Rushton held the office of a
Seventy. On September 17, 1857 the Bishopric of the Sixth Ward were called
upon to render a decision in a property settlement. The record listed
Edwin Rushton as one of the counselors.
would indicate that he was ordained a High Priest some time in late 1856
or 1857 as he should have been ordained a High Priest at the time he was
called into the Bishopric.
spite of family needs and time required to make a living, there were many
“projects” that required community assistance. Men tithed their time
and assisted in building the temple, built canals for more efficient
irrigation, built schools, furnished wood, tallow, wicks, etc. for the
school- houses and were assessed for supplies that had to be purchased. As
in all church projects, there were some who accepted their responsibility
to the church and community and some who did not. The Sixth Ward records
show numerous entries where Edwin Rushton contributed time, goods and
doctrine of polygamy must have been an important decision in Edwin’s
life. He had always accepted the teachings of the living prophets, yet he,
like all others, needed the approval of his first wife, Mary Ann. She gave
her approval for his marriage to Sarah Robinson whom they had known in
his diary the following is recorded: “Sarah Robinson married to Edwin
Rushton on the 18th of January 1857. She was the daughter of John
Robinson, gunsmith, from England. She was born at Hill Top in
Staffordshire. Second wife to
Edwin Rushton. “ Between 1860 and 1879 there were ten children born to
was anxious that his marriages be for eternity as well as for time. He had
not had the opportunity as yet of having Mary Ann sealed to him. During
the construction of the Salt Lake Temple, a temporary building known as
the Endowment House was constructed on the north west corner of the Temple
Block in Salt Lake. It was dedicated on May 5, 1855. On the 27th of
February 1857 Edwin took his wife Mary Ann to the Endowment House and was
sealed to her for eternity. Sarah Robinson received her endowments the
same day and was also sealed to Edwin for eternity.
will be a surprise to many descendants to know that, on the same day, 27
February 1857, Edwin was also married for time only in the Endowment House
to Ann Charlton who was born 10 December 1781 in Yorkshire, England. Ann
was sealed the same day to her deceased husband, Benjamin Robinson, for
eternity and to Edwin Rushton for time. (See Endowment House record No.
475, Book C - Slg. page 78. )
is difficult to know why this marriage took place. Ann was old enough to
be Edwin’s mother. There were no children born to Edwin and Ann. The
1860 Census shows an Ann Robinson 78, born in England living at the home
of Bishop Hickenlooper. This is undoubtedly the same person Edwin married
for time, yet she was not using her married name of “Rushton” in the
Census. She apparently made her home with Bishop Hickenlooper of the Sixth
Ward though Edwin may have contributed to her support.
the 24th of July 1857 a large number of people gathered in Salt Lake for
the festivities of this occasion when word was brought that an army of the
United States was on its way to make war on the Mormon people. The
president of the United States had been erroneously informed that Utah was
in a state of rebellion and had ordered an army to quell the rebellion.
Without any confusion, the festivities continued.
Camp was broken up the next day and the people returned home. The
report stirred the hearts of brave men and women. However, during the Echo
Canyon War, as it was called, the Sixth Ward responded to the call for
volunteers to such an extent that on one occasion, September 19, 1857,
every able bodied man in the Ward, excepting one, left the city for Echo
Canyon to assist in the defense. (History of the Sixth- Seventh Ward,
Throughout the Years 1849-1955) Knowing
Edwin as we have learned of him, he would not have been the one to stay
home. At the same time
Governor Brigham Young issued a proclamation of martial law.
condition remained until March 21, 1858, when the leaders of the community
were called together to discuss the matter and plans for moving south were
outlined. Within a week, the move began at the rate of about 40 families
per day. The move occupied a period of about two months, being virtually
completed by the middle of May. About 30, 000 people moved southward with
their horses, oxen, cows, wagons and carts. Salt Lake Stake was empty and
deserted except for the “home guard”. This crisis brought out the
following policy; to remove the grain and the women and children from the
city; then, if necessary, to burn the city and lay it waste. Shavings,
kindling, and dried grass were left in the entrances to homes to make the
scorched-earth policy more effective.
church public works prepared for the transportation of church properties
southward. The initial destination was Parowan, later changed to Fillmore,
finally changed to Provo. One group cached all the stone which had been
cut for the Salt Lake Temple and leveled and covered over the foundations
of this sacred edifice so that it would resemble a plowed field and remain
unmolested by “desecrating marauders”.
Johnston’s army episode was another trial to the Saints and a test of
faith. It was tragic in that it separated families, caused anxieties,
disrupted their way of life, caused hardships and added to sorrows they
had previously endured. Once again Edwin and others placed their trust in
the Lord and His chosen leaders and once again, time indicated they had
made the correct decision.
June 14, 1858, U. S. President Buchanan gave “free and full pardon” to
the Saints. Members of Salt Lake Stake and other citizens of the territory
began to return home in July 1858. At the outset, President Brigham Young
had urged members to be prayerful and obey counsel and they would whip
that army without firing a gun! This they did and without shedding a drop
of blood. The story of the Mormon resistance, the burning of U. S. supply
wagons and forcing the U. S. Army to go into a winter camp short of their
objective in Salt Lake City is a story itself worth reading and repeating.
(The Story of Salt Lake Stake by Lynn M. Hilton, 1972)
would appear that Edwin needed a home for Sarah and, in anticipation of
more children, would need to provide for them. He therefore purchased Lot
8 Block 2, Jordan Plat B, Great Salt Lake County containing 9 and 66/100
acres. This purchase was recorded July 10, 1857. He, with others, had
settled on a tract of land running along the east bank of the Jordan
River. President Young requested Edwin to enter title to this tract as
none of the others could qualify. Later the President asked him to return
the land to the original owners, which he did. This left him a forty acre
farm, part of which was in a pretty bend of the river. Here he built a
rather commodious log house where Edwin and Sarah’s children were born.
This home was located between what is now 7th and 8th South and west of
9th West street, about where the 26th Ward Chapel stands.
and Sarah’s daughter, Edith Rushton Christensen writes: “My earliest
recollection of Father is a picture in my mind of him and us children
gathered around a lighted lamp at home in the evening. He would read out
loud to us regularly. His selections were not particularly appropriate for
someone as young as I was then, nevertheless we were expected to stay
quiet and listen. He had a full beard, and to me seemed quite stern and
Rushton Christensen writes, “When the silk industry was being instituted
here, President Young asked Father to sell mulberry trees up through the
northern counties, and at about this time a grove of those trees was
planted on the farm. Among these friendly trees and in the willows along
the river bank, my sisters and I spent a happy childhood, and whenever I
see mulberry trees or sweet clover, to this day I am seized with
built swings and teeters and a sturdy whirligig for the enjoyment of us
children. The popularity of this crude playground, one of the first in
Salt Lake I believe, spread and families and ward groups came to enjoy it.
In the river Father constructed two great water wheels. These wheels had
some eight wings or paddles with a wooden bucket or trough fastened to
each paddle. As the force of the water turned this wheel, these buckets
filled and as they went down again, emptied the water on the land for
irrigation. This also carried water to a cistern to be used for culinary
purposes. Years later, splendid artesian wells were found on this land,
and what a thrill for all of us when that clear beautiful water poured
from the pipe.”
the 7th of June 1862, Edwin took Maria Henrietta Allen to the Endowment
House and they were married. She became his fourth wife. She was
affectionately called “Aunt Maria” by all of the children. She received her
endowments the same day she was married for eternity. One child, Maria,
was born 15 October 1869 in Salt Lake.
was respected in the community and took part in politics. On 8 August
1864, he was selected to be a delegate to a convention. A newspaper
article indicated the convention convened in Great Salt Lake City at the
tabernacle. Representatives were in attendance from all counties of the
state. Edwin Rushton was one of the 24 delegates from G. S. L. County. The
purpose of the convention seems to be to make recommendations regarding
the price of grain, flour, etc.
early experience and that of his family in the silk industry could not be
forgotten. Ideas began to take shape after settling in Salt Lake and a
silk industry was seriously considered for Utah. There are a number of
published articles indicating his interests and that of others in
establishing such an industry. Excerpts are as follows:
History, 7 Nov. 1868
school of the prophets met at 1 P.M. in the old Tabernacle. Elder Rushton
spoke on the manufacture of silk. He and all of his fathers family had
been raised in the manufacture of sewing silk and he desired to go into
the movement with his whole heart.”
A Mr. G. D. Watt gave a lecture in the 6th Ward meeting
house extolling the advantages of producing silk over wool.
“One hundred pounds of silk worms will give 20,000, which in 42
days with proper attendance will give 7-½ pounds of reeled silk.
Wool is worth 50 cents per pound and the silk from $5 to $10.
It does not require a shrewd calculation to see where the advantage
in profit lies.” After the
lecture, speeches were made by Edwin Rushton and others.
It was unanimously agreed to organize in the 5th and 6th
Wards a co-operative silk producing society..
1870 census for the 6th Ward shows Edwin at 46 was a farmer.
Edwin, Jr. at 17 is listed as a laborer. (G. S. Film 553110)
the 1870's and early 80's, Edwin was engaged in the contracting business.
He equipped himself with machinery for driving piles and constructing
bridges, becoming the builder of many of the early day bridges. He used to
take large crews of men out on these projects, and was considered a
generous employer. Many of these men affectionately called him “Boss”
ever after. Some of these contracts were the Union Pacific Railroad
bridges over the Bear and Snake Rivers when the railroad was rerouted. He
drove the piles for bridges in Rush Valley, and for the Denver & Rio
Grand Railroad from here to Green River. Edwin built the Jordan River
Bridge west of Lehi, which is still in use. (The pioneer engineer, Cox,
collaborated with Edwin in this bridge, and it was considered at that time
quite an engineering feat.) He drove the piles for one of the old resorts
on the Lake, and for six railroad bridges on the Sanpete Valley branch
line, contracting under Simon Bamberger.
The 1880 Census (G. S. Film 38083 - Pt. 3) shows that Edwin at 56
listed his occupation as a “Bridge Builder.”
after Edwin married his wife Maria, laws began to be considered forbidding
polygamy. Finally, a law was passed in Congress making plural marriage
subject to penitentiary imprisonment.
It is reported that if a man would desert his plural wives and
disown his children, they need not go to prison and a $100 fine would
suffice. Edwin went to jail.
the period when the Federal Government, through the United States Marshall
and his host of deputies, was persecuting the leaders and members of the
Church who were practicing polygamy, Edwin was subjected to considerable
humiliation because, having at the time three wives, he was being
constantly watched and investigated by these lascivious minions of the
law. The Federal Government expected and demanded that the brethren who
were practicing polygamy renounce and abandon their plural wives and
children, or suffer the consequences, the consequences being a term in the
State penitentiary. Naturally, Edwin had no intention of forsaking either
his wives or children, and eventually the deputy marshals obtained the
evidence they had been seeking, and he was brought before the court for a
hearing. In order to spare his family the pain and embarrassment of a
trial, he pled guilty and was sentenced to serve four months in the State
prison. Many of the brethren received much longer terms, but because of
Edwin’s age, the court shortened his sentence. He served his sentence in
the year 1887.
Chronology reported as follows:
3, 1887. In the 3rd Dist Court (Judge Zane) Edwin Rushton of the 5th Ward,
Salt Lake City was sentenced to 4 months imprisonment and $50 fine and
Hyrum Henry Evans of the 6th Ward Salt Lake City to 6 months imprisonment
and $50 fine, both for u. c. (unlawful cohabitation).
12, 1888. Edwin Rushton discharged from the penitentiary.
his daughter writes, “I shall never forget as long as I live the day
that my sister took me to visit Father in prison. Although I was only ten
years old, the gruesomeness of all those fine men huddled together under
those unsanitary conditions, with very little room to move around, is
indelibly printed on my mind.”
all this time Edwin was an active, energetic Church worker, holding many
responsible positions. Especially was he a forceful, intelligent
expounder, teacher and defender of
LDS doctrine. The most potent force in Edwin’s life was his conviction
of the divine mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He never tired of
extolling the virtues of this great leader. It was said of him that he
never left the pulpit without mentioning his acquaintance with Joseph
Smith, and the fact that Joseph was a Prophet of God. Edwin bore testimony
to his children that he was in the meeting when the mantle of Joseph
descended on Brigham Young, and that it was a tense, dramatic experience.
It was following the meeting when this momentous event occurred, according
to Edwin, that he and his wife called at the home of Emma Smith,
entreating her, after such a miraculous testimony of the divine leadership
of Brigham Young, to join the Saints in the western migration.
during Edwin’s life he spoke of a Revelation given to the Prophet,
Joseph Smith, in the presence of him and Theodore Turley at the
Prophet’s home, May 6, 1843. This Revelation is known as the “White
Horse Prophecy”. Some years before Edwin passed away, two prominent
Church officials questioned Edwin at great length concerning this
Prophecy, and recorded the statement he made at that time.
was well schooled in England, a critical reader of everything available,
and a splendid correspondent. He was spiritual and generous, independent,
honest and frank to the extreme, an enthusiastic citizen and a patron of
civic affairs and the drama, often taking all his daughters to the old
Salt Lake Theater. One of the things said at his funeral was that he was a
man of decided views and opinions, and the courage to fight for those
the big real estate boom of the 1890's, Edwin sold his farms and built
Sarah a new home on his city property in the old Sixth Ward, where he
lived the remainder of his life.
a personal history highlighting Edwin’s life (written 6 May 1855 while
an active Seventy), he closed his history with this testimony:
“I have rejoiced with the Saints to say I have been here and I
feel to realise the blessings of God upon me.”
died in Salt Lake City the 28th of December 1904, age 80. He was faithful
to the teachings of the Church to the end and left a large posterity who
honor and revere him. His family, parents, brothers and sisters were
faithful members during the great trials and tribulations at Nauvoo and
the settling of Utah.
wife Maria Henrietta Allen, died 25 October 1911, age 83. His wife Mary
Ann died July 25, 1915 at the home of her daughter, Henrietta Evans, who
resided at 1006 So. Lake St. Salt Lake City, Utah. She was 92. His wife
Sarah Robinson died 1 April 1930 in Salt Lake City, age 94. It would
appear that hard pioneer life, clean living and large families didn’t
shorten the life of these pioneers.
we review the record of Edwin’s life, it is evident he proved himself
worthy. He was a man of God who loved the Lord and kept His commandments.
He met many trials in his life and overcame them. He magnified his
priesthood, accepted the family responsibilities for four wives and all
his children honored his parents, accepted church and civic
responsibilities. He endured to the end in righteousness. Surely he will
be one of those the Lord will accept as having “kept his second estate,
“ and will be entitled to have glory added upon his head for ever and
ever. He is a pioneer ancestor that all of his descendants can be proud of
and should look forward to meeting at a future time.
Can anyone doubt the Lord chastened, tested, and prepared the early saints of this the last dispensation, so he could find a people who would live by every word that proceeded from the mouth of God and the living prophets; to help establish Zion, a pure and dedicated people. The Rushton family was no exception. We descendants are the benefactors of their dedication.