EDWARD BUNKER (1822-1901)
I was born in the town of Atkinson, Penobscot County, State of Maine, August 1,
1822. My parents were Silas Bunker and Hannah Berry Bunker. I was the youngest of
nine children, seven boys and two girls, whose names were as follows: Nahum who
married Irene Thayer; Abigail, married Mr. Heath; Martin, married Mary Ann Gilpatrick;
Alfred, who never married; Hannah, who married John Berry; Kendall, who married his
cousin, Rachel Bunker; Silas died when 27 years old, unmarried; Sabin who married
after I came west so I do not know who he married. When I was about sixteen years
old, Father sold our home and moved to Charleston at which place we lived five years.
During our stay there, Father deeded his farm and other property to my brother Silas on
the condition that he take care of the old folks as long as they lived.|
When I was nineteen years old I left home with the consent of my parents and brother Silas, to work for myself, as Silas owned the property, I felt I ought to have my time. After an absence of two or three months, Silas requested me to come back and live at home as he was lonely without me. He offered me a deed to one-half of the property if I would go back. I refused the offer, telling him it would be a good home for him and he could care for father and mother.
A spirit of unrest had taken possession of me and I longed to get away. The farm was a good one, consisting of 100 acres of land, good buildings, and a nice stock of cattle. Silas felt so lonely without me that he rented the farm and went to Trenton, a distance of sixty miles, to work for my brother Martin. After he got work, he wrote for me to come there, too. As work was plentiful and I could get a job, I went down. A few days after my arrival, Silas was taken sick with filious fever. I stayed with him until he died. Before his death, realizing his time had come and not wishing the property to go back into Father's hands as he was not capable of taking care of it, he wished to deed the property to Martin and myself for the benefit of Father and Mother.
So we had the deeds drawn up and he sat up in bed and signed them. After the death of Silas, Martin made me a proposition which was this: he would pay the funeral expenses and the doctor bills and deed me his share of the property if I would pay him $200 and take care of the old folks. Or he would pay me $200 and take care of the old folks if I would deed him my share of the property and pay Silas' funeral expenses. I accepted the latter offer, which astonished Martin very much. We returned to Charle- ston, where at my request, he gave Father and Mother a life lease and I deeded him my share of the property. After this was done I returned to Atkinson, bought a small farm of my Brother Kendall and took a notion to visit my brother Nahum living near Boston.
Accordingly, Brother Sabin took myself and a load of shingles to Bangor. I sold the shingles and worked my passage to Plymouth. I visited Nahum in Brantree and he proposed we visit Alfred, who was living in Hartford, Conn. This we did. Alfred wanted me to remain with him, as I could get plenty of work and good wages , so I spent the summer there.
In the fall, my brother-in-law, John Berry, came along and wanted me to go to Wis- consin with him to see the country. Alfred was away from home at the time, but I packed my trunk and left for the West without bidding him goodbye, and never saw him again. John Berry and I came to Cleveland, Ohio. The lakes froze over and we had to spend the winter there. I went to Kirtland to visit friends and see the temple. While there we met Martin Harris, who invited us to his house, where we went and heard him bear his testimony to the truth of the Book of Mormon.
I obtained work at Cleveland for eight dollars a month and board. John Berry left me and went to Pittsburg to obtain work and we agreed to meet in Wisconsin. While in Cleveland, Mr. Berry found the Book of Mormon, read it, and brought it to me to read, which I did. The man with whom I was living had the Voice of Warning, which I read also. I found a branch of the church there, attended the meetings, became convinced of the truth of Mormonism, and was baptized in the month of April, 1845. Then I knew why it was that I had been led from my father's house and left my dear old mother whom I loved dearly.
After the lakes were opened, I got higher wages, $16 a month at Akron where I worked one month. Then I went aboard a boat and landed at Chicago, then a small frontier town. From there I went to Rock River, Wisconsin, to meet my cousin Patience Millet, and friends from Maine. After the time was spent there, during which time I told them I was a Latter-Day Saint, they accused the Mormons of believing in polygamy. I told them it was only a slur and a false statement. At the end of my stay, I took the stage for Galena, ninety miles distant, and then went aboard a steamboat, went down the Mississippi River and arrived at Nauvoo in July 1845. I had a letter of recommendation to George A. Smith, who was in council with his brothers, but came out and spoke to me and asked me what I was going to do. I told him I did not know, but wished to do whatever was the best. He asked me if I had any money. I told him I had some. He advised me to hire my board and go to work on the temple, or Nauvoo House. So I hired my board and went to work on the temple. I paid my tithing from the day I was baptized every tenth day and the tenth of the worth of my clothes. After having paid my tithing, I went to work for the Nauvoo House, cutting hay for them on the prairie with two of the brethren. We camped where we worked until the mobs broke out and began to burn the farms and drive the Saints into Nauvoo. I joined the militia and went out as a guard to assist some of the Saints to move in. I was in the infantry company that went to war by order of the Sheriff of Bannock County to make arrests of those who had been burning and plundering the homes of the Saints.
The presiding priesthood compromised with the mob and agreed to leave Nauvoo. Then I crossed the river to Montrose and went to work for Peter Robinson, threshing grain and making flour barrels. While at Montrose, I became acquainted with Emily Abbott and we were married in Nauvoo by John Taylor, February 9 , 1846, just before Brother Taylor crossed the river to join the Saints at Sugar Creek.
After my marriage, not being plentifully supplied with this world's goods, I went down the Mississippi to Keokuk. There I obtained a job cutting cord wood at 50 cents per cord, boarded myself, camped in the timber, did my own cooking, and cut 15 cords of wood a week. I worked about three weeks and obtained enough money to buy a few of the necessities of life.
I returned home and Brother William Robinson offered to take myself and wife west on condition that I drive and care for the team and Emily assist with the cooking. We agreed to do this and journeyed westward with the main body of the Saints. When we got to Garden Grove, Mr. Robinson concluded he couldn't take us any farther, so we remained there. With the help of Brother Steward, a young man who had just married, I bought a log cabin of one room. We put a roof on it and chucked it, but it was minus doors, floors or windows. We moved our wives into it and I went to Missouri with the intention of earning money enough to buy a team and wagon. I was in company with two other brethren, and being unable to reach the nearest town, thirty miles distant, we camped the first night in the woods without blankets or fire. The mosquitoes were very bad. Arriving at my destination, I worked one week for corn and bacon.
At this time the report reached us that the United States government had called for a company of Saints to go to Mexico. I did not believe it but the spirit of the Lord directed me to go home. So the following Saturday, with the side of a bacon slung over my shoulder, I started for home, thirty miles distant. As I neared my destination, I met some brethren hunting stock and they confirmed the report I had heard concerning the call for a battalion to go to Mexico. They also told me that Brigham Young had written a letter to the Grove calling on all the single men and those that could be spared to come to Bluffs, 140 miles distant west, to assist the families and care for the teams of those who had joined the battalion, and they in turn could have use of their teams to bring their families to the Bluffs.
Next day being Sunday, I went to meeting and heard the letter read. Volunteers were called for and I was the first to offer my service. Eight others followed my example. They agreed to meet me at my house the following Tuesday morning at nine o'clock and we would start together for the Bluffs.
Tuesday morning came, but none of the men who had agreed to meet me put in an appearance, so, with my small bundle of clothes and provisions, I started alone on the journey of 140 miles, and only one settlement on the way. When within two days journey of the Bluffs, I overtook Mr. Robinson, who had left us at Garden Grove. He had lost a child and his teamster had deserted him, so he besought me to drive his team on to the Bluffs, which I did. When within ten miles of our journey's end, a messenger came into camp about midnight with the information that 16 men were wanted to complete the battalion. The camp was called up and not one volunteered until I broke the ice. Soon others followed and the required number made up.
The next morning we filed out of camp and went to Trading Point on the Missouri River, where the Battalion was camped for a few days. We took up our line of march for Fort Leavenworth where we received our arms and camp equipage. We had the privilege of drawing our clothes or the money in lieu thereof. Most of the Battalion men received the money and sent the greater portion of it back to our families. We moved out a short distance from Fort Leavenworth and went into camp waiting for Col. Allen, who was sick at the fort. On learning that Col. Allen was dead, Lieut. Smith was given command of the Battalion and he put on a forced march to Santa Fe.
Brother Tyler's History of the Battalion will give the details of the march better than I can. However, when we got to Santa Fe we drew all of our money and sent a portion of it back to our families. Col. Cooke was left at Santa Fe by order of General Kearney to take command of the Battalion and lead it to California. At Santa Fe I was detailed as assistant teamster to Hyrum Judd. By so doing I did not have to carry my gun and knapsack and was exempt from guard duty. One detachment of the Battalion consisting of the women and sick men were sent to Benton's Fort to winter and another de- tachment sent back after we left Santa Fe. As I did not keep a history of our journey, I will refer the reader to Tyler's History. I will add, however, that on the 27th of January we reached San Luis Mission where we remained a short time. Then we moved up to Los Angeles at which place we remained until we were discharged on the 16th day of July.
Having drawn our pay and procured an outfit, we prepared to return to our homes by way of Sutter's Fort and across the North Pass of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the old Emigrant Trail. While crossing the mountains we met Capt. Brown and Sam Brannon from Salt Lake Valley. Brown to draw the pay for his company, and Brannon to meet the company of Saints who had gone to California by water.
The returning men of the Battalion divided into three squads on their return trip, and I was in company with Brothers Tyler, Hancock and others. We met Brown near where the company of emigrants, enroute to California, had perished the winter before, and saw the skeletons and bones of those unfortunate people lying on the ground unburied. Brown brought word from Brigham Young that those of the Battalion who had not provisions to last them into Salt Lake Valley had better remain in California during the winter. Some of the brethren turned back and a few others continued eastward. I was in the latter number and we arrived in Salt Lake Valley on the 16th of October, 1847. After resting awhile, we proceeded on our journey towards the Missouri.
When I left the valley, I had sixteen pounds of flour to take me a thousand miles and three mules which I took from California to Council Bluffs. On our journey we bought some buffalo meat from the Indians and killed a few of these animals ourselves. On arriving at Loop Fork on the Platte River, we camped for the night and tried to ford the river, but the ice was running so thick that our mules would not try to cross, so we put up for the night. The next morning found us in as cold a northeaster snowstorm as I had ever experienced in the state of Maine.
We stayed in camp all day and ate the last bit of provision we had, even a pair of raw hide saddle bags which I had brought from California on a wild mule. The next morning there was about ten inches of snow on the ground and we started down the river hoping to find missionaries at the Pawnee Mission. That day we killed some prairie chickens which was all we had. Next day we came opposite the mission houses which were across the river from us. Some of the boys commenced to build a raft when, on looking down the river, we saw Robert Harris crossing the ice by means of a long pole. We abandoned our raft and followed his example and crossed the river on the ice. We found the mission deserted and the corn all gathered, but we went into the fields and with our feet gathered a few ears of frost-bitten corn which the Indians had left, and which we ate raw. We went into the houses and stayed all night without bedding. One of the boys brought a frying pan and the corn we didn't eat raw, we parched and ate all we wanted and took the rest to camp with us.
On reaching camp the next morning, we found that one of our mules had gotten into the water and was so badly chilled that he had to be killed, and we ate all the meat ex- cept the lights. Those I tried eating, but they were so much like Indian rubber that I gave up the attempt.
After getting all the company across the ice, we went to the Mission homes and stayed all day. Having obtained a little good corn from the Indians, we took up our line of march for Council Bluffs, 140 mile distant, with the snow from 8 to 10 inches deep. We arrived in Winter Quarters on the 18th of December, 1847, having been gone 18 months. Three days later the Missouri River froze over sufficiently hard to be crossed by the teams and wagons. On reaching Winter Quarters I spent the night with one of my companions thinking my wife was still in Garden Grove where I had left her. Next morning I went to find Bro. Brown's family and they told me my wife was living a short distance from them. This was good news, I assure you, and I lost no time in seeking out Emily and her mother, Abigail Abbott, who was a widow with eight children. Emily, be- ing the eldest, had been able to move to Winter Quarters with the assistance of William Robinson.
It may be out of place to enumerate the articles I had for a winter campaign: one pair of white cotton pants, a white cotton jacket, an old vest, a miltary overcoat, which I bought from one of the dragoons, a pair of garments, and a shirt; the latter articles were made from an old wagon cover by Sedric Judd, the tailor of our mess.
I found my wife in quite poor circumstances, but with a fine boy eleven months old, my eldest son, Edward, who, at this writing, is bishop of Bunkerville. After resting a few weeks, I got wagons and a harness, hitched up my mules and went to Missouri to work for provisions. I found employment splitting rails for fencing. I earned a fat hog and some corn and returned home. We moved across the river to Mesquite Creek. Sister Abbott moved with us. She had two small boys and we put in crops of corn together. The next spring Mother Abbott emigrated to Salt Lake City. I assisted her to a yoke of oxen and the following year received from James Brown, the money for the same. With this I bought cattle to assist me to emigrate next season. I also received three months extra pay from the government and a land warrant which I sold for $150. The emigration to California began next year and corn brought from 25 cents to $1.50 per bushel. I had raised a good crop and this assisted me very much to obtain my outfit.
In the spring of 1850, I started to Salt Lake Valley in Captain Johnson's hundred and Matthew Caldwell's fifty, and I was captain of a ten. We followed up the route of the California emigrants on the south side of the Platte River. Nothing of importance happened until we came in the cholera district where the emigrants had died in great numbers and were buried by the roadside. We found one man unburied lying in the brush. He was given a burial by our company. Our camp was stricken and 18 out of our hundred died from the effects of the cholera. My wife and daughter, Emily, who had been born to us the first of March, 1849, on Mesquite Creek, Iowa, were taken very sick, but through the powers of faith and good nursing they soon recovered. At the end of three months we reached Salt Lake Valley, our haven of rest, September 1, 1850. I settled in Ogden City, took up a farm about a mile from the city on what was then known as Canfield Creek. I built a house of three log rooms and fenced my farm the first year.
William Lang owned a farm adjoining mine, also James Brown. William Lang died soon after I came there and I married his widow, whose maiden name was Sarah A. Browning, June, 1852. She had two girls by her first husband. President Young and Heber C. Kimball came to Ogden in 1851 and organized the stake with Lorin Farr as president and James Brown and William Palmer as councilors. I was chosen a member of the High Council and ordained by Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball set me apart for that calling. I was also a member of the first council of Ogden City.
In the fall of 1852, I was called to go on a mission to England. There were some sev- enty elders called at that time. We started on our missions immediately after the Octo- ber semi-annual conference and took with us the first publication of the revelation on celestial marriage which was sent to the nations of the earth. After landing in Liverpool we reported ourselves to the presidency of the mission in Liverpool at the office of the Mellenial Star. I was appointed to preside over the Bristol conference in the place of George Halliday who was released to emigrate. I presided there about three months, then I was called to care for Mr. Clayton's field of labor, he being sent home. That field included Sheffield, Bradford, and Lincolnshire conferences. I labored there two years, then was released to preside in Scotland which included the conferences of Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh. I labored there one year then was released to come home. There were about five hundred emigrants, all Saints, and some returning elders on board ship and presided over by Daniel Tyler.
The voyage was pleasant with the exception of one storm during which one sailor was drowned. We landed in New York, at Castle Garden, thence by rail to St. Louis, then by steamboat up the Mississippi River to Iowa City, which place we reached in the month of June, 1856.
Here the company was fitted out with hand carts. I was given charge of a Welch company and left Iowa City, June 28, 1856. We procured our provisions and teams to haul our supplies at Council Bluffs. After leaving Iowa City, we encountered some heavy rain and windstorms which blew down our tents and washed away our hand- carts. I got a heavy drenching which brought on a spell of rheumatism that confined me to my bed a portion of the journey.
I had for my councilors Brothers Grant, a Scotchman, and tailor by trade, and Mac- Donald, a cabinet maker, neither of whom had much experience in handling teams. Both were returned missionaries. The Welsh people had had no experience and very few of them could speak English. This made my burden very heavy. I had the mule team to drive and had to instruct the teamsters about yoking the oxen.
The journey from the Missouri River to Salt Lake City was accomplished in 65 days. We were short of provisions all the way and would have suffered for food had not supplies reached us from the valley. However, we arrived safely in Salt Lake City, October 2, 1856. Other companies that started in the latter part of the season were caught in the snow storms and suffered severely from cold and hunger and many of them perished. When I arrived home my health was very poor, having suffered a great deal while in England from the cold damp climate.
I found my family in poor circumstances, having lost about forty head of cattle during the winter. The winter before I arrived they had also passed through what was called the "Grasshopper War". Soon after my arrival I was made Bishop of the Second Ward in Ogden and labored in that capacity until I moved to Dixie. Some time later I was in Big Cottonwood Canyon celebrating the 24th of July, 1857, when word came that Johnson's army was coming to exterminate the Mormons.
We all returned to our homes and prepared for the worst. The militia was called out and sent into Echo Canyon and Johnson's Army was obligated to winter on Ham's Fork. In the spring of '58 we moved as far south as Payson where we remained all summer. During this time Governor Cummings and Col. Kane came directly from Washington D.C. Everything was peaceable and in the fall we returned to our homes.
In the fall of '59, our daughter Emily, then ten years old, was sick with bilious fever and tape worm, near unto death. Lost her speech and memory and was as helpless as an infant. Her mother weaned the baby and gave Emily the breast and that was all the nourishment she took for two months. She was healed thru the ordinances of the church by the power of God, as one raised from the dead. All her faculties returned and she is now living and the mother of four boys.
In April of 1861, I married Mary McQuarrie, and the following November with my wives, Emily and Mary, moved to Dixie and spent the first year in Toquerville. My wife Sarah remained in Ogden and the next fall I went for her.
In the fall of '62 I was called to preside at the Santa Clara. At this time we endured many privations and hardships on account of dry seasons and loss of crops. I was obliged to haul my breadstuffs from the north for several years. At one time grain was so scarce that flour was worth $10 per cwt. and had it not been for the liberality of our brethren in the north, our southern settlement would have suffered severely. Before flour reached us, my family was reduced to bran bread and glad to get that.
I also assisted to establish a settlement in Clover Valley and moved part of my family there. Salter and I bought a place in Panguitch and were among the first settlers after the town was established. Moved part of my family and two of my sons also settled there. I presided at the Santa Clara for about twelve years, then resigned on account of poor health, not having sufficient resources to keep my family together. Marius Ensign, my first councilor, was appointed my successor.
During my later administration as Bishop, President Brigham Young introduced the United Order in the Dixie Mission. This we all joined. I put in all I possessed, the labor of myself, two teams, and two boys. I had a nice crop of grain growing, said by the ap- praisors to be the best in the field. I worked until the Order broke up, which it did just one year from the date of commencement, January 1. At the division in our town, my teams and wagons were returned to me, but I wasn't given a pound of hay, grain, or cotton, with twenty in my family. Be assured this was a dark day for myself and family, but we said in our hearts, "The Lord knows we obeyed that principle with a pure motive and He will not let us suffer." I took my boys and teams and went into the mountains and cut and hauled wood to St. George for the temple and for individuals, and in this way obtained flour and factory pay to sustain my family until another harvest.
The next year I raised enough to support my family and pay off a $150 cash debt. So you see the Lord abundantly blessed us for our integrity. Having seen by the spirit of the Lord the necessity and blessings of the United Order, I labored for two or three years with my family and neighbors and friends, and counciled with President Brigham Young previous to making a settlement on the Rio Virgin, fifty miles south of St. George. President Young told me I could go any place in the south, but said repeatedly not to go north. So, having gathered a sufficient number, including Dudley and Lemuel Leavitt and families, J. [G.] W. Lee, S.C. Crosby, E. Bunker, Jr., and families, others joined us later on, we were organized as a company the first of January, 1877, at Santa Clara.
We left there soon after and reached what was then known as Mesquite, but that was afterwards named Bunkerville. We began work the eighth of January, myself presiding over the company, and later was ordained Bishop with E. Bunker, Jr. as my first and Myron Abbott as my second councilors.
We labored there in the order three years. At the end of that time, we attempted to or- ganize into stewardships, and the result was that we broke up. The brethren did not understand the principle sufficient to accept of it. Previous to this, we had labored in one company. Our labors, however, were very highly crowned with success. In settling up we paid off the capital stock dollar for dollar, fed and clothed the company and paid 18 per cent on every man's labor. We made a valuation of our improvements, divided them up and they went to pay our indebtedness. Our land was covered with a heavy growth of mesquite trees that had to be grubbed off. Then every acre had to be leveled with a scraper before it was to be irrigated. This made our work very laborious for ourselves and teams. But when the land was brought under cultivation, it was very productive.
My health was very poor so I thought a trip to Arizona would be beneficial, and with the consent of the President of the Stake and President John Taylor, I started south on April 4, 1882. We reached Mesa City the 25th of the same month at which place we spent the summer. The Apache Indians were on the war path and it was unsafe to travel further south. After spending a pleasant summer, in the fall, I went to San Pedro and stayed a few months, then pushed on to Sulphur Spring Valley where I had rela- tives. I will also state I took my wife Emily with me and sons Silas and George, and daughter Louella. Our outfit consisted of two teams, two wagons and a tent.
We remained in Sulphur Springs several months and regained our health and visited friends. While at Mesa in company with a few of the brethren, I went into Old Mexico as far south as the San Bernardino ranch. Having been gone nearly two years, we de- cided to return home, which we did, arriving here December 26, 1883.
While I was absent the settlement of Bunkerville experienced a very heavy flood which nearly broke up the town, but thru the perseverance and integrity of the people, they were able to repair the damages and save the place from abandonment. From that time on the town has grown and flourished. The Lord has blessed the people and now they are beginning to reap the reward of their labors.
In conclusion I would say that now at the age of 72 I am resting from my labors and am associated with a goodly portion of my family, having in all three wives, 28 children, seventeen boys and eleven girls. Three girls and two boys have died. I also have sev- enty grandchildren, sixty-one of whom are living and two great grandchildren.
Thanks to: Michael C. Bunker, 13 Carson Ct., Ely, NV, 89301-2034 for this item.
|Copyright 2006, The Edward Bunker Family Association