Children of Nahum and Mary (Gibbs) Bigelow:
16167.31 Mary Jane, b 15 Oct 1827 Lawrenceville,
Lawrence co, IL; d 26 Sep 1868, place not stated;
(Mary Jane left the family of President Young and married again [Horace Roberts in 1852, John Bair in 1856, Daniel Durham Hunt in 1859, and Philander Bell in 1868], had only one child born after she was forty years old, leaving by her death an orphan at six months of age. The little one soon followed. Delicate in health, quiet, patient, yet sometimes with a rare quick impulsiveness of action that generally gave after pain, Mary Jane was truly a good, kind, and patient woman). m (1) 20 Mar 1847 Brigham Young, from whom divorced; (2) 29 Sep 1852 Horace Roberts; (3) 08 Apr 1856 John Bair; (4) 14 Feb 1859 Daniel Durham Hurst; (5) 09 Apr 1868 Philander Bell. (see below)
16167.32t Hiram, b 20 May 1829 Lawrenceville, Lawrence co, IL; d 29 Feb 1916 Webb, Cochise co, AZ; m 12 Dec 1856 Martha Meacham.
16167.33t Lucy, b 03 Oct 1830 Coles co, IL; d 03 Feb 1005 St. George, UT; m 20 Mar 1847 Brigham Young. 3 daughters.
16167.34t Asa Elijah, b 02 Feb 1832 Coles co, IL; d 09 Nov 1911 Payson, Utah co, UT; m (1) 02 Apr 1853 Julia Ann Cook; (2) 1871 his brother's widow, Elvira Jane (Meacham) Bigelow; (3) 08 Mar 1899 Hannah Mosley Johnson.
16167.35 Lovina, b 24 Mar 1834 Grimsby, Jackson co, IL; d 05 Nov 1900 place not stated; m 21 Mar 1851 John Wesley Witt.
16167.36 Liola, b 04 Oct 1835 Coles co, IL; d 15 Aug 1845.
16167.37 Sariah, b 29 Jan 1838; d 11 Jan 1877 Fairfield,UT; m _ Aug 1853 Daniel Dean Cook.
16167.38t Moroni, b 01 Sep 1840 Mercer co, IL; d 13 Apr 1870 on the Missouri River between Camden and Welburn; m 23 Aug 1863 Elvira Jane Meacham.
16167.39t Daniel, b 18 Mar 1842 Mercer co, IL; d 22 Oct 1921; m (1) 23 July 1865 Permelia Meacham; (2) 09 Apr 1882 Emeline Stevens; (3) 09 May 1887 Clara Frederick Ostenser.
16167.3A Joseph Smith, b 04 July 1844 Hancock co, IL; d 19 Apr 1845.
Bigelow Family Genealogy Volume I page 306-307;
Howe, Bigelow Family of America; pg 235-238;
Book of Remembrance, Descendants of Asa Elijah and Moroni Bigelow;
correspondence with descendants.
Note: In 1996-2007, a descendant of Nahum, Ron Bigelow of Utah, was President of the Bigelow Society in America.
A Sketch of Nahum Bigelow
by: Susa Young Gates (Juvenile Instructor, 15 April 1891)
Granddaughter of Nahum Bigelow and Daughter of Brigham Young and Lucy Bigelow Young
Edited by Dan Forward in 1997, a 3rd great-grandson of Nahum Bigelow.
LITTLE can be told of the early life of Nahum Bigelow, for it is now many years since he died,
leaving behind him no record except the one kept in the hearts of loving descendants. From that
record—halting and imperfect as it may be and is—the following sketch has been made.
Born in Brandon, Rutland County, Vermont on February 19, 1785, he was
trained in all those
sturdy habits of mind and body common to the New Englanders of the last [18th] century. His
people were farmers and stock raisers, but with true Yankee restlessness he determined when a
man grown to try something with greater promise of speedy wealth. With a peddler’s pack he
started out and he traveled from place to place for a number of years.
With such glee he used to afterwards tell his children one incident of
this time of his life. One old
gentleman, a French Canadian (a trapper probably) once offered him his daughter, the generous
offer being supplemented by that which often makes the plainest and ugliest of women beautiful and
desirable in the eyes of some men—her weight in gold. Neither the dark charms of the black-eyed
French girl nor the bright glitter of her father’s precious gold could tempt the sturdy New Englander
to sell his birthright or lend himself to anything unworthy of his name and manhood. The charms and
gold were gently but firmly refused.
Nahum Meets Mary Gibbs
ONE other incident of this time also remains in the minds of his children. On one of his trips (to
Ohio probably) he stopped at a house where working about with the air of one old before her time
and wise beyond her years was a girl named Mary Gibbs, who was only twelve years old. The firm
sweet mouth and dark blue eyes bespoke character of a high grade.
In his heart this middle-aged man—for he was now thirty-six years old—said,
“If ever I marry,
that’s the girl I want for my wife.” The old Scotch proverb says, “If you really wish for anything
you’ll certainly get the sleeves.” What with wishing and adding efforts to wishing, the two were
married in Lawrenceville, Lawrence County, Illinois on December 2, 1826. The usual incidents of
pioneer life with the birth of children and mingled scenes of woe and happiness and joy and pain
attended this couple for a number of years.
Nahum and Mary’s Children
THE first child was a girl named Mary Jane [b. October 15, 1827] and the second was a son
named Hirum [b. May 20, 1829]. Mary Jane was quiet, steady, exceedingly patient with all, and
firm and unyielding on matter of duty and principle. Hirum was steady, sober, and thoughtful beyond
Then came Lucy [b. October 3, 1830]—always a bright, lovely, lovable child—whose
attraction were early displayed and whom more than one man would have given his weight in gold
to possess as his wife, so much she inherited from her father.
Then Asa Elijah was born on February 2, 1832 and in a short time Lovina
[b. March 24, 1834]
followed Asa. Asa is a genuine son of his father, inheriting the independence of character, strict
honesty of purpose, and conscientiousness of every action, which is so notable as a Bigelow trait.
Lovina was always a gay, frolicsome lassie, much like Lucy in the face, yet lacking some of the
force of character of her sister.
While Lovina was a baby rumors of the new religion of Joseph Smith and
followers came to the
farmhouse in Lawrenceville. The mysterious golden Bible and revelations from God to the lad
Joseph Smith were often spoken about by friends and neighbors.
A Life-threatening Accident
ABOUT this time Nahum met with an accident which nearly cost him his life and which well
showed the decision of his character. It was haying time and the stack was just being topped off.
Nahum and some hired men were at work. Being through, all of them slid off the stack—Nahum
was the last. A pitchfork had in some way been stuck loosely in the side of the stack. As Nahum
came down, the tine of the fork caught him in the thigh and pinioned him fast. He began bleeding
profusely. He shouted to the men below from where he was suspended on the fork, against the
upper part of the stack. The handle of the fork was sticking in the ground.
“Pull out the fork! Knock the fork from under me!” he shouted, but all
stood in stupid amazement
and no one moved. A foot finally came around and kicked out the fork. He came heavily to earth,
senseless and bleeding. Six weeks elapsed before he recovered from this accident.
The Family’s Introduction to the Restored Gospel
ANOTHER son was next born on October 4, 1835 and named Liola. Shortly after this two
elders preaching the new Gospel and bearing a copy of the now-famous golden Bible, named the
Book of Mormon, came to the Bigelow home. They were kindly received, as were all strangers in
this household, and the father and mother listened kindly, but at first incredulously, to the things told
by these singular men. That angels should come from heaven, that God should again speak from His
high and distant throne, and that a new dispensation was come were all startling announcements.
They required care, study, and deep thought mingled with prayer in order to understand and grasp
their important reliability.
The family Bible was brought out and many evenings when many weary bodies
ached to be at rest,
the eager, truth-seeking minds of this honest-hearted family were studying the sacred records to find
corroborative evidence said by these men to be upon its inspired pages.
At last his reason was convinced, yet his extreme caution caused him to
hesitate and ponder well
this new and vastly important step. Nahum was told to follow the advice given by our Savior to his
disciples: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto
you” (Matthew 7:7). Added to this was the promise anciently given to the poor in heart and simple
in mind and spirit: “These signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils;
they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it
shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:18). He was
promised that if he would humble himself and go down into the water for baptism, then hands would
be laid on him by those commissioned of God for the reception of the Holy Ghost, which great
witness would speak to his soul with any or all of the wonderful signs of His peculiar presence
promised to those who fulfill this, the first law of this old, yet new Gospel.
At last he consented, asking God to withhold His sanction if it was not
of Him, and to give that
sanction in majesty and power if it was His will and His Gospel as he went humbly down into the
waters of baptism. coming out he was confirmed and promised the Holy Ghost, which straightway
fell upon him; and behold, he prophesied and testified in burning, powerful words of truth and glory
which he had that day received.
Not after trials or affliction, not though he was robbed, beaten, poisoned,
and driven again and
again from house and home, aye even though he gave up his life finally as a martyr to this cause, not
once did his faith and testimony waver from the light he had that day received, but cried with his last
breath upon the God who had shown him such tender mercy and kindness. His wife and older
children were baptized on the same day of April 29, 1839.
More Children Came to the Bigelow Home
AFTER this another son came to them, whom they named Moroni [b. September 1, 1840] in
memory of the great Nephite general, who was the last of his race, and who delivered the golden
plates from their long hiding place into the hands of the youthful prophet, Joseph Smith. The girl,
Sariah [b. Jan 19, 1838], had indeed been named for the mother of the Lamanite and Nephite
nation by the mother, Mary Gibbs Bigelow, who long before their baptism had received the gospel
in her heart.
Daniel was the next child and was born in Mercer County, Illinois on March
18, 1842. The family
had previously moved from Lawrence County, Illinois to Coles County, Illinois, living there ten
years, then after receiving the gospel, had moved up to Mercer County, in the northern part of
Illinois. Four years were spent there. As it was still quite a distance from the body of the Church,
which was then located at Nauvoo (or commerce, as it is called on the maps), Nahum decided to
move once more. He was a stirring, active man and prosperity followed his footsteps.
An Inventor of Sorts
THE children were familiar with a huge tool chest, which contained many strange and unknown
tools and instruments. Into the traditions of the family has woven the fact that Father Nahum was an
inventor and had spent many days of his younger life in trying to solve the problem of perpetual
motion. His success was that of others who wasted time in this direction, but at least it cultivated the
reasoning faculty, developed the mind, trained the hand, and interested the thoughts. This faculty
was visible in a hundred handy ways about the household and it made the Bigelow family one
known to possess many comforts and conveniences otherwise unattainable in a western country.
The Move to Nauvoo
SO in the year 1843 Nahum bought one hundred sixty acres in Hancock County and sent Lebias
T. Coon with his son, Asa, to help break up the prairie land. For this purpose they had four yoke of
oxen and such other implements as were necessary for the purpose.
The children grew apace, Daniel being a cute, bright, and affectionate
little fellow, with all the
restless activity of his father and something of the patient, forbearing disposition of his sister, Mary.
Moroni was an independent, headstrong boy, controlled only by affection.
The start was made in Hancock County and everything prospered and thrived
under the wise,
judicious handling of Father Nahum. Living only eighteen miles from Nauvoo, the family carryall was
often hitched up and driven into town that all hands might attend meetings and receive a refreshing of
the mind, as well as a rest to the body.
STRICT to punctualness, knowing and believing the law of tithing—which demanded that one
tenth of all the increase of the saints should go into the Lord’s storehouse for the benefit of the poor
people, the fatherless, and the sick among the saints, as also build temples and other sacred
buildings—Nahum strictly complied with the law. Oftentimes his wagon, loaded with pork, grain,
and with other fruits of his toil, passed down the road from Hancock County to Nauvoo and in due
time he was known and loved by the Prophet Joseph and his associate brethren, among whom was
Brigham Young, afterwards the president and leader of the Church.
Of Nahum it was truly said by those over him in authority: “Behold, a good
man, in whom there is
no guile.” His neighbors in Hancock County, most of whom were outside the Church and had a
growing hatred and dislike for any and everything called “Mormon,” respected and honored this
honest man, who never feared man nor failed to fear and reverence his God.
Religious Persecution in Illinois
THE hatred and abuse that had followed this community from its earliest organization now began
to show itself in the mobocratic spirit, which grew in the hearts of those outside the Church. The
persecutions began in the more southerly counties and crept up until it terminated in the murder of
the Prophet and the Patriarch. Not content with this diabolical deed, the people of the state arose
and demanded the expulsion of the whole people.
Encouraged by the quiescence of the governor (a man by the name of Ford)
in their hellish deeds,
the mobs would gather and some dark night set fire to the stacks and barns of some unsuspecting
Mormon. The Mormon—awaked by the unusual glare—would sometimes rush out and with frantic
efforts seek to save his property. Then with deliberate coolness, the men concealed behind trees or
bushes and guided by the light of their own incendiarism, would use the persecuted Mormon as a
target, filling him full of holes and leaving him at last to gasp out his dying breath in the arms of his
wife and little ones. All this while Nahum went quietly about his work. This sort of thing continued
for another year. The Prophet was martyred in June 1844, and in that same fall the last child was
born to this couple. They named him Joseph Smith [b. July 4, 1844]. He died two years from birth
(of that we will speak again).
In the early fall of 1845 all the saints living outside of Nauvoo were
advised to move into the city for
mutual protection. Consequently Nahum took his family down to Nauvoo. Shortly after, however,
President Young made an agreement with the Governor that he would move the people beyond the
confines of the state if they could be unmolested until the Spring, in order that proper arrangements
could be made for such a gigantic undertaking. Thousands of people were to be moved away from
every trace of civilization into the unknown, untrodden wilderness far in the West. Meanwhile, those
with homes outside the city were given permission to return and gather in their crops if they
themselves felt brave enough to do so. Having a disposition in which the fear of man had never
entered, Nahum quietly took his family back to their farm in Hancock County.
Governor Ford promised protection to the Saints and when the state militia
were not present, he
told President Young to have a militia organized to help themselves. This was accordingly done. It
was not long that Nahum was allowed to go on in the peaceful performance of his duties. The
plague had settled upon some of the children and at length attacked the father himself. The faithful
mother had her hands and heart full going from bed to bed attending to the wants of the sick ones.
The Mob Visits the Bigelow Ranch
ONE night at about ten o’clock, the door was rudely pushed open and a man, accompanied by
nine others, stood within the house. In a harsh, savage voice he burst out, “You’uns most leave
Nahum raised himself on his elbow and answered sharply, “What do you mean?”
“You’uns must leave here,” the first man reiterated more fiercely than before.
“What for?” called out the sick man.
“Because we say so,” replied the desperado.
“By what authority do you order peaceable citizens to leave their homes
and lands which they have
paid the government for?”
“By our governor’s authority and that of other officers.”
“What right has a governor or others to order peaceable citizens to leave
their homes and lands in
At this, one fellow outside the door called out, “Don’t stand there a dilly-dallying;
take a brand of
fire and stick it under the house and rout them out.”
The first desperado now began pulling out his huge buckskins and started
for the fireplace. The wife
and mother, who sat near the fire, reached out and took out the heavy tong, whose knob was as
large as a hen’s egg, and raising it aloft as he stooped, she looked him squarely in the eyes.
Backward went the bully, quelled by the power in the woman’s steady blue eyes. “What have we
done to you,” she hissed out, “that you want to come in here and set our house on fire, with my
Once more the man reached for a brand. “You touch that brand of fire,
and I’ll hit you over the
head.” The flash in the eyes showed that she meant what she said. Awed by the courage of the
woman, the man retreated and she, seeing her advantage, began reasoning with him. “What do you
come here for? We have never hurt you.”
“Well, you’uns left here once without orders; now we’ll make you leave with orders.”
Once more she reasoned with him, and at last, turning to the man without,
he said, “We’ll postpone
this order for three days, and then if they ain’t out, we will tumble ’em out and burn them up.” To
this there came a general assent from the assembled mob. He turned to the family and repeated his
threat. As he walked away, the family heard the voice of the neighbor among the mob—one who
had always seemed friendly to them—but will not religious hatred make enemies and even
murderers of any weak man?
The Call for Help from the Governor
THE oldest son, Hirum, was at once dispatched to Nauvoo to get instruction from President
Young. He returned with instructions to make out affidavits with names of witnesses added and
send them at once to Carthage for military help, which Governor Ford had promised. Little
confidence was felt in those promises, but the saints were determined to live up to the law to the
very letter and to carry out the Governor’s advice in every possible way. President Young told
Nahum to use all speed, then if the Governor refused help, “come back to Nauvoo,” he said, “and
we will send help meanwhile.” He added, “Take this pistol to your father, and if he is put in any
danger, tell him to defend himself and family with it.”
The message and large horse pistol were at once delivered to his father
and then the lad set off for
Carthage, about thirty-two miles distant, with affidavits properly made out and signed. Arriving at
Carthage, Hirum was coldly received and told by the Governor to go to Brigham to get help. “Get
some of your Nauvoo militia to help you.” He hastened back home to report his failure to Father
and Mother, then down to Nauvoo.
A Near-deadly Prank
THE evening of the third day came and the family saw the shades of darkness fall around them
with hearts full of dread and suspense. The pistol was loaded and near the father’s hand. He was
determined to do all he could to protect his wife, children, and home. The mother and eldest girl,
Mary Jane, sat by the fire watching and listening with their ears to every sound. The rest were in
bed, sick or asleep. At length the mother whispered, “Father, I hear horses’ hooves coming.”
When the muffled sounds became apparent to his own ears, he whispered
back, “Listen Mary, and
see if you can hear what they say.”
“Hark, yes, one of them says, ‘Boyd, you stay here and I’ll go see.’”
Then whispered Nahum, “You are quite sure it isn’t Hirum with help from Nauvoo?”
“No, no, it’s men—strange men. It is the mob, Father, what shall we do?”
For answer, he sprang from his sick bed and grasping his pistol, stood
against the door, holding it
shut as there was nothing but a rude latch to protect them from violence without.
“Does Mr. Bigelow live here?” asked a stern voice outside.
“Well, I want to see him.”
“That’s my name,” rang out the excited voice of Nahum. Always a loud speaker
when excited, his
tones were uncommonly clear, high, and piercing. The men at the gate (as was afterwards testified)
heard every word Nahum said, but could not catch their leader’s tones.
“That’s my name,” said Nahum, “What do you want?”
“Don’t be so particular, but let me in,” replied the man without, pushing
with all his might against the
door and forcing with his superior strength the sick man and his wife back.
Once more Nahum shouted his question, “What do you want?”
“Oh, what’s the use in being so particular? Let me in and I’ll tell you,”
he replied, fairly forcing his
way into the house.
The sick man stepped quickly back and like a flash, ping! went the report
of the pistol. The
stranger, only partly in the house, turned with a loud cry and shouted as he ran back to the gate,
“come on, boys, I’m shot!”
The mother grabbed the ax. Reaching for his shotgun loaded with number
six buckshot, the brave
man pulled his gun to his shoulder and shot the retreating form of his supposed enemy. “Hold on,”
yelled a voice from the outside as the shotgun again came into place and knowing the foolish trick
had been carried too far, “We’re from Carthage—we’ve come to protect you. We’ve come to
protect you. We’re your friends.”
“Good heavens!” ejaculated the father, as the gun fell from his now nerveless
grasp, “Why didn’t
you tell me you were my friends?” And then to the men now crowding into the room, “Why didn’t
you tell me you were my friends? I’d no more have shot you than I would my wife or children.”
Great drops of sweat stood upon his forehead, and he trembled with the agony of remorse that
came to him with the knowledge of the mistake he had made.
The poor fellow who had carried his ill-timed joke to such a miserable
length, staggered into a chair,
whispering warily in his pain, “Just see how you’ve hurt me!”
“Why didn’t you tell me you were friends? Man, I would no more have shot
you than my wife or
family,” repeated the sorrow-stricken perpetrator of the deed. One bullet hole in his left breast, and
one in his left hip were bleeding profusely. He was at once laid upon a bed, while a doctor was sent
for from Carthage.
How the Prank Began
IT is necessary now that I shall go back a little and relate what happened outside and why such a
silly scare or joke had been attempted on the family. The little party, numbering four men and their
leader, Lt. Everett, had been hastily dispatched after the lad Hirum had left Carthage. The
cowardice of the Governor suggesting that if he broke his solemn pledge when notified properly as
provided by law, in some way he or his position might be liable to summary vengeance. So in all
haste he sent the relief squad under Lt. Everett.
Arriving within the neighborhood, some inquiries were made, as it happened,
of one of the mobbers
themselves, a man by the name of Sam Dixon. Dixon was taken along with the soldiers, either
willingly or unwilling. When near the house, the mobber suggested to the soldiers, “Let’s have some
fun with the old man. We’ll give him a good scare. He’s expecting the mob, and if we keep quiet,
he’ll take us for them and be properly scared.” For a little support, the suggestion was adopted with
the result of which I have told.
As soon as the excitement inside the house had quieted a little, the wounded
Lieutenant spoke to
Nahum saying, “You need not trouble over this matter, for I will at once make a deposition in
writing, telling the whole truth and putting the blame where it belongs.”
The Mob Retreats
JUST then, one of the family called out, “The mob, the mob! They are surrounding the house! See
them moving out at the gate!”
“Boys,” called out the wounded leader, “to your arms and do your duty.”
Suddenly remembering, old Sam Dixon slipped hurriedly out to relate what
protection had been sent
to the house and to disband the mob for that night at least. He had forgotten in the general
excitement that the signal agreed upon among themselves was to be the firing of a gun. The gun of
the brave farmer had done more than heavily punish the maker of a bad and ill-timed jest—it had
also sounded the signal for his deadly enemies to assemble and burn his home about his ears. Upon
hearing, however, how matters stood in the house, the mob quietly disbanded and dispersed. U.S.
soldiers with faithful guns out of every door and window were not the sort of people that
mobbers—cowardly, murderous bullies that they were—cared to meet. So, for a while, the
household was unmolested by these fiends in human shape.
Nahum Stands Trial at Carthage
ANOTHER painful scene of this dreadful affair was yet to be enacted. Nahum, sick and feeble,
was obliged to go up to Carthage to “stand trial.” True to his word, Lt. Everett made out an affidavit
entirely clearing Nahum from any blame. The wounded Lieutenant was left at his homestead, the
mother and daughters doing everything in their power to relieve his suffering and pain. A soldier was
sent along with Nahum to protect him from the violence of the mob. His faithful wife insisted upon
going also, fearing that the life of her husband might be taken on the way to his trial.
In a wagon, on a hastily arranged bed, the intense rays of the midsummer
sun pouring down upon
his head with no wagon cover (nothing to hide the scorching heat), the sick man was taken by those
having part in charge eight or ten miles out of the way, making a long, dreary two days journey of
that which might have been accomplished in one day.
As they traveled, word flew abroad that the Mormon who had shot the second
officer in the State
army was being taken to Carthage. Everywhere cowards gathered about the wagon, swearing,
cursing him, threatening, and even demanding his life.
“Let’s take the old fellow out and flay him alive,” said one man.
“If you take him, you’ll have to kill me first,” quietly answered the wife.
The soldier who had been sent for protection was a brave and humane man;
honor be to his name
and memory. His name was Bush. He would reason, argue, and if necessary tell the assembled
crowds plainly and roughly, “I’ve come along here to see justice done by this man and I am going to
do it. I’m a soldier of the U.S. Army and if you kill this man, no matter who or what he is, you’ll
have to trample over my dead body to do it.” A judicious fingering of his heavy arms accompanied
always this declaration and it had the effect of reducing the clamors to growls of future threats and
menaces. This sort of thing was repeated all along the route.
“Let’s hang him up to the first tree.”
“Tie a stone around his neck and throw him into the river.”
Through it all, the wife calmly held her place at the side of her sick
husband, silently praying to God,
fervently thanking him for raising up so powerful a friend in their sore need as the brave soldier,
Reaching Carthage, the word was quickly spread that the Mormon was acquitted,
the case being
quickly disposed of. The affidavit of the wounded man, Everett, entirely cleared Nahum from all
blame before even the most vindictive court.
The Mob Returns
THE party hurried home and arriving there found the lieutenant removed and the children alone
and frightened for the lives of their absent parents. Nahum, well knowing what the darkness of night
would bring, hastily gathered all his family together, and taking a few quilts, hurried out in the
cornfields. It was already dark and no time was to be lost. Midnight brought the realization of their
fears. At the house were seen lights, shots were repeatedly fired, windows were smashed and
diligent search was made for fugitives. Great bloodhounds were turned loose to hunt through the
fields for their would-be victim.
Down under the corn huddled the family (even the baby), all holding their
breath and not daring to
move lest their hiding place should be discovered.
“Father,” whispered the children, “the dogs are coming down this row. Oh, what shall we do?”
“Lie still and pray,” was the quiet, but firm reply.
Their prayers were heard. Neither wicked men nor fierce dogs discovered
their retreat and towards
morning the sounds ceased and the family felt relieved (for awhile at least).
The condition of their house and premises the next morning convinced Nahum
that he must move his
family into Nauvoo if he wished to preserve their lives and his own. Fortunately, a man from the city
passing their home that morning agreed to take them all down with him.
One other incident which occurred to Nahum in this great blast of persecution
which swept over
Illinois—blackening her fair fame and sullying her skirts with the innocent blood of men, women, and
little children—must be here related, as it was of great effect on the life and health of the father,
indeed causing at last his death.
Attempt to Poison the Family
ASA, the second son—a fearless, resolute lad—was sent back to the farm. It was Asa who had
saved the lives of the whole family the morning before their departure. It happened in this wise:
Sent down to the spring for water, on their return to the house from their
hiding place in the
cornfields, he noticed as he stopped to draw the water a green, glistening scum on the top. “If you
drink that,” something seemed to whisper to him, “you’ll all be poisoned.” Blowing away the scum
he took a portion up to the house, carefully repeating the warning his spirit had seemed to receive.
The bucket was hung out of reach, some of the water was bottled to take into town for chemical
analysis, and water was obtained from a distant spring for that day. It was proven by analysis, that
there was poison enough in that one bucketful of water to have instantly killed the whole family.
The cowards—striking in the dark, as it were at their opponents unsuspecting
backs. The boasted
land of liberty, where were your upholders then, that such deeds could go unpunished even to this
Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing
THIS boy, Asa, was left at the farm to do what he could to gather and save the crops. Recovering
his health in part after a week, the father resolved to return to the farm and help the boy. He was
warned that there was a dire threat ready to be put into execution should he dare venture away from
the safety of the city. Never afraid, he snapped his fingers at the warnings and went back to the
farm. No sooner did he make his appearance than he seemed to meet with great kindness
everywhere. Evidently this pretended kindness had its desired affect; the farmer was thrown entirely
off his guard.
Invited to take breakfast with one Sam Porter, Nahum at once complied
and went over to his
house. At breakfast Nahum noticed and alluded innocently to the fact of the coffee tasting bitter, but
was laughingly assured that the bitterness must be in his own mouth. Immediately after his return to
his own house he was seized with a sudden and strange pain. It grew into agony and he was soon
conveyed by the boy to Nauvoo. There his distress was beyond description. His screams were
heard at a great distance and scarcely could the people about him hold him in his terrible struggles
for life and breath.
Medical skill acknowledged itself powerless. Then was called into requisition
that wonderful, but
little understood power of faith and prayer. Again and again was he administered to by the Elders of
the Church and at length the evil was in part rebuked and he began to be more able to endure his
suffering. All winter, however, he was very ill and knew that it was God, and the power of God
only, which gave him back his life for a little season.
The Journey Westward
THE move westward had been decided on by the Church and preparations were being hastily
made to get the people away by the coming spring. “Only to get my family moved and to see them
settled with the body of the Church, on whatever spot of earth that may prove to be,” was the
constant, hourly prayer of that suffering martyr the whole of that long, hard, and bitter winter. The
coffee offered under the guise of friendship had almost cost him his life and yet how fervently he
prayed to have a lease given him to get his family away from mob violence into some untrodden
desert where men might fear nothing but the wild beast of the mountain and fear to do wrong or
grieve the good Spirit that leads into all peace, all love, and all righteousness. His prayer was again
Asa was left all winter at the farm, answering the rough men who came
to the door sometimes with
the question, “Ain’t you afraid to stay alone?” with “No! What am I afraid of? I’ve done no one any
harm.” Sometimes a neighbor’s son, Andrew Allen, would come over there to stay with the lad.
In February of 1847 the pioneers (as they were called) left the little
settlement called Winter
Quarters for the great trackless, unknown country called vaguely “the West.” How the people left
Nauvoo in the depths of winter, crossing the river on the ice in the month of February! As soon as
their leaders were once away, before the last ones had left the town, great bonfires of valuables and
furniture were heaped up to the winter sky by the fierce mobbers now in possession of the beautiful
city! How scenes of cruelty followed their every movement in the doomed city! And how,
wandering wearily and heavily across the muddy bottoms, reaching at length a spot where, worn out
with despair and fatigue, their leader halted them, and decided to remain there all winter to rest and
recuperate, building houses and forts, cutting the wild luxuriant prairie grass, nestling down like a
sudden swarm of bees on a lone and desolate tree, arranging schools and courts, divine services,
and even gay festivities! All these things are matters of history and can be read by anyone desiring to
know of them for himself.
Nahum found measures to accompany this grand “love” and arriving at the
halting place, soon built a
comfortable house for his family. It was there that Brigham Young, already with a number of wives,
married with little courting the eldest girl of Nahum, Mary Jane, and also with no courting whatever
the second girl, Lucy
As before stated, the pioneers came out in 1847. The next summer or spring,
as President Young
had returned for more of the Saints, he asked to take Lucy to the West. She was allowed to go.
The year 1850 saw Nahum being assisted some by the Church with his family—also one or two
others, poor and homeless, who seemed thrown on his kindness—en route to the valley. Always
charitable, he was generally burdened with some one or two heartsick or poor, who gladly
accepted the charity of the family. Arriving in Salt Lake Valley in the fall of 1848 he was advised by
President Young to spend the winter in a little town (or rather the nucleus of a town) a few miles
north of the city. Accordingly to Farmington went Nahum and family. Mary and Lucy, of course,
remained in their husband’s family in Salt Lake City.
Asa, the second son, had resolved to get a little schooling for himself
if possible. After obtaining
permission, he sought and obtained labor to get means for a winter’s schooling in the city. It was in
the winter of 1851.
Nahum’s Last Days
NAHUM had never fully recovered from he terrible “kindness” of his neighbor’s coffee. One day,
suddenly and without the least warning, the same terrible cramps—deepening into deadly
agony—that had attacked him in Nauvoo, came upon his weakened frame. Word was at once sent
to Asa, also to Mary and Lucy, he requesting them—ask the President to come up once more to
bid him goodbye. Aye, goodbye!
He looked on his humble, but secure and moderately comfortable cabin;
his wife within the
sheltering arms of peace and unity as they existed among the Saints; his children, two of them
married to one of the grandest and best men ever sent to earth; and his sons sober, steady, and at
work for the common family welfare. All this came up before him and he exclaimed in his heart,
“My prayers have been answered. Lo, mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Lord. Now let thy servant
depart in peace according to thy word.” It was even so, he told them, at the noon hour of that day,
“Tomorrow at twelve o’clock I shall die. But oh, how my soul longs to see the face and clasp the
hand of the noble Prophet leader, Brigham Young! Do you think he will be here in time?”
There were no telegraph lines—not even mails—in those days, and time went
by on slow-moving
steady wings, not with the restless beat of hurrying as in these days of steam and electricity. All that
day, that night, and the next morning, between the spasms of pain would come the restless
questioning, “Do you think he will be here in time?”
The noon hour approached and the fast and faster hurrying breath came
short and sharp. Someone
watches constantly at the window to answer the ever-recurring question.
“Is he come?” whispers the dying man.
A sorrowful shake of the watcher’s head.
At one minute to twelve, only the fast glazing eyes can ask the constant question.
“Yes, Father I see his carriage down the road. He is come, Father!”
A cry that is a groan echoed through the house, for even as one came,
behold, the other went away.
The long, five-year martyrdom of suffering and pain was over forever. Loving hands and aching
hearts did the rest—all that was left to do. And thus in the cemetery at Salt Lake City lies one of the
sturdy Bigelow family who died for his family, his religion and his God!
THE family have grown up and married and reared other families who likewise are nearly all
grown up and married, reared and settled in life.
Mary Jane left the family of President Young and married again [Horace
Roberts in 1852, John
Bair in 1856, Daniel Durham Hunt in 1859, and Philander Bell in 1868], had only one child born
after she was forty years old, leaving by her death an orphan at six months of age. The little one
soon followed. Delicate in health, quiet, patient, yet sometimes with a rare quick impulsiveness of
action that generally gave after pain, Mary Jane was truly a good, kind, and patient woman.
Hirum married Martha Mecham at Provo (where the widow moved and settled
after her loss) and
lived at that place for a number of years. Called by the Church to move to Dixie, he complied, and
in the course of a few years moved to Arizona where he now resides. He reared a very large and
creditable family of children; most of them are married and living in Arizona.
Lucy, married to Brigham Young, has always been a true and loving wife,
a most fond and devoted
mother, and above all a fervent follower of her Savior’s cause and kingdom. She has strength and
character that finds itself unmoved under the most trying circumstance. With the courage and
fearlessness of her father, she still possesses more than the sensitive delicacy of her mother’s
character. To her husband she was, according to his own testimony, “A wife indeed—true, chaste,
loving, and in all things seeking to please her husband.” To her children she is all and more than
mothers are to children—withhold a tender enemy, a fond friend, and a most prayerful, earnest
seeker after truth wherever it is to be found. She has three daughters.
Asa, with his family, is living in Provo. He is the same brave, fearless
soul, and like all those with
Bigelow blood in their veins, is conscientious and cautious to a marked degree. A loving father and
kind husband, he is known as a good neighbor and honest friend. His numerous children have
grown up under his wise watch and care.
Lovina married John Witt and settled in Heber City, Utah. Her large family
are mostly married and
settled down. She has many of the family traits: loving, kind, and a good wife.
Liola, who was singularly intelligent and a spiritual child, died in his
youth in Illinois on August 15,
Sariah married a Mr. Daniel Cook and had several children. They had several
losing her reason, she died in this condition in Fairfield, Utah, in 1877.
Moroni—a loving, jovial, bright soul—was married to Elvira Mecham and
had four children, one
dying in its infancy. He was called on a mission to the Eastern States in 1868. On his return home he
was murdered while crossing the Missouri River. He was thrown overboard by some dangerous
desperadoes, presumably for the money which he carried. His was a beautiful soul, endearing
himself to everyone who knew him. The Bigelow traits were all strongly marked in him.
Daniel married Miss Permelia Mecham. Together they have reared a fine
little family. Their eldest
girl is married and rearing children. Daniel is a kind, patient husband and a loving, most devoted
father. He is a man known everywhere for his sterling honesty and firm integrity to his beloved
religion. His family is a large one, but his affection and watchcare reach out over every part and
individual thereof. Whoever knows, honors and respects Daniel Bigelow.
Joseph Smith was the last child and lived only a few short months, dying
during the violent
persecutions which raged in Illinois.
The traits of the Bigelows are all more or less prominent through all
of the names and lineage in this
territory—charitable, kind and truthful, almost to a fault, yet at times impulsive, quick spoken and
very active and busy. There are no lazy ones among the Bigelows. What may be lacking in brilliancy
and sparkle is made up by sound intelligence and thrifty. Every Bigelow is proud of his name, for it
is and always has been, so far as we know, a highly honored one. If future descendants will
preserve its integrity, as have the past and present members of the family, then indeed may Father
and Grandfather Nahum Bigelow say, as he greets us in that other better land, “Well done, the
bearers of an honest name. Behold, my Savior gives it to me to say, ‘Enter thou in and share my