Question: What happened to Almon M. Williams after he served in Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company in 1847?
Answer: Almon (Almond) McCumber Williams was born on January 11, 1807 in Henderson, Jefferson, New York to Elijah and Mary McCumber Williams. Almon married Zilpha Baker Cilley on January 15, 1833 in Erie, Pennsylvania. They had three children while living there.
About 1840, Almon and Zilpha became members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and moved to Nauvoo, Illinois. Here three more children were born to them. In 1846 Almon and Zilpha were endowed and sealed in the Nauvoo Temple. After the Saints were forced out of Nauvoo, Almon and Zilpha made their way to Council Bluffs, Iowa.
In 1847 Almon was asked to be in Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company. He was in the 8th Ten, led by Seth Taft, Captain. It wasn’t until the 16th of April that the company was officially organized into the hundreds, fifties, and tens, with captains appointed and they started on their way. Once organized, this vanguard pioneer company consisted of 142 men, 3 women, 2 children, and 72 wagons. They traveled 1031 miles before reaching their destination.
Some members of the company traveled ahead and arrived in the Salt Lake Valley as early as the July 21, 1847. Almon arrived with the advance party on July 22, 1847. By the 24th of July, the entire company had arrived. Almon is mentioned in the Manuscript History as directing the digging of a coal pit at the same time land was plowed for crops.
Later the same year Almon returned to Winter Quarters. In 1848, Almon was one of the signers of a petition to the U.S. Government to establish a post office on Pottawattamie lands in Iowa. Almon never returned to Utah. In 1850 he is living in Fremont County, Iowa, with his wife and children. His youngest brother, George, and his sixty-five-year-old mother are also living with him. Many of the Saints in this part of Iowa were persecuted and by 1852, most had left for Utah. However, Almon and his family stayed. Almon and Zilpha had three more children while living in Iowa. In 1860 and 1870, Almon is living in Plattville Township, Mills, Iowa, and is listed as a farmer. (Mills County was established in 1851 from Pottawattamie County.)
Almon died on December 13, 1884, at age 77, in Plattville, Mills County, Iowa. No gravestone can be located for Almon. His wife, Zilpha, died in March 1889 in Walla Walla, Washington, where she was living with her oldest daughter, Jane and her family.
Source: “Biographies of the Original 1847 Pioneer Company,’ Church News, Updated, 14 October 2009; FamilySearch.org, Sources; Church Membership Records; Census Records.