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Alva Chauncey Calkins

Question: How many of the Calkins brothers joined up with the Mormon Battalion in 1846?

Answer: Alva Chauncey Calkins was born 30 September 1825 in Freedom, Cattaraugus, New York, the second child of nine children of Chauncey Calkins and Sarah Kellog.

When Alva was quite young, Alva’s parents joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and moved to Ohio. They remained there but a short time and then went to Missouri, where the Saints were gathering. Here they were persecuted and moved to Illinois. Alva was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at an early age.

The last child of Alva’s’ parents, Myron, was born in Nauvoo, Illinois in 1845, and his parents were sealed in the Nauvoo Temple in January 1846. They settled for a time in Pike County, Illinois, where Alva grew to manhood.

After religious persecution had driven the family out of Nauvoo to Iowa Territory, Chauncey and Sarah moved on to Council Bluffs. That is where three of their sons joined the Mormon Battalion. In the spring of 1846, the three brothers, Alva C. Calkins, James Wood Calkins, and Sylvanus Calkins, along with their first cousin Edwin R. Calkins enlisted as privates in Company A of the U.S. Mormon Battalion. Alva was a Private.

Alva and James were put on sick detachment service 10 Nov 1846. They were two of the men sent to Pueblo by way of Santa Fe, New Mexico, to winter, under the command of Lieutenant W. W. Willis. In the spring, the company headed West hoping to catch up with Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company. They were a few days behind that Company and entered the Salt Lake Valley the 29th July 1847. They were discharged from their service there and were grateful they did not have to go on to California.

Alva’s older brother, Sylvanus Calkins, joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in January 1846. At Council Bluffs, Iowa, he enlisted for the Mexican War July 16, 1846, in the Mormon Battalion with his two younger brothers. He made it all the way to California and was discharged at San Luis Rey Mission, California on July 16, 1847. Sylvanus remained on the coast for three years after his honorable discharge and engaged in mining.

In the 1850 census Alva and his brother, James, were living in Fremont County, Iowa with their parents. Alva’s grandfather, Israel Sr., had died in 1848 in Hamburg, Fremont County, Iowa.

Apparently while Alva’s parents were at Council Bluffs, they decided to go to Hamburg, where Alva’s grandfather, Israel Calkins, had settled, rather than go on West. Israel Calkins had joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1837. He had suffered through Ohio, Missouri, and Nauvoo. In Nauvoo, Israel had worked on the Temple and served as a Bishop. Now due to his advanced age, in his early eighties, Israel had made the decision to say in Iowa rather than go West to Utah. Israel’s two youngest sons from his first wife went on to Utah.

On 2 April 1854, Alva married Martha Skidmore, who was born in 1831 in Tennessee to Thomas and Catherine Skidmore. Alva and Martha decided to settle in Fremont County, Iowa, where they had nine children together, with seven reaching adulthood.

Alva died in Jerome, Gove County, Kansas when visiting family members on 21 July 1887 in Jerome Township, Gove, Kansas. He was buried in the Mount Olive Cemetery in Hamburg, Fremont, Iowa, where his grandfather and parents were also buried. Martha died 5 February 1905 in Hamburg and was buried in the Mount Olive Cemetery.

Source: Sources from; “Life History of Israel Calkins, Sr.’; Alva Calkins, Sylvanus Calkins, James Calkins,

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