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Ebenezer and Jane Hanks

Question: Did Ebenezer Hanks’ wife, Jane, accompany him in the Mormon Battalion in 1846?

Answer: Ebenezer Hanks was born 11 February 1815, the first child of Joseph Hanks and Almira Kennedy in Greenwich, Washington, New York. Joseph Hanks was a highly skilled blacksmith. Ebenezer was named after his father’s brother-in-law, Ebenezer Rogers. “Ebenezer” was a name much too long to be used every day, and so the boy was soon called “Eb,” a nickname that stuck to him for the rest of his life.

Eb developed many skills in his father’s blacksmith shop and also learned the art of cooper and carpenter, useful trades that he put to good measure all of his life. He also learned tavern keeping in his father’s tavern.

When Eb was sixteen, he left home. In 1839 Eb was in Adams County, Illinois where he met his wife, Jane Cooper. They were married on 27 October 1839 in Burton, Adams County, Illinois. In 1839-1840 the Mormons were fleeing from Missouri persecution to Quincy, Adams County, Illinois. Hundred of destitute Saints were driven out of Missouri in the winter of 1839. The people of Adams County were so touched by their plight that they tried to assist them all they could. It is likely that Eb and Jane helped in that cause.

By 1841 Jane and Eb became members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They were converted by Eb’s cousin, Sidney Hanks. After they joined the Church, they did not join in the gathering to Nauvoo, but stayed instead in Adams County, where they built a two-story home.

By February 1846, the Saints were streaming out of Nauvoo. Little is recorded of Eb and Jane’s last days there, or the trip to the temporary Mormon headquarters in Council Bluffs, Iowa. But Eb did tell his son years later that he had a good team when he started, and recalled how he shot turkeys at moonlight for food.

While at Council Bluffs, a war with Mexico had recently been declared, and President Polk authorized the raising of a “Mormon Battalion” for service in that war. Because they had no children, it was decided that both Eb and Jane would go, with Jane working as a cook and washerwoman to supplement Eb’s $13 a month income. Just past Santa Fe, New Mexico, Eb and Jane became part of the Sick Detachment, which was sent back to winter at Pueblo, Colorado for the winter of 1846/47. In the spring of 1847, the Sick Detachment moved on to the Salt Lake Valley, where they arrived on July 29, 1847, just five days after Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company had entered the valley. Here the Sick Detachment members were released from their service.

In March 1851, Ed traveled to San Bernardino, California and later set up a freighting business between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City. In 1860, Ed meet his second wife, Sarah Jane Casper, at a boarding house that her aunt ran in Provo, Utah. Eb had just returned from California and was staying there. He got permission from Brigham Young to ask Sarah Jane to be his wife, as he and Jane had never been able to have children of their own. Eb was 45 years old and Sarah was fifteen at the time of their marriage on January 22, 1860 in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City. Eb and Sarah had ten children together.

About 1862 President Young persuaded Eb to go to Iron County and build a cotton factory at Parowan. Due to the scarcity of cotton, in 1866 the factory ceased operating as a cotton factory and was turned into a wool scouring and carding plant. Parowan Stake House is one of the old-time structures erected less than fifteen years after the arrival of the first pioneers. Ebenezer was one of the architects. Ebenezer was also to take charge of the iron foundry and started a freighting business. He also spent some time in Pintura, Washington, Utah from 1879 to 1881.

In 1882 Eb moved to Wayne county where he was instrumental in helping to build the little community which later was named Hanksville in his honor. In February of 1884 Eb was struck with Brights Disease. Ebenezer Hanks died on April 4, 1884, his death being the first in the settlement. An imposing tombstone, purchased by Apostle Francis M. Lyman to honor Eb’s many years of service, marks his grave in the Hanksville Cemetery.

New Stone

Jane died on 27 March 1896, at age 78 and was buried in the Parowan Cemetery. Sarah lived to be 75 years of age and died in Kanarraville, Iron, Utah. Eight of her ten children with Ebenezer survived to adulthood. Sarah remarried later and had one more daughter.

Source: Excerpts from “Ebenezer Hanks Story” by Kerry William Bate,;

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