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Edson Whipple

Question: After traveling to Utah in Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company in 1847, what town did Edson Whipple draw up the plans for in 1850?

Answer: Edson Whipple was born February 5, 1805, in the town of Dummerston, Windham County, Vermont, to John Whipple and Basmath Hutchins, being the youngest son of a family of twelve children. Edson lived on a farm with the family until his father’s death, which occurred in November, 1830, after which he took charge of the farm and managed the affairs of those of the family yet at home.

On February 6, 1832, Edson married Lovinia Goss. In 1834, he moved to Boston, where he ran a grocery store for a year or two. In the summer of 1837 he moved to Philadelphia, where he lived for 9 years. It was while living in Philadelphia that he first heard the missionaries teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. On June 16, 1840, he was baptized and confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, by Elder Benjamin Winchester. On October 17, 1840 he was ordained a priest. He was ordained a High Priest on April 6 by Hyrum Smith and was chosen as first counselor to Elder Benjamin Winchester to preside over the Philadelphia branch of the church. Edson then moved to Nauvoo, Illinois, to be with the saints.

In writing of the Prophet Joseph Smith in a letter to a friend, Edson said: “He is a man whose character stands unimpeachable and is respected and consider a good citizen by all classes who have become acquainted with him. I know him to be kindhearted and charitable, given to hospitality, and he would divide the last meal with the poor.’

On May 1, 1844 Edson, in company with David Yearsly, Edson left Nauvoo for a mission to Pennsylvania, to canvas the state and to present to the people the prophet’s views on government. While he was gone, the prophet and patriarch were murdered. Returning to Nauvoo, he was present at the meeting of the saints and witnessed the mantle of Joseph rest on Brigham Young as he was preaching to the people. His wife, Lavina, gave birth to a baby girl in February 1845.

Edson assisted in building the Nauvoo Temple and was present at the laying of the capstone, and when it was completed, he received his endowments therein. He also helped to build the Nauvoo House, working on it during the months of August and September, 1845. He assisted in defending the city of Nauvoo against the mob which threatened to destroy it and the temple.

In 1846, Edson left Nauvoo and stayed in Garden Grove about two weeks, when he left for Council Bluffs, where he arrived about the middle of July 1846. After arriving at the Bluffs they were counseled to settle for the winter. Together with twelve or fifteen families they located themselves on Pony Creek, about twelve miles from Winter Quarters. Here Edson buried his whole family, consisting of his mother, wife and child, and came nigh unto death himself.

In the spring of 1847 he was called with 142 other people to join Brightam Young’s Vanguard Company to lead the way to the Rocky Mountains. He traveled in the first ten of the second division under Captain Appleton Harmon. From the diary of Edson Whipple; “I was one of the guards and stood duty half the night every third night. About half our company arrived in Salt Lake City 22 July 1847, followed by Brigham Young and the remainder of the company on July 24, 1847.’

After farming some in Salt Lake City and making a return visit in the eastern states and coming across the plains with another band of pioneers, Edson became a member of the first High council in Salt Lake City, also the first water master. In 1848, while Edson was on a trip to the east, Wilford Woodruff was sent on a mission to the States with an epistle to form the twelve apostles and Elder Whipple was called to assist him. After filling this mission, Edson returned to Salt Lake City. On 6 November 1850 Edson married Mary Ann and Harriet Yeager, sisters, whom he had brought across the plains with him from Philadelphia, where he had made their acquaintance. Edson later married three other wives, and had a total of 33 children.

Quoting from the diary of Edson Whipple: “After returning to Utah in 1850, I was called to help settle Iron County. We left 4 December with 101 wagons in our company. C.A. Smith was appointed judge of the country court. and I was his first associate. We submitted plans for towns, and Parowan, Utah, was built according to my plan. George Brimhall and myself built the first thresher and used water power from the creek to thrash the first crop of grain. In May 1851, Pres. Brigham Young made a visit and he and Pres. Heber C. Kimball said, ‘The mission is established and you can return to Provo whenever you choose.’’

In 1871 Edson was sent on a mission to the Eastern States. In 1881, when the laws of the land no longer permitted the living together of plural families, Edson moved with two of his wives, Harriet and Amelia and their children, to Showlow, Arizona. At this place he built a block house 22 by 32 feet, with port holes in it for protection against the Apache Indians who were not friendly at that time. This building was also used for public meetings and dances, and it was known later as the Whipple Hall.

Edson lived at Showlow until the fall of 1885, when he took his wife, Amelia, and the unmarried children and started for Old Mexico. But he only went as far as the Gila Valley, spending the winter there and going on in the spring, and locating in Colonia Juarez. The next fall he returned and got his other wife, Harriet, and her unmarried children. He also took his cattle on this trip.

In Mexico he built two houses and resided there until his death on May 11, 1894. He was buried in the Panteon Municipal Cemetery #01, Colonia Juarez, Casas Grandes Municipality, Chihuahua, Mexico.

Source: “Life Story of Edson Whipple,’ Notes from the Life and Biography of Edson Whipple, Prepared by L. Florene Lunt Fair,;


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