Question: How old was Eli Buckner Hewitt when he died, after having served in the Mormon Battalion in 1846?
Answer: Eli Buckner Hewitt was born 27 July 1826 in Brown County, Ohio, the youngest of five children of Richard Hewitt and Eda Welch. About six months after he was born, his mother passed away. In 1828, Eli’s father married Jerusha Parker, with whom he had seven more children. Eli’s father moved his family to Indiana when Eli was about seven years of age.
It was in Indiana that the family was taught the Gospel and became members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Eli’s father, Richard, was baptized by Orson Hyde about the year 1839 and was ordained an elder. Eli would have been about thirteen at this time. Richard was concerned when he heard rumors that polygamy was being taught in the Church. He rode to Nauvoo to get an answer. Hyrum Smith assured him that polygamy was not being taught nor practiced at that time.
After Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were killed at Carthage, Illinois, on June 27, 1844, Eli’s father, Richard, decided to follow Brigham Young. However, after they were persecuted out of Nauvoo in 1846, and were forced to travel to Iowa, Richard began to have misgivings about Brigham Young.
While they were at Winter Quarters, in the spring of 1846, Eli, now 19 years of age, was asked to enlist in the Mormon Battalion. He was assigned as a Private in Company A. After arriving at Santa Fe, New Mexico, Eli was put in a Sick Detachment and sent back to Pueblo, Colorado, where he spent the winter of 1846/47. An advance party of 13 soldiers met Brigham Young’s company July 4th while trailing livestock. The rest of the sick detachments left Pueblo on 24 May 1847 and arrived in the Salt Lake Valley about five days after Brigham Young” Vanguard Company entered the valley on July 24, 1847. Here the members of the Battalion were released from duty and did not have to continue on to California.
Eli stayed in the Salt Lake Valley until the fall when he returned to Council Bluffs. Here he married Harriet Perrine Shearer on 18 December 1852. Harriet was the daughter of Joel Shearer and Phoebe Blackwell, number six in their family of twelve children. Harriet’s mother had died in 1845 when Harriet was just seventeen years of age. The Shearer family had joined the Church in the early 1830’s in Pennsylvania and had moved to Missouri where they endured the persecution of the Saints there and had eventually moved on to Nauvoo, Illinois and then to Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Eli and Harriet had three sons together while living in Iowa: Orrin (1853), George (1855), and John (1857). In the meantime, Eli’s father, Richard, had severed his connection with Brigham Young and went to Texas (Zodiac) with the Lyman Wight group. After living in Texas for awhile, Richard moved to the Indian Territory in Oklahoma, where he died in 1853.
Harriet’s father, Joel, owned some land in Illinois, and when he died in October 1859, he left some of his property to his daughter Harriet and her husband Eli. But just six months later Eli became ill with lung fever and died on 21 April 1860 at Council Bluffs, Iowa. Eli was only 33 years of age and was buried in an unknown grave. Harriet married Isaac Newton Gallup in 1862, and had three children with him. Harriet died in July 1900 in Pottawattamie, Iowa.