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Elijah Edward Holden

Question: What town in Utah was named after Elijah Edward Holden, after he had served in the Mormon Battalion as a young man in 1846?

Answer: Elijah Edward Holden was born on May 27, 1826, in Falmouth, Pendleton County, Kentucky, the only child of Edward and Sarah Holden. His father died on March 26, 1827, after which Elijah and his mother moved to Shelby county, Ohio, where they lived for four years. They then moved to Stark County, Illinois, where Elijah lived until he was eighteen years old.

Elijah’s mother then moved to Hancock County where she and Elijah became members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 1845 Elijah was ordained a Seventy. In 1846, the Saints were forced out of Nauvoo, and Elijah and his mother went to Council Bluffs, Iowa.

After arriving at Council Bluffs, Elijah enlisted as a member of the Mormon Battalion and served as a private in Company A. After reaching Santa Fe, New Mexico, Elijah became ill and was assigned to the Sick Detachment. The Sick Detachment was sent to Pueblo, Colorado, where they spent the winter of 1846/47. In the spring, the Sick Detachment headed to the Salt Lake Valley, arriving there soon after Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company in July 1847. The Battalion was released from duty and did not have to continue on to California.

On October 5, 1848, Elijah married Catherine Mary Thatcher. She was born in 1832 in Ohio to Hezekiah and Alena Thatcher. They moved to Provo, Utah County, in 1849, where they lived until they were sent to Fillmore to help settle that area. Elijah and Catherine located in Fillmore where they remained about two years, but were not satisfied with the rocky soil. Upon investigation, the company found that there were springs in the hills above where Holden is now located. Believing this to be a more desirable place, they obtained a permit from Brigham Young to start a new settlement.

William Stevens and Richard Johnson moved their families from Fillmore on June 15, 1855, and settled in wagon boxes and dugouts on Pioneer Creek. That fall, more families joined them, including Elijah and his family. These men put in crops, built several log cabins and a large guardhouse. They also hauled rock for an intended fort. Because the creek had little water, and grasshoppers were a menace to the crops, a move was made to Cedar Springs, the present location of Holden, and a fort was built. During the Indian War of 1853 Elijah Edward served as captain of militia and rendered efficient military service in that capacity.

In April 1856, Elijah was called on a mission to England. A few weeks after his departure, his wife, Catherine, died on April 28, 1856. She had given birth to her fifth child on April 24th. Elijah’s mother stayed with the family while he served his mission in England. Elijah didn’t hear of his wife’s death until later. The baby daughter died in October 1856.

After his arrival in England, Elijah was appointed to labor in the London Pastorate, and on January 1, 1857, he was appointed to take pastoral charge of the Southampton and Dorsetshire conferences. He returned home that summer. On October 12, 1857, Elijah married Eliza Hallet, a girl he had met while in England, and they had one daughter together.

One of the more unlikely converts of 1858 was Joseph Sinkler Giles, previously a member of General Albert Sidney Johnston’s army invading the Utah territory. After the Johnston Army left Utah, Joseph Giles decided to remain and look for work. In Holden, Elijah hired him and spent the next several week teaching him the Gospel. As a result, Joseph Giles was baptized and became a teacher and medical doctor for the area. He married, and he and his wife had thirteen children.

Elijah’s homecoming from his mission was of short duration. In the short time he had been home, he had added to his flocks and herds and now needed more help. He went to Nephi, one of the little towns, to look after some business affairs, and was returning home with a load of wool rolls that had been carded and made ready for the women of Cedar Springs to spin and make the cloth that provided their families with their winter clothes. He was also bringing a young man home with him to help care for the cattle and sheep that his mother had cared for while in his absence.

On September 5, 1858, Elijah left Nephi, Juab County for his home in Filmore, Millard County, in company with Thomas Bailey, the young man whom he had hired. Soon after starting, a heavy storm came on and rain fell all night, and the next day it snowed. The boy was found dead about four miles from the Sevier River near the Round Valley Ridge. On the 12th, Elijah Holden was also found dead, about seven miles north of Cedar Springs. He was only 32 years of age.

It appeared from circumstances that Elijah had taken off his jacket and wrapped it around the boy, leaving himself with only a shirt on. In this condition, he started home for help, but lost his way in the darkness of the night and storm and perished, probably on September 7th. Elijah was buried in the Fillmore Cemetery in Fillmore, Millard County, Utah.

In 1858 a post office was established and the name of the settlement was changed to Holden in honor of Elijah Edward Holden.

Source: Andrew Jenson, Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia; “History of Holden,’ Utah; “Elijah Edward Holden – Member Missionary,’ by Carling I. Malouf, Church News Contributor; “Elijah Edward Holden,’ written by his daughter, Sarah;

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