Question: What happened to Erastus Bingham Jr. after he served in the sick detachment of the Mormon Battalion in 1846?
Answer: Erastus Bingham Jr. was born 30 September 1822, St. Johnsbury, Caledonia, Vermont,
third child of Erastus Bingham and Lucinda Gates. When Erastus Bingham, Jr. was 11 years old, he was baptized along with his family into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Four years later his family moved to Kirtland, Ohio, and three months later they moved to Far West, Missouri. They were then driven out of Far West and fled to Nauvoo.
When he was 21 years old, Erastus Bingham married Olive Hovey Freeman on October 29, 1843, in Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois. Olive was born on 8 January 1820, the second of four children born to Isaac Freeman and Lydia Farr. Olive’s mother died in 1827, and her father died in Nauvoo in July 1843. Erastus and Olive’s first child was born on 3 October 1844, at LaHarpe, Hancock County. In January/February 1846, Erastus and Olive were endowed and sealed in the Nauvoo Temple.
When the exodus began in 1846, leaders of the church called upon Erastus to help make the roads, build the bridges, and plant the crops the Saints would need in their trek across Iowa. He went as far as Mt. Pisgah, Iowa, and then returned to Nauvoo to get his wife whom he had left in the care of his parents. Their second child was born on 20 March of that year at LaHarpe. His wife, Olive, and his two small children then moved on to Council Bluffs.
Prior to their arrival at Council Bluffs, Iowa, the call came from the United States Government for a battalion of soldiers to fight in the war with Mexico. They became known as the Mormon Battalion. At age 24, Erastus Bingham, Jr. joined the Battalion, along with his brother Thomas and his brother-in-law Elijah Norman Freeman. Erastus left his wife and children to be taken care of by his parents. Erastus, Thomas, and Elijah marched in Company B as privates, with Jesse D. Hunter as captain. After Erastus left, while camping at Swift Water, Olive lost her youngest brother, Oscar, who was 18 years of age, in an accident at the river.
The battalion reached Santa Fe on 9 October. There an inspection was made of the battalion, and 86 men were found sick or unable to endure the march ahead. They were detached to Pueblo, Colorado. Erastus Bingham, Jr. was asked to go with these sick men and help care for them during the winter. Several died on the way and others died after they reached Pueblo, including his brother-in-law Elijah. On 24 May 1847 the sick detachment started back to Ft. Laramie to meet the Saints who were traveling toward the Salt Lake Valley. They found that the Saints had already left Ft. Laramie, so the sick detachment kept going. They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on 29 July 1847, just a few days after Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company.
Olive traveled to Utah in the Daniel Spencer/Ira Eldredge Company in June 1847, with her two little children. She came with Erastus’ parents and some of his siblings. Erastus had remained in the Valley long enough to help build some log cabins in the Old Fort, then started eastward to find his family. He met them somewhere in Wyoming. They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in September 1847.
Erastus married his second wife, Susan Green, on November 15, 1855 in Salt Lake. Susan was born in 5 August 1839 in Halifax, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada to Benjamin and Louisa Wisdom Green. She was baptized 20 March 1852, in Halifax at the age of 13.
In 1851, Erastus moved his family to Ogden, Weber County, Utah. Here Erastus was president of the 38th Quorum of Seventies. In 1858, Erastus was called to serve again, with the rank of Major, in the Echo Canyon campaign against Johnston’s Army.
In 1861, Erastus traded his property in Ogden for a place in Slaterville with two houses: one for Susan and one for Olive. In 1865 he moved both his families to Huntsville, where he build a large double two-story house of logs. There, he served as president of the 75th Quorum of Seventies. In 1873 he went on a short-term mission to Saint Johnsbury, Vermont, where he preached the gospel to many of his cousins.
About 1879, he purchased a farm at the mouth of South Fork Canyon and removed his shingle mill from Wheeler Basin to White Pines. He sold the large home in Huntsville and moved Susan and her family into the new home at South Fork, and Olive into the smaller Huntsville home that belonged to his brother, Thomas. The following year, however, Olive, who had no more children at home, went to live with her daughter. Olive died in Lewisville, Fremont, Idaho, in 1905. Erastus and Olive had nine children together, with eight living to adulthood.
On account of the prosecutions then under way for polygamy, Erastus moved with Susan and her younger children first to Wayne County, Utah, then to Mancos, Colorado, and finally to Tucson, Arizona. Erastus moved to Mesa, Arizona from Tucson in 1904 and died on April 4, 1906 at Mesa, Maricopa County, Arizona. He was buried in the Mesa Cemetery. Erastus and Susan had sixteen children together, with twelve living to adulthood. Susan died on March 12, 1922 at Tucson, Arizona.
Source: Extracts from “Erastus Bingham, Jr. in the Mormon Battalion,’ by Nadine W. Larson, FamilySearch.org; “Erastus Bingham, Jr.’ Compiled by the Descendants of Erastus Bingham and Lucinda Gates and the Erastus Bingham Family Corp; FindAGrave.com