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Erastus Darwin Mecham

Question: How many years did Erastus Darwin Mecham serve as Bishop in his later years after having served in the Mormon Battalion in 1847?

Answer: Erastus Darwin Mecham was born July 20, 1826 in Hopkinton, St. Lawrence County, New York, the fifth child of Stephen Peabody Meacham & Dorthy “Dolly” Ransom. In May 1838, Erastus and his family were baptized members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by Joseph Mecham, Stephen’s uncle, and moved, with other relative converts, to Erie County, Pennsylvania.

In 1839 they moved to Springfield, Illinois, where three of the older children were married. Later the family moved to Nauvoo where Erastus, as a young man, was a member of the Nauvoo Legion and at times, served as a body guard to the Prophet Joseph Smith. After the death of the Prophet, while preparations were being made for the westward move, Erastus worked as apprentice in the shop of Elisha Jones, a wheelwright and blacksmith, who later became the father-in-law to Erastus.

In early 1846 Erastus left Nauvoo with the other persecuted Saints and began the trek across Iowa with what was designated as the “Camp of Israel” by its leader, Brigham Young. They were camped at “Mount Pisgah” when the call came from the government for a battalion of volunteers to take part in the war with Mexico. Erastus volunteered, and on July 16, 1846, a few days away from his twentieth birthday, was mustered into the army of the United States at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He was a member of Company D, and served as a private in the “Mormon Battalion.” At Santa Fe he was detached with the Sick Detachment to Fort Pueblo due to the lung disease he had contracted in August 1846. After wintering at the Fort, Erastus migrated to the Salt Lake Valley with the Sick Detachment, arriving in July 1847, just a few days after Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company.

Erastus became an employee of the American Fur Company in Wyoming before returning to the Missouri River. On February 4, 1849 he was married to Martha Jones at the home of Elisha Jones and Lyman Stoddard in Kanesville. Martha was the seventeen-year-old daughter of Elisha Jones, who he had worked with in Nauvoo. Martha Jones was born August 7, 1832, in Jefferson County, Ohio. She remembered very vividly the stirring events connected with the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, and participated in the hardships endured during the exodus of Nauvoo.

On the 17 of December, 1849, at Kanesville, later named Council Bluffs, Iowa, a daughter was born to Erastus and Martha and was named Sylia Amaretta. In 1851 Erastus crossed the plains with his wife and baby daughter, accompanied by his father-in-law and his family. They first settled at Little Cottonwood, a few miles south of Salt Lake City, where their second child, William Henry was born December 31, 1851.

On April 9, 1852 Erastus was ordained a seventy by Joseph Young and became a member of the Twenty-seventh Quorum of the Seventy. On Aug 25, 1852, he received his endowment and was sealed to Martha in the President’s office in Salt Lake. The family did not remain long in the Cottonwood settlement for they had made their home in Springville, Utah County, before their second son, Erastus Darwin Jr., was born on March 17, 1854. Here Erastus had opportunity to demonstrate his ability in dealing with the Indians and in solving the problems which they presented. Erastus then moved to Provo, Utah, for a few years.

In 1862, Erastus accepted a settling mission call to Fairview, Sanpete, Utah, and returned to the Salt Lake Valley in 1865. He then moved his family to North Ogden, Utah and then to Park Valley in Box Elder County, Utah. From 1879 to 1892 (twelve years) fifty-three-year-old Erastus served as Bishop of the Park Valley Ward in the Curlew Stake. It was said of Erastus that he had moved 26 times in his life time.

Erastus and Martha had ten children together, with two sons dying as infants. Erastus died on June 7, 1899, at age 72, in Park Valley, Box Elder County, Utah, and was buried in the Park Valley Cemetery. Martha died on July 14, 1903, and was buried in the Park Valley Cemetery.

Source: Excerpts from “Erastus Darwin Meacham Life Sketch,’; Excerpts from notes and sources,;

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