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Ezra Hela Allen

Question: Why did Ezra H. Allen not make it to Salt Lake after being released from the Mormon Battalion?

Answer: Ezra H. Allen was born on July 28, 1814, at Madrid, St. Lawrence County, New York. His parents were Samuel Allen and Sarah Jane Powers. They were some of the first settlers of Waddington, New York. Later they moved to Columbia Village, now Madrid and brought fourteen children into the world. All of their offspring grew to maturity except one twin. Ezra was the fourth son and ninth child.

Meager as the opportunities were at that time in upper New York State, Ezra’s parents were able to give Ezra the rudiments of an education. In 1837, Ezra met and courted the daughter of Varnum Fiske, Sarah Beriah Fiske. She was born September 1, 1819, at Potsdam, New York. They married Christmas Day of the same year. She was 18 and he was 23.

Using rough lumber available, Ezra built a home and the young couple moved into it before their first baby was born.. He was now a full-fledged carpenter, and when not at work, he spent his time beautifying the home. They were very happy and when their second daughter came to bless their home, they thought their joy complete. One major concern that troubled them greatly, however. Both Ezra and Sarah desired to provide proper religious upbringing for their children. They attended various churches, revivals and camp meetings, searching for a preacher, or doctrine that would answer their questions, but were unable to find a satisfactory solution. They heard more and more about the strange sect called Mormons and wondered how in a country that allowed freedom of worship that this group was persecuted and harassed as they were.

When word was received in Madrid that a Mormon Elder, William Snow, had made an appointment to preach in the nearby district school house, the couple went to listen. Being students of the Bible, they found that what this elder had to say was substantiated by the scriptures. They did not reach an immediate decision, but returned home to ponder these things and prayed for divine guidance.

In the weeks that followed, their youngest daughter became very ill. Desperate with worry, it was in this state that Elders Christopher Merckley and Murray Symonds found the young couple. They taught them more of the gospel plan. Ezra, was impressed and asked for baptism along with two of his brothers. Sarah, however, realizing the solemn nature of such a commitment decided to wait a while longer, and stayed home with her sick child, who soon passed away.

Although understanding the gospel plan of salvation, Sarah’s heart continued to grieve and yearn after her lost infant. Ezra too, missed her greatly but found comfort in the knowledge that they would be reunited in the next world. They had heard of a gathering of the saints in Nauvoo, Illinois. Ezra slowly formed in his mind a plan to take his family to Zion to be with other Mormons. They made their plans, sold their home and fitted a team with all their belongings.

They arrived in Nauvoo in the early winter of 1842. They used the proceeds from the sale of their first home to rent a place in Nauvoo. In the spring of 1843, a new town was to be established twenty miles north of Nauvoo on the Mississippi River. The town was to be named, Shokoquon.

Apostle Amasa H. Lyman led a group of the Saints to the site. The scenery was magnificent and the couple were thrilled with the setting for their new home. They took what money was left and bought a building lot. Ezra built a nice home and although it was beautiful it was not a healthy place to live. Many neighbors came down with malaria chills and fevers. There was no effective medical treatment available for it at that time. The Allens returned to Nauvoo for General Conference on April 6, 1843, and they were much impressed with the discourses of Joseph Smith. In May, Sarah requested baptism and Apostle Lyman performed the ordinance. They took a renewed interest in serving the Lord and attending meetings. Sarah regained her cheerful spirits, perhaps in part to the child she was expecting.

On July 21, 1843, a son named Alexander Hamilton Allen was born. They were overjoyed to have another child, but he lived to be only 8 weeks old. The entire family was ill and almost died along with him and were not able to even attend his burial. It wasn’t until January that the family was well enough to return to a normal routine. In September 1845, Alexander Alma was born.

In company with Joel Ricks, Ezra took a journey to St. Louis to get stock which would pull wagons across the prairies. In return for his assistance, Ezra was to have transportation for his family and meager belongings. On April 27, 1846, they crossed the Mississippi with Ezra in charge of a big outfit. Ezra helped with the planting at Mt. Pisgah, then went on to Council Bluffs. Ezra had learned to play the fife and had been a fifer in the Nauvoo Legion. He brought out his fife and joined in the music which cheered the traveling outcasts.

While waiting for word to continue on west, a call was made for men to march to California. Ezra saw this as a chance, not only to serve his government and church, but the promise of pay for his family. He enrolled as a fifer in Company “C,’ of the Mormon Battalion, told his family and friends ‘Goodbye,’ and joined his battalion on July 16th. The long battalion march was finished at San Diego, January 31, 1847.

There was an outlaw named Jim Savage, who had been with Fremont on his first trip of conquest to Los Angeles, who kept both eyes and ears open for an opportunity to steal anything he could. There can be no doubt of Savage and his men’s knowledge about the Mormon’s plans to take 17 wagons with 150 horned stock and as many horses over miles of rough mountains. It would be easy to learn how Ezra Allen, Daniel Browett and Henderson Cox were sent ahead to blaze a way for those who followed.

Coming to a spring high on the mountainside, the three men decided to spend the night. A fire site indicated that they had cooked their supper there. These three men were murdered as they camped at what is still known today as Tragedy Springs. At the time it was thought Indians were responsible for the crime, but because the men had been shot and buried, it is unlikely it was Indians. The Indians did not have guns, nor did they carry shovels. All of the three men’s gold, saddles, pack saddles, ropes and the goods on the pack animals were all gone. Some believe it was Savage and his men who killed them, and then made it appear it was Indians who committed the crime. The truth will be known some day. The brethren who found Ezra Allen’s home-made buckskin purse in the weeds at the site of his murder, carried it to his widow, Sarah. Sarah saved enough of the dust to make two gold-rings–one for herself and one for their daughter Amoretta. The remainder of the dust she used to purchase an outfit to go on to Salt Lake City. Ezra is buried at Tragedy Springs.

After Sarah Beriah Fiske Allen got to Salt Lake, she married Joel Ricks, as his second wife, in polygamy. From their marriage, Sarah bore two sons and four daughters, four lived to maturity. Of the four children she bore Ezra Allen, only two lived to maturity. (Amoretta and Alexander Alma.)

Source: Excerpts from “Biography of Ezra H. Allen,’ by W. Allen Fifield, (Re-typed by Lou Veda Rock Sears in July, 2001)

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