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Francillo Durfey

Question: What experiences did Francillo Durfey have after becoming a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1840?

Answer: Francillo Durfey (also spelled Durfee) was born 12 May 1812 at Lincoln, Addison, Vermont, the son of Ebenezer and Sarah Newton Durfey. Ebenezer was a cooper, or barrel maker, and Francillo learned this trade from his father. Francillo grew to manhood in the state of Vermont where he attended school and obtained a good education for those days.

Francillo married Mariam Jones and from this union six children, four boys and two girls, were born. Francillo and Mariam heard the gospel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints preached, became converted and were baptized in January of 1840. Francillo moved his family to Nauvoo, Illinois that same year to be with the Saints.

During the mob violence on the saints in Nauvoo, while Francillo was away getting supplies, his cattle were stolen, his home was burned and his wife and children were put out into the snow. His wife became ill and died on 27 December 1845, in Nauvoo, nine months after her last baby was born.

Francillo and his children left Nauvoo in February 1846 and made their way to Council Bluffs, Iowa. While there, the call was made of this little band of exiles by the President of the United States for 500 able bodies men to fight in the war against Mexico. Francillo joined up after arranging with friends to take care of his children. This group was known as the Mormon Battalion. Francillo joined up on 16 June 1846, at Council Bluffs, Iowa under Captain James Brown in Company C. In July they started for Fort Leavenworth, arriving there 1 August 1846, where they were equipped with arms and supplies. They departed from there 14 September 1846 arriving at Santa Fe on 9 October 1846.

In October, some of the men become ill, including Francillo, and were ordered under Captain James Brown to go to Pueblo, Colorado for rest and medical treatment. This detachment spent the winter at Pueblo. In the spring, the Sick Detachment headed to the Salt Lake Valley. They arrived there 29 July 1847, just a few days after Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company. There they learned that they did not need to go on to California but were released from the Battalion.

Francillo had the gift of tongues. In the fall of 1847 he and two other members of the Mormon Battalion were carrying letters and papers from Pueblo to the Pioneer train. On the way they came in contact with a band of Sioux Indian warriors who began to encircle them. Francillo rode out to meet them and held up his hand and began to talk. When he finished, the Indians nodded to him and rode away. Francillo never knew a word he had said.

Francillo was a great scout and a fine marksman and hunter. He was called on a mission in the fall of 1847 to hunt game for those who were called to go back and help emigrant Saints across the plains. While out hunting, he and another man met a herd of buffalo on a stampede. They got off their horses started shooting and succeeded in parting the herd so the animals passed by on each side of them thus saving their lives.

Francillo made four trips across the plains. It was on one of these trips that he met Cynthia Harrington Bowen, a widow, who had lost her husband on the plains. Cynthia and her husband, Elias Bowen, had five children together. Francillo and Cynthia were married 15 February 1849 in Salt Lake by President Brigham Young.

In October 1848 Francillo, with his family settled in Ogden, Utah. It was here that Francillo and Cynthia’s only child, Francillo Durfey Jr. was born on 1 February 1850.

On 6 February 1851 the General Assembly of the State of Deseret incorporated Ogden City. It was the second settlement in Utah. A city council was created to direct the affairs of the new city. The first officers of Ogden City were appointed by Brigham Young, and members of the legislature of the State of Deseret were chosen in an election 7 April 1851. Francillo was elected an Alderman.

The winter of 1851 was a hard one for the settlers of Ogden. The snow was deep, and it was bitter cold. Some of the cattle froze to death. Food was scarce, and the Indians were troublesome. For the protection of the settlers, the first company of the Militia in Weber County was organized with Cyrus C. Canfield as Captain and Francillo as First Lieutenant.

Later the church called a number of families on a mission to the Indians on the Salmon River. Francillo was among the ones to be called. They settled on the Limhi, a branch of the Salmon River in Idaho. That part of the country was well adapted to cattle raising so Francillo went into the cattle business quite extensively and was prospering quite well.

The Indians became envious and finally made a raid on the white settlers and stole all of their cattle and tried to murder the people. The settlers had prepared for just such an emergency by building a strong fort. They defended themselves until they could get word back to the body of the church, and an escort came to take them back to the Salt Lake Valley.

On returning to Utah, Francillo settled in Providence where he worked at his trade as a cooper and also tilled his farm. He was active in Church and civic affairs in the settlement of Providence and Cache Valley. About the year 1869 he moved to Beaver Dam, Box Elder County, being the first settler there. Here he engaged in farming and stock raising.

Francillo’s eventful life came to a sudden but peaceful close on 15 February 1871 at Beaver Dam. He was 58 years of age. He was buried in the Providence City Cemetery.

Source: Excerpts from “A Biography of Francillo Durfee,’ As told by Beth Marble a granddaughter;;

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