Question: What pioneer Company did Ira Eldredge and his family travel in to the Salt Lake Valley?
Answer: Ira Eldredge was born March 30, 1810 in Middletown, Vermont to Alanson Eldredge and Esther Sunderlin. As the eldest son, Ira worked very closely with his father’s leather and shoe manufacturing business while the family lived in New York.
At the age of thirteen, Ira’s mother passed away, and in 1832 the family moved to Indiana. It was here that Ira met Nancy Black, the daughter of Joshua Black and Elizabeth Burgess. Nancy was born November 22, 1812 in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Ira and Nancy were married July 4, 1833 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Together they had eleven children from 1834 to 1859, two of whom died in infancy.
Ira’s younger brother, Horace was converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1836, and his father around the same time. They made their way to Kirtland and then to Missouri. After sharing his home with the missionaries, John Page and Orson Hyde in 1840, as they were on their way to Palestine, Ira was converted to the Church. Ira was baptized in April of 1840, and Nancy was baptized in March of 1848, putting it off because of the opposition of her father.
Although Ira stayed with his family in Indiana until 1846, he made several trips to Nauvoo where he met the Prophet Joseph Smith. Ira even bought a lot in Nauvoo, expecting to move there someday, however he never got the chance as the Saints moved west in 1846.
Ira returned home to Indiana after his last visit in 1845, where he immediately began to prepare to join the Saints on their way to the west. He could not rest while the exodus of his people from Nauvoo was transpiring. In April 1846, after disposing of his real estate at a great sacrifice, with six wagons, one carriage, twenty-four oxen, thirteen cows and three horses, he started with his family for Nauvoo. One of his wagons had a leather boat for a box, known as the Revenue Cutter. It carried the family outfit across the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, and it was utilized on their journey to the Great Salt Lake Valley.
The family, Ira and Nancy and their five children, arrived in Nauvoo only to find it desolate, so moved on to Council Bluffs. After halting at Council Bluffs a short time, they crossed the Missouri river and shared the hardships of the Saints in Winter Quarters during that season of trial and suffering in the winter of 1846-47. Nancy had another son in December 1846 while living at Winter Quarters.
Ira was assigned to be a captain over fifty on the trip across the plains. They were part of the Daniel Spencer Company/Ira Eldredge Company which left Winter Quarters June 17, 1847. Nancy drove her buggy and team the whole way across the plains. They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley September 19, 1847. They spent that winter at the “Old Fort,’ and located in Canyon Creek, today known as Sugar House in the spring of 1849.
Ira took a second wife in July 1852, Hannah Mariah Savage, and they had ten children together.
In 1854 Ira went back across the plains to guide more Saints to the Valley. Early in the spring of 1856, Ira started for Atchison, on the Missouri River with his son-in-law Abraham O. Smoot and others to bring a train of wagons loaded with merchandise to Salt Lake. Then again in 1861, he brought another 70 wagons across the plains. He returned in the autumn sick and broken down from overwork and exposure. During the winter he lay at the point of death for a long time. He finally rallied but found his strength was not the same.
Sugar House home
Ira served as Bishop of the Sugar House Ward from 1857 until 1866. In November 1861, Ira had married Helvig Marie Andersen, with whom he had one daughter.
Ira died, at age 55, after catching pneumonia from exposure to the cold while on his way to visit his other wife and two children on February 6, 1866 in Hoytsville, Utah. He was buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.
Nancy stayed in Sugar House until 1893 when her health failed, then moved to Coalville where she lived with Ira’s second wife Hannah. She passed away there on April 12, 1895. Nancy was buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery. Hannah died in April 1905 at her brother’s home in Samaria, Oneida, Idaho, and was buried in the Samaria City Cemetery.