Question: What was John Buchanan IV’s role with one of the sick detachments of the Mormon Battalion in 1846?
Answer: John Buchanan IV was born to Nancy Ann Bache and John Buchanan III on 25 January 1825 in Lexington, Fayette, Kentucky. Sometime between 1830 and 1833, the whole family moved to the County of Tazewell, Illinois, where the last of ten children was born. It was here, living in a forest on the fringe of civilization, that the missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints found them and taught them the Gospel of Jesus Christ, restored. The first family member was baptized in February of 1834, and each of the others followed during the next several years, until every member of this family joined the church.
The family was well acquainted with the Prophet Joseph Smith. The father, John III, was a large and strong man and enjoyed wrestling with the Prophet. The Buchanan family was included in the mobbing, and suffered the violence with the rest of the saints in Missouri and Illinois. The family stayed closely together. In 1838 and 1839, they are living in Quincy and Lima, Illinois. The father, John, died in 1839 in Lima. After his death, Nancy Ann took her big family, together with her sons-in-law, to live close to the saints in Nauvoo.
After the death of the Prophet, persecutions and threats continued. Nancy and her family started west and braved the mud and cold of the winter of 1846. “The Widow Buchanan at Council Bluffs was called upon to allow her oldest son, John, to go with the Mormon Battalion. She remained with the family at Council Bluffs and Mt. Pisgah, Iowa, until John had finished his term in the army.’
As John Buchanan IV recorded: “I was 21 years old at the time I was called to serve [in the Mormon Battalion]. I left my mother and the family on the plains of Iowa and in the care of my Father in Heaven. I went with the battalion south to Santa Fe, New Mexico, which, by that time many of the soldiers were ill, and travel became progressively difficult…I was assigned to go along [with the ill to Pueblo] as a guard and helper for this small detachment…As spring approached, we were all anxious to be on our way and on the 24th of May, the Mormon Battalion detachment and the Mississippi saints took our departure from Pueblo towards Ft. Laramie. I was among eleven men selected to go ahead and make roads wherever necessary. We cut the Mormon Trail in the vicinity of Laramie, Wyoming.
“President Brigham Young with his company of pioneers making their way westward had past Laramie twelve days previously, and with a view to overtaking them, we made an early start the next morning. We gained on the pioneers but failed to overtake them. A few days after the pioneers, under President Brigham Young entered the valley, we arrived on July 29, 1847. We were bid a hearty welcome by the pioneers, some of whom, including President Young, met us at the mouth of Emigration Canyon and escorted us to the pioneer camp on City Creek. At the pioneer encampment in Great Salt Lake Valley, the detachment was formally disbanded without having to proceed on to California as expected. How happy we were that we could return to our families.
“I was not impressed with the deserts of the west and the difficulties of living in the mountains so when I returned to Iowa, I tried to persuade my Mother and family to remain in the beautiful rolling lands of Iowa and take up farms there and make that our home. But mother was not to be deterred. She had made up her mind long ago to follow the Prophet and the Saints. She convinced her family, and all of us went west except for one sister who, with her husband and family, remained in Iowa. Mother has been a great strength and example to all her family.’ His mother was 62 years of age at this time.
John married his first wife, Adeline Coons, in Glenwood, Iowa in February 1851 in Pottawattamie, Iowa. John and Adeline would have eleven children together, with their first child born in Iowa in January 1852. They left for Utah in the Thomas C.D. Howell Company and arrived in the Salt Lake Valley 13 September 1852. They then settled in Manti, Sanpete, Utah, where John built a Gristmill. They were frequently attacked by Indians and endured many hardships, but settled into a pleasant life there. John married his second wife, Sarah Wilkinson, in the Endowment House 21 April 1866. They had nine children together.
John and both wives, cared for their large family, and his mother, Nancy, until her death at age 94 in 1884. John died 11 October, 1897. Adeline died 11 April 1912. Sarah lived until the 16 May 1920. All are buried in the Manti Cemetery.