Question: Did James Dunn serve in Zion’s Camp before becoming a member of the Mormon Battalion in 1846?
Answer: James Dunn was born 26 September 1788 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania to Robert and Agnes Dunn. James may have married about 1812 in Pennsylvania, but no record has been found of this marriage.
James became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by 1833 and moved to Kirtland, Ohio. Here James became a member of Zion’s Camp and served as an assistant steward. Zion’s Camp was an expedition of Latter Day Saints, led by the Prophet Joseph Smith, from Kirtland, Ohio to Clay County, Missouri during May and June 1834 in an unsuccessful attempt to regain land from which the Saints had been expelled by non-Mormon settlers. James lived settled in Far West, Missouri for a few years, but due to persecution, the Saints had to leave Missouri. James was ordained a Seventy on 7 July 1838.
James then moved to Nauvoo, Illinois and lived there for a few years with his family. He was endowed in the Nauvoo Temple 31 January 1846. When the Saints were persecuted out of Nauvoo, James made his way to Council Bluffs, Iowa.
In the spring of 1846 James (now age 58) enlisted in the Mormon Battalion. He was assigned to Company C, with James Brown as Captain. James marched with the regiment, but was taken sick and sent to Pueblo, Colorado in the Battalion Sick Detachment to spend the winter. In the spring the Detachment continued their journey to Salt Lake, arriving there a few days after Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company in July 1847. Here they learned that they didn’t have to go on to California and were dismissed from duty. In the fall of 1847 James returned to Iowa.
On 1 August 1849, in Pottawattamie, Iowa, James (age 61) married Thirza Shupe (age 26) at the residence of George A. Smith, who listed himself as a Minister of the Gospel. James and Thirza emigrated back to Utah and settled in Ogden. Thirza was the daughter of Peter Shupe and Sarah Wright, both of whom died at Council Bluffs in September 1846. James and Thirza were the parents of three children, all born in Ogden, Utah: Sarah Jane born February 2, 1850 (died February 8, 1873 at age twenty three); Emmanuel Dunn born March 24, 1851; and on April 21, 1853, Mary Elizabeth Dunn.
In the 1850 census, James is living in Utah with Thirza and their little daughter, Sarah. Also living with them are four young men who seem to be James’ sons from a previous marriage: Robert age 37, John age 24, James H. age 21, and Joseph age 19. More research needs to be done to find James’ first wife’s name and the names of all of their children.
The Mormon Battalion record and Church records have James Dunn dying in San Bernardino, California in 1855. Other records list James as dying in Ogden, Utah on 26 October 1856. No death or burial record can be found for him.
In 1857, Thirza married Augustus Stone in Ogden. They were the parents of three children: Eveline Stone, born June 4, 1858; Hannah Martha Stone, born March 28, 1861; and Margaret A. Stone born May 10, 1863. As near as can be determined, Thirza later moved back to the Iowa/Illinois area to be close to her three brothers: William, Isaac, and Peter. Thirza was baptized and confirmed a member of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 1874 at Adams County, Illinois, by James Foxall. The 1880 census of Magnolia, Harrison County, Iowa, lists Thirza as being widowed. On April 13, 1881, she was married to Silas Holeton in Calhoun Township, Harrison County, Iowa. They had no children.
Source: Research and documentation on Thirza Shupe provided by Russell C. Shupe, June Shupe and Muriel Robinson Shupe; Sources listed in FamilySearch.org under James Dunn’s name.