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James Wood Calkins

Question: Was James Wood Calkins one of three brothers who joined the Mormon Battalion in 1846?

Answer: James Wood Calkins was born 22 November 1827, in Freedom, Cattaraugus, New York, the third child of Chauncey Ira Calkins and Sarah Kellogg. He had two older brothers, Sylvanus and Alva. When he was quite young, James’ parents became members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and moved to Ohio. They remained but a short time and then went to Missouri, where the Saints were gathering. Here they were persecuted and moved to Illinois.

The family settled for a time in Pike County, Illinois, where James grew to manhood. His youth was passed in working upon a farm. James was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at an early age. The last child of James’ parents, Myron, was born in Nauvoo, Illinois in 1845.

After religious persecution had driven the family out of Nauvoo to Iowa Territory, James volunteered to serve with the Mormon Battalion. He enlisted on 16 July 1846 at Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie, Iowa Territory. James and two of his older brothers, Alva C. Calkins and Sylvanus Calkins, joined him, along with their first cousin Edwin R. Calkins. They all enlisted as privates in Company A of the Mormon Battalion.

The muster rolls recorded James as being sick from 16 July 1846 through 31 August 1846. Due to this lengthy illness, he was sent with the sick detachment to winter at Fort Pueblo, Colorado, rather than complete the journey to California. The sick detachment went to Pueblo by way of Santa Fe, New Mexico, under the command of Captain Brown. James’ brother, Alva, was also assigned to the Battalion Sick Detachment. Their brother Sylvanus made it all the way to California with the Battalion.

In the spring of 1847, James went to the Salt Lake Valley with the Battalion Sick Detachment, arriving on 29 July 1846. He remained in the valley one month before heading back east. He spent some time in Missouri and then went to Fremont County, Iowa, where his father and other family members were living. At Council Bluffs, Iowa, his father had decided not to go on to Utah. James’ brother, Alva, also decided to stay in Iowa.

James married in Fremont County, Iowa, on May 15, 1852 to Elizabeth Jane (Eliza) Gilimore, a native of Tuscarora County, Ohio. They had nine children together, all born in Fremont County, Iowa. James was baptized a member of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on 1 May 1870 at Madison, Jones, Iowa, by J. R. Badham. On 8 January 1890 James applied for a Government Issued Survivor’s Pension.

James at different times was elected to various township offices. He owned a fine farm of one hundred and forty acres. James died on 24 October 1898 (aged 70) in Silverdale, Cowley County, Kansas and is buried in the Parker Cemetery in Arkansas City, Cowley, Kansas. His wife, Eliza, died in January 1900, and is also buried in the Parker Cemetery. They had moved from Iowa to Kansas to be with their oldest son, Israel, who had moved to Kansas in 1891.

Source: FindAGrave, Story of James Wood Calkins; History of Fremont County, 1881; Madison Township Biographies, James W. Calkins; Mormon Battalion Sick Detachment List.

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