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John Brimhall

Question: What did Brigham Young say to the sick detachment, that John Brimhall was in, after they arrived in the Salt Lake Valley?

Answer: John Brimhall was born 16 April 1824, at Olean, Cattaraugus, New York , the son of Sylvanus Brimhall Jr. and Lydia DeGuitteau. When he was four years old the family left New York, and John went on a raft navigated by his father down the Ohio River to Dearborn, Indiana.

John was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by Orson Hyde, on October 20, 1845, when he was 21 years old. After the Saints were driven out of Nauvoo, they traveled to Winter Quarters, Nebraska. Here, in July 1846, John joined the Mormon Battalion, just nine months after joining the Church.

John served with Company C, under the command of Captain James Brown. He became sick with Mountain Fever and was assigned to the Rio Grande River Sick Detachment and ordered to travel with 52 other sick men back to Pueblo, Colorado. Food and water were scarce, both desert and mountains were near impassable. They reached their destination on the 20th December, after a long and exhausting trip,

They received orders in the spring to continue their march to California where they would be discharged. They picked up this line of march on May 24, 1847, and made their way to Fort Laramie. There they were greeted by Apostle Lyman and informed that Brigham Young was a week ahead of them. They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on 29 July 1847, about five days behind Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company.

Captain Brown led his soldiers to a campsite about one-half mile north of the temple lot and that evening in a general meeting for the saints, Brigham Young expressed his warm feelings towards the soldiers. He told these veterans of the sick detachment that, “Your going into the army has saved the lives of thousands of people.” They were discharged at this time and the men did not have to continue their march to California.

Brigham Young asked the men to build a bowery on the temple lot so the saints could hold their meetings in the shade. They also made adobes for a fort and living quarters, and helped cultivate the soil. They had brought a club-head wheat to Utah with them, that had been raised in Taos, a Mexican town, and for many years it was the staple wheat sown in Utah fields.

Brigham Young spent thirty-three days in Salt Lake, during which time he organized two companies to return to Winter Quarters. He organized the companies into nine groups of ten men. John Brimhall was a member of the 9th company with 12 men, 3 wagons and 4 mules. They left Salt Lake August 26, 1847 and arrived back in Winter Quarters October 28, 1847.

John traveled with his family back to the Salt Lake Valley in 1850. He was a carpenter, cabinet maker, and shoemaker. He married Annaretta Harris at Woods Cross, Utah, on 5 October 1850, and ten children were born to this union. Three years after their marriage they took up a homestead in Spanish Fork. John and Annaretta lived in Spanish Fork until December 1859 then they moved to Toquerville, Washington, Utah.

In 1862, John was called to settle Harrisburg, in Washington County, and assigned to protect the colony from Indian attacks. John and his family lived in Orderville for a time and lived the United Order. While they were here, he rigged up a good stove for Annaretta. She was quite short and lifting heavy iron pots filled with food was hard work, so John built a step in front of the stove for her to step up to. While living here, Annaretta cut up her window curtains to make clothes for the children.

John then made his last move to Glendale, Kane County, Utah, where they spent the rest of their lives. He owned the first grinding stones the settlers had in Glendale. They lived on pig weed greens and watered-down gravy during the harsh winter months, and John shared what he had with his Indian neighbors, who also endured these hard times.

John helped care for Annaretta’s parents, Moses and Fanny Harris, who lived in Glendale with them, for many years. They died in 1890 and 1891. John died in Glendale on 6 December 1906. His obituary read: “John Brimhall was an honest man and conscientious in his dealings with others. He was devoted to the church to which he gave the strength of his early life to establish.’ John was buried in the Glendale City Cemetery. Annaretta died 22 February 1908 in Glendale.

Source: Excerpts from “Individual Summary of John Brimhall,’;

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