Question: Did Joshua Chandler Abbott, and his wife Ruth, join the Mormon Battalion in May 1847?
Answer: Joshua Chandler Abbott was born 14 August 1804 in Massachusetts. Before the fall of 1834 Joshua moved to Rochester, Monroe, New York, where he was married to Ruth Markham in August 1835 by a Methodist minister. Ruth was the daughter of James Markham and Lois Leach.
After their marriage, Joshua and Ruth resided in Brockport, Monroe County, until the fall of 1835. They then moved to Hiram, Portage County, Ohio. It is likely they moved to Hiram because Ruth’s sister, Betsey Elizabeth Gardner, and her husband, Elias Gardner, lived there. On 14 April 1837 they had a daughter Ellen Elizabeth. They had another daughter Mary in 1839 while living there.
In January 1840 Joshua and Ruth united with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After their baptism they migrated with the Saints to Hancock County, Illinois. They had a son, James Steele, in 1843 in Illinois. Two of their children died while they were living here: Mary, age 6, and James, age 1. After burying their children, Joshua and Ruth were forced out of their home and moved to the Iowa Territory.
At Council Bluffs, Joshua enlisted in the Mormon Battalion. Ruth volunteered to accompany him on the Battalion trek as a laundress in Company D. By August 1, 1846 the Mormon Battalion, at that time numbered 549 men, which greatly weaken the camp of the saints. Together, Joshua and Ruth marched from Council Bluffs to Santa Fe., New Mexico, where they were detached with the sick to Fort Pueblo, Colorado. At the fort, Joshua was wounded in his hand by a bullet in October 1846. After wintering at Pueblo, he and Ruth migrated to the Salt Lake Valley, arriving on 27 July 1847.
The men had been given the privilege of having their wives with them and there were a few children named. Ruth Abbott’s name was among the list of women of the Battalion, but her child, Ellen Elizabeth Abbott, was not listed there. It appears that Joshua and Ruth had left their nine-year-old daughter with Ruth’s sister, Betsy Markham (Gardner), at Winter Quarters. Ellen came across the plains with the Gardner family in Heber C. Kimball’s Company in 1848.
When Joshua and Ruth settled in Salt Lake Valley, they owned a little stream of water. But as Salt Lake grew, the city had to have his stream of water for the city water. Joshua Abbott thought for the city to take his water, that he ran his grist mill with, wasn’t right, and it made him angry. Joshua left the Salt Lake Valley after a confrontation with Brigham Young in the spring of 1849. He tried to persuade his wife, Ruth, to go with him, but she was worn out from their trip across the plains. She told him to go ahead and get a home for her, and she would follow him.
Joshua went back to Missouri until 1850 and then moved on to California. Between 1870 and 1880 he moved to Douglas County, Oregon, and worked as a farmer. Ruth never heard from Joshua again, so she made her home with their daughter Ellen Elizabeth Abbott Gardner and her husband Elias Gardner.
Ruth died on September 13, 1888 in Annabella, Sevier County, Utah. Joshua died on April 9, 1896 (age 91) at his home site on the Smith River in Gardiner, Douglas Country, Oregon. He was buried in the Gardiner Cemetery.