Question: Did Montgomery Button and his wife, Mary, and four young children all join up with the Mormon Battalion in 1846?
Answer: Montgomery Evans Button was born in Otisco, Onondaga, New York, on the 6 January 1813, the sixth child of Zebulon Button, Jr. and Olive Cheney. He moved to Ohio when he was twenty-three years of age and engaged in farming.
On 13 September 1835, Montgomery married Mary Bittles, the daughter of Thomas and Ann Spence, both from Ireland. Mary was born 15 December 1815 in New York. Montgomery and Mary had three children while living in Ohio. As many settlers were moving westward seeking new homes, they also moved, settling in Kirtland, Ohio.
Here they became acquainted with and joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. In 1844, they moved to Nauvoo, Illinois, where another son was born to them. They were with the Saints at the time of the expulsion of the Saints from Nauvoo and began their journey westward in the dead of winter. They spent the winter of 1846-1847 at Council Bluffs, Iowa. Here Montgomery joined the Mormon Battalion, along with his wife, Mary, and their four young children.
As the Mormon Battalion continued west along the Arkansas River, Lieutenant A. J. Smith, temporary Battalion commander, decided to send the women, some of their husbands, and children back to Pueblo, Colorado. The first detachment, known as the Higgins Family Detachment (Arkansas Detachment), consisted of 11 men, 9 women and 33 children under Captain Nelson Higgins. They left the Battalion on September 18 and arrived in Pueblo in early October 1846. Included in the Higgins Family Detachment (Nelson Higgins, Captain) was Montgomery Button’s wife (Mary Bittles Button) and her four children: James (11), Jutson (7), Louisa (5), and Samuel (3). In the spring, this group traveled on to the Salt Lake Valley.
Private Montgomery continued on to California where he was discharged. He was on detached service on Sept 17, 1846, by order of Acting Lieutenant Colonel A. J. Smith and mustered out with the detachment on July 16, 1847.
Montgomery left California on 12 August 1848 and arrived in the Salt Lake Valley 10 October 1848. He was in the Ebenezer Brown Company, which was composed of 24 returning Mormon Battalion veterans along with 4 battalion wives and 1 child. It also included 43 people who had traveled on the ship Brooklyn. There were a total of 62 people in the Company. They traveled from Pleasant Valley, California, over the newly-constructed Carson Pass wagon road over the Sierra Mountains to the Salt Lake Valley.
Montgomery and Mary lived in the Salt Lake Valley for about two years, but Montgomery then decided to move on back to California. They left Utah in March 1850 and arrived in California in June. They settled in San Bernardino where Montgomery purchased fifty acres of land and some city lots. He sold out after four years and subsequently purchased fifteen acres three miles southeast of San Bernardino. Here Montgomery and Mary had the rest of their family.
Montgomery passed away at his home on 19 August 1892, at the age of 79. “M. E. Button, one of the oldest residents of the county, died yesterday at his residence on Waterman Avenue, a mile south of Mill Street and was buried at 3 o”clock this afternoon. He was born in Onondaga County, N.Y. January 6, 1813. He was a veteran of the Mexican War and a pioneer settler in this valley. He has two sons living, Jetsan in Colorado, and the other, Charles, who is in the mines on the desert. The funeral was conducted by Elder Gibson of the LDS Church.’
Montgomery was buried in the Pioneer Memorial Cemetery in San Bernardino. There doesn’t appear to be a headstone for him, as a bad flood covered the original cemetery, and caskets were moved to a new cemetery, but some identifications were not made. Mary died on 26 June 1896 and was also buried in the Pioneer Memorial Cemetery.