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Nelson Higgins

Question: What amazing experiences did Nelson Higgins have after he and his wife, Sarah, served in the Mormon Battalion in 1846?

Answer: Nelson Higgins was born September 1, 1806, at Milford, Otsego County, New York, the son of Daniel Higgins and Mary Daggett. When Nelson was ten years old, his father moved to Ohio, leaving Nelson with a married sister. In the course of a year the sister died, and Nelson started out on foot, a journey of about four hundred miles, to find his family in Ohio.

At the age of twenty-one Nelson married Sarah Blackman, the youngest of ten children of Josiah Blackman and Tryphena Smith. Upon hearing the Gospel preached, Nelson was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1834. He was shortly after ordained a Priest and appointed to preside over a branch of the Church. As a member of Zion’s Camp in 1834, he marched to Missouri under the direction of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Nelson was ordained an Elder at the time of the dedication of the Kirtland Temple and soon afterwards became a member of the First Quorum of Seventy. In 1837 he moved to Missouri and there passed through the mobbings and persecutions endured by the Saints in that State. Subsequently he located in Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois, and left there in the general exodus with the Saints in 1846.

Having arrived in Iowa, he enlisted in the Mormon Battalion and was elected captain of Company D. His wife, Sarah, and his six children accompanied him. They made it to Santa Fe, New Mexico, but were then sent back to Pueblo, Colorado with a Sick Detachment. There they spent the winter of 1846/47. In the spring the Sick Detachment headed to the Salt Lake Valley. They arrived there on July 29, 1847, just a few days after Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company.

The Battalion members were released from duty and did not have to go on to California.

In 1849, together with others, Nelson was called to Sanpete Valley to assist in establishing a settlement there, and thus he became one of the founders of Manti, San Pete County, Utah. Later he moved to Moroni, where he also became one of the first settlers. In 1855 he was called to Carson Valley, now in Nevada, to assist in establishing a colony of Saints there.

In 1864 Nelson was called to go to Richfield to preside over that infant settlement, being ordained a Bishop under the hands of President Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball. Richfield was temporarily abandoned in 1867 because of Indian troubles, but in 1871 when the place was resettled, Brother Higgins again returned to his post in Richfield as Bishop and labored in that capacity until 1873, when he was honorably released and moved to a small settlement between Elsinore and Monroe. Here he spent the remainder of his life.

Nelson Higgins was successively captain, major and colonel during the Walker War and was a major and commanding officer all during the Black Hawk Indian war. Amidst these trying frontier conditions, he reared a large family. In 1852 he married Margaret Duncan, a widow. They had no children. In 1856 he married Nancy Meribah Behunin, by whom he had eight children. Nelson’s first wife, Sarah, died in August 1864, after having given birth to ten children. Nelson died at Elsinore, Sevier County, Utah, November 20, 1890, at age 84. He was buried in the Monroe City Cemetery in Monroe, Sevier County, Utah.

Source: Excerpts from “ History of Nelson Higgins, His life and His Family’ by Kay Lundell,;

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