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Return Jackson Redden

Question: What adventures did Return Jackson Redden have after he became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1843?

Answer: Return Jackson Redden was born September 26, 1817, in Hiram, Portage County, Ohio, the oldest child of ten children of George Grant Redden and Adella Higley. He went to work when still a young lad selling wooden clocks, then new on the market and doing menial jobs on a Mississippi River boat as a means of making a livelihood.

Return Jackson married Laura Troske on March 15, 1838 in McLean, Illinois. They had two children, Marian and Charles, but his wife and baby Charles both died in 1843. (His little daughter, Marian, born in 1841, later made it to Utah, married and had five children.)

Through the preaching of the Mormon Elders in that vicinity, Return Jackson became interested in the newly found religion and shortly afterwards was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Ohio River. He moved to Nauvoo, Illinois, where he was closely associated with the Prophet Joseph Smith, serving as one of his body guards, until the Prophet was killed in June 1844.

Excerpts from the Daughters of Utah Pioneers (DUP)

By mid-May 1845, members of the Carthage mob were brought to trial, and one of the key witnesses for the defense was Lt. Worrell, who had charge of the militia’s guard detachment the day of the assassinations. Worrell refused to answer whether rifles carried by the Greys that day had been loaded with blanks. After a dozen days of testimony, the defendants were acquitted. Soon after, the house-burners stepped up their terror and night-riding became a popular pastime as Mormon battled anti-Mormon. A Mormon-elected [non-Mormon] county sheriff, Jacob Backenstos, set out to capture the marauders, until he himself became their target.

On one occasion, a small party of riders began chasing Backenstos on the road to Warsaw. The sheriff whipped his carriage to a nearby railroad siding where several Saints were watering their horses. Recognizing two of them as Porter Rockwell and Return Jackson Redden, Backenstos sputtered his predicament and quickly deputized the men. “Don’t worry,” Rockwell said, “we’ve got our pistols and two rifles.” Backenstos shouted to his pursuers to halt as they came galloping on. Rockwell took a bead on the lead rider, who, it later was said, was reaching for a pistol. A slug from Rockwell’s rifle took him just above the belt buckle. Frank Worrell [leader of the anti-Mormon mob] died before his companions could get him to Warsaw. Backenstos and Rockwell later would be tried for the shooting. Both were acquitted.

In Nauvoo, Return Jackson married Martha Maria Hurlburt, a widow. In February 1846, the family was forced out of Nauvoo and ended up at Winter Quarters. Martha gave birth to a son at Sugar Creek, Iowa. Martha died in March 1847 at Winter Quarters. Her baby son also died a few months later at Winter Quarters.

Return Jackson also married Naomi Elliza Murray in Nauvoo. They would have eleven children together. While at Winter Quarters, Return Jackson was asked to be in Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company. He was one of the first to look over the great Salt Lake Valley. They arrived there in July 1847. Return Jackson was part of the 10th Company of Ten led by Appleton M. Harmon. His name is “J. Redding” in the Harmon diary. Return Jackson was one of the pioneers selected by Heber C. Kimball to form the advance company under the command of Pratt, aided by Stephen Markham.

Vanguard Company Journals:

Date: April 12, 1847, Elkhorn River, Nebraska:

The pioneer camp traveled fourteen miles up the north bank of the Platte River. After the camp was established, a meeting was held in the evening. James Case and Jackson Redden were appointed to scout ahead on the following day.

The rest of the camp moved on, following Coyote Creek to where it empties into Yellow Creek. They crossed and made camp five miles farther, just in sight of a cave that Return Jackson Redden scouted that morning. It bore signs of having been used as a camp; the pioneers had been told trappers frequently used it as a cache. And it was home to numerous swallows. They dubbed it Redden’s Cave, but today it is known as Cache Cave.

One of the incidents related concerning the journey across the plains occurred on the evening of May 22, 1847. “Then we had a mock trial at 9 p.m. in the case of the camp vs. James Davenport. He was charged with blockading the highway and turning ladies out of their course. We laughed until our sides split at R. Jackson Redden acting as presiding judge. Edson Whipple was the attorney for the defense and Luke S. Johnson as attorney for the people. This wonderful evening is the climax of a day filled with work, vigilance and weary travel but also filled with a sense of accomplishment.”

Date: July 27, 1847, Salt Lake Valley, Utah:

Two Ute Indians came into camp during the morning to trade. Jackson Redden traded a gun for a horse and George Grant traded a gun for a pony.

Shortly after arriving in the Valley, Return Jackson returned to Winter Quarters to get his wife, Naomi, and they traveled back to the Valley in 1848 in Heber C. Kimball’s Company. Return Jackson’s father and mother and brother traveled to Utah in 1852 in David Wood’s Company, but his father died on the way to Utah. He was sixty-one years of age. His mother was living with Return Jackson in Utah in 1860 in Grantsville, Utah.

Later, Return Jackson accompanied Apostle Amasa M. Lyman to California, and returning by way of Carson Valley lived there two years. He helped stake out the overland route from Salt Lake City to California.

Return Jackson finally settled with his family in Grantsville, Tooele County, Utah. He was at one time Justice of the Peace in Grantsville, and three times in Summit County. He was US deputy marshal under Leonard Phillips and was known in the pioneer camps as a bold and fearless man.

He was a member of the 35th Quorum of Seventies at the time of his death. Return Jackson Redden died on August 30, 1891, in Hoytsville, Summit, Utah, at age 73. He is buried in the Coalville Cemetery in Summit County, Utah.

Source: Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah,; Historical References,,

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