Question: How old was Samuel Bradford Fox when he served in Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company in 1847?
Answer: Samuel Bradford Fox was born December 4, 1829, at Adams, Jefferson County, New York, the oldest child of David Williams Fox and Caroline Lisk. Samuel was born in comfortable, family surroundings to a loving and Christian family. The Fox family had lived in this area for several generations. David and Caroline had five children: Samuel, Elvira, Edward, Helen, William (died as a baby).
In 1842 David and Caroline joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in New York, along with other family members. In 1843, David and Caroline left their home in New York to join with the Saints in Nauvoo, Illinois. Samuel was about thirteen at this time.
Other family members that went on the journey were David’s oldest sister, Charlotte Fox, and his younger brother, Jesse W. Fox. They arrived in Nauvoo about 1844 at the time of the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum. David and Caroline had their last child, a son, in April 1844 in Nauvoo, and they named him David.
The environment of Nauvoo at that time brought on the death of the youngest son, David, in July 1844. Then the father, David, died on October 25, 1845, and his wife, Caroline, died on November 15, 1845. All were buried in the old Nauvoo burial ground. The remaining children were left orphans. David’s brother, Jesse, cared for the children until they reached Council Bluffs. Here Samuel’ sister, Elvira, died in May 1846. Samuel now had one remaining brother, Edward, and one remaining sister, Helen.
In April 1847, Samuel, at age 17, became a teamster in Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company. He was in the 4th Ten led by Luke S. Johnson, Captain. Once organized, this vanguard pioneer company consisted of 142 men, 3 women, 2 children, and 72 wagons. They traveled 1031 miles before reaching their destination. Some members of the company traveled ahead and arrived in the Salt Lake Valley as early as the July 21, 1847. By the 24th of July, the entire company had arrived.
Three years after his arrival in Salt Lake Valley, Samuel went to California. There, it was said that Samuel suffered a severe attack of smallpox, and his face was disfigured. He is reported to have said that his friends should never see him in that condition, and he never returned to Salt Lake City.
In the 1880 census there is a Samuel Fox living in Morey, Nevada where he is working at a mill. This could be this Samuel. Samuel’s death date and place are not known.
Samuel’s brother, Edward, made it to the Salt Lake Valley with his uncle Jesse. He married and settled in Manti, Utah, where he and his wife, Mary, had a large family of eleven children, with ten reaching maturity. Samuel’s sister, Helen, also made it to Utah, where she married and had a family.
Source: “Biographies of the Original 1847 Pioneer Company,’ Church News, Updated, 14 October 2009; “Story of David and Caroline Lisk Fox,’ FamilySearch.org.