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William W. Casto

Question: Where did William Casto settle after having served in the Mormon Battalion in 1846?

Answer: William Casto was born February 10, 1816 at Orleans, Orange County, lndiana, the oldest in the family of twelve children of Abel Casto and Mary (Polly) Galland. William, at the age of sixteen years, was sent by his father to Illinois to locate a farm in that state.

In 1832, the Casto family moved to Commerce, Illinois. While living here, the family suffered a great loss, as several of their children died: Eliza (8), Jane (4), Jonathan (2), and Susanna (4 months). In 1835 they lost Abel Jr. (1). Mary’s brother, Dr. Isaac Galland is the one who sold the Mormons the first land purchased in Illinois.

Mary was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints just three weeks after the Mormons began arriving in that area in 1839. Abel was baptized six months later. The older children were also baptized at that time, including William. He was baptized at Commerce, June 22, 1839, by Joseph Rose and confirmed by Sidney Rigdon. William worked on the Nauvoo Temple, served as a policeman, and took an active part in the defense of the city at the time of the persecution there.

The family was living in Senora, a village not far from Nauvoo when, in 1840, the father, Abel, died, as well as their little three-year-old son, George.

When Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were incarcerated in the Carthage Jail, William Casto was one of the twenty-five men who volunteered to risk their lives in rescuing the Prophet from prison. William married Diadamia McFall in September 1839, but she died in Nauvoo in 1841. Then in 1843, William married Racheline I. Cornog in Nauvoo.

William lived in Nauvoo until the persecution against the members of the Church drove them out of Nauvoo. In 1846 William went with them on their enforced march to Winter Quarters, Nebraska. It was while they were living there that the call came for the formation of a Battalion from the members of the LDS Church to go to Mexico in the service of the United States against that country. William Casto, now age 31, was one of the first to enlist and was assigned to Company D. The Battalion was mobilized at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and from there was ordered to march to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

At Santa Fe, the able bodied men went on to Southern California, and the sick and disabled men returned to a post at Pueblo, Colorado where they spent the winter. William was assigned to the Battalion Sick Detachment that returned to Pueblo. In the spring of 1847, the Battalion Sick Detachment headed to the Salt Lake Valley. They arrived in the Valley just a few days after Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company entered the Valley on July 24, 1847. William Casto was mustered out of the Mormon Battalion after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley and did not have to continue on to California.

At Brigham Young’s request, William made two or three trips to Council Bluffs, Iowa, to bring mail back to the Salt Lake Valley. In 1851 he then made another trip to Council Bluffs to get Racheline and their three children. Their one baby daughter, Sarah, born in 1846, had died.

For a few years, William carried the mail from the Salt Lake Valley to the Missouri River. During those journeys he brought back fruit trees, shrubs and flowers. Milo Andrus, another early pioneer, was called to a mission in Missouri, and on his return brought back several varieties of peach stones. He and William Casto planted them and grew peaches on shares. They were the first peaches grown in Utah.

William and Racheline had two more children born in the Salt Lake Valley. In 1863 William married Jane Watson in polygamy, and they had three children. Jane died in 1875, and Racheline raised the three children as her own.

William assisted in the construction of the Church Canal, later known as the Upper Canal, which runs from Big Cottonwood Canyon to just east of the Salt Lake Temple. William was one of the first settlers sent to Holladay in southern Salt Lake Valley by Brigham Young early in 1850 to begin construction of Fort Holladay. He was the Senior President of the Sixty-first Quorum of Seventies.

William Casto had one of the finest homes in the county and lived there until his death. This home is known as “the old Casto home” and still stands as a landmark. Racheline died in 1883 in Holladay. William Casto died November 9, 1894, age 78, in Holladay and was buried in the Holladay Memorial Park.

Source: Excerpts from “William W. Casto,’ by Bonita Casto Davis, daughter of William Graham Casto and great grand daughter of William W. Casto,;

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