|Birth: ||Feb. 9, 1785|
|Death: ||Jan. 28, 1851|
Son of Simeon Bigelow and Sarah Foster
Married Mary Gibbs, 12 Dec 1826, Lawrenceville, Lawrence, Illinois
Children - Mary Jane Bigelow, Hiram Bigelow, Lucy Bigelow, Asa Elijah Bigelow, Lovina Bigelow, Liola Bigelow, Sariah Bigelow, Moroni Bigelow, Daniel Bigelow, Joseph Smith Bigelow
Susa Young Gates (Juvenile Instructor, 15 April 1891)
Little can be told of the early life of Nahum Bigelow, for it is now many years since he died, leaving behind him no record except the one kept in the hearts of loving descendants. From that record—halting and imperfect as it may be and is—the following sketch has been made.
Born in Brandon, Rutland County, Vermont on February 19, 1785, he was trained in all those sturdy habits of mind and body common to the New Englanders of the last [18th] century. His people were farmers and stock raisers, but with true Yankee restlessness he determined when a man grown to try something with greater promise of speedy wealth. With a peddler's pack he started out and he traveled from place to place for a number of years.
With such glee he used to afterwards tell his children one incident of this time of his life. One old gentleman, a French Canadian (a trapper probably) once offered him his daughter, the generous offer being supplemented by that which often makes the plainest and ugliest of women beautiful and desirable in the eyes of some men—her weight in gold. Neither the dark charms of the black-eyed French girl nor the bright glitter of her father's precious gold could tempt the sturdy New Englander to sell his birthright or lend himself to anything unworthy of his name and manhood. The charms and gold were gently but firmly refused.
Nahum Meets Mary Gibbs
One other incident of this time also remains in the minds of his children. On one of his trips (to Ohio probably) he stopped at a house where working about with the air of one old before her time and wise beyond her years was a girl named Mary Gibbs, who was only twelve years old. The firm sweet mouth and dark blue eyes bespoke character of a high grade.
In his heart this middle-aged man—for he was now thirty-six years old—said, "If ever I marry, that's the girl I want for my wife." The old Scotch proverb says, "If you really wish for anything you'll certainly get the sleeves." What with wishing and adding efforts to wishing, the two were married in Lawrenceville, Lawrence County, Illinois on December 2, 1826. The usual incidents of pioneer life with the birth of children and mingled scenes of woe and happiness and joy and pain attended this couple for a number of years.
Nahum and Mary's Children
The first child was a girl named Mary Jane [b. October 15, 1827] and the second was a son named Hirum [b. May 20, 1829]. Mary Jane was quiet, steady, exceedingly patient with all, and firm and unyielding on matter of duty and principle. Hirum was steady, sober, and thoughtful beyond his years.
Then came Lucy [b. October 3, 1830]—always a bright, lovely, lovable child—whose powers of attraction were early displayed and whom more than one man would have given his weight in gold to possess as his wife, so much she inherited from her father.
Then Asa Elijah was born on February 2, 1832 and in a short time Lovina [b. March 24, 1834] followed Asa. Asa is a genuine son of his father, inheriting the independence of character, strict honesty of purpose, and conscientiousness of every action, which is so notable as a Bigelow trait. Lovina was always a gay, frolicsome lassie, much like Lucy in the face, yet lacking some of the force of character of her sister.
While Lovina was a baby rumors of the new religion of Joseph Smith and followers came to the farmhouse in Lawrenceville. The mysterious golden Bible and revelations from God to the lad Joseph Smith were often spoken about by friends and neighbors.
A Life-threatening Accident
About this time Nahum met with an accident which nearly cost him his life and which well showed the decision of his character. It was haying time and the stack was just being topped off. Nahum and some hired men were at work. Being through, all of them slid off the stack—Nahum was the last. A pitchfork had in some way been stuck loosely in the side of the stack. As Nahum came down, the tine of the fork caught him in the thigh and pinioned him fast. He began bleeding profusely. He shouted to the men below from where he was suspended on the fork, against the upper part of the stack. The handle of the fork was sticking in the ground.
"Pull out the fork! Knock the fork from under me!" he shouted, but all stood in stupid amazement and no one moved. A foot finally came around and kicked out the fork. He came heavily to earth, senseless and bleeding. Six weeks elapsed before he recovered from this accident.
The Family's Introduction to the Restored Gospel
Another son was next born on October 4, 1835 and named Liola. Shortly after this two elders preaching the new Gospel and bearing a copy of the now-famous golden Bible, named the Book of Mormon, came to the Bigelow home. They were kindly received, as were all strangers in this household, and the father and mother listened kindly, but at first incredulously, to the things told by these singular men. That angels should come from heaven, that God should again speak from His high and distant throne, and that a new dispensation was come were all startling announcements. They required care, study, and deep thought mingled with prayer in order to understand and grasp their important reliability.
The family Bible was brought out and many evenings when many weary bodies ached to be at rest, the eager, truth-seeking minds of this honest-hearted family were studying the sacred records to find corroborative evidence said by these men to be upon its inspired pages.
At last his reason was convinced, yet his extreme caution caused him to hesitate and ponder well this new and vastly important step. Nahum was told to follow the advice given by our Savior to his disciples: "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you" (Matthew 7:7). Added to this was the promise anciently given to the poor in heart and simple in mind and spirit: "These signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover" (Mark 16:18). He was promised that if he would humble himself and go down into the water for baptism, then hands would be laid on him by those commissioned of God for the reception of the Holy Ghost, which great witness would speak to his soul with any or all of the wonderful signs of His peculiar presence promised to those who fulfill this, the first law of this old, yet new Gospel.
At last he consented, asking God to withhold His sanction if it was not of Him, and to give that sanction in majesty and power if it was His will and His Gospel as he went humbly down into the waters of baptism. coming out he was confirmed and promised the Holy Ghost, which straightway fell upon him; and behold, he prophesied and testified in burning, powerful words of truth and glory which he had that day received.
Not after trials or affliction, not though he was robbed, beaten, poisoned, and driven again and again from house and home, aye even though he gave up his life finally as a martyr to this cause, not once did his faith and testimony waver from the light he had that day received, but cried with his last breath upon the God who had shown him such tender mercy and kindness. His wife and older children were baptized on the same day of April 29, 1839.
More Children Came to the Bigelow Home
After this another son came to them, whom they named Moroni [b. September 1, 1840] in memory of the great Nephite general, who was the last of his race, and who delivered the golden plates from their long hiding place into the hands of the youthful prophet, Joseph Smith. The girl, Sariah [b. Jan 19, 1838], had indeed been named for the mother of the Lamanite and Nephite nation by the mother, Mary Gibbs Bigelow, who long before their baptism had received the gospel in her heart.
Daniel was the next child and was born in Mercer County, Illinois on March 18, 1842. The family had previously moved from Lawrence County, Illinois to Coles County, Illinois, living there ten years, then after receiving the gospel, had moved up to Mercer County, in the northern part of Illinois. Four years were spent there. As it was still quite a distance from the body of the Church, which was then located at Nauvoo (or commerce, as it is called on the maps), Nahum decided to move once more. He was a stirring, active man and prosperity followed his footsteps.
An Inventor of Sorts
The children were familiar with a huge tool chest, which contained many strange and unknown tools and instruments. Into the traditions of the family has woven the fact that Father Nahum was an inventor and had spent many days of his younger life in trying to solve the problem of perpetual motion. His success was that of others who wasted time in this direction, but at least it cultivated the reasoning faculty, developed the mind, trained the hand, and interested the thoughts. This faculty was visible in a hundred handy ways about the household and it made the Bigelow family one known to possess many comforts and conveniences otherwise unattainable in a western country.
The Move to Nauvoo
So in the year 1843 Nahum bought one hundred sixty acres in Hancock County and sent Lebias T. Coon with his son, Asa, to help break up the prairie land. For this purpose they had four yoke of oxen and such other implements as were necessary for the purpose.
The children grew apace, Daniel being a cute, bright, and affectionate little fellow, with all the restless activity of his father and something of the patient, forbearing disposition of his sister, Mary. Moroni was an independent, headstrong boy, controlled only by affection.
The start was made in Hancock County and everything prospered and thrived under the wise, judicious handling of Father Nahum. Living only eighteen miles from Nauvoo, the family carryall was often hitched up and driven into town that all hands might attend meetings and receive a refreshing of the mind, as well as a rest to the body.
Strict to punctualness, knowing and believing the law of tithing—which demanded that one tenth of all the increase of the saints should go into the Lord's storehouse for the benefit of the poor people, the fatherless, and the sick among the saints, as also build temples and other sacred buildings—Nahum strictly complied with the law. Oftentimes his wagon, loaded with pork, grain, and with other fruits of his toil, passed down the road from Hancock County to Nauvoo and in due time he was known and loved by the Prophet Joseph and his associate brethren, among whom was Brigham Young, afterwards the president and leader of the Church.
Of Nahum it was truly said by those over him in authority: "Behold, a good man, in whom there is no guile." His neighbors in Hancock County, most of whom were outside the Church and had a growing hatred and dislike for any and everything called "Mormon," respected and honored this honest man, who never feared man nor failed to fear and reverence his God.
Religious Persecution in Illinois
The hatred and abuse that had followed this community from its earliest organization now began to show itself in the mobocratic spirit, which grew in the hearts of those outside the Church. The persecutions began in the more southerly counties and crept up until it terminated in the murder of the Prophet and the Patriarch. Not content with this diabolical deed, the people of the state arose and demanded the expulsion of the whole people.
Encouraged by the quiescence of the governor (a man by the name of Ford) in their hellish deeds, the mobs would gather and some dark night set fire to the stacks and barns of some unsuspecting Mormon. The Mormon—awaked by the unusual glare—would sometimes rush out and with frantic efforts seek to save his property. Then with deliberate coolness, the men concealed behind trees or bushes and guided by the light of their own incendiarism, would use the persecuted Mormon as a target, filling him full of holes and leaving him at last to gasp out his dying breath in the arms of his wife and little ones. All this while Nahum went quietly about his work. This sort of thing continued for another year. The Prophet was martyred in June 1844, and in that same fall the last child was born to this couple. They named him Joseph Smith [b. July 4, 1844]. He died two years from birth (of that we will speak again).
In the early fall of 1845 all the saints living outside of Nauvoo were advised to move into the city for mutual protection. Consequently Nahum took his family down to Nauvoo. Shortly after, however, President Young made an agreement with the Governor that he would move the people beyond the confines of the state if they could be unmolested until the Spring, in order that proper arrangements could be made for such a gigantic undertaking. Thousands of people were to be moved away from every trace of civilization into the unknown, untrodden wilderness far in the West. Meanwhile, those with homes outside the city were given permission to return and gather in their crops if they themselves felt brave enough to do so. Having a disposition in which the fear of man had never entered, Nahum quietly took his family back to their farm in Hancock County.
Governor Ford promised protection to the Saints and when the state militia were not present, he told President Young to have a militia organized to help themselves. This was accordingly done. It was not long that Nahum was allowed to go on in the peaceful performance of his duties. The plague had settled upon some of the children and at length attacked the father himself. The faithful mother had her hands and heart full going from bed to bed attending to the wants of the sick ones.
The Mob Visits the Bigelow Ranch
One night at about ten o'clock, the door was rudely pushed open and a man, accompanied by nine others, stood within the house. In a harsh, savage voice he burst out, "You'uns most leave here!"
Nahum raised himself on his elbow and answered sharply, "What do you mean?"
"You'uns must leave here," the first man reiterated more fiercely than before.
"What for?" called out the sick man.
"Because we say so," replied the desperado.
"By what authority do you order peaceable citizens to leave their homes and lands which they have paid the government for?"
"By our governor's authority and that of other officers."
"What right has a governor or others to order peaceable citizens to leave their homes and lands in free America?"
At this, one fellow outside the door called out, "Don't stand there a dilly-dallying; take a brand of fire and stick it under the house and rout them out."
The first desperado now began pulling out his huge buckskins and started for the fireplace. The wife and mother, who sat near the fire, reached out and took out the heavy tong, whose knob was as large as a hen's egg, and raising it aloft as he stooped, she looked him squarely in the eyes. Backward went the bully, quelled by the power in the woman's steady blue eyes. "What have we done to you," she hissed out, "that you want to come in here and set our house on fire, with my husband sick?"
Once more the man reached for a brand. "You touch that brand of fire, and I'll hit you over the head." The flash in the eyes showed that she meant what she said. Awed by the courage of the woman, the man retreated and she, seeing her advantage, began reasoning with him. "What do you come here for? We have never hurt you."
"Well, you'uns left here once without orders; now we'll make you leave with orders."
Once more she reasoned with him, and at last, turning to the man without, he said, "We'll postpone this order for three days, and then if they ain't out, we will tumble 'em out and burn them up." To this there came a general assent from the assembled mob. He turned to the family and repeated his threat. As he walked away, the family heard the voice of the neighbor among the mob—one who had always seemed friendly to them—but will not religious hatred make enemies and even murderers of any weak man?
The Call for Help from the Governor
The oldest son, Hirum, was at once dispatched to Nauvoo to get instruction from President Young. He returned with instructions to make out affidavits with names of witnesses added and send them at once to Carthage for military help, which Governor Ford had promised. Little confidence was felt in those promises, but the saints were determined to live up to the law to the very letter and to carry out the Governor's advice in every possible way. President Young told Nahum to use all speed, then if the Governor refused help, "come back to Nauvoo," he said, "and we will send help meanwhile." He added, "Take this pistol to your father, and if he is put in any danger, tell him to defend himself and family with it."
The message and large horse pistol were at once delivered to his father and then the lad set off for Carthage, about thirty-two miles distant, with affidavits properly made out and signed. Arriving at Carthage, Hirum was coldly received and told by the Governor to go to Brigham to get help. "Get some of your Nauvoo militia to help you." He hastened back home to report his failure to Father and Mother, then down to Nauvoo.
A Near-deadly Prank
The evening of the third day came and the family saw the shades of darkness fall around them with hearts full of dread and suspense. The pistol was loaded and near the father's hand. He was determined to do all he could to protect his wife, children, and home. The mother and eldest girl, Mary Jane, sat by the fire watching and listening with their ears to every sound. The rest were in bed, sick or asleep. At length the mother whispered, "Father, I hear horses' hooves coming."
When the muffled sounds became apparent to his own ears, he whispered back, "Listen Mary, and see if you can hear what they say."
"Hark, yes, one of them says, ‘Boyd, you stay here and I'll go see.'"
Then whispered Nahum, "You are quite sure it isn't Hirum with help from Nauvoo?"
"No, no, it's men—strange men. It is the mob, Father, what shall we do?"
For answer, he sprang from his sick bed and grasping his pistol, stood against the door, holding it shut as there was nothing but a rude latch to protect them from violence without.
"Does Mr. Bigelow live here?" asked a stern voice outside.
"Well, I want to see him."
"That's my name," rang out the excited voice of Nahum. Always a loud speaker when excited, his tones were uncommonly clear, high, and piercing. The men at the gate (as was afterwards testified) heard every word Nahum said, but could not catch their leader's tones.
"That's my name," said Nahum, "What do you want?"
"Don't be so particular, but let me in," replied the man without, pushing with all his might against the door and forcing with his superior strength the sick man and his wife back.
Once more Nahum shouted his question, "What do you want?"
"Oh, what's the use in being so particular? Let me in and I'll tell you," he replied, fairly forcing his way into the house.
The sick man stepped quickly back and like a flash, ping! went the report of the pistol. The stranger, only partly in the house, turned with a loud cry and shouted as he ran back to the gate, "come on, boys, I'm shot!"
The mother grabbed the ax. Reaching for his shotgun loaded with number six buckshot, the brave man pulled his gun to his shoulder and shot the retreating form of his supposed enemy. "Hold on," yelled a voice from the outside as the shotgun again came into place and knowing the foolish trick had been carried too far, "We're from Carthage—we've come to protect you. We've come to protect you. We're your friends."
"Good heavens!" ejaculated the father, as the gun fell from his now nerveless grasp, "Why didn't you tell me you were my friends?" And then to the men now crowding into the room, "Why didn't you tell me you were my friends? I'd no more have shot you than I would my wife or children." Great drops of sweat stood upon his forehead, and he trembled with the agony of remorse that came to him with the knowledge of the mistake he had made.
The poor fellow who had carried his ill-timed joke to such a miserable length, staggered into a chair, whispering warily in his pain, "Just see how you've hurt me!"
"Why didn't you tell me you were friends? Man, I would no more have shot you than my wife or family," repeated the sorrow-stricken perpetrator of the deed. One bullet hole in his left breast, and one in his left hip were bleeding profusely. He was at once laid upon a bed, while a doctor was sent for from Carthage.
How the Prank Began
It is necessary now that I shall go back a little and relate what happened outside and why such a silly scare or joke had been attempted on the family. The little party, numbering four men and their leader, Lt. Everett, had been hastily dispatched after the lad Hirum had left Carthage. The cowardice of the Governor suggesting that if he broke his solemn pledge when notified properly as provided by law, in some way he or his position might be liable to summary vengeance. So in all haste he sent the relief squad under Lt. Everett.
Arriving within the neighborhood, some inquiries were made, as it happened, of one of the mobbers themselves, a man by the name of Sam Dixon. Dixon was taken along with the soldiers, either willingly or unwilling. When near the house, the mobber suggested to the soldiers, "Let's have some fun with the old man. We'll give him a good scare. He's expecting the mob, and if we keep quiet, he'll take us for them and be properly scared." For a little support, the suggestion was adopted with the result of which I have told.
As soon as the excitement inside the house had quieted a little, the wounded Lieutenant spoke to Nahum saying, "You need not trouble over this matter, for I will at once make a deposition in writing, telling the whole truth and putting the blame where it belongs."
The Mob Retreats
Just then, one of the family called out, "The mob, the mob! They are surrounding the house! See them moving out at the gate!"
"Boys," called out the wounded leader, "to your arms and do your duty."
Suddenly remembering, old Sam Dixon slipped hurriedly out to relate what protection had been sent to the house and to disband the mob for that night at least. He had forgotten in the general excitement that the signal agreed upon among themselves was to be the firing of a gun. The gun of the brave farmer had done more than heavily punish the maker of a bad and ill-timed jest—it had also sounded the signal for his deadly enemies to assemble and burn his home about his ears. Upon hearing, however, how matters stood in the house, the mob quietly disbanded and dispersed. U.S. soldiers with faithful guns out of every door and window were not the sort of people that mobbers—cowardly, murderous bullies that they were—cared to meet. So, for a while, the household was unmolested by these fiends in human shape.
Nahum Stands Trial at Carthage
Another painful scene of this dreadful affair was yet to be enacted. Nahum, sick and feeble, was obliged to go up to Carthage to "stand trial." True to his word, Lt. Everett made out an affidavit entirely clearing Nahum from any blame. The wounded Lieutenant was left at his homestead, the mother and daughters doing everything in their power to relieve his suffering and pain. A soldier was sent along with Nahum to protect him from the violence of the mob. His faithful wife insisted upon going also, fearing that the life of her husband might be taken on the way to his trial.
In a wagon, on a hastily arranged bed, the intense rays of the midsummer sun pouring down upon his head with no wagon cover (nothing to hide the scorching heat), the sick man was taken by those having part in charge eight or ten miles out of the way, making a long, dreary two days journey of that which might have been accomplished in one day.
As they traveled, word flew abroad that the Mormon who had shot the second officer in the State army was being taken to Carthage. Everywhere cowards gathered about the wagon, swearing, cursing him, threatening, and even demanding his life.
"Let's take the old fellow out and flay him alive," said one man.
"If you take him, you'll have to kill me first," quietly answered the wife.
The soldier who had been sent for protection was a brave and humane man; honor be to his name and memory. His name was Bush. He would reason, argue, and if necessary tell the assembled crowds plainly and roughly, "I've come along here to see justice done by this man and I am going to do it. I'm a soldier of the U.S. Army and if you kill this man, no matter who or what he is, you'll have to trample over my dead body to do it." A judicious fingering of his heavy arms accompanied always this declaration and it had the effect of reducing the clamors to growls of future threats and menaces. This sort of thing was repeated all along the route.
"Let's hang him up to the first tree."
"Tie a stone around his neck and throw him into the river."
Through it all, the wife calmly held her place at the side of her sick husband, silently praying to God, fervently thanking him for raising up so powerful a friend in their sore need as the brave soldier, Bush.
Reaching Carthage, the word was quickly spread that the Mormon was acquitted, the case being quickly disposed of. The affidavit of the wounded man, Everett, entirely cleared Nahum from all blame before even the most vindictive court.
The Mob Returns
The party hurried home and arriving there found the lieutenant removed and the children alone and frightened for the lives of their absent parents. Nahum, well knowing what the darkness of night would bring, hastily gathered all his family together, and taking a few quilts, hurried out in the cornfields. It was already dark and no time was to be lost. Midnight brought the realization of their fears. At the house were seen lights, shots were repeatedly fired, windows were smashed and diligent search was made for fugitives. Great bloodhounds were turned loose to hunt through the fields for their would-be victim.
Down under the corn huddled the family (even the baby), all holding their breath and not daring to move lest their hiding place should be discovered.
"Father," whispered the children, "the dogs are coming down this row. Oh, what shall we do?"
"Lie still and pray," was the quiet, but firm reply.
Their prayers were heard. Neither wicked men nor fierce dogs discovered their retreat and towards morning the sounds ceased and the family felt relieved (for awhile at least).
The condition of their house and premises the next morning convinced Nahum that he must move his family into Nauvoo if he wished to preserve their lives and his own. Fortunately, a man from the city passing their home that morning agreed to take them all down with him.
One other incident which occurred to Nahum in this great blast of persecution which swept over Illinois—blackening her fair fame and sullying her skirts with the innocent blood of men, women, and little children—must be here related, as it was of great effect on the life and health of the father, indeed causing at last his death.
Attempt to Poison the Family
Asa, the second son—a fearless, resolute lad—was sent back to the farm. It was Asa who had saved the lives of the whole family the morning before their departure. It happened in this wise:
Sent down to the spring for water, on their return to the house from their hiding place in the cornfields, he noticed as he stopped to draw the water a green, glistening scum on the top. "If you drink that," something seemed to whisper to him, "you'll all be poisoned." Blowing away the scum he took a portion up to the house, carefully repeating the warning his spirit had seemed to receive. The bucket was hung out of reach, some of the water was bottled to take into town for chemical analysis, and water was obtained from a distant spring for that day. It was proven by analysis, that there was poison enough in that one bucketful of water to have instantly killed the whole family.
The cowards—striking in the dark, as it were at their opponents unsuspecting backs. The boasted land of liberty, where were your upholders then, that such deeds could go unpunished even to this day?
Wolves in Sheep's Clothing
This boy, Asa, was left at the farm to do what he could to gather and save the crops. Recovering his health in part after a week, the father resolved to return to the farm and help the boy. He was warned that there was a dire threat ready to be put into execution should he dare venture away from the safety of the city. Never afraid, he snapped his fingers at the warnings and went back to the farm. No sooner did he make his appearance than he seemed to meet with great kindness everywhere. Evidently this pretended kindness had its desired affect; the farmer was thrown entirely off his guard.
Invited to take breakfast with one Sam Porter, Nahum at once complied and went over to his house. At breakfast Nahum noticed and alluded innocently to the fact of the coffee tasting bitter, but was laughingly assured that the bitterness must be in his own mouth. Immediately after his return to his own house he was seized with a sudden and strange pain. It grew into agony and he was soon conveyed by the boy to Nauvoo. There his distress was beyond description. His screams were heard at a great distance and scarcely could the people about him hold him in his terrible struggles for life and breath.
Medical skill acknowledged itself powerless. Then was called into requisition that wonderful, but little understood power of faith and prayer. Again and again was he administered to by the Elders of the Church and at length the evil was in part rebuked and he began to be more able to endure his suffering. All winter, however, he was very ill and knew that it was God, and the power of God only, which gave him back his life for a little season.
The Journey Westward
The move westward had been decided on by the Church and preparations were being hastily made to get the people away by the coming spring. "Only to get my family moved and to see them settled with the body of the Church, on whatever spot of earth that may prove to be," was the constant, hourly prayer of that suffering martyr the whole of that long, hard, and bitter winter. The coffee offered under the guise of friendship had almost cost him his life and yet how fervently he prayed to have a lease given him to get his family away from mob violence into some untrodden desert where men might fear nothing but the wild beast of the mountain and fear to do wrong or grieve the good Spirit that leads into all peace, all love, and all righteousness. His prayer was again answered.
Asa was left all winter at the farm, answering the rough men who came to the door sometimes with the question, "Ain't you afraid to stay alone?" with "No! What am I afraid of? I've done no one any harm." Sometimes a neighbor's son, Andrew Allen, would come over there to stay with the lad.
In February of 1847 the pioneers (as they were called) left the little settlement called Winter Quarters for the great trackless, unknown country called vaguely "the West." How the people left Nauvoo in the depths of winter, crossing the river on the ice in the month of February! As soon as their leaders were once away, before the last ones had left the town, great bonfires of valuables and furniture were heaped up to the winter sky by the fierce mobbers now in possession of the beautiful city! How scenes of cruelty followed their every movement in the doomed city! And how, wandering wearily and heavily across the muddy bottoms, reaching at length a spot where, worn out with despair and fatigue, their leader halted them, and decided to remain there all winter to rest and recuperate, building houses and forts, cutting the wild luxuriant prairie grass, nestling down like a sudden swarm of bees on a lone and desolate tree, arranging schools and courts, divine services, and even gay festivities! All these things are matters of history and can be read by anyone desiring to know of them for himself.
Nahum found measures to accompany this grand "love" and arriving at the halting place, soon built a comfortable house for his family. It was there that Brigham Young, already with a number of wives, married with little courting the eldest girl of Nahum, Mary Jane, and also with no courting whatever the second girl, Lucy
As before stated, the pioneers came out in 1847. The next summer or spring, as President Young had returned for more of the Saints, he asked to take Lucy to the West. She was allowed to go. The year 1850 saw Nahum being assisted some by the Church with his family—also one or two others, poor and homeless, who seemed thrown on his kindness—en route to the valley. Always charitable, he was generally burdened with some one or two heartsick or poor, who gladly accepted the charity of the family. Arriving in Salt Lake Valley in the fall of 1848 he was advised by President Young to spend the winter in a little town (or rather the nucleus of a town) a few miles north of the city. Accordingly to Farmington went Nahum and family. Mary and Lucy, of course, remained in their husband's family in Salt Lake City.
Asa, the second son, had resolved to get a little schooling for himself if possible. After obtaining permission, he sought and obtained labor to get means for a winter's schooling in the city. It was in the winter of 1851.
Nahum's Last Days
Nahum had never fully recovered from he terrible "kindness" of his neighbor's coffee. One day, suddenly and without the least warning, the same terrible cramps—deepening into deadly agony—that had attacked him in Nauvoo, came upon his weakened frame. Word was at once sent to Asa, also to Mary and Lucy, he requesting them—ask the President to come up once more to bid him goodbye. Aye, goodbye!
He looked on his humble, but secure and moderately comfortable cabin; his wife within the sheltering arms of peace and unity as they existed among the Saints; his children, two of them married to one of the grandest and best men ever sent to earth; and his sons sober, steady, and at work for the common family welfare. All this came up before him and he exclaimed in his heart, "My prayers have been answered. Lo, mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Lord. Now let thy servant depart in peace according to thy word." It was even so, he told them, at the noon hour of that day, "Tomorrow at twelve o'clock I shall die. But oh, how my soul longs to see the face and clasp the hand of the noble Prophet leader, Brigham Young! Do you think he will be here in time?"
There were no telegraph lines—not even mails—in those days, and time went by on slow-moving steady wings, not with the restless beat of hurrying as in these days of steam and electricity. All that day, that night, and the next morning, between the spasms of pain would come the restless questioning, "Do you think he will be here in time?"
The noon hour approached and the fast and faster hurrying breath came short and sharp. Someone watches constantly at the window to answer the ever-recurring question.
"Is he come?" whispers the dying man.
A sorrowful shake of the watcher's head.
At one minute to twelve, only the fast glazing eyes can ask the constant question.
"Yes, Father I see his carriage down the road. He is come, Father!"
A cry that is a groan echoed through the house, for even as one came, behold, the other went away. The long, five-year martyrdom of suffering and pain was over forever. Loving hands and aching hearts did the rest—all that was left to do. And thus in the cemetery at Salt Lake City lies one of the sturdy Bigelow family who died for his family, his religion and his God!
* According to William Snow's diary, his family transferred to Snow/Young company on 11 Aug. 1850.
Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel
Mary Gibbs Bigelow (1809 - 1888)
Hiram Bigelow (1829 - 1916)*
Lucy Bigelow Young (1830 - 1905)*
Asa Elijah Bigelow (1832 - 1911)*
Lovina Bigelow Witt (1834 - 1900)*
Sariah Bigelow Cook (1838 - 1877)*
Daniel Bigelow (1842 - 1921)*
Salt Lake City Cemetery
Salt Lake City
Salt Lake County
Maintained by: SMSmith
Originally Created by: Judie Latshaw Huff
Record added: Aug 14, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 40670462