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 Cynthia <I>Harrington</I> Durfey

Cynthia Harrington Durfey

Shaftsbury, Bennington County, Vermont, USA
Death 2 Nov 1883 (aged 71)
Beaver Dam, Box Elder County, Utah, USA
Burial Providence, Cache County, Utah, USA
Plot A2417
Memorial ID 50148 · View Source
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Cynthia HARRINGTON 1# Married Elias BOWEN on 20 DEC 1829 in Shaftsbury, Bennington County, Vermont, USA.

Cynthia HARRINGTON 2# Married Francillo DURFEY on 04 MAY 1849 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, USA.

Daughter of William Harrington and Elizabeth Hawley
Spouse of Elias Bowen

Cynthia, of Shaftsbury, Vt., b. Nov. 30, 1811; m. Elias Bowen, of Shaftsbury, Vt., Dec. 20, 1829. They were named in her father's will.

The following is an excerpt from a letter from Hubert Bowen, one of the descendants:

"In about July, 1830, they (Cynthia and Elias Bowen), joined the other new church of Jesus Christ, of Latter Day Saints, it being organized 3 months before. A missionary of that church came to the house of Elias' father, James Bowen and wife, Rhoda, and through prayer, restored the sight of Elias' younger brother, born blind and then more than nine years old.

They, Elias and Cynthia, left Vermont,and went west with the Church to Kirtland, Ohio; then to Nauvoo, Illinois, then they started to walk with their young family, their eldest son, Potter then 16 years old and 4 other younger children, about 1600 miles to Utah. When about two days out on the plains from St. Joe, Mo., Elias died, leaving her to come on alone, that is, with the children, in the company of many other Mormons, in that remarkable exodus.

Some years later, on July 9, and 10, 1872, Cynthia (Harrington) Bowen, traveled about 80 miles to Salt Lake City, Utah, and took with her her son, Potter, and went to the Mormon Temple there and made a record of herself and who she was and performed baptism ceremonies for many of her dead relatives. She said she was the daughter of Wm. and Elizabeth Hawley, and the grand-daughter of Paul and Thankful Webster."


Shortened version of the Cynthia Harrington story.

Taken from




by Janis Clark Durfee

See full story attached to Francillo Durfey b: 1812

Cynthia Harrington and Elias Bowen

Somewhere in the thousands of suffering exiles, the family of Elias and Cynthia Harrington Bowen made their way out of Nauvoo and started on the long and miserable trail to Iowa. They also had lost their home and all of their belongings to the mob's burning, and had very little to travel with (Elias Bowen).

This was the third forced exodus for Cynthia and Elias, and the fourth move they had made for the Gospel they had chosen to embrace. Cynthia Harrington had been born in Shaftsbury, Bennington, Vermont, on 30 November 1811. She was the youngest of several children, mostly boys, born to William Harrington and Elizabeth Hawley. Like Francillo, there was a break of several years between her and her siblings (IGI). On 20 December 1829, Cynthia married Elias Bowen, the son of neighbors James and Rhoda Potter Bowen. The couple set up housekeeping in Shaftsbury, a community only about fifty miles from Lincoln where Francillo and Mariam were living. They were also just a short distance from Norwitch, Vermont, where Joseph Smith's parents lived. Their first two sons, Casey Potter and Jonathan Slocum, were born there in the early 1830's (Bowen Family History).

Elias joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on 9 June 1830, about two months after the Church was organized; he was twenty one years old and had been married just eight months. The Bowen Family History indicates that Elias joined the Church in New York. They speculate that the young husband may have gone to New York to obtain work building the canals, and was introduced to the Church there. Cynthia was baptized on 6 July 1834, nearly four years after her husband, but it isn't known if that is her original baptismal date or a rebaptism (Bowen Family). Upon his return to Shaftsbury, Elias became instrumental in helping spread the news of the gospel. A young missionary by the name of Brigham Young "was preaching the Gospel in Vermont and was wearing a quilt or shawl for a cloak. Elias Bowen gave Brigham Young a coat which he wore all the time he was on his mission" (Conversion of Elias Bowen).

Sometime before 1837, the Bowens gathered with the Saints in Ohio, living in Newbury, Ohio, about nine miles from Kirtland. Elias worked with other Church members in the building of the Kirtland Temple. Their son, Joseph Leonard, was born there on 5 July 1837 (Bowen Family History). The Saints were soon driven from Kirtland, seeking refuge with another community of Saints which had been established in Missouri. Cynthia and Elias joined about five hundred other Saints in a "trek that took the entire summer of 1838" (Elias Bowen). Their son, Norman, was born somewhere along the trail, and to their dismay, the young couple realized that their baby was blind. In 1838, the Extermination Order was issued by Governor Boggs, and the family quickly found themselves banished from another home. Their journey from Missouri to Nauvoo was filled with deprivation and hardship, and the Bowens were relieved to find a place of refuge. They built a home, and Elias again helped with the building of the temple. Their only daughter, Rhoda, was born about 1840, and they named her after Elias' mother. Brigham Young, by then President of the Twelve Apostles, had an opportunity to visit with his old friends from Vermont. .

(President Young commented on) "their lovely family and especially mentioning what a handsome boy Norman was. He then asked what was wrong with his eyes, and upon being told that he had been blind since birth, he asked if they would like him to have a blessing. They readily agreed and he lay his hands upon the head of the boy and gave him a wonderful blessing. From that time on he was able to see for the first time in his life" (Bowen Family History, p. 1).

Summer Exodus

As near as can be determined, Cynthia and Elias left Nauvoo during the "Summer Exodus" of about 10,000 Saints. Unlike the Camp of Israel, these people generally traveled in small clusters of wagons made up of groups of relatives or friends. Sometimes there were as few as two wagons, and generally not more than twenty four in each company (Iowa, p. 61). They seemed to just have started west, making their own trails, probably trying to find alternate routes which offered feed for their animals. While most groups went through Iowa, Cynthia and Elias apparently followed the Missouri border across the entire state. They were probably heading for Bank's Ferry above St. Joseph, Missouri, where Brigham Young had originally intended to cross the Missouri River.

Those leaving with the Winter Exodus had struggled through the mud and rain. The resulting puddles and swamps became a breeding ground for swarms of mosquitoes which spread terrible disease throughout the camps of those in the Summer Exodus. About twelve miles west of St. Joseph, nearly at the end of their journey, Elias and some of the children became ill with "the fever." Joseph and Rhoda, just young children, carried water in lard pails from a spring some distance from their camp all one night, so that Cynthia could bathe and put cold packs on the heads of her sick family to break their fever. The children recovered, but Elias became steadily worse. Before morning, he died. His young sons began to prepare his grave. Several hours had elapsed when Elias suddenly awoke, saying that the "Lord has permitted him to stay with them for three more days" (Bowen Family History, Elias Bowen). He told them that "he would like to remain with them through their journey, but he was not permitted to do so, for he was needed on the other side" (Conversion of Elias Bowen). He bore a powerful witness of the truthfulness of the gospel, testifying that it was "as true as the Heavens and Earth stands" (Bowen Family History). He counseled Cynthia not to tell her family about his death. Her family was quite "well to do," [check out Harrington family History in American and England] and he was afraid that her brothers would come to Missouri for her and the children and take them back to Vermont. He was adamant that his children should "be with the body of the Church". One the third day, he died and was buried in the "desert about twelve miles west of St. Joseph, Missouri" (Elias Bowen).

It is a tribute to Cynthia's testimony and strength of character that she followed Elias' counsel, choosing the hardship and trials which were to follow over the comfortable life that must have been waiting in Vermont. The family had very little to live on, nearly all their possessions having been lost in Nauvoo and their food and resources depleted during the hard journey from Illinois. Cynthia found employment on a large ranch near St. Joseph. She cooked for the ranch hands, and the older boys did odd jobs (Elias Bowen).

Francillo and Cynthia

After some time, a company of Saints apparently passed through St. Joseph on their way west. Cynthia made plans to join the group, but she and the children hadn't been able to save sufficient money to make the trek. The kindly rancher for whom- they had been working advanced them the money necessary to pay their way. Jonathan and Casey Potter were old enough to sign on as teamsters. They were finally able to make it to Council Bluffs. Somehow, Cynthia and Francillo met, and they were married there 15 February 1849, possibly by Brigham Young. Several of the histories indicate that they were married in Salt Lake City, but evidence shows that they were married before they left Iowa. It is not known if Francillo and Cynthia knew each other already, but they had a lot in common besides their devotion to the gospel They had both lost their spouses from the persecution, and they shared common roots in Vermont.

Francillo, Cynthia, and their newly combined family made ready to make the move to Utah. They joined the Silas Richards company, the third company to cross the plains that year, leaving Kanesville, Iowa, on 10 July 1849. Augustus A. Farnham was captain of their group of ten. The journey brought more heartache as Cynthia and Elias' only daughter, Rhoda, died during the crossing, and was buried in an unmarked grave somewhere along the trail. Cynthia and all of her children except Rhoda are listed on the camp roster under the Durfey surname, apparently for ease in keeping track of the members of the company. The boys all resumed the use of the Bowen name as soon as they arrived in Utah. Francillo's two little girls, Emma and Marion (written as Moroni) are also listed with Francillo's family group, but his sons, Myron Bushnell, Henry Dennison, and James Madison are not listed with the company. The roster may not have been complete, or the boys may have come across the plains with other members of the family or as teamsters. The company "split up and traveled mostly as Tens" after it overtook the George A. Smith Company. The "Tens" arrived in Salt Lake the middle of October 1849 (History, Iowa). Francillo and Cynthia immediately traveled on to Ogden to make their home. Several circumstances suggest that Francillo may have prearranged with his friend, Captain James Brown of the Mormon Battalion, to settle there.

Immediately upon his return from Council Bluffs in the fall of 1849, Francillo and Cynthia joined James in the Weber Valley. David Moore, George and Frederick Barker, and Robert Porter and their families came as well, "making some twenty-three persons in all," A few more settlers came in November (David Moore, Ogden).

The winter of 1849-50 was severe with deep snow. Several head of cattle and sheep died during the winter. On 1 February 1850, a son, Francillo Jr., was born to Francillo and Cynthia.

Francillo Jr.'s daughter related:

I have heard my father say if he had been born the night before there would not have been enough grease in the house to make a light. But the day he was born, Francillo killed a deer up in the foothills, and grandmother rendered the grease; by

braiding a rag and dipping it in the grease, she made a light by which he was born that evening (Marble).

Tragedy struck the family in 1853. Cynthia's fifteen year old son, Norman Bowen, and another young man had signed on a cattle drive from Salt Lake to California.

...Somewhere in the Nevada desert, they were not needed any more and were dismissed. They started to return home and somehow became lost, and because they were starving, they ate some red berries and became very sick. The friend threw up what he had eaten, but Norman was not so lucky. He is supposed to have died there on the desert in Nevada. Someone came along and picked up the other fellow and brought him back to Utah. He then told this story to Norman's mother. Some of the family believed that Norman didn't die but went onto California, but...Grandma and Grandpa (Cynthia and Francillo) did not believe this, they believed the young man had told Grandma the truth (Bowen Family History, attached to Clark Simmons Bowen).

Cache Valley

In 1856, twenty five settlers had entered the Cache Valley, establishing Maughan's Fort (now Wellsville),the first permanent settlement in the valley. The next spring, an exploration party from the North Ogden area stopped at Maughan's Fort. They and several of their neighbors were feeling that the Weber valley was becoming "overcrowded" and were hoping to move to the northern mountain valley in search of a better home. The explorers returned home with glowing reports of the land nestled in the foothills of the northeastern mountains, and many of the North Ogden residents began to make plans to make the move. Their plans were cut short as news reached Utah of the approach of Johnston's Army and the Saints abandoned the northern settlements. Upon their return to North Ogden, Francillo and Cynthia joined their neighbors in gathering food, seeds, animals, and equipment for their move to Cache Valley. In May of 1859, they reached their new home. They stayed the first night at Maughn's Fort, then journeyed across the valley to a nice spring on the eastern foothills (Bowen Family History, p.2 attached to Clark Simmons Bowen). Jonathan [Slokum] and his wife, Joseph [Leonard] and [Casey] Potter Bowen were also among the company (Providence). Henry Dennison and Jane moved there the next year (Henry Dennison).

The new settlement which the pioneers named Spring Creek grew quickly. Several of the citizens were so excited about their new home that they returned to Salt Lake City to meet incoming wagon trains, encouraging many of their immigrating countrymen to continue on to Spring Creek. In November, Apostle Orson Hyde and Ezra T. Benson visited the Cache Valley which now boasted several new settlements. They organized a ward in Spring Creek, calling a bishop to replace the presiding elder who had been officiating. Orson Hyde looked over the beautiful valley, and noting the progress made by the settlers in just a few short months, suggested that the name "Spring Creek" was "too common and undignified" for such a "providential and lovely" community, and suggest that the town be named "Providence" (Providence, p. 33-34).

The first year was full of challenges for the new settlers. The families lived in their wagon boxes until log homes with dirt roofs or dugouts could be constructed. Following Brigham Young's counsel, they built their homes close together for protection and social structure and marked their streets in the typical Mormon blocks. A fort was begun, but never finished, since the threat of Indian attack became remote. A log school and church house were soon completed. Gardens and "limited patches of potatoes, turnips, corn, wheat, sugar cane, peas and beans" were planted, but there wasn't a lot of food for the coming year.

The women hated to build fires every morning, so they would look out the door upon arising, noticing whose chimney was smoking, and hurry down the street to borrow a starting of fire.

By Spring of 1860, few families, if any, had enough food to satisfy their hunger. The main diet in all of the homes was corn mush, supplemented by thistles, sego bulbs, and bread roots, gathered by the women and children in the meadows and on the hillsides, where they grew plentifully. Flour was almost a luxury, not only because of the scarcity of wheat, but also because of the lack of milling facilities (Providence, p. 23).

Francillo, who had been a hunter both as a boy and on the Battalion march, probably kept his family in meat whenever possible.

Beaver Dam

Within a few years, Francillo began to expand his cattle herd into the Beaver Dam area in the northwestern part of the valley where there was ample feed to be found on the low rolling hills. Francillo and Cynthia's children were all married and in need of land and a home. Most of the land in Cache Valley had already been taken up, so the family decided that the beautiful little valley with its creek and lush mountain grass would make a good home. In the spring of 1868, Francillo and Cynthia and their married children, Henry Dennison, Casey Potter Bowen, and Joseph L. Bowen, made the move. Crandel Dunn and Henry Miller, neighbors in Providence, moved with them. "They enclosed a small field containing approximately seventy two acres and then proceeded to make a ditch in which to carry water to their land for irrigation purposes. The water was taken out of Bear Creek which wended its way through the flat" (History of Box Elder County). Francillo had two busy years building up his new community; it was at least the seventh time that he had carved a homestead out of the wilderness. Then, in 1870, he suffered what seems to have been a stroke.


Cynthia Durfey Earl, Francillo Jr.'s daughter, recorded the events surrounding Francillo's death.

He sent for father (Francillo Jr.) and asks him if he would move over to Beaver Dam with his mother and take care of her as she was getting old. This father did, grandfather petitioned the Lord to grant him one more year of life and was granted just exactly one year to the day and hour. The morning of February 15, 1871 father took the team of oxen and went over on the Logan River to get willows to build a fence to keep the oxen out of the corn. Wire or boards were not available in those days. He had chopped about half a load of willows when he said an awful feeling came over him and he started to cry. He had a strong feeling something was wrong at home. When the strength came back to his body, he washed his face in the river and was preparing to go home when his brother came on horseback and said grandfather had passed away with a heart attack. Father and grandfather were so close that father said he was sure his father's spirit had come to him as soon as he died, and that was why he knew something was wrong at home (Francillo Jr., p. 2).

Francillo was buried in the cemetery in Providence, Utah. His grave, on the northwestern edge of the cemetery, is marked by a small modern gray tombstone and a Mormon Battalion plaque. His obituary was printed in the Deseret Weekly News:

At Beaver Dam, Bear River North: Box Elder county, Feb. 17, 1871 of paralysis, Francillo Durfey, aged 58 years and 9 months. Deceased was born in the town of Addison, Lincoln, Vermont, May 17th 1812. He received the gospel in January, 1840, and gathered with the Saints to Nauvoo in the Fall of 1842. In the winter and early part of 1846, his lot was cast with the first camp of Zion, while struggling through the wilds of Iowa, seeking an asylum in the West. He arrived at Council Bluffs that Spring; then joined the Mormon Battalion and went as far as Pueblo, and staid to take care of the sick. From there he returned and met the Pioneers on Grand River, and traveled with them to Salt Lake Valley. In the fall he returned with Pres. B. Young to Council Bluffs; he arrived again in Salt Lake Valley with his family in 1849. He settled at Ogden, and remained till he was called on a mission to Salmon River, where he remained till the mission was broken up. From there he went to Cache County to live, and was one of its earliest settlers. In all the trials and difficulties that he underwent with the people of God, his integrity to the cause did not in the least abate. Many times he made the Saints rejoice and lift up their heads when he bore his testimony to the truth. He has gone to receive the reward of his labors. He leaves a large family to mourn his loss (The Deseret Weekly News, Vol. 20, p. 7).

Several members of the family besides Francillo Jr. lived in Beaver Dam at some point. Cynthia gave Joseph "six acres and 12 hours of water" to get him to move close to her (Bowen, p. 3). Some of Francillo's older sons also lived there for a time. After Francillo's death, his nephew, Jarvis Johnson, left his carpentry business in Brigham City and moved to Beaver Dam. He died soon after, leaving a young family, so may have moved there so that his widow would have family nearby.

Beaver Dam continued to grow. The settlers found that the side hills and rolling plains were ideal for dry farming. In the early 1870's, the Utah Northern Railroad Company established a station on the hill just south of Beaver Ward connecting the settlement with Salt Lake Valley on the west and south and Cache Valley on the east and north, bringing even more settlers.

Francillo Jr. and his wife Margaret must have moved into Francillo's home as they cared for Cynthia, but the arrangements were hard on everyone involved. Francillo Jr.'s mother and young wife "were so much alike in disposition and so far apart in years, both wanting to be boss that (Francillo Jr.) was continually between the two acting as peacemaker" (Marble). Within a few months, a baby girl was born to Francillo Jr. and Margaret. Two weeks later, Margaret caught pneumonia and died, leaving the sixty year old grandmother to care for the tiny baby, Maggie. Francillo Jr. remarried some time later. His new wife, Sara Findley, was mild and soft spoken. She and Cynthia got along very well. A daughter, Ida, was shortly born to Francillo Jr. and Sara, but the child lived only a year, dying of scarlet fever. Little Maggie survived the scarlet fever, but died three weeks later from:"membraneous croup" (Marble).

Family Members





  • Maintained by: Our Family History
  • Originally Created by: Utah State Historical Society
  • Added: 2 Feb 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 50148
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Cynthia Harrington Durfey (30 Nov 1811–2 Nov 1883), Find A Grave Memorial no. 50148, citing Providence City Cemetery, Providence, Cache County, Utah, USA ; Maintained by Our Family History (contributor 47719401) .