Edward Hunter (1821)

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Question: What position did Edward Hunter (1821) hold in the Nauvoo Legion in Nauvoo?

Answer: Edward Hunter was the son of William Hunter and Sarah Davis, both being Quakers. He was born March 29, 1821, at Newton Square, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. He was named after his grandfather and his uncle Edward, William’s brother. As a young man, Edward went to live with his Uncle Edward in Newton.

When Mormon missionaries came to Newtown Square, young Edward accepted their message and was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in June, 1840, by Elder Lorenzo D. Barnes. Less then a year later, in the spring of 1841, he went to Nauvoo. His Uncle Edward had joined the Church also and would soon meet him in Nauvoo.

At 19, Edward was excited about the prospects of joining a militia. As soon as the new city of Nauvoo had been granted a charter from the Illinois government giving it the right to establish a local militia, the Nauvoo Legion was created. Joseph Smith was made the Lieutenant General. On September 9, 1841, Governor Thomas Carlin of Illinois commissioned Edward as Herald and Armor Bearer to the Lieutenant-General of the Legion, Joseph Smith.

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Edward had arrived in Nauvoo just three months after the creation of the Legion and was amazed to find it already boasted 700 members. A year later, it had from 6 companies to 26 companies, and by the end of 1843 the Nauvoo Legion came to be the largest trained military unit in the United States, second only to the United States Army. It numbered 5,000 men. The Nauvoo Legion gathered for show quite often. Usually there was a mock battle between two companies in the Legion. A customary event was a speech by the Lieutenant-General Joseph Smith, and occasionally a speech was made by some distinguished visitors.

Edward wrote a letter to his uncle which give more information as to life in early Nauvoo. At this time he was living with friends, just across the Mississippi River in Iowa. Edward wrote to his uncle, “Things go on pretty well with the temple, and the Nauvoo house is going slowly. They are now engaged in getting stone. I don’t expect I shall be able to do much ‘till spring.”

In the family Edward was staying with, there is a lovely young woman by the name of Mary Ann Whitesides, the daughter of James Whitesides and Penninah Evans. She was born December 15, 1825 at West Vincent, Chester County, Pennsylvania. It is interesting to note here that Mary Ann had been given a Book of Mormon by Hyrum Smith as a token of their friendship, before she met Edward. After two years, a wedding was planned and on November 18, 1843, Edward and Mary Ann were married by their good friend, Hyrum Smith. Less than a year later that they were blessed with their first child, a darling little girl, born October 29, 1844 in Nauvoo, whom they named Sarah Ann.

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Life was good in those early days of Nauvoo. In 1843, Edward’s aunt and uncle, (Bishop) Edward and Ann also moved to Nauvoo, and the two families continued their relationship there. Young Edward and his new wife, Mary Ann, enjoyed their life with the Saints and looked forward with faith to the future. In 1844, after the Prophet Joseph and Hyrum were martyred, the Saints finished their beloved Temple, and due to the intense persecution, had to leave Nauvoo. Most ended up at Winter Quarters or Council Bluffs, including Edward and Mary Ann.

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When the call came from the Federal Government in June of 1846 for a battalion of infantry to serve in the war with Mexico, the Saints forgot the refusal of the government to protect them, and at the call of President Brigham Young, they responded. Among the first to come forward and volunteer was young Edward Hunter. He left his wife and young daughter Sarah Ann, without a home or income, to the care of his Heavenly Father and his Uncle Edward. He was mustered in at Council Bluffs, Iowa, July 16, 1846, as member of Company B of the Mormon Battalion.

Edward was stationed at San Diego, from March 15, 1847 to July 9, 1847, when the Company took up the march to Los Angeles, where they arrived on July 15, being mustered out with the rest of the battalion on the following day. After his discharge from the battalion, he started on his return east, and on arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, October 16, 1847, he found his wife and child, whom he had left the year before at Council Bluffs. His wife and daughter had crossed the plains in the care of his Uncle Edward, in the summer of 1847, with the Edward Hunter/Jacob Foutz Company.

Edward lived in the Great Salt Lake City for about four years, then moved to Kaysville. At Kaysville, on March 30, 1856, he married, in polygamy, Martha Ann Hyde. She was born March 20, 1841, in Adams County, Illinois. She came to Utah with her parents in 1849.

In 1858 when Johnson’s Army was ordered to Utah to establish an army post, the Saints of the northern settlements and Salt Lake City, as well as nearby towns, were ordered by Brigham Young to leave their homes and property. They made camp at what is now known as Fairfield, but called by the Army, Camp Floyd. Edward and his family moved to Payson, but when it was found that the army had fulfilled the conditions of the Peace Treaty, the Saints returned to their homes.

Grantsville First Ward Meetinghouse

Grantsville First Ward Meetinghouse

Edward Hunter decided to settle in Grantsville, having met some people from there who had given him glowing accounts of the advantages of stock raising. He built the first brick house in Grantsville from brick which was made there.

Edward was a member of the City Council of Grantsville from June 22, 1867 to August 14, 1869 and later was Mayor. He was sustained as Bishop of the Grantsville Ward and set apart June 25, 1877 by President John Taylor, and he held that position until he came in conflict with the Federal Authorities for non-compliance with the Edmunds-Tucker law and was compelled to go to California for a while.

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Edward was a quiet unassuming man, a farmer and stock raiser and took great pride in his work. Bishop Hunter died April 11, 1892 and is buried in the Grantsville Cemetery.

Source: Excerpts from “A Biography of Edward Hunter,” FamilySearch.org; FindAGrave.com