Daniel Browett

Tragedy Springs Memorial.jpg

Question: What happened to Daniel Browett after he joined the Mormon Battalion?

Answer: Daniel Browett was born 18 December 1810 in the market town of Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, England, the first of six children of Thomas Browett, Jr. and Martha Pulham. Tewkesbury was the home of the Browetts for three generations before Daniel's birth. Daniel's father died when Daniel was only nine years of age and Daniel was subsequently apprenticed as a carpenter, joiner and cooper.

Daniel married Elizabeth Harris of Deerhurst on 2 January 1834. Daniel and Elizabeth joined a small independent church called the United Brethren and both became lay preachers in the Bran Green and Gadfield Elm branch of the Fromes Hill Circuit of that church. They were active in that church work when they met Wilford Woodruff, an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They were converted and baptized by Elder Woodruff. Daniel and Elizabeth were baptized on the same day, 24 March 1840 at the Hill Farm, occupied by John Benbow.

Wilford Woodruff 2.jpg

Wilford Woodruff made the following entry in his diary about the Browetts: March 24, 1840.

"A preacher called upon me and after I conversed with him awhile he requested baptism at my hands. I changed by clothing and as I got ready to go to the pool, three other preachers rode up in a gig or chariot to see me. The fame had gone out into all the country of the speedy work that God was performing. They had not heard me preach or any other Latter-day Saint, but had come more than 20 miles to see me. They came down out of the gig and walked to where I was. Notwithstanding they were preachers I stood up and boldly declared until them Jesus and testified unto them of the great work of God in these last days and the power of God rested on us...and went down into the water at the same hour and I baptized them and laid my hands upon them that they might receive the Holy Ghost..."

It appears the first preacher mentioned by Elder Woodruff was William Jenkins and the other three preachers who arrived in the gig were Daniel and Elizabeth Browett and John Gailey. Until his emigration to Nauvoo eleven months later, on 16 February 1841, Daniel was one of the pillars of the United Brethren in the Malvern Hills area. He and his wife had no children so they were free to devote their time to the building of the kingdom.

Elder Woodruff stayed in the Browett home in The Leigh on April 2nd, 5th, 7th and again on the 18th of May. Daniel was ordained an elder by Wilford Woodruff, Willard Richards and Brigham Young on 18 May 1840. Daniel was one of the first to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood in that area. At the first conference held there, on 14 June 1840, in the Gadfield Elm chapel, Daniel was chosen clerk of the conference. He was also chosen to represent the newly formed Bran Green and Gadfield Elm conference at the conference held in Manchester a month later, on July 6th. Therefore Daniel compiled the minutes that are recorded in the diary of Elder Woodruff and sent to the Prophet Joseph Smith as recorded in the History of the Church.

Daniel is mentioned as one of five brethren who assisted in proselyting and baptizing in the Malvern Hills area as companions to Wilford Woodruff, 1 August 1840. Daniel Browett was set apart by Brigham Young, John Taylor and Willard Richards on 11 February 1841 to "take charge of a company of Saints, about to sail for New Orleans on the Ship Echo.” Daniel was also appointed clerk and historian of the company. Echo left Liverpool on 16 February 1841 with 109 Saints aboard, and arrived in New Orleans on April 16. From there they took a steamer to Nauvoo. Daniel's wife, Elizabeth, his mother, Martha Pulham Browett, and his sister, Martha Rebecca Browett, accompanied him to America.

Winter Quarers Monument.jpg

In Nauvoo, the Browetts belonged to the Third Ward. Daniel received his patriarchal blessing from Hyrum Smith on 13 September 1841. In 1842, Daniel took a plural wife, the former Harriet Barnes Clifford, a widow who was a native of Sandhurst, Gloucestershire, England. Daniel and Elizabeth had only one child, Moroni, who was born 12 September 1845 in Nauvoo, but died at Winter Quarters on 25 November 1846 of a canker.

Mormon Battalion.jpg

After arriving in Council Bluffs the next year, Daniel enlisted in the Mormon Battalion on 16 July 1846. Elizabeth stayed in Winter Quarters. Daniel was discharged from the Battalion a year later, in California. He stayed a few months in California, employed by John A Sutter to assist in building a mill, near Coloma, where gold was discovered. In June 1848, Daniel was selected to lead the remaining Mormon soldiers back to the Salt Lake Valley. While blazing a new road over the Sierra Mountains, with Ezra Allen and Henderson Cox, it is believed he was ambushed and killed by Native Americans in a place now known as Tragedy Springs.

Record of the Mormon Battalion:

Thurs., July 6, Sly Park. There was great concern about the three scouts who had not returned. Ten days before three scouts--Browett, Allen, and Cox--went ahead to find a route through the mountains. A party of ten left in the morning to see if they could locate the three missing men.

Wed., July 19, Leek Springs. The entire company left Leek Springs Travel was slow with hard, heavy pulling and pushing due to rocks and a steep grade. They traveled only six miles until they reached the grave. When they arrived, the grave was the center of attention as there was evidence of a terrible struggle. Tools were taken at once from the wagons and the grave was opened. it was a shocking sight. There lay the three brethren brutally murdered...Their animals, supplies, and guns were gone.

Tragedy Springs gravestone.jpg

Thurs., July 20, Tragedy Springs. Three of the tens went through the timber in different directions to see if there were any Indians and to drive the horses and cattle together. The fourth ten stayed in camp, repaired wagons, and made a new grave for their fallen comrades. They dug a deeper grave and then built a wall of rocks about three feet high and about eight feet square around it. Then they filled in the center with dirt up to the top of the wall. The grave was covered with more rocks. Finally, after searching, a rock rounded on one end was placed upright at the top of the grave as a headstone, "We fixed the grave as well as we could. It was a solemn time when it was ascertained that these men had been murdered...It was a time of solemnity and mourning to think that the man that was to be our Leader [Daniel Browett] to Salt Lake was now lying dead. He was like a father to me, and we mourn his loss" (Jonathan Holmes).

Nearby was a tall fir about three and one-half feet in diameter. Wilford Hudson took his ax and chopped the bark away on one side. Then he carved the names of the three men on the bare tree: "To the Memory of Daniel Browett, Ezra H. Allen, Henderson Cox, who was supposed to have been murdered and buried by Indians on the night of the 27th June 1848."

Elizabeth settled in Kaysville, Utah, to be near her brother, Robert Harris. She eventually married for a second time, to William James Johnston, a veteran of the Battalion. They separated after a few years. She died in Kaysville on 4 March 1899 and is buried in Kaysville next to Robert.

Source: “Life History of Daniel Browett,” by V. Ben Bloxham, FamilySearch.org; Excerpts taken from the book The Mormon Battalion, U.S. Army of the West, 1846-1848 written by Norma Baldwin Ricketts.