Question: How old was Benjamin Franklin Dewey when he went to the Salt Lake Valley with Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company in 1847?
Answer: Benjamin Franklin Dewey was born in Westfield, Massachusetts, May 5, 1829, the son of Ashbel and Harriet Adams Dewey. In 1843, his parents joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the children were baptized as they became of age.
In the spring of 1846 the family moved to Nauvoo and then took up the line of march with the Nauvoo exiles to Winter Quarters, Nebraska. During the time they lived there, Ashbel, the father, passed away on October 6, 1846.
Benjamin came in to the Salt Lake Valley with Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company, as a young man only seventeen years of age, on July 24, 1847. Members of this company left Winter Quarters as early as April 5th to join with the larger group. Everyone gathered to a place about 20 miles from Winter Quarters on the banks of the Platte River. There they worked repairing wagons, organizing supplies, and chopping firewood. It wasn't until the 16th of April that the company was officially organized into the hundreds, fifties, and tens, with captains appointed and they started on their way.
Once organized, this Vanguard Pioneer Company consisted of 142 men, 3 women, 2 children, and 72 wagons. They traveled 1031 miles before reaching their destination. Some members of the company traveled ahead and arrived in the Salt Lake Valley as early as the July 21, 1847. By the 24th of July, the entire company had arrived.
Shortly after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, Benjamin was sent to California, with a group of other men, where he engaged in gold mining. Two years later, he returned to Salt Lake City in the Amasa M. Lyman Company. Thirty-four men traveled in this company from Sacramento, California. They crossed the Sierra Mountains to Carson Valley, then followed the north route taken by many coming in search of gold in California, to Salt Lake City.
Benjamin’s mother and two brothers, Albert Charles and John Henry, and sister, Maria Lucy and her husband, came to Utah on September 25, 1847, in the George B. Wallace Company.
In 1855 Benjamin was called by President Young to go to California to help colonize San Bernardino. Sometime after laboring there, he met Susan Elzira Smithson, who was also an 1847 pioneer. They were married, and six children came to bless this union, two boys and four girls. However, the marriage proved to be an unhappy one, and Benjamin returned to Salt Lake City.
Benjamin was a fine carpenter and assisted in the building of the Salt Lake Temple and the Tabernacle. In 1869 he married Disey Paralee Russell. Two children were born to them. At that time he owned a home in the Eighth Ward Square in Salt Lake.
In 1885, when Benjamin was fifty-six years of age, he moved to Arizona. He died February 23, 1904, at Chloride, Mohave, Arizona at the age of seventy-five years, and was buried in the Mountain View Cemetery in Kingman, Arizona.
Source: Taken from “Utah, Our Pioneer Heritage” as found on Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org; FindAGrave.com; Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel site.