Horace Datus Ensign, Jr.

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Question: What was Horace Datus Ensign, Jr.’s position in Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company to the Salt Lake Valley in 1847?

Answer: Horace Datus Ensign, Jr., was born August 8, 1826, in Westfield, Hampden, Massachusetts, the oldest son of Horace Datus Ensign Sr. and Mary Bronson. Horace Ensign Sr. and his five sons of Westfield, Massachusetts, were all carpenters. Horace Sr.’s father, Isaac, served in the Revolutionary War in Captain John Kellogg’s Company in 1778. Horace Sr. owned a lumber mill and box factory on Little River near Springfield, Massachusetts.

The family all joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1843. Horace Datus Ensign Sr.’s son records: “My parents received the gospel in 1843. Edwin S. Woolley being the first Elder that brought the gospel. Father went to hear him through curiosity, and was convinced the first sermon he heard. He invited him to Little River to lunch and Mother (Mary Bronson) was converted also, and many others, and a branch was organized.” The family arrived in Nauvoo May of 1846 and were there a few weeks before joining the exodus across Iowa to Council Bluffs.”

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They arrived at Winter Quarters in 1846 where they built a fine home, with a living room large enough in which to hold public meetings. The father, Horace Sr., died of malaria that winter in September 1846, leaving his wife, Mary, with five sons and one daughter.

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Mary Bronson Ensign (Mother)

Mary Bronson Ensign (Mother)

Horace Jr. was called in the spring of 1847 to join Brigham Young's Vanguard Company of pioneers, and he was assigned to the Seventh company of ten with James Case as captain. He was an advanced scout for Brigham Young when the band entered the valley in July 1847. Horace Jr. helped plow the ground and plant crops. On August 26, when Brigham Young returned to Winter Quarters, Horace Jr. accompanied him as far as the Big Sandy where he met his mother and other family members in Daniel Spencer's Company. With them he returned to the Salt Lake Valley, arriving September 22, 1847.

Horace Jr. went to Ogden in the fall of 1847, and early in the spring of 1848, he worked with Captain Brown and his sons in repairing the Goodyear Fort in readiness for the first settlers. He was a very fine carpenter building houses, furniture, looms, barrels, and other useful items. He returned to Salt Lake to spend part of the winter with his mother and brothers.

In the early spring he was recalled to Ogden to assist Captain Brown and his sons in preparing a place for the Saints who were then on the plains. He settled just south of Goodyear Fort on the Weber River, but because of the overflow of water in the early spring, he moved to higher ground and later built a log house on the present site of Carnegie Library in Ogden. When the Church authorities decided to include this land in the public park, Horace was given another city lot in exchange for his property. There he built a home and there he resided until his death.

Horace Jr. married Eliza Jane Stewart on January 1, 1850, in Ogden, Utah. They had six children. Horace Jr. took an active part in the Echo Canyon War in 1857-58. In 1863, he went back to Omaha in Captain Thomas E. Ricks’ Company, at which time he contracted rheumatism, from which he suffered greatly.

Later, while assisting to build a house in Ogden, Horace Jr. met with an accident which developed into a hip disease. He was an invalid for two years, and died at age forty on September 1, 1866 in Ogden. He is buried in an unknown grave in the Ogden City Cemetery. Horace Jr.’s mother died in 1888, and is buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery. All five of her sons lived to marry and raise families in Utah.

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A short time before his death Horace Jr. built a loom for his wife, Eliza Jane. After she was widowed, she made the greater part of her living on it for herself, her three sons and three daughters. Eliza Jane, died July 21, 1909, and is buried in the Ogden City Cemetery.

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Tale of the Ensigns’ Kettle

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The big black kettle would have many a story to tell if it could, because it swung beneath the wagon of Mary Bronson Ensign, as she made their way across the plains from Nauvoo to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake. Horace Sr. and Mary acquired it as they made preparations to join the Saints at Winter Quarters. Horace Sr. died at Winter Quarters, but Mary brought the kettle with her across the plains. The kettle was used extensively in the making of soups, stews, buffalo roasts, baking biscuits and sour dough bread. No doubt this kettle played a big part on the journey as they circled their wagons for the night, and Mary prepared their food over the camp fires.

Source: Excerpts from “Horace Datus Ensign, Jr.,” FamilySearch.org; “Ensign Family Kettle,” by Patricia Ensign Richards, FamilySearch.org; FindAGrave.com