Rufus Allen

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Question: What was Rufus Allen’s job in Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company in the summer of 1847?

Answer: Rufus Allen was born on 22 March 1814 at Litchfield, Connecticut. He was the sixth child of a family of seven children and the third son of Gideon Allen and Rachel Hand.

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In about 1820, the Allen family moved to Hartwick, New York. Not much is known of their early life in Connecticut or New York. All of the family were early converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the summer of 1835. Rufus Allen, at age 21, was baptized in July 1835 and confirmed by Moses Martin. His mother and father were baptized 25 July 1836. The family suffered the persecution of the mobs, and migrated with the saints from place to place as they were driven about from Kirtland, Ohio to Far West, Missouri to Nauvoo, Illinois. Rufus worked on the Kirtland Temple while living there.

While at Nauvoo, Rufus’ sister, Electra, died. His oldest brother, Nelson, died 12 October 1846. In spite of these sorrows and the persecutions of the mobs, the Allen family stayed faithful and true to their belief.

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“Rufus was among the first to cut stone for the Nauvoo Temple and continued until the close.” (From William Clayton journal, Journal history 31 Dec 1844) He was endowed in the Nauvoo Temple in January 1846.

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In 1844 Rufus married Asseneth Pamelia Ford. They had three children in Nauvoo, but two died. Their last daughter, Anna Louisa was born in Nauvoo in October 1844. Her death notice states that “when two years of age, she lay with her mother for six weeks on the banks of the river, with only the canopy of heaven for a shelter.” They then left Nauvoo and moved to Winter Quarters.

When the saints decided to move westward across the great plains, Rufus was chosen as one of the valiant and able-bodied men to go with Brigham Young’s original band of pioneers. Much preparation was necessary for the journey, such as getting horses, oxen, wagons, ammunition, firearms, food, seeds, tools, etc. Rufus helped with the assembling of a cannon that was taken with them.

Brigham Young’s original vanguard band of pioneers left Winter Quarters in April 1847. There were about 148 souls in the company. Fourteen companies were organized into groups of ten with a captain over each. Rufus was with the eighth group and was a camp guard whose duties were to watch for attacking Indians and wild animals.

When they camped at night, some of the men would go fishing or into the canyons to hunt for wild game. They depended a great deal on the deer, antelope, buffalo, and fish for their food.

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They held sacrament and prayer meetings and council meetings regularly. Although there was some sickness, everyone survived the trek. This main group of pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on 24 July 1847. Rufus and the others began to clear the ground, till the soil and plant the seeds which they brought with them.

In August 1847, Brigham Young and some of the men went back to Winter Quarters to bring more of the saints west. Rufus was one of these who went back to bring his mother and father and other family members. Rufus and his family and parents and siblings came to the Salt Lake Valley, arriving 20 September 1848 with the Brigham Young Company.

Rufus and his father and mother settled around Ogden in Weber County, Utah. His sister, Lucy, married Daniel Hendrix and went to St. George in Washington County, Utah. Marcia, who married Albern Allen, settled in Kanarraville, Iron County, Utah and his brother Philo settled in Escalante, Garfield County, Utah.

Sometime before 1853, Rufus Allen was one of the first to build a permanent home in Riverdale, Weber County, Utah. During the early period of Riverdale's history, it was a part of Ogden 2nd Ward. On 7 June 1857, the 53rd and 54th Quorums of Seventies were organized at Ogden by Joseph Young and Albert P. Rockwood. Rufus Allen and James Brown were the Senior Presidents.

On 10 January 1861, Rufus' father, Gideon, died at the age of 86 and was laid to rest in the Ogden City Cemetery. On 3 June 1861, Rufus married Mary Phelps Stonebreaker, who had four young children. They were married by Albern Allen. Rufus' mother, Rachel Hand Allen, died on 28 September 1863 and was buried beside her husband.

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Rufus was active in the Church, and after the St. George Temple was dedicated and ready for use, he went to St. George sometime in 1883 and stayed with Lucy, his sister, and they did temple work. Again in the winter of 1886 and 1887, he went to St. George and did temple work. He returned home in the late spring. He became ill soon after returning home. He died 4 December 1887 and was buried in the Ogden City Cemetery beside his father and mother and other members of his family.

Source: Excerpts from a biography written by Edna Allen Melle - 25 April 1962, “Biography of Rufus Allen,” FamilySearch.org; FindAGrave.com