Question: What instrument did Appleton Milo Harmon make that aided the Saints in their travel to the Salt Lake Valley in 1847?
Answer: "I, Appleton Milo Harmon, son of Jesse Perce Harmon and Anna [Barnes]...was born May the 29th, 1820 in the Township of Conneaut, Erie County, State of Pennsylvania. I lived in the vicinity until I heard the Gospel preached by Orson Hyde one of the Twelve Apostles, and my mother was baptized May 29, 1833. My father, Jesse P. Harmon and Ancil Harmon, [my brother] composed our family.
“My father and family moved to Kirtland, Ohio in the Autumn of 1837 where my father's sister and brother Amos were baptized in the spring of 1838. We all moved to Springfield state of Illinois in November of the same year and from there to Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois in October 1840. Remained there through the winter, and I was baptized on April the 11th, 1841 by William Smith, one of the Twelve. I started on a mission to the State of New York in company with Joseph Mecham on the 10 of October 1842...I was ordained an Elder in April 1842 by Willard Richards, one of the Twelve...
“By the 16 August 1843 we had succeeded in baptizing 52, and got a company of over forty organized and started by land for Nauvoo...arrived with our company at Nauvoo, Hancock, Ill. on the 10th of October, one year from the time I started and felt quite satisfied with the manner in which I had spent the year.
“The winter of 43 and 44, I spent in Nauvoo enjoying the refreshing teachings from the lips of President Joseph Smith and Hyrum...Accordingly our old enemies renewed the attack and new ones joined in the persecution...Then to assist Satan in his course of persecution, several apostatized and joined the mob in persecuting the Saints and commenced publishing a newspaper called the Nauvoo Expositor and No.1 was issued. The city council pronounced it a nuisance and ordered it removed. At the time I was acting in the police who was called upon to remove and destroy the press type and all libelous prints, etc. This caused quite a stir with our enemies...they arose in mob and broke open the jail [at Carthage] and killed Joseph and Hyrum and severely wounded Elder John Taylor on the 27th day of June 1844. During this time I was serving as policeman on almost constant duty night and day...
“During this time Br. Brigham Young was acknowledged as President of the Church. The temple continued to progress while our enemies continued to harass us...The persecution became so general that for the sake of peace, we agreed to leave as early in the Spring of 1846 as circumstances would permit.
“During the summer of 1845, I became acquainted with Miss Elmeda Stringham, daughter of George and Polly Stringham and was married to her at her father's house, Kimball Street, city of Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois, on the 1st day of January at 6 o'clock pm 1846 and commenced keeping house the next day. On 13th of February, 1846, I left Nauvoo with my wife crossing the Mississippi on the ice, proceeded in route for Council Bluffs with the pioneers, the Twelve and some 12 or 15 wagons...
“The 26th of September 1846, we moved from our encampment about 3 miles to the Missouri River and there settled down for the winter and called the place Winter Quarters...In the month of December, my father's folks arrived from Nauvoo. They had remained until the month of September before they left Nauvoo...By this time our store of provisions was running low and I started in company with Briant Stringham to Missouri with an ox team to sell a wagon to get money to replenish our stock of eatables...We went 150 miles into the state of Missouri, sold the wagon and got a load of corn, pork, groceries and the like and started for home. When at Keg Creek in a snow storm I heard of the death of my mother which happened on the 16th of January 1847. Upon my arrival home, found my sister, Sophronia very low. She died about 8 o'clock am on the 26th January 1847. They were both interred in the graveyard on the hill on the west side of the Missouri River just back of Winter Quarters.
“The winter being past, the Spring made its appearance. At the request of Br. Kimball, I left my wife, child, father and brothers and started on the 18 April 1847 and drove teams for Heber C. Kimball [in Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company]. We proceeded on our way as fast as we possibly could. I completed a roadometer and attached it to the wheel of a wagon by which we could tell each night the distance traveled through the day. Myself and eight others was chosen to stop and keep the ferry boat. We accordingly did so. Later six of us returned to Winter Quarters for our families...[and then the following summer headed west back to the Salt Lake Valley in the Heber C. Kimball’s Company].
“About 11 o'clock on Sunday the 24th of September 1848, we emerged from Emigration Canyon into the open valley which opened to the right and left in bright sunshine which gave it a golden hue...The next thing for me was to prepare for our winter which I did by building a small adobe house, which I accomplished in time to get comfortable in before the first snow storm came...
“At our annual Conference which was held in the Great Salt Lake City on April 6, 1850, I was called to go on a mission to England with 8 others to preach the gospel to the King's dominion... which was the first intimation I had of the mission. It being unexpected to me I was not any too well prepared...My Father laid his hands upon my head and blessed me and said that I should go in the name of the Lord unharmed and accomplish my mission and return with peace and joy having accomplished a great work and many other things which caused me to rejoice. On 19 April at 3 o'clock pm I took my first step toward a foreign mission...”
Appleton kept a detailed journal of his trek west and his mission to England that has been published. He returned from his successful mission three years later. From 1861 to 1871, Appleton and his family lived in Toquerville, Washington County, Utah. He later moved his family to Holden, Millard, Utah, along with Elmeda's parents, where he constructed and operated a sawmill there while engaging in farming and livestock raising.
Appleton and his wife Elmeda, had a large family of thirteen children. Appleton died on February 26, 1877, at age 56, in Holden, Millard County, Utah, and is buried in the Holden Cemetery. Elmeda lived until 1923 and passed away in Lehi, Utah, where she was living with her son. She was buried in the American Fork Cemetery.
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It was in Brigham Young's Vanguard Company on May 11, 1847, at a location 3/4 of a mile north of the confluence of the North and South Platte Rivers, that the roadometer was attached to a wagon owned by Heber C. Kimball and driven by Philo Johnson. After being attached and used first on the morning of May 12, 1847, it continued in use the rest of their journey to the Salt Lake Valley.
William Clayton Diary:
May 11, 1847
"Brother Appleton Harmon is working at the machinery for the wagon to tell the distance we travel and expects to have it in operation tomorrow, which will save me the trouble of counting, as I have done, during the last four days."
May 12, 1847
"Morning cool, weather fine. Brother Appleton Harmon has completed the machinery on the wagon so far that I shall only have to count the number of miles, instead of the revolution of the wagon wheel."
May 16, 1847
"About noon today Brother Appleton Harmon completed the machinery on the wagon called a 'roadometer' by adding a wheel to revolve once in ten miles, showing each mile and also each quarter mile we travel, and then casing the whole over so as to secure it from the weather." (William Clayton Diary, 1847, microfilm of holograph, LDS Church Archives.)
Source: Diary of Appleton Milo Harmon, FamilySearch.org; William Clayton Diary, Excerpt; “Odometer,” FamilySearch.org.