George Washington Brown

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Question: Whose team did George Washington Brown drive across the plains in Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company in 1847?

Answer: George Washington Brown was born on January 25, 1827, in Newberry, Cuyahoga County, Ohio. He was the second living child of Nathaniel and Avis Hill Brown. There were ten children born but only four lived past childhood. His father was a hardy frontiersman who cleared the timbers in the primitive forests to help clear the way for civilization that was rapidly moving westward.

After the death of his father in 1837, George’s mother returned east and settled in Chautauqua Co., New York, where she joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. George was baptized in Sugar Creek, Iowa, and the family later moved to Nauvoo, Illinois.

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George lived with is family in Nauvoo until they were forced out in 1846. After they moved to Winter Quarters, George worked for Dr. Willard Richards. In 1847, George was chosen as a member of Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company. George was twenty years old. George drove Dr. Richards team and wagon across the plains while Dr. Richards gave his time to President Brigham Young as clerk and writer.

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On July 21, 1847, the main company under the command of Dr. Richards entered the Great Salt Lake Valley. On July 22, the company decided to do some plowing. George stated that Dr. Richards told him not to unyoke his oxen, as they were going try to do some plowing. George hooked the oxen to John Eldredge’s plow. He wanted Thomas Bullock to drive the oxen, but he wouldn’t, as he wanted to hold the plow. So, George spoke to the oxen, and they plowed a furrow up and down. Ten acres were plowed that day. Planting crops of potatoes, turnips, corn, and beans started immediately, as it was late in the year, and the crops needed to mature before the frost hit in the fall. The water from City Creek was diverted to irrigate the crops.

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After making the journey to the Salt Lake Valley in Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company, George returned to Council Bluffs. In 1848 he went to Missouri and farmed for two years. In 1850, he returned to the Valley bringing his mother, brothers, and sister with him. They lived in Salt Lake and Springville, Utah. His mother married John McBride of Springville in 1857.

George married Amy Elizabeth Hancock in December 1851 in Salt Lake. They had three sons: George Washington, Isaac Nathaniel, and Brigham John. On August 16, 1858, he married Emma Lorena Barrows in Salt Lake. They had one son, Ethan Leonard. Amy died in childbirth, July 28, 1862, in Springville, Utah. The baby, Sidney Hancock, died also. Emma raised the three boys like her own. George moved around and helped to settle Springville, Payson, Kamas, Wallsburg, Heber, Center Creek, and Charleston, Utah.

They moved to Charleston, Utah, in 1866, where George spent the remaining years of his life. He and his sons did much traveling to the canyons in Deer Creek and Daniels Canyon for wood to burn, and logs to build with. They also hunted in the hills.

In Charleston, George also raised sheep. After the sheep were sheared, Emma would wash the wool, card it, and then spin it into yarn. Next, she dyed the yarn using different weeds. From this, it was woven into cloth, from which Emma would sew clothing for the family. Emma was always busy cultivating a garden, canning fruit, making soap, making candles, making cheese, churning butter, plus maintaining the home. Also, Emma worked in various church organizations. She worked the Primary, Sunday School, and Young Ladies Association. On February 28, 1874, she was appointed President of the Relief Society, the position she held for five years. November 10, 1879, she was set apart as President of the Wasatch Stake Relief Society. Sisters Eliza R. Snow and Emmaline B. Wells helped her reorganize the Relief Society wards around the valley. The two sisters became very dear to her as they stayed at her home and she at theirs in Salt Lake.

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George held the office of a High Priest in the Church. He was an Indian War veteran. Emma Lorena died December 8, 1897 in Charleston, Wasatch, Utah. George went to live with his oldest son, Isaac, and his family in Charleston. He lived there until the time of his death on December 20, 1906, at the age of 79. He is buried in the Charleston Cemetery.

Source: “George Washington Brown,” FamilySearch.org; Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah; “Emma Lorena Barrows Brown,” FamilySearch.org; FindAGrave.com