Jacob D. Burnham

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Question: What did Brigham Young ask Jacob D. Burnham to do after they arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in July 1847?

Answer: Jacob D. Burnham was born Oct. 1, 1820, in New York to Richard and Elizabeth Burnham. He was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on November 13, 1844. He moved to Nauvoo, Illinois, and became a member of the Seventies Quorum in Nauvoo.

Jacob was married to Mary Caroline Blanchard in Nauvoo on October 28, 1845. Mary was born on February 20, 1828 in Windsor, Hartford, Connecticut, to Simeon Blanchard and Eunice Squire.

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Jacob received his endowments in the Nauvoo Temple on January 6, 1846. He received a patriarchal blessing by John Smith in Nauvoo in 1846. After having to leave Nauvoo, Jacob and Mary settled at Winter Quarters. Here a daughter, Mary Lowery Burnham, was born to them on November 27, 1846. Jacob’s wife, Mary Caroline, died on March 26, 1847 at Winter Quarters.

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In April Jacob D. Burnham was asked to be in Brigham Young’s Vanguard Pioneer Company of 1847. He was in the 1st Ten in that Company led by Wilford Woodruff. According to Albert Rockwood's diary, he was a member of the 32nd Quorum of Seventies at the time of the company's travel. He was part of all the doings of the pioneer wagon train in its march to Utah. Jacob received word that his baby daughter, Mary, died on July 31, 1847, at Winter Quarters, just after Jacob reached the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847.

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In 1849, Brigham Young proposed that some members, including Jacob D. Burnham, go to the gold mines in California, with the purpose in mind of securing some gold for themselves as well as to help the Church. With William P. Goddard, and another man, Jacob got a team set up with several oxen and a wagon and left on the difficult trip. On the way, Indians killed most of their oxen, and they arrived in California in poverty. In 1850 Jacob had high hopes of obtaining gold but later that year got sick and died. Jacob was about 30 years of age. He was likely buried in Greenwood Valley, El Dorado County, California.

Source: Membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830-1848; Sons of Utah Pioneers Card Index, 1847-1850; Jacob D. Burnham in the Seventy Quorum Membership, 1835-1846; FindAGrave.com; Deseret News, Church News, “Biographies of the original 1847 pioneer company,” October 2009.