Garner family histories usually carry a sentence to the effect that Dolly Durfee Garner's father was killed by the mob at Nauvoo during the early-day persecutions of the Saints. No other written information seemed to be available among the Garner descendants. Therefore, the writer began a search of Church history records. The findings were both amazing and thrilling. In order that we might fully appreciate the supreme sacrifice made by our ancestors for the sake of the Gospel, those findings are now carefully compiled in the following life sketch.
Edmund Durfee was born in Tiverton, Newport County, Rhode Island. (Both spellings of Edmund are used in the records.) Five generations before him Thomas Durfee (born in 1643) immigrated to America from England. He settled in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. His youngest son, Benjamin, moved to Tiverton where the descendants remained until the time of Edmund, who was born Oct 3, 1786, the son of Perry Durfee and Annie Silisbury (Sulsbury).
How and where Edmund and Lana Pickle became acquainted, we do not know. At any rate Edmund married Lana Pickle abt. 1810. To date we have not found the exact date. She was born Jun 6, 1788, in Montgomery Co., N. Y., the daughter of John and Dolly Pickle. 1
Edmund and Lana settled in Lennox, Madison County, New York where the following children were born: Martha, b. 17 Nov 1811; Tamma, b. 6 Mar 1813; Edmund, b. 4 Sep 1814; Dolly, b. 8 Mar 1816; John, b. 31 Jan 1818; Lana or Delana, b. 14 Feb 1820.
About 1822 the family moved to Amboy, Oswego County, New York, where Edmund bought land, built a house, and cultivated a small farm. He also worked at his trade as a carpenter and millwright. Maple trees abounded in that area, so he bought more land with many maple trees on it. Of course, they made a great deal of maple sugar. For eight happy years the family enjoyed their home in Amboy. Twelve children had been welcomed into the Durfee family. Those born at Amboy were: William, b. 15 Sep 1822; Ephraim, b. 1 Jun 1824; ABRAHAM, b. 14 Nov 1826; Henry, b. in 1827; Jabez, b. 10 May 1828; and Mary, b. 21 Mar 1830.
However, at that time the west was opening up and Edmund felt that opportunities were many in the new territory. So in Jun 1830, he sold his sugar bush and farm, and the family moved to Ohio. They travelled through Camden Village to the canal which took them to Buffalo. They crossed Lake Superior and landed at Portland. From there they moved on to Huron County and settled in the township of Ruggles. There Edmund bought property, and the Durfees made Ruggles their new home.
During the winter of 1831 rumors began circulating about Joseph Smith and a Gold Bible. In April Solomon Hancock arrived in the community. The Durfees were Methodist. Often Elder Hancock preached in their chapel telling they how the Lord had sent the Angel Moroni to Joseph Smith. He explained the beautiful truths of the restored Gospel. They were astonished to learn the truth, for it was much different from the rumors they had heard beforehand. The Gospel message found it's way to the heart of Edmund, Lana and their family. Edmund was baptized in May 1831, by Simeon Carter. 2 Lana was baptized Jun 1 by Solomon Hancock. Most of the children also accepted the Gospel and were baptized during those months. Because Tamma was going with a young man who reportedly wouldn't have a Mormon wife, she quietly believed without being baptized until after her marriage in August.
In Journal History of the Church on Tuesday, Oct 25, 1831, are recorded "Minutes of a General Conference of the Church at the dwelling of Brother Serenes Burnett in the town of Orange, Cayahoga County, Ohio, 39 members present: High Priests: Joseph Smith, Jr., Oliver Cowdery, J. Whitmer, Hyrum Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Samuel Smith, Simeon Carter, Reynolds Cahoon, Martin Harris, Joseph Smith, Sen., Wheeler Baldwin, John Smith; Elders: David Whitmer, Peter Whitmer, Sylvester Smith, Luke S. Johnson, Burr Riggs, Major N. Ashley, Stephen Burnett, EDMUND DURFEE, Joel Johnson, Levi Jackman, Elmer Harris, Frederick G. Williams; Priests: Lyman E. Johnson, Edward Johnson, Benjamin Carpenter, Rugg Eames; Teachers: William Smith, Uriel Stephens, Hyrum Griffith; Deacons: Titus Billings, Serences Burnett, and John Burk.
"Most of the brethren spoke at that time and their ideas were recorded in the minutes....
"Brother Edmund Durfee said that he also had professed religion for a number of years; yet now he left to bear testimony of the goodness of God and also consecrate all to the Lord"....
"At the evening session of the Conference a number were called, seated, and ordained High Priests. After prayer, President Smith said that he had a testimony that each had a talent and if, after being ordained, he should hide it, God would take it away from them. He exhorted them to pray continually in meekness and said that those who previously had been ordained Priests would be ordained Elders and so on....Edmund Durfee was made a High Priest."
In December, Edmund left on a Mission for the Church. So just before leaving, he baptized his daughter Tamma. The following February the Elders cut a hole in the ice and baptized her husband, which united all the family as members of the Church.
Edmund accompanied Elder Joseph B. Brackenbury on his Mission to Chautauqua County, New York. Quoting from Journal History we find: "In the fall of 1831 Joel H. and David Johnson who had received the Gospel in Amherst, Ohio, brought the Book of Mormon to their relatives in Chautauqua County, New York. Soon afterward Joel Johnson and Almon W. Babbitt (then only a boy) came to the same neighborhood as missionaries and were followed by two High Priests, namely Edmund Durfee and Joseph B. Brackenbury. 'Elder Brackenbury was an earnest and powerful preacher,' likewise, Elder Benjamin Fore Johnson 'and all the Elders sent were filled with the Spirit of the Lord.' Many received their testimony and my mother, Lyman R. Shearman, a brother-in-law, were the first to be baptized. After a few weeks of successful preaching and baptizing, Elder Brackenbury was taken violently sick and within a few days, Jan 7, 1832, died of the Bilious Choleic.'" 3
"History of the Church" concerning this event reads, as follows:"Elder Joseph B. Brackenbury died at Pomfret from the effects of poison secretly administered to him by opposers, who afterwards boasted that Mormon Elders had not faith enough to stand poison. The night after his burial there was a heavy snowstorm, about half past eleven O'clock Joel H. Johnson dreamed that some persons were digging up Brother Brackenbury's body, and was so exercised about it that he called up some of the brethren and went to the spot, about one mile distance, and found a party of doctors at work, who had nearly cleared the grave of earth; the men fled with utmost precipitation. David Johnson took after the largest one who was caught and bound over in one thousand dollar bonds for his appearance at court, but was never tried." 4
The Temple site at Jackson County, Missouri, was dedicated Aug 3, 1831. The Saints were looking forward to establishment of "Zion". Consequently settlements were established in that area (Far West). In accordance with instructions in Feb 1832, Edmund went down to establish his claim in "Zion", and to build a place for his family, returning home May 20. However, the family did not move at that time because Edmund was called on another Mission back to the States, which occupied his time until that fall.
The following spring in May, the family moved to Kirtland where most of the Saints were gathering. At Kirtland, when Lana was 47 years old, her thirteenth child, Nephi, was born on 22 Jul 1835.
Revelation had been given to Joseph to build a House to the Lord in Kirtland. Ground was broken Jun 5, 1835. Immediately work began and the cornerstones were laid the following month, on Jul 23. Edmund was one of the 24 Elders who laid the cornerstones. The Saints worked eagerly on the Temple at every opportunity. Edmund spent a great deal of his time in the construction of that beautiful edifice. Likewise his brother Jabez spent much time on the Temple as a carver and decorator. Although it was a critical period, no sacrifice was too great in time or money. On Saturday, Mar 7, 1835, as the Temple was nearing completion, a meeting was called "for the purpose of blessing in the name of the Lord those who had assisted in building by their labor and other means the House of the Lord in Kirtland; the morning was occupied by President Joseph Smith, Jr. in teaching the Church the propriety and necessity by purifying itself. In the afternoon the names of those who had assisted to build the house were taken and further instructions received from President Smith. He said that those who had distinguished themselves thus far by consecrating to the up building of the House of the Lord as well as laboring thereon were to be remembered; that those who built it should own it and have the control of it.
"After further remarks those who performed the labor on the building voted unanimously that they would continue to labor thereon till the House should be completed.
"President Sidney Rigdon was appointed to lay on hands and bestow blessings in the name of the Lord. The Presidents were blessed; and Reynolds Cahoon, Hyrum Smith and Jared Carter, the building committee thereof (the last two were not present, yet their rights in the House were preserved).
"The following are the names of those who were blessed in consequence of their labor on the House of the Lord in Kirtland and those who consecrated to its up building: (Edmund Durfee, Sen and Edmund Durfee, Jr. were among those named.)...All those who were blessed were given the 'blessings of heaven and a right in the House of the Lord in Kirtland agreeable to the labor they had performed thereon and the means they had contributed.' They were also promised wisdom and ability to proclaim the Gospel. Edmund Durfee, Jr. was ordained an Elder. A James Durfee was also blessed on this occasion." 5
The Temple was finally completed - truly a great monument to the faith of a small group of people who built in their poverty at a time when violence threatened them on every side.
March 27, 1836 was indeed a memorable occasion - the Temple was dedicated! Edmund felt fully repaid for all his effort.
"Angels were present and the Holy Spirit, like the sound of a mighty rushing of wind fell upon the house and assembly. The people of the neighborhood came running together, hearing a strange sound and seeing a bright light resting on the Temple. The House had been accepted by the Lord." 6
The financial panic of 1837 heightened insecurity. At the same time feelings against the Mormons rose to a new pitch. As a result the Saints were driven from Kirtland. The Durfees hastened to Caldwell County, Missouri, settling in Log Creek. 7
Apostasy was rampant in the Church. Denial of the Church brought relief from persecution. Misunderstandings were many and the general spirit was one of contention even within the Church. Even those who were next to the Prophet himself often lost their light and understanding.
"The Saints assembled at Edmund Durfee Settlement in Caldwell County, Missouri agreeable to appointment and rejected Presidents David Whitmer, John Whitmer and William W. Phelps by unanimous vote as the Presidency of the Church in Missouri. 8
Similar meetings were also held at the various settlements.
John Whitmer and W.W. Phelps were charged with selling possessions in Jackson County, contrary to revelations of the Lord, which was paramount to denial of the Faith; also for misappropriation of funds borrowed for the use of the Church. David Whitmer was charged with even more offenses. The Lord in a revelation had rebuked these men for their transgression and warned them, but they did not heed the warning. Thomas Marsh and David W. Patten were sustained as presiding officers in Missouri until the coming of Presidents Smith and Rigdon. W.W. Phelps and John Whitmer were excommunicated Mar 10, 1838 with David Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery held over for investigation. 9 Both were excommunicated later.
Imprisonments were numerous and always on false charges. Satan himself seemed to have been turned loose, determined to destroy the Church and people of God. Mobocrats, with Governor Boggs at their head, had no respect for private property. Homes were entered by force. All weapons were forcibly taken from the Mormons even the butcher knives, so that they had no means of self defense. Men were dragged from their homes and families and were brutally beaten, tarred and feathered, and abused in every conceivable way. No forces of government gave them redress for these wrongs. Without hope of ever getting anything from their properties, they were finally expelled from Missouri by November, 1838.
Edmund took his family and settled in Yelrome 10 near Lima, Illinois, where they tried to find peace and the privilege of living unmolested. The Church was built up considerably. The "Lima Branch Records" p 385 under date of Mar 12, 1843, read: "Edmund Durfee was received in full fellowship by the Lima Branch by vote." This record was signed by Isaac Morley, President, and James C. Snow, Clerk. "
A Conference was held at Lima and the Branch reorganized under the direction of Elder H.C. Kimball, Isaac Morley, President Walter Cox and Edwin Whiting, Counselors William Woodland, Solomon Hancock, James C. Snow, James Israel, EDMUND DURFEE, Daniel Stanton, Moses Clawson, Joseph S. Allen, Philip Garner, Henry Ettleman, Reuben Daniels and Horace Rawson, High Council. James C. Snow, Clerk of the Branch.
During the appointing of the High Council, Elder Heber C. Kimball made some general remarks upon the Word of Wisdom. He said God looked into the heart of a man. He said some would strain nip and tuck at the Word of Wisdom but would turn away a poor brother when he would ask for a little meal for breakfast. He compared it to the man that was stretched upon the iron bedstead; if he was too long they would cut him off, if he was too short they would stretch him out; and again he said it made him think of the old Indian's tree which stood so straight that it leaned a little the other way and the best way was to stand erect." He also made some very appropriate remarks with regard to the Temple and Nauvoo House."11
The beautiful city of Nauvoo rose from swampland into the largest city of Illinois at that time. The majestic Temple rose steadily in the midst of sacrifice and continued persecution. Still the Saints looked to Joseph as their guide. Tamma tells that they listened to the Prophet speak for five hours straight and no one was tired.
From a record of baptisms for the dead made at Morley's Settlement, on Nov 7, 1840, Edmund and Lana were baptized for his parents, Perry and Annie Salisbury Durfee and for her parents, John and Dolly Pickle. See Vol. 210, p 385, Historian's Office.
The very foundations of Mormonism shook when the Prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum were martyred at Carthage on Jun 27, 1844. Confusion crowded the minds of the Saints when the decision of new leadership was to be made. At a special meeting held on Mar 8, the question was answered unequivocally when Brigham Young stood before them to discuss the matter. To their amazement he stood transfigured before their very eyes. It seemed they saw the Prophet Joseph before them and heard his voice as naturally as ever although it was Brigham Young speaking. Although many divisions occurred in the Church at that time Edmund and Lana remained steadfast in their Faith, choosing to follow the Quorum of the Twelve.
Joseph had prophesied that the Saints would eventually seek refuge in tops of the mountains. Persecution continued, hastening the time of that long trek. All efforts were turned toward outfitting wagons, laying up supplies, and preparing themselves in every way. Needless to say the constant trouble did not hasten the preparations, although the mobocrats continued to scream that the Mormons must move, and the sooner the better.
It was the plan of the mob not to gather in large bodies but to burn Yelrome, then attack some other place and finally drive all the Mormons into Nauvoo. That being accomplished they planned to move them from Nauvoo by help from other areas. Accordingly everyone was driven out of Morley's Settlement (Yelrome). Sheriff Jacob B. Backanstos wrote the following proclamation which describes the conditions:
"Sep 13, 1845- - "To the citizens of Hancock County, whereas a mob of from 100 to 200 men under arms have gathered themselves together in the southwest part of Hancock County and are at this time destroying the dwellings and other buildings, stacks of grain and other property of a portion of our citizens and in the most inhuman manner compelling defenseless children and women to rise from their sick beds and exposing them to the rays of the parching sun and to lie and suffer without the aid and assistance of a friendly hand to minister to their wants in their suffering condition.
"The riotous spare not the widow nor the orphan; and while I am writing this proclamation the smoke is rising to the clouds, and the flames are devouring four buildings which have been just set on fire by the rioters. Thousands of dollars worth of property have already been consumed; an entire settlement of about 60 or 70 families laid waste, the inhabitants thereof fired upon narrowly escaping with their lives and forced to flee before the mob." 12
He went on to call attention to the law and its penalties for infractions. Although he tried earnestly to discharge his responsibility, to help came to enforce the laws.
Edmund's home was among those burned to the ground. Tamma tells how her young brother (Nephi, aged 10) was simply rolled up in his sick bed and it was thrown outdoors. The mobbers then went to the oat stack, got two bundles of oats, put a firebrand in them, threw them on top of the house and said they would return in the morning. Finally their work of destruction was complete, and almost the whole town was smoldering ruins and ashes.
From Nauvoo rushed 134 teams travelling all night and day to rescue the homeless families and take them to Nauvoo. The troublemakers agreed that the Saints could return to harvest their crops. Therefore, a month later Edmund and others returned to gather their crops and harvest the grain which they needed so badly for the anticipated journey. On the 15th of Nov "near Solomon Hancock's house about midnight a stack of straw was discovered on fire. Several persons turned out to suppress the flames; while thus engaged a whistle was heard east and one west; presently a gun was fired then and they continued to fire till six guns were discharged at them, the ball of the fourth one entered the body of Edmund Durfee just above the heart and he died instantly." 12 His body was immediately taken to Nauvoo for burial.
The "Nauvoo Neighbor" put out an "extra" on Nov 19 concerning the tragic incident. A part of it is quoted herewith:
"As may be seen by the affidavits below, it falls to our painful lot to chronicle two more outrages upon the lives and rights of the Latter-Day Saints, since they have been using all diligence to secure their crops, build wagons, and leave next spring.
"Mr. Durfee was one of the most industrious, inoffensive and good men that could be found, and having his house burnt in September last, moved to Nauvoo and went on Saturday last for a load of grain, was shot dead in cold blood, at midnight while striving with others to save property from the flames by an armed mob! ...
"Have nearly two thousand five hundred wagons commenced for our Pacific journey next spring, but such outrages certainly are not calculated to aid us in getting ready. We have borne the Missouri Persecution; we have mourned the loss of the Prophet and Patriarch, Joseph and Hyrum Smith; we feel the destruction of one or two hundred houses the present season, and our hearts are pained at the murder of Edmund Durfee, because he was a good man; but, we, as in all cases of the Saints, leave the disposition of these matters in the care of a wise God, and the perpetrators, to the mercy of (as they say), a country of laws, and be those laws honored or disgraced we cannot be charged with revenge; and we do beseech the people and the authorities not to impute crime to us, to raise excitement, when we see our accusers wiping the blood of innocent men, women, and children, from their garments, as though this was the realm of Nero..." 13
On Nov 17, Orson Hyde (the presiding authority in Nauvoo), who had known Edmund for many years, wrote a letter to Brigham Young informing him of the incident. Among other things he said: "Mr. Durfee was one of the most quiet and inoffensive citizens in these United States and from our acquaintance with him and from the nature of his business in securing his crops we persuaded that his murder was wholly unprovoked." 14
After Edmund's death, "the mob boasted that they fired at Durfee on a bet of a gallon of whiskey that they could kill him the first shot, and they won." 15
The guilty parties were not hard to identify - they were known by Edmund's companions. Although they were apprehended and affidavits filed concerning the incident, they were released by the magistrate without examination - another evidence of the legal farces which met all the grievances of the Saints.
No one could possible understand the grief and terror which must have filled Lana's heart at such a tragedy. Even at Nauvoo the reign of terror persisted. All her children were married with the exception of Jabez (apparently named for Edmund's brother) and Nephi. On Jan 21, 1846, she received her endowments in the upper rooms of the Nauvoo Temple and was also sealed to Edmund on that date. Edmund's endowment date is Jan 4, 1882 (by proxy) in Endowment House.
Due to the conditions surrounding her, the insecurity and constant danger, it is not surprising that Lana married her brother-in-law, Jabez Durfee, on Jan 21, 1846 (for time). Jabez's first wife, Electra Cranston, had died in 1834 at Independence, Missouri, during the Missouri mob trouble.
Six (and possibly seven) of the Durfee children received their endowments in the Nauvoo Temple.
Once again expulsion faced the Durfees. Apparently Lana and Jabez and her two boys left Nauvoo with the main body of the Saints. At least she is not mentioned as having remained in Nauvoo as did Tamma and one son, as related in Tamma's "Memorial".
At Musketol Creek, Council Bluffs, Iowa, Lana died on May 17, 1850, at the age of 62. After her death, Jabez did not continue the journey to Utah, but died at White Cloud, Iowa in Apr 1867.
Few parent have given their descendants such a rich heritage of faithfulness and devotion to the cause of truth. May this history serve to perpetuate that faith in the hearts of those who follow after them.
SOURCES OF INFORMATION ON THE EDMUND DURFEE FAMILY
Throughout the records various names and spellings were given for Lana -also Dlaney, Lainey, Laney, Delana, and Lanna.
1 Some doubt exists as to the correct birthplace of Lana (probably a contraction of Magdalena). While many of the members of the family conclude that Lana was born in Rhode Island because her husband was born there, the old manuscript dictated by Tamma reads: "Laney Pickle born 6, 1788 in Holland and died May 17, 1856 in Council Bluffs." She may prove to be a descendant from the Pickle (originally spelled Pechtel or Bechtel family of Columbia Co., NY.) Deseret News Church Section, Oct 18, 1941.
2 "History of the Church", Vol. 7, page 523.
3 Journal History of the Church in Church Historian's Office, Dec 31, 1831.
4 "History of Church", Vol. 7, page 524.
5 Journal History, Mar 7, 1835.
6 "Essentials in Church History",by Joseph Fielding Smith, p 190.
7 "History of the Church", Vol. 7, page 524.
8 Journal History, Wednesday, Feb 7, 1838.
9 "Essentials in Church History", pages 206-7.
10 Andrew Jenson's "Church Encyclopedia", Book 1, p 977; Lima, Adams Co.; A town of abt. 300 inhabitants situated in Lima Township, Adams Co., just over the south line of Hancock Co. and abt. 25 miles in a straight line due south of Nauvoo is known in Church History as a neighborhood where quite a number of Saints resided in 1839 to 1846. Most of these, however, located northeast of Lima, in the extreme south end of Hancock Co. in what is now Walker Township on and around a townsite which had been surveyed and named Yelrome. This little town situated 2 1/2 miles northeast of Lima was also known as Morley Town or Morley's Settlement in honor of Isaac Morley, the presiding church officer residing there. At a Conference held at Lima Oct 23, 1842 the branch was represented to consist of 424 members. Yelrome or Morley Settlement was nearly burnt out by the mob in the fall of 1845 and the Saints were all compelled to leave the following year in 1846. A new town called Tioga was laid out on the old townsite which at present consists of an unimportant village."
11 Journal History, Sunday, Jun 11, 1843; also "History of the Church", Vol. 7, pp 427-29.
12 "History of the Church", Vol. 7, page 529.
13 Ibid., pp 528-9.
14 Ibid., p 525.
15 Ibid., p 524.
Compiled and written in Mar 1955, by Dora D. Flack, 1089 So. 8th W., Salt Lake City, Utah.
Retyped by Ted L. Moody, 25 Aug 1984, Safford, Arizona
THE FAMILY OF EDMUND DURFEE
Edmund Durfee, b. 3 Oct 1786 in Tiverton, R-Is, son of Perry and Annie Silisbury, md. Maydalena Pickle abt. 1810, she was born 6 Jun 1788 in Tiverton, R-Is, dau. of John and Magdalena Saltzman, she d. 17 May 1856 in Musketal Creek, Iowa.
To this union the following children were born:
1- Margaret, b. 17 Nov 1811 in Lennox, Mdsn, New York, md. 1st Lyman Stevens 21 Jun 1836; md. 2nd James Brown, she died 2 Nov 1874.
2- Tamma, b. 6 Mar 1813 in Lennox, New York, md. 1st Albert Miner Aug 1831; md. 2nd ENOS CURTIS 20 Oct 1850; md. 3rd John White Curtis 3 Apr 1857, she died 30 Jan 1885.
3- Edmund, b. 4 Sep 1814 in Lennox, New York, md. Caroline Eliza Clark, he died 19 Jan 1861.
4- Dolly, b. 8 Mar 1816 in Lennox, New York, md. David Garner 18 Oct 1841, she died Jun 1883.
5- John, b. 31 Jan 1818 in Lennox, New York, md. Sarah Ann Wilcox, he died 1 Jan 1850.
6- Lana or Delana, b. 4 Feb 1820 in Lennox, New York, md. 1st William David Dudley 28 Oct 1838; md. 2nd William Ford, she died 26 Jan 1896.
7- William, b. 15 Sep 1822 in Amboy, Oswego, N-Yr., d. in 1845
8- Ephraim, b. 1 Jun 1824 in Amboy, Oswego, N-Yr., d. n.g. *
9- ABRAHAM DURFEE (x), b. 14 Nov 1826 in Amboy, Oswego, New York, md. 1st URSULA CURTIS; md. 2nd Mary Turner; md. 3rd Arsa Langley, he died in 1862.
10- Henry, b. 1827 in Amboy, Oswego, New York, d. 29 Dec 1827.
11- Jabez, b. 10 May 1828 in Ambrose, New York, md. Celestia Curtis, he died 27 Dec 1884.
12- Mary, b. 21 Mar 1830 in Amboy, Oswego, New York, she md. Dominicus Carter 11 Oct 1845, she died 6 Dec 1885.
13- Nephi, b. 22 Jul 1835 in Kirtland, Lake, Ohio, md. Amanda Thomas 22 Apr 1857, he died 15 Dec 1880.
Edmund Durfee, died 17 Nov 1845 in Green Plains, Hancock, Ill., he was buried in Nauvoo, Ill.
His wife Maydalena md. 2nd Jabez Durfee (brother of Edmund) 21 Jan 1846.