Bushman Reunion Day #4 The Bushmans Leave Nauvoo, The Trail of Hope

We met at the Stake Center this morning for some instruction on the Bushman’s departure from Nauvoo in 1846.

Jacob Bushman wrote to John Bushman in 1902:
“We lived on Bishop Hunter’s farm until the Spring of 1846. And in the Winter
of 1846, when the Church crossed the river, we sent a pair of horses and a
wagon, all the team we had to help the main party of the Church, not knowing
how soon the mob would drive us off. And we had to stand guard night and day
in the Spring of 1846. The team came back and some time in June we crossed
the river into Iowa and went to a farm of a Mr. Bunells. He had in 500 acres of
grain and we helped him to harvest it. There was several Mormon families there
to work. And just about the time we got done, the mob drove the last of the
Saints out of Nauvoo.

“We traded off one of our horses for a yoke of oxen and started for Council
Bluff with six sick children, all in one wagon, all down with the chills and fever.
And when I had the chills, I had to walk and when the fever came on I could sit
up in the front end of the wagon.

And on the 12th of Oct. 1846, Elizabeth died, just before going into camp. Had
to be up all night getting her ready to bury. We did the best we could and left
the next day about 10 O’clock. Traveled on until Oct. 19th, 1846, when the baby
died at 11 months. She had to be left about the same as the other one, by the
road side.”

“In September 1846 they ware driven from their homes leaving their crops
standing in the fields and everything else. They had only a few things they could
put into a wagon.” Martin Benjamin, Jacob Bushman’s Temple Record Book,
image 130.

“His mother took him to see the temple in September 1846 just before the
Saints was driven from Nauvoo she thought he might remember some things
that he saw…He also well remembers seeing one of his sisters laid in a cold grave
without a coffin. She had died through exposure while on that dreadful exodus
through Iowa and one week later another of his sisters died.” Martin Benjamin,
Andrew Jenson Collection.

“However before leaving Martin Bushman took all their children into the
Temple & showed them the beautiful building which they have never forgotten
especially the font resting on the back of twelve bronze oxen. In Sept. 1846, after
assisting the body of saints accross the Mississippi river with their only team, the
Bushman family of six children were compelled to leave their grain and all they
possessed, except what they could take in one wagon, they bade farewell to their
home and beautiful city and Temple & crossed the great Mississippi into Iowa,
just in the rainy season, nearly all the family took the chills and fever.
“They traveled in company with several other families to the western border
of Iowa, on the 12 of October 1846 their Daughter Elizabeth nine years old
died just before they camped for the night. She was buried early next morning
without a coffin, and they continued the journey with the company. Just one
week later on Oct 19, 1846, their beautiful dark eyed baby, not a year old died
and was buried the same as the first one, and they continued their journey in
sorrow, especially as their little son John was near death’s door.” John Bushman
Life and Labors typescript p. 8.

There is some conflict in the personal histories of these brothers. Jacob wrote that
they left in June, and he was 16 when they left. Younger brothers Martin Benjamin
and John remember leaving in September. They were age five and three, respectively,
when they left Nauvoo. It’s unclear whether they left in June or September, or if just
part of the family left in June for the Bonnell’s Farm in Iowa and the rest of the
family followed in September.

This morning we walked along the Trail of Hope, down Parley Street.  These plaques are worth reading, they are first person accounts of those who bid farewell to their beautiful Nauvoo, as they walked this path to the Mississippi River during the exodus.

About Ann Laemmlen Lewis

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