The Life and Untimely Death of Harvey Burgess Eggleston

Little is known of the details of the life of Harvey Burgess Eggleston. He was just becoming an adult when his life was cut short. We can only imagine what his life would have been like if he had lived, and wonder about the circumstances of his death.

Birth of Harvey Burgess Eggleston

Harvey Burgess Eggleston, the 5th child of Samuel and Lurania Powers Burgess Eggleston, was born February 8, 1836, In Sempronius, Cayuga County, New York. He was named for his grandfather Harvey Burgess. His parents lost their first 2 sons as infants, so when Harvey was born he had two older brothers.

 

Family Bible birth of Harvey Burgess Eggleston

The birth date of Harvey Burgess Eggleston was recorded in the Eggleston Family Bible – bottom on the left

When Harvey was six years old, his family left their home in Sempronius and traveled overland to Nauvoo, Illinois. I  imagine it would have been hard for Harvey and his brothers to leave their friends and extended family. His parents had joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1841. Maybe by the time they left relations had become strained because of the feelings of their Baptist family and friends toward the Mormons. The family traveled with Isaac Haight from nearby Moravia. This journey may have been an adventure for young Harvey, traveling by wagon through unfamiliar countryside and towns and camping at night.

In Nauvoo, Samuel eventually built a home on the bluff near where the Temple was being built. This was a growing community, with new families arriving and much building going on. We don’t have any specific information, but I would think that Harvey and his brothers would have received some schooling there.

Moving Again

In early 1846, when Harvey was just 10 years old, the Saints began leaving Nauvoo. The Eggleston family would have again said goodbye to many friends and neighbors as they left. The Egglestons remained in Nauvoo until later in the spring. Some stayed to complete the Temple. Many who remained were poor and lacking means to supply themselves for the trip. Things became very tense with others in the area. It appears that the Eggleston family left Nauvoo before things deteriorated toward the “battle of Nauvoo” and the last remaining Saints were removed by force.

For the second time in Harvey’s young life the family traveled an extended distance by wagon. They traveled during the summer, so didn’t have the winter weather that earlier groups had, but still it was not an easy journey. They spent the winter in Winter Quarters, Nebraska. It was here that Harvey’s brother Samuel was born January 16, and passed away August 23rd. This was probably the first death of a close family member that Harvey experienced. There was much disease in the community during that time. We do not know if Harvey or other members of his family became ill, but conditions would not have been good for their health.

Harvey’s Final Home

Later the Winter Quarters settlement was abandoned as many of the Saints left for the Salt Lake Valley. Harvey’s family did not leave then, but crossed back over the Missouri River and settled in Council Bluffs, Iowa. This was a temporary situation for most of the Saints as they were encouraged to go west as soon as they were able. The Egglestons however, stayed for many years and Harvey grew up there.

A sister finally joined the family on September 22, 1849 while they were living at Trader’s Point in Pottawattamie County. She was named Mary Elizabeth after both of her grandmothers. Harvey’s father Samuel had a Boot and Shoe Shop in the middle of Council Bluffs. In November 1853, there was a terrible fire that destroyed much of the business district in Council Bluffs.

Harvey passed away February 12, 1854, just days after his 18th birthday. We do not have any information about the circumstances of his death. We do not have a record of his burial place. But he is worth remembering.

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