Early Life of Lurania Powers Burgess Eggleston
Lurania Powers Burgess, daughter of Mary (Polly) Titus and Harvey Burgess was born August 15, 1808 in Sempronius, Cayuga County, New York. Her father Harvey’s family can be traced back to Thomas Burges, an early resident of Plymouth, Massachusetts and the Hopkins family of the Mayflower. Her Mother Mary’s parents came from Long Island where their ancestors were early colonial residents.
The Burgess and Titus familles migrated from Stillwater, Saratoga, County New York to Sempronius, Cayuga County about the same time and quite possibly together. A History of Cayuga county mentions the Burgess family coming in 1796, and being one of the first families to settle Sempronius. Mary’s father Jonas Titus died in 1795 in Stillwater, and his widow and children probably came shortly after that. Both of these families were members of the Baptist church in Stillwater and are listed as original members of the First Baptist Church of Sempronius. The two families were neighbors in Sempronius and probably were very close as Harvey and Mary grew up together in both Stillwater and Sempronius. Harvey Burgess and Mary (Polly) Titus were married in Sempronius around 1802. Lurania was the third of their eleven children.
Sempronius, Cayuga County is in the finger lakes area of northern New York. It consists of hilly country nestled in between Oswaco and Skaneateles Lakes. The area was largely settled after the Revolutionary War. It was part of what was known as the Military Tract, which consisted of land given by the government to Veterans of the Revolutionary War, though the majority of Veterans given land never lived there. The Burgess and Titus families came as pioneers to this new settlement.
Lurania grew up in this small new frontier town where her extended family made up a large portion of the initial population. Her grandfather Seth Burgess had the first tavern in the area, which probably served as a community as well as family gathering place during Lurania’s early childhood. The first school was in a log building on the Titus farm, belonging to one of Lurania’s uncles. Later a school was built on her cousin Byron Burgess’ land. Lurania may have attended this school in her early years, but most likely attended a newer school built in 1815 at Sayles Corners near her home. The first Town Officers of Sempronius included Lurania’s grandfather and uncle.
Marriage to Samuel Eggleston
Lurania married Samuel Eggleston, son of Samuel Eggleston and Elizabeth Hill, August 23, 1827 in Sempronius. He was born in Marcellus, Onodaga County, New York, which is just east of Cayuga County, on the other side of Skaneateles Lake. The Eggleston family moved to Springwater, Livingston County when Samuel was 13. Then when he was 19 he returned to live with his brother-in-law to learn the tanner’s trade. He married Lurania in 1827 when he was 23 and she was 19 years old. They were married by a Baptist preacher by the name of Gordon.
Lurania and Samuel had a son Dwight, born August 9, 1828 who died the following year August 2, 1829. The family Bible indicates that he was born in Sempronius and died in Springwater, Livingston County. Lurania’s father, Harvey Burgess, was listed on the 1830 Census in Springwater by Samuel Eggleston, so they apparently lived there with both families for a short time. Their next child Benjamin was born April 6, 1830, back in Sempronius, the same day the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized by a small group of people only a short distance away in Fayette. Benjamin lived only a few weeks. He died April 27, 1830. It must have been very difficult for Lurania to lose her first two children.
While living in the Sempronius area Lurania had four other sons: Reuben Burgess born July 24, 1831; Edwin, born October 25, 1833; Harvey Burgess born February 8, 1836; and Orson Hyde born October 3, 1841. In 1833 Sempronius was divided and a new town Niles was formed. The family Bible lists Orson’s birth in Niles and the others in Sempronius. The family may have moved a short distance or they lived in the part of Sempronius that became Niles.
Conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
On June 1, 1841 Lurania and Samuel were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by Elder Pelatiah Brown. Shortly after Samuel and Lurania’s baptism a Branch of the Church was organized in West Niles, Cayauga County.
During that time period, Church members were encouraged to gather with the Saints to Nauvoo which had become the gathering place after Saints were driven from Missouri. Isaac Haight was Branch President in neighboring Moravia and began to organize the Saints to migrate to Nauvoo. Samuel and Lurania along with Samuel’s nephew Cyprian Marsh joined with this group.
Isaac Haight’s journal stated that on June 7, 1842 he “started for Zion in company 9 wagons, traveled 18 miles and encamped, waited all day for S. Eggleston.” Moravia is directly south of Niles, but probably southwest of the area of Niles where Samuel and Lurania lived. It would seem more practical for them to arrange to meet at a place further north and west of both, rather than have Haight’s group or Samuel’s go out of their way several miles to meet with each other. Apparently Samuel and Lurania were delayed for some reason, as they arrived at the place of meeting considerably later than the rest of the group expected them.
Apparently Lurania had taken sick along the way, or possibly she had been ill prior to their leaving home and this was the reason for the delay. Haight’s journal mentions “before leaving the camp administered to Sister Eggleston and she was healed.” This must have been a great relief to this family anticipating a long journey with four young sons, the oldest barely 10 and the youngest Orson just a baby, with their mother ill.
Migrating with the Saints
Samuel and Lurania received their endowments in the Nauvoo Temple January 9, 1846, and were sealed January 28, 1846 in the Nauvoo Temple. At this time there was much urgency to endow as many Saints as possible before leaving Nauvoo, and Samuel and Lurania would have joined the crowds waiting for this privilege.
The Egglestons went to Winter Quarters in Nebraska, where the Saints gathered to prepare to go further west. There small cabins were built where they spent a miserable winter. Many of the Saints were ill prepared for such a trip. There was inadequate food for the many refugees camped there. There was also much disease which was easily spread. Many people died during that year, especially many of the very young and very old. Another son, Samuel, was born to Lurania and Samuel in Winter Quarters, January 16, 1847. Patty Sessions was Lurania’s midwife and recorded the birth in her diary. The birth of this child must have brought great joy to an otherwise bleak existence at that time. This joy was turned to sorrow however, as this child lived only until August 2, 1847. He was buried in the cemetery in Winter Quarters.
The Egglestons moved back across the Missouri River to Council Bluffs after the first of the Saints left for the Salt Lake Valley. They stayed in the Council Bluffs area for 13 years, long past the time most of the Saints had gone to Utah.
Life in Pottawattamie County, Iowa
Family tradition says that Samuel was asked by Brigham Young to remain to make shoes for the saints who would be traveling west. County Histories and Newspapers mention Samuel Eggleston as having one of the first businesses in Crescent City, and advertising in Council Bluffs and Kanesville as Boot and Shoemaker. They first lived in Council Bluffs, then later in Crescent City, a new town formed nearby. Samuel was elected Justice of the Peace in the first election held in Pottawattamie County, which office he held for 10 years. He also served as Postmaster and Notary Public.
President Gordon B. Hinckley quoted Wallace Stegner as stating about the Mormons of that time and place:
“They transformed the Missouri at Council Bluffs from a trading post and an Indian agency into an outpost of civilization, founded settlements on both sides of the river and made Winter Quarters. . . and later Kanesville. . . into outfitting points that rivaled Independence, Westport, and St. Joseph.” (“The Gathering of Zion: The Story of the Mormon Trail” (1964) 6-7, quoted in “True to the Faith” by President Gordon B. Hinckley Ensign May 1997 p. 65.)
It appears that Samuel and Lurania were part of this civilizing influence and took an active part in the established community of these growing frontier towns. Many of the other early settlers of the Council Bluffs area were also Mormons. The first schools in the area were established by Mormon settlers, which schools Lurania’s children would have attended.
Samuel and Lurania owned a good deal of land in Pottawattamie County. Lurania became a land owner in her own right, obtaining a Patent.
It has been suggested that many stayed in Iowa because they did not agree with Brigham Young’s plan to move west. Many did go on to the Salt Lake Valley in later years, though some did remain. Pottawattamie County newspapers printed news from Salt Lake City and about the Pioneer Companies heading to Zion, so they apparently maintained close contact with the Saints in Utah. It must have been difficult for Lurania to see friends from Nauvoo leave, then later see many emigrant companies of Saints from Europe stop there as they prepared to go west.
While living in Council Bluffs, Lurania’s last child and only daughter was born September 22, 1849. They named her Mary Elizabeth after her grandmothers Mary Titus Burgess and Elizabeth Hill Eggleston. The family suffered another loss when their son Harvey died February 12, 1854.
Their oldest living son, Rueben was married July 15, 1856 to Emiline Allen and went with his young wife and baby to Utah in 1860. Their son Orson left in 1861 to go to the Salt Lake Valley. He made return trips to help other companies, so it would be likely that he returned the following year to assist his family. Samuel and Lurania arrived in Utah in 1862 with the James Wareham Company.
The Deseret News reported, 16 September 1862 –The day was warm in G. S. L. City. Elder Amasa M. Lyman & Charles C. Rich & Co arrived in Salt Lake. Capt James Wareham’s Independent Co. members—Samuel, Lurania, Orson H. & Mary E. Edwin, Eliza R. Charlotte & John H. (Journal History 16 Sep 1862)
Life and Death in Ogden, Utah
In Ogden, Samuel and Lurania were members of the Second Ward. Records indicate that they lived on the north side of 6th Street between Franklin and Wall Streets, which is now 26th Street between Lincoln and Wall.
In a Biography of William Nicol Fife, he tells about a Smallpox epidemic in 1870. According to his account the disease was brought into Ogden by an Indian Squaw in May of 1870. He indicated that the first person taken down with it, a Mrs. Eggleston died.
Later a few others became sick and were sent to Brick Creek [Burch Creek] Mr. Fife indicated that he personally built a lumber room for the afflicted and furnished them with food and necessities. He also “followed up the disease with disinfectants” and placed yellow flags in front of every affected house.
By July, forty cases were quarantined at Farr’s Grove. He indicated that the Mayor assisted him with this and later became sick himself. By the end of July there were 89 cases. Only seven of the 89 cases were fatal and the epidemic was over by the end of October. (Orson F. Whitney, History of Utah (Vol 4, p. 163)
The biography of Emeline Eggleston, wife of Reuben, written by Disey Eggleston Richardson (DUP) mentions that two of their children, Cora Gladys and May Julia were stricken with black small pox in 1870. They were quarantined at Farr’s Grove, as were others who were exposed. Cora Gladys died July 26, 1870 and May Julia on August 6, 1870. This account is consistent with the other about a significant epidemic. These two girls could have been easily infected by their grandmother.
Lurania died July 6, 1870 at the age of 61 years and 11 months.
A Death Notice was published in The Ogden Junction of Wednesday morning July 6, 1870 which states:
In this city, of scarlet fever, at 3 o’clock this morning, LURANIA P., wife of MR. SAMUEL EGGLESTON, aged 61 years and 11 months. The funeral will take place a 5 o’clock this evening, when the friends of the deceased are invited to attend.
Mrs. Eggleston was born in Cayuga County, New York. She was baptized in June 1841, moved to Nauvoo in 1842. In 1847, she went with her family to Winter Quarters and in 1862 she came to Utah.
This newspaper was a semi-weekly paper, being published on Wednesdays and Saturdays and at that time, Lurania’s sons Reuben and Orson would have been working for the paper. They must have rushed word, soon after her death and had the notice written shortly before the paper was printed. Perhaps they actually went in and typeset it themselves.
It is interesting that the newspaper account says Lurania died of scarlet fever, while this history indicates she died of Smallpox. If she indeed was the first case, there may have been some uncertainty at that point about what exactly she had. Or it may have been called scarlet fever to prevent panic in the community. There is also some confusion about timing. This account indicates the beginning of this epidemic as May and gives the impression that Mrs. Eggleston would have died earlier than her July 6 death date. It does appear though, considering these various accounts, that she did die of Smallpox.
Lurania was buried in the Ogden City Cemetery. The Sexton records indicate her death was of Smallpox.
Sources of Information:
This biography was adapted from a history I submitted to Daughters of Utah Pioneers as well as information in my book: The Joseph Eggleston Family. Sources listed below include those listed there.
Family Bible, photocopied from the personal Bible of Orson Hyde Eggleston by Virgie Eggleston Stoffers 1982 (Original then in possession of Theron Eggleston, now deceased)
Histories of Samuel Eggleston from records of Laura Eggleston Cutler (DUP)
Histories of Orson Hyde Eggleston by Virgie Eggleston Stoffers (DUP) and Karen Eggleston Stark (DUP)
“History of Cayuga County, New York” by Stork p. 475-484.
Pottawattamie County, Iowa land records.
Ogden City Cemetery Sexton Records.
Orson F. Whitney, History of Utah (Vol 4, p. 163); Biography of William Nicol Fife
“Mormon Midwife, 1846-1888 Diaries of Patty Bartlett Sessions” Edited by Donna Toland Smith (1997 University of Utah Press) p. 70.
Journal of Isaac Chauncey Haight with historical notes / edited and arranged by Paul Jones (L.D.S. Church Historical Dept Call Number: M270.1 H1496j 2012)
Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Church History Library)