2001 An Eggleston Genealogy Odyssey – Part 1 to Iowa

I learned a great deal about our family history during a 2001 road trip tracing our family’s migration route in reverse – An Eggleston Genealogy Odyssey.

The Eggleston Genealogy Odyssey Begins

Eggleston Genealogy transportation

This is the only photo I took of the motorhome on the trip. Skaneateles Lake is in the background

In August 2001, I invited myself on a journey with my Dad. Mom passed away in November 2000. She and Dad had traveled around much of the country in their motorhome. That summer, Dad wanted to drive to New Hampshire to visit my sister. It was a trip he had made several times with Mom, but I was concerned about him traveling that far by himself. (He later made many solitary trips – just not that far) I also was up for a visit with my sister. We learned that my other sister would be staying with them for a while in between moves, so it was a 2 for 1. After doing a good decade of genealogy research, I saw an opportunity to see some of the places our ancestors had lived. I eagerly offered to accompany Dad so he wouldn’t be lonely on this trip. Thus began a journey to a family reunion which traced our family’s migration route across the country – in reverse. A journey back to our beginnings, almost.

We started out on Saturday morning August 4, bright and early. Dad always started out “bright and early”. This became quite an adjustment for me. I also quickly learned that when Dad had his sights on a destination, he headed directly toward it. We drove all that day through Wyoming and Nebraska, stopping only for gas. During the drive, I heard lots of stories. Dad had a captive audience and he loved to tell stories. I heard some about his early life that I had not heard before. I realized that this would be a journey of discovery in more ways than one.

We stopped that first night at North Platte about 6:00 p.m. and had dinner at a Village Inn. There was a campground just down the road where we spent the night. The next morning Sunday August 5 we got on the road early, of course, and drove through the rest of Nebraska.

Winter Quarters, Nebraska

Winter Quarters Visitor Center

Winter Quarters Visitor Center

We got to Winter Quarters about noon. It was really hot and humid there. We had a quick look at the Visitor’s Center then ate lunch in the motorhome in the parking lot. Then we went back in to the Visitor’s Center and had a formal tour. It is a very nice Visitor’s Center. There was on display a real stuffed buffalo with a wagon and facades of the Nauvoo and Salt Lake Temples. We saw a very good original film. The Temple was closed and the gate locked because it was Sunday, but we were able to take a few pictures.

Winter Quarters LDS Temple

Winter Quarters Temple

Winter Quarters is a significant and sacred place in Mormon history. In early 1846, the Saints began to leave Nauvoo, Illinois where they had built a thriving city. Many left during the winter and struggled to cross Iowa through all kinds of weather on rough and muddy roads. By the time the first of them reached Council Bluffs, Iowa, it was obvious that it would not be possible for any to go across the plains before the next winter. The Eggleston family did not leave Nauvoo until later in the Spring, so were spared some of the weather related issues and probably made the journey across Iowa more quickly. They caught up with the gathered Saints near Council Bluffs, Iowa.

As winter approached, Church leaders sought a place where they could take refuge until the next spring. They were able to go across the Missouri River to the Nebraska side and formed a settlement there. This hastily assembled settlement of crudely build cabins was home to about 4000 Saints that winter. There was insufficient food so many suffered from malnutrition. Disease easily spread through the community. About 600 people died in Winter Quarters before the Saints moved on. Most of them were buried in the Mormon Pioneer Cemetery there.

Mormon Pioneer Cemetery

Mormon Pioneer Cemetery Winter Quarters, Nebraska

Mormon Pioneer Cemetery Winter Quarters, Nebraska

We walked over to the Mormon Pioneer Cemetery, an found the name “Samuel Eggleston and 7 Mos” inscribed on the marker. Samuel was the son of Samuel and Lurania Powers Burgess Eggleston. He had been born January 16, 1847 during that bleak winter. He passed away on August 23rd of that year. By that time, the first of the Saints had started for the Salt Lake Valley, though many remained in Winter Quarters. Later the Winter Quarters settlement was abandoned and those who were not able to start west, crossed back over the river and remained for a time in Council Bluffs.

Samuel Eggleston 7 Mos

Samuel Eggleston 7 Mos – 6th name from the bottom

We located the approximate stone under which the baby Samuel would have been buried, using a handy map. There is a statue there which shows a child in a grave with parents standing together above it. In photographs, such as this one, you can’t clearly see the child. It seemed really significant that this was where Samuel and Lurania had buried there baby and this could have been them.

Statue in Mormon Pioneer Cemetery at Winter Quarters, Nebraska

Statue in Mormon Pioneer Cemetery at Winter Quarters, Nebraska. Samuel Eggleston was buried just a few feet away

Council Bluffs, Iowa

We drove across the Missouri River on the Mormon Bridge and went into Council Bluffs, Iowa. Samuel and Lurania Eggleston lived in Council Bluffs for several years. Samuel had a Boot & Shoe shop there and he owned a good deal of land. Their youngest child Mary Elizabeth was born there on September 22, 1849.  On February 12, 1854 their son Harvey Burgess Eggleston died in Council Bluffs. He was only 19 years old.

Our Cheney and Wilson ancestors also spent time in the Council Bluffs area. Elijah and Martha Wilson had four children born in Pottawattamie County, Iowa.

The Kanesville Tabernacle

In Council Bluffs, Dad and I found a replica of the Kanesville Tabernacle. The original tabernacle was constructed in December 1847 as a place where the Saints could meet for a conference. On December 27, 1847 the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was reorganized. Brigham Young was sustained as the President of the Church with Heber C. Kimball and Willard Richards as counselors. The Eggleston and Wilson families would have been in the area at that time and may have attended this conference.

Kanesville Tabernacle Council Bluffs, Iowa

Kanesville Tabernacle Council Bluffs, Iowa

The reconstructed Tabernacle is an impressive building. It was built with the same kind of wood and same techniques as the original. The original was built in about 2 ½ weeks (20 days) out of green cottonwood, by a man named Miller. This new building had mushrooms growing out of the walls. The original building, being made of green wood, did a lot of shrinking, shifting and settling so it was dismantled about two years later. But it had served it’s purpose. The missionary there told of how Brigham Young and the rest of the Twelve were directed to reorganize the first presidency. They had been dragging their feet, but it was time. The building had to be built because it was getting late in the year and the weather would no longer allow outdoor meetings.

There is a Visitor’s Center next to the Kanesville Tabernacle (It was so wonderful that they were all air conditioned-it was so hot). We saw a nice film about the Mormon Battalion and saw lists of Battalion members. We did not have Eggleston ancestors in the Mormon Battalion, but Elijah Wilson’s son Alfred Gideon served in company A.

After seeing the film about the Battalion, I got thinking about my worries and fears about leaving my family for three weeks in a comfortable home with everything they needed. I realized that compared to those men leaving their families for who knew how long with poor shelter and little food, my fears were pretty silly.

The Very Brief Life of Samuel Eggleston IV

January 16th marks the anniversary of the birth of Samuel Eggleston, son of Samuel and Lurania Powers Burgess Eggleston. His birth, life and death occurred during a very dark time and place in the lives of his family and the larger community of Latter-day Saints. Early in 1846, the Saints were forced to leave their homes in Nauvoo, Illinois. The Eggleston family were not among the first to leave. They stayed until sometime in the spring of 1846 according to Samuel’s account. They may have stayed longer than others for financial reasons, or to help with the completion of the Temple which was dedicated May 1, 1846.

The Egglestons traveled to Winter Quarters in Nebraska, where the Saints had gathered to prepare to go further west. Small cabins were built where they spent a miserable winter. 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 the very young and very old.

Birth of baby Samuel to Lurania and Samuel Eggleston

Lurania Powers Burgess Eggleston

Lurania Powers Burgess Eggleston

Lurania Powers Burgess Eggleston, who was 38 years old at that time, gave birth to a son on the bleak winter day of January 16th. Patty Sessions was a prominent midwife during that time. Fortunately for us, she kept records in her diary and an account book. Her notation under the date of 16 January was “Put sister Eggleston to bed with a son Samuel E.” “Putting to bed” was her way of noting the confinement and delivery of a baby. Patty’s account book showed that Samuel Eggleston paid $2.00 for her services January 16.

The birth of this child must have brought great joy to the family at a time of great suffering. He was given the name of his father – Samuel. He may have also been named after Samuel H. Smith who along with Orson Hyde had introduced the family to the Restored Gospel. (They had named their last born son Orson Hyde Eggleston)


Death of baby Samuel at 7 Months

Any joy brought to this family by this baby was turned to sorrow seven months later. We do not know the exact circumstances. Whether he was sickly his entire life, or whether struck with a sudden illness, we can’t be sure. We do know that a shortage of food probably meant inadequate nutrition for his mother Lurania. Also we know that in the close quarters of this makeshift community, diseases spread easily. Whatever the cause, this little baby of seven months departed this life on August 2, 1847. This was not the first baby this family lost. Their first child Dwight died at about one year old, and their second son Benjamin lived only a few weeks.

Little Samuel was buried in the Mormon Pioneer Cemetery in Winter Quarters. Most graves there are unmarked; however, records were kept. His grave has a number #208. There is now a marker in the cemetery with names inscribed for all of those who died during the time that the Saints lived in Winter Quarters.

Samuel Eggleston 7 Mos 6th from the bottom

Samuel Eggleston 7 Mos 6th from the bottom

The location of Samuel’s grave is under a stone walkway near the sculpture of a father and mother standing above the grave of their child. I find the location and that sculpture rather fitting. It helps form a picture of the grieving parents, Samuel and Lurania, saying goodbye to the child they had for such a short time.

Location of Samuel Eggleston's grave

Samuel Eggleston is buried beneath these stones, below the flowerpot and to the left of the shadows.

Monument in Winter Quarters Cemetery

Monument in Winter Quarters Cemetery


Notes & References:

Mormon Pioneer Cemetery, OmahaDouglas CountyNebraskaUSA Grave #208  35007063

Diary of Patty Bartlett Sessions (page 29 of microfilm) indicates birth January 16, 1846. This has been published as the Book, Mormon Midwife 1846-1888 Diaries of Patty Sessions, by Donna Toland Smith, Ed., University of Utah Press 1977, Library, Page number: 33, 70: birth: 16 January 1847; Winter Quarters, Douglas, Nebraska, United States under date of 16 January (1847) “Put sister Eggleston to bed with a son Samuel E” Patty Sessions Diary was also published in Utah Historical Quarterly Vol X 1942, p. 94.

Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah has the wrong birth date for Samuel of 16 August, 1846, which has been used in other databases.

Eggleston Family bible

Samuel Eggleston Jr near top of 2nd page

Orson Hyde Eggleston’s Family Bible lists: Samuel Eggleston Jr. born Jan 16th 1847 at Winter Quarters Omaha Nation Nebraska. died in same place Aug 23rd 1847.

Cemetery Tour – Kinne Cemetery and the Open Vault

Ron Eggleston made a trip this summer to upstate New York where his branch of the Eggleston family lived, died and many are buried. He explored the Kinne Cemetery where he found family headstones.

Grave of Asa Eggleston (ll) in Old Kinne Cemetery, Antwerp NY

Grave of Asa Eggleston (ll) in Old Kinne Cemetery, Antwerp NY


Grave marker for John Mitchell Eggleston and his two wives, Old Kinne Cemetery, Antwerp

Grave marker for John Mitchell Eggleston and his two wives, Old Kinne Cemetery, Antwerp

Monument of Joel and Sophia Eggleston and three of their children, Old Kinne Cemetery

Monument of Joel and Sophia Eggleston and three of their children, Old Kinne Cemetery











Ron found an open vault there in the cemetery, which stirred his curiosity. His inquiry led to a family story, which had inspired some local folklore and creepy activities. Details of this story were found in a newspaper article in the Commercial Advertiser of Canton, N.Y. dated Tuesday, July 11, 1916. This article was titled: “Mystery of Open Vault: Gruesome Night in Northern New York Cemetery”

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