Announcing Delbert and Barbara Roach's book on
William and Violate Burgess and their family

Click here for more Information

 

HARRISON BURGESS
(1814-1883)

 

Sophia, Harrison, Amanda


A SHORT SKETCH OF THE LIFE OF HARRISON BURGESS
THE SON OF WILLIAM AND VIOLATY BURGESS


I was born September 3rd 1814 in the town of Putnam, Washington County, State of New York. I lived with my parents until I was upwards of fourteen years of age, and a part of the time afterwards, and being the oldest of my father's family I was kept constantly at work and had but little opportunity in acquiring an education. My father made no profession of Religion but led a moral and virtuous life. My childhood was not marked with any crime although I paid but little or no attention to religion until the seventeenth year of my age, in July 1832, when I first heard the fullness of the Gospel proclaimed by Elder Simeon Carter. At this time I was convinced that the scriptures were true and that the Book of Mormon was a Divine Revelation from Heaven. I was baptized by Elder Simeon Carter and confirmed a member of the Church of Latter-day Saints by Orson Pratt. I spent the following winter in going to school, working for my board, and in meeting with the Saints. In the spring of 1833 I started in company with John S. Carter to the State of Vermont, where we labored about two months and then returned to New York. We came to the Benson Branch where I was ordained a Priest under the hands of Brother Carter with whom I continued to travel and preach for about two months in the State of New York.

On the third Sabbath of May while speaking to a congregation I declared that I knew the Book of Mormon to be true and the work of God. The next day while I was laboring in the community something seemed to whisper to me, "Do you know the Book of Mormon is true?" My mind became perplexed and darkened and I was so tormented in Spirit that I left my work and retired into the woods. The misery and distress that I there experienced cannot be described. The tempter all the while seemed to say, "Do you know the Book of Mormon is True?" I remained in this situation about two hours. At last it came into my mind the Faith that the Brother of Jared had in obtaining a knowledge of God for himself and others also. I resolved to know whether I had proclaimed the truth or not, and commenced praying to the God of Heaven for a testimony of these things. When all at once the vision of my mind opened and a glorious personage clothed in white stood before me and exhibited to my view the plates from which the Book of Mormon was proclaimed and taken. In June I took a short mission in the State of New York where I proclaimed the truth in great boldness.

In September 1833, I started in charge of my father's family for Kirtland, Ohio; as it was necessary for him to stay to transact some business. On my journey I accidentally met with the Prophet Joseph Smith in Springfield, Pennsylvania. I there saw him for the first time and heard him speak. I arrived in Kirtland and tarried there during the winter in which time Brother Smith received a revelation calling for strength of the Lord's House to go to Jackson County, Missouri for the redemption of Zion. I was among the rest that volunteered to go and fulfill this commandment. I started in March 1834, in company with Joseph Smith and others. We had a long and tedious journey and arrived in Missouri on the last day of June. While the camp tarried there, Brother Smith received the word of the Lord by revelation, relative to the camp informing us that we were not to fight at that time, that Zion could not be redeemed then, and that he had required us to come thus far as a trial of our faith, that he had accepted our offering. Some individuals of the camp felt to murmur at this decree and wanted to fight the enemies of the Lord. But Joseph said the Lord would send in a scourge upon us in consequence of this which we did. The cholera was upon them in a few hours after this prediction and some eighteen of our Brethren fell victims to its grasp. Among the number that I attended upon and helped to bury was my beloved Brother John S. Carter. My feelings on this occasion can never be described. At length I was violently seized with it myself but through Faith in God and the kind assistance of Brother Zera H. Cole, I was rescued from the grasp of death.

When the camp broke up I received an honorable discharge from Lyman Wight, our commander in chief. After this I started for home in company with Heber C. Kimball, Luke Johnson, Lyman E. Johnson, Bates Nobles, David Elliot, and Bradford W. Elliot. I arrived in Kirtland, Ohio about the last of July. I found my friends well and the Temple in good progress, and the Saints were exerting themselves to the utmost in their poverty to build the Temple which was so far completed that I received my endowments therein with the Spirit of Prophecy, the ministering of Angels, Visions, etc. I will here relate a vision which was shown to me. It was near the close of the endowments, I was in a meeting for instruction in the upper part of the Temple, with about a hundred of the High Priests, Seventies, and Elders. The Saints fell to shout "Hosannah," and the Spirit of God rested upon me in mighty power and I beheld the room lighted up with a peculiar light such as I had never seen before. Soft and clear and the room looked to me as though it had neither roof nor floor to the building and I beheld Joseph Smith, the Prophet; and Hyrum Smith, the Prophet's brother; and Roger Orton enveloped in the light. Joseph exclaimed aloud, "I behold the Savior, the Son of God." And Hyrum exclaimed, "I behold the Angels of Heaven." Brother Orton exclaimed, "I behold the Chariots of Israel." All who were in the room felt the Power of God to that degree that many prophesied and the power of God was made manifest to all those in the assembly. The remembrance of which I shall never forget as long as I am spared on this earth.

The winter of 1836 I attended a high school together with Brothers Joseph and Hyrum, and most of the head leaders of the church, it was a fine opportunity for obtaining knowledge of the Church. The evenings were mostly spent in meetings for instruction on the principle of our Faith and Religion. It was then and there that the lectures in the forepart of the Book of Doctrine and Covenants were given. During this winter and spring the members of Zion's Camp were called together to receive an especial blessing according to a promise which had been made in the above mentioned revelation. Out of this number most of the twelve were selected and also the first Seventy of which I was a member. We had a meeting every Saturday to bless and ordain such as had been called. I was blessed and ordained under the hands of Joseph Smith Sr., his son, and Sidney Rigdon. The ensuing summer I worked for Hyrum Smith on his farm as he was absent from his home most of the time.

On the first day of July 1835, I was married to Sophia Minerva Foster, daughter of Orin and Rachel Foster, who was born April the 12th 1810, in Madison, New Haven County, Connecticut. I started on the 18th of April on a mission to New York and Vermont.

[Harrison and his family (wife, parents, brothers, sisters, etc.) eventually had to leave Kirtland, Ohio and moved to Missouri, where, with the rest of the Saints, they suffered much and were driven from their homes into the state of Illinois and later Nauvoo. Harrison's account of these things is missing from this history, hopefully someone in the family has these missing pages.]

December 15th I was notified to appear at the Temple at eight o'clock A.M. with my wife to receive our Endowments. We were there at the hour appointed and about ten o'clock we received our washing and annointings preparing to the fullness of the Priesthood, with the signs and tokens belonging to the same. Monday the 22nd I was called upon by President Joseph Young to go to the Temple and assist in the work of Endowments, with a request that I would help him clear through, until the work was done, which I did. Thursday, the 25th of December I was requested to go home and get my wife to assist in the female department. She also continued to labor there until the work was done. January 22nd at seven o'clock P.M. myself and wife received the ordinance of Sealing by President Brigham Young. The next morning at ten o'clock we received the Ordinance of the Second Anointment, by President H.C. Kimball. Friday the sixth of February 1846, Amanda Melvina Hammond was sealed to me by President Brigham Young.

After receiving our blessings in the temple, myself and family made all preparations for our wilderness journey and crossed the Mississippi River on the last day of May 1846. We had a prosperous journey, overtook the camp at Council Bluffs, crossed the Missouri River in July and in concert with the Spirit of the camps, made preparations for Winter Quarters.

November 18th, I started back to Nauvoo on business for President Young, (financial business.) Upon arriving at Nauvoo I found it a lonesome, deserted camp as most of the Saints had left. During my stay there I went into the temple a number of times and offered up my prayers to the Most High. I visited the graves of Wm. Anderson and son, who had fallen martyrs in the late battle of Nauvoo. I also went to the Monmouth, Warren Co., Illinois and brought home with me to the camp my wife, Amanda, as she had been there on a visit to her friends a number of months. I went to Warren, Henderson Co. to see my brothers. I found my brother, Abram, was dead and buried. In company with his wife and little son, Perry Burgess, I visited his new-made grave. My other brother, Frederick, had gone to Galena and has not been heard from since. My brother, Abram, was buried November 9, 1846, he died of pleurisy. October 2nd, my sister, Hannah, died of consumption, one month only between their deaths.

I arrived at home to the camp the 22nd of January 1847 at Winter Quarters. My wife, Sophia, was sick most of the ensuing winter but through the mercy of the good Lord, her life was spared, her disease was scurvy, quite a number had died with it. At the organization of the camp I was appointed a captain of fifty in Brother Kimball's division, but in consequence of sickness in my family I could not obtain the necessary outfit to go in with the spring company. Accordingly, I spent the spring in putting in a crop. July 4th, I left home and went into the state of Missouri with my wife and father and two of my brothers and spent the summer in making shingles. In the fall I returned home to secure my crops and again late in the fall I went down again in company with my brother, Horace, and spent most of the time laboring there to obtain an outfit for my family to cross the mountains until the middle of April 1848. A little previous to this I received an appointment to take a mission to England. I felt as ever to respond to the call, but the idea of leaving my family to make their way to the Utah Valley without my company or assistance was a heavy damp on the atmosphere of my feelings. My family, however, chose to undertake the enterprise rather than to have me fail of filling my mission. I accordingly turned my whole attention to prepare everything in my power as comfortable and convenient as I could for my family's expedition and resolved to see them across the Elkhorn River myself. My team consisted of a good strong wagon, two yoke of first rate oxen, and a yoke of cows. I got a boy to drive the team.

We left Winter Quarters the 20th of May 1848, had a good journey to the River and crossed over it in safety. The people who were going to perform the journey had been gathering there for some time and forming an encampment, awaiting the arrival of the balance who were to go along. The two large camps would have covered some acres. One was formed in a square with a hollow in the center, the other in an oblong, here the camps were organized for traveling with captains for hundreds, fifties, and tens, with good instructions from Brother Brigham Young and others as to our everyday duties. A number of the Twelve and many friends and relatives of the camp had come over to visit their friends and to see them start. The business having been all accomplished on the morning of the 3rd of June, the visitors were to go back to Nauvoo, and I was to accompany them as I had my things there in a valise which I was to take with me. The ferryboat had to be repaired some that morning in haste as a tremendous thunderstorm seemed to be gathering. While we were waiting for the boat Brother Kimball came and took me by the hand, blessed me and prophesied many good things upon my head. Said I should perform a good mission and return with much honor to Zion. He then blessed my wives and said they should both be blessed and prospered in my absence and that we should live to meet again. These predictions were all fulfilled.

Lines composed by my wife and presented to me at parting at the Elkhorn River, June 3, 1848:
"At last the hour to part has come,
And each a different way must roam.
Though hard to part yet all is well.
May heaven protect us all, farewell."

"My wishes for your safe return
And happiness while you are gone.
I'll write them down that you may see
These lines when far across the sea."

"For distance cannot change the heart
Or make the dear loved objects part,
O then my frailties all forgive,
And let me in your memory live."

"The Holy Priesthood crowns your head
And gives you faith and power with God
To bless and save the Sons of men,
And bring them back to God again."

"Endowed like Zion's noblest sons
And guarded like her favored ones,
May you escape each hidden snare,
Whether of ocean, earth, or air."

"O may our spirits pure remain,
O may we live to meet again,
With joy and honor may you come
And in the valley find your home."

I was from the third of June until the 27th of July getting to New York. At St. Louis I met in company with Brother Joseph Clements bound for England and we agreed to travel together. One circumstance I will mention while on the route. We took the Highland Mary on the Ohio River. While on this boat we were attacked by a gang of thieves and robbers who intended to kill us, and throw us into the river, but through the mercy of God they did not kill us though my head was severely injured by their blows. We could get no protection from the officers of the boat, but had to hire a state room and shut ourselves up. The boat was burned on her way back.

Brother Clements had his family along with him as he was taking them along with him as far as Philadelphia intending to leave them there with his wive's relatives while he crossed the ocean; and performed his mission. We were to meet in New York and cross the ocean together. I got to New York alright but I had to wait some time for Brother Clements to come. I spent this interval in preaching and laboring in the branch of the church which had previously been organized there. My labors were greatly blessed and appreciated there. Brother Clements arrived in New York

Tuesday, August 22nd. We took a walk the next day through the city to see the ship that would sail soon and engage a passage to Liverpool, England. We engaged our passage on the ship, Columbus. She was a fine large ship of 1800 tons, about 180 feet in length and 36 feet in width. She was the largest vessel that was crossing the sea at that time.

Friday the 26th of August we left New York and went on board the ship bound for Liverpool.

My health was very poor during the whole journey, it being occasioned by the heavy blows I received on my head by that wicked gang of mobbers while I was on board the Highland Mary, on the Ohio River. In order to give a brief sketch of our journey across the sea I will have to extract from my daily journal:

Sat. the 26th: I am very unwell, but will try to write a little on the sea.

Mon. and Tues. 28, 29, 30: A fair wind and we got along finely.

Sun. 31st: I was taken sick and confined to my berth until Thursday 14th Sept. It seemed sometimes that I must die, far from home and friends and find a watery grave. I spent my birthday on the sea, Sept. 3rd, was sick all day. We had three gales already, one lasted five days. I have time to reflect on the past, present, and future. And I pray to God to bless me while crossing the sea, and also in performing the mission into which I have been appointed. May my headache depart from me and trouble me no more, which I ask in the name of Jesus, Amen. Met a ship today that had been in a gale and lost all their water. They were badly in need of water so our captain gave them a cask of water. They were badly wrecked but thought they could reach port. We are about 1000 miles from Liverpool. The sun is about 1 1/2 high and the weather is fair. The wind blows a gentle gale and all is quiet and peaceful.

Sat. 18th we have a fair wind and the past two days have made good heading. My health is so poor I am hardly able to write and while I think upon the situation of my family, I think they are in the valley of Salt Lake, enjoying the society of the Saints who have gathered there and I feel to ask God in the name of Jesus Christ to bless them in my absence. May their minds be stayed in the great work of God that they faint not. And may the spirit of God invigorate and strengthen my body that I may be useful in Great Britain. Obtain means to return to my family, to bless and comfort them, may peace and plenty attend them during my absence that when I return that joy may fill our bosoms, that we may enjoy each others society in peace for a season. May God bless this people in the Valley; and their crops and herds and all that they put their hands to perform. O God, grant to hear me in these petitions for I ask them in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Monday 18th: I have been very sick with the headache the two past days.

On the twenty-first of September I arrived in England and was appointed by Apostle Orson Pratt who then presided over the mission to travel among all the conferences of the mission with authority to transact any business with both officers and members as the Holy Spirit might dictate. He accordingly gave me a recommend to this effect regarding the conferences to furnish me the means of transportation from one conference to another. In this way I labored about a year in which time my labors were greatly blessed and highly appreciated by President Pratt, also by the Saints unto whom I was sent. Always endeavoring by the help of the Lord to comfort and strengthen the Saints and to build them up in all the principles of our holy religion. We organized a council in the conference in which all matters of importance could be tried. In these council meetings the Lord blessed me with great wisdom so that all things seemed to be settled to the satisfaction of all concerned. I also preached in as many of the large halls as could be obtained. About the first of July 1849 the presidency of the Glasgow Conference was vacated and President Pratt appointed me to preside there. It was the largest conference, but one in the British Isles. But the Saints in Britain were generally very poor, but they are very kind and good to the American Elders. It was July 5th, 1849 that I took the presidency of that conference after going there. I held a number of council meetings and then traveled and preached from one Branch to another and had a full report made out of the conditions of the several branches, how many officers and members each branch had, how they stood in religion and financially. These reports were forwarded to Pres. Pratt all being subject to his council and advice.

From the 13th of August until the 29th. I spent my time in Glasgow and preached 13 times and traveled 90 miles. From the 7th of September till the 17th, I spent my time in my conference, preached 10 times and traveled 150 miles. From the 17th until the 22nd, I preached four times and traveled 80 miles. September 22nd, I find myself unwell, having preached so much that my lungs are very sore and there is a fever hanging about me. Sept. 22nd, I left for Glasgow today, for Edinburgh to attend a conference, remained there until Thursday 25th, preached twice and traveled 100 miles. From the 25th of September until the 3rd of October I spent my time in Glasgow and held my quarterly conference, had baptized 217 in the last quarter. Spent my time in the conference from the 1st of October till the 18th preached twice and visited two branches and traveled fifty miles. From the 18th of October till the 1st of November I spent my time in the Glasgow conference, preached 18 times and traveled 300 miles. From the 1st to the 9th I stayed in the conference and had very poor health. I preached 8 times and traveled 150 miles. From the 9th to the 17th I preached four times and traveled 100 miles. Friday 23rd traveled 20 miles and preached in the evening. Thursday 22nd went to Bridge of Ware and preached on the evening of Friday 23rd, spent the day in Glasgow, in the evening attended council meeting and gave the Brethren some council on how to try cases. Glasgow, Sunday 25th, today was fast meeting through the Glasgow conference, had a good meeting. I spoke a short time in the morning and in the evening, I preached to a large congregation, traveled today six miles. From the 26th of November till the 4th of December I spent my time in the conference. I preached 8 times and traveled 100 miles. Dec. 4th, I spent the day in Glasgow, in the evening, went to Renfrew and preached to the saints in that place. From the 6th of December to the 28th I spent my time in the Glasgow Conference, preached 20 times and traveled 300 miles.

I have omitted mentioning many very interesting circumstances which occurred during my stay in Britain which would have made this little narrative too lengthy. More especially that part pertaining to the traveling in the mission, which President Pratt gave me, in the start of my labors in England. I will say, however, that it was a very interesting mission as it gave me an opportunity of becoming more or less acquainted with most of the saints in the British Conferences. In visiting and laboring in the various branches of these conferences I was treated with the utmost respect and kindness by their officers and members wherever I went. I labored very hard for the good of the Saints, preaching night and day in every place where an opportunity could be found. I found but little time to rest or to note down the many passing events which transpired around me and not being much of a writer it made the matter worse to this respect.

About the 1st of January 1850 I was released from my mission and was about to return to America. By the request of President Pratt I left Liverpool about two weeks sooner than I had intended, as he wished me to sail on a certain boat and take charge of a large box containing money and goods which were to be sent to the Presidency of the Church in Salt Lake City. I attended a Special Service which had been appointed for the occasion in which I was to take my farewell to the Beloved Saints of the Glasgow conference. This was held in the Mechanics Institutions, Canning Street, Calton, Glasgow. Upon the 1st day of January 1850. The Brethren and Sisters had prepared a number of songs and speeches for the occasion, also purchased a Scotch Plaid and Glengarry Bonnet, the emblems of their nation, which they presented to me during the evening of the service. A part of the evening had been spent very pleasantly in addresses and in singing some of the farewell songs, one of which I will write as follows -- Farewell Song, of the Saints in the Glasgow Conference to their beloved president, Harrison Burgess.

AIR BANKS OF THE ERIE

Fare ye well, Harrison Burgess, O fare ye well,
Heaves the anguish of heart we lie under,
Breathes there a heart in our midst here who does not feel,
Painful regret at our parting asunder.
still we won't bid thee stay from thy home far away,
Though we have loved they society dearly,
Could we obtain our choice, how we would then rejoice
Walking the wilderness with you so cheerily.

Chorus
Follow thee; follow thee; could we but follow thee,
Mountains and rivers would tremble before us,
O that we all were met safely in Deseret,
turning our voice to a sweet Liberty's Chorus.

Fare-ye well, Harrison Burgess, O fare-ye-well,
Thy wife and thy little one for thee are mourning,
A wife and a Mother's fond bosom can only feel
The joy of a Husband and Father's returning.
Then gently ye swelling breeze waft him safe o'er the seas
Smooth down the boisterous billows before him,
Feel his Sophia's heart joy for the bitter smart,
She may have felt in anxiety o'er him.

Fare-ye well Harrison Burgess, O fare-ye well,
Follow the saints to the wilds of mountains,
And when you are rearing a home in yon mountain dell,
Close by the side of some bubbling fountain;
Think of the saints you've left almost of hope bereft,
Think of our bondage, our groaning and sighing,
Land us your faith, and prayers that with you we soon may share,
In all the glorious blessing of Zion.

The time having arrived in the program for the presentation, Bro. McKeechie arose and said that a very pleasing duty now devolved upon them. They had a Plaid and Glengarry bonnet to present to President Burgess. He then called upon Elder Wm. McGhie to make the presentation. Elder McGhie then advanced with the Plaid and Glengarry Bonnet, and addressing President Burgess said, "President Burgess in the name of the saints in Glasgow Conference, I present you this Plaid and Bonnet, the emblem of our nation, as a small mark of the esteem and appreciation in which you are held by us." At the same time with the assistance of Bro. McGhie he opened out the Plaid and folded it gracefully around him, and put the Bonnet on his head, this being done, a cheer both loud and long burst from the audience, this was followed by a few moments of cheering of the most enthusiastic description. When the cheering in some measure had subsided, Elder McGhie proceeded, "Beloved President, were the love and esteem we have for you to be measured by the value of this present then indeed it would appear very trifling; but I beg leave to assure you that although the value of the present is trifling, yet the love which burns in our bosoms for you can hardly be equaled between man and woman, and never will be surpassed. We have witnessed your indefatigable labors in preaching the Gospel and building up the Kingdom in our midst, even to the injury of your health we have seen the purity of your life and have shared in your love to that degree that we can truly say we have been under a tender and indulgent parents charge and our whole desire is that when you are in a far distant country a small portion of that love may still continue to burn for us. We desire that we may not be altogether forgotten but that while you wear these emblems of our Nation, the Plaid and Bonnet, they may recall to your memory the Scotch Saints among whom you sojourned, and in whose bosoms burns a love for you as enduring as Eternity. Beloved Brother, farewell until we meet in Zion, and may God strengthen your body and Spirit and guard you from every danger till ye perform the long and painful journey that lies before you. May the blessing of God still continue to attend you wherever you go. May you find your family in health and safety. Amen." The whole audience echoed in a loud and hearty Amen.

President Burgess then spoke as follows, "Brothers and Sisters, it is impossible to describe the feelings of this moment. I feel as if I could cheerfully live and die in your midst; but you know that a duty calls me to go and I have ever been ready to walk in the path of duty. The Plaid and Bonnet which you have presented to me, I receive with gratitude and when at home in the city of Great Salt Lake, I shall upon great occasions display them proudly as a monument of your love and affection, and at sight of them shall never cease to recall a vivid remembrance of the Saints in Scotland, who have treated me with so much kindness. Brethren and Sisters, I must bid you farewell. You cannot expect that I can shake hands with you all at parting, but be assured I wish you all......" [missing page]

Thoughts occasioned by attending a funeral in Glasgow on the 22nd of August in 1849
Upon this day I assisted in conveying the remains of a Sister Kirkwood to the narrow house appointed for all living, and truly I found that in Briton what is termed as the narrow house. It is much too narrow for all the purposes of decency, keeping natural affection and the revelations of God altogether out of the question. When we arrived at the churchyard I looked into a corner and discovered a great heap of dirty half-rotten boards when I was told was the remains of coffins which had been dug up again, many of them even before they had well begun to decay, and here they were for sale after having answered this last of offices to the dead, to be wrought up into many purposed of life. My frame shuddered at the idea, but I had yet a greater shock than that to undergo, advancing to the grave in which we were to deposit the remains of our sister, I saw a sight too much for humanity to behold unmoved. After we had lowered the coffin into the grave in which we were to deposit the remains of our sister, I saw a sight too much for humanity to behold unmoved. After we had lowered the coffin into the grave when the Sexton began to fill in the earth on the coffin I discovered it to be filled with human bones. I actually saw from the skull bones to the toe joints in that single grave and handled and tossed about with no more reverence than if they had been so many pebbles and stones. "Gracious Heavens!" I exclaimed, Is this Briton? She who boasts herself as possessing more intelligence and gospel light than any other preceding age, and who boasts herself as the most civilized nation in the world? And yet I find in her customs more barbarous and inhuman in their nature than that practiced by any other people. The red-man of the forest, savage as he is, called by the Britons would blush for the people that could be guilty of such inhumanity. Among them the places of their dead is held most sacred and rather than that the bones of their dead should be raised and exposed to the gaze of the vulgarity, would face death in its most bitter form. When the white man first visited and took possession of the long enjoyed rightful inheritance amongst all the pangs that rent the heart of the deeply injured red men, none was so great or so deeply felt as the thought of banished from their forefathers' graves. Deep, deep and heart-rendering was their mourning when they saw those mounds containing the bones of their forefathers attacked by the civilized white man and with his sacrilegious hands to be scattered out to bleach naked and bare beneath the winds of heaven. But here amongst the greatest refinements, it produces no pang from the heart to behold the bones of their dead tossed and kicked about in the most inhuman manner. Such a blessing is civilization. It occurs to me that after thieves of tyranny and oppression we are forced to lead under the present state of things, and after the hardships and cruelties to which we are subjected that after death the least we can expect is as much of our mother earth as will hold our bones, this is an acknowledged right in the mind of every human being, and how often do we hear the proverb repeated, "That all we may expect to enjoy of this earth is the breadth of our back at least." But as regards to this country, nothing could be more false; the rich man may perhaps enjoy this privilege, but the poor man, by the rough and more savage manner in which his bones are handled are virtually deprived of one inch of mother earth to lay his bones in. When we hear the boasts made by this country of now enjoying more light and intelligence than any other age, and when we look at the present state of things and contrast them with the state of things which existed in ages long gone by, we are at a loss to know in what their extra knowledge and refinement consists. Let us cast our eyes for a moment over some of the Ancient Nations; Egypt for instance--the mummies that have been found in the Catacombs of that country in a complete state of preservation after so many thousands of years tells us in language far stronger than words the estimation in which they held the dead, and expense and pain taken to keep them pure and uncontaminated with other matter and in that country this anxiety concerning their dead was not confined to the higher classes, but pervaded all ranks from the highest to the lowest. It may be said that this system was learned by the Egyptians from the people of God, the Israelites. Well be it so, that does not mend the matter any for the people of this country. They do profess to be the people of God, while their customs in this particular belies such a profession. Take a glace at Bible History and you will see that the greatest exactness was observed by God's chosen people, regarding the burying of their dead so indispensably necessary was it considered by them that they should be kept in a separate and unpolluted condition after death that it was nothing uncommon for a dying man to take an oath of his surviving relatives that they would take proper care of his bones. This argues a proper understanding by them of all the glorious mysteries of the resurrection, whilst a contrary course such as it practiced by the people of this country, tell us in the clearest manner their utter ignorance of the most important elements of Christianity. When Joseph took an oath of his sons to carry his bones along with them when they would be redeemed from Egypt, would not his sons have been placed in a curious predicament when the time came for the performance of their vow had their mode of burial been the same as that adopted by this heathen country. Remember that four hundred and thirty years had elapsed between the time of the making the vow until its performance, had he been laid in a churchyard in Glasgow, I should have liked to have seen his sons come to lift his bones after 430 years. They would, during that time have received many a toss by the rude hand of the Sexton, and perhaps a stray dog might have been seen skulking down the hedge side with his thigh bone, while other bits of him might have been borne far away by the winds and to add to their perplexity they would find that during that time many a sinner's carcass had mingled with their father's, and the nicest discrimination of mortal could never separate the particles, and to add to the confusion, the very Genealogy of those lying on the spot would be a mystery to every living man in half that period of time. But the people of God in Ancient times knew more of the mind of God and more of the Mystery of Redemption than to allow their dead to be handled after such a manner, and I myself left the spot thanking God that I belonged to a people on whom the light of redemption and revelation had again dawned and who were able through it to detect much heathen abomination, and bring them to light in all their monstrous deformity. And a sure and certain proof of the Apostasy of the present Christian world can never be wanting while such a custom remains amongst them to convince mankind of its truth.

Having been released from my mission and about to return to my family the various conferences and branches among whom I had labored got up subscription sheets to get the means I would need to take me home, expressive of their love and affection and their appreciation of my labors amongst them, which by very small donations gathered me ample means for my journey besides enough to purchase many necessary things for my family. May the Lord bless all those who kindly rendered me their assistance both now and forever. Amen.

A Journal of the Particulars of the Journey from England to New Orleans, America:
According to advertisements we were to set sail in the sixth day of January 1850 from the Princes Dock, Liverpool, but we were delayed until Thursday the tenth of January. Jeter Clinton was appointed President of the company and I was chosen as one of his counselors. On the night of Wednesday, January 9, before we sailed we had a birth of a fine boy, the son of Wm Fairhurt of Liverpool Conference.
On Thursday 10th we left the dock and got into the River Mercy, and amid the great numbers of spectators of Liverpool and other places, we lighted up our voices in praises to God and singing some of the most appropriate songs of Zion, and every heart rejoiced and every eye seemed glad, at the idea of leaving the Babylonish world, to prepare for the land of the Lord in the West America. On this night while we lay in the river we formed the ship into six wards, with Jeter Clinton as our President and Milo Andrus, Harrison Burgess, John Banks, John Haliday and Richard Cook, as counselors, we had two weddings between George Snow and C. Ponfole, and Robert Sharkey and Emma Simmons, all of Birmingham Conference.
Friday the eleventh at 8 o'clock the steamer came along side to tug us down the river and ten o'clock the steamer came along side to tug us down the river and ten o'clock weighed anchor and at 11 o'clock passed the Black Rock, and on we rode to the great channel with a fair wind.
Saturday the 12th, a stiff breeze blowing us at the rate of eleven knots an hour till twelve o'clock at night when there arose a squall which took away our sails, and was mad at the idea of carrying our good old Argo with a load of Saints. Out of 378 souls on board there was only nine or ten but what were seasick, and myself was dreadful bad but the power of God was made manifest through the Ordinance of Laying On Of Hands by President Jeter Clinton and Milo Andrus.
Monday the 15th, this was as rough a day as that of the 12th. We lost more of our sails and had another stampede and some of the Brethren and Sisters were thrown out of our berths and tossed from one side of the ship to the other, and the boxes and tins shared the same fate, and though we lay 1300 miles from England, Elder John Haliday, caught an English skylark which we suppose had followed either our ship or some other, but through fatigue and hunger it died the next day.
Thursday 17th, we have seen five English and one American vessels but none as large as our own and we have seen a vast number of porpoises floating about or ship. From this time for the space of 18 days we had contrary winds.
Sunday the 20th. At this time the weather is beginning to feel much warmer and we have had a first rate meeting in the steerage of our ship and I have not heard a murmuring voice among the saints, naught but love and peace does passes each bosom.
Monday the 21st. The first death is the one of George Thorp, aged 70 years, of Wellington Macelesfield conference. And a storm this day equal to the last.
Wednesday 23rd. Another storm accompanied with rain, and took away our sails and rigging. At half past twelve o'clock at night we saw a most splendid rainbow, in colors far superior to any I ever saw in England.
Thursday 24th. The death of Richard Jordan aged 54 years after a long illness.
Saturday the 26th. On this day we had a worse storm than we have had all along in the distance of 2000 miles, the wind arose at 2 o'clock in the afternoon and the sea began to swell and show its power and the vessel lay first on one side and then on the other and so we dipped water on both sides of our ship, until half past seven. We were tugging at our ropes though in vain for we lost our sails and yardarms and our chains broke at the time our Worthy President called together his respective counselors and he offered up prayers followed by Milo Andrus and John Banks, by this time to our surprise the wind gave a tremendous rushing but by the time Counselors Harrison Burgess and John Haliday and Richard Cook offered up their prayers to God I would say in the space of half an hour God heard and answered our prayers, and we had a dead calm, I would here remark that the captain was much surprised to find that so much singing of hymns and prayer and so much love and harmony was among us in all these dangers. Another death, the daughter of Jane Brown of Bradford Conference, age 30 days.
Sunday the 27th. This was the most delightful day among the saints. Our President Jeter Clinton assisted by Milo Andrus attended to the ordinance of blessing the same child that was born on the Wednesday night before we set sail. Brother John Embra from Manchester had the misfortune to fall down the hatchway and put out his shoulder, and injured his side very much, but was healed by the laying on of hands. Elder Harrison Burgess attended to the Sacrament this day.
February 1st. Another death, the daughter of Sister Bond of London, age four years. The weather now began to change to be in our favor.
Friday the 9th. The death of George Rouse age 35 years of Cheltenham Conference caught cold at Liverpool through the rain that fell there.
Sunday the 12th. A Sister Bennet of Liverpool Conference caused a great deal of uneasiness among the saints on board through forming an acquaintance with the second mate in a very indecent manner which was contrary to the minds and will of the President, Officers, and Saints. Three meetings, two in the day and one by moonlight and they had their effect.
Tuesday 14th. A dead calm all the day, we did not travel ten miles today.
Thursday 20th. Came in sight of the West India Islands. Their names as follows, Porta Rico, Cape Roxeo, the rock of St. Juan and Cape Eugene.
Monday 25th. Came in sight of islands of Cuba and one point of Jamaica. Hailed a vessel from Portuguese with a load of goods, the captain gave us in as a load of Saints for the Priesthood gathering in Zion.
Wednesday 26th. Looked up our officers and found 84 including 1 High Priest, 5 Seventies, 37 Elders, 28 Priests, 6 Teachers, and 7 Deacons.
Friday, March 1st. A birth of a child, the name of Margaret Humpreys. The mother is blind but most extraordinary in her gifts. She is from Wellington, Macclesfield Conference.
Saturday 2nd. A most beautiful day sailing towards the Gulf of Mexico, till the sun set at seven o'clock, the night dark though by time the stars shine in their countless numbers in the heavens about nine o'clock the wind arose and blew us about 9 knots an hour, but through the weather being hot, some of the Saints were on the captains deck and poop for cool air at nine-thirty when it seemed as if the Lord had respect for his people for the heavens seemed as if to open and a chain of fire descended on the earth as some sort of token. It took the attention of the Saints and as they stood gazing at the heavens, lo, another star shot forth and to the surprise of all we found ourselves running around against the rocks of the Pine Isles. All hands were called on deck and soon the Saints like brave soldiers hauled at the ropes to get themselves clear from this awful situation, soon was the yardarms squared and on we rode but through the second mate and Mrs. Bennet we found ourselves running into the Cape of St. Antonio, on the Isle of Cuba and the danger was so great that we were obliged to haul out our cable ready for the last extremity, but through the prayers of the Saints mixed with their words we once more rode through the waters of the Lord.
Monday 3rd. A birth of a boy, the son of Joseph Howel, lived only six hours, was put into a tin box and soldered up till we arrived on land.
Tuesday 4th. Elder John Banks withdrew himself from the office of Councilor but did not give any particular reason for so doing, and Elder John Holaday was elected in his place. At night the ship Toglasnia hailed us and took back a stowed-away [Black] age 21, a fine young man run away from the Anglo-Saxon, a steam packet for New Orleans.
Thursday 6th. We passed the two lighthouses and at 8 o'clock the steam tug came alongside to tug us down the bar assisted by another we took in tow four more ships and on we went for New Orleans. We landed there March 8th 1850. We felt truly thankful that the Lord had preserved us from the dangers of the deep and brought us again to the shores of our own native land, America.

From the time I got to New Orleans till the first of June I spent my time between Orleans and Council Bluffs, fitting me up a team and preparing for my journey across the plains. I traveled with the camp in Captain Aaron Johnson's Company, acted as marshall of the hundred. The blessings of the Lord seemed to attend us from day to day.

We often passed the bones of some of the wretches who took part in the Martyrdom of Brothers Joseph and Hyrum. After they had acted in that dreadful tragedy the most of them had started to cross the plains for California in search of the gold mines, but they generally had died a most miserable death on the plains as it had been predicted upon their guilty heads, received no burial or but a partial one, so that the wolves had dug them up and there they were to be seen. Some of them could be designated by pencil writing on their skulls and some of these skulls had been kicked along by the passers until they were 2 or 3 miles from where they had been buried as some little stick or board with their name generally marked the hole into which they had been thrown. Thus vengeance over took them speedily.

There was a few cases of cholera in the camp as we journeyed along. I always assisted in nursing and administering to the sick. I had along with me a few medicines which I was taking to my family in the valley. As soon as they were taken I used to go and fire a dose of alcohol peppermint #6, and laudanum, which by the blessings of God cured a great many and many were healed by laying on of hands. One case of miraculous healing I will mention: A Sister McGow was taken with cholera in its most dreadful form. I administered to her in the morning and she seemed healed, but after a short while it came on again worse than before. She said if Brother Burgess could lay hands on her again she would live, if not she must die. I was a mile back assisting some of the Brethren through some bad places of road but the woman seemed to be sure that she would live if I could administer to her again that they sent a horse man after me in all haste who was to take my place with the team and I was to go back to the woman. I rode back as fast as possible and found her in extreme agony, cramped so that her head and heels nearly touched each other. As I entered her wagon I felt the power of God resting down upon me in mighty power. I layed my hands upon her head, "In the name of Jesus Christ and by the authority of the Holy Priesthood I commanded the destroyer to leave her instantly and to leave the wagon, and trouble her no more. It did so forthwith, but as it retreated I heard it hiss like an adder. The woman was healed and went on her way rejoicing.
 

Harrison

Amanda

Through the mercy of God I reached the valley in safety and found my family alive and well as Brother Kimball said we would when he gave me his parting blessing as we stood on the banks of the Elkhorn River, the morning I took my leave. I now found myself at home again, after an absence of three years. It was a happy meeting. I soon got acquainted with my little daughter, Mary, whom I had never seen. From that time till this day, January 1st 1851, I have been busily engaged in securing and getting grain and have noted each passing day. Sunday the 5th I went to meeting and heard Brother P.P. Pratt preach on the first principles of the Gospel. Sat. 11th was notified to meet in the statehouse on the legislature hall with the city council and other organizations of the city. I then and there received the appointment as a member of the city council to pass ordinances for the regulation of the city. Tuesday 14th went to a Welch meeting and preached to them on the subject of Brotherly Love. Wednesday 15th in the evening the second quorum of the seventies met at my home, it being the first time I had met with them since I left them at Winter Quarters in 1848. We felt greatly blessed in meeting again. President Herriman was present and spoke to considerable length. There have been four deaths in our circle since then. Thursday 16th stayed at home and in the evening attended city council. Saturday 18th attended to the officers' drill in the forenoon and in the evening the seventies meeting. Sunday 19th attended an excellent meeting. Brother Brigham laid before the Saints the subject of commencing a Temple. The vote carried unanimous that it should be done and that by Tithing. Tuesday 21st stayed at home and preached in the evening in the 16th ward. The Deseret Lyceum was organized which I generally attended twice a week. The city council always met twice and sometimes had a special sitting, also the seventies met once or twice every week which took up in all about every evening. The balance of the time I was at home, attended to my family affairs. Saturday 7th of February I met with the Seventies and helped to ordain 42. February 8th we celebrated my little daughter's birthday with a feast. Father and Mother Burgess, Sister Hovey, and Ruth and Nancy Pack visited us by invitation on the occasion. Monday the 10th at home, in the evening met with the city council. Tuesday 11th I went to the foot of Utah Lake to a settlement called Dry Creek to look at land and preached three times. A snow storm prevented my looking at the land. Monday 17th at home and in the evening met with the City Council. Tuesday 18th went to Utah Lake again, preached two sermons and selected me a farm. The balance of the time I stayed in Salt Lake, I attended city council meeting regular, Seventy Meetings, Lyceums and preached in various wards and settlements as often as an opportunity presented itself, always endeavoring to do all in my power to help roll on the Kingdom of God on the earth. I was always very busy in Domestic affairs, having also attended council twice a week regular, also meeting of various kinds preaching more or less, so that I did not get time to note down much that passed around me. I found that each day brought along with it as much care and labor as I could attend to. My family at this time numbered ten and I found it necessary to fire myself in some kind of business that would bring me in an income, accordingly in the spring of 1861 I took part of my family and went to what was then known as Parleys Park, now Park City, Summit County, Utah, to keep a dairy and a saw mill. I labored very hard for about two years and got my mill to working and was getting along first rate when the word was sent to me that I was one among many that was appointed to take our families and go to Southern Utah or what was usually termed Dixie, to build up St. George and the surrounding settlements. Brigham Young counseled me to settle up my business and take along mill irons etc. and in connection with my father and brothers to build a mill the next year 1863 in Pine Valley, 35 miles from St. George, which would help supply St. George and vicinity with lumber for building purposes.

Accordingly I took up my journey to St. George late in the fall. Stayed there the balance of the winter taking care of my family and stock and early in the spring we moved to Pine Valley and commenced logging and sawing out lumber. I labored in this way during a number of the first years we lived in Pine Valley, and we enjoyed ourselves first rate.

Nothing of importance transpired worthy of note. I always attended meetings and was first councilor to Bishop Snow and at his decease was acting Bishop until he was succeeded by F.W. Jones. I was appointed one of the Home Missionaries, in our vicinity. Our labors were set off for us at the various conferences which were held in Dixie Country. I always took pleasure in filling these interesting and important missions, though it took considerable time and travel. We had such good meetings and visits with our Brethren and Sisters unto whom we were sent. I filled every mission that was appointed me, but one which sickness prevented.
I also lived in Pine Valley some over twenty years, was blessed and prospered in my family and also in my labors, till near the close of time. I was getting so I was hardly able to act much in a public capacity, though I was however able with the help of my sons to carry on my farming. I was making a comfortable living when some sudden and unexpected waves of affliction rolled over me. The first was the death of my youngest son, Philip John, who died of measles. He was born in Pine Valley, Washington County, Utah on the 17th of April 1872. This was the first death that occurred in my family. He was a very interesting, promising child. The next was the death of my oldest daughter, Mary Almeda, after a long and distressing illness. She was born while on my mission to Briton, February 8, 1849 and died December 31, 1881. She married and was the wife of William Gardner and had two daughters. In one month from her death my son, Jacob Leander, died. He was born September 21, 1866 and died January 24, 1882. The circumstances of his death were painful in the extreme and nearly crushed the life out of me. He was accidentally shot in the chest. He lived three days after the accident. Myself and his four brothers were all away from home at the time, and did not return till he had been dead a few hours. We had the privilege of attending his funeral. He was a very large promising youth on whom I had depended to help me through my declining years. He was always kind and obedient to my wishes and had no bad habits of any kind and was beloved by all that knew him. The next that I was called to part with was my wife, Amanda, the mother of the above mentioned children. She died of cancer, but did not linger and suffer as many do. She was in the charge of the best cancer doctor that we knew of, and would doubtless have been cured but the Erysipelas set in, which took her off very suddenly. She died August 8, 1882. I feel that my work on earth is nearly done and it will not be long till I shall meet in the Spirit World with the loved ones who have gone before me. My family are enrolled with the Saints in the New and Everlasting Covenant. I have 11 children, and 27 grandchildren and if we continue faithful to the end, we shall meet again where there is no more sorrow, pain, or death, which may God grant for Jesus sake, Amen.

With this brief sketch of my life's history I shall cease writing, hoping that I have written that which will be a comfort and blessing to my posterity, who may chance to read it, inspiring them to diligence and faithfulness in keeping the commandments of God, that we may obtain in Eternal exaltation in His Kingdom, which I ask in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Lines composed for me by my wife, Sophia, and sent to me in a letter dated March 2, 1849 after the birth of my little daughter, Mary.

To write of old matters I think it no use
I would choose to pass over and tell you the news
From this beautiful Valley so fertile and wide
Where the Saints in their new quiet dwellings reside.

We are here in the place which our Prophet foresaw
Ere his blood sealed his mission and bound up his law
We have left our old homes and our forefather's graves
Our spirits were noble, we would not be slaves.

Here are many good things which of old have been stored
On the heads of the faithful they will soon be poured
Here is silver and gold, yea and mountains of wealth
And more than all this we have excellent health.

So you left us not quite when you crossed the wide sea
here's your fine little girl born in Salt Lake City
We can trace in her features your likeness indeed
Tis a volume the soul of fiction can read.

Intelligence glows on her fine lttle brow,
Her spirit is pure - though in infancy now
You would think her a present from some other higher sphere
And wonder if destined to stay with us here.

But my name as a poetress was never known
So I'll quit for the present and let it alone.
I wish you good health and a safe journey home.
And I'll make you thrice welcome whenever you come.

Sophia Melvina Burgess
------------

Harrison Burgess, the Author of this narrative, died very suddenly at his residence in Pine Valley, Washington County, Utah, February 10, 1883. As a part of the narrative was not written until after his death, the balance has been finished by his family, by sketching from memory as they had heard him relate the various circumstances connected herewith.
Much more might have been written in honor of this truly good man had he lived to complete the history himself. It is due to his memory however to say that he lived and died a faithful Latter-day Saint, left an unblemished character and an example worthy of imitation. In short he was truly one of Zion's Noblemen.
"Peace to his Memory."
S.M.B. (His first wife, Sophia Melvina Burgess)


-----------------------

Return to forefamilies.com

Return to burgess.forefamilies.com  

webmaster

-----------------

This history was originally posted at my site:
http://members.aol.com/Cballd/harrison.html
where it had over 1235 hits.