A life sketch of Edmund Durfee and Lana Pickle Durfee
(Compiled and written in March 1955 by Dora D Flack 1089 South 8th West, Salt Lake City, Utah; copied from Helen L. Jorgensen).
Garner family histories usually carry a sentence to the effect that Dolly Durfee Garner's father was killed by the mob at Nauvoo during the early day persecutions of the saints. No other written information seemed to be available among the Garner descendents. Therefore, the writer began a search of church history records. The findings were both amazing and thrilling. In order that we might fully appreciate the supreme sacrifice made by our ancestors for the sake of the gospel, those findings are now carefully compiled in the following life sketch.
Edmund Durfee was born in Tiverton, Newport County, Rhode Island. (Both spellings of Edmond are used in the records.) Five generations before him Thomas Durfee (born 1643) immigrated to America from England. He settled in Portsmouth Rhode Island. His youngest son Benjamin, moved to Tiverton where the descendents reained until the time of Edmund, who was born October 3 1788, son of Perry Durfee and Annie Salisbury (Sulsbury).
How and where Edmund and Lana Pickle became acquainted, we do not know. At any rate, Edmund married Lana (Throughout the records various names and spellings were given for Lana - also Delaney, Lainey, Laney, Delana, and Lanna) Pickle about 1810. She was born June 6 1788, in Montgomery County, New York, the daughter of John and Dolly Pickle.(1)
::Edmund and Lana settled in Lennox, Madison County, New York where the following children were born: Martha, born November 17 1811; Tamma, born March 8 1813; Edmund born September 4 1814; Dolly Born March 8 1816; John born January 31 1818; Lana or Delana, born February 14 1820.
About 1822 the family moved to Amboy, Oswego County, New York, where Edmund bought land, built a house, and cultivated a small farm. He also worked at his trade as a carpenter and millwright. Maple trees abounded in that area, so he bought more land with many maple trees on it. Of course, they made a great deal of maple sugar. For eight happy years the family enjoyed their home in Amboy. Twelve children had been welcomed into the Durfee family.
These born at Amboy were: William born September 15 1822; Ephraim born June 1 1824; Abraham born November 14, 1826; Henry born in 1827; Jabez born May 10 1828 and Mary, born March 21,1830.
However, at that time the west was opening up and Edmund felt that opportunities were many in the new territory. So in June 1830 he sold his sugar bush and farm, and the family moved to Ohio. They travelled through Camden Village to the canal which took them to Buffalo. They crossed Lake Superior and landed at Portland. From there they moved on to Huron County andsettled in the township of Ruggles. There Edmund bought property, and the Durfees made Ruggles their new home.
During the winter of 1831 rumors began circulating about Joseph Smith and a gold Bible. In April Solomon Hancock arrived in the community. The Durfees were methodist. Often Elder Hancock preached in their chapel telling them how the Lord had sent the Angel Moroni to Joseph Smith. He explained the beautifultruths of the restored gospel. They were astonished to learn the truth, for it was much different from the rumors they had heard beforehand. The gospel message found its way to the heart of Edmund, Lana and their family. Edmund was baptized in May, 1831, by Simeon Carter.(2) Lana was baptized June 1 by Solomon Hancock. Most of the children also accepted the gospel and were baptized during those months. Because Tamma was going with a young man who reportedly wouldn't have a Mormon wife, she quietly believed without being baptized until after her marriage in August.
In Journal History of the Church on Tuesday October 25 1831, are recorded "Minutes of a General Conference of the Church at the dwelling of Brother Serenes Burnett in the town of Orange, Cayahoga County, Ohio, 39 members present: High Priests joseph Smith Jr, Oliver cowdery, J.Whitmer, Hyrum Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Samuel Smith, Simeon Carter, Reynolds Cahoon, Martin Harris, Joseph Smith Sr, Wheeler Baldwin, John Smith. Elders: David Whitmer, Peter Whitmer, Sylvester Smith, Luke S. Johnson, Burr Riggs, Sylvester Baker, Orson Hyde, Daniel Stanton, Joseph Brackenbury, William E. McLellin, Major N. Ashley, Stephen Burnett, Edmund Durfee, Joel Johnson, Levi Jackman, Emer Harris, Frederick G. Williams. Priests: Lyman E Johnson, Edward Johnson, Benjamin Carpenter, Rugg Eames. Teachers: William Smith, Uriel Stephens, Hyrum Griffith. Deacons: Titus Billings, Serenes Burnett, and John Burk.
"Most of the brethren spoke at that time and their ideas were recorded in the minutes...
"Brother Edmund Durfee said that he also had professed religion for a number of years; yet now he felt to bear testimony of the goodness of God and also consecrate all to the Lord"...
"At the evening session of the conference a number were called, seated, and ordained high priests. After prayer President Smith said that he had a testimony that each had a talent and if, after being ordained, he should hide it, God would take it away from them. He exhorted them to pray continually in meekness and said that those who previously had been ordained priests would be ordained elders and so on... Edmund Durfee was made a high priest."
In December Edmund left on a mission for the church. So just before leaving he baptized his daughter Tamma. The following February the elders cut a hole in the ice and baptized her husband, which united all the family as members of the church.
Edmund accompanied Elder Joseph B. Brackenbury on his mission to Chautauqua County, New York. Quoting from Journal History we find: "In the fall of 1831 Joel H and David Johnson who had received the gospel in Amherst, Ohio brought the Book of Mormon to their relatives in Chautauqua County, New York. Soon afterwards Joel Johnson and Almon V. Babbit (then only a boy) came to the same neighborhood as missionaries and were followed by two high priests, namely Edmund Durfee and Joseph B. Brackenbury. 'Elder Brackenbury was an earnest and powerful preacher,' likewise Elder Benjamin Fore Johnson 'and all the elders sent were filled with the spirit of the Lord.' Many received their testimony and my Mother, Lyman R. Shearman, a brother in law, were the first to be baptized. After a few weeks of successful preaching and baptizing, Elder Brackenbury was taken violently sick and within a few days, January 7 1832, died of the billious cholic.'"(3)
"History of the Church" concerning this event reads as follows: "Elder Joseph B Brackenbury died at Pomfreet from the effects of poison secretly administered to him by opposers, who afterwards boasted the Mormon elders had not faith enough to stand poison. The night after his burial there was a heavy snowstorm, about half past eleven o'clock Joel H. Johnson dreamed that some persons were digging up Brother Brackenbury's body, and was so exercised about it that he called up some of the brethren and went to the spot, about one mile distant, and found a party of doctors at work, who had nearly cleared the grave of earth; the men fled with utmost precipitation. David Johnson took after the largest one who was caught and bound over in one thousand dollar bonds for his appearance at court, but was never tried."(4)
The temple site at Jackson County, Missouri, was dedicated August 3 1831. The saints were looking forward to establishment of "Zion." Consequently settlements were established in that area (Far West). In accordance with instructions in February, 1832, Edmund went down to establish his claim in Zion and to build a place for his family, returning home May 20. However, the family did not move at that time because Edmund was called on another mission back to the states, which occupied his time until that fall.
The following spring in May the family moved to Kirtland where most of the saints were gathering. At Kirtland, when Lana was 47 years old, her thirteenth child, Nephi, was born on July 22 1835.
Revelation had been given to Joseph to build a House to the Lord in Kirtland. Ground was broken June 5 1833. Immediatley work began and the cornerstones were laid the following month, on July 23. Edmund was one of the 24 elders who laid the cornerstones. The saints worked eagerly on the temple at every opportunity. Edmund spent a great deal of his time in the construction of that beautiful edifice. Likewise his brother Jabez spent much time on the temple as a carver and decorator. Although it was a critical period, no sacrifice was too great in time or money. On Saturday, march 7 1835, as the temple was nearing completion, a meeting was called "for the purpose of blessing in the name of the Lord those who had assisted in building by their labor and other means the House of the Lord in Kirtland: the morning was occupied by President Joseph Smith Jr. in teaching the church the propriety and necessity of purifying itself. In the afternoon the names of those who assisted to build the house were taken further instructions received from President smith. He said that those who had distinguished themselves thus far by consecrating to the upbuilding of the House of the Lord as well as laboring thereon were to be remembered; that those who built it should own it and have control of it.
"After further remarks those who performed the labor on the building voted unanimously that they would continue to labor thereon till the House should be completed.
"President Sidney Rigdon was appointed to lay on hands and bestow blessings in the name of the Lord. The Presidents were blessed; and Reynolds Cahoon, Hyrum Smith, and Jared Carter, the building committee thereof (the last two were not present, yet their rights in the House were preserved).
"The following are the names of those who were blessed in consequence of their labor on the House of the Lord in Kirtland and those who consecrated to its upbuilding:... (Edmund Durfee Sr. and Edmund Durfee Jr. were among those named.) ... All those who were blessed were given the 'blessings of heaven and a right in the House of the Lord in Kirtland agreeable to the labor they had performed thereon and the means they contributed.' They were also promised wisdom and ability to proclaim the gospel. Edmund Durfee jr was ordained an elder. A James Durfee was also blessed on this occasion." (5)
The temple was finally completed - truly a great monument to the faith of a small group of people who built in their poverty at a time when violence threatened them on every side.
March 27 1836 was indeed a memorable occasion - the temple was dedicated! Edmund fealt fully repaid for all his effort. "Angels were present and the Holy Spirit, like the sound of a mighty rushing of wind fell upon the house and assembly. The people of the neighbourhood came running together, hearing a strange sound and seeing a bright light resting on the temple. The House had been accepted by the Lord." 6
The financial panic of 1837 heightened insecurity. At the same time feelings against the Mormons rose to a new pitch. As a result the saints were driven from Kirtland. The Durfees hastened to Caldwell County, Missouri, settling in Log Creek. (7)
Apostasy was rampant in the church. Denial of the church brought relief from persecution. Misunderstandings were many and the general spirit was one few contention even within the church. Even those who were next to the Prophet himself often lost their light and understanding.
"The saints assembled at Edmund Durfee Settlement in Caldwell County, Missouri, aggreeable to appointment and rejected Presidents: David Whitmer, John Whitmer and Wiliiam W. Phelps by unanimous vote as the Presidency of the church in Missouri. (8) Similar meetings were also held at the various settlements.
John Whitmer and W.W. Phelps were charged with selling possessions in Jackson County, contrary to revelations of the Lord, which was paramount to denial of the faith; also for misappropriation of funds borrowed for the use of the church. David Whitmer was charged with even more offences. The Lord in a revelation had rebuked these men for their transgression and a revelation had rebuked these men for their transgression and warned them but they did not heed the warning. Thomas March and David w. Patten were sustained as presiding officers in Missouri until the coming of Presidents Smith and Rigdon. W.W. Phelps and John Whitmer were excommunicated March 10, 1838, with David Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery held over for investigation. (9) Both were excommunicated later.
Imprisonments were numerous and always on false charges. Satan himself seemed to have been turned loose, determined to destroy the church and people of God. Mobocrats, with Governor Boggs at their head, had no respect for private property. Homes were entered by force. All weapons were forcibly taken from the Mormons even to butcher knives, so that they had no means of self defense. Men were dragged from their homes and families and were brutally beaten, tarred and feathered, and abuse in every conceivable way. No forces of government gave them redress for these wrongs. Without hope of ever getting anything from their properties, they were finally expelled from Missouri by November, 1838.
Edmund took his family and settled in Yelrome 10 near Lima, Illinois, where they tried to find peace and the privilege of living unmolested. The church was built up considerably. The "Lima Branch Records" p.385 under date of March 12 1843, read: "Edmund Durfee was received in full fellowship by the Lima Branch by vote." This record was signed by Isaac Morley, President, and James C. Snow, clerk.
"A Conference was held at Lima and the branch reorganized under the direction of Elder H.C Kimball, Isaac Morley, President Walter Cox and Edwin Whiting, Counsellors William Woodland, Solomon Hancock, James C. Snow, James Israel, Edmund Durfee, Daniel Stanton, Moses Clawson, joseph S. Allen, Philip Garner, Henry Ettleman, Reuben Daniels and Horace Rawson, High Council. James C. Snow, clerk of the branch.
During the appointing of the High Council, Elder Heber C. Kimball made some general remarks upon the Word of Wisdom. He said God looked into the heart of a man. He said some would strain nip and tuck at the Word of Wisdom but would turn away a poor brother when he would ask for a little meal for breakfast. He compared it to the man that was stretched upon the iron bedstead; if he was too long they would cut him off, if he was too short they would stretch him out; and again he said it made him think of the old Indian's tree which stood so straight that it leaned a little the other way and the best way was to stand erect." He also made some very appropriate remarks with regard to the temple and Nauvoo House." 11
The beautiful city of Nauvoo rose from swampland into the largest city of Illinois at that time. The majestic temple rose steadily in the midst of sacrifices and continued persecution. Still the saints looked to Joseph as their guide. Tamma tells that they listened to the Prophet speak for five hours straight and no one was tired.
from a record of baptisms for the dead made at Morley's Settlement, on November 7 1840, Edmund and Lana were baptized for his parents, Perry and Annie Salisbury Durfee, and for her parents, John and Dolly Pickle. See Vol. 210, p.385, Historian's Office.
The very foundation of Mormonism shook when the Prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum were martyred at Carthage on Jun2 27, 1844. Confusion crowded the minds of the saints when the decision of new leadership was to bo made. At a special meeting held on March 8. the question was answered unequivocally when Brigham Young stood before them to discuss the matter. To their amazement he stood transfigured before their very eyes. It seemed they saw the Prophet Joseph before them and heard his voice as naturally as ever although it was Brigham Young speaking. Although many divisions occurred in the church at that time, Edmund and Lana remained steadfast in their faith, choosing to follow the Quorum of the Twelve.
Joseph had prophesied that the saints would eventually seek refuge in the tops of the mountains. Persecution continued, hastening the time of that long trek. All efforts were turned toward outfitting wagons, laying up supplies, and preparing themselves in every way. Needless to say the constant trouble did not hasten the perpartions, although the mobocrats continued to scream that the Mormons must move, and the sooner the better.
It was the plan of the mob not together in large bodies but to burn Yelrome, then attack some other place and finally drive all the Mormons into Nauvoo. That being accomplished they planned to move them from Nauvoo by help from other areas. Accordingly everyone was driven out of Morley's Settlement (Yelrome). Sheriff Jacob B. Beckenstos wrote the following proclamation which describes the conditions: "September 13, 1845 "To the citizens of Hancock County, Wheras a mob of from 100 to 200 men under arms have gathered themselves together in the couthwest part of Hancock County and are at this time destroying the dwellings and other buildings, stacks of grain and other property of a portion of our citizens and in the most inhuman manner compelling defenseless children and women to rise from their sick beds and exposing them to the rays of the parching sun and to lie and suffer without the aid and assistance of a friendly hand to minister to their wants in their suffering condition.
"The riotous spare not the widow nor the orphan; and while I am writing this proclamation the smoke is rising to the clouds, and the flames are devouring four buildings which have been just set on fire by the rioters. Thousands of dollars worth of property have already been consumed; an entire settlement of about 60 or 70 families laid waste, the inhabitants thereof fired upon narrowly escaping with their lives and forced to flee before the mob." (12)
He went on to call attention to the law and its penalties for infractions. Although he tried earnestly to discharge his responsibility, no help came to enforce the laws.
Edmund's home was among those burned to the ground. Tamma tells how her young brother (Nephi, aged 10) was simply rolled up in his sick bed and it was thrown outdoors. The mobbers then went to the catstack, got two bundles of oats, put a firebrand in them, threw them on top of the house and said they would return in the morning. Finally their work of destruction was complete, and almost the whole town was smoldering ruins and ashes.
From Nauvoo rushed 134 teams travelling all night and day to rescue the homeless families and take them to Nauvoo. The troublemakers agreed that the saints could return to harvest their crops. Therefore, a month later Edmund and others returned to gather their crops and harvest their grain which they needed so badly for the anticipated journey. On the 15th of November "near Solomon Hancock's house about midnight a stack of straw was discovered on fire. Several persons turned out to suppress the flames; while thus engaged a whistle was heard east and one west; presently a gun was fired then and they continued to fire till six guns were discharged at them, the ball of the fourth one entered the body of Edmund Durfee just above the heart and he died instantly." (12) His body was immediately taken to Nauvoo for burial.
The "Nauvoo Neighbor" put out an "extra" on November 19 concerning this tragic incident. A part of it is quoted herewith: "As may be seen by the affidavits below, it falls to our painful lot to chronicle two moer outrages upon the lives and rights of the Latter-day Saints, since they have been using all diligence to secure their crops, build wagons, and leave next spring.
"Mr. Durfee was one of the most industrious, inoffensive and good man that could be found, and having his house burnt in September last, moved to Nauvoo and went on Saturday last for a load of grain, was hot dead in cold blood, at midnight while striving with others to save property from the flames by an armed mob!
..."Have nearly two thousand five hundred wagons commenced for our Pacific journey next spring, but such outrages certainly are not calculated to aid us in getting ready. We have borne the Missouri persecution; we have mourned the loss of the Prophet and Patriarch, Joseph and Hyrum Smith; we feel the destruction of one or two hundred houses the present season, and our hearts are pained at the murder of Edmund Durfee, because her was a good man; but, we, as in all cases of the saints, leave the disposition of these matters in the care of a wise God, and the perpetratos, to the mercy of (as they say), a country of laws, and be those laws honoured or disgraced we cannot be charged with revenge; and we do beseech the people and the authorities not to imput crime to us to raise excitement, when we see our accusers wiping the blood of innocent men, women, and children, from their garments, as though this was the realm of Nero. ..." 13
On November 17 Orson Hyde (the presiding authority in Nauvoo), who had known Edmund for many years, wrote a letter to Brigham Young informing him of the incident. Among other things he said: "Mr. Durfee was one of the most quiet and inoffensive citizens in these United States and from our acquaintance with him and from the nature of his business in securing his crops we are persuaded that his murder was wholly unprovoked." 14
After Edmund'd death "the mob boasted that they fired at Durfee on a bet of a gallon of whiskey that they could kill him the first shot, and they won." (15)
The guilt parties were not hard to identify- they were known by Edmund's companions. Although they were apprehended and affidavits filed concerning the incident, they were released by the magistrate without examination- another evidence of the legal farces which met all the grievances of the saints.
No one could possibly understand the grief and terror which must have filled Lana's heart at such a tragedy. Even in Nauvoo the reign of terror persisted. All her children were married with the exception of Jabez (apparently named after Edmund's brother) and Nephi. On January 21, 1846 sh received her endowments in the upper rooms of the Nauvoo Temple and was also sealed to Edmund on that date. Edmund's endowment date is January 4 1882 (by proxy) in the Endowment House.
Due to the conditions surrounding her, the insecurity and constant danger, it is not surprising that Lana married her brother in law, Jabez Durfee, on January 21 1846 (for time). Jabez'z first wife, Electra Cranston, had died in 1834 at Independence, Missouri, during the Missouri mob trouble.
Six (and possibly seven) of the Durfee children received their endowments in the Nauvoo Temple.
Once again expulsion faced the Durfees. Apparently Lana and Jabez and her two boys left Nauvoo with the main body of the saints. At least she is not mentioned as having remained in Nauvoo as did Tamma and one son, as related in Tamma's "Memorial".
At Musketol Creek, council Bluffs, Iowa, Lana died on May 17 1850, at the age of 62. After her death, Jabez did not continue the journey to Utah but died at White Cloud, Iowa in April 1867.
Few parents have given their descendants such rich heritage of faithfulness and devotion to the cause of truth. May this history serve to perpetuate that faith in the hearts of those who follow after them.
1. Some doubt exists as to the correct birthplace of Lana (probably a contraction of Magdelena). while many of the members of the family conclude that Lana was born in Rhode Island because her husband was born there, the old manuscript dictated by Tamma reads: "Laney Pickle born June 6 1788 in Holland and died May 17 1856 in Council Bluffs." She may prove to be a descendent from the Pickle (originally spelled Pechtel or Bechtel family of Columbia Co., New York) Desert News Church Section, Oct 18, 1941.
2. "History of the Church " Vol 7, pg 523.
3 journal History of the Church in Church Historian's Office, deember 31, 1831.
4. "History of the Church," Vol. 7 pg 524.
5. Journal History, mar 7 1835.
6. "Essentials in Church History" by Joseph Fielding Smith, pg 190.
7. "History of the Church" Vol 7 pg 524.
8. Journal History, Wednesday, February 7, 1838.
9. "Essentials in Church History," pages 206-7
10. Andrew Jenson's "Church Encyclopedia," Book 1 p 977: Lima, Adams Co,.: A town of about 300 inhabitants situated in Lima township, Adams County, just over the south line of Hancock Co, and about 25 miles in a straight line due south of Nauvoo is known in Church History as a neighborhodd where quite a number of saints resided in 1839 to 1846. Most of these, however, located northeast of Lima, in the extreme south and of Hancock County in what is now Walker Township on and around a townsite which had been surveyed and named Yelrome. This little town situated 2 1\2 miles northeast of Lima was also known as Morley's Town or Morley's Settlement in honor of Isaac Morley, the presiding church officer residing there. At a conference held at Lima October 23 1842 the branch was represented to consist of 424 members. Yelrome or Morley Settlement was nearly burnt out by the mob in the fall of 1845 and the saints were all compelled to leave the following year in 1846. A new town called Tioga was laid out on the old townsite which at present consists of an unimportant village."
11. Journal History , Sunday June 11 1843: also "History of the Church," Vol.7 pp.427-29.
12 "History of the Chruch," Vlo. 7 pg 529
13. Ibid., pp528-9
14. Idib., p 525
15. Ibid., p.524
More than a dozen men, carrying guns, quietly edged close to Solomon Hancock's log home, hidden by the near-midnight darkness and black shadows shielded from the moonlight. They rimmed the barn and corral where straw lay loose for Hancock's livestock and for his overnight guests' horses. Men, some apparently liquored up, positioned themselves along the rail fence so they could see the barn door and the Hancocks' front door through the darkness. They resented Hancock for oping his house to his former neighbors, Mormon men who had fled for safety two months earlier to Nauvoo, twenty-three miles to the north, but had returned to Morley's Settlement to harvest their last crops of the season. The marauders knew that previous night raids had burned down most of the Mormon cabins in the settlement in September and they now wanted Hancock to leave and did not want the men to gather any more foodstuff from their bacin-less farms. The date was November 15, 1845. The hour was about 11:00 p.m.
One of the shadowy men struck a match and tossed it into the straw cluttering the corral. Fire crackled and spread. A line of flames flared towards the barn where young men and boys were asleep, including Solomon's son, Charles. Smoke or flames or crackling sounds, or all three, woke the boys. One ran to the house to alert the men sleeping there. Others stepped from the barn to fight the fire. Suddenly, hidden men opened fire. Flintlocks sparked in the dark and rifle powder exploded. Solomon Hancock stepped outside, and a bullet pinged by him. Guest Edmund Durfee, age fifty-seven, was not so lucky. When he emerged from the Hancock home, a bullet struck him in the hollow of the neck. He died almost instantly.The End
Edmond died tragically on Isaac Morley Sr.'s property. They named this small settlement "Yelrome" Morley spelled backwards with an 'e' at the end. This was to throw the persecutors off their track while under attack. When under attack someone would yell out, "Yelrome!" The mormons were safe. The day Edmond died the persecutors set fire to many buildings on Isaacs property and Edmond burned to death.