EDWARD BUNKER RETURNS FROM BATTALION DUTY

(Compiled and written by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, dkenison@xmission.com)

Edward Bunker was born in Maine in 1822 and was converted to the Church in 1845 after meeting Martin Harris. He was married to Emily Abbott on February 9, 1846, as the Saints were beginning to leave Nauvoo; the Bunkers proceeded to Garden Grove, where Edward left his young bride (now expecting their first child) "in a half-finished log cabin" to join the Mormon Battalion.

Edward marched to California with the Battalion, then did six more months of guard duty at Los Angeles until he was discharged on July 16, 1847. Heading east, he reached the new little settlement at Salt Lake City on October 16, then with a minimum of provisions continued east to search for his family.

"On arriving at Loupe Fork of the Platte river they found the ice running so thick that they could not cross. They remained in camp all day, exposed to a most terrific snowstorm, and ate their last provisions consisting of rawhides, saddle bags, etc. Continuing their journey through ten inches of snow they finally reached the Pawnee Mission where they crossed the river, but found the mission deserted and the corn all gathered. They succeeded, however, in finding a few ears of frost-bitten corn which the Indians had left. The brethren ate these uncooked and stayed all night in one of the vacated houses without bedding."

When one of their mules fell into the icy river water, it had to be killed; they ate almost all of the animal. Finally, they made it to Winter Quarters on December 18. Edward had been away from his family for 18 months, and now planned to continue on to Garden Grove in search of his wife. He records:

"On reaching Winter Quarters, I spent the night with one of my companions thinking my wife was still in Garden Grove where I had left her. Next morning I went to find Bro. Brown's family and they told me my wife was living a short distance from them. This was good news, I assure you, and I lost no time seeking out Emily and her mother, Abigail Abbott, who was a widow with eight children... I found my wife in quite poor circumstances, but with a fine boy eleven months old, my eldest son Edward... (_Our Pioneer Heritage_, 11:364)

The Bunkers were able to complete the journey west in 1850 and settled in Ogden, where Edward served as a high counselor before being called on a mission to England in October 1852. He left his family again and served for 3 years before returning, and then led a company of some 300 Saints in the third of the handcart expeditions in 1856. Edward then served for 5 years as a bishop in Ogden before being called to colonize in southern Utah in the fall of 1861. He played a key role in establishment of the United Order among the settlers. Later he moved to Mexico where he passed away in 1901, leaving 3 wives and 22 children.

(See Jenson, _LDS Biographical Encyclopedia_, 3:31-33; Arrington & Bitton, _Saints Without Halos_, pp. 81-89)

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