JOURNAL OF BENJAMIN THOMAS MITCHELL


Details of Birth, Parents and Early Childhood Locations

I was born in Munsey Township Lacomin County Pennsylvania in the year of 1816. My father’s name was Abraham; his father’s name was William, he was of Irish Parentage. My Mother’s maiden name was Anne Colpetser, she was of German Parentage. When I was about 2 years old, father moved to Ohio on the Western Reserve where I was raised in the backwoods without a chance of an education.

Start of Stone Mason Occupation, Marriage and Baptism

At the age of 17 I purchased my tools of my father and went and learned the stone-cutter’s trade. At 20 I married Sarah Griesback(SP) in April 1835 and the 15th day of June following I was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints by Brother Millit. About a year after that I sold my property[i] and sent some means by John C. Singletary Jr. to Missouri, to buy land.

 Relocated to Missouri

That fall I started the move to Missouri for the next season, but on account of the river being so low I was compelled to stop at Madison, Indiana. Before spring the word came that the Saints were driven out of Missouri and scattered. For some time I was unable to learn where they located a gathering place, in the mean time, I moved to Marton County Iowa and bought a farm and made some improvements for about two years.

Relocated to Nauvoo, IL, Served as a Stone Mason for the Nauvoo Temple and Received Temple Ordinances

Then Brothers Litts Hederson came along and told me the Saints place of gathering was at Nauvoo, Illinois. In the Spring of 1841 , I moved to Nauvoo, where I went to laying bricks for Laws and others because the Temple committee wouldn’t give me work at stone cutting until Brother Joseph told them to push the Temple even if they had to send to Quincy for Stone cutters. I then got work and labored constantly until it was finished. I got my Endowments and sealing in the fall of 1845.

Three (3) Children Born, Wife and Joseph Smith Died, B.T. Mitchell Remarried, Initiated 1st Pioneer Trek 

While living in Nauvoo in 1843, I met with a heavy loss, the companion of my youth, who had born me three fine healthy children, died of measles on the 23rd day of August 1843. I married Lavine Bachwalter on October 10, 1843. After laboring constantly by day and standing guard at night to keep our enemies at bay, they succeeded in killing the Prophets, Joseph & Hyrum and driving the saints from Nauvoo in 1846. I started to the west, not knowing where I was going, but made it to a settlement on the Missouri River called Winter Quarters, where we stayed two winters and one summer.

A Child Dies, Called as a Mormon Pioneer Company Captain, Arrives in Salt Lake City Valley

While tarrying there I made nine trips to Missouri for goods and provisions, raised a crop, made an outfit for the mountains and buried a child. I started in the spring of 1848 to the valley of the Great Salt Lake, was made Captain of Ten and arrived in September of the same Year.

Helps Survey Salt Lake City, Travels to Canyons to Dig Roots and Greens for Food

I helped to survey the Great Salt Lake City and built a house the same fall before harvest came in. I with my family, lived for about two Months with bread stuff. We dug root and greens from the canyons[ii].

Stone Mason for the Council House (Church Administration & Endowment Building) and Called on a Mission to Nova Scotia-British America (Canada)

I was cutting stone of the Council house and public works until the 6th of September, 1852 when I was called to take a mission to Novia Scotia and British America. On September 15, 1852.  I started with about eighty missionaries, one woman and a child to cross the plains[iii].

Mission Experiences

Had a prosperous journey and landed in the settlements on the Missouri River at Plattsville and made our way down the country to St. Joseph, called on members of the Saints by the way. On November 14, 1852 took passage on the steamer Clarry with Captain Chevar to St. Louis. We arrived on Nov 21, 1852 at three o’clock A.M. and stayed four days at the residence of Sister Sanders and Bradley. I attended meeting at Concert Hall where Brother Orson Wives.

On the 24th I was appointed to contract steamer passage to Cincinnati for fifteen Elders. I got passage on the steamer Hamburg, left the wharf at four o’clock P.M. On the evening of the 25th by the request of the passengers and captain, I, followed by Malon Atwood, preached to a large audience. We arrived at Madison, Iowa on the 28th of November. Were visited by brothers at Sippio and called on George Griesback (SP) in Veron. Stayed two nights and one day and pursued my journey, arriving in Cincinnati on the 3rd day of December. Stayed with my sister-in-law two days and then took care for Cleveland, Ohio. I found Brother Parsel in Ohio City, stayed one week, and preached twice.

Baptizes Three (3) and Survives Two Train Wrecks during the Same Day

I then went to Kirkland where I was sick with ague (a malarial fever) in the face about two weeks. I then traveled and preached through six different counties, and baptized Orval Siman and wife Marta, Jane Pepper Saerusia and Charles Pepper in South Kirtland, Ohio. Took the cars from Boston on March 29, 1853. In Buffalo, the cars flew the track, but did no serious damage.

At o’clock the same night the train ran over a cow throwing the tender and the hind cars off the track, smashing the latter into fragments, the Passengers all escaped with their lives though some had bruised heads and shins. The conductor hired some men to clear the tracks and we went.

Travels to New York, Boston and Yarmouth Harbor 

Landed in New York April 2nd at ten o’clock and pursued my journey to Boston, arrived next day and met Brother Jesse Crosby who was returning home. Stayed three days, then left for Tarmough aboard the packet Oregon, Captain Churchel, and landed in Yarmouth Harbor April 8th.

Stopped at Mr. Shows, Cranberry Head, and rested a few days. Preached in a new hall built by a few individuals and called Mormon Hall. Brother Robinson and myself 10 traveled around the coast to east. Came to Jubohue and found no chance for preaching for thence, to Salmon River and still got nothing there.

From there to Guskin Village, and found a Mr. Harding that had charge of the chapel Billage, and tried to get to preach in, but was refused. He shook like an aspen leaf and acknowledged that the very sight of the Mormons exerted him. He went around stirring up the people against us, so we got no chance to preach. We pursued our journey and washed our feet and bore testimony against them.

Came to Argyly Bridge and stayed the night with Mr. Orrum a Baptist minister, was very coolly and badly treaded. Sunday morning traveled four miles, got a Baptist meeting house to preach in. At two o’clock found that Orrum was fooling us. He left his own appointment and raised a roughhouse, said that if Joseph Smith had been in that country he would himself send him to the mad house. We were turned out of the doors in a tremendous snow storm.

We traveled five miles and stayed the night with a Mrs. Tenicas a Catholic at Pudinc e . From there to Boynton, stayed with Paul Crowels but could get no opening. Went over to Cape Island, traveled over it and preached twice. The pastor sent a message and closed the door against us. We went and talked with him, but got no chance to stay.

Baptizes  One (1) Asel Porter at Cranberry Head then Threatened at Beaver River with Tar and Feathers

We determined to leave, returned by the way of Oakland Park to Cranberry Head where we continued our labors in the Mormon Hall. Sunday May 1st, I baptized and confirmed Asel Porter, then went to Beaver River, found no opening and was threatened with tar and feathers. The brother that we called upon said he dare not ask us in on account of his wife being opposed. We fasted until we returned to Mr. Show’s the same night, we went to the sea side and washed our feet and bore testimony against them before our Father in Heaven.

There we meet some brothers from Halifax and had a council and divided into districts and companions, it fell to me to go to the Condadys alone, being an odd one, I stayed till in May then got a passage to Boston aboard the Oregon. Was six days out, two in head wind and fog, landed June 4th in Boston. Put up with Rs. Rice. Worked two weeks cutting granite for Mr. Richards and got some clothing. Presided over meeting, preached and administered the Sacrament on Sunday. Left there in good spirits.  From that point to Grovel, stayed two days and then returned to east Boston and Brookland South Boston. Went to see Bunker Hill Monument, left July 6th enroute for Canada by the way of Springfield.

Baptized  One (1) John Darley 

Traveled through Albany, Redding, Syracuse, Utica, Little Falls and Buffalo. Preached and baptized on Sunday and baptized John Darley. From there over to Canada, but no chance to preach as the country was in a state of excitement owing to the Father Gavoty riot in which the Queen’s regulars shot several persons down in the street.

Returned to Kirkland and Baptized Two (2) Catherine Barris and Rachael Herinland

I returned to Buffalo and from there to Kirtland, traveled throughout the state on Ohio and labored and transacted some business. Had a lot of wagons made at Charles Wightman’s shop for a small company of immigrates to leave in the spring. On the 9th day of March, baptized at Adron, Summit County, two persons by the name of Catherine Barris and Rachel Herinland.

Started 2nd Pioneer Trek and Leads Benjamin Thomas Mitchell Company- Four Die from Cholera

Left Kirtland 6th of April for Bluff City in the charge of Father Dixon’s family and landed at Rock Island on the 12th, stayed about eight days fitting up teams for the plains. During that time the cholera broke out and we lost four of our number, but soon as the camp began to move the sickness ceased and we had no more sickness or death in the camp during the journey Batham and his Charlotte.

Benjamin Thomas Mitchell Company Arrives in Salt Lake City, UT, August 1855 

With nineteen wagons and fifty-four head of oxen and horses we journeyed across the plains, arrived in the valley the 5th day of Aug 1855 without loss of oxen.

Called as a Bishop, Provides Oversight as a Stone Mason for Salt Lake Temple and other Buildings

Soon after I arrived, I went to work at stone cutting for Brigham Young and in a few days was set as a foreman over the stone cutters at the public works and continued my labors as such. I was appointed Bishop Protem over the 15th ward about the 1st January 1857. Since which time I have been acting in the business of the ward and overseeing the stone cutting for the temple at cottonwood and in this city until the move south[iv].  

Released as a Bishop, Serves as Stone Mason in Charge for City Hall and Continues Oversight on Salt Lake Temple

After retuning, was released from the Bishopric by the Ordination of Andrew Cunningham, continued in charge of the cutting of the stone for the City Hall until finished. I then took a job on the temple cutting rock at 70¢ a foot but the hands demanded 80¢ a foot or six dollars a day which I was compelled to give them or stop the work.

In 1866 I took a job of the cutting of stone for building the Husey and Dahler Bank, completed it and went back to the temple work and remained there since. When work was going on, I was building for myself and jobbing for others occasionally as opportunity permitted, cutting ninety-six runoff millstone, large and small.

Stone Mason for Rail Road and St. George Temple

I then went back and worked on the railroad cutting stone till completed the fall of 1874. I then sent two of my boys to cut stone on the St. George Temple continuing on the Temple myself until the Spring of 1875 when myself and two boys were called on to work on the big Co-op building, all the time-being supervised by the Council of the First Presidency. 

Sells ZCMI Stock at a Loss and Retires to the Country 

I took three thousand shares in the Z C M I co-op while laboring on the Temple for two years with cash or store pay, but becoming destitute of clothing and provisions for by families I was compelled to sell co-op stock to Brigham Young and H. Clawson at a sacrifice of one half, or fifty cents on the dollar to get bread and clothing for my families. When the church furnished me any coal on our work, they required five dollars cash on a ton as freight or we must go without. I will now take my families to settle on a farm, as I am now told I can go to the country and make a farm when I am about worn out.

Paragraph Captions by Gary Mitchell 2012

Note notes: Journal Copied off of Grage Morrrison’s typing 6/62

By Leroy Welch 8/66 Minor editing and formatting by Lon Welch 2005

Note: Benjamin Thomas Mitchell stood 5’10” tall, he had gray eyes & brown hair. He worked hard all his life, was devoted to his families and his church. He died March 9th, I do not have the year of his death but his last child was born in 1882 when he was 66 years of age.

Jerome K. Mitchell, the 8th child of Benjamin T. Mitchell, was the father of Margaret Elizabeth Mitchell who married David Carruth December 29, 1897. David and Margaret were the parents of my mother, Dora Dean Carruth Welch.

Lon Welch

 


[i] Located in Akron, Portage County, Ohio, consisting of a little over one acre was sold to his father for $500.00on September 12, 1836 

[ii] The winter of 1847 was mild; therefore the emphasis in 1848 was on getting crops planted rather than building homes. A lot of the people planned to spend the winter of 1848 in their wagons. The winter of 1848 was harsh and cold with lots of snow. Provision were short in 1848, by the spring of 1849 they were desperate. Therefore they survived by going to the canyons to dig roots. They also ran out of coffee and had to substitute roasted barley.. postum was born. 

[iii] Benjamin left behind three wives, one of which was 5 months pregnant another just conceived and 11 children.

[iv] U.S. President Buchanan issued orders to General Harney, then passed to General Johnson, “Johnson’s Army”, sending 2500 troops to Utah to install a new Governor and restore “order”. Brigham, concerned that they would once again be driven from their community ordered the evacuation of Salt Lake Valley with a moved to Utah Valley for a short time. Preparations were made to burn Salt Lake Community to the ground rather than let their enemies take it as had been done in Far West, Missouri and Nauvoo Illinois.

 

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