The Bushman Family in Nauvoo

From The story of Elizabeth Degen Bushman
by Richard D. Kirkham 4/4/1995

Martin and Elizabeth sold their possessions in Pennsylvania at a great sacrifice, providing little more than a team and wagon and the provisions they would need to take a family of six a thousand miles to join the movement in Nauvoo, Il.  But all the same they made the journey which apparently was fraught with difficulties of an unnamed nature and came with hopes of building Zion.

When they arrived in Nauvoo in 1842 they had nowhere to stay. The bustling city was overcrowded with new converts and it was hard to find a place to stay.  Bishop Edward Hunter, an old friend who was also of Pennsylvania Dutch descent and had served a mission in Pennsylvania, took special care of the Bushmans, allowing them to live for a few months in the upstairs ‘apartment’ of his own home near the Mississippi river. Today the site of his home now lies under the waters of river because of its rising since the building of a dam down river. Bishop Hunter also rented them his farm which was just east of Nauvoo.  Martin’s harvests were excellent in spite of the fact that he and his son Jacob spend every tenth day working on the Temple which was being built in Nauvoo at this time.  (see “The Bushman Family” page 12, by Newbern I. Butt, published Provo Utah 1956.)

The Bushmans eventually found a more permanent location and continued living as a tenants for a time in Nauvoo.  Finally they bought themselves a nice lot in Nauvoo just below the temple. Three glorious years passed for them there. They were a part of the building of a new gathering place for the saints who had been driven out of Missouri. They were helping to build the Temple of the Lord. The excitement of the gospel was on the faces of the converts who disembarked after long journeys from England. With their own German accents, the Bushman’s greeted other Germans, English, and New Englanders who likewise gathered in this city of Joseph. Nauvoo was a musical mixture of language accents. On March 12, 1843, the Patriarch, Hyrum Smith ordained Martin to the office of High Priest and he and Elizabeth had the privilege of receiving their patriarchal blessings from him just one year before his martyrdom. She bore her 8th child just as difficulties were beginning to arise in their new Nauvoo home. They named their fifth son John, born on June 7th 1843 the same month that the mobs in Missouri were trying to drag Joseph back to their State for trial. From that time on, things grew worse and worse for the saints in Nauvoo.

This map, provided by Sister Susan Easton Black while working in the Records office of the Nauvoo Visitors Center in 1995, shows the properties to which the Bushman’s were connected during their time in Nauvoo.   The lot shown in red (the west 1/2 of block 130) was owned by Bishop Hunter and is the first place they stayed after arriving in Nauvoo in 1842 and, according to Sister Black, that lot is underwater today.  The lot marked in blue (block 107) shows a second location where the Bushman’s stayed for a time also as ‘tenants’.  The lot shown in purple (the North West quarter of Lot 82) just West of the Temple, Sister Black indicated was owned by the Bushman’s.   Other records that indicate the block 82 was originally owned by the Hunters so perhaps the Bushman’s purchased a lot from the Hunters.  Further examination of the chain of title would perhaps bear out whether the holding was a deeded holding or a lease holding. [see the following references; Utah 1851, PPMU, pg. 785; NTER pg. 66; EMR Vol. 1 pg. 107.  These records show the following relative to the Bushmans; “M-F 1&2, Blk 107-Tenant, Blk 82 lot 2”.]

In addition to these records, the 1842 tax Assessors Record for Handcock County, Page 227, shows that Martin Bushman lived in block 88-2 (Block 88, lot 2) and had the following personal property; horses $60, wagons $60, watches $10, other property $20.  This residence was not indicated on the map nor was it mentioned by Sister Black in her research.  These possessions would have represented what they had the year they arrived in Nauvoo.

The following quote from the “History of the Bushmans” by Newbern I. Butt, sheds further light on the Bushman’s life in Nauvoo.

“When [the Bushmanís] arrived in Nauvoo, they found the city crowded with new converts and it was hard to find a place to live.  However, they soon found their old friend, Bishop Edward Hunter, who was also of Pennsylvania Dutch descent.  The Bishop immediately fixed up and rented to the Bushmanís the upstairs apartment of his house.  He also rented to Martin his farm, which was just east of Nauvoo.  Martin’s harvests were excellent in spite of the fact that he and son Jacob spent every tenth day to work on the Temple, which was being built in Nauvoo at this time.  Soon after their arrival, they met the Prophet Joseph and his brother, Patriarch Hyrum Smith who gave them a hearty welcome to the community.  On March 12, 1843, the Patriarch Hyrum ordained Martin to the office of High Priest and also gave him and his wife Elizabeth, a patriarchal blessing.  The promises and blessings contained herein have extended to us their posterity.”

nauvoo dwelling placesHandock County Ill

The map on the left shows the part of the City of Nauvoo where the Bushman’s lived.  The map on the right shows the city of Nauvoo (on the river in yellow) and the farm holdings of the Bushman’s outside of town in Township 5, Ranges 6 & 7.
block 107 Nauvooblock 107 nauvooblock 82 Nauvoo

These are photos of the properties where the Bushman’s lived in Nauvoo.  The first two are different views of Block 107 and the photo on the right showing the Tennis courts is Block 82.

About Ann Laemmlen Lewis

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