Bushman Family History as Recorded by John Bushman in his Journal

Today is John Bushman’s Birthday.  He was born 7 June 1843 in Nauvoo, Illinois.  John was a wonderful record keeper.  We are grateful for the history he recorded in his journals of his ancestors and of his family.

Bushman, John sketch recording his historyBushman, John sketch recording his history 1Here is the original hand-written history:Bushman, John p. 1 of history

The Life and Labors of John Bushman son of Martin and Elizabeth Degen Bushman

Born June 7th 1845 at Nauvoo, Illinois, his father was born in Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania, who was the 7th child of Abraham and Ester Frank’s Bushman, whom tradition says came from Germany about 1753. Abraham Bushman was born 12th April 1767 and Esther Frank was born 4th Oct. 1764. They were married January 12, 1768. Bushman, Abraham & Esther

There were ten children born to this worthy couple as follows:

Henry Bushman born February 10, 1791, Died in infancy
Elizabeth Bushman born February 12, 1789, died Oct. 4, 1840
Susana Bushman born February 5, 1793, died June 10, 1853
Mary Bushman born Nov. 1, 1795, died Aug. 3, 1877
John Bushman born May 5, 1797, died Aug. 20, 1845
Martin Bushman born April 1, 1802, died Oct. 18, 1870
Ann Bushman born Sept. 5, 1806, died not known
Sarah Bushman Born Mar. 12, 1804 died February 27, 1877
Esther Bushman born May 5, 1808, died April 6, 1877
Abraham Bushman born Feb. 5, 1799, died May 5, 1855

His Grandfather Abraham Bushman was 5 ft. 8 in. tall and weighed 160 lbs. His Grandmother, Ester Bushman, was a large woman and most all the children were large. His father, Martin Bushman was a strong well built man 6 ft. tall and weighed 175 lbs. He was a successful farmer, having worked on the farm all his life. Elizabeth Degen was the oldest child of John Casper Degen, and was born in Holstein, Switzerland Sept. 12th, 1802. Her mother, Maria Graff, Degen, died when Elizabeth was only 4 years old, so she never knew a mother’s love. Her father gave her a fair education in her native land; at the age of 14, she came with her father and step mother and her 2 children to America 1816 on the old sailing vessel. They were on the ocean 17 weeks, they suffered for provisions and water. She was bound out to serve to pay their passage across the ocean. Her father died August 19th, 1821 at Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania. She was 5 ft. 4 in. tall and strong, dark eyes and hair, was well learned in all the duties of that day and time. Well prepared for the duties of her after life, and had learned to read and write the English language. In 1827 she met her future husband in person of Martin Bushman. They became acquainted, and she accepted his offer, and they were married March 20th, 1827. They made their home near his parents, and lived happily together gaining many of the comforts of life, while living here in Lancaster Co. they had the following children born to them:

Henry Bushman born Dec. 11, 1827, died March 30, 1828.
Maria Bushman born Jan 31, 1829, died Feb. 5, 1829
Jacob Bushman born July 27, 1830 living in 1918
Sarah A. Bushman born Jan. 9, 1833, died June 18 1917
Abraham Bushman born July 14, 1835, Died March 25, 1839
Elizabeth Bushman born Nov. 9, 1837, died Oct. 12, 1846
Martin Benjamin Bushman born Feb. 5, 1841, living in 1918

Bushman, Martin & Elizabeth

In 1840 some Latter Day Saints elders – Elisha H. Davis and H. Dean who baptized Martin and Elizabeth Bushman and others came to Lancaster, and preached the restored gospel as taught by the Later Day Prophet Joseph Smith. This worthy couple investigated the doctrine and embraced it, feeling it was from the Lord, and that it was the only true church of Christ upon the face of the earth, they soon got the spirit of gathering with the saints of Nauvoo, Illinois. None of their parents or relatives joined the Mormons, as they were called. After Martin had built his parents a comfortable home, they settled up their business and bade farewell to all their relatives in June 1842 and started with their four living children and one team on a journey of a thousand miles through Ohio, Indiana and Illinois to Nauvoo on the Mississippi River. After a long tedious journey, most of the way with Henry—– they arrived among the saints. They soon met the prophet and Patriarch who gave them a hearty welcome. They rented a farm just East of the city from Edward Hunter a wealthy man from Pennsylvania, Chester Co. The following spring they put in a crop. Their oldest son Jacob now thirteen years old was considerable help. Every tenth day they would work on the Temple which the saints were building. Everything prospered, they set their hands to do, and they fed and clothed their family. Everything was peace for a few short years.

The saints were prospered and the city and Temple grew rapidly, and the future looked bright. On the 7th of June 1843 this worthy couple had a son born, whom they named John, the author of this sketch, the next fall the enemies of Zion commenced to stir up charges against the leaders of the church. The prophet was arrested many times of false charges, tried and acquitted. The apostates were the worst enemy’s the prophet had. The strife got so bad that the men stood guard day and night to protect the leaders. The prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum were fond of visiting or calling on the Saints in their homes, in this way the people became more intimately acquainted with them, and loved them for the great interest they took in the people. They were very anxious to have the Temple pushed to completion. The saints were very busy with their farms, and done all they could on the Temple. The mob grew more determined to kill the prophet, and on June 27, 1844 they took Joseph and Hyrum Smith and 2 or 3 other leaders to Carthage jail 22 miles southeast of Nauvoo, for trial. The Governor of the state gave his word that the brethren should not receive any harm, but in the afternoon of June 27th 1844 the mob came and broke into the jail and killed Joseph and Hyrum Smith, and wounded Apostle John Taylor. One of the mob went to take the head off the Prophet, when a streak of lightening struck him and all were frightened and fled. At the death of those great leaders the saints were all in mourning and were like sheep without a shepherd but they were soon comforted in the person of Brigham Young, the president of the twelve Apostles. When the mantle as it were of the prophet fell upon Brigham, some people declared it was the prophets voice, and looked like Joseph. This satisfied the people and Pres. Young was soon made the Pres. of the Church.

1846-1847 & 1848-1849. The saints with the twelve Apostles at their head rushed the Temple to completion, or so near completion, that many of the saints received their blessings therein. Among the rest was Martin and Elizabeth Bushman. On Nov. 29, 1845, Esther Ann Bushman was born. The mobs were not long satisfied after they had martyred the Prophet and Patriarch. They kept disturbing the people and driving them from their homes and property, and finally in 1846, in the winter, drove the saints from Nauvoo, the beautiful city and Temple. However before leaving Martin Bushman took all their children into the Temple and showed them the beautiful building, which they have never forgotten, especially the font resting on the back of twelve bronze Oxen.

In Sept. 1846, after assisting the body of saints across the Mississippi River with their only team, the Bushman family of six children were compelled to leave their grain and all they possessed, except what they could take in one wagon, they bade farewell to their home and beautiful city and Temple and crossed the great Mississippi into Iowa, just in the rainy season. Nearly all the family took the chills and fever. They traveled in company with several other families to the western border of Iowa. On the 12 of October 1846 their Daughter Elizabeth, nine years old, died just before they camped for the night. She was buried early next morning without a coffin, and they continued the journey with the company. Just one week later on Oct. 19, 1846, their beautiful dark eyed baby, not a year old died and was buried the same as the first one, and they continues their journey in sorrow, especially as their little son John was near deaths door. But as the rainy season passed they all regained their health. After many hardships and privations they arrived at Highland Grove a small village of saints near Council Bluffs in the western border of Iowa. Here they located and prepared for winter.

They built a log house and covered it with dirt, with a dirt floor. No lumber could be got at that time. As no provisions remained the father went over one hundred miles into Missouri to work splitting rails. After he had earned some corn meal and pork, his son Jacob went and got it with their ox team. At this place there was a branch of the Church with William Cazier presiding Elder. There was ten or twelve families of saints living there. They had regular Sabbath and evening meetings, and enjoy social gatherings, although they were very poor and destitute. In the Spring of 1847, they broke some land and put in what seed they could get, after which the father went again to Missouri to work for bread stuffs for his family, while Jacob and little boys cared for growing crops. In the fall the father returned and with what they raised had sufficient to keep them through winter.

The saints supported a small school where the children were taught and rudiments of an education. The spring of 1848 they planted more crops, then the oldest son Jacob now 16 years old went to Missouri to work. He got from 8 to 10 dollars per month. He worked until early winter, then he returned home where he stayed until the Spring. This helped the family through another winter. This spring of 1849 they increased their farming and the father went to work to get some clothing which had now run very low. He returned in the winter, and on the 6th of December 1849 their last son was born. They named him Elias Albert. John was now 6 1/2 years old and could appreciate his baby brother.

There were Latter day Saint Elders came to the village to preach, and the people had many profitable meetings. At one of these meetings John received his first testimony of the divinity of the gospel while sitting at the knees of his mother.

The spring of 1850 they put in a larger crop than before to prepare to go to Salt Lake the following year, and they bent all their energies for that purpose. This summer Jacob and his sister Sarah, now 17 years old went to Missouri and earned something to assist the family. This summer the little boys assisted on the farm. In the fall Sarah returned with some apples, about the first the little boys ever saw. 1851. This winter Sarah taught the village school and her brothers attended the school and gave the teacher more trouble than all the rest. There were usually plenty of wild fruits at this place, such as plums, cherries, blackberries and strawberries, Hazel nuts, hickory nuts and black walnuts. Up to this time there was no cooking stoves around there, the mothers done all the cooking in large bake ovens and large iron kettles on the open fire places.

In the spring of 1851 the Father went to Missouri and got Jacob who had stayed there all winter and brought him home to go to Salt Lake with the family. In April, brother Jacob was baptized by Elisha H. Davis, senior. The family had got together enough provisions and clothing and 2 yoke of oxen and 2 yoke of cows and one wagon, all ready to start the fore part of June 1851. John was now 8 years old and his father baptized him in Key Creek and confirmed him. As the little boys were now old enough to assist their father (who was near sighted) to drive the team. Jacob engages to drive three yoke of Oxen and wagon for an old friend Henry Kearns to Salt Lake.

They crossed the Missouri river at Winter Quarters and went west a few miles, where they were organized into Kelsey’s 100 and Alma Allred’s 5th. This organization was to insure safety traveling through the Indian country. They were delayed some on account of high water. They followed the trail of the Pioneers of 1847, following up the Platte River about 500 miles, then up the Sweetwater and over the South pass, and down to Green River and Bear River, and over the little mountain and down Emigration Canyon to Salt Lake City. They met bands of Indians, and great droves of Buffaloes, they had several stampedes, but very little sickness. They stopped in the city one week, then went south 30 miles to Lehi. There was about 30 families living here.


John Bushman’s journals can be found in the Special Collections at the Harold B. Lee Library at BYU.  Bushman, John's Journals HBLL (2)John wrote in the third person.  Here’s a look at one of his journal entries:Bushman, John's Journals HBLL

About Ann Laemmlen Lewis

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1 Response to Bushman Family History as Recorded by John Bushman in his Journal

  1. Betty Mifflin Bushman says:

    I am in tears this morning reading their story. How thankful we must feel to those who left their stories via journals, diaries, letters, etc. This is the family of my husband, John Theodore Bushman, through the line of John’s brother, Jacob, and therefore now my family too. A son is named for Martin, my favorite Bushman ancestor. Jack always found that amusing that I was so intrigued by his great-great-grandfather, Martin, but his story always inspires me. Thank you for your work, Sister Lewis.

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