Bus Guide Notes for Saturday Morning Farm Visits
The Bushman Family arrived in Nauvoo 16 July 1842 after a long and difficult journey of close to 1,000 miles. They crossed Pennsylvania, a part of what’s now West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. That’s a long way!
The family included Martin & Elizabeth, Jacob (11 yrs), Sarah Ann (9 yrs), Elizabeth (5
yrs), Martin Benjamin (1 yr)
(3 children died in Pennsylvania)
They had a strong desire to join with the Saints and they left their family behind.
They traveled with friends from Pennsylvania (Henry Kearns).
A blind horse was traded, and another horse died on the way to Nauvoo.
They had a heavy load (all they owned) and young 4 children.
Family tradition says the Bushman family lived in the home of Bishop Edward Hunter. This morning we learned more about Edward Hunter’s home in Nauvoo and his farm “out on the prairie,” where the Bushman family stayed.
On this Farm Field Trip we will visit 4 farms: the Jenkins Farm, where the Bushmans likely stayed for a few months when they first arrived, The Joseph Smith Farm, The Kearns Farm and The Edward Hunter Farm, where the Bushmans lived until they left Nauvoo.
The Jenkins Farm (100 acres)
Martin says that he stayed with “Brother Jinkins” when they first arrived in Nauvoo.
Jane Ferguson Jenkins was widowed and had five grown sons when she joined the Church. All five of her boys (Thomas, Samuel, David, William Johnson and Ralph) joined the Church, even though some of the older brothers lived in Philadelphia at the time. The family traveled to Nauvoo in 1840 or 1841, and according to David Jenkins’ letter to Leonard Pickel,the family members sought the counsel of “Brother Joseph” and were advised to combine their resources to purchase 100 acres of land. Thomas Jenkins, the oldest brother, was taxed on this 100 acres of land the year the Bushmans arrived, here in Section 5 of Sonora Township. We are guessing this is where the Bushmans stayed. We are about 2 miles away from the Temple, just outside Nauvoo right now.
Land records, tax assessments, and tithing records we’ve seen inicate that the brothers with their families were probably living and working together on the same farm.
The Bushmans stayed with Jenkins families for about 2.5 months when they first arrived.
(Maybe add a few of the crops that show up in the Jenkins’ tithing.)
The Joseph Smith Farm
One of the more well-known farms in Sonora Township was Joseph Smith’s farm, located in Section 8 of Sonora Township, or just to the west of Henry Kearns’ farm, and diagonally southeast across the road from the Jenkins farm. Joseph and Emma Smith lived in town, but he was known to go out to visit or work on the farm as often as he had time.
Cornelius P. Lott became the superintendent of the Joseph Smith farm in 1842, living in the house built on the farm.
According to his history, Joseph Smith visited the farm almost daily and interacted with the Lott family. On at least one occasion, he also visited his neighbor’s farm, as his journal records that he visited his own farm of and that of Henry Kearns on July 18, 1842. Henry had only bought the 80-acre farm two days prior to Joseph’s visit, on July 16, 1842.
From a history written by Rhea Lott Vance, a descendant of Cornelius Lott:
Three miles from the city of Nauvoo is located the historical Joseph Smith farm. One-half section of prairie land fenced, with an eight room dwelling, four rooms upstairs and four rooms downstairs, and a barn suitably equipped with the essentials to make the homestead an admiration of the Prophet and a special attraction to the extensive travelers passing through the largest city in the state. Much of the land was prairie land and had to be broken up by strong teams, consisting of four or five yoke of oxen. The Prophet’s visit at the farm provided almost daily contact with the Lott family. The children were happy to see him and most always met him on his approach. He was very kind and patient with them and they all loved him.
Between the Smith and Lott families a warm and neighborly feeling existed. The children
attended the same school. Melissa chaperoned the smaller and younger Smith children and at times made her home with the Prophet’s wife.
Permilia Lott settled in Lehi, UT (Cornelius died in 1850), so she was neighbors to the Kearns and the Bushmans again in Lehi.
Henry and Barbara Pickel Kearns lived in Bart Township, as did the Bushmans, and
joined the Church in Pennsylvania before moving to Nauvoo in 1842. The Kearns and
Bushman families remained connected throughout their lives. Jacob Bushman, Martin
and Elizabeth’s son, drove an ox team for the Kearns family from Iowa to Utah, and Henry Kearns’ son-in-law married Sarah Bushman as a second wife. Both families eventually settled in Lehi, UT.
Kearns children and Jenkins children allegedly grew up together in PA.
In the 1840 census in Bart, PA, the Bushmans are in the same township as Kearns and
Jenkins and Pickels. In the Pickel letters, these friends mention each other. Perhaps they planned ahead of time with Jenkins that they’d stay together here.
Other families mentioned were the Wrights, the Kinseys and the Brookes.
The Bushmans traveled with the Kearns from Pennsylvania to Illinois. Martin and Elizabeth were 40 when they traveled, and the Kearns were older. Henry Kearns was 64, and Barbara Kearns was 54.
While the Kearns family still lived in Pennsylvania, it appears Henry Kearns sent $900 with some missionaries who were asking for cash contributions or loans. That is worth about $30,000 today. He asked for some of it to go toward a farm in Nauvoo. Over a year later, he arrived in Nauvoo, and this is the farm for which he prepaid.
Joseph Smith’s Journal, mentions visiting Henry Kearns on his neighboring farm on 18 July 1842. The farms were next to each other, Kearns had just purchased the farm 2 days
Henry Kearns wrote that on the 16th of July he bought 80 acres of land that was fenced, plowed, and had a farmhouse, and that they moved into their new place on July 20th.
From the letters to Leonard Pickel, we learned that Henry Keanrs arrived July 14, the Bushmans arrived the 16th, and then the Kearns family and Bushmans stayed together in the Jenkins’ for a few days before the Kearns family moved out to their new farm.
The Jenkins family might only have had one home, with all three families staying together in one house. Because the Jane Ferguson Jenkins family consisted of several grown children with families of their own, they may have had more than one house on the farm. We don’t know. The family may have allowed the Kearns and the Bushmans to stay in one house together until the Kearns were able to move out a few days later.
The letter implies that the Bushmans stayed with Brother Jenkins until they moved in October.
Some Interesting Relationships
The Kearns farm was previously owned by Erie Rhodes, father of Alonzo’s Rhodes.
The Joseph Smith farm was also purchased from Erie Rhodes.
Barbara Kearns was a daughter of Henry Kearns and Barbara Pickel.
She married Alonzo Rhodes, who was the first in his family to join the church.
They had 10 children.
The Rhodes and Bushman families crossed the plains together in the Easton Kelsey
Company in 1851.
Alonzo Rhodes married Sarah Ann Bushman as a plural wife on May 25, 1852, Salt Lake City. She was 19 years old. They had 12 children.
The Edward Hunter Farm 325 acres
When Edward Hunter first visited Nauvoo in September 1841, he purchased several tracts of land, including some lots in town and some property outside of town. He chose a lot near the temple site on which to build his own home: Block 82, Lot 2. He hired several fellow saints from Pennsylvania who had already moved to Nauvoo to build a home for him there in readiness for his move to Nauvoo the next spring. He arrived in Nauvoo in June 1842.
Because this home was recently restored to its original state as a part of the Nauvoo Historic Sites tours, the Church History Department researched the original home. We were fortunate to receive the historical report produced by A. Ross Garner explaining details about Edward Hunter’s home in town. The report directed us to a 19 December 1842 letter that Edward Hunter wrote to his business associate, David McConkey, who lived in Pennsylvania. In the letter, Hunter says, “I have a dwelling hous erected which I live in & a hous on my farm about 4 miles out in the perara [prairie].”
In his initial visit to Nauvoo in 1841, Edward Hunter bought two contiguous parcels of land in Sonora Township, one for 165 acres and one for 160 acres, for a total of 325 acres.
Edward Hunter’s farm of 325 acres took up the southern half of Section 3 of Sonora Township (6N8W). The farm was about 3-4 miles east of Nauvoo, which corroborates Hunter’s letter saying that his other house was “about 4 miles out in the [prairie].”
In his autobiography, Edward Hunter mentions his farm saying that hired many people to “work at different work,” spending “thousands of dollars” making improvements on his farm, buildings, and other business interests. The farm must have been quite prosperous because he said one year the farm produced 7,000 bushels of grain.
From Martin Bushman’s letter, we learn that they moved out to the prairie to a new house owned by Edward Hunter in October 1842, a few months after their arrival in Nauvoo. The Bushmans did live in a home owned by Edward Hunter, but they did not live in his home in town.
Jacob wrote in a letter that they “lived on Bishop Hunter’s farm until the Spring of 1846.”
Martin Benjamin says that “they rented a farm [from] Edward Hunter near Nauvoo.”
In 1902, John, Martin Benjamin, and Elias Albert made a trip to the east from Utah. According to John’s life history, they visited Nauvoo on their way where they saw many of the sites there, but he did not mention going to Edward Hunter’s home in town. In fact, he recounted, “On the way [to Carthage] we stopped at Bp. [Bishop] Hunter’s farm where I was born. There was no one at home.” He and his brothers obviously knew the family had lived out on the farm, and when they revisited the place, there was still a home there.
Finally, perhaps the most striking evidence comes from Henry Kearns’ letter where he says that “Marten Bushman Heay lifes A Boud 1 miel from us [he lives about 1 mile from us].” Henry Kearns first describes directions to his own home so that Leonard Pickel could find it if he were to visit, saying that it was near the crossroads on Carthage Road. The road to Carthage has since been re-routed, but old maps show that Henry Kearns described his home correctly. In his letter, Kearns mentions where several other neighbors of interest to Leonard Pickel live, including the Jenkins family, whose farm was very nearby. From these records, we feel confident that the Bushmans probably spent their time in Illinois living in Sonora Township, the first few months with the Jenkins family and afterward, in a home on Edward Hunter’s farm.
Bushmans stayed on Hunter’s farm until they left Nauvoo in 1846
Martin Bushman, Tenant Farmer or Employee?
One question that we have not been able to answer with complete confidence is what was the relationship between Edward Hunter and Martin Bushman? Was Martin Bushman some type of employee or overseer for the work that took place on the 325-acre farm or was he a tenant farmer for some or all of the acreage out on the prairie?
Both Martin Benjamin and John state that their father “rented a home [from] Edward Hunter near Nauvoo,” or, as John states, they rented a farm “just east of the city from Edward Hunter, a wealthy man from Pennsylvania, Chester Co.” These statements lead us to believe that Martin was a tenant farmer or had some kind of rental agreement for the land.
Edward Hunter had been a wealthy farmer and landowner in Chester County, Pennsylvania. He was known for being a good businessman and having tenant farmers work the land in Pennsylvania. Because he had used that model in the past, and would again when he later settled in Utah, we could expect him to use his land in Nauvoo in a similar manner.
Tenant farming has been a method of working the land for many generations. The tenant farmer resided and farmed on land he did not own, often working the land in exchange for a percentage of the year’s profits either in cash or in their produce. The landowner thus benefits from the land being worked and receiving a profit from someone else’s labor, and the tenant benefits by having a way to make a living on a farm without having to provide the initial outlay of purchasing the land, which could be a sum far greater than the farmer could afford. Depending on the arrangements made by the tenant farmer and the landowner, the landowner may provide a home, perhaps some tools and livestock (particularly horses to help clear and plow the land), and maybe even the seeds to plant. If the landowner provides most of what is needed to farm, he may demand a greater share of the profits from the crops than if the tenant provides his own tools, animals, and seeds.
The Illinois Soil and Crops
Glaciers originally covered Illinois and flattened the land. These glaciers left behind rich
deposits of dark soil, full of organic matter. Farming here was excellent. The land Martin farmed was rich and fertile. We don’t know if the land needed to be cleared of prairie sod first. Early settlers had a hard time turning the soil. Cornelius Lott (who farmed the neighboring JS Farm) said the prairie land “had to be broken up by strong teams, consisting of four or five yoke of oxen.”
Martin Bushman paid his tithing with in-kind donations. These donations give us an idea of the crops grown here at that time, including barley, buckwheat, rye, winter wheat and vegetables like melons, onions, potatoes, pumpkins, carrots, corn, green beans.
Jacob Bushman, autobiography, typescript, BYU, Pg. 1
Father put in quite a crop that year, and every 10th day we would go and haul rock for the Temple. We raised a very good crop but it was very hard to get milling done. Had to go some of the time 35 miles to mill and we had a good deal of sickness the first two years. Still we got along very well.
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