Heritage Gateways

Official Sesquicentennial K-12 Education Project
sponsored by the Utah State Board of Education, the BYU-Public School Partnership and the Utah Education Network

Pioneer 1848-1868 Companies

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1861 (and more), Murdock, John Riggs, Captain (Biographical Sketch)

John Riggs Murdock was born in Orange, Ohio, Sept. 13, 1826 the son of John and Julia Clapp Murdock. His mother died when he was five years old and John was placed in the home of Morris Phelps where he was very welcome since they had no son of their own. The Phelps family moved from Jackson County to a farm near Far West where John was given the responsibility of running the farm. When he was thirteen years old he was entrusted with driving one hundred head of cattle the entire distance across the state of Missouri into Illinois, more than 200 miles much of the way through rain and mud. John then joined his father in Nauvoo.

He enlisted in the Mormon Battalion July 16, 1846 when he was not yet twenty years of age. After he was mustered out he met his father's family in Salt Lake City, Oct. 2, 1847. The family built a home of adobe, while John secured employment cutting timber and farming. He married Almira Lott Nov. 12, 1849 and they settled in Lehi on forty acres of farm land.

In 1861 John was called to take charge of a church train, consisting of 33 wagons to go to Florence, Nebraska and meet the Saints who were coming west. Accordingly, John traveled to Florence, met the 500 people and returned safely to the valley, arriving Sept. 12, 1861. He made eleven trips across the plains to bring emigrants to Utah. He was a most successful driver of oxen and mules.

In 1864 he was called to make his home in Beaver, where he was Bishop. He was elected a member of the Territorial Legislature and re-elected four consecutive terms. He was also a member of the Territorial Convention that drafted a Constitution for the State of Utah. He was the founder of a Church academy at Beaver, an appendage to the then Brigham Young Academy at Provo. Mr. Murdock was instrumental in organizing a co-operative woolen factory and a mercantile co-operative institution, with a capital stock of $20,000. In 1881 he was made President of the Beaver Stake of Zion, and later was ordained a patriarch. His passing occurred Nov. 12, 1913, thus ending the vigorous life of one of the most rugged of pioneer men.

Source: Our Pioneer Heritage © Carter, Kate B., ed. 20 vols. Salt Lake City: International Society, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1958-1977. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the publisher. Documents and images are exerpted by permission from the LDS Family History Suite CDROM from Ancestry.