About Bechias Dustin
In July of 1798 when Bechias was not quite five years old, his mother, Susanna, died. His baby sister, Susanna, was just over a month old when her mother died. Seven months after their mother died, their father, Ebenezer married Betsey Smith. Betsey was twenty-nine and still single. She may have considered herself a spinster. Ebenezer must have been a handsome or charismatic man to attract the brave-hearted Betsey. She entered into marriage and willingly rescued the brood, as well as Ebenezer, a man desperate for help with his large, motherless family. Ebenezer was only 37 years old at the time. During this era, children of a very tender age cared for younger brothers and sisters with some degree of skill, but Ebenezer certainly felt overwhelmed with this lone responsibility of 13 grieving children. The eldest, Ebenezer, Jr., was just 17 years old. Ebenezer and Betsey were married on February 22, 1799. Betsey bore two children in the short time they were married. Nehemiah Dustin was born in 1802, and Abigail Dustin in 1804. In 1805, one year after Abigail was born, Ebenezer died, leaving Betsey with fifteen children. Ebenezer Jr. was the eldest child and became the father figure even though he was a young man of twenty-four
Obituary of Bechias Dustin, Published in the December 9, 1874, issue of Deseret News:
Died, at Bloomington, Oneida County, Idaho, November 5th of consumption, after an illness of six weeks, Bechias Dustin, aged 77 years and one month. Deceased was born in the State of New Hampshire, County of Grafton, town of Enfield; joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at an early day; was with the Church through all of its trials in Ohio, Illinois and Missouri; emigrated to these valleys of the mountains in the year 1850, where he resided ever since; was ordained a Patriarch in 1873; lived and died firm in the faith, with the hope of a full and complete salvation and a resurrection with the just.
From this website: http://earlylds.com/getperson.php?personID=I18497&tree=Earlylds
There are five documented dates for Bechias’ birth. Nauvoo Temple Endowment Register, 1845-46, lists Bechias Dustin’s birth date as 5 October 1793. US Federal Census of 1850 lists the age of Bacclines Dustin as 56, making his birth year 1793 or 1794.
Selections from Membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: 1830-1848, has the birth of Bechias Dustin as 5 Oct 1795.
A Patriarchal Blessing given by William Budge upon the head of Bechias Dustin." The blessing lists Bechias’ parentage, and states his birth date as 5 Oct 1796, and his birth place as Enfield, Grafton, New Hampshire. The obituary from The Deseret New states that Bechias ―aged 77 and 1 month ― at the time of his death in 1874—making his birth year 1797.
FROM ANOTHER SOURCE FROM ANCESTRY.COM:
A Brief History of Bechias Dustin (son of Ebenezer Dustin and Susanna Stevens): Bechias Dustin was born into a very large family. His parents were Ebenezer Dustin and Susanna Stevens. They were married the 1st of November 1782 in the home of her parents, Archelaus Stevens and Hannah Emerson Stevens, residents of Enfield, New Hampshire.
Ebenezer had fought in the Revolutionary war, periodically serving in various campaigns and under different commands from the year 1777 until he was honorably discharged in 1782. His father James Dustin also served during the Revolutionary war to provide liberty and freedom for our young fledgling country.
Writing Bechias’s history is somewhat of a challenge. There is no first hand knowledge written by him of his life. There is no evidence that he or anyone in the immediate family circle maintained any sort of journal, diary or history of any kind. Most of what we know of him has been recorded by others. Hopefully someone will at some future date find more concrete evidence of his life’s activities. His story is one worth recording for his large posterity.
The first difficulty in Bechias’s history is to fit him in the correct order of birth with his siblings. There are two possible birth years given in current evidence. One possible birth date is October 5th, 1796. The other date recorded is October 5th, 1793. This is probably the correct date if we can assume the birth dates for his other siblings are correct. The problem with both dates is that two of his sibling’s births are recorded the same year as his possible birth dates. His brother Chandler’s birth date is given only as 1793, which if he was born soon into the new year, it could have been possible for Bechias to have been born later that year. The bigger problem is with his sister Dorothy’s birth date. Her birth was recorded on the 16th of December 1796. If this date is correct, obviously Bechias could not have been born on October 5th of the same year. The following table gives a complete listing of his siblings with their possible birth dates and if known, their death dates: Children:
1. ) Caleb - born 17 June 1782, died 20 August 1822
2.) Hannah - 4 August 1784, died - unknown
3.) Lydia - born 14 October 1786, died 13 April 1819
4.) David - born 24 April 1788, died - unknown
5.) Betsey - born 15 October 1789, died - unknown
6.) Seth - born 15 January 1791, died 30 September 1846
7.) Chandler - born 1793, died - unknown
8.) Bechias - born 5 October 1793, died 6 November 1874
9,) Sabrina - born 1794, died - unknown
10.) Ruhanna (Ruena) - born 16 Nov. 1795, died - unknown
11.) Dorothy - born 16 Dec. 1796, died - unknown
12.) Susanna - born 25 June 1798, died 3 April 1860
On July 31 1798 their mother, Susanna died after giving birth to her last child, also named Susanna. About a year later on February 27, 1799 their father Ebenezer remarried. Her name was Betsey Smith. There is some evidence that there were other children born to them. On the 23rd of November 1805, Ebenezer also died leaving Betsey to care for all of his children. The 1810 US census for Enfield Township shows a Betsey Dustin as a head of household with a male and female child under the ages of 10 years old. We can assume that these were also Ebenezer’s children from her. The census also indicates that there were no other children living in her household at that time. We could assume the other children, including Bechias were “farmed out” to the extended families of either her side or his, or both.
Ebenezer also had a wife and child from a previous marriage. Her name was Lois Eunice Hunt. To their union was born a son, named after his father, Ebenezer. He was born the 19th of February 1781. She evidently died shortly after giving birth. He might have been raised by his mother’s family. On the May 31, 1807, Ebenezer, Jr.married Sarah Pierce. They raised a family and lived their entire lives in New Hampshire as far as the censuses indicate. She died 6th December 1859, and Ebenezer Jr. died 14th January, 1872.
Because of being orphaned, little is known of the details of Bechias’s early life. It would have been very traumatic for all of these children to have lost both father and mother at such a time, so early in their development. One would wonder how this young step-mother could cope with all of the challenges of raising all of these children. She had to have been a mighty strong woman to even have married their father Ebenezer with his instantly large family. Just knowing that she did marry him says volumes about her character. Practically speaking, however willing she might have been to raise this large of a family on her own, in those times would have been nearly impossible.
There was extended family in their vicinity. One such family was Ebenezer’s parents, James and Abigail. The 1790 U.S. Census indicates only two Dustin heads of household living in the township of Enfield, New Hampshire. One was Ebenezer and judging by the age differential between the two families, the other could be his parents, James and Abigail. There is no mention of James in the 1800 census, which is too bad, because it may help us see if there were young people living in their home for those ten years. By the time the 1810 census rolls around we find that James and Abigail were empty-nesters.
The other assistance would have come from her parents who also were living in this community, although searching the 1790 census for the area doesn’t find an Archelaus Stevens. The Stevens do show up in the 1800 census for Enfield. This record indicates two young white females living in their household, although they were considered to be too old to have children of their own. These were most likely two of Bechias’s sisters. Possibly other aunts and uncles were living nearby as well.
Other tragic events took its toll on this family. It was not uncommon in those days for children to die from a variety of untreatable illnesses. It appears that several of the Dustin children died before reaching maturity. In both the 1790 and 1800 censuses there is evidence that Bechias lost both brothers and sisters. In the 1790 census we should see five children: two boys and three girls, ranging age from 8 years down to 1 year. What we find instead is one adult white male over 16 years (Ebenezer), 2 white males under 16 years (Caleb,8, David,2), and three white females including head (Susanna, and two of the three girls. Lydia would have been one for sure since she lived to maturity. It’s anyone’s guess as to the remaining girl mentioned. Whether Hannah or Betsey survived, we don’t know.
The 1800 census shows that there were three white males under age 10, (Seth, Bechias, and Chandler), one white male from ages 10 – 16, (David), and no white males from ages, 16 -26. This could mean that Caleb was no longer living at home being 18 years of age. We can assume that the white male from ages 26 – 45 is Ebenezer. He would have been 39 years old.
This census shows one white female under the age of 10, (Susanna, 2). This means the other young girls Sabrina, Ruhanna, and Dorothy must have passed away in the years between 1790 and 1800. Susanna is the only one to survive to maturity. It also shows two white females between ages 10 – 16 (Lydia, 14, and one of her sisters, either Hannah or Betsey). Further research is needed to discover which of these two girls were alive then.
We do know that Bechias survived his childhood. About 1816 or 1817, while in his early twenties he met and married his first wife, Asenath Hurlbut (Hurlburt). She was born 7th January 1797 in Genesee County New York. What brought Bechias to this region can only be speculated. Was he employed there? What skills did he have? Who was he living with?
This region of western New York during a span of several years had become known as the ‘burned over’ district. Religious fervor had been in place because of the efforts of several competing evangelistic religious groups. Could he have been part of this? We can only wonder for the present time.
It appears that this young couple settled down in the vicinity of her family. She was the daughter of Jesse Hurlbut (born 21 July 1769) and Polly Taft (born 9 June, 1773). The Hurlbut's had moved from Connecticut according to census records. Asenath was the third child of eight born to this union. She had two sisters and five brothers. One of her brothers, Horacio N. became a very successful physician in Illinois in later years. This might indicate that the Hurlbut's were a family of some means. They were probably at least well educated.
If there were social differences in their family backgrounds, this possibly could have led to some challenging issues in their marriage. Because of Bechias’s lack opportunities due to him being orphaned at a fairly critical time of his early life; his background going into marriage could have been quite different from hers. His educational opportunies were probably somewhat limited. What was less appealing to a female in the areas of fortune and education were likely replaced by thrift and hard work; character traits of equal or better value. They might have started out their lives together with Bechias hired out as a laborer farming someone else’s ground. Later records show Bechias farmed considerably.
Their first child was born to them the 16th February 1818 in Genesee County, New York. Following, is a list of all their children:
1.) David R. - born 15 Feb. 1818, died 25 June 1893
2.) Fortunastus - born 17 Feb. 1820, died 11 Oct. 1872
3.) Buchias - born 1822, died unknown 4.) Bechias Jr. - born 21 Oct. 1823, died after 1870
5.) Seth - born 21 Oct. 1825, died 2 Dec. 1903
6.) Joseph - born 15 Dec. 1827, died 10 Dec. 1914
7.) Asenath C. - born 25 Feb. 1829, died March 1899
8.) Rocksena Mahalia - born 3 July 1833, died 11 March 1903
9.) Franklin - born 1835, died unknown
10.) Christopher - born 1837, died unknown
11.) Asenath C. - born 25 Feb. 1850, died March 1899
As one studies this family list, it may initially confuse you. Naming more than one child the same name seems odd to us. In earlier days, however if an infant died, often the next baby born to the couple would be called by the same name, if they were the same gender. The last child, Asenath Cecilla, seems out of place because of her birth date compared to the next older sibling. Thirteen years between those two children seems odd, especially considering the mother would have been 53 years old when she had her last baby. It is not entirely impossible however. The other concern with this child is that the father, Bechias would have been hundreds of miles away in the Salt Lake valley when the child was born, and very possibly then, not present when conceived. There certainly should be more research done on all of their children.
Bechias joins the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
At some time during their time in New York State or possibly Ohio, the Dustin's most likely heard about a new religious movement. Joseph Smith Jr., a young farm boy had told an amazing story of receiving visions of angels and of obtaining a “gold bible” near where they lived. He then organized a new religion called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as Mormons. This story of heavenly messengers coming again to earth was spectacular news to the neighbors in that region of New York. News of this young man stories were published in many if not all of the regional and many National publications as well. Most were written in order to scoff at such “nonsense”.
This young religion soon had a following, however, and had published a book of scriptures called the “Book of Mormon”. Missionaries were soon active in proselytizing the entire region and some probably found the Dustins – especially Bechias interested in their message. He eventually joined this new church. When the church was officially organized in 1830, Bechias was in western New York. The 1830 census shows him living in Pomfret, Chautaqua County, New York. This is the most western county in the state. In 1831, the Latter-day Saints gathered to a small town in Ohio called Kirtland. It is situated in northeast Ohio not far from Lake Erie.
There is not present any account of his conversion and/or baptism into the L.D.S. faith. What few accounts we do have of his doings indicate that he was very active in his new religion. He also moved to Kirtland to with his family and new friends to be closer to and learn more of the teachings of their prophet Joseph Smith.
Bechias was a member of their priesthood quorums in Kirtland. In 1836 he is mentioned in two of the official church records. In one instance he is mentioned as being a member of the “Teacher’s Quorum,” in another he is voting as new priesthood members were being sustained.
Bechias could have been involved during the construction and dedication of the Kirtland temple. It was completed under very trying circumstances, the members were very destitute for funds to build it. After its completion in 1836, the members met for a special dedicatory event. Many saw or felt tremendous spiritual outpourings from heaven that by any standard – even by biblical standards, were truly remarkable. One can only wonder what Bechias felt during this special time.
The records of the time also indicate that Bechias paid property taxes so he evidently owned property there. He was also listed on the list of shareholders of the Kirtland Safety Society, a banking system set up for church members to use. This system failed during the financial panic of 1837. This calamity caused many to lose much or all of the money they had invested in the Church’s financial institution. For some of its members, this was too much. Many members blamed Joseph Smith for their misfortune. Some left the church; others called Joseph Smith a false prophet and attempts were made to undermine his leadership and remove him from his calling.
Later in the Kirtland period religious persecution became very severe. Many members of the Church apostatized and became vocal – and sometimes violent in their opposition toward those who remained true to the Church and Joseph Smith. In June of 1837, one noted Church leader claimed that there were not twenty men who believed Joseph was a prophet. Finally, early in 1838, Joseph and those who remained faithful left their temple and their homes behind and headed for Farr West, Missouri.
Far West Missouri was a new settlement for the Saints. Those who had been living in Jackson County and other areas in western Missouri had also fled persecution and this was their next step in building a city. Although Bechias also suffered financially from the bank collapse in Kirtland he maintained a steady course and kept up his faith. He and his family also moved with the faithful saints to Farr West, Missouri.
The only evidence found so far that they were there is a wonderful story about Bechias’s young son Bechias Jr. It was recorded by William Draper in his autobiography. This story is at time when the saints were again being persecuted by the Missouri mobs. Many of the leading Mormon men had been arrested and gathered and held under arrest in an open area to await their fate. After being disarmed of any weapons to defend themselves, and then forced to stand all day in the scorching heat, they were allowed to return home while being under house arrest. William Draper continues his narrative:
“So after supper we retired to our beds, for we were glad to get a little rest and we had been advised to keep our house dark or we would be liable to get shot. We could often hear guns firing, dogs yelping, hogs squalling and demons howling and yelling, cursing and swearing. After spending the night thus amused, we arose in the morning and could see hogs, dogs and sheep laying dead in the street and gate ways that led out of the city. They had been shot by the ruffians that seemed to think there was many running away on all fours, they also committed many other depredations, such as raping and stealing, and the worst of all did outrage and shamefully abuse to some of our most worthy and virtuous females.
I will here relate a short conversation that took place between a little boy about twelve years old by the name of Bechias Dustin and a Methodist preacher; and captain of a company and chaplain for the army by the name of [Samuel] Bogard, which took place as follows:
One evening when the little boy was present the army was called to order to attend evening services and a solemn prayer and thanks to their unknown God for the glorious works that he was permitting and assisting them to perform, and when the prayer was finished the boy stood as if in deep meditation and said, "Mr. Bogard can I ask you one question?" "Yes boy", was the answer, and the boy proceeded by saying, "Mr. Bogard, sir, which way do you think is right for a person to have their eyes closed or open when they pray?" Well my boy I suppose either would be acceptable if done in humility but it looks more humiliating to have our eyes closed against the transitory objects around us and from the world." "Well," said the boy, "I think if I was engaged in such a work as you are I should want my eyes open." "Why my boy," was the inquiry. "Because I should fear the devil would carry me off if they were shut."
They then threatened his life for a young Mormon; but he said, "I am no Mormon," and he was not and so he escaped but subsequently joined the church.” It would seem that the Goliath-like Missouri mobs had met their match with this brave David-like youth.
The saints were also driven from their homes and farms in Farr West and were threatened with death if they didn’t leave the state of Missouri. So, as their beloved leader and prophet captured and incarcerated in Liberty jail, the Dustin's along with the rest of the saints began a trek across much of the state of Missouri in the advent of a cold winter. Homeless, with very few provisions and clothing for such a march with their families, they headed across the frozen prairies countryside toward the northeast.
The residents of Quincy, Illinois, a sizable town on the east bank of the Mississippi, took many of the freezing and starving refugees into their homes. The saints were treated with much kindness and dignity. Besides feeding and sheltering them over the winter, they were given opportunities to work. Bechias must have decided to stay here among this fine community.
While living there, Cyrena Dustin, a niece of Bechias, daughter of his brother Seth, came to them seeking temporary shelter. She states in her Journal that:
“I am the only one of my father’s family that ever embraced the gospel; yet I knew that my father believed, and had it not been for some unwise conduct by one of the Elders whom my father had befriended and assisted, he probably would have been baptized at the same time I was. My brothers and sisters were greatly mortified at my joining the church, and as long as I lived at home I had to endure their persecutions”.
She joined the exodus to Missouri and was subsequently expelled from that state at the threat of death. Being disowned by her own family as well, she had nowhere to go. Being thus homeless, single, and poverty stricken she called upon the mercy of her uncle Bechias and later recorded her visit to their household.
“At Quincy was residing a brother of my father’s who had joined the Church, and there I lived for a few weeks, but his wife persecuted him and made it so unpleasant for me that I could not stand it, but went out to work.”
This is only a small window into the lives of Bechias and Asenath, but it may speak volumes as to the challenges it was for our early grandparent to cope with their individual differences. In particular, Bechias’s faith in the Mormon religion was a difficult issue for her. Some have mentioned that Asenath at one time was baptized a member of the church, but her faith was not strong enough to overcome the many trials that befell them.
On the other hand, Bechias seemed to remain strong in the faith. In a meeting held in Quincy on the 18th February, 1843, Bechias was sustained as the president of the Quincy Conference. This small congregation would have been comparable to one of our Districts – only smaller.
We don’t know how long Bechias stayed in Quincy. We know that his oldest son David R. married while living there. On the7th of June, 1840, he married Mary Call. She was born the 10 April, 1819 in Painsville, Ohio. David and Mary retained their residency in Quincy. He was a veteran of the civil war and worked as a postmaster for many years. They had three children live to adulthood, and lost one child, a boy, whose name is David as well. He died 2nd August, 1849. His father died 25 June 1893. His mother died 5th March, 1910. He and both parents are buried in Woodlawn cemetery in Quincy. Their headstones are not very legible but are still there.
Fortunastus the next son married Sonora Rosaline Call on the 2nd February, 1845 in Warsaw, Illinois. They were members of the church and migrated to Utah and later to California, Oregon, and Utah again. Bechias, if in fact there was another one has no other information, except for his approximate birth in 1822.
Bechias Jr. was born 21 October 1823. He must have been the young boy mentioned in William Draper’s story. It is not known if he ever was married and had any children, but he is mentioned in census records as late as 1880, residing in the town of Sweetwater, Wyoming. He may have pursued mining as a profession.
Seth was born in Hartland, Genesee County, New York on 21 October 1825. He married Hannah Sophia Loveland on 5th April, 1846. After Hannah Died April, 1867, he married Ann Reed Everington on 5th April, 1869. Seth is the father of William Henry Dustin, the honoree of this reunion. Seth died on December, 1903, in Garden City, Utah. He is buried in the cemetery there.
Joseph was married to Sarah Jane Littlefield on 6th September, 1845. They migrated to Utah with the Mormon pioneers and later moved to San Bernardino, California. Joseph’s mother Asenath is supposed to have lived with them there and died in San Bernardino on 11th March, 1875. The 1860 census indicates that Joseph was 30 years old and that he was born in Ohio. If this information can be substantiated it would mean the family of Bechias was in Ohio about 1830.
The other children, Asenath Cecilia, Rocksena Mahalia, Franklin, Christopher, and the other Asenath Cecilia have not been researched adequately yet. (NOTE: Rocksena or Roxanna Mahalia Dustin, my 3rd great grandmother, was married in Council Bluffs in 1850 to John Welker, and their first child, Roxana Louisa Welker was born there in 1851. They went to Utah in the Isaac Stewart company the following year, 1852. After moving to Bloomington, Bear Lake, Idaho, in about 1863, they lived there for 20 years, and then moved to Safford, Arizona in 1883.)
The events surrounding the martyrdom of Joseph Smith in Carthage, Illinois, June 27, 1844, may have also marked a pivotal event in the lives of Bechias and Asenath. At about the time of this tragedy, Bechias and Asenath had moved to Nauvoo, or at least owned property there. Apostle John Taylor was wounded very seriously during the attack at Carthage. It has been recorded that Asenath was helpful in dressing and caring for his wounds. She must have had some medical background like others in her family.
After Joseph and Hyrum’s deaths there was some confusion for a while as to who would lead the church. Most church members chose to follow Brigham Young, then the president of the Quorum of the Twelve. Other leaders also felt they may be in line. Sidney Rigdon was the most notable and outspoken. Later, Joseph’s brother William decided he should be a ‘guardian’ until Joseph’s son, Joseph III was of age. For one who was all ready weak in her faith, these events and the emotions that went with them may have been what led to the break up between Bechias and Asenath. Nothing has ever been found to show a legal separation or divorce, but by the time the saints were leaving Nauvoo in the spring of 1846, Bechias was shown married to another woman! Her name was Emily Phelps Merrill. Although this could have been a plural marriage.
Plural marriage could have also been a reason for their separation. To consider that Bechias could have been married to two women at this time should not be much of a surprise. Several of the leading brethren who were considered loyal and faithful to Joseph were introduced to this practice as early as 1841. During the period the saints were living in Nauvoo the principle was practiced in secret. Not until years later did the saints practice it openly.
If Asenath found out about this arrangement or even if she was asked permission to allow it, we could suppose that she couldn’t abide with Bechias’s decision. He would have felt peer pressure from the brethren to accept this new principle and live it. We just don’t know enough details of their circumstances, but for many women in the church – even faithful women, this was too much for them to obey. By our current views on the matter, who could blame her? But by the standards of the day she was probably considered one who lacked faith if she terminated their marriage relationship based on his decision to live the “Law of Plural Marriage”. We should withhold judgment on both their parts until we know all of the facts, if any of this is true.
In the 1850 U.S. Federal Census for Utah, Bechias and Emily were listed as follows: Bacchius (mis-spelled), 56, Emily, 47, Lafayette Merrill, 15, Mary, 11, and Orrin Phelps Dustin, 8. Since Orrin was born in 1842, he was the last child born to Emily and her first husband, Orrin Merrill, who passed away in 1844. Orrin was born in New York according to the census, so Bechias and Emily were probably not living in Nauvoo until about 1845.
Emily P. Merrill was born in the state of New York on 2nd February 1804. Her parents were Samuel Merrill and Phoebe Odell. She married Orrin Merrill in 1825 at Genesee County New York. It is quite possible that Bechias and the Merrill's were old acquaintances from New York. Emily’s brother Philemon Merrill married Bechias’s niece, Cyrena Dustin, mentioned earlier.
Emily and Orrin Merrill were the parents to eight children, three of which lived to maturity. Sometime in 1844, Orrin died leaving Emily a 40 year old middle aged widow with plenty of mouths to feed. There is no evidence of a marriage document for Bechias and Emily, but there is documentation that they were “sealed”, an LDS term for a marriage joined by one having priesthood authority to bind them as a couple forever - even after death. This event took place in Salt Lake City on January 17, 1852, at the Endowment House. Interestingly there is no evidence that Bechias and Asenath were ever sealed during their lifetime. Only after their deaths were the ordinances performed for them by others.
The Saints Go West:
After the Smiths were murdered, the persecution of the church continued to worsen. To their neighbors in Illinois, they were perceived as a very powerful political group. This did not sit well with residents of adjoining counties. Mobs in Illinois combined with militia groups began terrorizing outlying communities and isolated families. Fields were burned and trampled; farm houses and building were burned. Lives were threatened. Finally Brigham Young announced to their enemies that they would leave in the spring of 1846. This announcement bought the saints just enough time to complete their temple. The members were encouraged by their leaders to give a tithing of their time toward the completion of the partially constructed temple in Nauvoo. It finally was completed enough late in 1845 for the saints to receive their blessings before journeying to their yet unknown promised land.
Bechias and his grown sons were probably involved in the completion of this building. The records of the Nauvoo temple show that Bechias received his “endowment” on 5th January, 1846. Emily received hers on 21 January 1846. Most married couples received their temple blessings together on the same day. This might indicate that they had not yet married at this time. Perhaps sometime between them receiving their temple endowment and them arriving in western Iowa they became husband and wife.
In 1847, the records of the church show them married and living in the Mill Branch with Bechias serving as a counselor in the branch presidency. The record also shows him as “removed to Missouri”. This might mean he was seeking employment or attending to some other matter away from home. This branch might have been created as the saints settled temporarily in western Iowa along the Missouri River in the vicinity of Council Bluffs. According to the scanty amount of information found, it is believed that Bechias and Emily left with the group of saints coming to the Salt Lake valley with the Heber C. Kimball Company, departing Winter Quarters on June 7th, 1848, and arriving in Salt Lake Valley on September 24th of that same year.
As the pioneers entered the valley for the first time they must have wondered how they could survive in such a harsh climate. There were very few trees growing in the valley at the time – mostly sagebrush and willows along the streams. But they had been prepared for this for years as their faith was tempered and proven in the fiery furnace of persecution. At last they were a free people. They could worship according to their beliefs. Almost as a reward for being the first to prove their faith, Brigham Young had the city plans drawn up and each family was “given” city lots according to their needs. Some with very large families and a number of wives were given more property to accommodate their needs.
The term “given” is used loosely because the church, Brigham Young or no one else for that matter actually owned the land yet. In fact the saints, in their desire to remove themselves from any more persecution had decided to leave the continental United States. The land they now lived on and began to improve was actually the property of Mexico. The actual deeds to their properties were finally given out after 1870. Bechias and Emily were given one lot located in northwest Salt Lake City. They were located in what became the 19th Ward. The open country to the north was used for cattle range. Bechias probably started planting a crop in order to survive.
One very basic question needs to be asked at this time. What was the makeup of Bechias and Emily’s family at this time? Of Bechias’s children, we can assume that none of them were living with them. His daughter Rocksena started out with him, but got married in Council Bluffs. She went west with her new husband John Welker in 1852. Joseph had married in Quincy, Illinois, in 1845 and they might have accompanied them to the valley, but were on their own too. Seth married in 1846 and came out west with his wife’s family. So little is known about the other children that it makes one wonder that if they survived to adulthood, they might have been with their mother Asenath.
In the 1850 Utah census, living next door to Bechias and Emily was Bechias' niece, Cyrena 32, and her husband, Philemon C. Merrill, 30, a farmer, with their children: Mary, 17, Sabrina, 8, Alexander, 6, Lucy, 2, Morgan, 1 and a laborer named Dudley Dustin, 18. The children's places of birth give testament to all the moving they did with the church. Mary was born in Tennessee, Sabrina and Alexander in Illinois, Lucy in Utah and Morgan in Deseret or Utah.
Next door was Samuel B. Merrill, 39, his wife Elizabeth, 32, and their children, Adelbert, 13, (born in Michigan), Cynthia, 11, Justin, 9, Elthura, 8, Margaret, 6, Samuel, 5, (all born in Illinois), Jacob, 4, Jeanine, 2, (both born in Iowa) and Lucy, 6 months, born in Deseret or Utah.
Soon after the saints arrived in Salt Lake City, word reached them that gold had been discovered by the Mormon Battalion boys near Sacramento, California. The church leaders counseled against the men rushing to California in order to “strike it rich”. They were to stay home, provide for their families and build up the Kingdom. Never the less, many justified a reason to go. Bechias decided to take his chances there too. Sometime in the fall of 1852 he left for the gold fields of California. It is not known if he went alone or with others. In the journal of Caroline Barnes Crosby, written as it happened, she records some wonderful insights as she perceives this lonely old gold-miner. She writes:
May 1853, Friday 20th …Br. [Bechias] Dustin came to work for us. He was from Salt lake city last year, has been sick 8 months in the gold mines, is an old man of 55 years.
October 1853, Thurs 13th … Br. Dustin called and took dinner with us. Showed me a letter from his wife, dated Aug. 28th. It gave an account of the death of her youngest son a boy 12 years old, he was killed by a flash of lightning while driving cattle into the yard. An ox was also killed at the same time. Br. D seemed very much affected at the reading of the letter, wished himself in Salt Lake valley, but said he had made arrangements to stay another year. His wife importuned with him to come home; even offered to sell their place and send him means, if he could not come without. She seemed almost inconsolable at the loss of her son.
Wednesday 19th…Br Dustin called just as we got through supper asked Alma if we would keep a pedlar. Said he was [illegible cross out] very tired and almost sick. Alma told him he could stay. Accordingly I prepared him a place at the table. He said he had been sleeping on the ground, and eating a negroes cooking for sometime, and felt glad to get home once more. He had been making fence for Br Horner.
Thurs 20th…Br Dustin called again tonight to stay with us.
Sat 22nd…Just before supper came Brs Dustin and Doroty, to stay over night and be here to attend meeting
November 1853, Fri 4th…Br Dustin called, said he had been making fence on disputed land, for a Mr. Scribner, and that one of the squatters had threatened his life if he did not desist, and leave. Said he was going to Union City, and intended to have him brought to trial.
September 1854, Sat 23th …Br Dustin staid over night with us we had a very agreeable visit with him.
October 1854, Sun 29th…Also Br Dustin staid with us.
Mon 30th …Fine day, Br Naile, and Dustin left after breakfast.
December 1854, Wed 6th…This evening came Br Bechias Dustin, looked very miserable, and said he had been very sick, and suffered very much from being disappointed of going home this fall, to Salt Lake. I really felt a sympathy for him, I could hardly describe. After supper he requested the brethren belonging to the house to collect to our room, and have a meeting, for prayer, and conversation. To which they all consented, and we enjoyed a couple of hours very agreeably. Meeting closed with, When shall we all meet again, which seemed quite appropriate, as the old gentleman talks of leaving for San Bernardino.
January 1855, Mon. New years day 1st…Br Dustin staid here.
Wed 31st…Br Dustin came and requested us to board him awhile.
February 1855, Mon 5th…Br Dustin returned toward night, informed us that he intended leaving for San Bernardino, and so on to Salt Lake valley next Sat.
Sun 11th…The evening passed very agreeably with Brs Dustin, Wilkins, and Brinley, Frances, and Elvira. They sang a few hymns to the accompanyment of the violins. Mr. C [Crosby] attended meeting in company with Father Dustin.
Friday 16th…Br Dustin has set out again for the city and has hopes of obtaining his money today, and of leaving for San Bernardino tomorrow. His health is very poor, and in all probability will not live very long, which is the great anxiety to get home. Br Caran staid at Br Horners last night, came into see us this morning. He has also gone with Br D [Dustin] and expects to leave on the morrow.
March 1855, Sun 4th…Br Dustin came out after church, to stop with us awhile, or until he gets his money from Br JMH
Sat 10th…Father Dustin spent the evening with us, or until 8 o’clock when and Mr. Crosby went to the Horners
12th Mon…Evening Br Dustin and Badlam spent with us.
Thurs 15th…The evening was spent in company with Brs Morris, Badlam, and Dustin.
Friday 16th…Another fine day. The brethren all went to the city. Br Dustin expected to get money from Br JMH to help himself off on the morrow, but came home disappointed again. Intends to leave soon at all events. Mr. Crosby made him a present of a coat and Spenser [short jacket] to carry home to one of his sons, which pleased him very much.
Sun 18th…Br Dustin invited us, (myself and husband) to ride to meeting in his carriage. Said Sister Horner declined going in consequence of the ill health of Joseph, their youngest son. We very readily accepted the invitation, and to save the expense of the toll gates went around the hills, found the roads ruff and sandy, but got along very well. Came out into Pleasant Valley on Dupont St, and continued, until we came to Parley's bookstore, where we called and took Br P [Parley Pratt] and his wife with us. We were quite early, and sister P and myself went in to see sister King a little while; found them living in one of Br Che[ney’s] houses, where we have formerly held our meetings. Br Pratt was very interesting in his remarks, and spoke quite lengthy. Meeting closed we called into sister Mowrey’s, Sister Corwin, Pratt, Pell, and her niece, sister Jones, and her two daughters, Sister Mowrey invited me to stay several days, but I could not well do so, as Frances was away from home. We reached home in good time, had a pleasant trip of it. Br Henry Wilkins was driver. Brs Dustin and Badlam spent the evening with us, Mr C and Alma entertained them on their violins.
Mon 19th…Br Dustin having received a span of horses, and carriage of Br Horner set off about 8 o'clock for Santa Clara intending to join a family in that vicinity for San Bernardino. I had time to drop a few lines to sister Lewis, and sent them after him, while he waited. The men cheered for D after he was fairly off, and I presume rejoiced for him. But for J M H looked very thoughtful. Immediately after he was gone I went into the chamber to make beds, and found that he had left his blankets, through a mistake.
There are several personality and character traits that are noticed by reading Sister Crosby’s entries. One notices that he is somewhat impulsive or maybe passionate – to just leave his family and run to the gold fields seems a little irresponsible although his motives were probably to be a better provider. He was a person of integrity. Notice that he kept his word to his employer, even at the cost of not returning home as he received word of the accidental death of his stepson, Orin P. This would have been very difficult and she records his emotions very well.
He yearned for the company of friends and family and enjoyed the spiritual part of being in small gatherings with the saints; of praying singing sacred hymns and sharing spiritual experiences with others seemed quite natural. He seemed very able and used to organizing and holding meetings, something honed over the years of leading their congregations.
He earned the respect of those around him. Notice how she went from referring to him as “the old man” to referring to him as “Brother Dustin”? They also had a going away party and seemed to miss his company. He remained focused on the possible objective of his stay there – to earn extra money and return to his family in Utah, even though he had a difficult time retrieving his wages.
As he returned home, he went through the Mormon settlement of San Bernardino and joined up with a group returning to the valley of the Great Salt Lake. He was chosen as their chaplain or spiritual leader during their trek, again showing his depth of spiritual leadership.
The Later Years
Not much else is found about events of his later life. In a Utah 1856 Statehood Census Index it showed that Bechias was living in the 19th Ward of the Great Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah. The U.S. Federal Census of 1860 showed Bechias as a 66-year old farmer, his wife, Emily was 55, and also living in their household were Mary M. Merrill, 19, Emily’s daughter, listed a as “domestic”, Milton H. Goodrich, 14 (unknown relationship to family), and Edwin Merrill, 22, listed as a farm laborer, he being Emily’s youngest surviving son. Orrin Phelps Merrill Dustin had been accidentally killed by a bolt of lightning while tending to his farm chores when Bechias was in California. The 1860 census shows that his real estate was valued at $600 and his personal estate at $300.
The family listed below Bechias on the 1860 census record was Ethan Pettit, a younger and successful farmer and neighbor to the Dustin household. And by the 1870 census, Bechias and Emily were living in his household. Could it be possible that in their declining years they could no longer take care of their farm and sold out to the Pettit's and worked for them. In 1860 Ethan Pettit's farm real estate was valued at $1,000 and his personal estate at $800, but by 1870 his real estate was valued at $3,000 and his personal estate at $1,000.
They were listed in the 1870 census for Brighton, Salt Lake County, Utah, as follows: Bechias (mis-spelled again, as Becius), 73, and Emily Dustin, 67, Ethan Pettit, 60, Catherine Pettit, 50, and their son Ethan A., 18, as well as two other unrelated people, Samuel S. Sherman, 30, and Philip Lewis, 47, who were shown as a teamster and a laborer. Both Ethan Pettit and Bechias were listed as farmers. Ethan was born in New York and Catherine in New Jersey, and Ethan, Jr. in Utah. Since Ethan Sr. was born in New York, perhaps he had known the Dustin family when they also lived in New York.
There was another Pettit family living next door, Lorenzo, 45 and his wife Lucy Ann, 42, and their children, Jeremiah, 22, William, 20, William, 16, and Lucy Ann 9, and Phebe, 74. Next door to them was, another Pettit family headed by Essa, 37, his wife, Jane, 35, and their children Josephine, 7, Essa, 4, and Parley. Perhaps Essa was Ethan's son and Lorenzo Ethan's brother.
As they got older, Bechias and Emily would have required more attention than employers could reasonably have given to maintain their health. The 1870 census showed that Bechias may have had some personal health issues. Whether he was blind, deaf, or dealing with some other infirmity is not specifically listed.
His advancing age or health issues may be why he moved to Bloomington, Bear Lake, Idaho, sometime after 1870. We know that part of Seth’s family had settled there and it probably fell to them to care for their aging father and grandfather. Bechias and Aseneth's daughter, Roxana Mahala Dustin Welker and her husband, John Welker, had also moved to Bloomington from Utah in about 1863.
The last crowning achievement bestowed upon Bechias while in Bloomington, Bear Lake County, Idaho, was his ordination as a Patriarch under the hands of Brigham Young, George A. Smith, John Taylor, George Q. Canon, and Charles C. Rich which was performed in the home of Charles C. Rich in Paris, Idaho, on August 30, 1873.
Bechias was able to give one patriarchal blessing to an unknown recipient before passing away after a lingering illness on November 5th or 6th, 1874. This faithful convert, who had been tried, tested, and persecuted for his faith and love of his religion and his God, who raised a righteous posterity and assisted his second wife is raising hers, was laid to rest in the Bloomington Cemetery. An obituary was published concerning his death in the Deseret News in their December 9, 1874, issue.
Emily probably stayed with him there until his passing. Emily also may have had serious health factors leading to her moving to live with her youngest married daughter Mary M. Merrill Lutz. They lived in Cache Valley, Utah, and later lived in Rexburg, Idaho, then just an early settlement in the upper Snake River Valley in south eastern Idaho. She passed away there surrounded by her family on December 29, 1890. A notice of her death was published in the Ogden Standard in their publication on January 10, 1891. Although there have been attempts to discover her burial site, it hasn’t yet been found. Her grave site should be in the vicinity of some of the Lutz family that preceded her in death.
As this history is finished (but hopefully not concluded), this paragraph from his patriarchal blessing, given just weeks before his passing seems appropriate: “Thy faith will be strong and thy last days will be days of usefulness, and thy name will be remembered in Israel in respect and honor. Thy de[s]cendants will be a mighty multitude and known as honorable men of the earth”.
It is my hope that this short history will in some way honor this good man so this promise made to him will come about. I respect and honor my third great grandfather as one who worked so hard for so little in order that I can enjoy the blessings he so caringly planted; especially the blessing of his faith in and love of God.
Written by Joseph C. Driggs, August 2006
SOURCE: Family Search.org
According Ancestry.com, in a list Membership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830-1848, about Bechias Dustin, he was shown to be the son of Ebenezer Dustin and Susanna Stevens, born October 5, 1793, in Enfield, Grafton, New Hampshire, USA, or an alternate birth pace of Genesse County, New York, USA. His death date is listed as October 6, 1874. His residences were listed as Kirtland, Geauga, Ohio, USA, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, USA, 1850; Genesse County, New York, 1818-1829. (NOTE: he may have been in Genesse County, NY, longer than 1829, since his daughter, Roxana Mahalia Dustin, was born there in 1833.)
Bechias was ordained a high priest. His baptism date was October 10, 1867, Temple, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, USA. Endowment Date: January 5, 1846, Temple: Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois, USA. Sealed to Spouse Date: February 14, 1955, Temple: Idaho Falls, Bonneville, Idaho, USA. Sealed to parents date: March 10, 1950, Temple: Mesa, Maricopa, Arizona, USA. Vocation: Laborer. Comments: Bechias had a household of five in 1851. Comments: Bechias was a member of the Kirtland Safety Society. He signed the Articles of Agreement on January 2, 1837. His Household members were listed as follows:
Bechias Dustin - Self - Head
Aseneth Hurlbert - Spouse
David Dustin - Child
Fortunastus Dustin - Child
Bechias Dustin - Child
Seth Dustin - Child
Joseph Dustin - Child
Asaneth Cecila Dustin - Child
Roxana Mahala Dustin - Child
Franklin Dustin - Child
Christopher Dustin - Child
Emily Phelps Merrill - Spouse
His Millennium File record states he was born October 5, 1793, in Genesee, New York, USA, and married 1816 to Aseneth Hurlbut. Spouses father was Jesse Hurlbut and mother Polly Taft.
Revised: November 21, 2015, by Della Dale Smith-Pistelli, the 4th great granddaughter of Bechias Dustin.
Enfield, Grafton, New Hampshire, USA
Rochester, Monroe, New York, USA
Genesee, New York, USA
Genesee, New York
Hartland, Genessee, New York, USA
Hartland-Leroy, Genesee, New York, USA
Leroy, Genesee, New York, USA
LeRoy, Genesee , New York, USA
Genesee, New York, USA