Cyrena Merrill (Dustin)

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Cyrena Dustin Merrill (Dustin)

Birthplace: Buffalo, NY, USA
Death: Died in Safford, AZ, USA
Place of Burial: Safford, Graham, Arizona, USA
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Seth Dustin and Elizabeth Redfield Dustin
Wife of Philemon Christopher Merrill
Mother of Sabrina Lodena Merrill; Philemon C. Merrill, Sr.; Lucy Cyrena Merrill; Melissa Jane Merrill Young; Morgan Henry Merrill and 3 others
Sister of Sabrina Dustin; Sylvanus Dustin; Ebenezer Dustin; Chandler Dustin; Harriett Dustin and 3 others

Occupation: Married Philomen Christopher Merrill, 9/20/1840 Nauvoo, Hancock, Il. She was his first wife and gave him 8 children. His second plural wife also gave him 8 children, and his 3rd plural wife gave him one child.
Managed by: Della Dale Smith-Pistelli
Last Updated:

About Cyrena Merrill (Dustin)

The photo above of Cyrena Dustin Merrill is from the files of the International Society, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, Pioneer Memorial Museum, and was found on the website Find A There is another photo of Cyrena and her husband, Philemon Christopher Merrill under the Media Tab above. The following biographical information was also found on her Find A memorial.

Biographical Summary:

Cyrena Dustin was born Jan. 6, 1817, in Le Roy, Genessee County, N.Y. She moved with her parents and siblings to Portage County, Ohio, when she was about one year old and remained there until she left home at 21. "I never had good health and was never expected to do anything around the house, and all the family waited on me," she records.

Cyrena first heard the Gospel when she was about 19 and was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by Elder James Emmett a year later in March 1837. "I am the only one of my father's family that ever embraced the Gospel, yet I know that my father believed and, had it not been for some unwise conduct in one of the Elders whom my father had befriended and assisted, he probably would have been baptized at the same time I was," she says. Her brothers and sisters were mortified at her joining the Church and persecuted her until she left home.

In the summer of 1837, Cyrena visited Kirtland and viewed the Temple. She returned home and spent the winter with her parents and siblings, but determined to move with the Saints to Missouri when the time came. Her parents opposed this move and tried everything in their power to keep Cyrena home.

On the trip from Randolph to Far West, Mo., Cyrena's company had to pass Cyrena's parents' house, and Cyrena was afraid her father would see her and force her to stay. "But as we neared home we saw the hand of the Lord in causing a dense fog to envelop the house until after we passed," Cyrena says. "We could not see even the signboard at the street door."

Cyrena became sick on this journey and some expected her to die, but her health improved. Soon Joseph Smith, Sr., found work for her with an aged couple in Little Platte, Mo., about 20 miles from Far West. In the spring of 1839 Cyrena rejoined Brother Stanley's company and traveled with them to Quincy, Ill. At Quincy Cyrena met a paternal uncle who had joined the Church in Ohio, and she lived with his family a short while. She worked through the summer at $2 per week until she saved enough to move to Nauvoo, Ill., in the fall of 1839.

While working at a home in Nauvoo, Cyrena waited on a dinner guest named Philemon Christopher Merrill. Philemon returned after a journey and married Cyrena Sept. 20, 1840. Eleven months later their first child was born in Nauvoo. The small family fled Nauvoo Feb. 6, 1846, and headed toward the Rocky Mountains with an early company of Saints; however, Philemon volunteered for the Mormon Battalion and Cyrena waited for him in Iowa until he came back for her. They arrived in Salt Lake City together Feb. 17, 1850. Cyrena and Philemon helped settle parts of northern Utah and southern Idaho, and then the Church called them to help settle Arizona.

They led a company into St. David, Ariz., where Cyrena remained the rest of her life. She died in Layton, Ariz. (now Safford) Feb. 3, 1906 at age 88. She had eight children.

SOURCE: James/Hatch One Minute Histories (1994), by Daryl James

Additional Sources:

  1. Unpublished autobiography of Cyrena Dustin;
  2. "Patriarchs: Philemon Christopher Merrill." The 25th Stake of Zion (On record at Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT).
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Cyrena Merrill (Dustin)'s Timeline

January 6, 1817
Buffalo, NY, USA
August 21, 1841
Age 24
Nauvoo, IL, USA
November 15, 1845
Age 28
Nauvoo, IL, USA
April 7, 1846
Age 29
Nauvoo, IL, USA
September 10, 1848
Age 31
Council Bluffs, IA, USA
February 17, 1850
Age 33
Salt Lake City, UT, USA
October 31, 1851
Age 34
Salt Lake City, UT, USA
January 3, 1853
Age 35
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, USA
August 10, 1859
Age 42
Farmington, UT, USA