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Rodney Badger

Birthplace: Waterford, Caledonia, Vermont, USA
Death: April 29, 1853 (29)
Ogden, Weber, Utah, USA
Place of Burial: Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of John Badger and Lydia Chamberlain
Husband of Nancy Stringham
Father of Nancy Maria Ashby; Rodney Carlos Badger; George William Badger and Charlotte Louisa Richards
Brother of John Chamberlain Badger and Lydia Ripley Badger

Occupation: Salt Lake County Deputy Sheriff
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Rodney Badger

...Badger, Rodney – (14th Ten) Born Feb. 4, 1823, at Waterford, Caledonia Co., Vt., to Rodney and Lydia Chamberlain Badger. His family accepted the gospel about 1838, the year his father died. At age 15, Rodney Jr. assumed responsibility for his family and moved them, including his invalid mother, to Nauvoo, where she died. He married Nancy Garr on March 9, 1845. In 1847, he joined the first company, and his attributes as woodsman, scout and swimmer were utilized. He was among five from the original company, who, when they reached Green River in Wyoming, volunteered to return east to help guide the companies that were behind them. He joined his wife in a company at the Sweetwater River, and came with them into Salt Lake Valley on Oct. 2. He was sustained in the bishopric of the Fifteenth Ward, served in the Nauvoo Legion in defending the city and settles against Indian attacks, and was sheriff of Great Salt Lake County. On April 29, 1853, he was assisting an emigrant company in fording the swollen Weber River when one wagon carrying a mother and six children floated off its bed. He immediately plunged into the river to help rescue them and was lost in the swirling waters. Badger was 30 at the time of his death. On April 29, 1996, the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office posthumously recognized him as the first of their office to die in the line of duty...

Additional Info:

SOURCE: Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah, page 729

Brigham Young Pioneer Company (1847), Age 24

Son of John Badger and Lydia Chamberlain

Married - Nancy Garr, 9 Mar 1845, Laharpe, Hancock, Illinois

Children - Nancy Maria Badger, Rodney Carlos Badger, George William Badger, Charlotte Louisa Badger

Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 2, p. 628

Rodney Badger was twenty-three years of age, a strong athletic type young man, well trained as a woodsman, frontier scout and excellent swimmer when he accepted the assignment to accompany the pioneer company to Utah. He came to Utah July 24, 1847, Brigham Young company.

Shortly before the death of his father in 1838 he, with other members of his family, accepted the principles of Mormonism. Left with the sole support of his invalid mother and two brothers and sisters, Rodney early learned the lessons of responsibility. He assisted in moving the family to Nauvoo, Illinois and here the mother died.

When the Pioneer band reached the Green River in what is now Wyoming, several men were chosen to go back and help the oncoming Saints who had left Winter Quarters in June. Rodney was among this number. Provisions were scarce, their supplies consisting of 8 lbs. of flour, 9 lbs. of meal and six lbs. of beans. Any additional food needed was expected to be procured as they went along. The men traveled as fast as possible taking little time out to hunt and consequently were in dire need of food when they at last encountered the pioneer camp. Rodney was reunited with his wife and child at the Sweetwater river in Wyoming, and came with them into the valley on the 2nd of October.

The next few years were busy ones for Rodney Badger. He was sustained a member of the bishopric of the 15th Ward; served in the Nauvoo Legion, and was sheriff of Great Salt Lake county. During the five years following their arrival three children were born to them.

Rodney was fearless in the execution of his duties and took part in several Indian raids in protecting the early settlers. It was this fearless quality that cost him his life.

The following is a copy of a letter written by William H. Hooper to Mrs. Badger.

Weber, April 30, 1853

It becomes my melancholy duty to impart to you the supposed loss of your worthy husband. Yesterday in attempting to ford the Weber, an emigrant who was traveling in our train with his own wagon and family, made the attempt after one of our wagons had crossed safely; his wagon being light, our wagon-master with Mr. Badger, Allen Taylor and John Hess, insisted on his taking out the family, but he refused, and had I been present I should have advised the same; the cattle became unmanageable, and the wagon went into deep water, and the bed with his wife and six children floated off. Mr. Badger, without hesitation heroically threw himself into the stream, and risked and lost his own life to save others. The accident occurred yesterday at 2 o'clock, and yet the search has been and yet is making—he has not been found. To offer you condolence for such a loss would be useless, as my feelings while I write overpowers me, and what must be yours, his wife, to lose a husband who was beloved by all men who knew him and as a proof of his worth and goodness of heart, risked his life for strangers. It is useless to say the shock to me is great and the camp is in gloom.

  • Rodney Badger was the first Utah law enforcement officer to lose his life during the performance of his sworn duties. He died on April 29, 1853 trying to rescue a family whose wagon had overturned in the Weber River. He successfully rescued four children and their mother and died while trying to rescue two other children.
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Rodney Badger's Timeline

February 4, 1824
Waterford, Caledonia, Vermont, USA
February 27, 1846
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah Territory, United States
September 6, 1848
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah Territory, United States
October 26, 1850
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, United States
July 27, 1852
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah Territory, United States
April 29, 1853
Age 29
Ogden, Weber, Utah, USA
October 1854
Age 29
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, USA