A LIFE SKETCH OF EDMUND DURFEE
1786 - 1845
Compiled and written in March 1955
by Dora D. Flack
Edmund (aka Edmond) Durfee was born in Tiverton, Newport
County, Rhode Island. (Both spellings of Edmund are used in
the records.) Five generations before him Thomas Durfee
(born in 1643) immigrated to America from England. He
settled in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. His youngest son,
Benjamin, moved to Tiverton where the descendants remained
until the time of Edmund, who was born Oct 3, 1786, the son
of Perry Durfee and Annie Salisbury (Sulsbury).
How and where Edmund and Lana Pickle became acquainted, we
do not know. At any rate Edmund married Lana Pickle abt.
1810. To date we have not found the exact date. She was born
Jun 6, 1788, in Montgomery Co., N. Y., the daughter of John
and Dolly Pickle. 1
Edmund and Lana settled in Lennox, Madison County, New York
where the following children were born: Martha, b. Nov 1811;
Tamma, b. 6 Mar 1813; Edmund, b. 4 Sep 1814; Dolly, b. 8 Mar
1816; John, b. 31 Jan 1818; Lana or Delana, b. 14 Feb 1820.
About 1822 the family moved to Amboy, Oswego County, New
York, where Edmund bought land, built a house, and
cultivated a small farm. He also worked at his trade as a
carpenter and millwright. Maple trees abounded in that area,
so he bought more land with many maple trees on it. Of
course, they made a great deal of maple sugar. For eight
happy years the family enjoyed their home in Amboy. Twelve
children had been welcomed into the Durfee family. Those
born at Amboy were: William, b. 15 Sep 1822; Ephraim, b. 1
Jun 1824; ABRAHAM, b. 14 Nov 1826; Henry, b. in 1827; Jabez,
b. 10 May 1828; and Mary, b. 21 Mar 1830.
However, at that time the west was opening up and Edmund
felt that opportunities were many in the new territory. So
in Jun 1830, he sold his sugar bush and farm, and the family
moved to Ohio. They traveled through Camden Village to the
canal which took them to Buffalo. They crossed Lake Superior
and landed at Portland. From there they moved on to Huron
County and settled in the township of Ruggles. There Edmund
bought property, and the Durfees made Ruggles their new
During the winter of 1831 rumors began circulating about
Joseph Smith and a Gold Bible. In April Solomon Hancock
arrived in the community. The Durfees were Methodist. Often
Elder Hancock preached in their chapel telling they how the
Lord had sent the Angel Moroni to Joseph Smith. He explained
the beautiful truths of
the restored Gospel. They were astonished to learn the
truth, for it was much different from the rumors they had
heard beforehand. The Gospel message found it's way to the
heart of Edmund, Lana and their family. Edmund was baptized
in May 1831, by Simeon Carter. 2
Lana was baptized Jun 1 by Solomon Hancock. Most of the
children also accepted the Gospel and were baptized during
In Journal History of the Church on Tuesday, Oct 25, 1831,
are recorded "Minutes of a General Conference of the Church
at the dwelling of Brother Serenes Burnett in the town of
Orange, Cayahoga County, Ohio, 39 members present: High Priests Joseph Smith, Jr.
Oliver Cowdery, J. Whitmer,
Hyrum Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Samuel Smith, Simeon Carter, Reynolds
Calhoon,, Martin Harris, Joseph Smith Jr., Wheeler Baldwin, John Smith,
Elders David Whitmer , Peter Whitmer, Sylvester Smith, Luke S.
Johnson, Burr Riggs. Sylvester Baker, Orson Hyde, Daniel Stanton,, Joseph
Brackenbury, William E. McLellin, Major N. Ashley, Stephen Burnett,
Edmund Durfee. Joel Johnson, Levi Jackman, Elmer Harris, Frederick G.
Williams, Priests Lyman E. Johnson, Edward Johnson, Benjamin Carpenter,
Rugg Eames, Teachers William Smith, Uriel Stephens, Hyrum Griffith,
Deacons Titus Billings, Serenes Burnett, and John Burk.
"Most of the brethren spoke at that time and their ideas
were recorded in the minutes....
"Brother Edmund Durfee said that he also had professed
religion for a number of years; yet now he left to bear
testimony of the goodness of God and also consecrate all to
"At the evening session of the Conference a number were
called, seated, and ordained High Priests. After prayer,
President Smith said that he had a testimony that each had a
talent and if, after being ordained, he should hide it, God
would take it away from them. He exhorted them to pray
continually in meekness and said that those who previously
had been ordained Priests would be ordained Elders and so
on....Edmund Durfee was made a High Priest."
In December, Edmund left on a Mission for the Church. So
just before leaving, he baptized his daughter Tamma. The
following February the Elders cut a hole in the ice and
baptized her husband, which united all the family as members
of the Church.
Edmund accompanied Elder Joseph B. Brackenbury on his
Mission to Chautauqua County, New York. After a few weeks of
successful preaching and baptizing, Elder Brackenbury was
taken violently sick and within a few days, Jan 7, 1832,
died. "History of the Church" concerning this event reads,
as follows:"Elder Joseph B. Brackenbury died at Pomfret from
the effects of poison secretly administered to him by
opposers, who afterwards boasted that Mormon Elders had not
faith enough to stand poison. The night after his burial
there was a heavy snowstorm, about half past eleven O'clock
Joel H. Johnson dreamed that some persons were digging up
Brother Brackenbury's body, and was so exercised about it
that he called up some of the brethren and went to the spot,
about one mile distance, and found a party of doctors at
work, who had nearly cleared the grave of earth; the men
fled with utmost precipitation. David Johnson took after the
largest one who was caught and bound over in one thousand
dollar bonds for his appearance at court, but was never
The Temple site at Jackson County, Missouri, was dedicated
Aug 3, 1831. The Saints were looking forward to
establishment of "Zion". Consequently settlements were
established in that area (Far West). In accordance with
instructions in Feb 1832, Edmund went down to establish his
claim in "Zion", and to build a place for his family,
returning home May 20. However, the family did not move at
that time because Edmund was called on another Mission back
to the States, which occupied his time until that fall.
The following spring in May, the family moved to Kirtland
where most of the Saints were gathering. At Kirtland, when
Lana was 47 years old, her thirteenth child, Nephi, was born
on 22 Jul 1835.
Revelation had been given to Joseph to build a House to the
Lord in Kirtland. Ground was broken Jun 5, 1835. Immediately
work began and the cornerstones were laid the following
month, on Jul 23. Edmund was one of the 24 Elders who laid
the cornerstones. The Saints worked eagerly on the Temple at
every opportunity. Edmund spent a great deal of his time in
the construction of that beautiful edifice. Likewise his
brother Jabez spent much time on the Temple as a carver and
decorator. Although it was a critical period, no sacrifice
was too great in time or money. On Saturday, Mar 7, 1835, as
the Temple was nearing completion, a meeting was called "for
the purpose of blessing in the name of the Lord those who
had assisted in building by their labor and other means the
House of the Lord in Kirtland; the morning was occupied by
President Joseph Smith, Jr. in teaching the Church the
propriety and necessity by purifying itself. In the
afternoon the names of those who had assisted to build the
house were taken and further instructions received from
President Smith. He said that those who had distinguished
themselves thus far by consecrating to the up building of
the House of the Lord as well as laboring thereon were to be
remembered; that those who built it should own it and have
the control of it.
"After further remarks those who performed the labor on the
building voted unanimously that they would continue to labor
thereon till the House should be completed.
"President Sidney Rigdon was appointed to lay on hands and
bestow blessings in the name of the Lord. The Presidents
were blessed; and Reynolds Cahoon, Hyrum Smith and Jared
Carter, the building committee thereof (the last two were
not present, yet their rights in the House were preserved).
"The following are the names of those who were blessed in
consequence of their labor on the House of the Lord in
Kirtland and those who consecrated to its up building:
(Edmund Durfee, Sen and Edmund Durfee, Jr. were among those
named.)...All those who were blessed were given the
'blessings of heaven and a right in the House of the Lord in
Kirtland agreeable to the labor they had performed thereon
and the means they had contributed.' They were also promised
wisdom and ability to proclaim the Gospel. Edmund Durfee,
Jr. was ordained an Elder. A James Durfee was also blessed
on this occasion." 5
The Temple was finally completed - truly a great monument to
the faith of a small group of people who built in their
poverty at a time when violence threatened them on every
March 27, 1836 was indeed a memorable occasion - the Temple
was dedicated! Edmund felt fully repaid for all his effort.
"Angels were present and the Holy Spirit, like the sound of
a mighty rushing of wind fell upon the house and assembly.
The people of the neighborhood came running together,
hearing a strange sound and seeing a bright light resting on
the Temple. The House had been accepted by the Lord." 6
The financial panic of 1837 heightened insecurity. At the
same time feelings against the Mormons rose to a new pitch.
As a result the Saints were driven from Kirtland. The
Durfees hastened to Caldwell County, Missouri, settling in
Log Creek. 7
Apostasy was rampant in the Church. Denial of the Church
brought relief from persecution. Misunderstandings were many
and the general spirit was one of contention even within the
Church. Even those who were next to the Prophet himself
often lost their light and understanding.
"The Saints assembled at Edmund Durfee Settlement in
Caldwell County, Missouri agreeable to appointment and
rejected Presidents David Whitmer, John Whitmer and William
W. Phelps by unanimous vote as the Presidency of the Church
in Missouri. 8 Similar meetings
were also held at the various settlements.
John Whitmer and W.W. Phelps were charged with selling
possessions in Jackson County, contrary to revelations of
the Lord, which was paramount to denial of the Faith; also
for misappropriation of funds borrowed for the use of the
Church. David Whitmer was charged with even more offenses.
The Lord in a revelation had rebuked these men for their
transgression and warned them, but they did not heed the
warning. Thomas Marsh and David W. Patten were sustained as
presiding officers in Missouri until the coming of
Presidents Smith and Rigdon. W.W. Phelps and John Whitmer
were excommunicated Mar 10, 1838 with David Whitmer and
Oliver Cowdery held over for investigation. 9
Both were excommunicated later.
Imprisonments were numerous and always on false charges.
Satan himself seemed to have been turned loose, determined
to destroy the Church and people of God. Mobocrats, with
Governor Boggs at their head, had no respect for private
property. Homes were entered by force. All weapons were
forcibly taken from the Mormons even the butcher knives, so
that they had no means of self defense. Men were dragged
from their homes and families and were brutally beaten,
tarred and feathered, and abused in every conceivable way.
No forces of government gave them redress for these wrongs.
Without hope of ever getting anything from their properties,
they were finally expelled from Missouri by November, 1838.
Edmund took his family and settled in Yelrome 10
near Lima, Illinois, where they tried to find pace and the
privilege of living unmolested. The Church was built up
considerably. The "Lima Branch Records" p 385 under date of
Mar 12, , read: "Edmund Durfee was received in full
fellowship by the Lima Branch by vote." This record was
signed by Isaac Morley, President, and James C. Snow, Clerk.
From a record of baptisms for the dead made at Morley's
Settlement, on Nov 7, 1840, Edmund and Lana were baptized
for his parents, Perry and Annie Salisbury Durfee and for
her parents, John and Dolly Pickle. See Vol. 210, p 385,
The very foundations of Mormonism shook when the Prophet
Joseph and his brother Hyrum were martyred at Carthage on
Jun 27, 1844.
Joseph had prophesied that the Saints would eventually seek
refuge in tops of the mountains. Persecution continued,
hastening the time of that long trek. All efforts were
turned toward outfitting wagons, laying up supplies, and
preparing themselves in every way. Needless to say the
constant trouble did not hasten the preparations, although
the mobocrats continued to scream that the Mormons must
move, and the sooner the better.
Confusion crowded the minds of the Saints when the decision
of new leadership was to be made. At a special meeting held
on Mar 8, the question was answered unequivocally when
Brigham Young stood before them to discuss the matter. To
their amazement he stood transfigured before their very
eyes. It seemed they saw the Prophet Joseph before them and
heard his voice as naturally as ever although it was Brigham
Young speaking. Although many divisions occurred in the
Church at that time Edmund and Lana remained steadfast in
their Faith, choosing to follow the Quorum of the Twelve.
It was the plan of the mob not to gather in large bodies but
to burn Yelrome, then attack some other place and finally
drive all the Mormons into Nauvoo. That being accomplished
they planned to move them from Nauvoo by help from other
areas. Accordingly everyone was driven out of Morley's
Settlement (Yelrome). Sheriff Jacob B. Backanstos wrote the
following proclamation which describes the conditions:
"Sep 13, 1845- - "To the citizens of Hancock County, whereas
a mob of from 100 to 200 men under arms have gathered
themselves together in the southwest part of Hancock County
and are at this time destroying the dwellings and other
buildings, stacks of grain and other property of a portion
of our citizens and in the most inhuman manner compelling
defenseless children and women to rise from their sick beds
and exposing them to the rays of the parching sun and to lie
and suffer without the aid and assistance of a friendly hand
to minister to their wants in their suffering condition.
"The riotous spare not the widow nor the orphan; and while I
am writing this proclamation the smoke is rising to the
clouds, and the flames are devouring four buildings which
have been just set on fire by the rioters. Thousands of
dollars worth of property have already been consumed; an
entire settlement of about 60 or 70 families laid waste, the
inhabitants thereof fired upon narrowly escaping with their
lives and forced to flee before the mob." 12
He went on to call attention to the law and its penalties
for infractions. Although he tried earnestly to discharge
his responsibility, to help came to enforce the laws.
Edmund's home was among those burned to the ground. Tamma
tells how her young brother (Nephi, aged 10) was simply
rolled up in his sick bed and it was thrown outdoors. The
mobbers then went to the oat stack, got two bundles of oats,
put a firebrand in them, threw them on top of the house and
said they would return in the morning. Finally their work of
destruction was complete, and almost the whole town was
smoldering ruins and ashes.
From Nauvoo rushed 134 teams traveling all night and day to
rescue the homeless families and take them to Nauvoo. The
troublemakers agreed that the Saints could return to harvest
their crops. Therefore, a month later Edmund and
others returned to gather their crops and harvest the grain
which they needed so badly for the anticipated journey. On
the 15th of Nov "near Solomon Hancock's house about midnight
a stack of straw was discovered on fire. Several persons
turned out to suppress the flames; while thus engaged a
whistle was heard east and one west; presently a gun was
fired then and they continued to fire till six guns were
discharged at them, the ball of the fourth one entered the
body of Edmund Durfee just above the heart and he died
instantly." 12 His body was
immediately taken to Nauvoo for burial.
The "Nauvoo Neighbor" put out an "extra" on Nov 19
concerning the tragic incident. A part of it is quoted
"As may be seen by the affidavits below, it falls to our
painful lot to chronicle two more outrages upon the lives
and rights of the Latter-Day Saints, since they have been
using all diligence to secure their crops, build wagons, and
leave next spring.
"Mr. Durfee was one of the most industrious, inoffensive and
good men that could be found, and having his house burnt in
September last, moved to Nauvoo and went on Saturday last
for a load of grain, was shot dead in cold blood, at
midnight while striving with others to save property from
the flames by an armed mob!
..."Have nearly two thousand five hundred wagons commenced
for our Pacific journey next spring, but such outrages
certainly are not calculated to aid us in getting ready. We
have borne the Missouri Persecution; we have mourned the
loss of the Prophet and Patriarch, Joseph and Hyrum Smith;
we feel the destruction of one or two hundred houses the
present season, and our hearts are pained at the murder of
Edmund Durfee, because he was a good man; but, we, as in all
cases of the Saints, leave the disposition of these matters
in the care of a wise God, and the perpetrators, to the
mercy of (as they say), a country of laws, and be those laws
honored or disgraced we cannot be charged with revenge; and
we do beseech the people and the authorities not to impute
crime to us, to raise excitement, when we see our accusers
wiping the blood of innocent men, women, and children, from
their garments, as though this was the realm of Nero..." 13
On Nov 17, Orson Hyde (the presiding authority in Nauvoo),
who had known Edmund for many years, wrote a letter to
Brigham Young informing him of the incident. Among other
things he said: "Mr. Durfee was one of the most quiet and
inoffensive citizens in these United States and from our
acquaintance with him and from the nature of his business in
securing his crops we persuaded that his murder was wholly
After Edmund's death, "the mob boasted that they fired at
Durfee on a bet of a gallon of whiskey that they could kill
him the first shot, and they won." 15
The guilty parties were not hard to identify - they were
known by Edmund's companions. Although they were apprehended
and affidavits filed concerning the incident, they were
released by the magistrate without examination - another
evidence of the legal farces which met all the grievances of
No one could possible understand the grief and terror which
must have filled Lana's heart at such a tragedy. Even a
Nauvoo the reign of terror persisted. All her children were
married with the exception of Jabez (apparently named for
Edmund's brother) and Nephi. On Jan 21, 1846, she received
her endowments in the upper rooms of the Nauvoo Temple and
was also sealed to Edmund on that date. Edmund's endowment
date is Jan 4, 1882 (by proxy) in Endowment House.
Due to the conditions surrounding her, the insecurity and
constant danger, it is not surprising that Lana married her
brother-in-law, Jabez Durfee, on Jan 21, 1846 (for time).
Jabez's first wife, Electra Cranston, had died in 1834 at
Independence, Missouri, during the Missouri mob trouble.
Six (and possibly seven) of the Durfee children received
their endowments in the Nauvoo Temple.
Once again expulsion faced the Durfees. Apparently Lana and
Jabez and her two boys left Nauvoo with the main body of the
Saints. At least she is not mentioned as having remained in
Nauvoo as did Tamma and one son, as related in Tamma's
At Musketol Creek, Council Bluffs, Iowa, Lana died on May
17, 1850, at the age of 62. After her death, Jabez did not
continue the journey to Utah, but died at White Cloud, Iowa
in Apr 1867.
Few parent have given their descendants such a rich heritage
of faithfulness and devotion to the cause of truth. May this
history serve to perpetuate that faith in the hearts of
those who follow after them.
THE FAMILY OF EDMUND DURFEE
Edmund Durfee, b. 3 Oct 1786 in Tiverton, R-Is, son of Perry
and Annie Silisbury, md. Maydalena Pickle abt. 1810, she was
born 6 Jun 1788 in Tiverton, R-Is, dau. of John and
Magdalena Saltzman, she d. 17 May 1856 in Musketal Creek,
To this union the following children were born:
1- Margaret, b. 17 Nov 1811 in Lennox, Mdsn, New York, md.
1st Lyman Stevens 21 Jun 1836; md. 2nd James Brown, she died
2 Nov 1874.
2- Tamma, b. 6 Mar 1813 in Lennox, New York, md. 1st Albert
Miner Aug 1831; md. 2nd ENOS CURTIS 20 Oct 1850; md. 3rd
John White Curtis 3 Apr 1857, she died 30 Jan 1885.
3- Edmund, b. 4 Sep 1814 in Lennox, New York, md. Caroline
Eliza Clark, he died 19 Jan 1861.
4- Dolly, b. 8 Mar 1816 in Lennox, New York, md. David
Garner 18 Oct 1841, she died Jun 1883.
5- John, b. 31 Jan 1818 in Lennox, New York, md. Sarah Ann
Wilcox, he died 1 Jan 1850.
6- Lana or Delana, b. 4 Feb 1820 in Lennox, New York, md.
1st William David Dudley 28 Oct 1838; md. 2nd William Ford,
she died 26 Jan 1896.
7- William, b. 15 Sep 1822 in Amboy, Oswego, N-Yr., d. in
8- Ephraim, b. 1 Jun 1824 in Amboy, Oswego, N-Yr., d. n.g.
9- Abraham, b. 14 Nov 1826 in Amboy, Oswego, New York, md.
1st URSULA CURTIS; md. 2nd Mary Turner; md. 3rd Arsa
Langley, he died in 1862.
10- Henry, b. 1827 in Amboy, Oswego, New York, d. 29 Dec
11- Jabez, b. 10 May 1828 in Ambrose, New York, md. Celestia
Curtis, he died 27 Dec 1884.
12- Mary, b. 21 Mar 1830 in Amboy, Oswego, New York, she md.
Dominicus Carter 11 Oct 1845, she died 6 Dec 1885.
13- Nephi, b. 22 Jul 1835 in Kirtland, Lake, Ohio, md.
Amanda Thomas 22 Apr 1857, he died 15 Dec 1880.
Edmund Durfee, died 17 Nov 1845 in Green Plains, Hancock,
Ill., he was buried in Nauvoo, Ill.
His wife Magdalena md. 2nd Jabez Durfee (brother of Edmund)
21 Jan 1846.
Throughout the records various names and spellings were
given for Lana -also Dlaney, Lainey, Laney, Delana, and
1 Some doubt exists as to the correct birthplace of Lana
(probably a contraction of Magdalena). While many of the
members of the family conclude that Lana was born in Rhode
Island because her husband was born there, the old
manuscript dictated by Tamma reads: "Laney Pickle born 6,
1788 in Holland and died May 17, 1856 in Council Bluffs."
She may prove to be a descendant from the Pickle (originally
spelled Pechtel or Bechtel family of Columbia Co., NY.)
Deseret News Church Section, Oct 18, 1941.
(We now know she is a descendant of Palatine Germans -
see this website for more details)
2 "History of the Church", Vol. 7, page 523.
3 Journal History of the Church in Church Historian's
Office, Dec 31, 1831.
4 "History of Church", Vol. 7, page 524.
5 Journal History, Mar 7, 1835.
6 "Essentials in Church History",by Joseph Fielding Smith, p
7 "History of the Church", Vol. 7, page 524.
8 Journal History, Wednesday, Feb 7, 1838.
9 "Essentials in Church History", pages 206-7.
10 Andrew Jenson's "Church Encyclopedia", Book 1, p 977;
Lima, Adams Co.; A town of abt. 300 inhabitants situated in
Lima Township, Adams Co., just over the south line of
Hancock Co. and abt. 25 miles in a straight line due south
of Nauvoo is known in Church History as a neighborhood where
quite a number of Saints resided in 1839 to 1846. Most of
these, however, located northeast of Lima, in the extreme
south end of Hancock Co. in what is now Walker Township on
and around a townsite which had been surveyed and named
Yelrome. This little town situated 2 1/2 miles northeast of
Lima was also known as Morley Town or Morley's Settlement in
honor of Isaac Morley, the presiding church officer
residing residing there. At a Conference held at Lima
October 23, 1842 the Branch was represented to consist of
424 members. Yelrome or Morley Settlement was nearly burnt
out by the mob in the fall of 1845 and the saints were all
compelled to leave the following year in 1846. A new town
called Tioga was laid out on the old townsite which at
present consists of an unimportant village.”
11 - Journal History, Sunday, June 11, 1843;. also History
of the Church, Vol. 7., pp.427-29.
12 - “History of the Church," Vol. 7, page 529.
13 - Ibid., pp.528-29.
14 - Ibid., pp. 525.
15 - Ibid., pp. 524.
Compiled and written in March, 1955, by
Dora D. Flack - Salt Lake City, Utah..