The Life Story of
Magdalena Pickle DURFEE
1788 - 1850


Magdalena Pickle Durfee (also known as Lainey) was the mother of thirteen children. The second oldest, Tamma Durfee Miner who at the age of 68 in Springville, Utah wrote a highly interesting sketch of their pioneering experiences and their sufferings from religious persecutions, stated that her mother was born June 6, 1788 of Dutch descent. She said that her mother's parents were from Holland, she thought High Dutch. (They were Palatines)

We have no record of her marriage to Edmond Durfee. It probably occurred in Madison County, New York about 1810. We have good evidence that the Pickle family moved to this county about 1800. It is possible that Edmond went seeking a new home and came to this place. He was born in Tiverton, Newport, Rhode Island 3 Oct 1786; the son of Perry and Annie Salisbury or Sulsbury Durfee where the Durfee family had lived for many years. His father died in 1800 and in 1801, Edmond who was then 15 years of age and his four younger brothers accompanied their grandparents James and Anne Borden Durfee to New York and settled in Broadalbin, Montgomery Co. (now Fulton Co.). They made their home in Lenox, Madison County and this is where their first six children were born, namely, Martha in 1811, Tamma in 1813, Edmond J. in 1814, Dolly in 1816, John in 1818 and Lana or Delana in 1820. The next six children were born in the little town of Amboy in Oswego County where the family had moved about the year 1822. Tamma in her sketch says of this country: "In a new country father bought some land, built a house, made a small farm and worked at his trade mostly that of carpenter and millwright. There were lots of maple trees and we had plenty of maple syrup". Tamma was then about nine years old. The children who were born in Amboy were: William in September 1822, Ephraim in Jun 1824, ABRAHAM in Nov 1826, Henry born and died in 1827, Jabez 10 May 1828, Mary 21 Mar 1830.

It seems that the natural trend of the pioneer settler in those days was to keep going west and many thousands were flocking to the Great Western Reserve which later became the State of Ohio. The Durfee family were no exception and in June 1830 after selling their possessions in Amboy loaded their personal belongings into their wagons and rode to Camden, a town southeast of Amboy and embarked on one of the ships of the newly built Erie Canal (1825) and rode to Buffalo on the shore of Lake Erie took ship on that lake and landed at Portland, Ohio, then went by land to find them a new home, which they found at the little town of Ruggles in Huron County (now Ashland Co.).

It was here in the spring of 1831 that the family first heard of the restored Gospel from two missionaries, Solomon Hancock and Simeon Carter.

They had heard rumors about Joseph Smith and his Gold Bible but to hear the facts of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon appealed to them as the truth. They belonged to the Methodist Church and the Elders were allowed to hold meetings in their church house. Tamma says that they attended both the Methodist meetings and the meetings conducted by the Elders and were soon convinced to the truth of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. She said she believed it the first time she heard it. Her parents, Martha and Edmond, Jr., were baptized that spring and she in Dec 1831 by her father before he went on a mission to Chautauqua County, New York. Her father had been ordained an elder soon after baptism.

In May 1833 the family made another move this time to join the Saints in Kirtland, Ohio. The youngest child, Nephi was born here 22 Jul 1835, making 12 living children.

Magdalena and her family were satisfied and happy in their new life among the Saints in Kirtland and were active in all phases of the newly restored Church. While living in Ruggles, her husband went on two missions for the Church in Chautauqua County, New York, the first in the winter of 1831-1832. Returning in the spring he accompanied nine other brethren to Jackson County, Missouri to help put in grain and build houses for the building up of the Center Stake of Zion in accordance with the revealed word of the Lord to his people through the Prophet Joseph in Jul 1831.

On his second mission her daughter Tamma relates in her sketch: "He came back the 20th of May and went back to the states on a mission. He came home in the fall of 1832, sold his farm and all of our possessions and started for Kirtland, Ohio on the first of May 1833."

Tamma relates the following: "Albert Miner, my husband helped haul stone every Saturday for a long time for the building of the temple. Some of the brethren came from long distances (to work on the temple) and stayed until spring. Some of them stayed with us and was there for the dedication in Mar 1836. I was there on the 23 Jul (1834) when they wanted 24 Elders to lay the corner stones of the temple. George A. Smith and Don Smith were authorized to make the selection of the 24 Elders, six to each corner." Tamma's father was one of this number. And the Durfee family rejoiced in the privilege of attending the dedication of this Holy Edifice held on Sunday, Mar 27, 1836, which lasted from 8 am to 4 pm.

Tamma continue: "At this time many members apostatized and broke up the Kirtland Bank. Land came up and sold for a large sum of money." This was the panic of 1837 that paralyzed the whole country. It was also a very dark period for the Church, not only financially but a sifting out of many members who were not firmly rooted in its principles and became bitter enemies of the Church.

The Saints were now established in Far West and Adam-ondi-Ahman, having been expelled by the Missouri mobocrats from Independence. Most of the Saints in Kirtland removed to these locations at this time. Edmond and Lana Durfee and their nine children left on the long journey in the spring 1837 and they settled at Log Creek not far from Far West. They had been spared the mobbings and persecutions during the years 1834-1835, in Jackson County but had only been in Caldwell County a year when the Saints were again turned out, destitute, mobbed and beaten and left in the wilderness not knowing where to go.

Tamma's description of their plight is heart rending: "No one can tell and no one can describe the feelings of the Saints and what they had to pass through. No tongue can tell only those who passed through it or were eyewitness to it." "Their men had been taken prisoners, the women and children left defenseless to be harassed and plundered by the inhuman modocrats.

The Prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum and other leaders being imprisoned in Liberty Jail, Brigham Young, President of the Twelve took the lead in finding another location for the Saints. They headed east toward the Mississippi River. Edmond Durfee and his son in law Albert Miner were among the number engaged in helping others who had no means of travel. They spent most of that winter and spring of 1838-39 in helping get the Saints to the river, making many trips back and forth. They crossed the river near Quincy, Illinois and went up the river to a place called Lima in Adams County, Illinois. Albert and Tamma lived there from 1839 until the spring of 1842 at which time they bought a place in Nauvoo, four miles east of the Temple. Tamma relates that while living in Lima they would go every fall and spring thirty miles to Nauvoo to attend the LDS Conferences and in the summer to the Fourth of July celebrations.

Tamma relates that they heard the Prophet Joseph and brother Hyrum speak many times, the last time being in May before they were martyred. She said, "I heard Joseph speak to a congregation for five hours and no one became tired. This was in Kirtland before the temple was built."

(I record these events from the pen of Tamma Durfee Miner as it appears in most cases she stayed close to her family in all their travels and sojourns and that they shared the same experiences.)

Magdalena and her husband made their home at a little town called Yelrome which is situated two and one-half miles northeast of Lima just over the line into Hancock County and which the Saints named Morley Settlement in honor of Isaac Morley after he was made the Branch President of the Lima District. This took place at a conference held at Lima Oct 22, 1840 and Patriarch Isaac Morley was sustained as the Stake President and Gardner Snow as the Bishop.

The names of their children listed on the Branch records at this time were: John Abraham, Jabez, Mary, and Nephi; also two married children, Martha who married Lyman Stevens and Lana who married William Dudley.

The Saints enjoyed a few years of peace and prosperity in Illinois but when the Non-Mormons saw their numbers increasing in power and strength, hatred and jealousy arose among them. Tamma relates concerning this: "The dark clouds of persecution was still hanging over us. The mobocrats drove all of the people out of Father Morley's Settlement, turned the sick ones out, drove them all out to live or die, rolled my brother Nephi up in his bed and threw him out doors when he was sick, and then set fire to their house by throwing some bundles of oats that were afire, on top of the house.

This took place in September 1845. Albert Miner and 134 other volunteers with their teams were kept busy night and day in caring for these homeless and destitute Saints and getting them safely settled in Nauvoo. An Agreement was made with the mob to allow the brethren without molestation to go back and finish harvesting their crops. Tamma relates the following concerning the shooting of her father: "It was on Saturday night and they were very near done and when it got dark; the mob built a fire close by the barn and stables (belonging to Solomon Hancock) and the Mormons thought they meant to burn their horses, so they ran out to stop the fire. The mob stood back in the timber and as our men went between them and the fire, they shot off a dozen guns, but my father was the only one they killed."

This happened on the night of Nov 15, 1845. Mormon Miner, Tamma's son who was very young at the time later wrote in his autobiography a few incidents of those times. He said his grandfather was shot by a man named Synder who did it to win a bet of two gallons of whiskey. Some time after this, Snyder in a drunken row was shot and the wound never healed. He actually rotted alive with the stench so offensive that his friends forsook him, although he lingered for months before he died.

Tamma speaks of her father as one who had never done any harm in his life but on the contrary had always taught good principles of truth and uprightness and goodness and morality and industry all the days of his life.

The Saints worked hard all winter repairing and building wagons and making preparations to leave in the spring, but persecutions became so severe that many of them left in February crossing the Mississippi on the ice. The unscrupulous mobocrats did all they could to prevent them from getting a sale for their land and other property as they wanted to go in and possess it themselves after the Saints left.

Magdalena was left now with only her two sons Jabez and Nephi. They made their way to Council Bluffs where they remained for several years as Jabez was requested to stay there and help make wagons for the emigration companies going across the plains.

Before leaving Nauvoo Magdalena had married her brother-in-law Jabez Durfee on Jan. 21, 1846 for time. Jabez's wife Electa Cranston had died in 1834 at Independence, Missouri during the persecutions inflicted on the Saints at that time. On this same date Magdalena received her endowments in the Nauvoo Temple and was Sealed to her deceased husband Edmond Durfee. Jabez Durfee did not continue the journey to the valleys of the mountains. He died at White Cloud, Iowa in Apr 1867 or 1868.

Magdalena and her son Jabez were preparing to cross the plains in one of the 1850 pioneer companies. It is believed that Nephi left the year before (1849) with his Aunt Martha Stevens and family. But Magdalena did not live to make the trip. Instead her spirit took flight to the realm where persecution and suffering could not reach her. Her death occured May 17, 1850 while encamped at Musketol Creek, Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie, Iowa, she and her husband both being martyrs to the truths of the Restored Gospel. Her son John Durfee had died at Council Bluffs, four and one-half months before on Jan 1, 1850 leaving a wife and two young boys who later crossed the plains to the Rocky Mountains. Her oldest son Edmond did not go to the Valleys of the Mountains. He and his family lived in Iowa and Nebraska. Both he and his wife died in Nebraska. It is reported that Edmond left the Church. As far as is known all of their other children were true to the Faith.

Magdalena Durfee was nearly 62 years old at the time of her death, had raised a large honorable family, faithful, true and upright in every way and taught her family to be the same. A unfaltering faith sustained during the years of suffering from inflictions and persecution and when her husband was cruelly murdered by the mob this faith gave her an assurance that through the obedience of gospel principles they would yet live together in peace and happiness in an eternal home.