Major Howard Egan Family Foundation

Sailor Rope Maker Captain in Nauvoo Legion Bodyguard to Joseph Smith Mormon Battalion Envoy Captain of the 9th 10 of the original 1847 Pioneer Vanguard Company Gold Rush Trading Post Owner Trail Blazer Cattle Drover Major in Utah War Pony Express Rider & Superintendent of Line from Salt Lake to California Stage Station Owner Friend & Missionary to Indians Salt Lake City Policeman Bodyguard to Brigham Young
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Egan Symposium Talks

Howard Egan’s 200thJubilee Celebration
Howard Egan Symposium 
June 12, 2015

Mormon Trail

On Friday evening, June 12th 2015, nearly 450 Egan descendants attended one of our key events — the Howard Egan Symposium, held at SLC’s Viridian Events Center. Four terrific historians gave presentations about “The Life and Times of Major Howard Egan,” and amazing musicians played Irish and pioneer songs between speakers.

Here are excerpts from the four presentations:

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1st speaker: Elayne E. Allebest

(MA, American Studies; past Advisory Council Member, SVU, UVU; Board Member, Howard W. Hunter Foundation, Chair for Mormon Studies, Claremont Graduate University; descendant of Major Howard Egan.)

Topic: “Howard Egan’s Irish Heritage and Emigration.”  Excerpt from the presentation:

ClickHERE for full presentation.

“A few months before Howard was born in June of 1815, Mt. Tambora in Indonesia erupted, and ejected more than 36 cubic miles of ash and pyroclastic material into the sky, beyond the atmosphere, into the stratosphere. The debris was so high that it could not be cleaned away by rain or wind, and orbited in low space for 2 to 3 years. This caused a “volcanic winter.” In some areas, crops froze during every month of the summer of 1816. It became known as the “Year Without A Summer” and created catastrophic problems for Ireland’s inhabitants.

Beyond the freezing weather and shortage of food, Ireland’s famine led to a typhus epidemic that in the years 1817 to 1819 afflicted 1,500,000 people and killed 65,000 of them. The three-room, dirt-floor cottage in which Howard Jr. and twelve other family members lived until he was at least eight, gives us some indication of their economic position.

The terrible conditions in Ireland resulted in mass emigration. More than 800,000 people left Ireland during the “Great Migration from Britain,” during the years from 1815 when Howard was born, to 1850. Howard’s mother died in 1823.  Thereafter his father took eight of the nine children and emigrated to Canada. Within three years, several of Howard’s siblings and his father would all be dead.”

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2nd speaker: Ronald O. Barney

(Historian, writer, editor and archivist for the Church History Department for 33 years; author of 3 historical books and numerous historical articles; past Executive Director of the Mormon History Association.)

Topic: “Egan’s Role in and Diary Account of the 1847 Pioneer Company.”  Excerpt from the presentation:

ClickHERE for full presentation.

“I dare say that if Howard Egan would not have written what he did about the trek, along with the three other volumes of diary accounts that he wrote, I don’t think most of you would be here today. It’s all of the people who write about themselves who are remembered generally. Something to think about yourselves.  If you do not write about yourself, you will be forgotten. Almost guaranteed.  In Mormon parlance there is something that’s called the first death which is a physical death, and in the theology, a second death is a spiritual death, and I think there’s a third death.  The third death is the absolute obliteration of your memory.  Of memory about you, because you don’t write.”

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3rd speaker: William G. Hartley

(BYU History professor emeritus; past President, Mormon History Association; award-winning biographer; co-editor, 3 vols. of Joseph Smith Papers; author of 16 books and more than 100 academic articles.)

Topic: “California as a Driving Force in Egan’s Life.”  Excerpt from the presentation:

ClickHERE for full presentation.

“A key barometer measure of Howard’s commitment to Mormonism not to be overlooked, is that he did not become a Californian. Howard knew California well, north and south. His trips there constantly showed him how much better California was than Utah in terms of land, climate, and opportunities. Had Howard wanted the economic betterments or seasonal mildness that California offered for him and his family, or had he wanted to distance himself from Mormon leadership or Mormon practices, he would have moved to California. Many dissatisfied Saints did, but he chose to stay within his church’s Great Basin Kingdom.”

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4th speaker: Brenden W. Rensink

(Assistant Director, BYU’s Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, Assistant Professor, History, BYU; previously, historian and Editor for the Joseph Smith Papers Project, LDS Church History Department.)

Topic: “Howard Egan’s Place in Western History.”  Excerpt from the presentation:

ClickHERE for full presentation.

“Howard Egan fits very well into the actual west. He is doing a lot of things that other very notable people are doing, but he is somehow missing from a lot of a western inheritance. And here’s why I think Howard Egan maybe slips through the cracks in Mormon history. They’re under extreme persecution for polygamy and other things. And America is defining them largely as the antithesis to what American is. During the 1850’s the Republican Party’s platform was to strike down the twin pillars of barbarism, which were slavery and polygamy. I’m sorry, Mormons were the opposite of Americans. And so then maybe part of the answer [is that] he’s maybe not quite American enough. He is suspect because he’s Mormon. Also, in Howard Egan’s story you’ll find lots of messy, complex things going on. It’s a history that if we study more, I believe–we will come to better understand ourselves. Read up on some western history, I believe it will make you a better person.”


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