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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Images, Art, Poetry

Photo of Major Howard Egan

(Photo believed to have been taken in the 1860s. Taken by photographer Edward Martin, Main Street, Salt Lake, who was the “Martin” of the Martin Handcart Company. The original of this photo was in the possession of Sandra Day of La Canada, California, who donated it to the Utah State Historical Society.)


Painting of Major Howard Egan

(This portrait was painted by William Egan Sylvester, a descendant of Nellie Loretta Egan (born in 1894 in Woods Cross, Utah) and her husband, Frank Sylvester. The painting is now owned by the Daughters of Utah Pioneers, and is exhibited in their Pioneer Memorial Museum, 300 N. Main Street, Salt Lake City, Utah.)


Photographs of the house in which Major Howard Egan was born and lived as a child.

This cottage in Tullamore, County Offaly, Ireland still stands. (Below are pictures taken in June of 2012.)  The cottage is believed to have been built by Major Howard Egan’s grandfather, Bernard Egan, and is where Bernard Egan’s sons, Howard and William, and his grandson, Major Howard Egan, were born. It was here that Major Howard Egan’s father, mother, and their ten children lived.



Pony Express Poetry by a Descendant


We’re the Riders
               By Dave Rhodes

It’s a thankless life we lead
’cause nobody knows our names.
We are silhouettes on the hills
and shadows on the plains.

What we carry runs the nation
and we execute our duty well.
We’re the Pony Express riders,
the boys that carry the mail.

We’ve been shot at and ambushed,
chased down and almost kilt,
soaked through and frozed,
survived heat that made us wilt.

The food is a little scarce
and the pay is hardly scale.
We’re the Pony Express riders,
the boys that carry the mail.

We’re all excellent horsemen
and the mustang is our ride . . .
the wilder and faster the better
to get the job done in stride.

An oath we all took in earnest
and made a promise not to fail.
We’re the Pony Express riders,
the boys that carry the mail.

You could say that we are brave
and we have all been scared,
but mostly we’re just too young
to know what should be feared.

Racing time and the telegraph
out here on the lonely trail . . .
we’re the Pony Express riders,
the boys that carry the mail.


Howard Egan’s Indian Doctor
               By Dave Rhodes

Major Howard Egan ran the Pony Express
From Great Salt Lake City to Robert’s Creek.
He was out in the West Country checking the line
And had been gone from home about a week.

It was early spring with the ground still white,
There was a brisk wind and a bright glaring sun.
That is when the snow blindness got him,
And he could not see his hand, his foot, or gun.

Laid up in bed at one of the stations,
He was trying the dead tea leaves cure.
The damp leaves on his eyes did not work,
It was a long bed rest for him, for sure.

After a couple of days of misery, two Indians came by
To see what was wrong with the white man chief.
Egan asked them if they knew a fix for the “snow eyes”.
An offer of a cure was accepted in the hope of relief.

In an instant, one of the Indians jumped up on the bed,
Caught Major Eagan’s head in both hands tight.
Without hesitation, placed his mouth over one eye,
And set to sucking the eyeball with all his might!

Egan was squirming like a fish out of water,
Trying to push him off and turning blue,
He was afraid the Indian would never stop
Until he sucked the eye out and brains too!

When Major Egan had enough of the torture,
He put a choke hold on the brave and tightened it more,
Then the ‘doctor’ jumps off, steps back a few feet,
And spits out a mouth full of blood on the floor.

After a little rest and things got settled down,
Egan said, “I believe the pain is starting to ease.”
The Indian asked, “Me fix more on other eye?”
“You can fix”, Egan said, “But fix little, please!”

Now when he got fastened to the second eye
He worked even harder than the one before.
Again, Egan could not push or pull him off.
He was after the blood, committed to the chore.

It seemed like an hour before he finally quit.
As poor Major Howard Egan comes up for air,
The Indian spits out another tablespoon of blood,
And Egan feels for his eye to see if it’s still there.

The Indian doctor looked at his patient real proud.
“Big Chief see all right in two days,” he boldly said.
Egan lies there with his hands in the air, and feebly begs,
“Please, don’t let him start again, I’d rather be dead.’

It was exactly two days after the operation
When Egan joined the pack train to Salt Lake City.
He was completely cured of the snow blindness,
And was back to his old self, allowing no pity.

Although, as time passed on the trip, he started to embellish
About his ailment, and the cure the Indian prepared.
He would “recommend it to anyone in the same situation”.
But then, his face got real serious, and he humbly declared:

“I will gladly take this cure over the sickness without question,
But, I did have one worry with my eyeball floating in his mouth,
I feared he’d get an itch in his nose and have to let it blow,
And the sneeze would go north and the eye would go south!”


Take Me Back to Tullemore
               By Dave Rhodes

(It was just after Major Howard Egan returned from California
to sell beef that he was confronted with a very serious personal tragedy. I have

often wondered what has thoughts might have been at the time.
He certainly had a lot of time to ponder his problems during his long expeditions

in the desert, and perhaps dream about his home in Ireland.)

The night air is hot and still, and full of dust.
My horse is lathered and I am weary
As we begin to cross Antelope Valley.
My mind wanders, and my eyes are teary.

I start to dream of our Irish home,
And hear the songs mother sings.
Lord, take me back to Tullemore,
Or, at least, get me to Antelope Springs.

The lack of sleep turns me inside-out,
And my feelings have taken flight.
It seems all the worries of my life
Are on this ride with me tonight.

The green of my childhood I see,
Beautiful flowers and running streams.
Oh Lord, take me back to Tullemore,
Or, at least, get me to Antelope Springs.

The full moon lights up the view,
Not another soul for a hundred miles.
I did not know a man could be so alone,
Or feel such pain over life’s trials.

I wonder what I would’ve become
Had I never left those Irish scenes.
Please Lord, take me back to Tullemore,
Or, at least, get me to Antelope Springs.

It’s hard to decide which hurts the most,
My back, my legs or the agony inside of me.
Which will give up first, the mind or body?
I am losing interest in what the result will be.

Would I be at peace back in Ireland?
For that solitary dream my soul screams.
Dear Lord, take me back to Tullemore,
Or, at least, get me to Antelope Springs.

Down on the flat the trail is fast and clear,
But the reality shows still a long way to go.
How many miles have we gone today?
In my mind is nothing, I really do not know.

Oh! The feel of the mist of the sea!
Yes, and the smell that the ocean brings.
Would you Lord, take me back to Tullemore,
Or, at least, get me to Antelope Springs?

What am I doing here on this horse
So far away from anyone’s home?
My purpose is losing its image fast,
Again, aimlessly, my thoughts begin to roam.

But if I were in Ireland, my way’d be set,
I’d have the happiness a sense of purpose brings.
I beg you Lord, take me back to Tullemore,
Or, at least, get me to Antelope Springs.

As the grade rises I know we’re closer
To the water we both need bad.
The spring is near the western hills.
Let’s get there before I go mad.

Now, lying on the ground, looking at the stars,
The trickling water is the sound an angel sings.
Lord, did you take me back to Tullemore?
Or is it true, I made it to Antelope Springs?


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