Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, WPA Federal Writers' Project Collection.

by Sarah Bracken Adams

Harrison Burgess was born September 3, 1814 in Putnam, Washington County, New York. Being the oldest child of his father's family, he had to work and had little time to attend school. At the age of fourteen he went to work for himself.

In 1832 he heard the gospel preached and was convinced that it was true. He was baptized in 1833 by Elder John S. Carter and confirmed by Elder Orson Pratt.

In the winter of 1833, he worked for his board and attended school. The following spring he went on a short mission with Elder Carter to the state of Vermont. In 1834 he left with his family for Kirtland, Ohio. He met the Prophet Joseph Smith for the first time. He stayed in Kirtland during the winter of 1834.

Joseph Smith called for volunteers to go to Jackson County Missouri. Harrison volunteered to go. The trip was a long and tedious one. He returned to Kirtland, Ohio in July 1835. The temple by that time was near enough completed that he received his endowments. Here he witnessed a very interesting thing. He said that the house of the Lord was so filled with the Spirit of the Lord that many prophesied and he heard the Prophet Joseph Smith say "behold Jesus Christ, the Son of God." He said that the building appeared to have no roof and a light shone far brighter than the noonday sun. From here he went with a company of saints to settle Jackson County [Missouri].

He was married and took his family with him. Later in 1840 he moved to Nauvoo, Illinois. In 1844 the persecutions became greater and he witnessed the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He was a guard at the burial.

He was among the saints who planned to journey west across the plains. He fitted out an outfit and started moving. At that time he was called to fill a mission in England.

He left his family to journey most of the way alone across the plains to the Rocky Mountains. His wife was in poor health and a baby girl was born to them before he arrived in England.

Three years later in 1851 he arrived with a company of Saints in Salt Lake City and saw his little daughter, Mary, for the first time.

He lived in Salt Lake a number of years and then moved to Parley's Park (Park City). His family now numbered 10. Two years later Brigham Young called him to settle in Dixie in Southern Utah. Brigham asked him to take his sawmill with him which he did. He went to St. George then later moved to Pine Valley in 1863. He sawed lumber to help build up St. George, Pine Valley, and the surrounding settlements.

He was chosen counselor to Bishop William Snow and later when Bishop Snow died he was chosen as acting Bishop until F.W. Jones was chosen Bishop.

He filled many short missions and took an active part in the Church.

He was the father of ten children - six boys and four girls. His youngest boy died of measles in 1881 and in 1882 another son, Jacob, was accidentally shot which nearly broke his father's heart. That same year his daughter, Mary, died. Just one month before Mary's death his wife died, August 8, 1882.

He remained faithful to the gospel all of his life and died in Pine Valley 1883 and was buried in the cemetery there.


family legends:

The following was furnished by Walter Hughes, a grandson of Harrison's brother, William Burgess Jr.:


Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, WPA Federal Writers' Project Collection.


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