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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Richard Erastus Egan

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Richard Erastus (“Ras”) Egan

Birth: 29 March 1842, Salem, Massachusetts

Father: Howard Egan
Mother: Tamson Parshley
Death: 21 April 1918, Byron, Wyoming.  Died at age 76.
Wife #1: Mary Ann “Minnie” Fisher (1844-1887) Married 1 January 1861 in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City.  Erastus was 18 and MaryAnn was 15.
Children: 16 children:
Erastus Howard Egan (1862-30 May 1950)
Tamson Minnie Egan (2 Mar 1863-2 Oct 1920)
Howard Egan (10 Sep 1864-  )
Harry Olson Egan (2 Oct 1866-10 Mar 1879)
Horace Fredric Egan (2 Nov 1867-24 Mar 1891)
John Leroy Egan (3 Oct 1870-8 Dec 1953)
William Fisher Egan (5 Apr 1872-8 Dec 1900)
Willard Richard Egan (5 Apr 1872-7 Oct 1955)
Joseph Ransom Egan (7 Sep 1874-7 Oct 1874)
Ira Irvin Egan (17 Sep 1875-19 Nov 1961)
Baby girl (1877-1877…died at birth)
Linnie Jane Egan (25 Feb 1878-10 May 1915)
Mary Adelaide Egan (1880-1953)
Charles Merritt Egan (27 Aug 1881-27 Mar 1960)
David Egan (13 July 1884-10 Sep 1975)
Baby boy (Dec 1887-Dec 1887…died at birth)
Wife #2: Mary Beatrice Noble (1868-3 Mar 1959)
Children: 6 children:
Nellie Loretta Egan (1893-4 Apr 1984)
Herald Eugene Egan (23 May 1890-23 Aor 1891)
Ora May Egan (16 Feb 1892-3 Jan 1973)
Erma Alberta Egan (19 Oct 1896-16 Apr 1978)
Byron Noble Egan (26 May 1900-25 May 1980)
Howard Noble Egan (Nov 1904-Unknown)

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Brief History

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Richard Erastus (“Ras”) Egan, second son of Howard Egan and Tamson Parshley was born in Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts, March 29, 1842. He was five years of age when he came to Utah with his parents.

When word of Johnston’s Army  was heard among the settlers in 1858, Ras was left in charge of his father’s  home with the orders to set it on fire should the soldiers enter the city. He was just 16 years old.  While he was growing up, Ras had gained much experience in handling horses and cattle when he would frequently accompany his father to California from Utah on his livestock deals.

That same year, 1858, Ras (as he was known throughout his lifetime) got a job with the government as a subcontractor, transporting mail between Brigham City and Salt Lake City.  In 1859 he accompanied Dr. Forney, the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, to make a treaty with the Shoshone Indians that were living in western Utah.  After this treaty was completed, young Egan was ordered to return to Utah bringing five head of government mules. This was a long and at times perilous journey of three hundred miles. He was accompanied by one other boy and the only provisions they had were six quarts of flour. This scarcity of food nearly resulted in death for both.

A 6-mule supply wagon

A 6-mule supply wagon

It was about this time Ras Egan was put in charge of three six-mule trains freighting and carrying mail from Salt Lake City to Carson City, Nevada. His father had purchased a ranch in Ruby Valley, Nevada and also operated stores there and in Deep Creek. Ras hauled the merchandise to stock them.

In April of 1860, the Pony Express was created and Ras’ father, Howard Egan, was assigned as the superintendent over the Utah to Nevada route. Ras was hired along with his brother as Pony Express riders, his run being between Salt Lake City and Rush Valley, a distance of 75 miles west of Salt Lake. He was then in his eighteenth year.  The first mail out of Salt Lake City was carried by him on his sorrel mare “Miss Lightning,” making the first station, twenty-two miles, in one hour and five minutes.  Ras was known in the Pony Express for having the fastest ride ever. The President of the US called this section of Pony Express – The Lightening Express. The scheduled time for the seventy-five miles was five and one-half hours, although it was made once in four hours and five minutes.

In telling of his experiences as a rider, Ras said, “At first the ride seemed long and tiresome, but after becoming accustomed to that kind of riding, it seemed only play, but there were times when it didn’t seem so very playful. For instance, I was married January 1st, 1861, and of course, wanted a short furlough, but was only permitted to substitute a rider for one trip, and the poor fellow thought that was plenty. I had warned him about the horse he would start with from “Rush” on his return trip, telling him that he would either back or fall over backwards when he got on him. ‘Oh,’ said he, ‘I am used to that kind of business.’ ‘But,’ said I, ‘Bucking Bally is a whole team and a horse to let, and a little dog under the wagon, so be careful.’ So as a precaution, after he had tightened the saddle, he led him out about a quarter of a mile from the station and got on; when the horse true to his habit, got busy, and the next thing the rider knew he was hanging by the back of his overcoat on a high stake with his feet from the ground. He could not reach behind to unhitch himself. He could not unbutton his coat so as to crawl out of it, but he could get his hands in his pocket for his knife to cut the buttons off and release himself; after which a search was made for the horse in the darkness of the night. He finally found him and made the trip, getting a black eye for loss of time. He said to the boys, ‘No more Bucking Bally for me’.”

Young Egan had many harrowing experiences while engaged in his work. He also had several skirmishes with the Indians during the Pah-ute depredations in 1860. At one time he came upon a stage that he been held up and all the passengers killed and the horses stolen. As Egan pounded along the trail one of the raiders appeared armed with a rifle and bows and arrows and set out after him. At first, Ras rode just fast enough to keep out of gunshot range; then suddenly he turned and charged straight at the Indian who turned and fled. Another time his horse fell on him while he was crossing a bridge at night and he was thrown into the icy water, breaking the neck of the pony. Ras was compelled to walk five miles carrying the saddle and heavy express material back to the station where he could obtain another horse.

An 1860’s Melodeon

An 1860’s Melodeon

Ras Egan married Mary Minnie Fisher January 1, 1861, just nine months from the day he took his first pony express ride out of Salt Lake City. For a wedding gift Ras’ father presented them with a Melodeon – a organ type instrument which was a luxury to have in those days. It was the only instrument of its kind in the community and people in the town would come by to practice on it.  For about two years they made their home in Salt Lake City while Ras continued to ride for the Pony Express.

Minnie with baby Tamson

Minnie with baby Tamson

Ras and Minnie had their first child, Erastus Howard Egan, in 1862, and then a girl named Tamson Minnie on March 2, 1863. While Tamson was still a baby, they moved to Ruby Valley (now in Elko), Nevada, where Ras’ father, Howard Egan, was in charge of the Ruby Valley Pony Express Station. While there, Ras worked as a rancher.  The station was a two-room log cabin with a dirt roof. One room was used for the family living quarters; the other part was used for a store and commissary repair shop and mail station. For light they used the home made candles; a very crudely built fireplace furnished warmth and light. Ras took care of this station which was used as a trading post.  On this ranch they raised pigs, chickens, and mostly milk cows. Most of the milk was set in milk pans allowing to stand, then the cream was skimmed off with a hand skimmer. The cream was churned in an up and down churn, and the butter was packed in forty-gallon barrels and shipped to Erueka, Utah and was sold for 50 cents per pound.

Their home in Ruby Valley

Their home in Ruby Valley

They hired Indians at low wages to help about the ranch. Indian squaws could be hired to wash on the board all day for 50 cents. Two boys were born at Ruby Valley, Erastus Howard (September 10, 1864) and Harry Olson (October 20, 1866).

About 1868, Ras was called on a three-year mission to England for the L.D.S. Church, where he served as President of the Birmington Conference. When he left, they leased the ranch and Minnie, pregnant with her fourth child, moved with her three small children to Bountiful where she lived with her father Thomas Fisher.
Shortly after Ras left, Minnie’s father built her a six-room brick home on a lot adjoining the Fisher home in South Bountiful. When the home was completed Minnie moved in and waited for Ras’ return. During his absence she taught eyelet work class in her home, and the money earned in this way was sent to her husband to help support him while he was in the mission field.

At the end of three years, Ras was released from his mission and returned home as far as Ogden, on the first train that came this far west. He was met by his small son Ras, and his father-in-law, Thomas Fisher, and they drove the rest of the way to Bountiful in a carriage.

After his return, the Egans rented their home, and went again to Ruby Valley where Ras took up farming and stock raising until 1877. Returning to Bountiful, he engaged in sheep raising, being instrumental in organizing the Bountiful Livestock Company. For two terms he served as Justice of the Peace of Bountiful and in 1889, was made Assessor and Collector for Davis County, serving ten years in that capacity. He also served two terms on the City Council in Bountiful.

Soon after his return they rented out the home in Bountiful and moved back to the Ruby Valley Ranch where Ras took up farming and stock raising until 1877. While they were in Ruby Valley, Minnie gave birth to the following children: John Leroy, October 3rd, 1870; William Fisher and Willard Richard (twins), on April 5th, 1872; Joseph Ransom, September 7, 1874, who died at Ruby Valley Ranch and was buried there; Ira Irvine, September 17, 1875, was born next.

In 1877 they started their journey back to Bountiful, with teams, wagon and cattle. When they reached Tooele there was such a bad storm that they put Minnie and the three smallest children on the train to go on to Bountiful, while the rest stayed with the teams and cattle. They moved into the new home once more and Ras took up farming and gardening. Soon after they arrived in Bountiful a baby girl was born who died at birth and was buried at Bountiful.

Ras had bought some farming land to the north of Bountiful, the place now known as Clearfield, where he provided for his family.  At the time of the nationwide diphtheria epidemic, Harry who was then twelve past, contracted the dreaded disease and died. Horace F. also took ill but was nursed back to health by his father. Minnie fell ill during this time and was never completely healthy again. Due to the state of Minnie’s poor health and their large family, she had lots of help.

The rest of their sixteen children were born in Bountiful as follows: Linnie Jane, February 25, 1878; Mary Adelaide, February 5, 1880; Charles Merritt, August 27th, 1881; David July 13th, 1884; a baby boy born December 1887 who died. He was also buried at Bountiful.  Two weeks after giving birth to her last baby – who did not survive – Minnie passed away never fully recovering from labor and delivery of the baby.  She was 43 yrs old, had 16 children and had been married for 27 years to Ras.

Ras was called and set apart as bishop of the South Bountiful Ward in January, 1893. He and his counselors Joseph Hogan and John Perry Benson, were ordained and set apart on that date by Apostle Abraham H. Cannon.

Two years after the death of wife, Mary Ann “Minnie” Fisher, he married Mary Beatrice Noble on July 10, 1899 in the Logan Temple. They had six children together.

In 1905, he took his second family, also two married sons and families of the first wife, to the Big Horn Basin in Wyoming to establish homes. Soon after, he was set apart as a Patriarch, which position he maintained until his death on April 21, 1918. Interment was in Bountiful, Utah.

Sources

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Bountiful Utah Historical Commission website, Richard Erastus Egan
Bountiful Utah Historical Commission website, Mary Ann (Minnie) Fisher Egan
Stories from our Past, Pony Express in my Family

 


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