Transcript for Kofford, Paul Ernest, Biographical sketch

“I tried to find a place where I could live with a family. I was 32 years old and had never settled down, nor thought of a home and wife of my own. I found such a place recently opened up by a Keeler family, who had come to St. Louis after being driven from Nauvoo, Illinois. The family consisted of Daniel Hutchinson Keeler, who had married the widow, Philiada Clark Eldredge—she had four children by her first husband, Levi Newton Myrick, who was killed by a mob at Hauns Mill, Missouri. Their daughter, Fanny, was one of the children; also a son, Abner Keeler.

When I learned they were Mormons, I hesitated because all I had heard about them was not good. Then I saw her. Fanny was a young woman of 18, she who was to influence the rest of my life. I courted her the next year, learning more about the Mormons and decided it was good. We were married 27 July 1849 and I was baptized 9 Sept 1849. We continued our home with the Keelers.

I felt I was not ready to make the journey to the Rocky Mountains until I could buy equipment, needed clothes and food for myself and family, for we now had a son, Charles.

The Keelers finally got off with a group of Saints. It was learned that Philiada had developed an active case of Consumption. she was so anxious that her children be settled with the Saints in the Rocky Mountains. Needless to say there were many tears shed when goodbyes were said, because no one was assured of seeing each other again.

Fanny was restless because she worried about her mother. She too, longed to be on her way. Then the bombshell fell when Fanny told me she had signed to go with a group of Danish Saints, captained by Elder John Forsgren. She said if I persisted on staying longer, she would take Charles and go. Like Adam of old, I decided to go along. I had tasted the joy of having a woman in my life, and we had a son, so I did not want to be alone.

Those were hurried days preparing to leave and far too short for me to realize my dream of horses and carriage with plenty of provisions.

It was in 1852 [1853] that we began the long trek, ever seeking news of the Keelers. Fanny was the only one in the Company, besides the Elders in charge, who spoke English. She made herself useful by teaching the women how to bake bread over a campfire. She kept up with the group and took turns with me in carrying young Charles on our shoulders, to lighten the weight of the wagons.

We saw Indians and were frightened, but no one was harmed. We waded streams and were ferried across others. We gathered buffalo chips for fires. We saw hundreds of the big buffalos. We dug shallow graves for the dead. We sang and danced around the campfires. Everyone arose early, prayers were said, then we loaded our wagons.

Our Company arrived in 1853 and remained in Salt Lake until we left for Sanpete County in Oct 1853.