Henry William Bigler: soldier, gold miner, missionary, chronicler, 1815-1900
In 1998 Californians and others celebrated the sesquicentennial of James Marshall's discovery of gold, on January 24, 1848. Surprisingly, this date wasn't confirmed until many years later, when California historians contacted an obscure St. George, Utah, Mormon temple worker named Henry Bigler. He had been one of several Mormon Battalion veterans employed by John Sutter, under Marshall's supervision, to construct the mill that was the site of the gold discovery. And it turned out that Henry, diligent as he always was, had kept the most immediate and accurate record of that event, which stimulated the gold rush and dramatically affected the course of the American West. Bigler kept other journals and observed or participated in other significant events in early Mormon and western history, from the Nauvoo exodus through western trail-blazing with the Mormon Battalion to proselyting in mid-nineteenth century Hawaii. But with the exception of brief fame in California after his diary account became known - including an expenses-paid commemorative trip there - he led a life of obscurity and poverty.
Biographer Guy Bishop set out to recover the whole life of this unpretentious figure and thereby to see the context of such a modest westerner's participation in uncommon experiences.
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American apostle April arrived August Autobiography Bancroft baptism baptized believed Bigler recorded Bigler wrote Bigler's Chronicle blessing Book G Book of Mormon Brigham Young California called Cannon Church of Jesus Cooke County daybooks days later death December diary discovery of gold dollars elders Endowment House faith Farmington Farrer father February felt George Temple Gudde Hafen Hawaii Hawaiian Henry Bigler Henry William Bigler History Hittell Honolulu Huntington Library Ibid Illinois James James Keeler Jane Jane's January John Joseph Smith July Juvenile Instructor Keeler Latter-day Saints LDS Archives letter living March Marshall Marshall's miles mission missionaries Missouri months Mormon Battalion native Nauvoo November October ordinance Overland Monthly party Pioneers plural marriage polygamy Pratt preach President religious River Salt Lake City San Francisco Sandwich Islands September Sutter Sutter's Mill told typescript Utah Virginia wagons West Whipple wife Wilford Woodruff Willard William Bigler Woodruff wrote Bigler