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    Genealogical research about Ephraim Knowlton Hanks, his family, and his ancestors.
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Ephraim K. Hanks - Biographical sketch

Ephraim K. Hanks - Biographical Sketch

Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia
Volume 2

Hanks, Ephraim Knowlton, a Patriarch in the Church and a Utah pioneer of 1847, was born March 2, 1827, in Madison, Lake county, Ohio, the son of Benjamin Hanks and Martha Knowlton.

Until he was sixteen years of age Ephraim worked with his father (who was an edge tool maker or blacksmith), after which he left home and went to Boston, where he enlisted as a sailor before the mast in the U. S. man of war "Columbus," which carried 74 guns. He served on board that ship for three years, during which time he visited France, Spain, Gibraltar, Italy, Brazil and other countries.

On one occasion he had a narrow escape from drowning; while working on top, he fell accidentally from the fore royal yard into the foretop, but was saved by his grasping a rope, while his two companions were killed. One of these fell overboard and was drowned; the other fell to the deck and was mashed.

Ephraim was discharged in New York in 1844 and returned to his home in Ohio. In the meantime his father had died and his brother had joined the Church. Through being warned in a dream the latter paid a visit to his mother's home and there met his returned brother, Ephraim, to whom he related how he (the brother) had been miraculously healed from a bad case of rupture through the administrations of the Elders.

The mother being displeased with her son who had joined the "Mormon" Church, induced Ephraim to call in three of the ablest sectarian preachers in the neighborhood. They came promptly and discussed with his brother, but were beaten in the argument. As usual in such cases, the ministers got angry and commenced to abuse the baptized brother; they also called Joseph Smith a murderer, a horse thief, a black leg, etc., adding that all his followers were like him. This accusation raised the ire of Ephraim, who immediately seized a chair and drove the three ministers out of the house, declaring at the same time that henceforth he would remain a friend and defender of Joseph Smith.

He kept his word. Ephraim now went to Chicago, Ill., and reached Nauvoo in 1845. Here he was baptized by Horace S. Eldredge. He was also ordained a Seventy and went to work on the Nauvoo Temple. He enlisted in the first company of pioneers which was sent west from Nauvoo, but before he could get ready to start, he was sent to Indianapolis, Indiana, after a company of Saints who returned with him to Nauvoo.

Soon after that he left Nauvoo with the companies going west and had got as far as Mount Pisgah, Iowa, when President Brigham Young came along raising volunteers for the Mormon Battalion. Ephraim offered his services at once, enlisted and marched as a private in Company B to San Diego, Cal. Thence, after serving his time, he came to Great Salt Lake Valley in 1847.

He spent the winter in the "Old Fort" and in the spring of 1848 located a farm, on Mill Creek, near the spot where John Neff the same year built his mill.

In the fall of that year he went east as far as Sweetwater to meet President Brigham Young's company. After his return he became the first pound keeper in Salt Lake City, Horace S. Eldredge being his assistant. Subsequently, in the winter of of 1850-1851, he hired out to Mr. Magers to take mails out on the plains. Later he took a contract to carry the mail over the plains, with Feramorz Little and Chas. Decker as partners, and remained in that business for three years. In 1856 he rendered very efficient aid in helping the handcart companies into the valley. (See "Contributor," Vol. 14.) For all these public services he never received any remuneration.

He took an active part in the so-called Echo Canyon war during the years 1857 and 1858. He served as captain of the life guards and escorted Col. Thomas L. Kane to Fort Bridger early in 1858, returning with him safely to Salt Lake City. During the campaign Elder Hanks made a most bold and daring exploit, by which he took a band of horses and mules from the soldiers. For many years Elder Hanks was kept on the frontiers and passed through some very interesting experiences.

During "the move" in 1858 he went to Provo, and after his return he settled at Mountain Dell, Parley's Canyon, between Big and Little Mountain. Here he kept a trading post, doing a good business. He also built a number of houses and barns, but finally sold out his improvements in the canyon, bought a saw mill and located near Heber City, Wasatch county. There he lived till the breaking out of the Black Hawk war in 1865, when he removed to Salt Lake City.

He spent several months in the mountains, mainly in Sanpete county, participating in many daring adventures in Indian fighting, but he was always proud of being able to say that he never killed an Indian. Prior to this he had taken an active part in the Indian wars of 1848 and 1853.

After the Black Hawk war he engaged in stockraising in Parley's Park and found the first silver quartz on the spot where the rich mines of Park City now are situated.

Being advised by President Young to purchase Lee's Ferry, on the Colorado river, he sold out his improvements in Parley's Park in 1877 and made all preparations to start south when President Young took sick and died; that altered his program. President John Taylor, however, also advised him to go south, which he did, and settled in Burrville, Grass Valley. This being a cold region, he soon changed location and, moving farther east, he settled in a box canyon on Pleasant Creek, a small tributary of the Fremont river.

There the writer of these lines visited him in June, 1891. His place of abode was a cozy little nook in an opening in the mountain where there is a few acres of land on which Bro. Hanks had set out about 200 fruit trees and was making a comfortable home. At this romantic mountain retreat Bro. Hanks died, June 9, 1896. Prior to his demise he had been ordained a Patriarch. (A. J.)

© 2008, Daniel C. Hanks