Saturday, April 9, 2011

Burial Spot of Brigham Young's Bodyguard?

     This weekend I went to Rexburg, Idaho for my brother's graduation.  Before I left, he called me and told me about an interesting historic site that was on the way from Utah to Idaho.  He told me that just off of the east side of the I-15 once you cross into Idaho are located two graves.  He said that he was told that the graves belonged to the bodyguards of Brigham Young and that they hated Utah so much that they asked to have their bodies buried outside of the territory.  It seemed like a great entry on this blog. 
     My brother didn't have any other information and even told me that it was just an urban legend.  I attempted to do some research before I left and only could find information regarding two of Brigham Young's bodyguards, Porter Rockwell and John D. Lee.  Porter Rockwell was a well known bodyguard of Joseph Smith and was buried in Salt Lake and John D. Lee was buried in Panguitch after being executed for the mountain meadows massacre.  I figured to solve the mystery I would have to visit the site myself.
    I stopped as soon as I had come to the Idaho border, just in front of the "Welcome to Idaho" sign.  I didn't see any initial signs of a grave, but I did see some fake flowers caught in the barbed wire just to the east of the sign.  I climbed a little slope and found the grave my brother was talking about.  Here are a couple of pictures of the location:

     The gravestone says "Hugh Moon; born Aug 5, 1815; Eccleston, Lancs, England; Joned the L.D.S. church in 1837.  Came to America with the first company of 41 saints.  Arrived in Utah in 1848.  Came to Henderson Creek, Oneida County, Idaho, 1869; Died Sept 23, 1870 at Henderson, Idaho; His wives: Maria Emeline Mott, Elizabeth Kemmish, Jennatt Nicol." gives a great account of Hugh Moon.  It says that "he sailed to America in 1840 after joining the Mormon Church.  he moved to the LDS stronghold of Nauvoo, Ill., where he served as a bodyguard for Prophet Joseph Smith.
     "He crossed the plains to the Salt Lake Valley in 1848, where he married.  Brigham Young asked him to move to Dixie in southern Utah to build up the church there, but he moved again after fire years, this time to Henderson Creek in the Idaho Territory.
     "He died in 1870 at the age of 54.  His wishes were to be buried in Zion which he concluded to be Utah.  Upon his death, his family took him far enough south that they thought they were in Utah, to a small cemetery east or Portage.  As it turned out, the burial site was just inside the Idaho territory."
     There are actually two graves at the cemetery (I didn't see the second at all the first time, but driving south of the 15 I realized that it was there.  I didn't see it at all the first time and I don't know how I missed it.  It is also surrounded by chain-link as well and is a little smaller and set back further from the road).  This is the grave of Jane Copeland Howell. states that she "was born in 1789 and grew up on the frontier in Illinois.
     "Her son James married Rosannah Mook in 1857 and they and Jane traveled west with a Mormon pioneer company.  They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in 1863 and the Howells settled in Kaysville for five years.  They moved to East Portage in the Malad Valley in 1868, where Jane died the next year at age 80.  She adamantly implored her family to bury her in Utah and not Idaho, although she was not a Mormon.  With no border markings, however, she was actually buried in the small cemetery east of Portage."
     So it turns out that neither was a body guard of Brigham Young (although Moon was a bodyguard of Joseph Smith).  And they weren't trying to get out of Utah, but were actually trying to be buried inside of Utah rather than Idaho.  The people that buried them just messed up and buried them a little inside of Idaho.  This humorous accident has remained over almost 150 and has turned into an interesting urban legend.


  1. Awesome! I'm glad you found it, I was super skeptical.

  2. Yeah, me too. I was suprised that it was there, and it is a pretty cool story

  3. Hugh Moon is my 3rd Great Grandfather & I never tire of hearing his story! Although it is preserved well among our family, I still search for him periodically to see what new accounts of his life are available. Thank you for taking the time to visit him & share his story!!

    1. Hugh Moon is also one of my 4thgreat-grandfathers. His second wife Elizabeth, is my 4x great grandmother

    2. I am also an ancestor. 3rd great granddaughter of High Moon. My brother is writing a family history book & searching for info & relatives. If anyone could get back to me on this for info plz? We will travel to Utah thru ID @ Christmas & would like to meet relatives.

    3. I am also an ancestor. 3rd great granddaughter of High Moon. My brother is writing a family history book & searching for info & relatives. If anyone could get back to me on this for info plz? We will travel to Utah thru ID @ Christmas & would like to meet relatives.

  4. Hugh Moon is my 3rd Great Granddad as well. I too have heard this story a million times, though it is told quite differently in my family. According to my family's version, Hugh Moon was kicked out of Utah for threatening Brigham Young's life when he was not properly compensated for his land. He asked his sons to bury him in Utah to spite Brigham Young and ironically failed. I am an amateur folklorist and I would LOVE to talk to anyone who has heard the story of Hugh Moon's grave. Please, let me know!

    1. The Bear River Heritage Area is working on a listing of all the cemeteries in our seven counties, and these pioneer burials have been on our list to find. I am also a folklorist, and I think the value of this story is that is has been kept as an oral tradition. It would take a lot of sleuthing to prove either version of the story, but it's actually okay the way it is. Folks are interested in this sort of oral tradition. We would like to list these burials, and include that there are a few versions of the stories.

      Lisa, Coordinator, Bear River Heritage Area
      Logan, Utah
      I can be reached at 435-713-1426

  5. This is a comment sent to me by an individual who wanted me to post it on here:

    "I am the great-grandson of Mahalia Ezeretta Caldwell, daughter of Dora Moon, oldest daughter of Hugh and Maria Moon. I have been reading many accounts in books about the Mormons and a few that mention Hugh specifically. Edward W. Tullidge's History of Salt Lake City, which is a good one.

    "I've also read other books that gave me an indication of what life during this period was like, Mormon Enigma; Emma Hale Smith, and Fanny Stenhouse to name a few.

    "I'm looking for Hugh Moon's journals themselves, and it keeps being mentioned here and I'm unable to locate any reference to the actual writings. Since you have mentioned is here, I assume that there is a copy that I could read. If this is true would, could anyone lead me to where is could find it or if you could send me a copy, it would be much appreciated.

    "I can be reached at"

    1. Here is my family tree.
      Mother = Fay Malinda Moon
      John Moon
      Hugh Moon < this my Great Grandpa, 1815 - 1870.

      My Mother married. George Floyd (Frank) Henderson.
      I am Bob Dee Henderson

      Looking forward to hearing from relatives of Hugh Moon. and Jeanette Nicol.

  6. Hugh Moon is my great-great-grandfather.
    Hugh Moon
    Helorum Moon
    William Moon
    Neal Moon

    I do have a history of Hugh Moon if anyone would like it. I tend to believe the story that he wanted to be buried in Utah as he thought it was Zion. He was actually commissioned to go to Idaho by Brigham Young. And he was asked to produce whiskey, for medicinal purposes and was told to take care to not let it get into the hands of young men so that they could make sport with it.

  7. Are there still Hugh Moon family reunions held in Riverside, Utah? Looks like quite a few descendents commenting here.

  8. Oh wow...Hugh Moon is also
    my 5thgreat-grandfather. His second wife Elizabeth, is my 5th great grandmother...any relations can email me at

  9. اكثر شركة حراسة امنية خبرة فى كافة مجالات التامين على الممتلكات والمؤسسات فقط من خلال شركة الحارس الخاص
    تعرف على المزيد من خدماتنا من خلال

  10. Thank you for documenting the site!