Benjamin Freeman Bird

Brief Life History of Benjamin Freeman

In 1832, a Mormon elder traveling through New York state asked Benjamin Bird and his wife, Maribah, for room and board. During the course of his stay, he gave them a Book of Mormon. After reading the book, they were convinced of the truthfulness of the doctrines of the Restoration, but the elder moved on before they could be baptized. Maribah was quite ill at this time and had become bed-ridden. A widowed relative, Margaret Crane Dailey, came from Orange County near the coast to help Maribah. The following winter, however, Maribah died after a severe week-long illness. She was 48 years old. At this time, Benjamin, in his mid-fifties, was left with four children at home. His older children (Phineas, Charles, James, and Polly) were living nearby, married with families of their own. Kelsey was courting Sally Carpenter, the sister of James’ wife Jane. The bulk of the housekeeping chores likely fell to Amanda Ann, age fourteen. The two youngest children, Richard and William, were twelve and nine. Benjamin began to preach the gospel to his neighbors and appears to have converted Margaret, marrying her two months after his wife’s death. That fall, Benjamin wrote a letter to Kirtland asking for more missionaries. His letter was published in the “Messenger and Advocate.” The excerpt reads as follows: “Mr. Benj. F. Bird, of Southport, Tioga Co. N. Y. writes under date of Nov. 14, and says: ‘I have received your papers almost one year: and because I held the book of Mormon as sacred as I do the bible, the Methodist, (though I had been a regular member almost 37 years,) turned me out; but I bless God for it; for though they cast me out Jesus took me in.’ He further adds, that he does not know as he shall ever have a privilege of uniting with this church, as he never saw but one elder, whom he solicited to preach twice; that it caused a great stir and noise among the people, &c. If any of the elders are passing near, would they not do well to call? We circulate some few papers in that place, the most of which is through the agency of our aged friend of whom we have been speaking, and from whom we acknowledge the receipt of money for the same.” (“Messenger and Advocate,” Vol 1, No. 3. Page 16 of 21.) The missionaries Benjamin requested came the next summer. Benjamin and his wife Margaret were baptized in June of 1834. Phineas, Charles, James, and their families were also baptized over the course of the next year or so. Benjamin’s oldest son, Phineas, was the first to move his family from New York to gather with the saints in Kirtland, Ohio, in 1835. Phineas helped build the Kirtland temple and attended the dedication in April of 1836. In 1837, Benjamin, Margaret, and the unmarried children at home, along with three married sons and their families, all traveled to Kirtland, Ohio. Benjamin likely only passed through Kirtland and continued on with Phineas, who was now headed to Missouri. Charles and James and their families stayed in Kirtland. Unfortunately, they arrived at a very difficult time for the church in Kirtland. Several members of the Quorum of the Twelve, including the three witnesses, had spoken out against the prophet. Secret meetings were being held in criticism of the church leadership. Joseph Smith had little choice but to leave Kirtland and relocate in Missouri. The Bird families were convinced that the Prophet was in the right. Charles, represented the Bird families at a meeting of the Counsel of the Seventies in the Kirtland Temple. He pledged the support of the Bird family in what later became known as the Kirtland Camp, and were among the last of the church members to leave Kirtland for Missouri. By 1839, the Bird families were residing in Far West, Missouri, but the situation was not any better there. Persecutions and violence were increasing against members of the church. When it became obvious that the Saints would have to leave Missouri, Benjamin Freeman Bird and his son Charles signed the affidavit with the other church members of Far West in which they vowed to stand by and assist one another “to the utmost of our abilities in removing from the state of Missouri.” They pledged all their available property, if necessary, to be disposed of by a committee and used to provide means for all members to relocate to a safe place. Sadly, the Bird family’s homes and belongings were destroyed by fires set by the mobs, and they were driven off their land in the dead of winter with only the clothes on their backs. The Birds gathered again with the Saints in Nauvoo, Illinois. Benjamin purchased land from Joseph Smith on Main Street. With the help of his sons, he built a nice, two-room log cabin with a root cellar and dug a well. The next few years were peaceful. Benjamin and his family traded at Joseph Smith’s store, and often attended social events at the Mansion House. On several occasions, Benjamin played a friendly game of croquet with his friends and neighbors which included Joseph, Hyrum, Wilford Woodruff, and Heber C. Kimball. While living in the log cabin, Benjamin and Margaret were blessed with another baby daughter. Benjamin now had four of his married sons living nearby (Phineas, Charles, James, and Samuel) with their wives and children, which allowed him to enjoy many happy times with his children and grandchildren. In the spring of 1843, he and his sons built a two-story brick home next to the log cabin. By the time it was finished, things were heating up again. Joseph Smith’s counselors, John C. Bennet and William Law, turned against the church and caused great difficulty. Bounty hunters occasionally came searching the city for Joseph Smith to force him to stand trial on spurious charges. Benjamin Bird had no desire to be in the middle of all the commotion, so he sold his new house to Jonathan Browning. (In historic Nauvoo, the house is now known as the Browning Home and Gunsmith Shop.) He moved his family to a quiet farm on the outskirts of Nauvoo. Benjamin and all his sons participated in the building of the Nauvoo Temple. Two sons, Phineas and Richard were called to labor in the Wisconsin Pineries. There they worked with Lyman Wight and others to cut pine trees and float them down the Mississippi River to Nauvoo where they would be used as lumber for the temple. Two of Benjamin’s sons were called on proselyting missions; Charles to North Carolina and William to Connecticut. Later, Charles became one of the bodyguards for Joseph Smith. Benjamin Bird received his patriarchal blessing in Nauvoo in February of 1842 under the hands of Hyrum Smith. After Joseph Smith’s death, Benjamin was present when Sidney Rigdon put forth his claim of leadership in the church. He witnessed President Brigham Young speak as his voice and appearance took on the resemblance of Joseph Smith. Benjamin was able to receive temple ordinances in the beautiful Nauvoo temple he worked so hard to build. Early in 1846, the leadership of the church had decided to move West. Benjamin packed up as many belongings as would fit in the wagon and crossed the frozen Mississippi River into Iowa that February. It seems that Margaret was not interested in going west. She left Benjamin at this point to return to her relatives in New York with their three youngest children. Shortly after they arrived at Council Bluffs, Benjamin’s son William accepted Brigham Young’s call and joined the Mormon Battalion in the historic trek that has come to be known as the symbol of dedication and patriotism of the Latter-day Saint people. In a record located in the Church Archives dated July 17, 1848, we learn that Benjamin F. Bird was made Branch President of the Lake Branch at Winter Quarters and was also temporarily assigned as Bishop over the Branch. Margaret is not listed in the names of people present, but Jane Gully Bird (who later became his third wife) was present. Because several of the Bird family were weavers by trade, Benjamin and his sons and their families were asked to remain at Council Bluffs and Winter Quarters and assist in the outfitting of the emigrant Saints. Many had been driven out of their homes without opportunity to take the necessary clothing and other items that they would need to make the long trek into the wilderness to an unknown destination. The Bird family set up a woolen mill, similar to the one that they had at Nauvoo, and assisted in the emigration of the thousands of homeless Saints. In 1850 the Brethren invited the Bird families to come West. They emigrated with the Milo Andrus Company. There were 206 persons and 51 wagons in the Company. On this train with Benjamin Freeman Bird were Richard and James with their families. This was the first company of emigrating Saints for the season, leaving Missouri in June of 1850. They took the pioneer trail which the previous year had seen many groups stricken with cholera. As the pioneers moved along, they saw the bones of their dead comrades, their bodies ripped out of their shallow graves by wolves and other scavengers and scattered over the countryside. Soon after arriving in Salt Lake City, Benjamin was present when apostle George A. Smith called his son James Bird to be the first Bishop of the Provo Second Ward and ordained him to that office. Because of his advancing age and the many trials he had endured, Benjamin found the peaceful seclusion of the Rocky Mountains particularly delightful. Several of the Bird families settled in the beautiful area of Springville and there Benjamin enjoyed associations with many of his numerous grandchildren, watching them wax strong in the Gospel. Benjamin left this world a content and happy man in 1862 and was buried in the Springville Cemetery, near the home of his dreams. Record of his death can be found at: https://www.familysearch.org/records/images/image-details?page=1&place=5311482&rmsId=TH-909-75471-0-82&imageIndex=10&singleView=true Record of Dead, Springville Cemetery, page 11, line 2;

Photos and Memories (154)

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Family Time Line

Benjamin Freeman Bird
1779–1862
Maribah Reeves
1784–1833
Marriage: 22 February 1801
Phineas Reeves Bird
1802–1850
Charles Bird
1803–1884
Samuel Bird
1805–1828
James Bird
1806–1879
Elizabeth Bird
1809–1813
George Bird
1811–1813
Kelsey Bird
1813–1836
Mary Bird
1815–1849
George Bird
1817–1818
Amanda Ann Bird
1819–1869
Richard Bird
1820–1895
William Bird
1823–1894

Sources (48)

  • Benjamin T Bird, "United States Census, 1850"
  • Freman Bird, "New Jersey Births and Christenings, 1660-1980"
  • Freeman Bird, "New Jersey, County Marriages, 1682-1956" (1801)

World Events (8)

1780

"Sometimes referred to as the ""forgotten victory"", the Battle of Springfield was one of the last major battles fought in the north during the Revolutionary War. The British defeat effectively ended their ambitions to reclaim New Jersey. Washington praised the New Jersey Militia for their universal effort and great spirit"

1781 · The First Constitution

Serving the newly created United States of America as the first constitution, the Articles of Confederation were an agreement among the 13 original states preserving the independence and sovereignty of the states. But with a limited central government, the Constitutional Convention came together to replace the Articles of Confederation with a more established Constitution and central government on where the states can be represented and voice their concerns and comments to build up the nation.

1803

France sells Louisiana territories to U.S.A.

Name Meaning

English and Scottish: nickname for a young or a small and slender person, from Middle English brid, bird, burd (Old English bird, brid, perhaps also byrd) ‘bird, young bird’, also ‘young man, young woman, child’.

Irish: Anglicized form of a number of Irish names erroneously thought to contain the element éan ‘bird’, in particular Ó hÉinigh (see Heagney ), Ó hÉanna (see Heaney ), Ó hÉanacháin (see Heneghan ), and Mac an Déaghanaigh (see McEneaney ).

Americanized form (translation into English) of various European surnames meaning ‘bird’, as for example German and Jewish (Ashkenazic) Vogel , French Loiseau , Czech Ptáček (see Ptacek ) and Pták, Polish Ptak .

Dictionary of American Family Names © Patrick Hanks 2003, 2006.

Possible Related Names

Story Highlight

Benjamin Freeman Bird--History

Benjamin Freeman Bird 1778-1862 Compiled by Marla Stone Walker 2011 Benjamin Freeman Bird was born January 19, 1778, in Rahway, Essex County, New Jersey. He was the fifth of eleven children of Jer …

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