George Pitkin was born 17 May 1801 in Hartford, Windsor, Vermont, the youngest of ten children born to Paul Pitkin and Abigail Lathrop. His middle name, White, was the maiden name of his paternal grandmother. In 1819, the Paul Pitkin family moved to Hiram, Ohio to take up new land in the Western Reserve. There George met Amanda Eggleston, whose family arrived about the same time. They were married on 8 February 1829. During the early years of their marriage, George was appointed as sheriff of Portage County and when his father died in 1823, he was appointed as the administrator of the estate. While living in Hiram, the Pitkins were introduced to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as it grew in nearby Kirtland. On 17 May 1831, George was baptized by the Prophet Joseph Smith. His wife, Amanda, and his sisters, Laura and Abigail, also joined.
In 1832, the Pitkin family joined other church members in a move to Jackson County, Missouri, a designated gathering place. Having lost their first child, the family at that time consisted of George and Amanda, the two Pitkin sisters and Amanda's sister, Esther Eggleston. In Jackson County, George built a log house next to Peter Whitmer, Sr. in the Whitmer Settlement. David Whitmer was the presiding officer of the settlement and ordained George as a deacon in September. Violence against the Mormons in Jackson County began with an attack on the Whitmer Settlement on 31 October 1833. A mob of fifty men tore off roofs and partially demolished ten houses. Researchers believe the Pitkin house was one of them. The mob beat some of the men and threw stones at women and children. The men fled for their lives and the women and children escaped into the woods. By mid-November, the Pitkins and many others had been driven from the county.
The Mormons crossed the river and spread out in a dozen different settlements in Clay County. It is not clear exactly where the Pitkins stayed that winter, but it was in the western part of the county. In the summer of 1834, a number of leaders were assigned to visit the scattered settlements to buoy up the members. One of them, Zebedee Coltrin, ordained George to the office of teacher in August.
The citizens of Clay County had been friendly and helpful, but eventually they asked the Mormons to leave so the area could avoid conflict. The Church had been able to purchase government land in the new county of Caldwell. The Pitkins traveled there and took up residence in the developing city of Far West for a three-year stay. A surviving record of Latter-day Saints living in the southwest quarter of Far West on 25 March 1838 includes George, Amanda and their children Martha, Ammon, and George. Also listed are sisters Laura and Abigail Pitkin and Esther Eggleston. In the summer of 1838, George Pitkin was elected sheriff of Caldwell County which had a population of 10,000. That position placed him in the middle of conflicts between the local mobs and the county militia, such as the Battle of Crooked River. Not long after, the extermination order of Governor Boggs forced the Mormons to abandon their settlements and move to Illinois.
In the spring of 1839, the Pitkins resided about 80 miles south of Nauvoo, but relocated shortly after. Records show that George had land holdings in Nauvoo, Illinois and in Lee County, Iowa, across the river. The 1840 census places them in Lee County, where they were listed as members of the Zarahemla Branch of the Church. In 1844, they were part of the Nauvoo 9th Ward, where George was ordained a high priest by Phineas Richards in December. Nauvoo grew into one of the largest communities in Illinois and a beautiful temple was completed, but anti-Mormon persecution continued. As conflict mounted, the Pitkins joined in the 1846 exodus. George took his young family across the Mississippi River where they managed to survive the winter. The second winter (1846-47) was spent along the Fox River in present-day Davis County, Iowa. It was there that Amanda and their youngest child died just days apart. George took his other children and moved on across Iowa where they spent the winter of 1847-48 near Kanesville. While there, George married Sarah Ann Huffman on 14 November 1847.
In the summer of 1848, the Pitkin family joined the Heber C. Kimball Company and made the long trek across the plains, arriving at Great Salt Lake in September. Over the next ten years, they made several moves within Utah Territory, then to Oregon and California and back to Utah again. Called to help settle Cache Valley, they spent the winter of 1859-60 at Elkhorn Ranch, a cattle ranch owned by the Church. From there George moved his family a few miles south and built one of the first log houses in the Millville settlement. George remained in Millville, Utah, for the remainder of his life. He died 26 November 1873 at the age of seventy-two.
Amanda Eggleston was born 11 February 1805 in Torrington, Litchfield, Connecticut. She was the third of six children born to Curtis Eggleston and Amanda Fowler. When she was fourteen, her parents moved to Hiram, Ohio to take up land in the Western Reserve. Ten years later, at the age of twenty-four, Amanda married George White Pitkin. The marriage took place before a justice of the peace on 8 February 1829 in Hiram. Prior to the marriage, Amanda's parents had died and she had taken on the responsibility of raising her sister, Esther, who was fourteen years younger.
Amanda's firstborn child, a son named Lathrop, was born in Hiram on 5 March 1831. He died a week later. That same year, George and Amanda were converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Mormons, as they were called, were gathering in Missouri and the Pitkins decided to go. In the spring of 1832, George, Amanda, and Esther started the journey from Ohio to Missouri. Also accompanying them were two of George's unmarried sisters, Laura (age 42) and Abigail (age 35).
Upon their arrival in Jackson County, the Pitkins settled in the Whitmer Settlement in Kaw Township. George built a log house near about ten other families, mostly Whitmers. There Amanda gave birth to a daughter, Martha, on 27 October 1832. Some of the Missouri citizens felt threatened by the arrival of the Mormons and trouble began. On 31 October 1833, about ten at night, a mob attacked the Whitmer village and began beating some of the men and tearing down houses. Amanda, with a one year old baby, was surely petrified. Several families gathered at the Peter Whitmer, Sr. house near the Pitkins. Lydia Whiting recalled some of the events of that frightful night.
"Their first attack was to the door and window while some mounted the house and began to throw off the roof while they were throwing stones and clubs in at every chance they could get. The women who had crawled into the chamber with their children began to scream and beg for mercy while these barbarous ruffians in the shape of human beings were whipping and hounding their husbands and fathers with clubs and stones. All got from the house and made for the woods as fast as possible, and frightened nearly out of their senses." [Mormon Redress Petitions #447]
Trouble continued and by the middle of November everyone from the settlement had fled. The Pitkins crossed the Missouri River into the western part of Clay County and struggled to survive the winter in hastily built shelters. During the short stay in Clay County, Amanda gave birth to a son, Ammon Paul, on 26 April 1835. In the beginniing, the people of Clay County were friendly and helpful. However, when the Mormons failed to regain lands in Jackson County, they were asked to move on.
When the Church purchased land in the new county of Caldwell, the Pitkins moved again with their little family, hoping to find peace. Far West, Caldwell County, Missouri was home to George and Amana from 1836 to 1839. There Amanda gave birth to a son, George Orrin, on 19 August 1837. Amanda was a frontier wife with three small children. While George was gone fulfilling church assignments and working as the sheriff of the county, Amanda was faced with the challenge of surviving with little means. It was peaceful for a time, but the extermination order issued by Governor Boggs changed everything. It forced them to abandon their homes and farms and to seek exile in the state of Illinois.
In the spring of 1839, the Pitkins set up temporary residence in Pike County, which at that time encompassed most of western Illinois. That same year, Amanda's sister, Esther, married Martin Wood in Quincy. Soon George and Amanda moved further north where the majority of church members were gathering. They spent the years 1840-1846 in Lee County, Iowa, and across the Mississippi in nearby Nauvoo, Illinois. Amanda gave birth to two children during that time. Mariah Laura was born 13 November 1841. Pamelia was born 27 February 1844, but she lived less than two years.
Hoping to find lasting peace, the Mormons planned a move west to the Rocky Mountains. Amanda and George joined the exodus in 1846, crossing the Mississippi with their four children and camping on the Iowa side of the river. Somewhere in Iowa Territory, a son, John, was born 20 October 1846. By winter, the Pitkins had set up camp along the Fox River. The Mormon Trail crossed the Fox River near present-day Drakesville in Davis County. Amanda had been through a great deal. In the seventeen years of her marriage, she had born seven children, buried two babies, and raised a sister. She had been persecuted and driven from place to place because of her chosen faith. On 5 January 1847, in the cold of winter, she died along the Fox River. She was only forty-two years old. Her two-month-old baby died a few days later.
See history of Ammon Paul Pitkin and Olive Chase
I, George W. Pitkin, son of Paul Pitkin, son of Thomas Pitkin, my mother's name was Abigail Lathrop, daughter of Elijah Lathrop, was born in Hartford, Windsor County, Vermont, May 17, 1801, and baptized by President Joseph Smith in Hyrum, Portage County, Ohio, May 1841. In 1832, in company with about 100 Saints, I moved with my family to Jackson County, Missouri, at which place I was ordained a deacon under the hands of David Whitmer in September 1832. In 1833, I was driven with the Saints to Clay County and ordained a teacher under the hands of Zebedee Coltrin, August 1834. I was driven from Clay County and settled in Caldwell County, Missouri. I was ordained a seventy in January 1841; I removed to Nauvoo and ordained a high priest under the hands of Phineas Richards December 1844.
[This statement was part of a report of the Nauvoo 9th Ward High Priests Quorum as recorded by clerk Joseph Holbrook.]
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