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(Auto)biography of Samuel Miles

Samuel Miles (1826-1910)

Samuel Miles (1826-1910)

This week we are highlighting another item from our 19th Century Mormon and Western Manuscripts that was digitized this past year: the (Auto)biography of Samuel Miles.

Samuel Miles Jr., son of Samuel Miles Sr. and Prudence Marks, was born on April 8, 1826 in Attica, New York. During the winter of 1833-1834, after moving to Freedom, New York, near to the Warren A. Cowdery (brother to Oliver Cowdery) family and being taught the gospel by Elders John Murdock and Orson Pratt, the Samuel Miles Sr. family joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 1835, to follow the Saints, the Samuel Miles Sr. family left Freedom, New York, for Missouri, where they experienced many of the hardships and persecutions the Mormon church suffered there. Samuel Jr. was barely a teenager at the time, but remembers many of these experiences and recorded them in his later years.  They eventually made their way to Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1839.

Samuel Miles Jr. was educated at the University of the City of Nauvoo under the tutelage of Orson Pratt, and became a teacher in various schools and counties, including Hancock County. He left Nauvoo with the Saints in 1846, but enlisted freely in the Mormon Battalion after arriving in Council Bluff, Iowa in July of that same year. Soon after arriving at San Diego, Miles moved to San Francisco for work near Sutter’s Mill for a time before joining a group of Battalion men heading to the Salt Lake Valley, arriving on September 10, 1848.

On September 6, 1849, Samuel Miles Jr. married Hannah Marinda Colborn in Salt Lake City, Utah. The couple had nine children, eight of whom grew to adulthood. In January of 1851, he was ordained a Seventy in the 8th Quorum. He farmed and ranched on his own land, but also returned to work as a schoolteacher. In the fall of 1861, the Samuel Miles Jr. family was called to assist in the Dixie Cotton Mission in St. George, Utah. The family moved and settled in St. George, and Samuel continued work as a teacher. In 1874, he took part in the short-lived St. George United Order as a laborer. By 1875 he began working on a farm in Price, Utah. The St. George Temple was dedicated in 1877, and Samuel Miles spent the majority of his time for the next several years farming and teaching to earn a living for his family and working at the temple, completing work for his ancestors. Samuel Miles died on May 22, 1910 in St. George, Utah.

You can now view the Samuel Miles autobiography (MSS 7599) online, and read his life story in his own words! Miles himself titled the document “Biography of Samuel Miles the son of Samuel and Prudence Marks,” but it is technically an autobiographical sketch of his life. This item consists of thirty-two pages of Miles’ handwritten life story, including a life summary from 1826 to 1851, and short yearly summaries for each year between 1852 and 1881. The text includes information that is particularly familial and spiritual, but often references broader historical events that contextualize his life. He mentions several events in Mormon history including the violence in Missouri, his reaction to the martyrdom of Joseph Smith, and the settlement of the Dixie Cotton Mission in St. George, Utah. Also described is the contention between states on the verge of Civil War in 1860, and the Gold Rush at Sutter’s Mill.

We hope you check this item out, among our other digitized documents!

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