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Ebenezer Rand history

 Item — Folder: 1
Identifier: MSS 4022

Scope and Contents note

The History of Ebenezer Rand is an autobiography. 52 pages, each 8.5 by 13.5 inches, photocopied. His detailed autobiography begins with some ancestral history, and then relates the life tale summarized below.


  • 1804-1870


Conditions Governing Access note

Open for public research.

Conditions Governing Use note

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from the Ebenezer Rand history must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.

Biographical History

Ebenezer Rand (1804-1885) lived in Illinois and gave a non-Mormon perspective of events relating to the Churhc of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints there that occured there.

Ebenezer Rand was born March 26, 1804, in Marblehead County, Essex, Massachusetts. His parents were Enoch Rand and Mary Hill. When he was two-years-old, his father boarded a ship to work as an onboard carpenter. The ship, headed for Africa, was never heard from again. His mother began to weave cotton cloth for her family’s support.

The War of 1812 broke out when Rand was eight years old. He remembered seeing ships in the bay, and remembered hearing of the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. Chesapeake.

Cotton factories began to spring up. His mother had to charge less for her weaving. From 1816 to 1825, his mother worked as a servant for the John Hoofen[ ] family. When Rand was 21, he hired a shop and worked [his] own stock to support his mother. He married Hannah Calley on December 26, 1826.

Rand started making a journey all over the Old West by steamship, foot, and stagecoach. The purpose for this trip is unclear--one purpose was to persuade his family to move west, but there may have been additional job-related purposes (he delivered a letter and helped a man named Phelps travel to town to sharpen a plow). On one steamship, Rand met a Mullato slave wearing shackles--he had escaped from his master in Missouri and had been caught. This slave escaped during one night on the trip. Rand was blamed for helping the man escape.

Ebenezer Rand sold his house in Marblehead for $750 and moved his family west in September 1830. When he sold his furniture for two wagons and three horses, he wrote, The Marblehead folks thought he had clean gone crazy. He explains that people rarely emigrated west from Massachusetts. After passing through Illinois, he and his family arrived in Lewiston, Fulton County, Missouri, in December 1830. It seems he traveled with other families. During his journey, he interacted with the Indians. Sometimes he was able to make friends; sometimes they rummaged through the wagons and took things. His horses were lost during the journey-- of his three horses and the horse of one man who traveled with them, only one horse could be found. Rand talked to an Indian chief and offered him money if any of his men found the horses. In the meantime, Rand had to buy oxen. The Indians found his horses and brought them to him in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Upon arriving in Lewiston, Missouri, Rand first stayed with his friends, the Freeman family. When he had rested from his journey, he purchased a log cabin, about 16 by 12 feet. There was no window and no chimney. He made mattresses out of prairie hay. During the winter, he made arrangements to move to Adams County, Illinois, and moved there in the spring of 1831. He followed the Mormon trail and talked of the Mormons, The Mormons at this time were emigrating from the east to the western part of the state of Missouri.

In Adams County, Rand’s family initially lived with the Peter S. Woods family in a log cabin, 16 foot square, and 15 or sixteen persons to occupy it. [R]ather tight sque[e]zing but it was no use to grumble, it was the best we could do.” He built his own cabin and tilled the land. In his autobiography he commented on the difficulty of breaking the prairie and finding all the cattle every day. He and his wife became sick in the summer of 1831; she passed away on August 17. Rand remained sick and feeble until spring of 1832. Frost had damaged the corn, but the family was still able to make bread out of it by pounding it with a homemade “pestle.” During the Black Hawk War of 1832, every kind of bread stuff was scarce. At one point, Rand got on horseback with his silver spoons to trade for corn. He traded his mother’s mahogany desk for corn.

He married his former wife’s sister, Elizabeth Calley, in December of 1832. In 1837, a James Robinson came by and offered Rand $1000 for his place. Rand accepted the offer and moved his family to Hancock County, Illinois. He ran a boot-making business out of a shed on his property and sold dry goods. The Mormons began to move into the county after he built his house in 1838. Rand worked in the Office of Probate Justice of the Peace from 1840 to 1843. During his service, he and his wife, Elizabeth, got sick. She passed away on August 23, 1841. He married Miss Joanna C. Lawton on April 22, 1842.

He wrote that the Mormons had become numerous and troublesome to the Old Citizens by 1843, and many who had sympathized with them when they first came to the county began to see that they would cause us trouble. During elections, both parties sought the Mormon vote. Rand was running for another term as Office of the Probate Justice of the Peace. He said that Joe Smith was in favor of the Whigs and Hyrum Smith was in favor of the Democrats. He recorded a fascinating account of political speeches that Joseph and Hyrum gave. Rand’s opponent won and he was out of the office.

Rand wrote on the death of Joseph and Hyrum Smith that he condemned the way they were killed. He said No doubt they were guilty of much, but then wrote, They were prisoners and should have been tried by the law. After Joseph’s and Hyrum’s deaths, Governor Ford advised the inhabitants of Carthage to evacuate; he expected Mormons to destroy Carthage. The Mormons did not attack. They agreed with the Old Citizens to leave the next Spring.

Rand, as part of the Grand Jury, wrote that the law was powerless to punish the killers of the Smiths because of the state of things. Houses were being burned and violence was rampant. The brother-in-law of Rand’s deceased wife was shot by Mormons; Rand himself was taken prisoner by them, and was discharged a few hours later.

After the Mormons left Hancock County, Rand went to visit his home in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

Carthage, Illinois, had a cholera incident, in which 12 or 13 people died.

Rand worked on building a house on his land from 1853. While he built the house, his family stayed at the across the meadow. He finished the house in 1857 and his family moved in. He began working on his autobiography in about 1864. The last paragraph was written in 1870.

Ebenezer Rand passed away on May 31, 1885, in Hancock County, Illinois.


1 folder (0.1 linear feet)

Language of Materials



Ebenezer Rand's autobiography.

Custodial History note

Donated by Nancy O'Harra in 1986.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Donated; Nancy O'Harra; 1986.

Appraisal note

LDS cultural, social, and religious history (Collection development policy of 19th Century Western and Mormon Manuscripts).

Processing Information note

Processed; H. Christine Swindler; 14 June 2007.

Register of the Ebenezer Rand history
H. Christine Swindler, Karen Glenn, student processors; John M. Murphy, curator
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States