Return Home
RICHARD ERASTUS EGAN





Richard Erastus (Ras), second son of Howard Egan and Tamson Parshley was born in Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts, March 29, 1842. He was five years of age when he came to Utah with his parents. During the move south in 1858, he was left in charge of his father's home with orders to set it afire should the soldiers enter the city. He gained some experience in handling horses and cattle when he accompanied his father to California on one of his livestock deals.

In 1858, "Ras" secured employment from the government as a subcontractor, carrying mail between Brigham City and Salt Lake City. The following year he went with Dr. Forney, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, who had been commissioned to make a treaty with the Shoshone Indians in the Humboldt area. After this treaty was completed, young Egan was ordered to return to Utah bringing five head of government mules. This was a long and oftimes perilous journey of three hundred miles. He was accompanied by one other boy and the only provisions they had were six quarts of flour. This scarcity of food nearly resulted in death for both.

It was about this time Ras Egan was put in charge of three six-mule trains freighting and carrying mail from Salt Lake City to Carson City, Nevada. His father had purchased a ranch in Ruby Valley, Nevada and also operated stores there and in Deep Creek. Ras hauled the merchandise to stock them. In the spring of 1860, he was hired by his father as a Pong Express rider, his run being between Salt Lake City and Rush Valley, a distance of 75 miles west of Salt Lake. He was then in his eighteenth year. The first mail out of Salt Lake City was carried by him on his sorrel mare "Miss Lightning," making the first station, twenty-two miles, in one hour and five minutes. The scheduled time for the seventy-five miles was five and one-half hours, although it was made once in four hours and five minutes when the President's message was going through - called by the boys the "Lightning Express."

In telling of his experiences as a rider, Ras Egan said, "At first the ride seemed long and tiresome, but after becoming accustomed to that kind of riding, it seemed only play, but there were times when it didn't seem so very playful. For instance, I was married January 1st, 1861, and of course, wanted a short furlough, but was only permitted to substitute a rider for one trip, and the poor fellow thought that was plenty. I had warned him about the horse he would start with from "Rush" on his return trip, telling him that he would either back or fall over backwards when he got on him. 'Oh,' said he, 'I am used to that kind of business.' 'But,' said I, 'Bucking Bally is a whole team and a horse to let, and a little dog under the wagon, so be careful.' So as a precaution, after he had tightened the saddle, he led him out about a quarter of a mile from the station and got on; when the horse true to his habit, got busy, and the next thing the rider knew he was hanging by the back of his overcoat on a high stake with his feet from the ground. He could not reach behind to unhitch himself. He could not unbutton his coat so as to crawl out of it, but he could get his hands in his pocket for his knife to cut the buttons off and release himself; after which a search was made for the horse in the darkness of the night. He finally found him and made the trip, getting a black eye for loss of time. He said to the boys, 'No more Bucking Bally for me'."

Young Egan had many harrowing experiences while engaged in his work. He also had several skirmishes with the Indians during the Pah-ute depredations in 1860. At one time he came upon a stage that he been held up and all the passengers killed and the horses stolen. As Egan pounded along the trail one of the raiders appeared armed with a rifle and bows and arrows and set out after him. At first, Ras rode just fast enough to keep out of gunshot range; then suddenly he turned and charged straight at the Indian who turned and fled. Another time his horse fell on him while he was crossing a bridge at night and he was thrown into the icy water, breaking the neck of the pony. Ras was compelled to walk five miles carrying the saddle and heavy express material back to the station where he could obtain another horse.

Mr. Egan married Mary Minnie Fisher January 1, 1861, just nine months from the day he took his first ride out from Salt Lake City. During the twenty-seven years of their married life, they became the parents of thirteen* children. They lived in Salt Lake City until after the birth of their first child in 1861. Then Ras moved his family to Ruby Valley and became a rancher. Shortly after, he was called on a mission to England where he served as President of the Birmington Conference. He brought his wife and three children back to Bountiful to live with her people, and another child was born while he was in England.

After his return, the Egans rented their home, and went again to Ruby Valley where Ras took up farming and stock raising until 1877. Returning to Bountiful, he engaged in sheep raising, being instrumental in organizing the Bountiful Livestock Company. For two terms he served as Justice of the Peace of Bountiful and in 1889, was made Assessor and Collector for Davis County, serving ten years in that capacity. He also served two terms on the City Council in Bountiful.

Two years after the death of wife, Mary Minnie Fisher, he married Mary Beatrice Noble July 10, 1899 in the Logan Temple. Mr. Egan was called and set apart as bishop of the South Bountiful Ward in January, 1893. He and his counselors Joseph Hogan and John Perry Benson, were ordained and set apart on that date by Apostle Abram H. Cannon. August 28, 1852 [date probably in error] marked the calling of the first missionaries form the South Bountiful district. They were Eric G. M. Hogan, to Scandinavia and John Perry, to Great Britain. Both filled honorable missions. Elder Hogan arrived home safely in charge of a group of Scandinavian Saints, but Elder Perry, upon reaching Mormon Grove, Kansas, in charge of a group of English emigrants, was fatally stricken with cholera and was buried at that place.

He was with his parents in Nauvoo, Illinois and went with them to Winter Quarters after the exodus from Nauvoo. In 1848 they immigrated to the Valley and located in Salt Lake City. Richard was baptized by N. M Whipple, March 5, 1857. In 1857 he made a trip to California. He was one of those who performed guard duty during the "move" south in 1858.

January 8, 1893 he was ordained a High Priest by Abraham H. Cannon and set apart to act as Bishop of the South Bountiful Ward, Davis Stake of Zion.

In 1905, he took his second family, also two married sons and families of the first wife, to the Big Horn Basin in Wyoming to establish homes. Soon after, he was set apart as a Patriarch which position he maintained until his death in April 29, 1918. Interment was in Bountiful, Utah.

*Note: Obituary of Richard E. Egan and Biography of Minnie Fisher Egan states she had 15 children.




Return HomeHOME