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Marker honoring pioneers in Iowa dedicated

A new marker was dedicated Aug. 5 which honors Iowaville, an Iowa town that no longer exists, as well as Latter-day Saints who once were there and several who were buried in the Iowaville Cemetery.

Albert and Tamma Durfee Miner were among thousands of Saints who left Nauvoo in 1846 after Brigham Young's February-March companies. Many stopped briefly at little settlements beside the Des Moines River, including Iowaville, for health reasons or to earn money to go west. Forced from Nauvoo in September 1846 the Miners buried a young daughter near Bonaparte and then stopped at Iowaville to work.Albert, born in 1809, converted to Mormonism in 1832. He helped build the Kirtland Temple. He and Tamma, who were married in 1831, survived the anti-Mormon persecutions in Ohio, and in Missouri, and then in Illinois. Tamma's father, Edmund Durfee, was killed by mobs at Morley's Settlement in Illinois in November 1845 - the only one of the Saints killed during the Nauvoo period other than Joseph and Hyrum Smith.

Despite the family's health troubles, Albert helped operate a ferry across the Des Moines River. Other Church members stopped there, including Joseph Smith Sr.'s brother Asahel; Asahel's wife, Elizabeth, and their married son, Elias Smith - Joseph Smith's first cousin. According to Elias' Iowaville diary, more than a dozen LDS families stopped temporarily in Iowaville between August 1846 and early 1851.

When Elias' parents died, he noted in his diary they were buried in Iowaville's cemetery. He noted others who died and were buried there, including Albert Miner. Elias' diary corroborates Albert and Tamma Miner's descendants' records which note that Albert died at Iowaville on Jan. 3, 1848. Tamma, suddenly a widow with seven children between ages 5 and 16, moved the family to Kanesville, (Council Bluffs) and finally in 1850, on to Utah. (Some children had distinctly LDS names - Mormon Miner, Moroni Miner, Alma Miner and Don Carlos Miner, named after Joseph Smith's younger brother. Descendants at the dedication included representatives from those four children of Albert and Tamma.) Elias Smith moved west the next year.

With the rise of the town of Eldon in 1870 two miles away, Iowaville slowly faded and disappeared from existence and from Iowa maps.

Nearly 25 years ago, descendants of Elias Smith's family erected a marker honoring Asahel and Elizabeth Smith.

This year, on Aug. 5, more than 60 Albert Miner descendants gathered at the Iowaville Cemetery and dedicated a large monument that honors not only Albert Miner but also memorializes and tells about the town of Iowaville which disappeared, and about the Mormons who stopped there. The marker, carved in Utah last summer and shipped to Iowa, culminated some four years of work by the Albert Miner Family Organization to raise funds for the marker, research historical facts, design the marker's text, obtain cemetery permission to erect the stone, and ship it to Iowa for installation.

Dr. Richard Miner, a Springville, Utah, dentist, who serves as the Albert Miner Family Organization president, conducted and gave the dedicatory prayer. BYU History Professor Bill Hartley, who designed and arranged for the memorial, told about Iowaville and the LDS families who were there. Reed Miner sang "Come, Come, Ye Saints."

More than a dozen local officials, residents and LDS missionaries attended. An Ottumwa television station covered the event and featured it during evening news broadcasts.

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