Brief Biography of Milo Andrus (1814-1893)
Milo Andrus touched the lives of many people in significant ways and in a variety of activities—as a missionary, colonizer, leader of emigrant companies, church official, military leader, organizer of economic enterprises, patriarch, and as a father, friend and neighbor.
His life’s activities spanned the North American continent and the Atlantic ocean several times, in the days of ox carts and sailing vessels. He viewed life from the vantage point of the dusty American plains to London’s Westminister Abbey. In the course of events, he experienced both the practical and the sublime. By the strength of his body he conquered the raw, untamed wilderness; and by the energy of his soul he penetrated the veil of God’s presence to behold the visible manifestations of God’s glory. He was a leader of men who was addressed appropriately as Elder, as Bishop, as President, as Captain, as Major, as Chaplain, as Patriarch, and as Father.
Milo was born March 6, 1814 in Jay Township (now Wilmington), Essex County, New York to Ruluf Andrus and Azuba Smith. He was the tenth of thirteen children. In his early years he moved many times with his family but eventually settled in East Norwalk, Ohio. In 1833, at the age of 19, he married Abigail Jane Daley and was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His joining the LDS Church would be a significant event and would completely change the rest of his life.
During this vital era when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was being established on the earth, Milo participated in some highly significant early events. He was a member of Zion’s Camp. He marched for a thousand miles with this body of men from Ohio to Missouri in an effort to reestablish Mormon settlers on their lands in Jackson County. The members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the First Quorum of the Seventy were selected from among this group. Milo was called to be a member of the latter quorum.
He helped build the Kirtland Temple and served as president of the Florence, Ohio branch of the Church. He led this branch from Ohio to settle in Caldwell County, Missouri, a journey of about nine hundred miles. Later, while helping to settle Nauvoo and build the Nauvoo temple, Milo was bishop of the Fifth Ward in the Nauvoo Stake and an ordinance worker in the Nauvoo temple.
Continual missionary service was also a part of his life. This included a series of short missions to southern Ohio in 1833, New York state in 1835, Indiana in 1836, and Ohio in 1839 and 1844. While the Church headquarters were in Council Bluffs, Iowa, in 1846, Milo was called to go to England with Orson Pratt, where he served as president of the Liverpool Conference. During that time, hundreds of converts were brought into the Church. After serving as a home missionary in the Utah Territory, he was called to return to England, where he was appointed to be a traveling elder in southern England and in the Welsh principality. Later, he was called to be president of the Birmingham District, an area which embraced several conferences. Later, he served as a missionary to the Eastern United States. In 1882 he served as chaplain of the Utah Legislature.
Milo’s administrative responsibilities also included helping to lead many hundreds of Latter-day Saints closer to the main body of the Church. He was president of a ship company of about 700 Latter-day Saints who sailed from England to America, and a company of 900 Saints who traveled by rail from New York to Florence, Nebraska. He was three times captain of pioneer companies: 51 wagons and 206 people in 1850, 461 people in 1855, and 38 wagons and 620 people in 1861—companies which journeyed across the plains to the Salt Lake Valley.
As a builder of the West, Milo was part of major colonizing activities which extended from New York through Ohio, Missouri, Illinois, the Western Plains, and the Great Salt Lake Basin. Milo helped to construct the railroad beds in Echo Canyon and at the Point of the Mountain, between Salt Lake County and Utah County, and he helped build canals and irrigation ditches in Salt Lake Valley and other parts of the West. Members of his family made major contributions in extending such activities along the Wasatch Front and in other parts of Utah, Idaho, and Canada. In 1857, he also served as a major in the Mormon forces of the Utah War in the Salt Lake Basin. From there, Milo continued his colonizing labors into Utah’s Dixie, where he was a leading figure among the Saints in the area. He then presided over a colonizing mission in Green River (near the Colorado border). Finally, he played a leading role in the settlement of southern Idaho.
At a time when St. Louis was an outfitting center for Mormon migration to the West, in 1854, Milo was called to be the first president of the St. Louis Stake of Zion, where he performed intensive administrative and proselyting labors. He served as Bishop of the Big Cottonwood ward in the Salt Lake Valley. In southern Utah, he served as a member of the high council of the St. George Stake and played a leading role in developing and administering the economic system called the United Order. He served as a member of the high council of the Oxford Stake, in southern Idaho, and as president of the high priests quorum of that stake. During the closing years of his life, he also met the deeply spiritual challenge of service as a patriarch in the Oxford Stake.
Not the least important among Milo’s roles was his role as husband and father of the fourth largest family in Latter-day Saint history. In number of children, his family equalled that of Brigham Young. In the course of his busy life, Milo married eleven wives and had fifty-seven children. His wives and children made many great contributions in the colonizing and proselyting work of the Church.
Milo died June 19, 1893 in Oxford, Idaho. He was seventy-nine years old. He is buried in Holladay, Utah.