WASHINGTON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY (Washington County, Utah)
THE ISAAC BEHUNIN FAMILY
(early settlers of Zion, Utah)
BIOGRAPHYIsaac Behunin was born on October 20, 1803 in Richland, Oswego County, New York.
He helped build the Erie Canal and other canals during the "Canal Craze" of the early 1800s.
Isaac married Maribah Morton on February 18, 1824 and they joined the Mormon church i 1833. Maribah died on July 6, 1834 and Isaac married Elmina Tyler on October 1, 1834. Isaac helped build the Kirtland Temple and at one time was a bodyguard to the Prophet Joseph Smith. Isaac & Elmina followed the saints to Nauvoo, Illinois. After the saints were driven out of Nauvoo, Isaac & Elmina came to Utah, arriving in October of 1850. Isaac also fought in the Walker War of Utah.
Isaac was called to the Cotton Mission in 1861 and was one of the early settlers in the Upper Virgin River Area. He settled at Northrup at the forks of the Virgin River in December 1861 with two other settlers. They lived in close proximity to a large clan of friendly Perrusit Indians with whom they learned to converse. Isaac and his family lived in their wagon and a made-shift shelter while it rained for more than a month. The Virgin River became a raging torrent and washed away much of the farmable soil. In January of 1862, after the flood, he moved further up Zion Creek Fork, built a home, farmed, and was one of the first settlers of Springdale.
In the summer of 1863, he and his sons built a one-room log cabin on the east side of the Virgin River, across from the Emerald Pools near the present site of the Zion Lodge. They cleared some land and planted an orchard. They farmed tobacco, sugar cane, corn, and melons. They also maintained their home and farm in Springdale, where they spent the winter months.
Isaac is credited with giving Zion Canyon its name, when in the presence of friends and the grandeur of the canyon, he said, "A man can worship God among these great cathedrals as well as he can in any man-made church; this is Zion." A narrow canyon was named for him. After a few years, the small community of Zion was formed in Zion Canyon.
In 1872, Isaac was getting too old to work the land in Zion and sold out to William Heap for 200 bushels of corn. Behunin then moved on to Mt. Carmel where he lived out the rest of his life.
Isaac died May 10, 1881 in Springdale and was buried in the Mount Carmel Cemetery in Kane County.
REFERENCESHistory of the Behunin Family
A History of Isaac Behunin as told by Ira Carrell Buchanan and Eunice Munk Buchanan (Behunin) on audio tapes
McFarlane Memoirs blog: Isaac Behunin
Markers and Monuments Database: Isaac Behunin Pioneer
Untraveled Road: Isaac Behunin
Untraveled Road: Isaac Behunin and Meribah Morton Behunin
Untraveled Road: Isaac Behunin and Elmina Tyler Behunin
Find-A-Grave entry for Isaac Behunin
Find-A-Grave entry for Maribah Morton Behunin
Find-A-Grave entry for Elmina Tyler Behunin
CUSA (canyoneeringusa.com) entry for Behunin Canyon, Zion National Park
Life Story of William Henry Harrison Heap
by Laura Hanson Stock (a granddaughter)