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Lydia Forbush

Lydia Forbush, Norman Taylor, and Milton Smith

Norman Taylor, Lydia Forbush, and Milton Smith

The following is an account of a fascinating yet little-known chapter in the life of Lydia Forbush, the details of which are quite sketchy because of the obvious discomfort it has caused her descendants through the years. This information was researched and provided by Rob Taylor and Taylor Macdonald.

Milton Smith was enlisted as a Private in Captain James Brown’s “C” Company of the Mormon Battalion. Lydia’s brother, Lorin (or Loren) Forbush served in the same company of soldiers, as did Norman Taylor!  While in New Mexico, several members of “C” Company became extremely ill due to exposure and dehydration, and some died while marching from the Arkansas River in New Mexico to Fort Pueblo in Colorado. Sadly, such was the fate of Milton Smith. Three detachments consisting of 273 people, including “C” Company’s commander, eventually were sent to Pueblo for the winter of 1846-47. My belief is that Norman Taylor and Lorin Forbush left the Mormon Battalion with this group, and, shortly after the death of Milton Smith, both returned to Winter Quarters, with the tragic news of Milton’s death. The remaining soldiers, with four wives of the officers, continued west, and left Santa Fe for California in October 1846.

Of course, we know that these events had an important impact on Norman Taylor’s life because he was chosen in the Spring of 1847 to be one of 143 men chosen to journey to the Salt Lake Valley. However, less well-known is the fact that had Milton Smith not died in the Fall of 1846, Lydia Forbush would probably not have become Norman Taylor’s second wife (marrying Norman two years after her older sister, Lurana Forbush). Unknown also, is the relationship enjoyed between Lorin Forbush, Norman Taylor, and Milton Smith prior to Milton’s death. It is quite possible that all were close friends prior to the Exodus from Illinois, and that service in the Mormon Battalion was merely an extension of that friendship.

Lydia Forbush obviously had a strong attachment to Milton Smith because shortly after she was granted a temple divorce from Norman Taylor in the late 1880s, she and several of her adult-aged sons were sealed to Milton Smith in the Manti Temple [Taylor Macdonald has a photocopy of this temple record].  Norman and Lydia were sealed, so their children would have been born in the covenant.  Doctrinally and procedurally, she could have had her sealing to Norman cancelled and then been sealed to Milton Smith, but whether one can cancel the sealing of a child to a parent is questionable. In this case, it is unclear whether Norman and Lydia’s children will be sealed in the eternities to their mother or their father. Obviously, there was an estrangement between Norman and Lydia, and Lydia sought to resolve things by having her sealing to Norman cancelled.

Taylor Macdonald did some research on Milton Smith, and found one such fellow in Nauvoo who died at a young age. It is possible that Lydia had an attraction, perhaps even a romance, with Milton when they were young people in Nauvoo, but when he died, she married Norman. Later when things soured with Norman, she undoubtedly remembered Milton Smith and had herself sealed to him. It is evident that the Milton Smith to whom Lydia was sealed was dead at the time.


  • For information on the Mormon Battalion and a complete listing of battalion members, see Brian Cole’s well-maintained Web Page: The site has many interesting links to other sites. Brian has documented his primary and secondary sources.
  • For information regarding Lydia’s divorce from Norman Taylor see: A Royal Family by Jaris Taylor Elkins.
  • A remark from Rob Taylor:  Our family tie to Norman Taylor can never be broken (at least not in this temporal realm). Blood is blood, and he is our forefather. As I engage in this genealogy work my heart is drawn to my father Norman as strongly as to any other. More importantly, look at the legacy he has left us. We can learn as much from Norman’s imperfections as we can from his many unselfish acts in colonizing the Mormon west.

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