This is a great family story about my third and second great grandfathers respectively, Edward Bunker, Sr and Edward ("Eddie") Bunker, Jr. This story was adapted by my father, Jim Hartley. It is very well possible my existence -- let alone my father's -- would be in question had Edward Bunker, Sr. made a different decision.
I am impressed with the mercy my great grandfather Edward Bunker, Sr. extended during a challenging situation, in spite of having his own livelihood and survival threatened. I am also impressed with his following of divine guidance, especially since it would have been easier to get caught up in the moment and do something completely different.
Below are my father's words:
Edward and Eddie Bunker: God Overrules When It Is Best
A thunderstorm assaulted the starless night over Clover Valley, Nevada. It was Bradford Huntsman’s shift to help guard the new settlement and its dwindling livestock. Huntsman feared that the storm would provide the perfect cover for the Paiute Indians to try to steal their cattle again. And he was right.
|Edward Bunker, Sr.|
1822 - 1901
Clover Valley was a beautiful little area situated in a small opening in the mountains of southeastern Nevada, barely across the border from Utah. The valley was about a mile wide and extended east and west along the Clover Valley Wash for some five miles.
An aggressive band of Paiute Indians roamed the area. Initially they were friendly and Bishop Bunker established a treaty with them. But, to be safe, he wisely instructed the pioneer families to build their homes in the shape of a rectangular fort. Their log houses were constructed side-by-side in two parallel, facing rows. Protecting one end was a school house and at the other end a sturdy corral. The corral was made of long sticks and branches that were skillfully woven closely together and interlocked. They called it a “rip-gut” fence. All the livestock were brought into the corral each night. On the range or in the corral, the livestock was guarded night and day. Despite their efforts, during the winter and spring of 1864, the Paiutes found ways to steal more than 70 head of cattle.
The thunderstorm that summer night made the livestock—and Bradford Huntsman—nervous. A flash of lightening suddenly revealed an Indian crouched in a corner of the corral with his bow drawn ready to shoot. But, Huntsman fired first. When the sun rose the next morning, the settlers found the Indian dead with a bullet hole through his heart. Huntsman had most likely saved all of their livestock and his own life.
Not long thereafter, a posse of miners came to Clover Valley from Pahranagat Valley 40 miles to the west. Indians had murdered one of their crew. The miners had captured and killed four Indians they claimed were part of the raiding party that had murdered their man. One of them was Bushhead, a Clover Valley Paiute, whom they hanged when they caught him. The posse wanted the settlers in Clover Valley to join the miners in an attack on the Indian encampment in the mountains southeast of Pahranagat Valley. But, Bishop Bunker and the other settlers refused to participate.
On August 24th, 1864, Bishop Bunker sent a letter to Apostle Erastus Snow, who was serving as the president of the St. George Stake, informing him of the situation with the Indians. In response, President Snow recommended a policy of not taking any Indians as prisoners, but, instead, killing any thieves caught in the act. President Snow then tempered his recommendation with a noteworthy addendum: “I hope, however, that God will overrule if for the best.”
Once when Bishop Bunker visited Clover Valley, Indians again attempted to steal some cattle. While chasing the would-be thieves, guards caught a young Indian and they were ready to punish him, probably according to President Snow’s policy. Bishop Bunker intervened. “No, he is only a boy. You scare him good and plenty, then let him go.” In this case, Bishop Bunker sensed that God had overruled. The boy was set free without any harm.
|Edward Bunker, Jr.|
1847 - 1915
On one of those 75 mile freight trips, Eddie camped for the night in a mountain meadow and bedded down in an old rock house. In the morning, he was met by an Indian war party hungry for blood. But, upon seeing Eddie, the chief hesitated. He asked, “You are Edward Bunker’s son?” “Yes.” “Well you hitch up and go on. The people at the Clover Valley Fort had caught my boy trying to steal cattle. They wanted to punish him much. But Edward Bunker saved my son, I’ll save his. You hitch up and go on.” God had again overruled.
Edward Sr. and Eddie, Jr. led extraordinary pioneer lives. What a great blessing it was for them—as it is for all of us—that God overrules when it is best.
Adapted by James E. Hartley from the Edward Bunker Family Association’s Bunker Family History, Vol. 1, 1957 (edited by Josephine B. Walker, Delta, Utah); Gaylen K. Bunker’s Edward Bunker, A Study in Commitment and Leadership (2nd Edition, 2011); FamilySearch, and various non-family historical resources.