In writing this sketch, Grampa Bill feels like one
of the proverbial blind men describing the elephant. There are a number
of snippets of data about Brother Badlam... enough for ideas to be formed,
for conclusions to be drawn... but do they provide a proper portrait of
the man? The reader may decide and Grampa Bill earnestly solicits additional
information which may fill out or correct this sketch. With that caveat
planted in the reader's mind, let us continue.
Alexander Badlam seems to be a man who could handle
hardship, persecutions, and ill fortune with grace and faith. He seems
unable to handle wealth and success but to have succumbed somewhat to the
enticings of the world later in his life.
Alexander Badlam was born November 28, 1809, possibly
in Dorchester, Massachusetts, to Ezra Badlam and his wife Mary Lovis. Alexander
was the fifth of their six children and was named after his older brother
born five years earlier who lived but one year. He was married about 1833
in Maine to Mary Ann Brannan. We might speculate why he was in Maine. Was
he, perhaps, a very early convert who had traveled to Maine on a mission?
One's marriage is always a signal event in life but in this case, it is
her family who seems to have been a major determinant in Alexander's later
Alexander and Mary Ann had at least three children.
The Ancestral File does not list any children of their union but
the Times and Seasons reported in its obituary as follows: "In this
city Nov. 24th  Emma daughter of Alexander and Mary Ann Badlam, aged
one year." A later reference [see below] refers to a photograph taken by
another daughter. Still another document obliquely refers to an Alexander
Badlam, Jr. Since our man was not a Junior, we might assume that he did
father at least three children and likely others.
Even if not a missionary to Maine, Alexander must
have been introduced to the Church at an early date, for by 1834 he was
a recruit in Zions Camp, the expedition intended to provide succor to the
saints in Missouri. At this time Alexander was a newly-wed having been
married less than a year.
The following year, in 1835, perhaps in recognition
of the faith and valor displayed on Zions Camp Alexander was ordained a
Seventy and called to take his place on the newly created First Quorum
of the Seventy, according to revelation, one of the three presiding quorums
of the Church.
He then seems to have settled into a productive life
not unlike that of his peers. He is called into numerous positions of leadership
and service, most often as a clerk for various conferences, and branches.
The researcher will find numerous reports signed by Elder Badlam, usually
as a clerk but occasionally as the presiding officer. He seems to have
been quite close to Lyman Wight for whom he often
served a clerk. He lived for some time in Kirtland Ohio, then, on some
occasion he removed to Missouri. There he suffered the depredations and
persecutions of the mob. Sometime after being driven from Missouri to Illinois,
he penned a redress petition seeking compensation for his losses at the
hands of the mob and the Missouri Militia. Like others, he never received
In Nauvoo, he was commissioned a Lieutenant in the
Nauvoo Legion at the organizing court martial. It is not clear whether
he had a military background prior to his commission.
Further evidence of Elder Badlam's reputation and
influence in Nauvoo is his call in 1844 to the Council of the Fifty, a
council of the leading citizens, the purpose of which was to establish
a political setting into which the Kingdom of God could be introduced.
The reader will note that this is somewhat different from the Church's
mission to prepare the world spiritually. That Elder Badlam was somewhat
confused as to the mission of the Fifty is his suggestion that the Fifty
take control of the Church after Joseph Smith
was assassinated. He was subsequently released from the Fifty in 1845,
then readmitted in 1851 and dropped again in 1868.
He seems to have migrated west with the saints after
the expulsion from Nauvoo, and there, destitute from the years of losses
and persecutions, he sought relief at the hands of his wife's uncle, Samuel
Brannan. Samuel Brannan had been an early member of the Church and had
also determined to go west with the saints. Brannan, however was appointed
to lead a company who would travel from the Eastern States by sea around
Cape Horn to California and thence to Utah. They arrived in San Francisco,
California shortly after gold was discovered and a number of them, Brannan
included, stayed in California to make their fortune. Many failed. Brannan
did not and became a leading citizen of the Golden State.
Thus it was to a rather worldly relative that Elder
Badlam appealed for help. Brannan gave him very little cash but rather
gave him some valuable commercial property and offered to help establish
him in business. As near as we determine, Elder Badlam never rejoined the
body of Saints in Utah. The only other two references we find are an occurrence
in 1889 when President Wilford Woodruff called upon Elder Badlam and others
to use their influence on a Senator from California to contact U.S. President
Benjamin Harris concerning the persecutions which the saints were suffering
at the time. The Senator expressed a willingness to contact Harris but
doubted that his intervention would be efficacious. It wasn't.
A final note might refer to Elder Badlam or perhaps
to his son Alexander Badlam, Jr. Badlam (whichever one it was) apparently
had become a naturalist of some note. He authored a book, Wonders of
Alaska. In the book, he took on a recurring legend of Alaska concerning
a mirage of what appeared to be a city floating on the waters. He printed
a photo taken by his daughter which purported to show the city. Badlam's
views were not universally accepted and it was late in the twentieth century
before science solved the mystery, finally determining that the "city"
was actually an inverted image of a glacial range.
Elder Badlam died November 4, 1894 in San Francisco,
California. Although he achieved worldly success, his relationship with
the Church seems to have suffered somewhat. Let us pray that his relationship
with the Savior was not similarly impacted.