Tamson Parshley, 14
Howard Egan, a sailor-turned-ropemaker, and Tamson Parshley met in New Hampshire and were civilly married in 1838, when he was 23 and she 14 years old. By the time of their baptism four years later, Tamson had borne two children. Later that year, they migrated to Nauvoo, where Howard became a police officer, enlisted in the Nauvoo Legion, and continued his ropemaking business. In 1844, Hyrum Smith introduced Howard to plural marriage and, shortly thereafter, he was sealed for eternity to Catherine Reese Clawson. Little is known about how Howard and Catherine met. She was the widow of Zephaniah Clawson, who is believed to have died in an explosion of a steamboat on the Ohio River in 1841. Given her status as widowed with four children, it is possible that her sealing to Howard was arranged by church leaders in order to provide for her and her children.
In January 1846, immediately prior to leaving Nauvoo, Howard and Nancy Ann Redding were sealed for eternity in the Nauvoo temple. She would later bear two children. In 1847, Howard was part of the vanguard company to the Salt Lake valley, which required several return trips to Winter Quarters to bring his family to Utah. In 1849, probably in Winter Quarters, Howard was sealed to Mary Ann Tuttle, with whom he had one child.
In 1851, Howard returned home from an extended absence in California to discover that Tamson had been unfaithful to him. Her affair with James Madison Monroe had produced a child, whom Howard adopted as his own, but Howard was furious. He soon tracked down Monroe’s wagon train, which was on its way out of Utah, and shot the unarmed Monroe in the face. Howard’s marriage to Catherine Clawson, Monroe’s aunt, did not survive this event. In 1852, after the murder trial, at which Howard was acquitted, she divorced him and was sealed for time to Brigham Young in 1856. Four years later, she died at age 56, having had no children other than with her first husband. Mary Ann and Nancy Ann also left Howard to marry other husbands in 1854: the former to Titus Billings and the latter to Alonzo Hazeltine Raleigh.
Howard died in 1878 at the age of 62. He was survived by Tamson, who died in Salt Lake City in 1905 at age 80. Tamson was the only one of his wives to stay married to Howard.
Bergera, Gary James. “Identifying the Earliest Mormon Polygamists, 1841–44,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 38, no.3 (2005): 1–74, 7–8.
“Egan, Howard,” “Egan, Nancy Ann,” and “Egan, Tamson,” Pioneer Database 1847–1868, https://history.churchofjesuschrist.org/overlandtravel/.
Hogan, Edward. “The Curious Case of James Madison Monroe,” Sunstone, September 6, 2013, https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/the-curious-case-of-james-madison-monroe/.
“Catherine Reese Egan,” “Mary Ann Tuttle Egan Billings Gardner,” “Nancy Redding Egan,” and “Tamson Parshley Egan,” Major Howard Egan Family Foundation, https://majorhowardegan.com/descendants/catherine-reese-egan/.