Orphaned and a sailor at age thirteen.
Rope maker.
Irish-Protestant Mormon convert.
Nauvoo Legion major.
Bodyguard to Joseph Smith.
Santa Fe Trail secret agent.
Wagon train captain.
Gold rush trading post operator.
Avenger of adultery.
Cattle drover.
Vital trail finder.
Utah War assignment agent.
Overland mail stagecoach driver & supervisor.
First Utah Pony Express rider.
Friend to Native Americans.
Husband, father, polygamist.
Security guard & confidant of Brigham Young.
Desert rancher.
Silver miner.


End Notes

Major Howard Egan—Faithful and Fearless


In the early days of the American West, Major Howard Egan (1815-1878) was a “frontiersman of the first order.” Between 1842 and 1878 he engaged in some of the most exciting and dynamic developments in early Mormonism and in the American West. He is best known for being one of the original 1847 Mormon Pioneers and for his Pony Express exploits. In histories of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Egan became part of a small circle of fearless and dependable men upon whom leaders counted to fill difficult assignments. 

Egan’s life experiences were wide and varied. And usually exciting. Not one to shrink from danger or duty he was often called upon by leaders to do what most could not or would not do. While his wisdom and courage were born of hard and desperate times he could still be playful and mischievous. Married to four wives within Mormon polygamy, he was only able to hold onto one. Readers will find in this book a carefully thought out, well researched, and engaging biographical history of Major Howard Egan.


Egan 1
Egan is a man who attends to his duty strictly and will never be taken or caught by surprise and will never be seen running from danger.
H.G. Ferris
Hancock County Deputy Sheriff
Egan 2
A stranger to fear.
Historian Juanita Brooks
Egan 4
A Western frontiersman of the first order...His involvement with George Chorpenning and the Pony Express alone would secure his place in the annals of the West.
Historian Will bagley
Egan 5
Stands out as one of the great names in pioneer history.
Joseph J. Di Certo, historian
Egan 6
One of Brigham Young's most trusted agents...If any individuals emerged as heroes from the Utah War, my candidates are Capt. Randolph B. Marcy of the Fifth U.S. Infantry and Maj. Howard Egan of the Nauvoo Legion.
William P MacKinnon, historian
Egan 7
A promoter of progress on the borders....His career was characterized by numerous acts of heroism and many were his hair-breath escapes. His reputation for being friendly to everyone was good, and his enemies in the territory were very few.
William P MacKinnon, historian
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William G. Hartley

William G Hartley-Signing

The late William G. Hartley was a retired Brigham Young University history professor. At BYU he primarily taught Utah History and Writing Family Biography. He grew up in Butte Montana and the San Francisco Bay Area. He received B.A. and M.A. degrees in history from BYU and completed doctoral course work at Washington State University. This book was his final writing project. Fortunately Bill was able to see it to completion before passing.

Hartley authored fifteen books and more than 120 articles and chapters, and received five best book awards and four best article awards from professional associations. He was co-editor of three Joseph Smith Papers volumes, two of which received best documentary awards. He was a president of the Mormon History Association. As a “trail junkie,” Bill was the founding president of the Mormon Trails Association. He served on editorial boards for the Journal of Mormon History and Mormon Historical Studies, and was a history consultant for the popular KSL TV weekly documentary program “History of the Saints.” In 2012 he received the Mormon History Association’s prestigious Leonard J. Arrington Award for a lifetime of distinctive contributions to Mormon history. His wife Linda lives in Saratoga Springs, Utah, and has six children and fourteen grandchildren.

Praise for the Author

“Near what later proved to be the end of Leonard Arrington’s Church History Division, when Leonard and his approach were under persistent attack from prominent detractors, Bill Hartley presented Leonard with a symbolic hard hat. With a touch of humor, that act reflected an attitude the staff shared with the Church Historian: that new construction can be hazardous; it is not for the faint of heart; and it is imperative to find a way forward together in spite of obstacles.

Bill’s own construction work in history, biography, and personal and family history has been solid and enduring. In terms of infrastructure, two highlights stand out. As coordinator of the LDS Church Historical Department’s oral history program in its early stages, he helped launch and manage what has become a major resource, assembled in a professional way that benefited from lessons being learned more widely in the Oral History Association. As president of the Mormon History Association he led out energetically in initiatives that would place the organization on a firmer financial and administrative foundation.

In contrast to the overall trajectory of his trademark work on rank-and-file Mormons was Bill’s intensive collaboration with Grant Underwood and Robert Woodford on what was envisioned to be the model volume for the core series of The Joseph Smith Papers.  Their herculean labors bore the brunt of an evolutionary process for the entire Papers project that ultimately stretched their effort over more than a decade and wove it into three volumes—Documents volumes 1-3 —that also featured the work of five additional editors.”

Mormon History Association Tribute to Past President William G. Hartley by By Richard Jensen, MHA president, 2011-12

“William Hartley, was a well-known and respected author of LDS history. He worked with Leonard Arrington in the LDS History Department in the 1970’s and was involved early on in the “New Mormon History” movement. As an LDS historian, his resume is long and impressive. He was an excellent choice to write a biography of Howard Egan. Sadly, Hartley passed away on April 10, 2018. Thus, “Faithful and Fearless” was his final contribution to LDS history and I am happy to report that it is an excellent swan song for this skilled historian and author.”

Andrew Hamilton for the Association for Mormon Letters


Diary Cover
Title page of one of three invaluable diaries kept by Major Egan.
Egan painting
One photograph. One Painting. That is all that exists. This book has both.
Did Howard hide the fact that he was Irish from his first Wife, Tamson Parshley?
Newly created map detailing Howard's U.S. travels. But where else did he go?
Pony Express
Deep Creek Pony Express Station. Established by Major Howard Egan.
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Praise for the Book

“One of the things that Hartley did in “Faithful and Fearless” was that he delivered a LOT of history along with the story of Egan’s life. Egan was involved in many of the important events of Mormon and Western history. This book could have turned into a simple regurgitation of known historical stories, but Hartley did not let that happen. Instead, he did a great job of telling the stories and histories of those episodes and events in a way that provided me with information I was not always familiar with and that gave me a feel for the experience of 19th century life.

Let me give you a sampling of some of the many activities and events that you will learn about when you read “Faithful and Fearless.” Early in the book Hartley provides details about the life of a 19th century sailor and then writes thoroughly about the rope making process back then (these were two of Egan’s many occupations). Chapter 8, titled “Dangerous Secret Assignment,” is about a special mission Egan received related to the Mormon Battalion. It was an unusual assignment.

Chapter 15 details Egan’s involvement in the Gold Rush of ’49. Howard was also involved in early mail delivery efforts including the Pony Express and this book includes three chapters (56 pages) of history on that organization and on those important events. Then there is a chapter on Egan’s involvement with the Overland Stagecoach. The Gosiute Indian War is mentioned in the biography as is the Bear River Massacre (which is appropriately called a Massacre and not a “Battle” — see pp 401-420).

Really enjoyable are the various episodes of humor from Egan’s life. I was not expecting these. Based on the serious expression on his face in his only known photograph, and on the story of how he killed the man who fathered a child with his wife, I assumed that Egan was a serious and a humorless man. However, as Hartley relates, Egan not only had quite the sense of humor, he also had entertaining events occur in his life when he wasn’t even trying to be funny.”

Andrew Hamilton for the Association for Mormon Letter


Limited first edition

“Hartley did his homework for this book, a lifetime’s worth you might say. His efforts are not only demonstrated by the fact that “Faithful and Fearless” is an informative, well written, and engaging book, but also in that it has 82 pages of endnotes and a 27-page bibliography. Hartley studied a wide range of original and secondary sources in the writing of this book. As he was researching, he consulted the work of many great fellow historians including Thomas Alexander, Devery Anderson, Gary Bergera, Ronald Barney, David Bigler, Jill Mulvey Derr, Rebecca Cornwall, Leonard Arrington, John Dinger, LeRoy and Ann Hafen, Maurine Ward, Will Bagley, and William Mackinnon.”

 Andrew Hamilton for the Association for Mormon Letters