One of those Welcome to Idaho signs is on I-15 on the border south of Malad. Just up the hill from that sign, on the Idaho side of the border, are two graves, each with a grave-sized fence around it. Neither of the occupants of the graves were from Franklin, but one could be forgiven for wondering. The dying wish for both was to be buried in Utah. Oops.
Hugh Moon was the first to find himself permanently located on the wrong side of the border. Mr. Moon was born in England in 1815. In 1840 he joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and sailed to the United States. He was a devout Mormon who at one time served as a bodyguard for Joseph Smith. Keep that tidbit of trivia in mind.
He married in 1848 in Utah. Brigham Young had him move to Dixie in southern Utah to strengthen the church community there. Later he and his family moved to Henderson Creek in Idaho Territory. It was there that he died. He considered Utah to be Zion, and he wanted to be buried there. His family, doing their best to honor his wishes chose a gravesite on a hillside overlooking Cherry Creek south of Malad. The border survey would come later.
Hugh Moon wasn’t the only one who wanted to be buried in Utah. Jane Copeland Howell, born in Illinois in 1789, became a resident of Idaho Territory in 1868. She had moved there with her son and his family. They had lived in Kaysville, Utah for five years previously. Jane Howell had some affinity for Utah, though she wasn’t LDS. She begged her family to see that she was buried there, not in Idaho, where she had lived for only a short time. They did their best, locating her gravesite near that of Hugh Moon, probably assuming Moon’s relatives knew what they were doing. Again, the border survey proved them wrong.
There is something of an urban legend attached to the graves. As is often the case with such things, there is a nubbin of truth to the story. The legend has it that the two graves belonged to bodyguards of Brigham Young, who inexplicably hated Utah so much that they asked to be buried in Idaho. The truth nubbin was that Hugh Moon was the bodyguard of a church leader, Joseph Smith.
If there’s a moral to this story, it’s probably one that would rarely be useful today: Make sure the survey is complete before you commit to eternity in Utah.
Thanks to Monte Layton who first passed on this story to me.