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Picturing history: Leaving the San Pedro River

After following the San Pedro River north for about 50 miles, the Mormon Battalion camped on the evening of Dec. 13, 1846. That site subsequently became the settlement of St. David, Arizona.

On Dec. 14, the battalion then left the river heading more northwesterly toward Tucson. What was considered to be their final camp on the San Pedro was a site near present-day Benson, Arizona.

One of the founders of St. David, Philemon C. Merrill, was a member of the battalion. Years after the famous march, he returned with others and helped establish St. David which, according to tradition, was named after David W. Patten of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who was killed at the Battle of Crooked River in 1838.

Benson was founded as a rail terminal. It is now a city of roughly 5,000 residents in Cochise County about 45 miles southeast of Tucson.