Charles Henry Wilcken
From a Salt Lake Newspaper

Death of veteran Charles H. Wilcken
Worthy Public Official and trusted of leaders passes to his reward.
Won German Iron Cross
Came to Utah with Johnston’s Army
Many years watermaster
Pioneer Millbuilder

Charles H. Wilcken, soldier, pioneer, and trusted friend and associate of Presidents Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, George Q. Cannon and many other leaders of the church who have preceded him to the other side, died yesterday evening at a local hospital of general debility, at the age of 84. Until recently he enjoyed excellent health, but following an attack a few weeks ago his condition worsened steadily until yesterday, when he expired.

Mr. Wilcken’s long life was crowned with adventure and interesting events. He was a native of Eckhorst, Holstein, Germany, where he was born October 5, 1830. When only 17 years of age, he served in the Prussian Army during the war with Denmark over the Schleswig-Holstein Provinces, and was decorated with the coveted Iron Cross for bravery in battle. The decoration was bestowed by Fredrick William, the king of Prussia, himself.

He was the son of a prosperous farmer and learned the trade of miller, but filled with the spirit of adventure and to avoid compulsory military service under conditions which he felt would be distasteful, he came to America in 1857. A few weeks later he joined the Johnston’s Army, just then preparing for the expedition against “the Mormons”. His main purpose was to get to the great west and this appeared to him to be a favorable opportunity. He rose rapidly in the ranks and enjoyed the confidence of his commanding officers. Before the army entered the valley, however, he had enough of soldiering, came in advance of the troops and thereafter cast his lot with the people of Utah. Shortly afterward he was baptized into the church of which he continued a faithful and valiant member to the day of his death.

He took up his trade as a miller after settling here, being employed at the Old Liberty Park Grist Mill. He also built the first grist mill in Heber City, where he resided several years and took part in the Indian campaigns of the early days. Upon his return to Salt Lake he joined the police force and notably distinguished himself in the arrest of the negro who shot Captain Andrew Burt on August 1888, being himself wounded in over-powering the desperado. Later, he became city watermaster, a position he held for many years. During the last few years he has been a member of the Bureau of Information Corp on the Tabernacle grounds. He was commander of the local post of the Indian War Veterans. The last he was in the office of the Deseret News was when he came to request an announcement urging veterans to attend the funeral of a deceased comrade.

President Joseph F. Smith, this morning expressed profound grief at the news of his old friend’s death. In regard to the character of the deceased he said: “I cannot speak too highly in praise of Charles H. Wilcken. He proved himself true as steel in some of the most trying periods in the history of the church, many times he saved the lives of the leaders. He was an honest, companionable, trustworthy man. The community has sustained a severe loss in the death of Elder Wilcken.” He was always of gentle disposition, a man who made friendship a sacred obligation.

Mr. Wilcken is survived by 13 children, 47 grandchildren, and 32 great-grandchildren.


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