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4 English families in Wellsville, Utah:

Darley, Thirkell, Woodward, Parkinson

Introduction

On July 20, 1840, the ship Britannia docked in New York, having made a six-week journey from Liverpool, England. On it were 41 Mormons from England, Ireland and Scotland - the first group to make the trip across the Atlantic to join their fellow Latter-day Saints in the United States.

Their destination was Nauvoo, Illinois, the town the Latter-day Saints had founded one year earlier, after being expelled from the state of Missouri. Read the history of the LDS Church at www.library.lds.org. The name "Nauvoo" meant "city beautiful"; the Latter-day Saints hoped that they had finally found a safe home in Illinois, in an area populated by relatively helpful local people. The church's leader was Joseph Smith, Jr., whose religious experiences as a young man had led to the organization of the LDS church in 1830.

Over the next 50 years, tens of thousands of people traveled to America to join the community of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, first in Nauvoo and then in Utah. They came from England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Denmark, France and many other countries. The majority of the LDS immigrant ships departed from Liverpool, bound for New Orleans. See the National Museums Liverpool web page on Mormon Emigration. Though some of the ships' captains were hostile to the LDS groups, most were impressed by their good behavior and enjoyed carrying them.

In that first year of 1840, approximately 300 immigrants made the journey, on three different ships. In 1841, over one thousand arrived on about 9 different ships, and most made their way to Nauvoo.

Of our four English Wellsville families, only the Woodwards made this journey during the Nauvoo period. They traveled from Manchester, England, to America in 1842, eleven years before the other three families. When the ship "Hope" left Liverpool in February, 1842, shoemaker Joseph Woodward was on board with his wife Margaret and infant son, James.

The town of Nauvoo became increasingly troubled as relations with non-Mormon neighbors soured. In a final terrible act, Joseph Smith, Jr., and his brother were arrested and then killed by a mob at Carthage Jail in 1844. My great-great-grandmother Betsy Barnes Woodward, who was born in Nauvoo, is said to have viewed the scene at Carthage Jail as a baby in her mother's arms. However, as Carthage is twenty miles from Nauvoo, I don't know whether this story is likely or not. In any case, she must have witnessed many things in Nauvoo itself.

Despite this terrible event, immigrants continued to come by ship from Liverpool and elsewhere, bound for Nauvoo. About 800 people came in organized groups in 1845. However, as the situation became even more dangerous in Nauvoo, it was decided that the city would have to be abandoned. Those who were able left Nauvoo in February, 1846, and most others had left the city by September. It was a very hard journey to Council Bluffs, Iowa, which became a temporary home for the Latter-day Saints. Immigrant journeys across the Atlantic were temporarily suspended; in 1846, about 100 immigrants came with organized groups, and in 1847 only about 40 came.

The journey to the Great Salt Lake Valley

In the spring and summer of 1847, the first groups left the Council Bluffs area in order to settle in the Great Salt Lake Valley. By the beginning of 1848, the Mormons' new home was ready for new residents from overseas, as well. In 1848, ships with a total of about 750 passengers arrived from overseas, and in 1849 that number increased to about 2,100. The usual route was from Liverpool to New Orleans, then up the Mississippi River by steamer, to St. Louis. The immigrants then wintered (or stayed longer if necessary) either at St. Louis, Missouri, or near Council Bluffs, Iowa (in the "Pottawattamie lands", or across the Missouri River in "Winter Quarters"). See wonderful LDS website about the Mormon Pioneer Trail, with interactive map at the top and pioneers' diary entries at the bottom of each page. Some former residents of Nauvoo, such as the Woodwards, stayed in Pottawattamie for some time before making their way to Utah. Betsy Barnes Woodward's younger brother, Joseph Barnes Woodward, was born around November 1849 in Plum Hollow near Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie County, Iowa.

Once in the Winter Quarters, the immigrants lived in dugouts or homes, worked, and farmed until they were able to gather the supplies necessary for the overland journey across the plains and mountains to the Great Salt Lake Valley. The Woodwards made this journey around the summer of 1852; daughter Rachel Barnes Woodward was born in July, as they crossed the Nebraska plains. Son James, who had come with them from England as an infant, seems to have died sometime after 1850.

The "Ellen Maria" and the "Independent"

The year 1853 found immigration from Europe continuing at a good pace, and the ship "Ellen Maria" prepared to leave Liverpool in January. On board were 332 members of the Mormon church. One was John Thirkell, a gamekeeper previously employed at Brigstock Park, near Northampton, England, with his wife Mary and five daughters. Sadly, only the elder 3 daughters would survive the journey across the plains. Also on board ship was Timothy Parkinson, a block printer in the textile industry north of Manchester, with his four younger children and his second wife Mary, the children's stepmother.

A month later, with another group on the ship "Independent", William Darley set off from Liverpool for New Orleans. He was 21 years old, and had been engaged as an apprentice carpenter in the ship-building trade near Plymouth, in the south of England. The Darleys were known as shipbuilders in Plymouth and also Hull, and are also said to be related to the Darleys of Yorkshire. See Genuki site, "The Darleys of Wistow and Buttercrambe" .

Upon arrival in Iowa, William Darley made the acquaintance of the Thirkell family, and he traveled with them across the plains and mountains. In Utah he maintained his close connection with the family, and married their 2nd daughter, Jemima, several years later.

  • William and Jemima Thirkell Darley family group record (coming soon)

Two eleven-year-olds

On board the ship "Ellen Maria" when it departed from Liverpool were my great-great-grandfather, Henry Parkinson, age 11, and my great-great-grandmother, Jemima Thirkell, also age 11. These two eleven-year-olds probably met for the first time on board the ship, but I do not know whether they spent time together. By coincidence or perhaps due to friendship between their parents, they both ended up in Grantsville, Utah. William Darley also went to Grantsville with the Thirkells, and it seems that the Woodwards must have ended up there, too. The Woodwards, Parkinsons, Thirkells and William Darley spent about 4 years in Grantsville.

From Grantsville to Wellsville

Due to the climate and other problems in Grantsville, the residents were advised by Church President Brigham Young to send a scouting party to the Cache Valley, many miles to the north, to see if they could start a new town there. This they did -- the party went north in July 1856, and was led by Peter Maughan (who had spoken to Brigham Young about Grantsville's problems). On their return, a larger group, again led by Peter Maughan, went back to the Cache Valley for the winter. In the spring of 1857 they returned again to Grantsville, and took back with them a larger group of settlers, including the Woodwards, the Parkinsons, the Thirkells and William Darley. Together they formed the town of Wellsville.

Later, when the settlers were encountering problems in the Cache Valley, John Thirkell, still wearing his buckskin breeches from his gamekeeping days in England, stood up and pointed across to the area where Logan now is (at that time not yet settled by any Latter-day Saints). He said that someday the Cache Valley would be prosperous; he could see many houses with thousands of people in them, and prophesied that a Temple would stand on the east bench, where Logan Temple now stands.These words of John Thirkell can apparently be found in the Logan Temple records, as the first mention by anyone of a temple being built in that place.

Four Wellsville families are finally joined

Returning to the two 11-year-old "Ellen Maria" passengers... by the time they were 18 years old, Henry Parkinson and Jemima Thirkell were both living in Wellsville and starting their own families -- he was married to Betsy Barnes Woodward, and she to William Darley. They both brought up large families in Wellsville, and their sons and daughters were good friends. Their families were finally joined in marriage in 1908, 55 years after the "Ellen Maria" journey, when Jemima's 9th child, Charles Darley, married Henry's 10th child, Pearl Parkinson.

At that time, both Henry Parkinson and Jemima Thirkell Darley were still living in Wellsville, now both about 66 years old. They must have discussed the dramatic turn of events. The 23-year-old bride, Sylvia Pearl Parkinson, traveled alone by train from Wellsville to her sister's home in Nevada City, California, to marry handsome civil engineer Charles Thirkell Darley, age 27, who had moved to Oregon some years earlier and, unable to forget her, had proposed to her by mail, enclosing a diamond ring with the letter.

Sylvia Pearl and Charles later married again, at Logan Temple.

Update, July 2007 -- Sylvia Pearl and Charles's oldest child, my grandmother, passed away this year, at the age of 97.  Three of their six children are now living.  

More details on these four families: Census Journey 11, Census Journey 12 and Census Journey 13

Favorite Wellsville links:

Archibald - Our Family Tree, by Lana Archibald. Extensive family tree and histories of the Archibalds of Wellsville, and others - includes several related Scottish families of Wellsville who had marriage links to our family.

Peter Maughan Family Web. Peter Maughan and then his son, William Harrison Maughan, were the leaders of Wellsville in its early days. The Maughans were friends of my direct ancestors, and were married to my ancestors' siblings. Rachel Barnes Woodward was the 5th wife of William Harrison Maughan.

Pages-By-Kathy -- great family tree website of a Darley relative.  This site is down, as of Sep. 2006.  

Darley Photography -- photos of the beautiful Cache Valley and surrounding mountains, by a Darley relative.

Tour of Wellsville at Kelvin Smith's Untraveled Road.  Click on the photo to begin a scenic virtual tour of Wellsville!

Special Collections of Utah State University - Photo of 1903 track team, including Charles Thirkell Darley and Photo of 1903 baseball team, including team captain Charles Thirkell Darley. Search the collection.

History of Wellsville at OnlineUtah.com

History of Cache County at historyforkids.utah.gov

Cache County at Utahreach.org -- select Cache County in the drop-down box on the left side.  

Photos of Wellsville at Worldisround.com - click on thumbnails to see larger images.

Sources (in addition to those linked within the text):

Timothy Parkinson and Ann Fielding, Their Ancestors and Descendants - 1st
Edition. Edited by Virginia Parkinson Darley Miller and Larie Goss Cory. Printed in Bountiful, Utah by Carr Printing Company, July 1972.

William Frederick Darley and Jemima Brown Thirkell -- Their Ancestors and
Descendants
- 1st Edition. Edited by Archibald E. Darley and Valarie D. McCracken. William Frederick Darley Family Organization, Centerville, Utah, USA, June 1965.

The early scouts/settlers of Wellsville named in the above book are: Peter Maughan, Zial Riggs, George W. Bryan, William Maughan, J. Tate, M. Morgan, Mary Ann Weston Maughan (who exclaimed, "O, what a beautiful valley."), John Maughan, Francis Gunnell, Bryan Stringham, D. Thompson, William Hamblin, families of some of the men mentioned, and later: William Frederick Darley and wife Jemima, John Thirkell, Timothy Parkinson, Timothy F. Parkinson, Henry F. Parkinson, James Cooper, Joseph Woodward, William Gardner, Cooper Cummens, Frank Gunnell, John Rees, Thomas Obery, George and Elias Edwards, and some of their families.

Mormon Immigration Index CD-Rom -- can be viewed or purchased at LDS Family History Centers. Published by Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Contains ships' passenger lists and voyage accounts for journeys from 1840 to 1890.

www.familysearch.org
Main genealogy website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

U.S. Federal Census documents, viewed by subscription at www.ancestry.com