Saturday, April 11, 2015

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 13 - My Mormon Pioneers - Charles Coulson Rich - The Later Years

Charles C. Rich's legislative duties in Salt Lake City and his church responsibilities kept Charles's life full and added to his family income. Charles would leave in April 1862 for a mission with Amasa Lyman to Europe. They would return in late summer or possibly early fall of 1862. 

In September 1863, Charles was called upon to begin the colonization of the Bear Lake Valley region. He made two trips to the Bear Lake area in August and September 1863 to explore the area and begin plans for colonizing the area. In June 1864 the Rich family moved to Bear Lake. The photograph of Charles to the left is from The C.R. Savage Collection at the BYU Harold B. Lee Library Digital Collection.

In 1879, at age 70 he began organizing an expedition to build a Mormon community in Star Valley, Wyoming about 40 miles from Bear Lake. I would imagine that his decades of experience in planning & organizing large expeditions, as well as his knowledge of building Mormon communities would have make him invaluable. At around this same time, Charles was involved in the building of the Temple in Logan. He and the settlers of the Bear Lake community were tapped to supply labor and supplies for the building of the Logan Temple. This was a great sense of pride to the Mormon community. Charles and those who followed him were never idle for very long. They were always given new challenges and new opportunities as a result of these challenges.

Charles suffered his first paralyzing stroke in October of 1880. This first stroke affected the left side of his body and he nearly lost his ability to speak. As was his nature he fought to reclaim his capabilities of movement and speech. When news of the stroke was learned, Church President, John Taylor stayed in constant communication with Charles's eldest son Joseph C. Rich. President Taylor also sent for Charles's wife, Sarah DeArmon Pea Rich and her family so that they could get to Bear Lake and be with him and the rest of their family. Joseph reported to President Taylor that he had had a conversation with his father and that it had been decided that it was best if he returned to Utah for the winter. However, Charles was requesting the advice of fellow Church brethren for their advice in the wisest course of action and that he would abide by their decision.

So in early November 1880 the Rich family including Mary Ann and Emeline began their trek to Logan, Utah. They then boarded a train in Logan bound for Salt Lake City. Charles would spend the next for months receiving treatments and recuperating at the home of his first wife, Sarah DeArmon Pea Rich, the only one of his wives who still lived in Utah. Emeline wrote in a letter to Charles O. Card, (founder of Cardston, Alberta, Canada, the first Mormon settlement in Canada) she described Charles's condition as a gradual improvement in his limbs and appetite. She also said that twice a day she would get him to sit up in chair for two to three hours each time and that his speech was improving as well.

When Charles returned to Paris, Idaho in late January or early February of 1881, the Union Pacific Railroad Company provided Charles with a private car which would take him to Evanston, Wyoming. Upon arriving in Evanston, he was met by his sons who would take their father by wagon back to Paris. They arrived in Paris on February 22nd, 1881. Many of the settlers of Bear Lake were there to greet their highly respected leader.

Through the tender loving care of his wives, who made him as comfortable as they possibly could, saw little change in Charles's condition. Not long after arriving back in Paris, Charles began putting his affairs in order to the best of his ability. He struggled to pay his debts that were incurred from his illness. He wrote his will and left instructions for his funeral and burial. One source of strength during this period in Charles's life were the letters he received from his friends. One such friend was Niels Wilhelmsen of St. Charles, Idaho. Niels was in Scandinavia serving on mission and he wrote several letters to Charles in which he expressed his thanks for the many encouraging letters he had written to Niels.

It was also during this time that his thoughts turned to his family. He and his fifth wife, Emeline Grover lost their eldest son, Thomas Grover Rich in July 1878 when he was thrown from a racehorse. His second wife, Eliza Ann Graves had passed away in June of 1879 and his daughter Phoebe Jane with his fourth wife, Sarah Jane Peck died of typhoid fever in October of 1879. At this point in time, 14 of his children were deceased. His wives Sarah DeArmon Pea, Eliza Ann Graves, Emeline Grover and Harriet Sargent each lost one child either in infancy or childhood. His third wife, Mary Ann Phelps, lost four children and his fifth wife, Sarah Jane Peck, lost six children. The pain and loss of child is never easy but during the time period of the 1840's and the 1870's the infant mortality rate was very high on the western frontier. 

Charles would continue to have "attacks", I am thinking that these attacks were likely  mini or mild strokes between late 1880 and his death in November 1883. By October of 1881, Charles was completely paralyzed and confined to bed. These "attacks" would have left the state of his health in fragile circumstances in these last years. In April of 1883, President John Taylor and several of his church colleagues were in Bear Lake Valley and stopped to visit Charles and described him as being feeble. They returned in mid summer of the same year to find that Charles was confined to his bed and no longer able to speak. He lapsed into unconsciousness in November of 1883 and died on November 17th, 1883. 

Charles left specific instructions for his burial and requested that his wives wash and prepare his body as was the custom of the Church. He would have been dressed in the customary white clothes along with his Mormon Temple clothes. His funeral was on November 20th, 1883 and attended by many people from his community and the surrounding area as well as by many officials of the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints. He is buried in Paris Cemetery, Paris, Bear Lake, Idaho.

Charles Coulson Rich led an extraordinary life. A life that saw him as leader. He fought for his beliefs in Missouri and Nauvoo where he was a general with the Nauvoo Legion and again in the Mormon War of 1857. He answered the call of the Church for many missions that took him all over the Midwest, Utah, California, Idaho and England. These missions caused him to be away from his family from weeks or months to a few years. He helped to settle the city of San Bernadino, California and the community of Bear Lake Valley, Idaho.  He served as a politician for two years in the Utah Territorial Legislature for Davis County.  Charles lived his life to the fullest and with distinction, devotion and dedication in his belief of God, his family and the foundations of the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints. At the time of his death in 1883, Charles had been an Apostle in the Church for more than three decades and was third in seniority behind then President of the Church, John Taylor.

He knew the movers and shakers who formed and built the community known as the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints. He knew the Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., as well as his father, Joseph Smith, Sr and brother Hyrum Smith. He knew Brigham Young, the first President of the Church and answered his call time and again to settle and build communities in San Bernadino, California and Paris, Idaho. When President Young called Charles to go on a mission to England he went and spent nearly two and half years away from his family. The Charles C. Rich Family Association held a memorial hike and dinner in April of 2014 to honor Charles and other settlers of the Bear Lake area which also coincided with the 150th Anniversary of the Rich family's move to the area.

This is not the end of Charles Coulson Rich's story however, it will be the last piece for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge for now in regards to Charles and his family. I am currently working on several pieces that specifically deal with areas of Charles life that I have only briefly touched on in previous posts. These pieces will be posted in my blog series, My Mormon Pioneers at a later date.

Title: [Charles G. Rich bust portrait], Call Number: MSS P 24 Item: 149, Photographer:Savage, C. R. (Charles Roscoe), 1832-1909, Photographer: Charles Roscoe Savage, Collection: Charles R. Savage Photographic Collection, Original Publisher: Fine Art Bazar, Salt Lake City, UT, Date of Original: ca. 1870-1875, Electronic Edition File Name: 207_MSS_P_24_B2_F7.jpg , Digital Publisher: L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Date Digital: 2004-07; ( : accessed 5 Sept 2014) LDS Pioneer and Handcart Companies, 1847-1856 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA:, 2013. Membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830-1848 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013.
Charles C. Rich - Mormon General and Western Frontiersman, Leonard J. Arrington, Brigham Young University Press, Provo, Utah, 1974, pp. 293-296, PDF Download digitally imaged at _ Family Search_ ( : accessed 14 September 2014).
Nina W. Palmer, Compiler, Charles C. Rich and His Six Wives, PDF Download, digitally imaged at ( : accessed 1 March 2015).
Nina W. Palmer, Compiler, Charles Coulston Rich - San Bernadino Years 1849-1856, PDF Download, digitally imaged at ( : accessed on 1 March 2015)
Jeanene Watkins Scott, Compiler,  Ancestral File 4.23 printouts for Charles Coulson Rich and wives : Pea, Sargent, Phelps, Peck, Grover and Graves, PDF Download ( : 1 March 2015).
Find-A-Grave, database ( : accessed 5 September). 
Charles C. Rich Family Association, ( : 1 March 2015). 
Copyright © Dawning Genealogy/Dawn M Kogutkiewicz 2014-2015, All rights reserved.  

1 comment:

  1. This is very interesting to me. My great (4 times) grandfather is Niels Wilhelmsen. If you find any other references to him, I would be grateful to know the sources. It may be of interest to you to know that both Charles C. Rich's and Niels Wilhelmsen's great (4 times) grandsons have association in current LDS church callings serving in a stake presidency together.