Sunday, August 19, 2012

Elizabeth Simpson of England, twice-widowed, crossed the American West on foot

Elizabeth Simpson was born in Bolton, Lancashire, England, daughter of Ann Briggs and Thomas Simpson, of the clockmaking Simpsons, inventors of the grandfather clock.  She was christened at the Bolton Parish Church on the 10th of February 1808.  The Simpsons had originally hailed from Yorkshire, but settled in Lancashire where they owned large clock and timepiece factories.

Elizabeth and her brothers and sisters were orphaned at an early age, and their childhood history has been lost to time.

Elizabeth married her first husband, William Haigh, in 1836, in England.  She bore two children:  Sarah Ann Haigh and Samuel Haigh.  Tragically, her husband died in 1840, leaving her alone with two youngsters.  Not long following the death of her husband, she converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), and was abused and persecuted by relatives and friends for joining the religion.

She met and later married another LDS member, Richard Bradshaw, on 11 March 1844.  Elizabeth gave birth to  more children:  Robert Bradshaw, Isabella Jane "Bella Jane" Bradshaw, Jonathan Bradshaw, suffering the loss of one son at birth.   Elizabeth lost her second husband to death circa December 1849 or January 1850.  The twice-widowed mother gave birth to another son, Richard Paul Bradshaw, sometime after the death of husband number two.

In May 1856, after much work and long waiting, Elizabeth and her children (ages 6 - 19) set sail aboard the Horizon for America.  The ship docked in Boston, Massachusetts, where she and the children boarded a train to Iowa.  It was here that she put her belongings into a handcart and began the long, 1300-mile trek to Utah, on foot, with more than 560 other like-minded individuals.

Along the way, they buried many of their follow trekkers, including children, made camp in the open, hiked through snow, forged waterways, experienced exposure, and disease.  They arrived in Salt Lake City on November 30th, 145 members fewer than when they started out.  Elizabeth and all her children arrived together and stayed in Bountiful, Utah, for six years, before moving to Hyrum, Utah, in 1862.  Elizabeth Simpson Haigh Bradshaw died there on 24 October 1872 and is buried in the Hyrum City Cemetery.

You can read more about this courageous and determined woman and her family at these links:

As told by Elizabeth's granddaughter, Sarah Astle Call

I'll Never Let Go

On The Road To Zion

Elizabeth's Find A Grave Memorial

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