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ASHCROFT, Henry

ASHCROFT, Henry

Henry Ashcroft was born 30 November 1833 at Upholland, Lancashire, England. His father, George Lee, and his mother, Margaret Ashcroft, were never married, so Henry retained his mother’s surname.

The following is found in the L.D.S. Branch Records of Lancashire, now preserved in the Church Historians Office at Salt Lake City:

Henry Ashcroft, single (age sixteen years, of Roby Mill) was baptized 15 December 1849, by Peter Rowbotham, and confirmed a member of the church 16 December. He was ordained a teacher 6 March 1853 by Thomas Kendall.

We do not know much of the boyhood and early manhood of Henry, except that he was honest and hard-working. The fact that he joined an unpopular religion when but a boy of sixteen years, with probably no encouragement from either parent, shows he had a strong character and was sincere.

While freighting through Upholland, he met Mary Glover. She was born 28 May 1837, the daughter of William Glover and Elizabeth Naylor. Mary later became his wife. They were married 12 November 1854 in Wigan, Lancashire, England.

Together, the young couple had saved enough money to prepay their passage to the United States-this was seven pounds fifteen shillings, $38.75 in U.S. money. They came to America on the ship Clara Wheeler that sailed from Liverpool, England, on Monday, 27 November 1854. There were 422 Saints, under the direction of Henry E. Phelps. The company arrived at New Orleans 11 January 1855, and at St. Louis 11 days later.

The 12th of September 1855, Henry and Mary started their tiresome trek across the plains to Utah. Their company was the seventh of the season, and brother Isaac Allred was their Captain. The company was composed of 48 men, thirteen women, and seven children. They were fitted out with the following: 38 wagons, 234 oxen, one horse and one mule.

During the westward journey, Henry drove a yoke of oxen and a wagon for a Brother Williams, and Mary served as cook for the Williams party. They arrived in Salt Lake on 2 November 1855. A few wagons that were forced to stop at Green River arrived the 13th of November.

Henry’s and Mary’s first Utah home was a one room adobe house in Payson. Their first child, who was named Henry after his father, was born there on 16 January 1857. Subsequently, they moved to Goshen, where James Albert was born 6 November 1859. He lived for only one month.

On 13 April 1860, the first settlers of Hyde Park located at a spring of good water just west of the present town. They were Robert Daines, his wife, Jemima, and their infant son, Robert H.; Elijah and George Seamans, who were brothers; Anthony Metcalf; and Armeni Neeley. The 23rd of April the following arrived: William Hyde, his wife, Abigail, and their son, William; Simpson Molen and wife; and Mike Molen.

In May 1860, the James Mack and Henry Ashcroft families arrived. They camped for the night near the intersection of what is now called State Highway 91 and Hyde Park Lane [Center Street]. They made their weary animals as comfortable as possible, and Mary took a chair out of the wagon and set it on the ground for the chickens to roost on. The next morning, Simpson Molen went from the camp previously established at the spring to meet the two new families and welcome them to the settlement.

The land was not surveyed; each man simply selected a farm site and began to plow it. Plowing was very difficult as the land was covered with tall grass generally known as wheat grass. The soil, however, was very productive.

During the summer, Henry’s family lived in a dugout near the spring while he got logs from the canyon and built a one-room home a little west of the spring [about 250 West Center]. A son, George Franklin, was born 2 July 1861. He was the first male child born in the new settlement that was later named Hyde Park.

Inasmuch as there were no natural water streams running through Hyde Park, plans were made to build a canal and take water from Logan River for irrigation purposes. Robert Daines did the surveying with a square, a spirit level, and a long board. Henry was the superintendent of the work. He camped at the grist mill in Logan the winter of 1860-61 and built canal up the canyon from the mill to where the water was taken out of the river. The canal-the first to divert water from Logan River-was completed and used for irrigating in June 1861.

Henry was a public spirited man. He was a born leader and was considered the best man in town to induce others to turn out for donation work. When there was a public work to be carried out, Henry would go up one street and down another, early in the morning, calling and motioning for the men to come and join him in the enterprise. He and Robert Daines were the first block teachers in Hyde Park.

In order to obtain their blessings in the House of the Lord, Henry and his wife, Mary, rode to Salt Lake City in a wagon pulled by a yoke of cattle. They received their endowment 21 September 1861 in the Salt Lake Endowment House. The same day, they were sealed for time and all eternity by Wilford Woodruff, with President Brigham Young and Daniel H. Wells as witnesses.

One month later, Henry chose a second wife, Elizabeth Ann Barton. She was born 3 June 1839, at Pemberton, Lancashire, England, daughter of Jeriah Barton and Margaret Woods. Henry and Elizabeth went to Salt Lake City, where she received her endowments 26 October 1861; and they were sealed the same day.

Henry built a new two-room log cabin a block south of their original home by the spring [about 150 West 100 South]. Each wife had one room. Henry and Mary had three more children born in this home: Mary Elizabeth, Margaret Ann and Charles Robert.

To assist the needy Saints in their journey westward, Henry sent a yoke of his cattle and a wagon back across the plains to bring immigrants to Utah. As a consideration for his generosity, they brought him a stove. It was among the first, if not the first, to come to Hyde Park. It was called a step stove-small and low with a hearth in front, a little higher were two lids, and still higher were two more lids. This formed the steps from which it got its name.

Henry was always friendly and kind to the Indians. When his threshing was done, he let them clean up the gleanings; and he divided with them when he killed a beef. He bartered with the Indians for necessary articles. Once Henry traded with them for two buffalo robes they had tanned. Another time he traded for a gun that they said was not loaded. Henry took it into his home, where it discharged while he was examining it. The shot passed between Mary’s arm and her body. It was a miracle she was not shot.

In those days, the Saints in each settlement were instructed by the General Authorities to have dramas and other amusements for entertainment. In the field of music and drama, Henry was especially gifted. He was a member of the first dramatic organization of Hyde Park. He, Rachel Seamons (Hancey), and Eliza Seamons (England) received much praise for their stage work. Henry had a wonderful bass voice and sang in the choir.

It was about the winter of 1864-65, while working in the canyon getting lumber for a rock meeting house in Hyde Park, that he contracted consumption2 and never completely recovered.

In the spring of 1867, Henry and others were again working in the canyon. They came home in a drenching rainstorm. The other men walked to keep warm, but Henry rode and drove the team. That night, he shaved off a heavy beard and took part in a drama. The exposure of that day was too much for him. He again contracted consumption.

Death came 9 May 1867. Both of his wives were in delicate condition3. The funeral was held in his home. Many friends-white and Indian-came to see him and mourn his loss. Orrilla Woolf, who later became his daughter-in-law, remembers going to the funeral and seeing his second wife, Elizabeth Ann, faint and some men carry her out.

After the birth of his two children following his death, his family consisted of:

Children of Mary Glover:

  • Henry William – born: 16 Jan 1857
  • James Albert – born: 6 Nov 1859
  • George Franklin – born: 2 Jul 1861
  • Mary Elizabeth – born: 22 Aug 1863
  • Margaret Ann (Hurren) – born: 10 Feb 1865
  • Charles Robert – born: 4 Dec 1867
  • Children of Elizabeth Ann Barton:
  • James Barton – born: 28 Mar 1863
  • Josiah Emer – born: 7 Sep 1865
  • Walter Ottual – born: 14 Oct 1867

Henry was a man of grand proportion-large, sturdy and well built. He had large blue eyes, brown hair, and a pleasing manner. A written description must suffice; Henry refused to have his picture taken.

He was industrious, thrifty, honest, faithful, and kind. He left his wives well provided for at the time of his death. He had two yoke of cattle, a herd of sheep, a granary full of wheat and a large farm. He also ask his friend and block-teaching companion, Robert Daines, to look after his family.

In the Deseret News, dated May 22, 1867, Vol. XVI, page 168, appeared the notice of his death. In part it said: He was one of the first in settling at Hyde Park in 1860, since which time he has been untiring in his exertions to build up the place. On all of our public works and in all deeds of charity and kindness, none have stood ahead of him. A few minutes before he breathed his last, he called his family around him and gave them his last charge and blessing in the name of the Lord.

The following letter was written by Henry’s wife, Mary Glover, to her family who were living in England.

Dear Father and Mother, Brothers and Sisters,

I now take my pen to write a few lines hoping to find you all in good health. You would be shocked to see the death of Henry, my husband, printed in the [Millennial Star. He died the ninth of May. Henry was not weft all winter, he had a hard dry cough. Nothing seemed to move it, quick..consumption set in and took him away leaving a family to mourn his loss. He is a missed man in our settlement, he is a missed husband and father at home, he was respected by all who knew him. In his departing words he left his family in the hands of a well respected brother, told him to take his family, be a father and a husband, bring them faith to meet me in the morning of the first resurrection, for he has laid the foundation to build upon.

One of our brothers had a dream one night a few weeks before Henry died, thought Brother Asher was called on a mission, and he himself-had to go to the same place to build a new settlement, but it seemed to him Henry’s mission was to the spirit world, he had on a handsome suit of fine linen temple robes. He was also seen in a dream after he died by one of the brothers. He had a young baby in his arms which baby must have been mine that died. He told that man he needed not to have gone to the spirit world for three years yet, but he did not want to come to this world again, and he would not change.

Twenty loaded horse teams followed him to his grave. His spirit must have felt happy to have seen such respect shown him.

Isaac is farming our land this year, we have a good prospect at present. The grasshoppers are at work at many places. Isaac is about the same as he was in England, not much to get along in work or providing for his family.

Henry left his family plenty of wheat and property and a good man to control- it. He has thought all winter that something was coming, if the grasshoppers did not come, something would so needed to save plenty of wheat.

My children have had whooping cough nearly all winter, they are not well yet, it seems a long time before they get over it. Please send this fetter to Mother Ashcroft. No more at present, love to you all.

Mary Ashcroft

Although the mortal life of Henry Ashcroft ended with his death, his biography is not complete until we know the outcome of his dying request to his friend. The following is taken from Biography of Robert Dairies by his son, William M. Daines.

Brother Ashcroft became sick with pneumonia; and finding that he was about to pass away, sent for father and requested that father look after his family after his death. Father promised and faithfully carried out his responsibilities as best he could. About a year afterwards, he was relieved of part of his responsibilities when his brother-in-law—John Bloomfield, who was a widower-courted and married Brother Ashcroft’s second wife, Lizzie [Elizabeth Ann Barton Ashcroft].

Father learned to love the first wife, Mary Glover Ashcroft; and thus, she was a possible means of obeying the principle of polygamy. He therefore sought counsel of an Apostle and was assured by him that-even though Mary was sealed for all time and eternity to her husband, Henry Ashcroft, and would be his with all of her children in the eternal world-Father would be justified in living the principle of polygamy with her during mortal life, and Brother Ashcroft would undoubtedly do as much for him over there.

Both of the wives were happy with their marriages, and his children were integrated into the families and treated well. Henry was able to be at peace.

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