Benjamin Thomas Clark 1799-1867
Benjamin Thomas Clark was born 20 February 1799 in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England to Thomas Benjamin Clark and Elizabeth Eusden Bell. He was the fourth of five children and the only boy. His siblings were Elizabeth, Martha, Frances and Sarah.
Cambridge was a major university town filled with many centuries of historical events. The earliest authenticated fact in its history is its settlement by the Danes, in 871. William the Conqueror built a castle at Cambridge. Through the years it has changed hands according to whichever conqueror came through. It has also suffered several times from natural calamities. In 1174, the church of the Holy Trinity was destroyed by fire and most of the other churches injured. In 1294 another fire destroyed St. Mary's church and many of the adjoining houses. In 1630 the plague raged so violently that the university commencement was postponed till October.
It is a large town containing fourteen parishes. Benjamin's father was an office clerk at one of the many business office located in town. Benjamin was a member of a Methodist congregation where he was choirmaster.
Romantically in love with Ann Shuker he had her initials A. S. Tattooed over his heart. And at age 21 he married Ann Leaford Shuker at the Holy Sepulcher Church in Cambridge on 25 September 1820. Their first son, Thomas Benjamin, was born 23 November 1820 and was baptized at three weeks old at St. Peter's Church in Cambridge. They were living on Castle Street. Joseph John was born 4 Apr 1822 also in Cambridge and was baptized 25 days later at St. Giles Church. At the time of his baptism they were living at Wrays Lane, Castle End, Cambridge. A daughter Elizabeth was baptized on 21 October 1823 and her father was according to the baptism records working as a servant in one of the homes. A son, John (13 Oct 1825), was baptized at St. Clements Church and died shortly thereafter. Benjamin was working then as a postal boy.
Daughter Ann was born (15 Aug 1826) and baptized 21 days later at St. Giles Church while her family lived at Gloucester Lane. Another Daughter Frances was born 3 April 1828 and baptized 12 days later at St. Giles Church. They were then living on Wray's Lane. Charles Jonas, born 20 September 1830 and baptized 21 days later. They were living on Gloucester Lane at the time. After Charles, came Martha (18 Jan 1832), William Bell (6 Aug 1834) and Benjamin Thomas (2 Feb 1836).
In 1837/8 they moved the family to Chesterton, Cambridge, England just one and one-fourth miles northeast of Cambridge. It was smaller town and the remains of Cambridge Castle are in this parish with the river Cam running through it. It was surely a relief to move out of the city into relative country. Benjamin took a job there working in a brickyard as a brick burner and they took up residence at Johnson's Hall (1841 Census). They had two more children there: Susannah Shuker (15 June 1838) and Caroline (28 April 1845).
His wife Ann died in June 1848 and was buried at Tulborn, Cambridgeshire, England. Benjamin was left with seven children still living at home. About this time, Benjamin learned of a new religion, which was causing quite a stir among the people. The Church of Jesus Christ "The Mormon's" made its way into Benjamin's life and on 26 December 1849 he was baptized a member. Probably the concept of eternal marriage and forever a family made an important impression on him as he had just lost his wife.
On June 25 1850 Benjamin married again to Ann Southwell Seymour, a widow. She had been married to William Seymour and had one child, Charles William Seymour. She became a dressmaker after her first husband died and continued in this after she and Benjamin were married. They had three children together. The first was named Lorenzo Southwell (14 May 1852) born in Chesterton.
They decided it was time to immigrate to America and join the other Saints in the Utah valley. On 23 January 1853 they left Liverpool, England on the ship "Golconda" along with 321 other people for America. Traveling together were Benjamin and his wife Ann, his son Joseph and his wife Ann, his daughter Elizabeth with her husband George Handle and small daughter Elizabeth (1 year), his daughter Ann and her husband Joseph Owen Onion Clark with their daughter Mary Ann (5 years old) and son George (3 years old), his son Benjamin (16 yrs), daughters Susan (12 yrs), Caroline (7 yrs), Ann's son Charles William (12 yrs) and their new son Lorenzo now 5 months old.
After six weeks on the ocean the Golconda arrived at the mouth of the Mississippi River. There they waited for twelve days before a steam tug could tow her to New Orleans, Louisiana and they could disembark on 26 March, 1853. They came up the Missouri River by steamer to Koebuk, Iowa where they joined the Cyrus H. Wheelock Wagon train heading west. They left Iowa with 400 people and 52 wagons on 1 June 1853. They again camped near the Missouri River 45 days and finally on 11 July they left for the Great Salt Lake Valley.
Upon arriving in Salt Lake on 6 October 1853 they spent the first winter in a dugout in the banks of the gulch made by Parley’s stream in the vicinity of the present Sugar House district. The next year Benjamin purchased ten acres of small farm land in the Big Field Survey and built a large commodious adobe dwelling. These are now Eleventh East and Highland Drive. Homemade furniture was provided for needs and comfort. Benjamin brought with him a chest of the finest carpenter tools available. He was skilled in making brick and tile and knowledge of veterinary care. He followed all three of these trades and as a landholder be became a farmer. He was always devoted to his family and had brought as many from England as would come. The whole family lived together in the large adobe dwelling until the married couples could get a start and set up housekeeping independently. They were a musical family and entertaining and happy with each other. Immigrants from England, whom they had never seen before were welcome in this spacious home as if they were dear old friends. He and Ann were endowed and sealed in the Endowment House on 11 October 1855.
On 28 June 1857 he entered a polygamist marriage with Ruth Butterworth Briggs. Ruth was born 23 April 1817 in Middleton, Lancashire, England, was converted and joined the LDS Church in 1840 during the proselyting mission of the twelve apostles. Ruth and her husband John Briggs immigrated to America and crossed the plains with the Edward Martin Handcart Company (5th Company) in 1856. Their family consisted of seven children. Due to a late start across the American plains, the company was caught in early winter snows and almost all perished before they could reach the safety of the Salt Lake Valley. John Brigg’s died in that terrible tragedy at Devil’s Gate, Wyoming on the 3 November 1856 just a few days after Captain Grant’s advance rescue party came to their assistance. Two of the children also perished on the trail before arriving in Salt Lake City. (Thomas age 13 on 11 November near Split Rock, Wyoming and Mary age 7 on 29 November in the Wasatch mountains, just one day before the company’s arrival in the Salt Lake Valley. Ruth now faced a terrible dilemma with five surviving children probably with permanent damage from the freezing conditions they had experienced and no husband to support the family in this new desert environment. It was common practice after this tragedy for Church authorities to ask faithful and established LDS men to take the widows and orphans into polygamous unions. It was not long before Benjamin was asked to take Ruth as a third wife. To them one daughter, Lavina Alice was born in 1858. Ruth died two years later on 4 August 1860 at age 43, perhaps as a consequence of her ordeal on the plains as so many like her ultimately did. Ann Southwell may have taken Ruth’s children into her care at this time. What a mixture of families this must have been. In 1858 he took up farming, raising stock and building homes in Spanish Fork.
He also married Martha Larkins on 3 March 1866 in Salt Lake. She was born in Cambridge, England and was 44 years old, but little is known of her life. No mention of any children in this union.
Benjamin Thomas Clark died just a year and a half after this last marriage on 4 Sep/Nov 1867 and was buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery, Salt Lake City, Utah. (E-6-3 N1/2. Also buried in that plot are Ann Southwell Seymour Clark born 18 Sep 1815, died 7 Jun 1897 and Emma Briggs, born 8 Aug 1855, died 20 Oct 1869, daughter of his third wife. Emma’s mother and father are buried elsewhere and were not living at the time of her death.