Sunday, December 9, 2007

Thomas Parkinson and Mary Ann Bryant Parkinson

b. 11 December 1830 Farcet, Huntingdonshire, England
c. 12 January 1831
m. 12 June 1854 On a boat from Australia to America
d. 3 March 1906 Beaver, Beaver, Utah
Wife: Mary Ann Bryant
Father: James Parkinson; Mother: Elizabeth Chattle

b. 13 May 1826 Rolvenden, Kent, England
m. 12 June 1854 On a boat from Australia to America
d. 6 September 1905 Beaver, Beaver, Utah
b. 9 September 1905 Beaver, Beaver, Utah
Husbands: (1) John Porter; (2) Thomas Parkinson
Father: Samuel Bryant; Mother: Sarai Stapley

England is made up of counties. The county of Huntingdon or “Huntingdonshire” as it was known is now a part of Cambridgeshire. The major towns of Huntingdon are Huntingdon, Ramsey, St. Neots and St. Ives. It is largely a rural area. Reading a history of Huntingdon, it seems to be one of the crossroads of England. It passed from Anglian tribes to Danes to Anglians back to the Danes then to the Normans. One famous person from Huntingdon is Oliver Cromwell.

Our Parkinson ancestors are from the Ramsey area of Huntingdon.

James Parkinson and Elizabeth Chattle (or Chappell) were married in 1827 in Ramsey. They had four children: William, Thomas, Sarah, and Eliza. Thomas is our ancestor. Thomas was born on 11 December 1830 in Farcet, Huntingdon, England. Farcet is about 10 miles away from Ramsey.

James was a farm laborer and Elizabeth was a house servant and both were members of the Church of England when they and their children (ages 11 to 21) immigrated to Australia in 1848, arriving there in 1849.

They settled in Brookfield, Hunter River, New South Wales. Brookfield is 125 miles north from Sydney along the east coast of Australia. It is about 20 miles inland. It is a farming area and much of the travel at the time was done by river.

Not long after arriving, Thomas’ younger sister Sarah was married to a former convict. The marriage did not last long but resulted in two children.

In 1853 Thomas and his sister Sarah joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They were very active in the Williams River Branch of the church.

In 1854, just five years after arriving in Australia, Thomas and Sarah sailed for America. They left behind their parents, with whom they corresponded for many years, their brother William, who married and had a large family, the descendents of which still live in Australia, and their sister Eliza who married and went back to England with her husband.

The immigrating Saints chartered a ship, the barque, “Julia Ann.” Unlike the 1855 voyage of the Julia Ann (it was shipwrecked), the 1854 voyage was uneventful, except for the shipboard romances. Thomas married Mary Ann Bryant Porter, a divorced woman with four children, the day they arrived in California. Sarah married Charles Stapley, Jr., a month later.

* * *

Now, I will backtrack and discuss Mary Ann.

Mary Ann Bryant was born May 13, 1826 in Rolvenden, Kent, England. She was the third of twelve children born to Samuel and Sarai Stapley Bryant.

The name of their town was pronounced “Rounden” and it is in the white chalky southeast corner of England, not far from the White Cliffs of Dover. It is a good fruit- and hops-growing area but it was a difficult period for small farmers and farm laborers and a number of them moved to the better opportunities in Australia.

After the Bryants moved to eastern Australia, Mary Ann married John Porter in 1844. Not much is known of John Porter. He was an English butcher and an abusive alcoholic.

May and Ann John Porter had four children: William (1845), Elizabeth (1847), John (1849), and Samuel (1851).

Mary Ann joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and separated from or divorced her husband sometime before leaving for America on the Julia Ann along with her children and other members of her family. Also on the boat was Thomas Parkinson. By the time Mary Ann and Thomas reached America they had decided to get married. The records are unclear on whether they were married on the boat or right after disembarking.

“There is no evidence to suggest that the children suffered by their mother’s decision. When she married Thomas Parkinson on the same day that the Julia Ann docked at San Pedro, they received a kind and honest man as their new father.” (Parkinson, James Parkinson of Ramsey: His Roots and Branches, 66.)

* * *

Thomas and Mary Ann Parkinson and Sarah and Charles Stapley settled in the Mormon colony of San Bernardino where they lived until the settlement was called back to Utah in 1857. The Bryants settled in Beaver, Utah, and the Stapleys settled first in Cedar City and eventually Toquerville, Utah.

Beaver was a two-year-old settlement lying in a fertile valley at 6000 feet above sea level.

“Thomas and Mary Ann began homesteading in the south-east section of Beaver near the abrupt embankment of South Creek that winds its way out of the canyons from the east. Ditches were dug to channel the water for irrigation purposes. Several springs in the area assured the family of sufficient fresh, sparkling water to drink. The rocky land above falls away here to spongy meadows which produced good grazing pastures. With much hard but cheerful work from the growing family, the land was cleared, fences built, and crops planted. Soon, a frame house was built in which the family congregated for more than a century.” (Parkinson, 62.)

When they arrived in Beaver, the Parkinsons had six children, the four Porter children, and their two daughters. By 1868, they had 11 children.

“Mary Ann was a wonderful cook, utilizing her fireplace to its full capacity. One day, a traveling salesman came by and told Thomas that if he would buy a new stove like those that he was selling, that he would save half of his wood. Thomas replied with his quick English humor, ‘Fine, I’ll take two of them and not have to get any wood!’” (Parkinson, 63.)

They had a typical small-town Mormon experience, heavy on farming, a brief attempt at living the United Order, a trip by Thomas to Iowa to help bring pioneers across the plains, a trip to Salt Lake City in 1861 for Thomas and Mary Ann to be sealed in the Endowment House. Thomas served a term as a city councilman, and also as a counselor in the bishopric.

Thomas was promised in his patriarchal blessing that he would do temple work on behalf of his ancestors. He traveled to St. George three times with his sister Sarah to do temple work for their family. He recorded all the ordinance work he did in his journal.

Other things he recorded in his journal included his support for the building of the Manti Temple and his children’s tithing and debts.

When Thomas and Mary Ann reached their mid 60s they left Beaver for the warmer climate in Toquerville. Their son Reuben moved into the family home in Beaver.

Mary Ann died in September 1905 and was buried in Beaver. Mary Ann’s daughter Eliza Ellen Parkinson Tanner wrote a short history of her mother:

Mrs. Mary Ann Bryant Parkinson, wife of Thomas Parkinson of Beaver City, passed over the dark river after a lingering illness on Wednesday, September 6, 1905. Sister Parkinson was born in 1826 in Kent, England. Went to Australia in 1838 where she received the gospel. In 1853 emigrated to America and was married the same year in San Bernardino, California. She and her husband remained in San Bernardino until 1857 when they moved to Beaver where they resided until 1890 when they moved to Toquerville on account of their health, coming back some time ago. Deceased is the mother of eleven children, seven boys and four girls, sixty-two grandchildren and forty-nine great-grandchildren.

Thomas died six months later in March 1906 and was buried next to his wife. The Beaver Press published Thomas’ obituary.

Last Saturday Morning, Thomas Parkinson, one of the early settlers of Beaver, passed over the divide. The immediate cause of his death was catarrh of the stomach. Mr. Parkinson had been in failing health for sometime.
Mr. Parkinson was a man of great responsibility, having been a member of the city council several terms and belonging to the 1st ward bishopric for years.
Mr. Parkinson was born in Cambridgeshire, England Dec. 11, 1830, and from there he came to California in 1854 in which year he was married, moving to Utah in 1858.
He leaves a large progeny, 11 children, 63 grandchildren and 52 great-grandchildren. His wife preceded him less than 6 months, and Mr. Parkinson never recovered from her loss. In his demise the family have lost a kind father and conscientious advisor .

MSS 1565; Thomas Parkinson Family Collection; 19th Century Western and Mormon Americana; L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.

Monuments to Courage, A History of Beaver County.

Diane and John Parkinson. James Parkinson of Ramsey: His Roots and His Branches, England—Australia—America. Austin, Texas: The James Parkinson Family Association, 1987.

The photo of the Parkinson grave is from Find a Grave. The photo of the Beaver, Utah Relief Society is from Monuments to Courage: A History of Beaver County. The map of historical Huntingdonshire in England is from wikipedia and has permission granted for use. The picture of Kent (harvested fields) is mine.

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