Monday, June 14, 2010

Wessman 27: Elizabeth Baker Cripps

Birth date: 5 February 1801 Exton, Rutland, England
Died: 8 March 1891 Salt Lake City, Utah
Parents: Henry Baker and Mary Turner Baker

Spouse: Charles Cripps (a ropemaker)
Born: 17 May 1795 Coventry, Warwickshire, England
Died: 1 June 1870 Salt Lake City, Utah
Married: 13 Nov 1825 St. Giles, Camberwell, Surrey, England

The life of Elizabeth is a history of decisions. Elizabeth felt that christening of children was important. Because of this, she had her children christened at St. Mary, Rotherhithe, Surrey, England. Elizabeth and her family moved to Bermondsey, Surrey, England when their last child Donald Edwin Cripps died at about the age of one.

In 1850, she listened to the missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Soon she, her husband (Charles), and two of her daughters Sarah Ann and husband, then Elizabeth Mary and husband, were converted and baptized. Elizabeth was baptized in the "Old Kent Road" branch March 25, 1850. Her daughter Sarah Ann Cripps Hayward, Gammon Hayward, Caroline Cripps Billings and Henry Billings, after their baptism went to America in 1851 and 1853 with their children.

In 1851, the census of England showed that Elizabeth was living at #1 Silver Street, Rotherhithe, Surrey, England with her husband.

Elizabeth decided to leave England and follow her daughters and other members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to America. She wanted to come to a more productive country and leave the rampant poverty. She had also had five children die (Henry, Ellen, a stillbirth daughter, James and Donald) there.

She left from Liverpool, England, on April 8, 1861 at the age of 60 on the ship the "Underwriter" with her daughter Emma Godbe Cripps Hodges, her husband William Augustus Hodges and their oldest son. She left her husband Charles behind. It would be two long years later until she would be reunited with him in Utah.

Elizabeth was skilled as a nurse. This was a profession that the pioneers were thankful for many times. She was the nurse who delivered her daughter's baby in the wilderness outside Florence, Nebraska in July of 1861. The baby was named Florence because they were approaching Florence, Nebraska where they were to meet the wagons on the "Down and Back" teams from Salt Lake.

The trip to Keokuk, Iowa, was a very difficult journey for them. They had no wagon team so day by day; they walked by the side of someone else's wagon. Elizabeth had a vase that meant very much to her. It was her only possession from England. She refused to leave it behind. As a result, she carried this vase in the folds of her apron as she walked along with her pregnant daughter, Emma. The wagon master had told them that each person could only bring 20 pounds. This consisted only of food and clothing.

In 1860, Abraham Lincoln had been elected president. This election started a chain of events that would affect emigration to Utah. When the Civil War started, the Saints that were emigrating wondered if the war would block ships that were coming from Europe. Wagons and teams were difficult to get. Most of the Saints were too poor to buy their own wagons and teams. The church did not have the funds either, even if wagons were available.

It was in 1861 that emigration started using the "Down and Back" wagon trains for the hundreds of saints who were coming. On April 23, 1861 (the day after the news arrived that Fort Sumter fell), 200 wagons and 1700 oxen left for Florence from Salt Lake. Every ward in Utah donated a fully outfitted wagon and a yoke of oxen.

In England, while all this was going on in America, George Q. Cannon chartered three ships at Liverpool. One of the ships was the "Underwriter." He filled the ships with supplies, appointed L.D.S. officers for each ship and supervised the emigrants boarding and their departures. Elizabeth spent three weeks on a bumpy ride across England to get on the "Underwriter."

Three thousand saints (including Elizabeth) on the three boats arrived in New York. They were funneled into harbor barges that eventually took them to the Jersey City depot. They went Northwest to Dunkirk, New York by train and went west along Lake Erie to Chicago. From there, they traveled on the Mississippi River to Quincy, Illinois. Nauvoo (which was now deserted) was fifty miles south. Elizabeth said that it was [in] Keokuk, Iowa, that they stayed. When Elizabeth left Jersey City, she saw first hand part of the Civil War that was going on. Troops were guarding a cannon that had been captured from Secessionists. She learned that a rebel officer had been imprisoned in the train depot. Nearly every town and bridge they passed had a guard.

In Missouri, business was stopped and men that were armed patrolled the streets. The city itself gave the aura of being a captured city. Due to the war curtailing the Missouri river traffic, it forced the emigrants to overload the steamboats. No trains were running. If Elizabeth [had] been even one month behind schedule, she would not have reached Florence, Nebraska, in time to meet the wagons. Elizabeth stayed in a camp with a bowery that the Saints had set up for May, June, and July until the wagons came to take them to the Salt Lake valley. After arrival in the Great Salt Lake Valley, Elizabeth lived mostly in the homes of her daughters. She lived in the 16th Ward ... on 6th West between First and Second North. She lived for a while also in San Francisco.

[Her husband Charles Cripps emigrated to Utah in 1863 on the ship Amazon. Elizabeth was listed in the passenger records two years earlier as "widow." Perhaps she didn't know if Charles was planning to come to America.]

Her son Frederick George Cripps and his five children (Ada, George Charles, Henry, Frederick and Alice) came on the ship "Wisconsin," on June 5, 1880. Frederick's wife died in 1878 with their last child in childbirth in England, so he brought his children over so that Elizabeth could raise them. Elizabeth at this time was 79 years old and had been a widow approximately ten years. She was a woman of exceptional strength to raise her large family, then in her later years, raise five more.

She had a motto that said, "IF YOU CAN DO...YOU MUST DO...AND SHOULD DO." Some examples of Elizabeth following this motto in her life was when she helped others with her nursing skills, gained a stronger testimony of Jesus Christ and joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She also crossed the ocean, plains, mountains and rivers, going on with life while grieving the death of her children and husband, and then raising five grandchildren in her later life.

Elizabeth died 8 March 1891 and is buried ... next to her husband Charles in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Children of Charles and Elizabeth Baker Cripps

1. Elizabeth Mary Cripps
Born: 7 May 1826
Married: William Spicer
Died: 25 April 1898

2. Henry Charles Cripps
Born: 16 Nov. 1827
Died: 9 Dec. 1827

3. Caroline Cripps
Born: 6 April 1829
Married: Henry Billings

4. Sarah Ann Cripps
Born: 1 August 1830
Married: Gammon Hayward
Died: 15 February 1932

5. Frederick Cripps
Born: 11 April 1832
Married: Mary Ann Eliz. Hamblin
Died: 21 July 1916

6. Eliza Jane Cripps
Born: 26 July 1833
Died: 10 May 1935

7. John William Cripps
Born: 17 December 1834
Married: Mary Jane Woodward
Died: 27 February 1917

8. Ellen Cripps
Born: 9 April 1835
Died: as a child

9. Daughter Cripps
Born: 9 May 1836
Died: stillbirth

10. James Alfred Cripps
Born: 13 April 1837
Died: 30 August 1846

11. Emma Godby Cripps
Born: 1 February 1839
Married: William Augustus Hodges
Died: 14 February 1924

12. Stephen Baker Cripps
Born: 9 May 1840
Married: Ann Dredge George
Died: 4 August 1881

13. Donald Edwin Cripps
Born: 4 October 1844
Died: 1845 

Many thanks to Toni for sending this history by an unidentified author.

Photo of flowers on a vase from Photo of the sunset over Rotherhithe, England, from Photo of the prairie outside Keokuk, Iowa, from Photo of the Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja rhexifolia) in Albion Basin, Utah, from


  1. Hi Amy!

    I've been researching the Cripps family over the past few weeks and recently found out that Henry Charles Cripps lived a lot longer than a month as some sources say he did.

    He married Sarah Sidey in London and then went to New South Wales in Australia where he had 10 children.

    I've found Henry Charles Cripps' death year through the NSW BMD index which can be found here:

    He died in 1885 in Paddington, New South Wales, Australia.

    His son with the same name died in 1901 in Paddington too.

    Hope you are well.


  2. Wonderful! Thanks for that info, Miles. One of these days I'll get around to updating the Cripps genealogy, but until then I'll just have to rely on your work and visit your blog for the latest info on the family. : )