Monday, July 18, 2011

The Adventure of the Adeline Springthorpe Sparks Thomas Grave Marker

Adeline Springthorpe Sparks Thomas

Adeline Springthorpe was born in Leicestershire, England, most likely in 1826. (Many different dates are given in different sources.) Her parents were James and Frances Springthorpe.

At age 18, she married Elijah Sparks. Thomas family records note that Elijah died at sea, but nothing further is known about the circumstances of his death.

Adeline joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1854. After her mother died in 1862, Adeline left England for the United States. Her entry in the Mormon Migration database showing her voyage on the ship John J. Boyd can be seen here. Also on the ship was widowed Welshman David Nathan Thomas and his four children, Margaret, Isaac, Sarah and Mary.

According to family stories, the Thomas family and Adeline crossed the plains in the same wagon company. Adeline is listed in the rosters of both the Homer Duncan Company and the Lewis Brunson Company, but since the Thomases were in the Homer Duncan Company, it is most likely that she traveled with them.

At some point, probably after reaching Utah, Adeline and David were married.

David Nathan Thomas

The family moved south to Nephi, Juab County, where daughter Frances Ann Thomas was born. Shortly thereafter they moved to Kanosh, Millard County, where son David John Thomas was born. They remained in Kanosh until 1878 when they joined the Kingston United Order in Piute County, Utah.

After three years with the United Order, David received a mission call to Arizona. In 1881, he and his wife and two children, son Isaac Thomas, and brother-in-law John Springthorpe and his family, moved down to Arizona. Margaret and her husband Richard Price and Sarah and her husband Thomas Dyches remained in Sanpete County. Daughter Mary and her husband John Henry Beal seemed to be living in Pima County, Arizona.

David was a blacksmith, so he started a blacksmith shop in St. Johns. His daughter Frances married Marinus Christensen in 1883, and Marinus became a blacksmith as well.

David Nathan Thomas died in 1888 and was buried in St. Johns. David and Adeline's son David John died in 1890 and was also buried in St. Johns.

After the deaths of her husband and son, Adeline traveled to Manti, Utah, probably to do temple work, but before she was able to do the work for her mother or other relatives, she died suddenly on April 16, 1891, and was buried in the Manti Cemetery in a donated grave.

The Manti Temple

In the 120 years since Adeline's death, a lot of temple work has been done for the family, but the family records were not in very good shape, primary vital records have been hard to track down, the family of Adeline's daughter Frances Thomas Christensen did not know details about the family including Adeline's first marriage, and little was preserved in the family records about the Thomas and Springthorpe families in Wales and England.

This changed when Margaret Thomas Price descendent Helen Rigby began looking into the history of the family. She did a thorough job, traveling to Wales, St. Johns, and Manti. I got to know Helen when she contacted me for permission to use the picture of David Nathan Thomas from this blog. It has been a real delight to get to know her by long distance and to get to meet her when I was recently in Utah.

Helen had mentioned during a phone conversation that Adeline's grave in Manti was unmarked, so when I was in Utah, I traveled down to Manti with a friend and made arrangements for a grave marker. Originally, it was going to read "Adeline Springthorpe Thomas," but after meeting Helen and her husband the next day and thinking about the story she told about tracking down the marriage record for Adeline and Elijah Sparks, the stonecutters made a change to the order and it will now read "Adeline Springthorpe Sparks Thomas."

The marker is granite and should be set on Adeline's grave site within a month or two. In keeping with the look of her husband's plain grave marker in St. Johns, it is an unadorned memorial stone, and it will be placed by a local business, so the cost is fairly modest, but if any of Adeline's descendants would like to assist in remembering our common pioneer ancestor, I would appreciate help with the project. Thanks to those who have already donated!

I can be contacted at the email address listed on the blog sidebar.

December 18, 2012—Here is a picture of Adeline's grave marker. The picture was provided by a kind volunteer at FindaGrave.


Additional Notes about Adeline's Descendants and Springthorpe Genealogy

I do not have contact with many of her descendants outside my grandparents' family, but Adeline would have descendants through the following children of her daughter Frances Thomas Christensen and son-in-law Marinus Christensen:
  • Adeline Christensen Gibbons and her husband Andrew Smith Gibbons
  • David Thomas Christensen and his wife Iness Jolley Christensen
  • Marinus Elmer Christensen and his wife Hilda Garnatz Christensen
  • Jessie Christensen Morgan and her husband Harold Morgan
  • Francis Lee "Frank" Christensen and his wife Nellie Vanetta Christensen
  • Joseph Lawrence Christensen and his wife Susan Worthen Ellis Christensen
There is still a lot of research that needs to be done on the Springthorpe lines. It will be a couple of years before I get around to doing more research on these lines, but I would be glad to see any more information on the family.

The bit of the Minerva Teichert painting of the pioneers is from a photo of the painting I took at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City, Utah. The photo of the Manti Temple is from with permission given to use, share, and remix the work.


  1. Hello there,
    I've found a family link between Adeline's brother- James Springthorpe. He's my fourth great-grandfather and my great grandmother was descended from him through her own mother Sarah Ann.
    I came across your blog on Adeline and her travels across the Great Plains. It's such an interesting story and they must have gone through so many hardships.
    I hope we're able to contact one another some time.
    Hoping you're well, Tom

  2. Thanks for commenting, Tom!

    We really don't know much about the Springthorpe family in England, so anything you have to share would be great. My sister has recently started a survey of the vital records in England, and she would appreciate any information on your line of the family.

    Best wishes,

  3. Oh, and you can contact me at amyancestorfiles at gmail dot com.