James & Elizabeth Walmsley Corbridge

On June 12, 1837 Willard Richards, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, and Joseph Fielding were set apart to serve missions in England. They disembarked in Liverpool and began preaching the gospel in surrounding areas. Located about 30 miles from Liverpool, not far from Preston, England where the gospel was first preached, lay the village of Thornley. James and Elizabeth Walmsley Corbridge were residents of Thornley and soon heard and accepted the gospel.

Elizabeth was baptized by Heber C. Kimball. (The exact date is unknown, but we do have record that an Elizabeth W. was baptized on January 22, 1837.) In 1840 the Corbridges left their home in England to emigrate to Nauvoo, Illinois.

At the time of their sailing they had three small children. Born in 1836 was Mary Ann (my grandmother, later the wife of Oscar Hamblin), William, born in 1838, and the baby John, born in 1840, who died while crossing the ocean and was buried at sea. James was a young man of thirty and Elizabeth a woman of twenty-four years. It is easy to imagine the transformation of thought and feeling that must have entered their home as they accepted the "good news" that the gospel had been restored.

The Church at this time as explained in the "Essentials of Church History" was having much difficulty, i.e. financial problems ~ dissension among the members, apostasy, persecution, and other struggles. It was at this time in 1837 that Joseph Smith was told by the Lord to send missionaries to Great Britain.

"The inspiration to send missionaries for the salvation of the church was fully attested for members were baptized by the thousands within a few months." (pp. 197-204) Many of them emigrated and among these the Corbridges. While the gospel was their "good news," it was in the lives of the Corbridges an heroic effort, a test of endurance, a test of faith, a new life, a new world, never a look back, a conviction into which they could jointly throw all their dreams, efforts, and aspirations for a triumphant cause. They must have made the decision to move with determination and courage. Their lives were interwoven with all the greats of the early days of the church. They were there, a part of it all.

In May 1838 Joseph Smith took up residence in Commerce, Illinois (name later changed to Nauvoo.) The area was a near wilderness, but within one year there were 3,000 inhabitants and 6 years later there were 20,000 inhabitants. The city was incorporated in December 1840.

Such were the circumstances when the Corbridges arrived to make their home in America. We know that in 1842 another son, James, was born and that he died that same year. We also know that in 1843 at age 33, James the father and husband died of cholera. The widow, Elizabeth was very poor and soon after the death of her husband she married a man by the name of Rogers, (first name unknown.) It is not known if he was a member of the church. Of that marriage was born to her a daughter, Elizabeth Vilate Rogers, who lived only a few months. Elizabeth always told the story that the prophet Joseph advised her to leave Mr. Rogers. For a period of time the prophet hired her to work in his large home, doing the washing and cleaning, thus enabling her to provide for her two children, William and Mary Ann.

We must remember that it was June 27, 1844 when the prophet was martyred. For her, the struggles for existence must have waged from one day to the next and in the ensuing months she became a part of the turmoil which took place within the church and among the people. She must have wept along with Emma and her family and felt the uncertainty of the times. In February 1846, the first members began the exodus from Nauvoo.

That same year prior to leaving her home she married John Walker, (52 years old) a widower and father of ten children, four of whom were married. (Read of John Walker and his own tremendous story and that of his children who took care of each other following the death of their mother.) John was twenty-two years older than Elizabeth. Not much is said about the home life of these two, but we know that they were together in Winter Quarters until 1850 when he left by wagon for Salt Lake City, Utah.

While in Winter Quarters, a son, Joseph Edwards Walker, was born February 1, 1847 and died two months later of a cold. In 1848 another son, Solomon was born. Following the birth of Solomon the Walkers moved to Oliver's Camp in Pottowatomi, Iowa.

After the departure of her husband John to the Salt Lake Valley, another son Hyrum Alonzo Walker was born in March 1851. (He would become my great-grandfather on my mother's side.)

While she was giving birth to this new son, John Walker, now in Salt Lake City, was taking himself a third wife, twenty year old Carolina Luce. He simultaneously married his fourth wife, 40 year old Abigail Sanford. During this time Elizabeth was making her own preparations to go West.

The story is told that her husband had promised to send for her and the children. When she received notice of his other marriages it seems she determined to go it alone.

In about 1852, Elizabeth and her three sons, (Mary Ann having preceded her to the valley the year before,) William Corbridge age 14, and Solomon age 4, and Hyrum Alonzo age 2 drove by ox team across the plains with the Fullmer Company.

It is said that when they arrived at the Pioneer Park meeting place in Salt Lake City, John Walker was there waiting to meet them. As the story goes, John greeted Elizabeth with, "Hi there Elizabeth, I'm ready for you!" and she retorted, "You can go to H... I've made it this far alone, I'll go it the rest!"

Thus ended the John Walker-Elizabeth Walmsley Corbridge relationship. Going directly to Tooele, Utah she reunited with her daughter Mary Ann and set up a new home. In 1853, Elizabeth married another widower with a family, George Marshall; and by 1857 she had two more sons: George and Ephraim Marshall.

In December of 1854 her husband took another wife so Elizabeth experienced the life of a polygamist wife for the next two or three years. While dates are not certain Elizabeth seems to have made the exodus from Tooele to Santa Clara in Southern Utah with her daugher Mary Ann.* Mary Ann had married Oscar Hamblin (brother of Jacob Hamblin) in 1854, and the Hamblins were called to serve a mission to the Indians at Santa Clara in the autumn* of 1854. By 1860, her life was interwoven with the history of the people there.

In 1862 the Santa Clara River was swollen by spring rains and the town of Santa Clara was nearly washed away. All lost homes and crops and following a discouraging effort to rebuild, Elizabeth and her five sons, in company with Mary Ann and Oscar Hamblin, left Santa Clara and moved North to Minersville to settle.

Minersville was a new town and Elizabeth helped to lay out the present townsite and farming district. The two families lived together in a one-room log cabin for awhile. Their home also served as the school. During school the beds were rolled up and the room was cleared. Elizabeth's oldest son William stayed close by his mother's side through her many travels and trials. He did the work of a man at an early age. He built her homes, attended to farming and chores and helped to raise her four other sons--who all learned to till the soil and work hard. William Corbridge did not marry until he was 30 years old, but lived to father 17 children by his first wife and 8 more by his second wife, who took over the family after the death of his first wife. Elizabeth was fortunate to have had such a devoted son.

Minersville, Beaver County, Utah became the final home and resting place for Elizabeth Walmsley. She died there April 13, 1896 at the age of 80. As a postscript we must add that in the "Special Collections" department on the 4th floor of the Church archives was discovered the sealing of Elizabeth Walmsley and all of her ten children to James Corbridge on December 19, 1878 in the St. George temple.

I add this information to make a point. Here is a scene of a family together, a mother and all of her living children, (Elizabeth would have been 62, Mary Ann 42, William 40, Solomon 30, Hyrum Alonzo 27, George 23, and Ephraim 21.) This perhaps is the culmination of years of faith, prayer, and hopes of a diligent mother, and as we see that they must all have been worthy, "the proof is in the pudding," as they say. Each had met with church leaders and had been judged true and faithful. All being adults they could have declined this union, however, all elected to remain as they had been through their pioneer years-- united together.

One can almost feel the nobleness and great strength of these children. As we read the story of Elizabeth Walmsley, we can imagine mistakes and blunders, but we must not judge her by mistakes, only look on the perfecting of one's self and family. When Heber C. Kimball baptized Elizabeth and James Corbridge in England the mantle accompanied their conversion. Elizabeth could have turned back on the death of her husband James. She did not. Instead of looking back she looked forward, persevering and never giving up. She bore her part well as her life became a reflection of her resolute testimony. Could we hear it from her own lips, her story could parallel any of the heroic figures who with great energy and strong hands carved our western empire. "Sturdy pioneer stock" my father called them and to her we give a salute as we look within ourselves and hope to see some of the fiber that made her endure.

FOOTNOTES Even though several histories of Elizabeth Walmsley say that she left with Oscar and Mary Ann Hamblin for the Santa Clara Mission in the spring of 1855, it is not true. Oscar was called during the general conference of October 1854. The Hamblins left Tooele in the summer of 1855 and arrived in Fort Harmony in September 1855. She married George Marshall, a handsome man, on November 26, 1853 and had her second child by him June 5, 1857 and it was after that that she left with her five sons. Our information shows that there was movement up and down Utah by Mary Ann. On August 30, 1856 she had a daughter named Elizabeth (they called her Libby) born in Tooele. I've tried to disprove that, but in the hours of research can find no record of her birth so must go by the family records that she truly was born in Tooele. On May 23, 1860 both Oscar and Mary Ann were in Salt Lake. They came here and were sealed in the Endowment House and of this we have proof. It seems that this is the most logical of the times that both Mary Ann and Oscar were here for in the story of Solomon Walker he says that when he was 12 years old he ran to Salt Lake from Tooele to ask Mary Ann and Oscar if the family could go with them to Santa Clara. This then, in my opinion, was when Elizabeth Walmsley took her brood South. William Corbridge was almost 22, Solomon Walker was 12, Hyrum Alonzo was 9, George Marshall was 5, and the baby Ephraim would have been 3.

JAMES AND ELIZABETH WALMSLEY CORBRIDGE Written by: Geraldine Hamblin Bangerter October, 1983 Edited by: Julie Bangerter Beck Typed by: Ramon P. Beck Electronic text by: Howard K. Bangerter, 1996