Monday, March 2, 2015

#52Ancestors Week 7: Benjamin Jackson - Where do the facts end and the story begin?

I'm still playing catch up for #52ancestors     So we'll pretend I'm writing this 2 weeks ago!!

I've been delving a bit more into my maternal grandmother's family the last little bit and came across the most amazing story.    Completely undocumented, of course.    I decided I wanted to see how much of this I can actually find documentation for.

Benjamin Jackson (from

First - the story.   I've seen this story several places on the internet - in several blogs, on, family trees, etc.  I don't know for sure where it originated - or from whom.     Since I'm not known for my creative writing skills - I'll just quote the story as found on the web site.    On the image of the document - it is attributed to Donald L. Haynie.   The link directly to the document is here.

"Benjamin joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints in the early days when the Gospel was first taught in England by Heber C. Kimball, George A. Smith, Wilford Woodruff, and others.  After he joined the Church, he was very faithful and, quite naturally, he wanted to "gather to Zion.".
Benjamin was a carpenter by trade.  He and his family decided that he should go ahead to America and, there, he would work as a carpenter to earn money which he would send back to England to pay the way to America for the rest of the family.  In 1849, he boarded a sailing vessel bound for America.
He was not heard from again until the late 1860s.  About the year 1870, he came into Nephi, Utah, riding a mule, hunting his family.  It was as though he had been raised from the dead.  He told the story of his life while he had been away from his family.  He had successfully crossed the Atlantic Ocean but, while crossing the Plains, he had joined a group of "Forty-Niners" on their way to California to search for gold.  He never wrote to his family in England or, if he had written, his family never received his letters.  And, he seemed to have been satisfied to live without his family for many years.  It is believed that he lived and worked in the area of Grass Valley, California, Near Sacramento.
When the Jackson family arrived in Utah in 1856, they took action to have Benjamin declared legally dead, since the had not heard from him for seven years.   His wife, Ann Grimshaw Jackson, was declared a widow.  Later she married a Brother Jenkins with whom she was living when Benjamin arrived in Nephi.
Benjamin built a small house on the north side of Nephi, and married "Old Lady" Scoggins with whom he lived for some time.  He turned his mule out on the range.  It is said that he left the bridle and saddle on the mule, so that it would be ready to ride in the spring.
Later Samuel and Hannah built a lean-to onto their home and Benjamin lived in it for a few years until 1880, when he moved to Salt Lake City to live with his oldest daughter, Elizabeth Jackson Kirkman where he died on January 4, 1887.  His Body is buried in Salt Lake city.
Benjamin's children were not satisfied with their mother being sealed to Brother Jenkins, so, on October 12, 1894, all of the children who were members of the Church, met in the Salt Lake Temple, where they had the sealing annulled, and had their father and mother, Benjamin Jackson and Ann Grimshaw, sealed to each other, and the children, in turn, were sealed to their parents."

In addition to this story - there were others that popped up when searching that mention that Ann, along with the youngest of the children arrived in America in 1856 aboard the ship Horizon and made their way to Nebraska.   One story mentions that the oldest son - John was living in Boston already by 1856 and that some of the family wanted to visit him before heading west, but Samuel, another son, prevented it because he was afraid some or all of the family would stay with John.    The stories also talk about how the family was assigned to the Martin Handcart group.  This is the group that was trapped in the mountains in winter and was rescued when Brigham Young received word in Salt Lake City that they had departed Winter Quarters much too late in the fall.      The location which seems to have the most information about this is   Though, again, there is no documentation or indication as to the source of the various stories.    The Find-A-Grave link for Ann Grimshaw Jackson Jenkins is here.

OK - now the facts - that I have been able to confirm:

  • 1849 - Benjamin Jackson came to America.     False.   Benjamin Jackson appears on the 1851 census living in Manchester, England with his wife, Ann and children:  William, Elizabeth, Martha, John, Joseph, Samuel, and Nephi.
  • 1854 So when DID Benjamin Jackson come to America?    There is a Benjamin Jackson coming to America in 1854 aboard the ship:  John M. Wood, leaving Liverpool on 12 March 1854 and arrive in New Orleans on 2 May 1854.  Benjamin is listed in the ships manifest with an age of 53, occupation of plasterer, address of 8 Welsley St. off Butler St., Manchester, England.   The log indicates his passage was paid by the P.E. Fund - which I assume is the Mormon Church's Perpetual Emigration Fund.   He is the only Jackson listed on this manifest.     Is this the same Benjamin Jackson?    I'm going to have to say yes on this - - - the age is right, the occupation of plasterer is reasonably close to carpenter.   But - the most convincing evidence is the address - 8B Welsley Street, Manchester, England is the address from 1851 census.    
  • 1849 - Joined up with some "forty-niners" and headed to California to find gold.  False - though its possible he may have gone to California between 1854 and 1870 - since we don't know where he was during that time.
  • 1856 - Ann Jackson and children arrive in Utah as part of the Martin Handcart Company.    This is confirmed by the Pioneer Overland Travel website.   Click here.  Did Samuel really stop the family from visiting John in Boston?   No idea.    John was in England as of the 1851 Census, and married in Massachusetts in 1859.    I was not able to determine when he came to America.  He would have been 18-19 at the time the rest of his family headed to Utah.
  • 1856 - Declared Dead.    I cannot find any documentation of this.  I'm not sure what the requirements were in 1856.  The stories I read all specify that he had not been heard from in 7 years.   This clearly is not the case.
  • 1850-70 Ann marries "Brother Jenkins".   It appears that "Brother Jenkins" is James Jenkins.   I don't find any marriage confirmation but James Jenkins does appear on the 1870 census living with someone named "Ann".   I have not been able to find any indication of a marriage or confirmation that the Ann in the Jenkins' household is Ann Grimshaw Jackson.
  • 1860's - Heard from in the late 1860's.    No documentaton - first sign of him after leaving England is on the 1870 census from Nephi, Utah.
  • 1870 - Came to Nephi.   True - he shows up on the 1870 census living in Nephi, Utah.
  • 1870-1880 - married "Old Lady" Scoggins.    I cannot find any documentation of a 2nd marriage.  I did look through the 1870 census and found a Samuel and Mary Scriggins.  When I looked at the actual document - it could be Scoggins.   I was able to determine, however, that Mary died in 1872, and Samuel in 1879  - so Mary could not have been "Old Lady Scoggins".   I did not find any other Scoggins in Nephi in the 1870 census.  This does not rule out the possibility that "Old Lady Scoggins" appeared sometime after the 1870 census.   By 1880 Benjamin is living with his son - so presumably if there was an "Old Lady Scoggins" - she died prior to 1880.
  • 1870-80  - Samuel built a lean to next to his house and Benjamin lived in it.    Benjamin does show up living with Samuel and his family in 1880.   No idea if it was in an adjacent lean to or not, he is enumerated as part of the family unit, no indication he was in a separate dwelling.
  • 1880 - Moved to Salt Lake City and lived with daughter Elizabeth (Kirkman).   Unknown - he is still living in Nephi with Samuel's family as of the 1880 Census.
  • 1887 - Died and buried in Salt Lake City.  Benjamin is buried in Salt Lake City at the Salt Lake Cemetery.   The 1887 Record of the Dead for Salt Lake City does show a Benjamin Jackson, born in Manchester England, who died on 4 January 1887 of Old Age.  Presumably that is him.

What an interesting story.  I suspect it has become somewhat embellished over the years.   Who really knows if he kept a bridle and saddle on his mule?    



  1. Great research! Interesting story.

  2. Hello!
    I wanted to let you know that I featured your post on the 52 Ancestors Week 9 recap! Thanks for sharing your story with us. It was a great example of picking apart a family story!


  3. I agree with Edwards... "Great research! Interesting story!" I love how you took each part of this family story and tried to prove or disprove it.

  4. You did a great job researching and finding out how much of the family story is true!