William Theobald, son of John Theobald and Elizabeth Dore was born March 31,1813 in Freshwater, Isle of Wight, Hampshire, England.
William worked on his father's farm until he was about twelve years of age, when his mother died and father married again. At the age of sixteen, he was bound for five years to Mr. Barber of Barton to learn the trade of carpentry and wheelwright at which William worked until he was twenty-three years of age.
William slipped on board the Princess Charlotte, a British Man of War, of 120 guns commanded by Captain Fenshaw. The admiral's name was Sir Robert Stockford, where William worked as ship's carpenter until the year 1840. During which time William served at the siege of Beirut which took place in the year 1839, where they conquered the whole coast of Assyria and Egypt. William received a medal for good service. Then afterwards William was at the siege of St. Jean D’Arc, which took place on the 9th of November, 1839. The ship remained along the coast until the Egyptian troubles were over and settled. The Turkish fleet was turned over to their own government again. Then William and his shipmates sailed for Portsmouth, England, where they were paid. William then went back to work at his trade.
Martha Elizabeth met William after he was released from the ship. William Theobald and Martha Elizabeth Lane married Aug 1, 1841. For their wedding, Martha’s parents gave William and Martha Elizabeth a blue willowware pudding dish which was cherished. Martha Elizabeth Lane, daughter of William Lane and Elizabeth Parish, was born Oct 18, 1816 in Freshwater, Isle of Wight, Hampshire, England.
William Theobald and Martha Elizabeth Lane
While living in Freshwater, Isle of Wight, Hampshire, England, William and Martha Elizabeth had two children named Drusilla and Arthur.
|William Theobald and Martha (Lane) Theobald|
In the mid 1840’s, William and Martha Elizabeth moved to Newport, Isle of Wight, Hampshire, England, in the center part of the island, on a river where ships could dock for repair. They took up residence at Lacy’s Farm. While here William worked at his trade, doing carpenter work. Three more children were born to William and Martha Elizabeth here named Clara, George and Ruth.
It was here when the missionaries came to their home. Martha Elizabeth accepted their teachings and was baptized October 29, 1849. After studying and investigating a while longer, William was baptized March 31, 1850 in South Sea Commons, near Portsmouth, England.
In February 1851, William and Martha Elizabeth and their family took passage on the ship George William Bowen arriving at New Orleans in April 1851. They went by river boat up the Mississippi River to St. Louis where they stayed about two weeks, then continued on to Council Bluffs, Iowa. In May they were outfitted for the trip across the plains. They joined the Kelsey Company of a hundred, and Isaac Allred’s Company of fifty.
“While I was investigating the principles of the Gospel, I dreamed there was a large man who came to me and he looked like Joseph Smith, and I thought it was Joseph. He brought me across the plains and showed me all the campgrounds all along the road from the Bluffs into Salt Lake City.
And very strange, I never thought of my dream from the time I left England until I was helping to drive up our work oxen, preparing to start across the plains, and it all came to me like a flash that I had seen these cattle before in my vision and all along the road, I knew the camp grounds, and when I came to the point of the rocks at the mouth of Emigration Canyon, I knew it perfectly. Joseph brought me onto the bench east of Salt Lake City and pointed with his hand and said, “There is Salt Lake City,” and I was left there alone.”
- William Theobald
The roads were rutty, dusty, and loads had to be lightened. The wagon masters were continually trying to get the immigrants to get rid of their precious belongings to make the loads lighter. When they wanted Martha to get rid of her lovely feather beds to lighten the load, she decided to slit the ticking and scattered her precious feathers gathered from ducks and geese while in England, over the ground behind the wagons as they drove along. She folded the ticking up for future use. Additionally, Martha Elizabeth guarded her precious pudding dish and platter.
“We had three stampedes, at one of which there was a woman and child killed. My own oxen undertook to run. I took hold of my leaders’ horns and held them so then could not get away and thereby saved my team from the stampeded. After one stampede, we found our cattle twenty miles away.”
- William Theobald
William and Martha Elizabeth arrived in Salt Lake Valley, October 3, 1851. They bought a home in the First Ward for $300 from Brother York. They later lived in the Fourth Ward. William worked his trade as a carpenter and was called to join the police force also. While the crickets were so bad in Utah, food was scarce. One thing that was plentiful was nettles for greens, which was a healthful food, but got very monotonous. Even their skins turned yellow. The harvest time brought some wheat that had been gleaned by the family. This would give them bread for the table which had been denied them for many months.
Martha Elizabeth sent Clara and Arthur to Crumstead’s Mill which was at the foot of City Creek Canyon to see if they could get the wheat ground and when it could be done. After trudging along the dusty road, they finally reached their destination. Timidly knocking on the door, they asked Sister Crumstead if they could grind the grain. After being assured that it could be done at once, she asked the children to be seated. Then turning to the stove, she opened the oven. The aroma of freshly baked bread overcame Clara. Arthur had a hard time getting her to leave the house. Arthur finally dragged Clara from the chair and started home. Not being able to resist the pangs of hunger any longer, Clara broke away from him, and running back into the house, asked if she could please have some bread. Sister Crumstead apologized for not offering them some, and wanted each to take a loaf home. However, being afraid of being punished for asking for it, Clara refused, so the miller’s wife buttered a slice for each, which was soon gobbled up, and also another.
William Theobald and Martha Elizabeth Lane were sealed in the Endowment House on November 20, 1852.
While living in Salt Lake City, four more children were born to William and Martha named Martha, John, Elizabeth and Frances Lane.
A tenth baby was on its way. Something went wrong, and the baby could not be delivered.
Martha Elizabeth (Lane) Theobald died in childbirth on August 30, 1860 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah. She was buried in the old Salt Lake Cemetery.
“I now found myself alone with my children and it is not good for man to be alone. I looked about for another companion. Accordingly, as I had been looking for a housekeeper, Mrs. Hardy directed a woman to me that had come in along with the Handcart Company by good providence. She came to be my housekeeper. Her name was Elizabeth Uren, a woman who had been married before and had four children, three of which were still living, and as she needed a father for her children and I needed a mother for my children, we concluded to be married and on November 24, 1860, we went to the Council House to be married. We were also sealed in the President’s office by President Brigham Young.”
- William Theobald
William and Elizabeth continued to live in the First Ward until they moved to Dixie and took up residence at Duncan’s Retreat on the Rio Virgin River. They made a good place, but had to work very hard to keep the terrible floods that often came down, from washing them away. Together they had seven children.
After living at Duncan’s Retreat about ten years and finding that their farm and orchard was washed away by the succeeding flood and the house was in danger, William moved the family to the town of Toquerville, Washington, Utah. He started at once to raise food for the large family.
After settling the family as comfortable as possible under the circumstances, William returned to England to visit family and friends once more. Accordingly, June 6, 1872, he left for England, taking the train to Ogden, thence to Omaha and New York, and took passage on board the SS Montana. Upon arrival in Liverpool, England, William went to the Isle of Wight and found his sister Mary and many old friends, enjoying the visit.
William Theobald died February 28, 1895, in Toquerville, Washington, Utah, at the age of 81 years.
(Note: Martha Elizabeth (Lane) Theobald’s feather ticking, pudding dish and platter are held at the Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah.)
Sources for William Theobald and Martha Elizabeth Lane:
Theobald, William, Autobiography of William Theobald Dec 5, 1888.