of Almondbury and Utah

 Midgley of Almondbury, Nephi and Salt Lake City, Utah.

Thomas Midgley, the son of Jonathan II or junior Midgley and Martha Beaumont was born 2nd April 1798 in Almondbury, he married Ellen (Collier) Hinchcliffe daughter of John Hinchcliffe and Hannah Collier on the 30th September 1821. Ellen was born 24th December 1801 at Almondbury. Thomas died 9th September 1870 in Nephi, Juab, Utah. Thomas and Ellen had  eleven children in order of birth:  Jonathan, John, Ann [Hannah], Mary Ellen, Joshua, Martha, Elliot, Ephraim and Benjamin. Another child,  Thomas III Midgley may also have been theirs. There is a good possibility that Martha is descended from the Beaumonts of Almondbury, Netherton, Crosland Foss and Whitley Beaumont and thus Sir Robert Beaumont who features in the Elland Feud. This genealogy is being further explored.

John, Martha, Elliot, and Ephraim died young, the remainder of the family migrated to America. In 1855 the family joined a 'wagon train' heading west but whilst crossing the River Platte Ellen became ill.

As a result of her illness, Ellen 'died on September 4th 1855 while crossing the plains with a wagon train, she died aged 54, possibly of cholera which was rife that summer. The wagon master refused to stop to bury the corpse and left her lying on the ground as the wagon train continued west. Her children, the three who accompanied them to America of the twelve children she bore, ages 12 and up, including Ann Midgley, aged 29, [pictured right] refused to leave their mother's unburied body as the wagon train left them in the middle of the plains. The story may have ended there except for one good Samaritan who turned around and helped them bury her before taking them with them.' 1

At the time of Ellen's death, Thomas Beaumont Midgley [husband] was age 57, Jonathan 33, Ann 29, Mary Ellen 25, Joshua 23 and Benjamin 12. 

Ellen was buried 'by the Platte River, Indian Territory, US. According to Kenneth Eardley Midgley’s book, she died of cholera after nursing some of the many who were sick with the disease at that time. She is buried 50 miles west of the Junction of the North Platte River and the (main) Platte River on the south side of the North Platte, “about 4 miles east of the ‘last crossing”, at or near Ash Hollow in Nebraska (India) Territory.'1 Some genealogies state that Ellen  was buried in 1855 in Wyoming which was part of the Nebraska (Indian) Territory. This information  may come from the memorial marker in the Salt Lake Cemetery which just states the place of death as “Wyoming”. There is a possible discrepancy here as the Andrus records of the wagon train imply that the train may not have come this far by September 4th.1 

The eldest child, Jonathan born at Almondbury, west Yorkshire is recorded as a schoolteacher in the 1880 U.S. census and died at Wales, Sanpete, Utah on 2nd February 1899 whilst Ann died 15th January 1911 at Nephi, Juab, Utah, U.S.A.

An excerpt from an article by Blanche Burton Hesse :


Mary Ellen Grow's mother, Ann Midgley, was the daughter of Thomas Midgley and Ellen Hinchcliffe. According to fsamily records the surname Midgley had its origin in the small town of Midgley in the West Riding of Yorkshire., England, where the family had been in possession of property for over 300 years. Thomas was born in Almondbury, Yorkshire, 2 April 1798 and married Ellen Hinchcliffe there 30 September 1821. Ann was the third of their eleven children all born in Almondbury.

All members of the Thomas Midgley family joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1845 and 1846 and were anxious to go to Zion. Thomas and his two sons Joshua and Jonathan went first, found work and a home for the rest of the family in the Salt Lake Valley. With help from the Perpetual Immigration Fund Ellen and the five remaining children, ranging in age from 11 to 29 years, sailed from Liverpool on the "Samuel Curling" in April 1855 and a month later landed in New York. From there they went by rail to Pittsburgh, then down the Ohio River to Cairo, up the Mississippi River to St. Louis and from there to Mormon Grove in Kansas, the outfitting place for the Saints travelling West. 

On the trip across the plains, Ellen Hinchcliffe Midgley, a small woman 53 years of age, and a midwife, became ill with lung fever and cholera and died on September 4, 1855. The children buried her near the Platte River and because of the danger from Indians moved on toward the Salt Lake Valley to meet their father and two brothers with the sad news of their mother's death. Ann who was the oldest took responsibility for the family.

On November 9, 1856, after being in the Salt Lake Valley for nearly a year, Ann married Henry Grow, a prominent Elder in the Church as his fourth plural wife. Henry was born October 1, 1817, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was a millwright and bridge builder. After being converted to the Church he and his first wife, Mary Moyer, moved to Nauvoo where he worked on the Temple. In April 1846 the persecution of the Saints became so severe in Nauvoo that most of the Saints prepared to go West. One night Henry heard a voice say "Get up and get out of here in the morning." He arose the next morning, hitched a yoke of Cattle to his wagon, put in utensils, bedding and a tent, leaving everything in the house, and with his wife and their three children got in the wagon. When they had moved about 50 yards the mob fired a 12-pound ball through his house.

After many hardships, the family arrived in the Salt Lake Valley  on Henry's birthday October 1, 1851. Because of his knowledge and experience in Pennsylvania he was able to find work and built many buildings and bridges in the Valley, among them, the Z.C.M.I. building, the Deseret Paper Mill, and suspension bridges over the Weber and Provo rivers.2


Excerpt from The Midgleys - Utah Pioneers:

Mother Ellen, age 53, was a small frail woman, but nevertheless she was active while crossing the plains in rendering service to those of the company who became sick with cholera. She was a midwife and by reason of her efforts was known as " Doctor Midgley." To the extent of her strength she treated many of the Saints in the company who became sick with the dreaded disease. Her ordeal was indeed a most difficult and trying one. She herself became extremely ill with lung fever and cholera. Her children and Ann Killip did all they could to care for her as she lay in a wagon of the moving train, but it proved to be in vain, and she was called to her eternal reward on September 4th (the uniformly accepted date of her death) at a point on "The south side of the North Platte River." In view of the dates and places given in Milo Ardus' letters, it seems certain that her death occurred in or near Ash Hollow in Nebraska Territory. Some have stated that the event happened about four miles east of the "last crossing" referred to above. If that was the place of her death, then the date of her death is wrong as that place was not reached until well after September fourth. (The memorial marker in Salt Lake Cemetery states that the death occurred in "Wyoming." In 1855, Wyoming was part of Nebraska Territory.

Ellen would not in this life see her new born grandchild, Joshua H., who was waiting in Great Salt Lake City. In a biography of her son Benjamin, he is quoted as saying that Captain Andrus wanted Ellen's children to roll their mother's remains in a sheet and leave her on the plains because the company was compelled to move on. This they refused to do, and the company moved ahead. It is quite likely that the company had not been told by Andrus of the advice he had received from General Harney, for obvious reasons. In view of that advice, however, there can be little wonder that the lateness of the season and the proximity of hostile Indians compelled Andrus to push ahead a far as possible. Zeno Worthen Buttle, granddaughter of mother Ellen's daughter Mary Ellen, said that one Peter Reid, later Bishop of the Sixteenth Ward in Salt Lake City, dug the grave. It was six feet deep. The children were concerned that it was not deep enough to protect the body from the wolves. Brother Reid, who was six feet tall, jumped into the hole to show how deep it actually was. That convinced the children. Ellen's son Thomas is reported to have swum the river with another young man in order to get some bark of trees to cover the sheet which was wrapped around Ellen's body. Her remains were then buried deep in the ground and a roughly prepared grave marker was placed over the spot. The children then hurried to catch the train. But shortly they returned to the burial spot to have one ladst look at their mother's last resting place before they hastened on. They were able to catch up with the company and continued with it on the journey to Utah.3


1. - Stephen Douglas Burton citing The Midgleys: Utah Pioneers, by Kenneth Eardley Midgley, Lowell Press, Inc. USA 198, p. 57.           

2.  Blanche Hesse Burton. page 8.

3. The Midgleys - Utah Pioneers, Lowell Press, pp. 56-58.

4. Great grandson of Thomas Beaumont Midgley of Almondbury - Leslie Grant Midgley - A prolific T.V. news presenter.  A pioneering news reporter and producer. He was the maternal grandson of Heber Jeddy Grant (1856-1945), 7th President of the LDS Church (from 1918-1945).  His fascinating autobiography, How Many Words Do You Want? (1986) scarcely mentions the Mormons after his youth and it is suspected that he was thus an apostate.  His second wife, Betty Furness, actress and President Lyndon Johnson’s administrator for Consumer Affairs, was best friends with Deanna Durbin.



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Copyright © Tim Midgley October 2005, revised 6th April 2023.