Charles Ringwood was born on 6 November 1831, in Hethel, about 10 km to the south-west of Norwich, in Norfolk, England. He was the eldest son and the third child of William Ringwood, a shoemaker, and Hannah Peachment. William’s father was my 4th great-grandfather. In about 1832 the family moved to nearby Wymondham, where they had four more children.
The Church of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) was founded by Joseph Smith in 1830 in the US. He died in 1844. About 1840, his eventual successor, Brigham Young went to England to recruit new followers. In 1844 more than 70,000 people migrated from Europe to join the Mormons. The mass migration from Nauvoo, Illinois, west to Utah, took place in 1846/7.
In 1853, when he was 22, William’s eldest son, Charles, left England to join the Mormons in Salt Lake City. He traveled out with the Claudius V. Spencer Company from Liverpool. They set sail on 23 January on the ship, Golconda and after a voyage of 44 days, they reached the mouth of the Mississippi River.
There they had to wait for twelve days until a steam tug carried them to New Orleans, where they arrived on 26 March. From there they continued on another steam boat to Keokuk, Iowa and finally overland to the staging post at Kanesville, Iowa, present day Council Bluffs.
About 250 individuals and 40 wagons were in the company when it began the final stage of its journey, crossing the the river Missouri about June 3, and arrived in Salt Lake Valley on 24 September 1853.
In 1855 Charles married Dinah Elizabeth Forster. In 1866 Charles spent six months serving as a 2nd Lt. with Major A. Barts Infantry in the Blackhawk war. Dinah died in March 1869, two weeks after giving birth to her seventh child.
In June 1869 Charles married Caroline Althea Robbins and in the next 25 years Charles and Caroline had a further 14 children, only seven of them surviving infancy.
In the 1871 UK census, of the original Ringwood household in Wymondham there only remained the parents, William and Hannah, the eldest daughter, Mary Ann, and her two children – Emma and Charles, of unknown fathers. Later in 1871, the parents, daughter and grandchildren followed Charles in migrating to Utah.
Although I had found possible evidence of their deaths in Salt Lake City, I could not envisage William and Hannah undertaking such an arduous journey, as both of them would have been well into their seventies at that time. Not only did they have to travel across England to a port and undertake the ocean crossing, but they then had the long and sometimes dangerous journey across the United States to Utah. I had the evidence, but I really did not trust it.
So I remained in doubt for many years, until it occurred to me to find out when the railroad first reached Salt Lake City. And I came across the explanation that I was looking for – the line was opened in 1869, with a branch line north to Ogden in 1870. No doubt it was still not easy for the two in their mid-seventies, but there was now no doubt in my mind that they did it. So, William and Hannah Ringwood spent their last years in Salt Lake City, both dying a few months apart in 1887.
Charles himself died in 1914. On his death certificate his former occupation was recorded as a police officer. The cause of death was given as old age and ‘paresis of bowel’. Caroline died the following year.
Over the past years I have gradually traced and recorded the descendants of William Ringwood. My research is not yet complete, but the descendants already number in the several hundreds.
But the validity of my research was always based on Charles Ringwood and his parents being those of Hethel and Wymondham in Norfolk. I remained reluctant to make that assumption. And then in recent days, I came across a paper called ‘History of Charles Ringwood by Flossie Ringwood Gray‘, a daughter of Charles Ringwood.
I no longer have any doubt. We are cousins.