Since my last post several years ago, I have done a fair amount of reserach on the family of John and Jane Thornton Topham.I received a digital image of a bible page from from James Blazier showing the descendants of William T. Topham and his wife Malinda Baldwin, listing nine children born between 1852 and 1869: Nathan W. B., Mary J., Malinda, Olive S., Sarah E., William T., George T., Rena and John O.It also lists death dates for William T. Sr., (d. Feb 7, 1869), Nathan W.B. (August 15, 1851), Sarah E. (d. May 19, 1891) and Mrs. Malinda tyler? (d. 13 Jul 1902) and Miss Malinda Topham (d. either Jun or Jan 28, 1913?).
The story of the Tophams is quite convoluted.John, Jane and ten of their eleven children, John, William, Hannah, Sarah, Elizabeth, Joseph, Jane, Thomas, Rebecca and Susannah(son James died in England in 1830) joined the Mormon church in the Eaton Socon area of Honeydon, Bedfordshire, England in the early 1840's.They emigrated to America on the ship Swanton in 1843, on which traveled from Liverpool to New Orleans.Traveling up the Missisippi river, the family arrived at and settled in the Mormon community of Nauvoo, Illinois.Within three years after their arrival, the Mormons were forced out of Nauvoo and fled west, settling in Winter quarters, Nebraska.During the evacuation of Nauvoo, several different groups splintered from the original Mormon church with a majority of the members following Brigham Young and eventually ending up in Utah.William's wife Malinda Baldwin was a daughter of Wheeler Baldwin, who was a leader of a splinter group called the Cutlerites.They broke away from the main group of westward bound Mormons and remained on the prairie.From the scant records I have, it appears that William lived and farmed in Manti, Fremont County, Iowa and that he died there in 1869.
My records show that all of the other family members emigrated to Utah between 1857 and 1852 with the exception of Rebecca who had died in Nauvoo in 1843 and Joseph who died in 1847, likely in Nebraska or Iowa.
A great mystery at this point that I am hoping will be uncovered, is that Jane either divorced or left John and married a second husband, William Garner, in 1852 in Salt Lake City, Utah.Perhaps John Topham Sr. was disillusioned and did not initially move west with the majority of his family.If this were the case, he would have been considered unfaithful by church leaders and Jane would have been either allowed or instructed to marry another man.I have been unable to locate any records of the marriage or divorce, if one occurred.
Based on city records, John Topham Sr. was in Salt Lake by 1852.I have not located him on a census for 1850 in any location.He shows up on the census list in Salt Lake in 1860, listed as a farmer, living with his daughter Susannah.By the 1870 census, he had moved south to the Mill Creek community of the Salt Lake Valley.He was listed on the cenusus as a hired hand, age 70, in the household of his daughter Elizabeth, a plural wife of a prominent Mormon, Vincent Shurtleff. (Sarah and Vincent had ten children). He again is listed in the 1880 census in the same household as a boarder, age 80.John died in Millcreek and is buried in the Elysian Gardens Cemeterey of Murray, Utah.
Jane lived with her husband William Garner near Ogden, Weber County, Utah until his death in 1872. Sometime after his death, she moved to Provo, Utah County, Utah where she lived with her daughters Hannah (one child which died young with first husband Rufus Stowell) and Sarah (eleven children with Joseph Clark) who together were plural wives of Joseph Clark.Jane Thornton Topham Garner lived with her two daughters until 1887 and is buried in the Provo City Cemetery.
Of the other children, daughter Jane died in 1851 in Provo, son John moved to Paragonah, Iron County, Utah with his wife Betsy Baker (twelve children) where he died in 1900, Thomas Thornton married Sarah Melissa Carter and settled in Santaquin and Payson, Utah County (four children?)where he died in 1919 and Susannah Rosemary married Alma (Albert) Mormon Parker who settled in Diamond City and Willow Creek, Gallatin County, Montana where she died in 1918 (10 children).
It hasn't been an easy task to put together the information I have gathered so I am hoping to collect information from those who come from other branches of this family.Ultimately, I would like to put together a published history and genealogy of the Topham family, but first I have to finish the one I am doing on my paternal line.I would welcome any original source documentation and genealogical records from any descendants of John and Jane Thornton Topham, and also welcome contact from any family members who remained in the Eaton Socon area of Bedfordshire, England.