Wednesday, August 11, 2010


From CJC:   The following is the information I have been able to collect on George William and Mary Ann Astington Kirkham.  If the reader has anything additional, or corrections, please add comments.  Their pictures are shown in another entry on this blog entitled "Celebrating GW & MAA Kirkham. 

(9-2005 - Additional Materials has been added according to a history submitted by Margaret S. McKeen to DUP in May of 1974. This material will be in ( ) and italicized if it doesn’t not agree with what was here)


George William Kirkham

Mary Ann Astington

In compiling this brief summary of events in the lives of George William Kirkham and Mary Astington it is to be hoped that the things of interest in their lives will be preserved to be passed on to the generations that will follow.

George William Kirkham was born 18 March 1822 (16 May 1822) in London, England (Plymouth, Devonshire, England) and baptized 13 May 1831 in the parish of Charles, Plymouth, Devonshire, England. George was the son of James Kirkham and Ann Jeatt. His father James was described as being a man of five feet three inches high, of a swarthy complexion at the age of fifty two. George was much the same in appearance, being able to walk under the outstretched arm of a man of about six feet in height, he usually wore a beard. George had an older brother, Ebenezer, and older sister, Jemima, and a younger sister, Jane.

James Kirkham, the father of George, was a mariner in the English Navy (Royal Navy) and spend twenty one years, two weeks and four days in the service, 20 of those years before he married. Because of his service to the Crown he was permitted to place his children in the lower school of the Royal Hospital at Greenwich to begin their education. (In 1831, George was declared a “real object of charity” and admitted to the Greenwich Hospital. His father, because of his service in the Royal Navy, was entitled to residence there, and it was there that he died in 1832 (George, age 10). It is not known when the mother died, nor how long the children were permitted to stay at the Greenwich Hospital. Probably for several years.) It is interesting to quote the statement made at the time George was admitted to this particular school: "I do hereby agree that if my son George Kirkham be admitted into the Lower School of the Royal Hospital, he will remain there as long as the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty shall be pleased to direct and shall serve in the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, or Merchant Sea Service as their Lordships shall think Proper". He was admitted January 9, 1834. He was also a tailor, having measured Tom Thumb for clothes. ( Note: CJChristensen: James was dead for 2 years in 1834. George was age 12.)

Now James Kirkham, the father of George, did not marry before he started his career with the Royal Navy, but afterwards. Thus it was that at the age of fifty one he had selected Ann Jeatt to be his wife and we have the following affidavit on record: James Kirkham, Mariner, a bachelor, and Ann Jeatt, spinster, were married in this church by banns this seventh day of February in the year on thousand eight hundred and thirteen by me. As signed Robert Hawker, Witness: W. Osborne, Jan Jeatt. (St. Charles Parish, Plymouth, Devon, England.) The father of James Kirkham was Thomas Kirkham, wife Mary. They were of Bath, England.

{Note: James Kirkham died fighting under Lord Nelson in the Battle of Trafalgar Bay. His children George William (great grandfather), Mrs. Bayed, and another brother who went to Australia (Ebenezer?) were left orphans in a Greenwich Hospital.} (CJC Note: It is unkown why Jemima was listed as Mrs. Bayed when being spoken of as an orphan. Also, Trafalgar Bay battle took place in 1805 and James died in 1832.)

George Kirkham worked at the Gun and Shot Wharf on the Thames River marking goods and packages. We can assume that later on he learned the business of "pawnbroker" because, in booking his ships passage to America, such information was given.

George Kirkham and Mary Ann Astington were married the 14th (17th) December 1844 at the Trinity Church, Borough, London, England with their marriage certificate stating that he was a bachelor and she was a spinster and both were “full age” , or 22 and 20, respectively. They kept a Green Front store in London. George was also listed as a painter. But before we give the details of their married life, let's look to the ancestry of his wife, Mary Ann Astington. [For more information - read a letter written by Mary Ann at the end of this history entitled Letter Addition.]

Mary Astington was born July 6, 1824 at Richmond, Yorkshire, England, and she was the daughter of Richard Astington and Mary Ann Isom, who were the parents of ten children, born in five different cities. Her father was a sharpshooter under the Duke of Wellington and was at the Battle of Waterloo. He was a soldier in the North York, Right Wing and played in their Militia band, said to be the best in the realm in those days. He was a real musician, playing the french horn in the band, the violin in the orchestra and the bugle in the army.

The Isom people were woodmen by trade and came from North Hampton, England. Thomas Blundell, the great grandfather of Mary Astington, was a master shoemaker.

The parents of Mary Astington were of the Wesleyan faith and her mother at the time of her death, asked Mary never to leave the Wesleyan Persuasion, she replied that she would never leave Christ. In 1853 she heard the gospel from the teachings of the early missionaries of the church to that country. She was the first to believe in the restored gospel and witnessed many hardships because of her new belief. At first her husband, George Kirkham was opposed to the church, but after three months investigation, he and the youngest sister of Mary (age 29 and Elizabeth, age 27) joined the church. From her own story we can only conclude that she was a woman of great faith and determination. Her belief in the Gospel brought joy and comfort to her soul.

It is interesting to quote her own story (included at the end of this document in Letter Addition) as to how she and her family were able to come to Utah. "After I received the first principals of the gospel of Christ, then came the spirit of gathering and the hope of gathering with the saints in Zion, but how we should get the means to gather with I did no know, but after my mother died she appeared to me in a dream of the night and told me that I should have everything that would accomplish every righteous desire of my heart. This was all fulfilled in time to my satisfaction. After I had this dream, my mother's eldest brother (probably Thomas who died in 1858), a gentleman of independence, died and left me eight hundred dollars and by this means, myself and family all gathered to home in Zion to the valleys of the mountains and glory be to God for his merciful kindness in opening up the way for us to gather for without His aid we surely could not have been able to have done so."

George and Mary Kirkham left England aboard the ship Tapscot, they went aboard April 7, 1859 and did not sail until the 11 April, 1859. They were six weeks on the ocean, during which time they spent three days in the hold of the ship because of the storms at sea. On the passage roster, George Kirkham gave his age as 36, business pawnbroker, wife Mary age 34, with children: James, age 9; George, 6; Joseph, 3; Hyrum, 3. Mary's sister Eliza (Elizabeth) Astington was board ship also. There were a total of 723 aboard the Tapscot with Captain William Bell in charge. (Note: George and Mary’s first son Thomas James was born two years after their marriage and lived two years. A daughter Mary Ann Eliza was born April 1, 1861 in Utah, and died two days later. A daughter Francis was adopted in 1868 in Utah and died that same year.)

(For quotes from the diary of James, the son of George and Mary Ann, concerning their trip across the plains see the end of this history James Diary Addition.)

This couple and their young family arrived in the valley by oxen team September 18, 1859, camping at a spot near where the north door of the city and county buildings now stand. They then moved to Sugarhouse, using Brother String's wagon as a bed. They later moved to a two room home of Mrs. Sharp, where they made their home the rest of the winter. In the spring they moved to Lehi, where they made their home at the Jordan Bridge, where Brother William Ball, a handcart pioneer, was the keeper. At this place a daughter Mary Ann Eliza was born, only to die two days later. They then moved to a place known as Hungers Place, which was one block south of the main highway and one block east of main street running north and south. Here they lived in a two room dugout. About the year 1865, they moved back to Salt Lake City and lived at a place on eleventh east a short distance north and above the intersection of 21st south and eleventh east. After four year the family returned to Lehi to stay. In Utah, George was known as a farmer, a gardener and a great lover of flowers. In addition he did, as was customary in those day, "day labor" helping in many ways to build up the community.

George and Mary were pioneers in the restored gospel as well as pioneers in building up their city and state. Mary was one of the first primary teachers at the time of its organization. They took great pride in the musical ability of their four sons, James, George, Joseph, and Hyrum who played together as "members of the ballroom orchestra". They were one of the early orchestras in the state. Their sons traveled by team to nearby towns and played for dances and other civic functions. They also gave musical entertainments and traveled into Southern Idaho and as far south as St. George, Utah. They at one time had the privilege of playing for President Brigham Young. All four of the sons of this immigrant couple lived to fill missions for the church in their native land of England.

(For additional information concerning the marriage of George and Mary - see George and Mary Ann’s marriage according to son James at the end of this document.)

While the day of George and Mary is in the memory of the older ones of those now living among us, a casual glance about, and among your relatives, brings to live anew the talents, the courage, determination and faith of worthy parentage. (See Mary Ann Addition at end of doc.)


Letter Addition


Now comes Mary Astington Kirkham, wife of George William Kirkham. I am the daughter of Richard Astington and Mary Ann Isom, born July 6, 1824 at Richmond, Yorkshire, England. My father was a soldier in the British Army and traveled for thirty years. My mother traveled with him for nearly nine years, having five children during that time. Twice when on the ocean they were nearly shipwrecked and upon one occasion were nearly starved. My father was a member of the North York, Right Wing, Militia Band said to be the best under the British Crown in those days. In the year 1819 my parents settled down in Yorkshire. My father died in 1834, November 4 and was buried with Military Honors in Richmond, Yorkshire. My father's family consisted of ten children, two sons and eight daughters. After the death of my father, the family moved to London (Mary age 10). I then went into service and remained there until I was married, which was in the year 1844 (age 20), December 14th, at Trinity Church, Borough London, England.

Two years after this event my eldest son was born, Thomas James, and only lived about two years and departed this life. After the birth of my next two children, James and George, my mother died of a paralytic stroke in New Kent Road, London, England.

My parents were in the Wesleyan Persuasion and at her death she asked me to never leave the Wesleyan Persuasion Church. I told her I would never leave Christ. Previous to the death of my mother I heard of the Latter-Day-Saints and in six months after her death I was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, March 6, 1854. A week before I was baptized, I attended a meeting of the saints and a sister spoke in tongues to me. The President of the branch prayed for the interpretation and received it. He told me that much good would come of it. After I came into the church, I had very much to contend with. My husband was very much opposed to the work, but after three months investigation I had the pleasure of seeing my husband and my younger sister, the youngest of my father's family, baptized into the church. This gave me much joy and a great satisfaction.

I have passed through many trials, but the gospel of peace brought joy and comfort to my soul. My son, George was afflicted very sorely and the evil one tried to take him from us. He was given up by the great medical of London, but by faith in the Priesthood, he was mercifully healed under the hands of the Elder Charles W. Penrose. My next children were twins, Joseph and Hyrum. Many things have been prophesied over the heads of my children and all has been fulfilled. Many tongues and prophecies were given for the comfort and consolation in the hour of trial and affliction when the destroyer tried to take our little ones from us. Many incidents might be related with regards to the hand dealings of God with me and my family. I have been healed instantly by the power of God under the hands of Elders and the doctor I have had no use for since I came into the church.

After I received the first principles of the Gospel of Christ, then came the spirit of the gathering and the hope of gathering with the saints of Zion. But how we should get the means to gather with I did no know, but after my mother died, she appeared to me in a dream of the night and told me that I should have everything that would accomplish every righteous desire of my heart. This was all fulfilled in time to my satisfaction.

After I had this dream, my mother's eldest brother, a gentleman of independence died and left me eight hundred dollars, and by this means myself and family all gathered home to Zion to the Valley of the Mountains, and Glory be to God for His merciful kindness in opening up the way for us to gather, for without His aid we surely could not have been able to do so.

We arrived in Salt Lake City in September, 1859, after traveling by sea and land for about six months. We remained in Salt Lake during the winter and spring of 1859 and 1860.

Then we moved to Lehi, some thirty miles south. On April 1, 1861, my only daughter, Mary Ann Eliza was born. She lived only 32 hours. She was buried in the Lehi cemetery. In 1868, I adopted a daughter, Francis, by name. She died six months after adoption. My four living sons, James, George, Hyrum and Joseph are now living in Lehi, and are a self taught band of musicians. All are now married, but Hyrum, and all are in the church and have a little testimony to bear to the truth of the work and thank God for his blessings for this makes my heart rejoice.


After I had been in the church three months, I, not having a testimony for myself, I was told by a sister that the Lord had a blessing in store for me. I prayed to the Lord for a testimony and asked Him to give me a testimony and in answer to many prayer, I heard a voice say, "Joseph Smith is a Prophet and Brigham Young is his successor and you are a child of God in His Kingdom." This was satisfactory to me and I know that the gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation, and this I leave as a testimony to you, my children, and your posterity to come forth in the year of our Lord, 1931. Amen. Mary Ann Astington Kirkham

James Diary Addition taken from history written by Margaret S. McKeen

From the journal of his son, James, who was ten years old when he came to Utah, we read, “At last everything was in readiness for our journey across the plains. Each of the sixty wagons was drawn by two yoke of oxen besides some cows. Besides our captain, we had a chaplain and some night riders (herders). My father (George) used to stand guard in his turn. Sometimes our chaplain, James Bond, would call the camp to prayers and if they did not attend would stand on a wagon and look at the people. On our journey from Florence, Nebraska, we had many difficulties to put up with and narrow escapes.”

“At one time we were surrounded by a prairie fire but escaped without injury. We also had a stampede and some 20 persons were injured. One man was killed and one woman was very badly hurt. One day we encountered a great herd of buffalo which stopped our train for some time and several were killed for meat for the company. We also came in contact with many tribes of Indians.

“In order that we might travel in peace with them, we had to feed them and sometimes give them presents. While journeying on our way we had to wade many streams, sometimes rivers and while walking barefoot in the hot sand I got my feet badly burnt. One was so bad that I couldn’t wear my shoe.

“When we arrived at what is known as the Big Mountain it was late in the afternoon. As my father had to be helped up the mountain, he was the last of the train. The two hind wheels of the wagon were locked with chains and one yoke of cattle was to take the wagon down. Just as we started down the mountain the sun set in the horizon and in the distance huge dark clouds were to be seen and soon the heavens became black.

“The lightning flashed and the heaven artillery roared, clap after clap came the thunder and soon the rain descended in torrents. My mother (Mary Ann) had arrived early in camp at the foot of the mountain that afternoon but I was left with my father and as it was not safe for me to ride, I had to walk. I had no coat or hat on and soon became very wet with the rain and in the darkness of the night I soon got lost and wandered alone sometimes in the ditch by the side of the road up to my waist in water.

“When the lightning came I was able to see where the road was and by listening to the sound of a cow bell that was on the end of some wagon in the distance, by the time the storm abated I was able to overtake the wagon and was picked up and taken into camp about two o’clock in the morning.

“When I arrived in camp I was wet and sore and very frightened. My father had got to camp about one o’clock and the camp was very much excited over my absence but had prayed for my safety.

“On September 18th, 1859 we arrived all well in the valleys of the Great Salt Lake and camped on what was known as Emigration Square. The day was beautiful and the sun shone in all his splendor. Our train was led into the city by a two wheel covered cart drawn by one small white ox. The animal was covered with garlands of wild flowers and on the sides of the vehicle was this motto in large letters: HAIL COLUMBIA, THIS BEATS THE HAND CARTS.”

“After our arrival hundreds of people came to our camp to seek for friends and presented us with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. That evening we were entertained at supper by a family by the name of Haywood. The following day we went to the home of Brother and Sister B. Stringham in Sugar House Ward. We remained with our friends for some time, then we got the use of an old adobe house which stood in a field. Here we lived for the winter. By this time we had got rid of one oxen and Father (George) gave one of the three left to a brother for the feeding.

“During the winter we obtained our fuel by cutting oak brush and carrying it in bundles on our backs about a half mile. The winter was spent pleasantly and we had plenty of food as Father, by his labors, had obtained a good supply of cornmeal, squash, potatoes and some flour with a little meat and our neighbors gave us a little milk.

“One beautiful moonlight evening my father’s attention was called to our hen house and on entering the place my father beheld a very pretty black and white animal among his fowls. It looked very fine to him so he picked it up in his arms and started to the house with it but on his arrival at the door my mother forbid him to enter owing to the odor that came from his clothes. In the meantime Father had let his pet escape and my mother threw him a change of clothes out of the house and he was required to change his wardrobe in the moonlight at the back of the house and bury his scented clothes for a few days as he found he had been petting what was called a skunk. After this incident my father was more careful in selecting his pets among the animal kingdom.”

In the spring of 1860, son James (age 11) went to Lehi to see Mr. William Ball, a friend of his parents, who persuaded George and Mary Ann to move there. While James was visiting with the friends, he went out to hunt rabbits with another young man. As they walked along through the brush on the west bank of the Jordan River, he saw two twenty dollar gold pieces and a 2 ½ dollar coin. He gave the small coin to his friend and wrapped the $40.00 in an old rag, hiding it until his parents came to Lehi. With this money they bought their first cow and calf. It was thought that the money may have been lost by soldiers from Camp Floyd.

In the meantime, George bought a city lot and a fence was put up around it. James wrote, “We worked a good deal of time by night. Mother held a candle lantern for us to see by.” For a time they lived in a dugout– a hole in the earth with a dirt roof on it.

Because of the threat of Indian raids, all male citizens of Lehi were organized in a military capacity in 1863. George enlisted as a foot soldier under the command of General David Evans.

A journal entry by son James reads, “Monday, April 1, 1867: Today we moved into a two room house that Father (George age 45) had bought from John Young. There was a small lot to the house but it was very rocky. The place was situated on the east side of the road near the old Sugar Mill in the Sugar House Ward.” Their first home was a hovel in the banks of the Jordan River where they spent one full winter. Afterward the blue clay of the river bank was used to make adobes for their homes. Evidently they did not stay long in Sugar House Ward, but moved back to Lehi. I December, 1871, James recorded his marriage in the Endowment House, and returning the next day to his parents’ home in Lehi.

Addition: George and Mary Ann’s marriage according to son James

All did not go well between George and Mary Ann for James wrote:

“Friday 29th December, 1876 (George age 54) : Called to see my father who was alone. I found him in grief and sorrow and my heart was full of grief to see my parents’ separation.”

“Saturday, 6th January, 1877: This AM my parents went to Provo to obtain a bill of divorcement. This evening with my brother George I was requested to assist in dividing my parents’ property. I done so as their son and by their desire but much against my feelings.”

An extract from the Provo, Utah County Records says:

“The application for the relief sought by plaintiff (Mary Ann) is made in sincerity and of her own free will and choice, and that the parties cannot live in peace and union together and their welfare requires a separation.”

Interviews of some residents of Lehi (by E.K. Kirkham) at the time said: “She left him because they were so different in their dispositions. She was afraid that he would not give her the place she wanted in the hereafter.” No criticism has been noted from any of their four sons, only sorrow that two they loved were having this problem. Mary Ann was described as a stately, proud woman, of great faith and courageous; a “masterful” woman, the one who put ambition into the whole Kirkham family. In addition to their four living sons, their eldest, Thomas James, died when two years old, in London, and two daughters, Mary Ann Eliza and Francis, born in 1861 and 1868, died in infancy.

Continuing from journal entries of son James, we read:

“Saturday 14th July 1877: My father (George 55) married a lady by the name of Maria Loader of Pleasant Grove by Bishop David Evans so I was informed. I was not present or any of the family as I know of.”

A report from a resident who was a friend to the son of Maria Loader by her first marriage indicates that all did not go well in this marriage.

George Kirkham entered the home and said timidly to Maria Loader, his wife, “Well, I have seen Mary today.”

“Mary? Mary who?” replied Maria Loader.

“My wife Mary,” replied George.

George continued, “I am very sorry for her, poor woman.”

“Oh, you have eh? Now listen to me George, if you prefer Mary to me, just remember that this house is mine!”

From James’ diary: “Tuesday 11 September 1877: Today my parents, after a long separation, spoke to each other.”

Maria Loader sued George Kirkham for a divorce, 22nd December, 1877. She received “house and lot, household effects and furniture except the following: 2 blankets, 3 quilts, misc. books and a box of sundries, one hatchet, one trowel and auger, two pillows.”

James wrote: “Wednesday 3 October 1877: Today I removed my grain from my father’s home and saw the old homestead pass from our family into the hands of others but such is law and lawyers.”

In the spring of 1878 George (age 56) and Mary Ann were reunited. It was said “she was just glad to be back.” They lived together until Mary died of cancer 27 October 1881 (George age 59) in Lehi.

George (age 61) married the widow Sarah Dove, 8 October 1883. It is not known when she died. George used the name (Wm.) presumably to distinguish him from his son George. He was buried 24 April 1896 (died at age 74), in Lehi, Utah.

Information is from the book, George (Wm.) Kirkham

by E. Kay Kirkham.

Addition: Mary Ann

The following is taken from a DUP history written by Mary Ann Kirkham and compiled by Betty Evans.

From the book, George (wm.) Kirkham, His Ancestors and Descendants” by E. Kay Kirkham we read more about this woman. He pays tribute to this woman of faith: “With the sagebrush fire in the dugout burning brightly the young mother turned her attention to the comfort of her four young sons. “Now George, you stop your fretting. Those snake eyes you see in the back of the room won’t hurt you none at all. We haven’t come all this way just to let a few snakes scare us. Now turn your face to the light of the fire and try to go to sleep. Everything will be all right.”

The mother, Mary Ann Astington Kirkham, age 36, her husband George (Wm.) Kirkham and their four sons, James (age 11), George (age 8), Hyrum and Joseph (twins, age 4) were in a one-room dugout near the old Jordan Bridge at Lehi, Utah County, Territory of Utah. The time was the summer of 1860 and they were called pioneers. She had just moved to Lehi from Sugarhouse and their food consisted of potatoes, bacon, little butter and milk and wheat bread and corn meal mush. The Indians gave them a great deal of trouble, grasshoppers destroyed the crops and other trouble arose in connection with pioneer life.

“This woman carried herself with the stateliness of a queen, a proud courageous woman of faith. She is recalled as being a masterful woman; she expected her will to be done. She is the one who put ambition into the whole Kirkham family. From her life, we see that her great faith and determination carried her over heartaches, disappointments, sickness and trials almost beyond human endurance. She was a woman of talent in teaching others. She was active in church as much as women were in those days. She taught others how to weave straw hats inasmuch as they had to make their own in her day. She was always neat and clean in her dress and with her home and surroundings. She was devoted to her family and took good care of them”

From the diary of James Kirkham, “Thursday 27th October 1881: This morning my mother asked myself and brothers to put our hands on her head and pray for the Lord to take her. This was about two in the morning. We done so and at three o’clock she passed peacefully away after suffering untold agony. Her body was honey-combed with cancer which caused her death. She died at my home with her family at her side. During the night she sang the hymn, Come, Come, Ye Saints very beautifully.

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