Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Pioneer Profile: Hannah Chapman, Part I
I had to start this post over because the first version was BORING and this is not a boring story. I realized that even though Hannah is the ancestor to many who will read this post, it's still my blog and I need to put my take on it or this isn't going to work for me. Apologies in advance.
Ashley in this photo of her as a teenager. Ashley's parents didn't see it.)
So! Who is Hannah Chapman?! Hannah is the daughter of William Chapman and Mary Drury, born on March 2, 1813 in Ousefleet, Yorkshire, England. She was the eighth of ten children. When Hannah was 19 years old, she married Thomas Chester, son of John Post Chester and Frances Davis, from Crowle, Lincolnshire, England. They were married on January 28, 1833. Over the next nine years, Hannah gave birth to seven children - James, Mary, Emma, Ann, Thomas, Frances, and William. The first of many tests of Hannah's faith was losing James, Mary, and Emma when they were still babies. Even worse, just 16 months after William's birth, Hannah's husband, Thomas, died on September 11, 1844, at the age of 33 from complications from an abscessed knee. (I read a few accounts that he was lost at sea. Thomas was not a sailor - he was a coal merchant. Hannah was at his side when he passed away.)
This is where Hannah could have gone into survival mode - just waited out this life. Instead she found a good man, Joseph Goodworth - 13 years her junior - about a year after Thomas's death. Hannah and Joseph were married October 29, 1845. Together they had three sons - Richard Brooks, Joseph, and Frederick. On May 11, 1853 at the tender age of 28, Joseph died of a kidney disease.
Widowed again at 40 years old, Hannah must have been stunned by this blow. She had now endured the deaths of three children and two husbands. It was around this time that missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were in England preaching the gospel. They found Hannah. She joined this new church and became a pioneer. Hannah decided to take advantage of the LDS Church's Perpetual Emigration Fund. She filled out all the applications and paperwork to have six of her children (her oldest son, Thomas, was married the same year Hannah went to America) join her on the ship Enoch Train to America. This sounds like an amazing adventure and with hindsight I can see that it's a pivotal event in my family history. Even though I know that Hannah is about to change everything for the better, I feel very much for the grandparents of her children. They must have been devastated - not only was Hannah joining what must have seemed like a strange religion, she was taking her children and going to America where they would never see them again.
Even though Hannah registered six children with her on Enoch Train, only four ended up coming with her. A few of the accounts I read indicated that John and Frances Chester, her first husband's parents, hid William and possibly Frances so that Hannah couldn't take them with her. Can you imagine?! She has gone through the very detailed process of the Perpetual Emigration Fund - she has already taken the money and made commitments to pay it back once she arrived in Utah. She had four other children to worry about (although Ann, at 20 years old, was probably a big help rather than a trouble). One story had Hannah noticing that William was missing once they were on the ship and a friend told her they had seen an "older gentleman" walking away with William. No matter how it happened, Hannah left William behind in England to be raised by his Chester grandparents. William is my ancestor.