Tracing the disparate ancestries of four great families


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History of Thomas Dobson 1837-1933

History of Thomas Dobson 1837-1933

alsteed99 originally submitted this to Dobson Family Tree on 21 Nov 2011

Thomas Ferney Dobson was born 17 Feb 1837, son of Joseph Dobson and Elizabeth Fernyhaugh Dobson in Macclesfield, Cheshire. He was the first of four children, three boys and one baby girl.

His parents accepted the Gospel when preached by Joseph Fielding during the first overseas mission. His father came to America first to work and gain funds to send for his family. At last she and the boys set sail and arrived in New Orleans. It was a long hard trip across the ocean in stormy weather, taking about six weeks on the ship.

We travelled on the ship ‘Chaoes’ which left Liverpool 8 Nov 1841, arriving in New Orleans 14 Jan 1842 where we met an overjoyed father. We children were a little shy of the heavily bearded man at first, but soon got over that when we saw how happy Mother was to see him.

Life was good for the family when we reached Nauvoo. We were really happy there but only for a short time. Looking back over my life, I think this was really the only few months of it all that my brother William and I knew real happiness. Mother soon passed away giving birth to a baby girl who also died. They were both buried beside the west side of the temple. I have never been able to decide why they were buried so near the temple unless it was owing to some mob violence which was going on.

After Mother’s death Father tried to care for us and keep us with him, often taking us along and keeping us all day where he was working. We had to sell the little cabin that had been my mother’s and live in a little log cabin near the home of Brother James Taylor. Then is seemed like we boys were ‘pushed from pillar to post’, as my father used to say. It seemed there was no one who really cared what we did or where we went, so long as we bothered no one for very long at a time.

During the summer of 1845, Father split his foot open while chopping timber. It would heal over on the outside, then later break out into a bad sore. He went in search of medical help for his foot. During this winter a widow woman took us in to live for a while with her. She had very little to live on and a very small home and with her own small children to support alone, it was a problem. She was so kind to share with us boys. I do not remember her name; it was hard to pronounce as she spoke very poor English. She became sick and was taken away.

Thomas age 7 and William age 5, spent the rest of the winter alone. We were always cold and hungry. We would search fields and garden spots for frozen turnips, potatoes or any other vegetable we could find. Some of the neighbours gave us food and cast off clothing. We found pieces of wood and kept a fire part of the time. We always told people we were alright. I don’t know why we never told anyone our real condition. Everyone had so many problems of their own. They never seemed to know that small boys might be freezing or starving.

Next Spring Father came back, still very weak and crippled. When he would feel better he would get people to take care of us while he got a job so he could pay for our care and the bills. At a meeting he told the brethren of his plight and his desire to find suitable homes for his boys. I was placed in the home of Samuel Mulliner as an apprentice to learn the shoe making trade, and to have some lessons in the school nearby. William was taken into the home of Thomas Moss.

I put in long hours over the shoe-making bench. Later I was glad for the experience, as I always had a job when there was no other paying work to be had. I could always find plenty of sales for the shoes. There were never enough shoes to go around in those early days of the church.

Later I went to live I the home of Sister James Taylor, at this time a widow; Brother Taylor died the winter before. She came next to my mother in my love and respect. How I came to love and honour her! Here it was that I came to know and love the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum. The Smith family and the Taylors were very closely associated; they visited back and forth like one family. Many times I sat on Brother Joseph’s knee or on my fathers, while they talked. I remember him playfully rumpling my hair as he said “This boy will go with the Saints to the far west, see them grow into a mighty people, and he will do his bit.” I was still with Sister Taylor when the Prophet and his brother, Hyrum were killed by the mob. I was about 9 years of age at that time.

I did not see much of my brother after we were separated until we started for Utah.

I continued to live with the Milliner family on the trip to Salt Lake and for some time after. The first winter in Salt Lake my brother and I lived mostly on Sego roots.

Following experience told to George Dobson, son of Thomas, by Joseph F. Smith.

The President of the Church, Joseph F. Smith and Frances M. Lyman of the Council of the Twelve held a conference in the Kanab Stake; they then went on to Fredonia and held a meeting. They announced in the meeting they would stand at the door and shake hands with everyone as they came out. When I shook hands with the President and told him my name he said: “Are you the Son of Thomas Dobson?” I said, “Yes”. He asked me to wait a few minutes, said he wanted to talk to me.

He told me he herded cows with my Father, Thomas Dobson, just west of Salt Lake City, between the city and the Jordan River. There was a large herd of cows there each day and quite a group of boys. One day we noticed a bunch of Indians on horses coming out of the willows along the river, they tried to round-up the cows to drive them away. Most of the boys became frightened and started toward town, but Tommy Dobson said, “those darned Indians can’t have my cows!” As a number of the boys had dogs, Tommy sicced the dogs on the cows and yelled until the cows stampeded and started to run for home. The Indians soon gave up trying to drive them away, and after this, for a long time Tommy Dobson was the hero of the cow herders.

Around 1854 I was called by the Church to go to Farmington to work with Thomas Ware helping them build a settlement and to make shoes. Here during 1854 and 1855 I improved a city lot and made adobe bricks enough to build myself a small house. About this time and Bishop of the Ward of which I was a member came to me and said, “Tommy, we have a young woman living in the neighbourhood whose husband died while coming to Utah. She has a little baby boy and lives with her mother and stepfather. He is quite an old man and in poor health. He is not able to support himself and his wife, let alone care for another woman and a small child. The young woman is slightly crippled but still very capable of caring for her home. Now you, Tommy, have no home and no obligations so we brethren in the church feel that you should marry this young woman and take care of her and her baby. She needs a home and you are old enough to need and support a wife.”

I felt a wife was the last thing on earth I needed just then – and I was frightened. I had never paid any attention to girls. Sure I figured someday I would marry, but surely not at nineteen years of age. However, the Bishop had his way. He saw to it that I met the girl and know how it goes. Girl meets boy, result…wedding.

Thomas married Annie G. McIntyre at Farmington, Utah in 1856. She was the daughter of Robert McIntyre and Isabella Watson. They were married by Bishop John Hess, uncle to John Smith the Patriarch, who gave Father a Patriarchal Blessing the same year, 1856. Everything that was promised in that blessing, pertaining to this life, came true during Thomas’s lifetime.

When I married Annie Gordon McIntyre Ruiz, it was a bad year because of the grasshoppers. We really suffered for food. Sometimes I did not know where to turn to get something for my family to eat. The next year we were called to Lehi. We lived there a year and worked wherever the Church leaders felt we were most needed. We then went to Spanish Fork where our two oldest children were born, Thomas and Joseph. The church left us there for three years, as we found it hard to keep moving now with a little family.

Thomas learned to read and write from the teaching given him by Annie.

When I lived in Spanish Fork, the Bishop called me to stand guard at the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon. I stood guard all night and was nearly frozen to death. I was sick for two months after, August Swenson stood guard with me.

Experience with a bear as told by grandson, A J Pearson.

During the period of settling the town of Spanish Fork, Utah, about the year 1861, Thomas F. Dobson had been called by President Brigham Young to help other families colonize the area. The families were in need of wood for fuel, so Thomas took his oxen and cart and went into the hills for fuel. The distance was only a few miles but the oxen were slow and wood had to be cut and dragged into camp, then loaded into the cart. Thomas found after a long day of had labour the darkness overcame him, making it necessary to camp over night. He made a bed on the hay in the box of the cart.

During the night he was suddenly awakened by the rattling and banging of the cooking pans he had left by his camp fire. He raised up quietly and peeked through a crack in the box of the cart. The camp fire had died out, but the moon was shining brightly which enabled him to see a huge bear licking grease out of his frying pan.

His first thought was to lie quietly with the hope the bear would go away. He had with him a muzzle-loading shotgun, which was loaded with shot and ready to use, if needed. He reached for the gun In case he needed to use it but his moving about attracted the bear’s attention.

The bear immediately left the frying pan and came over to investigate the contents of the cart. When he saw Thomas he snarled and Thomas in quick desperation shoved the barrel of the gun into the open mouth of the bear and fired. The blast tore a gaping hole in the top of the bear’s head. Although Thomas was badly shaken up after this incident he now had an unexpected trophy and felt that he was lucky the encounter hadn’t been more dangerous.

We moved back to Lehi but were only there a little while until we were asked to go to Richmond, Cache County to help build a community. There I went through some very trying experiences and also spent some of the happiest days of my life. My brother, William and his family as well as Father with his wife lived in Richmond. It was there that four more lovely children come to bless our home. I believe it was the year 1868 when my dear wife and baby girl both passed away leaving me with six little boys.

Annie’s headstone was hand-carved by Thomas with a beautiful tribute to his wife.

Thomas Frain Dobson 

...the great journey of immigrant Mormon believers seeking the promised land in Utah “with a constancy almost unparalleled in history”: “The savage man, and the savage beast, hunger, thirst, fatigue, and disease – every impediment which Nature could place in the way – had all been overcome with Anglo-Saxon tenacity.” A Study in Scarlet Arthur Conan Doyle

personal recollections (undated)

I, Thomas F. Dobson was born in the town of Macclesfield, County of Cheshire, England, Feb. 19, 1837. When I was three years old, my parents received the gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and soon after my father came across the seas on the same vessel with Brother Brigham Young, (I believe in 1840) to Nauvoo, Illinois with other members of the church. The next year my mother, with us three boys, I being the oldest at four years of age, on vessel to New Orleans.

The morning we left Liverpool, it was very dark with clouds and the next day became very stormy and continued for three or four days. During the storm it broke the bulwark of the ship, washed away one sailor and cabin boy, carried away the masts and sails. Next day a pilot guided us back in Wales for repairs.

We started again. The Lord saved us from the storm and at the mouth of the Mississippi River was met with a tug steamboat to help us up to Orleans, the first city we saw in America. We then went by steamboat to St. Louis, Missouri. It was there my brother Joseph died. We then went up to Nauvoo. We had been six weeks crossing the ocean. Our family was over two months from England coming.

My father built a log cabin in the northeast part of the city, nearly in the timber. Mother died in 1843, giving birth to sister Ellen who died soon after. Both were buried in one grave.

In 1844 Father went to work for James Taylor, father of John Taylor, the Apostle, afterwards President and Prophet of the Church. In the summer of 1845, father split his foot open with an axe while chopping timber for Bro. Taylor and was taken to Nauvoo, then down the river 18 miles.

While still a cripple, he came to Nauvoo to find his children who had been sent to hunt their living in the streets of the city without friends or home. Late in November, a woman took us to her home. I do not know her name. There after much hunting he found us and finally got an empty house to winter in without food, bed, or wood to make a fire. We stayed through the winter.

At a meeting father told he had two boys who needed a home. Samuel Mulliner offered to take me, so I went with him and my brother with Thomas Moss and we came to the valley in 1850, to Utah.

In the spring of 1846, I with a boy about 15, crossed the river on broken ice, as it was going down the river. Once I fell into the water to my waist we got over before it carried us over the rapids and returned in a skiff.

Father started west that spring. Had to use crutch to walk and drive a team of cattle. After getting to the Missouri River, he offered his services as a soldier in Mormon Battalion. He went to Fort Leavenworth and could have been trailed the first 200 miles by the blood from his crippled foot. He was carrying sixty odd pounds of his gun, knapsack, blanket, ammunition, and other things, across a new country over a thousand miles.

Brother Samuel Mulliner moved to Manmouth, Warren County, Illinois. One summer I travelled with them to Winter Quarters, then back to the eastside of the Missouri River again. then down river to Savannah, Missouri. We were there for one year, came back to the same place and in 1850 started across the plains to Great Salt Lake in Captain Warren Foote’s company of 50(?), arrived October 26th.

I, Thomas F. Dobson, lived with Brother Mulliner’s family about eight years. I then went to Lehi and from there to Salt Lake City again. I worked for Daniel Alen. I went with him to Sanpete, Manti one summer then back to the city. I stayed through the winter, then I went to Farmington. I worked for Thomas Weare at making shoes in 1854. In 1855 commenced to improve a city lot. I made adobe, built a small house, and that fall was married to Annie G. McIntyre. This was the beginning year of the grasshopper war. Then I sold out and moved to Lehi where we suffered for food. One year there, then we moved to Spanish Fork where we stayed for three years, we then moved back to Lehi and from there to Richmond, Cache County, where Father’s wife died, then my wife died during childbirth, then father died.

I took up a place on Mink Creek, twenty-five miles north, built a log house, and never went back. I went to work on the Utah northern railroad for three years, I then was called to labour on the St. George Temple one winter. The next summer I worked on the same railroad, then I went to Kanab where I cut stone, made brick, and helped in building the first brick meeting house and other houses, from there to Fredonia. I was first settler in Fredonia, Arizona.

The following account was written on a separate date:

“In writing of my life there are many incidents I would like to relate but my memory is poor.

After my mother died a year, father married a widow Murdock. They lived together about a year. They parted. We, Father and me with Will, my brother went at the time of the mob gathering at Nauvoo to drive out the Mormons, a man by the name of Harden, called General Harden, living near Monmouth where we lived after leaving Nauvoo. He said he would go down to the fight at Nauvoo and get an orphan child or two. When he came back he brought an ox which he did not pay for so the neighbours said it was the only orphan he could find down there.

We moved from there, travelling west across Laway to the place called Winter Quarters, westside of Missouri River. Stayed there that summer and winter. Back across River and down to Savannah, Missouri, often ridiculed for being a Mormon boy. About twenty percent of our church members lived there but did not tell what church they belonged to, all trying to get an outfit to come west.

We returned to Bluffs, Samuel Mulliner with us as family in 1949. I started in June 1850 to cross-plains on south side of Platt River. Was the 2nd wagon in Captain Warren Foote’s company of 68 wagons. I was driving loose stock most of the way, a foot without shoes.

THOMAS DOBSON by daughter, Annie Ella Dobson Button

Thomas Dobson was the son of Joseph Dobson and Elizabeth Frain. He was born February 17, 1837, Macclesfield, Cheshire, England. Came to Utah in 1850 with the Warren Foote Company.

Thomas married Annie G. McIntyre in 1855 at Farmington, Utah, (daughter of Robert McIntyre and Isabell Watson) of Bannockburn, Scotland – pioneers 1848. She was born 1837, died 1867.

Their children:

1.       Thomas M. born June 1856, m. Ananua Gee;

2.      Joseph born 1857, m. Agnes Beeby;

3.      William N. Born 1860, m. Elee Egar;

4.      Henry born 1863 died age 15;

5.      Adam born 1867;

6.      Isabell, died.

He then married Elizabeth Wiseman in 1881, St. George, Utah.

Their children:

1.       Jesse born 1883, m.  Eufrasia Cocho 1909;

2.      Annie Ella born October 9, 1885, m. Ray Button 1908;

3.      Elizabeth born June3, 1887, m. John Pearson 1911;

4.      Ellen born October 28, 1888, m. Orson Jensen;

5.      George born 1890 Mar 7, m. Rhoda Odgen 1909;

6.      John Dobson born Dec 18, 1891;

7.      Susie born June 28, 1893 m. Ralph Button;

8.     Frederick born Nov 13, 1895, died;

9.      Mary Ann Dobson born Mar 31, 1883, died 7 April 1883.

Thomas Dobson was a member of the 40th Quorum of Seventies. Also a school teacher. Worked on Salt Lake and St. George Temples. Drove a herd of stock across the plains when only a small boy. Settled at Richmond, moved to Farmington where he married his first wife. After she died he later moved to Kanab, Utah. He was the first settler in Fredonia, Arizona. Helped to keep peace with the Indians. He resided here for 30 years. Then moved to Marysvale, Utah where he lived until his death, which occurred Dec. 22, 1933.


Marysvale, Utah June 22, 1932


Thomas F. and Elizabeth Dobson celebrate their golden wedding with a family gathering and intimate friends. They were married in the St. George Temple, June 22, 1882. They lived in Kanab for several years where they helped to build up the settlement. Later they moved to Fredonia, continuing as pioneers and engaging in all the activities of a new commonwealth

Here they had a family of nine children, seven of whom are still living. They are Jesse Dobson, Salt Lake City, Annie Button (pictured), LaVerkin, Utah, Beth Pearson, Marysvale, Utah, Ellen Jensen, Ely, Nevada, George W. Dobson, Delta, Utah and John Dobson, Ely, Nevada and Susie Button, Fredonia, Arizona.

 In 1923 they moved to Marysvale, Utah where they now reside. Elizabeth Wiseman Dobson was born in Norrage [Norwich], England on March 11, 1857. In 1881 she immigrated to Utah for the Gospel’s sake.

Thomas Frain Dobson was born in Macclesfield, England on February 17, 1837. He came to Nauvoo with his parents crossing the Atlantic Ocean in the same company with Brigham Young when he (Brigham Young) returned from his first mission there. A year later his Mother died. During the exodus from Nauvoo, he went with his Father and younger brother to Winter Quarters. It was here that his father Joseph Dobson was called to the Mormon Battalion and left his two sons, Thomas five years, and William three years old, with friends. He lived for several months in the home of President John Taylor’s parents. It was here that he became acquainted with the Prophet Joseph and Patriarch Hyrum Smith.

In 1850 he came across the plains walking all the way and driving a small bunch of cattle. While assisting in building up many northern settlements and making the excavation and stone cuttings for the great Salt Lake Temple. On 1855 he married Annie McIntyre. They reared a family of five boys who have since passed away.

He is numbered among the sturdy pioneers who were called from Cache Valley, as a stone mason to work on the St. George Temple, and to build up and colonize Southern Utah. There are about 250 of his living descendents at the time of this writing.

Linked toAdam McIntyre Dobson; Annie Ella Dobson; Elizabeth Dobson; Ellen Dobson; Frederick Dobson; George Watson Dobson; Henry McIntyre Dobson; Isabella McIntyre Dobson; Jesse Wiseman Dobson; John Frain Dobson; Joseph McIntyre Dobson; Mary Dobson; Susanah Dobson; Thomas Frain Dobson; Thomas McIntyre Dobson; William McIntyre Dobson; Anna Gordon McIntyre; Elizabeth Wiseman

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