Friday, September 24, 2010

The Family of Charles Houston Church

A few months ago I ran across a photo I just loved. I had to find out more about them. Oddly enough I had no problem finding their names.

Charles Houston (or Hayden) Church was born on June 20, 1836. Some genealogists say he was born in Franklin, Williamson County, Tennessee. His parents certainly lived in Williamson County at one point, but whether they were still there in 1836, I have not been able to determine. Eventually they moved to Shady Grove in Hickman County where their log home was one of the first built in the county.

Charles certainly grew up in Shady Grove and on August 18th of 1859, he married Dollie Mullens (1837-1874). They had a son (born in 1857 or 1858) they name Utah Church (one census recorder wrote "E. Church"). I take the name they chose to imply that Charles they may have been converted before that date, though I have no proof. The LDS baptism dates I do have are much later.

They lived in Tennessee in 1860 and 1870, showing up in the Census both years. Each census showed just the two of them and one son.

Dollie's first recorded baptism was on January 1, 1872 with Charles being baptized several weeks later on 13 April 1872. I don't know where the baptism took place, but he and his wife, Dollie, were then endowed (20 May 1872) and sealed (27 May 1872) in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City, Utah. Had they emigrated to Utah? Or were they just there to have their temple work done? Either way, it is likely that when they made the trip to Utah they were "re-baptized" upon their arrival.

Then in 1874 Dollie died. The date comes from several family trees in Ancestry, but in each case it is unsourced. In addition I haven't been able to pin down whether she died in Utah or in Tennessee. Did they return immediately to Tennessee or did Charles stay until after Dollie died?

On November 1, 1874, Charles married Sarah Eliza Voss (1854-1917) in Tennessee. The two had seven children.  By 1880, They were living in Colorado. Utah Church was living nearby and had married. But they didn't stay long. They do not show up in the 1885 Colorado State Census and by the 1900 Federal Census, they are back in Tennessee. A carefull look of the 1900 census reveals that a son, Hayden, was born in Colorado in 1881, but their next child, Mary, was born in Tennessee in 1883. All of their remaining children were also born in Tennessee. One was a son they named Parley P. Church who was born in 1897.

Their situation was not unique. Many saints who emigrated from Tennessee to Colorado found the conditions untenable. The weather was harsh and they still had to endure persecution from the many non-mormons living in the area. Several chose to return to the land they knew, often to the very homes they were unable to sell when they left Tennessee in the first place.

Although I can't find original records to prove it, family records show that both Sarah and Charles died the same year in 1917 in Maury County, Tennessee. Sarah passed away in April, and Charles died a few months later in November.


Ardis E. Parshall said...

I wonder if the census enumerator's recording of "E. Church" meant that he interpreted what he heard as "Eutaw," as in Eutaw Springs and Eutawville, site of one of the Revolutionary War battles in South Carolina? Until you have evidence of their earlier conversion, it might be cautious to consider that the Churches themselves might have been thinking "Eutaw" originally and only translated that to "Utah" after conversion.

BruceCrow said...

I have seen Eutaw streets in several cities. I even laughed when I saw the corner of Eutaw and Pratt in downtown Baltimore. I had no idea of the origin.

At least one of Charles' brothers [Haden Wells Church] was baptized in 1840, and B. H. Roberts claimed two others had been baptized before 1847 (i.e. in Nauvoo), though I have no dates for the last two. And since it was a story told in 1884, after their death, I took it with a grain of salt. [I have several examples of Roberts not being particular about getting details right in his stories. But that is a subject for another post.]

So, I was willing to accept that at the very least he could have had a favorable opinion of the Mormons. When his son was born [and when the record wrote "Utah" in the 1860 census] he had a brother living in Utah. That brother returned to Tennessee in 1870 and reportedly baptized several of his relatives. I'm guessing that was when he was probably baptized the first time. Again I have no dates.

Of course, none of the negates what you suggest. Charles father was from North Carolina and would have known the revolutionary war site. And the census record still could have thought he heard "Eutaw" in 1870.

Ardis E. Parshall said...

Yeah, obviously I don't know anything about the real date of their conversion, but if you were to find that it came after "Utah"'s birth, at least there's a plausible alternate explanation for the name.

BruceCrow said...

And a very reasonable explanation at that. One reason I post here is for exactly the kind of insight you have shared. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Charles Houston Church is my husband's gg grandfather. His family records indicate that Charles and his wife Dolly joined the church before their son Utah was born. Charles and his 2nd wife Sara Eliza Voss and named a daughter Eliza Snow Church b. 1890, and a son Parley Pratt Church b. 1896. Church family descendants claim that Abraham went to Nauvoo with his oldest son Hayden in 1841 to meet the prophet Joseph Smith, and that he (Abraham) also joined the church.

BruceCrow said...

Do you have dates for their baptism? I found the 1841 date in Hayden's biography - written by his wife, Sarah - but it does not name Abraham or any of Charles brothers as being there too.