Friday, June 1, 2012

Richard Rowley

Richard Rowley, son of William and Ann Jewell Rowley, was born 10 February 1845 in Suckley, Worchestershire, England. William and Ann were baptized in May of 1840 after hearing the gospel from the apostle Wilford Woodruff. Richard was born almost five years later. William died when Richard was only 4 years old.

Ann Jewell Rowley

By this time his family was reduced from prosperous tenant farmers to destitute day-laborers. When the offer came for the Rowleys to use funds from the Perpetual Emigration Fund to come to Utah, they gratefully accepted. After 6 weeks at sea on the “Thornton” and enduring the hardships of the Willie Handcart Company, the family made it to Salt Lake, although they lost a sister, Eliza, on the plains. Richard was 12 years old at this time but showed his maturity on the plains when he noticed a man in their company was missing. He borrowed a horse and rode to find the man.

When the family reached Salt Lake, Richard and his sister Louisa were sent to Tooele County to work for a man named John Tate. Richard was only 13 years old at the time and became home sick for his mother. Louisa had married and left and in September of 1857 Mr. Tate told him he could leave if he wish. Almost immediately, Richard was on his was without asking for any food and only the clothes he was wearing. After a short time, Richard became sick with Mountain Fever. He was found on the road and first taken to Louisa's home in Springville and then to Nephi to his sister Elizabeth's home to recover. In October, he finally joined his mother in Parowan where he lived the rest of his life.
Richard was ordained and Elder on 29 January 1864, according to his autobiography.
In his autobiography Richard wrote: "As a boy I had great faith in the Gospel and great respect for the authorities of the Church and always had the courage to defend the Gospel and its authorities in my weak way" (spelled corrected).

A good example of this courage was shown when Richard was when he was called to drive an ox team to the Missouri River to meet a group of Saints coming from England and lead them to Utah. In the company was Mary Ann Ray. By the time they reached Salt Lake City, they had decided to be married. They were married by George A. Smith in his Salt Lake home on October 1, 1866.

Richard and Mary Ann in about 1890, ages 45 and 44.

Their first home was in Paragonah. Richard took the covered wagon that he had used to guide the company across the plains from its wheels and placed it on the ground. This was their “home” until after their first child was born when Richard built a small adobe home in Parowan. As the family grew (the couple had 9 children, 8 who grew to adulthood) rooms were added. Eventually it became one of the finest homes in Parowan.

Richard was proud to become a citizen of the United States of America on November 9, 1894 after living here for nearly 40 years.

The 1900 Census record shows Richard as head of household and lists his wife and 6 of their children. The census indicates that he was a farmer, that he owned his farm outright, and had a home.

Closer view of Richard's family on 1900 Census.

Richard Rowley Family, 1906.
Back: Richard Edward, Frances, William, Thomas, Mary Jane.
Center: Mary Ann and Richard.
Front: Emily, George, Sarah

Richard was very involved in the community and although he had no formal education, with help from his wife, he became a fine speaker. His learning materials were a newspaper and a dictionary. He served many positions in the community including Justice of the Peace, pound keeper and City Coucilman.

Richard was a farmer and he and his family worked hard to provide for themselves. He wasn't a large man. He was about 5'6" and never weighed more than 135 lbs. He was a very neat person. In fact, his granddaughter remembered that his clothes were never dirty, even when working in the yard.

Richard and Mary Ann, 1925.

In his late years, Richard was had what was then called "senility," but it was most like Alzheimer’s. His daughter Frances cared for him as well as the other children. Richard died December 2, 1929 in his home Parowan, two years after Mary Ann's death.

Richard's death certificate.
Notice that is says cause of death is "Apoplexy" which was a term used for a stroke.

Richard is buried in the Parowan Cemetery. Click here to see gravestone on Find-a-grave.

Click HERE to read Richard's autobiography.


  1. you mentioned he wrote an autobiography. Are there any copies around anywhere? a digital version would be amazing!