William Wood Clark was born 23 September 1834 in Walcotte, Leicestershire, England to John Clark, son of William and Ann (Holyoak) Clark, and Mary Wood, daughter of John and Mary Ann Wood. Unfortunately, I know nothing of William’s childhood.
William married Eliza Limb, daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth Limb, 29 April 1860 in the next county over, in North Wingfield, Derbyshire, England. They started their life together in nearby New Tupton, Derbyshire, England. According to the 1861 British Census, after William and Eliza were married, they lived with Eliza’s father who was listed as a widow.
Also living with them in 1861 were two of Eliza’s siblings Herbert age 19 who was listed as a coal miner, and Mary Ann age 7 who was listed as a scholar. A servant, Hannah Whittacker age 54 also resided there. Hannah was born in Walcotte as was William Wood Clark, so possibly they knew each other prior to this. At this time William held the occupation of a coal miner.
William and Eliza’s first child, Elizabeth Clark, was born 4 May 1861 in New Tupton. Unfortunately she died 22 January 1862 at the age of only 8 months. About a year and a half later, William and Eliza were blessed with a second child whom they named John William Clark. He was born 23 July 1863 there in New Tupton. He also died as an infant, passing from this life 13 Aug 1863 after living only 20 days. Another two and a half years would pass before they had a child of their own in their home again. Their third child, Mary Ann Clark, was born 14 March 1866. Another daughter was born to them 4 June 1868, whom they named Hannah Elizabeth Clark. Both lived to young adulthood.
Mary Ann Clark and Hannah Elizabeth Clark
William and his wife learned of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints around this same time and accepted its doctrine. William was baptized by Elder John Springthorpe 30 October 1868 there in Derbyshire, England at the age of 34. Eliza was baptized two months later on the 25th of December 1868 at the age of 28. About a year later they were blessed with another daughter. Sarah Clark was born 8 December 1869.
As their testimony of the Church grew, they soon desired to join with other Saints in far off America in the Utah Territory. Family tradition states that William made a trip to Utah by himself in 1871 to make preparations there for his family. I have been unable to find a ship record stating what ship he sailed on as of yet, or any overland record of what company he traveled with once he got to America. He may have made this journey on his own rather than with a group of Saints. Regardless, he made his way to a little mining town in Summit County, Utah by the name of Coalville.
There he hunted for employment to earn money for his family who had remained temporarily back in England. After some time, he finally secured a job and worked there for a time. Once he had enough money, he planned a return trip to England to get his family. I don’t know anything of his trip back except that he had to overcome great difficulties on his journey.
While he was gone, much had happened. His daughter Sarah had died at the age of two in March of 1872 which was the same month as his six child was born and given the name of Joseph Charles Clark, he being born on the 16th. No doubt he had mixed feelings of grief for his deceased daughter, and joy at the birth of his new son.
William remained in England with his family for the next few years, no doubt to earn the money required to bring his family back with him to Utah. William and Eliza had another daughter, Dorothy Clark 25 November 1875. Sadly though, she died the following year. During this time period, their daughter Hannah Elizabeth was baptized at the age of 8 in 1876 there in England. Hannah’s sister Mary Ann was baptized 18 November 1877 at the age of 10. Another daughter, Bertha Clark was born 30 April 1877 and a son, Thomas Charles Clark 2 August 1879.
According to the 1881 British Census, William made a living at this time as a coal miner, and he and his family were living at 11 New Close Terrace in Tupton, Derbyshire, England.
The Mormon Immigration Index shows that William brought part of his family to America aboard the sailing ship Nevada, departing Liverpool, England 11 April 1883 and arriving at the port in New York 23 April 1883. This records shows that those of the family who came with him were his wife, and two of his children Bertha and Thomas. I know that his son Joseph Charles also came, but he doesn’t show up on this record. There is a record showing a Joseph Clark of the proper age and from the same place of origin, coming eight months earlier aboard the ship Wyoming, but this seems unlikely. I would assume that he would have traveled with his parents.
It seems that William and Eliza’s other two surviving children remained behind, daughters Mary Ann and Hannah Elizabeth. I can find no record of them coming, and the photos I have of them were taken in England and I think must have been taken when William and his other children left so that they would have a keep sake to remember them by. I am still researching this idea though.
Upon arriving in the Utah Territory, William again searched for a job to earn money to support his family. He had a difficult time finding work for quite a long time. I would assume that with the flood of immigrant Saints there wasn’t enough work to go around. He finally secured a job in a coal mine. He stuck with it for several years, though the pay was very little. When the mine became a failure he lost his job, having at that time only a few pennies with which to purchase food and other goods for his family. His testimony of tithing was strong and he showed great faith by what he chose to do with their small amount of money. He went to the store and purchased a few supplies, and returned home with enough money to pay his tithing. No doubt this taught his children a great lesson about the importance of living the law of tithing. I know that this legacy lived on thru the generations because my mother, who is William’s great granddaughter, remembers being told that William paid his tithing regardless of anything else.
They then moved to Hooper, Utah which is a settlement in Weber County. I don’t know what William did for work in this area. It was there that their last child Ida Lucille was born 2 September 1886. About three months later, grief would greet them again when their daughter Mary Ann died 27 November 1886 at the age of 20. I believe she was still in England when she died but I have been unable to prove this as of yet and I also do not know the cause of her early passing.
They remained there in Hooper for a few years before deciding to leave the Utah Territory. Many of the Saints spread out in this manner, colonizing and looking for opportunities in outlying areas. William and Eliza decided to take their family to the newly formed state of Idaho, to the small farming settlement of Carey in Blaine County in 1893 where they were able to homestead some land of their own. Carey, originally called Maysville, was located in the southern part of the state and had been founded by a group of LDS pioneers just 10 years earlier.
Their farm in Carey consisted of 160 acres. One can only imagine how blessed them must have felt in having a place of their own of this size. Back in their homeland they likely never would have even dreamed of such a great blessing coming their way. Their land was located where their granddaughters Melba (Clark) Sweat and Irene (Clark) Farnworth lived with their families years later.
The nearest town in the vicinity at that time where they could purchase supplies was Bellevue which was about 20 or 30 miles away. To make this journey would have taken all day by horse and buggy. In those day one had to make use of the resources at hand. Their broom, for example, was made with sage brush.
About two years after moving to Carey another daughter, who I believe also remained behind in England, passed away 22 November 1895 at the age of 27.
William and Eliza out-lived six of their ten children. The grief in losing those precious children must have been enormous, but they were comforted at least in part by their knowledge of eternal families and they must have been so glad to understand that they would some day be reunited with them again.
After living in Carey for about six years, William’s wife Eliza died 26 October 1898 at the age of almost 58 and was buried there on the 29th of that month.
On August 1st 1900, about two years later, William received his patriarchal blessing at the hands of Patriarch William F. Brim there in Carey. I have a copy of the original handwritten blessing. I will not share much of it here as patriarchal blessings are very sacred, but I will say that in William’s blessing it was stated several times how much Heavenly Father was pleased with William for being willing to sacrifice so much for the sake of the Gospel. I think often of what it must have been like when LDS pioneers left their homeland and much of their family behind to gather with the Saints, never to see them again. Some had family who didn’t agree with their decision, and turned against them. Often they had to leave many of their possessions behind. William and Eliza had great faith and courage, and made many sacrifices as well when they joined the Church and came to this land.
In 1902, William and his surviving children Joseph, Bertha, Thomas and Ida made the long journey to Salt Lake City, Utah to be sealed together for eternity as a family in the temple. William and his wife Eliza were sealed together on that glorious day, and all of their ten children were also sealed to them. The next day William returned to the temple and was sealed to his deceased parents.
After having this great experience with his children in the temple, William brought them back to their farm in Idaho. I can only imagine their conversations on that trip home, and the peace they must have felt knowing that they were finally banded together forever.
William Wood Clark and four of his children
Left to Right: Joseph Charles, Bertha, Ida Lucille, Thomas, and William Wood Clark
About six years later, William decided to make a trip back to his homeland. Some say that he was serving a Church mission there. Others say that he was there to visit family. Perhaps he went for both reasons. He was in England from 1908 to 1910. One home he obviously visited was that of his cousin Alice Clark, daughter of Charles Clark and Elizabeth Ann Campion. Alice was then 21 years of age. When William returned to Idaho, he brought Alice with him. William’s son Joseph married Alice the following year on the 13th of March 1911 in Carey. Joseph and Alice were 2nd cousins, as they shared the same great grandparents, William and Ann (Holyoak) Clark.
William died two years later on the 16th of October 1913 in Carey at the age of 79. He was buried there in Carey on the 19th. William Wood Clark lived a full life and one of great courage, faith, honesty, and dedication.
This story was written by Mary A., great great granddaughter of William Wood Clark and Eliza Limb. I have the originals of the above photos except the two are only photocopies and I don't know who in the family has the originals of those. If you know who might have them please contact me.