William Marsden was one of those stalwart Mormon pioneers who served in any way he could with the many talents he had. A convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often inadvertently called the Mormon Church), his burning testimony made him a worthy servant of God.
I, William Marsden, son of Abraham Marsden and Hannah Thornton…was born…on the 16th of March 1814, in the town of Oldham, County of Lancashire, England. My father was by trade a cotton spinner. I was brought up in the cotton business, and followed the same until I was twenty-five, years of age. My parents were strictly Methodists, they belonged to what was called the New Connection Methodists.
Conversion and Mormon Missionary Service
At the age of twenty four I joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I was baptized on the 7th of October 1839 in the river Irnvel, Manchester County of Lancashire, by James Mahon, Priest. I was also ordained a Priest January 5, 1840, by Parley Peter Pratt and Brigham Young, two of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The next day being Sunday, President Brigham Young requested me to go to Oldham to preach to the people as they did not have any Latter-day Saint preacher there. I did go having to make the journey on foot, a distance of seven miles. I invited Thomas Yates and James Mahon, Priests, to accompany me which they did. Thomas Yates and myself continued to labor there. In six weeks there were six persons baptized, each one belonging to a different denomination. I continued to labor there until a branch of the Church was organized. The branch was organized on Sunday February 17th, 1840. I then went to labor in new places, wherever I could get an opportunity to preach to the people.
On the 16th day of October 1840, I was ordained an Elder under the hands of Brigham Young and Willard Richards. The blessings pronounced on me were that I should have power over unclean spirits, and cast them out, and to heal the sick. I labored in Oldham and nearby places until April and in May I was appointed by Parley P. Pratt on a mission of Leeds in Yorkshire. I was there two weeks and returned home to Manchester County, a distance of 30 miles, the journey I performed on foot, being without purse or script [sic], and found sickness in my family.
A few days after my arrival home, my son Abraham died. Previous to being sent to Leeds, I was in the employ of a Mr. Francis Parnell, who by reason of my religious faith, discharged me, he being a prominent officer in the Methodist Church, and thought it a disgrace to have in his employ any Latter-day Saint, in consequence of which I was I was very poor, yet the Saints came to my aid and assisted me so that I was able to bury my dead. Soon after I was counseled by Parley P. Pratt to emigrate to America and there earn means to send for my family.
Mormon Emigration to America
Consequently I sold my household furniture, and by small donations from my friends was able to emigrate. I left the shores of England, from the Liverpool docks, by the ship “Clifton” on the 23rd day of September, and landed in New York the 12th of November 1840. I searched a few days for employment, but could not obtain any.
Under the direction of the church leader in the area, William preached in New York City and New Jersey.
Labored in the town of Patterson, baptized quite a number of persons, then back to New York and then to Trenton, New Jersey on the 18th of December 1840, and found my cousin Thomas Thornton. He was a blacksmith by trade. I remained with him 16 days, which time I worked in a cotton factory for a Mr. Ives.
William journeyed, preaching the Gospel to Philadelphia and then again in New Jersey where he met Brother Mulford who said he would pay all expenses if William would accompany him to Nauvoo, Illinois.
I left Burlington on the 12th of April 1841, traveling on the canal to Pittsburg, and arrived at Nauvoo about the last of April. On my arrival there President Brigham Young invited me to his house. He found me employment during my stay of 17 days, then my family arrived from England. My wife Jane Appleby Marsden, my son Samuel, my daughter Hannah Mariah, also my brother Samuel and his wife Sarah Wilkinson, they all sailed from Liverpool, England in the ship “Hanover” to the New Orleans, from there by steamboat up the Mississippi River to Nauvoo. They landed in New Orleans on the 1st day of May 1841, and arrived in Nauvoo on the 15th of May 1841.
Myself and family stayed with President Young for about 3 weeks, during which time my brother and myself made a house to live in. Brother Brigham let me have a city lot, and I being poor and destitute of tools of any kind, we borrowed an axe and got some hazel-brush and drove sticks in the ground and wove in brush like basket or wicker work. We then dobbed it with black mud inside and out, it had a board roof, the chimney and fireplace being made of sod, the size of the room was 10 by 12 feet. I then went to Oquawka, Henderson county, with Richard Hardman. We dug a well for Simon Owens, for which we received two cows with young calves. We worked there two weeks, and then I returned home to Nauvoo, bringing my cow and calf with me, which was very acceptable to my family, as they had been living on coarse corn meal and sour milk. The milk was obtained through the charity of the neighbors. …
On the following November 11th, my father and mother arrived in Nauvoo from England. I met them there and brought them to my house where they lived most of the time. My wife and I received our endowments in the Nauvoo Temple. Both my father and mother died on the 11th day of November 1849 and were buried in the Oquawka, Illinois cemetery. They died of cholera. I also buried my wife Jane and three of our children.
On the 29th day of April 1855, I left the state of Illinois for Utah, traveling by ox team with my family…arrived at the City of Salt Lake, September 3rd, 1855, and on October 3rd, I moved to Provo, Utah and I became acquainted with Lucius Nelson Scovil. On the 16th day of September 1856, I married his daughter Sariah in the temple in the Salt Lake City.
October 8, 1857, all the Militia was ordered out to Echo Canyon to confront the U.S. Troops sent out to Utah unlawfully by President James Buchanan. I was appointed Colonel of the Southern division. May 7, 1858, I guarded President Young and family on account of the US Troops. Next day I presented President Young a gallon of molasses I had made from wheat. President Young made a note of this on the Church record as I was the first man in Utah to make molasses from wheat.
June 24, 1858, I went to Salt Lake City with Ebeneazer Hanks and visited with Brigham Young. He told me to manage and assist Hanks to get machinery to manufacture cotton. I commenced to make drawings for the cotton machine. I went to the machine house in Sugar House Ward, remained there and superintended the making of machinery until it was completed. Part of the iron we used was scrap iron left from Johnston’s Army at Camp Floyd.
October 15, 1861, I left Provo City for Parowan, Iron County, with my family and I superintended the cotton factory until October same year. Later January 1864, I spent superintending the factory until May 1869. I made the first cotton ever made in Utah by machinery.
I supervised and established a cotton factory in Parowan and was superintendent over the cotton factory for many years.
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 64 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.