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Monday, November 8, 2010

Funeral at the Bowery

Less than one year later the same guests who attended her marriage at the Bath House gathered on Sunday morning, October 19, 1851, in the Bowery for the funeral of Elizabeth Hendricks Gammell.  The mother of a three-year-old son and an infant daughter, she was just twenty-three years old.  Orson Pratt preached the funeral sermon.(1)

The Old Tabernacle and Bowery
as it appeared in the heart of Salt Lake City between 1847-54
Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University
In public domain

In the above photograph the Bowery is the crudely built structure on the right.  The street in the foreground is South Temple Street.  On the square now known as Temple Square “an immense shed had been erected upon posts, which was capable of containing three thousand persons.”  It served as a temporary place for religious worship and public gatherings.(2)  The Old Bowery, as it came to be known, measured one hundred feet by sixty feet:

It consisted of posts set up at convenient intervals around the sides of a quadrangle, the tops of the [one hundred and four] posts being joined by poles held in place by wooden pegs or lashed in position by rawhide thongs, and upon this skeleton-roof, willows, evergreens, sagebrush, and other shrubs were piled, resulting in a covering which was a partial protection from the sun, though but a poor barrier against wind and rain.(3)

That first winter (1847-48) in the Salt Lake valley, nineteen-year-old Elizabeth Hendricks married Frederick Nantz Bainbridge, age twenty-three, who had crossed the plains at  the same time in the Edward Hunter/Jacob Foutz Company.(4)  Not long after their marriage, Bainbridge grew disenchanted with the hard labor required to survive in the Salt Lake Valley.  As Drusilla Hendricks wrote, he had his heart set on greener pastures:

When hard times came on and he had to irrigate, he could not stand it so he wanted his wife to go back to the States with him or to California.  But she knew too much to do either.  He did not think that the Lord required him to stay here (Salt Lake Valley) without bread or to irrigate and he would not stand it.  I told him we would have to stand up to our rack, hay or no hay, and if he could not do it, he would have to start and take himself off, but that he could not take my daughter, so he left.(5)

Frederick Bainbridge went to California at the time of the Gold Rush (1849), and for the next twenty years he moved from mining town to mining town.  He was never heard from again.  Some sources say that he died in 1877.(6)

In contrast, four discharged veterans of the Mormon Battalion who were already in the Sacramento area and were working at Sutter’s Mill when gold was discovered on January 24, 1848,(7) ignored the chance to make a fortune and returned to their destitute families in the Salt Lake Valley.  However, they did take home with them $17,000 in gold dust, which they freely contributed to the economy of the State of Deseret.  Instead of being circulated as coin, most of the gold was kept in a reserve fund and paper currency was issued.(8)

It is interesting to note that James Gammell, as far as we know, never ventured to the gold fields of California.  Instead, he seemed content to stay in the Salt Lake Valley to carve out a life for himself and his family there, in spite of the lure of gold just eight hundred miles away.  In 1849 and 1850 an estimated ten to fifteen thousand gold seekers passed through Salt Lake City and provided an economic windfall for the Saints.

When Fred Bainbridge and Elizabeth Hendricks (or Libby, as she was called) separated, Libby returned to live with her family and helped them run the Warm Springs Bath House.  She and her son, James Wesley Bainbridge, lived there until she met and married James Gammell.

James Wesley Bainbridge, born October 21, 1848,
son of Frederick Nantz Bainbridge and Elizabeth Hendricks
Courtesy of Karen Bainbridge DeBow

Elizabeth Gammell, born July 23, 1851,
daughter of James Gammell and Elizabeth Hendricks

In April 1851,(9) James Gammell, living with his wife, Elizabeth, and two-year-old stepson, James Bainbridge, was the supervisor of roads and actively employed in the building of the new city.  On July 23, 1851, one day before the fourth anniversary of entry of the first group of the Mormon pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley, Elizabeth Harriet Mahala Gammell was born.  Apparently Libby, whose health was fragile, did not recover from the birth of her daughter, and she died three months later.  She was likely buried in Block 49, the first pioneer cemetery in the Salt Lake Valley.(10)  The remains of nine adults and adolescents and twenty-three infants were unearthed during the excavation for an apartment complex on this site in summer 1986.  Plans were to re-inter the remains in the Pioneer Trails State Park at the mouth of Emigration Canyon and to reconstruct the old pioneer cemetery faithful to the original configuration.(11)
  1. Journal History of the Church, October 19, 1851.
  2. Edward W. Tullidge, History of Salt Lake City, pp. 56, 59, 737.
  3. James E. Talmage, The House of the Lord, pp. 201-2.
  4. Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel, 1847-1868. No other members of Fred Bainbridge’s family were traveling with this company, which arrived on October 1, 1847.
  5. Robert Raymond, ed., Historical Sketch of James Hendricks and Drusilla Dorris, chapter 9.
  6. See Karen Bainbridge DeBow’s website:   Frederick Bainbridge married Elizabeth Almira Pond on 25 Feb 1849. She was possibly a plural wife, but this marriage ended as well when he left Salt Lake City.
  7. One of the men was Henry Bigler, who recorded the discovery of gold in his diary on that day. The diary is now on display at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California.
  8. Jean S. Greenwood, The State of Deseret, pp. 67-71.
  9. Utah became a territory in September 1850. Its federal census began in April 1851, taking two months. The 1850 census, therefore, is actually an 1851 enumeration.
  10. The cemetery was located between Third and Fourth South and Second and Third West.
  11. Deseret News, Section B, page 1, Sunday, March 8, 1987.

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