Thomas Foster Rhoades Commemoration

21 June 2008

Minersville, Utah

Welcome and Introductions

Bernie Rhoades

Travel to LDS Meetinghouse for Program


Elaine Smith Rotz

History Prior to 1849

Bernie Rhoades

Donner Party Connection

Donna Crow

Musical Number: “Families Can Be Together Forever”

Robert, Michelle, Charity, Emily and

Katie Ormsby

Thomas after 1849 –“Devoted to Faith and Family”

Ida Rae Rhoades

Closing Prayer and Blessing on the Food

Bernell Rhoades

Words on the plaque placed at

Minersville Cemetery Utah

On June 21, 2008

Dedicated to the Honored Memory of Thomas Foster Rhoades Sr. and Family

Somewhere, here at the Minersville, Utah City Cemetery, is the final resting place of Thomas Foster Rhoades Sr. (Rhoads before 1849) In 1846, the Wagonmaster and Head of the first loyal Mormon family to arrive in Utah, depart and the first to travel by Covered Wagon overland to California.

Thomas Sr, his wife Elizabeth Forster Rhoads, and thirteen of their fourteen children-John, Daniel, Isaac, Thomas Jr., Henry, Foster, Sarah, Polly, William, George, Catherine, Elizabeth, Caleb, and Lucinda- together with 35 members of their extended family and one friend set out for California in 1846 from Ray County Missouri. The eldest Rhoads son, Forster remained in Missouri to oversee the extensive farmlands owned by the family. Thomas Sr., a devout Mormon, had come to Ray County from Illinois in 1838 in order to escape the escalating violence against the Mormons in that neighboring state and to oversee in secret the sizable Mormon interests remaining in that part of Missouri. Family tradition has it that, in 1846, Thomas Sr. who had training as a surveyor and was thus eminently suited to the task, was asked by Brigham Young to once more leave Missouri with his family, and continuing to keep his ties to the Mormons completely secret, assess and report back on the relative merits of the alternative routes by which the Mormons could be moved westward as well as on possible suitable places beyond the borders of the U.S. in which the Mormons could permanently settle.

According to a letter, dated June 15, 1846, which was written at Ft. Laramie by Daniel Rhoads wife, Amanda, and sent back to her family in Missouri, the sizable Rhoads wagon train ferried the Missouri River from Missouri to Kansas on May 6 and 7, 1846 and proceeded over the St. Joseph Road to come into the earlier- established Oregon Trail route from Independence at the junction of the two routes just to the west of the St. Joe Road fording of the Big Blue River.

From Ft. Laramie westward over South Pass, the family continued to travel as one unit, but it subsequently split into two contingents at Big Sandy River in Wyoming with John/Daniel Rhoads and the greater number of family members taking the Greenwood Cutoff route to Ft. Hall and then turning onto the California Trail at Raft River while Thomas Sr., took the remainder of his family over the new Hastings Cutoff via Great Salt Lake to eventually come back into the California Trail at a point just below Elko on the Humboldt River in Nevada.

This was the same route traveled by the ill-fated Donner Party two weeks behind. The decision to split forces in this manner, while apparently puzzling, makes considerable sense in light of Thomas, Sr. !s assigned responsibilities as an undercover Mormon scout.

He, along with part of his family, would travel the just- opened Hastings Cutoff and assess its merits while the other family members would do the same on the already-established Oregon/California Trail route. An account by Lucinda Rhoads, written later on, confirms the existence of the Thomas, Sr. contingent as does this terse comment set down by Heinrich Lienhard as his party celebrated its arrival at Pilot Springs after the brutal crossing of the Salt Lake Desert:

The young American fellows danced to the Ft. Hall contingent is provided by an 1847 letter from Daniel as well as by this recollection of John McBrides at the turnoff of the California Trail at Raft River:

Two women and eight men named Rhoads, and Alvis and Thomas Kimsey turn off of Raft River for California. Daniel Rhoads subsequently painted his name in axle tar at City of Rocks in Idaho, and John, Henry, and Elizabeth carved their names at Register Rock on Goose Creek in Nevada.

The two contingents reunite in the Sacramento Valley early in October only to find the American settlers in open revolt and well on the way to ending Mexican rule. The family, settling right into the pattern which had become the norm for assimilating emigrants into life in California, immediately begins to play its role in unfolding events.

John and Daniel take part in the relief efforts for the ill-fated Donner Party. Thomas, Jr. joins the California Battalion and marches off to see service in southern California. By the end of 1847, Elizabeth, Sarah, and Catherine are all married. The discovery of gold in 1848, allows the men of the family to be in on the ground floor and to benefit from it.

Thomas Sr., a widower since 1847, returns overland in 1849 to the Mormon settlements in Utah carrying a sizable amount of his own gold as well as the tithes of the California Mormons. He remarries there and begins to raise a second family. Letters record trips back to Missouri by various members of the family beginning as early as 1850.

These trips are made both by the overland trails as well as by ship and the land crossing of the Isthmus of Panama. Thomas Foster Rhoades unpublished Obituary below courtesy of the SLC LDS Archives ***

Thomas Rhoades Died at Minersville Beaver County on Saturday the 20th of February, 1869. Bro Thomas Rhoades, after a lingering illness of about nine months. Bro. Rhoades was born in Logan County, now Muhlenburg Co. Kentucky July 13, 1794.

He served three years in the war of 1812 joined the church in the year 1835 in Edgar County Illinois. Baptized by Caleb Baldwin. Was in the troubles in Missouri. In 1846 moved with his family to California. Moved to Utah in 1849, located at Farmington. In 1858 he settled what is known as Rhoades Valley Summit County. Was with President Young and company to Salmon River in 1857. Was on a mission with a company of brethren to the White Mountains. He was called on a mission to the Moquis country when that mission was abandoned he moved to Kane County in our Dixie.

Deceased died in full fellowship in the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Was cheerful to the last with full faith and confidence of a glorious resurrection. Was beloved by all who knew him. Left a large family to mourn his loss. Deceased was interred on 22 inst. attended by a large concourse of citizens.

Plaque dedicated by

Descendants in 2008, Contact Bernie

Lee Rhoades, 11809 36th Street East,

Edgewood, WA, (253) 863-8917