Monday, May 19, 2014

William Wilson Morrell and Dorthea Hansen

William Wilson Morrell, Glen's great, great grandfather, has a very interesting story of his journey to the Salt Lake Valley.  The Morrell family came to colonial North America in the early 1600's. They settled at Kittery, which today is known as Maine.  About 1815, Benjamin and Mary Armstrong Morrell with their family moved west and settled along the Ohio River near the confluence with the Scioto River. Cyrus Wilson Morrell, their fourth child, would have been about nine years old when this move was made.  It was in Nile Township, Scioto County, Ohio, that William Wilson, the eldest son of Cyrus Wilson and Mary Worley Morrell was born on May 8, 1830.

The westward movement continued and in 1834, the family is found residing in Morgan County, Illinois.  This was within 75 miles of what would become the city of Nauvoo but there is no evidence of contact with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during the 1830's and 1840's.  By the later part of the 1840's, William and his family are living in Schuyler County, Illinois.

The Gold Rush of 1849 found William Wilson and his father, Cyrus Wilson Morrell, along with other family members joining the movement west to the gold fields of California.  This picture of father and son was taken at that time.

William Wilson never made it to California.  As they neared the Great Basin, it is told that they met a member of Brigham Young's colony who persuaded William to accompany him to the Salt Lake Valley.  It is known the in late October of 1849, Silas Richards led a party to the Valley.  Because of William's later involvement with the Richards family, it is possible that Silas Richards was the person William met on his way westward.

On September 15, 1850, William was baptized a member of the LDS Church by Elijah McClenahan, a grandfather of Sarah Jane Richards, the daughter of Silas and Elizabeth McClenahan Richards, prominent pioneer settlers in South Cottonwood and Union Fort.  Union Fort is where William and Sarah married and would live for several years.  They had seven children during this time period.

An interesting side note, my ancestor, Warren Foote, as well as Glen's ancestor, Darius Salem Clement, also lived at Union Fort during this time period.  On July 24, 1855 William and Warren sang a duet as part of the program commemorating the arrival of the first pioneers to the valley in 1847.

William Wilson is said to have been a machinist and blacksmith.  In the Utah Territorial Election of 1858, William was elected as a constable for the Great Salt Lake County.

He was also an explorer and builder.  He explored southern Utah and Arizona with Jacob Hamblin.  Later in life he settled in Rabbit Valley where he built the first public building pictured above.  It was here that he and his family operated a sawmill on the Fremont River.  He was also a road builder.

 The Morrell grave marker in Fremont for William Morrell.  This side is in honor of his first wife, Sarah Richards.

 This side honors William and Sarah as parents.

 This side is in honor of William Wilson Morrell.  It includes the marker on the bottom honoring him as a pioneer.

 To the left of the Morrell grave stone is this marker on the grave of William's second wife who also came with him to Rabbit Valley.

 The words on the front of the marker honoring the parents.

The beautiful motif at the top of each side of the marker.

He died in Fremont, Wayne County, Utah on January 14, 1907.  I find it interesting that his grave marker includes the symbol placed on graves of the pioneers who came across the plains during the 150th year celebration in 1997.  Although not a Mormon at the time, he was a pioneer.

The entrance to the cemetery.

William was a polygamist and eventually married five wives.  Not all of these marriages were happy ones:

2nd wife was Matilda Elvira Kelsey whom he married on February 1856.  In 1860, the Kelsey family was called to settle Cache Valley and Matilda took their two small daughters and went with them, eventually marrying someone else.

3rd wife was Dorthea Marie Jacobsen who had emigrated from Denmark in 1863 with a four year old son, Carl.  He left his first family at Union Fort and took Dorthea to settle in Kamas Valley where they had three sons between 1866 - 1871.  He was the first permanent settler building a house in Kamas Valley and the new community was called Morrell.  It eventually became Denmark and then Marion.

4th wife was Elza Dimick whom he married on February 24, 1866.  They had one daughter in Kamas Valley and then Eliza died on November 25, 1870.

5th wife was Dorthea Hansen and I was able to find her story which is found below.  It was her daughter with William, Nancy, that is Glen's great grandmother.  This story as well as William's are found in the book "Ancestry and Descendency of William Wilson Morrell" which was published by family members in 1987.

Dorthea Hansen Morrell
Fifth wife of William Wilson Morrell

Dorthea Hansen was born February 25, 1843, in Fuglse, Maribo, Denmark, to Lars Hansen and Karen Rasmussen. She came to the United States in 1866 and settled in Morrell (Marion), Utah. From a history on Nancy Morrell ( her daughter) her father was referred to as Lars Mattsen. Dorthea may also be referred to as Dortea, this difference comes from the problem of pronouncing the word Dorthea, for some people.

When she married William Wilson, she had a son, Henry Hansen, who was born November 13, 1868. She and William Wilson married on September 20, 1869, in the Endowment House, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Dorthea gave birth to Nancy April 26, 1870 in Kamas (Morrell), Summit, Utah. Dorthea and William separated sometime between 1870 and 1873. When she left the home she took her son, Henry, and daughter, Nancy, with her.

We have been unable to find a record of divorce or a cancellation of sealing for William Wilson Morrell and Dorthea Hansen. She made a living by cooking and nursing in different people’s homes. Her daughter Nancy states: “She gave off lots of sunshine and even if there was frost and shadows in her life, she kept them brushed away.” After the separation, she married Anders (Andrew) Jorgenson and moved to Peoa, Utah. Anders and Dorthea had three children, she died in childbirth when Dorothy was born, on August 10, 1879, in Peoa, Summit, Utah. She was buried in Peoa, Summit, Utah. She was buried in Peoa Cemetery.

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