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James Wrathall of Grantsville (1828 -1896)
James Wrathall (1828 -1896) of Grantsville emigrated to the
U.S. in 1851, and settled in a fortification on the site of present-day Grantsville.
See Reasons for Emigration
for the circumstances of why he left Yorkshire. He was born in Buckden,
a village in the Yorkshire Dales, near the boundary between Langstrothdale
and Upper Wharfedale, two valleys (see Map of Wharfedale).
The area is characterized by large open expanses, green hillsides divided
up by stone walls, many small waterfalls, ridges of about 2,000 feet elevation,
and picturesque villages with 18th and 19th century buildings. I took some
photos of the area in 1973:
- Sheep Pasture and shelter,
south of Buckden
In pastures like this, James, his brothers, and his father John tended the
family's sheep, and this was how James developed the husbandry skills he
would use in Utah.
- River Wharfe, near south
entrance to Buckden
- Buckden houses, looking
These late 18th and early 19th century houses are probably similar to the
Wrathall house in Buckden, minus the antennae and plumbing.
- Small Creek, running
through center of Buckden
- Buckden houses
The hillsides around Buckden are uninhabited, given over to sheep pastures
and hunting preserves.
- Stone Wall, northeast
They had to be sturdy people to deal with steep slopes containing large
crops of stones each year, many of which ended up in the high stone walls.
- Upper Wharfedale,
view of Hubberholme from hill near Buckden
This was the nearest village to Buckden, down in the valley floor, and subject
to flooding, unlike Buckden on its hillside.
- Hubberholme Church,
northwest of Buckden
This 12th century church was the nearest one to Buckden. Kettlewell to
the south was twice as far away. The Wrathalls probably attended usual services
here, except in bad weather, when they may have attended a congregation in
one of the larger houses in Buckden.
- Falls northwest of Hubberholme,
near source of River Wharfe
There are waterfalls like this every few miles in Upper Wharfedale.
James Wrathall's parents were John Wrathall and Elisabeth Atkinson.
John Wrathall was born 28 Jun 1802 in Starbotton, a village down
the road from Buckden. He and his family moved from village to village
over the years. The LDS records list their marriage date as 26 Nov
1827 in Hubberholme, an old church northeast of Buckden, in the parish of
Arncliffe. John was listed as a labourer in James' birth certificate,
as a farm-hand (hind) in Bordley in the Yorkshire 1841 census, and as a farm
labourer in the Yorkshire 1851 census, which listed his birthplace as Burnsall.
John died 18 Jul 1863, in Yorkshire, place unknown.
The LDS records give Elizabeth Atkinson's birth as 20 NOV 1803, Bolton,
Wensleydale, Yorkshire; the Yorkshire 1841 census has her birth around 1807
- 8, place unknown; the Yorkshire 1851 census has her birth around 1805 -
6, Leyburn, which is a town near Bolton. As a part of his research, Derek
Wrathall of Skipton located the following information (on microfilm)
on Elisabeth at the Northallerton (North Yorkshire) Records office in April
Parish Records of the Chapelries of Bolton-with-Redmire in the Parish of
Derek speculated that the date of birth that we have from the LDS records
should read 20 Nov 1808, not 1803, which would tie in with the christening
date. In checking the IGI online records for any marriage between 1790 and
1803 for any John Atkinson and any Elizabeth, I found there are no marriages
listed in Bolton. Chapham and Austwick are the closest villages to Bolton
for which there are any records around the right time:
Christenings 1770 - 1837:
- 31 July 1803: Nanny, daughter of John and
Elizabeth ATKINSON of Bolton, baptized.
- 11 Dec 1808: Elizabeth, daughter of John and Elizabeth ATKINSON
of Bolton, baptized.
Derek mentioned that Robert Wrathall, a brother of James, was still in
a farm labourer in the 1891 Yorkshire census. Robert was the father of John William Wrathall of Grantsville . In Sep. 2008, Derek sent information on Ann , a sister of James.
- John ATKINSON
- Spouse: Mrs. Betty ATKINSON
- Marriage: Abt. 1799 Chapham, Yorkshire, England
- John ATKINSON
- Birth: Abt. 1774 Of Austwick, Yorkshire, England
- Spouse: Betty
James Wrathall emigrated to America on February 2, 1851. For more information
on his ship's passage, as well as the passage of his first wife Mary Leishman
and her family members, click HERE. James
Wrathall may have been part of a covered wagon train during his journey up
the Platte River to Utah territory (Deseret), or he may have travelled with
one of the handcart companies; click
HERE to read an article on handcart companies written by Carl Nolte.
As one of the first pioneers to settle in present-day Grantsville, James
Wrathall and his family were heavily involved in the development of the city.
Click HERE for excerpts regarding the Wrathall
family from Alma A. Gardiner's thesis, The Founding and Development of
Grantsville, Utah 1850 -1950. Click
HERE for information regarding James Wrathall and early Grantsville pioneer
families transcribed by Mimi (last name unknown) from the Daughters of
Utah Pioneers publication, History of Tooele County. Additional
transcribed information from that publication is as follows:
The first week in December  they [James McBride, Harrison
Herman Severe and their families] went back to Grantsville; other
families joined them. Some of those who came to Grantsville that winter
were: Benjamin Baker, his wife and family, the families of Thomas Watson,
William Davenport, Samuel Steele, Wilford Hudson, James Wrathall, James
Davenport, Perry Durfree and Mr. Davis[.] Benjamin Baker, president of
the Willow Creek Branch, wrote to President Brigham Young on August 30,
1852. His letter stated that there were only eight white men with their
families and forty five Indians.
The full text of this transcription can be found at this website: Olive Cheney and James
McBride. For further information on Grantsville, see the Utah History Encyclopedia.
In 1997, Milton Matthews of Salt Lake City (1919 - 2005) related
the following about his grandfather:
A considerable amount of information on James Wrathall was handed
down to me by his second son Percy and his daughters.
Click HERE for two preliminary versions
of photos of James Wrathall taken around 1890.
James settled in an area of Utah southwest of Salt Lake City that, while
desolate, had the appearance of offering opportunities that might allow James
to continue in sheep husbandry, as his ancestors had done since time immemorial.
In those days, the place was called "Zion".
He got his start with a few small flocks of sheep, herding them in droves
from various mountain pastures ranging from Northwest Utah to Soda Springs,
Idaho, and Central Wyoming. This mountainous, arid environment (inhabited
by outlaws and Shoshonean tribes such as the Utes to the east, Paiutes and
Goshutes to the West, and Shoshone to the north), was the opposite of
what he had known in Yorkshire, with its gentle hills, heavy rain, centuries
of civilization, and 6-foot-high stone walls enclosing virtually every acre
James would hire people to drive his sheep to market, grazing, and shearing
areas, and would keep the surplus of lambs for himself, taking a small profit
from the sale of sheep and wool as well. In time he built up quite a fortune.
James became prominent in the Grantsville area. He offered to finance
a pipeline to carry water to Grantsville from a nearby canyon containing
the north and south forks of Willow creek. He owned a number of cattle ranches
and dry farms in Tooele county, and eventually became involved in banking
and finance in the capitol, Salt Lake City. This was not a state or territorial
capital, but rather the capitol of Deseret, which the founders considered
to have the status of a sovereign nation.
James seemed to have a knack for making money. In his later years, he
built and resided in what was described as the best house in Grantsville.
Unfortunately, he never wrote anything yet found about his life or activities
in England or Utah.
Click HERE for preliminary versions of photos
of James Wrathall's siblings John and Jane, taken around 1887.
The above paragraphs are excerpts from a conversation in January 1997
with Milton, who, in collaboration with his uncle John Percy Wrathall
(1874 - 1956) of Grantsville , has provided a compilation of several
documents about his grandfather entitled "Information Regarding the James
Wrathall Family" (1964). One of these document is "A SKETCH OF JAMES
WRATHALL'S LIFE" by Percy Wrathall; click HERE
to read it. Another document is the "HISTORY OF JAMES WRATHALL",
written by Lois Eileen Wrathall Nicholson, granddaughter of James Wrathall
(1828 - 1896) and Flora Ann Sabin (1852 - 1891); click HERE to read it. Lois Nicholson's document
relates that James and Flora Wrathall travelled to England in 1889; click
HERE for more information. "Tour Historic
Grantsville", a 16-page brochure produced for the Historical Brochure
Committee of the 1884 -1984 Centennial Old Folks Sociable, contains descriptions
of the Grantsville homes of James Wrathall and James L. Wrathall; click
HERE to read them. In 2002, Jill Homer wrote an
article about Wrathall Grantsville homes for the Tooele Transcript-Bulletin;
HERE to read it.
In 2001, Celia Wrathall Book of Santa Barbara found a document
in the University of California (Berkeley) Bancroft Collection that recounts
a dictation taken in 1881 from James Wrathall (1828-1896). The original
is on microfilm and is in long-hand script:
James Wrathall, Grantsville, Tooele [County], Utah
James Wrathall's involvement in industrial and agricultural affairs in
Utah was mentioned in local newspapers in the latter half of the 19th century.
For more information, click HERE.
Mr. Jas. Wrathall was born in England in 1828 and came to Utah in 1851 and
settled in Grantsville.
In 1866 [sic] he married Mary Lishman, a native of England whose family
came to Utah in '54. He became engaged in farming and stock raising. He
began without money, but when he could get a few dollars for labor, laid
it aside until he could buy a cow, and he started a sheep herd from one ewe,
adding one as he could save the money to buy it, and from these small beginnings,
he has 20,000 sheep and quite large bands of cattle, and is the wealthiest
man in the [County] probably.
He was one of the organizers of the Co-op and was interested in the Factory,
which was a failure, in the Gristmill and in every enterprise started in
the [County] calculated to benefit the community. He is interested in the
Co-op Wagon and Machine [Company] in Salt Lake City and in the House Fire
Insurance [Company]. He also has a small interest in the Herald published
at Salt Lake which he took to aid the paper.
He has had very little to do with politics but has been Alderman and in
the City Council.
In August 2001, I found three accounts of immigrants to Utah involved with
James Wrathall and his son James Leishman Wrathall (1860 - 1932); click HERE to read them. In January 2002, James
L. Wrathall II (grandson of James Leishman Wrathall) updated his account
of the various Wrathall ranches in Utah; click HERE
to read about them. Around 1980, Taft R. Wrathall (son of James Leishman
Wrathall) wrote about his father's ranches and related matters; click HERE to read excerpts from Taft's autobiography.
In June 2002, Pauline Wrathall Hawker, great-granddaughter of James
Wrathall (1828 - 1896), sent several documents and old photos pertaining
to Wrathalls of Grantsville, which we will be adding to the site. One of
the documents was the obituary of James Wrathall; click HERE to read it. The photos sent by Pauline Hawker
In July 2002, Pauline Wrathall Hawker sent
photos of Wrathall monuments in the Grantsville cemetery; click HERE to view them.
Andy E. Wold and Kent Davis of Lehi, Utah have been working on "Abstracts
of Deaths and Marriages Notices in the Deseret News Weekly of Salt Lake City,
Utah (1852-1888)" for several years. Their transcriptions include two notices
regarding James Wrathall's (1828 - 1896) wives (the two links below
may require several minutes to load (July 2006):
HERE to view the source of the following record for James Wrathall's
first wife, Mary Lishman (1822 - 1871):
Date of Newspaper publication: 10 May 1871
FHL US/CAN Film 0026592, item 2
Died, Grantsville, 13 Apr 1871, Mary Lishman wife of James WRATHALL, 49
years 3 months.
HERE to view the source of the following record for James Wrathall's
third wife, Frances Port Cask (1842 - 1883):
Date of Newspaper publication: 16 May 1883
Died, Grantsville, 25 Apr 1883, Frances wife of James WRATHALL and daughter
of William & Mary PORT, from Hampshire, England, born 20 Aug 1842.
In Aug. 2003, Shirley Nawrocki sent Ailna Martin's account of the
life of James Lishman , great-grandfather of Mary Lishman;
click HERE to read it.
In May 2005, Elizabeth Ann (Horner) Gurr wrote an article for the
Tooele Transcript-Bulletin with the title Family
to honor predecessor's legacy Monday, concerning Elizabeth Ann (Robinson)
Mander. The following is a quote from the article:
Robert [Alfred Mander] ... travelled from St. Louis, Mo. with
his widowed mother, Maria (Lishman) Bickley Mander Watson. As a four-year-old,
Robert walked across the plains, while his mother carried his little sister
Sarah Ann (Mander) Green (Mrs. Henry Thomas Green). His other sibling, John
Mander, died a teenager in Grantsville. John lived with James Wrathall and
his Aunt Mary (Lishman) Wrathall.
In Dec. 2005, Pauline Wrathall Hawker sent a copy of A Biography of James Wrathall (1828 - 1896),
which was part of a scrapbook put together by James
R. Williams (1894 - 1984), teacher and principal at Grantsville High
School and mayor of Grantsville. The biography is a newspaper clipping,
probably dated 1923 and published in The Grantsville Observer and
The Tooele Transcript, and was given to Pauline by Mr. Williams' daughter
In Aug. 2006, Helen Aldridge of Grantsville (dustbuster777(at)hotmail(dot)com)
wrote an account concerning
the home of James Wrathall (1828 - 1896). Also in Aug. 2006, Helen was able to get copies of photos of James Wrathall's home, with the assistance of Ron Perry of the Tooele County Assessor's Office. The first photograph depicts the house in the approximate period of 1932 - 1937. The second photo has the number "1975" on the back. Helen mentioned that the house no longer looks like either of these photos, although it is much more like the second than the first. It has been stuccoed in off-white and scored to look like brick. Helen also said that the parcel number for the house is 1-093-0-0034, and that in the older photo, the sign with "B-2-10" printed on it (held by an unidentified man) may refer to the block and lot.
In May 2007, a webpage with the title
MATTHEW FRANCIS BELL Blessed, Honored Pioneer
(by Lester L. Knight) had the following references to James Wrathall:
Matthew and Jane, and a few others of the company, must have gone to Grantsville almost immediately, because Jane gave birth to their first child, Isabella, there on October 4th . Settlement at Grantsville had started the previous year. Friends from the Dales, James Wrathall and John and George Hardy, who had immigrated the year before, were already there. ... Matthew and his friends from Yorkshire (James Wrathall, the Hardy brothers, and William Rydalch) were members of the Nauvoo Legion (organized to check Indian depredations) and attended periodic musters. ... He and his Yorkshire friend, James Wrathall, were among those sent to build and man defenses at Echo Canyon.
Matthew Bell was mentioned in
Wrathall Involvement in the History of Grantsville
and Jane Bell (widow) was listed as a boarder with the Wrathall family in the
1920 Tooele County Census . If the Ancestral file data source listed in the latter page for Jane is the correct source, then Jane was not a sister-in-law of Matthew.
In June 2009, Utah Digital Newspapers had the following death notice for Mary Lishman Wrathall:
At Grantsville, Tooele County, April 13th 1871, MARY LISHMAN, wife of James Wrathall, after three days sickness, aged 49 years and 3 months. Sister Wrathall was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1841, at Preston, England. She lived and died a faithful Saint. --Com.