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Elizabeth Ann Birch Potter Brown

Written by Crystal Potter Lewis, Ruby Potter Valantine's half sister

Elizabeth Ann Birch Potter Brown


This copy written for the family by Crystal Potter Lewis

(Ruby Potter Valantine’s half sister)


            Elizabeth Ann Birch was born in Radonshire, Wales 21 Mar. 1821, the daughter of Ann Craven and John Birch.  The Birch family ancestry has been traced back to the Normans who invaded England, in 1066.  A nobleman who came with William the conqueror at that time was De Burgo and the Burgos, Burghs, Burkes, Birches, and Burches of England are all descended from that line.  Crystal Brown Lanier has a copy of the proof of that ancestry.

            In 1840 some Mormon missionaries among whom was Wilford Woodruff converted Elizabeth Ann, her Mother, her brother William, her brother Francis, his wife Elizabeth and baptized them into the L.D.S. church.  Francis and Elizabeth had a daughter Caroline 5 and a son John 1 year old.  The father John Birch did not join the church so when the rest decided to go to America and embark on the ship “Alesto” at Liverpool early in 1841, the father remained in England.

            They arrived in New Orleans May 16, 1841 after a long, tiresome ocean voyage.  The trip up the Mississippi River on the river boat was more interesting and when they arrived at St Louis Mo. they found a small boat “The City of Nauvoo”, which belonged to Daniel Jones and the Prophet Joseph Smith, waiting to take them to “Nauvoo, the Beautiful” which they had been anxious to see.

            The Birch’s were not disappointed when they viewed Nauvoo for it proved to be all that they had expected, but the ways of the American people were strange to them and they had a hard time adapting their lives to the ways of the new land.  About 3 years after they embarked at Liverpool, William was crossing the Mississippi from the Ohio side with two companions in a small canoe.  The canoe capsized and William was drowned, Mar. 17, 1844.  About 1845 a widower with some children, Arnold Potter, about 17 years older than Elizabeth asked her to marry him.  She refused him, as she felt that it would be quite a responsibility to take his children to raise, and she did not love him.  Because of severe persecutions of the Saints by people hostile to the church some left their homes in Nauvoo, crossing the river on the ice into Lee Co. Iowa, early in the winter of 1846.  Elizabeth and her mother were among those who crossed the river.  The hardships and suffering among the homeless people was almost unbearable.  Elizabeth’s mother Ann Birch became gravely ill, and when she felt that she couldn’t live, she begged Elizabeth to go back to Nauvoo and marry Arnold Potter.  So after her mother’s death she went back and married Arnold Potter Feb. 2, 1846.

            They were totally unsuited to each other.  Arnold was scholarly and musical and had been born and raised in Salisbury, New York and was about 42 years old.  Elizabeth of course was 25 years old when she married.  Evidently Elizabeth didn’t take an interest in the things her husband did or cared for.  They left with a group of Saints as members of Capt. Luddington’s company of 10 of Capt. Silas Richards company of 50 and crossed the plains in 1849, arriving in Salt Lake valley Oct. 27, 1849.

            They settled in Mill Creek near where Murray now is and probably thought their wanderings were over.  The next spring April 14, 1850 their first child (as far as we have record) Wallace Edwin, was born.  They had been married over 4 years then.

            A group of church members were called by the L.D.S. authorities to settle in San Bernardino in 1850 or 1851.  Grandfather Arnold must have had the roving spirit he handed down to his son Edwin for he decided to make that trip.  So with his family he left for San Bernardino.  We do not know whether he had any of the children by his first wife, Almira Smith, with him at this time, or whether any of them left Nauvoo with him.

            Arnold’s and Elizabeth’s second child George was born in San Bernardino.  He died when just a baby.  Also in 1855, a daughter, Mary Adaline was born in San Bernardino.  I have heard father, Edwin, say that Mary was a beautiful girl with auburn hair and brown eyes.

            In 1856 Arnold was called to go on a mission to Australia for the L.D.S. church.  According to records his nephew Amasa Potter also went on the same ship as a missionary.  They embarked on the sailing ship “What Cheer” Aug. 30, 1856.  The church record says that Arnold was a diligent missionary and fulfilled a good mission.  He returned to San Bernardino in Sept. 1857, being gone a little over a year.  I’ve heard father say that his father Arnold had some kind of fever on the return voyage and was delirious a great deal of the time and that some illusions stayed with him for the rest of his life, that came to him during his sickness.

            Elizabeth was not happy as Arnold’s wife and asked him to let her go back to her brother in Utah.  They separated and Elizabeth with her 2 children Edwin and Mary accompanied Francis Brown, a member of the Mormon Battalion, his Indian wife and 2 children George and Ellen on the return trip to Utah in the spring of 1858, although she was expecting a baby that summer.  Brown’s wife was also expecting a baby.

            They traveled northeast through southern Nevada where the Indian wife died of a miscarriage and was buried there.  The rest of the party proceeded on to Utah or Deseret as it was then called, reaching Beaver in early May 1858.  Six weeks later in June 1858 Elizabeth’s 4th child Eliza Ann was born and when she was six weeks old Elizabeth married Francis Brown.  Francis and Elizabeth Brown with their now 5 children moved farther north and east finally ending up in MurrayElizabeth’s three children by Arnold Potter grew up bearing their stepfather’s name.  Elizabeth had 2 children by Francis Brown, Francis Jr. called Frank and Rosella.

            In Dec. 1872 Francis Brown went up Little Cotton Wood Canyon for a load of wood.  Dec. 26, 1872 he and his team were covered by a snowslide and his body was not found until the next spring when the snow melted.

            By this time Elizabeths 3 children by Arnold Potter were married.  Eliza Ann was only 13 years old when she married Martin Weight 1871.  Mary Adaline was just 17 years old when she married Welcome Chapman Jr. 1872.  She had 2 little daughters born just a year apart and died when the 2nd daughter was born or shortly thereafter at the age of 19 years.  Wallace Edwin married Harriet Susan Kempton Aug. 21, 1871 when he was 21 years old.  His father had sent him the money $750.00 that bought the house where his mother and stepfather lived and it had somehow gotten put in Francis Brown’s name.  So Edwin let it remain that way.  His mother at least had a small home.  Grandmother Elizabeth made a trip back to England after her younger children were married.  When she returned she brought back some family heirlooms.

            Her daughter Rosella married Hyrum Lord and as near as I can find out they lived with Grandma in her home.  In Sept. 1890 Grandma was walking down the side walk near her home when 2 boys turned a hose on her.  She had known many hardships and soaking proved too much for her.  She contracted pneumonia, and died about 2 weeks later Oct. 1899.  Mother Hattie, baby Millie, and I (Crystal) were there when she died. 

Francis Brown Jr. married Lydia Reese.

Rosella Brown married Hyrum Lord.

Owner/SourceCrystal Potter Lewis
Linked toElizabeth Ann Birch

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