Darrin & Andrea Lythgoe's Genealogy Pages

John Lythgoe

John Lythgoe

Male 1834 - 1867  (33 years)


History of Pioneers John Lythgoe and Catherine Harrop Lythgoe

by Rachel Florence Capson Peck (granddaughter) Also mentioned: James Harrop, George Harston, Mary Harston, John Kilner, Rachel Kilner, James Lythgoe, John Lythgoe, Catherine Worthington.

Taken from family records of Rachel Lythgoe Capson, their daughter and my mother

John Lythgoe was born July 21, 1834 in Pendlebury, Lancashire, England. He was the son of Thomas and Esther Wilcock Lythgoe. He was a lively youngster and at the age of seven was sent to work in the mines because he was so mischievous.

When John neared twenty, he fell in love with Catherine Harrop. She was born Aug. 28, 1837, in Eccles, Manchester, England, to James and Rachel Kilner Harrop. Rachel was the daughter of John Kilner, an English soldier, and Catherine Worthington Kilner.

When James Harrop heard that two men from America were in their community, and that they were teaching the Bible wrong, he tucked his Bible under his arm and went to these young men, to show them wherein they erred. But they convinced him that they were right and he was wrongĺ they were LDS missionaries. In a short time he was baptized, and soon the whole family came into the church.

Because James Harrop joined this then unpopular church, he was discharged from his job as stationary engineer at the factory where he worked. His assistant was put into his place. But the assistant couldnít do the work satisfactorily, so James was recalled and this former assistant was made night watchman at the factory.

In a dream that James had, this man said to him, "Harrop, Iím going to kill you, and I wonít bloody my hands with you." Then for three mornings when James arrived at work he found the boilers dry, ready to blow up. On the fourth morning the gasometer did blow up, throwing James and his helper under the building, into the water and they were both drowned.

Catherine was only thirteen at this time, but she found employment in a factory, so she could provide for her own wants and assist others with family expenditures.

When Catherine was nineteen, John and Catherine planned on being married soon, but they changed their plans and decided he should go to America, find work, and send her passage money, so she could join him. He arrived in [the] Eastern United States, worked three years, then sent his savings to his father, with the request that Catherine was to be given her passage fare, and the rest should be used to help his family emigrate to Zion. But the father refused to give any to Catherine, even though the elders tried to persuade him Ďtwas the right thing to do, nor would he give any of it to his family, to aid them in coming. He invested it in hogs, and of course his investment failed.

So Catherine couldnít join John, and as letters those days were few and far between, and it took them a long time to ??? ??? ???, misunderstandings arose. Catherine didnít write because she hadnít received the money, and when she didnít come, John came on to Utah, arriving in 1859. Because money was scarce here, he went on to California, and there he found employment in a gold refining mill. He also washed gold from sand. He worked there five years, and once again had enough money to send for his sweetheart and others. But first he wrote and asked Catherine if she still wished to join him, and she answered immediately, saying she was still waiting for him.

He drew all his savings from his place of employment, intending to send them to England [the] next day. But as he was preparing his evening meal, two masked men entered his humble lodings, and demanded his money. He said, "Iím sorry fellows, but Iíve sent it to England." They searched him and his room and took what change he had and started to leave, but he said, "stay and eat with meĺ itís lonesome eating alone." So they stayed and ate, but didnít remove their masks, yet he felt sure that one of the men was one who worked next to him in the mill, and had known heíd drawn out his savings. He had hidden the bank draft on his person, and was grateful they hadnít found it when they searched him. First thing next morning he started it on its way to England.

This time, Catherineís portion was sent directly to herĺ she received a gold certificate for $250, and two weeks later a similar one came for her sister, so she would have a traveling companion.

During the long period of waiting and misunderstanding, Catherine became so ill that her recovery was dispaired of. But in their LDS Branch meeting, they prayed for her, and an old man prophesied that Catherine Harrop would get well, go to Zion, rear a family and work in the temple for many dead. The Elders administered to her, and Johnís brother James was "mouth" for the blessing, and he promised her that she would get well and become the wife of his brother John. Ill though she was, she began to feel that there was something for her to live for, and she began to recover, and was able to speak again.

When Catherine and her sister received the gold certificates, and Johnís family received money from him again, the two families decided to sell their household goods and all come. So Catherine, her mother, three sisters, a brother-in-law, her stepfather, her stepsister with a six week old baby, and all of Johnís family except his father (who refused to come) set sail for Zion.

Sailing was slow, yet they made fair progress Ďtill ice bergs loomed before them. At 2 am ??? morning there was a terrible crash, then a great stillness, broken only by the pattering of sailorsí feet as they ran to their various posts. Then the ship began to rock, and continued to do so for twenty-four hours. Some of the passengers prayed, some sang and some wept. Ropes were tied in front of all beds to keep the passengers from falling out of them. All the food they had then was "sea bread." The next morning the Captain told them that they had been in great danger of sinking during that stillness, and that the rocking of the ship was caused by its trying to get free of the ice berg.

Four weeks after leaving England, they set foot on American soil. Soon then came the long trek across the plains. When they saw their first sage brush they thought they were nearing civilization, but the drivers laughed and said, "Youíll see plenty of thisĺ Utahís full of it."

While crossing the plains, Catherineís mother became very ill. She would sit up with her mother nights, then walk with the others in the daytime. After six days of this she became so weary that when she lay down by the side of the trail to rest she fell so sound asleep that she didnít awaken when Ďtwas time to start again, so they went on without her, the driver of the last wagon awakening her. He asked her how this had happened and when she told him, he reported it to the the Captain, and he gave orders that all who had to care for the sick should ride in the future. Sick as her mother was, she had a great desire to live till she reached the Valley, but this was not to beĺ she died while they were camped on the Sweetwater in Wyoming, just two weeks journey from Salt Lake City. Her stepfather died one week later, and each was buried and the camp moved on.

John met Catherine in Salt Lake City, and they were married Oct. 22, 1864 by Heber C. Kimball. They then moved to Coalville, Summit Co., Utah, where John farmed, and also dug coal for those whose wagons were brought to be filled. He was so happy to have Catherine with him, and he was thrilled at the birth of each of their two children. He was a jolly, pleasant man, and he loved to sing. When someone remarked in his presence that what we did in this life would one day be published upon the housetops, he said, "Thereíll be a lot of laughing when mine goes up."

The happiness of this young couple was shortlived, for John was crushed when tons of coal fell on him while he was digging in the mine. The family believes that he was the first man killed in a coal mine in Utah.

Catherine became prostrate with shock and sorrow. Soon afterward she moved to East Mill Creek and lived with her sister and brother-in-law, Martha and James Young.

In 1870 she married George Harston. He was a good man and cared for her and her two children. Three children were born of this union, then George died of pneumonia, and five months later a baby boy was born to Catherine. She now had six young children to care for, which she did admirably.

When the children were grown, she worked in the Temple for hundreds of the dead.

Thus ends the brief history of two honored pioneers.

Linked toCatherine Harrop; John Lythgoe

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