Sarah Jane Rich (Peck) (1825 - 1893)

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Birthplace: Bainbridge, Chenango, New York, USA
Death: Died in Paris, Bear Lake, Idaho, USA
Managed by: Leslie Ann
Last Updated:

About Sarah Jane Rich (Peck)

Sarah Jane Peck Rich, the fourth wife of Charles Coulson Rich, was born September 15, 1825, at Bainbridge, Chenango County, New York. She was the youngest of five children born to Benjamin and Phoebe Crosby Peck. Benjamin was known as a "river man," earning his living at least in part as a pilot on rafts going up and down the river. Phoebe supplemented the family income by doing custom tailoring. When Sara Jane was about four years of age, her father, a religious man, called the family together and told them it was his belief that the true church did not exist on the earth at that time. "But," he said, "there will soon be one. I will not live to see it but the rest of you will, and you will become members of it." Those were the last words he spoke, for he died within a short time, leaving Phoebe to care for and support their five children, ranging in age from nine year old Hezekiah to four year old Sarah Jane.

Within a year following Benjamin's death, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized. Phoebe was introduced to it, accepted its doctrines, was baptized, and became a member of the New York Colesville Branch, the first branch of the church. Sarah Jane was baptized when she reached the age of eight. When church members moved to Jackson County, Missouri, Phoebe and the children went with them. About that time, Phoebe became the second wife of Joseph Knight, Sr., whose first wife, Polly Peck, a sister to Benjamin, had passed away two years earlier. Two children were born to Phoebe and Joseph.

Later the family moved to Nauvoo, Illinois, where Phoebe was occasionally employed as a seamstress in the home of Joseph Smith. Through this association, Sara Jane became acquainted with the Prophet and his family. She was with the Saints who viewed the bodies of Joseph and Hyrum Smith as they lay in state at the Masion House. Because of her faith and belief in the doctrines of Mormonism. Sarah Jane accepted plural marriage as a true principle. On January 9, 1845, at the age of 21 years, she became the fourth wife of Charles C. Rich, 17 years her senior, in a ceremony performed by Heber C. Kinball in the Nauvoo Temple. Apparently Sara Jane and Charles had been acquainted for some time, for Charles' cousin, Thomas Rich, had married Sarah Jane's younger sister, Henrietta, in 1839.

After the saints had been promised they would have until the spring of 1846 to leave Nauvoo, Illinois, Governor Ford sent word that U.S. troops would arrive to evict them as soon as the Mississippi river thawed. That threat, along wit the ever-present harrassment of the Hancock County mobs, forced the Saints to begin leaving Nauvoo in February. Sarah Jane worked with the other wives in preparing the family for the journey, sewing clothing for the children to protect them from the bitter cold, packing what goods they had, and acquiring food supplies.

Suffering great privation, the Riches laboriously made their way with a caravan of saints through the cold of winter and the heat of summer, from Nauvoo to the Salt Lake Valley. Sarah Janes' first child, Hyrum Smith Rich, was born on October 8, 1846, at Mt. Pisgah, Union County, Iowa, where the families lived for a time in log houses covered with dirt and bark, using wagon boxes as bedrooms. After much deprivation and many setbacks, the family reached the Salt Lake Valley on October 2, 1847.

During the winter of 1847, the Rich family--except for Emeline, who spent the winter with her father's family--lived in the Old Fort, under extremely crowded, primitive conditions. Better off than some, the Riches had cows and sheep to supply them with meat, milk, and butter. When their precious food supply had to be rationed to three ounces each per day, like others they supplemented their diets by eating segoes and boiled weed greens.

Taking advantage of the Homestead Act, Charles obtained acreage in Centerville, located north of Salt Lake city, and moved Eliza and Sarah Jane there in 1849. They were pleased, since both had relatives in the area. Sara Jane's sister Henrietta and her husband, Thomas Rich, moved there a short time later. Sarah Jane and Eliza elected to remain in Centerville instead of going with Charles and three of the wives to San Bernardino, California, to settle in 1851. They and Sara D., who had remained in her home in Salt Lake City, provided for themselves and children as best they could while Charles was away. With the help of a hired man, William Judson, Eliza and Sarah Jane grew crops and raised animals on the farm for themselves and Sarah D. Occasionally, someone would make a contribution of some kind to them, knowing that Charles was absent on a church assignment.

While Sara D. was visiting the two families in Centerville, she asked Sarah Jane, who was expecting a baby, if she wanted to come to Salt Lake City to live with her until the dlivery. Sarah Jane gratefully accepted the offer, and on October 6, 1851, gave birth to twins, Orson and Orissa. Sarah Jane now had four children to care for: Hyrum, age 5, born in Mt. Pisgah; Henrietta, two years of age, born in Salt Lake City, and the twins. Although she had her hands full, she did not complain, willingly accepting the life she had chosen.

While living in Centerville, Sarah Jane raised many chickens and ducks. Always generous, selling the large eggs and keeping the small ones for her own use, she would add an extra egg for each dozen sold, making sure she gave good measure.

Charles was called to lead a group of Saints in setting Bear Lake Valley in Idaho in 1863, where land was available under the Homestead Act. Although she must have had reservations about giving up her comfortable Centerville home and leaving relatives, she made the decision to go without complaint. Cheerfully and diligently she worked alongside the others to prepare for the long, cold winters ahead.

She lived to bury eight of her eleven children. Henrietta and the twins died in Utah before the family moved to Bear Lake Valley; two more, two year old Julia Ann and 13 year old Samantha, died during the early years in Bear Lake; and her one remaining daughter, Phoebe, died at the age of 19 on October 21, 1879, from typhoid fever. Two grown sons died within five days of one another; Lorenzo on January 1st and Henry on the 5th, in 1893. She was an intelligent woman, especially skilled at knitting, preparing the wool from the time it left the sheep's back until it became clothing, she was noted for her many deeds of kindness and for her charity. she was fairly large in stature, and had hair "that inclined to the modest redness." In spite of the many trials and sorrows in her life, she accepted things the way they were and did not complain.

She died on the 29th of November, 1893, at the age of 68 years in Paris, Idaho, and was buried in the family plot. She had survived Charles by only ten years. The children of Sarah Jane and Charles were:

Hyrum Smith Rich: born October 8, 1846, Mt. Pisgah, Iowa, who married Elizabeth Stocks on June 18, 1867. He died on August 17, 1924.

Henrietta Rich: born July 30, 1849, Salt Lake City, died August 2, 1853.

Orson Thomas Rich: born October 6, 1851, at Salt Lake city, died June 19, 1852.

Orissa Rich: born October 6, 1851, at Salt Lake, died as a child.

Samantha Rich: born October 18, 1853 at Centerville, Utah, died April 18, 1866.

Henry Benjamin Rich: born December 15, 1855 at Centerville, Utah; married Mary Amarette Ricks on December 17, 1884. He died January 5, 1893.

Lorenzo Ether Rich: born April 22, 1858 at Salt Lake City; unmarried, died October 21, 1893.

Phoebe J. Rich: born April 27, 1860 at Centerville; unmarried, died October 21, 1879.

Julia Ann Rich: born August 7, 1863 at Centerville; died December 6, 1865.

Wilford Woodruff Rich: born on January 10, 1866 at Paris, Idaho; unmarried, died July 24, 1940.

Walter Peck Rich: born January 18, 1869 at Paris, Idaho; married Katie May Price on May 29, 1901; died July 18, 1943.

SOURCE: The above information was sent to Della Dale Smith by a descendant of Sarah Jane Peck Rich and Charles Coulson Rich.

July 16, 2013

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Sarah Jane Rich's Timeline

1825
September 15, 1825
Bainbridge, Chenango, New York, USA
1846
January 15, 1846
Age 20
Nauvoo, IL, USA
October 8, 1846
Age 21
Mt. Pisgah, Iowa
1869
January 18, 1869
Age 43
Paris, Bear Lake County, Idaho
1893
November 29, 1893
Age 68
Paris, Bear Lake, Idaho, USA
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Paris, Bear Lake, Idaho, USA