Elizabeth Van Benthuysen Gilbert

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Elizabeth Gilbert (Van Benthuysen)

Death: Died
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Jacobus James Van Benthuysen and Mary Simonds Van Benthuysen
Wife of Algernon Sidney Gilbert
Sister of Keziah Keturah Van Benthuysen Rollins; Henry Van Benthuysen and John Henry Van Benthuysen

Managed by: Della Dale Smith-Pistelli
Last Updated:

About Elizabeth Van Benthuysen Gilbert

Elizabeth Van Benthuysen Gilbert was the wife of Sidney Gilbert, who owned a store in Kirtland, Ohio, at the time the leaders of the LDS Mormon Church were gathered there around 1830. Earlier, her sister, Keziah Ketura Van Benthuysen Rollins, had asked Elizabeth and her husband Sidney to care for her son, James Henry Rollins, after the death of his father, John Porter Rollins in about 1821, when he and the load of cattle he was taking from New York to Canada went down in a storm on Lake Ontario. Keziah sent her son James Henry to be raised by the Gilbert's, since they had no children of their own.

They moved from New York to Mentor, Ohio, in 1825, and a year after that moved to Kirtland, Ohio, where Sidney Gilbert went into the mercantile business with Orson Newel K. Whitney. They had their nephew do chores for them, and as soon as he was old enough, James Henry was employed in their store as clerk. When James Henry was about 14 years old in 1830, the leaders of the LDS Mormon Church came into Kirtland, Ohio. And later the family migrated to Missouri, Illinois, and Winter Quarters, Nebraska, before going with the Mormons to Utah in 1848.

Elizabeth was not found in the 1850 census, but the 1860 census she was living with her niece (James Henry's sister), Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, and her husband and children in Hannibal, Missouri. By the 1870 census, Elizabeth was living in the home of her nephew and his plural wife, James Henry Rollins and Hannah Alice Hulme, along with James and Hannah's children. Elizabeth was listed as a midwife, which was probably a good skill to have considering her nephew had 22 children with his two wives. In the 1870 census, James Henry's first wife, Evaline Walker was living with her children next door to James Henry and Hannah and their children.

From the following website: http://byustudies.byu.edu/Resources/BioAlpha/MBRegisterG.aspx

Gilbert, Elizabeth Van Benthusen (1800-1891), born at Albany, Albany County, New York. Her sister, Keziah, was the mother of Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner. Married Algernon Sidney Gilbert, 1823. Baptized at Kirtland, Ohio, by Oliver Cowdery, 1830. She was the first Mormon woman to enter Jackson County, Missouri, traveling there with her husband and Joseph Smith in 1831. Lived with the Lightner's after the death of her husband. Migrated to Utah in 1863. "Ordained" a midwife at Minersville, Utah, 1870. Died at Minersville.

The following information is from Family Search.org:

Elizabeth Van Benthuysen Gilbert (Compiled by Vie Carter Watts)

Who is Elizabeth? Have any of you heard of this valiant, courageous woman? She had no descendants to tell her story, so I shall. Elizabeth was the daughter of James and Mary Simonds (Simons) Van Benthuysen, born August 5, 1800, in Albany, New York.

The earliest known Van Benthuysen in American was Paulus Martense. He came to New Amsterdam (New York) in about 1642 and lived in Ft. Orange (Albany). He owned considerable property here. He married Catherine Van Kleek. His sixth child was Baltus Pontese who married Lydia Dally. Their fourth child, also Johannes married Keziah Van Hoesen. Their son, Jacobus or James born June 26, 1772, married Mary Simonds. James had two sisters and one brother. One sister Alida married David (or John) Winne. All of the above were born in Albany, New York.


James, the father of Elizabeth met his death after slipping and falling on some ice which was on the steps of a hotel. He left four children, Henry, John, Keziah Keturah, and Elizabeth. Someone recently dug up another child, Gessie, but in some records Aunt Nell Osborn left with me it gives Gessie as the daughter of Alida Winne, born 1795.


After the death of James, Mary the mother went to Canada, taking John with her. She left the two girls with her husband's sister Alida. Evidently Winne figured he had enough children of his own so he gave Keziah Keturah and Elizabeth to a man by the name of Guernsey. He was a storekeeper living in Lima Livingston County, New York. The Erie Canal had been completed from Albany to Lima and further on its way west so the girls probably traveled by barge. It was easier and quicker to travel by water than to travel unsettled country. Lima was a good sized city. I have some pictures of the houses there (1810) so Keziah and Elizabeth probably had a good childhood.


Elizabeth married Algernon Sidney Gilbert (a college educated man) on September 21, 1823, and was living in Mentor, Ohio, in 1825 and also had a store in Painesville. In 1828 Algernon Sidney Gilbert and Elizabeth moved to Kirtland where they had a large store. In 1838 Keziah Keturah and her two daughters, Mary Elizabeth. and Caroline Amelia, moved in with them. Keziah Keturah had married John Rollins who had drowned while transferring cattle on a barge or boat across Lake Erie to Canada.


A man, Newell K. Whitney, started working for Gilbert and was soon a partner in the store. (This statement was taken from the history of N.K. Whitney - An Enduring Legacy pg. 138- that Gilbert owned the store first), but the church has restored the store calling it the "Whitney Store".


It was about this time that they heard about the Gold Plates and Joseph Smith. The prophet and his family soon moved to Kirtland, moving in with the Whitney's for a short time giving Elizabeth and Gilbert a close relationship with the Prophet Joseph.


On 19 June, 1831 (see History of the Church pg. 188) the Prophet, Sidney Rigdon, Martin Harris, Edward Partridge, W.W. Phelps, J. Coe and Algernon Sidney Gilbert and wife Elizabeth took journey to Independence (Zion) Missouri. They traveled by wagon, canal boat, and stage to Cincinnati where they embarked on a steamer landing at Louisville, Kentucky, then by steamer to St. Louis. Joseph and some of the others continued on by foot, but Algernon and Elizabeth Gilbert went on by boat arriving in August. Elizabeth thus becoming the first female member of the church to arrive in Independence, Missouri.


In Jackson County, Missouri July 20, 1831, Joseph received a revelation part of it concerning Elizabeth and Algernon Sidney Gilbert. In verse six Gilbert was to be an agent in all the regions round about and verse eight was to establish a store for the convenience of the members who were to move there. Elizabeth stayed home and minded the store as Algernon was commanded to do many things pertaining to the church business. On August 9, Algernon Sidney Gilbert, W.W. Phelps and Joseph and eight others were to return to Kirtland, most going by land but Gilbert and Phelps went by water, arriving in Kirtland August 27th.

Gilbert commenced collecting and purchasing supplies. Poor Elizabeth was left behind. Perhaps some of the Colesville Saints had arrived by then. When Algernon Sidney Gilbert returned to Independence he brought with him Keziah Keturah and children - October 1831. Elizabeth must have been happy to have her sister with her.


Elizabeth had a hard life helping to establish the church in this wilderness but they had built a substantial house and had the store where the Saints could charge until their crops ripened and were sold. The Saints were a very close knit group which bothered the other settlers and by 1833 mob violence became almost intolerable. Elizabeth must have been heartsick as she watched the store goods which had been so difficult to bring from the eastern states, being thrown to the streets and public square to be trampled on.

On November 4, 1833 after the mob had destroyed the house and store, Gilbert was arrested on a trumped up charge and thrown in jail. He was released after a short while but the mob had announced that all those who would not denounce their religion would be killed, so Algernon Sidney and Elizabeth went with the others to the banks of the Missouri to cross into Clay County. They were there November 13, 1833, and beheld the fantastic phenomena of the fiery meteors shooting through space in every direction.

After moving to Clay County (near the Little Blue River) Elizabeth and Algernon Sidney built a house and a small store. Many of the brethren stopped with them, including Joseph, Hyrum, William and Jesse Smith their cousin, etc. When the cholera broke out Algernon Sidney Gilbert was among the first to die on June 29, 1834, and five others died at their house. The Lord must have given Elizabeth extra strength to enable her to carry on under this heavy load. To top it all she lost the help and companionship of her sister Keziah Keturah who had married John Burk soon after they got to Clay County. Also, by 1835 she had lost the help of two nieces, Mary Elizabeth who had married Adam Lightner and Caroline who had married A. Kerr. Elizabeth was alone again.

Finally with the help of her sister and friends Elizabeth finally reached Nauvoo where she lived part of the time with Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, her niece. She learned to be a midwife and may have been able to pay her way for a time. While living with Mary, the Prophet Joseph came to the house and pointed out certain ones to be rebaptized, among them Elizabeth Gilbert, Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, and her brother James Henry Rollins and his wife. He did the baptizing himself. They all wondered about this as they had been baptized in 1830.


Elizabeth spent some time in Nauvoo after the departure of the Saints who were going west. Her sister, Keziah, her niece, Phoebe Burke, and her nephew James Henry Rollins, all went to Utah with the first group in 1847.

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Elizabeth Van Benthuysen Gilbert's Timeline

August 5, 1800
July 1891
Age 90