Elizabeth Groesbeck

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Elizabeth Groesbeck (Thompson)

Birthdate: (63)
Birthplace: Meadville, Crawford County, Pennsylvania, United States
Death: December 28, 1883 (63)
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah Territory, United States
Place of Burial: Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of John Amberson Thompson and Ruth Elizabeth Thompson
Wife of Nicholas Groesbeck
Mother of Nicholas Harmon Groesbeck; John Amberson Groesbeck, Sr.; Helen Melvina Morgan; Josephine Smith; Wesley Groesbeck and 3 others

Managed by: Della Dale Smith-Pistelli
Last Updated:

About Elizabeth Groesbeck

Elizabeth Thompson Groesbeck was one of ten children reared in the back woods of Pennsylvania. She had little opportunity for schooling herself. Perhaps that accounted for her intense effort to see that her own children had every opportunity to gain an education and experience the cultural arts.

Her mother died when she was a young woman. From then on she was required to earn her own livelihood. Many people living in that section of the country had a hard time finding work. She immigrated to Illinois and relocated to Springfield where she met Nicholas Groesbeck. They married on March 25, 1841 and lived in Springfield about fifteen years.

In Springfield Elizabeth first heard the LDS Gospel preached. Later she became acquainted with the Prophet Joseph Smith. On April 6, 1841 she was baptized by W. Smith in Nauvoo, Illinois.

April 6, 1841. --"The first day of the twelfth year of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! At an early hour the several companies comprising the 'Nauvoo Legion,' with two volunteer companies from Iowa Territory, making sixteen companies in all, assembled at their several places of rendezvous, and were conducted in due order to the ground assigned for general review. The appearance, order and movements of the Legion, were chaste, grand and imposing, and reflected great credit upon the taste, skill and tact of the men comprising said legion."

Joseph Smith later led the legion, accompanied by “ladies” and “gentlemen” walking eight abreast, to the temple block, for impressive ceremonies; four cornerstones were laid for the Nauvoo Temple, hymns were sung, Joseph Smith and others addressed the group. Approximately 10,000 persons attended the services. “The assembly then separated with cheerful hearts.” It is presumed that Nicholas and Elizabeth Groesbeck were among the people in Nauvoo that day, because that is the day and place it is reported Elizabeth was baptized.

Following the Groesbecks’ conversion and re-baptism they had their challenges leaving Springfield, Illinois for the Salt Lake Valley. In the fall of 1855 Nicholas Groesbeck, with his sons (Nicholas Harmon-13 yrs old, William-8 yrs old), and his brother Cornelius Groesbeck, partnered in cutting hay on the prairie. They would stay there a week at a time, mowing and raking and hauling the hay. Nicholas would sell the hay in the city and arrange for delivery by his son, Nicholas Harmon.

On one occasion Elizabeth permitted her six-year-old John to go with his older brothers to the fields. As John set a fire for their lunch (they were going to cook beefsteak) a terrific gust of wind blew the fire into the dry grass and it spread faster than the boys could run and beat it down. The fire spread across a field, though they “worked like Trojans” to put it out, it set fire to large stacks of wheat and oats, containing eleven hundred bushels of grain belonging to a Mr. McGinnes who demanded $1100.00 as payment from Nicholas. Nicholas refused to pay, explaining it was an accident, and he was not responsible. Ten days later Mr. McGinnes brought suit against Nicholas and Cornelius and Nicholas Harmon. A trial was held in October, 1855 before a jury. Nicholas Groesbeck was cleared and a verdict of $3000.00 was rendered against Cornelius and Harmon Groesbeck.

It was known that the Nicholas Groesbeck family was leaving Springfield in the spring. Nicholas had sold his home and other holdings, purchased cattle, horses, wagons and a carriage. He was moving his family to Salt Lake. McGinnes’ attorney had the Marshal arrest Nicholas Harmon and put him in jail, for the law permitted imprisonment until the debt was paid. Nicholas acquired the services of his friend and attorney, Abraham Lincoln.

Working off the debt at $1.50 for every day that Harmon was confined, would have taken about five years to liquidate. And his board bill would have been paid by Mr. McGinnes. The fourth day of his confinement his Uncle Cornelius was imprisoned. But when Mr. McGinnes realized he would have to pay Cornelius’ board costs, and that of his family as well, Cornelius was released. Nicholas Harmon wrote in his autobiography , “…leaving me there alone to work out the bill.

“It was here that I first got my testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints, having asked the Father in humble prayer in my cell in prison to show me how I should be liberated from that place. I did this in humble simplicity, having faith that the Lord would hear my prayer which he did, showing me that through a compromise between my father and Mr. McGinnes that I would be liberated shortly. When I told mother this she said father would never compromise for it was an unjust debt and that I would have to stay until I had worked it out. I told her that such would not be the case, that father would compromise for the Lord had shown me in a dream that it would be so. After I had been there nearly three weeks, father and Abraham Lincoln came one Sunday afternoon and told me that they did expect to make a compromise with Mr. McGinnes for about $300.00 which would liberate me and liquidate the entire indebtedness, thereby setting Uncle Cornelius as well as myself free of all encumbrances of that unfortunate fire. The next morning I was liberated.” On June 3, 1856 their family started on their journey to Utah.

[1856] Not much can be found in Church History per the trip up the River nor as they left “Outfitting” camp. Both the Groesbeck's and the Humphery's diaries give the first of July activities. “We left Florence and covered 3 or 4 miles, finding a good camp, we stopped to celebrate our Nation's founding. We sang songs, offered prayers of thanksgiving to the Lord, bore our testimonies, related experiences, upbuilding our faith. There were games played, duties, repairs made. The journey then continued.”

“September 4th, we camped for the first time on the banks of the Sweetwater River, a half mile west of Independence Rock. It was called ‘Register of the Desert,” because it was so flat the pioneers had carved their names on it and many famous people who had passed that way. It was a very hot day.

The last of September, we hurried to Echo Canyon, and wended our way downward, at Devil’s Slide, a big crevice in solid rock like someone chiseled it out, was passed. The trip was good from there on in, with little to mar our happiness in at last reaching our goal.

1 Oct 1856 the St. Louise Company halted. The Bunker group arrived 2 Oct. We prepared for descent into the Valley. President Young sent a military escort with a brass band of music at the foot of “Little Mountain” in Emigration Canyon to great these companies and escort them into the city. The populist turned out en-mass to receive them. They pulled their wagons to Pioneer Camp, “at Union square, (where West High School now stands) and camped.” Thus ended the long, tedious trek. It took three and one-half months or more to come from St. Louis to Salt Lake in 1856.

After camping at Pioneer Square for three weeks, Nicholas Groesbeck purchased a two story adobe home across the street on the Northeast corner, 2nd West [now 3rd West] and 1st North. He moved his family there and set up a store with the merchandise he’d freighted to the valley. The family lived there, and Nicholas operated his store from there until May 1858, when President Brigham Young evacuated the city from the path of the approaching Johnston’s Army during the Utah War. On October 13, 1857 daughter Josephine was born to Nicholas and Elizabeth in this home.

Early in the year following their October 1856 arrival into the Salt Lake Valley, Nicholas and Elizabeth went to the Endowment House and were sealed there on February 19, 1857. Elizabeth had accepted the doctrine of plural marriage, the opposition of which led to her estrangement from the Church in the years following her 1841 Nauvoo baptism. On February 19, 1857 Nicholas was also sealed to Elizabeth McGregor in the endowment House. That marriage however ended in divorce. According to New Family Search their sealing was cancelled April 24, 1859.

The Utah War confrontation lasted from May, 1857, until July, 1858, and the Groesbeck's, along with everyone else in the Salt Lake Valley, packed up all of their belongings and moved South (some time after baby Josephine’s October, 1857 birth). Nicholas settled his family in Springville, Utah where he set up another store, stocked with the merchandise he brought with him from Salt Lake.

The following year, 1858, when the Saints were given the go-ahead to return to the Salt Lake Valley Nicholas and Elizabeth left the store with their son Nicholas Harmon, who remained in Springville and purchased the business from his father.

The Groesbeck's returned to an adobe house and an adjoining lot on the southeast corner of Main Street and 2nd South upon their 1858 return to Salt Lake. They lived there until 1864 when Nicholas purchased a home and land from Alfred Randall at 1st North and West Temple. There they were members of the 17th Ward, and Nicholas and Elizabeth lived out their lives in the home on the land that became known as the Groesbeck Homestead.

Nicholas built the Kenyon Hotel on the southeast corner of 2nd South and Main Street, where the family lived from 1858 to 1864. It is not yet clear to me when he built the hotel, but looking at the picture of it does clarify why his son-in-law John Hamilton Morgan aspired to do the same thing.

Nicholas Groesbeck became a very wealthy man, and any privation Elizabeth suffered as the oldest of ten children in the back woods of Pennsylvania surely was alleviated by the affluence she enjoyed as an adult.

A granddaughter wrote, “The floors of her home were covered with fine English velvet carpets. T he furniture was made of the old solid walnut of those days. Her finest china was imported from France and she enjoyed buying the very best in silver, jewelry and glassware. Her choice was always in good taste. Her children and grandchildren are now enjoying the use of the lovely things she left to them.”

Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, Pioneer History of Elizabeth Thompson Groesbeck, written January 28, 1999 by granddaughter Barbara Rex Wade.

1883 was the last year of Elizabeth’s life, and on her August 16th birthday that year she turned sixty three. Earlier in the year Elizabeth hired Mary Hansen, an exceptional dressmaker, to fashion a dress for her to wear to the April 11 wedding of Priscilla Paul Jennings to William W. Riter. Elizabeth and her daughter Mellie assisted dressmaker Mary Hansen make the exquisite dress that is described and pictured here.

Elizabeth assisted her daughters and watched over their children in their parents absence. I n June of 1883, Mellie accompanied her husband, John Morgan, in his travel to Manassa, Colorado, and it’s very likely their children were left in the Groesbeck's care. The children were with their grandparents in October when Mellie accompanied John on a month long trip to the Eastern States and the Southern States Mission.

John Morgan wrote in his journal in early October that he had dinner at the Groesbeck's and there discussed plans to travel east with his wife, Mellie, to visit his family and the Southern States Mission. It appeared that travel plans included brother-in-law John A. Groesbeck and his wife Ann.

John and Mellie left their children home with the Groesbeck's and a couple of weeks into the trip John wrote that he’d received a telegram from Nicholas informing him that all was well at home with their children.

That October daughter Josephine also needed her mother ’s help. She left her five-year-old daughter Sara in Elizabeth’s care. In 1882 Josephine’s husband, Apostle John Henry Smith, was called to preside over the European Mission. A year later [1883] “he sent for Josephine to take charge of the mission home in Liverpool [England]. She left Sarah [born 1878], her first child, with her parents and took Nicholas [born 1881] with her. She had been in England only a few months when her mother died 28 December 1883. Six months later, 29 June 1884, her father passed away. With the death of both parents she felt she had to return to the little daughter she had left behind with her folks. She arrived in Utah August 11, 1884”.

On November 20, 1883, John and Mellie arrived back in Salt Lake. John wrote in his journal, "Arrived at Salt Lake at 6 a.m. and drove to brother Groesbeck's for breakfast. Had dinner there and in the p.m. brought wife and children down home." On December 16 he wrote that he "visited Sister Groesbeck who is quite sick."

Elizabeth Thompson Groesbeck died at 10:50 a.m. on Friday, December 28, 1883, in her bedroom in the old home at 82 West First North Street. Her last illness and the manner in which she met death evidenced her supreme faith in God and His great Plan of Salvation. Since the early part of December of 1883, she had been feeling quite unwell and about the 13th or 14th of that month she remained in bed. From then on she grew weaker and seemed to realize that her mortal life was nearing its end.

Every day her children were at her bedside and every day she was visited by friends and loved ones, including her son-in-law, John Morgan, who frequently administered to her with the aid of others. Helen M. Morgan, her only daughter then at home, was with her day and night during her illness. Her daughter Josephine was with her husband, President John Henry Smith, who, at that time, was presiding over the European Mission in Liverpool, England.

Christmas came and went and on the morning of December 27, 1883, her physician, Dr. Pike, gave up all hope of saving her. In the afternoon of that day she had all her children come to her bedside and she counseled with them, individually, giving good advice and encouragement and she seemed perfectly reconciled to die. To her son-in-law, John Morgan, she made him promise to remind her daughter, Mellie, and her oldest son, Harmon, to keep their promise in doing the work in the Temple for her father, John Thompson and her mother and relatives. She also asked him to select some nice hymns to be sung at her funeral and especially asked that he be good to Mellie, her daughter, whom she loved dearly. She then asked everyone to leave the room but Mellie to whom she talked for some time.

When Mellie came out of the sick room, she told her father, Nicholas Groesbeck, that her mother desired next to talk with him. Her husband, thereupon, went to her and they had a rather long talk and arrived at a complete reconciliation of some little trouble they had had previously. Each forgave the other and kissed each other goodby.

Later in the afternoon she rallied some by almost superhuman effort and appeared to be some better, but during the night she grew weaker until in the morning she went into an unconscious state and so remained until 10:50 a.m. when she quietly passed away as peacefully as a tired child who was just going to sleep. Thus died Elizabeth Thompson Groesbeck, one of my best friends and one of God’s noblest women,” wrote John Morgan in his journal entry for that day.

In company with Hyrum Groesbeck, John Morgan, then called on Bishop John Tingey of the 17th Ward and arranged for the funeral. Later he called on President George Q. Cannon and Daniel H. Wells, and, in compliance with the wishes of the family, asked them to be the speakers at the funeral. He then called on Brother Lewis, the choir leader and arranged with him to have the choir in attendance.

Having attended to these matters, he then wrote an obituary and had it inserted in the “Deseret News.” The funeral was held in the 17th Ward Assembly Hall at 11 a.m. on Sunday, December 30, 1883. It had snowed the night before and the atmosphere was frosty and cold.

A large group of friends and relatives gathered at the Groesbeck home prior to the funeral. John Morgan assisted in getting the pall bearers assigned and aided them in getting the corpse down stairs from the bedroom to the parlor. The casket was then placed in the hearse and was taken to the 17th Ward meeting House while the friends and relatives walked. A large gathering was present. Presidents George Q. Cannon and Daniel H. Wells were the speakers. Both spoke with great feeling and effectiveness, but President Cannon, after reading parts of the 76th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants, delivered a powerful sermon on the hereafter. The services having concluded, a large cortege proceeded south on West Temple to South Temple and then east to the Cemetery where the remains of this noble woman were laid to rest in the Groesbeck family burial lot.

Thus closed the life drama of a very wonderful and beautiful woman.

grave http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=16206393

Lake Dec 28, 1883 Elizabeth Thompson Groesbeck Death of sister Groesbeck. Elizabeth Thompson Groesbeck, the beloved wife of Nicholas Groesbeck, departed this life December 28th, 1883, aged 63 years, 4 months and 12 days. She was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the 6th day of April, in 1841, by Elder William Smith, at Nauvoo; emigrated to the gathering place of the Saints in the year 1856. She leaves a husband and eight children--six sons and two daughters - to mourn her loss, all of whom were present at her death, except one daughter, Sister Josephine Smith, who is with her husband on a mission to Europe.


She died in full faith of the Gospel, and in anticipation of coming forth in the morning of the first resurrection, and with her latest breath urging upon her children to keep the faith, and live lives worthy of Latter-day Saints. So has passed away a mother in Israel, whose hand was ever open to bless and succor the needy, whose heart was singularly free from gulle, and whose memory will ever be held in sacred remembrance by her devoted husband and loving children.

Funeral services at the Seventeenth Ward Meeting house at ll a.m., Sunday, December 30th. Friend of the family are invited to attend. Inscription: Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.

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Elizabeth Groesbeck's Timeline

August 16, 1820
Meadville, Crawford County, Pennsylvania, United States
April 27, 1842
Age 21
Springfield, Sangamon County, Illinois, United States
July 14, 1849
Age 28
Springfield, Illinois, United States
February 7, 1852
Age 31
Springfield, Sangamon County, Illinois, United States
October 13, 1857
Age 37
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah Territory, United States
July 14, 1860
Age 39
December 28, 1883
Age 63
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah Territory, United States
December 30, 1883
Age 63
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, United States