Sarah Ellen Beckstead

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Sarah Ellen Beckstead (Ashton)

Birthplace: Stockport, Cheshire, England
Death: Died in Whitney, Franklin, Idaho, USA
Place of Burial: Preston, Franklin County, Idaho, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of William Ashton and Sarah Ann Ashton
Wife of Thomas Wesley Beckstead
Mother of William Albert Beckstead; Amasa Beckstead; Loretta Winward; Sidney Marcus Beckstead; Mary Ada Lance and 5 others
Sister of Betsey Ashton; Mary Ann Wardle; Elizabeth Ann Ashton and Sarah Ann Ashton

Occupation: Married Thomas Wesley Beckstead 1/30/1864 in Salt Lake City, Utah, and had 10 children
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Sarah Ellen Beckstead

Sarah was born at King St. West, Stockport, Cheshire, England. She was the daughter of William Ashton and Sarah Ann Barlow (Sarah died on the Plains). She married Thomas Wesley Beckstead, 30 Jan 1864, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah. They had the following children: Sidney Marcus Beckstead, Amasa Beckstead, Harriet Vernita Beckstead, Olive Ann Beckstead, Sarah Alberta Beckstead, Walter LeRoy Beckstead, William Albert Beckstead, Estella Beckstead, Mary Ada Beckstead, and Loretta Beckstead.

After Sarah Ellen's family was converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints they made plans to sail for America and join the Saints in Zion. Sarah's parents, William (33 or 34) and Sarah Ann Barlow Ashton (33), and their children, Betsy (11), Sarah Ellen (7), Mary (4), and Elizabeth Ann (17 months), left Liverpool, England, in May, 1856, on the ship Horizon. The family left behind in England the grave of another little daughter, Esther, who had died in infancy.

Sorrow found this family again on July 2, 1856, as the Horizon was docked at Boston and little Elizabeth died. Heartbroken, the Ashton's left behind another daughter's grave and traveled to Iowa City, Iowa, mostly by rail. Here they spent three weeks, finishing handcarts and tents. The Martin Company arrived at their major outfitting camp in Florence, Nebraska, on the 22nd of August, and spent three days there gathering supplies and cattle and preparing to cross the 1,000 miles of plains and mountains between there and the Salt Lake Valley. Sarah's family had successfully walked and pulled their handcart about 300 miles already. On the 26th of August, the day after the Martin Co. left Florence, another baby girl was born to the Ashton family. They named her Sarah Ann, after her mother. The mother died in childbirth and 16 days later on September 11th, the new baby, Sarah Ann, also died.

Sarah Ellen's father carried on for four more weeks, caring for his three motherless daughters as best he could. When the company reached Ft. Laramie on Oct. 9, William enlisted in the U.S. Army and left his three little girls with the Martin Company to continue to Utah. At this time the days were still warm, but the nights were cold. Expected provisions at Ft. Laramie were in short supply and so food rations were cut, the captains not knowing when promised help from Salt Lake would reach them. Perhaps William felt this would be the best way for him to earn some money to send to provide for his daughters. It was not uncommon in those times for a father to turn the care of his little children over to others when the mother had died. It is not known how long William remained in military service, but at some point he returned to England.

The Saints cared for the little girls as well as they could. They all suffered greatly from food shortages and the lack of warm clothing. The severe weather began at the last crossing of the N. Platte River (near present day Casper, Wyoming) on the 19th of October. The Martin Company became stranded near there for over a week before they were finally located by the rescue party from Salt Lake. Sarah Ellen's oldest sister, Betsy, was only 11 years old, but surely must have felt great responsibility toward her younger sisters. It finally proved too much for her and she joined her mother and other sisters in death. This left Sarah and her sister, Mary, to continue on to the Salt Lake Valley. Sarah Ellen lost her sight in one eye during this journey. The company finally arrived in the Valley on November 30, 1856. They were met by Saints who took them in to their various homes and cared for them. At some point Mary and Sarah found a home with the Hatfield family in Farmington, Utah. At the age of 12, Sarah was living with the Joseph Carlisle family and working for them as a domestic.

Sarah married Thomas W. Beckstead when she was 15. Sarah and Thomas had 10 children, four of whom died as infants. Mary was possibly living with them in S. Jordan, as she later married Isaac Wardle who had lived with and worked for Thomas Beckstead's father, Alex Beckstead, Sr.

Isaac Wardle had also been with the Martin Handcart Company. He was much older than Mary, but may have come to know the Ashton family on their journey. Mary and Isaac had one son who they named William Ashton Wardle, perhaps after Mary's father. Mary only lived for four hours after her son was born.

Sarah devoted her life to her children, her husband, and her church. In 1887, the Beckstead family moved to Whitney, Idaho, to help settle that area. Sarah did not let her handicap stand in her way. She churned butter, and sold eggs and also worked as a midwife, insisting that her children receive a good education. It was during these first years in Idaho that a man by the name of Clark came to Sarah's home with a copy of the Millennial Star which contained an inquiry concerning anyone who might know of relatives of William Ashton, pauper, in England, who had emigrated to America previously and left his children on the plains. Sarah Ellen recognized this man as her father and sent passage money to England for him to come and join her family. Sarah's father accepted her invitation and Sarah and Thomas cared for William until his death. He is buried in the Whitney cemetery a short distance from their grave sites.

Sarah Ellen lived a good life helping the sick and needy. Surely, she had learned to trust in God and be forgiving. She lived to be 92 years old. One of her granddaughters wrote of her: "She made a tremendous impression on me when I was a little girl. I used to stay with her. She was so clean, neat and orderly - always had her windows filled with blooming plants, even in the winter time, and carefully covered them with paper each night so they would not freeze. She was a wonderful cook and I can still remember the good bread, butter and jam she made. Her cellar smelled wonderful, where she stored everything and kept pans of milk to be skimmed of thick heavy cream used to make butter. . . . I've often wondered what happened to the exquisite samplers grandmother made as a girl - her aprons always had handwork across the bottoms. . . I stayed with her many times while I attended the Whitney school. This is where she had all the family together to a dinner a few weeks before her death. Her flower garden on the old place was so lovely to me. I well remember the Sweet Williams, pansies and old-fashioned flowers she had growing there. She would send me with a cooked chicken and flowers to our mother when she was in bed with the birth of a child. She has always stayed in my memory for her fine qualities and goodness."

Family links:



William Ashton (1822 - 1891)



Thomas Wesley Beckstead (1833 - 1893)*



William Albert Beckstead (1865 - 1952)*


Amasa Beckstead (1867 - 1931)*


Sidney Marcus Beckstead (1871 - 1934)*


Mary Ada Beckstead Lance (1872 - 1943)*


Harriet Vernita Beckstead (1875 - 1876)*


Walter LeRoy Beckstead (1877 - 1878)*


Olive Ann Beckstead (1879 - 1880)*


Estella Beckstead Hoefler (1881 - 1950)*


Sarah Alberta Beckstead (1883 - 1883)*

Created by: SMS

Record added: Feb 07, 2007

Find A Grave Memorial# 17850395

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Sarah Ellen Beckstead's Timeline

July 8, 1846
Stockport, Cheshire, England
May 14, 1865
Age 18
South Jordan, Salt Lake, Utah, USA
January 12, 1867
Age 20
South Jordan, Salt Lake , Utah, USA
December 25, 1868
Age 22
South Jordan, Salt Lake County, Utah, United States
January 2, 1871
Age 24
South Jordan, Salt Lake, Utah, USA
November 16, 1872
Age 26
South Jordan, Salt Lake, Utah, USA
January 28, 1875
Age 28
South Jordan, Salt Lake, Utah, USA
April 19, 1877
Age 30
South Jordan, Salt Lake, Utah, USA
February 18, 1879
Age 32
South Jordan, Salt Lake, Utah, USA
September 18, 1881
Age 35
South Jordan, Salt Lake, Utah, USA