Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Happy 213th Birthday, Rebecca Adams Rogers (1798-1864)!

John Welch's great-great-grandmother

One of my very favorite ancestors, our own "kidnapped grandma"!
Rebecca was a rosy-cheeked, pretty servant girl in the English home of Thomas Rogers, a wealthy silversmith of Rogers Silver Company. The second son, William, fell in love with her and they were married against his parents’ wishes. Although cut off from his parents, William’s grandparents gave the newlyweds money to set up a sword-blade grinding shop. 

The couple mourned the death of one young daughter, and then regrettably, after only a decade of marriage, William died of pneumonia when Rebecca was pregnant with her seventh child, Emma. The heartbroken widow wrote to William's family, expecting that they might want to bury him in the Rogers family vault, but never received a reply.

Rebecca was resourceful and kept the business going, and the children helped clerk in the store and received a good education.  Rebecca and her daughters were noted cooks and carried on the old English traditions of Yorkshire pudding at Christmas-time. Rebecca also cured various pork meats and made boiled heart and liver cakes called “penny ducks” to sell in the shop.  She would buy a freshly-butchered pig and have it brought to the shop for a profitable side business.

Emma recalled while growing up, her father’s people would sometimes ride by in their fine carriages sporting the Rogers coat of arms. Rebecca would tell her children about their aristocratic relatives, but having learned her lesson, always advised them never to marry above their station in life.  

The Rogers family was religious and attended the Bond Street Baptist Church. They encountered the LDS missionaries through the second oldest son Thomas, who brought the elders home. All were baptized except the oldest son, William. As they could not afford to emigrate together, Rebecca saved and sent her children to Zion gradually: Thomas in 1853, Susannah in 1860, Ann and Emma in 1863, and at last Rebecca and her daughter Mary in 1864.  Susannah’s husband in Utah helped finance the last voyage.

By the time of Rebecca’s journey, Thomas had become disaffected with the Utah Mormons and returned to Council Bluffs, Iowa. Knowing the hardships of the trail, Thomas tried to convince his mother to stay with him, but she wanted to go. She was delayed for many weeks in Winter Quarters waiting for a wagon train. The night the wagon train was to start west, Thomas disguised himself as a tramp and took his mother to his own home. Yet Rebecca could not be deterred. She escaped and rejoined the wagon train the next day, only to suffer through the snow of Wyoming with frozen hands and feet. Rebecca died the day after arriving in the Salt Lake valley.  

She was buried in the paupers’ section of the cemetery in an unmarked grave, and we put up a headstone for her in January 2010.

I would give her mittens and boots and a warm sausage today!


  1. such a great story! I would give her a nice coat of arms of her own! what snobs!

  2. I love her story! One of my favorites! Wish I knew whose arm is on her shoulder in that photo.
    I'd give her a chance to write her life's story as a novel... it would be a best-seller!

  3. Thanks, Anita! I'm going to read this to the kids for FHE!

    Kathryn Pearson

  4. great story, anita! makes modern-day in-law problems seem pretty insignificant.