When Grandma Ran Away

Grandma Vivian (Luce) Swanstrom ran away from home when she was 25.

Her parents had great ambitions for her, but she had other ideas. They sent her to finishing school in Denver, but she didn’t like it. She came home to the ranch at Big Piney after the first semester, and refused to go back. She was an accomplished pianist, so her parents sent her to University of Wyoming to study music. She decided she wanted to be an actress. Her father told her he’d rather see her dead. That was the end of university.

Her next choice was to become a nurse, like her heroes Clara Barton and Florence Nightingale. Her parents didn’t like that idea either.

Her parents didn’t believe women should work outside the home. They wanted her to marry a rancher. Someone nearby. Someone with money. Someone who could give her a comfortable life.

They arranged a marriage for her, then another, then another. She was engaged five times. She broke off every one. She ended the engagement with “the Alexander boy” by throwing his ring back in his face.

Grandma plotted her escape. She was taking a correspondence course in millinery. She told her parents she was going to spend the weekend at the house in town so she could get some ribbons she needed. Secretly, she packed her saddlebags with everything she planned to take with her. Her cover story would give her a few days to make her escape–as long as her mother stayed at the ranch that weekend.

In town, Grandma boarded her horse at the livery stable, then caught the stage coach to Opal. She kept (and I still have) her stage ticket. In Opal, she caught the train for Rock Springs.

The plan worked. Grandma got away.

In Rock Springs, she went to the hospital to see if they would hire her as a cook. The gods were with her. They didn’t have any openings in the kitchen, but they were looking for young women to enroll in their nurses’ training program.

Grandma was in. She was able to live in nurse’s quarters while she trained. Later, she boarded with Mrs. Josephine Swanstrom, a Swedish woman she knew from back home.

This was 1926. Grandma graduated in 1927. She worked as a nurse in Rock Springs, with a few breaks here and there, until they forced her to retire. In 1966, I think. After that, she snuck in a few more years working as a nurse in Rawlins until bureaucracy caught up with her, they figured out her age, and she really did have to retire.

Did her parents ever forgive her for running away? Grandma never said, but I think they must have. When the story of her life resumes, Grandma has a 1927 DeSoto Roadster, yellow with red wheels, that her dad gave her. That says forgiveness to me.

Follow the Route

A few days I was looking at an old 1903 map of Wyoming. I realized it was showing me Grandma’s route. The ranch at New Fork to Big Piney to Opal to Rock Springs:

If you want to follow along, open the map. You’ll want to enlarge it for easier viewing.

We’re looking at the map on the right, along the left edge. Big Piney should be easy to find. It’s almost right on the county line. The Luce ranch was east of Big Piney, in the area between New Fork and Big Piney. The stage (postal) route runs south from Big Piney to Opal, then the railroad runs east from Opal through Green River to Rock Springs.

Joseph Bates Noble

I’m reading Joseph Bates Noble: Polygamy and the Temple Lot Case (2009). Goodreads says:

“In 1892, a deposition was taken in a Salt Lake City courtroom to gather evidence in a land ownership battle between two offshoot branches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) The dispute centered on ownership of land purchased to build a temple, known as the Temple Lot property, in Independence, Missouri. Although a key witness at the deposition, Joseph Bates Noble had little knowledge of land purchases dating back to 1832, yet his testimony was critical for validation of standing for the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (RLDS) or for the Church of Christ (Temple Lot). In fact, at the age of 82, Noble had been thrust into the limelight of LDS Church history because of his claim to have presided over the first polygamous marriage of Mormon prophet Joseph Smith.

“Noble officiated at the marriage in 1841 that united his sister-in-law with Smith, an event now cited as the beginning of the practice of polygamy in the church. His testimony would either validate Joseph Smith’s polygamist background for the Temple Lot Church or expose his recollections as falsehoods for the RLDS Church.”

Fun book, but marred for me by the tiniest of flaws — author David L. Clark doesn’t know who Anna Noble was. He mentions her as “an enigmatic child” when discussing the organization of the pioneer company that included the Noble family (p. 117). He says her Noble was a captain of the 1st Fifty in Jedidiah Grant’s company. His wife Mary Adeline (Beaman) Noble and other relatives, including Anna, travelled with Josiah Miller, captain of the 5th Ten. The company left Winter Quarters on June 12, 1847 and arrived in the Great Salt Lake Valley on October 2 and 10, 1847.

In a footnote, the author gives a bit of additional information” (p. 189n4). Anna “appears as a member of the family in the list of those traveling from Winter Quarters to Salt Lake City (‘Journal History’, June 11, 1847).” She is said to have been born at Montrose, Iowa. That entry shows her “brother” Edward Noble, the same age, was also born at Montrose. “Her name also appears on Noble’s list of his family in Salt Lake City in 1848 as well as in the 1850 Utah census, where she is eight years old and identified as a member of the Noble family.”

But then Clark goes off the rails. He identifies Anna with Susanna Ann Noble, daughter of Enoch Barker Noble and Margaret McGrew. He says Enoch and Joseph Noble were “distant cousins”. I’ve provided links here to this other branch of the Noble family on FamilySearch.org, although the information there is not as complete as that given by Clark. For example, Clark says Susanna was born in 1842 in Montrose, Iowa but FamilySearch has her born 1844 in New Brunswick, Canada. Clark seems to be using information for Anna Noble and attributing it to Susanna Noble. There is no indication at FamilySearch that Enoch Noble and his wife were at Montrose, Iowa. Clark says Susanna married James Emerson Hall in 1861 when she was nineteen. He doesn’t know, he says, what took her from Salt Lake City back to Iowa. In FamilySearch, the two women are different (unmerged). “Sue Anna”, the wife of James Hall, gives birth to three of her four children before her supposed 1861 marriage.

As a descendant of Anna Noble, this is familiar territory for me. So, how did Clark go so far astray? The Mormon Overland Travel database correctly lists Anna as Anna Noble, “the orphan daughter of John and Elizabeth Quamby who was adopted by Joseph Bates Noble.” She married first, Williams Washington Camp in 1857, divorced him in 1858, and married secondly, Wilford Luce, about 1861.

She received a commemorative pin in 1897 as one of the pioneers of 1847. The Book of the Pioneers shows her as Annie Noble Luce, born in England and living in Big Cottonwood, Utah (1897, Book 1, p. 410). According to her statement, “I was born in England. Am the daughter of John and Elizabeth Quamsby, who died in Nauvoo leaving me an orphan at the age of four years. I was adopted by Joseph B. Noble and emigrated to Utah in his company, Oct. 10th, 1847. (signed) Annie Noble Luce.” Her death certificate and gravestone also show her name as Annie Noble Luce.

Annie’s statement tells us exactly who she was. And, the surviving evidence supports her statement. John Quarmby was apparently an English convert, seemingly a recent immigrant in 1845 when he died at Nauvoo.

I’m not aware of any evidence about Annie’s mother beyond Annie’s own later statement. It seems almost certain Elizabeth Quarmby died sometime before June 1847 when Anna appears in the Noble household. Noble was bishop of Nauvoo 5th Ward from 1842. Mormon bishops had responsibility for the poor in their ward. Probably, Annie’s mother was living in the 5th Ward when she died. The responsibility to care for Annie would have fallen on Joseph Noble. If (perhaps) Annie’s mother died during the exodus from Nauvoo, it might not have been possible in the general confusion to find another family to take in Annie. Mormons began leaving Nauvoo in February 1846. The Noble family left by April. So, we can say Elizabeth Quarmby perhaps, maybe, probably between about February and April 1846.*

I can’t say how or why author David Clark got it so wrong, or why he thought there is any mystery. I made a concerted effort to find him, but no luck. I wish I could have passed along this information privately and now be linking to his blog post instead of writing my own.

* Although Annie’s statement says her parents died at Nauvoo, some descendants believe her mother either died at Winter Quarters or on the way to Winter Quarters. Although the timing would be a bit different, the story remains the same. Noble was bishop of Winter Quarters 13th Ward, then when the settlement was reorganized, bishop of the new 20th Ward. This would change the date but not the basic story.

Champaign Baptist Church

My great grandmother Essie (Wilson) Luce was raised in the Baptist church. She married Wilford Luce in 1898 in Champaign, Illinois, then moved west to Wyoming to take up life on his ranch.

I was curious about the church where they got married. I was fairly certain it would have been a Baptist church, but Essie later became an Episcopalian and her mother Elizabeth (Mallory) Wilson later became a Methodist, so maybe not.

Tp find out, I checked Essie’s marriage record. I have a copy, but if I didn’t already have one I could have looked for a copy at FamilySearch.org. It’s there, already linked to her profile. The certificate is signed by W. H. Stedman, a minister. A quick Google search tells me he was minister at the 1st Baptist Church in Urbana. With some additional searching, I find the church was organized in 1838 and Rev. Stedman was called in 1875.

Now I see a problem. The Wilsons lived in Champaign. This church was in Urbana. The two cities are close neighbors but it doesn’t seem likely someone would travel from one to the other to go to church, particularly not a common denomination like Baptist. Okay, maybe if the person and the church were both close to the boundary.

I seem to have a problem but it’s easily resolved. A bit more searching and I find Rev. Stedman resigned at Urbana in 1882. He served several other churches, then was called to the 1st Baptist Church at Champaign in 1894. So, yes. Exactly right to have officiated at Essie’s wedding in 1898.

Finally, can I find a picture of the church? Yes, but sadly it was demolished in 1980. If I had asked this question in my early 20s I would have had a chance to travel there, and see it in person.

According to the The Biographical Record of Champaign County Ill. (1900), the new church was Pastor Stedman’s project (p. 196). It took three years; two years of persuading the congregation and a year in building, at a cost of $22,000. That would mean the church was completed about 1897. It would have been relatively new when Essie was married there in 1898.

You can see a picture of the church here, from the digital collection of the University of Illinois. The Gothic Revival style is no surprise. The style was a peripheral effect of the Oxford Movement in England and America; an Anglo-Catholic renewal movement that idealized traditional liturgies, architectures, and theologies in a way that often equated embracing tradition with social standing.

It’s no coincidence that Essie’s mother moved from Baptist to Methodist, and Essie moved from Baptist to Episcopalian. In two words: upward mobility.

Harke Luce

Recapping: Harke Luse was named on a list of men able to bear arms at Scituate, Massachusetts in 1643 (Nathaniel B. Shurtleff, ed., Records of the Colony of New Plymouth, in New England (1857), 191). Beyond this nothing is known. Everything else stated in various sources in speculative.

Charles Banks’ Theory

Banks speculated the name “Harke” might have been a copyist’s error for “Darke”; that he might have been an otherwise undocumented son of Abraham Luce and Cicely (Darke) Luce, of Horton, Gloucestershire; and that he might have been the father of immigrant Henry Luce who appeared in Scituate 20 years later.

The Internet has confidently mangled Banks’ theory in various ways. It’s worth looking at what he actually said.

“The name of Luce in this country is confined exclusively to the descendants of Henry Luce of Tisbury and with one exception, no other person of the name Luce settled in New England prior of 1750. That exception exists in the person of one “Harke” Luce who was a resident of Scituate in 1643, twenty years before the appearance of our Henry Luce in the same town. This singular baptismal name of “Harke”, which the author now believes to have been a copyist’s error for a similar name, has proven to be a clue to an English family of the name of Luce living in the west of England in 1600 near the border of Wales. The name of “Harke” Luce appears but once in the records of Scituate in a list of those able to bear arms in 1643, and an examination of thousands of English documents fails to disclose it, or one near enough like it to be mistaken for it except Harker or Hawke. In the county of England the family name of Luce has been found, namely: Gloucestershire, which borders on Wales and whose chief city Bristol, the great seaport from which so many emigrants sailed for the future homes in New England. [*”The author during recent visits to England found Luce families in Cornwall, Devon and Kent, all of them having Henry as a Christian name. Scituate, Mass. was largely settled by emigrants from Kent and in the parish of Lyminge that county is recorded in 1616 the marriage of a Henry Luce. It is here note as a reference for future investigators, but the family in Gloucestershire seems to offer the more probable solution.] A family of Luce lived in the parish of Horton, county of Gloucester, as early as 1550 and they are found there and in a number of surrounding parishes for a century and a half afterwards. Of this Horton family one Abraham Luce married 8 Oct. 1604 Cicely Darke, and this name is believe by the author to be the name originally copied in the Scituate records as “Harke”, and Darke Luce of 1643 is offered as the possible progenitor [emphasis added] of Henry Luce of the same town in 1666. If not, he was a probable near relative who influenced the migration of Henry Luce and all the surrounding circumstances make this the nearest probable origin of the Vineyard family in the matter of their English home. It should be stated, however, that Abraham and Cicely (Darke) Luce had no child named Darke and the name of Darke does not occur on the parish records of Horton. The similarity of the names, Harke and Darke, is too great to be ignored when combined with the rare name of Luce, and while other researches so far made have failed to uncover a Henry Luce in the parish of Horton, the adjoining parishes still unsearched may reveal the lost record of his baptism.” (Charles E. Banks, History of Martha’s Vineyard (1925, reprinted 1966), 3:247-48.)

To summarize: Banks noticed another Luce, a man named Harke Luce, in Scituate, Massachusetts (1643) a generation before Henry Luce appeared there (1666). This is the only mention of Harke and the first mention of Henry. Banks’ speculated Henry might have been a son of Harke, then further speculated that Harke might have been a previously unknown Darke Luce, hypothetical son of Abraham and Cicely (Darke) Luce, of Horton. Banks believed his theory was strengthened, first by a family tradition that immigrant Henry Luce came from Wales, and Gloucestershire is on the Welsh border; and secondly by the rarity of the surname Luce and the coincidence of the names Darke and Harke appearing in connection with the name Luce.

The down side of his theory, as Banks readily admits, is that there is no proof of any person named Darke Luce. Nevertheless, a Darke Luce could have been born at Horton in the period 1624-1653, for which there are no records. Harke Luce had to be at least 16 in 1643 to be able to bear arms, That would place his birth in or before 1627. Therefore, if there was a Darke Luce and if he was born in Horton, we would put his birth between 1624 and 1627. No other dating will work.

Banks’ theories have been treated in different ways by Internet genealogists. Immigrant Henry Luce is usually presented as a son of Israel Luce, as if that were proven fact.

In support of this identification, Henry named his second son Israel, and had two grandsons named Israel. However, these children might derive their names from Israel Peakes, half-brother of Henry’s wife. The case for Henry’s birth at Horton is supported by Banks’ theory that Arthur Bevan, who settled at West Tisbury in 1677, and was Henry’s neighbor there, came from Yate, four miles from Horton. However, this identification rests reciprocally on Henry being from Horton.

Leslie Pine, a noted English genealogist, has said in a letter to the author he believes Henry Luce probably came from the same family as the Luces of Pucklechurch.

Harke Luce is pushed to the side, when he is presented at all. WikiTree, for example, assigns Harke a birthdate about 1628 in Horton and a death date of 1718, despite the absence of supporting evidence. The birthdate seems calculated to modify Banks’ theory by making Harke a grandson rather than son of Abraham and Cicely (Darke) Luce (married 1604), and an older brother rather than father of Henry Luce the immigrant. This strategy allows Henry to be son of an Israel Luce, as in a family tradition cited by Banks (Banks, 3:246).

Geni.com also puts Harke’s birth about 1628 in Horton but more accurately places his death as “after 1643”. His profile there has a curator note that Harke’s parents are unknown, while simultaneously linking him as a son of Israel Luce and Israel’s speculative wife Remember Munson. Caveat emptor.

Caroline Lewis Kardell’s Theory

Caroline Lewis Kardell, sometime Historian General of the Society of Mayflower Descendants, had a different idea. She thought Harke Luce was probably an otherwise unknown Archelaus Lewis (Caroline Lewis Kardell, letter to Mrs. James E. McCourt, reproduced in Martha E. McCourt and Thomas Luce, The American Descendants of Henry Luce (1991), 10A).

Quoting: “As for the name Harke Luce at Scituate, Harke is almost certainly a nickname for Archelaus. Because of the aspirated “H” as pronounced in some parts of England, Earle became Hearle, Archelaus became Harkelas, Hercules, etc. I believe that “Hare Luce” was Archelaus Luis. John Lewis (Luis) of Dartmouth and Rochester named his eldest son Archelaus. John was a descendant of George Lewis of Scituate and Barnstable. This particular line from George were all sea-farers. I think George of Scituate has a brother Harke (Archelaus) who was a mariner and came over to Scituate as Captain or crewman on one of the early ships. Scituate records gave George Lewis two full shares. All of the other settlers received one full share. Perhaps George received a second share to hold for his brother “Harke” or “Arck”. Because he was a mariner, he may never have returned from a voyage and so, [sic] disappears from the records. . . .

“My suspicions regarding the name Luce are two-fold. First, it is so uncommon a name that it is almost certainly not the original surname, but a variant. For instance, the name Bigelow is only traced to one immigrant to Watertown, MA. The name does not exist in England or anywhere else in that form, except for the descendants of the Watertown man. It was Baguley, etc, [sic] in England, but ended up as Bigelow here. Secondly, the name Lewis was written (and pronounced) in several ways in the early records. Two men named Lewis, George and his brother John, certainly were at Scituate and probably a third brother Harke or Archelaus was there for a very short period. I believe your Henry was perhaps a nephew or cousin of the early Lewis, Luis, Lews family of Scituate and Barnstable. It is worth investigating, anyway.”

Summarizing: Kardell’s idea was that Harke Luce was a brother of George and John Lewis, and Henry Luce the immigrant a nephew or cousin.

Kardell doesn’t make it explicit, but George Lewis’ double share would not have been for himself and brother John. John Lewis received his own share, a single share.

In support of Kardell’s theory, Banks himself notes Scituate “was largely settled by emigrants from Kent” (see above; Banks, 3:347n.). Further, the same list that contains the name Harke Luse also contains the name John Lewes. George Lewes’ name also appears on a 1643 list of men able to bear arms, but at Barnstable rather than Scituate.

Thomas Luce, of Charleston

It might be worth mentioning, if only in passing, another theory regarding the parents of immigrant Henry Luce commonly found–he was a merchant and farmer born 1630 in Gloucester to Thomas Luce (1600-1670?) and Sally Monson. This information comes in part from Wilford Litchfield but no proof is offered. Litchfield says Remember Litchfield married about 1670 “Henry Luce (sometimes Lucy), who may have been a son of Thomas Luce of Charleston” (Wilford J. Litchfield, The Litchfield Family in America 1630-1900 (1901), 34).

Savage, citing Farmer, names a Thomas Luce at Charleston, whose son Samuel was born in 1644 (James Savage, Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England (1861), 3:127). Banks says, “It is probable that this was Lewis” (Banks (1911), 2:55n.2). Banks seems to dismiss this clue only because he building a case for Henry’s relationship with Harke Luse. The possibility of a connection with Thomas Luce should be examined more closely.


The Internet has widely adopted the theories of Charles Banks, modified a bit, and ignored those of Caroline Kardell, probably because Banks’ theories were published and have been therefore more accessible. However, there is no obvious reason to choose one theory over the other.

It should be noted the Luce yDNA Project at Family Tree DNA takes the official position that the ancestry of immigrant Henry Luce is unknown. One day DNA might help us choose. The male-line descendants will ultimately match a Luce or Lewis family in England, and we’ll have our bearings.

Wyoming Brands

There’s a book on the cattle brands of Green River, Wyoming. Branded: History of Green River Valley and Hoback Basin Brands (2016), compiled and published by Green River Valley Cattlewomen.

Branded, by the Green River Valley Cattlewomen.
Bill Luce
Bill Luce

My great grandfather Bill Luce (1864-194) lived there. I bought the book, thinking his brands might be mentioned. No such luck.

I asked Jonita Sommers. She said, “nobody asked and payed to have them put in.” I guess my psychic skills failed me, here.

Luce brands
Luce brands

Great grandpa’s brands were the LU Quarter Circle, which was his first brand; the Circle Dot; and the Flying Heart. Jonita says, “The Flying Heart is now used by Don Kendall, old CEO of Pepsi who bought the place in the 80s.  Now has old Alexander place on Newfork.  The other two I don’t think are in use.”

Miss Wolcott’s School Denver

My maternal grandmother, Vivian Luce attended Miss Wolcott’s School for Girls, a finishing school in Denver. She studied things like piano, French, water colors, needlework, elocution, etiquette, and other things appropriate to Edwardian ladies. I estimate she was there about 1914 to 1916.

Wikipedia defines finishing schools: “A finishing school is a school for young women that focuses on teaching social graces and upper-class cultural rites as a preparation for entry into society. The name reflects that it follows on from ordinary school and is intended to complete the education, with classes primarily on deportment and etiquette, with academic subjects secondary.” (Wikipedia: Finishing school; citations, link, and emphasis removed)

Surprisingly, it turned out to be pretty easy to track down Grandma’s school. In fact, the building is still standing (at 14th and Marion). For several years my sister Laura and I lived just a block away (at 13th and Marion). It was very cool, living in the same area of the city as our grandmother, and routinely walking past the school she attended.

Miss Wolcott's School
Miss Wolcott’s School

Ranchers in Wyoming, if they were successful, often sent their daughters away to finishing schools. The idea was to prepare them to be the social and cultural leaders of the next generation.

Vivian Luce Swanstrom
Vivian (Luce) Swanstrom

The earliest ranchers on the Upper Green River in Wyoming were largely Mormons and ex-Mormons from Utah. The upwardly mobile among them sometimes chose to affiliate with genteel, mainstream churches. Grandma’s parents were founding members of the local Episcopal church in Big Piney in 1914, so they sent her to an Episcopalian school in Denver. Her dad’s ex-wife became Roman Catholic, so members of that family sent their daughters to a convent in in Salt Lake City. Grandma’s older half-sister was crippled from an accident in infancy and spent her life in hospitals and institutions. If not for the accident , doubtless she would have been sent to the Catholic school preferred by her mother’s family.

I didn’t know until today that First Lady Mamie Doud Eisenhower also attended the Wolcott School. An article by Linda Wommack says:

"At her parent’s insistence, [Mamie] completed her education at Miss Wolcott’s, a prestigious, private finish[ing] school for the daughters of prominent Denver families. During all of her schooling years, Mamie attended dances classes and piano lessons. As a young teenager, Mamie and her friends often took the trolley to Colfax Avenue or Curtis Street, popular teenage hangouts. They would shop, attend various shows or movies, snack on sodas and ice cream at Baur’s shop."

Finishing school was followed by an introduction into “society”, usually in the form of a debutante ball or coming out party. Grandma was a debutante, but I never thought to ask and don’t think I ever heard any details. I have a vague idea there was a coming out party in Denver for members of her school class but I don’t really know.

Reasearch Continues

Grandma’s mother, Essie (Wilson) Luce, also attended a finishing school, back in Illinois. I haven’t been successful finding that school. The little I know comes from notes I made years ago: “[Grandma Essie] attended a private school in Decatur, Illinois, where her teacher was Mary Helen Sommer Rinehart (1863-1920). The two became close friends. In later years they exchanged photos and letters. [Essie] also attended a private school in Kaskaskia.”

Personal Note

Purely a coincidence, when I was confirmed in the Episcopal Church at All Saints in Salt Lake City, one of my sponsors was Dr. Mark Wolcott. Same family.

More Information

  • Baur’s Building.” KEW Realty Corporation <kewrealty.com>. Retrieved May 17, 2020. Located at 1514 Curtis Street, this “historic building was once a candy confectionery, Baur’s Candy Shop, founded in 1872 by Otto Baur who claimed to scoop the very first ice cream soda. Baur’s Restaurant continued to serve Denver as a popular chain into the 1970’s. Remnants of history can still be seen in the tile flooring and barrel vaulted ceiling on the first floor and exposed brick walls and lofty timber ceilings on the second and third floors.”
  • Miss Wolcott’s School Denver.” Denver Public Library. <digital.denverlibrary.org>. Photograph. Retrieved May 17, 2020. “Young women parade in a circle, possibly for a May Day festival, at the Miss Wolcott School at 1400 Marion Street in Denver, Colorado. The girls carry baskets of flowers.” DPL’s photo collection includes many other pictures of the Wolcott School.
  • Justin Swanström. “Wilson.” Swan Knight <yellacatranch.com>, Jan. 1, 2000. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  • Linda Wommack. “Mamie Doud Eisenhower: The First Lady’s Denver Years.” Buckfifty <buckfifty.org>, Feb. 9, 2009. Retrieved May 17, 2020.

Eleanor Harley

Malatiah Luce, of Martha’s Vineyard married a woman named Eleanor Harley or Harlow. Everything I’ve found about her online comes directly or indirectly from Charles Edward Banks’ 3-volume History of Martha’s Vineyard (1901, 1966):

59. Malatiah(3) Luce, (Thomas(2), Henry(1)), b. 1710; res. T., husbandman; m. Eleanor Harley (or Harlow) 5 July 1738, who was b. 1715 and d.  18 Feb. 1787. He d. 3 May 1801. (Banks 3:255).

I’ve pushed a bit from time to time to see if I could take the line further. It seemed to me she was probably really a Harlow because there was a Harlow connection on the Vineyard. I never found anything but I spun some good theories. And, predictably, many people copied my texts without attribution.

About a year ago I tried again. This time scrapping my old theories and starting from scratch.

I already had an extract of the two records on which Banks based his information. Tisbury Vital Records shows Elenor Harley and Malatiah Luce, married 5 July 1738, and Elanor, w. Meltiah, [died] Feb. 18, 1787, in 73d y.

Tisbury Marriages

So we see the primary source says she was a Harley. Banks must have had the same thought I did, that she might really have been a Harlow.

If we calculate her birth from her death it looks like she should be born 1712/13, even though Banks says 1715. Doesn’t really matter. Some play in the dates wouldn’t be unusual.

I was blown away to find, almost immediately, a simple and direct record of an Eleanor who is probably her: Elenor, christened 17 August 1712 in Boston, daughter of Robert Harley and Elinor. This must be the Robert Harley and Eliner Kerr who were married in Boston on 15 November 1711 by Cotton Mather.

Second Church of Boston

That’s it then. Now we can move to looking for her parents’ ancestries.

Old Theory

Here is the last iteration of my old research on Eleanor’s ancestry. An earlier version presented a theory about how she might have been connected to the Plymouth Harlows. I touch on that theory here, and dismiss it.

Her ancestry is unknown. There are some speculations, but no evidence.
Although her marriage record calls her Elenor Harley (Tisbury Vital Records) it seems certain her name was Harlow rather than Harley. There was a Harlow family on Martha's Vineyard but no other references to a Harley family in this area. Moreover, her daughter Mary's first child was Harlow Crosby (born 15 December 1768).
Theories about her origin include the following:
She might have been an otherwise unknown daughter of (Deacon) Robert Harlow and Susanna Cole.
She might have been an otherwise unknown daughter of Benjamin Harlow, and a granddaughter of Sgt. William Harlow.
She might have been an otherwise unknown daughter of Thomas Harlock and Hannah.
She might have been an indentured servant from England.
It is widely believed Eleanor was one of the Plymouth Harlows and therefore a descendant of Sgt. William Harlow (FamilySearch (2017)) but there is no evidence. A genealogy of this family published in NEHGR does not show an Eleanor (Adams 1860: 227-33), but is undocumented and contains known errors.
The Plymouth Harlows were connected with the Holmes and the Wests, two families who lived on the Vineyard a generation later. Rebecca Harlow of the Plymouth family married 1730 Jabez Holmes. His cousin John Holmes came to the Vineyard about 1757. Rebecca's nephew Robert Harlow married 1749 Jean West, of Tisbury, and Robert's brother James Holmes married 1757 Jerusha Holmes, who was niece of Jabez.
FamilySearch shows Eleanor as a daughter of Robert Harlow and Susanna Cole (2017), and therefore a sister of the Robert Harlow who married Jean West, and of the James Harlow who married Jerusha Holmes. The relationship is problematic, however. The chronology is too tight. Eleanor is thought to have been born about 1714/15, which would make her about 23 at the time of her marriage and would tally with her death record, which says she was in her 73rd year. However, Robert Harlow and Susanna Cole weren't married until October 1717. They had their first child Ebenezer Harlow 16 months later, in April 1719. Their subsequent children follow the usual Puritan pattern of a child about every two years until 1752, with each birth duly recorded at Plymouth, and no child named Eleanor. There is no room for Eleanor in this family.
Justin Swanström, 11/1/2010, rev. 9/30/2017.


  • Adams, Theodore P. “The Harlow Family” in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume 14(1860), pp. 227-33.
  • Banks, Dr. Charles E. The History of Martha’s Vineyard (Dukes Co. Hist. Soc., 1911, 1966).
  • “Family Tree,” database, FamilySearch (http://familysearch.org : modified 23 May 2017), entry for Eleanor Harley (https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/details/LHJ6-TFB); contributed by various users.


The 1850 census of Deseret (really taken in 1851) shows two boys in the household of Stephen Luce. There’s a mystery here.

The Mormons got to Utah in 1847. The Luces arrived in 1848. Everyone was still settling in when Brigham Young decided to conduct a census that would be the official 1850 census of Deseret (Utah) even though it was conducted in 1851.

The census shows two young boys in the household of Stephen and Mary Luce: Joseph Purbelow, age 5, born in Iowa; and Willford [Purbelow], age 2, born in Deseret.

Stephen Luce family (1850 Census, Utah)
Stephen Luce family, continued (1850 Census, Utah)

The context suggests the two Purbelow boys were orphans being raised by Stephen and Mary Luce. Their surname probably was really Pueblo. Back then “pueblo” was often pronounced purbelow .[1] Further, the modern family uses the surname Pueblo. It’s possible the boys’ full names were Joseph Smith Pueblo and Wilford Woodruff Pueblo.

There seems to be no further record of Wilford, but Joseph was living in Payson (Utah) by 1868 and died there in 1898. Both the 1880 census and his death record say he was Indian. And that might provide the clue that solves the question of his parents.

Brigham Young dispatched the Parley Pratt expedition to explore southern Utah in 1849-1850. The expedition encountered a mountain man named Purbelow who stole their horses. There seems to be no record of Purbelow’s fate. I suggest he died or the Mormons hanged him, and his (hypothetical) Indian wife and children were taken to live in Salt Lake City.

Robert Lang Campbell, clerk of the expedition kept a detailed journal, but there are few details about Purbelow. Some passages that mention Purbelow were published by Smart & Smart in Over the Rim. The original journals might contain additional information.

On November 28, 1849 at Peteetneet Creek, later the the site of Payson, Campbell wrote, “Col. C. Scott & party who r after Purbelow the Mountainman who stole horses stay here till we come up, hear that Purbelow camps at the hot springs [near Draper] to night.” (Smart 1999:26, emphasis added)

John Brown, another member of the expedition was a bit clearer. On the same day he wrote: “We reached Piasateatment Creek here Colonel Scott fell in with us again and called on us for some to go with him. And we let him have ten mounted men to be gone a few days and return to us again.” (Smart 1999:26)

On November 30 Campbell wrote, “Bre with Col Scott return, they went to the Sevier, found Purbilow had gone too far ahead“. Brown wrote, “We reached Salt Creek where we camped two miles up the canyon here we discovered plenty of Plaster of Paris also our men returned who went with Col Scott. They went so far as the Sevier River on the California road but to no effect.” (Smart 1999:28, emphasis added)

That’s the last we hear until January 5, when the expedition encountered Purbelow near what is now Newcastle. Parley Pratt wrote, “Passed down a few miles thro a fertile valley, still snowing. Came to running water and the Camp of Purblo and a few wagons, about 12 miles farther we reached Captn Fly’s Camp of perhaps fifty wagons, men, women and children who have lain by on a fine stream to shoe their cattle and recruit. Of them we purchased some Whiskey, drinked tolerably free, some of us lodged in their tents and had the luxury of sitting in a chair.” (Smart 1999:183, emphasis added)

Campbell is briefer. He wrote, “2 miles back from this water, find Purbelow & 4 or 5 wagons encamped near here in the snow“. And Brown says much the same: “We arose and shook off the snow and shoved on we soon came to a small company of gold diggers and 10 miles farther we came to a large company of about 50 wagons we camped near them they had a rodometer by which we learned we were 319 miles G.S.L.” (Smart 1999:101, emphasis added)

And that’s it. We don’t hear what happened to Purbelow. The Smarts say they’ve been unable to identify him (Smart 1999:26). They suggest the reason the encounter with Purbelow in January occasioned no further comment was that nothing could be done short of lynching (Smart 1999:102).

My thought is that something did happen the Purbelow, and whatever it was happened before 1851. He had an accident, or he died in epidemic, or the Mormons strung him up after all.

The first reference to Purbelow calls him a mountain man. The last calls him a gold digger, and puts him in a small company of 4 or 5 wagons. It wouldn’t be a stretch to suppose he had an Indian wife and children. Perhaps he was part Indian himself. If he died it wouldn’t be unusual for his children to be fostered with a Mormon family. That’s what I think happened.

1. There are scattered references in the journals of early explorers and pioneers to the pronunciation of pueblo as purbelow. For example:

  • Harriet Brown wrote a letter to her husband’s stepmother: “The [Mormon] Battalion was separated at Santefee (Santa Fe) and those that was sick and wore out with fatigue was sent back to purbelow (Pueblo) 70 miles above Bents Fort under command of Captain Brown. The number consisting of 85 men and 20 women here to remain until next spring then to take up our line of march for Fort Larime (Laramie) there we are in hopes to meet you all and travail with you all over the mountains.” (Harriet Brown, Letter to Mary Brown, Dec. 25, 1846, quoted in “Daniel Brown“. Latter Day Light <latterdaylight.com>, Aug. 16, 2019.)
  • John Holladay wrote an autobiographical sketch: “On arriveing at Fort Larrimee [1846] we met with one John Rinshaw, a mountaineer. He told us that none of our imergration had passed that place. We imployed Mr. Rishaw as pilot to Purbelow. This place is situated on the Arkansaw River just East of Rockeys, arrived thare in August.” (“‘John Daniel Holladay,’ In Biographical Information Relating to Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel database.” Overland Travel Pioneer Database 1847-1868 <history.churchofjesuschrist.org/overlandtravel>. Retrieved Apr. 5, 2020.
  • Brigham Young wrote a letter in 1847 to Elders Elders Hyde, Pratt, and Taylor in England: “About the 17th October, Captain Brown was detached to Purbelow, on the Arkansas, to winter, accompanied by the laundresses, sick, &c., of the battalion numbering in all about eighty; the remainder of the battalion took up a line of march for Monterey in California, thence expecting to ship for San Francisco.” (“Mormon History, Jan 6, 1847.” Mormon Church History <mormon-church-history.blogspot.com/>. Retrieved Apr. 5, 2020.)

2. “Wilford Purbelow“. FamilySearch <familysearch.org>. Retrieved Apr. 6, 2020. Russell Willis Pubelo, of Lindon, Utah wrote: “In the 1850 Census of Utah, page 202, Joseph A. Purbelow age 5, born in Iowa and Willford Purbelow age 2, born in Deseret were listed with the Stephen Luce family, this information is also found on page 65 of “First Families Of Utah As Taken From The 1850 Census Of Utah”. If Joseph was 5 years old in 1850 (1850 – 5 = 1845) he would have been born in 1845. However, I made a copy from the “Register of Death, Utah County, Utah” at the Utah County Building in Provo, when I was a student at BYU about 1978. It listed: Joseph Pueblo age 55, Sex Male, Race Indian, Color Red, … Date of Death April 6, 1898. If Joseph was 55 years old when he died (1898 – 55= 1843) he would have been born in 1843.”

More Information

Edited June 8, 2021 to clarify the hot springs near what is now Draper.

Ruth Luce

Ruth Grant Luce
Ruth Luce’s memorial plaque in Ogden, Utah

Ruth (Grant) Luce was always one of my heroes. She was born in Maine the year before the American Revolution. She came west with the Mormons when she was 72 and lived another 12 years after that. She died at the age of 84, having been a pioneer of Nauvoo, Salt Lake City, and Ogden. That’s some pioneer hardiness.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how Ruth’s husband Malatiah Luce was granted a lot in Great Salt Lake in 1848, making it likely he died there, not back in Nauvoo.

One of the things that bothered me at the time is the Ruth Luce was also listed at the Pioneer Overland Travel Database as receiving a lot in Great Salt Lake in 1848. If true, there would be some problems interpreting the entries. Would Ruth have been granted a lot if her husband was present and received a lot at the same time? It would be possible theoretically, but it didn’t work like that for any of the other pioneers on the 1848 list.

So, I wrote to the BYU Family History Center. I can never say enough good things about them. Their answer — Ruth did not receive a lot. That was a mistake and has been corrected. Very nice.

They also did some light cleanup in this area, which I deeply appreciate.

I had Ruth’s date of death in my database as 3 June 1860. Not even. I vaguely remember seeing other dates. I chose one of them, and made a note to do more research. BYU has done it for me.

BYU says, “The inscription on her gravestone shows her death date as 13 June 1860. However, the Utah State History Cemeteries and Burials Database shows 3 July 1860. The gravestone appears to have been created quite some time after her death, so we are using the date that appears on the Utah State History cemeteries and Burials Database as the more accurate date of her death.”

So now we can start the endless battle of correcting Ruth’s death date all across the Internet.

John Grant Luce, 1847

When I moved to Salt Lake City in 1977 one of the first things I did on a day off was walk over to the Pioneer Monument on Main Street and South Temple. I wanted to see if there were any Luces on the list of the pioneers. The list is short, just the very first pioneers. No Luces. I was deeply disappointed. I was sure there was a Luce who should be there.

There is a funny thing about this statue, I can’t resist mentioning. A bit of irreverent local doggerel says, “There stands brother Brigham, like a bird on a perch, with his hand to the bank, and his ass to the church.” I was more than a little scandalized the first time I heard it, but later I decided to take it in good humor. As an ironical nod, I opened an account at that particular branch of Zions Bank. And as a reward, I felt like I was part of the web of old Salt Lake every time I went there.

It was many years before I found out I was right. John Grant Luce‘s name should appear on the monument. The fact it doesn’t is due to a (now) well-known mistake. John Grant Luce was confused with Franklin G. Losee.

Where did I get the idea one of the Luces arrived with the first company? I don’t know. All these years and I’ve never found any note to show that I had heard something like that. As far as I can find, the mistake wasn’t actually discovered until 2015. Probably I was just wrong about what was known at that time.

More Information

  • David Lyle Wood. “Utah’s Forgotten Pioneer of 1847.” Journal of Mormon History, Vol. 41, No. 2 (April 2015), pp. 227-258 at JSTOR <jstor.org/stable/10.5406/jmormhist.41.2.227>. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  • John Grant Luce.” Overland Travel Database <history.churchofjesuschrist.org/overlandtravel/>. Retrieved Oct. 14, 2019.
  • Thomas Bullock Journal.” Overland Travel Database <history.churchofjesuschrist.org/overlandtravel/>. Retrieved Oct. 14, 2019.

Edited May 27, 2020 to repair link.