Ellen Sanders Kimball

Question: Was Ellen Sanders Kimball one of the three women who went in Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company to Utah in 1847?

Answer: In Tinn, Telemarken, Norway, was born on April 11, 1823, a little girl, Aaagaat Ysteinsdatter, who in later years was known as Ellen Sanders Kimball. No part of this name was hers originally. Her maiden name, Ellen Sanders, was bestowed upon her in America, probably for the reason that it was more easily pronounced than her Norwegian name. She was the daughter of Osten and Aasa Sondresen.

Ellen's father was a farmer, and though not wealthy, was considered prosperous in that country. As a farmer's daughter among the mountains of Norway, her life was doubtless frugal and peaceful, and her habits industrious and thrifty.

Tinn, Telemark, Norway.jpg

In the early part of 1837, when Ellen was about fourteen years old, her parents, with a view to improving their temporal condition, religious freedom, and providing more liberally for the future of their children, resolved to immigrate with 200 other Norwegians to America. The farm was sold and the family fitted out for the journey. Leaving home, they proceeded to Sweden, where they arrived the early part of June. There they took passage on board a Swedish brig laden with iron and bound for New York.

Among the passengers, likewise emigrating with his parents to the New World, was a lad named Canute Peterson. He was about the age of Ellen. The Hogan family, relatives of the Sondrasons, came in the same ship. The company, after several weeks upon the sea, landed at New York about the middle of August. They then traveled west looking for open farm land. At Chicago, Ellen with her parents and the rest of the family went to the State of Indiana, where her father took up land, built a house, plowed and put in crops. He was a generous man, so much so that he had retained but little of the means realized from the sale of his possessions in Norway. After paying the passage of himself and family over the ocean, he had quite a sum of money left, but had lent or given away the greater part of it to poor people whom he met on the way. He went to work with a will to found a new home in the land of his adoption.

About a year after they landed in America, Ellen's mother sickened and died. Her elder sister Margaret had died some time before. Some three weeks after her mother's death, her father, who was ill at the same time, also succumbed and passed away. The orphaned children (three girls and two boys), left among strangers, soon lost what remained of their father's property. A year or two after his death, they removed from Indiana to La Salle County, Illinois, where dwelt some relatives and others speaking their native tongue. There the children separated, the girls finding employment as hired help in families, and the boys securing labor suited to their tender years.

Sometime in the year 1842 two missionaries, including George P. Dykes, came into La Salle County preaching the Gospel. On October 1842, Ellen became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Her younger brother Sondra had joined in January, and her sister Harriet had joined in July. A branch was raised up in La Salle, numbering nearly one hundred souls.

In October 1844, Ellen Sanders with her sister Harriet, her brother Sondra, and Canute Peterson went to Nauvoo, arriving in that city a day or two before the general conference of the Church. After the conference, Sondra returned to La Salle with his employer, who had brought the party by team to the city. Ellen and Harriet continued to work for various families, Ellen first dwelling in the family of Charles C. Rich, and afterwards in the family of Heber C. Kimball. In January 1846, Ellen, and her sister Harriet, were both married to Apostle Heber C. Kimball by President Brigham Young. In 1847, Heber became first counselor to Brigham Young.

At the organization of Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company, Ellen Kimball (age 22) was asked to accompany her husband on the westward journey. The hardships of her early life had well prepared her for this journey. On July 24th, 1847, she gazed for the first time upon the Salt Lake Valley.

During the absence of her husband, who on August 26th of that year set out on the return journey to the Missouri River to bring the rest of his family to the Valley, Mrs. Kimball dwelt in the fort erected by the pioneers. Subsequently she had a home on City Creek. While living in the fort, her first child was born in February 1848, a son named Samuel, who died within a year. Her next two children, Joseph S. and Augusta (twins), born in 1850, died in their youth. She had another daughter, Rosalie, in 1853, and a son, Jedediah, born in 1855.

Heber C. Kimball married forty-three wives and had sixty-five children and at least 300 grandchildren. He passed away on June 21, 1868. In 1869, the year after the death of her husband, Mrs. Kimball removed with many others of his family to Meadowville, in Bear Lake Valley, where she lived with her children. In 1871 she returned for the last time to the Salt Lake Valley which she had been one of the first to enter many years before. She came to consult a physician regarding an ailment that was troubling her. Temporary relief was obtained, but she suffered a relapse.

She went to stay at the home of her brother, Sondra Sanders, in South Cottonwood, and on November 22, 1871, at the age of 48, she passed away. She was buried in the Kimball-Whitney Cemetery in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Source: Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 8, p. 177; FindAGrave.com; The Church News, Ellen Kimball