Marcus Ball Thorpe

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Question: What happened to Marcus B. Thorpe after he served in Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company in 1847?

Answer: Marcus Ball Thorpe (also listed as Thorp) was born on June 22, 1822 at New Haven, New Haven County, Connecticut to Lyman and Lucretia Ball Thorpe. He was the second child in the family, and the oldest son. The four children were: Margaret Jane, Marcus, Charles, and Lucretia.

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Marcus became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in January 1843, at age twenty. His parents were baptized in 1844, but remained in Connecticut. Marcus moved to Nauvoo, Illinois, where he was endowed in the Nauvoo Temple in February 1846. He was ordained a Seventy in Nauvoo. When the Saints were persecuted out of Nauvoo, Marcus went to Winter Quarters with the Saints.

At age 24, he joined Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company and was in the 13th Ten led by John Brown. Marcus became part of the advance party, arriving in the Valley on July 22, 1847. Once organized, this vanguard pioneer company consisted of 142 men, 3 women, 2 children, and 72 wagons. They traveled 1031 miles before reaching their destination. Some members of the company traveled ahead and arrived in the Salt Lake Valley as early as the July 21, 1847. By the 24th of July, the entire company had arrived.

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After arriving in the valley, Marcus helped prepare the area for the coming wagon trains. He went back to Winter Quarters later the same year with President Brigham Young. He went back to Utah in 1848. The following year. Marcus then went on to California in search of gold. He hoped to earn enough money to bring his family to the Valley. When he thought he had enough, he placed the gold in a money belt fastened about his middle and took passage on a sailing ship, eastbound via Cape Horn. He wanted to make it to Connecticut where his family was living.

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During the voyage on January 9, 1849, the Church membership record states that Marcus fell overboard and drowned. Marcus was only twenty-six years of age. His family put a small memorial for him in the New Center Cemetery, North Haven, New Haven County, Connecticut.

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In 1852, Marcus’ father died, but in June 1854, his mother and two sisters and younger brother, were able to join the James Brown Company and make it to Utah. His oldest sister, Margaret, never married but lived with and cared for her mother. His youngest sister, Lucretia, married Aaron Freeman Farr, Sr., and had five children. In the 1880 census Marcus’ mother and sister Margaret, are living with Lucretia and Aaron Farr and their family in Ogden, Utah. Nothing more can be found on Marcus’s brother, Charles, who was age twenty when the family emigrated to Utah.

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Source: “Biographies of the Original 1847 Pioneer Company,” Church News, Updated, 14 October 2009; FamilySearch.org, Sources; Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel Database; FindAGrave.com