Ralph Briggs Douglas

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Question: What country did Ralph Briggs Douglas come from before serving in the Mormon Battalion in 1847?

Answer: Ralph Briggs Douglass was born on 28 December 1824 at Downham, Lancaster, England a son of George and Ellen Briggs. His father and mother and family joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during the first visit of Heber C. Kimball in the year 1838. Ralph was baptized a member of the church in the spring of 1840 by Steven Langstrain.

Ralph, at age 17, immigrated to America with his parents and arrived in Nauvoo on 7 April 1842. Ralph’s father passed away in Nauvoo on 12 July 1842. Ralph became acquainted with the Prophet Joseph Smith while living in Nauvoo, and shared in the sorrow of the Saints at the martyrdom of Joseph and his brother Hyrum on 27 June 1844 in Carthage, Illinois.

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Ralph married Henrietta Wheeler on 26 January 1845 in Nauvoo. Henrietta was the daughter of John and Elizabeth Wheeler. Ralph and Henrietta were forced to leave their home in Nauvoo due to the persecution in February of 1846. They settled with other Saints at Winter Quarters, Nebraska. Here Ralph was mustered into service in the Mormon Battalion and became a member of Company "D." He left his wife, who was expecting their first child, almost destitute, with no shelter other than a tent to protect her from the weather. She gave birth to their first son, George Alma Douglass, while living at Winter Quarters.

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Ralph marched with the regiment, but was taken sick with scurvy, and sent to Pueblo, Colorado in the Battalion Sick Detachment to spend the winter. In the spring the Detachment continued their journey to Salt Lake, arriving there a few days after Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company in July 1847. Here they learned that they didn’t have to go on to California and were dismissed from duty. Ralph helped lay the first adobes in the Old Fort wall in Salt Lake.

Then in the fall, in company with President Brigham Young, Ralph returned to Iowa in search of his wife. He found Henrietta and his new son in St. Joseph, Missouri. He spent the winter there, and then went to St. Louis for two years making preparations for another western journey. It was during this time that little George died on 1 November 1849, presumed to be buried at St. Louis.

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The family left for Utah in the spring of 1850 and arrived safely in the fall. They settled in Ogden, Utah, where Ralph helped build the first adobe home. On 5 March 1852, Henrietta gave birth to a baby girl they named Helen Elizabeth. Little Helen Elizabeth died on 22 March 1853. On 2 April 1853, Henrietta gave birth to another son, Ralph Heber Douglass. A daughter, Mary was born and died in 1854. Ralph and Henrietta accepted the law of plural marriage, and on 5 February 1856, Ralph married Jane Stone in Ogden, Utah. Jane was born in England in 1836, the daughter of Samuel Stone and Hannah Bradley. On 1 April 1857, Henrietta gave birth to their last child, a little girl they name Henrietta Almeda.

On 20 May 1857, Jane gave birth to her first son, they named William Francis. Ralph and Jane were blessed with twelve more children. Nine grew to adulthood. When the raid was made in 1887 against Polygamists, Ralph was sentenced to six months in the penitentiary by Judge Powers. He served out his term and returned to Ogden.

Ralph owned a whole block of property in the vicinity of Lincoln Avenue between 26th and 27th Streets in Ogden. He gave his children a lot and built homes for them. He also owned property on the corner of Grant on 26th Street. He had the first butcher shop in Ogden and his brother, George, owned a blacksmith shop. Ralph and his brother, Richard, belonged to the Ogden City brass band in 1864 and gave concerts in many different localities.

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Jane died 4 May 1889 at the age of 52 and was buried in the Ogden City Cemetery. Ralph Briggs Douglass passed away at age 75 on 3 May 1900 at Ogden, Utah, and was buried in the Ogden City Cemetery. Henrietta died at age 75 on 23 July 1900, and was buried in the Ogden City Cemetery.

Source: Excerpts from “Life History of Ralph Briggs Douglass,” compiled by Bonnie V. Barfuss, 8 December 2012, FamilySearch.org; “Jane Stone,” FamilySearch.org; FindAGrave.com