1852 (age 46), Willden, Sr., Charles
To America and Council Bluffs
Charles Willden Sr., fourth son of Jeremiah Willden and Elizabeth Revil, was born July 27, 1806, in Anston, Yorkshire, England. His brothers and sisters of whom record has been found were Sarah, Jeremiah, Ann, Mary, John and Charles. As to Charles" childhood, nothing is known. Ann and Mary died before the Willdens came to America, and Sarah passed away soon after. Charles married Eleanor (Hellenoir) Turner January 21, 1833, in Laughton, Yorkshire, England. Their first children, Ellott and Eleanor, were born in Laughton. They moved to Sheffield, Yorkshire, England, about 1836 where Charles Jr., John Feargus O'Connor, Ann Jane and Maria were born.
Charles worked in the steel mills in Sheffield where, according to some records, he discovered a way to refine steel. He was active in politics at the time of Ireland's struggle for freedom. While living in Sheffield, he heard and accepted the Gospel and was baptized August 27, 1839, into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His wife Eleanor did not receive its teachings so readily, as it was more than four years before she was baptized. Charles must have labored patiently with her as well as others of his family.
Money was scarce when the Willdens became desirous of gathering to Zion, and they had little with which to make the trip. But by pawning his watch and obtaining some money from John, they were able to leave their home October 25, 1849. After six weeks on the ocean, the family landed in New Orleans the day before Christmas 1849 with only one farthing and a few hundred pounds of oatmeal that Charles had secured from persons who were going to throw it overboard. Part of this they sold for a cent a pound to help buy their tickets to St. Louis.
Charles was asked by Mormon agent Thomas McKinzey what he was going to do. He replied, "I have only one farthing and a little oatmeal." The agent told him to move all on the boat, consequently, when Charles was approached for the money to pay their passage up the river, he did not have it. He and his four sons then carried wood and did other work to pay their way. After staying in New Orleans five days, they left on the boat Ben West, sailed up the Mississippi River, and arrived in St. Louis January 11, 1850. The trip was saddened by the death of little Maria six days after embarkation. The boat paused long enough for her burial on shore.
The family remained in St. Louis three months, leaving April 12, 1850, on the steamer Correy. They arrived in Council Bluffs on the 4th of May, and here Charles bought from Solomon Walker, for the small sum of twenty dollars, a farm consisting of a homestead of 50 or 60 acres and two houses. After paying for the place, only two dollars were left in the family coffer with which to purchase necessities. They remained about two years, planting and harvesting corn and wheat. Feargus and Ann Jane went to school for about 6 weeks, and here Mary Ellen was born on November 5th.
To the Valley, then to Iron Mission
The journey to Utah was begun in June 1852. Taking 9 head of horned stock and some sheep, the Willdens left homestead as well as corn in the crib and joined the Third Company of Capt. Thomas C. D. Howell.
In the Valley, Charles spoke to Lorenzo D. Young about becoming a farmer, but when Lorenzo heard the name "Willden" he inquired if Charles was a steel refiner by trade. Being answered in the affirmative, Lorenzo said he was under the impression that President Young's plan was to send Charles to Cedar City, then known as Coal Creek, to work in his trade. Soon Charles was called as Lorenzo had predicted, and he began preparations for the move, which was accomplished by October 29, 1852.
While en route, they had camped one night at Cove Creek, and as Charles looked over the valley, he remarked, "What a lovely place this would be in which to settle." However, he proceeded to Cedar City in obedience to his call.
By 1859 the iron works had failed to produce, and great numbers of people moved away to seek new homes. The Willdens moved to lower Beaver. Here Charles and his four sons Ellott, Charles, John and Feargus each took up 200 acres of land. Many times Charles had thought of Cove Creek, and as their land in Beaver proved unsatisfactory, he and his sons went to the pretty valley and purchased 160 acres of land. With no financial aid or added manpower, they faced the wilderness alone, built an adobe home on the south banks of Cove Creek and enclosed it by a corral and cedar post stockade. The posts were 8 to 10 feet high and placed so close together that they formed a solid wall. Fort Willden, as they named it, provided food, rest and protection from the Indians for weary travelers passing through. [Note: the fort was rebuilt with stone by Ira Hinckley and was known as Cove Fort - a resting stop along the trail and an important telegraph station.]Source: Our Pioneer Heritage © Carter, Kate B., ed. 20 vols. Salt Lake City: International Society, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1958-1977. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the publisher. Documents and images are exerpted by permission from the LDS Family History Suite CDROM from Ancestry.