Heritage Gateways

Official Sesquicentennial K-12 Education Project
sponsored by the Utah State Board of Education, the BYU-Public School Partnership and the Utah Education Network

Pioneer 1848-1868 Companies

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1859 (age 32), Rowley, George (Handcart Captain - Biographical Sketch)

George Rowley was born September 20, 1827, the son of Richard and Rachel Oaks Rowley of Thornhill, Yorkshire, England. He was baptized a member of the Latter-day Saint Church in 1847. George married Ann Brown and both were desirous of emigrating to America. An opportunity arose which would enable him to pay his passage across the ocean but he was not permitted to take his family, On January 18, 1855 he sailed on the ship Charles Buck, and since he was an excellent musician, President Ballantyne put George in charge of the singing on the ship and a choir was organized. On March 14, 1855 the ship docked in New Orleans where George remained some five weeks. He drove a team to St. Louis and worked in the Jackson foundry for a time, then on July 24th started for Atchinson, Kansas where he arrived four days later. On the 5th of August he drove one of the wagons westward as far as Mormon Grove. He arrived in Utah November, 1855.

George spent the next two years in the valley working, singing, preaching and always praying that his wife and family might be brought to Utah. On April 23, 1857 he was chosen as one of the handcart missionaries to go to Europe. There were twenty-six hand-carts and approximately seventy men in the company. After a trying journey they reached Florence, Nebraska June 9th and on August 15th George Rowley, Jabe Taylor and John Y. Pinder sailed on the ship Philadelphia to labor in Wales. After George had been in Wales a few months his wife and children joined him.

Mr. Rowley was called back to Utah in 1859. The family left Liverpool, England April 11, 1859 on the William Tappscott. When they arrived in New York they immediately journeyed on to Florence, Nebraska where he was appointed captain of a handcart company consisting of two hundred and twenty-five souls, and eight wagons carrying their supplies and meager provisions. One pound of flour per person was allowed each day. The three sons of Captain Rowley walked most of the way. The youngest, Alma, was six years old. Shoes gave out and they had to tie rags around their feet. Through all the trials the ever abiding faith of George and Ann made them say, "The Lord did bless us." Several members of the company were excellent singers and their songs helped to keep up the morale of the others on the long journey. The company arrived in the valley September 4, 1859.

In January, 1860 George Rowley married a second wife, Sarah Tuffley. He was hired by President Young to work in the woolen mills. George was made organist of the Rowley Concert company in 1871, and they became a well known traveling troupe, adding [p.31] views and lectures to the music. On many occasions he was church organist. George lost his eyesight in 1868, but he never lost the pioneer spirit. He died in February, 1908 survived by two sons and one daughter.

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.