In 2005 it was 150 years since the tragic death of Ellen Midgley, née Hinchliffe, as she trekked the Mormon Trail to Utah to join her husband Thomas. A number of distant cousins decided to meet in commemoration. We met at The Aspley in Huddersfield for lunch on 25 June, and had a good natter. If you wish to join us for the next meeting, please get in touch, although nothing is yet planned.
Ellen Hinchliffe was born in Almondbury in December 1801. She was the eldest child of John Hinchliffe (b. 1776 Dalton) and Hannah Collier (b. 1780 Upperthong). 3 sisters and 2 brothers are recorded, born in various places around Huddersfield. In 1821 she married Thomas Midgley.
Thomas Midgley was born in April 1798 also in Almondbury. He had 7 brothers and 2 sisters. His parents were Jonathan Midgley (b. 1760 Elland) and Martha Beaumont. In the 1841 census he gives his occupation as Fancy Weaver.He and Ellen had 11 children, but 4 died young.
At some stage Thomas and the family became Mormons, son Jonathan being president of both Manchester and Bradford conventions at some time. In 1850 they decided to emigrate to Utah. Thomas and Joshua left England in 1850. Thomas seems to have had second thoughts and returned to England leaving Joshua to continue to Utah. Thomas tried again in 1853 with Jonathan, this time they both made it to Utah. Ellen and the 5 remaining children followed in 1855. Sadly, on the way she "died crossing the Platte River Wyoming" and was "buried at the side of the Platte River, Wyoming" on 4th September 1855. The quotes above are from the IGI site. They still make me cold even though I know them so well. They are what inspired me to take up an interest in family history as Thomas is my great great great grandfather's brother.
Kenneth E Midgley in his book on the Midgley Pioneers suggests that Ellen may have died near Ash Hollow on the North Platte River, a place which still has a reputation for disease to this day. However, when I looked at the diaries of the leader of the Company (Milo Andrus) I think Ellen was more likely to have died near the crossing of the South Platte River. As this is braided, and the Mormon Trail changed route several times hereabouts, the exact place is unlikely to be found.
Gwen Moffat in her book "Hard Road West" says of cholera victims at Ash Hollow that bodies were buried under the trail and trampled by the wagons to foil the coyotes and the Indians wanting scalps.
I have constructed a chart of known Midgley descendants and a descendant list - if you have corrections or additions, please let me know. Also look at my website for more details of Midgleys and Hinchliffes.