Contributed by Chris Christiansen
When the first LDS missionaries went to England, they found acceptance in Preston among some of the people, including Henry Clegg. The presiding Elder remarked that he would baptize the first one to reach the River Ribble. Henry and a young man named Watt raced to reach the spot. Watt won the race and became the first person to be baptized in England. Henry was the second. (See note 1)
In Cardiff, Wales, there was a Methodist minister, John A. Lewis, who heard about the LDS church. So in 1854 ... he was converted and sold all he had so he and 25 other families could emigrate to America.
Henry Clegg's sons Henry and Jonathan with their wives and children emigrated to Utah. Henry's family left Liverpool, England, March 31, 1855, on the ship Juventa. After six weeks ... they arrived in Philadelphia, went by land to Pittsburgh and by steamer to St. Louis to join a wagon train.
While crossing the plains, Henry's wife Hannah died of cholera. She was buried the next morning at Mormon Grove near Atchison. The company then moved on. At 6:00 that evening Henry's young son (Henry James Clegg) died. With wolves howling and following him, Henry ... returned to Hannah's grave, placing the child in her arms. Henry then had to return to the wagon train now 5 miles away, hiking through a rain storm. Suffering from cholera himself, Henry described his condition as being at death's door.
Jonathan and his family left the next year (1856) for Utah. They came across the plains in the Martin Handcart Company.
Ann Lewis, the daughter of a Methodist minister from Wales, came to America with her father in 1854. She was 19 years old and in Salt Lake City when Henry arrived ... Ann was helping with a celebration to welcome the new arrivals when she met Henry and several months later they were married.
These were the days of polygamy and in due time Brigham Young asked Henry to take another wife ... He married a girl (Margaret Ann Griffiths) who had come across the plains with the Martin handcart company and had lost her father and brother on the journey. Margaret was called Aunt Maggie by Ann's children.
1. This story is from the family oral history. The validity of this story is uncertain. There was even an article in Dialog researching these claims but it was inconclusive. Heber C. Kimball, who baptized the first people in England recorded in his diary (as found in the book Life of Heber C. Kimball, pages 135-136) the race to be baptized first but does not name who came in second. He recorded the names of the nine people baptized that day as: George D. Watt (the winner of the race), _______ Miller, Thomas Walmesley, Ann Elizabeth Walmesley, Miles Hogden, George Wate, Henry Billsbury, Mary Brown and Ann Dawson. Henry Clegg is not listed. It's hoped that someday a Clegg historian will be able to provide definitive proof of these claims one way or the other. Please see the article Who Came in Second?
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