Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lorinda Elizabeth Bronson Thompson

Lorinda Elizabeth Bronson Thompson

     On a prosperous farm in Brownstown, Wayne County, Michigan just two days before Christmas, 23 December 1836, Lorinda Elizabeth Bronson was born. She was the eighth and final child of Leman and Lucy Brass Bronson. In the year 1836, Michigan was a still one year away from being accepted into statehood.

The Bronsons were lovers of religious thought and devoted church attenders in the Methodist faith. Lorinda’s father, Leman, was a class leader in his church and knew the Bible well. Her mother Lucy taught her children to pray and have faith in God.

In 1842 missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came into the Brownstown area and were kindly received when they arrived at the Bronson home. The family listened to the story of the Gospel restoration. But Lorinda’s father Leman resisted some and went about disclaiming the doctrine of Mormonism. He was determined to prove it false.

After many months of study and the testimonies of the missionaries, Leman became convinced of the Gospel’s truthfulness. Both he and his wife Lucy were baptized in November of 1843. By the year 1845 a branch of the Church was organized in Brownstown and Leman was called to preside over it.Neighbors of the Bronson family who were once friendly and kind began to be prejudiced against the Mormon faith. In 1846 Leman sold his farm, stock and equipment at a loss. He took his family and journeyed to Nauvoo, Illinois to be with the Saints.

For more than five weeks they traveled over rough roads and snow often two feet deep. Once arrival, the family stayed only a few weeks before they left Nauvoo with many others crossing the Mississippi River on the ice on 18 February 1846—one of the first families to leave Nauvoo. The Bronsons eventually reached the Missouri River, a place called Puncho, Iowa which later became Winter Quarters. Here the family spent the winter.

In the Spring of 1847, Leman, now a widower with several children, loaded three wagons and hitched a yoke of oxen to each of them. After several weeks of travel, they reached Council Bluffs, Iowa and camped with the Saints. The Bronsons left Council Bluffs in May of 1847 traveling with the Edward Hunter/Jacob Foutz company which was specifically under John Taylor. After a time, the Bronsons and ten others left the main company and traveled ahead of the others.

Lorinda’s older brother Wilmer Wharton recorded of their travel, "On one occasion while camped on the banks of the [Platt] river about 12 o'clock at night, our slumbers were disturbed by a loud rumbling noise not very much unlike that of a strong wind in a dense forest. The guard gave the alarm. Men, women and children could be seen tumbling out of their wagons in a half dressed condition anxious to ascertain the cause of such an unusual disturbing of the water. We soon discovered it to be a large herd of buffalo, consisting of five or six hundred head, in the act of crossing the river. It so happened that we had camped and so formed our wagons as to hedge up one of their old crossing places. It required all the force we could muster, consisting of men, women and children, with ox whips, tin pans, and everything that could make a noise in order to prevent them from running over and demolishing our wagons and camp equipage."

Their advance party arrived in Salt Lake City on 19 September 1847. Leman and his family lived in the fort in Salt Lake for some time. His daughter Martha Ann wrote that she [and most likely her siblings] attended school in the Salt Lake City fort in the winter of 1847. The school was a one-room building. She learned to speak Indian and Spanish from the Indians and Spaniards who came to the fort. It would make sense that Martha’s younger sister Lorinda experienced those same things while attending school at the fort.

After a time, Leman was given a small piece of land in Salt Lake City where he settled and built a small home. The family had many hardships during the first year and a half in Salt Lake. Food was scarce, and they were often hungry.

Lorinda’s daughter Elizabeth related, "I have heard mother tell how happy they were when their grain began to grow, and they felt that no more would they suffer hunger as there were prospects of an abundant harvest. Then came the crickets. Like a moving mass they covered the fields stripping the stalks and leaving desolation in their path.For days they fought them with sticks, beating and killing hundreds, but for every one killed, it seemed a dozen came in its place. Sometimes with only a half slice of bread to eat, mother would fight the pests until exhausted.

One morning they looked up to see the sky black with seagulls swooping down on the fields. They were in despair, thinking all was lost, but instead of eating the grain as they expected them to do, they devoured the army of crickets and saved the crops. They knew this was a blessing from the Lord to save them from starvation."

By 1850 Leman had remarried a widower named Nancy Ferguson Ott and was living with his wife and children in Cedar City, Iron County, Utah. But he moved his family again, this time to Fillmore, Millard County, Utah in 1852. Leman stayed in Fillmore for just one season.

Leman returned to Salt Lake City and shortly received a call to return to Michigan and serve as a missionary. He went to Michigan and faithfully served there until he became ill and died in 1854. One account claims he died at the home of Lucy’s brother, Samuel Brass while another states he died in Wyandotte, Michigan at the home of his oldest son, Edwin Ruthven Bronson.

Lorinda, age 17, remained in Fillmore where she had met Daniel Thompson. The couple married on [4] May 1854. Lorinda and Daniel were married by Bishop Noah Bartholomew in a double wedding ceremony.


Lorinda’s daughter Elizabeth claimed she was a frail, little woman—never weighing more than 98 pounds. Her son, Henry Bronson Thompson had auburn hair. Sometimes he was taunted about his red hair, but he would answer proudly, “Yes, the same color as my mother’s.”

On July 24, 1854, the first celebration in honor of the arrival of the pioneers was held in the old fort at Fillmore. A number of the saints put on plays for entertainment. Lorinda Bronson Thompson was among the first players.
The small town of Fillmore in central Utah served as Utah’s territorial capital from 1851 until 1856. By the year 1860, Fillmore, Utah had a population of just 715. It was in this picturesque valley that Daniel and Lorinda Bronson Thompson lived the first 15 years of their married life.Daniel supported his growing family by farming and ranching. The couple had the following children while in Fillmore:

1. Daniel Edwin born 1855, died 1856
2. Wilmer Daniel born 1857
3. Henry Bronson born 1859
4. Lorenda Delcena born 1861
5. William Riley born 1863
6. Leamon born 1865, died 1866

In 1867 Daniel was called by Brigham Young of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to preside over the branch in Scipio, Millard County, Utah Territory. The family was asked to move from Fillmore to the fort in Scipio in the fall of 1867.

Although Scipio and Fillmore are in the same county, the twenty five miles between the two towns would have been a good traveling distance by wagon for the Thompsons. Safety would also have been a concern as Indians in the area were very much active in making raids on the settlers.

After their arrival, the Thompson children were tutored in a little one-room log building within the fort in Scipio. At that time, all of the students met together with one teacher for the group. After the Indian problems had quieted some, the fort’s residents were able to move into the town of Scipio.

In 1869, after just over one year living in Scipio, Daniel, took Lydia Ann Ivie as a second wife in polygamy. This certainly would have changed the dynamics of the Thompson family. It seemed though, that the two families got along, served and loved one another. Many years later Daniel spoke at his wife Lorinda’s funeral claiming, “Notwithstanding having lived in plural marriage, I never knew her to be vexed at the trials which she had to endure.”

On 29 July 1870 under the direction of Sister Bathsheba Smith and assisted by then Bishop Daniel Thompson, the first Relief Society was organized in the Scipio Ward. Lorinda was called to be the first counselor. The town was divided into districts and Relief Society teachers were chosen to visit the homes of each sister each month. Meetings were held in the school house or in private homes.

During the winter of 1872-73, President Brigham Young and his entourage, including longtime friend of the Church, Thomas Kane and his wife Elizabeth, stopped at the homes of many bishops for food and lodging while on their trip to and from St. George, Utah. The Scipio home of Bishop Daniel Thompson’s wife Lydia was chosen as a place for the Kanes to lodge as they traveled to St. George, and they stayed with his first wife, Lorinda and her family on the return trip. From Elizabeth Kane’s published journal we can read about the homes of both Lydia and Lorinda Thompson.

Here is a portion of Mrs. Kane’s thoughts about Lorinda and her home, "Sister Thompson had a large family of children, but seemed not in the least disconcerted by the addition to her household. I could not but express my wonder at her deft ways. She came in after her tea-things were washed up, and sat beside me with her knitting. She laughed when I praised her. She never found the children in her way; they were a help.And so they were, the little eldest unrobing the younger ones for bed, or waiting at table without needing directions. They were well-trained, as well as healthy, rosy children, and a little creature, who could scarcely speak plainly, sat on my knee, and caroled like a lark."

Lorinda’s daughter Elizabeth claimed, “It was mother’s task to scrub and clean our little log house and cook and arrange affairs to do honor to our distinguished guests. In fact, it seems I remember very few times as a child when our home was not filled with friends or strangers.”

Mrs. Kane claimed that when she and her family arrived at Lorinda’s home, she was not there, but taking food into Daniel’s second wife, Lydia, who had been ill. This would seem to suggest that Lorinda was concerned for Lydia and showed love towards her.

While living in Scipio, Lorinda and Daniel were blessed with six more children:

7. Rosabelle born 1867
8. Emily born 1869
9. Martha Ann born 1871
10. Frances Marion born 1873
11. Raymond Bronson born 1876
12. Elizabeth born 1879

Lorinda’s daughter Rosabelle paid her mother a tribute by saying, “The most impressive thing in my childhood days that mother taught me was prayer. She washed we children nice and clean, put our white night gowns and caps on us. Then we knelt at her knee and said our prayers and were then tucked in our warm trundle beds.”

The Scipio ward was called by the Church to live the United Order in 1874 with Daniel Thompson as president. Lorinda served alongside her husband in many capacities. Her daughter Elizabeth claimed, “She [Lorinda] found time to serve in God’s work not only in one position, but many: teacher in the Sunday, School, counselor to the president of the Mutual in the ward, all while she was still serving in the stake capacity.”

Scipio Primary 1885
Lorinda Thompson, third row, second from left

In 1889 Lorinda was called to serve as president of the Young Ladies Mutual Improvement Association. Her daughter Elizabeth said, “Her [Lorinda’s] memory still lives in the hearts of women who were then girls in her mutual classes, and she is often now quoted and praised.”

Lorinda also served often simultaneously as a Sunday School teacher, Young Women’s president, Primary teacher, President of the Primary and Relief Society.

Scipio Sunday School Teachers 1889
Lorinda Thompson, middle row by pillar
Lorinda appreciated beautiful things. Her daughter Elizabeth claimed, “Mother’s love for the beautiful was largely satisfied when in 1900 we moved into our new brick home. By this time father had retired, and he took pride in helping her to raise shrubs and flowers to beautify the yard. She was very happy.”

Lorinda died on 21 June 1907 at her home in Scipio, Utah. Her obituary stated that she died from an attack of spinal meningitis probably caused by cholera. She is buried in the Scipio City Cemetery.
Lorinda Thompson

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