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Roach, William - Biography

The History of William and Ruth (James) Roach

William Roach was born on September 22, 1833 in Forge, Llanelly, Carmarthen, South Wales. His father's name was John Roach and his mothers name was Elizabeth Evans. He was the young child in a family of 10 children. He had three brothers and six sisters. All the children were born in Wales. He was only 6 years old when his mother died and his father cared for him until he reached manhood.

He found work in the coal mines. One day, the Elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came to the city and he went to hear what they had to say. He was inspired with faith in their teachings and was baptized on January 20, 1852 at the age of 19.

After a year passed, he became dissatisfied and decided he wanted to go to America and to Utah. An older brother, Walter and his family had sailed on the Joseph Badger on October 17, 1850 and stopped in Caseyville, St. Clair County, Illinois where he was president of the Branch and worked in the coal mine before crossing the plains to Utah. William told his father about his desire to go to Utah and this made him unhappy because William was all that he had. As William was packing his clothes, his father came to him and started to cry. William bid his father good-bye, but could not bear the parting and so he told his father, "Come along with me and I will do all I can to help you." John Roach was 66 years old at the time. They left Wales and started their journey to America together.

The journey across the plains was difficult and William tried to make himself useful in caring for the sick building fires and many other things that was needed. Their food gave out, also food for the cattle. The cattle got very poor and were not able to travel. When one would die in the camp, the oxen would be divided and cooked to keep the pioneers from starving. They traveled with the Captain Howles Company and arrived in Salt Lake City on September 11, 1852. When they arrived in Salt Lake his fathers' shoes gave out and so William gave him his and he went barefooted. There was no foot to be had and so William walked barefooted to Box Elder County and bought 10 pounds of flour. The flour did not make bread and so a thin gruel was made in order to make it last. This was all they had to keep from starving.

John assisted in making dugouts for the immigrants as they came into the valley. William once owned the land where the Denver and Rio Grande Depot was located in Salt Lake. He sold it for a shovel, a baking skillet and a bushel of wheat. He also owned the block where the Jennings home was and sold that for a beaver hat.

As time went on, William and his father moved farther south. When they reached Lehi, a heavy snowstorm came and they had great difficulty traveling. William arrived in Spanish Fork in bare feet. He followed the trade of a blacksmith and farmer. He married Ruth James on August 23, 1857 and they became the parents of 10 children: six boys and four girls.

Ruth James was born in Llangeler, Carmarthen, South Wales on April 12, 1835, the daughter of Evans James and Hannah Powell. She had an older brother David who was born in 1821, and probably had sisters. Her mother died when Ruth was about three years old (P. R. buried 10 March 1838). Her father was a basket maker by trade, and was not able to make very much for a day's labor. When Ruth was old enough she had to go out to work. She may have worked at the home of Morris Jenkins and his wife Margaret. She was with them one year. They heard the Gospel and started for Utah. Ruth was 19 years old and decided to come with them.

The Shipping List for the S. Curling, under Franklin D. Richards, 1856, lists: Morris Jenkins, age 34, farmer; his wife Margaret, 34, address: Llanelly; children, Elizabeth 13, Carmarthenshire; John, 8; David, 7; Thomas, 3; Joseph, 1; and Ruth James 22, Spinster. The ship sailed for Boston, Massachusetts. The next day with 707 British Saints on board, under the presidency of Elders Dan Jones, John Oakley and David Grant. About 550 of the emigration Saints were from Wales. There were quite a number of Elders who had labored in the ministry in Great Britain. As soon as the ship was finally under way, the usual organizations were effected; several severe storms were encountered and on several occasions the brethren assembled for prayers and curbed the fury of the winds and waves by the power of the holy priesthood. During the passage six children died and two were born. On May 23, the Samuel Curling was towed to quarantine ground at Boston. In a few hours the inspectors came on board welcomed by the spontaneous three cheers of 700 people, "and strange as it may seem" wrote Dan Jones, called the names of all and passed them in less than one hour and half without any further complaint than that "I was taking all the handsome ladies to Utah." The passengers were all remarkably clean, as well as the ship, which commanded the admiration of all. He made a wager with Capt. Curling upon leaving Liverpool, "that the lower decks would be whiter than his cabin floor" and the quarantine doctor decided in his favor. On May 24, President Jones contracted with the railroad officials to take about 400 of the passengers to Iowa City for $11.00 per adult over 14 years, children half price. The kind-hearted captain allowed the passengers to remain on board the ship til Monday May 26 when the journey was continued to Iowa City ("Church Emigration" The Contributor v. 14, 289.305 C768m).

Ruth James, 21, from Wales was a passenger in Captain John A. Hunt's Company Ox train, which arrived in Greater Salt Lake City in sections 3 and 15, December 1856 (J.H. December 15, 1856, page 131). Two wagon companies led by William B. Hodgetts and John A. Hunt traveled close together while crossing the plains and a camp journal was kept for both companies. At a meeting July 13 in the camp near Iowa City, the wagon company was organized for crossing the plains; Dan Jones was chosen captain of Hundred, John A. Hunt and William B. Hodgett, captains of Fifties. Instructions were given for their well-being. The two wagon companies left after the handcart companies, and Captain Hunt's company left the campground August St.. in charge of the last train of wagons.

The journal tells of "rounding up missing cattle, miles traveled each day, wagon problems, encampments for the night and whether near water and feed for the cattle; traveling in the rain, 56 wagons ferried across the Missouri and Elk Horn Rivers, creeks and rivers crossed with wagons and cattle, some bridges in bad condition, being detained because of missing cattle, births, deaths and illnesses, repairing loose wagon tires, striving for more obedience to their captains, rain and snow storms causing delays, buffalo shot and meat distributed."

"On October 19, Captain Martin's handcart company was passed. As many of the handcart people pulled their carts alongside the wagons, it was "enough to draw forth one's sympathy for them, seeing the aged and the women and children pulling their handcarts, many of them showing haggard countenances."

"On the 20th the ground was covered with snow the next day was 8 inches deep, stopped the company from traveling. The next day they forded the Platte River by doubling teams. The brethren cut down cottonwood trees to feed the cattle. Thursday: the weather was very cold. Camp still detained because of snow. Several cattle died. Friday: a very cold north-west wind was blowing, snow quite deep. More timber cut down to feed the cattle. Saturday: snow drifted by a cold and strong wind so ground became bare in some places, cattle to get a little grass. Sunday: a slight thaw, and cattle looked much better. Captain Hunt went to Fort Bridger to see about trading for cattle to replace those that had died. Monday: snow melted gradually. Sixteen head of cattle brought from the Fort. Tuesday: weather continued cold.

"November 1: A snowstorm came on with the rain making ground wet and muddy. Two men from Valley came to find out condition of the wagon company. Missing oxen brought to camp in evening. Snow 6 inches deep, weather very cold. Brethren cut down willow for oxen.

"November 6: Brethren from the Valley came and gave instructions for their further journeyings to the Valley. Emigrants would have to leave their goods such as stoves, tools, spare clothing, taking along only sufficient clothing to keep them warm, with their bedding. Some wagons were needed to assist the handcart companies. All present at meeting were willing to do whatever was expected of them.

"November 8: Weather intensely cold and stormy and snow drifted. Brethren commenced to unpack their wagons and store the goods in the log house.

"November 9: Weather milder, company resumed the journey crossing the Sweetwater and camped.

"November 19: Company crossed the South Pass and camped at Pacific Springs. Company divided into smaller ones.

"21st and 22nd: Four horse teams arrived and took away about ten of our company to their wagons. A number of oxen came from Ft. Bridger and took several of the wagons there.

"November 29: Several wagons crossed the Green River and camped on other side. (Nothing written until December 4.)

"Last of wagons arrived at Ft. Bridger. Saturday, December 6, messenger brought news a number of teams coming in to bring in remained of the Saints from the mountains, also bring provision with them. This caused great joy in the camp.

"December 7: fourteen wagons (relief teams) arrived in camp from Valley.

"December 9: Some of the teams which had come from the Valley to help the belated emigrants started on their return.

December 26: The last entry made by lead pencil in Captain John A. Hunt's camp journal: "The remainder of the Saints arrived in Great Salt Lake City today, the emigration being now completed."

Two wagon companies were still behind. All the men at Fort Supply, on Green River, went to the assistance of the wagon companies, taking all the oxen down to the two-year olds, in the settlement. On December 2nd, 60 horse and mule teams, mostly two span, with provisions and forage, left this city to fetch in the wagon companies, which arrived here by detachments. It has been stated that they were all in, excepting a few persons who tarried at Fort Supply by the 16th of December (Church Emigration page 141, The Contributor v. 14).

The sufferings of the many who fell by the wayside, as well as of the survivors, who with frosted limbs and exhausted constitutions were rescued by friends, who willingly risked their own lives to save those of their fellow-men. (The winter of 1856-57 had a heavy snowfall in the mountains a month earlier than usual.)

Food was very scarce and Ruth was only allowed a small slice of bread once a day. When they reached the valley, snow came upon them which made it very cold and hard for her. The people were not very good to her, for she had no relatives. She came into the town of Springville where she met Jane and Lorin Roundy and made her home with them. It was while living with the Roundy's that she met William Roach who had arrived in Utah from Carmarthen, South Wales in September of 1852. They were married August 23, 1857 in Spanish Fork and were later sealed for time and eternity in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City on February 18, 1865.

Their first home was a little dugout and their first child, William was born in it. Later, they built a small two-room adobe house at the back of the lot where James Swenson's home was located, making them one of the oldest residents in the Fourth Ward (the location was approximately 380 North 200 East in Spanish Fork). Nine children were born to them in this home. There were six sons: William, John, Evan David, Walter, Thomas and Joseph and four daughters: Elizabeth, Ruth, Margaret and Sarah. The boys were lively and mischievous and the mother was fully occupied taking care of these little children.

William was a farmer and blacksmith. A grandson, as a child, remembered his grandmother as not very tall, a little chubby, but "not high up." She made butter and kept it down stairs in the cellar under the house where it was nice and cool. They had a beautiful grape orchard and the grandchildren remember picking grapes off the vine and eating them. The sons went to work on the railroad in Castle Valley in 1881 and came home in the fall to work on the farm. They had to go to the canyon to get wood for the winter. In 1882, all the children had typhoid fever, but all got well through the nursing care of their mother help of the Lord.

William's sister, Elizabeth with her husband, William Christmas and children, Elizabeth, Luther, Jemima, Mary A. and Rosetta, also emigrated. They were listed as passengers in the Elias Morris company, on the first company of Saints to travel on the newly constructed railroad in 1869. They were met by her brother Walter who took them to Spanish Fork to live.

William was endowed with the gift and spirit of healing and was called to administer to the sick throughout the town. He died June 9, 1893 at age 59. She died a year later on September 21, 1894 at age 59.

William and Ruth were true pioneers, sacrificing much and bearing many hardships. They worked hard and live noble lives and remained true to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They left a fine heritage who have been a credit to their church and community.



BORN: 22 September 1833, Forge, Llanelly, Carmarthen, South Wales

PARENTS: John Roach and Elizabeth Evans

DIED: 9 June 1893, Spanish Fork, Utah

PIONEER: Captain Howells Company, September 11, 1852

MARRIED: 23 August 1857, Spanish Fork, Utah

SPOUSE: Ruth James



BORN: 12 April 1835 at Llangeler, Carmarthen, South Wales

DIED: 21 September 1894, Spanish Fork, Utah

PARENTS: Evan James and Hannah Powell

PIONEER: Arrived in Sections 3 & 15 December, 1856, John A. Hunts Company. Walked and by ox train and wagon

SPOUSE: William Roach



  1. William James
  2. John Walter
  3. Evan David
  4. Elizabeth Ann
  5. Walter Thomas
  6. Ruth Roach
  7. Margaret Hannah
  8. Sarah Jane
  9. Thomas David
  10. Joseph Hyrum


Roach, Elizabeth

Christmas, Elizabeth

Christmas, Jemima

Christmas, Mary Ann

Christmas, Rosetta

Roach, John

Roach, Walter

Roach, William

James, Ruth

Christmas, William

Christmas, Luther


Thanks to Cory Stimpson (corystimpson@gmail.com) for sending the pictures.