IINORMA BALDWIN RICKETTS 1921-2010
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Orson Pratt Brown - Mormon Battalion Chroniclers
Norma Baldwin Ricketts
Norma Baldwin is the daughter of Arlo Clark Baldwin 1898-1961 and Rose Ramsey Baldwin 1903-1979. Arlo was born on March 23, 1898 at Luna, Socorro [Luna] County, New Mexico. He died on November 26, 1961 in Sacramento, Sacramento County, California and was buried there on November 29, 1961. Arlo's parents were William Clark Baldwin 1868-1950 and Jamima Jane Adair 1871-1919. Norma's paternal great grandparents are Caleb Clark Baldwin 1817-1905 and Anna Eliza Robinson 1819-1873. Her great-great-grandparents are Caleb Baldwin 1791-1849 and Nancy Kingsbury 1798-1883.
Rose Ramsey is the daughter of John Cheshire Ramsay 1903-1954 (son of Ralph Ramsay 1824-1905 and Mary Ann Cheshire 1841-1922) and Evaline Elizabeth Youngblood 1874-1947 (died in Mesa, Maricopa, Arizona).
Driven by curiosity, Norma Ricketts, former journalist spent 30 years retracing the Mormon Battalion's steps and ferreting out old letters and dusty journals. The result is a book that took her six years to write, ``The Mormon Battalion, U.S. Army of the West, 1846-48,'' published by Utah State University Press, that western historians are hailing as definitive.
But for Ricketts, who was born in 1921, and a retired Sacramento newspaper drama and art critic, publication was only one of the rewards.
In the early 1960s, while doing research on the Gold Rush, Ricketts stumbled on an oddity: Mormons in California two years before Young's flock reached the Salt Lake Valley.
`Where did they come from? The Mormon Battalion. Brigham Young declared, ``The thing is from above, for our own good.'' Young shrewdly hoped to curry favor with Washington, or at least defuse government hostility. And the battalion's wages, more than $50,000 trickling back to the church's general fund, would underwrite the exodus to the Great Basin. "But I found there really hadn't been anything written about the men,'' she said. ``Just dates and places and names didn't do it for me. This battalion was just 500 nameless faces."
That stirred Ricketts, who is proud of her own Mormon forebears: her paternal great-great grandfather, Caleb Baldwin, was a jail mate of Joseph Smith in Liberty, Mo., years prior to the church founder's assassination in Carthage, Ill., and her maternal grandfather, Ralph Ramsay, who carved Salt Lake's original Eagle Gate. [http://www.thefreelibrary.com/MORMON+BATTALION+MARCHES+BACK+:+ARMY+CREATED-a083860268]
In "Inspiration in Liberty Jail" Ricard and Pamela Price wrote: "After the state militia conquered Far West in the fall of 1838, fifty-six of the leaders of the Church were imprisoned at Richmond, Missouri for about a month. Then Judge Austin King released all of them except ten; [around November 30, 1838] he sent six to Liberty to be kept in the Clay County Jail and four others to Boonville to be imprisoned there. Those who were sent to Liberty Jail [in Liberty, Missouri] included Presidents Joseph and Hyrum Smith, President Sidney Rigdon, Apostle Lyman Wight, and Caleb Baldwin and Alexander McRae.
The small jail located in Liberty, Missouri where Joseph Smith, Caleb Baldwin and four other brethren were held prisoner within its four-foot thick walls from 1 December 1838 until 6 April 1839. (Sidney Rigdon was released at the end of February.) Photo is c. 1840.
In Liberty Jail the prisoners were kept in the lower cell or basement-dungeon all of the winter of 183839 in the most squalid and miserable conditions. They were left chained together on the stone floor, with only straw for a mattress and insufficient blankets to keep warm. They were without adequate heat, and their food was sparse and "coarse." The room had only a small barred window on the north and south sides to allow some ventilation.
There in the dungeon the six men lay during the long winter waiting to be brought to trialthough there was nothing to try them for, except for supposedly causing the war by defending themselves at Gallatin, De Witt, Crooked River, and Far West. They were taken to Liberty on December 1, 1838, ...
On December 20 the wives of Joseph Smith and Caleb Baldwin, accompanied by Mrs. Reynolds Cahoon, came in and remained until the 22d....
Thus in their gloomy prison house, cheered only by occasional visits from friends and the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they beheld the eventful year 1838 pass away. Its closing hours found them deprived of liberty, their families robbed and destitute, their brethren scattered and driven from their once pleasant, happy homes by a ruthless mob,and all this for the testimony they bore, that Jesus was the Christ, his gospel true, and his promised blessings sure (Church History 2:309)". [http://restorationbookstore.org]
Fortunately, General Alexander Doniphan indignantly refused to carry out the execution order, calling it "cold-blooded murder." Instead, the prisoners were taken to Richmond where they were tried on charges of high treason, murder, burglary, arson, robbery, and larceny. At the end of November Joseph and Hyrum Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Lyman Wight, Alexander McRae, and Caleb Baldwin were remanded to the jail at Liberty....
On April 15, 1839 while being transported by wagon from Gallatin to Boone Co., Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, Alexander McRae, and Caleb Baldwin bribe a guard (and probably the sheriff) and escape on horses. They immediately start out for the Mississippi river.
Around 21 Apr 1839 Caleb Baldwin, who had escaped with Joseph and Hyrum Smith, enters Quincy and meets with their mother, Lucy and tells of their imminent arrival.
Bishop Alexander McRae, who was imprisoned in this same jail, related that the five prisoners were Joseph Smith, Hyrum, his brother, Caleb Baldwin, Lyman Wight, Sidney Rigdon and Bishop McRae. As they were taking supper together, all but Brother McRae partook of tea, as they were glad to get anything to sustain life. Soon afterwards five of the inmates were taken sick and some of them were blind for three days, after which they were afflicted with sore eyes for a long time. Bishop Mc Rae escaped this affliction as he did not partake of the tea. All of the six prisoners agreed that poison had been put in the tea, but how and by whom was unknown to them.
PAF - Archer files = Captain James Brown + (7) Phebe Abbott > Orson Pratt Brown > Descendants
Photos and information from various sources.
Phone interview of Norma B. Ricketts by Lucy Brown Archer. Norma lives in Mesa, Arizona.
4/1/2012 - For Obituary see: http://www.tributes.com/show/
Additions, bold, [bracketed], some photos, etc., added by Lucy Brown Archer
Copyright 2001 www.OrsonPrattBrown.org
|Norma B. Ricketts is an LDS writer specializing in the history of Mormons in California during the period 1844-1860. A former newspaper columnist, she has written books and articles for three decades. Her latest work, The Mormon Battalion, U.S. Army of the West, 1846-1848, is a definitive prize-winning work on the battalion. She currently is revising the fourth edition of Mormons and the Discovery of Gold (first published in 1963) for California’s sesquicentennial in 1998. Her address is 6209 East McKellips Road, #216, Mesa, Arizona 85215-2846 http://www.utahcrossroads.org/newsv8n4.htm|