Thomas Bingham Sr.
Thomas Bingham Sr.
Thomas Bingham, the third son and fourth child of Erastus Bingham and Lucinda Gates, was born July 19, 1824, at Concord, Essex County. Vermont. He was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on November 11, 1833 He and his family left Vermont on June 8, 1836, arriving at Kirtland, Ohio, July 6,1836. From there they moved to Far West, Missouri, then back to La Harpe, Hancock County, Illinois, in the spring of 1839. After other moves and hardships, the family left Nauvoo, Illinois, with other Saints in 1846.
Prior to reaching Council Bluffs, Iowa, the call came for five hundred men from the Saints to fight in the war with Mexico. Thomas enlisted along with his brother Erastus Jr. and brother-in-law Elijah Norman Freeman on July 16, 1846. The hardships of that march brought on ague and fever that he had previously suffered, and he was sent with the second sick detachment to Pueblo, Colorado. Most of this detachment were able to come into the Salt Lake Valley on July 29,1847, just five days after the first company of pioneers arrived.
In the spring of 1848, Thomas's father acquired a grazing permit on land about twenty miles southwest of Salt Lake City. Erastus Bingham and his sons Sanford and Thomas herded cattle there for themselves and others. They found ore on the land but were advised by Brigham Young to stay with stock raising and farming and let mining alone. The canyon was later named Bingham Canyon.
On September 6, 1849, Thomas married Caron Happoch Holladay. The marriage was performed by Brigham Young. That fall he and his wife moved to Ogden. They left the area in 1851 in Amasa Lyman's company to fill a mission to San Bernardino, California, and stayed until 1855. Thomas was called on a second mission on September 10,1856, to Fort Supply or Fort Lemhi on the Salmon River in Idaho. Even with a well-secured fort, the Indian problems became severe. Thomas Bingham was one of those chosen to try to reach help. The men were not seen by the Indians when they left; but when they reached Bannock Creek, they were attacked and one man was killed. The others hid, but the Indians set fire to the brush, and the smoke became so intense that the men were about to be driven from their hiding place. Captain George Hill said, "Let us pray to the Lord to save our lives." The wind changed and the smoke moved away; thus, the Indians did not find their hiding place. After delivering their message to the authorities in Salt Lake City, the elders were all called home, and the project was abandoned.
Thomas moved his family to Huntsville, Utah, and was a member of the first bishopric in this community. This first bishopric were all former members of the Mormon Battalion. For sixteen years he engaged in the sawmill business and operated a shingle mill in partnership with his brother Willard.
In September 1868, he contracted to construct two miles of road for the Union Pacific Railroad. He, his son Thomas Jr., and his daughter Mary who went along to cook, and about eight other men left Huntsville in late September and returned just before New Year's Day with the task completed.
In the summer of 1877 Thomas Bingham Sr. with his son and some others went to look over Ashley Valley. He returned to his home in Huntsville, Weber County, and made a report of his findings to President John Taylor who gave him permission to organize a small company and settle in Ashley Valley. They left in November 1877 and came over the Uinta Mountains through Evanston, Wyoming, and Browns Park. They arrived in the lower end of the valley on the Green River in December 1877.
The party consisted of Thomas Bingham and his wife, David H. Bingham and family, Enoch Burns and son, Frederick G. Williams and family, Alma Taylor and two children, Joshua Chellus Hall and wife Lola and child, Orson Hall, Charles Allen, Charles A. Nye, Ben Lofgren, Niels Lofgren, Charles Jensen, and John Nelson and family. In Evanston another party joined this group. They were Allen Beceus, George Carrey, Richard Veltman, and Bill Bunnell. When Thomas Bingham arrived he took a complete census of all the population in the Ashley Valley and sent it to President John Taylor.
At a meeting held in January 1878, Thomas Bingham Sr. was chosen as the first presiding elder in the Uinta Basin. In the early civil and ecclesiastic affairs, the Bingham's played an important role. Thomas Bingham Sr., Thomas Bingham Jr., and others eventually moved to Dry Fork. They were there during the hard winter of 1879-80.
Ashley Valley belonged to Wasatch County, but in 1880 Uintah County was established and Thomas was appointed one of the first selectmen. From 1880 until 1886, he was the probate judge appointed by Governor Eli H. Murray. In 1882 he became bishop of the Mountain Dell Ward of the Uintah Stake with Jerome Merrill and Thomas Bingham Jr. as counselors. In the spring of 1884, he moved to the area of the Mill Ward, now known as the Maeser Ward, about two miles from Vernal, Utah.
Thomas Bingham Sr. died on December 31, 1889, and six former members of the Mormon Battalion were pallbearers at his funeral. He was a real pioneer, true husband, kind father to his ten children, active in church and civic work, and loved by all who knew him.
Daughters of Utah Pioneers
Volume 3. Pages 434-424