James Wrathall of Grantsville (1828 -1896)

James Wrathall (1828 -1896) of Grantsville emigrated to the U.S. in 1851, and settled in a fortification on the site of present-day Grantsville. See Reasons for Emigration for the circumstances of why he left Yorkshire. He was born in Buckden, a village in the Yorkshire Dales, near the boundary between Langstrothdale and Upper Wharfedale, two valleys (see Map of Wharfedale). The area is characterized by large open expanses, green hillsides divided up by stone walls, many small waterfalls, ridges of about 2,000 feet elevation, and picturesque villages with 18th and 19th century buildings. I took some photos of the area in 1973:
James Wrathall's parents were John Wrathall and Elisabeth Atkinson.  John Wrathall was born 28 Jun 1802 in Starbotton, a village down the road from Buckden.  He and his family moved from village to village over the years.  The LDS records list their marriage date as 26 Nov 1827 in Hubberholme, an old church northeast of Buckden, in the parish of Arncliffe.  John was listed as a labourer in James' birth certificate, as a farm-hand (hind) in Bordley in the Yorkshire 1841 census, and as a farm labourer in the Yorkshire 1851 census, which listed his birthplace as Burnsall.   John died 18 Jul 1863, in Yorkshire, place unknown.

The LDS records give Elizabeth Atkinson's birth as 20 NOV 1803, Bolton, Wensleydale, Yorkshire; the Yorkshire 1841 census has her birth around 1807 - 8, place unknown; the Yorkshire 1851 census has her birth around 1805 - 6, Leyburn, which is a town near Bolton. As a part of his research, Derek Wrathall of Skipton located the following information (on microfilm) on Elisabeth at the Northallerton (North Yorkshire) Records office in April 2001: Derek speculated that the date of birth that we have from the LDS records should read 20 Nov 1808, not 1803, which would tie in with the christening date. In checking the IGI online records for any marriage between 1790 and 1803 for any John Atkinson and any Elizabeth, I found there are no marriages listed in Bolton. Chapham and Austwick are the closest villages to Bolton for which there are any records around the right time: Derek mentioned that Robert Wrathall, a brother of James, was still in Bordley as a farm labourer in the 1891 Yorkshire census. Robert was the father of John William Wrathall of Grantsville . In Sep. 2008, Derek sent information on Ann , a sister of James.

James Wrathall emigrated to America on February 2, 1851. For more information on his ship's passage, as well as the passage of his first wife Mary Leishman and her family members, click HERE.  James Wrathall may have been part of a covered wagon train during his journey up the Platte River to Utah territory (Deseret), or he may have travelled with one of the handcart companies; click HERE to read an article on handcart companies written by Carl Nolte.
As one of the first pioneers to settle in present-day Grantsville, James Wrathall and his family were heavily involved in the development of the city. Click HERE for excerpts regarding the Wrathall family from Alma A. Gardiner's thesis, The Founding and Development of Grantsville, Utah 1850 -1950. Click HERE for information regarding James Wrathall and early Grantsville pioneer families transcribed by Mimi (last name unknown) from the Daughters of Utah Pioneers publication, History of Tooele County. Additional transcribed information from that publication is as follows:
The first week in December [1851] they [James McBride, Harrison Herman Severe and their families] went back to Grantsville; other families joined them. Some of those who came to Grantsville that winter were: Benjamin Baker, his wife and family, the families of Thomas Watson, William Davenport, Samuel Steele, Wilford Hudson, James Wrathall, James Davenport, Perry Durfree and Mr. Davis[.] Benjamin Baker, president of the Willow Creek Branch, wrote to President Brigham Young on August 30, 1852. His letter stated that there were only eight white men with their families and forty five Indians.
The full text of this transcription can be found at this website: Olive Cheney and James McBride. For further information on Grantsville, see the Utah History Encyclopedia.
In 1997, Milton Matthews of Salt Lake City (1919 - 2005) related the following about his grandfather:
A considerable amount of information on James Wrathall was handed down to me by his second son Percy and his daughters.

James settled in an area of Utah southwest of Salt Lake City that, while desolate, had the appearance of offering opportunities that might allow James to continue in sheep husbandry, as his ancestors had done since time immemorial. In those days, the place was called "Zion".

He got his start with a few small flocks of sheep, herding them in droves from various mountain pastures ranging from Northwest Utah to Soda Springs, Idaho, and Central Wyoming. This mountainous, arid environment (inhabited by outlaws and Shoshonean tribes such as the Utes to the east, Paiutes and Goshutes to the West, and Shoshone to the north), was the opposite of what he had known in Yorkshire, with its gentle hills, heavy rain, centuries of civilization, and 6-foot-high stone walls enclosing virtually every acre of ground.

James would hire people to drive his sheep to market, grazing, and shearing areas, and would keep the surplus of lambs for himself, taking a small profit from the sale of sheep and wool as well. In time he built up quite a fortune.

James became prominent in the Grantsville area. He offered to finance a pipeline to carry water to Grantsville from a nearby canyon containing the north and south forks of Willow creek. He owned a number of cattle ranches and dry farms in Tooele county, and eventually became involved in banking and finance in the capitol, Salt Lake City. This was not a state or territorial capital, but rather the capitol of Deseret, which the founders considered to have the status of a sovereign nation.

James seemed to have a knack for making money. In his later years, he built and resided in what was described as the best house in Grantsville. Unfortunately, he never wrote anything yet found about his life or activities in England or Utah.

Click HERE for two preliminary versions of photos of James Wrathall taken around 1890.
Click HERE for preliminary versions of photos of James Wrathall's siblings John and Jane, taken around 1887.

The above paragraphs are excerpts from a conversation in January 1997 with Milton, who, in collaboration with his uncle John Percy Wrathall (1874 - 1956) of Grantsville , has provided a compilation of several documents about his grandfather entitled "Information Regarding the James Wrathall Family" (1964). One of these document is "A SKETCH OF JAMES WRATHALL'S LIFE" by Percy Wrathall; click HERE to read it. Another document is the "HISTORY OF JAMES WRATHALL", written by Lois Eileen Wrathall Nicholson, granddaughter of James Wrathall (1828 - 1896) and Flora Ann Sabin (1852 - 1891); click HERE to read it. Lois Nicholson's document relates that James and Flora Wrathall travelled to England in 1889; click HERE for more information. "Tour Historic Grantsville", a 16-page brochure produced for the Historical Brochure Committee of the 1884 -1984 Centennial Old Folks Sociable, contains descriptions of the Grantsville homes of James Wrathall and James L. Wrathall; click HERE to read them. In 2002, Jill Homer wrote an article about Wrathall Grantsville homes for the Tooele Transcript-Bulletin; click HERE to read it.

In 2001, Celia Wrathall Book of Santa Barbara found a document in the University of California (Berkeley) Bancroft Collection that recounts a dictation taken in 1881 from James Wrathall (1828-1896). The original is on microfilm and is in long-hand script:
James Wrathall, Grantsville, Tooele [County], Utah

Mr. Jas. Wrathall was born in England in 1828 and came to Utah in 1851 and settled in Grantsville.

In 1866 [sic] he married Mary Lishman, a native of England whose family came to Utah in '54. He became engaged in farming and stock raising. He began without money, but when he could get a few dollars for labor, laid it aside until he could buy a cow, and he started a sheep herd from one ewe, adding one as he could save the money to buy it, and from these small beginnings, he has 20,000 sheep and quite large bands of cattle, and is the wealthiest man in the [County] probably.

He was one of the organizers of the Co-op and was interested in the Factory, which was a failure, in the Gristmill and in every enterprise started in the [County] calculated to benefit the community. He is interested in the Co-op Wagon and Machine [Company] in Salt Lake City and in the House Fire Insurance [Company]. He also has a small interest in the Herald published at Salt Lake which he took to aid the paper.

He has had very little to do with politics but has been Alderman and in the City Council.
James Wrathall's involvement in industrial and agricultural affairs in Utah was mentioned in local newspapers in the latter half of the 19th century. For more information, click HERE.

In August 2001, I found three accounts of immigrants to Utah involved with James Wrathall and his son James Leishman Wrathall (1860 - 1932); click HERE to read them. In January 2002, James L. Wrathall II (grandson of James Leishman Wrathall) updated his account of the various Wrathall ranches in Utah; click HERE to read about them. Around 1980, Taft R. Wrathall (son of James Leishman Wrathall) wrote about his father's ranches and related matters; click HERE to read excerpts from Taft's autobiography.

In June 2002, Pauline Wrathall Hawker, great-granddaughter of James Wrathall (1828 - 1896), sent several documents and old photos pertaining to Wrathalls of Grantsville, which we will be adding to the site. One of the documents was the obituary of James Wrathall; click HERE to read it. The photos sent by Pauline Hawker include: In July 2002, Pauline Wrathall Hawker sent photos of Wrathall monuments in the Grantsville cemetery; click HERE to view them.

Andy E. Wold and Kent Davis of Lehi, Utah have been working on "Abstracts of Deaths and Marriages Notices in the Deseret News Weekly of Salt Lake City, Utah (1852-1888)" for several years. Their transcriptions include two notices regarding James Wrathall's (1828 - 1896) wives (the two links below may require several minutes to load (July 2006):

In Aug. 2003, Shirley Nawrocki sent Ailna Martin's account of the life of James Lishman , great-grandfather of Mary Lishman; click HERE to read it.

In May 2005, Elizabeth Ann (Horner) Gurr wrote an article for the Tooele Transcript-Bulletin with the title Family to honor predecessor's legacy Monday, concerning Elizabeth Ann (Robinson) Mander. The following is a quote from the article:
Robert [Alfred Mander] ... travelled from St. Louis, Mo. with his widowed mother, Maria (Lishman) Bickley Mander Watson. As a four-year-old, Robert walked across the plains, while his mother carried his little sister Sarah Ann (Mander) Green (Mrs. Henry Thomas Green). His other sibling, John Mander, died a teenager in Grantsville. John lived with James Wrathall and his Aunt Mary (Lishman) Wrathall.
In Dec. 2005, Pauline Wrathall Hawker sent a copy of A Biography of James Wrathall  (1828 - 1896), which was part of a scrapbook put together by James R. Williams (1894 - 1984), teacher and principal at Grantsville High School and mayor of Grantsville. The biography is a newspaper clipping, probably dated 1923 and published in The Grantsville Observer and The Tooele Transcript, and was given to Pauline by Mr. Williams' daughter Jean Wilkey.

In Aug. 2006, Helen Aldridge of Grantsville (dustbuster777(at)hotmail(dot)com) wrote an account concerning the home of James Wrathall (1828 - 1896). Also in Aug. 2006, Helen was able to get copies of photos of James Wrathall's home, with the assistance of Ron Perry of the Tooele County Assessor's Office. The first photograph depicts the house in the approximate period of 1932 - 1937. The second photo has the number "1975" on the back. Helen mentioned that the house no longer looks like either of these photos, although it is much more like the second than the first. It has been stuccoed in off-white and scored to look like brick. Helen also said that the parcel number for the house is 1-093-0-0034, and that in the older photo, the sign with "B-2-10" printed on it (held by an unidentified man) may refer to the block and lot.

In May 2007, a webpage with the title MATTHEW FRANCIS BELL   Blessed, Honored Pioneer (by Lester L. Knight) had the following references to James Wrathall:
Matthew and Jane, and a few others of the company, must have gone to Grantsville almost immediately, because Jane gave birth to their first child, Isabella, there on October 4th [1852]. Settlement at Grantsville had started the previous year. Friends from the Dales, James Wrathall and John and George Hardy, who had immigrated the year before, were already there. ... Matthew and his friends from Yorkshire (James Wrathall, the Hardy brothers, and William Rydalch) were members of the Nauvoo Legion (organized to check Indian depredations) and attended periodic musters. ... He and his Yorkshire friend, James Wrathall, were among those sent to build and man defenses at Echo Canyon.
Matthew Bell was mentioned in Wrathall Involvement in the History of Grantsville and Jane Bell (widow) was listed as a boarder with the Wrathall family in the 1920 Tooele County Census . If the Ancestral file data source listed in the latter page for Jane is the correct source, then Jane was not a sister-in-law of Matthew.

In June 2009, Utah Digital Newspapers had the following death notice for Mary Lishman Wrathall:
At Grantsville, Tooele County, April 13th 1871, MARY LISHMAN, wife of James Wrathall, after three days sickness, aged 49 years and 3 months. Sister Wrathall was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1841, at Preston, England. She lived and died a faithful Saint. --Com.