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Charles C. Rich: Footprints in History, Leading the Way to Zion

Q: Charles C. Rich is mentioned in D&C 124:132. How many years did he serve as an apostle in the Council of the Twelve Apostles? Is St. Charles, Rich County named after him?

A: Charles C. Rich was born in 1809 in Kentucky. He became a cooper and a schoolteacher in Tazewell County, Illinois. After reading the Book of Mormon, Charles was baptized in April 1832. He volunteered to march with Zion’s Camp to Missouri and was elected captain of the Pontiac Michigan branch of the camp.

When the march ended, Charles journeyed to Kirtland, where he was ordained a high priest and given his patriarchal blessing. His blessing promised that Satan would have no power over him and that he would gather thousands to Zion.

Charles married Sarah Pea in February 1838 in Far West. He served on the high council and served as president of the high priests’ quorum in Far West. He served in several leadership positions in Missouri and fought in the Battle of Crooked River in 1838.

The only cabin left standing from the Saints’ time in Caldwell County, Missouri.

His wife wrote in an account of their home Charles built: “As Far West was a place everybody lived in log houses so my husband had built a nice hewed log house and got it ready to live in by the time we were married. It was 4 miles from Far West and we moved to our cosy and happy home and we thought we were the happiest couple in all the land.”

When mobocracy threatened the Saints, he tried to help defend the Saints, but eventually had to leave Missouri with a loss of about $3,450.

In Illinois, Charles again took an active role serving on the Nauvoo High Council, the Nauvoo Stake Presidency, and the Nauvoo City Council. He also served in the Nauvoo Legion and as a regent of the University of Nauvoo. He was one of the original members of the Council of Fifty. In 1846 he left Illinois in the Mormon exodus to the West and was part of the encampment of Mount Pisgah, where he was the presiding elder.

After a winter at Mt. Pisgah, Iowa, Rich was named military leader of the 1847 Emigration Company, which followed Brigham Young’s Pioneer Company into Salt Lake Valley in October 1847. He then served as a counselor in the Salt Lake Stake presidency until February 1849, when at age thirty-nine, he was called to the Council of the Twelve Apostles. He served as an apostle for thirty-four years, serving in a variety of assignments.

He was influential in the settlement of San Bernardino, California, where he served as the mayor. San Bernardino served as a way-station for immigrants traveling to Utah via the Spanish Trail. After returning to the Salt Lake Valley, Charles represented Davis County in the territorial legislature from 1858 to 1860 and then accepted the assignment to preside over the European Mission, returning to the United States in 1862.

      Charles C. Rich Monument in Paris Idaho

Charles C. Rich Monument in Paris Idaho

In 1864 Charles led some settlers to the Bear Lake region. He was honored when Brigham Young named the newly formed county “Rich” and the new settlement “St. Charles.”

After six years of faithful service to the communities in the Bear Lake region, Charles was released and invited to return to Salt Lake City. He chose instead to live his remaining years among his friends and large family in the Bear Lake region.

From 1880 to 1883 Charles suffered several strokes, and died in November 1883 at his home in Paris, Idaho, at the age of seventy-four.

Source: Who’s Who in the Doctrine & Covenants by **Susan Easton Black

Comment(s) on this post:

  1. Leslie Brown

    This is my great great grandfather

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