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William Shin Wordsworth

Question: What town in Utah did William Shin Wordsworth settle in later in his life, after having served in Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company in 1847?

Answer: William Shin Wordsworth was born on March 5, 1810 in Woodstown, Salem, New Jersey. He was the son of Sylvester Henry Wordsworth and Katherine Morgan. William married Ann Morrison in 1831 but she died soon after. William then married Ann Fogg in 1833.

William became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in October 1841. He moved to Nauvoo and worked on the Nauvoo Temple. William and Ann had three children, but their last child and Ann died in Nauvoo. William was endowed in the temple on January 5, 1846, and then made it to Winter Quarters with the other Saints. William married Nancy Ann Vance in March 1847 at Winter Quarters. [Nancy had three children: Eliza, John Vance and Mary who was born in Lehi, Utah. Nancy and her fourth child, baby Elizabeth, both died in 1856 when Elizabeth was born.] William was a member of the 6th Quorum of Seventy.

In 1847, while at Winter Quarters, William was asked to be in Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company. He was one of the scouts who helped blaze the trail for the rest of the Company. He was considered one of Brigham Young’s body guards. William was part of the 6th Company of Ten led by Charles Shumway. William went back to Winter Quarters with Brigham Young in August of 1847, and then returned to Salt Lake City in May 1848.

William was called on another mission with 29 other men to explore and lay out settlements as far as Las Vegas, Nevada. There is a monument in Las Vegas with his name on it. They laid out townships in southern Utah known as Millard, St. George, Parowan and other towns. He went through the Springville area and was very much impressed with it. He said he would like to settle there sometime. In the meantime, William settled in Lehi, Utah.

Three months after his wife, Nancy Ann, died in childbirth with her fourth child, who also died, William took his three little ones and moved to Alpine, Utah. Seven immigrant families, lead by William Wordsworth, were sent South in the fall of 1850 to this sleepy valley tucked in among the Wasatch mountains. On Jan 19, 1855 the Legislature granted a city charter to Mountainville but because of the beautiful mountains surrounding it, Brigham Young, requested the name be changed to Alpine because it reminded him of the Swiss Alps. William built a log house, and it also served as a school until he was instrumental in getting a school built. He was mayor and constable in Alpine. The first fort was called Wordsworth Fort and stood from 1853 to 1855. Its design wasn’t a long term solution as the houses were integral sections of the wall.

William was called on a mission and returned to Utah in Abraham O. Smoot’s Company in August 1856 and arrived in Utah on November 9, 1856.

In 1858 there were 300 families who went to Springville, Utah. William was one of the men who took his family there. William settled on the land now known as Kelly’s Grove and opened up a summer dairy and planted a garden. Kelly’s Grove used to be part of a vast wooded area where fir trees grew. Most of the logs used in the construction of the Old Fort were from there.

William, with Solomon Chase and his sons, opened a canyon and built a sawmill which sawed many thousands of feet of lumber. The canyon, which was named “Wordsworth” after him, is located on the Right Fork of Hobble Creek Canyon. It is a beautiful canyon. The old mill site is accessible only by hiking or horseback. They built a sawmill far up into the canyon because the pine trees there were of better quality wood (red pine virgin timber) which never had termites.

William built an adobe house on 3rd East and 6th South in Springville. He served as road supervisor for 15 years and was active in all public works. He was mayor of Springville and also a alderman twice. William’s last marriage was to Ellen Griffithes in 1875, and they had five children.

After a full and eventful life, William still wanted to live and raise his younger family of five children. He was 74 years of age when his last child was born. William died on January 18, 1882 in Springville, Utah at nearly 78 years of age, and was buried in the Springville Cemetery.

Note: At various times in his life, particularly in Nauvoo, William’s surname was spelled in sources as “Wordsworth.” In Utah, it was spelled “Wadsworth” in the census, obituary, property list, and numerous newspaper articles. His gravestone shows his surname as “Wordsworth.”

Source: Excerpts from “Biography of William Shin Wordsworth,’ written by Helen Manwaring Ashcraft;

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