Thomas Lloyd was born February 22, 1831 in Carmarthen, Wales. His parents were John and Martha Lloyd. He had several siblings and half−siblings, including an older brother named John and a younger brother named Benjamin. His family were cobblers by trade, and he took up the profession as well.
When Dan Jones served his second mission to Wales, Thomas and his brothers were among the thousands of Welsh converts who accepted the gospel and began preparing to move to Zion. In 1856, their time to emigrate came. While John and his children took the ship Enoch Train, single brothers Thomas and Benjamin followed Dan Jones aboard the ship S. Curling, and along with over seven hundred fellow Welsh Saints, left Liverpool on April 19, 1856.
Despite their large company, Dan Jones was confident that the voyage across the Atlantic would go smoothly, and he made a wager with the ship’s captain that the Saints would keep their quarters cleaner than the captain’s own cabin. Upon their arrival in Boston on May 23, the inspecting quarantine doctor confirmed Brother Jones’ assertion and declared him the winner of the wager.
From Boston, Thomas and Benjamin traveled by train, sometimes in the cattle cars. Their route took them through Cleveland and Chicago and across the Mississippi River. By June 3, they had arrived at the train terminus in Iowa City, where they rejoined their older brother John and his family.
In Iowa City, Edmund Ellsworth met with the Saints and called for volunteers to join his handcart company, which was to be the first handcart company to cross the plains. Church leaders had previously explained the handcart concept to the Saints in Wales, and Thomas and Benjamin exercised their faith and volunteered to be a part of the new venture. John and his family agreed to join as well.
On June 7, 1856, Thomas and his brothers took hold of their handcarts and began their journey from Iowa City to Zion. The Saints enthusiastically took to their handcarts and cheered when they pulled out from camp and headed across the plains. Initially, the Ellsworth Handcart Company traveled three or four miles a day. After just a few weeks, they began traveling ten then fifteen miles per day. By August, the handcart pioneers were making twenty miles in a single day, outpacing wagon trains and astonishing the pioneers they passed along the trail.
On September 13, in Pacific Springs, Wyoming, the Ellsworth Handcart Company overtook the John Banks wagon train, making up the Banks Company’s ten day head start. Five days later, their fame preceding them, the Ellsworth Company met a group of missionaries heading east, who stood in formation to honor the handcart pioneers and cheered them on with the hosanna shout. When Thomas and his fellow Saints arrived at Big Mountain, so close to the Salt Lake Valley, they took off up the trail with their handcarts and topped the mountain in less than three hours.
On September 26, 1856, Thomas, Benjamin and the rest of the Ellsworth Handcart Company arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. Brigham Young and his counselors in the First Presidency personally welcomed the first pioneer handcart company into the valley to great fanfare. Marching bands and parades took to the streets to celebrate them. The Salt Lake Saints laid out a feast of melons for the new arrivals and turned out by the hundreds to welcome them to Zion.
By 1860, Thomas Lloyd had settled in Spanish Fork. He was the city’s first shoemaker and owned a respectable farm. On November 7, 1860, at age 29, Thomas married Cecilia Thomas, who was 17. They were endowed and sealed in 1862 in the Endowment House.
Thomas remained faithful to the church and donated his labor for the construction of the Salt Lake Temple. His ox−team and wagon hauled granite slabs from the quarry in Little Cottonwood Canyon to the temple site in Salt Lake City.
Thomas and Cecilia had eleven children: Martha Jane, Sarah Ann, Cecilia, Thomas Edgar, Mary Elizabeth, Benjamin, Maria Delcina, and William Arthur lived to adulthood. Thomas Jr., Rebecca and Alice all passed away before their third birthdays.
On May 2, 1902, Thomas Lloyd passed away after having suffered a heat stroke while working his farm. He is buried in Spanish Fork.
*This pace proved too much for John and his family, however. With John’s wife very ill, tending to a newborn and several little children, and slowed by John’s whiskey habit, John broke off from the company and settled in Newton, Iowa. Thomas and Benjamin pressed on without him.
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