Chauncey West and Jeanette Gibson
Chauncey Walker West
(1827 - 1870)
Jeanette Nicol Gibson
(1840 - 1865)
From a posthumus portrait.
Chauncey Walker West was the fifth of eight children born to
Alvah West and Sally Benedict. He was born at Chenango, Pennsylvania,
in Erie County, on 6 February 1827. That same year, Joseph Smith
was reported to have discovered the golden plates of the Book of Mormon
in Ontario County, New York. When he was sixteen years old, Chauncey
Walker West joined the Mormon Church and, in 1844, he and his parents relocated
to the Mormon settlement at Nauvoo, Illinois. At Nauvoo, he met and
married Mary Hoagland. When increasing persecution forced the Mormons
to leave their city, the West family also left Nauvoo, travelling further
west to the Mormon settlement called "Winter Quarters," located outside
what is now Omaha, Nebraska. During the severe Winter of 1846-47,
both Alvah and Sally West died, and Chauncey, at the age of 19, assumed
responsibility for the family.
Copyright © 2001 by Edward E. Steele, St. Louis, Missouri.
All rights Reserved.
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The next Spring, Brigham Young organized the Saints into groups
of 100 persons, each group making the trek from Winter Quarters to their
new home at Salt Lake City. Chauncey West and his family were in
the Second Hundred, which left from the Elkhorn River on 17 June, followed
the Platte River through Nebraska and Wyoming, and crossed over the Wasatch
Mountains, ariving in Salt Lake City on 29 September 1847. In 1852,
he was sent on a mission to Asia, travelling to Calcutta, Ceylon, Bombay,
and Hong Kong, returning to Salt Lake in 1855. In November of that
year, he was appointed presiding Bishop of Weber County, and Chauncey moved
his family to Ogden.
The Mormon Church at this time encouraged polygamous marriages.
During his lifetime, Chauncey took nine wives and fathered 35 children.
They made their home on an entire city block in the heart of Ogden.
His estate included a large house and barn, and separate dwelling homes
for each of his wives. He planted the rest of the block in orchards
and vegetable gardens. On 18 July 1857, Chauncey Walker West received
a commission from Gov. Brigham Young as Colonel in the Fifth Utah regiment.
He served in the Utah War (against troops sent by Pres. Buchanan) and was
appointed Brigadier-General in the Nauvoo Legion for his service in that
William Gibson and Janet Nicol were converted to Mormonism at their
home in Paisley, Scotland, just outside of Glasgow. They brought
their family to America in 1851, sailing first to New Orleans, then up
the Mississippi River to St. Louis. In 1853 he received permission
to bring his family to Salt Lake City. Their daughter, Jeanette,
came with them from Scotland. She was married to Chauncey Walker
West as his fourth wife on 10 July 1857 at Salt Lake City. He was
30 years old and she was 17. She was the mother of three children,
only one of whom, Heber William West, survived to adulthood.
Jeanette Gibson West died at the age of 25 on 4 August 1865 at her
home in Ogden.
The 1860s saw the opening of the West and the construction of the nation's
first transcontinental railroad. Lorin Farr accepted a contract from
the Central Pacific Railroad for the construction of the roadbed from Nevada
to the east. Chauncey West was given charge of the Central Pacific's
construction project. He was with the group of men representing the
Central Pacific Railroad at the driving of the Golden Spike at promentory,
Utah, on 10 May 1869. Bishop West died while on a trip to San Francisco
to negotiate payment of funds (promised by Gov. Leland Stanford) for the
Mormon laborers who constructed the Central Pacific Railroad line.
||For more information on the building of the first Transcontinental
Railroad, click here to visit the Central Pacific
Railroad Photographic History Museum - stereoviews, engravings, maps,
and documents illustrating the history of the first transcontinental railroad.
Chauncey Walker West is buried in the cemetery at Ogden. His large
marker there is inscribed with the names of 15 of his children who died
in their youths and, interestingly, just two of his nine wives -- Mary
Hoagland and Jeanette Gibson.