Grampa Bill's General Authority Pages
Charles C. Rich Charles C. (Coulsen) Rich

1809 - 1883

  • Born 1809 Northwestern Kentucky
  • Baptized 1832
  • Married Sarah D. Pea 1838; later practiced Plural Marriage; Fifty-one children
  • Original member of Council of Fifty 1839
  • Ordained Apostle and sustained to Quorum of the Twelve 1849
  • Died 1883 Paris, Bear Lake County, Idaho

    This biographical sketch adapted from Utah History Encyclopedia.
    Charles Coulson Rich was born in northwestern Kentucky to Joseph and Nancy O'Neil Rich on 21 August 1809. Pioneers of the early agricultural frontier, the Rich family moved to southern Indiana in 1810 and on to Tazewell County, Illinois, in 1829. Charles received a basic education and training as a cooper, but spent most of his early life working on the family farm. In 1831 he heard about the Mormon Church and was baptized the next year. Between 1832 and 1838, Rich continued farming and served several short missions for the church. In 1834, he joined A HREF="zionscamp.htm">Zion's Camp and travelled to Missouri

    In 1838 Rich married Sarah DeArmon Pea (1814-93), and the couple settled near Far West, Missouri, until driven to Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1839. Elder Rich served as a counselor in the Nauvoo Stake, sat on the Nauvoo City Council, and was one of the original members of the Council of Fifty. After the death of Joseph Smith, Jr., in 1844, Rich rose to the rank of major general in the Nauvoo Legion.

    As a church leader, Elder Rich followed the doctrine of plural marriage, taking three additional wives in 1845: Eliza Ann Graves (1811-79), Mary Ann Phelps (1829-1912), and Sarah Jane Peck (1825-93). Before leaving Nauvoo in 1846, he married Emeline Grover (1831-1917); and in 1847 at Winter Quarters he took Harriet Sargent (1832-1915) as his sixth wife.

    In 1846 General Rich helped organize the Mormon exodus from Nauvoo. 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. On the 5th of October, Nancy Rich, the mother of Chas. C. Rich, died; she was the first adult of the Saints who died in the Valley. The family soon commenced to get logs from the canyons to build houses, and while this was being done they lived in their tents and wagons. Elder Rich served as a counselor in the Salt Lake Stake presidency and as a member of the Council of Fifty. He opened a farm in Centerville in 1848 and the next year, at age thirty-nine, was named to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.

     In October 1849 Elder Rich accepted a call to assist Amasa Lyman in supervising Mormons in California. Between 1851 and 1857 he and Lyman established a relatively prosperous economic colony at San Bernardino, which served as a way-station for immigrants traveling to Utah via the Spanish Trail. Recalled in 1857, Rich moved back to Centerville. He represented Davis County in the territorial legislature and served as aide to General Daniel Wells of the Nauvoo Legion during the Utah War. Between 1860 and 1862 Rich joined Lyman in England to oversee the Mormon Church's European Mission.

    After a one-year respite in Centerville, Elder Rich accepted Brigham Young's call to colonize the Bear Lake region against the threat of non-Mormon settlement. In September 1863 Elder Rich led his party from Franklin, Idaho, into Bear Lake Valley, settling at present-day Paris, Idaho. In 1864 Rich moved his six wives and thirty children to Paris and began a twenty-year struggle to maintain the colony in the face of severe winters, poor harvests, delicate Indian relations, and isolation. In 1864 Brigham Young honored Rich by naming Rich County, Utah, and the town of St. Charles, Idaho, after him.

    Between 1864 and 1872 Elder Rich represented Rich County in the Utah territorial legislature, until it became clear that most of the Bear Lake settlements were in Idaho. He remained an active Democrat in local politics and, as a Mormon apostle, supervised both the religious and secular lives of Bear Lake settlers. Elder Rich was organizing the colonization of Star Valley, Wyoming, before being partially paralyzed by a stroke in 1880. He died three years later, on 17 November 1883 at the age of seventy-five, the father of fifty-one children and grandfather of eighty-five.

    Although Charles C. Rich spent relatively few years in Utah proper, he was a major figure in the settlement of Utah and in the social and political history of "Mormon Country."

    Utah History Encyclopedia (primary source)
    Andrew Jenson, LDS Biographical Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p.102
    Lyndon W. Cook, The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.271
    Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol.4, Appendix 1
    2005 Church Almanac, 63

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