This biographical sketch adapted from Utah History
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
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
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
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
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."