Sunday, November 30, 2008

Jeanette Nicol Gibson

Jeanette Nicol Gibson

On 10 July 1857 Chauncey married his fourth wife, Jeanette Nicol Gibson. Jeanette was born in the village of Paisley in Renfrew, Scotland, the daughter of William Gibson and Janet Nicol. Her parents were converted to the Mormon faith and received permission from the church to come to Salt Lake City. William Gibson kept a detailed journal, now in the archives at the Latter-day Saints’ library in Salt Lake City, in which he wrote:

In the beginning of January 1851 I & my family embarked with a Company of Saints at Liverpool on board the Ship George W. Bourne bound for New Orleans. When we arrived after a voyage of eight weeks I was appointed President of the Company. On arriving at New Orleans I charted the Steamer Concordia to take us up the River to St. Louis where we arrived after a quick trip of one week the latter end of March. [See National Archives Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New Orleans, 1820–1902, Microfilm 259, Roll 33, November 1, 1850–March 21, 1851]

In May 1853 I started with my family for the Valley in Capt. Clawson Company. Went by way Keokuk & then took the old Mormon rout through Iowa to Council Bluffs & from that over the Plains to Salt Lake City where we arrived the middle of Sept 1853. [Transcribed from the original handwritten manuscript, written in pen by William Gibson. The manuscript consists of three volumes in bound notebooks in the LDS Church Historical Department, Salt Lake City.]

William Gibson was, by trade, a wood and iron turner. He died in Salt Lake City on 5 June 1875. His wife, Janet (Nicol) Gibson, died there eight years later on 12 June 1883. (William is pictured at the left)

Heber West (pictured below) was the only of Jeanette’s three children to survive to adulthood. Heber’s younger sister, Ada Ann, was born two years after him but died at the age of twelve in 1873 — a traumatic event for her fourteen year old brother. Jeanette delivered one other child, another son, David Gibson West, born 4 October 1864, but he died less than a year later in June 1865. Only two months later, Jeanette Gibson West died at the age of 25 on 4 August 1865. [The portrait of Jeanette Nicol Gibson shown here was painted posthumously. The original painting is now owned by my uncle in California.]

Heber and Ada were then raised in the Salt Lake City home of their uncle, John Sharp, a railroad contractor who was also from Scotland. They appear in the Sharp’s large household in the 1870 census. In 1880, Heber was still living in the same home. At the time of the census John Sharp was not at home (perhaps he was away on a mission) and the household was headed by his wife, Annie Gibson Sharp, Jeanette Gibson West’s sister. John Sharp was a major contractor on the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad. Also, Heber’s grandmother, Janet Nicol Gibson, was now living in this same family at this time.

About this time, Heber met Alice Clara Bell. She was the third of six children born to the brief marriage of Millard P. Bell and Harriet Leah Husbands. Alice was born in Salt Lake City on 29 January 1864.

Heber West and Alice Bell were joined in marriage in a ceremony held at the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City on Heber’s birthday — 8 January 1884. They made their home in the rough-and-tumble frontier town of Pocatello, Idaho, where Heber worked for the Union Pacific Railroad as a master mechanic in the central roundhouse. He prided himself not only in his skill as a mechanic, but also in his style of dress, always careful to be resplendently attired. For their first breakfast, Alice prepared two eggs for Heb. He was a superstitious man, and asked her never again to serve him an even number of eggs. So from that time on he had three.

Apparently he also suffered from a bit of a temper, for the following article appeared on page 3 of The Deseret News on Tuesday evening, 25 November 1890:

SHOT AND KILLED 
A telegram was received in this city today by Hon. John Sharp, stating that Heber W. West, son of the late Bishop Chauncey West of Ogden, had been shot and killed at Pocatello last night. No Particulars were given. Pocatello was communicated with and the following message was received:

Pocatello, Idaho, Nov. 25 (Special to the Deseret News) - Last night while a dance was in progress at a saloon and dance house here, H. W. West, a machinist employed in the Union Pacific shops, was shot and instantly killed by Deputy U.S. Marshall Chas. Phelps.

It seems West was becoming noisy and was ordered off the floor by Phelps, this led to hot words and Phelps was knocked down by West. While on the floor, Phelps drew a revolver and shot West through the heart. The murderer made his escape but was captured by Sheriff Woodin at Eagle Rock, Idaho, at eleven o’clock this morning.

The deceased lived in this city for several years and was well known. He was employed in the machine shops of the Union Pacific Railway Company at Pocatello. He leaves a wife and two children.

As reported, Charles Phelps was caught trying to make his escape. He was returned to face trial, as The Idaho News newspaper noted four days later on 29 November 1890:

THE PHELPS MURDER CASE
Charles Phelps, United States Deputy Marshal, charged with the shooting and killing Heb West in the notorious dive, den and saloon, “555,” at Pocatello after midnight Monday night, is undergoing a preliminary examination before Judge Hopkins as we go to press. . . . Not more than one or two of the witnesses have been examined, but the general opinion on the outside is that Phelps will be held for the next grand jury.

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