Elizabeth Almira Babbitt (1830-1907)

Elizabeth Almira Babbitt (1830-1878)

Source: Rice Pioneers: Family Groups and Stories, compiled by David Eldon Rice. Pocatello, Idaho. 1976. No copyright information listed. Editor’s note: This work contains a few minor changes to David Rice’s compilation.

Life Sketch

Elizabeth’s parents were Lorin Whiting Babbitt and Almira Castle. They met and were married in Pompey, Onandaga County, New York, where the Castles were residing at the time. The couple moved to Painesville, Lake County, Ohio to be near the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at Kirtland, Ohio. Elizabeth Almira, their first child, was born May 18, 1830 at Painesville, Lake County, Ohio. Lorin Babbitt helped to build both the Kirtland and Nauvoo Temples.

Elizabeth well-remembered the day in Kirtland when the Prophet Joseph Smith hoisted her upon his strong shoulders and pranced off a few paces playing horse for her. Later, in Nauvoo, she saw her parents’ home burned down while her sick mother was forced to lie in the dooryard a short distance away. Almira Babbitt never recovered from these exposures and she died and was buried at Nauvoo before the Saints were forced further west. Elizabeth then had the care of her four younger brothers and sisters. She was also at the great meeting held by the Saints at Nauvoo and saw the mantle of Joseph Smith fall upon the person of Brigham Young.

Her father then moved the family to Kanesville, Iowa in 1848. It was there she met and married a young man who had been sent back from Utah to help emigrants to cross the plains. This 19 year-old young man was Leonard Gurley Rice. Elder Orson Hyde made them man and wife on a Sunday evening— March 18, 1849. Their honeymoon was spent crossing the plains to Utah. Elizabeth spent her 18th birthday driving one of Leonard’s wagons, as usual, while he was helping others on the journey west. Leonard was an expert horseman and could drive a team of oxen with skill. However, this was more than could be said of many that he found himself assisting.

Leonard and Elizabeth settled in Farmington, Utah upon reaching Utah in 1849. To this union were born eleven children, but they had to part with five of them while they were babies and a son was later killed in a snow slide at the age of 25. Five children grew to maturity and married. Elizabeth was a mother to every child who came her way and her house was always a sort of refuge for the needy ones. In addition to rearing her own family, Elizabeth mothered an orphaned Indian baby brought to her by freighters. The freighters had found the baby laying beside its slain mother after a battle between US soldiers and a band of Bannock Indians on the Little Salmon River in northern Idaho. She also raised William Kelsey’s daughter, May, after his second wife, Ann Victoria Rose, died when the May was three weeks old.

Leonard Gurley also married Margaret Buckwalter Wickle, the widow of Henry Lemon Wickle, as well as a girlhood friend of Elizabeth. These two wives and their families lived in a state of harmony not often found even in traditional families. At the time of the US government’s crusade against polygamy in the 1880?s, these two wives chose to be with their families who had moved to Idaho. Leonard remained in Farmington, Utah to assist his third wife, Lucy Jane and her young family. Leonard Gurley died in 1886, while Elizabeth Almira died June 27, 1907 at the age of 77. She was buried at Parker, Fremont County, Idaho.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lorena Hamon Rodgers
    Jul 29, 2016 @ 20:17:34

    I’m confused why the top says she died in 1878 and the bottom says she died in 1907.What did I miss?

    My husband and four of my siblings’ spouses are all connected on the Babbitt line (according to RelativeFinder.)


    • Sue
      Aug 11, 2016 @ 01:01:17

      Thank you for bringing that to my attention. I do not know why the dates contradicted, but it has now been corrected.


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