Thirza Stiles Cahoon 1789-1866

Thirza Stiles, first wife of Reynolds Cahoon, was the daughter of Daniel Olds Stiles and Abigail Farrington. According to the church records, Thirza (sometimes spelled Thurza) was born October 18, 1789 at Sanesborough, Connecticut. (At present time, there is no such city.)*

It appears that the Stiles family resided in various places: in Brandon, Rutland, Vermont; in Herkimer, New York and in cities in Connecticut. The Cahoon Family records state that Thirza was born in Lansingburg or Rensselaer, New York, (or probably in Rensselaer County.)

She had two brothers, Farrington and John and one sister Abigail. Her mother died September of 1793, leaving four small children, the eldest being six years old and the youngest an infant of one month. Her father married a second wife, Sarah Buckland, and to them were born seven children.

Thirza and Reynolds Cahoon were married December 11, 1810, by Honorable John Stiles, probably of Newport, New York. They became members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in October 1830, and according to the manner of their church, their celestial marriage was performed January 16, 1846, in the Nauvoo Temple, the temple they helped to build. (Her birth place in the Nauvoo records was shown as Brandon, Vermont).

Thirza had lived in the more highly developed communities of the eastern United States. She came from a comfortable home and had she chosen to remain there, could have spent all her days on earth without want or privation. However, she endured extreme hardships and sacrificed all for the Gospel’s sake. She united with the women in Kirtland and Nauvoo amid scenes of persecution to help forward the building of the temples there.

On January 17, 1836, the first public marriage in the Mormon Church was performed by Joseph Smith. Several hundred people witnessed the ceremony. It was done to establish the precedent of public marriage by the church instead of taking out a license from the county court, the marriage notice being published several times in the church, which custom was allowed by the State. Three couples were married at this time, which included the marriage of William Farrington Cahoon and also Lerona Eliza Cahoon, children of Reynolds and Thirza. There were approximately 3,000 people in attendance.
Although Thirza was unable to be present on March 17, 1842 when Joseph Smith organized the Relief Society in Nauvoo, she was one of the twenty-six charter members which formed this first membership. The object of the Relief Society was not only to relive the poor, but to teach the gospel and to save souls. They deprived themselves of many necessities in order to feed the workmen of the temple. At one time they had saved enough money to buy glass for the temple and when the church was indebted for lands, these women gave this money to liquidate that debt.

On March 9, 1846 the Cahoon family left Nauvoo. Reynolds ad brother Cutler were given instructions to “roll out their companies as quick as possible.” It required the entire spring, summer and fall of 1846 for the main camps to cross Iowa and reach the river, and Brigham Young concluded they must make a temporary haven. It was in September that site was selected on the west side of the river and named Winter Quarters.

May 19, 1848 was probably one of the happiest days of Thirza’s life. On this day her son, Andrew, arrived from a foreign mission and with him were the Saints from Scotland. Andrew had been on this mission almost a year and a half. There he had met the Carruth family, and had married Mary Carruth. Many of the Carruth family were included in this company. They shared their provisions with the Cahoon families who were almost destitute.

Shortly after Andrew’s arrival at Far West, many of the saints left for the Salt Lake Valley. Included in the group with Andrew, his families, and others, were Reynolds and Thirza and two unmarried children (Mahonri Moriancumer and their granddaughter, Thirza Lerona Stanley). After a tedious journey, they arrived in the valley September 24, 1848.
Though life in the valley for those early pioneers must have been hard, what a joy it must have been to start building for the future, and to know that they were finally home. Reynolds and Thirza had drawn lots in the 13th Ward. They had dedicated their lives to the Lord.

Reynolds was the first and only private owner of the lots where the Great Salt Lake Theatre was built. The location was on the corner of First South and State Street comprising a large portion of that block. Brigham Young came to Reynolds and told him the Church needed his lots to build a theatre. On April 23, 1860 Reynolds Cahoon conveyed this property to Brigham Young for the purpose of erecting the Salt Lake Theatre.

After the sale of the property, Reynolds and Thriza moved to South Cottonwood (now Murray) Salt Lake County, Utah. Here they lived with their son Andrew, who provided and cared for them until the time of their deaths, Reynolds dying April 29, 1861 and Thirza 20 November 1866.

Death of Thirza Stiles Cahoon (from the Deseret News)
“At Bishop (Andrew) Cahoon’s home at South Cottonwood, on November 20, 1866, Thirza Stiles,
wife of Reynolds Cahoon, died. The deceased was born in Sanesborough, October 18, 1789. She embraced the Gospel in the winter of 1830, since which time she has been with the Church and shared all the hardships and persecutions of the Saints. She was the mother of seven children, had fifty-two grandchildren and fifteen great grandchildren to imitate her virtues and call her blessed.

Deck’d with the garland of integrity,
She lived for God and immortality;
Faithful ‘till death – she mingles with the blest
And with the just will share a glorious rest.

*According to records kept by William Farrington Cahoon, her son, she was born at Lanesborough, New York. As the letters “S” and “L” are very similar in some handwriting, an error was made and the name should be “Lanesborough”. According to GS Film 526487 The Stiles Family in America, the children of Daniel Olds Stiles and Abigail Farrington were born in Burlington, Chittenden, Vermont.
(Prepared by Lila Cahoon from information in the book “Reynolds Cahoon and his Stalwart Sons” by Stella Cahoon Shurtleff and Brent Farrington Cahoon)

You may view another variation of this history by clicking here.


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