July 23rd, 2006

River Ribble and a Small World

Today in Elders Quorum, we studied lesson 14 in the Teachings of Wilford Woodruff manual, titled “Remembering Our Spiritual Heritage”.

During the course of the lesson, the brother teaching shared an experience that one of his ancestors had had. He said that his ancestor was the first one to be baptized in Europe, by Heber C. Kimball. Knowing a bit of the story, I raised my hand, and asked him if it was the baptism at River Ribble in England. He confirmed that it was, and I then told him that my ancestor was the second one baptized. The brother sitting next to me then raised his hand, and said “Well my ancestor baptized both of your ancestors!”, his ancestor being Heber C. Kimball.

The story is as follows, as related by Heber C. Kimball in his journal:

“I had the pleasure, about 9 a.m., of baptizing nine individuals and hailing them brethren and sisters in the kingdom of God. These were the first persons baptized into the Church in a foreign land, and only the eighth day after our arrival in Preston.

“A circumstance took place which I cannot refrain from mentioning, for it will show the eagerness and anxiety of some in that land to obey the Gospel. Two of the male candidates, when they had changed their clothes at a distance of several rods from the place where I was standing in the water, were so anxious to obey the Gospel that they ran with all their might to the water, each wishing to be baptized first. The younger, George D. Watt, being quicker of foot than the elder, outran him, and came first into the water.”
—Orson F. Whitney,
Life of Heber C. Kimball (Salt Lake City: Kimball Family, 1888), 135.

The event in question took place on July 30, 1837, where nine individuals were baptized in the River Ribble in the presence of approximately eight-thousand onlookers.

So, a pretty cool Pioneer Day experience… To have the descendants of the first two European church members, and the descendant of the Elder who baptized them, all in the same classroom. Small world.

4 Responses to “River Ribble and a Small World”

  1. Riversider
    July 24, 2006 at 3:18 am #

    It is also interesting that Preston City Council has published proposals to put a barrage across the River Ribble that would raise it’s level, and cause the shingle beach where these historic baptisms took place to be permanently submerged.

    See this article: Ribbleside Residents Concerns

    Here’s a page about the history of the LDS in the area: http://www.lds.org.uk/content/view/14/47/

    This post contains a photograph of the beach in question:

    As a local resident, it is not unusual to see groups of latter-day saints gathering at this beach, almost as a place of pilgrimage – it is part of the history of our area, and the rich spiritual history of our river.

    I think it would be a terrible shame if this link to the past were to be lost – and I am sure many of those who have visited the river – for religious reasons, or just to enjoy the beauty of the area will think so too.

  2. Peggy
    October 1, 2013 at 5:06 pm #

    The weird things I find in weird places, that which I was not looking for! So your story of your ancestor losing the foot race to the “Ribble River” being the second to be baptized… His name would be? Why I ask is recently I was told this story by an aging relative but they could not remember which part of the family it was on, mothers? Fathers? I have searched but have nothing telling me names of who was baptised that day except for the winner “George”. I would love any information you could share! Thank you!

  3. Peggy
    October 1, 2013 at 5:08 pm #

    Religious question- name of the second person to the River Ribble? Please?

  4. Tyler Moulton
    July 31, 2020 at 9:59 am #

    Peggy, if you’re out there, I just ran across this website. Here’s a link you might enjoy: http://clegghistory.org/second.htm

    It gives the background for the claim that Henry Clegg, Sr. was the second man baptized. (He was my great, great, great grandfather.)

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