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My Keep - Mormon Connection
by Rita Blumson
Mormon Baptismal Records for Richard and Susannah Keep, Nov. 17, 1861
All Saints Church, Edmonton, Middlesex
Enfield, Middlesex

My GGG/Grandparents were Richard Keep b.1757 and Sara Crouch b.1779.  They were both widowers and were married 18 September 1812 at All Saints Church, Edmonton, Middlesex, England.  Richard became stepfather to Sarah's five children aged 2 years to 14 years. His own children with his first wife Mary Brickett were grown up at this time. 

They made their home in Enfield, Middlesex, and had four children:  Mary, bap 12 February 1813 and died October 1818 age 6; Kitty; James; and my GG/Grandfather Richard. Sarah was four months pregnant with Richard when his father died on 23 December 1819.  Richard was born 6 May 1820 so never knew him.  Sarah was left to bring up their three children, with possibly three from her previous marriage.  GGG/Grandfather left £100 in Letters of Administration dated 5 January 1820.


Richard trained and became a tailor and married Susanna Brown on 13 October 1844 in the Parish Church of St. Mary, Newington, Surrey. She was a dressmaker, born 5 March 1824 in Netteswell, Harlow, Essex.  They had eleven children, but a daughter, Angelina Maria born 23 November 1865, died at the age of eight months.  Between 1845 and 1847, the family finally moved to Islington, London, around 1856 settling in Gifford Street, Islington.  Richard, Susanna, and the family joined the Church of the Latter Day Saints and in 1861 were baptised into the Mormon Faith at the Camden Baths, North London. 


The five eldest children, Richard John, Susanna Sarah, Catherine Ann, Louisa Emma, and Emily Elizabeth emigrated to Salt Lake City, Utah, U. S. A., between 1865 and 1882.  Three stayed in England, which included my G/Grandfather Frederick George Keep b.16 November 1853, who was a horse collar maker; William Henry 8 June 1858, Furrier to the Royal Court; and Samuel Edward 20 July 1862, Hairdresser.  GG/Grandfather Richard and Susanna, along with Eleanor Rebecca 30 January 1864 and Alfred James 28 May 1868 remained in Gifford Street, Islington, until Richard died age 64 on 22 May 1884.  After his death, Susanna, Eleanor and Alfred emigrated to Salt Lake City leaving on the ship "Nevada" and arriving in New York on 5 November 1885.  Susanna died age 83 on 15 April 1907 in Salt Lake City. 


Richard John Keep.  In 1865 at the age of 19, Richard John was a postman.  He was born 23 August 1845 and was their eldest child.  He departed from Liverpool, England, on the boat "Belle Wood" with his destination Salt Lake City, Utah.  The crossing took around three months, the New York Passenger List giving the arrival date as 31 May 1865.   Information on Richard's journey has not been found.  It seems that not all rosters were kept, but here is a Personal Account of the "Belle Wood" April 1865 given by the LDS (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Family History Centre, Kensington, London, where their baptism records are kept.  It will give you an insight into his journey:


“The "Belle Wood" was not a very good boat; it had only three cabins with three decks.  Bunks were built on either side of the second deck.  The kitchen was on the hurricane deck where they had large stoves.  The passengers had to have their food all prepared, then they would take it to the kitchen to have it cooked.  There was no dining room.  Large lamps suspended from the ceiling by chains lighted the second and third decks day and night.  Every day a man came who cleaned and refilled the lamps.  One day while cleaning them, he spilt some coal oil on the steps.  A lamp toppled over and immediately the whole stairway was ablaze.  One of the Brothers with others quickly put it out before any damage was done. 


“Also on the boat were converts from all the European countries. Most could not speak a word of English, yet they all had one thing in common, the gospel, and one common destination, Utah.   


“For passengers travelling third class, their accommodation was in the hold.  There the conditions were terrible.  People were packed like cattle, about seven or eight hundred of them.  The stench was terrible, shocking.   


“The boat finally docked at Castle Garden, New York, much to everyone's relief.  There they were all bathed and checked at the Custom House.  After clearing customs, all passengers were boarded onto a small steam engine that travelled up the Hudson River to the railroad to board the train to Wyoming.  In 1865, the railroad had not been built into Salt Lake.  Upon reaching Wyoming, the emigrants had to wait for a wagon train for the final part of the journey into Salt Lake and also for the cattle to arrive. Brigham Young would send companies of men from Salt Lake to meet the train.  He would give them money to purchase cattle that were broken in to pull the wagons and guide them across the plains into the city of the Saints.  Mormon wagon companies were highly organised.  There were captains for groups of hundreds, fifties, and tens.  The Mormon Pioneer Trail to Salt Lake City had begun.  Everyone was expected to follow their leader and to obey the rules.  They had a daily routine, and there was discipline, hard work, mutual assistance, and devotional practises.  As a rule, they did not travel on a Sunday.  Knowing that others would follow, pioneers improved the trail and built support facilities.  They planted crops and they recorded pertinent information such as topography, latitude, longitude, distances, flora, and fauna.   


Castle Garden Custom House  New York City 

“The Mormon Trail was used for 23 years, from 1846 to 1869.  The trail was not a narrow path, but rather a corridor, depending on the river, on available grass, on the terrain, events of the year, and other factors.  It was a two-way road.  It is not an original trail but followed territorial and Indian trails.  It followed trails blazed by trappers and traders.  Six thousand people died on the trail.  The greatest

threat to life was illness and accidents.  They suffered from poor nutrition and exposure to the elements.  Food was tightly rationed and many died on the journey.”


On the US Census 5 August 1870, Richard was a Teamster at Sugar House, Salt Lake City.  On 8 September 1873, he married Mary Ann Channing born in Wales. They had two children and lived in Cottonwood, Salt Lake City.  There were lead mines in Cottonwood, and he died on 19 July 1877 age 32 from lead poisoning." 

Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail 
Illinois - Utah

Susanna Sarah Keep, 8 June 1847 and her sister Catherine Ann Keep, 31 July 1850, travelled to New York to start their journey on 23 May 1866 on the ship "American Congress," arriving on 5 July 1866.  It took 43 days. 



Here is an extract written by Sarah Keep Buttars, who sailed on the American Congress the same time.   (A connection to Sarah Keep Buttars cannot be found with my Keep family, although they were travelling at the same time.  Sarah's father was James Joseph Keep, 25 September 1804, Acton, London, who was a bricklayer.  The family were also living in Islington, two roads from where I was born and brought up, and just a 15 minute walk from Richard in Gifford Street.)


Sarah Keep Buttars writes: "At sea we were tossed about and nearly all became seasick.  One day, the cook's cabin caught fire.  This was very hard on the group because at sea, there was no place to go.  They carried large fiery sticks past the foot of my daughter Sarah's bed and threw them into the ocean.  Shortly after this scare, the ocean became rough, the main mast broke, and the sail went into the water. 
Sarah Keep Buttar

"The next day as they fixed the mast the ocean was calm and the ship did not move forward or backwards but from side to side. While they were mending the mast, the passengers had a concert on the top deck and enjoyed themselves.  When we anchored in New York, we saw many beautiful fireworks.  A ship was set on fire on the sea with flames coming out of its many windows.  It was a great sight."


Sarah travelled on a different wagon train than Susanna and Catherine but took the same trail.  Here is what she wrote: "One night about twenty-five or thirty Indians came to camp.  They seemed to be on the warpath and it frightened us very much for we were all afraid that we would be killed.  They had scalps of women, with long hair hanging from their tomahawks and their belts filled with arrows and with bows in their hands.  They had a letter which they gave to the captain to read. He called, 'Is there anyone in camp who can read the Indian language?'  A young sister by the name of Emma, who had left her husband and two little girls, said, 'I can read the Indian language.' She had learned to read it as her husband was a soldier and he had taught her.  She read the letter and this pleased the Indians.  The captain pitched a tent inside the ring of wagons and fed the Indians.  They sang all night and followed us all next day calling, 'We want white woman’ and at last they left us.'"




Her father, James Joseph Keep wrote, "Near Newfoundland, a thick fog gathered for several days and the Captain could not take observations. Brother Rider, one of the passengers, turned himself to face the direction the ship was sailing.  At that instant, the fog lifted like a scroll from the sea, and the Captain could see clearly for some distance.  The Captain directly gave orders to turn the ship around rapidly.  If the Captain had delayed even a few moments longer, the vessel would have been among the breakers, dashed to pieces on the rocks and not a soul would have been saved.  Many ships were lost at sea; however, the Lord promised to protect the faithful Saints and never was a ship lost when an LDS person was aboard."


Susanna and Catherine travelled over land with Joseph S. Rawlins Co. (1866), departing from the outfitting post at Wyoming, Nebraska, on 2 August 1866 with the arrival date in Salt Lake Valley of 1-2 October 1866.  There were over 400 individuals and 65 wagons in the company.  Telegrams were sent at each stop to the Desert News with an update of the journey, e.g. Ft. Casper  “My train is all well.  Travelling fine. No trouble with Indians."


October 3.  "Captain Rawlings of 65 wagons and over 100 passengers got in on Monday morning. They had a very pleasant trip.  Nine of the passengers died by the way."


On the list of passenger arrivals, there is a John Nicholson next to Susanna and Catherine.  Susanna married John Nicholson on 1 June 1867.  They had 10 children.  On each census, she was listed as Housekeeper.  Susanna Sarah died age 60 on 4 April 1907 in Salt Lake City.  John Nicholson was born 13 July 1839 in Roxborough, Scotland, and he died age 69 on 25 January 1909.  They are the GGG/Grandparents of Warren Zevon, the American rock singer-songwriter and musician.  His final album, "The Wind," includes guest appearances by close friends Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, Billy Bob Thornton, Emmylou Harris, and many others.  He died on 7 September 2003 age 56 from cancer at his home in Los Angeles, California.  Warren can be seen on You-Tube.  Catherine Ann 31 July 1850 on each census was a Domestic.  She died age 99 on 26 October 1949 in Seattle, Washington, USA. 


Louisa Emma Keep, 6 August 1856, and Emily Elizabeth Keep, 23 March 1860, both dressmakers, travelled to New York starting their journey on the ship "Nevada" from Liverpool on 17 May 1882 and arriving on 29 May 1882.  The journey took only 12 days whereas the other journeys took 3 months and the other 43 days. 

Here is part of an extract from the Diary of Abraham Hoagland Cannon, also given by LDS:


May 17th. There are 389 emigrants and 15 returning elders; altogether there were some 1047 persons on board. 

May 18th. We had a very pleasant sailing through the Irish Channel. 

May 19th. The people did not feel quite so lively this morning as some were beginning to feel sea sick, and as the rocking of the vessel increased, most of them became very unwell. 

May 20th. Most people did not feel like eating today; the dinner tables were very empty.   

May 21st. The sea was very rough today. 

May 22nd. The afternoon passed pleasantly; most of the people are recovering. 

May 23rd. A little concert was held in our steerage department this evening, but as a Sister Keep felt unwell on account of the warmth downstairs, I accompanied her on deck and was conversing with her until her bedtime. 

May 24th. During the night we were compelled to stop six hours on account of the fog and the danger of icebergs, which are frequently seen on the banks of Newfoundland where we now are.  A concert was held in the saloon, where a pleasant evening was passed. 

May 25th. Nothing of unusual importance occurred today.

May 26th. It was a little rough this morning and quite stormy but towards afternoon it became very fine; the sea was as smooth as glass. A six month old and an older child died today and were buried at sea.    There are some hounds in the intermediate part of the ship who are trying to lead some of our girls astray, and we therefore had to keep close watch.  We still have 404 miles to go before we arrive in New York.    Some people were a little seasick today.

May 27th. It was a beautiful morning.   About noon, we came in sight of Long Island and sailed during the afternoon along its banks.  About 5:00 pm we arrived in full view of New York Harbour, and while sailing up the same, our eyes feasted by the beautiful sights to be seen.  We received the quarantine doctors about 5:30 pm when all but the cabin passengers were inspected.  We then had supper, during which time we arrived in the docks at about 7 o'clock.

May28th.  After breakfast the examination of all the baggage was commenced.  All our people had to open their boxes, but as we generally take up a collection for the customhouse officers before leaving the ship, they generally are very lenient with us and allow us to pass, unless we have something which is noticeable.  Of our company the two Misses Keep were the only ones who were required to pay duty on some new satin, silk and velvet goods.  About 3:00 pm, we boarded another boat and were taken to the New York and Lake Erie Rail Road Station, where a train was in readiness for us.  I spent several hours in conversation with the Saints before the train departed that evening.


Louisa Emma married Henry Louis Dodd born in 1867 in Iowa, U. S. A.  They had no children.  Louisa died age 81 on 17 April 1938 in Salt Lake City. Henry died age 65 on 21 February 1932 in Salt Lake City.

Emily Elizabeth married Joseph Watson Maynes born 26 August 1858 Hull, Yorkshire, England, on 13 December 1883 in Salt Lake City. They had eight children.  Emily died age 60 on 31 January 1920 in Salt Lake City.  Joseph died age 56 on 9 June 1912 Cheltenham, England, while on his Missionary Duties. 

Emily Elizabeth 
Joseph Watson Maynes 
Home of Emily and Joseph
Indians would attack wagon trains and would either just steal their supplies and leave or would kill and take supplies.