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Orson Pratt Brown's Family Through his Third Wife, Bessie Macdonald

section header -biography

Rachel Hennefer Richins 1861-1946

Rachel Hennefer Richins

Born: October 30, 1861 at Henefer, Summit, Utah
Died: April 10, 1946 at Lordsburg, Hidalgo, New Mexico

Compiled by Lucy Brown Archer

Rachel Hennefer Richins, was born in Henefer, Summit County, Utah on October 30, 1861.

Her father, James Hennefer, was born in Wordsley, Staffordshire, England on June 2, 1821. He died in Henefer, Utah on August 22, 1897. Her mother, Sarah Hulks Hennefer was born in London, England on November 25, 1823 and died in Henefer, Utah on August 19, 1880.

Rebecca Hennefer Richins Sanders wrote:

My mother’s father and mother, James Hennefer and Sarah Hulk Hennefer, and my mother’s Uncle William Hennefer, were the first settlers (1853) in Heneferville, Utah. The town was named after them. At a later date (1860) the parents of my father, Charles Wager Richins, and Louisa Shill Richins moved to Henefer. You can find very valuable information in the book Henefer, Our Valley Home [compiled by Fannie J. Richins & Maxene R. Wright] regarding the dates and names, and learn about the lives of our courageous ancestors.

In the shadow of the beautiful Wasatch Mountains is nestled the little town of Henefer, Utah. The broad Weber River flowing peacefully on is lined on either side with towering cottonwood trees and willows. The rolling hills to the eastward form a beautiful scene both summer and winter. The high Wasatch Range is a symbol of protection and is a source of beauty, which adds a picturesque setting to passersby. In 1847, the Mormon Pioneers, seeking a permanent home in the West, followed down the Weber River as far as the narrows, hoping to find a way down the canyon to the Salt Lake Valley.

Back row (L-R): George, Ireta, Orson James, Rebecca, May, Ether.
Front row (L-R): Ena, Rachel Hennefer Richins (mother), Orson Oriel Richins (father), Judith.

On July 19, 1847, the advance pioneer company, with Orson Pratt and Erastus Snow in the lead, traveled through the present site of Henefer. Brigham Young, with the remainder of the company, camped that night on the east bank of the river directly south of the town of Henefer. Thirteen companies, totaling 2,095 people, traveled over this trail during the first year.

In the pioneer plan of colonization, men with families were called to settle communities where there was good soil and water, securing their land by what was called a squatter’s right.

"My mother spent her childhood in Henefer, Utah. Here she played and helped her mother as all small children do. As she grew older she had many boy and girl friends. Orson Oriel Richins was considered as one of her very best boy friends. People would often see them going to school together and after school they would sit on their favorite bench and pretend that it was a wagon. He would help her off the bench as if it were a seat in the wagon. He would walk home with her and he always carried her books for her. The Devil’s Slide was a favorite spot for all the young people. They would gather here for their picnics and it was a nice place to pick wild currants. Another delightful spot for fun was called the Witches Rock. In the wintertime all the young people would go sleigh riding together. The friendship of Orson and my mother grew into love and they were married in the Temple at Salt Lake City on May 25, 1881.

My mother had a wonderful memory so about ten years ago I asked her to write some of the events in her life that she remembered. The following is a narrative of things that happened when she was a child and during the early and latter part of her married life.

Mother remembered when she was about five years old her little brother, Edward Richard Henefer, who was two years of age fell into the fireplace and was so badly burned that he died nine days later. When Mother was seven years old, the Reorganized Church or the Josephites established their organization in Henefer. At this time Charles Richins was the Bishop of the Ward and to the sorrow of many, half of his ward joined the Reorganized Church. The Elders of this church were men by the name of Brand and Winter. James and Sarah Hennefer and their family were among those who joined the Reorganized Church and Mother was baptized into this church when she was eight years old. James then took his family and went to Council Bluffs, Iowa, which the Elders said was the land of Zion.

The family lived in (Iowa) and often went to Church. The children were very unhappy with their new religion and told their father that there was nothing to that religion. They had won, by lottery ticket, a house and vineyard in Council Bluffs but it turned out to be a small shack with a very small yard and only a few grapevines growing in it. They stayed part of the year and made do with what they had while they investigated their new religion further. They decided it was a farce, and since James and Sarah and the children were all homesick for the little valley in the mountains of Utah and for the true gospel, they all returned to the place they had left so many times before, Henneferville. This was the last move James and Sarah Hennefer made. Mother remembers crossing the Missouri River in a steamboat and also of seeing some big fish and fishing boats.

After their arrival in Utah, Grandmother (Sarah) Hennefer was very sick. She now had palsy and was becoming more helpless every day. Mother and her sister, two years younger than herself, took complete care of their mother and the rest of the family. After the family had been back in Utah for two years, Mother’s sister asked their father if she could be baptized into the LDS Church; he said he would talk to the Bishop and see if all of them could be baptized. This announcement brought joy and happiness to the family. James Hennefer gave the ground for the first Mormon Church that was built in Henefer. When Mother was twelve years old she was baptized by Robert Jones, the father of President Jones, who at one time was President of the Mesa Temple.

When Mother was a little over twelve, her oldest sister got married and moved to Grouse Creek. This left all the work and the care of a sick mother on the shoulders of the two younger sisters. When Mother was fourteen her older brother’s wife died and left six children. Four of the children came to live with their grandparents, so Mother and her sister took care of them for three years and seven months, at which time their brother married again.

By now Grandmother (Sarah) Hennefer had been sick for nine years. In the last few years she had become so helpless that it was necessary to feed and dress her. Mother was eighteen at the time her mother died, and although they missed her they were glad that God had seen fit to call her Home because she suffered so very much and for so many years.

Life with Orson Oriel Richins

Mother was twenty years old when she married Orson Richins. They had been married but six months when, under the law of polygamy, he married Caroline Fawcett on October 20, 1881.

Mother’s first baby was born when she was twenty-one years old. In the fall of 1882 her husband was indicted for polygamy; it became necessary for him to hide out from the officers. At this time they were living in Edward Richins’ house on a ranch near Henefer. The officers kept watch over the house so closely that it was necessary for Mother to carry food to Father, who was hiding in the chicken house, in a horse nosesack so that the officers would not become suspicious of Father’s whereabouts. Later Father sold his property in Henefer and put Mother on the train for Mesa, saying he would follow. It was six months before Mother was able to let her folks know where she was. The officer questioned Sarah Richins but she would not tell them where Mother and Father had gone.

Mother lived in Mesa for seven years and two of her children were born there. In Mesa it was necessary for Mother to make a living for her family and she did it by taking in washing and nursing the sick. Father moved Mother from Mesa to Deming, New Mexico where they lived for a short while. From Deming they moved to Dog Springs, New Mexico and then into Mexico. Uncle Marland, Father’s brother, stayed with Mother while she was in Dog Springs. One afternoon as they were looking towards the mountains, they saw ten or twelve Indians on horses riding in single file on the rim of the mountain. Fearing that they were coming to the ranch, and as they had no cowboys there, Uncle Marland took Mother and the children and hid them in the bushes until he could get the horses and wagon ready. He then took them into Dog Springs where they would have some protection. However, they later learned that the Indians had passed the ranch without hurting anything.

Colonia Diaz, Chihuahua, Mexico

Soon after this Father came out of Mexico to move Mother, Uncle Marland, and the children down there with him. His second wife, Caroline, had been in Mexico for some time. Mother lived in Mexico for twenty-seven years. They had been here but a short time when one of the girls, Lillian Richins, died. Father bought a ranch that they called the Richins’ Ranch and at first they would often eat only corn bread and molasses three time a day because they had little else to eat. Although the family was poor, the children were happy on the ranch. It was at this time that Aunt Carrie [Caroline Fawcett Richins], Father’s second wife, died leaving three children: Joseph Oriel Richins (1883-1926) eight years old, Charles Parley Richins (1886-1976) six years old, and Mary Emma Richins (1890-1969) fifteen months old, Emery Willard Richins (1889-1891) four months old. Mother took these children into her home and raised them as if they were her own children. The love and respect these children showed her is an indication of a job well done. A few months after Caroline’s death, Father married his third wife, the widow [of Silas Benjamin Harper] by the name of "Sade" Harper [Sarah Amanda Shurtleff Harper on February 23 1895].

The Richins homestead in 1913 before improvements were made, with (from L-R) daughter Ena, dog Lobo, son Ether, Orson Oriel, wife Rachel, two Mexican well-diggers, and son Orson James with his horse, Nick.
(See Heartbeats of Colonia Diaz, by Annie R. Johnson, pages 324-368)

The Richins’ Ranch was located in Colonia Diaz where Mother lived until she left Mexico, many years later. In a few years’ time Father had a few cattle, horses, chickens and a nice garden. A number of buildings were also put up around the house. Conditions had become much better. However, my mother still worked hard from daylight until long after dark. My father was called on a mission to the Central States and he left his family to take care of themselves. My mother and the older children milked many cows and Mother sold butter, cheese and eggs. The money that she received from these sales was used to buy flour and clothing for her family. The Lord indeed blessed them while Father was on a mission. Mother prospered and they were all in good health. Mother often said without the help of Grandfather Richins (Charles Richins) she would never have gotten through the hard times in Mexico. Sometimes at night, if she became frightened because of roving Mexicans, she would get the children up and take them over to Grandfather’s. They lived about a half a mile from her house. When Grandfather became sick, he sent for mother and told her that he knew he was going to leave them and he wanted to tell her that she had been a wonderful daughter-in-law, a good wife to his son, Orson Oriel, and a splendid mother to her children.

When we became old enough to go to dances, mother never forgot to put a lamp in the window to help guide us home. Mother tells a story that always interested us children: She said that when she and her sister, Rebecca, were young they knew that blueing made clothes white, so one Sunday morning they decided to put some blueing on their faces before they went to Sunday School. They were very surprised when the blueing would not come off and they could not go to Sunday School with such blue faces. Mother was alone with the children much of the time while Father was freighting from Mexico to Deming, New Mexico. At night she would gather all the children around the supper table and have prayer before they ate.

Mother had many interesting superstitions. She always said when she heard a rooster crow in the front yard that they would have company that day and if two knives were found crossed it meant a quarrel. If one dropped a knife and a fork that meant someone was coming; if two chairs were found with their back together that also meant company. If one carried an ax through the house, it meant that someone would die.

One of the dangers of Mexico was the large number of rattlesnakes found there. One morning while they were all eating their breakfast, mother went into the pantry to get a pan of cool milk. As she reached for the pan she heard a buzz at her feet; looking down she saw a huge rattle snake. Fortunately she was not bitten. Rattlesnakes were found in the house a number of times and they were always in the door yard, around the corral and in the chicken houses. How lucky we were that none of us were ever bitten.

Mother often had strangers or friends stop by the house and she always asked them if they would like something to eat. We children often wondered how she would feed them when we .knew our supplies were so very low. Somehow she always managed to feed them even if it was only bread, milk, and cheese. Mother was always very good about letting us bring our friends home with us; they were welcomed if it was for the day or for several weeks.

Richin's farm in the Mexican Colonies c. 1896
The Orson Oriel Richins homestead/ranch located twenty miles south of Hachita, New Mexico and north of the Corner Ranch—1913. Orson had two water wells dug and he cleared 160 acres for dry farming. He raised wheat, milo-maize, beans and potatos, all of which found a ready market in Hachita.

One morning mother told Father of a dream she had had during the night. She said that in the dream she could see people getting their teams and wagons ready to leave. A Bishop stood up in the head wagon and told them that he was sorry that they had to leave because they had all worked so hard to make their home here. Of course Father just laughed and said that it was because mother was worrying too much about the trouble they were having with the Mexicans. About a week later Father came in and said that mother’s dream had come true-that all the Americans had been ordered out of Mexico and that they had to be out in a few hours time.

Exodus from Mexico

This was in 1912, during the Mexican Revolution and all they took with them was what they could put in the wagon. It was hard to leave all their possessions behind them. They left their homes, their pantries full of milk, cheese, and butter, their cows, horses and chickens, and their gardens.

When they got to the United States, the government put them up in tents and gave them food until they could provide for themselves. My father took his family to Hachita, New Mexico. He took up a homestead about twenty-three miles from Hachita near the Mexican border. They lived there for about seven years and were doing very well when Father sold his place to the Diamond A Cattle Co. and moved to Red Rock, New Mexico. Father invested his money in a farm in Red Rock. They lived here three or four years but the project proved very unsuccessful. Father sold his place and moved to Virden, New Mexico where he bought some land and built them a home. Many of the people they had known in Mexico now lived in Virden.

Virden, New Mexico

Father passed away on December 16, 1926 and was buried in Virden, New Mexico. After his death Mother continued to live in Virden. She rented a room to a schoolteacher and boarded several other people. In this way she supported herself. She took care of her grandson (Sidney O. Wright) from the time he was two years old until he was married. She was very anxious that he have an education and her happiness was very great when he graduated from High School. After Sidney’s marriage, Mother went to live with her youngest daughter, Ena, who was married and living in Lordsburg, New Mexico. Mother felt that she would be of some help to Ena. She took care of the children and helped with the housework while Ena spent quite a bit of her time working in town.

Virden, New Mexico map

During the last few years of Mother’s life her health was very good and her eyesight fair. She often said that when it was time for her to go she hoped she could do so without a prolonged illness that would cause hardship, worry and work for those she loved. It seems as if her wish was granted because during the night of April 10 she passed away without pain. The doctor who was called said that her heart had just given out. Ena was the only one of the children who was with our mother at the time of her death.

All of her children were able to attend her funeral, which was held in Virden on April 11, 1946. Her son, George, conducted the service, which was held in the Church. Her son, Orson, dedicated his mother’s grave.

At the time of mother’s death she had fifty-seven grandchildren, and forty-three great grandchildren. She had thirteen grandchildren serving in the armed service of World War II and one Grandchild as a Cadet Nurse.

section header - children
Children of Orson Oriel Richins and Rachel Henefer Richins

Judith Louisa Richins (Thygerson), born April 26, 1882 at Henefer, Summit County, Utah and died on April 12, 1937 in Virden, Hidalgo, New Mexico.

Rachel Rebecca Richins (Sanders), born March 25, 1885 at Mesa, Maricopa County, Arizona and died on May 28, 1960 in Douglas, Cochise, Arizona.

Sarah Lillian Richins, born August 3, 1888 at Mesa, Maricopa County, Arizona and died June 13, 1891 in Colonia Diaz, Chihuahua, Mexico.

Orson James Richins (Richardson), born May 13, 1891 at Colonia Diaz, Chihuahua, Mexico and died on 29 August 1974 in Lordsburg, Hidalgo, New Mexico

Goldie Ireta Richins (Wright), born August 30, 1893 at Colonia Diaz, Chihuahua, Mexico and died January 30, 1920 in Hachita, Grant, New Mexico.

George Arthur Richins, born February 13, 1896 at Colonia Diaz, Chihuahua, Mexico and died May 28, 1981 in Dallas, Dallas, Texas.

Prudence Mae Richins (Bowers), born October 16, 1900 at Colonia Diaz, Chihuahua, Mexico and died October 16, 1978 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah.

Ether Wellington Richins (Gorden), born October 14, 1902 at Colonia Diaz, Chihuahua, Mexico and died January 21, 1973 in Lordsburg, Hidaldo, New Mexico.

Ena Agnes Richins (Walters & Mitchell), born January 3, 1906 at Colonia Diaz, Chihuahua, Mexico and died December 1, 1999 in Las Cruces, Doña Ana New Mexico.

section header - children

Children of Orson Oriel Richins and Caroline "Carrie" Fawcett Richins

Joseph Oriel Richins, born April 12, 1883 at Mesa, Maricopa, Arizona, and died 19 March 1941 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah.

Charles Parley Richins, born September 18, 1886 at Deming, Grant County, New Mexico and died December 20, 1976 in Blythe, Riverside County, California.

Emery Willard Richins, born February 23, 1889 at Colonia Diaz, Chihuahua, New Mexico and died May 27, 1891 in Colonia Diaz, Mexico.

Mary Emma Richins (Patton), born December 7, 1890 at Colonia Diaz, Chihuahua, Mexico and died January 21, 1969 in Mesa, Maricopa, Arizona.

Caroline "Carrie" Fawcett Richins 1862-1892
Born in Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
Died in Colonia Diaz, Chihuahua, Mexico

Caroline "Carrie" Fawcett was born on August 24, 1862 in Wellington, New Zealand to Joseph Fawcett and Mary Ann Stratford. Her parents joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1871. They sailed for Utah by way of Honolulu, Hawaii and San Francisco, California in 1872. The Fawcetts moved first to Centerville and then to Huntsville, Utah. While the family was living in Huntsville, Weber, Utah, Mary Ann died, leaving five girls and one boy for Joseph to care for. Caroline assumed the role of managing the household, with the help of her sisters. Joseph moved his family to Henefer, Utah, where he met and married Mary Ann Richins.

Carrie’s sisters described her as "a pretty girl with light brown hair with a natural curl. She loved music and learned to play the piano quite well."

Carrie became the plural wife of Orson Oriel Richins on October 20, 1881, when they were married in the Salt Lake Endowment House. Orson Oriel was thereafter indicted for polygamy and had to hide from the federal marshals. He moved his wives to Mesa, Arizona and then to Deming, New Mexico before settling in Colonia Diaz, Mexico. Carrie passed away ten years and eleven months after she married Orson Oriel—May 28, 1891. Orson’s first wife, Rachel, raised Carrie’s three remaining children as her own.

Orson Oriel Richins grew up in Henefer, Summit County, Utah, which had been re-settled by his father, Charles Richins. He married Rachel Hennefer on May 25, 1881 and then married Caroline Fawcett six months later. After his second marriage, he was indicted for polygamy and was forced to hide out from federal marshals. He eventually moved his families to Arizona, New Mexico and finally Colonia Diaz, Chihuahua, Mexico, where they spent the next 20 years. The Mexican revolution disrupted their lives again and the Richins were forced to move back to the U.S. Orson homesteaded some land just north of the Mexican border (20 miles south of Hachita, New Mexico) before moving on to Virden, New Mexico where he lived out his life.


PAF - Archer files = Orson Pratt Brown + (3) Elizabeth Graham Macdonald ; adopted Marguerite Webb Brown + Otto Stronach Shill < Charles Golding Shill + Harriet Stronach Paynter < Robert Chapple Shill + Prudence Goulding > Louisa Shill + Charles Wager Richins > Orson Oriel Richins. Louisa Shill is Charles Golding Shill's sister.

http://www.familyheritageseries.org/histories/richins/rhennefer.php Rachel Hennefer Richins biography by her daughter Rebecca Hennefer Richins Sanders. Compiled and edited by Ty Richins, February 2000.  The selections were originally written by Rebecca R. Sanders, Mae R. Bowers, and Ena R. Mitchell, as noted in the text.

Henefer, Our Valley Home, compiled by Fannie J. Richins & Maxene R. Wright.

Camp Floyd and the Mormons, The Utah War, by Donald R. Moorman and Gene Sessions, University of Utah Press, 1992.

See: Joan Hennefer Clark.

Additions, photos, bold, [bracketed information], etc. added by Lucy Brown Archer.

Copyright 2001 www.OrsonPrattBrown.org



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... Easter 1986 through October 2005


... Published December 2007:
By Erold C. Wiscombe

... Published March 2009:
(unfortunately the publisher incorrectly changed the photo
and spelling of Phebe Abbott Brown Fife's name
after it was proofed by this author)
Researched and Compiled by
Erold C. Wiscombe

... Published 2012:
"Finding Refuge in El Paso"
By Fred E. Woods [ISBN: 978-1-4621-1153-4]
Includes O.P Brown's activities as Special Church Agent in El Paso
and the Juarez Stake Relief Committee Minutes of 1912.

...Published 2012:
"Colonia Morelos: Un ejemplo de ética mormona
junto al río Bavispe (1900-1912)"
By Irene Ríos Figueroa [ISBN: 978-607-7775-27-0]
Includes O.P. Brown's works as Bishop of Morelos. Written in Spanish.

...Published 2014:
"The Diaries of Anthony W. Ivins 1875 - 1932"
By Elizabeth Oberdick Anderson [ISBN: 978-156085-226-1]
Mentions O.P. Brown more than 30 times as Ivins' companion.

... To be Published Soon:

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... Lily Gonzalez Brown 80th Birthday Party-Reunion
July 14, 2007 in American Fork, Utah

...Gustavo Brown Family Reunion in October 2007

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...... Wives and 35 Children Photo Chart
...... Chronology
...... Photo Gallery of OPB
...... Letters


...... Biographical Sketch of the Life Orson Pratt Brown
...... History of Orson Pratt Brown by Orson P. Brown
...... Journal & Reminiscences of Capt. Orson P. Brown
...... Memories of Orson P. Brown by C. Weiler Brown
...... Orson Pratt Brown by "Hattie" Critchlow Jensen
...... Orson Pratt Brown by Nelle Spilsbury Hatch
...... Orson Pratt Brown by W. Ayrd Macdonald

- Captain James Brown 1801-1863

...... Wives and 29 / 43 Children Photo Chart
...... Captain James Brown's Letters & Journal
...... Brown Family Memorabilia
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...... Brown's Fort ~ then Brownsville, Utah
...... Chronology of Captain James Brown

- Phebe Abbott Brown Fife 1831-1915

- Colonel William Nicol Fife - Stepfather 1831-1915


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(Martha Stephens) Alexander Brown 1826-1910

(Martha Stephens) Jesse Stowell Brown 1828-1905

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(Martha Stephens) Daniel Brown 1832-1864

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(Martha Stephens) William Brown 1836-1904

(Martha Stephens) Benjamin Franklin Brown 1838-1863

(Martha Stephens) Moroni Brown 1838-1916

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- (Eliza) Anne Kirstine Hansen 1845-1916

- (Eliza) James Niels Skousen 1828-1912

- (Angela) Maria Durán de Holguin 1876-1955

- (Angela) José Tomás Gabaldón 1874-1915












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