Crossing the Plains while Crossing their Fingers: THE BLODGETT FAMILY



All around them, saints were losing family members, but the Blodgetts made it across the plains accompanied by all the children with whom they left.

While the Blodgett family wasn’t Irish, they were definitely lucky. They were among the first families to cross the plains and settle in Utah, which is no small feat.

Newman Greenleaf Blodgett

The patriarch of the Blodgett family was Newman Greenleaf, who was born in Vermont in 1800. He met his wife Sally Smith Utley, and they were married on November 4, when he was 24-years-old and Sally was 20-years-old. They found the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and were baptized into the then brand-new church. At the time they had six children. They moved around the east coast four times before officially beginning their western trek.

Six years before they began their journey, Sally passed away. Newman was briefly a single father before meeting and marrying Elizabeth Ann Garnett Reid. Between them, they had nine more children.

Newman and 1st wife Sally 

In February 1846, the newly-blended Blodgett family left Nauvoo for Utah. That meant the Mississippi River was frozen over when they crossed it. This might seem like bad timing, but during the warmer months the river was full of boat traffic, and there was a long line of wagons waiting to board boats. During February on the other hand, there was the choice to walk across it or use a flatboat to travel across. Either way you ran the risk of falling into the river because flatboats were very difficult to maneuver. While many loved ones and belongings were lost in the river, the Blodgetts made it across without a hitch.

Along the way, Newman and Elizabeth would stop and camp in order to find work to pay for more provisions. All around them Saints were losing family members, but the Blodgetts made it across the plains with all the children they left with. In fact, Elizabeth was pregnant during the last leg of the journey and gave birth to Greenleaf Blodgett, who is said to have been the first white child born in Wyoming.

Newman’s 2nd wife Elizabeth

Finally they arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in September of 1850, and moved to North Ogden that next spring. The property they landed on was along Cold Water Creek. They were very smart when they packed their wagon, and luckier that it was never lost, because they brought with them a grist mill and four small apple trees. This mill could come in handy for grinding grain into flour, which would lead to a flourishing business that Newman ran with his son-in-law James Barker. These trees would bear sweet apples that his children loved to snack on. Newman passed away at the age of 82 and Elizabeth passed away at the age of 75.

“The house that he built was my childhood home and I was raised in it,” Newman’s great great great grandson Richard Taylor said. His father inherited it from his mother. While this is the same house built in the 1850’s, today the house looks more like it was built in the 1940’s. That’s because his father remodeled it. However, there are still signs of its true age. “In the basement of the house you’ll see the black of the rocks from the fireplace where they heated the house and cooked their meals,” Taylor said.

Additional pictures of the family home:

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