The winners of this year’s Pioneer Heritage Essay Contest were announced at the November luncheon of the Morgan Chapter of the Sons of Utah Pioneers. First Place, Jarrett Parry received $125. Second Place , Carson Ordyn received $100. Third Place, Laren Windley received $75. Over 90 essays were received this year. Special thanks to Ms. Romero for supporting the contest again this year. Parry’s essay, which has been edited for length, appears below:
Charles C. Rich, my great-great-great-great grandfather, spent much of his adult life traveling with or on behalf of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He became a member of the Church in Tazewell County, Kentucky in 1932. He and his father, Joseph Rich, traveled to Kirtland, Ohio to be with the main body of the Church in 1834. He followed the Church west to Missouri and Illinois and led a pioneer company to Utah in 1847, arriving in October of that year. He later served in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the presiding group in the LDS Church
Charles C, Rich was often called upon to be a leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “In carrying out his role as a leader, he was often required to abandon his personal and family concerns”. In his life, Rich had numerous opportunities to lead those around him. One of his first leadership opportunities was in Zion’s Camp. Zion’s Camp was an army formed to support LDS church members in Missouri. Rich was a general in Zion’s Camp and led a company of men. “The fact that these men, who had previously organized under their own leadership, now chose Rich, whom they had probably known for only two weeks, to be their captain gives a significant insight into Rich’s ability to relate and guide”. Rich also had the opportunity to lead while establishing a settlement in San Bernardino, California, in 1851. Rich was tasked with gathering together and organizing the members of the Church already in the California region. Rich was also tasked with building an LDS outpost near the Pacific.
Rich was capable of acting independently and had the utmost trust of Church leaders. He was put into hard positions settling far away locations such as San Bernardino and the Bear Lake Valley. The Bear Lake Valley lies on the northern edge of Utah. Rich and his colony were virtually isolated from the main body of the Church located in Salt Lake City roughly 120 miles and six days travel away. During periods of heavy snowfall and bad weather, Bear Lake was completely isolated. The only way to get in and out of the valley was snowshoeing across the mountain ranges that separated Bear Lake from Logan, Utah. The settlement in San Bernardino was even farther away from the main body of the Church almost 650 miles.
Rich made numerous sacrifices throughout his life to help those around him. While living in Missouri, Rich and his wife, Sara DeArmon Pea, took seven families into their home to protect them from anti-Mormon mobs. Another example of Rich’s selflessness came when he sold all of his hard-earned property to bring his family to Utah. Rich also displayed a willingness to sacrifice for others when he was living in the Bear Lake Valley. “When others would not undertake the dangerous travel through the mountains, when terrific storms prevailed, Brother Rich would set out. Through is great feat of strength and knowledge of the country, this man of great strength and endurance, sometimes bore fatigue that would kill an ordinary man”.
Charles C. Rich was the quintessential pioneer. One quality that makes him such is his bravery. Rich faced down trials and hardships with extreme toughness throughout his life. While living in Far West, Missouri, Rich stood in the face of a mob to protect a young family trying to enter Far West. Rich was even shot once by a mob member and narrowly escaped. Rich again showed off his bravery when, on the trek west, he jumped into a frozen river to save a fellow pioneer, George M. Grand, who had fallen into the treacherous Mississippi River. Rich dragged Grand back to safety and then helped Grant’s family cross the river safely.
Rich was a great leader, brave, independent, and selfless, but most importantly, Rich was a pioneer. He was a fantastic contributor in the effort to transform the West. When Rich arrived in Utah in 1847, the region was populated solely by trappers and Native Americans. When Rich died in 1863, the West had become the framework of what our country is today. Bear Lake was a main hub on the Oregon Trail. San Bernardino was crucial for growth of the Church on the west coast. Rich single handedly established two settlements crucial to travel and population. The pioneering spirit of Charles C. Rich made the West into what we see now.