Sunday, November 6, 2011

James William Eborn

The picture above is of our Great Grandfather, James William Eborn.  He was born at Clarendon, London, England December 27, 1847.  He was a twin and his twin bother was given the name of John Thomas Eborn.  They were christened at the St. Sepulchre Church in London on September 3rd 1848.  These twin boys were the first of sixteen children that would be born to James Eborn and his wife, Mary Ann Phipp, nine of which died in infancy or early childhood.  Two of their children, a girl named Mary Ann Elizabeth and a boy named Frederick Henry died within five days of each other in October of 1855.  This would be  an all too common event in their lives as they struggled to raise their family in London, England during the middle of the 19th Century.  Life was hard and death called frequently, not just in the Eborn family, but in the families of hundreds and thousands of London residents of the time.  London was a big industrial city, not blessed with the sanitary facilities, comforts and conveniences  that would come many years later.  It is not too difficult to imagine the heart ache and sorrow that would accompany the raising of a large family under these trying circumstances.  How difficult it must have been to bury nine children in such a short span of time.
Little is know about James William, son of James Eborn,  until he married Agnes Laura Phipp at St. Luke, Chelsea, London, England on November 4, 1879.  He was twenty-two years old at the time and certainly had hopes of a long and happy life with is sweetheart.  The only records I know of the family are the births of three children,  Agnes Maud 2 April 1881,  Emily Edith 13 October, 1882, and our grandfather, Arthur Phipp, who was born September 10, 1886.  All three of these children were born in London, England.
Some time about 1889 or 1890, with encouragement from Agnes Laura's sister, Emily Mary, who had converted earlier to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and emigrated from England to America and had settled with her husband, William Nathaniel Budge Shepherd in Paris, Idaho, U.S.A., James William and Agnes Laura Phipp Eborn and their three young children left London for the United States.  They first settled in Ogden, Utah.  Ogden and Utah at the time were predominately Mormon.  James William and Agnes Laura had not joined the LDS Church, but had come to America and Utah partly to escape the unpleasant way of life they, and others were experiencing in England.  At this same time many thousands of people were emigrating from England and other European countries for what they hoped would be a land of opportunity and freedom in America.  It is uncertain whether they ever got to see Emily Mary and her family of Paris, Idaho.  It is probably doubtful that his meeting ever happened, as Agnes Laura died as a result of a tragic fire at their small frame home in Ogden on the 11th of July, 1892.

James William found himself alone in a strange new world with no one to help him in rearing his three small children.  He didn't have work and was unable to provide for the children.  This weighed very heavily on his mind and eventually he came to the conclusion that for the children's sake it may be better if they were put into foster homes.  Eventually, Agnes Maud was placed in a home in Colorado or Kansas.  She eventually married a man by the name of Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich  Volberding and had a family which they raised mostly in Colorado.  She is buried at Akron, Washington County, Colorado.  There was very limited contact with her or her family with the other children over the years, but they never totally lost touch. I remember one summer at a reunion of the Eborn Family at the city park in Paris a car pulled up and a strange couple got out and came over to where the family was gathered.  They introduced themselves as members of the Volberding branch of the family and were gladly received.  Emily Edith was placed with an LDS family and was baptized into the Church in September of 1893.  She never married and eventually ended up in Los Angles, California, where she died on the 18th of January, 1979.  I do remember seeing her once when I was a child when she came to Paris to visit her bother, our Grandpa Arthur.  She was a lovely lady.  I also have a picture of her as a child.  These pictures don't tell the entire story, but they do give us a basis for thought.

Arthur Phipp Eborn, our Grandfather, ended up in Paris, Idaho.  I am sure it was at the request of his aunt Emily Mary Phipp Shepherd.  During his youth he stayed and worked for several area farmers and ended up in Lanark, where as a youth of eighteen he met, Nina Louise Passey, whom he later married  and raised a family of twelve children.

James William had essentially given his family away.  I find it rather paradoxical, that in so doing he was actually taking a step that would unite them in the eternities.  Sometimes we have to be willing to give it all away and trust in the Lord.  Grandpa Arthur in writing his personal history  was rather critical of him and perhaps blamed him for some of the hard times he had experienced as a youth.  I find it interesting, however, that James William came to the Bear Lake Valley, where his only son lived.  They didn't have a lot to do with each other, but I can imagine that he felt some sense of comfort and consolation just to be near his only son.  He eventually lived in a small home in Ovid, by himself where he earned a living doing odd jobs for friends and neighbors.  Occasionally he would see his son, Arthur.  on February 6, 1933 he died  and was buried in the Ovid Cemetery which overlooked LanarkNilesen Bridges.  She had been raised in Ovid and recalled vividly our great grandfather, James William Eborn.  She reported that he was a quiet man, a little peculiar, bu nice to all he met.  He had worked on occasion for her father as he did for others around Ovid, helping them with odd jobs and work on their farms.  As I think of our Great Grandfather and the circumstances of his life, I see an unseen hand guiding the affairs of the family.  It took courage to leave his home and family in London and come to America.  Here he did not find the land of opportunity he had perhaps dreamed of, but his children and their children and their children's children did.  They also found the true gospel of Jesus Christ which has blessed their lives so immensely, and also through missionary effort and example of family members has touched the lives of untold numbers of others as well.  These family members have carried on a great work in search for their dead and seeing to it that the blessings of the gospel are available to even those of the Eborn family who have passed to the other side of the veil with out the benefit of its sealing and saving ordinances. I personally feel a debt of gratitude to our Great Grandfather, James William Eborn, and his good wife, our Great Grandmother, Agnes Phipp Eborn, but for whose sacrifice and love our lives would have been vastly different.  I look forward in anticipation to the day we meet on the other side of the veil.

Marker at the Grave of our Great Grandfather, James William Eborn, located at the Ovid Cemetery.

Sign in Ovid directing visitors to the Ovid Cemetery where our Great Grandfather is buried.  It is a lovely and peaceful spot overlooking Lanark and the Bear Lake Valley to the south.

I wish I had more information and would be thrilled to add anything to this post that others may know or think would be helpful.

by Bart


  1. As a youth I had the good fortune to meet Grandpa's sister Emily when she visited some of Grandpa's family in the valley. She was active in the Church and crocheted an alter cloth for the Los Angeles Temple when it was first constructed. Grandpa had a fondness for his sisters and he communicated with them when he could. Grandpa's education was limited and he didn't feel very comfortable writing letters, but I remember seeing letters that he received from them and discussions between He and Grandma regarding them.

    As I read this posting by Bart, which I appreciate, I couldn't help but note the difference in the quality of life in one generation. Our Great Grand Parents lost 9 out of 16 children. Arthur and Nina didn't lose any. The all lived long and mostly healthy lives without medical intervention. We should grateful for good genes. Thanks again Bart. Love to all.

  2. Thanks for posting this dad. I am so grateful that you have the desire to put this down for all of us to enjoy.

    Love you

    1. I too, appreciate your posts and have collected some histories also in the last few years. It certainly make them more a part of my life. Thanks for the research you have done and the reflections.
      Brenda Eborn Dopp

  3. Reading the life sketch of Grandpa Arthur on Family Search completely changed my previous impressions of him. Thank you for that new relationship.