Thomas E. Ricks (Mormon)

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Thomas E. Ricks
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Personal details
BornThomas Edwin Ricks
(1828-07-21)July 21, 1828
Trigg County, Kentucky, United States
DiedSeptember 28, 1901(1901-09-28) (aged 73)
Rexburg, Idaho, United States

Thomas Edwin Ricks (July 21, 1828 – September 28, 1901) was a prominent Mormon pioneer, a community leader, and a settler of the western United States.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico.


Early years

Ricks was born on July 21, 1828, in Western Kentucky, the son of Joel Ricks and Eleanor Martin. In 1830, he moved with his family to Silver Creek, Illinois where his family started a branch of the Campbellite Church. In 1840, his family was introduced to missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and in 1841, Ricks' parents and siblings were all baptized into the church. A month later the family moved to Nauvoo, Illinois, where Ricks helped in the construction of the Nauvoo Temple.

Kentucky American state

Kentucky, officially the Commonwealth of Kentucky, is a state located in the east south-central region of the United States. Although styled as the "State of Kentucky" in the law creating it,, Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth. Originally a part of Virginia, in 1792 Kentucky split from it and became the 15th state to join the Union. Kentucky is the 37th most extensive and the 26th most populous of the 50 United States.

Joel Ricks was a Mormon Pioneer and community leader who helped settled the Salt Lake Valley and Cache Valley, Utah. He was the father of Thomas E. Ricks.

Campbellite is a mildly pejorative term referring to adherents of certain religious groups that have historic roots in the Restoration Movement, among whose most prominent 19th-century leaders were Thomas and Alexander Campbell. Members of these groups generally consider the term Campbellite inappropriate, saying that they are followers of Jesus, not Campbell. They draw parallels with Martin Luther's protest of the name Lutherans and the Anabaptists' protest of the name given to them by their enemies. With specific reference to the early Restoration Movement, "[t]he terms Campbellism and Campbellites were universally rejected by those to whom they were applied."

In 1844, Ricks had an accident while breaking a horse. [1] The horse landed on his left leg. As a result of this accident Ricks' left leg did not grow as long as his right leg. As a result, wearing a platform shoe, he walked with a limp, and later used a cane. [2]

Pioneer years

At age twenty, Ricks crossed the plains to the Salt Lake Valley with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). He initially crossed the Mississippi River heading west with the Charles C. Rich family. Ricks left the Rich family at Garden Grove, Iowa to meet up with the rest of his family in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Ricks stayed with his family for two years in Council Bluffs while Brigham Young took the first group of Mormon Pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley. One of the teams used by this first pioneer group was donated by the Ricks family. On May 29, 1848 Ricks left Winter Quarters, Nebraska headed for the Salt Lake Valley in Heber C. Kimball's company. [2]

Salt Lake Valley valley in Salt Lake County, Utah, United States

Salt Lake Valley is a 500-square-mile (1,300 km2) valley in Salt Lake County in the north-central portion of the U.S. state of Utah. It contains Salt Lake City and many of its suburbs, notably Murray, Sandy, South Jordan, West Jordan, and West Valley City; its total population is 1,029,655 as of 2010. Brigham Young said "this is the right place", when he and his fellow settlers moved into Utah after being driven out of several states.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints nontrinitarian Christian restorationist church

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often informally known as the LDS Church or Mormon Church, is a nontrinitarian, Christian restorationist church that is considered by its members to be the restoration of the original church founded by Jesus Christ. The church is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah in the United States, and has established congregations and built temples worldwide. According to the church, it has over 16 million members and 65,000 full-time volunteer missionaries. In 2012, the National Council of Churches ranked the church as the fourth-largest Christian denomination in the United States, with over 6.5 million members there as of January 2018. It is the largest denomination in the Latter Day Saint movement founded by Joseph Smith during the early 19th century period of religious revival known as the Second Great Awakening.

Charles C. Rich American leader in LDS Church

Charles Coulson Rich was an early leader in the Latter Day Saint movement. He led one of the first groups of Mormon pioneers west from Illinois under the leadership of Brigham Young after Joseph Smith's murder.

On June 6, 1848, a group of Native Americans raided Ricks' pioneer company, stealing some of their cattle. Ricks and some other youth in the camp went to pursue them. The youth were ambushed and Ricks was shot three times, twice in the kidneys and once in his backbone. His companions, sure he was dead, returned to the company. Learning of his son's demise, Joel Ricks set out to retrieve the body. Joel was ambushed by Native Americans and forced to return to camp where he was relieved to find that other men had located Thomas, floated him across the river on a buffalo hide, and conveyed him the rest of the way to the camp by wagon. As a result of the injury, Thomas traveled most of the way to the Salt Lake Valley in his family's wagon. [2]

Ricks would later assist five additional groups of pioneers to make the same trek. In 1856, returning from a colonizing mission in Las Vegas, Nevada, he immediately left to be part of the rescue party sent from Salt Lake to assist the stranded Martin Handcart Company near the Sweetwater River. [3]

Sweetwater River (Wyoming) tributary of the North Platte River in the U.S. state of Wyoming

The Sweetwater River is a 238-mile (383 km) long tributary of the North Platte River, in the U.S. state of Wyoming. As a part of the Mississippi River system, its waters eventually reach the Gulf of Mexico.

A colonel in the Utah Militia, Ricks was commissioned to locate a better route from the Cache Valley to the Bear Lake Valley, in Northern Utah. While thus engaged, he discovered a natural spring flowing from the cavity of a large rock. To this day, Ricks' Spring bears his name. It can be found on U.S.-89, between Logan, Utah, and Bear Lake, on the Utah-Idaho border.

Colonizing years

Ricks was an influential church and community leader in both Utah and Idaho. He is known as the founder of Rexburg, Idaho, and participated in the founding of the Bannock Stake Academy, which would eventually evolve into Brigham Young University–Idaho. The school was named in his honor for a period of 99 years first as Ricks Academy (1902–1917) and later as Ricks College (1917–2001). [4]

Ricks served in the LDS Church as a bishop and stake president in the Rexburg area.


Ricks died September 28, 1901 at age 73. Joseph F. Smith, LDS Church president, said of him at his funeral, "It may be a long time before we find another man his equal in honor, mind, and unswerving loyalty to the cause of God and his people." [4]


  1. LeCheminant, Camra (2007). Joel Ricks and His Family.
  2. 1 2 3 Wyler, Wanda Ricks (1989). "Thomas E. Ricks: Colonizer and Founder".Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. Orton, Chad M. (2006). "The Martin Handcart Company at the Sweetwater: Another Look". BYU Studies . 45 (3): 4–37. Archived from the original on 2013-10-21. Retrieved 2012-07-19.
  4. 1 2 "Thomas E. Ricks: A Man of Foresight". 2001.

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