(Sawyer and early settler of Bountiful, UT)
Born December 2, 1820, in Mayfield, Sessex Co. England. Richard was mostly deaf. His mother was an invalid for 17 years and the
care of the Ashdown children devolved on his father and what outside help he could afford. That was probably very little, for the
family resources were very limited. Schools were unavailable so that the father was their instructor and the Bible the principal
Richard married Ann Burgess and eventually had 7 children. From here they moved to Wellbrook a little village of about a have
dozen houses joined together in a row with a nice garden in front for each family and a brook of clear water running at the rear.
In 1852, he moved his family to Brighton. Here he had work as a pit sawyer and the children could go to school and received an
education. It was here he first heard of the Mormons. They took in a lodger by the name David Oxley who worked in a carpenter
shop with a Mormon elder named Jiles. This elder sent books and tracts for grandfather to read which interested him very much.
He was the first member of the family to be converted to the truth of the Gospel. Soon the whole family joined the church. They
were baptized on the 23rd of June 1856 in the English Channel.
Six years later he moved his family to Aldershot. Here again he was instrumental with others in bringing several families into the church. Having lost his job
because of his joining the church, he moved to Fornham for work. He met a traveling elder named Edward Phillips, whom he assisted to preach the gospel in
outdoor meetings in all the towns around and soon a branch of about 25 members was organized. The families immigrated to Utah in 1861 from Liverpool to
N.Y. in a sailing vessel called the Manchester. They came as far as the Missouri River by rail and up the river to Florence in a steamboat called the “West Wind”.
From there they started their journey across the plains by ox-teams and carts in Captain Eldridges Co. They had a very pleasant journey to Salt Lake City and
arrived in September 1861 all in good health.
He settled in Bountiful in 1862 and found work in a sawmill. He was always willing and ready to help cut timber, make roads and build bridges and anything else to
build up the town. He helped build the meeting house and hauled granite with ox-team for the Salt Lake Temple. He built his first home, an adobe structure, on
what is known now as 2nd E. and 3rd South. In 1869 he began to learn more about a break off sect called the Godbyites and he sided with their doctrines over the
President Young’s teachings, though he never joined them. The sect started the Salt Lake Tribune to slander the Church and being deaf he took a subscription to
learn more about the argument. When asked to deny his affiliation and cancel his subscription he refused and was labeled as an apostate and excommunicated.
He tried to take Ann with him, but she refused and left him. In 1877, he went to work for Simon Noall as a farmer. A few years later, with his savings he bought the
Noall farm which had been a part of the Heber C. Kimball estate. The original home was offered to his daughter Mary Ann and her husband Henry and they moved
in with their children to help care for him. Later he married Sophia Hansen, a widow who had a daughter, Marie, about 15 years old and two sons. He was very fond
of Marie and sent her to school and bought her a small organ that she might learn to play music. He also paid for his step-son to serve a mission.
Richard was a good farmer, very thrifty and saving in every respect, nothing, not even a twig went to waste. His place was always in perfect order. His buildings and
fences were always kept in repair and his livestock were well cared for. Being deaf, he could not enter into public life of any kind. However, he was very independent.
Being handy with tools of all kinds there was nothing he couldn’t do and make. Most of his garden tools were handmade. He had his own blacksmith shop, molasses
mill, and cider press, and always did his own shoe repair work. His wife, Sophia proved to be a wonderful helpmate. Together they built an eight-room brick home,
doing most of the work themselves. They wanted a large home that weary travelers and missionaries could have a place to rest and he always made them welcome.
The home was furnished very comfortable with plenty of handmade rugs, quilts and tidies, etc. Few homes in Bountiful were better than this one.
He was honest to a fault, many times he would loan money to his friends with no security, saying that if a man’s word was no good his note would be no better. He
never went in debt for anything and expected others to pay for things when they bought them. He was always kind to his neighbors, especially to those who were
in need. He lived to be 82 years old and was active until the last two years of his life. He died in1902 in Bountiful, Utah. – Written by Alice Ashdown Tolman
(Sawyer and early settler of Bountiful, UT)
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