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Albert King Thurber family papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 8045

Scope and Contents

Contains research files on Albert King Thurber's family and ancestors. Materials were compiled by his descendants and William Hartley, the author Another Kind of Gold, a book on Thurber. Includes correspondence, maps, photographs, diaries, and other records. Items were created in England and America from 1783-2011.


  • approximately 1783-2011
  • Majority of material found within approximately 1783-1964


Conditions Governing Access

Open for public research.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from the Albert King Thurber family papers must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Coordinating Committee.

Biographical History

Albert King Thurber (1826-1888) was a Forty-niner, convert to Mormonism and missionary in England, polygamist, bishop of Spanish Fork, president of Sevier Stake, and Native American negotiator.

Albert King Thurber was born to Daniel and Rebecca Hill Thurber of Foster, Rhode Island on April 7, 1926. As a young man, he learned the combmaking trade and opened his own shop, then sold his business to join the California gold rush at the age of 23. On the way to California, he stopped in Salt Lake City and was baptized into the LDS Church six weeks later. After an unprofitable experience in California, he returned to Salt Lake and married Thirza Melvina Berry in February 1851, establishing a homestead in Spanish Fork the same year; they bore eleven children. Albert served in the local militia during the Walker Indian War of 1853. Ten years later, he was called as bishop of the Spanish Fork Ward, served as local mayor and Utah County representative in the Territorial Legislature, and served an LDS mission to England from 1865-1867. Following his return, he took Agnes Brockbank as a plural wife, and they had five children together (three survived). In 1874, Bishop Thurber was released and requested by Brigham Young to move to Sevier county to serve as a liaison and advisor to Native Americans, where he also became first counselor to Joseph A. Young. He was director of the Richfield United Order, negotiated with Indians, explored southeastern Utah, and was called as Sevier Stake President in 1887. Thurber died in Ephraim, Utah, on March 21, 1888.

Biographical History

Bertha Melvina Thurber (1877-1949) was a Mormon wife, mother, and homemaker, and worked on Hill Field [Air Force Base] during World Ward II. She raised nine children to adulthood.

Bertha Melvina Thurber (blessed as Albertha) was the second surviving child and daughter of Albert King Thurber and Agnes Brockbank, born in Richfield, Utah on February 10, 1877. She was educated at the Sevier Stake Academy, the local public school, and Brigham Young Academy. After earning a teacher's certificate, she taught school at Vermillion, then worked as a hired girl in various homes and assisted her mother in her work as Richfield Relief Society President, as well as learning homemaking skills from her such as gardening, beekeeping and animal husbandry, sewing and other handwork, and glovemaking. In 1897, she also got a job as deputy to County Recorder Eliza C. Ross. Bertha married John Lowe Butler, whom she had known since they were young, in the Manti LDS Temple on November 15, 1899; they raised 11 children (two died as infants). While the children were young, they farmed and moved back and forth between Kimberly and Richfield, then to Camas Prairie in Idaho.

After John's health began to decline in 1915, they traded the property for a farm (and later a mercantile business and home) in Acequia so that their children could attend high school. John also worked as Postmaster. With not enough work for the grown boys to do in this business, they moved to a farm in Twin Falls in 1922. After suffering financial ruin, they rented another farm and also worked in mining, fence-building, and a sugar factory to make ends meet. They subsequently moved to farms in Hollister and Eden (Idaho), where John died in 1937. Bertha (at first with her younger children) moved among the older children's homes in Shelley, Idaho; Logan, Utah; Detroit, Mich.; Salt Lake City and Ogden, Utah. After her children were grown and gone and her husband was on an assignment elsewhere, she got a job as a janitor at Hill Field (later Hill Air Force Base) during World War II, later working in the Dispensary and the Reclamation unit; she was given her release in 1945 and moved to Salt Lake City. Bertha was devoted to the Gospel and served wherever called, including the Relief Society presidency, Mutual Improvement Association, Richfield Tabernacle Choir, Sunday School and Relief Society instructor, Stake Genealogical Committee, etc. She died in Shelley, Idaho on October 16, 1949.

Biographical History

Isaac Brockbank, Jr. (1837-1927) was a Mormon convert and polygamist, grocer, tanner, farmer, miner, and railway worker. He helped build stretches of the Union Pacific and Saltair Railroads, served in the bishopric of the Eighth Ward (SLC) for twenty years, and was a Salt Lake City Council member and Salt Lake County Bailiff and Deputy Sheriff.

Isaac Brockbank, Jr., eldest son and child of Isaac Brockbank and Elizabeth Mainwaring, was born in the area of Liverpool, England, on July 13, 1837. As a youth, Isaac was educated at various religious schools and briefly attended the Mechanics Institute and Advanced School; he also made deliveries and collections for his father's meat business, and later worked as an office boy in a legal firm. His parents joined the church in 1851, emigrating to New Orleans on the Ellen Maria in Feburary 1852. In the course of the family's journey to the Salt Lake Valley (which they reached in September of the same year), Isaac's mother disappeared and was never heard from again. Within a month of their arrival, his father married a Sarah Brown who had sailed on the same ship, primarily for the sake of his children. The family eventually settled in Spanish Fork, where Isaac was Elder's Quorum clerk. Here he opened his own dry goods/grocery store, with a partnership contracted to carry U.S. mail south of Salt Lake. In 1858, he met Katherine Howard; the two courted and were married on June 25, 1860. Isaac then joined his father-in-law in the tannery business. Isaac and Katherine bore seven children, all of whom survived to adulthood. In January 1865, being asked to support another family, he married Mary Ann Park; she bore twelve children, losing two in infancy.

In 1867, Isaac helped to build a section of the Union Pacific Railroad stretching from Echo Canyon to Promontory Point, and was also briefly employed in Mr. Howard's mining operation (the claim failed). He served in the bishopric of the Eighth Ward from 1871-1891, and was also called in 1871 as a clerk in the Tithing Office. In 1878, he served on the Salt Lake City Council. After the passage of the Edwards Law in 1882, Isaac was charged in September 1886 with unlawful cohabitation, fined $300, and sentenced to six months in the State Prison (both maximum sentences for that offence). After his release, he worked by contract on what would become the Saltair Railroad, did excavations for various Salt Lake City buildings, and served as Salt Lake County Bailiff and Deputy Sheriff. He also attempted mining several more times, usually with disastrous results. He died in Holladay, Utah, on March 4, 1927 at the age of 89, at one time (with Katherine) holding the honor of being the oldest married couple in the state.

Biographical History

MaryAnne Butler Ashton is the daughter of Ross Erin Butler, Sr. (son of John Lowe Butler and Bertha Melvina Thurber) and Margie Dawn Werry. She is married to Marlowe Ashton and lives in Orem, Utah.

Biographical History

William G. Hartley (1942- ) is a historian in Utah. He works at Brigham Young University and has written many books and articles concerning Mormon history.

William G. Hartley married Linda Perry in 1965 and they are the parents of six children. He began working at Brigham Young University in 1980 in the History Department. As of 2008 he was an Associate Professor of History at Brigham Young University (teaching five history classes and two religion classes). He is a prolific writer with numerous books and articles about history, especially Mormon history. He has co-edited the Joseph Smith Papers Project, and been a longtime member of the Mormon History Association and founding president of the Mormon Trails Association.


1 carton (1 linear ft.)

1 half box (0.25 linear ft.)

1 oversize folder (0.2 linear ft.)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

Research files (bulk of collection) were donated by Mary Anne Butler Ashton on behalf of father Ross Erin Butler Sr. on May 24, 2012. Ashton appears to have obtained many of the files from historian Bill Hartley, then added to them herself.

Albert King Thurber journal, map, and other materials were donated by Robert Edward Sanderson on May 10, 2012.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; MaryAnne Butler Ashton and Robert Edward Sanderson; May 2012.


Utah and the American West and LDS cultural, social, and religious history (19th century Western & Mormon Manuscripts collection development policy, 5.VII, 2007).

Related Materials

See also Laura Ann Keeler Thurber autobiography (MSS 436); Joseph S. Thurber diary (MSS 844); Joseph S. Thurber photographs (MSS P 439); and Stanley and Myron Thurber collection of Thurber family papers (MSS 8230).


Files are being maintained in their original order (with rough groupings but no real series), in order to document the research process of Albert King Thurber's descendants and his biographer, William G. Hartley.

Processing Information

Processed; David Whittaker, curator, and Amanda Crandall, manuscripts processor; 2012-2013.

Processed; Amanda C. Crandall, manuscripts processor; March 2016.

Register of Albert King Thurber family papers
Under Revision
Amanda Crandall, manuscripts processor
2013 July 31
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.
Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant, 2007-2008

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States