Deans USA Page

Emigration and The Mormon Church

Robert DEANS was born 28 April 1815 to James DEANS and his wife Christian WILSON at Newbattle, Midlothian, Scotland. On 22 April 1837 at Newbattle he married Eliza LAIRD (his name has been transcribed as Robert BEANS) and in 1841 they are living at Houstown, Uphall, West Lothian and Robert is working as a coal miner. They have two children James aged 4 and Eliza aged 1 both born at Uphall. Robert and Eliza had three more children born to them Christina 1842, Henry Andrew 1845 and Isabella 1847.

Robert’s younger brother, David was born on 3 April 1824 also at Newbattle. In 1844 he married Helen HASWELL at Newbattle and set up home at Westhouses,Midlothian. They had two children James H. born 1844 and Isabel born 1847 both in Westhouses. David died on 14 July 1847 at Westhouses, Midlothian about 6 weeks before Isabel was born. (an autobiography (sic) of James H Deans by his daughter Susannah Euphamia states that David was killed in a mining accident)

Robert and David are first cousins 4 times removed from me. Therefore cousins of Robert DEANS born 1819 in Dalkeith and my great-great-grandfather. Our common ancestors are Robert DEANS born 1752 in Cranston, Midlothian, and Helen AMBROSE born 1746 in Dalkeith, Midlothian. Robert and Helen were my Great-great-great-great-grandparents.

Meanwhile about 1840 Mormon missionaries visited the country and began preaching their gospel and by the late 1840s there were many places where the Mormons preached and about 3000 members. The early church members were usually low paid industrial workers looking for a way out of their despair. The church encouraged members to emmigrate to Utah and join with other Morman followers there. Several thousand people from the lowland areas of Scotland emmigrated to the USA.

Robert was one these and in 1849 he left Scotland with Eliza and the children to make the journey to Salt Lake City, Utah. With them were David’s widow, Helen and her two children.The website Heritage Gateways Pioneer 1848-1868 Companies - Heritage Gateways ( indicates that Robert led a group of 100 people across the Atlantic on the ship EMBLEM

I imagine that once they reached New Orleans they had to make their way up the Mississippi river, probably by paddle steamer, to Missouri in order to join a wagon train to make the long journey overland to Utah. For whatever reason it appears that Robert never got to Utah. Eliza and the children are recorded in the 1850 census living in St Louis , Missouri, Dwelling house no. 928 Family no. 955 . The head of the household is named as Walter NICKHARDT a married man and miner aged 25 from Scotland, the next entry is for a 3 year old boy, Wm COOK also from Scotland. Eliza is next: aged 35 from Scotland The children are all listed but the ages don’t correspond exactly with the birth dates previously supposed. Christian is entered as Tina.

I can find no record of a death for Robert Deans or a remarriage for Eliza but in the 1860 USA census James, Henry, Castina (Christina) and Isabella Deans are living at Township 1 Range 9 St Clair, Illinois - Post Office Millstadt. In the household with them are Elizabeth NICHOLS aged 40 and Walter NICHOLS aged 34. From this I suppose that Walter Nichols was the Walter Nickhardt from the 1850 census and either he and Eliza have married or she has taken his name. With them is a child Eliza NICHOLS aged 6 who I suppose to be the daughter of Eliza (Laird Deans) and Walter although it gives the child's birthplace as Scotland . There are two other entries for the household Henry KINGHORN aged 6 born Scotland and Jane KINGHORN aged 4 born Missouri.

Eliza DEANS, daughter of Robert Deans and Eliza Laird was by now married to William GOALBY – 5 March 1859 in St Louis. On later records for Eliza, such as her death certificate, it gives her birth date as 5 January 1842.

There is a death record for a Robert Deans aged 34 who died in hospital on 15 September 1849 from chronic dysentery. It is possible that this could be our Robert especially if the ship put into port at Philidelphia or Baltimore between leaving New York and reaching New Orleans.

So it would seem that Eliza Laird Deans without Robert stayed in Missouri and later Illinois whilst Helen remarried and she, her new husband and her two children made the pioneering trip across the continent arriving in Utah in 1852.

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