The Mormon Connection
with Hill Farm, Castle Frome
Wilford Woodruff was a missionary from the Church of Latter Day Saints in the US, otherwise known as the Mormon Church. A group of LDS missionaries travelled from the US to Liverpool and started their preaching in Preston and the surrounding area.
Wilford Woodruff came south first to the Potteries area in Staffordshire and then down to Herefordshire in March 1840. He walked with his companions, members of the Benbow family, from Worcester to Hill Farm in Castle Frome.
At the time, John and Jane Benbow were the tenant farmers at Hill Farm. They were members of a religious group called “The United Brethren” which was a breakaway sect of the Primitive Methodist movement. There were 600 members, 45 preachers and many chapels and houses, including Hill Farm, were licensed for preaching.
By August 1840, only a few months later, 1800 people had been baptised in the local area and become members of the LDS church.
Wilford Woodruff preached at the farm over the next couple of days and then prepared a pool on the farm for baptisms (full submersion). The pool is owned by the LDS Church and is a living memorial to the events that happened there and the bravery of those who crossed the US to reach Utah.
John and Jane Benbow were amongst the first six members of the United Brethren who were baptised. John and Jane Benbow then set in a motion the sale of all their property as they prepared to emigrated with their adoptive children to the US.
They set sale in September 1840 with forty members of the United Brethren having paid for the passage of those who travelled with them. It took twelve weeks to reach Nauvoo Illinois, where John had a 160 acre farm on the outskirts of Nauvoo and a mill in the town.
They were driven out of Nauvoo by the mobs in 1845, along with the other residents and were forced to move west to Nebraska. Jane Benbow died there in 1846.
In the summer of 1847 William Carter, John Benbow’s son-in-law was in the first group who travelled west to the salt Lake Valley in Utah. He is remembered in western history for being the person who ploughed the first half acre in Utah and brought irrigation to the western US.
John Benbow crossed the plains to Utah in 1848 and lived out his life with a wife and one child on a farm just south of Salt Lake City. Wilford Woodruff went on to become a President of the LDS Church.
Many visitors come to Hill Farm each year either for a guided history walk or to visit the pond and enjoy the tranquility and history associated with the farm.
Benbow's Pond, Castle Frome