Pioneer of Utah, California and Idaho, Charles C. Rich figured prominently in the early development of these states, and took an active part in furthering the welfare and promoting the progress of the commonwealths. He was also a most able exponent of the faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and with a colony of believers he founded the beautiful and thriving little city of Paris, the County of Bear Lake, Idaho, and the Mormon colonies of southeastern Idaho.
A native of Kentucky, Mr. Rich was born in Campbell County, in 1809, and was of English and Irish ancestry. His parents removed to Indiana during his youth and there he was educated. In 1829 they went to Illinois, becoming pioneer settlers of that state, and in April 1832, Charles C. Rich embraced the faith and was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, becoming one of its most faithful and prominent adherents. In 1839 he went to Nauvoo, Illinois, where he remained until 1846, and while there he was elected an adjutant general in the Mormon forces, a part of the Illinois militia. A little later, however, the regiment was disbanded by the governor of the state. At that time Mr. Rich had been ordained a high priest of the church. In the fall of 1846, in the general Mormon exodus, he removed to Pisgah, Iowa, and was first counselor to President Huntingdon, and on the death of the president he succeeded to the office thus left vacant. In March 1847, he with a party went to what is now Council Bluffs, Iowa, where they made preparation for a journey to the Rocky Mountains. Air. Rich was selected captain of a wagon train of one hundred wagons and was also president of the emigrants. They started on their long and perilous journey on the 14th of June. 1847, and after proceeding some distance experienced considerable trouble with the Indians. All of the women aided in the way of driving teams and otherwise, and rendered such assistance as they could in other directions. They traveled five, ten and sometimes fifteen miles a day. Thousands of Indians were around them and frequently stole from them, but on the 2d of October 1847, they reached their destination, having spent three months and eighteen days upon the way. When they arrived a settlement had started; an adobe fort was built shortly after their arrival at what is now the beautiful and populace City of Salt Lake. Great credit is due to these brave and faithful pioneers who thus led the way and laid the foundation of a fine city and great state.
Soon after his arrival Mr. Rich was elected first counselor to the first president of the Salt Lake stake, and in 1848 he was honored with the presidency, as his predecessor had become too feeble to longer fill the office. On the 12th of March following, he was ordained one of the twelve apostles, and in the fall of 1849 was sent on a mission to California to establish a settlement of members of the church at San Bernardino. He purchased the Lugo ranch, a large Mexican grant of land, and became the founder of the town and county of San Bernardino. In 1850 he returned to Salt Lake and took five hundred families to that delightful district of the Golden state. He had the management of the colony for six years and spent most of the time there, although he traveled back and forth between San Bernardino and Salt Lake frequently. He made his home in the former place, however, and three of his wives were there living. In 1857 they returned to Salt Lake City, and Mr. Rich secured a farm of two hundred acres of choice land twelve miles to the north. When General Johnston, with the United States troops, came to attack them, they expected that the town would be destroyed and organized an army to protect themselves, Mr. Rich being elected a colonel in the Utah forces. They fixed their homes to fire them if it became necessary, and a guard was left for that purpose, but the women and children were all removed to Provo. The government forces, however, did not disturb the homes and the owners returned in July 1858.
In 1860 Mr. Rich was sent on a mission to Europe and was president of the organization of the church in that country for about two and a half years, having his headquarters at Liverpool. He also visited Ireland, Scotland, Sweden, Norway, Germany and France, and came back to this country in 1862, bringing with him a large company of emigrant converts to the faith. He remained in Salt Lake until September 1863, and was then called to look up a location for a new settlement of his people and came to what is now Bear Lake County, Idaho. That fall thirty families from the Cache valley established a settlement at what is now the thriving city of Paris, and Mr. Rich became the leading spirit in the enterprise. They built log cabins and spent a long and hard winter. Brigham Young visited the country the following June and traveled through the valley, giving names to the towns. Many indeed were the discouraging features which met the pioneers in their attempt to form a settlement. Frosts and grasshoppers destroyed what they planted, and times looked dark indeed, but President Rich imbued them with courage, saying that he had come to settle and was going to stay, and that brighter days would yet dawn upon them. This prediction proved true, and to his courage and faith is largely due the fact that the region has been transformed into thrifty farms, pleasant homes and enterprising villages. When the settlement was made it was supposed to be in Utah, and Mr. Rich frequently represented the district in the Utah legislature. He took an active part in framing the laws of the state, and no one could exhibit more devotion to the well-being of the pioneer settlers of the county than he. He proved himself to be one of the bravest and grandest of men, respected the rights of all, was the friend of the poor and was beloved by all.
When the land came into market Mr. Rich secured a half-section of it, and his numerous sons also secured government claims, making for themselves good homes. For many years it was the belief and practice of his church to marry a plurality of wives and raise large families for the kingdom of the saints in heaven. Acting upon that faith Mr. Rich was six times married. On the nth of February 1837, Sarah D. Pea became his wife; January 3, 1845, Eliza Ann Graves; January 6, 1845, Mary Ann Phelps; January 15, 1845, Sarah Peck; February 2, 1846, Emeline Grover; and in March 1847, Harriet Sargent. With him these wives and his father and mother, Joseph Rich and Nancy (O’Neal) Rich, crossed the plains. These women were all faithful helpmeets to him and conscientious adherents of the church, and five of them bore him six sons each, and twenty-two daughters were born to him, making fifty-two children in all. The family have all adhered to the church. Three of his widows still survive and are comfortably provided for. One of them, Mary Ann Rich, possesses a most remarkable memory for events and dates and has furnished most of the material for this sketch of her honored husband. Twenty-two of the sons and ten of the daughters still survive, namely: Mrs. Sarah Jane Miller, now a widow; Joseph C., now judge of the fifth judicial district of Idaho; Hiram S., of St. Charles, Idaho; Mary, wife of Joseph Linford; Franklin D., of Paris; Elizabeth, wife of Milando Pratt; Mary Ann, wife of Dr. Francis Pomeroy; Frances, wife of James Collins, of Paris; Adelbert, of Canada; Caroline, wife of Bishop Humphreys, of Paris; William L., also of Paris; David P., of Rexburg, Idaho; Nancy, widow of Vincent Pugmire and a resident of St. Charles; Minerva, wife of H. S. Wooley; Benjamin E., of Rexburg; Amasa M., a farmer and stock-raiser of Paris; George Abel, of Paris; Landon J., who resides in Rich, on Snake river; Martha Caroline, wife of Samuel Parish, of Centerville; Fred C, of Salt Lake City; Samuel J., an attorney at Idaho Falls; Heber C, a resident of Rich; Harley T.; Ezra C, a physician at Ogden, Utah: Joel, of Paris: Wilford, a ranchman at Paris; Morgan J.; Edward I., a physician; Walter P., a resident of Paris; George Q., an attorney of Logan, Utah: Alvin of Paris; Drusilla, wife of Attorney William Streeper, of Centerville. President Rich died November 17, 1883, at the age of over seventy-four years. He was a man of marked ability, well fitted for leadership, and largely promoted the interests of this section of the state. At Paris he built the first sawmill and first gristmill and in other ways promoted the enterprises and aided in the development of the locality. His name is inseparably connected with its history and well deserves a place in this volume. He was always regarded as a wise counselor by his people and neither Mormon, Jew nor Gentile questioned his honesty or the right and justice of his decisions. His name is held in honor and esteem by every one who knew him.