Conversion of William Lake (1802-1877) and Emma Court (1811 — 1894)
William Lake was born at North Molton, Devonshire, England on July 15, 1802, of parents, John Lake and Sarah Richards. Emma Court was born at Bishops Nympton, Devonshire, England, on February 14, 1811. They had been married about 15 years, when they first heard the Gospel, and had eight children at this time.
William had a friend by the name of Harry Bowden, They were friends when they were young boys and their friendship lasted all their lives. Harry left the part of England where they were living and went away to work in Bristol, England. There he met two Mormon Missionaries and was converted to the truthfulness of the gospel and hastened home to tell his friend, William, all about it,
He thought it was the truth too, but said he would wait awhile and investigate a little more. Both he and his wife Emma belonged to the Church of England. Persecution was getting pretty bad about this time and all kinds of mean things were being said about the Mormons. He told his wife about this new religion and about the boy prophet having a vision. She was very angry with him and said, “Why do you have to bother with any more religion, isn’t ours good enough?”
“Well,” he said, “Mother, I believe it’s the truth” and he said, “The missionaries are coming here, and I shall go to hear what they have to say.” He did go to the meeting and was thoroughly converted to the truthfulness of the Gospel as taught by the Mormon missionaries.
William had been sick nearly all winter with rheumatism and the Doctor said if he would keep warm and dry that he would be able to go to work in a week or ten days. When he went home from the meeting, he said to his wife, “Mother, I am sure now the religion those two Mormon missionaries are preaching is true and I think I shall be baptized next Saturday.” Emma was upset and angry, and said a lot of unkind things to William. She said, “Of all the foolish things I ever heard tell of, you will be baptized, and then be laid up for another six weeks with rheumatism, how are we going to live if you don’t get to work soon?”
He said, “Mother, I will be baptized Saturday and go to work Monday.” “Yes,” she said, “A very likely things Oh William,” she said, “I wish you would give up this foolish Mormon stuff.” But anyway, he was baptized Saturday, (year 1850) and he did go to work Monday morning, and continued to work right along
Daughter Hannah tells this about her Father’s baptism: “Harry Bowden baptized him and he did go to work, I stood on the river bank and held Harry’s watch while he did the baptizing. He kissed me when he reclaimed his watch and he kissed Mother.” (Told to Ellen Greer Rees and Hannah Chappell flees in 1931.)
This made Emma think that maybe there was something true about this new religion and after a while she too thought she would go to meetings to hear for herself. In the course of time she was converted and planned to be baptized. When her daughter Hannah heard of this she hastened home to see what it was all about and said, “Mother, why join these terrible Mormons? I think it is terrible.” But Emma only said, “Well, my dear girl, I am sure it’s the truth.” “Well,” Hannah said, “If you are determined to be baptized, I will go with you and see you baptized.”
So, in October 1850, they all went down to the River Nile, and when the Elder led Emma into the water and raised his hand to baptize her, Hannah tells, a testimony came to Emma and she was thrilled in every part of her body and trembled. She has told her children many times that joy came into her soul and she knew that the gospe1 was true without a shadow of a doubt.
Hannah was l3 at this time. She and John, the second child, were baptized in 1857, Sarah was baptized in 1861, Mary in 1862, all while still in England.
In the early rise of the church, as soon as anyone was baptized, they felt that they must come to Zion. They left their homes and friends and all for the gospel’s sake and came to Utah.
On the 5th of May 1866, William and Emma Court Lake, 15 years after they were baptized, sailed from London, England for the United States on the ship, Caroline. On the ship there were 389 souls under the leadership of A. H. Hill. From the ship’s log we read the following:
William Lake, age 59, Laborer Address, Wm. Chappell, Jr.
Emma Lake, age 55, Wife
Sarah Lake, age 32
Mary Lake, age 16
Silas Lake, age 10
Hannah Lake, age 6
From Church Emigration File l85-I869 Vol. III we read:
Chappell W., wife and 3 children
Lake W, wife and 1 child
September 25, 1866 arrived in Great Salt Lake City in Capt. John D. Holladay’s ox-train. (J. H. Sept 25, 1866 Page I) Captain John F, Holladay’s ox-train of 69 wagons left Wyoming, Nebraska, July 19, 1866 with 350 emigrating Saints. The company arrived at Fort Kearney August 3rd, at Deer Creek Sept. 1st, at the three crossings of the Sweetwater Sept. 8th, at the South Pass September 12, at little Sandy on the 14th and the train arrived in Salt Lake City, in good condition, September 25, l866. Eight persons in the company died during the journey, the last one of whom died the night before reaching the city and was interred after the arrival of the company, of those who died and of the infant born, see Journal History under date of September 25, 1866.
Their oldest daughter, Hannah, and her husband, William Emanuel Chappell and family had left England in 1865 and had stayed in New York City one year to work, before they joined her parents for the trip across the plains.
Soon after they came to Salt Lake, Sarah Lake went out and picked and tied sage one whole day. Her pay that night was a squash. She did not even know just what it was. So I guess she was not too pleased.
Emma (1844-l915) became dissatisfied with “Mormonism.” She was lying sick in bed. Her mother had to was or sew some “temple” clothes. Emma, seeing them, though she had never seen any before, looked at them in surprise and testified that though she had never actually seen any before yet she knew just what they were as she had seen them in a dream. She became so encouraged over this that she did lose faith again. Emma married William B. Ridd, not a member of the church. He was well-to-do.
Brother Pugsley found William and Emma their first home in Salt Lake City. At one time maybe in this first home, they lived out north of the city near Warm Springs in the 16th Ward. They helped take care of the swimming resort and Emma did the laundry for it. William also worked in his friend’s tannery. They had hard times, privations and adverse conditions.
This couple had 11 children, all born at North Molton, England. Michael, the tenth child, did not come to America, but Hannah, John, Sarah, Emma, Joseph, and Mary went to the Temple and took out their own endowments and stayed true to the Gospel, active in their church duties.
William died at the age of 75 and Emma, at the age of 83. She died at Salt Lake City.
Material for this story was taken from story written by Elizabeth Ann Chappell Wilde and notes of Newell Chappell.
Compiled by Helen Thackery Rees Berger, August l96l
(From Ray Walker’s Book of Remembrance)