Thomas E. Ricks (Mormon)
|Thomas E. Ricks|
|Born||Thomas Edwin Ricks
July 21, 1828
Trigg County, Kentucky, United States
|Died||September 28, 1901
Rexburg, Idaho, United States
Ricks was born on July 21, 1828 in Western Kentucky, the son of Joel Ricks and Eleanor Martin. In 1830, he moved with his family to Silver Creek, Illinois where his family started a branch of the Campbellite Church. In 1840, his family was introduced to missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) and in 1841, Ricks' parents and siblings were all baptized into the church. A month later the family moved to Nauvoo, Illinois, where Ricks helped in the construction of the Nauvoo Temple.
In 1844 Ricks had an accident while breaking a horse. The horse landed on his left leg. As a result of this accident Ricks' left leg did not grow as long as his right leg. As a result, wearing a platform shoe, he walked with limp, and later used a cane.
At age twenty, Ricks crossed the plains to the Salt Lake Valley. He initially crossed the Mississippi River heading west with the Charles C. Rich family. Ricks left the Rich family at Garden Grove, Iowa to meet up with the rest of his family in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Ricks stayed with his family for two years in Council Bluffs while Brigham Young took the first group of Mormon Pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley. One of the teams used by this first pioneer group was donated by the Ricks family. On May 29, 1848 Ricks left Winter Quarters, Nebraska headed for the Salt Lake Valley in Heber C. Kimball's company.
On June 6, 1848, a group of Native Americans raided Ricks' pioneer company, stealing some of their cattle. Ricks and some other youth in the camp went to pursue them. The youth were ambushed and Ricks was shot three times, twice in the kidneys and once in his backbone. His companions, sure he was dead, returned to the company. Learning of his son's demise, Joel Ricks set out to retrieve the body. Finding him clinging to life, Joel brought his son safely back to the wagon train. At one point he floated his son across a river on a buffalo hide. As a result of the injury, Thomas traveled most of the way to the Salt Lake Valley in his family's wagon.
Ricks would later assist five additional groups of pioneers to make the same trek. In 1856, returning from a colonizing mission in Las Vegas, Nevada, he immediately left to be part of the rescue party sent from Salt Lake to assist the stranded Martin Handcart Company near the Sweetwater River.
A colonel in the Utah Militia, Ricks was commissioned to locate a better route from the Cache Valley to the Bear Lake Valley, in Northern Utah. While thus engaged, he discovered a natural spring flowing from the cavity of a large rock. To this day, Ricks' Spring bears his name. It can be found on U.S.-89, between Logan, Utah, and Bear Lake, on the Utah-Idaho boarder.
Ricks was an influential church and community leader in both Utah and Idaho. He is known as the founder of Rexburg, Idaho, and participated in the founding of the Bannock Stake Academy, which would eventually evolve into Brigham Young University–Idaho. The school was named in his honor for a period of 99 years first as Ricks Academy (1902–1917) and later as Ricks College (1917–2001).
Ricks died September 28, 1901 at age 73. Joseph F. Smith, LDS Church president, said of him at his funeral, "It may be a long time before we find another man his equal in honor, mind, and unswerving loyalty to the cause of God and his people." 
- LeCheminant, Camra (2007). Joel Ricks and His Family.
- Wyler, Wanda Ricks (1989). Thomas E. Ricks: Colonizer and Founder.
- Orton, Chad M. (2006). "The Martin Handcart Company at the Sweetwater: Another Look". BYU Studies 45 (3): 4–37. Retrieved 2012-07-19.
- "Preserving the Memory of Thomas E. Ricks". 2005.
- Jenson, Andrew (1901). Latter-day Saint biographical encyclopedia: A compilation of biographical sketches of prominent men and women in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints 1. Salt Lake City, Utah: The Andrew Jenson History Company (Printed by The Deseret News Press). pp. 455-457. Retrieved March 20, 2014.
- Jenson, Andrew (1936). Latter-day Saint biographical encyclopedia: A compilation of biographical sketches of prominent men and women in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints 4. Salt Lake City, Utah: The Andrew Jenson History Company (Printed by The Deseret News Press). p. 349. Retrieved March 20, 2014.
- Thomas E. Ricks at Find a Grave
- Media related to Thomas E. Ricks (Mormon) at Wikimedia Commons