William S. Godbe

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William Samuel Godbe (June 26, 1833 – August 1, 1902) was a British convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (The LDS Church, also known as the "Mormons"). He is remembered for leading a faction of the LDS Church called the Church of Zion, better known as the "Godbeites".


Godbe was born in Middlesex, England, to Samuel Godbe, a music professor, and Sarah LaRiviere, a descendant of French Huguenots. Godbe was one of at least five children, and his father died when he was eleven. Godbe's uncle Daniel Grant, an engineer, took him in and taught the boy elements of his trade. Godbe was attracted to classics and travel literature, and by his early teens Godbe earned a living on the sea.

By 1850, Godbe was an experienced sailor who had traveled Western Europe, visited Constantinople, and the shores of Brazil and Africa. Godbe then became bound to a captain who, after retiring from the sea, worked the dock at Kingston upon Hull. In Hull, Godbe encountered Parley P. Pratt, an LDS missionary. By June 1850, Godbe was baptized, against the counsel of his immediate family.

Like most converts, Godbe emigrated to the LDS Church's headquarters in territorial Utah. As a seaman, he worked his way to New York City, then purchased his way by ferry from Albany to Chicago in 1851. From there Godbe walked to Kanesville, Iowa (now Council Bluffs). Too late to join an immigrant company, Godbe traveled with merchant Thomas S. Williams, who was...
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