Charles Kingston Sr. was born in Peterborough, Lincolnshire, England to Fredrick and Mary Ann Hunter Kingston. Charles' mother Mary Ann, began working as a maid servant in the home of one of the British Royal families. Because she lived outside of her home, she asked her mother, Elizabeth Freeman, to take care of her son Charles, who was 4 years old when she first took the position. Charles' grandmother Elizabeth raised him for most of his childhood. His mother visited him often but kept her job as a governess for most of her life.
Charles' grandmother was a very religious woman and wanted to spark her grandson's interest in the Bible. She was older which made it difficult for her to see the fine print, so she would ask him to read passages to her at her bedside to help her fall asleep. This helped Charles to develop a habit of reading the scriptures and sparked his passion for reading.
Charles' father, Fredrick, traveled to the United States when Charles was very young to avoid debtors prison. Charles' mother insisted she stay in England to pay off their debts. After many years, Mary Ann paid their debts and was ready to go to the U.S. to meet Fredrick. When she and Charles arrived, they found that Fredrick had moved west to Morgan, Utah to be closer to the LDS church and that he had taken a plural wife. Mary Ann felt devastated and she and her son Charles quickly returned to England.
Charles didn't think they had given his father a fair chance to explain himself. He decided to study and understand the scriptures well enough to convince his father, Fredrick, of the mistakes he had made and to leave the Mormon church as well as his plural family in the United States.
When Charles was 22 years old, in 1879, he went back to the United States to visit his father and talk him into coming back to England.
Charles landed on the east coast of the U.S. and took a train west to Morgan, Utah. He arrived in Morgan on September 23, 1879. During that time, many of the local towns' people would go to the train station to see the new visitors coming in each week. This weekly curiosity attracted young ladies in Morgan who dressed up for the occasion. On the day Charles arrived, one of the young women who came to see these new visitors was Mary Priscilla Lerwell Tucker, who will later become Charles' wife.
Charles met his father in his Utah home to discuss his opposition to the Mormon beliefs. His father introduced Charles to the Book of Mormon and LDS doctrines. At the time, Fredrick's second wife, Emma, was very sick and asked Charles to read the Book of Mormon to her at her bedside, the same as his grandmother had when he was a boy. In reading and studying the LDS doctrines, he was converted to the church and was soon baptized on his birthday, November 9, 1880, by Bishop Albert D. Dickson in Morgan, Utah.
On January 7, 1883, Charles was ordained an Elder in the LDS Church and on October 19, 1884, he was ordained a Seventy by Seymour B. Young. In May 1886, Charles began a two-year mission as a Mormon missionary to England where he hoped he could visit his mother, whom he had left 7 years earlier. When he arrived in England, he found his mother had died from a broken heart earlier that year on May 12, 1887.
During the time Charles was studying LDS doctrines, he attended a meeting where a Church official presented a lecture on the Word of Wisdom which instructed people to refrain from tobacco and alcohol. Growing up in England, most people during that time smoked, including Charles. As he listened to the lesson on the Word of Wisdom, Charles made a resolution to give up smoking and no longer have it be a part of his life anymore. When telling this experience, Charles recalled how his cravings for tobacco lasted at least twenty years after that time of quitting. Sometimes the craving was so strong, he would wake up in the middle of the night craving a cigarette. Charles also owned a grocery store for part of those years. He would sell tobacco, pipes and rolling paper to the customers. Sometimes a little powder would fall on the counter and he would have a craving to put a little in his mouth, just to taste it. Instead, he brushed it off onto the floor and didn't give in to his temptation.
Charles told of another time when he had a ranch. He hired two men to help him build a fence and both men smoked. Charles told the men of his resolution and how he quit smoking years ago and convinced the two men they should quit too. They shook hands on their promise to one another and in order to follow through with their new resolution, they agreed to bury their pipe under one fence post, their tobacco under another and their paper and rolling supplies under a third post. The men finished their days' work and went to bed.
About midnight that night, Charles heard something going on in the house. He got up in time to hear the two men putting on shoes and clothes and watched them take off out to the fields to the fence they had built. Charles followed the 2 men to find them digging up fence posts in an attempt to find their tobacco and supplies. They eventually found them and sat down to have a smoke, ending their resolution. Charles joked with them, that they ought to have at least gone one day, reminding them he had gone years with those cravings, but had not given in.
His grandson Ortell Kingston states:
"He said after about twenty years... one day...."That craving was just gone." He didn't know why it left so fast, or why it took so long to leave. But he said, "it was just gone."
Charles married Mary Priscilla Lerwell Tucker on May 17, 1883 in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City. They had their first son, Charles William Kingston in Croyden, Utah on June 26, 1884. The two had 11 children, 10 of them surviving to adulthood. Their son Charles William Kingston and their daughter Betsy Vilate Kingston Owen both have descendants in the Co-op.
Charles went on to become a very prominent member of the LDS church in the Star Valley Stake in Wyoming. He served in a number of positions, including time as a member of the High Council and President of the Stake Young Men's Mutual Improvement Association. When the Woodruff Stake of the church was created in Uinta County, Wyoming, Charles served as counselor to John M. Baxter in the Stake Presidency. In June 1897, U.S. President William McKinley appointed Charles as the registrar of the U. S. Land Office at Evanston, Wyoming.
In 1899, as the registrar at Evanston, Charles talked with U.S. politician George T. Beck, Buffalo Bill, and various business entrepreneurs, offering them homestead settlements in the areas irrigated by the Bighorn Basin in Wyoming. Many of his activities prompted further Mormon settlements in the area.
Later in his life, Charles moved to Ogden, Utah, where he died on July 19, 1944.
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