Selina Mary Boulton Nebeker

Selina was born in St. George’s Parish, Birmingham, Warwickshire, England on Dec. 8, 1855.  She was the second oldest of seven children born to John Boulton and Sarah Ann Baldwin, all of which were daughters, except for the second to the youngest, the only son.  John was a goldsmith—making gold cases, a trade he learned from his father.  The family resided at 440 Wellington Street in Birmingham at the time of Selina’s birth.

Her mother, Sarah Ann Baldwin, had been a member of the LDS Church for several years, but her father, John Boulton, had joined just prior to their marriage.  Most of the Baldwins, Sarah’s family, migrated to Utah with some of them departing at various intervals between 1849-1861.  This caused Sarah and John to begin thinking about sailing to America too. 

Economic conditions in England during the 1850s & 1860s were very difficult with high taxes and little work.  Everyone, including the Boultons, struggled. Eliza Boulton, Selina’s sister, just two years younger than herself, shared this story about their early school experience for the three oldest girls.  “I can well remember the first school I attended.  It was located across the street from our house.  I was just three years old and my sisters (including Selina, age 5) would carry me to and from school.  The school was conducted by an elderly woman in her home.  She charged two pence per week which was her only means of support.  Her bedroom was used for the classroom.  She would place two bricks deep on the floor and then place boards on the bricks to make seats for her pupils.  She had a rather large blackboard and many charts which she used in her teachings.  She was a good teacher and taught us how to read, write and to sing songs.”  

In 1868 (when Selina was only age 12) the Boultons decided to move their family to Utah.  It cost John 100 pounds to purchase passage for himself, his wife and their five daughters—half of which he had to pay in cash up-front.

They sailed on the SS Minnesota from Liverpool on June 30, 1868 heading for New York.  Steam ships had reduced the crossing time considerably, and they docked safely on July 13th, where they transferred to a train heading for the western end of the railroad line in Laramie, WY.  Brigham Young knew that over 500 English saints were coming and he sent wagons from Salt Lake to bring the immigrants to the Valley.  One wagon was provided for the possessions of every two families and anyone healthy enough to walk, did so.  It took almost a month for the wagon train to reach Salt Lake.  Their nice shoes wore out very quickly and they walked barefoot most of the way.

Leaving Laramie, the Boultons headed toward Casper, and then up the Sweetwater River, along Rocky Ridge, over South Pass, down toward Fort Bridger, through Echo Canyon and into the Valley.  By Sept. 1, 1868, the Boulton family reached Payson, Utah, where they determined to make their new home. 

Times were tough for the family.  They bought a town lot for 100 pounds of flour and a pound of tea.  John was an excellent gardener, but another grasshopper epidemic occurred that year, destroying their crops.  John hauled logs from the mountains to make a home.  There was not much need for a goldsmith in Payson, but John did odd jobs to earn some food.  There was no money.  Eliza tells of that Christmas in Utah: “Father worked and received molasses for his pay.  Our first Christmas dinner in Payson consisted of bread and molasses, baked potatoes and salt.” 

Also in the town of Payson lived the Henry & Ann Nebeker family.  Their oldest son, William Henry Havens-Nebeker couldn’t help but notice the lovely new young English girl, Selina, and they began courting.  William was 29 years old and Selina was about a month short of her 15th birthday when they married in Payson on Oct. 31, 1870.  One year later, they went to the Endowment House in Salt Lake and were sealed by the Apostle, Joseph F. Smith on 30 Oct. 1871

Selina and William lived for a time in Payson, where their first two children were born—William Henry in 1873 and Sarah Ann in 1875.  In 1877 they bought a home on the western edge of Salem, UT.  This was a small log house where they raised a subsistence garden to feed themselves.  Their next two children were born after purchasing this home, but in both cases, Selina went home to Payson to bare—John Halmagh in 1877 and David Bert in 1879. 

1882 was an important year for the Nebeker family.  Times were difficult, food was scarce and sickness was common.  Two of the young Nebeker children perished—6 year old Sarah died in January, and 2 year-old David in March.  Selina was also experiencing morning sickness as she was awaiting the arrival of her fifth child, Joseph Wiley Nebeker—born June 8, 1882.  He was the first one to actually be born in their Salem home.  Over the next seventeen years Selina bore seven more children, three of whom died, either at birth, or before turning eight. 

The Salem farm was not very productive and the struggling family was hungry most of the time.  Their son, Wiley, said that, had it not been for his Uncle Ammon Nebeker bringing them a sack of potatoes, they would have starved to death. 

By 1903, some of her older boys had found good farms in Clark, Idaho, near Rigby, and asked their parents to sell their 5-acre farm in Salem and move to Idaho.  They did so, and remained there for the rest of their lives.  William died on June 15, 1916, and Selina on Feb. 24, 1934.  Both were buried near Rigby.

After her husband’s death, Selina made two trips to Oregon.  Her grandchildren remembered that she came, at her son Wiley’s invitation, in about 1918, to see him and meet his wife and children; and again in 1920, to attend Wiley’s funeral.

  The story presented above is a brief summary of information provided by

Larry E. Hibbert

in his book:

The David Baldwin and John Boulton Families of Birmingham, England,

privately printed by Ricks College Press, Rexburg, Idaho, 1990.


William Henry Havens-Nebeker and Selina Mary BoultonNebeker         

Grave of Selina Mary Boulton Nebeker

In Clark, Idaho -- near Rigby, Idaho

Selina Mary Boulton Nebeker and William Henry Havens-Nebeker at home in Clark, Idaho about 1910


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