Jacob Vernon Hamblin, Sr.

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Jacob Vernon Hamblin, Sr.

Birthdate:
Birthplace: Salem, Ashtabula County, Ohio, United States
Death: Died in Pleasanton, Catron County, New Mexico, United States
Place of Burial: Eagar Cemetery, Eagar, Apache County, Arizona, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Isaiah Hamblin and Daphne Hamblin
Husband of Lucinda Hamblin; Rachel Hamblin; Sarah Priscilla Hamblin; Betsy Jane Hamblin and Louisa Hamblin
Father of Duane Hamblin; Martha Adaline Crosby; Lyman Stoddard Hamblin; Maryette Magdaline Lockwood; Lois Hamblin and 20 others
Brother of Melissa Daphne Cooper; Emily Haynes Cooper; Olive Haynes Hamblin; Adeline Amerilla Hamblin Riggs; Obed Hamblin and 6 others

Occupation: LDS Seventy, missionary, farmer, stock raiser, diplomat, negotiator, translator, guide
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Jacob Vernon Hamblin, Sr.

Jacob Vernon Hamblin, Sr (1818 - 1886), son of Isaiah Hamblin and Daphne Haynes, was born 2 April 1819 at Salem, Ashtabula County, Ohio; he died at the age of 67 on 31 August 1886 at Pleasanton, Catron County, New Mexico, and was buried at Apache, Arizona. A devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jacob Vernon Hamblin was a Western pioneer, Mormon missionary, and diplomat to various Native American tribes of the Southwest and Great Basin. He is sometimes referred to as the "Buckskin Apostle".

Marriages and Children

  1. Lucinda Taylor (1823 - 1858), married 30 April 1839 Spring Prairie, Walworth County, Wisconsin; permanently separated by September 1849, although never legally divorced
    1. Duane Hamblin (1841 - 1862)
    2. Martha Adeline Hamblin (1842 - 1877)
    3. Magdaline Marietta Hamblin (1845 - 1910)
    4. Lyman Stoddard Hamblin (1848 - 1923)
  2. Rachel Judd (1821 - 1865), married 30 September 1849 Council Bluffs, Pottawattomie County, Illinois
    1. Lois Burke Hamblin (1851 - 1891)
    2. Albert Hamblin (1852 - 1863) - adopted Native American child
    3. Joseph Hamblin (1854 - 1924)
    4. Rachel Tamar Hamblin (1856 - 1878)
    5. Benjamin Hamblin (1858 - 1930)
    6. Ellen Hamblin (died 1885) - adopted Native American child
    7. Arimirida Hamblin (1861 - 1862)
  3. Sarah Priscilla Leavitt (1841 - 1927), married 11 September 1857 Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah Territory
    1. Sarah Olive Hamblin (1858 - 1919)
    2. Melissa Hamblin (1861 - 1933)
    3. Lucy Hamblin (1863 - 1871)
    4. Jacob Vernon Hamblin (1865 - 1939)
    5. Ella Ann Hamblin (1867 - 1947)
    6. Mary Elizabeth Hamblin (1872 - 1959)
    7. Clara Melvina Hamblin (1875 - 1959)
    8. Dudley Jabez Hamblin (1880 - 1958)
    9. Susan Hamblin (born 1883) - adopted Native American child
    10. Don Carlos Hamblin (1884 - 1941)
  4. Louisa Luise Bonelli (1843 - 1931), married 16 November 1865 Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah Territory
    1. Walter Eugene Hamblin (1866 - 1950)
    2. Inez Louise Hamblin (1871 - 1933)
    3. George Oscar Hamblin (1873 - 1946)
    4. Alice Edna Hamblin (1878 - 1902)
    5. Willard Otto Hamblin (born 1881)
    6. Amarilla Hamblin (1884 - 1982)

Biographical Sketch

In 1876 Brigham Young called Jacob Hamblin a "Special Apostle among the Lamanites", a title that truly defines the life of this great pioneer. For thirty years, Jacob worked tirelessly to improve relations between the Native Americans and the settlers in the southwest of the United States.

Family historian Elwin C. Nickerson explains, "Plymouth Colony was established in 1620. By 1675 pioneer settlers had clearly-established procedures for handling conflicts with Native Americans. The pioneer settlers, backed by a larger population and superior weapons, conquered and subjugated the native population. Two extremely different cultures became fearful of each other and communication broke down, resulting in armed conflict. This pattern held true until the end of the Indian Wars and the surrender of Geronimo in 1886. However, there is one great exception to the accepted practices of domination, massacre, and bloodshed. The exception was a missionary by the name of Jacob Hamblin."

Early Years

Jacob Vernon Hamblin was born 2 April 1819 in Salem, Ashtabula County, Ohio to a family of farmers. His parents, Isaiah and Daphne Hamblin, had eleven other children.

In late 1836 Jacob and his father went to Wisconsin Territory and homesteaded at Spring Prairie in Walworth County to make a new home for the family. They passed through Chicago, Illinois, on the way. It was then a small village.

Jacob wrote, "My father and I each made a claim on 80 acres of government land which was expected soon to come into the market. I was not yet of age and my father, wishing to return to Ohio for his family, proffered to give me the remainder of my time during the summer if I would take care of the crop already sown."

When he was nineteen, Jacob's father told him that he had been a faithful boy and that it was time for him to go into the world and do something for himself. Jacob then traveled more than a hundred miles west and went to work in the Galena mines. After working for a few months, he barely escaped a rock fall that killed his co-worker. The incident gave him an aversion to mining, and he never returned to the mines. Collecting his wages, he returned to Wisconsin and bought land.

Jacob married Lucinda Taylor, daughter of Daniel Taylor and Sarah McCrumbie, in Spring Prairie on 30 April 1839. Lucinda was born on 24 August 1823 at Chardon, Geauga County, Ohio. She and Jacob had four children together.

"What I Had Long Been Seeking"

Jacob was convinced that he would live out his life on their homestead. Jacob said about Spring Prairie, "It was the most delightful country I had ever seen. It was beautiful with rolling prairies, groves of timber, numerous springs of pure water, and an occasional lake abounding with fish." However, in February 1842 he attended a meeting where the LDS missionary Lyman Stoddard was preaching. “I shall never forget the feeling that came over me when I saw his face and heard his voice,” Jacob recorded in his journal. “He preached that which I had long been seeking for; I felt that it was indeed the gospel.” He joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on 3 March 1842. Jacob started missionary work almost immediately and became known as a faith healer, showing the signs of "those that believe," in his words.

"To Nauvoo"

The next year he moved the family to Nauvoo, Illinois, where the LDS church was headquartered. In 1844 Jacob was ordained as an elder in the quorum of Seventies and sent on political mission to Maryland.

After Joseph Smith's death that summer, Jacob became a supporter of Brigham Young for the leadership of the LDS Church. In his memoir, he wrote, "On the 8th of August, 1844, I attended a general meeting of the Saints. Elder Rigdon was there, urging his claims to the presidency of the Church. His voice did not sound like the voice of the true shepherd.

When he was about to call a vote of the congregation to sustain him as President of the Church, Elders Brigham Young, Parley P. Pratt and Heber C. Kimball stepped into the stand. Brigham Young told the congregation: "I will manage this voting for Elder Rigdon. He does not preside here. This child" (meaning himself) "will manage this flock for a season."

The voice and gestures of the man were those of the Prophet Joseph. The people, with few exceptions, visibly saw that the mantle of the Prophet Joseph Smith had fallen upon Brigham Young. To some it seemed as though Joseph again stood before them. I arose to my feet and said to a man sitting by me, "That is the voice of the true shepherd—the chief of the Apostles."

"I Have Tasted the Bitter"

He had the privilege of baptizing his parents in Illinois on the 11th of April, 1845. However, Jacob's baptism had been against the wishes of his wife. Lucinda tolerated Jacob's membership in the church, allowed herself to be baptized, and moved to Nauvoo with him, but was never a true convert herself. In 1849, when Jacob wanted to move west with the rest of the Mormon pioneers, Lucinda refused to go. They agreed to end their ten-year marriage, and Jacob took their four children with him.

"This Kind Affectionate Companion"

Eight months later he married Rachel Judd, of whom Jacob wrote, "I hav had pease at home or in my family ever cence I hav lived with this kind effction companion I hav tasted the bitter I know well how to apreciate the Sweet."

The daughter of Arza Judd (1798 - 1840) and Lucinda Abigail Adams (1799 - 1834), Rachel was born 15 September 1821 at Johnstown, Grenville County, Ontario, Canada. She and Jacob were married on 30 September 1849 at Council Bluffs, Pottawattomie County, Illlinois. They emigrated to Utah in 1850 with the Aaron Johnson Company.

There were 265 people and 100 wagons in the company that departed from the outfitting post at Kanesville, Iowa (present day Council Bluffs) about 8 June 1850. Jacob's family group included his four children from his marriage to Lucinda: Duane (age 9), Martha (age 6), Mariette (age 5), Lyman (age 2); his new wife, Rachel (age 28); his father, Isaiah (age 60), and his father's second wife, Lydia Emery Loron (age 50); and his five younger brothers, William (age 18), Oscar (age 17), Edwin (age 15), Francis (age 10), Frederick (age 9). They arrived in the Great Salt Lake Valley on 12 September 1850 after a grueling three-month journey across the plains.

Settling At Tooele

When they arrived in Utah, they were sent to settle in Tooele, a new settlement west of Salt Lake City. Jacob's first encounters with Native Americans came while his family lived in Tooele. On one such occasion a conflict arose in which Jacob tried to discharge his rifle but it wouldn't fire. Arrows shot by the Indians also grazed his clothes. Jacob surmised that there was divine intervention at work so he vowed that he would never shed the blood of an Indian.

At that time the Latter-day Saints had developed a policy of feeding the Indians to avoid fighting with them. However, the settlers barely had enough provisions for themselves—and giving food to the Indians proved to be a hardship. The settlers also found that their grain and livestock were often stolen.

"I Never Hurt You, and And I Do Not Want To"

To combat the increasing thievery, a military company was formed, with Jacob as a first lieutenant. “I asked for a company of men,” he relates, “to…hunt up the Indians…One morning at daybreak, we surrounded their camp…The chief among them sprang to his feet, and stepping towards me, said, ‘I never hurt you, and I do not want to. If you shoot, I will; if you do not, I will not.’ I was not familiar with their language, but I knew what he said. Such an influence came over me that I would not have killed one of them for all the cattle in Tooele Valley.”

"If Any Were Shot, I Should Be the First"

Jacob wanted some of the Indians to accompany his group back to the settlement. Afraid, but confident in his assurance of safety, they went. When they arrived, a superior officer decided to ignore Jacob’s promise and have the Indians shot. “I told him I did not care to live,” writes Jacob, “after I had seen the Indians whose safety I had guaranteed, murdered, and…if there were any shot I should be the first. At the same time I placed myself in front of the Indians. This ended the matter and they were set at liberty.”

"Called on Mission to Indians"

In 1854 Jacob was called as a missionary to the Paiute in southern Utah. After serving for more than a year, Hamblin moved his family from Tooele to what is now Santa Clara. Their first home in Santa Clara was destroyed by a flash flood. His wife saved one of their young children from drowning, but the child died soon after from exposure and Rachel never fully recovered. Swearing to avoid the risk of flood, Hamblin built their new home on a hill. Owned today by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, it is operated as a museum, where daily tours are given.

The Indians in the area were somewhat nomadic, wandering about in search of food. The settlers had scared their game away, they said, and the white man’s cattle ate the grasses, roots, and grains that the Indians depended upon for food. Since the land was theirs, they maintained they were entitled to part of the crops and cattle the settlers produced. The conflict led to a great deal of trouble.

But Jacob had much compassion for the Indians. He developed a great love for them and set about to help them improve their conditions. He and the other missionaries taught the Indians farming techniques so they would not suffer from hunger. “The patient and industrious Jacob Hamblin…may truly be designated ‘the Indians’ friend,’” wrote Thomas Brown, an early settler. “Under his industrious care, I doubt not they will soon be able to raise their own wheat, stock and other edibles, also cotton.”

A Letter From Brigham Young

In August 1857, Brigham Young made Hamblin president of the Santa Clara Indian Mission. Young directed Hamblin by letter to "continue the conciliatory policy towards the Indians which I have ever commended, and seek by works of righteousness to obtain their love and confidence. Omit promises where you are not sure you can fill them; and seek to unite the hearts of the brethren on that mission, and let all under your direction be united together in holy bonds of love and unity."

Young had become aware in July of an approaching United States army ordered to invade the Utah Territory to put down a supposed "rebellion" among the Mormons. Anticipating what would become known as the Utah War, Young urged Hamblin to "not permit the brethren to part with their guns and ammunition, but save them against the hour of need." He wrote to Hamblin that the Indians "must learn to help us or the United States will kill us both."

"Indian Business"

In late August, Hamblin traveled north to Salt Lake City with George A. Smith, who had been dispatched to the southern Mormon colonies to warn of the approaching US army and recommend against colonists' trading with non-Mormons then traveling through their territory. At Corn Creek near Fillmore, Utah, Smith, Hamblin, and Thales Haskell encountered the Baker-Fancher party, a wagon train of Arkansans en route to California. Hamblin suggested to them that they stop further south in the grassy Mountain Meadows, where he maintained a homestead at a traditional stopping point on the Old Spanish Trail from New Mexico to California.

Hamblin and his party continued on to Salt Lake City, where he stayed for roughly a week to "conduct Indian business and take a plural wife." [This plural wife was Sarah Priscilla Leavitt, married 11 September 1857 Salt Lake City] This "Indian business" included bringing a delegation of Southern Paiute to meet with LDS church leaders. In Salt Lake City, Hamblin reported that he was told that the Fanchers had "behaved badly" and had "robbed hen-roosts, and been guilty of other irregularities, and had used abusive language to those who had remonstrated with them. It was also reported that they threatened, when the army came into the north end of the Territory, to get a good outfit from the weaker settlements in the south."

Massacre At Mountain Meadows

On his way home, Hamblin was met by his adopted Indian son, Albert, who recounted the horror of the slaughter of the Baker-Fancher Party in the infamous Mountain Meadows massacre. He also met John D. Lee who was on his way to Salt Lake City. In both his autobiography and his testimony at Lee's second trial, Hamblin claimed that Lee admitted his role in the killings, although he placed the blame for the attack on the Paiutes.

As Hamblin continued south towards Santa Clara, he was told that a band of Paiutes was planning to attack a second wagon train, the Duke party. He hurried to prevent another slaughter, sending Samuel Knight and Dudley Leavitt to intervene. They overtook the train and were able to negotiate with the Paiutes so that the Indians took the Duke party's loose cattle (nearly 500 head) but left the train in peace. Knight and Leavitt continued with the company and saw it safely through to California. Hamblin was later able to return that stock to the Duke party after conferring with those Indians involved.

"Oh! Horrible indeed was the sight".

As they continued on their way home, Jacob and his new wife, Sarah Priscilla Leavitt, reached the site of the massacre. In her diary, Sarah recounts that although Hamblin warned her to not look, she peeked for a few seconds, which she always later regretted. Hamblin and a few other local men buried all the bodies.

The surviving children (either seventeen or twenty) were brought to the Hamblin home that night. Sarah cared for three of the children herself. Eventually, federal agents returned all the children to their Arkansas relatives. Brevet Major J. H. Carlton interviewed Albert, who gave a detailed account of what he witnessed. Later, he was found lying face down, dead in a cactus. Sarah wrote in her diary that she and Jacob believed that he was killed in order to prevent him from testifying at the trial.

Hamblin spent the rest of 1857 and early 1858 shepherding travelers on the trail to and from California.

Although Jacob was willing to testify to his knowledge of the Massacre; however, the new governor, Alfred Cumming, did not wish to discuss the matter for fear of jeopardizing the amnesty that the U.S. President had extended to the Mormons after the end of the Utah War. Hamblin did, however, testify in 1876 at John D. Lee's second trial for the massacre.

"He Is Our Father, Too"

Jacob worked steadily to win the trust and confidence of the Indians. He talked with them in their language, always spoke the truth, and honored all his promises. As a result, he had tremendous influence with them. In later years his personal code of ethics in dealing with the Indians was distributed to all missionaries and others who dealt with the Indians.

Professor A. H. Thompson of the US Geological survey once said, “I would trust my money, my life and my honor in the keeping of Jacob Hamblin, knowing all would be safe.”

His children learned from his example. One biographer records, “A son of Jacob Hamblin says that when he was a small boy his father called him one day and said, ‘Son, take this horse over to my friend, Chief Frank, and exchange the horse for some blankets.’” The boy, eager to prove himself a good trader, returned with an excessive number of blankets. Jacob, seeing the uneven trade, sent him to give back the excess blankets, “Whereupon the chief said, ‘I knew my friend Jacob would send you back; he is our father too.’”

Jacob continued to work mightily to keep peace between the Indians and the settlers, and to ensure the safety of the many emigration companies that were passing through the area. He had long been curious about a group of Indians called the Moquis. After receiving approval, he organized an expedition and left with a group of twelve men on 28 October 1858. They traveled southeast through Pipe Springs, crossed the Buckskin Mountain (Kaibab Plateau), and forded the Colorado River at the Crossing of the Fathers which is now under Lake Powell at Padre Bay. After a ten-day journey they arrived at an Indian village in northeastern Arizona.

"A Visit to the Hopi"

Upon their arrival at the village of Oraibi, he was told by the Hopis that it was prophesied that he and his companions would come and bring the Hopi knowledge which they formerly had. However, they were also told that the Hopi would not cross over the Colorado River to live with the Mormons until the three prophets which had led them to their mesas returned to give them further instructions. (see Hopi mythology)

After sending a report of their trip to Salt Lake City, Jacob received a letter from President Young. The letter told him to take a second expedition to the Moquis and “as soon as they become sufficiently familiar with our language, present to them the Book of Mormon and instruct them in regards to its history and the first principle of the Gospel.”

Jacob returned on several occasions to keep up good relations with the Hopis and the Navajos. In 1862, three Hopi men accompanied him to Salt Lake City to meet Brigham Young. In 1870 he brought a minor Hopi leader, Toova, and his wife across the Colorado River to visit the Mormon settlements in southern Utah. Tuba eventually joined the LDS church, and invited the Mormons to settle near his village of Moencopi where they founded Tuba City, named in honor of their Hopi friend.

"We Have Come To Kill You"

A family legend says that in November 1863 Jacob Hamblin had just left his home in Santa Clara to get supplies in nearby Cedar City, Utah, when two Indians rode up to the Hamblin home and angrily demanded, “Where is Jacob?”

When they learned he had gone to Cedar City, they dashed off in that direction with their horses. Overtaking Jacob, they called for him to stop. “We have come to kill you!” they called angrily.

For a few moments there was silence. Then Jacob climbed down from the wagon seat, looked at the Indians, and pulled his shirt open—as if to say, “Shoot, I am unarmed.”

The Indians stared a moment in silence. Then one muttered, “Can’t Jacob, you’ve got my heart.” They rode away.

"What Will They Do If I Am Taken Away?"

In 1864 a group of Indians made raids upon the settlers by the Colorado River. Jacob settled these difficulties and then made two more trips to the Moquis. His second trip extended into March of 1865; he was away from home when his wife, Rachel, died on 18 February 1865.

Six months later, on 16 November 1865, Jacob married Louisa Luise Bonelli, daughter of Hans George Konrad Bonelli (1798 - 1875) and Anna Barbara Maria Ammann (1806 - 1854). Born on 29 October 1843 at Winegarten, Switzerland, Louisa emigrated to Utah with the sixth handcart company, departing Missouri on 22 May 1857 and arriving in Salt Lake City on 12 September 1857. She and Jacob had six children.

In 1866 Jacob started out on another missionary expedition but became ill and turned back. He sent word to his family, and his wife came and took him home to Santa Clara. He remained in very poor health for a year—his friends believed he was dying. He relates that he was willing to die. But when he heard his little children crying around him, the question came into his mind, “What will they do if I am taken away? I could not bear the thought of leaving my family in so helpless a condition.” He asked for a blessing and afterwards felt a new desire for food. After this he made a slow recovery.

"Ever Their Brother"

After some settlers were murdered by Indians, Jacob was called to act as a guide and interpreter for a company of soldiers. In 1867 he was called to visit the Indians to the east of the Rio Virgin. “I had many long talks with them,” he relates, “which seemed to have a good effect. Although some of the bands were considered quite hostile and dangerous to visit, I felt that I was laboring for good, and had nothing to fear.”

Indeed, Jacob was fearless in the face of danger. For this quality he was much respected, especially among the Indians. He won the hearts of the Indians with his honest ways and remarkable courage. "On one occasion," wrote an associate, “Jacob Hamblin…was captured by the Indians, and was tied to a stake and faggots and other dry wood piled up around him. The purpose then being to fire same and finish him for all time. The Indians then danced about and uttered their war cries with the blood-curdling emphases, but could in nowise shake his inherent bravery, for he smiled and bade them finish the job. The Chief of the Indians was so astonished at his utter lack [of fear, that] they ever after proved themselves in many ways to be his friends and he ever their brother.”

Kanab Fort

Keeping a watch on the eastern frontiers of southern Utah often kept him away from Santa Clara and home, so Jacob decided to move his family closer to him. They moved to the unfinished fort at Kanab, Utah, in September of 1869. The time that Jacob spent in Kanab was highlighted by exploring the Colorado River, establishing trails in Southern Utah and of course keeping the peace among the Indians and settlers. Jacob continued to do much to settle disputes. He went to Kanab and helped the Paiutes plant corn and vegetables, and they held peace parleys.

When President Brigham Young visited the region in April 1870, he told Jacob to continue visiting the Indian camps, maintain peaceful relations, and prevent the shedding of blood. At that time Jacob was relieved of his previous responsibility of guarding the frontier.

“Although Jacob Hamblin generally carried a gun of some sort,” writes historian John Henry Evans, “his dependable weapon was prayer and the most absolute trust in God…He ate with the Indians, he slept with them, he talked their language, he prayed with them for the rains to save their crops…he thought their thoughts…till he knew more perhaps than any other American ever knew of the native, and exerted far more influence with them.”

"Your Talk Is Good"

A few months later, Major John W. Powell, director of the United States Geological Survey sought Jacob’s assistance as an interpreter and guide. On 19 September a peace council was held in the Mt. Trumball area. Major Powell related, “After supper, we hold a long council. A blazing fire is built, and around this we sit—the Indians living here, the shivwits, Jacob Hamblin and myself. This man, Hamblin, speaks their language well, and has a great influence over all the Indians in the region round about. He is a silent, reserved man, and when he speaks, it is in a slow, quiet way, that inspires great awe. His talk is so low that they must listen attentively to hear, and they sit around him in deathlike silence. When he finishes a measured sentence, the chief repeats it, and they all give a solemn grunt.”

Jacob explained to the council the reason for Major Powell’s visit, reassuring them that they meant no harm. He told them that the Indians should be friends and help Major Powell find water. The chief of the Shevwits responded, “Your talk is good and we believe what you say. We believe in Jacob and look upon him as a father. When you are hungry you may have our game … We will show you the springs, and you may drink; the water is good. We will be friends, and when you come we will be glad.”

"I Despise This Killing"

The Navajo nation always seemed to be aggravated by the actions of the white settlers. Major Powell, aware of the great abilities of Jacob as a peacemaker, asked him to accompany him to Fort Defiance. At that council Jacob spoke to the Navajos.

“I have now gray hairs on my head, and from my boyhood I have been on the frontiers, doing all I could to preserve peace between white men and Indians. I despise this killing, the shedding of blood. I hope you will stop this, and come and visit, and trade with our people.”

When Jacob finished speaking Barbenceta, the principal chief of the Navajos, stood up and walked over to Jacob. Tears started up in his eyes and he put his arms around him, saying: “My friend and brother, I will do all I can to bring about what you have advised.” A treaty was signed as the result of this council. This treaty opened up trade between the white settlers and the Navajos.

Tragedy at Grass Valley

Hamblin attributed much of his success with the Indians to his conviction that he "had received from the Lord an assurance that I should never fall by the hands of the Indians, if I did not thirst for their blood." Indeed, on many occasions, Hamblin dealt with hostile Indians by himself and carrying no weapon to defend himself. During one particularly trying period in 1874, three Navajos were shot by a member of the Butch Cassidy gang in central Utah. Hamblin had previously promised the Navajos they could safely trade with the Mormons in that area, and Mormons were falsely blamed for the killing.

Brigham Young sent word to Jacob to go immediately to the Navajos and explain that Latter-day Saints were not the perpetrators of the Grass Valley incident. Jacob was unable to find a single man willing to go with him on such a dangerous trip and was advised by many to stay home and prepare for war.

"I Determined to Trust the Lord"

“I left Kanab alone,” Jacob writes. “My son Joseph overtook me about fifteen miles out with a note from Bishop Levi Stewart, advising my return.”

Jacob, however, went on. Remaining overnight at Mowabby he received a second note from Bishop Stewart, saying he would surely be killed if he went on. But Jacob stoutly says of that occasion, “I felt that I had no time to lose... My life was of small moment compared with the lives of the Saints and the interests of the kingdom of God. I determined to trust the Lord and go on.”

On his journey Jacob met two brothers, the Smiths, who agreed to accompany him. Upon arriving, Jacob found that the young braves were determined on revenge, but the older ones agreed to talk. One of the Smith brothers related, “Into this lodge was crowded twenty-four Navajos, four of whom were Counselors of the Nation. The Council opened [the second day of talks] by the spokesman asserting that what Hamblin had said the previous night concerning the killing, was false…that Hamblin was a party to the killings.” The spokesman then recommended death by fire for Jacob. The Smith brothers would be free to leave after witnessing the torture.

"I Have Worked Many Moons For Peace"

Fully aware of the danger, Jacob “behaved with admirable coolness, not a muscle in his face quivered.” Then he spoke: “I have been acquainted with your people many years, and I have worked many moons to bring about peace…I hope you would not think of killing me for a wrong with which neither myself nor my people had anything to do.” He “challenged them to prove that he had ever deceived them; ever spoken with a forked tongue.”

After his words, which began to soften the feelings of the elder Indians, the wounded brave was brought in and his wounds were exposed. According to one of the Smith brothers, “The sight of the wounded brave roused their passions to the utmost fury…It seemed that our hour had come…It was a thrilling scene; the erect proud form of the young Chief as he stood pointing at the wound in the kneeling figure before him; the circle of crouching forms; their dusky and painted faces animated by every passion that hatred and ferocity could inspire, and their glistening eyes fixed with one malignant impulse upon us…

“The suspense was broken by a Navajo…who raised his voice in our behalf, and, after a stormy discussion, Hamblin finally compelled them to acknowledge that he had been their friend; that he had never lied to them, and that he was worthy of belief now.” The council finally adjourned after a tense eleven hours and let the case go before the arbitrator.

"Our Friends, The Mormons"

Jacob later said in his wry way, “For a few minutes I felt that if I were permitted to see friends and home again, I would appreciate the privilege.” At the closing of the investigation a month later, Chief Hastile said, “I am satisfied; I have gone far enough; I know our friends, the Mormons, are our true friends.”

At the end of 1874 Jacob was placed in charge of the Church’s livestock on the frontier and traded often with the now-peaceable Navajos. A happy event occurred on the last of March 1875 when nearly two hundred Indians were baptized.

During the winter of 1875–76, Jacob “had the privilege of remaining at home [in Kanab]. My family was destitute of many things. Some mining prospectors came along, and offered me five dollars a day to go with them, as protection against the Indians…It seemed like a special providence to provide necessities for my family, and I accepted the offer.”

"All the Blessings There Are"

He continued in his labors and met with Brigham Young in 1876. At this time President Young gave Jacob a blessing in which he was given special status as an emissary to the Indians. President Young said to him: “You have always kept the Church and Kingdom of God first and foremost in your mind…You can have all the blessings there are for any man in the temple.” Jacob says of this meeting, “The assurance that the Lord and his servants accepted my labors…has been a great comfort to me.” At this time he was fifty-seven years old.

Jacob moved his family to Milligan's Fort in northern Arizona in 1878. Their time in Milligan was filled with hardship because food was often scarce and there were always marauding Indians about.

Hamblin continued to serve as a missionary to the Native American tribes in the southern Utah area. Following enactment of Edmunds Act of 1882, an arrest order was issued naming Hamblin and others known to practice polygamy. He had four plural wives: Lucinda Taylor (married April 1839, separated February 1849); Rachel Judd (married 30 September 1849); Sarah Priscilla Leavitt (married September 1857); Louisa Boneli (married 16 November 1865). Hamblin moved his families from Utah into Arizona and New Mexico and some even moved into Chihuahua, Mexico; he was usually moving from one family to another to evade federal officers and see to the needs of his widespread family.

By 1883, Jacob was advanced in age but was still doing all he could to serve the Indians and his church. That year he was called to move his family again, this time to Pleasanton, New Mexico.

Jacob continued to visit Utah regularly to report on his labors in Arizona, and later in New Mexico, where he had moved in 1884. During one trip to Utah in 1885, Jacob met with Wilford Woodruff, who was president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. President Woodruff recognized Jacob’s unusual abilities with the Indians and wrote him a special certificate. The certificate called him to be a missionary among the Lamanites and gave him the right and authority to go into any part of the United States and Mexico to preach the gospel.

The next summer he paid a visit to the home of his son Lyman in Alpine, Arizona. While there he became ill. He felt better after two weeks and wanted to go home. On the way back, he and his grandson camped out in the rain in a leaky shelter. Jacob became soaked and suffered a relapse. They camped out another night, and when they arrived home—now Pleasanton, New Mexico—they found everyone ill with malaria.

After three days of illness he died, on 31 August 1886. His wife, the only one able to get out of bed, was assisted by some strangers in burying him. His body was later reinterred at Alpine, Arizona. On his gravestone are the words “Peacemaker In The Camps Of The Lamanites.”

Frederick S. Dellenbaugh, an explorer and member of the Powell Colorado River Expedition, said of him,

“Jacob was a remarkable character, and must hold a place in the annals of the Wilderness beside Jedediah Smith, Bridger…and the rest of that gallant band. But he differed in one respect from every one of them; he sought no pecuniary gain, working for the good of his chosen people…Jacob was one of the heroes of the Wilderness, and one of the last of his kind.”

Intelligent Equals

Hamblin's rules for dealing with the Indians:

  • I never talk anything but the truth to them
  • I think it useless to speak of things they cannot comprehend
  • I strive by all means to never let them see me in a passion
  • Under no circumstances show fear, thereby showing to them that I have a sound heart and a straight tongue
  • Never approach them in an austere manner nor use more words than are necessary to convey my ideas, not in a higher tone of voice than to be distinctly heard
  • Always listen to them when they wish to tell of their grievances, and redress their wrongs, however trifling they may be if possible. If I cannot, I let them know I have a desire to do so.
  • I never allow them to hear me use profane or obscene language or take any unbecoming course with them
  • I never submit to any unjust demands or submit to coercion under any circumstances, thereby showing them that I govern and am governed by the rule of right not by might.

Hamblin adds, “I believe if the rules that I have mentioned were observed there should be little difficulty on our frontier with the Red Man.”

Hamblin treated the Native Americans as intelligent equals. He said, "some people call the Indians superstitious. I admit the fact, but do not think that they are more so than many who call themselves civilized. There are few people who have not received superstitious traditions from their fathers. The more intelligent part of the Indians believe in one Great Father of all; also in evil influences, and in revelation and prophecy; and in many of their religious rites and ideas, I think they are quite as consistent as the Christian sects of the day."

Accomplishments

With accomplishments like these, why isn't Jacob Hamblin listed with the likes of Daniel Boone or Kit Carson? In the words of author Hartt Wixom, "Hamblin is little known outside his own Church and immediate region. One wonders why Hamblin's name appears in so few general histories and encyclopedias - even those focusing on Southwest Indian history. By contrast, one cannot escape seeing the name of say, Kit Carson, in any mention of Navajos or their neighboring tribes. And incredibly, although Hamblin easily had far more to do with the settlement of northern Arizona than any white man who ever lived, he is not even mentioned in dozens of extensive histories of that state!"

  • Traveled over 30,000 miles on horseback to preserve peace between whites and Indians in the southwestern United States
  • Discovered Lee's Ferry crossing on the Colorado River at the top end of Grand Canyon, and Pearce's Ferry 300 miles downstream. These were the only crossings of the Colorado in Arizona Territory for many decades.
  • First person known to encircle the Grand Canyon, a journey of over 600 miles
  • Safely escorted pioneers to Southern California following the Mountain Meadows Massacre in 1857
  • Trusted friend by thousands of Native Americans in the Grand Canyon region, visiting Navajos, Hopis, Havasupais, Hualipais, Mojoaves, Utes and Paiutes throughout the desert Southwest and helping to preserve peace
  • Accompanied Major John Wesley Powell to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in 1870, the first white men known to visit this area
  • Discovered and explored the Escalante River, the last major drainage to be mapped in what became the lower 48 states
  • Explored the San Francisco Mountains and the Little Colorado River Valley, and led the first wagons to settle Northern Arizona

Legacy

Jacob Lake, Arizona on the Kaibab Plateau north of the Grand Canyon is named after him, as is Jacob Hamblin Arch in Coyote Gulch and Hamblin Wash along the US Highway 89 in Northern Arizona.

His lasting legacy was as a missionary and friend to the Native Americans, helping smooth relations between them and the more recent arrivals to the land. Perhaps Hamblin's most amazing accomplishment is that he promoted a peaceful approach to problems at a time when shooting troublesome Indians was the norm. Believing that God had promised him protection if he never shed their blood, he traveled the most dangerous territory in America for 30 years without firing a shot, and often faced angry natives without a gun in sight.

Notes

Many sources list his middle name as Vernon, but this may be incorrect. Some sources insist that he had no middle name.

Some sources state that Jacob married a Paiute woman, Eliza (born in 1846), on 2 February 1863. Her surname was not recorded but LDS records assign her the surname "Lamenite" in accordance with LDS religious idealogy. There are no known children of this marriage (if it took place), but she may have helped raise Jacob's adopted Native American children.

Sources

  • Marlene Bateman Sullivan. “Friend and Brother”: Jacob Hamblin, Man of Peace . LDS.org. Ensign, Oct. 1984.
  • Todd M. Compton. "In & through the roughefist country it has ever been my lot to travel: Jacob Hamblin's 1858 Expedition Across Colorado". Utah Historical Quarterly (UHQ), Volume 80, Number 1 (Winter 2012). Pages 4-21
  • Todd M. Compton. "A Frontier Life: Jacob Hamblin, Explorer and Indian Missionary". University of Utah Press: 2013.
  • Pearson H. Corbett. "Jacob Hamblin Peacemaker". Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1952.
  • Lois Hamblin Golding and Delma Golding Johnson. "Our Golden Heritage: The Duane and Addie Noble Hamblin Family". Privately published, 1977.
  • James A. Little. Jacob Hamblin: A Narrative of his Personal Experience, As a Frontiersman, Missionary to the Indians and Explorer, Disclosing Interpositions of Providence, Severe Privations, Perilous Situations and Remarkable Escapes. Fifth Book of the Faith-Promoting Series. Juvenile Instructor Office, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1881.

Links

Note: Many of the section titles throughout this sketch are taken from Jacob Hamblin's diaries and journals. -------------------- Jacob Hamblin was a famious frountiersman who moved to the Gila Valley in the 1880's. He freighted regularly between Silver City, Gila Valley and Globe. He owned a farm in Emery, near Geronimo, Arizona.

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Jacob Vernon Hamblin, Sr.'s Timeline

1819
April 2, 1819
Salem, Ashtabula County, Ohio, United States
1841
January 11, 1841
Age 21
Walworth, Wisconsin, USA
1843
September 15, 1843
Age 24
Spring Prairie, Walworth, WI, USA
1848
March 11, 1848
Age 28
Bloomfield, IA, USA
1849
February 5, 1849
Age 29
Spring Prairie, Walworth County, Wisconsin, United States
September 30, 1849
Age 30
Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie County, Iowa, United States
1851
1851
Age 31
1857
September 11, 1857
Age 38
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah Territory, United States
September 11, 1857
Age 38
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah Territory, United States
1858
1858
Age 38