About John William Hess
John W. Hess (1824-1903), president of the Davis Stake, is the son of Jacob Hess and Elizabeth Foutz, and was born Aug. 24, 1824, in Franklin county, Penn. In 1832 his father's family moved to Richland county, where he, together with his father, mother and elder sister, were baptized by Bishop David Evans, about 1834. His father then moved to Ray county, Mo., where the family passed through all the persecutions of those days, and was finally expelled from the State with the rest of the Saints. John W. Hess was ordained a Seventy in the city of Nauvoo in 1841 and became a member of the 22nd quorum. He assisted in building the Nauvoo Temple and received his endowments therein. He was an orderly sergeant in the Nauvoo Legion and was on guard just prior to the Prophet's martyrdom. In the spring of 1846 he left for the Rocky Mountains together with the other exiled Saints. July 16, 1846, he enlisted in the famous Mormon Battalion in company E, and marched toward Mexico in defense of his country's flag. He served till July 29, 1847, when he was mustered out in Salt Lake City. In March, 1855, he was called, ordained, and set apart to preside as Bishop of Farmington Ward by Pres. Brigham Young, in which office he faithfully served till 1882, when he was called by Pres. John Taylor to act as first counselor to Wm. R. Smith, President of the Davis State. March 4, 1894, he was set apart as President of the Davis Stake by Apostle Franklin D. Richards, which position he has filled ever since. Feb 8, 1900 he was ordained a Patriarch by Apostle Francis M. Lyman. Elder Hess commanded the Davis county military district as colonel from its organization till it was disbanded. Pres. Hess is the husband of seven wives and the father of 62 children, fifty of whom are living. He has at the present writing 250 grandchildren and 40 great-grandchildren.
SOURCE: Latter-Day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia; Andrew Jenson;Vol. 1, Page 463
THE FAMILY RECORD OF JOHN W. HESS
My father, Jacob Hess, was born in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, on the 21st day of May, A.D. 1792.
In 1816 he married Elizabeth Foutz, my mother, who was born in Washington Township in above State and County, on June 4 or 22, 1797. [Elizabeth Foutz is the daughter of John Foutz Sr. (1768-1803) and Elizabeth Hinkle (1771-?), and the sister of Jacob Foutz (1800-1848) and the aunt of Susan Foutz Brown 1823-1842 (married Captain James Brown) and Nancy Ann Foutz Brown 1826-1896 (married John Martin Brown I). ]
The names of Jacob Hess and Elizabeth Foutz Hess children are as follows:
- Catherine Hess, born in Franklin Co,. Pa. 10 Sept. 1817.
- Polly Hess, born in Franklin Co,. Pa. 27 June 1819.
- Mary Ann Hess, born in Franklin Co., Pa. 11 Aug. 1821.
- John W. Hess, born in Franklin Co., Pa. 24 Aug. 1824.
- Sarah Hess, born in Franklin Co., Pa. 22 Feb. 1827.
- Ann Elizabeth Hess, born in Franklin Co., Pa. 24 Mar. 1829.
- Christina Hess, born in Franklin Co., Pa. 11 May 1831.
- Harriet Hess, born in Richland Co., Ohio, 18 Aug. 1833.
- Lydia Ann Hess, born in Richland Co., Ohio, 24 July, 1835.
- David Hess, born in Ray County, Mo., 18 Feb. 1837.
- Alma Hess, born in Ray County, Mo., 03 June 1839.
- Emma Elizabeth Hess, born in Adams County, Ill., 17 May, 1841.
I, John W. Hess, was born in Franklin county, Pennsylvania, August 24, 1824. In 1832 my father moved to Richland County, Ohio, and located on a piece of heavy timber land, cleared the ground, and opened a small farm, and the prospects for a better living were quite flattering, considering the many difficulties consequent to a new country.
In March 1834, my father, mother, three eldest sisters [Catherine Hess, Polly Hess, Mary Ann Hess], and myself were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; previous to this we lived in peace with our neighbors, but soon after we were baptized our neighbors began to speak evil of, and persecute us in various ways.
About May 1, 1836, my father and his family moved to the State of Missouri and settled in Ray county of that State, near Pomeroy's Ferry, of Richmond Landing, on the Missouri River, where we lied on a farm which we rented of John Arbuckle, until the expulsion of the Saints from Caldwell County, when with them we removed to the state of Illinois and settled in Hancock County of that State. Here my father again settled on a piece of wild land, and in our extreme poverty we began to open a farm, and after much privation and toil we succeeded in getting a comfortable home.
The many years of labor and hardships that my father had passed through caused his health to fail, and as I* was the only boy in the family, the greater part of the labor devolved on me.
In the Autumn of 1838, Joseph the Prophet and others came to my father's house near the Richmond Landing and stayed there thirteen days. Father was the only Mormon in that part of the country. At that time Joseph was studying Greek and Latin. When he got tired of studying, he would go and play with the children in their games about the house, to give him exercise. Then he would go back to his studies. I was a boy then about fourteen years old. He used to take me upon his knee and caress me as he would a little child. I relate this to show the kindness and simplicity of his nature. I never saw another man like Joseph. There was something heavenly & angelic in his looks that I never witnessed in the countenance of any other person.
During his short stay I became very much attached to him, and learned to love him more dearly than any other person I ever met, my father and mother not excepted. The next time I saw the Prophet was at Richmond Court House, in chains after the surrender of Far West. I used to walk six miles every day to see him during his stay in the Richmond Jail. Although a boy of about fourteen years, I became convinced beyond doubt that he was a prophet of God, and that testimony has never left me. --The Juvenile Instructor, XXVI, 15 May 1892, Pages 302-303.
Upon one occasion in 1838, John Hess heard some of the brethren talking of the strength they felt they possessed in resisting temptation, and he never forgot what the Prophet said to them; it was: "Brethren, if you get onto the Devil's ground, he will handle you! Keep away from him, the farther the better!" When the Prophet went away from the home he had found with Father Hess, you would have thought there had been a funeral in the family, the children all loved him so! This is as Elder Hess remembered those days and events. --The Improvement Era, Vol V pg. 943.
In the meantime I had bought forty acres of land for myself and had made some improvement during the fall of 1844, and during the spring and summer of 1845 I was putting up a hewed log house, while the mobs were burning the Saints' possessions in Morley's Settlement, near Lima, in Hancock County. But I continued to labor with my might until the violence of the mob was so great that we did not feel safe in remaining on our farm longer; so we moved to the City of Nauvoo and occupied a part of the house belonging to Bishop Foutz, my mother's brother. We had left most of our supplies on the farm at Bear Creek, and before we had time to get them away, they were destroyed by the mob, and we were again left almost destitute.
In November, 1845, my father was stricken down with the shock of paralysis and lost the use of one side, which rendered him entirely helpless. In the meantime I married Emeline Bigler, who was born in Harrison County, Virginia, 20 Aug. 1824. At this time the word went forth among the people that the Church would leave Nauvoo in the spring. One may well imagine the situation we were in, to start on such a journey, when we had been robbed of nearly all of our belongings, and my poor father lying helpless in bed, but it being the only alternative to get away from the fury of the mob, I began to gather up what I had and commenced to get together an outfit, and the best I could do was rig up two old wagons and two yoke of oxen, one of which was my own personal property. I arranged one of these wagons with a bed cord for my father to lie upon, as he could not sit up. It took one entire wagon for his convenience, and then it was poor enough. This left one wagon to be drawn by one yoke of oxen to carry the outfit for the entire family - eight in number - while everyone had to walk every step of the way, rain or shine. But notwithstanding all these difficulties, we fixed up the best we could and on the 3rd day of April, 1846, we started, crossed the Mississippi River, and camped on the Iowa side the first night, in a drenching rain.
April 4th 1846 We started on the wearisome journey, but with our heavy loads and the incessant rains that continued to fall, our progress was very slow, the best we could do we could only travel from five to eight miles per day. As my father occupied one of the wagons, the rest of the family had no shelter only what they could get by crawling under the wagons, and much of the time we were obligated to cut brush to lay on the ground to keep our beds out of the water. Women and children walked through the mud and water and wet grass and waded many of the streams so that their clothes were never dry on them for weeks and months until we reached the place called Mt. Pisgah, in the western part of Iowa. Here advance companies of the Pioneers had planted corn and vegetables for the benefit of those who should come afterwards.We concluded to stop at this place for a time as our limited supplies were about exhausted and my father was so much worse that it was impossible to go any further, so we constructed a temporary shelter of bark which we pealed from the elm trees that grew in the vicinity, this was about the 15th of June, 1846.
CALL FOR THE MORMON BATTALION
Word had gone out that President Young would fit out a company to go to the Rocky Mountains that season to locate a settlement and put in grain the next season for the benefit of themselves and those that would come the following season.
Seeing that I could do nothing where I was, I concluded to take my own team and what I had, and go to Council Bluffs, 130 miles distance, where the Church Authorities were then stopping. So I made my father's family as comfortable as I could with the limited facilities I was in possession of, and taking my wife and my own team and little outfit, bade the rest of the family goodbye and started, traveling in Henry W. Miller's Company.
We were overtaken one evening about dark by Captain Allen, who was accompanied by a guard of five dragoons of the regular United States Army, all of whom camped with us for the night. The object of their visit soon became apparent by questions asked by them: viz., that they were sent to see if the Mormon" people could and would respond to a call for five hundred men to help fight the battles of the United States against Mexico. This indeed was unexpected news, while the people of the State of Illinois had driven us out, and while we were scattered on the prairie of western Iowa with nothing, in many instances, but the canopy of heaven for a covering, to be called on under these circumstance for 500 of the strength of the camps of Israel, seemed cruel and unjust indeed, but such was the case, notwithstanding.
We arrived at Council Bluffs about the tenth day of July and found that four companies had been enlisted and organized. I was advised by George A. Smith and others to enlist, and after considering the matter, I concluded to do so, and was enlisted in Company "E", Captain [commanding]. My wife, Emeline, also enlisted, as the Government had provided for four women to each company of 100 men to go as laundresses.
I left my [parents,] team and wagon and little outfit with my brother-in-law, Daniel A. Miller, to be brought on the next year, as the Government had provided two six-mule-teams to each company. I was solicited to drive one team, and for the comfort and convenience of my wife I consented to do so, and many times I was thankful that I had done so, as these teams had to haul the camp equipment which consisted of tents, tent poles, camp kettles, etc., which filled the wagons up to the bows, and the women would have to crawl in as best they could and lie in that position until we stopped for camp. And as I had the management of the loading, I could make the situation a little more comfortable for my wife. For this and other reasons that I will not mention, I was glad that I was a teamster.
About the 20th day of July, we took up our line of march for Fort Leavenworth. About this time I heard of my father's death, which took place on the 22nd day of June, 1846, at the place I had left him. Inasmuch as he could not recover, I was thankful to God that he had relieved him of his suffering, although, it was a dark hour for my poor mother to be left in such a desolate and sickly place without her natural protector, and with four small children and nothing to live on.
In due time we arrived in Fort Leavenworth, where we received our outfit of clothing, provisions, arms and ammunition. We remained here about two weeks, after which we started on our march to Santa Fe, a distance of one thousand miles, a very tedious march, to be performed on foot. We traveled much of the distance with very little water & grass, with dry buffalo chips for fuel. We passed over one desert eighty miles across; the only means of carrying water was in canteens holding two quarts each, one of which was carried by each man. A great many of the men gave out by the way and had to be helped out by others, the stronger carrying the water back to their comrades.
Finally we reached Santa Fe. During this time General Kearney was fighting the Mexicans in Upper California and was about to be over-powered by them, so he sent an express to Santa Fe to have the men of the Battalion inspected by the doctor and all able-bodied men fitted out and put on a forced march to go to his relief, and all the sick and disabled and all the women to be sent back.
Then came one of the greatest tests of my life. It happened in this way. I had been a teamster all the way and had proved that I could take good care of a team and was a careful driver, and as Captain Davis had his family with him, and his own private team, he wanted me to drive it for him, but [his] intentions were to send my wife back with the detachment of sick men. This I could not consent to and retain my manhood. I remonstrated with Captain Davis, but to no purpose. I could not make any impression on him. I told him I would gladly go and drive the team if he would let my wife go along, but he said there was no room in the wagon. Then I told him that I would not go and leave my wife! I would die first! This was a bold assertion for a Private to make to his Captain, but the emergency seemed to demand it. There were many others in the command who were in the same situation that I was, who had their wives with them and wanted to go back with them but had not the courage to make a fuss about it.
By this time I had done all that I could with the officers of the Battalion, but they either could not or would not do anything for me, so I resolved to go and see General Doniphan, the Commander of the Post. I asked John Steel to go with me, he being in the same situation as myself. We went to the Colonel's Quarters, found the Orderly at the door, asked permission to see the Colonel, and with our hats under our arms we entered the Colonel's Quarters and called his attention to our business. He informed us in a very stern manner that it was reported to him that the men who had women there wanted to go on and let their women go back, and in accordance therewith, provisions had been drawn for the Battalion and for the Detachment, and there could be no change made. I told him that we had not been consulted in the matter; he told us to leave the Quarters, gruffly remarking that he had left his wife. I thought I would venture one more remark, which was, "Colonel! I suppose you left your wife with her friends, while we are required to leave ours in our enemy's country, in care of a lot of sick, demoralized men." This seemed to touch a sympathetic cord; he called very sharply, "Orderly! Orderly! Go up to the command and bring Adjutant George P. Dykes." I whispered to Steel, "The spell is broken; let's go."
In a short time Adjutant Dykes returned to the Command and climbing upon the top of the hind wheel of a wagon, shouted at the top of his voice: "Oh! Oh! All you men who have wives here can go back with them. I have seen men going about crying enough to melt the heart of a crocodile, so I went to the Colonel and had it arranged." I said, "You hypocritical liar; you will take the credit that belongs to others." This remark he did not hear, but, however, the object was accomplished, and in a short time the Battalion was on the move west, and the Detachment on the move east by northeast.
The Detachment was composed of all the men who had become disabled through the long march which they had performed on foot. Their outfit of teams was composed of given-out broken-down oxen that had been used in freighting supplies of the Government across the plains, and were not fit for any kind of efficient service, so they compared very well with the majority of the men. Our rations or provisions, were very good in quality, but very short as to the quantity, the Post of Santa Fe being very short of provisions at that time. After we had gotten on the move, we found we had only three-fourths rations of flour, and everything else in proportion, such as beans, sugar, coffee, pork and rice, with the difficulties mentioned above, together with the fact that we were only allowed the time to reach Fort Bent that a lot of able bodied men would be allowed to make the same journey in. Our slow traveling soon put us on half-rations, as eight miles per day was the best we could do. We had a lot of beef cattle, but they compared favorably with the rest of the outfit, so poor that many of them gave out by the way; great economy had to be used by killing the poorest first; the reader can imagine what the quality of the beef was.
As usual, on the march I had charge of a team, but instead of a six-mule-team it was a team of four yoke of poor oxen, quite a contrast. Our progress being so slow that we were put on quarter-rations in order to make them hold out until we should reach Fort Bent. It seemed as if we had gone about as far as we could go, when one morning, after the guard had driven the oxen into camp, it was found that there were thirty head of stray oxen in the herd, all of them in good condition. Captain Brown gave orders to distribute them in the teams of the Detachment, and with this addition of strength to our teams, we got along fine. About noon, however, there came into our camp, two men on horseback inquiring for the stray oxen. Captain Brown told them that if they had any cattle in his company, they could take them out. They replied that each teamster only knew his own team. After examining our teams they claimed and took but four of the thirty stray oxen. This still left us with thirteen yoke of fresh cattle, which we considered a divine interposition of the kind hand of God in our behalf, as it seemed about the only chance for deliverance from starvation.
In due time we reached Fort Bent and exchanged our dilapidated outfit for a new one, with a full supply of rations for the winter, which seemed to put an end to all our troubles. We moved up the Arkansas River seventy-five miles to a place called Pueblo, where we put up houses for the winter. These houses were constructed of cottonwood logs split in halves and the pieces all joined together in the form of a stockade. Here we passed the winter drilling and hunting and having a good time generally.
It was then about seven months since we had received any pay, so Captain Brown concluded to go to Santa Fe with the payroll of the Detachment and draw our wages. He took a guard of ten men, of which I was one of them. We started about the last day of February, and had a high range of mountains to cross, called the Rattoon range. We encountered a great deal of snow, at times we had to tramp the snow for miles so our pack animals could walk over it, but in due time we arrived at Santa Fe. The money was drawn, and we started on our return trip, got back to our quarters at Pueblo about the first of April, and found spring weather. We began at once to prepare for our march.
About the 15th of April, 1847, we started due north for Fort Laramie, three hundred miles distant, on the California road, at which place we expected to find or hear of the Pioneer Company that was expected to fit out and go to find a location for the Saints. On our way we were met by Amasa Lyman and others who had come from the Pioneer's Camp. This was indeed a happy meeting, and to get news of our loved ones greatly relieved our anxieties, as we then learned that the Camp was ahead of us, led by President Brigham Young, and he led by revelation. So we pushed on with fresh courage and finally struck their trail about two weeks ahead of us. We followed their trail, but did not overtake them as we expected to. The pioneers reached Salt Lake Valley July 24th and the Detachment on the 27th of July, 1847. On that same day we were discharged from the service of the United States, and I became a free man once more.
I feel that the year's service described above, is one of the noblest and grandest acts of my life, for the reason that Israel was on the alter of sacrifice, and the "Mormon Battalion", of which I was a member, went as the "Ram in the Thicket", and Israel was saved.
CIVILIAN LIFE RESUMED
I was now in a country that was untried, and one thousand miles from where any supplies could be obtained. I had only the outfit of a discharged soldier, which consisted of a small tent, a sheet-iron camp kettle, a mess pan, two tin plates, two spoons, two knives and forks, a pair of blankets badly worn, two old quilts, ten pounds of flour, and my dear precious wife Emeline, who had been with me through all of the trials and hardships and had endured them all without a murmur. God bless her memory, had it not been for her noble spirit to comfort me, I think many times I should have almost despaired, because of the gloomy outlook. I concluded a faint heart would not buy baby frock (altho we were not blessed with one at that time) and began to get out house logs to put up a shelter for the winter.
I went in partners with Jim Bevan and put up a whip saw-pit, and began to turn out lumber, and as there was none except what was sawed by hand, I found ready sale for mine as fast as I could make it, which was slow, one hundred feet being all we could turn out in a day. In this way I managed to recruit our indigent circumstances and was able to get a little bread-stuff, corn meal at twelve and one half cents a pound and flour at twenty-five cents a pound.
We got along all right during the winter. In the spring we moved out on Mill Creek, and I began to put in what seed-grain I had, which was very limited; this, of course, cut off the bread supply. Then began our want for food. Through the winter we dug what we called "Thistle Roots", but by this time they began to leaf out, which spoiled the root. We then resorted to the tops, gathered and cooked in salt and water. This with some buttermilk, (which I begged of Jim Brinkerhoff and carried one and a half miles), was all we had to eat for two months.
During this time another very discouraging circumstance took place; the crickets made their appearance in countless numbers and attacked our grain crops. We fought them until we found that we were about to be over-powered, when very providentially, the seagulls came and completely devoured the crickets, so the balance of our crops matured, and our pending starvation was averted.
On the 9th day of September, 1848, I started back to Council Bluffs after my mother and her children (whom I had left at Pisgah), as they had no means to come out with. I arrived at Council Bluffs of the 2nd day of November, rested a few days, and then continued my journey to Pisgah, one hundred and thirty miles distant, where I found my mother and her family all alive and well. It was a joyful meeting. I stopped with them a few days to arrange for the move in the spring then went back to the Bluffs to try to get work for the winter, as I was very short of means to accomplish so great an undertaking. I engaged to work for Apostle Orson Hyde for twenty dollars a month. I worked one month, and then the weather got so severe that out-door work stopped, then I was out of employment for the rest of the winter.
In the spring I took all the means I had and bought with it a wagon and a yoke of oxen, hitched them up and went down to Pisgah to bring Mother's family as far as the "Bluffs, not knowing where the rest of the outfit would come from; but another interposition of kind Providence, when I got back I found the country swarming with emigrants on their way to the gold fields of California. On finding that I had come over the road, they hired me for a guide giving me Two Hundred Dollars in cash in advance. This was truly a blessing from the Lord that I had not thought of. I was now enabled to get the rest of my outfit.
About the 15th day of April, 1849, we started, but a difficulty soon made its appearance that my emigrant friends had not thought of. They had horse teams with light loads, while I had an ox team with a heavy load, so that I could not travel as fast or as far in a day as they could. They would put me in the lead, and I would urge my team on and make as far as I could to try and give them satisfaction. I kept this up until they saw that my oxen were beginning to fail and would soon give out, then they went on and left me. They served me a trick that the devil never did, but I felt quite relieved, as I could then travel to suit myself, which I did, taking time to hunt the best feed, and my team soon began to recruit.
On the 27th day of July, I again arrived in Salt Lake Valley, having accomplished one more magnanimous act by bringing my dear mother and her four children to the home of the Saints. I found my dear wife Emeline well, and with her first child in her arms, which had been born 06 January 1848, while I was away. This was indeed a happy meeting, because I had been absent for eleven months.
While I was away, the land I had the year before was given to another party, so I went north to a place afterwards called Farmington and located there. In the meantime, Daniel A. Miller came out and brought my team and wagon with its contents, which I had left with him two years before when I went into the Battalion. With this and the outfit which I had brought with me, I felt quite well fixed to what I had been.
As it was the council for the people to settle close together for mutual protection, I could only get twenty acres of land; but bought more afterwards, as opportunity would afford.
On the 30th day of March 1852, I married Emily Card (No. 2), who was born in the State of Maine, 27 Sept. 1831. She was the mother of ten children.
In March, 1855 I was ordained a Bishop by President Brigham Young, and set apart to preside over the Farmington Ward, and presided over said ward twenty-seven successive years.
On the 16th day of November, 1856, I married Julia Pederson (No. 3), who was born in Norway, 29 Sept. 1837. She is the mother of four children.
In March, 1857, I married Mary Ann Steed (No. 4), who was born in England 27 Nov. 1837. She is the mother of ten children. In 1858, I was elected to the Utah Legislature; was elected again in 1860 for two years, or two terms.
On the 31st day of January, 1862, my much beloved wife Emeline died of premature child birth. This was one of the greatest trials of my life, as she was the wife of my youth and had been through all of our poverty and trials of life which we had passed through. She died as she had lived, a faithful, wife, a devoted mother, and a true Latter-Day Saint. She was the mother of ten children.
On the 25th day of April, 1862, I married Caroline Workman (No. 5), who was born in the State of Tennessee, 28 March 1846. She is the mother of ten children.
On the 30th day of May 1868, I married Sarah Lovina Miller (No. 6), who was born in Farmington, Utah, 24 June 1850. She is the mother of nine children.
On the 4th day of August, 1872, my beloved wife Emily Card died after giving birth to her tenth child. This was another great trial to me, and to have a lot of little children left without a mother. She died as she had lived, a kind mother, a dutiful wife, and a faithful Latter-Day Saint.
On the 28th day of July, 1875, I married Frances Marion Bigler (No. 7), who was born in Farmington, Utah, 22 October 1859. She is the mother of eleven children. About this time (1875), President Young called me to a mission with some Lamanites located at Washakie, in the northern part of Box Elder County. I have been engaged more or less ever since in directing that people. In 1876, I was re-elected to the Utah Legislature. I was a Colonel, commanding the Militia of Davis County for many years, but when Governor Harding issued his famous proclamation making it an offense to bear arms, I was relieved from that responsibility.
John Wells Hess 1824-1903
On June 17, 1877 at a Special Conference in Farmington, Utah to organize a Stake in Davis County, Brigham Young gave Bishop John W. Hess and the other men who were called to Bishops in that Stake this advice: "To the now acting Bishops, who will be ordained Bishops, as well as to brother Hess, who I believe is the only ordained Bishop in the country, I will say that you will now be required to look after your several Wards more assiduously than heretofore; see that Teachers are diligent in the performance of their duties, and that all difficulties that may arise among the brethren of the Ward be settled, if possible, by the Teachers; and also see that all who claim membership in this Church observe the moral law of our religion. We shall not expect to hear of people breaking the Sabbath, and a hundred other things all of which are inconsistent with our holy callings, and opposed to the accomplishment of the work that the Father has given us to do. You are called upon now to make yourselves familiar with the revelations and commandments that have been given us of the Lord for our perfection, for our sanctification preparatory to our exaltation, and so live that our acts and conversations may conform to the same. We expect to see a radical change, a reformation, in the midst of this people, so that, when the proper authorities shall call upon you to do thus and so, every one may be found willing and ready to respond, placing himself, with all he commands, for the up building of the kingdom of God. This is in accordance with a revelation given to this Church before the law of Tithing was revealed; but in consequence of unbelief and imperfection on the part of the people it was not observed, and hence a law more adapted to their condition was given, namely, that of Tithing. You are called upon now to improve your ways, to seek with all earnestness for an increase of faith that you may live according to the higher laws, which is your privilege to do, and which is so necessary for our peace and comfort and for the good order of society and for the salvation of the Latter day Saints. We shall look for this change, and I do not think we shall be disappointed; if at all, I believe it will prove a happy disappointment to all Israel, because of the great reformation that will be effected among the Latter day Saints." --Journal of Discourses, Vol. 19, pages 43 and 44. Inserted By Charles P. Hess 09 Sept. 1998
September, 1882, I was called by President John Taylor and set apart to be the First Councilor to the President of the Davis Stake of Zion, which had been previously organized.
On the 17th day of March, 1885, the people of Farmington prepared a feast for me at Social Hall to manifest their kindly feelings and a proper appreciation of the long and faithful labor that I had performed during the twenty-seven years of my Bishopric. In this feast nearly the entire ward participated. As a token of the good feeling of the people, I was presented with a bust of President Young and a set of books, the Church Works. The evening was spent in speaking, toasts, and dancing.
November 20, 1869. Today I started a mission to the place of my birth, Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Took the Union Pacific cars at Uintah, Weber County, Utah; started at 2 P.M. and traveled over much of the road at a rapid rate; much of it I had traveled twice before--once with pack mules and once with an ox team. The present mode of travel compared with pack animals or ox teams, seemed a very great contrast--a very great improvement. The railroad runs over much of the route that we traveled in coming to this country, and gave ample opportunity to reflect upon the hardships we endured in the slow progress we made, fifteen miles per day on an average being all that we could do, in many instances. In gliding so rapidly and easily over many places that I could remember that I had passed in the depths of poverty, with lean almost given out animals, when I looked on such places and in my mind made the contrast between the two circumstances, I could but exclaim, "Oh, the goodness of our God!" and shed many a tear of joy and gratitude to the Lord for his mercy to me.
I forgot to state that at the time I was called on this mission, there were two hundred other Elders called to different parts of the United States. We all traveled on the same train in four palace cars, had an enjoyable time crossing the plains, and in due time reached Omaha, on the Missouri River; there we separated, each one going on the route best suited to him.
I took the Northwestern Railway to Chicago. At Cedar Rapid, Iowa, I got off to visit my cousin, David H. Secrist, who lived near that place. I visited with him a few days then continued my journey to Chicago, where I took the Chicago, Fort Wayne and Pittsburgh Railroad, and the Pennsylvania Central to Harrisburg; there I switched off on the Cumberland Valley Railroad to Green Castle, in Franklin County, Penn. At that place I found a dear aunt, Mrs. Riley was a sister of my dear mother. The family had heard of my coming and met me with open arms, and made me very welcome. I felt very much at home here, indeed; I made it my home much of the time while I was in the country. Mrs. Riley was so much like my dear mother that I loved her as mother. She also had a lovely family. I preached the Gospel to them and made a favorable impression, but the prejudice at that time ran very high and our doctrine was very unpopular, and the time of my stay was short.
They put off obeying the Gospel, but nearly the entire family have since died, and while I was with them I got their names and ages, and a few years ago I did work for them in the Logan Temple. My object in going east at that time was to preach the Gospel to the living if they wanted to hear it, and get genealogy of the dead. The former I succeeded in very poorly, as the living did not care to hear; the genealogy of the dead was very meager, as they had failed to keep a record, and the only way that I could get the names and ages of the dead was to go to the cemeteries and obtain them from the stones that marked their last resting places, as my people had been very particular in keeping the record on their head stones. I got all the names I could--perhaps fifty in all--and have done work for them in the Logan Temple.
I found all my relatives on my Father's side of the house all well off, with a few exceptions. The old people came and settled in Franklin County, Penn. in an early day when it was new, possessed themselves of the country, and having good staying qualities, made themselves well-to-do. The old people--my father's brothers and sisters--with few exception, are dead, and their children are in possession of the country, which is hard to excel. This is the situation I found them in, an all of them belonging to some kind of religion peculiar to their own notions, and being much prejudiced against "Mormonism" they did not care to listen to me.
February 15, 1870. Because of pressing business at home, I had spent about all the time that I could spare, and having secured all the genealogy that I could get at that time, I bade farewell to all of my dear friends, and on the 16th day of February, 1870, I left Green Castle on my return trip over the same road that I came; arrived in Harrisburg the same day, here I bought a ticket, which cost me $70. I left Harrisburg at 4 o'clock for Pittsburgh. In due time I arrived in Chicago safely, and on quick time; here I took the Northwestern Railway for Cedar Rapids, stopped to see cousin David M. Secrist, visited with him; then went on the train to Omaha, where I arrived on the 22nd of February. I left Omaha, February 23rd, and on the 25th, I arrived in Ogden. I also reached my home the same day and found all well. I had been gone about three months, and felt well satisfied with my visit to the place I was born.
Sept 15, 1887. I left my place at Plymouth, Box Elder County, Utah, at 12 o'clock noon, went to Logan, and there joined Bishop Zundel and two Lamanites John and Jim Brown, and secured a part of our outfit consisting of one baggage wagon, two work horses, two riding horses, two horses and a buggy. I furnished horses and buggy, the Church furnished baggage wagon, Bishop Zundel furnished two horses to pull the wagon, and the Lamanites furnished riding horses. The object of this mission was to carry a lot of presents to Chief Washakie, who was camped on the east side of the Wind River Range of Mountains, now in the State of Wyoming. The presents consisted of five hundred pounds of dried fruit, one bale of blankets, shirts, underwear, and silk handkerchiefs in great numbers andvarieties.
September 16. We left Logan City, traveled up Logan Canyon, found the country very rocky but the road good considering the country that it passes through; camped for the night, having had no accident through the day. September 17th. Traveled up the Canyon, reached top of divide about noon; in Dean's Hill got a lot of pine hens and had our first feast of wild meat, which we enjoyed very much. Traveled down the east side of the mountains to Garden City, thence up the Bear Lake shore to Laketown; camped for the night with Bishop Nebeker. Bear Lake is the most beautiful sheet of water that I have ever seen--water as clear as crystal, and gravely bottom at a great depth. We obtained a supply of oats for horse feed.
September 18th. We started this morning at 8 o'clock, crossed over a ridge and traveled down grade to Bear River; found it almost dry; traveled across the country to the mouth of Twin Creeks where we struck the Oregon Short Line Railway. There we camped for the night and had our first feast of Mountain Trout, John having secured a fine string of them.
September 19th. Started at 8 o'clock; traveled up Twin Creeks, also up the Oregon Short Line R.R., which comes down the Creeks, the wagon road crosses the Railroad nineteen times, very dangerous in places, just room enough for the wagon to pass when there is no train at that time; camped at the tunnel on the summit of the ridge. This tunnel is 800 feet through. Started at 2 o'clock, traveled over the ridge down to Ham's Fork, went up Ham's Fork for three miles, camped for the night. There we saw the first antelope, which were very wild and not come-at-able.
September 20th. Started at 8 o'clock; traveled over some very steep hills; struck the Lander Road which used to be one of the main roads that the gold seekers traveled to California by the way of Fort Hall. We struck up a very steep hill. almost perpendicular, hitched both saddle horses to the end of the wagon tongue and pulled the horns of the saddles; traveled down the hill to Fontinell, near Green River, and camped there for the night. September 21st. Started at 7:30, passed over some rough, hilly country on to Green River, then up Green River 13 miles to a beautiful stream called LaBarge; noon halt, started out at 1 o'clock, traveled 24 miles up the river, good roads, camped for the night on river bottom, good grass.
September 22nd. Broke camp at 8:30, crossed both Pineys, beautiful streams of water, wide bottoms, good meadow land by the thousands of acres; antelope in large herds but very wild; traveled over a ridge due north, struck Marsh Creek, caught some nice Mountain Trout, waited for baggage wagon to come up; wagon came up, then we found we had taken the wrong route and gone out of our way. Started at two o'clock, traveled over High Cobble Stone Ridge to the fork of Green River; this is the main fork of Green River, a large stream of beautiful clear water.
September 23rd. We have gotten out of our way; went for 10 miles down the river, struck the trail, traveled due east over Large Cobble Stone Ridge down on the east fork of Green River; this fork has a great amount of water in it at some seasons of the year, but low at present. Noon halt; at 2 o'clock started up the river; hereafter must travel without a road through heavy sage brush; made slow progress across the bottom to river, camped for the night.
September 24th. The mountains to the northeast begin to look very high and difficult to cross. At 8:30 broke camp and climbed over hills, washouts, and sage brush; difficult to travel; made slow progress; met some Indians who informed us that Chief Washakie had gone on a hunt; not likely to see him; camped for the night.
Sunday, September 25th. Camped about twenty-five miles from the foot of the mountains; are told the mountains are very difficult to cross over to Chief Washakie's camp; considering this, with the fact that we could not see him if we did cross, we concluded to send a Indian over and ask the chief men of the camp to send a delegation over to receive the presents. We were in camp waiting for them to return. The Indians in that vicinity who were hunting, began to gather into our camp, and we held meetings with them, preaching the Gospel to them, and a number of them became converted and demanded Baptism.
September 27th. Still in camp waiting for the messenger to return; health good, appetite good, and conscious that we are in no immediate danger from our enemies that we had left so far in the rear in Utah, the Anti-Mormon raid (against the families living in plural marriages) being in full bust when we left.
September 28th. This morning our express men returned with Chief Washakies's son and three other of the principal men of the tribe. Dick Washakie, a son, is a noble looking man, about 6 feet 4 inches tall, well proportioned, speaks good English, about 25 years old, well dressed in the American Style, fine, gentlemanly appearance, and must sooner or later be a great leader among his people.
After greetings and breakfast were over, we all sat down, had prayer, John Indian being mouth, after which Bishop Zundel preached to the Lamanites that had gathered in--twenty in number; talked about one hour. John preached next. Jim Brown followed, after which I bore a powerful testimony and prophesied of the future of that people; much of the spirit of the Lord was enjoyed. After several meetings, the Lamanites all asked to be Baptized, which was attended to with much pleasure. Bishop Zundel did the Baptizing and I did the confirming. After we had gotten through with the ordinance of Baptism, the presents were delivered, and after hearty handshaking we separated from our kind friends; the Lamanites going east and we south-west on our return trip; traveled ten miles through sage and greasewood and camped for the night. Jim killed an antelope, which was very acceptable, as we had had very little meat on our trip so far.
September 29th. This morning we Baptized four more Indians - two men and two women. Broke camp at nine o'clock and traveled over to Green River; camped for noon, and traveled over a ridge to Piney's two fine streams of water; meadow and farm land in abundance; camped for the night. September 30th. Broke camp at seven o'clock traveling up the largest Piney, much f the time in the middle of the stream; very rough canyon and very difficult pass over several high ranges; traveled until after dark down a steep mountain side, almost perpendicular; camped on the creek in a narrow gorge.
October 1st 1887. Had now gotten through the range of mountains, sixty miles distant, and were at the head of Star Valley; traveled down the valley to the mouth of the Salt River, camped for the night. October 2nd. Laying over to rest the horses; started at noon up Salt River, and camped for the night near the Summit.
October 3rd. Started at 7 o'clock; came out of the canyon and reached Montpelier, nooned at Amasa Wright's place, fed, got dinner, then traveled to Georgetown; stopped for the night with Nicholas Barkdall, my brother-in-law, were treated royally.
October 5th. Started at 7 o'clock; nooned at Soda Springs, started at 2 o'clock; camped for the night with Serl Hale; were treated to the best his house afforded.
October 6th. Started at 7 o'clock, came over the ridge, camped at Church Farm, fed got dinner, broke camp at 1 o'clock; traveled to Weston Creek, fed, lunched and then we separated, Bishop Zundel and the Lamanites crossing the range of hills into Malad Valley, and I going by way of Clarkston and reaching home at nine o'clock, found all well; had traveled sixty miles on this last day, and about seven hundred miles on the entire journey.
I thank and praise the Lord, who has had His kind and preserving care over us while fulfilling this mission of peace to one of the largest friendly tribes of Indians in this part of the country. (See page 103 for pictures of Jim & John (Bishop John Brown).
Ogden City, Utah, November 23, 1895. This morning, in company with Ezra T.Clark, John R. Barnes, and Ephraim P. Elleson, I left for Omaha, Nebraska, to attend the Trans-Mississippi Congress to be held at that place on the 25th of said month. We crossed the plains of a thousand miles without accident. I passed my first night in a Pullman palace sleeping car, and with all of it grandeur in appearance, I could not sleep; two men in one berth is one too many for comfort; the car being very warm. Arrived in Omaha about 8:30 and took the street car to the Millard Hotel. This Hotel was selected as the head-quarters of the members; charges $3.00 per day. We had first-class fare and two good rooms for our accommodation; all of the accommodations there were on the modern plan, first-class style, with colored waiters, who were very polite.
November 26th. Held three sessions today. All the members were invited to a reception given by a gentleman whose name I have forgotten, we were royally treated to all kinds of drinkables, also candy and ice cream.
November 27th. Held one session. In the afternoon the members went in a body, by invitation, to visit the Omaha Smelter where they reduce silver and lead ore to bullion, from there it is shipped to Wales, and there refined; a great amount of business is done there. The same afternoon we took the street car five miles to South Omaha to visit the stockyards and slaughter houses. A great amount of slaughtering and packing is done here. After looking through the mammoth establishment we went back to the Hotel.
November 28th. Thanksgiving Day. Crossed the bridge over the Missouri River, went to Council Bluffs, held meeting with a small branch of the Church presided over by Robert Huntington; had Thanksgiving dinner; had a good time after dinner and went back to Omaha; took a street car, went three miles up the River towards Florence (once Winter Quarters) then back to the Hotel; had supper, packed our grips, and got the lunch basket recruited. Union Depot.
November 29th. At 8:10 we took the train for Ogden, securing our berths in the Pullman sleeper, "Suzanna. Cold north wind blowing. Green River, November 30th, 8:15. Green River was once a thriving rail-road town when the road was being built, but now it is dilapidated.
Echo. November 30th, 12:30. Had a pleasant trip, were favored with the company of President George Q. Cannon all the way across the plains, which we appreciated very much. Ogden.
November 30th 2:10. All in good health and spirits; changed cars for Farmington, reached home in safety; found all well, glad to see each other. This was a pleasure trip for me, in very deed. I had an opportunity to form the acquaintance of influential business men from different parts of the country; made acquaintances that will not be forgotten very soon.
January 15, 1894. Today William R. Smith, President of the Davis Stake of Zion, died after a severe, lingering sickness of six months, of cancer in the intestines. This was a severe shock to his family and to all the people of the stake, as he was a first-class man, a good president, a good father, and a friend to all good people; his faithful memory will live in the hearts of the people.
About this time I was called by the Presidency of the Church to take the Temporary Presidency of the Stake in President Smith's place, with Brother Hyrum Grant as my first counselor to assist me. Of course, we took hold and did the best we could, but because of the long illness of our latest President, all public Stake matters were much run down so we had to labor with our might to get matters straightened up.
March 4, 1894. Today at the Stake Conference in East Bountiful, I was set apart to preside as the President of the Davis Stake of Zion with Joseph Hyrum Grant as my first counselor; set apart by Apostle Franklin D. Richards and Heber J. Grant, Apostle Richards being mouth. Brother F.D. Richards stated to the Conference that my name had been considered by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Apostles, and it was decided unanimously that I was the man. It was put before the High Council and they were unanimously in favor; it was also put before the Conference, and I was unanimously sustained.
I had presided over the Farmington Ward as its Bishop for Twenty-seven successive years, and had labored as the First Counselor to President W.R. Smith from 1882 to 1894. I got along with this very well, or reasonably satisfactorily, but to accept the responsibility of presiding over the Stake seemed a great responsibility, and so it has proved in every sense of the word. It has caused me to feel very humble and to live near to the Lord as a man of my temperament could do, but through the help of the Lord I have done the best I could, and as to how well I have succeeded, I will leave the Lord and my charitable brethren and sisters to judge. I pray most earnestly that I may continue to be faithful and humble in the future in my labors among the people, that I may put my trust in the Lord and have His approval, then I will be content.
DEATH OF JOHN WELLS HESS
A noted pioneer, a member of the Mormon Battalion, and a man of unflinching integrity, was President John W. Hess, of Davis Stake, who died in Farmington, on the morning of the 16th. He was the son of Jacob and Elizabeth Foutz Hess, and was born in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, August 24, 1824. He was baptized into the Church with his father's family, in March 1834, in Richland County, Ohio, whither the family had removed in 1832. Then came removals with the Saints to Ray and Caldwell Counties, Missouri, and later to Illinois, and then again to Mt. Pisgah, Iowa. Elder Hess bearing the blunt of the trials, the burdens of the family, and caring for his partly paralyzed father, whose health failed owning to the severe hardship which he passed through. On July 10, 1846, he and his wife having arrived at Council Bluffs, on their westward journey, his father's family remaining at Mt. Pisgah, he enlisted in the Mormon Battalion, in Company E, Captain Daniel C. Davis, his wife Emeline Bigler whom he had married in Nauvoo, November 2, 1845, also enlisting as one of the four women to accompany each company as laundresses. After his return, in 1848, to Mt. Pisgah, he found his father had died June 22, 1846. In the spring of 1849, he arranged for the westward journey, taking him with his father's family, and arriving in Salt Lake Valley July 27, settling shortly thereafter in Farmington. In March 1865, he was ordained a bishop serving in this capacity for 27 years, until he was ordained, September 22, 1882, counselor to President W.R. Smith, upon whose death he was made President, January 15, 1894. This position he held until his death. He served three terms in the Territorial legislature, in 1858, 1860, 1876; was commander of the Davis County Militia for many years, and a delegate in 1895 to the Omaha Trans-Mississippi Congress. He filled a mission to the Lamanites and to Pennsylvania. On February 8, 1900, he was ordained a patriarch by Elder Francis M. Lyman, and remained an active worker in his calling to the day of his going to rest. --Improvement Era, Vol. V: 313.
About September 15, 1900, during my late illness, on Sunday morning about 9 o'clock, while lying upon my bed, and my brethren of the Priesthood were out among the people performing their various duties, I was thinking over my helpless condition not being able to be with them in the performance of my own duties; I began to pour out my whole soul in prayer. My prayer finally resolved itself into a lamentation, asking the Lord what I had done or what I had not done that I should be so seriously afflicted, that I should be deprived of the privilege of going forth with the rest of my brethren and performing my duties. I was told that it was not for any great sin of commission or omission that I was thus afflicted, but it was because of my long and faithful labor and the many hardships that I had passed through during my long life that had weakened my faculties and brought me to my present condition. I was told that the Lord accepted of my labors and that my career on earth would, in the near future, be brought to a close.
About this time I saw, sitting on a box at the foot of my bed, a personage that looked familiar to me, in the full bloom and vigor of life. I gazed upon it with great earnestness and finally came to the conclusion that it was my own visage in every form and feature except for age. About this time I heard a voice saying, "this is the body of your spirit, you see that it is in the exact form of your temporal body." He repeated again with great earnestness, "this is the body of your spirit," and then remarked, "now, let this suffice for the present."
Now, I do declare in all soberness, and in the fear of God while writing, that the above statement is true, and shall be a testimony to all who read it
John W. Hess Farmington, Davis County, Utah 13 January 1902
John Hess's Timeline
August 24, 1824
Waneburgh, Franklin, Pennsylvania, United States
August 24, 1824
March 1, 1834
March 10, 1838
November 2, 1845
January 29, 1846
January 29, 1846
January 6, 1848
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, United States
May 14, 1850
Farmington, Davis, Utah, United States