A few days ago, I went on a trek to re-enact the Mormon handcart pioneer experience. There were 240 of us from the LDS Spanish Fork Maple Mountain Stake who dressed in pioneer clothes and pulled handcarts. We all thought about the stranded pioneers that tragic winter of 1856 and the 210 people who died. We also thought about those who risked their lives to rescue them. One of the rescuers was my great, great, grandfather Daniel W. Jones.
There is a cove of trees with benches named after him at Martin's Cove in Wyoming. Our group of 240 youth and leaders assembled there.
I was asked to speak about you Daniel.
As I spoke I saw tears in the eyes of those who listened.
Thank you for your life of courage.
You are my hero.
Daniel Webster Jones (August 26, 1830 - April 20, 1915) was an American and Mormon pioneer. He was the leader of the group that colonized what eventually became Mesa, Arizona, made the first translation of selections of The Book of Mormon into Spanish, led the first Mormon missionary expedition into Mexico, dealt frequently with the American Indians, and was the leader of the group that heroically wintered at Devil's Gate during the rescue of the stranded handcart companies in 1856.
Jones was born 26 August 1830 in Booneslick, Howard County, Missouri. Orphaned at the age of 12, he joined a group of volunteers to fight in the Mexican-American War in 1847. Following the war, he remained in Mexico for a number of years, learning Spanish, and while taking "part in many ways in the wild, reckless life that was common in that land," still he longed for something. When a sheepherding expedition bound for California departed in 1850, he left with them.
While camped along the Green River in 1850, his pistol went off in his holster, piercing through fourteen inches of his groin and thigh. His companions left him, lame, but alive, with a Mormon settlement in Provo. There, he studied Mormon doctrine and was baptized by Isaac Morley in 1851. The next year, he married Harriet Emily Colton, daughter of Philander and Polly Colton.
In the October 1856 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Church President Brigham Young informed those gathered that a group of Latter-day Saint immigrants were then stranded on the plains of Wyoming. These were the Martin and Willie handcart companies, as well as the Hunt and Hodgett wagon companies. The next day, about 25 men departed from the Salt Lake Valley to find the immigrants.
South Pass. After reaching Devil's Gate, they still hadn't found the other groups, and Jones, Joseph A. Young, and Abe Garr were sent ahead to find the missing parties and help them in to the Devil's Gate area. After assisting them to a spot now known as Martin's Cove, it was determined that Jones, Thomas Alexander, and Ben Hampton would remain behind with the goods cached at Fort Seminoe, together with 17 teamsters detailed from the Hunt and Hodgett wagon companies. During that winter, they endured terrific privations which Jones later detailed in his autobiography.
In 1874, Jones was commissioned by Brigham Young to translate selections from The Book of Mormon into Spanish, in preparation for a missionary expedition into Mexico. This he did, with the assistance of Henry Brizzee and Mileton Trejo, a recent Spanish convert from the Philippines. Following the translation, the company, including James Z. Stewart, Helaman Pratt (son of Parley P. Pratt and father of Rey L. Pratt), Wiley C. Jones (Jones's son), R. H. Smith, Ammon M. Tenney and Anthony W. Ivins (who would later become an Apostle and First Counselor in the First Presidency, departed for Mexico. The mission lasted from 1875 to 1876.
Upon returning, he was commissioned by Brigham Young to start a settlement in the Salt River Valley of Arizona. Originally called Jonesville, the settlement was later renamed Lehi, and was eventually incorporated into Mesa, Arizona.
After some conflict with the other settlers, Jones moved to the Tonto Basin area, where his wife and 14th and youngest child were killed when a shed fell on them during a storm in 1882. In 1890, he published his autobiography, Forty Years Among the Indians. He died on 20 April 1915, of gangrene after an accident, and was buried in the Mesa City Cemetery. He was 84 years old.
Jones was the grandfather of Fay Wray (King Kong (1933)), his last surviving grandchild. He is the great-great-great grandfather of Jeffrey Jones, the first Mormon senator in Mexico.
|The Mormon Trail.|
|Youth groups and their leaders re-enact the heroic struggles of their pioneer ancestors.|