Monday, November 27, 2006

The Church That Made My History

I wrote this paper for an American History course I took. It was a broad assignment to write a paper that discussed something significant in my family's history--especially if it relates to immigration to this country. Much of it is plagiarized from other documents, published and unpublished, in my family history. I didn't cite any of them because my professor didn't require it for this project. I may, at some point in the future, cite my sources.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has had an enormous effect on the history of my family. From its establishment in Fayette, New York in 1830, the Latter-day Saints shared and preached their message as far as they could reach. When this message reached my ancestors, it changed their lives—and my history—forever.

Job Pitcher Hall and Mary Elizabeth Jones. Job Pitcher Hall of Belmont, Maine, was baptized and officially joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 6, 1844. His ancestry traces back to some of the first English immigrants to inhabit Massachusetts. Job Pitcher Hall is one of my Great-Great-Great Grandfathers. At the time he joined the Church, Job was 24 years old and still unmarried.

The Latter-day Saints, as the members of the Church are called, were called upon to assemble together, and the new headquarters of the Church at that time was in Nauvoo, Illinois, a peninsula overlooking the Mississippi River. Job obeyed and moved to Nauvoo. By 1846, religious intolerance of the Latter-day Saints had gotten to the point of brutal persecution in Nauvoo, as had happened in Ohio and Missouri. The Saints fled again to where they could freely practice their religion and live in peace. Under the direction of Brigham Young, the President of the Church, thousands of men, women, and children, including Job Pitcher Hall, again headed west. After traveling for over four months and over three hundred miles, the downtrodden Latter-day Saints stopped and built settlements along the trail through Iowa territory to ride out the winter and prepare for the longer journey to the Rocky Mountains. Job helped to build the largest of these settlements, Winter Quarters (near present day Council Bluffs, Nebraska). While in these winter settlements, the thousands of emigrants were organized into companies, and once the winter had passed, many of the companies began again to journey across the plains. Job stayed in Winter Quarters for another year and then, shortly before leaving Winter Quarters in February 1848, he married Mary Elizabeth Jones, another convert on the trek west, originally from New York City. Acting on council from Brigham Young, as indicated by an entry in his journal, Job traveled south along the Mississippi River to St. Joseph, Missouri. While there, in December, 1848, Job Pitcher and Mary Elizabeth Hall's first child was born. Two years later, in 1850, the young family began to make their way toward Salt Lake City. On that journey, their second child was born.

Job Pitcher Hall and his small family arrived in Salt Lake City in late 1850. But their journey was not yet over. Brigham Young called for one hundred men to settle Little Salt Lake Valley (in present day Iron County, Utah, near the southwest corner of the state). Job volunteered. Job arrived in late 1850 and helped to establish the settlement. He is credited with helping to build the first log cabin in Iron County. Mary and their two small children arrived a few months later in May, 1851.

Job Pitcher Hall lived the rest of his life helping to settle new towns in that area. He fathered twenty children from three wives. He worked hard all his life—even after becoming crippled from rheumatoid arthritis. He maintained a conviction to his faith until death, and left a legacy of that faith for generations. He faced hardships like all early settlers, but, according to his oldest daughter, he did not complain, and often praised his Heavenly Father for his blessings. Job made sacrifices, met challenges, and lived in a way that, without the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he never would have done.

Samuel Barnhurst and Ane Marie Jensen. Samuel Barnhurst is another one of my Great-Great-Great Grandfathers. Shortly before his birth, his family immigrated from England to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where they became established and attained some measure of wealth and prestige. In 1857, Samuel was thirty years old and married with two children. He was enjoying the benefits of his family's status and earning a very good living working in the family business.

Samuel was working on a research paper on religion. He was writing about the changes that happened to long established European churches when they moved to America. Soon after he started his research, he heard about an American church that believed in angels and had a new bible written in gold. He became very interested and discovered more about it. He found it a very practical church, and a very workable religion. He began to talk about this new and interesting church to his associates who kidded and teased him about it. Despite the ribbing, they listened to what he had to say.

His wife and one of his sisters heard about the discussions with his friends and wanted to know what he was learning, asking him to explain it all to them. They told him not to bother with those friends who thought it was funny, but to tell only them about it. They assured him that they would listen any time—and they did. He was delighted to explain this new Gospel to his wife and sister, and even had plans for them all to be baptized soon and join the new church.

One evening he came home a little early and, not wanting to disturb his butler at a busy time, came quietly around to the side door and entered with his key. The door to the music room was ajar and he could hear conversation. He stopped to listen to find out whether he should prepare to be a host to guests and who they might be. What he heard changed his life. Speaking, was his wife, his sister and the minister of the Anglican Church. They were all very concerned about his studies of the American church. The Barnhursts were very concerned about their social position in relation to this new church, its members, its beliefs and the reputation of its founder, Joseph Smith. They could not bear the stigma of it all.

As they discussed their designs to put an end to Samuel's conversion, Samuel listened in. The plan was that when Samuel rang the front door bell that evening, the butler would come to take his coat. Before it could be completely unbuttoned, the butler would jerk the coat down and around him, using the coat to pin his arms to his sides. His wife and sister would rush to each side of him to immobilize his arms and the minister would gag, blindfold and tie him up. They would then carry him out the back door where a carriage was waiting to take him to incarcerate him in an insane asylum. It was much less disgraceful to have a family member known to be insane than known to be a Mormon! Hearing this, he silently went upstairs, kissed his two sleeping children good-bye, then went out to the stable for his horse and left.

He went to join the Saints and arrived at Salt Lake City August 7, 1857. Soon after he arrived in Salt Lake City, Bishop Peterson came to see him. Bishop Peterson, who spoke Danish and English, was the leader of a Danish-speaking congregation. They talked a bit and the bishop said to him, "You are a fine healthy young man. You should marry and raise a family". Samuel told him his story. He said he already had a wife and children in Philadelphia and didn't have the heart to go courting. The bishop told him, "You can take a second wife." The bishop then asked, "If I can find you a good, decent young lady, will you marry her and have a righteous family with her"?

Ane Marie Jensen was born in Denmark in 1833. By the time she was twenty-one years old, she was apprenticed to a fine sewing house in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1854. Ane lived with her parents and their other children, but was engaged to be married. While living and working in Copenhagen, she met the missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who were proselyting in the area. At first, Ane Marie was merely curious as she listened to the missionaries. Then, as she listened more, she began to deeply value the principles she was learning. She started to talk to her fiancé and her family about the things she was learning.

They listened and asked questions, but they were not happy about the idea of leaving their Lutheran church and joining this very strange American church. Her fiancé felt it was a disadvantage for a young couple to saddle themselves with, and even told her that he could not marry her if she joined that church! Her parents said it would shame them and the whole extended family if she joined. Ane made the decision that she would do as her family felt was best and went to the meetings no more. She still worked for the house and made clothes for nobility, but no longer felt the joy she had before.

As the months went on, she began to feel very cold. First her feet wouldn't stay warm, then her fingers never got warm and finally they became so cold she couldn't hold her needle. She took this as a sign to her that God was not pleased with her choice. So she made an arrangement to be baptized on July 20, 1854. Winter was over, bu the ice on the river that runs through Copenhagen was still breaking up and ice floes were floating by on it. Despite the cold, she was going to be baptized. When she went into the water it caught her breath, but said it was no colder than her hands and feet. When she came out of the water, her hands and feet were warm and she used her hands to warm her face. She was not chattering with cold, but felt warm all over. She took this as a sign that not only was God pleased with her choice to be baptized but that it was a sign that she was a part of the true church.

Three years later, Ane Marie had earned enough money to travel to America to join the Latter-day Saints. Once she reached land, she traveled by wagon and then on foot to Salt Lake City. She reached her destination on September 18, 1857.

At Salt Lake City she worshiped with a Danish congregation. Soon after she settled, the bishop, Brother Peterson, called to see her. "You are strong and healthy and young,” he said. “You should be married and raising children," he told her. "I don't have the heart to be courted,” she said and then told him about her broken engagement in Denmark and about a man on the wagon train who wanted her to be his second wife. "Well, in that case", he said, "If I find a fine decent young man for you, will you marry him?" She knew it was her duty and desire to raise up a righteous generation, so, "Yes, I will", she said.

Ane Marie Jensen and Samuel Barnhurst met November 29, 1857 and were married the same day. She knew no English and he had never heard any Danish, but with the help of Bishop Petersen, they would each learn Danish and English.

My ancestry is tied to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When these people crossed paths with the Church, the course of their lives were changed. No longer could they stay in comfortable ignorance of the Gospel truths they heard. They each felt an obligation to make sacrifices for their faith. Were it not for their sacrifices or faith, my history would be very different than what it is.


Wes Larson said...

These are the comments from by history teacher that were attached to my graded paper:

For me very interesting. I am not LDS but since grad school have had a great interest in the history of the church. While teaching in Louisiana, I made numerous trips to the church archives in SLC and have published a number of articles on the history of the church. My first was an account of the Mormons in ante-bellum New Orleans. I entitled the article, “When the Saints Came Marching In…” and it was published in Louisiana History, the publication of the Louisiana Historical Society. So, enjoyed your account very much.

Wes Larson said...

The story about Ane Marie Jensen and Samuel Barnhurst was taken from an unpublished account "A History of ANE MARIE JENSEN 1833 - 1906" written in 1996 by her great-granddaughter, Grace Hall Reid, who was my maternal grandmother.

The story of Job Pitcher Hall and Mary Elizabeth Jones was taken from History of Job Pitcher Hall by his granddaughter Mary Roe Porter. The version I have also includes this Transcriber's note:
"This history is taken from the book, Descendants of Job Pitcher Hall, by James Varley Roe and Mary Roe Porter. It was typed into a computer file by his great-great-grandson, George Franklin Reid, who descended from William Wesley and Job Franklin, August 1995 at Roy, Utah.
"As near as I can tell, the book was published about 1960. There is a reference in the book to some fruit trees still standing in 1959 and I have found that a copy of the book was donated to the LDS Family History Center in 1960."

Kevin and Lou Hunt said...

Wes - I am also a descendent of Samuel Barnhurst and Anne Marie Jensen. I just found your article on the Internet and loved it. You did a great job telling their history. Thanks for your work - and for sharing it on the internet.

We descent through their daughter Anna Mary Barnhurst who married John Zera Alger, Jr.

I have traced Anne Marie Jensen's family history back in Denmark to about 1682. I can get you that information if you are interested - or if you do not have it.

Kevin V. Hunt
2317 E. Capri Ave
Mesa, AZ 85204

AlexanderVon said...

Greetings Wes,

Amazing thing this internet.

My name is Jeff Barnhurst, I too am a descendant of Samual, through Meltire Hatch Barnhurst and Casy marie Anderson, they lived in St George Utah in the 50's, enough said.
I was born in Las Vegas, Presently I am living just outside Philly tracing our roots so to speak. I have a Son and a daughter and three grandchildren living in Vegas. Always nice to see kinfolk.

I see a lot of us on facebook,
you can reach me there or here:

Namaste Cousin.


PsychDoctor said...

Interesting, Samuel Barnhurst and Ane Marie Jensen were my great-great-great grandparents too...

Thanks for the information...

Ryan Houston
Highland, Utah

Most anything really said...

I am a descendant of Samuel Barnhurst but through his first wife, the one that he left in Pennsylvania. He would be my great-great-great grandfather. He had two children and a wife that he abandoned, I guess because according to the story, they were going to commit him due to his new-found faith. His daughter with his first wife, Mary Emma, is my great-great-grandmother. She had at least 8 children, I believe, and my great-grandmother, Lillian Hirst, was one of them. This is all interesting stuff. I have heard that there was a paint book of sorts made about him?

Ed Hall said...

I am also a descendent of job pitcher hall and Mary Elizabeth jones through through his son William who is my grate grandfather. I love reading stories about my family and the things they went through. Makes our trials seem so much less. Thanks for posting this wonderful story and for the courage to share your love of the gospel.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike Barnhurst said...

Wes, Samuel Barnhurst and Ane Marie are my second great grandparents and I have done a lot of research on them. Thanks for posting your biography about them. The 2 paragraphs that begin "Samuel was working on a research paper on religion. . ." contains information I have not seen before in any biography about them, including those written by their children. I would be very interested in learning the source of that part of Samuel's story. Mike Barnhurst

Toni Carl said...

I am a descendant of Job Pitcher Hall. I am searching for more information on his sibling, Alford Hall and would love any information or sources you have on him. Thanks! Loved reading this!!

Toni Carl
1655 Tiverton Ave.
Broomfield, CO 80023