Mormon Missionary Diaries
About the Collection
by Jeffrey S. Hardy
Albert Jones was born on 28 August 1839 at Brentford, Middlesex, England, to Samuel Jones and Sarah Bradshaw. In addition to one older brother, he also had five half-brothers from his mother’s previous marriage. Due to his father’s addiction to alcohol, his parents soon separated and he remained with his mother. Soon they moved to London, barely surviving on the brink of poverty. At the age of 10 Albert was accepted into a prestigious school and here acquired a distinct spirit of independence and a love for learning. While at school his mother was converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (L.D.S. Church), and Albert only held off the persecution by his classmates due to his large stature. He later recalled: “My persecutions were light and ceased all together on my knocking a boy over a wheelbarrow for calling me ‘old Joe Smith.’” 1
After graduation from school in 1853 Albert found work in London and lived with his father. Contrary to his father’s wishes he was baptized into the L.D.S. Church on the first Sunday in August 1855 by his brother Samuel. He sensed at that time and during his confirmation “a feeling and Spirit…which [he] had never sensed before.” 2 Soon thereafter he was ordained a deacon and began planning emigration to America. On 25 May 1856 Albert, along with his mother and brother, boarded the ship Horizon America and left his native land to join the saints in Utah.
After landing in Boston, the family journeyed to Iowa City, Iowa, a staging area for the Mormon migrations across the Great Plains. Here they joined the Edward Martin Company, which left on 28 July 1856 with 575 individuals and 145 handcarts. Albert took pride in manning the first handcart to leave Iowa City. Soon the company found itself in the middle of an early winter in Wyoming and the effects of exposure and hunger began to take their toll in human lives. Albert records having “a large piece of Buffalo tripe that [he] carried tied to the axle of [his] Hand Cart for [his] especial use…in keeping away the pangs of hunger.” 3 Eventually they were rescued, but not before many had perished. The company finally arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on 30 November 1856 and the Jones family settled in Provo.
When Johnston’s army occupied the territory in 1857, Albert found employment at Camp Floyd. He also sang at the local theatre to earn extra money. With the funds saved, Albert bought a large plot of land with a log cabin in Provo and in 1861 ceased his labors with the U.S. Army. During the winter of 1861–1862 he hauled granite from the quarries in Little Cottonwood Canyon to the temple site in Salt Lake City. Later in 1862 he crossed the plains to Florence, Nebraska, and assisted the Homer Duncan Company make the overland trek to Utah.
On 4 December 1862 Albert married Jean Park. They were penniless at the time of their marriage, but were free from debt and had around 25 acres of land on which to live and farm. But hard work and the blessings of the Lord soon led to relative prosperity for Albert and his family. Albert held several church callings in the 1st and 2nd Provo Wards, and worked as constable, coroner, and councilman for Provo City. Albert and Jean received their temple endowments and were sealed on 24 February 1865 and Albert was ordained an elder the same day. Albert entered a second marriage in polygamy to Sarah Ann Halladay on 7 April 1874 and then took a third wife, Ellen Norgrave, on 30 December 1882. Sarah bore him seven children and Ellen gave birth to two, but Jean remained childless.
Albert received a call to serve a mission in Great Britain on 17 January 1884. This he readily accepted, leaving behind his three wives and seven children, the youngest born just after his departure. Upon arriving in Liverpool, England, Albert was assigned to labor in the London Conference under the presidency of Ephraim H. Nye. Albert was called as president of the London conference on 22 November 1885. He spent much time and energy on his mission dispelling false rumors and defending polygamy. His devotion and hard work were rewarded, for at the end of 1885 Albert writes in his journal that “with a success of sixteen additions to the cause I feel my labors have not been in vain.” 4 In January 1886 he records a memorable baptism performed in icy water in which the obedient spirit of the boy “dispelled the feeling of cold.” 5 On 22 May 1886 he returned to America aboard the ship Nevada in company with three hundred emigrating saints.
Albert arrived home from England under the assumed name of Frank Bradshaw in order to avoid arrest for illegal cohabitation and polygamy. Persecution for polygamy had increased dramatically during his time abroad due to the Edmunds and Edmunds-Tucker Acts. After two and a half years underground, however, he surrendered to the authorities and was sentenced to a $200 fine and 14 months in prison. He was interred with such notable church authorities as Abraham H. Cannon and B. H. Roberts and worked as the penitentiary librarian.
After returning home to Provo in 1889 Albert continued to work on his farm to support his families and found temporary employment as a bookkeeper. During the 1890s he canvassed for the Young Women’s Journal and Juvenile Instructor and wrote several articles that were published in these church periodicals. The Deseret News also hired him for a time as a traveling subscription agent. His later life was occupied in farming, serving in various church callings, and devoting time to his family. Albert Jones died on 9 December 1925 in Provo, Utah.
Bitton, Davis. Guide to Mormon Diaries and Autobiographies. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1977.
Easton, Susan Ward. Members of the Willie and Martin Handcart Companies of 1856. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, 1980.
Jones, Albert. “Diaries, 1881–1925.” MSS 346, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
________. “Prison Journal, 1888.” MSS SC 228, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel, 1847–1868. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2003. 31 October 2003 available from http://www.lds.org/churchhistory/library/pioneercompanysearch/.