Mormon Missionary Diaries
About the Collection
Samuel Stephen Jones
by Jeffrey S. Hardy
Samuel Stephen Jones was born on 9 February 1837 at Brentford, Middlesex, England to Samuel Jones and Sarah Bradshaw. In addition to one younger brother, Albert, he also had five half-brothers from his mother’s previous marriage. Due to his father’s addiction to alcohol, his parents soon split and he remained with his mother. He later recorded that “on account of family difficulties [he] had to bear with considerable hardship, and never entered a school as a pupil after I was 12 years of age.”1 Soon they moved to London, barely surviving on the brink of poverty. At the age of fourteen he joined his half-brothers in the grocery business and in 1852 found employment with E. Bardsley & Son, a tea trading company. At London the family was taught the restored gospel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Samuel was baptized on 29 April 1851. He was active in converting others in his family and, contrary to his father’s wishes, he baptized his brother Albert into the church in August 1855. On 25 May 1856, Samuel, along with his mother and brother, boarded the ship Horizon America and left his native land to join the saints in Utah.
A six-week voyage brought them to Boston, after which 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. Stephen served as the secretary and clerk for the company. Soon the pioneers found themselves in the middle of an early winter in Wyoming and the effects of exposure and hunger began to take their toll in human lives. Eventually they were saved by a rescue party sent from Salt Lake City, but not before many had perished. As Samuel himself described it: “After we left Laramie it was one long funeral march until we arrived in Salt Lake City.” 2 The company finally arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on 30 November 1856 and the Jones family immediately settled in Provo, Utah.
Just months later, on 9 February 1857, Samuel married Lydia E. Hooker, another English saint who had traveled to Provo from London in the same company as Samuel. She bore him nine children until her death in December 1874, only two of whom survived infancy. They moved into a small adobe house and Samuel engaged in farming. In 1858 he began building adobes for and selling vegetables to Johnson’s army at Camp Floyd. This business experience led to a series of individual and joint mercantile ventures, including the first co-operative store in Utah. Indeed, he was a firm believer in the co-operative movement and traveled to southern Utah to help establish it there. He also served in the Provo militia during the Blackhawk war. On 27 April 1867 Samuel married Julia Ipson in polygamy in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City. She bore him four children.
At the General Conference of the church in April 1872, Samuel was called on a mission to Great Britain. After arriving in Liverpool he was first assigned to labor in the London Conference and in October 1872 was called to be president of the Sheffield Conference. He also worked for some time as editor of the Millennial Star, the church’s British periodical. He had a firm testimony of the power of God and the importance of missionary work, on one occasion recording: “We were in the world surrounded with evil on all sides, threatening to overpower us, but if we only attended to our duty, and exerted ourselves in our calling we were perfectly safe, and the power of God would protect us.” 3 Due to family illness, Samuel was called home after only a year in the mission field. He returned home to Provo on 25 July 1873.
Samuel resumed his mercantile endeavors after his mission. He also became heavily involved in contracting, mining and farming. In 1875 Samuel married Annie Maria Johnson, who bore him eight children. On 26 July 1878 he married Emma Jane Allman, who bore him one son. Unfortunately, Emma died after only one year of marriage due to complications from the birth of her child. In his later life Samuel served as city councilman, alderman, and mayor of Provo. He was one of the wealthier men in Provo at the time; of this he wrote: “The Lord has blessd [sic] me with the good things of this earth in abundance, and I desire to glorify His Great and Holy Name.” 4 He was also inclined towards poetry, penning such poems as “Utah’s Natal Days,” “Home of the Old Years,” and “The Life of the Master.” He was known as a man of integrity and honor. Samuel Stephen Jones passed away at home in Provo on 27 December 1923.
1 Samuel Stephen Jones, “A brief synopsis of the life of Samuel Stephen Jones,” p. 1, MSS 1435, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
2 Orson F. Whitney, History of Utah, vol. 4 (Salt Lake City: George Q. Cannon, 1904), 297.
3 Samuel Stephen Jones, “Journal, 1863-1874,” 2 November 1872, MSS 1435, LTPSC.
4 Jones, “A brief synopsis,” 3.
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.
Esshom, Frank. Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah. Salt Lake City: Western Epic, Inc., 1966.
Jones, Samuel Stephen. “A Brief Synopsis of the Life of Samuel Stephen Jones.” [BX 8670 .A1a no.16 in Americana Collection, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
________. “Life of the Master; a poem.” Provo, Utah: n.p., 1913.
________. “Papers, 1856-1906.” MSS SC 1557, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
________. “Papers, 1902-1918.” MSS 1435, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
Miller, Marilyn McMeen, and John Clifton Moffit. Provo: A Story of People in Motion. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1974.
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/.
Portrait: Genealogical and Biographical Record of the State of Utah. Chicago: National Historical Record Company, 1902.
Whitney, Orson F. History of Utah. Vol. 4. Salt Lake City: George Q. Cannon, 1904.