Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Pioneer Story

 Nauvoo about 1846

One of my ancestors not only traveled by covered wagon across the plains to Utah with Mormon pioneers, he also cut stone from coast to coast.  I wanted to share his story on this Pioneer Day, a holiday widely shared in Utah where the first Mormon pioneers arrived on July 24, 1847.

William Jones was a stone cutter born about 1799 in Bristol, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, the son of Edward Jones and Elizabeth Ellis.  In 1825 he married Elizabeth Hughes in New York City.  William and Elizabeth spent at least eight years in New York City where the first five children, Catherine Ann, Mary Elizabeth, William(2), Rebecca and Charlotte were born. Rebecca died as an infant. The Jones family traveled with converts to the new Mormon religion, following church prophets Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. From 1836 to September 1840 the family was in Cincinnati, Ohio where they appear as members of the Loraine Branch. The next three children, Mercy, Mary, and Anna were born there. From late 1840 to 1844 the Jones family was in the city of Nauvoo. Here Sarah Matilda and David Carlos were born.

 Nauvoo Temple 1847

Once in Nauvoo, William worked as a stone cutter on the Nauvoo Temple.  From William Clayton's temple record:

The following is a list of the stone cutters who cut the stone for the Temple, to-wit:
Alvin Winegar, James Standing, Harvey Stanley, Daniel S. Cahoon, Andrew Cahoon, Stephen Hales, Jr., William Jones (he cut the first plinth), John Keown, Rufus Allen, Samuel Hodge, Bun Anderson and George Ritchey. These persons were among the first who commenced cutting stone for the Temple and have continued to the close.

What is a plinth?  This is a picture taken of the rebuilt temple in Nauvoo.  A plinth serves as a base for pillars or other decorative work.  This is a copy of the original corner plinths and is called "a moon stone."

From a chronology compiled of the construction time table of the Nauvoo Temple:

11 Jun 1842 -- James Whitehead added as a clerk to the Temple Recorders staff. Later John P. McEwan was appointed assistant clerk. (Clayton, "Nauvoo Temple History Journal," p. 19; William Clayton Journal, Journal History, 31 Dec 1844, CA.) On this date William Player also set the first plinth, or moonstone, on the southeast corner. (Journal History, 11 Oct 1842, CA.) The moonstones were deeply carved relief of a crescent moon, facing downward, with a man's face in profile. Each stone was cut from solid stone. (New York Messenger, 20 Sept 1845.) The first plinth was cut by William Jones. (William's Clayton's Journal, Journal History, 31 Dec 1844, CA.)

On 27 May 1850, the temple was struck by a tornado which toppled one wall, and there was a demolition of two more walls in the interests of public safety, leaving only the facade standing. By this time William Jones and his family were on their way to the Salt Lake Valley where William continued to be a stone cutter.

Elizabeth Hughes Jones also did important work in Nauvoo.  She was one of the 18 founding members of the first Relief Society Organization. I found this information online:

Relief Society Magazine (May 1942 page 306) gives information on each of the eighteen charter members of the Relief Society organized by the Prophet Joseph Smith. Elizabeth was one of these original members. The magazine gives this information: "Elizabeth Hughes Jones was born in New York City in 1803, the daughter of Katherine and John Hughes. The Hughes were converted in New York and gathered to Missouri with the Saints. Elizabeth was faithful and dependable. Hyrum Smith gave her a Patriarchal Blessing."


More from their history found online:

The stay in Utah was relatively brief; records show that William Jones, Sr. was baptized 5 January 1851 in Salt Lake, but the family was in southern California by 1854. Family tradition states that the Jones family "came West with the Mormons after spending a few years in Salt Lake City. The family was in San Bernadino briefly; that's where Elizabeth Jones who married H.K. Geary, was born."
The Mormon settlement of southern California, begun about 1852, ended suddenly, in 1857. when church members sent on the original mission to California were recalled to Utah. The Jones family stayed in California, however, moving north to reside briefly in San Francisco where William helped to build the custom house and also worked as a stone cutter in the building of the forts in the old state house. The move to Alameda County may have taken place just after 1860. The 1867 Alameda County voter record shows William Jones, age sixty-eight, in Mission San Jose. Family tradition, "the family moved up to Mission San Jose and were there many years. There are Jones buried there" In 1870 William, age seventy-two and listing his birthplace as Pennsylvania, appears in the census records in Washington Township in Alameda County in the household of his daughter Anna Maria Stiver. William died in 1888.

The above grave marker is found in the Centerville Pioneer Cemetery in Fremont, Alameda County, California.

The rebuilt Nauvoo Temple today

I have been curious for years about William and Elizabeth Jones and am appreciative of the ability to so easily search for answers from online sources.  Their 2nd oldest daughter and my great great grandmother, Mary Elizabeth, (told more about here) married Job Pitcher Hall on 26 Feb 1848 in Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois and gave birth to her second baby while on the plains at Strawberry Creek on the way to Salt Lake on September 8, 1950.  I will save the rest of their story for a later post.

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