Ronald D. Dennis, trans. and ed., Defending the Faith: Early Welsh Missionary Publications (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2003).
D18 JONES, Dan. Llythyr oddiwrth Capt. D. Jones at Wm. Phillips, yn cynnwys newyddion o Seion. (A letter from Capt. D. Jones to Wm. Phillips, containing news from Zion.) Merthyr Tydfil: John Davis, Printer, .
8 pp. 17 cm. Welsh Mormon Writings 57.
A letter from Capt. D. Jones to Wm. Phillips, containing news from Zion has something that no other Welsh Mormon pamphlet has—on the last page, just preceding the name of the printer, is this information: “Published and for sale by Wm. Phillips, 14, Castle Street, Glebeland, Merthyr Tydfil.” Although nothing in the publication was written by William Phillips, he received credit probably because the letter quoted in the pamphlet had been sent to him.
Dan Jones’s letter is dated March 1851 and was sent from Manti, Utah, a settlement about 150 miles south of Salt Lake City. The previous fall, Brigham Young had requested that Jones settle there. In this rather lengthy letter, Jones relates news of Welsh Saints in Utah that he thought would be of interest to the Saints in Wales.
Manti City, March, 1851.
My Dear Brother Phillips,—With pleasure I commune with you by means of a letter, for lack of any other means, even though a letter is but a poor means to transmit my frequent thoughts with respect to, and my nostalgic feelings for you and my dear brethren in the priesthood together with all the dear Saints there. Believe me that you are never out of my thoughts for even a day, and the best wishes of my heart are offered up at the family altar daily in your behalf, to Him who is able to keep you safe, and gather you together to the place of deliverance; where you can hear the sound of the lovely songs of victorious Zion, instead of having your ears stunned by the transitory moans and groans of friends, relatives, and loved ones; where you meet a brother and a friend with cheery smiles on their faces, an index of a happy and guileless heart, instead of the way it is there, being pained by an angry look, and gnashing of teeth at you along the streets, by those whom you wish to benefit; as I received while there. The wish that fills my mind, in spite of everything that happened, is to see hosts of the Welsh enjoying the teaching, the quietness, and the peace that are here; and the deliverance from sickness, plagues, and the oppression which, according to all accounts and prophecies, continue to sweep the wretched inhabitants of the world there to the spirit world, ready or not, and to trample the rest under their iron hooves into the dust without hope of salvation. May the day soon come when you all shall find yourselves here, and I shall have the pleasure of your company, in the valleys of these peaceful and healthful mountains, and you shall have your fill of fruitful land to work, paying no rent or hardly any tax to anyone for it, and plenty of wages to satisfy you for every trade; yes, when you shall have, as does everyone else here, the full enjoyment of all the elements, possession and endowment of our Father to His children. And you shall have also the perfect law of freedom to defend you in all your rights, and to urge you to do every good thing, and also to punish you for your smallest transgression that you do knowingly. Our church and state officials here are from among ourselves, at last, as Isaiah prophesied they would be for the Saints in the last days. The news came here lately that the United States has permitted us to be a Territory, and choose our respected President B. Young as President; and they have granted generous privileges to the New Territory, and have given consideration to what they are. Our borders reach to the south to a latitude of 37 degrees north. Our King rightly said: “Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves,” and it would be good for all His subjects to remember that continually.
The situation of the Saints here is extremely successful, spiritually and temporally. These valleys produce wheat, barley, oats, potatoes, and every kind of crop and vegetable that can be grown in Britain; but much more abundantly, with less trouble, except to irrigate, which is a task that must be done carefully and diligently, for there are insufficient rains in the summer without that. The way that corn is irrigated is by opening furrows with the plough, after sowing the seed, a few feet from each other in such a way that the water runs slowly along the furrows; the water is obtained from the nearby streams through ditches that are dug for this purpose. And these lands are of such a nature that the water penetrates through all these furrows in a few hours; and then the water is turned away for perhaps a week, more or less. In this manner, 40 bushels of wheat per acre are generally produced, and frequently more; and I know of some who have gotten the incredible sum of over 200 bushels after the sowing of one bushel, something uncommon, although true of the above-mentioned. California wheat is what is sown here most, which produces several particles of grass on each grain, sometimes scores, for I have counted them myself; and the spikes spread into several, of considerable size, because of that which is called the “seven-headed” variety. The price of wheat now is 2 dollars 50 cents to 3 dollars per bushel; its price some time ago was much higher; and last summer, to the immigrants, it was as high as 25 cents per pound for flour, oats and barley being a little cheaper; potatoes about a dollar per bushel, butter 50 cents, cheese the same price or less. The wages of craftsmen are from 2 dollars to 4 dollars, workers from 1 to 2 dollars per day. By the month, from 12 to 20 dollars per month for the year; and I am now paying one of the Welsh boys in salary, 200 dollars per year, plus his food and washing, and to one other lad about fifteen years old, 100 dollars. Also to a maid, 1 dollar and 50 cents per week, and 1 dollar to the other, that is, Welsh ones; the common wage for maids is 1 dollar per week, and there was great demand for Welsh women, until they became too greedy for wages. I am writing this way about these Valleys in general, and not about any place in particular, lest you misunderstand me.
At the last conference, President Young requested that I, by naming me in public, emigrate to this place, that is San Pete, and so I came in the Autumn. This is a spendid and advantageous valley to settle in, although not as large as the Great Salt Lake Valley; yet, more advantageous in some respects, such as there is here a greater abundance of land, easier to work and irrigate in proportion to the inhabitants, than there is now there; for you would be surprised how they have settled there already! Much easier to get trees, shelter, firewood, &c., here. In the account of my journey to the south last year, you have the history of the settlement of this place; and it has increased already until there are several hundred comfortable houses, and families who are the most loving, devout, and peaceful that I have ever seen. Not a cross word, no profanity, no oppression or injustice have I seen since I have been here. We have a large and comfortable worship house, which is overflowing every Sunday with cheery and happy people; school is held in it every day, and it is too small, so that we had to build another schoolhouse lately. Some meetings are held in them every night through the week. Also built here since I came, are a mill to grind corn, and a mill to saw wood, laths, and shingles. There is a shop here in which you can get nearly all the common supplies you want, and the prices are not so different from those of the States as you might think, except for some things. Several thousand acres of land are worked in one enclosure, and it is pleasant to see with what unity and brotherhood everyone works together for the benefit of all in everything, and, in fact, it can be said of this people that “whatever they put their hands on to do, they do it (willingly), and with all their might.” Each assumes that the desire of the other is to build the kingdom, and only by doing that does each build himself. The next news will cheer your hearts every one, I know for myself. Sing, you, the scattered of Zion throughout the world! yes, rejoice in the British Isles of the sea, for the Lord God, for your sakes is shortening His great work, and will do it shortly in justice! A temple to Him is to be built in Zion, in which your own thirsty souls can drink deeply from inexhaustible fountains of knowledge about God, and the proper way to worship Him; about Heaven, its laws, its enjoyment and its glory: and where you, through preparations and godly ordinances, can become fit to associate with its inhabitants, and be taught also in the perfect ethics which are used in its “eternal dwelling place.” Yes, in your time and according to your faithfulness you can possess the fulness and strength of the priesthood, which reigns there and in every other place:—and after completing your work, and giving to God and to His servants, sufficient proof of your faithfulness, and of your worthiness, you can gain a goodly entrance in through the gates of the TEMPLE first, and then from gate to gate unto the most holy! Blessed are those happy souls! Is not the expectation of such bliss,—of getting the energy of religion, of getting that faith that was once given to the Saints, worth every effort and suffering? Here is mention of something similar to the substance of religion and godly wisdom; only this will satisfy the desirous souls who have tasted the firstfruits of the Holy Ghost. Well, dear Saints, for your comfort and your devotion, I assure you that the blessed time is at the door; yes, the appointed time for which your souls have longed. The thing that I taught you frequently when I was there, and with heavenly sweetness, was that it was close. Oh no, my dear friends, Mormonism is not deceit in anything that I taught to you, although there are some who deceive themselves through it. To them will be the unspeakable loss, but to all the faithful, will come more than tongue can tell, of blessings and glory and eternal lives to enjoy. What else shall I say from this distance? Know your duties, obey the priesthood that is in your midst; and if you support the leaders through your faith, and your prayers, and your obedience, they will, in time, lead you all safely to the enjoyment of all that your hearts desire; yes, and more than your hearts can imagine: but remember, that it is necessary to have a test of your faith in all things, always. God says, “that he will try his people in all things,” and so he does not mean in some things only. Expect that then, and watch and be truly obedient today, while there is a today, and thus, you will endure to the end.
Further on this topic I shall say that I understand through recent communication from President Young, that they intend to begin giving endowments in the Council House, a spacious and beautiful building, newly finished, when he begins the foundation of the Temple, to those first who are going on overseas missions. Before its foundation, they will build a rock wall around the Temple Block, which contains 10 square acres; this wall will be four feet thick, and eight feet high; on top of this will be a wall of bricks eight feet high, and six feet of pickets on top of that. There will be in this wall several gates, which will be guarded by watchmen: and the firm decision is, that through these gates nothing unclean will enter in any way, or under any circumstance. For on these conditions only, if you notice, the Lord gave a promise of his presence in the other temples that were built; yet some who were unclean and evil crawled into those, because the circumstances of the Saints were such that they could not withstand them as can be done here. An iron railway is being made to carry the rocks from the mountain to the wall. And that is not all that is going on here, but also much else that I cannot express to you through a letter. In short, this new world is already clothed in the cheerful countenance of antiquity, and her diligent inhabitants are fulfilling the character of the diligent, little creatures whose name was given to the place, that is, “Deseret,” which translated is, “Honeybee.” There are here four cities already established, dedicated, inhabited, and being built surprisingly fast, namely Great Salt Lake City, Ogden City (40 miles to the north), Provo City (46 miles to the south), and Manti City (1301/
You can see from all these movements, that the prophecies, or the imaginings, that I wrote to you before, are being quickly fulfilled, namely that the purpose of all this is to open the way for the Saints to come here from the south, instead of coming along the accursed waters of the Missouri, and the long and painful journey across the land and the rocky mountains. I believe that it will not be half the distance, the cost, or the time to come here when the railway is finished; the railway is being hurried forward across the Isthmus of Panama, and you will travel from there in a ship to San Diego, and from there along the railway to whatever place you wish.
This is good news, is it not, to the oppressed children of Zion especially, when we remember their longing for the freedom to come home—when they have no hope, thousands of them, that they could earn enough there in their lifetime to pay their cost to come here. In spite of that, I have better news still for the faithful and the patient, which proves the great care of God and his servants for all his children. I think that many, in light of the foregoing promises, will sing and weep, rejoice and grieve alternately; for, they say, what good is the temple or its ordinances to us, while we are too poor to be able to go to the place where it is; and they worry day and night because of their inability to come to Zion to enjoy the privileges of the Saints. But take heart, poor people of Wales, you will not be lost because of your poverty; and the arm of your God was not shortened, so that he could not gather all the poor from the corners of the earth. Although there will be, because of their dishonesty and their unkindness, a thousand curses on the heads of those poor persons whose cost was paid to Zion; yet, they do not close the ways of God, nor can they prevent His work from prospering. Instead of that way of gathering the poor, a government-sponsored society has been established here, with B. Young presiding over it, to receive donations, that already number in the tens of thousands of dollars. Its purpose is to gather the poor here, where they will work on the public works until they pay back that which they received. Bishop Hunter and others were deputized and sent to the States, and they returned in the Fall with hundreds of the remnants of those poor who were in Nauvoo, &c. All the income from their work is returned to the Treasury, and so it increases constantly, besides the continuous contributions, until, I hope, its beneficial effects will be felt even in Britain and Wales also before long. Behold, to you, poor people, proof of what I promised through God to you when I was there, namely that you would not be left behind because of your poverty. Rejoice, therefore, in this, be faithful and patient until you are sent for.
Another bit of news that I have to tell you, is that we, ourselves, in this place have begun to build a temple—that all are agreed in the matter, and I have no doubt but what it will be finished before the end of next summer. There is an abundance already promised for that. And after that our joy will be even fuller.
Other news is with respect to the Madocians; besides that which I wrote in the account of my journey, I heard in the Fall, in the City, from a gentleman who lived in Mexico, and was on his way home from the States through here, that few years ago he had found on his journey a nation of white people; and he described them very similarly to the way Mr. Ward and others described them, and as settling in the same place. He says with respect to their houses, that they are either hewn in the rock, or built of rock in a nook, between high rocks, and impossible to get to, except through one narrow descent—that they climb ladders to the tops of their houses from the outside, and go down into them from the ceiling to the bottom. Others say things different from that. He and his friends were welcomed into their midst, by about three hundred young women who came dressed in their white petticoats and pettigowns, their heads adorned with flowers, &c.; that each had a little pouch and some Indian corn flour in it, which they scattered along the path before them. This custom shows their abundance, together with their generosity and their kindness. They filled their needs cheaply when they went away.
Besides that, Col. Doniphan from Missouri announced that part of his army, in the Mexican War, after proclaiming peace, offered their service to restore peace among some of the neighboring Indians. They lost their way for a time, and at last they came across some white people, who received them with a welcome, and they wintered there. In the spring they escorted the soldiers to Santa Fe; for this kindness the Col. sent a regiment to accompany them home safely. After that he published their story in the newspapers of the States; but I have not had the privilege of seeing them. One said to me that he had read the account, together with two treatises that were published by other travelers who were in their midst, and the former assures me, I know not how, that it was Welsh they spoke there. These accounts agree remarkably in the peculiarities about them.
Even more explicitly, I understood through the Indians who visit us here, namely the Utahs, that some of their elders used to go almost every summer to the south, about a ten-day journey, to trade with some white people, who, they say, make and wear clothes similar to the Mormons; and that their women are much fairer than they. That they work the earth, and plough with one large, fat horse, with an iron plough,—that their implements for horses are kind of a strong web of their own making. They showed me wool blankets they bought there that are similar to the home spun of Wales. They make some of several colors, and black rows or blue in white, in others. These Indians say that they are rather superstitious—that they believe in diviners, wizards, &c., and that one man rides home from the forest on a huge piece of wood, without anything visible pulling it along! &c. Poor things if they are more superstitious than these Indians. I expect more of their history when some of the persons who were in their midst return, and you shall have an ampler account yet. Bro. Davis complained that the pieces were long last year, but I fear that you will be of the same mind as he now, if I do not end finally. But it is either feast or famine between us still, and it cannot be otherwise now. But I must end at last, feasting on the accounts I have about you in the TRUMPET, &c., until next Fall, it seems, when I shall expect a feast, through receiving your stories for the year through the TRUMPET, and I shall expect detailed letters from many of you.
All the families who came here are alive and healthy as far as I have heard, and they cannot help but do well in this country, all who try. Several Welshmen came through here to the gold country, and with them not one of the Welsh went but Thos. John. I am so pleased to see, if only the names of my old zealous brethren and co-workers, such as Thos. Pugh, Howell Williams, T. Giles, David John, Thomas Rees, John Thomas, Eli. Edwards, Robert Evans, Jos. Davies, D. Williams, Wm. Williams and his family, &c., &c., but there is not space to name them all or even half of those who are always close to my heart, but no one more than you, yourself, and my dear brethren, John Davis and Wm. Howells; I translated his letter and it was published in the “Deseret News” at the request of President B. Young. I intend to write to him soon, and let him hear this letter. Pray for him, as do I every day. My warmest love to the above brethren and their families, together with all my acquaintances, and all the dear Saints there. And my chief wish is, that you be zealous, meek and godly, and pray continually for each other, for the success of Zion, and for your unworthy brother in the Lord.
Published, and for sale by Wm. Phillips, 14, Castle Street,
Glebeland, Merthyr Tydfil.