Ronald D. Dennis, trans. and ed., Defending the Faith: Early Welsh Missionary Publications (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2003).
D16 JONES, Dan. Tri llythyr oddiwrth Capt. D. Jones, ac un oddiwrth Mrs. Lewis (o Gydweli), o Ddinas y Llyn Halen. (Three letters from Capt. D. Jones, and one from Mrs. Lewis [of Kidwelly], from Salt Lake City.) Merthyr Tydfil: J. Davis, Printer, 1850.
8 pp. 17 cm. Welsh Mormon Writings 48.
Most of the Welsh Saints planned to follow Captain Dan Jones’s route from Liverpool to Salt Lake City via New Orleans, St. Louis, and Council Bluffs. These letters were the first to reach Wales from those who had crossed the ocean and the plains in 1849, so all of the Welsh Saints were anxious to read them. Had they arrived a few days earlier, space would have been provided for them in the September 1850 Zion’s Trumpet. And had they arrived a few days later, the pamphlet would likely have contained an additional letter from Thomas Jeremy which, according to Davis’s ten-line foreword, arrived the same day the pamphlet was at the press.
Jones’s first letter, dated 20 November 1849, is directed to William Phillips, his successor in Wales. The next two are both dated 12 April 1850—one to Williams Phillips, the other to John Davis. The letter by Elizabeth Lewis, directed to John Davis, is dated 10 April 1850. The first letter, although dated over four months earlier than the others, was sent with them. Jones explains in his second letter that he had intended to send the first with a group of American soldiers who passed through Salt Lake City in late November, but bad weather had kept the soldiers from leaving until the following spring.
All the letters contain glowing reports of circumstances in the Salt Lake Valley. The Welsh pioneers who had crossed the plains between Council Bluffs and Salt Lake City the previous year were getting settled and were prospering in their “promised land.” Strong encouragement is offered to all to hasten after them.
To the Readers.
The following letters came to hand on the 21st of September, after we had printed the trumpet, together with the “directions to the emigrants;” and we thought it better to publish them without delay; and hoping that many will be distributed, so we will not have to sacrifice too much, we venture to offer this for half price, that is, a halfpenny. All the saints should be distributors, and be desirous of selling many without expecting a prize from anyone except from God. As we were putting this on the press today, we received another letter from the same place, from our dear brother Mr. Thomas Jeremy (of Llanybydder), which will appear in the next trumpet, if we have space.
Merthyr, September 24, 1850. J. Davis.
Salt Lake City, Nov. 20, 1849.
Dear Brother Phillips—By chance I received the opportunity of sending this letter from these remote parts, in this season of cold across the Rocky Mountains. Some of the American soldiers, I heard now, are going to the States and will be ready to start before I finish this letter. We arrived here healthy and happy on the 26th of last month, and we were very pleased about everything here on the whole, temporally and spiritually; it is so much better than we were told, as was the wisdom of Solomon beyond the comprehension of the Queen of Sheba. This is nearly all I have time to say about the place; you shall have a more complete account next spring. All the Welsh are content and are joining together to enclose about 600 or 700 acres of land on the banks of the West Jordan River about four miles from the city, which country is called New Wales, as fruitful and beautiful a land as any under the sun in the Western world. It does not cost anything, but is free to everyone, and as much as everyone can cultivate.
It is surprising what great work has been done in a year in this splendid valley! Yesterday I had the pleasure of baptizing close to forty of the Welsh here in order for them to renew their covenants and seal their faithfulness to the Lord God of Israel; and great was the joy and the rejoicing in their midst through the day! Our only worry was that there were not thousands more of our dear fellow nation here; yes, all the honest in heart with us. We established a Welsh branch of the Church to God, so the Welsh can hold their worship services in the language into which they were born, with Thomas Jeremy as president, and Daniel Daniels and Rice Williams as counselors. I have put all the Welsh into comfortable situations to get plenty of work in exchange for gold, money or supplies, &c. The wages of the workers are 6s 6c per day, the craftsmen from 10s to 12s per day, and if all the Welsh craftsmen were here, there would be people running after them with gold in their hands to pay them. This Valley is so healthful that I have not heard of old age, or sickness, or disease during my time here. I heard our dear President Brigham Young say publicly that he could not remember when anyone was buried here, and I have not heard mention of such a thing since my arrival. I am building a house in the city, on the inheritance which was prepared for me before I arrived; I secured a lot, or an acre and one quarter, for each of the Welsh who elected to build in the city. Mrs. Lewis got a paradisaical lot across from the temple, and already she has a house on it almost finished, in addition to a farm in the place that I mentioned; and she, together with all of the company, are rejoicing greatly that they have come to this place. Others are building houses in the city, namely, the Welsh, and all are happy in their countenances. In short and in great haste, understand me when I say that all is well with everyone here, with an abundance of food and shops as good as are seen in Wales.
As for me, although the world says that I am getting all this prosperity at the expense of the Saints, I shall say that all the Welsh, except for myself, are getting to rest here in prosperity to serve themselves, and to make themselves happy; but I had not been here a week before I was counseled to prepare to go from eight hundred to a thousand miles further to the southwest on a mission for God, at my own expense, across the tops of the snowy mountains through tribes of savage Indians along a path on which white man has never before set foot. Tomorrow morning is the hour to get underway; I know not when I shall return. My mission is to search out that branch of the race of Gomer which are called the Madocians; their story is well known, and I go with the intent of bringing them into the fold of the Good Shepherd. Oh, Saints, pray for my success and the protection of my life among bloodthirsty savages. You shall hear more when I return.
I and all the Welsh received a hearty welcome to the Valley; the leaders came miles to meet us and to welcome us, and great was the joy. Everything is well.
My exertion is vexing my health continually, so that I am hardly better than when I started from Wales; yet, God strengthens me miraculously day by day. Oh, dear Saints, pray for me now; for my work is ever increasing. Oh, that I could tell you of the hopes that are shortly before us to be fulfilled for you, but I cannot. Be patient a while longer. My wife and family are well and, together with all the Saints, send their regards to you and the dear Saints there. Farewell now, dear brother and all, in great haste.
Your brother, D. JONES.
Great Salt Lake City, April 12, 1850.
Dear Brother Phillips,— A few lines only can I write to you now; you shall see the Epistle I wrote to Brother Davis, which will say much more for me; yet, I hope, yes, and I pray daily for God to keep you from the evil that surrounds you, and give you influence over all the Saints, as a good shepherd has over his flock, that you may keep them in unity, love, growth and continual success; and I hope, I repeat, that hosts of those who persecuted me as the worst man in the country, have now obeyed the gospel of my Lord, and have come to know me better and to love you; and that will cause me to love the most hateful of them, yes, and embrace them if I could see them here. I fear that the government gives you hardly any protection; but, if not, do not be disheartened; the King of kings is watching over you; He will preserve you if you are humble and devout before Him. Do not forget to pray to Him and to serve Him. You cannot fulfill your important office there without His assistance. Oh, I would be so happy to see your face here so we could tell each other our troubles and our aspirations, but we shall probably do so over there first. Undoubtedly the poverty, pestilences, and deaths of every kind, together with hatred of the world, are causing much worry to you and the Saints; but rejoice in this, there is deliverance here from every evil but death, and very seldom does the king of terrors visit this place. Yet, here we are not without our trials and temptations to the extreme, though different from the ones there; and some, I am sad to say, even among the Welsh, are succumbing to false influences, especially the one called “yellow fever,” namely, the desire to leave here for the gold country to get rich. I assume that many beloved Welsh have been on their way here for some weeks, and may the gracious God keep them from the evils that surround them, and especially from the cholera morbus on the Missouri River. O! William, that was the strangest time of my entire life to see the power of God and the power of the devil. * * * * * * My wife and little Claudia are well, and all the Saints, and they send their greeting to you and to your dear family, and all the Saints there. Farewell now, says
Your brother, D. Jones.
P. S.—The American soldiers did not take the other letter until now because of the weather, and so I send it now. I hope that the other letters I sent have reached you promptly. I have heartfelt longing for your conferences and your association, but I must be content now.
Salt Lake City, April 12, 1850.
Dear Brother Davis,—I have so many things to write to you by now that I hardly know where to start, but this Epistle will tell you many of my thoughts; and besides this, briefly, I shall say to you and all the dear Saints there, Oh, brethren, be faithful and diligent in the heavenly calling to which you have been called, for you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. Make good use of your time in the vineyard of God there, before you are called here, for there are difficult days ahead. Everything is fine here, and all the Welsh are healthy and happy here.
I returned here from the south in February, after traveling about a thousand miles, and being within less than one hundred miles from the abode of the Madocians, as I was told afterwards by Indians who had been in their midst. I could not go any further, as our horses and our supplies were spent, and the rainy weather was flooding the country. We nearly lost our lives traveling across the snowy mountains for hundreds of miles, through snow between three and eight feet deep, and sleeping in it at night with nothing more than a blanket to cover us. Some days we left behind a half dozen of our horses and mules to die or as prey for the wolves. We were for several days without food before arriving at the Utah settlement on returning; you shall have an account with greater details of our discoveries in the Epistle, but it is not the time to tell everything to the world there. We intend to fulfill the purpose of this venture yet, perhaps this year; at least, we shall not desist until we get hold of the Madocians, and get the main road opened for the Saints to come from Wales across the railway of Panama to the California channel, up the Colorado River and there overland to the settlements of the Saints, which will be near the port at which the steamboats will land from there to here in every valley before long. The good intentions of God toward the old race of Gomer are becoming manifest wondrously and quickly to our dear President and to us. Dear Saints, remember and keep the counsels which I gave to you there. Respect the priesthood and pray for me and for yourselves.
I am, your brother in the new covenant, D. Jones.
P. S.—When will the TRUMPET sound? Send it here at every opportunity. For goodness sake, do your best for me with my books, and send the money; I was on the above journey at my own cost, and I shall likely go again before long.
Salt Lake Valley, April 10, 1850.
Beloved Brother in Christ,—At last I date my letter from the blessed place which I longed so much to see, and for which I broke through many obstacles to reach; and though it is not perfect heaven, nor is everyone in it perfect, yet I am not sorry for having come here, and the evils that were prophesied to me back there about this place and its inhabitants have not been fulfilled; and I believe that it is my duty to my Good Lord and his cause to send my witness back, for the sake of those who have not had this experience as I have had, and so they can take heart also to come here.
Do not expect me to give you a detailed account of a place which is so full of wonders as this one; you shall have more from others; but I shall say, like the Queen of Sheba of old, that I was not told half the good things about this place and its inhabitants. The city is being built with miraculous speed, and the land around it is being cultivated incredibly well. There is a convenient worship house already finished in which we meet with several thousand dear Saints each Sunday from every land, and we hear the voices of the best people on earth, including our dear President Brigham Young and his counselors, the Apostles and others who teach us in the law of heaven; all this gives me great pleasure and sweetness, and it displays the great power, wisdom and love of God in the plan of salvation; people who love heavenly doctrine are taught here, and what is even more remarkable is that all are conforming to it; peace, prosperity, and love reign, and God is praised all the more for this deliverance. I have not seen a drunken person here or anyone quarreling with the other; I have only heard of someone threatening to take another to court, but that he was too ashamed to be the first one here to do that. I have yet to hear an oath or swearing in the streets; there has not been one murder or theft that I know of, nor have I seen any immorality. And as for the highest officials here, they are surprisingly humble, meek, and pious,—all their behavior is that of a father to his children, from what I have seen. I fear greatly that sickness, pestilence, poverty, and oppression are causing much suffering to my dear brothers and sisters in the gospel in Wales, which causes me to desire and to pray greatly to be able to see them by the thousands in this blessed place. May all the best of Wales come here soon, and what a time we will have then. There is no one here begging, or any suffering from poverty. The men who came here the same time as I did, are freeholders to such an extent that it is difficult for me to hire anyone to work my small farm. It is now a busy time for sowing here. The wages of the workers here are two or three dollars per day, and work buys what cannot be had for gold. All the Welsh who came here are doing well, and they are held in high regard by everyone. We farm with each other “on the banks of the Jordan,” and the place is called “New Wales.” Capt. Jones has just returned from searching for the Welsh Indians. I write in haste because the mail is about to leave. I write to you because I hope my relatives are on their way here.
If my dear husband, father, and my sister have not started from there, tell them to come soon; I would be glad to see them here together with my brothers and all my relatives. If you get the chance, remember me to them lovingly; and my heartfelt wish is for them all to obey the gospel speedily. If you choose to send this, my testimony, to them, I hope that it will be blessed by God for them. Tell them and everyone who mentions Capt. Jones, that he has not been the evil man that they prophesied about him, rather until now his behavior has been the exact opposite. We have all found him to be kind and benevolent, and all his behavior is that of a Father toward his children, and great is our duty to thank him and the God who sent him to be a righteous leader to us. He has not gotten, nor has he tried to get, any of my money, and I have not heard of anyone of the company who has lost one penny because of him; and the prayer of us all is that God will bless him with the health he has lost serving us, and reward him in the world to come.
Dear brother, exhort all the Saints, on my behalf, to continue faithful in this church, for I am certain that this is the religion of Jesus Christ.
Remember me lovingly to yourself and all the Saints,
Your sister in the new covenant,