The Life of David John by Martha W. Cluff March 12th 1957
Contributor: finnsh Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
David John, a prominent citizen and an early settler in Provo, Utah, was my mother’s father. His wife was Mary Wride John, my grandmother. It was in their home in Provo that I was born. As a child, I marveled at this large home, a basement and three floors above, with many rooms. I don’t remember that my parents ever told me how my grandfather acquired this big home. About twenty years ago, I went to Provo to visit my mother’s brother, David John II, and he told me this story:
In Wales, my grandfather, David John, met the LDS missionaries – believed their message – and knew the Church was true. He was being educated to become a Baptist minister at that time. His mother had descended from the well-to-do Harries family and David John was to receive a goodly sum of money when he became of age. He chose to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and so his father told him he must leave his parents’ home.
In 1871 David John, then living in Provo, Utah, was called on a mission to Great Britain. He labored among his own people but without success. He went to the home of his parents, where his father twenty-six years before had driven him from home, and learned that his father had since died. His mother joyfully received him. At the conclusion of his mission he went to his mother’s home to say good-bye to her. She took him in to the bedroom and showed him a money belt, heavy with money – an amount equivalent to $10,000.00. She said “Your father disinherited you, but I didn’t; this is your inheritance.” He carried this belt around his waist over the ocean to America and to his home in Provo. Grandfather had said good-bye to his mother and left by the back door of her home. When he had gone a short distance, he looked back for a farewell glance of his mother’s home. He saw his mother come out of the house. She carried fruit jars out into the yard and placed a jar on each footprint which her son had left on her soil when returning to Zion. With some of the money which Grandfather inherited, he erected the large home in Provo. At my mother’s funeral, former Apostle Lyman referred to this home as the palatial residence of Provo, where the Brigham Young Academy students gathered for their social evenings. My mother and her sister were two of the original nineteen students under Dr. Maeser.
One LDS writer made this comment: “It is sometimes said that Mormonism attracts only the poor, weak and ignorant. David John’s conversion is a refutation of that statement.”
David John was one of the few men educated for the ministry to become identified with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in its early history. He was born in Little Newcastle, Pembroke, Wales, on January 29, 1833. From childhood, David John was a lover of education and grasped every opportunity that came in his path. His parents were devout Baptists and it was their greatest desire that he should become a Baptist minister. He had been baptized into that church when he was twelve years of age. When the Gospel was presented to him by the LDS missionaries, he was in a frame of mind to receive it. Dan Jones, one of the greatest missionaries the Church has ever known, had been sent to Wales. At this particular time thousands were converted to Mormonism and all Wales was enthusiastic over the Gospel message.
In his journal, Grandfather John recorded the following: “In the spring of 1848, I met several of the elders at Letterstone, two miles from my father’s home, and I attended a meeting when one Elder by the name of Daniel Williams preached. My mind was made up to unite myself with the church at the close of the meeting. I informed Elder Williams that I was ready to be baptized. It was a dark night and the rain fell in torrents, but we walked through it for two miles to reach water.” He relates how on the way to the water the Power of God and the power of darkness rested alternately upon him until his frame shook. Several times he came to a sudden halt and seemingly could not walk another step. His limbs and whole body seemed powerless. He tells how Elder Williams tried to buoy him up. He told Elder Williams that some power whispered to him that he was deceived and he was bringing ruin upon his own head and disgrace upon his family. Elder Williams replied, “That is the power of the evil one that endeavors to mislead you. Come, let us baptize you and all your doubts will be drowned.” At the powerful rebuke, he records, the power of darkness departed and his whole being was filled with the peace of God, and he was determined to be baptized. He tells of the marvelous power from Heaven that rested upon him when he came out of the water, and he gave thanks and sang praises to his Heavenly Father for the wonderful thing that had come to him. He continues, “We went back to the house and Elder Williams confirmed me. I remained there all night and the Spirit of God seemingly without measure abode there during the never-to-be-forgotten night. Oh, how I should here like to define my feelings, my peace and my joy on that night and the weeks that followed, but I cannot pen, cannot write, and tongue cannot tell the wondrous powers of heaven manifested to us, not in signs, wonders and visions, but in the calm, peaceful influence of the Holy Ghost.** I went to my parents’ home with a heart full of joy and gladness to tell them the wondrous story, that I had found the truth, the Gospel, the Priesthood restored, the establishment of the Church on the earth. I rejoiced to bring them the good news that angels had visited the earth and that the Father and Son had reappeared and had spoken to Joseph Smith, but to my utter disappointment the message was not credited. A spirit of opposition was manifested in my father’s house and in the whole region about. People flocked to my father’s house to learn if the report were true that I had been baptized by the Latter-day-Saints, and when they were answered in the affirmative much bitterness was manifested toward me.” David John was still under age, and, of course was subject to his father’s orders, and as an obedient son tried to live in unison with his family. His father demanded that David be placed under bonds to be kept away from the Mormons until he should become of age. The boy went to Elder Orson Pratt, President of the European Mission, and was advised to submit to the demands of his father. Thus was David John’s association with the Mormons broken off until he was 23 years of age. During this time he was being educated in a Baptist college in with a determination in the heart of his father that David should become a minister in that church. During this time David John was able to see wherein the Baptist Church was lacking in all the truth.
One writer said, “The Lord had not forgotten David John as he was one of those chosen before the foundation of the earth, but like Paul required a vision from heaven to give him the light.”
Just at the time that David John reached his 23rd birthday and his obligation to his father was fulfilled, he had a very impressive dream which was published in the Zion’s Trumpet in 1856. He tells in his journal:
“I dreamt that I saw an angel of the Lord. After talking with me a little, he placed his right hand on my right shoulder. His eyes were of a dark brown color, but full of glory. His voice was clear and full of power and authority. While in his presence I beheld very high mountains. He told me they were the everlasting hills over and by which the Latter-Day Saints were going to their gathering place. ‘Why’ said he ‘Are you spending your time in vain here? How is it that you will not join the Church of Christ and spend your time there?’ I replied, ‘I hope I am in the Church now, am I not?’ ‘You know better’ replied the messenger. ‘Do not ask questions that you know perfectly well, but go on to perfection. Look toward the firmament.’ I looked and beheld the air full of people of every sect. There I saw Christ sitting upon His throne in great glory and people gathered before him to be judged. Those that had pleased him were commanded to stand on his right hand and those that had not were to stand on his left. They stood in parallel lines, one against another, for a mile. Those on his right hand were Latter-day Saints and those on his left were not. Those who were Saints had happy faces and were smiling, but the others seemed to look sad and full of discontent and cried and turned their faces from Him (Christ) as they could not abide His presence.”
“According to this vision,” I said, “I can see the saints are right.” Then the angel said “look on the right” and I did and beheld the most beautiful valley in all the world, with beautiful trees and picturesque mountains. The beauty and glory of it was beyond description. Then I exclaimed, “Oh, I never knew such a beautiful scene belonged to this earth.” “This,” said the Angel, “shall be your inheritance and thy seed after thee forever if thou wilt obey the commandments of God and do right in the flesh.”
Then the angel said again, “Look, behold thee,” and I found myself in the most beautiful building. There I saw, on the stand, one teaching the principles of life. “This” said my guide, “is the House of the Lord.”
At this time I awoke, believing that the Spirit of the Lord and angels filled my room. I arose and bowed myself in prayer before God and asked that if that messenger was from Him, to make it known to me once more by the same messenger; if not, to hide the vision from me. I again retired to rest and soon fell into a deep sleep. Suddenly the same personage appeared and made known unto me some of the same things, but rebuked me for wasting my time where I was.” The angel then told David John that he was foreordained to come forth in this age to assist in the building of the Kingdom of God upon the earth and now the time was up. The angel said, “If thou wilt obey the commandments of God, thy days will be long on the earth; if not, thy days will be shortened.” “These words pierced my soul,” said David John, “and I awoke and spent the remainder of the night in deep thought.” At times his heart was full of rejoicing and again his soul would be full of grief. He was so overwhelmed by these two dreams that his mind was on them constantly the following day, and he could not keep his mind on his lessons. His teacher, observing this, excused him from his work thinking he was sick. He left school and went to the home of Elder John Griffiths and obtained a copy of “The Voice of Warning” and other books, which he read, and he was again built up in his enthusiasm for Mormonism. He firmly resolved that he would break away from his father’s faith, since he had remained obedient to the commands of his father up to date. He then told his parents he had definitely resolved to join the Saints again. This brought great distress to his parents and his classmates, who remonstrated with him but they were powerless now to influence him further. His father finally sent him from home and told him not to return until he was sent for. He never saw his father alive again.
On February 6, 1856, not more than a week after his wonderful dreams, he was re-baptized. At this time he had just passed his 23rd birthday. On the first of March following his baptism, he was ordained a Priest and on the 29th day of the same month he was advanced to the office of an Elder. He was now well equipped to bear the message of Mormonism to the world, and in June 1856 he was set apart for a mission to the Pembrokeshire Conference; and in the following December he was appointed to preside over the Flintshire Conference. He was retained in this position for one year and then he was promoted to the office of Second Counselor to the President of the Welch Mission.
Finally he was transferred to England where he was appointed to preside over the Nottingham Conference. His work in the mission field was outstanding. He was studious by nature and the opportunities afforded him in youth for acquiring an education had given him a decided advantage over those deprived. But best of all, he had a powerful testimony of the Gospel and a zeal for his work that carried him far in the service of his Master.
And now came the crowning event of his mission, the call to serve as President of three conferences – Nottingham, Leicestershire and Derbyshire. In this district were about 100 branches, not easy to supervise, especially in the event of disunity among the membership, which was so frequently the case in those days when the Gospel was new to them. (Quite a responsibility for such a young man.)
David John was to speak at a country church in Cardifff where he was laboring. He and his companion were seated on the rostrum waiting for the time to commence the meeting. A group of young girls came in and took seats in the rear. One of the girls caught David John’s eye. He asked his companion, “Can you tell me the name of that young lady who just came in?” “Yes” said his companion “her name if Mary Wride; she and her brother and sister are converts to the Church.” Mary Wride was also born in South Wales. When she was a small child she was christened in the Church of England. When she was 17 years old, her parents moved near Cardiff, and it was here that she embraced the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She was the daughter of well-to-do farm people. Without their knowledge, she walked ten miles to be baptized by Israel Evans, a missionary from Utah. Although there were jeers and ill feelings, she pressed on and never wavered. In the course of a month, her Brother Barry and her Sister Ann were baptized.
On February 8, 1860 David John and Mary Wride were married and after he was released from his Church position in England, they sailed for America on the ship Manchester in April 1861. They were six weeks on the ocean, and their baby daughter contracted a severe cold. They finally reached Florence and during the time they were there they purchased oxen and a wagon for crossing the wilderness. They traveled at the rate of ten miles a day. The child was not destined to reach the Promised Valley and on one dark night she died. Grandmother held the babe in her arms until morning, then the tiny body was taken from her. A tiny casket was made and the little body was laid away where all the wagons could roll over the spot and prevent animals from desecrating the grave.
They arrived in Utah on September 13, 1861 and went to Lehi for a month, then moved to Provo. David John must have experienced a great thrill when he reached Zion and saw what he was shown by the angel in his dream; the lofty mountains and beautiful valleys, for the angel had said “This shall be thine inheritance if thou wilt keep the commandments of God and do right in the flesh.”
After David John and his wife settled in Provo, he taught school for four years, and his trade as a tailor came in handy. He received as compensation, squash, potatoes, wheat, corn and other products which he carried home on his back. He also worked on the first roads between Provo and Heber, helped build the irrigation canals, and was in fact a pioneer in starting all the industries in the valley. He hauled coal by ox team from Coalville. Later he entered into a partnership with Abraham O. Smoot and founded the Smoot-John Lumber Company. He became one of the leading salesmen and businessmen in Provo. He was also connected with the Provo Woolen Mills, and operated a successful farm.
“He had not been long in Provo when the presiding brethren, recognizing his superior ability in leadership, and his keen insight into the spiritual truths of heaven, advanced him in the Priesthood and conferred upon him administrative responsibilities. He was ordained a seventy in December, 1861, and a high priest the following year, and at the same time was appointed second counselor in the Bishopric of the Provo Third Ward. He continued in the Bishopric for 15 years. He was later called to the position of Superintendent of Sunday Schools of Utah Stake, where he served for 28 years; and President of the High Priests quorum of the Stake for four years. In June 1877 he was advanced to the Office of First Counselor to Abraham O. Smoot in the Stake Presidency (after his return from his mission in England) and in 1883 he was called and ordained by President John Taylor and Joseph F. Smith, and Presiding Bishop Hunter, to act as agent in Utah Stake for the Presiding Bishopric of the Church. When Utah Stake was reorganized April 1, 1885, David John was chosen first counselor to President Edward Partridge, and at the death of President Partridge he was called to preside over the Utah Stake, which embraced Provo, Springville, and a few smaller settlements adjacent to Provo.”
“David John served for 28 years as trustee of the Public School System of Provo. He was always a lover of education, so much so that he was willing to sacrifice all he had in worldly goods to promote the cause of education, and together with A. O. Smoot and Harvey Cluff financed the organization of the Brigham Young Academy, which later became the Brigham Young University. For a number of years he was on the Board of Trustees of that school, and at the time of his death was Vice-President.”
In April 1871, as mentioned at the beginning of this history, David John received a call to fill a mission in Great Britain, and became President of the Glamorgan Conference. After he arrived there he wrote a letter to President Albert Carrington in which he said, “I am at my mother’s house for a few days. Yesterday, Sunday, many of my pious and devoted friends in the Baptist Church of my father’s visited me. I was invited to their service in the morning. I told them I would go provided they would let me occupy the pulpit in the evening. They refused on account of displeasing the congregation and giving a bad example to the rising generation. As they refused the one, I refused the other. I am going to Fishguard, sixteen miles from here, where I organized a branch of the Church fifteen years ago. Many of them are there now. They shall hear my testimony once more.”
When David John went back to Great Britain to fill his mission, his father had died. According to David John’s temple record, his father died on March 31, 1856, less than two months after his son had been re-baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Grandfather’s mother was now seventy years old. As I mentioned, she received her son with great joy and gave him his inheritance. The temple record shows that she died July 1, 1878, six years after her son’s return to Utah. Of eleven children born to David John’s parents, only two lived to manhood – David and Thomas. Thomas died June 9, 1859, not long before his brother left for America, at the age of 24.
Grandfather John lost no time in performing the necessary temple work for his dead family. It is said (which is probably recorded in his diary) that one night his father visited him in a dream. His father had fiery red hair. He was angry and scolded David. He thought it presumptuous for David to perform his ordinances. Later he came to David again in a dream. He was smiling and was holding by the hand one of David’s little daughters who had died. His father Daniel thanked him for having performed these temple ordinances. Apparently someone in the spirit world had preached the Gospel to Grandfather’s father.
One night David John was visited in a dream by an angel, who held in his hands the golden plates of the Book of Mormon. He placed them upon a table set before David. “You need not show me these sacred records,” said David John, “You know I believe, without being shown.” David took the record and pressed it to his bosom. (He records that one thing he noticed that the Prophet failed to mention; the outside of the record was smooth and polished, back and front.)
In January 1867, David John identified himself with an organization known as the “Provo City Library and Reading Room Association” whose objective was to build a “library of books, maps, charts and scientific instruments” that would be a credit to the city; connected with the reading room in which could be found current and early literature dealing with the Territory of Utah.
David John was a prolific writer. One of his articles dealing with books entitled “What Shall the Later-day Saints Read?” is of special interest. “Books are instruments of knowledge, but it requires taste and good judgment to make a suitable and useful selection. The choicest thoughts of the past, the richest ideas that adorn the mind have sprung from inspired minds. Our aim should be to read books filled with the spirit of the Gospel. Patronize only the literature that imparts knowledge and increases the wealth of understanding . . . . All books which aim to crush the religious element in man, quench the sense of moral obligation, rupture the tie which connects him to the Eternal in whatever form they appear, we must repudiate, and all that do not breathe loyalty and reverence for God.”
David John said “Conversions are never made by contending, since animosities are engendered, thus closing the mind and heart against unbiased investigation of the truth. Conversion comes only if a friendship has first been established, and friendship is based on confidence, and that can be built up only on the principle of love and sympathetic understanding of the other person’s problems.”
In an article written in the Millennial Star in 1871, David John speaks of being in the ministry in England for seven years and baptizing come 800 souls during that time, driving an ox team more than 1000 miles over the plains, and he said “And when I arrived at my journey’s end, I did not want to run away for I had striven and labored for my salvation.”
David John died Christmas Eve 1908 and services were held in the Provo Tabernacle. It was said of him “He was regarded as one of the great theologians of his generation, not alone because of his own research but because of his great faith and constant inspiration from above.”
Biographical Sketch of David JOHN
Contributor: finnsh Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF DAVID JOHN
PIONEER OF 1861
COMPLIED AND READ BY HIS GRANDDAUGHTER
LYLE CLUFF TALBOT
NAONI R. THEOBOLD CAMP
David John was born on the 29th of January in the village of Little New Castle, Pembroke, Wakes, [Wales] son of Daniel John and Mary Williams John. Daniel, his father was born April 1, 1803, at Martell Mill, in the parish of Penchadon, Pembroke, Wales. He died on the 31st of March 1865, at the age of 63. He lived and died a staunch member of the Baptist Church. His mother was born in the year 1801, in the parish of Ponchester, Pembroke, Wales. She died the first day of July 1878, being 77 years old. She was a widow 11 years.
His mother gave birth to eleven children, of which only two grew to manhood. At the age of 23 years, his only brother, Thomas, died and was buried a member of the Baptist Church.
From childhood, Brother John was always a lover of education and grasped every opportunity for learning that came in his path. His parents were very devout Baptists, in fact they came from a line of Baptist ministers, and those living are still strong Baptists, so that much of his education was along the religious line and when he heard the Gospel, his mind was in a frame that he could receive it and understand. He attended school from the time he was seven until he was twenty-three. At twelve years of age, he was baptized into the Baptist Church.
In the spring of 1848, he first met the elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Three elders visited his birthplace and preached in the open air and their preaching had a great effect on his mind. His father was greatly opposed to his joining the despised creed, but his convictions were very strong and his mind was made up to be baptized, and at the age of fifteen, on a very dark and rainy night, he, with a traveling elder, Daniel Williams, walked two miles to reach water and was baptized.
“In the month of Feb. 1840, I met several of the Elders at Letterstone, two miles from my father’s place and I attended a meeting where one elder preached by the name of Daniel Williams. My mind was fully made up to fully unite myself with the Church at the close of the meeting. After the services were closed, I informed Elder Williams that I was ready to be baptized. It was a dark night and the rain fell in torrents, but we waded through it for two miles to reach water. On the way to the water the power of God and the power of darkness alternately were resting upon me until my frame shook. Several times on the way I came to a sudden halt and could not seemingly walk another stop. My limbs and my whole body seemed powerless. Elder Williams kept asking me from time to time what was the matter with me. I answered him that some power whispered to me that I was deceived and that I was bringing ruin on my head and a disgrace upon all my kindred. He replied, ‘That is the power of the evil one that endeavors to mislead you, and I rebuke it in the name of Jesus Christ. Come, let us baptize you and all your doubts will be drowned.’ At the powerful rebuke the power of darkness departed, and my whole being was filled with the peace of God and I was determined to be baptized. At length we reached the water and he baptized me in the name of the Father, son and Holy Ghost. When he raised me to my feet, a great and marvelous power from Heaven rested upon me and I shouted at the full strength of my voice, ‘Glory to God and the Lamb forever in the highest. I am born of the water and the Spirit.’ Elder Williams responded ‘Amen’, in a loud voice. This occurred before we left the water. We went back to the house and Elder Williams confirmed me. I remained there all night and the Spirit of God seemingly without measure abode with us during that never-to-be forgotten night. Oh, how I should like here to define my feelings, my joy that night and the night that followed, but I cannot pen, cannot tell the wondrous powers of Heaven manifested to us; not in signs wonders and visions, but in the calm, peaceful influence of the Holy Ghost. Next morning I left William’s; we separated and we’ve not ever met since. (He died in Toole, Utah, a few years ago.) I went to my parents’ house with my heart full of joy and gladness to tell them the wondrous story, that I had found the truth, the Gospel, the Priesthood restored, the establishment of the Church on earth. I rejoiced to bring them the good news that Angels had visited the earth and that the Father and the Son had reappeared and spoken to Joseph Smith; but to my utter disappointment, the message was not credited. A spirit of opposition was manifested in my father’s house and in the whole region around. People flocked to my father’s house to learn if the report was true that I had been baptized by the Latter-day Saints, and when they were answered in the affirmative, much bitterness was manifest toward me.”
He was still under age and of course was subject to his father and as an obedient son tried to live in unison with the family. He spent much time in study, but because restless and uneasy he finally got the consent of his father to leave home and go to school. He walked one hundred miles to Glemorganshire and worked and attended school, studying three different languages and sciences. His benefactor, Mr. Jenkings, seeing his desire for knowledge, applied for entrance for him into a Baptist College for ministers. This privilege was granted and for some time he studied and preached, filling the pulpit of the Ministers. His first public address was at the age of fifteen, April 1851. He labored thus until February 1856, at which time he had a remarkable dream which changed his course. He was convinced that it was time to unite himself with his chosen church and from hence he labored in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This grieved his parents very much when informed of his decision; in fact his father finally sent him from home and told him not to return until he was sent for. He never saw his father alive again, but was present at his funeral.
Afterwards until 1860, he traveled as an elder in the British Mission and presided over the Nottingham Conference.
He was married to Mary Wride in February 1861, a member of the L.D.S. Church.
On the 16th of April 1861 he left Liverpool on the ship “Manchester”, with his wife, his brother-in-law, Barry and his wife, Anne Wride Stubbs. They were six weeks on the ocean. A big storm arose which drifted their ship on the bank of the Newfoundland, where their only child, Anne Jane, contracted a severe cold, which developed into pneumonia and caused her death at Devil’s Gate, on August 20th, 1861. The recent council of the President of the Church, Charles W. Penrose, delivered the funeral sermon.
Brother John was appointed before leaving Liverpool to take charge of the L.D.S. emigrants on the ship. At that time such offices were called Bishops. A custom at that time was for all to be examined and they finally arrived at Castle Gardens, New York. From New York they took sail to St. Joseph, Mo., then sailed up the Mississippi and Missouri until they reached Florence, the 14th of May 1861.
They remained in Florence a month in which time he purchased his outfit for crossing the great wilderness, oxen, wagon, etc.
Homer Duncan was appointed captain over the company. As all men had to do their part in the company, he took his turn at herding, guarding camp, etc. They traveled at the rate of ten miles a day. They arrived in the Great Salt Lake Basin in Sept. 13, 1861.
He then journeyed to Lehi and remained there for a month. Living in a granary of Isreal Evans, it having two bins, one for a bed for himself and wife and one for Barry Wride and wife.
Then they moved to Provo and the first night remained with Bishop Blackburn. Next day he moved into a house still standing on 6th West and 2nd North.
He taught school in Provo for four years. As his trade in Wales was a tailor it came in handy in this new country. The compensation for such work was squash, potatoes, wheat, corn, etc., which he carried home on his back.
He worked on the first roads between Heber and Provo, helped build the irrigation canals; hauled coal from Coalville; in fact he was a pioneer in all the industries of this valley. He was a leading salesman for the woolen mills. The Smoot Lumberyard was at first known as the Smoot-John Company. He was a successful farmer for years.
He was the first superintendent of the Utah County Sunday School with William Posman and S.S. Jones as counselors.
He served for 28 years as a trustee of the Public School System of Provo. For a number of years he was one of the Boards of Trustees of the Brigham Young Academy and at his death he was Vice President of that institution. He was such a lover of education that he was willing to sacrifice all he had in worldly goods for the great cause, and in connection with A. O. Smoot and Harvey H. Cluff, financed the institution.
He was appointed by Governor Charles Durkey on the 21st of Dec. 1866, as adjutant of the Nauvoo Legion.
From his early entrance into this city he was active in civic affairs, although he did not receive his naturalization papers until April 25, 1866, and his second papers in 1868.
He was among the early protectors of the country against the troublesome Indians.
In 1871, he was called by the Church to fill a mission in his native country, Wales. He was gone two years.
He acted as counselor to Bishop Myron Hanner for a number of years and in the year 1877, on June 4th, was called as counselor to Abraham O. Smoot, Utah Stake President, and was set apart as Stake President, January 13, 1901, serving in a capacity eighteen years. He was called to officiate in the St. George Temple in 1882 and was baptized and endowed for hundreds of his dead relatives in that temple and the work is still being carried on in the Salt Lake Temple by his family.
David John took a second wife ad he believed in the Patriarchal law of marriage. He married Jane Cree in the year 1865. One son and eight daughters were born to David John and Mary W. John and Jane C. John was the mother of eleven children of which only 5 are still alive. He is the grandfather of fifty-six grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.
He was one of the great theologians of the generation, not alone by his own researches, but his great faith and constant inspiration of the powers above. David John was ordained a Patriarch April 19, 1908 under the hands of Apostle John Henry Smith.
His life ended December 24th 1908. Services were held in the Tabernacle in December 26th 1898, and the remains buried in the family plot in Provo, Utah.
Biography obtained from the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, Fillmore, Utah, Territorial Statehouse Museum.
Contributor: finnsh Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
By the early twentieth century, many Mormons were comfortably situated along the Wasatch front. Too comfortable for their own good, thought David John.
Many were not coming out to meeting on Sundays.
The contrast became particularly apparent when he compared the commitment of Mormons in the Old Country with that of members he was seeing now. Not that contemporary Mormons didn't sacrifice for the faith they held dear. But too many were backsliding, too many asleep to the work--and this disturbed him.
In 1906, David told a group of priesthood brethren in Provo about the early days of the church in his native Wales. Back then, he said, “he thot it nothing to walk 20 miles to and 20 miles from meeting every Sunday and enjoyed the privilege very much. Now it seems that it is too much for the Saints to go two or three blocks to their meetings….A waking up is necessary, and he urged those in charge to sue renewed energy and arouse the sleepers in their ward.”
Source: Minutes, June 17, 1906, Provo 4th Ward General Min, LR 7224/11 v. 17, Church History Library, Salt Lake City.
Journal Account of the Baptism of David John by Daniel Williams, February 1849, Pembrokeshire, South Wales
Contributor: finnsh Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
The following excerpt is from Volume 1, pages 13-16, of the journal of David John. It describes his conversion and baptism by Daniel Williams, a Welsh Mormon missionary:
"In the year 1845, when I was 12 years of age, I
was baptized to the Baptist Church, by the Revd Thomas Griffiths Jones.
I attended all their meetings and Sunday schools, for years in my
boyhood. In the spring of the year 1848, I first met the Elders of
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday-Saints. Three of them
visited my birth place, and preached in the open air. They were
John Price, John Davies, and John Evans. They were native Elders. [Vol. 1, Page 14]
Their preaching had a great effect upon my mind, I believed their
doctrine, when I first heard it. I followed them to their lodging house,
and listened to a discussion between them, and many others, of various
creeds of faith, thus listening deepened my convictions of the Divinity
of their doctrine. When I entered my parents’ house, I informed them, that
I fully believed the doctrines advanced by the Elders. My father reasoned
with me, saying “that visions, visitings of angels, prophecy, healing the
sick, speaking in tongues etc, had long since ceased, and were not any
longer necessary”, I argued on the other side, and could not be con-
vinced to the contrary. The Elders preached several times in the place
during the summer’s months, and every time they preached, I attended
their meetings. When the summer ended, they discontinued their preaching,
for the reason that none were found willing to open to them, their
houses, to preach in, and it was too wet and cold, to hold meetings
in the open air in the winter season. In the month of February 1849,
I met several of the Elders at Letterstone, two miles from my father’s
house, I attended a meeting, on the evening of the day, I met
them, when one Elder preached, by the name of Daniel Williams. My
mind was fully made up to unite myself with the Church, at the close
of the meeting. After the services were closed, I informed Elder Williams,
that I was ready to be baptized. It was a dark night, and the rain
fell in torrents, but we walked through it for two miles to reach water.
On the way to the water, the power of God, and the powers of darkness,
alternately were resting upon me, ‘till my frame shook. Several times
on the way I came to a came to a sudden halt, and could not, seemingly
walk another step, my limbs and my whole body seemed powerless;
Elder Williams, kept asking me, from time to time, what was the
matter with me? I answered him, that some power whispered to me [Vol. 1, Page 15]
that I was deceived, and that I was bringing ruin on my head, and
a disgrace upon all my kindred. He replied “that is the power of
the evil one, that endeavors to mislead you, and I rebuke it,
in the name of Jesus Christ. Come, let me baptize you, and
all your doubts will be drownded”. At his powerful rebuke, the
powers of darkness departed, and my whole being was filled with
the peace of God, and I was determined to be baptized. At length
we reached the water, and he baptized me, in the name of the
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. When he raised me to my feet, a
great and marvelous power from Heaven, rested upon me, and I
shouted at the full strength of my voice, “Glory to God, and the
Lamb, for ever, in the highest; I am born of the water and Spirit.”
Elder Williams responded, “Amen”, in a loud voice. This incident
occurred before we had left the water. We went back to the house,
from which we went, and Elder Williams, confirmed me the same night.
I remained in the house, all of that night, and the spirit of God,
seemingly, without measure, abode with us, during that never to be
forgotten night. O! how I should like here to define my feelings,
my peace, and my joy, on that night, and that week that followed, but I can
not, pen can not write, tongue can not tell, the wondrous powers
of Heaven, manifested to us; not in signs, wonders, and visions, but in
the calm, peaceful influences of the Holy Ghost. Next morning I left
Williams, we separated, and we never met since. He died in “Tooele”
Utah, a few years ago."
Spiritual Stories of David John by Gwen Williams Jensen
Contributor: finnsh Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
My grandfather, David John, , heard the gospel while studying for the Baptist ministry in the city of Harverfordwest, Pembroke, South Wales. He had a very remarkable conversion and baptism, but when he returned home to tell his parents of his testimony of this new found religion he was commanded to denounce it or be disinherited. He was sent from home and disgraced his parents (so they claimed) because of his baptism. He continued preaching and doing missionary work and it was during this time that he met Mary Wride who too, had been obliged to leave her home because of her new found religion. They were married in February 1860, and after a short time they immigrated to America and made their trek across the plains. They were sent by Brigham Young to Provo, to pioneer and build up the settlement there. Grandfather became a great organizer and builder. He was a great promoter of industry and under his supervision erected the Provo Tabernacle, and played a very important part in the starting of the Brigham Young Academy, which later became the Brigham Young University. After being in Provo for a few years he returned to Wales, and yearned to go back and visit with his parents, but found that his father had passed away, but had left a considerable amount of money. His mother rejoiced over the return of David, as she had prayed so much that he would come back. She brought forth this large sum of money, in currency and made a belt for him to carry it in when he returned to America. He tied it around his waist and brought it back to Utah with him. The pathetic story is told of how his mother grieved so when he left her home that she followed behind him and placed glass jars over each foot print he had left behind, so that she could remember him, by that until her dying day. With the thousands of dollars he returned home with David financed and paid for one of the buildings on the lower campus of the BYU. He and two other two men, all serving in the Stake Presidency combined their money together with the tithing funds they were permitted to use and founded the BYU. Grandfather John was the official tithe collector for the Provo area, which extended from Alpine to Nephi and from Price to the West Desert. They were given the approval from the Church Presidency to begin their venture to establish a place of formal education. Grandfather John also built one of the largest homes in Provo. In his Church calling Grandfather John worked closely with both President Brigham Young as well as with President Wilford Woodruff.
Grandmother Mary Wride John served in the first Stake Relief Society Presidency of Utah Stake. She went about with her horse and carriage and helped to organize many of the Relief Societies in that geographically very large Stake. Grandmother was also a fine seamstress.
Written by Gwen Williams Jensen, mother of your Grandfather Homer Jensen.
Leading the High Priests at Provo
Contributor: finnsh Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
Domincus Carter had been in the saddle a long time. Now nearing seventy years of age, he was slowing down, and was ready for a younger man to succeed him as president of the High Priest's Quorum at Provo.
“I was in the camp that started from Kirtland [to Missouri, and] many of the camp were killed," he recounted to his fellow quorum members at a meeting early in the spring of 1874.
"Bishop [Myron] Tanner’s father's head was cut open. And we had to sign away our property."
That was decades ago, back when the Saints lived in the states. Dominicus had seen it all.
"I can bear testimony that the work is true," he told his brethren. "I have never seen a day that I wish to change my faith for any other."
Dominicus had now served fourteen years as president of the quorum. He had done his best during that time but was now convinced it was time for a change.
"Brethren," he told them, "I have lost my hearing & one of my eyes. I wish to ask to be excused and let some one else take charge of the quorum as I can't hear. Brethren, I wish your prayers.”
The brethren agreed to the change.
Myron Tanner, bishop of the Provo 3rd Ward, moved that Brother Carter be excused and released with the prayers of the Quorum. The move was seconded by A. O. Smoot, presiding bishop (and soon to be stake president) of the county. The motion was carried unanimously.
Smoot then motioned that David John be sustained as the new president of the High Priest's Quorum at Provo. John, 41, was a Welsh immigrant and business partner of Smoot's. Dominicus Carter seconded the motion, and it was carried unanimously.
Source: Minutes, Mar 28, 1874, Utah Stake, High Priests Minutes, 1874-1913, LR 9629 13, vol. 3, Church History Library, SLC.
My Heart Is the Kingdom of God
Contributor: finnsh Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
David John was ready to drop the men who did not come out to meeting.
John, president of the High Priest's Quorum at Provo, was adamant. “I feel that we must move from us those that are dead," speaking of the men who seemed to were doing nothing in the Gospel. They were like dead weight on a tree whose buds were trying to grow. Even so, before he acted, John wanted to know the feeling of his quorum members.
Edson Whipple had visited a lot of these less active men in the Provo 2nd Ward. He was reluctant to act hastily. Whipple “spoke of the Government of God & shewed that we have to rebuke and reprove with mildness & when we can do so with mildness tis well."
Whipple didn't think resorting to threats was the best way.
True, "there are spirits that will not submit to kindness & if there is a spirit that will not submit I would use every power I had till he was subdued." '
Whipple explained a series of steps he had tried over the course of his career as a husband and father.
"First try a gentle reproof & if that wont do a gentle rebuke & if that failed (if it was a wife) I would tell her to go in the room there. You have access to the wood, meat, flour, &c & while she held to that spirit I would tell her to stay there as he would not fellowship her."
Whipple, it seems, had sent wives to time out.
"And this is as touching wives and so with the Church & this quorum," he said.
Still, if the more mild rebukes are of no effect, Whipple felt it the duty of the quorum to deal with men who "have trifled with the Kingdom of God," especially drunkards. "Tis better to drop them," he said, "than let the young shoots be injured." If the High Priests were not disciplined for their bad behavior, their poor example might rub off on the younger men.
James Dunn was reluctant to disfellowship or excommunicate. “We have a great deal of Evil in our nature," he argued, "seeking at the worst side & so with our children. If we are harsh we crush them; so if we cut off with bravado we are in danger."
Dunn then sought the forgiveness of the brethren.
"I have an apology," he said. "I have not met with you" as often as he felt he should. "You know my labor in the factory"--most likely referring to the Provo Woolen Factory, where he must have worked nights.
"But the nearest to my heart is the Kingdom of God."
Myron Tanner, Bishop of the Provo 3rd Ward, summarizing that night's discussion, argued that it is better off cut off the older men who “have no life & are dead to the Gospel” and to “try to save our boys & seek after those that have come among us from the Old world."
Source: Minutes, Mar 5, 1875, Utah Stake, High Priests Minutes, 1874-1913, LR 9629 13, vol. 3, pp. 18-19, Church History Library, SLC.