|Vol. 2, No. 3 - Jan. 2006
Joseph F. Buchanan
John William Dutson never knew his father. He was born after his father disappeared, presumed lost at sea. He was raised by his mother with a lot of help from his grandparents, William and Jane Green. His mother was baptized into the church in 1840 by Wilford Woodruff in his great missionary work in Herefordshire of England. Most of his family joined the church at that time and soon afterwards journeyed to Nauvoo. The previous issue of this newsletter gives some details of John William's early life.
This article concerns itself with the rest of John William's life, but mainly focuses on his testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Many details of John William Dutson's life are found in his history, published in several books and on some family history web pages. This is a summary of those works.
At this point in John's life, he was living in Saint Louis, Missouri with his aged grandmother, Jane and some other relatives. Most of the Saints had travelled west through Iowa and some were in the Salt Lake Valley. At this time there were about 1500 members of the church in St. Louis. John's mother, Ann, had remarried and came to Utah with her husband, John Carling, his children and their children together. I am including a brief summary of her life later in this publication.
In Saint Louis, John needed to find work and decided instead of just seeking labor, learned a trade with William Stevens. John became a locksmith. In 1850 John married Elizabeth Cowley whom he met earlier in the difficult times of Nauvoo. Their first two children died, the first died the same day he was born, the second died at the age of two. A glimpse of John's testimony can be seen in the poem he wrote in memory of his departed little boy, John Henry:
The offspring of our joy Is sleeping in the sod. His prattle was our joy, He was taken by our God. We must our God obey All things are for the best We must never answer nay; In submission we will be blest. We'll have our child again On the resurrection morn Then we must faithfully remain If through a trial of sorrow born.
At about the same time, Apostle Erastus Snow was called to go to St. Louis to organize a stake and make sure things were in order. At the time, the church asked members to be re-baptized to show their faithfulness and John willingly complied. This push for re-baptism was referred to as a "Reformation". John had earlier been called to serve in the 21st Quorum of the Seventy. John was very concerned about his standing in the church and in the Quorum. There was a lot of apostasy in the church in St. Louis, including some of John's relatives. The following letter John wrote to the president of his quorum illustrates his strong testimony and his desire to be right with the Lord. It is also a good summary of his life in the Gospel up to this point:
"Nathan B. Baldwin, President of said Quorum, St. Louis, March 25, 1855.
"Dear President of the 21st Quorum of Seventy,
"It is with great pleasure that at the present time I have the opportunity of writing and sending these few lines to you, to inform you of my whereabouts, of my faith in the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. "I was baptized into the church on the 24th of September 1840 and have continued a member ever since that time, and have never had any doubts in my mind as to the truth of the same, nor neither have I had the slightest inclination to turn aside from the church.
"I believe in the revelations of God and am willing to abide by the council of his servants that he has seen fit to choose to council and direct his people in these last days upon the earth, and I pray God that I may be preserved from all wickedness and temptations and that the feelings that I have had actuating within me ever since I became a member of the church may remain with me while I live upon the earth. I have had some very good inducements as some people would call them, held out to me if I would leave the church, I hold with them in their views, but that never would consent to. Had I done so I never should be happy, nor could not rest conscientiously before God, Knowing that I would be putting aside my salvation for the things of the world.
"I was ordained into the quorum a very short time before the Temple was completed at Nauvoo, and went through the Temple with the quorum receiving my washings in the same and, etc. Brother Derby was senior president at that time of the quorum, brother Gurley and Benjamin L. Clapp and others were present at the time of ordination. Brother Clapp was mouth I believe at the time. I believe I am correct in my statements of the above.
"You may now want to know how it was, that I came to Saint Louis, and not to the valleys; I will tell you. I made one start to go with the pioneers, to the valleys, when they left Nauvoo and was about crossing the river for that purpose. At that time my Grandmother was leaning to me for support, as she was a widow, and very old, she wished me to stay with her to support her the short time she expected to live. By her persuasion, and some of the rest of the family, I concluded to stay until we all went to the valleys of the mountains, and an aunt was also living with us at the time. They both of them did not want me to go, as they did not see how they could come after me themselves. If I stayed a short time I expected we could sell out and go together. But we shared the same way as a great many others that were left at Nauvoo. If we could not sell our house and lot, we had no other means to go with, and when the mob came to drive us out, our families scattered all ways; while I was out with the company, my folks, being very timid, crossed the river and left for parts I knew not where. It was for three weeks that I did not know where they had gone. I then heard that they had begged their passage down the river on a boat to Saint Louis. I then followed them to this place.
"My Grandmother and Aunt have both died since I came here.
"There is another thing I wished to mention to you. I have a uncle living here that has a name with the 21st Quorum of Seventy, and has apostatized from the church; or at least when we were all requested that wished to have our names with the church, were requested to be baptized, he did not, nor has not yet attended to it, to the best of my knowledge, his name is William Green, Jr. but I will let you know more particulars about it. I would like to know if my name is still on the quorum books or not and if you will please let me know if I am still acknowledged a member of the quorum when you send a few lines in answer to this, if you will please to do so I shall be very thankful to you for your kindness, and will be happy to hear from you.
"Yours in the Gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, and that I may ever conduct myself in a becoming manner as a saint before my God, that with his faithful saints, may receive a crown of eternal lives, and be counted worthy to reign with him upon the earth is my desire. I must close for the present.
(signed) J. W. Dutson"
John did not receive any response to his letter, but was assured by Elder Snow that he had done nothing that warranted being cut off. Soon after this he was set apart as first counselor to Bishop Lowe of the Third Ward. Also at this time, because of his talents, John was asked to take the "presidency of the choir". Also, he had a violin, brought from England as a prized posession and is said to have a rich high-tenor voice.
Two years later, John found himself very ill and expected to die. In one of the blessings he asked for and received, he was told: "that the devil was mad with me as I had been a great trouble to him through the reformation in defending the authorities of the church and that the devil wanted to kill me". John expressed the desire to move his family to "the Valleys", but in the process was unable to dispose of his property. He felt that he must make the sacrifice and go anyway, so later that year (1857), he began the journey with his wife and two daughters to the Salt Lake Valley. They arrived in the Valley on 21 September and soon afterwards continued on to Fillmore where a number of his family had already settled.
On the journey across the plains, the Dutson family were acquainted with a young lady, named Caroline Geneva Jenkins. Caroline also moved to Fillmore and worked for the family for a while as a hired girl. John's wife, Elizabeth was fond of Caroline and asked John to marry her as a plural wife. When Elizabeth was sealed to John in the Endowment House on 7 Sep 1858, Caroline was also married to John.
After living in Fillmore until 1863, John moved to the new community of Deseret to help set it up. He took his wife Caroline with him, leaving Elizabeth for a while in Fillmore to care for the rest of the family. Deseret was a difficult place to live, mainly due to troubles with the Indians. Caroline's daughter Elizabeth, was the first white child born in the settlement, in the following October, in 1864. He moved his families to Oak Creek (Oak City) in the Summer of 1871 where he built homes for his families on what is now 1st West on the East side of the street between 1st and 2nd South. This is where his families finally remained and where he died in 1887.
John served well in the Gospel and in helping to establish new communities in Millard County. He served as a Sunday School officer several times, including when the picture was taken, shown in the previous issue of this Newsletter. In that picture he is holding up a book that looks very much like the Book of Mormon, as if to show his testimony of that great book of scripture. John also organized and led choirs in a number of places where he lived. Music was important in his life.
John William's life was cut short due to kidney disease and a bad heart. Even in his suffering in his later years he insisted in attending church faithfully. He finally remained bedfast for fifteen months before he died in 1887, suffering much pain. Even in the end, he gave his testimony in poetry as he wrote to his wives:
TO MY DEAR WIVES 'Tis hard for me to bid farewell to thee But 'tis the Lord's will, and it must be. I bid you adieu, so in Him, trust. 'Tis in my grave I lie to rest And with the Saints be blest. I shall not die, but lay to sleep And leave you here to weep. The Resurrection Day I'll roam around And we shall hear the joyful sound, Come up, ye blessed of the Lord, You have kept my laws and kept my word. Oh, then we'll meet to part no more, And receive our blessings that is won. Oh, then we'll meet to grasp the hand, And at God's right hand, we will stand.
Ann, John William Dutson's mother, led a wonderful, but difficult life. Her history is included in the family history web pages, but I would like to summarize some of her history here as an appendix to the history of her son.
As mentioned before, Ann's first husband, John Dutson, disappeared, presumably lost at sea, just before the birth of John William. She went to live with her parents where she began to raise her two little children. It was there that she embraced the Gospel and was baptized by Wilford Woodruff. A few years later, this extended family who had joined the church, came to America and to Nauvoo. In Nauvoo, Ann met and married a widower, John Carling and helped him raise his children. At about this time, "the Prophet Joseph Smith laid his hands on Ann's head and set her apart as a midwife, informing her that she would be successful in caring for the sick if she would use herbs exclusively in her work." (quoted directly from the history). Ann's own children were now grown and taking care of themselves. She went with her new family to the Salt Lake Valley, eventually arriving in 1852. After a short stay in Provo, the family settled in the new community of Fillmore in October 1852. There John served as member of the Territorial Legislature. He died shortly after his term ended in 1855.
One of Ann and John Carling's sons, Francis (Frank) had married Fanny Nixon, but after a few years died of heart trouble. Ann asked her son, John William to marry her, so he married his half-brother's recently widowed wife, in 1873.
Through the whole time that Ann lived in Fillmore, until a few years before the end of her life, Ann served as a midwife and was very busy. From the history, it says "Her midwife fee was $3 - IF the people had the means to pay ... accepted ... in cash or produce. Even though sanitary precautions were not stressed in her time, she instinctively practiced extreme cleanliness..."
Again from the history: "It was her custom to perch on the running gears of a wagon and tell the driver to drive as fast as the horses would go. From this precarious perch she fell one day en route to Meadow and broke her hip. This brought a halt to her practice as a midwife (in her late 80's)". She died peacefully in 1893 at age 91.