This article originally appeared in Vol.65, No.2 (2018) of Pioneer Magazine.

John W. Hess was born to Jacob and Elizabeth Foutz Hess on August 24, 1824, in Franklin County Pennsylvania.

HESS, John W.
John W Hess

In 1832 the family had moved to Richland County, Ohio. He writes:

“In March, 1834, my Father, Mother, three eldest sisters and myself, were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; previous to this we lived in peace with our neighbors, but soon after we were baptized our neighbors began to speak evil of, and persecute us in various ways.”

Eventually settling in Hancock County, Illinois:

“I continued to labor with my might until the violence of the mob was so great that we did not feel safe in remaining on our farm longer; so we moved to the City of Nauvoo. . . .

“[January 29,1846] I married . … At this time the word went forth among the people that the church would leave Nauvoo in the spring… .

“We arrived at Council Bluffs about the tenth day of July and found that four companies had been enlisted and organized [in the ], … I concluded to [join one], and was enlisted in Company “E”, Captain Daniel C. Davis. My wife, Emeline, also enlisted, as the Government had provided for four women to each company of 100 men to go as laundresses. . . .

“The pioneers reached Salt Lake Valley July 24th, and the [Mormon Battalion] Detachment [was discharged] on the 28th, of July 1847. … I feel that the year’s service … is one of the noblest and grandest acts of my life. … I was now in a country that was untried, and one thousand miles from where any supplies could be obtained, with only the outfit of a discharged soldier. . . .

“[In 1848] … I went north to a place afterwards called Farmington and located there. … In March, 1855, I was ordained a Bishop by president Brigham Young, and set apart to preside over the Farmington Ward. . . .

“In 1858, I was elected to the ; was elected again in 1860 for two years, or two terms.”

In 1869 John was called to serve a mission to the place of his birth, Franklin County, Pennsylvania.

“In 1876, I was re-elected to the Utah Legislature. I was Colonel, commanding the Militia of Davis County for many years. . . .

“About this time [ca. 1876] President Young called me to a mission with some Laminates located at Washakie, in the northern part of Box Elder County. . . .

“March 4, 1894 Today at the Stake Conference in East Bountiful, I was set apart to preside as the President of the Davis Stake of Zion with Joseph Hyrum Grant as my first counselor; set apart by the Apostle Franklin D. Richards and HeberJ. Grant. … I had presided over the Farmington Ward as its Bishop for twenty-seven successive years, and had labored as the First Counselor to [the previous Davis Stake] President W.R. Smith from 1882 to 1894…. To accept the responsibility of presiding over the Stake seemed a great responsibility, and so it has proved in every sense of the word. It has caused me to feel very humble . . . but through the help of the Lord I have done the best I could.

… I pray most earnestly that I may continue to be faithful and humble in the future in my labors among the people.”

John W. married seven wives and died in Farmington December 16,1903.

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