MOLEN, Jesse: The Life and Struggles


Jesse Molen

Jesse Molen was born the son of Aquilla and Docia White Molen on July 25, 1805. The tax list for Henry County, for 1804 contains the name of Aquilla, his father, so it is likely that Jesse was born in Henry County. While he was still quite young the family moved to Pulaski County and then to Wayne County, . Jesse’s father was a tobacco grower and a boatman. He transported tobacco, produce and timber down the Cumberland River.

Jesse married Laurany Huffaker on November 13, 1828, in Wayne County, Kentucky. Laurany was born on 11 August 1809 at Monticello, Wayne County, Kentucky. Her father was Jacob Huffaker who was of Swiss/German extraction and her mother, Margaret Bodkin, was of Irish descent.

In 1830 Jesse, Laurany and their first daughter, Margaret Ann, moved across the Ohio River into Illinois where they lived for some time in Morgan County and later in Bureau County. Jesse was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on February 10, 1843. This brought persecution from neighbors so in February 1845 they moved to Camp Creek, Hancock County. Here they only had time to harvest one crop before the mob actions made it imperative that they move into Nauvoo for protection.

Jesse was in command of one of the crudely constructed cannons used in the Nauvoo war. In September 1846 the family left Nauvoo and started their move to the West. They spent that winter at Mahaska County, Iowa with one of Laurany’s sisters, named Mrs. Majors, and her family. The next spring they were on the move again and finally, on October 6, 1847, they reached the Salt Lake Valley. They were members of the Jedediah M. Grant/Willard Snow company.

Upon arrival in Salt Lake City, they had very little food or other provisions. They were required to subsist on plant roots to supplement the little other food they had. The next year they experienced the cricket infestation and lost most of their crop.

The rigors of the struggle to travel west plus chills and other conditions had taken their toll on Jess’s health. In the year 1850, it was thought by Brigham Young and others of the priesthood that it might be an advantage to Jesse’s health for him to travel. Consequently, he was called at the April 1850 conference to serve a mission to the Eastern States. The company that he traveled with encountered many difficulties, mostly because of deep snow through the mountains. On reaching the North Platt, Jesse contracted Mountain Fever and was unable to be taken farther.

After lying sick for some weeks he was finally brought home. He recovered from the fever, but not from his old disease, which became increasingly worse. He passed away on March 15, 1852, at 8:00 p.m. Jesse was a member of the Quorum of Seventy. He was a devoted member of the church and was respected by his associates. He and Laurany had 13 children. One of their daughters died as a result of an accident as they traveled toward Salt Lake City in June of 1847. Laurany passed away on March 7, 1854. Jedediah M. Grant preached the funeral sermons for both Jesse and Laurany. They are both buried in the Salt Lake City cemetery.

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