Tuesday, June 23, 2009

They Knew the Prophet Joseph Smith

Memories of John W. Hess and his brother David Hess

The following account was published in The Juvenile Instructor, XXVI (15 May 1892) pp 202-03

Jospeh SmithIn the Autumn of 1838, Joseph the Prophet and others came to my father's house near the Richmond Landing and stayed there thirteen days. Father was the only Mormon in that part of the country. At that time Joseph was studying Greek and Latin. When he got tired of studying, he would go and play with the children intheir games about the house, to give him exercise. Then he would go back to his studies.

I was a boy then about fourteen years old. He used to take me upon his knee and caress me as he would a little child. I relate this to show the kindness and simplicity of his nature. I never saw another man like Joseph. There was something heavenly & angelic in his looks that I never witnessed in the countenance of any other person. During his short stay I became very much attached to him, and learned to love him more dearly than any other person I ever met, my father and mother not excepted.

The next time I saw the Prophet was at Richmond Court House, in chains after the surrender of Far West. I used to walk six miles every day to see him during his stay in the Richmond Jail. Although a boy of about fourteen years, I became convinced beyond doubt that he was a prophet of God, and that testimony has never left me.


The following account was published in the LDS Improvement Era, Vol V pg. 943

Elder John W. Hess, who was for a long time President of the Davis Stake of Zion, has given exceedingly interesting reminiscences of the Prophet Joseph. When Elder Hess was a boy, about twelve years of age, his father rented a house at Richmond Landing, or, as the place was also called, Pomeroy's Ferry. There the Saints landed who came by water from Kirtland to go to Far West. And theret the Prophet Joseph, in company with his brothers Hyrum and William, and others, thirteen in all, stopped as they were returning from laying out the city of FarWest. They stayed with the family of Father Hess for thirteen days. The Prophet was studying Greek and Latin. He would study intently until he was very tired, Then he would come out of his room and engage in a game, perhaps it would be "hide and seek," with the children, showing the child-like simplicity which characterized the life of that great man. And oh, how he was beloved by every member of that family!

Brother Hess says he has never seen any one else that he has loved as he loved the Prophet Joseph Smith. He can remember of Joseph's taking him on his lap at different times, and of putting his own arms around the beloved Prophet's neck and being embraced by him; and that, being thus clasped to the noble, generous, mighty heart of the Prophet, gave him a heavenly sensation never to be described or forgotten. Upon one occasion, the little boy heard some of the brethren talking of the strength they felt they possessed in resisting temptation, and he never forgot what the Prophet said to them; it was: "Brethren, if you get onto the Devil's ground, he will handle you! Keep away from him, the farther the better! "When the Prophet went away from the home he had found with Father Hess, you would have thought there had been a funeral in the family, the children all loved him so! This is as Elder Hess remembered those days and events.

By Andrew Jenson - Vol. 1, Page 463

John W. Hess, president of the Davis Stake, is the son of Jacob Hess and Elizabeth Foutz, and was born Aug. 24, 1824, in Franklin county, Penn. In 1832 his father's family moved to Richland county, where he, together with his father, mother and elder sister, were baptized by Bishop David Evans, about 1834. His father then moved to Ray county, Mo., where the family passed through all the persecutions of those days, and was finally expelled from the State with the rest of the Saints. John W. Hess was ordained a Seventy in the city of Nauvoo in 1841 and became a member of the 22nd quorum. He assisted in building the Nauvoo Temple and received his endowments therein. He was an orderly sergeant in the Nauvoo Legion and was on guard just prior to the Prophet's martyrdom. In the spring of 1846 he left for the Rocky Mountains together with the other exiled Saints. July 16, 1846, he enlisted in the famous Mormon Battalion in company E, and marched toward Mexico in defense of his country's flag. He served till July 29, 1847, when he was mustered out in Salt Lake City. In March, 1855, he was called, ordained, and set apart to preside as Bishop of Farmington Ward by Pres. Brigham Young, in which office he faithfully served till 1882, when he was called by Pres. John Taylor to act as first counselor to Wm. R. Smith, President of the Davis State. March 4, 1894, he was set apart as President of the Davis Stake by Apostle Franklin D. Richards, which position he has filled ever since. Feb 8, 1900 he was ordained a Patriarch by Apostle Francis M. Lyman. Elder Hess commanded the Davis county military district as colonel from its organization till it was disbanded. Pres. Hess is the husband of seven wives and the father of 62 children, fifty of whom are living. He has at the present writing 250 grandchildren and 40 great-grandchildren.

Mural in the Farmington Rock Church
This mural, in the Farmington Rock Church shows John W Wells at the pulpit during the original organization of the L.D.S. Primary which took place in this Chapel in 1878. The painting was done by Lyn Faucett in 1941.

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