This riveting autobiography of Daniel W. Jones (1830-1915) is a journey through time. As described in the subtitle, it is “a true yet thrilling narrative of the author’s experiences among the natives.” Daniel W. Jones first thought that Mormons could not be trusted, but after an accidental gunshot wound in the leg led him to stop in Provo in 1850, he quickly realized they were good people and was baptized into the Church. He became a leader in the church, helping settle many areas and communicating with the natives. Although this history does include many encounters with the natives, Jones focuses on his own conversion and testimony. Although there were many times Jones felt conflicted over dealings in the church, he remained true to the Lord:
I counseled with those who presided over me, and though the advice I received was contrary to my ideas of justice and right, I followed it, though it was at the complete sacrifice of my home acquired by years of toil and hardship. I was determined to retain my standing in the Church at any cost, and leave judgment with the Lord, who will eventually deal out strict justice to all men.
One of the most interesting stories Jones includes in this history regards the church members’ associations with the natives. While working with the Indians, the natives expressed a desire to settle with the members:
Some of these Indians expressed a desire to come and settle with us; this was the most interesting part of the mission to me and I naturally supposed that all the company felt the same spirit, but I soon found my mistake, for on making this desire of the Indians known to the company many objected, some saying that they did not want their families brought into association with these dirty Indians…at the time I acted according to the best light I had and determined to stick to the Indians.
Jones continually worked with the Indians to try to find peace between their way of life and that of the lives of the members of the church. He always remained true to the church, but he also tried to help the natives as much as he could.
This book is an incredible read. It provides great insight on the early history of the church and shows the many miracles that helped the members settle and spread, while interacting with the natives.
This book and blog post were produced by Mariah Averett, one of our BYU volunteer summer interns.