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A Mormon Convert

<p>Title page</p>


JONES, Daniel W. Forty Years among the Indians. A True Yet Thrilling Narrative of the Author’s Experiences among the Natives. Salt Lake City, Utah: Published at the Juvenile Instructor Office, 1890. [iii-v], vi-xv, [16-17] 18-400 pp. 8vo, (23 x 16.5 cm) original stamped, gilt-lettered black cloth. A very fine copy of a book rarely found in this condition.

First edition. Eberstadt, Modern Narratives of the Plains and of the Rockies 253. Flake 4484. Graff 2234. Howes J207. Mintz, The Trail 262: “Surprised by an early and devastating winter, 145 of the 376 Mormon Handcart pioneer members of Edward Martin’s Company perished. A dramatic rescue of the survivors took place from a stone refuge near Devil’s Gate Wyoming. One of these, Daniel Jones, writes firsthand about this incident, along with many others, as he relates his adventurous life.” Munk (Alliot), p. 120. Powell, Arizona Gathering II 919n: “The experiences of a Mormon peacemaker among western tribes.” Rader 2112. Saunders 2992. Not in standard Mexican-American War bibliographies.

Jones (1830-1915) was born in Boonslick, Missouri. During the Mexican-American War he enlisted and spent some ‘wild and reckless’ days in Mexico. He learned the Spanish language, and, after leaving the army, stayed in Mexico for several years and finally traveled as a sheepherder to Utah. The author’s experiences in Mexico, including the war, are covered in chapter 1, though he says nothing about his war experiences. He apparently served with a company from Missouri.

The book is considered valuable as a narrative of Western adventure. Perhaps early experiences such as Jones’s helped to instill the self-sufficient character of the Mormons in Utah. Accidentally wounded near Provo, he was nursed to physical and spiritual health by the Mormons, whom he joined. Jones’s inspired recipe for rawhide, developed during the winter ordeal, may give some insight into Mormon self-sufficiency and emphasis on laying in provisions: “I was impressed how to fix the stuff and gave the company advice, telling them how to cook it; for them to scorch and scrape the hair off.... After scraping, boil one hour in plenty of water, throwing the water away which had extracted all the glue, then wash and scrape the hide thoroughly, washing in cold water, then boil to a jelly and let it get cold, and then eat with a little sugar sprinkled on it. This was considerable trouble, but we had little else to do and it was better than starving.” Jones developed growing sympathy for the Native Americans, whom he at first thought “as fit only to be killed” (p. 18).


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