The Ancestry Of Martha Hunt
As we neared the conclusion of Chapter Four and the account of William Wilkes, Jr., the marriage of his son, John Wilkes to a St. Charles girl, Martha Elizabeth Hunt, daughter of Daniel D. Hunt and Martha Eynon, was noted.
The young couple made the trip from St. Charles to Salt Lake City in order to be married in the Endowment House on 20th of October 1873. History tells us that within days after the Saints arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, President Young announced the spot on which a sacred temple was to be constructed in which some of the celestial ordinances of the gospel -- the higher ordinances - were to be processed. In the meantime, between the commencement and completion of this temple, as well as the completions of the St. George, the Logan and Manti temples, which were completed prior to the Salt Lake Temple, a temporary building was constructed on Temple Square. It was dedicated on the 5th of May 1855, in which some of the regular temple ordinances could be administered. This structure became known as the Endowment House. It was in this sacred place that John and Martha came to be sealed to each other for time and eternity, thus clearing the way for all their children to be born under the covenant of the Holy Priesthood. Thus an eternal family unit was commenced.
Prior to the commencement of the story of this young couple it seems most appropriate at this point to review the history of the families from which Martha Hunt descends.
This particular Hunt family is old in America, and at least one other branch of the family has long since compiled its history. In fact, it has established its genealogy from generation to generation to the earliest arrival in America. Particularly, this has been so with a Hunt Family Research Association which was centered in Utah, and claims descendancy from one John Hunt, who married Jane Coates, originally from Kentucky, who later moved to Iowa, and who, at least by the mid 1850s came to Utah where John died in Ogden in 1857.
By 1961, when their story was published, the family is reported to have numbered into the thousands, and were strongly entrenched in the Mormon faith. It is not remembered whether Mr. And Mrs. Albert Hunt, a vice president of that family organization, whose home was in Salt Lake, obtained our name from the Genealogical society, or whether we obtained their name. Regardless, correspondence was started and in about 19668 we drove to their home. Albert was not at home, but his wife was very gracious to us and very well informed of their line of Hunt ancestry. They had a 340 page family history, which had recently been published by the family organization, entitled "Heritage Builders, History of John Hunt and Jane Coates and Their Descendants" which we purchased. They also had in their possession, a paper notebook with a note on its first page telling that the contents of the notebook contained family genealogical data. In addition, there was a three or four page early history of Daniel D. Hunt, which was a copy prepared by Daniel's youngest daughter's daughter, one Helen C. Gamble. She was the daughter of Susan J. Hunt and John W. Cooley. More will be said of this record later.
This record of Daniel D. did not pertain to the above-mentioned Hunt family organization, however, the two families stem from the same roots. See the following chart:
It has been from the two mentioned records - "Heritage Builders" and Daniel D. Hunt's personal record, that the preceding chart has been made. This writer has made no attempt to re-confirm the ancestry of the last generation of Hunts shown on the chart, because the researcher who assisted that family in putting together the volume, is none other than Brother Kay Kirkham. He is one of the finest researcher of American genealogies the Church has produced. He has authored reference books on the subject, which are still in use by the Church Genealogical Department and the Brigham Young University. During the 1940s and 1950s, he visited and instructed genealogical research seminars throughout the Church. It has been our privilege as stake genealogical chairman of both the Weiser, Idaho and Nyssa, Oregon stakes, to have had Brother Kirkham as a weekend-guest in our home. He was taken from the main Salt Lake library to head the Los Angeles branch of the library in the early 1960s, where he served with distinction. As he neared retirement age, he chose to serve as a private personal researcher, and it was during this latter period that he was hired by the Hunt Family Association, which later published "Heritage Builders". Being aware of the research background of this work, this writer has confidence of its reliability.
If the reader reviewed the above chart, he will have noted that the earliest known Hunt ancestor is one Ralph Hunt, who history tells us, with a younger brother, Edward, ages twenty-two and nineteen respectively, were listed as passengers on a ship from London to "Virginia". That is the name by which this country was known at that time. Ralph settled in Newton, Long Island, (New York) which place is now known as Elmhurst. We quote from a written history by one James Riker, which deals with the early settlers of that area.
"Ralph Hunt, founder of the Long Island and New Jersey families, was among the first settlers in what is now Newton, Long Island in 1652. His name appears on the Indian rate of 1658. On June, 9, 1653, he was one of seven citizens of trust appointed to conduct the affairs of the town for the ensuing year. He seems to have been a leader in all the public affairs and was foremost among his neighbors in defying the authority of the Dutch governor Stuyvesant on Manhatten Island. He was one of seven men who went across the Long Island Sound to Westchester in the night and brought Panton with a company of men over to beat arms against the Dutch. When the English family acquired New Netherlands and drove the Dutch away, he was one of the first two magistrates appointed under the English rule. On April 21, 1665, he was commissioned Lieutenant by the English Governor Nicoll.
"When the Indian title was extinguished and the new town, now called Newtown erected, March 1 1661, he was one of the patentees included in the royal charter.
"He was one of the first three surveyors appointed to lay out the lots of the new settlers; was appointed one of the magistrates in 1673; and was named as one of the patentees when the charter of the town was confirmed by the Governor. It was said of him that he enjoyed the confidence of the people and was their guide and counselor in all matters of importance in the community."
He was born in England about 1613, and died in 1677 on Long Island. It appears that all of Ralph's six known children were born on Long Island, and it appears that during the next generation - at least some of them - had moved to Hunterdon county in New Jersey, in which state the family continued to reside for, at least two generations.
Daniel, a noted doctor of his time and three generations more recent from Ralph, appears to have become the first generation of our ancestry to have moved to Rowan County, North Carolina. We had failed to uncover his reason for leaving New Jersey, however, his will plainly states "I Daniel Hunt of the County of Rowan and State of North Carolina, etc., etc."
Daniel's holdings appear just a little impressive, for he mentions his lands by the hundreds of acres, and livestock, such as sheep, cows and horses, along with a number of feather beds and other furnishings left for his daughters. His wife was to have the home until such time as she may marry again and providing she did, the properties bequeathed to her would be re-divided among their children. There is no evidence one way or the other that she did or didn't.
During the next generation, there is evidence of further scattering of the family, for Daniel's son, John's will showed that he and his family were living in Muhlenburg county, Kentucky. John and his cousin-wife are both buried in the old Hebron cemetery at that place.
John's brother, Abel Hunt was the direct progenitor of those of us of the John Wilkes Family Organization. He and his wife, Duanna or Joanna Beard, were the parents of Daniel D. Hunt, and were living in Rowan County when he was born. Duanna died of childbirth when Daniel D. was eight days old. Another brother of John and Abel, Gershom or Gashum, and an uncle to our Daniel D., with his wife, Elizabeth, took the eight day-old baby, upon his mother's death, "500 miles away" as Daniel D. later writes. Later evidence appears to tell us the benefactors who became step-parents to Daniel D., were living in Tennessee.
It seems it would be of interest to the family to quite in full, a relatively short history Daniel D. Hunt personally wrote of his early life. It is with regrets that this brief account is the only personally written account Daniel D. has left, so far as we are aware. There are additional bits of information - notes, etc., of his family genealogy, and other bits of information in the form of receipts. These will be shared in this historical account, but we know of no other history of himself that has been located.
Daniel D.'s account is as follows:
HISTORY OF D. D. HUNT
"I was born Feb. 1st 1800 in the state of North Carolina, Roan Co. My father's name was Abel and my mother's name was Joanna Hunt. According to the acct. of my friends & relatives my mother died when I was only 8 days old. She was a very kind and piously inclined woman & she said I would some day do something that would be of a great benefit to the rest of the family. After the death of my mother I was taken about 500 miles distant by my Uncle Gashum Hunt, a son of the great physician, Dr, Daniel Hunt. I was treated very kindly by my Uncle Gashum and Aunt Elizabeth. They were very pious Baptists and doubtless lived according to the best light they were in possession of. When I was taken to the house of Uncle Gashum his wife, Aunt Elizabeth, deprived her own child of suck and let me take its place. In fact their benevolence and sympathy manifested toward me so endeared me to them that I regarded them as my parents.
"They used to read to us from the Bible and explain the contents which caused me to feel very serious. I lived with them and was thus kindly treated till I was 15 years old when in consequence of the death of my aunt, I was left to my own resources under circumstances of great destitution.
"I immediately applied to a man by the name of Wm. H. Moore for employment and hired to him for $6.00 a month. He soon afterward hired me to go with him on a trip to New Orleans on a flat boat loaded with tobacco (1816). On our return home near Edyville, a little village on the Cumberland River I was taken very sick and was under the necessity of leaving the boat and returning the remainder of the way by land. We had been absent from home on this trip about 5 months. I was very kindly received by my Uncle with whom I tarried a short time till my health was improved.
"I then went and boarded with Cousin Abel Hunt and went to school. It was taught by Levi Durham. My name previous to this time was Daniel Hunt after which another D was added making 'Daniel Durham'. Thos. Durham, Levi's father, was a very fine man. He said he believed the true church would be on the earth.
"I worked at farming with Ezekial Ellison in the year 1817. In the year 1818 volunteers were called for to go against the Seminolean Indians in East Florida. (I would here say that the first trip I made to N. O. (New Orleans) Cousin Abel Hunt cried like a child saying I would never return. He did not break his fast for about 2 days and night previous to my departure.
"When I volunteered to go in the army they were again troubled at my departure. However, I went on to Ditto's land and was mustered into service under command of Capt. Wm. Hunter and we marched on through the Cherokee Nation from thence through the frontiers of Georgia from thence to Ford Gadson on the Apilachicola River which had belonged to the Spaniards but was taken by Col. Williams who blowed it up with a hot ball. Gen. Andrew Jackson, being in front of us, had stationed some regulars to defend the place.
"From then we went on to the Nickersucka, an Indian village. The Indians hearing of the army of Jackson coming, they sent a guard of Indians to kill them in crossing the Oclocna River, but on account of a dance that was to be held at Nickersucka over the scalps of men, women and children that they had killed on the frontier of Georgia they all left to join in the dance on a certain day.
"Jackson, being in front with the regulars and militia from the frontiers of Georgia. Jackson hearing of the two regiments that were behind halted till he was overtaken by them with which he was very much pleased. The two regiments under the immediate command of Jackson were from Tenn. The Tennessee Volunteers were all horsemen and they were put in front of the whole army. There was also 1500 Creek Indians with the Volunteers, all footmen. Just as we rode from the hill this side of Nickersucka, the alarm gun was fired by the Indians who commenced yelling at the same time. They then made for a cypress swamp firing as they ran. Capt. Hunter ordered his men to dismount 15 or 20 of whom lost their horses. My horse was valued at $135. I also lost my clothing. There was only one man killed whose name was Wm. Tucker. He fell near me. The Creek Indians, however, soon routed them out of the swamp but they fled into another one and they never pursued them any further.
"After the little skirmish was over, Jackson exclaimed, "By the Eternal Gods, the Tennesseans are fair Bull Dogs". We tarried at this place 2 or 3 days during which time there was a regular stampede. Next morning we buried Wm. Tucker according to the rules of war. At this place we gathered up about 1200 head or more of cattle.
"We went on 30 or 40 miles and took Fort St. Mark which was held by the Spaniards. Meeting with no resistance we stationed regulars there.
"We went from there to Savanna and took that place. We turned back to St. Marks and returned back to Murray Co., Tenn via Forts Gadson and Scott, stopping at Columbia the county seat. From thence to Smith County, Tenn. to Uncle Gashum Hunts. After tarrying a while I went to Tuscaloosa, South Alabama at the Falls of the Black Warrior. From thence to Mobile, Alabama from thence to Columbus, Mississippi, from thence to the mouth of the Sipsy on the Tom Bigbe River from thence to Limestone County. North Alabama near Athens and went to school. From there back to Smith County, Tenn. From thence to Fathers in Ky. This was in 1822 I think.
"This was the first time I ever saw my father where I staid 2 or 3 years and then returned back to Smith County and Married Nancy Davis in 1826. After a few years I moved to Gibson Co."
The above is the sum-total of Daniel D. Hunt's life story which could have filled volumes had he been inclined to leave a written account of a most eventful life.
Earlier in this chapter, mention was made of a granddaughter leaving a copy of the above history in her handwriting, undoubtedly copied from an original, the whereabouts of which is not known even if it still exists. We are grateful to Brother and Sister Albert Hunt of the now distantly related Hunt family, which has been previously mentioned. They are noted on the family tree showing our common roots, and we thank them for their turning to us the notebook put together by Helen C. Gamble with whom we are not acquainted. As already stated, the notebook, in addition to the Daniel D. Story, contains genealogical notes of Daniel D's personal family, such as names and birth dates of his wives and children. In fact, some recorded data of this nature is repeated two and three times with which we have no fault, excepting an apparent contradiction or two, particularly as to his own birth date.
At the commencement of his account, as was noted, he states, "I was born February 1st 1880." Separate from that story is a genealogical note, which reads, "D. D. Hunt was born February 1st 1797". Another entry separate from the two quoted, "d. D. Hunt, a son of Abel and Joanna Hunt born Feb. 1st A.D. 1800 in the state of North Carolina, Roan County". Still another entry which makes it all the more confusing: "D. D. Hunt, a son of Abel and Joanna Hunt, born in the year of our Lord 1797 or 1800, Feb. 1st in the state of North Carolina."
It is quite understandable the apparent question in his own mind as to his birth year. We have no recourse as to turn to a birth certificate for such were not required in North Carolina until as late as 1913. In an attempt to determine the birth date, he, himself, subsequently used the Nauvoo temple Index Card, which gives the endowment date he gave as his birthdate, 1 Feb 1797. It has been felt wise on our records of him to give both years, such as 1 Feb 1797 or 1800. The problem - if it be a concern - is really not a serious problem, but it is one of interest.
To follow Daniel D's life from where he left off in the already quoted account, must be by the process of deduction, however, we have the good fortune of any number of tidbits having been made available as reliable information. Thus, a reasonably well-organized life's story can be pieced together, which will be done for the simple reason that we have no other apparent alternative.
One of his last statements in his story, is the fact that he married a young lady by the name of Nancy Davis, in 1826, after he eventually returned to Smith County, Tennessee. Daniel D.'s personal record in the already mentioned notebook, lists their first child, Susan Jane, as having been born Oct. 15th 1828 in Smith County, Tennessee. His next three children, John A., James W., and Levi B., as having been born in Gibson County, Tennessee.
In those days of the first quarter of the 1800s, Gibson County would have to have been considered a long distance from Smith County. As any student of Geography will know, Smith County is about central in that elongated state, while Gibson County is all but the width of one county from the state's western border. The counties are separated by approximately one hundred seventy-five miles -- not a short distance by horse and wagon, the transportation method of the day.
It would be interesting to know the family's purpose in making the move. We are aware that, already in his life, he had dabbled a little with farming for the other man, and later in his life he ventured on a small scale with farming. There is no evidence, however, that he was successful with it. It is also known that he carpentered during his lifetime. Perhaps his purpose for this move was for neither of the two suggested reasons.
By the time of their fifth child, Benoni Smith, the family was back in Smith County again. Interesting. And the same questions can be asked, but no hint for a reason has been left. This trip to Smith County was not to be long. Benoni's birth was in March of 1837, and by the time of the birth of little Daniel (Jr.) in May of 1840, the family - at least the mother - was back west again in Gibson County. Actually, there is no reason to believe any different than that the entire family was together at the time of the arrival of the 1840 baby.
At about this time - the year of 1840 - things were beginning to happen in the social order of the Daniel D. Hunt family, which changed their entire lives, and it wasn't something that was going to make it easier for them. In fact, quite to the contrary. We wish we had the full story, but we don't, but certainly we can contemplate. The word "deduction" keeps returning to mind. Daniel D.'s story has sufficient facts, so that we can deduce what went on, between the facts, which will not make the story fictional in any sense of the word. If only he had written about it.
Let us approach the upcoming subject through the story of Daniel D's son, John Alexander Hunt. "In 1840 he (John A.) went to Nauvoo, Illinois with his father, where he met the Prophet Joseph Smith." (Biographical Encyclopedia of the Church, Vol 3, p 121).
In 1840, young John A. would have been but ten years of age. Not old enough to have accepted such a responsibility of traveling some four hundred miles in the hope of solving a concern. The responsibility for such a long, and undoubtedly hard venture, had to rest upon the shoulders of someone far more adult than a ten year old boy. His companion on the trip is known to have been his father, Daniel D.. Whether the two went alone, or whether there were others, we don't know, but something had to be troubling Daniel D., or the trip would not have been made.
As we look upon the problem from our perspective we have to conclude such a trip was not made on the spur of the moment. Where and when the name of Joseph Smith was first heard by the Hunt family we don't know. The name of the Mormon prophet had certainly never been broadcast beyond his local environs until after the young boy, Joseph announced to the world that he had had a vision of the God of Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ had made a personal appearance in answer to the young man's plea as to which of all the churches then extant he should join. This Answer came to the boy Joseph in the spring of 1820 and about the time Daniel D. was finishing his brief army career.
It was not until considerably later than this early date of 1820, that the name of Joseph Smith would have received attention beyond his local environment. Probably not until he received the buried record, which when translated, became the Book of Mormon, which Joseph claimed was the sacred record of the ancient civilizations of pre-America. His claim that the translation was done, and could only have been done, by the gift and power of god, literally stirred the souls of many. The old established religious sector, declared such a thing was blasphemous and totally contrary to their concept of what the work of the Lord was all about.
It had been so long since there had actually been open communication between God and man, that they supposed revelation was a thing of the past. They believed that mankind had to rely solely on what he could salvage from a decadent understanding of a dead form of the scriptures, and an apostate conception of the very nature of God. These skeptics refused to believe that the very thing Joseph Smith was telling them was in full accord with the same scriptures they were attempting to use to defy the claims he was making. Those claims were, namely; that God was not dead, nor was man so offensive to God that no longer was God interested in revealing Himself or His plan of redemption to them. The new prophet was now teaching that God, in reality, did not fit the description the then current Christian ministers thought Him to be. They thought he was an indescribable influence which had no form or dimension, but was so large He filled the immensity of space, and yet, so small He could dwell in one's heart.
Joseph Smith had the distinction of actually seeing the Gods of Heaven, that there were at least two, the Father and the Son, and that they had physical limitations. They had bodies of flesh and bone, which were glorified, and that man was in their image, just as the prophets of old had so well described. That description still remained in the scriptures and should have been understood by, particularly, the ministers of the gospel.
The new American prophet, for that is what they were calling him, had in his possession a set of gold plates from which he was translating a record somewhat similar to the Bible. However, it was a record written by a series of prophets to peoples who had lived on the western hemisphere, whereas the Bible, its companion book, was a record of prophets of the eastern hemisphere. Both books had been so plainly described by the biblical prophet, Ezekiel. (See Ezekial 37:15-19) The fact that the Lord had his prophets of each of the two hemispheres teach the same gospel to these separate sets of people - they were separate and apart from each other - is plain to understand that the Lord is no respecter or persons. What applies by way of a plan of salvation is as much applicable to one people as to another.
The angel, who gave the record to Joseph Smith warned him of their monetary value, and that he was to keep them from the prying eyes of the world at large, or else they would be taken from him. However, as a witness that Joseph Smith actually had the metallic record, Joseph was asked to select three men as witnesses that he actually had the records as he claimed. To these three special witnesses, the angel himself, personally showed the record. They saw and they handled the records. The record was real and they so bore witness.
As though such witnessing was not enough, the angel suggested to Joseph Smith that he select another set or eight reliable men of the community, and to these men, Joseph himself, was told to show the record, which he did. These men saw the record with their eyes, and they handled it with their hands and turned the metallic leaves. They saw the curious workmanship or writing on the plates and saw it to be in a language they had never seen before. Twelve men, including Joseph Smith, saw and handled the plates and their testimonies were preserved in writing, and can, today, be read in every Book of Mormon. The record was real - it was not but a figment of Joseph Smith's imagination, as his doubters claimed it to have been.
Too, not only was the record from which the Book of Mormon was taken, witnessed by others, but the actual product, the Book of Mormon itself, was published to the world. Anyone reading it can conclude for himself whether it was written by an untrained, unschooled man such as Joseph Smith, or whether it was written by prophets and translated by the power of God.
Among the many other things Joseph Smith claimed, was the fact that he and his companion, one Oliver Cowdery were visited by John the Baptist, who ordained the two of them to the Aaronic Priesthood, which was the authority to baptize in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Also, at a subsequent date, these same two men were visited by the three ancient, and now resurrected apostles, Peter, James and John, and ordained to the apostleship with authority to organize again Christ's church on the earth.
As Joseph had prayed ten years before as to which church he would join, the Heavenly Visitors instructed him to join none of them. He was to await the time when he would be endowed from heaven with authority to organize Christ's church, and that time had now come. At the earlier time, Joseph hadn't fully realized that none of the ministers - without exception - had proper authority to administer in the ordinances of the gospel.
Joseph Smith subsequently explained to the world that upon the death of the original apostles, the church as Christ had established it, with the proper authority to act in his name, no longer existed. After fully realizing this fact, it could plainly be seen that the scriptures themselves, had predicted the upcoming and longtime state of apostasy, which was to come. Also, these scriptures plainly taught that there was to be a glorious restoration of the church and the powers of authority to once again properly function within the church as it was to be restored. These things were little understood prior to the actual restoration, however, there were those who did fully understand that a great restoration was in the offing. As an example, the great Baptist minister, Roger Williams of Rhode Island, actually refused to continue to serve as a minister, because he saw there was no existing church with proper organization and authority. He said, "There is no regularly constituted church on earth, nor any person authorized to administer any Church ordinance; nor could there be until new apostles are sent by the great Head of the Church, for who's coming I am seeking." (Picturesque America, ed. William Cullen Bryant, New York; D. Appleton & Co. 1872, Vol 1, p. 502)
This observant minister was nearly two hundred years before Joseph Smith's time, and he was not alone in this anticipation. This was not the case with the common religious preachers of the early 1800s, despite the fact that these very men had before them such a plain scripture as John the Revelator prophesied while a prisoner on the island of Patmos. He said, "And I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred and tongue and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgement is come; and worship him that made heaven and earth and the sea, and the fountains of waters." (Rev. 14:6-7) This promise was literally fulfilled in the experience of Joseph Smith.
With Joseph Smith having received authority, he also received instruction to organize the Church of Jesus Christ, which he did on 6 April 1830, and by 1835, he was instructed to select a quorum of twelve apostles as was anciently in the Church. The instruction given to the former set of apostles, was re-given to the new apostles, "Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy ghost; teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you."
The new apostles and other especially called missionaries, as instructed, did go out, at first in the near-by communities and states, to tell the world of the details of the great restoration.
Just how soon these messengers reached Tennessee and surrounding areas we do not know, but reach there they did. There was much skepticism on the part of the populous, for their scriptures had also set out fair warning against false teachers. The ministers, not willing to lose members of their congregations, did their utmost to condemn the new teachers of religion that came to their communities.
So far as we are aware, nothing has been left us as to the first impressions received by the Hunt family. From what has been left by Daniel D. Hunt, we are aware of the piousness of the previous generations of the family, and suspect this description would fit his generation. We do not know when Daniel D. and his family first had an opportunity to hear the restored message, for as can be expected, the preaching of the new message started with so very few. Other than by word of mouth and an occasional newspaper, means of communication in those days in rural Tennessee would be slow. Particularly, with a message so revolutionary as the new Church. The fact that already - even before the Mormon church was officially organized, there had preceded it falsification of its true story to such a point that persecution was very evident. As the early years of its existence passed, persecution became so bitter that the lives of the newly converted were threatened and taken.
Because of the zeal of the newly sent-out Mormon missionaries, and the counter forces, the zeal of the ministers, particularly of the southern states such as Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, etc., the very states in which the Hunt families resided, a great deal of animosity arose, and the old time religion was not going to die without a fight.
It could have been not until the latter part of the 1830s, that the new religion became a challenge in the Hunt's part of the world. It eventually reached there and Daniel D. and family heard the message. In our mind's eye, and in retrospect, we can visualize two Mormon missionaries, as of old, they traveled two by two, the second for a witness - knocked on the door of the Hunt family home. Daniel D. was wise enough to be skeptical, but open minded enough to realize the possibility to be what it was claimed to be. His decision to accept it was not with readiness. If it were true, he wanted it, but if it were not true, he would want to be the last to fall for it. There was some wrestling of the mind and the spirit, but he didn't want to turn from it, for if the claim of the Mormon Church was true -- and he had no way of knowing that it wasn't -- then it was very, very important to anyone who would listen. Naturally, they were after converts and the Hunt family saw given the opportunity to become such. Should they? Should they not? Those had to be questions of vital importance to them. It is easy to understand their quandary, and especially so, when they realized that if they accepted, they would become considered by their neighbors and friends, and perhaps others of their family, as queer, disenchanted, and perhaps even more, hated.
What they had heard from the missionaries sounded reasonable and certainly, it was scriptural. It carried a ring of truthfulness, for the Holy Spirit was touching their hearts, and whispering that what they heard was true. But the Hunts wanted time to think about it and ponder over what they had heard and felt.
We don't know the full story, but judging what came after, we know that the decision - the promise - lay heavily on the minds and hearts. It continued so until they too, like so many others of whom the Hunts were not even aware and like those in and about Jerusalem, when they heard of the Master and the marvelous things he did, said, "Let us, too, go and see."
And according to the later biography of young son, John A. Hunt, as already mentioned, "In 1840, he went to Nauvoo, Ill., with his father where he met the Prophet Joseph Smith." (Biographical Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 121)
Perhaps, Daniel D. wanted company and took his ten year-old son. If there were just the two of them, perhaps it would have been by horseback, or by buckboard pulled by a single horse or a team of horses. There was a lot of walking done in those days, but three hundred seventy-five miles or more, would have required a lot of walking, but regardless of means of travel, they reached Nauvoo to see for themselves.
What Daniel D. and ten year-old John discovered in Nauvoo, we can only surmise. History tells us they were favorable impressed as were most people who have reported such visits for like purposes. This is the account of one man who recorded his visit to Nauvoo in 1839, just a year previous to Daniel D.'s visit:
"Having recently had occasion to visit the City of Nauvoo, I cannot permit the opportunity to pass without expressing the agreeable disappointment that awaited me there. I had supposed from what I had previously heard, that I should witness an impoverished, ignorant and bigoted population, completely priest-ridden and tyrannized over by Joseph Smith, the great prophet of these people. On the contrary, to my surprises, I saw a people apparently happy, prosperous and intelligent. Every man appeared to be employed in some business or occupation. I saw no idleness, no intemperance, no noise, no riot; all appeared to be contented, with no desire to trouble themselves with anything except their own affairs. With the religion of this people, I have nothing to do. If they can be satisfied with the doctrines of their new revelation, they have a right to be so. The constitution of the country guarantees to them the right of worshipping god according to the dictates of their own conscience, and if they can be so easily satisfied, why should we, who differ with them, complain?
"During my stay of three days I became well acquainted with their principal men, and more particularly with their Prophet. I found them hospitable, polite, well-informed and liberal. With Joseph Smith, the hospitality of whose house I kindly received, I was well pleased. Of course, on the subject of religion we widely differed, but he appeared to be quite as willing to permit me to enjoy my right of opinion as I think we all ought to be to let the Mormons enjoy theirs. But instead of the ignorant and tyrannical upstart, judge my surprise at finding him a sensible, intelligent companion and gentlemanly man. In frequent conversations with him he gave me every information that I desired, and appeared to be only pleased at being able to do so. He appears to be much respected by all the people about him, and has their entire confidence."
A Methodist preacher named Prior, who visited Nauvoo to hear a Sabbath sermon by the Prophet wrote:
"I will not attempt to describe the various feelings of my bosom as I took my seat in a conspicuous place in the congregation, who were waiting in breathless silence for his appearance. While he tarried, I had plenty of time to resolve in my mind the character and common report of that truly singular personage. I fancied that I should behold a countenance sad and sorrowful, yet containing the fiery marks of rage and exasperation. I supposed that I should be enabled to discover in him some of those thoughtful and reserved features, those mystic and sarcastic glances, which I had fancied the ancient sages to possess. I expected to see that fearful faltering look of conscious shame which, from what I had heard of him, he might be expected to evince. He appeared at last; but how was I disappointed when, instead of the heads and horns of the beast and false prophet, I beheld only the appearance of a common man, of tolerably large proportions. I was sadly disappointed, and thought that although his appearance could not be wrested to indicate anything against him, yet he would manifest all I had heard of him, when he began to preach. I sat uneasily and watched him closely. He commenced preaching, not from the Book of Mormon, however, but from the Bible; the first chapter of the first of Peter was his text. He commenced calmly, and continued dispassionately to pursue his subject, while I sat in breathless silence, waiting to hear that foul aspersion of the other sects, that diabolical disposition of revenge, and to hear that rancorous denunciation of every individual but a Mormon. I waited in vain; I listened with surprise; I sat uneasy in my seat, and could hardly persuade myself but that he had been apprised of my presence, and so ordered his discourse on my account, that I might not be able to find fault with it; for instead of a jumbled jargon of half-connected sentences, and a volley of imprecations, and diabolical and malignant denunciations, heaped upon the heads of all who differed from him, and the dreadful twisting and wresting of the Scriptures to suit his own particular views, and attempt to weave a web of dark and mystic sophistry around the gospel truths, which I had anticipated, he glided along through a very interesting and elaborate discourse, with all the care and happy facility of one who was well aware of his important station, and his duty to God and man."
The two quotations just completed are from, "The Mormon Prophet's Tragedy", a review of an Article originally published in the Atlantic Monthly for December, 1869, by Orson F. Whitney, pages 16-17.
When Daniel D. and his young son, John visited in Nauvoo. they could have been in some such meeting as mentioned by these writers. To help us see and hear something somewhat similar, let us quote another experience which they could have experienced themselves. After all, we are attempting to see and experience what our Hunt forbear had personally experienced, to see if our deductions would have resulted the same as did his.
An English traveler who visited Nauvoo had this to say:
"Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet, is a singular character; he lives at the 'Nauvoo Mansion House', which is, I understand, intended to become a home for the stranger and traveler, and I think, from my own personal observation, that it will be deserving of the name. The Prophet is a kind, cheerful, sociable companion. I believe that he has the good will of the community at large, and that he is ever ready to stand by and defend them in any extremity; and as I saw the Prophet and his brother Hyrum conversing together one day, I thought I beheld two of the greatest men of the nineteenth century. I have witnessed the Mormons in their assemblies on a Sunday, and I know not where a similar scene could be affected or produced. With respect to the teachings of the Prophet, I must say that there are some things hard to be understood; but he invariable supports himself from our good old Bible. Peace and harmony reign in the city. The drunkard is scarcely ever seen, as in other cities, neither does the awful imprecation or profane oath strike upon your ear, but, while all is storm and tempest and confusion abroad respecting the Mormons, all is peace and harmony at home." (Same source as above, page 19)
How long our great-grandfather, Daniel D. Hunt, with his young son remained in Nauvoo, we have no way of knowing. We know they returned home and apparently they had been favorable impressed. Daniel D. was a praying man and we can be assured he had a constant prayer in his heart as to the matter before him. Daniel D. became converted and from his own record he says he was "baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints about August 7th 1841 by Andrew A. Timmons and then ordained an elder under his hands August 7th" so far as we are aware, the first of the Hunts to become a Mormon. What he witnessed in Nauvoo apparently didn't disappoint him.
During this early period of the Church, the Mormon missionaries were to urge their newly baptized members to consider moving their families to be near the headquarters of the Church. The infant church needed strengthening by adding families to its central gathering place, which at this time, was Nauvoo, Illinois, a rapidly growing city nearing 20,000.
As with Daniel D.'s baptism, their moving to "Zion" was resolute. It seemed to require a matter to be pondered upon. A whole year passed following his baptism into the Church, when a little baby girl made her appearance into the home, and was named Nancy Joanna Penelope. Like her brother just older than she, she was born in Gibson County, Tennessee, and her birthday was 1 August 1842.
Perhaps it was the anticipation of the coming of this baby that held them in Tennessee, but apparently it was not much longer before they made their move to Nauvoo. The details of this move are not known, but we are advised by the biography of John A. Hunt that he, at the age of twelve, was baptized in Nauvoo in March of 1843. We suspect from the time and place of this important event in the life of John A. that the family had made their move.
Mormon temples is a term almost synonymous with the term Mormon Church. One Mormon temple had already been constructed and dedicated. It was in that Kirtland, Ohio temple that heavenly messengers returned to earth, and restored to mankind essential keys pertaining to the work of the ministry and the eternal sealing of individuals to their spouses, and children to parents. Due to persecution, but only after the purpose for its construction was completed, the body of the Saints were driven by their enemies to another location.
Soon after the Saint's arriving in Nauvoo in the late 1830s, a temple site was selected and in 1841, construction on a new temple was started. Interestingly, Daniel D. had had experience with carpentry, and the Church soon found use for this talent. The family is very much aware of the fact that he was soon assisting in the construction of that great and beautiful building, but we are not aware what other type work he could have engaged himself in, perhaps at the same time he was giving a "tithing" of his working time to the Church. This phase of the principle of tithing was known as "labor tithing", meaning that he contributed one-tenth of his labor time to the Church - this in addition to tithing on his income.
Sacrifice is known as one of the great principles of heaven, and is certainly a great sanctification principle which endears any person to the gospel. This principle becomes very much a part of Daniel D. Hunt's life. It was only after about a year's stay in Nauvoo, that the Church officially called him to serve a mission, in particularly, Kentucky. Here again, we do not know what type of challenge this type of call was to Daniel. D. Hunt and his family. Such a call did not relieve the family from continuing to care for its members. The family consisted of seven children, and at the time of the call in 1844, the children were aged from sixteen years of age down to the baby of two years. Certainly the family was not strong financially. With the father at home, they were getting along. With the breadwinner away, certainly it would not be so easy. But Daniel D. recognized the new mission call. For how long he was away, we don't know. Some missions were for a few months, others for two or three years. We feel, naturally, a companion was probably assigned to him after reaching his field of labor.
The Hunt Family Research Association of Salt Lake City, which was earlier referred to as having published the "Heritage Builders" as one of the few bits of a historical nature (much of the book is confined to genealogical data only) says of the Wilson Hunt family - Wilson, the third child of John Hunt and Jane Coates, "In 1844 Latter-day Saint Missionaries, D. D. Hunt and L. A. Brady, came to Muhlenburg Co. and preached in the Hebron meeting house, and in the school. Selia (or Pricilla, wife of Wilson) and Wilson were among those who heard the message and were baptized.
"Four years later, when John T. was a baby, Wilson and Selia left their birth place and moved to Iowa where a group of Mormons were residing. In 1852 they crossed the plains with a company of pioneers under the leadership of Benjamin Gardner. There were fifty wagons and about two hundred people in the company. Young Jack (supposedly eleven year-old son of Andrew Jackson Hunt, son of Wilson and Selia) helped his grandfather, John, )apparently Wilson's father and mother were in the company) whack bulls on the trip. They put yokes on the cows and made them help draw the wagons, besides furnishing milk for them. They had an older dasher churn, which they worked vigorously when they were in camp. Sometimes the milk placed in the rear end of the wagon would be churned into butter during the day. It was easy to make Dutch cheese, the cottage cheese of today, from the sour milk and clabber resulting from the jolting of he wagon in the hot sun. Besides the covered wagons, the Hunts had a horse and cart in which the women sometimes rode. The boys carried big sticks with which to kill snakes as they walked along."
The above wagon train arrived in Salt Lake City in October 1852, but remained there only a few days before moving to Odgen for a permanent residence.
This Hunt history tells nothing more than the brief paragraph relating to the missionary D. D. Hunt. Elsewhere in this Hunt history "Heritage Builders" mention is made, not only of Wilson's father and mother being in the wagon train as indicated above, but also reference is made of Wilson's three brothers. They were Amos, William B. and Jonathan, all coming west - probably at the same time - at least in 1852 - but the others of the family appear to have been called to settle in St. George and Nevada areas.
Daniel D. Hunt planted the seed of the gospel in the family of his cousin John Hunt, who married Jane Coats. He baptized their son, Wilson and wife, and the others of the family seemingly joined later.
In a research report dated 1st of March 1957, by researcher, Kay Kirkham, referred to early in this account, wrote. "John Hunt Jr., and Jane Coats were among the persons who came into the State of Iowa before 1852. We have not been able to find any evidence as yet that John Hunt joined the LDS Church, however, his wife, Jane Coats joined in 1850. We do know, however, that John Hunt Jr. came west into the valleys and lived and died in Ogden, Utah by 1857.
"In order to try and find some evidence of membership in the Church for this John Hunt Jr., I spent several hours at the Historian's Office in Sale Lake all to no avail. Also, the early records of the branches of the Church in Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky and Iowa were all searched without mention of this couple."
The above gives evidence that Daniel D. took the gospel to his family and baptized some, and that others, perhaps after Daniel D. returned to Nauvoo, eventually joined the Church. With this in mind, a simple sentence in Daniel D.'s personal account states that his mother, who died when he was eight days old, had said of him that someday. "I would do something that would be of great benefit to the rest of the family."
Indeed, he did take the "pearl of great price", the gospel, which already has been a great benefit to his family. Which will continue to be so through the eternities.
We have no explanation as to why Daniel D. did not write a little more of his family during this early period. He mentions that he married, for he says, "-returned back to Smith county and married Nancy Davis, 1826. After a few years I moved to Gibson Co." Other than the fact that children were born to them - and he names them and gives dates and county of birth, nothing is said of Nancy. That she was faithful to him is indicative by the children she bore. Even in the biographical history of their son, John, A. referred to above, nothing is said of her other than that Nancy was his mother.
We have no evidence that Nancy was with Daniel D. and children when they moved to Nauvoo, Illinois and we wonder if she may have died of childbirth when baby, Nancy, was born back in Gibson County, Tennessee in August of 1842. It is not being ruled out that Nancy, the mother, ever reached Nauvoo. We simply do not know.
In the Journal History of the church, which lists missionary calls from 1830, it states from Nauvoo, "Daniel D. Hunt was appointed to labor as a missionary in Kentucky on April 15, 1844" and that his number was #218 for that year up to that date, indicating there was a lot of missionary activity, despite persecution. This mission was for a few months only as we shall see.
From "The Heritage Builder", published by the Hunt Family Research Association, comes an interesting comment to a Kentucky branch of that family: "In 1844 Latter-day Saint missionaries, D. D. Hunt and L. A. Brady, came to Muhlenburg, County and preached in the Hebron meeting house, and in the school", page 51. Mention was made of several of the Hunts of Kentucky having been converted - first cousins and down into the next generation. Four or five of these families immigrated to Utah in 1852 while Daniel D. emigrated in 1850, as we shall see.
The Heritage Builder's" Hunts showed this Hebron church as being the building used by Daniel D. Hunt in converting his cousins. The building and an acre of ground was originally donated by the Hunt family to the community several years previously. The Hebron cemetery is located on the acre.
This certifies that D. D. Hunt has been appointed and qualified a Policeman for the City of Nauvoo this 19th day of Jan. 1845"
That the mission was of short duration, is verified by the fact that Daniel d., with his second wife, Susan - his first wife's sister - were in the unfinished Nauvoo temple where they received their pre-endowment ordinances on 14 July 1844. Whether Daniel D. had returned from his mission by the date of 27th of June 1844 - the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith - we do not know.
Another date of interest was Daniel D.'s appointment as a qualified policeman for the city of Nauvoo - the 19th day of January 1845. It is hardly thinkable that this new assignment could have been full-time employment. Of this we do not know, but the persecution that was recurring from the enemies of the Church from elsewhere other than the city itself, it could be quite possible that the mayor - Orson Spencer - called up all who would serve in such a capacity. Following the martyrdom, Nauvoo had become an armed camp, for the citizens of that formerly peaceful city did not know what was to come next. While it was true, following the martyrdom, even the enemies were hesitant to make an appearance, for they were well aware the Mormons had reached the end of their patience, being innocent as they were. For a few months things quieted so far as persecution was concerned, but this was but a lull before the storm. The worst was yet to come, and the city officials prepared for it the best they could. Daniel D. was ready to do what he could.
In the meantime, the people of Nauvoo had a work to do. The new temple was still under construction, and Daniel D. was a carpenter spending considerable of his time with that work. All the while, he was conscious that it was to be in that temple that he and his family, with others, would receive the higher saving ordinances of the gospel, including the personal endowment for each of them, and the sealing ordinances which would bind their family together for eternity.
That Daniel D. desired these temple privileges and blessings, we can note a certificate which is dated 4 Oct 1845:
Six months later, this privilege was renewed, which is evidence that he had continued his faithfulness, this time to April 12, 1846. During this period of faithfulness, Daniel D. took his wife, this time, Susan, to the temple. According to the Nauvoo temple records, at 6:55 p.m. on January 19th of 1846, she, Susan Davis Hunt, was sealed to him as his wife for time and eternity. A few minutes later, this loving sister stood as proxy for her older deceased sister, Nancy, the mother of Daniel D.'s children. Nancy, though dead, was sealed to her husband for the eternities to come. We wish we knew more of these sisters.
Note several phases of activity tithed by the Church. This certificate recognizes 'labor tithing in full' to April 12, 1846.
It may be of interest to the reader to know that the Nauvoo temple has been the only Mormon temple in which endowments were administered before its dedication. It is a sad commentary that, due to the enemies who were by then, literally driving the Mormons from Nauvoo, on the 4th day of February, 1846, the first covered wagons were drawn onto the flatboats and ferried across the dangerous Mississippi River ---dangerous because of accumulating ice.
The Nauvoo Temple
The temple had commenced endowment work on the 10th of December 1845 and continued until 7 February 1846, at which time it was deemed wise to close due to threats from the enemy. Naturally, the leaders of the Church were the first to be expelled with their families. A longer time was granted to the regular members of the church, some of whom did not leave for several months, but even then they were not allowed to remain in peace.
Interestingly, the temple was completed despite the leaders' forced exit. McGavin, in his work, "Nauvoo the Beautiful", says "Only a few of the aged and infirm disciples remained in the deserted city when a small company of the Church leaders returned to dedicate the building before turning their backs upon the city of their dreams and resuming their journey toward the setting sun." (page 32) His account goes on to state that on the 30th of April 1846, the temple was privately dedicated by Elder Orson Hyde, thus the Saints completed that which the Lord had commanded them to do. There is but little question but that the Daniel D. Hunt family was present, Daniel and Susan and children.
It appears that the closing of the temple on the 7th of February 1846, was unplanned, even by the temple officiators, for according to temple records, Daniel D. had been set apart that day to serve as a temple officiator or what we know today as a set-apart ordinance worker. It would appear by the official closing of the temple on that date that he never had an opportunity to function in that capacity.
We have no information as to when the Daniel D. Hunt family left Nauvoo, but in the next chapter, we will learn that, indeed, they did leave.
After leaving Nauvoo, the Hunts show up in the Garden Grove branch in Iowa, some 120 miles west of Nauvoo, where he served as a counselor to the branch president in 1847.
Patriarchal Blessing given to Great-grandfather Daniel D. Hunt by Patriarch to the Church, John Smith in Nauvoo, Illinois 18th January 1845. See the typed copy below the image.
A PATRIARACHAL BLESSING
GIVEN TO DANIEL D. HUNT
Nauvoo, Jany 18th 1845
A blessing by John Smith, Patriarch, upon the head of Daniel D., son of Abel & Joanna Hunt, born Febry 1st, Roan co., North Carolina:
Bro. Daniel, I lay my hands upon thy head & seal a Father's Blessing upon thee in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Thou art a lawful heir to the Holy Priesthood being of the house and lineage of Joseph & also to an inheritance with the sons of Joseph in the last days with all the blessings and benefits which flow to the covenant people of the Lord through the Holy Priesthood. Thy calling is to hunt up the remnant of Jacob. Thy path lieth among the mountains in the vallies & in the wilderness. The Lord hath given his angels charge over thee to assist thee in all thy labors, to defend the course in all times of trouble 7 to deliver thee out of the hand of thine enemies. When the destroyer passes through the land thousands shall fall on thy right & on thy left but thou shalt not be hurt. Thou shalt be abundantly prospered in thy labors. Thou shalt baptize & lead a great many to the land of safety & shall be able to do any miracle which is necessary to forward thy work. Thou shalt also gather vast stores of riches for the building up of Zion & shall have all the wishes which your heart desires both in heaven and in the earth. Thou shalt have a numerous posterity & they shall be a mighty people & they shall continue to increase in the Church forever. Thy days shall be lengthened out according to thy faith. Thou shalt even see Zion established in peace and her curtains extended over the whole land of America. Thou shalt receive an endowment in the House of the Lord which will prepare thee to meet thy Savior in Heaven. Therefore, dear brother, be faithful in thy calling and these words shall not be revoked, even so, Amen.