A Spiritual Phenomenon – The Jonathan Hale Family in the Church
In keeping with yesterday’s post about Heber Q. Hale, who served for some time as the Boise Stake President in Idaho, I thought I would also share this rare glimpse into his family’s lives.
In 1834 Heber’s grandfather, Jonathan Harriman Hale, a thirty-four-year-old butcher from Dover, New Hampshire, heard Mormon missionaries for the first time and was quickly converted to the truthfulness of the Gospel. After reading from the Book of Mormon with his wife, Olive Boynton Hale, and obtaining burning testimonies, Jonathan and Olive were baptized on the 13th of June 1834. The ordinance was administered by Elder Gladden Bishop who was then the President of the Branch in Westfield, New York. In his extensive and detailed journal Jonathan said they were baptized “into the New and Everlasting Covenant.” Two months later Jonathan was ordained an elder and set apart to preside over the Dover branch which had just been organized. As many converts did during this period of time, Jonathan built a burning desire to personally meet the Prophet Joseph Smith for himself. So in the spring of 1835 he left Olive and their two children and went to Bradford, Massachusetts, their former home. There he met two close relatives who had also joined the church, Henry Harriman and Jonathan Holmes. From there they drove westward to Kirtland, Ohio, on an eighteen day journey where they eventually arrived to meet the prophet. Joseph welcomed them in as brothers, and the three of them were given patriarchal blessings from Joseph Smith, Sr., the Church’s first Patriarch.
The first members of the Quorum of the Twelve of Apostles had been called in February of 1835. One of those first called was Elder John F. Boynton, brother of Jonathan’s wife. Perhaps because of that relationship, Jonathan was asked to accompany the Twelve back to New England on what would be the first mission of a group of Apostles in nearly two thousand years. Once in the east again they held several conferences and built up the scattered branches of the Church. On May 30th Jonathan and Elders Thomas B. Marsh and David W. Patten visited Martin Harris in Palmyra and climbed the Hill Cumorah, where, according to Jonathan’s journal, they “offered up thanks to the most high God for the record of the Nephites and for other blessings.” They then traveled through Palmyra, going “from house to house,” and ”inquired into the character of Joseph Smith, Jr., previous to his receiving the Book of Mormon.” Far from having been the despicable person his detractors had alleged him to be, Joseph was declared by those who knew him to have been “as good as young men in general.” After a two month absence and traveling nearly 1,500 miles on foot Jonathan would return home to Dover, but only for six weeks before leaving again to assist the Brethren in Salem, Massachusetts.
And so Jonathan Hale’s involvement with the early building up of the Church in this dispensation would continue his entire life. He would travel with apostles on their missions, and even see his oldest son, Aroet, baptized by Wilford Woodruff. He would move his family to Kirtland where he would assist in the building of the temple, and would be ordained a seventy and serve a mission with Wilford Woodruff. He would face persecution, and assist as the Saints fled from Ohio to Missouri. Only to face more persecution and once again travel with the Saints to the river town of Nauvoo. In Nauvoo he served as bishop, colonel in the Nauvoo Legion, director of schools, collector of donations and tithing for the Nauvoo Temple, and recorder of baptisms for the dead. And when the Saints were driven from Nauvoo, he helped direct the exodus.
He and Olive lived truly consecrated lives.
After recovering from a broken leg and assisting others to leave, he and his family left Nauvoo and traveled to Council Bluffs, Iowa where they arrived on the 17th of July 1846. The day after their arrival a meeting was held and several men were selected as bishops to assist and preside over the families of the brethren who had recently left as members of the Mormon Battalion. These bishops were also to assist in bringing the remaining Saints in Nauvoo to join with the main branch of the Church, but were too poor to have been able to leave as of yet. Naturally, Jonathan was one of the men called to this position. Four days later his duties were doubled though as he was called along with eleven other men to preside on a special high council of the Church. This travelling high council was to preside on the east side of the Missouri River as Saints settled temporarily in both Council Bluffs and Winter Quarters to the west. That same day he was also given the assignment, with two others, to go to Fort Leavenworth and collect the pay of the members of the Mormon Battalion for their families to have those funds.
On 27 August 1846 Olive gave birth in a tent to their last daughter, Clarissa Martha Hale. She would be their fourth daughter and the eighth and last child born into their marriage.
Malaria was ravaging the camp in which the Hale Family lived, and within days Jonathan had caught the deadly disease. With Jonathan sick in bed, he called his family around him to counsel them and bid them goodbye. He gave them his blessing and said, “Stand by the faith and continue with Brother Brigham and Brother Heber to the Rocky Mounstains. It is God’s work and we must not fail. Do not be persuaded to turn back, even though our relatives insist upon it. Go with the Church and God will bless and preserve you.” At the high council meeting the evening of 5 September 1846 it was announced that Brother Hale was dead. His brethren were surprised that such a young and vigorous man, age 46, had succumbed so quickly to the disease. A hole was felt without him there.
Olive had also caught malaria, and just four days later she also called their children to her bedside, showed them great love and affection, and gave them some parting counsel realizing she was about to leave this life. To know that her children were about to be orphans on a trek to the Rocky Mountains must have filled her with much anxiety, yet she counseled them to follow the words of her husband just days before. Go with Brothers Brigham and Heber. Stay true to the faith. Then she turned to Aroet , who was the oldes t in the family at 18 years old, and asked him to promise that he would see that this was done. When Aroet answered that he would do so, Olive smiled sweetly, and said she could now “go with Jonathan”. Peacefully she passed out of this life with her children present.
Olive had made temple clothing and robes for both herself and her husband while living in Nauvoo. They were each buried in those robes and placed side by side until the morning of resurrection.
Four orphaned children remained though to carry on. Aroet at age 18, was now the family patriarch, with Rachel, 17 years old, Alma, 10 years old, and Solomon, just 7. Determined to stay together, they remained in Winter Quarters until 1848 when they made the trek west with the Heber C. Kimball, just as their father had counseled. Upon arriving in the west they remained in the Salt Lake Valley for four years, after which Aroet and Alma went to farm in Grantsville, Utah. Rachel married and moved to San Bernardino, California, where she died in 1854. Solomon would end up moving to Farmington, Utah, and in the years that followed, Aroet, Alma, and Sol (as the family called him) became Indian fighters, colonizers, missionaries, minute men, stockmen, and operators of sawmills and molasses mills. Two became bishops, one was called as a counselor in a stake presidency, and eventually all three were ordained patriarchs in the Church.
Solomon, who was just seven at the time of his father’s death, would end up settling in Idaho where he raised his family with fond remembrances of the sacrifices his own parents had made. Eventually Solomon’s son Heber would serve as the stake president of the Boise Idaho Stake, and in 1938 would publish a book about his grandpa entitled Bishop Jonathan H. Hale of Nauvoo: His Life and Ministry. It is from this book that I have collected the rare gems of sacrifice stated above, and now share with you what is perhaps my favorite of all the Hale Family experiences as shared in Heber Q. Hales book and in other Hale Family member’s journals.
In 1874 United States Senator Robert S. Hale of Vermont approached Congressman George Q. Cannon of Utah in in Washington, D. C., and made inquiry about the family of Jonathan H. Hale, whom he knew had migrated with the Mormons to the Rocky Mountains. Senator Hale was collecting information for a Hale Family Genealogical Record which he was compiling at a great cost to himself and which he planned to have published. Congressman Cannon knew all the Hale boys very well and informed Senator Hale that although Jonathan Hale had never made it to the rocky mountains, he had four children who did. George Q. Cannon then put all the parties in touch with one another and the genealogical data increased exponentially. However, Senator Robert S. Hale passed away before his compilation of the family records was complete, and the book project was taken up by Senator Eugene Hale of Maine (who was also a family member). The Hale boys expressed a great desire to secure a copy of the completed record and book, and it was eventually provided to them. Senator Eugene had no appreciable interest in the record after it had been finally completed and published. However, to the Hale Family in the west it was an answer to prayers on both this side of the veil and the other for temple work to be done in the temples of the Church.
I now share the handwritten account of Alma Hale, Jonathan and Olive Hale’s son, from his journal regarding the importance of the temple work they could now engage in. Wrote Alma:
My brother Aroet and I had talked and counseled together a number of times concerning the work for our dead which needed to be done. First we talked of going to the St. George Temple to do the work but found it would be too far and as a result so expensive that we were compelled to abandon the idea. So we decided that we would remove to a place near the Logan Temple and do our work there when that structure was completed.”
Accordingly, in the spring of 1887, I moved my wife Ellen and her family to Gentile Valley, Idaho, and in April 1888 my wife Sarah and her family moved to Smithfield, Cache County, Utah, thus placing us in close communion with the Logan Temple ….”
Regarding my work for the dead, I will say for the benefit of the readers of this biography that from the time I came to Smithfield until the present, I have spent 5 weeks each year for a period of 13 years working for the dead, making in all 65 weeks work, performing baptisms for 700, obtaining the endowments for nearly 200, and performing the sealing and adopting ordinances for over 300 souls of our kindred.”
I am now 65 years of age on the declining side of life. As I approach my goal and crown which is waiting for me, I do it with these words on my lips to all my sons and daughters and their posterity:
“Keep the faith, for it is worth the fight of life and every sacrifice that can be made for it. It will unite us in eternity and cause a mighty rejoicing at the glad reunion. Let not one of my children be missing from it, is my constant prayer.”
From January 1889 to 28 February 1896, there were ordinances performed as follows: 1,075 endowments, 1,202 sealings of couples, 2,055 baptisms, and 319 children sealed to 55 sets of parents. These children sealings were the first done by the Hale family and were all done in the preceding two weeks prior to the early evening closing on 28 February 1896. The Logan Temple records clearly indicate that all eligible names were done for seven generations of Hale ancestors by this date. No other date in the whole one hundred years of Hale temple activity was as important as this one.”
- From Alma Hale’s journal; Copy Church History Library
How many of us have arranged ourselves both temporally and spiritually enough to make such sacrifices for those of our kindred dead who have not yet had their work completed? Alma Hale’s own son, Jonathan H. Hale (named after his grandfather), gives us even further insight into the sacred nature of the family’s temple labors. He wrote:
When the Hale family worked in the Logan Temple in the winter of 1888-89, they arranged with Brother Samuel Roskelley to prepare the sheets for temple work. A great deal of temple work was done during the following years …. [Some time later] Brother Roskelley’s health began to fail, and he decided to give up all his record work. He brought the Hale records to sacrament meeting one Sunday and gave them to Father [Alma H. Hale] and told him it would be necessary to get someone else to take over the books.”
During the following week, Father was very depressed and worried all the time, and was hardly able to work or eat. He could not decide what to do, for neither he nor any of the Hale family knew how to proceed with the work. A great deal of information had been gathered, and the family made it a matter of prayer, morning and evening, for a whole week.”
The next Sunday at meeting, Brother Roskelley came to Father and said, `Bring the records back to me. I have to finish them.’ Then he told Father and me this story:
“Friday evening as I was returning from the Temple, near Hyde Park, a messenger on a white horse appeared by the side of my buggy and said he wanted me to finish the Hale record. He assured me that the work was done right and that it was all being accepted. He said thousands of members of the Hale family were anxious that the work go on. I explained that I was too busy to do any more record work, and that my health would not permit it. Then the messenger made me this promise: that if I would continue, the Lord would bless me with health and strength, and the way would be opened so I would have the necessary time to do the work. He stayed by my side until I finally promised to do it, and then he blessed me and disappeared.”
When Brother Roskelley described his messenger to Father, he answered, “Why, that was my own father, Jonathan Harriman Hale, the first of the Hales to join the Church in 1834. He died in 1847 at Winter Quarters.”
When Brother Roskelley finally finished the record, he said that the greatest load he had ever carried was lifted off his shoulders. He had made a promise to a heavenly being and couldn’t rest until the work was completed. He enjoyed much better health and found more time for the work than he had ever hoped for.”
- From Jonathan H. Hale’s journal; Copy Church History Library
The Hale Family’s sacrifice to have the temple work done for their ancestors was well known. Heber Q. Hale wrote,
It was Authoritatively recognized that up to the time Aroet, Alma and Solomon (Heber’s uncles and father) had completed their personal ministrations in the Logan Temple, their labors in behalf of their progenitors had far exceeded that performed by any other family in the Church, at least in that Temple. It was at this juncture, upon the completion of their record of sealings of husbands to wives and children to parents, following a Hale program in the Logan Temple one evening in February, 1896, that a strange phenomenon was reported; the sacred structure, it is said, became suddenly illuminated ‑ flooded from dome to foundation with a blaze of light. Apostle Marriner W. Merrill, who was then president of the Temple, observed the phenomenon as he was traveling on the highway that night from Logan to Richmond. It was likewise observed by many residents of Logan.”
“President Merill viewed the occurrence with some concern,” the account in the Desert News read, “and he made anxious inquiry the following morning to determine the cause. There were no electric lights in Logan at that time and no means were provided for illuminating the Temple in any such manner. Furthermore, he had closed the Temple for the night and was on his way home. He could find no physical means by which to answer his interrogations. The following night, however, the Temple was again flooded with illumination, the same as the previous night.”
President Merrill finally concluded and announced to the general assembly in the Temple that this beautiful and glorious manifestation was a spiritual phenomenon. The mater was subsequently called to the attention of President Wilford Woodruff the account continued, who declared it to be an assembly of the great Hale family from the spirit world, who had gathered within those sacred walls in exultation over their liberation through the benecent ministrations in their behalf.”
- From Heber Q. Hale’s book Bishop Jonathan H. Hale of Nauvoo: His Life and Ministry; Pages 170-171
As I have studied much this week of the lives of the Jonathan Hale family, I have been touched repeatedly by the Spirit and by the thoughts of my own kindred dead. Zeal for the Gospel, consecration, and lives of holiness have been a theme that is woven throughout the generations as I’ve read of this large and ever-growing family. That the veil is so very thin and that our own ancestors are awaiting their temple work to be completed is more than obvious. And if we might just live our lives in such a manner, perhaps there will be aid from sacred sources for us too.
It is indeed a spiritual phenomenon to consider a House of the Lord illuminated from afar by the presence of an assembly of our kindred dead. That such an occurrence could be common in our varied Stakes of Zion is a goal and hope we should all pray to attain.
I know I personally have lots to do, both temporally and spiritually, to see such a spiritual phenomenon in my life. But that such an occurrence is possible, I have no doubt. The words of one of my favorite hymns comes to mind.
I have work enough to do,
Ere the sun goes down,
For myself and kindred too,
Ere the sun goes down:
Ev’ry idle whisper stilling
With a purpose firm and willing,
All my daily tasks fulfilling,
Ere the sun goes down.
- “I Have Work Enough to Do”; Hymn 224
That we might all complete our works accordingly is my prayer.
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