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Dunster, James & Mary Jones - Biography

The Dunster Story

The Dunster Story


The following story was told by Emily Jane Dunster Siddoway in 1947:

            My mother, Mary Jones, was a daughter of Noah Robert Jones and Esther Lewis Jones.  They were converted in the British Isles and while in transit, the mother, Esther, died, leaving my grandfather and his daughter alone.  They made their way by boat to a point on the Missouri River where they disembarked with the intent and purpose of migrating to the Salt Lake Valley.  While remaining there, making preparations for their trip westward, my Grandfather, Noah, passed on.  Prior to his death, and in conscious realization of his impending death, he enjoined upon my mother, who was then twelve years of age, not to attempt to return to her homeland or to be separated from her devotion in the church, and asked that she maintain her affiliation with the Church and accept a personal responsibility to see that the work was done for and in behalf of the family.  My mother agreed to discharge that responsibility.

            My mother, Mary Jones, was then but 12 years of age and was left entirely alone in the world.  She, however, courageously collected what few personal belongings they had, put them in a box and sought ways and means to cross the plains from Missouri River to the Salt Lake Valley.

            One of the emigrant trains was about to leave, and some kindly hearted people made accommodations to let mother come with them.  The trek was long, slow and tedious.  Mother walked most of the way to the Salt Lake Valley.  Upon her arrival she had no place to go, and being of a backward, reticent nature, failed to find suitable accommodation.  She sought employment doing housework and would do large washings for which she was paid about 25 cents a day.  She continued this laborious work wherever available for some time, after which she was unable to find employment and was seriously destitute.  She became so hungry and famished that her spirit began to weaken, and seeing no solution of her condition, she accepted the thought that probably she should end her own life.  In this spirit of deep gloom, she went to the old mill race near the vicinity of Liberty Park, and there sat meditating the course she had resolved upon to end her own life.  The water within the mill race was swift and would undoubtedly within a very short distance, lapse her into unconsciousness.  Her feet were covered with worn out shreds of shoes, the soles of which were gone and the leather turning up about her feet.  Modesty made her where she did not want people to find her body, clad in those old shoes, and she felt that she would desire to remove the shoes.  As she sat down in a likely spot to take off her shoes, her father, Noah Jones, appeared to her and remonstrated that she should not do such a thing.   The act that she was contemplating would destroy the very pledge that he had enjoined upon her to carry on and see that their temple work was eventually done.  Likewise, he told her to go to a certain part of the town and there she would find friends and assistance.  She accepted this admonition and did go into town, and found that a distant relative had been inquiring about “the little Jones girl.”  The way opened up through such friends and relatives in that she obtained the necessaries of life and was given assistance.  She remained and did housework until the time of her marriage with my father.

            Mother was 15 years of age when she married James Beard Dunster, who was then 18 years of age.  My father was small in stature, and had no opportunities for education and was incapable of reading or writing.  He was a hard working, honest, considerate man, and a great love and confidence existed between mother and father.  They had a considerably good sized family, but were compelled to work very, very hard for everything they had.  The severe ordeal of Mother’s life weakened her, and she passed on while her family was still young.  Prior to Mother’s passing, but little genealogical work had been done, but mother exhorted upon my father that he would see that our genealogical and temple work was carried on.

            After the passing of my mother, my father gave great concern for this work, but his inability to read or write seriously handicapped him until he was visited by persons from the unseen world and there received genealogical data.  In this stillness of the night, a bell would ring and father would arise.  He held conversations with persons who had come to deliver to him the essential data required to establish proper genealogy.  Because of his inability to write, he asked me to act as scribe, and when the bell would ring, he would call me and I would act as scribe, writing down the information given him.  This information came to him and he repeated it to me about as fast as I could record it.  I, at times, made a mistake, and while Father was not looking at my record, and did not know what I was writing, he would correct it, tell me that I had made a mistake and give me the correct data to replace that which I had erroneously copied.

            These night interviews with our unseen visitors continued at various intervals covering a period of two years until the time I married William H. Siddoway and left my father’s home.  I was unable to hear the voices of those who talked with father.  Many, many times he repeatedly asked me, “Can’t you hear them?” but I was unable to hear them, although I could hear the bell ring.  Likewise father was unable to see them, although their conversation to him was completely audible.  I was deeply impressed in my own soul with the serene, sweet spirit that pervaded me during those periods of time.  Often my father would tell me to go to bed early to get my sleep, because he told me he felt that he would work that night, and usually he was correct; because usually on those nights the bell would ring and we would again write the genealogy given to Father by audible voices from unseen guests.

            The names of these dead persons were taken to the General Authorities of the Church.  The whole circumstances of their having been given was related to the authorities, and the authorities gave permission to have these records copied as sufficiently authentic records to cause the temple work to be done for the persons whose names had been thus obtained.  My memory is that we compiled and copied and had recorded approximately 2,000 names coming from this Divine source.

            There were no temple facilities in the Salt Lake Valley, and father made a pilgrimage to the Logan Temple where he did the work for our family.  Father did not know the date of his own birth, and this had given him considerable concern.  He had prayed that through some source he might find accurate information as to the date of his birth.  It was upon his visit to the Logan Temple that his mother appeared to him while on a stairway in the Temple.  He was astounded at the naturalness of her appearance.  She talked with him and told him that he had desired to know the date of his birth, and she informed him that he was born on January 21, and gave him the year.  Mother likewise told father that she greatly appreciated his activity in this genealogical work.  Father continued for a number of years to be very active in genealogical work, and after my marriage and leaving him, one of my sisters assisted him for a brief time in copying the names that were obtained in the evening visitations.

            Many spiritual blessings and the power of insight were given to Father, and I  remember on one occasion when a man who was very near to us and who evidently had fallen away sufficiently that he had taken off his garments, was by him.  He discerned that his man had fallen away and he said, “I can see him with his garments off but still hanging on his arm.  He will leave the church but he will later return.”  And it was a singular fact that this man did leave the Church and after much travail and much sorrowful sufferings, he returned completely to renew his membership within the church and to have his blessings and sealings restored to him.

            Following our marriage, we started out for ourselves.  Mr. Siddoway had been deprived of  assistance, but through the many mercies and goodness of our Father in Heaven, we have been abundantly blessed and my life has been enriched.1




            The narrative above was recorded by Emily Jane Dunster Siddoway more than fifty years ago.  It has been shared among the descendants of Mary Roberts Jones and James Record Dunster.  In an effort to clarify and compliment Emily Jane’s story of her mother and father, the following information has been researched and compiled. 



Mary Roberts Jones


            In the early morning hours of June 27, 1844, the Prophet Joseph Smith lay on the floor of an upstairs bedroom in the Carthage Jail with seven of his friends.  Unable to sleep, he lay between Dan Jones and John Fullmer and they spoke of facing death.  The Prophet reached over to Dan Jones and as he touched his arm said, “You will yet see Wales and fulfill the mission appointed to you before you die.”  Later that morning, Joseph asked Dan Jones to take a message to the governor of Illinois. When he returned, the jailers would not let Dan Jones re-enter the jail, and thus he was spared on the day of the martyrdom. 2

            Dan Jones and his wife made preparations to return to their native land of Wales, Dan Jones being uniquely prepared to serve as a missionary there.  He had graduated from college in Wales, not a common thing, and was at the time probably the only member of the Church who could speak, read, and write Welsh.3   William Henshaw had been teaching the gospel in English in the area of Merthyr Tydfil and had his first converts in February 1843.  By December of 1845, when Dan Jones was called to preside in Wales, there were 500 Latter-day Saints.  After his arrival in South Wales4, the membership of the church grew with 500 baptisms in 1846, just under a thousand in 1847, and in the last year of his mission, 1,700 Welsh converts.5

            Among the converts joining the church in August of 1848 were the small family of  Noah Robert Jones and his wife, Esther Lewis Jones, and eleven year old daughter, Mary Roberts Jones of Merthyr Tydfil, Wales.  Noah was a 34 year old miner. Noah and Esther had experienced the death of their five year old son, John, in 1845 and the death of two young daughters in the previous year.6

            As Dan Jones finished his mission to Wales, he began to organize a company of Welsh converts to emigrate.  Noah Jones supported the work being done by the leaders of the church in Wales by writing poetry.  A poem that Noah wrote in Welsh was published in December of 1848 and starts with:

            All supporters of dear Jesus,

                                                Who will go?

            To show the power of God,

                                                Who will go?

            Namely, that his virtuous arm

            Works powerfully today;

            Praise God forevermore,

                                                Who will go?7


All were encouraged to pay off their debts and the wealthy were asked to be generous in assisting the poor to leave for Zion.  These Saints had received Thomas Bullock’s account of the trek in 1847 from Council Bluffs to Utah, so they had an idea of the trials facing them.  The Saints also were given detailed instructions on the clothing and tools that they should plan to take with them.8

            In spite of much local opposition, the Saints of South Wales met in Swansea on February 13, 1848, for the 34-hour steamer voyage to Liverpool.  Noah, Esther and Mary Jones were among this company. In spite of bad sea-sickness on board the Troubador no one turned back when they arrived in Liverpool.   The entire group from South Wales rented rooms in the “Music Hall” for five nights while they waited for the Saints from North Wales to join them and for their ship to be ready.  A combination of factors including distrust of the English people, fear of swindlers on the docks, religious opposition and the fact that most of the Welsh Saints spoke only Welsh, kept the company closely banded together and generally confined to their rooms9.  When the Buena Vista was ready, the whole company marched “along the streets of Liverpool like a regiment of soldiers.”10  While they waited on board for another six days, the Saints were plagued by many ministers coming on board to dissuade them from continuing their journey.  The answer of the Saints was, “It is forward that all of us want to go.11  Finally, on February 26th, the first company of Welsh Saints bound for Zion left the harbor with  249 Saints, accompanied by the harp, singing “The Saint’s Farewell”.12

            The 50-day journey across the ocean consisted of cramped conditions, sea-sickness, chores and preaching among the Saints13.  Their leader, Captain Dan Jones, had spent many years on the sea and considered himself an “old tar.”  At his recommendation, the Saints had supplemented the ship’s larder of “good navy bread,” rice, oatmeal, flour, and potatoes with additional supplies such as sugar, raisins, butter, cheese along with homemade jam and oatmeal bread14 15.  No preparations, however, could help the Saints avoid the onset of sea-sickness once they were underway.  Cramped quarters, lack of privacy and the stench of vomiting all combined to create challenging living conditions in spite of the faith that had lead them on this voyage16.

            Dan Jones used every opportunity to re-emphasize to the Saints that they were being guided by divine powers.  One of these opportunities arose on March 16 after eighteen days at sea.  Because the wind had been so strong against the ship, Jones called a special prayer meeting below deck so that all might pray for fair wind.  Characteristic of his fervent attitude, Captain Jones announced that he felt like going on deck and not returning until the fair wind had been granted.  When he had put his foot on the first rung of the ladder, one of the brethren asked him what he wanted most.  He replied he would most like to hear the mate on the deck shouting, “Haul in the weather braces!’ which would mean fair winds.  As Dan Jones wrote in a letter back to Wales, “And before I had moved my foot, I , and others who had heard my wish, heard the mate above our heads shouting loudly, ‘Haul in the weather braces,’ yea, word for word as I had said” furthermore, the fair wind had come and all the Saints gave thanks.17  The young twelve-year old Mary Jones understood what had happened and it made such a deep and lasting impression on her mind that years later she related the story to her children.  She also remembered that Captain Dan Jones was always very kind to her.18 A granddaughter relates that during the voyage, Mary contracted mumps and was healed by Captain Jones.19

            When the Buena Vista arrived in New Orleans, they were advised not to linger because of cholera in the city.  Dan Jones arranged to join a company of British Saints.  Jointly, they hired the steamboat Constitution to take the 450 passengers up the Mississippi River and got to St. Louis eleven days after arriving in New Orleans.20

            It was May Day when the Welsh and British Saints transferred from the Constitution to the Highland Mary, without going into the city of St. Louis because fear of cholera was high. Many were dying in St. Louis of this little understood disease.  As the company of Saints traveled up the Missouri River, forty-four of the original 249 Welsh company died.  When they began their journey, most were traveling with their families, but very few families were left intact by the end of May.21  Among these victims of cholera was Esther Lewis Jones, age 30, who died six days after leaving St. Louis.  Noah expressed his grief in Welsh verse, published in a pamphlet in Wales.  His poem, “Lament of the Emigrant” starts:

            My dear friends in the environs of Wales,

            Kindly hear my lament in verse;

            Lamenting still am I in sorrow

            Over the loss of my dear Esther,

            Whom I loved as my own soul.22

Esther was wrapped in a blanket and buried in the same graves with other Saints who had died that day.23 

            Although 69 of the original Welsh company from the Buena Vista went on to the Salt Lake valley that year, many had planned from the beginning to stay in Council Bluffs to gather resources and prepare for their further journey west.  When they arrived in Council Bluffs, the Welsh Saints settled on lots which adjoined each other, and formed a Welsh branch of the church since many of them didn’t speak English.24  In October of 1849, Noah Jones traveled with four other Welshmen from the Buena Vista back to St. Louis in hopes of getting employment in the coal diggings at Gravois on the outskirts of the city.  Noah Jones and David D. Bowen boarded in the house of a widow named Williams. In January of 1850, the coal business became slack so Noah Jones, along with three other Welsh saints, took the boat Salvida from St. Louis to St. Joseph and then returned to Council Bluffs.25

            On September 24, 1850, Noah Jones, age 35, and Mary Jones, age 13, were enumerated in the 1850 census for Pottawattamie County, Iowa.  Although Noah probably spent the summer working on the Welsh Farm, he is listed as a “collier,” another name for a coal miner.  They were listed as living in Stringtown26 in the household of the Edwards, a family who had also traveled in the Welsh company on the Buena Vista. 27

            On October 1, 1850 Noah was married to Mrs. Mary Meredith in Council Bluffs. 28 She was a Latter-day Saint who had been with the same company from Merthyr Tydfil to Liverpool.  Some of that company, including Mary Meredith, her husband, and five children had come on a second boat, the Hartley.  Her husband had died of cholera on the Missouri River on May 25, 1849, the same month that Esther Lewis Jones had died, leaving Mary with five children to care for.  For a few months, fourteen-year old Mary Jones’ family consisted of her father, a new mother, four step-sisters, and a step-brother.            Soon after Noah’s marriage to Mary Meredith the Welsh Saints experienced a set back.  The Omaha Indians set fire to the prairie west of where they were living.  The fire spread towards Stringtown burning hay and wheat.  The local newspaper reported that the fire did immense damage and commented that “the loss falls upon those the least able to bear it.”29

            In May of 1851, Noah wrote a letter to his father back in Wales.  In the letter he said that they were well and he passed on little Mary’s request for locks of hair from certain family members and friends.  Noah’s father, William Robert Jones, replied addressing the letter:


            Noah’s father must have believed him to be in Council Bluffs at the time.  In the letter, William Robert Jones asks Noah to write and tell, “where little Mary is staying and what her condition is.”30    This suggests that Noah had sometimes left Mary in the care of others.   His granddaughter later wrote that Noah spent two summers in Council Bluffs working in the wheat fields.31 

            The blended family group of Noah Jones didn’t last long since sometime between the time Noah wrote to his father in May of 1851 and the spring of 1852 both parents had died. Mary Meredith  Jones was taken by cholera in Council Bluffs.32  Noah died of Bright’s disease, a kidney disorder.33  The date or the location of his death has not been determined but there is no reason to doubt Emily Jane’s recounting of his dying wish for  Mary to continue on to Utah and see that the family received their temple blessings.34 35 Noah’s associations in the period between 1849 and 1852, on his excursion to St. Louis for work, in the census and his short marriage, show that he was still knit within the community of Saints.  Noah’s father, a member of the Church in Wales, expressed his joy in the condition of Noah and Mary when he has last heard from Noah, while in the same letter he refers in harsh terms to Noah’s brother, who apparently had turned away from the Church.36

             A granddaughter wrote the following:

            He took sick with kidney trouble.  Mary did everything she could for him, took care of him through his sickness, but he just seemed to grow worse, till finally, one night while she sat alone with him, he passed away.  She said they had no light, so she sat alone with his dead body till morning before she could call for any help.  She said the last thing he said to her was to be sure and go on to Utah with the Saints and to try to live so that she could always be a Latter day saint and to try and do the work for them that they hadn’t had the privilege of doing for themselves.

            After her father’s death there was an old couple who took her to live with them by the name of Elsworth.37  They tried to persuade her to go with them and give up her religion, but she said: “No I will never do that, the last thing I promised my father was that I would go on as soon as I could get the chance.”  These people were quite well to do and hadn’t any children of their own, they told her they would educate her and do for her, as if she was their own, but she had promised her father she would continue her journey to Utah.

            In the spring she had an opportunity to do so and came with a family by the name of Murther.  She drove three oxen and a cow and she also cooked the meals for this family.  They had three little children.  In the evenings after the work was over they sat around the camp fire and sang Welsh songs.  She had a beautiful voice and Mr. Murther would joke with her and say he would forgive her for proving awkward in hooking up the oxen when he listened to her lovely voice.

            When they arrived in Utah the family dispensed with her services after she had washed all the soiled clothing they had used on the journey.  She walked all those weary miles across the plains barefooted.  Think of it she had some shoes, but saved them to wear when she got to her journey’s end.  She had driven cattle, milked the cow for the Murther family and now she had no place to go, no place to call home.  The girl walked the streets looking for work until her cherished possessions the shoes, were threadbare.38  


            The pioneer company that Mary traveled with or the date of her arrival in the Great Salt Lake Valley has not been determined, although it was most likely in the fall of 1852.39  The remainder of the Welsh Saints still in Council Bluffs in 1852, came to the valley of the Great Salt Lake as the thirteenth company of that year.40  A search for a Murther family has also been unsuccessful41.  It is possible that the family she came with was a family from Merythr Tydfil and the name was confused in later accounts.

            A granddaughter of Mary Jones wrote that when Mary arrived in the valley, they “went to the 8th Ward Square in Salt Lake City.  It was the practice of the residents of Salt Lake to provide temporary accommodations for newly arriving immigrants by allowing them to live in their homes.  W. W. Phelps went to meet this particular company and took three girls home.”42  Whether Mary remained in the Phelps household for the next few months is not known, however, a great-grandson of Mary related that W. W. Phelps approached Mary and said that he had received a  revelation that she should become his polygamous wife.43

            On April 3, 1853, Mary Jones was sealed to William Wines Phelps at 6:30 PM in Brigham Young’s office.  The sealing was performed by Brigham Young.44  Mary was fifteen.  William Phelps was 61.   Family oral history holds that the marriage between Mary and W. W. Phelps was  distressing for Mary and that Phelps mistreated the young girl45.   A Phelps historian said that it is well documented that W. W. Phelps mistreated his wives.  Phelps, at one time, was excommunicated from the Church by Brigham Young for taking three young girls as polygamous wives without permission.46  A granddaughter said that after some time in the Phelps home, an older wife of W. W. Phelps told Mary that this was not where she should be and that she should ask to have the marriage dissolved.  The older wife said Mary was just working her youth away for nothing.47   Another granddaughter wrote that Mary went to the home of Lorenzo D. Young to get help from one of his wives, Harriet. Lorenzo D. Young was then instrumental in  helping Mary out of the marriage.48  Although we don’t know the exactly how it was brought about, Brigham Young issued a certificate of divorcement in his office on October 12, 1853.  The certificate was signed by Mary and by W. W. Phelps.49


            Family oral history holds that Mary brought a  box across the plains with her containing poems that her father had written, but was unable to take the box with her when she left the Phelps household.50  Since Noah Jones’ other poems that are know are written in Welsh, these poems were probably written in Welsh as well.  Family tradition also has it that at the time of the divorce, Brigham Young told W. W. Phelps that if he ever published those poems, he would die a pauper.51   W. W. Phelps is well-known for writing The Spirit of God Like a Fire is Burning for the dedication of the Kirtland temple; however after betraying Joseph Smith in Missouri, re-uniting with the Saints, and writing Praise to the Man, his writing diminished.  No songs or poems have been found attributed to W. W. Phelps after 185352. 

            A history written by a granddaughter states, “Mary got a job at Brigham Young’s farm in Forest Dale working for $.50 a week.  The farm was managed by the Dalton family.  The work Mary was expected to do for a mere $.50 a week was demanding, and suffering from a boil in one hand and a bad cut in the other, she was somewhat incapacitated.  She worked about, keeping herself busy but she soon became quite despondent.”53  Emily Jane’s description of Mary Jones’ destitute situation is heartrending: “She walked the street trying to get something to do, but everyone seemed alike, it was all every one could do to get enough to live themselves, and no one wanted a little orphan girl.  She did manage to get a few day’s work, but it would just be long enough to do up their big dirty washing then she would have to go trying for work again.”54

            So this was sixteen year old Mary Jones’ situation at the time of her thoughts of suicide. Mary was young, alone and homeless with no foreseeable means of support.  The work which she had been able to get, doing laundry by hand, had left her with sores on her hands. Mary’s language ability in English at this time may have been limited since it appears that until her arrival in the valley she had always been with Welsh Saints. She had carried her shoes and chosen to walk bare-footed across the plains to save them for when she lived in Zion.  Now her shoes were an embarrassment to her.  She had suffered a troubling marriage to an older, emotionally unstable man. Through him she had lost possession of her tangible tie to her father, the box containing Noah’s poetry, and possibly other personally valuable items such as the locks of hair from her friends and family in Wales.55

            In considering the story of Mary’s crisis at the mill, a noteworthy fact is that the gristmill which still stands in Liberty Park was built by Isaac Chase in 1852, on a farm jointly owned by himself and Brigham Young.56 57   While existence of the mill doesn’t prove Mary’s story, it does make it credible.

            The story by Emily Jane Dunster Siddoway at the beginning of this work doesn’t name the cousin whom Mary found as she left the mill, following her father’s advice to return to Salt Lake City.  However, in a story that Emily Jane wrote for the DUP, she identifies cousin as John Edwards, who had a beautiful tenor voice and sang in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for many years.   This is likely the same John Edwards in whose home Mary had been living at the time of the 1850 census in Council Bluffs.  John Edwards had a frequent visitor who had crossed the plains in the same company named James Dunster.58                    

            Mary and James were married on February 25 1854 in the Endowment House.59 Mary was sixteen and James was 24.  James had a team and wagon.  For the first part of their marriage, they lived in their wagon box.  James had worked for Erastus Snow since his arrival in Utah and Brother Snow made them a bedstead as a wedding gift.60  The newlyweds farmed on shares for Zerubbabel Snow on a 24-acre farm in the Sugarhouse Ward.  The farm was on the west side of 11th East from Emerson Avenue (about 1500 South) to Wilson Avenue (about 1800 South) in the Salt Lake Valley.  A fresh spring on their farm supplied water for the household and the garden.  James said that when the air was still, he could hear his wife, Mary, singing from where he would be working in the field.  The neighbors said they always knew when she was well, for they could hear singing all around the neighborhood.61

            There hadn’t been many opportunities for Mary to attend school, but she was determined to get an education in English.  After she was married, she attended school for six months.  Later, she studied at home and would read anything available.  When she needed help, she would go to her neighbors, Mrs. Kennedy and Mrs Kirkham, who kindly helped her with her studies.62 63 64

            Their first child, Mary Elizabeth, was born in their wagon box home.65  But soon afterwards, plans were made to build an adobe house.  The day the adobe blocks were delivered, James was busy in the field, so Mary helped unload every adobe. George Handley laid out the adobes to build a one-room house with a door facing east, a window looking west, and a fireplace on the north side.  The floor consisted of wide planks.  John Edwards made a rocking chair of white pine with a rawhide bottom and a little child’s chair for them.  Their second child, Jacob, was born in this house.66

            In March of 1858, news of the approach of Johnston’s Army caused Brigham Young to issue an order for all the Saints in the Salt Lake Valley to leave their homes and go south.  James and Mary Dunster packed their wagon with their belongings and prepared their house to be burned.  They had a yoke of oxen to pull the wagon and two cows.  They traveled with their two year old daughter and their infant son to Spanish Fork, where they camped for a few weeks. By the end of June the crisis had passed without violence and Brigham Young announced that everyone could go back to their homes.  James and Mary Dunster returned their little family to the farm in the Sugarhouse Ward.67

            In January of 1860, Mary’s time to deliver their third child came but complications arose during the delivery. The doctors in attendence used chloroform, a practice not common at that time.  The baby was taken but died the same day.68  They named the baby John and buried him on the lot which James had purchased on 1100 East and Blaine Avenue.69

            During the summer of 1860, James and Mary moved onto their own ten acre lot, again camping in their wagon box.  They dug a cellar and lined it with rock. They also built a rock foundation for their new two room home.  Since cold weather came early that year, James put on a roof and covered it with willows and clay.  Their crop of wheat had done well that fall, but they had no place to store the harvest.  James made a big bin on the north end of the room and filled it with a hundred bushels of wheat.  A tick was filled with straw and it was placed on top.  The children used a chair to climb up to their bed on top of the wheat.70

            The Dunster family continued to meet the challenges of family life and to grow.  Four daughters were born to them: Esther, Francis, Hulda and Emily.71   The oldest son, Jacob, struggled in school.  He was slow and simple-minded.  After a bad experience at school, he remained at home and helped with the farm chores.72   James planted peach and apple trees.  In one of the apple trees Mary budded the center branches to each other so the children could climb up to pick the fruit.   The children called this the “ladder tree.”   She grew flowers and a garden.  Mary raised chickens and had enough butter and eggs for her family’s needs and a surplus to sell.  In 1869, James built a new adobe home using clay from the bed of Emigration Creek near the present day site of Westminster College. Mary bore three more children: James, Alice and Samuel Lewis. James took his grain to Neff’s mill on Mill Creek to be ground.  He raised and slaughtered the family’s pigs.  Mary made her own cheese and starch and soap and candles.  They grew sugar cane and potatoes. They got on in the same way as countless other pioneer families.73 

            This story of Mary Roberts Jones will end with a tribute written by her daughter:

As years rolled by and her family came she was never too busy to give a helping hand in sickness and trouble.  She was sent for all around the ward to care for the sick, lay out the dead and make burial clothes.  During the time of the diptheria she was called night and day.  I can remember one night she laid out two children, and she just got home when another family sent for her to come and lay out another child.  Most parents were afraid to go into homes where there was diphtheria, for fear their own children would get it, but she always said, “No, I am not afraid, I feel like if I help those who need my help, the Lord will protect my children.” And he surely did.

            She always loved her native tongue, for although she was young when she left Wales, she never forgot the Welsh language.  During her last sickness, she would brighten up and seem so happy if one of her friends who could speak Welsh, came in for a friendly chat.  All through this illness she would tell us what a beautiful place Wales was with its rolling hills and beautiful springs.  Some mornings when she looked so weak and we would ask her if she couldn’t eat a little.  She would say, “No, not this morning.  I dreamed my father was giving me such a wonderful drink out of the spring where we used to drink when I was a child, and it seemed so good.”  She was always so sweet and patient, anxious for us children to live right, and begged us to stand firm in the Church, then she was sure we would all meet again.  She died at the early age of 49, leaving three sons and six daughters, all striving to live as she had taught us.74

             Mary Jones Dunster is buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery under the branches of a large tree. 


James Record Dunster


            Except where noted,  the following is taken from a history of James Dunster written in 1936 from memory by his granddaughter, Ida Eldredge Holmes.77

            James Dunster was born on January 25, 1831 in Sommerset, England, the fifth child of John Dunster and Frances Record.78 79  His father was a cooper (barrel maker) by profession, but probably did some farming on sub-let land to aid in raising his large family.80  James was never sent to school but was compelled to go to work for others herding sheep and farming.

            As a child of four or five, James spent all the day in the springtime in the fields chasing the English sparrows from the spouting wheat.  When James was young, he worked for a farmer who raised cattle.  This farmer had a horse that was old and useless, so he decided to send it away.  He told James to take the horse and warned him not to get on his back, as it would throw him off and possibly hurt him.  James walked for miles and became very weary.  He decided to disregard the warning and ride the horse.  He no sooner had climbed on the back of this old horse when it threw him headlong into the brambles, injuring his head and one eye.  Ever after, whenever he was confused or angry, this eye would look crossed.

            When he was about seventeen or eighteen, he heard the missionaries of the Mormon Church preach and was converted.  He was baptized in September of 1848.81  He told his family and they were very much opposed.  He saved his money to emigrate to Utah and, when all was ready, he found that his parents had taken the money and refused to let him leave.  He started to save again; this time he gave his money to the missionaries.  When he had enough, he inquired when the next ship was sailing and, without bidding anyone goodbye, he took his belongings and started for America.  He never wrote to his family.

            James sailed from Liverpool on the Argo on January 10, 1850 with a company of 402 Saints under the leadership of Jeter Clinton.82    After waiting for a favorable wind, they were about eight weeks on the ocean.  During the passage, the Argo was nearly wrecked off the coast of Cuba.  A sudden flash of light of unknown origin saved the ship from disaster by illuminating the sea and revealing a huge rock dead again.  Captain Charles Mill quickly changed course in time to avert a collision. The Argo landed at New Orleans on March 8, 1850.83           Afterwards, James traveled up to St. Louis, Missouri where he stayed for two years and worked as a gardener, saving his money to come to Utah.




            James was not very tall, measuring about five feet eight inches and weighing about 140 pounds.  He had nice regular features, an equiline nose, brown hair and eyes, and a wonderful ruddy complexion.  He was healthy and strong and was very willing to help the pioneers about camps with the cattle.

            The pioneers crossed six rivers on their way to Utah. The wagons and people were ferried over the larger streams and the oxen were forced to swim.  At one river, all the Saints and wagons had crossed and James was left to drive the oxen and cattle into the river.  He did not tell them that he did not know how to swim, but he determined to try.  He started to wade when a swift current pulled him under.  He struggled and came up near an ox.  He had the presence of mind to grab the ox's tail.  The crowd cheered and called, "Hang on!  Hang on!"  The good old ox pulled him to the shore.  He was none the worse for the experience and he was a hero from then on. The company arrived in the valley in the fall of  1852.84  Erastus Snow took James Dunster home and hired him as a gardener until James was married.  On December 20, 1852, James was ordained a Seventy.85 86 87

            (Mary and James life together is related in Mary’s story)

            In 1867, a family by the name of Case came to Utah from Winsham, Sommerset County, England.  They had been neighbors to the Dunsters and told James that his father, mother, and all his brothers had died except his older brother, George.88

            James was a very spiritually minded man, having unusual faith and manifestations.    He was a ward teacher for 30 years, when Sugar House Ward extended from Ninth South to 27th South, from the mountains to the Jordan River.  He was well known for having the gift of healing.  People called him to administer to the sick from all parts of the ward.  One

 granddaughter was plagued by constant earaches and one day told her grandfather about them.  He put his hand on her ears and blessed her.  She never had an earache after that.89  Other descendents remembered similar stories.90  

            James was a very strict tithe payer.  He would harvest his potatoes and sort them. He gave the little ones to the pigs and paid the full tithe from the large potatoes.   Besides potatoes, he paid his tithing in wheat, beets, corn, molasses, pigs, chickens, wood and by donating labor, all in the same honest manner.

             James taught his family the Gospel.  He would gather them together night and morning for family prayer.   One of his favorite expressions was "forgive us of our faults and imperfections and hold them no more against us.  Blot them out of thy book of remembrance."  No matter who called at the house in the evening, the girls' beaus or their friends, he invited them to join the family in prayer and they knew what to expect.

            At the time of the passing of  his wife, Mary, James still had quite a full house. The two oldest daughters, Mary Elizabeth and Esther L. had married.  However, Mary Elizabeth was a plural wife.  Because of the legal situation regarding polygamy, Mary Elizabeth Dunster Eldredge and her children could not live openly with her husband.  This meant that besides James’ own family of two boys and four teenage girls, the  household also included his oldest daughter and four young grandchildren.   

            When his wife, Mary, died in September of 1886, and passed on the committment to perform temple work for the dead, the Salt Lake Temple had not yet been completed.  In January of 1887, James and his daughter, Mary Elizabeth Dunster Eldredge, went to the Logan Temple to do the work for the dead.91   He only had the records of his and his wife's immediate relatives, so he did not expect to stay many days.  They rented rooms in a house near the temple grounds.  This house had been dedicated to aid in the work of the Lord.

            One evening, James said he felt that they had been guided to this particular house and that great blessings would befall them.  That night about 2 A.M., he called Mary to come to his bedside. He asked her to bring a paper and pencil to write from him.  He said several spirits of his dead friends and relatives were there and wanted him to do their work.  Much to Mary's consternation, her father greeted someone whom she could not see.  He called them by name and talked to them as man to man.  Mary wrote their names and the dates of birth and death, which were needed for their work to be done in the temple.  They were baptized for many of their dead.  They also participated in marriage sealings for their ancestors with James acting as proxy for the husband and his daughter Mary acting as proxy for the wife.  They first acted as proxy in the sealing of Noah Jones and Esther Lewis; next they participated in  the sealing for James’ parents.  Following those, they did sealing for Mary Jones’ grandparents followed by James’ grandparents.92   One night James' mother came and sat beside him on the bed and told him how sad she was when he left home and how she had mourned his disappearance, but that it was all forgiven now. She knew that he had to leave to prepare the way for his family.

            In 1888, Mary Elizabeth Dunster Eldredge moved to Logan to be near the temple.  It would probably have been in this period of time, that Emily Jane Dunster Siddoway had the experience of acting as scribe for her father, possibly starting after he returned from his first experience in Logan in January of 1887 and continuing until her marriage in 1890.   During the following winters, James Dunster returned to do work in the Logan Temple.93

            In the next years, James’ household started to diminish.  Francis married in 1887 and Hulda in 1888.   When Emily Jane married in 1890, she and her husband  moved to Vernal where Emily’s sister Esther had gone earlier.  Esther had moved to Vernal in 1887 when her husband, Edward Young, along with two other men, introduced sheep to the Ashley Valley.    James Mathew married in 1893.  The youngest child, Samuel Lewis, died of typhoid fever in 1893 and was buried near his mother.94  The last to leave the Dunster nest was Alice, who married in 1900.  Jacob continued to live with his father, helping on the farm.95

            With James’ dimishing family responsiblities, he had time to enjoy his grandchildren.  He would sing and romp with them.  One of his favorite songs to sing with them was, “When Johnny comes marching home again.”  He also would sing the LDS church hymns with them.  He had an abundance of white hair and the grandchildren would take turns sitting on the arm of the rocking chair to comb his hair so it would snap with electricity.  He never grew out of patience or weary.

            While staying at his daughter, Mary’s, home in Logan, James Dunster met an English widow by the name of Sarah Young.  She had joined the Church in England and emigrated to Utah, bringing with her one son, Thomas. Her eldest son would not join the Church and had remained in England.  One day Mrs. Young came to James Dunster's daughter's home and said that she had some temple work that she would like to discuss with Brother Dunster.  He accepted the invitation to her house.  He went over that evening and the next. After about a week, they both came to Mary's home together and announced that they were married.

            In the fall of 1891, James and Sarah Young Dunster moved to South Cottonwood Ward in Salt Lake County to a farm at 5301 South 900 East.96  97  James was ordained a High Priest in the Assembly Hall in Salt Lake City on February 24, 1894 by William C. Dunbar and he spent several years as a ward teacher.98  99

            They had a wonderful flowing well, from which they irrigated the truck garden.  James always arose before 5 A.M.  He would walk out to the flowing well in all weather and wash his face and hands in this icy water.  Even as he grew older, his skin was smooth and firm and ruddy. Ida Eldredge Holmes recalled summer vacations spent on the farm in Cottonwood. She remembered a big orchard, buckets of foaming milk, evening chores and long buggy rides. She remembered how James enjoyed family gatherings when his daughters would come from far and near.  They gathered in the big front room and sang songs. He always loved to talk of the gospel.

            James was in good health and worked on his farm even on the day he suddenly died, January 4, 1907.100  His funeral services were held in South Cottonwood Ward.  The speakers eulogized his life, speaking of him as a man who possessed rare gifts from God.  He was buried next to Mary Roberts Jones in City Cemetery, Salt Lake City, Utah.

            Temple records show that his children continued to do temple work on their ancestors following his death.101 




            As a faith promoting story, Emily Jane’s descriptive narrative stands on it’s own.  It is comforting, however, to place the story in some historical context and to support it with a framework of documentation.  The purpose to this history is not to prove the very important spiritual experiences of James and Mary Jones Dunster.  They will be accepted or rejected by each reader on a personal basis.  Hopefully, however,  these stories and supporting sources have brought Mary and James closer to their descendents by giving us insight into their lives.  Mary Jones’ experience shows us how desperately hard life was in the early years of Utah. Accepting the fact that her father, Noah, appeared to Mary at her lowest point reminds us that those on the other side are aware of our situation and they feel our needs.  Her story is one of both physical survival and the endurance of faith and commitment.  It is important to note that Mary survived through the help of friends, relatives, and church leaders.  James Dunster’s early commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ and perservence against obstacles in obeying the call of a prophet was matched by his diligence in his later life.  James’ willingness to do all he could to perform temple ordinances despite illiteracy, a large family to provide for, and the distance to the nearest temple, is a great example to all of us.  This remarkable legacy also shows us the value of recording family stories.  We are all indebted to Emily Jane Dunster Siddoway and Ida Eldredge Holmes for helping to preserve these histories. 













1.  “This was recorded in August 10, 1947 by Ray E. Dillman, then serving as President of the Hawaiian Temple, after visiting Emily Jane Dunster Siddoway.  Ray E. Dillman had lost his parents early in life and the Siddoways had shown interest in him.  He attributes his ability to go to law school in Chicago to a loan extended to him by William H. Siddoway.   Following the sunrise service, in Vernal, he was invited to breakfast where this story was told. After the above narrative was given,  a granddaughter, Eloise Siddoway, said ‘Grandmother, why have you not told us of this before?”  She said, “You would only have made fun of old age and such things.’After recording the story he sent a copy to “Mother Siddoway” for her confirmation or modification.”  Manuscript in possession of family members.

2.  Blake, Reed, 24 Hours to Martyrdom, Bookcraft Inc. Salt Lake City, Utah,1973, pp45-46.  Dan Jones had been the captain of a steamer on the Mississippi, Maid of Iowa.  At the time of the martyrdom he had already sold his half share of the boat and started preparing to go to Wales.

3. ibid, page 46.

4.  Hinckley, Gordon B.  Ensign, “The Thing of Most Worth”,  September 1993, pp. 4-7. 

5.  Dennis, Ronald D. The Call of Zion: The Story of the first Welsh Mormon Emigration, Brigham Young University, 1987 p.2.

6.  Family records: John Jones, (AFN: 51D9-4D)  b. 2 Nov 1839, Penderyn, Brecon, Wales, d. 22 Feb 1845; Elizabeth Jones, (AFN: 51D9-5K) b. 1 Mar 1844, Dowlais, Glamorgan, Wales, d. 9 Jan 1847; Elizabeth Jones, (AFN: 51D9-6Q) b. 13 Jan 1847, Dowlais, Glamorgan, Wales, d. 20 Mar 1848

7.  Jones, Noah, Prophet of the Jubilee, Vol III, Merthyr-Tydfil, 1848

8.  Dennis, pp 3-4

9.  Dennis, pp 7-12

10.  Bowen, David D., “History of the Life of David D. Bowen” manuscript, LDS Church Archives

11.  Udgorn Seion, March 1849, 60

12.  Dennis, pp 7-16

13. Sonne, Conway B., “Under Sail to Zion” , Ensign, July 1999, pp 7-14

14.  The story of another Welsh family traveling in the same company says the that mother, “made large flat cakes of oatmeal bread and much jelly and jam to take with them...They had a good crossing although they did run out of the oatmeal bread and water and had to eat ‘hardtack’ and ‘ropey’ water.”  Jensen, Jean A., Manuscript of the biography of her ancestor, Sarah Evans Jeremy,  Sons of the Utah Pioneers Biography File, Sons of the Utah Pioneer Library, Salt Lake City, Utah

15. Jensen, Jean A, unpublished manuscript at Sons of Utah Pioneers in Salt Lake City, great granddaughter of Thomas and Sarah Jeremy, “Sarah was kept very busy making preparations for the journey.  She did much sewing, to fit the children with proper clothing and much baking.  She made large flat cakes of oatmeal bread and much jelly and jam to take with them.  All of their cooking was done in a big open fireplace.  She packed six chests and a mahogany bureau with thirteen beautiful hand embroidered shawls, nine sets of dishes and other treasures to take with them.....It took seven weeks to reach their destination of New Orleans....They had a good crossing although they did run out of oatmeal bread and water and had to eat ‘hardtack’ and drink ‘ropey’ water.”

16.  Apparently, the voyage wasn’t too bad for everyone, though.  Thomas Jeremy, one of the emigrants and President of the Llanybyther branch, gave this description of the voyage: “We had fine weather and fair wind every day.  Indeed it was much more a pleasure trip than I expected.  In one part of the ship musicians were playing while in other parts, good books were being read and studied.  Others were conversing about our country and success of the Gospel in Wales.  We held prayer meeting nearly every night instead of family prayers.”  This journal is quoted in Ship, Saints and Mariners by Conway B. Stone, University of Utah Press, 1987 p. 34.

18. Siddoway, Emily Jane Dunster, daughter of Mary Jones Dunster, manuscript, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1937, p 1

19. Holmes, Ida Eldredge, granddaughter of Mary Jones Dunster, manuscript, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, undated, p 1.

20. Dennis, pp 36-38

22. Jones, Noah, Cwyn yr ymfudwr, a’ I ddau anerchiad (Lament of the emigrant and his two greetings). Merthyr Tydfil: John Davis, The only extant copy of this pamphlet is owned by the Huntington Library.

23. Siddoway, Emily Jane Dunster,  p 1

24. Dennis,  pp17, 53-56

25. Bowen, David D., journal, pp 22-23, transcript copy in the possession of Ronald D. Dennis.

26.  Journal History of the Church, LDS Church Historical Department, The only mention of Stringtown in the Journal History of the Church is in a report made by Edward Hunter on July 4, 1850, page 3.  He was sent on a mission for the Perpetual Emigration Fund in October of 1849.  He went to Kanesville in December of 1849.  He then went to Philadelphia with gold bullion to sell for the church at the U. S. Mint.  He returned to Pottawattamie County in March and began buying oxen with the cash and organizing a company of Saints to take to the valley of the Great Salt Lake.  He reported, “I had my cattle herded and kept in a yard in Stringtown.  Our wagons began to assemble on the Welsh Farm nearby.  On June the 25th, 1850 we made out start for our journey.”

27. Microfilm #0442963, 1850 Iowa Census, Pottawattamie County, p 096, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

28. Microfilm #30105, Pottawattamie County, Iowa, Marriages 1848- 1856, page 44, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah , both Mrs Mary Meredith and Noah Jones were listed in the marriage record as being, “of Stringtown”.

29.  Frontier Guardian, Orson Hyde editor, Kanesville, pg 2 col 2, October 30, 1850, “on the 16th instant, the Omaha Indians set fire to the Prairie, a little west of this town, and there being a high wind at the time spread the flames with great rapidity; burning stacks of hay and wheat, fields of corn and fences in its fury.  At one time it threatened to burn the town, but the wind shearing round, it galloped towards Stringtown, doing immense damage, burning hay, wheat, etc., in its progress.  The amount of damage sustained by individuals will amount in the aggregate from five to eight thousand dollars.  The loss falls upon those the least able to bear it.  It may be very pretty fun for the Indians to destroy the farmers all; but we would like to know where the owners of property are to seek redress for damages.”

30.  Jones, William Robert, letter, postscript dated September 13, 1851, translated by Ronald D. Dennis.

31.  Siddoway, Emily Jane Dunster,  p 1

32.  Baker, Ruth Ann Tolman, a descendent of Mary Owens Meredith Jones, 97 Crestwood Road, Kaysville, Utah, 84037, (801) 544-8116, conversation, October 1999.

33.  Holmes, Ida Eldredge,  p 2.

34. Dorothy Rae Siddoway Anderson, in conversation of August 1999, says that Noah Jones may have died in St. Louis.  There is no mention of  Mary in David Bowen’s  journal when Noah traveled to Gravois near St. Louis for work from the fall of 1849 to January of 1850.  This would suggest that she stayed in Council Bluffs. If  James went to St. Louis to work again in the winter of 1851-1852 it seems unlikely that Mary would have gone with him.  However, Emily Jane Dunster Siddoway’s story recounts Mary being with him at the time of his death and all family oral tradition speaks of a deathbed promise concerning temple work.  Marsale Siddoway submitted to the Ancestral File that Noah died in the fall of 1851.

35. Emily Jane Dunster Siddoway’s story, written in 1947 by Ray Dillman,  says that Mary was twelve at the time of her father’s death.  This appears to be a mistake.  Mary’s birthday was August 1, 1837.  Noah died sometime between May of 1851 (when he wrote a letter to his father) and the spring of 1852.  Mary would have turned 14 years old in August of 1851.

36.  Jones, William Robert, letter, PS dated  September 13, 1851, “I received a letter from you which comforted me greatly to hear that you are well.....(torn page) but he is succeeding in the world quite well except that up to now he continues stubborn against the religion of the Saints; Jacob, your brother, sends his brotherly regards to you, but he, as the old proverb says, has turned back as the dog turns back to his vomit or as the sow wallows in the mire.  Benjamin, my son, sends his loving regards to you, but he as yet does not desire religion....After writing this letter, I received your dear letter ...which brought joy to me to hear that you are all well as I was hoping presently.”.

37.  A search of census records for 1850 in the St. Louis area and the area of Council Bluffs does not show any older couple without children named Elsworth or Ellsworth.

38. Siddoway, Emily Jane Dunster,  p 1.

39.  Since Noah wrote a letter to his father dated 13 May 1851 and his father sent him a letter sometime after 13 Sept 1851 and addressed it to Kanesville, Council Bluffs, it doesn’t seem likely that Noah had told his father of any plans to cross the plains during the summer of 1851.  Since Mary’s marriage to W. W. Phelps occurred in April of 1853, the assumption is being made that she arrived in the valley by the fall of 1852.  The restrictions of travel on the plains would have meant that she couldn’t have left Council Bluffs before spring of 1852 and that she probably arrived in Salt Lake by fall of 1852.  Ida Eldredge Holmes wrote in her manuscript at the DUP that Mary arrived in the fall of 1852.

40. Hinckley, Gordon B., p.6.

41.  No mention of the Murther family appears in the three microfilms of pioneer immigration, the manuscript history of the Church lists of immigrations for 1852, or the card catalog for the documentary history of the church at the LDS Church Historical Library.  There is no Murther family in the International Genealogical Index or the Ancestral File.  The Daughters of the Utah Pioneers has no record of any Murther family. A search of variant spellings gave the name Merthyr.  Possibly Mary Jones came with a family from Merthyr rather than a family named Murther.

42.  Holmes, Ida Eldredge,  p 2.  It  seems questionable that Mary would go to live with Phelps for six months and yet accept to marry him.

43.  Holmes, Sam, great grandson of Mary Jones Dunster through Mary Elizabeth Dunster Eldredge and Ida Eldredge Holmes, 3917 Happy Valley Road, Lafayette, California 94549 (925) 284-9060, phone conversation, July 1999 .

44. Microfilm # 183393, Sealings in the Endowment House, 3 April 1853, #1117, “William Wines Phelps, Hanover, Morris, New Jersey, 17 Feb 1792, Mary Jones,  Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorgan, S. Wales, 1 Aug 1837, sealed by Brigham Young in this office at 6 ½ hour, signed T. B.” (Probably Thomas Bullock)

45.  Siddoway, John Lewis, Jr., great-grandson of Mary Jones Dunster through Emily Jane Dunster Siddoway and John Lewis Siddoway, Sr., 2110 Cresthill Drive, Holladay, 84117 (801) 278-6072, conversation, July 1999

46.  Van Orden, Bruce, 1356 East 950 South, Springville, Utah 84663, (801) 489-6746, conversation , July 1999

47.  Broadbent, Lorna Doone Siddoway, granddaughter of Mary Jones Dunster through Emily Jane Dunster Siddoway, 1466 South Wasatch Drive, Salt Lake City, Utah 84108, (801) 582-4489,  phone conversation, July 1999.

48.  Holmes, Ida Eldredge,  p 2

49. Brigham Young private papers in the LDS Archives, second floor, Church Office Building, Salt Lake City, Utah.  Family members are not allowed to view these papers.  The LDS church would not release a copy of the divorce certificate.

50.  Siddoway, John Lewis, Jr. 

51.  Paddock, Colleen Broadbent, great-granddaughter of Mary Jones Dunster through Emily Jane Dunster Siddoway and Lorne Doone Siddoway Broadbent, 384 East Spencer Way, Farmington, Utah 84025,

(801) 451-5533.

52. Van Orden, Bruce.

53.  Holmes, Ida Eldredge, pp 2-3 .

54.  Siddoway, Emily Jane Dunster, p.2.

55.  The letter from Mary’s grandfather, William Robert Jones, survived and in the 1970's was in the possession of Mary’s great-grandson, J. Lowell Young (deceased), of Murray.  The original letter in Welsh is missing at the time of this writing.

56.  Emily Jane specifically says that Mary went to the mill which is now in Liberty Park.  Stan Holmes related that in her time of crisis Mary had gone to the Jordan River.  The four mile distance from Salt Lake City to the Jordan would not have been a problem for girl who had walked across the plains.  Many of the Welsh Saints who came in 1849 had acquired land and settled on the banks of the Jordan River.  If that land was still in the possession of Welsh Saints is not known. However,  it would be hoped that if she was living among the Welsh that she would have been receiving some support from them. Also, no record could be found of a mill on the Jordan River at this period.    

57.  Salt Lake City Parks and Recreation, phone conversation, July 1999.

58.  Hamilton, LaRue Ruff, a granddaughter of Mary through Alice Dunster Ruff, 5027 South 1645 East, Holladay, Utah 84117, (801) 272-5344, in August of 1999 related that the following story: “One day Mary was sitting on a bridge when Brigham Young came by in his carriage.  He asked Mary how she was doing and she answered that she was not doing very well.  He told her that his brother had room for her and he took her there to live.  James Dunster was driving the carriage for Brigham Young and this is how Mary and James met.” A search of Brigham Young’s papers by archivist Ronald Watt in 1999 showed only one transaction between James Dunster and Brigham Young.  James bought a wagon from Brigham Young in December of 1854 for $60 and paid for it mostly in cattle.  There was no record that James had ever been employed by Brigham Young.

59.  They were sealed in the Endowment House on  March 28, 1856, two weeks before their first child was born. Microfilm # 183394 Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah, pg 8 Endowment House Sealings of wives to husbands 1855-1856, “solemnized by B. Young, Witnesses: J. M. Grant and W. W. Phelps

60.  Holmes, Ida Eldredge, p 3.

61.  Siddoway, Emily Jane Dunster, p 2.

62. A map on display in the library of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum shows that Charles Kennedy family owned the land adjacent to the north to the land owned by Zerubbabel Snow in the plat of land between 1300 South and 2100 South and between 1100 East and 1300 East.  It is interesting to note that Sugarhouse Ward records seem to show that Charles Kirkham’s wife’s name was Hulda Elvira.  Mary Roberts Jones named a daughter Hulda Elvira, possibly naming her after this friend.

63.  Kirkham, James, journal, 1849-1929, Microfilm #MS 1431 at LDS Historical Department on the second floor of LDS Church office building, shows that the Kirkham family lived in the Sugarhouse area for a short time in the late 1850's.

64.  Siddoway, Emily Jane Dunster,  p 2.

65.  Holmes, Sam.

66.  Holmes, Ida Eldredge,  p 3.

67.  Holmes, Ida Eldredge, p 4-5.

68. Utah 1860 Mortality Schedule, Accelerated Indexing Systems, Compiled by Ronald Vern Jackson, 979.2 X2jm 1860, “John Dunster, Salt Lake County, 1 day old male, Jan, died at birth”

69.  Holmes, Ida Eldredge,  p 5.

70.  Holmes, Ida Eldredge,  p 5.

71.  Following the choices of names can be interesting.  The first daughter was named Mary, the mother’s name.  The second daughter Esther L. has the maternal grandmother’s name and the third daughter has the paternal grandmother’s name, Frances.  Hulda Elvira, the fourth daughter, has the name of a nearby neighbor, suggesting a close friendship or possibly reflecting something about the nature of neighboring wives helping at childbirth.  

72.  Hamilton, LaRue Ruff, phone conversation, December 7, 1999.  LaRue recalled the story that Jacob was beaten at school until he bled.  He was afraid to return to school and remained uneducated.  As this was told to her, the beating injured his mind but she did not know if he had learning difficulties before the incident.  She described him as good natured, but dumb and he didn’t talk very much.  When LaRue and her cousins visited  the farm, they  would sometimes tease Jacob by locking him in the chicken house when he had gone in to gather the eggs.  He would holler for a while and they would let him out.  He was a good worker.

73.  Holmes, Ida Eldredge, p 5-11.

74.  Siddoway, Emily Jane Dunster,  p 3.

77.  Holmes, Ida Eldredge, manuscript, written in 1936, copy obtained from Gary Eldredge,708 Century Farm Lane, Naperville, Illinois 60563, (603) 357-1231.

78.  James gave his birth as January 24, 1831, Sommerset County, England when he was sealed in the Logan Temple to Mary Roberts Jones.  The 1841 Census of Winsham, Sommerset, England (microfilm # 474600, Family History Library, Salt Lake City) gives his age as 13, which if correct would mean that he was born between May 1827 and April 1828.  His Death certificate issused by the State of Utah says that his birthdate was 25 January 1828, however the same death certificate says he was 77 years, 11 months and 10 days old at the time of his death implying that he was born on 25 January 1829.   In the New Orleans Passenger Lists 1 Jan 1850-15 Apr 1850 microfilm # 200163, he is listed as being 20 years old on the 11 of March 1850.  This would mean that he was born after March 1829 and before March in 1830. In the Sugarhouse Ward Records, 1876-1905 page 8, microfilm # 26792, item 2, he says that he was born in Jan 1831.  This research was done by Gary Eldredge of Naperville, Illinois.  His obituary ( Deseret Evening News, Saturday, January 5, 1907, p 2 col3, under the headline, “Found Dead on Bench” ) says that that he died at age 79.  This story uses the birthdate that James used in the Logan temple. 

79.  1841 Census for Winsham, Somerset, England, microfilm # 474600, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah

80.  Gary Eldredge did the following research: The 1841 Census of Winsham, Somerset, England (FHL microfilm # 474600) and the 1851 Census of Winsham (FHL microfilm # 221085) give John Dunster’s occupation as “cooper”.  On James’ mother’s death certificate, John Dunster is a cooper.  The informant for the death certificate was John Dunster.

81. Microfilm #10750673, Early Church File, card number 870,Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah,  says that he was baptized by John Oatler.  Microfilm #924617, item 4, High Priest Genealogies, S. L. Stake of Zion, 1890's, says that he was baptized and confirmed by John Osler.  There is no John Oatler or John Osler in the Missionary Index File

82. European Emigration Card Index, 1840-1925 microfilm 296432 at Family History Library, Salt Lake City , Utah

83.  Sonne, Conway B., Ships, Saints and Mariners, 1987, pp 15-16.

84. No record has yet been found of the company that James traveled with on the way to the valley.  He must have arrived by October 3, 1852 because he received his Patriarchal Blessing on that date.

85.  LDS Sugar House Ward Records, Great Salt Lake County, Utah, 1876-1905, page 8, microfilm # 26792, item 4, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

86. Deseret News, November 5, 1856, 6:280 “Report of the 35th Quorum of Seventies...Members:...James Dunster....All members claiming a standing in the 35th Quorum of Seventies must report immediately to Charles King, clerk of the quorum, G. S. L. Giving their place of residence, &c or their places will be filed by active members. Those who live in the city are requested to be punctual in meeting with us at br. Ira Willis’ on the 1st  Saturday of each month, 13th ward.  Charles King, Clerk, 8th ward”

87.  Deseret News, May 14, 1877, 26:236, Doc. Hist, 1453, “GeorgeQ. Cannon read the following names of missionaries who were unanimously sustained by the Conference- James Dunster......”

88.  James’ mother, Frances,  died  June 22, 1853 of decline, at the age of 59 (Certified death Certificate, Register Office, London, in the possession of Gary Eldredge).  She was buried 29 June 1853 (Winsham Parish Registers). 

89.  Holmes, Sam.

90.  James Dunster, great-grandson of James Dunster, 9436 South 220 East, Salt Lake City, phone conversation in September of 1999 and Mabel Stringham, daughter of Lawrence Dunster Eldredge, 4198 Morning Star Drive, Holladay 84037, phone conversation, September 1999.

91.  Logan Temple Marrriage Book, starting date, 21 May 1884, microfilm # 0178061, Special Collections Room at Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

92.  ibid pp 168-177.

93. James Dunster and his daughters Mary Elizabeth Dunster Eldredge, Hulda Elvira Dunster Pack, and Alice M. Dunster are listed as proxies for about 500 ordinances in 1887, 1888, 1889, 1890, and 1891 [Logan Temple Records: Baptisms, FHL Films 177845, 177846, 177848, 177849, 177850, 177851, and 177852; Endowments, FHL Films 177957, 177958, and 177959; Marriage sealings, FHL Films 178061, 178062, and 178063].  He was not listed as having done any sealings of children to parents in the period 1884-1903.  The sealings of children to parents has been completed by Gary Eldrdege. 


94.   Hamilton, LaRue Ruff.

95.  Hamilton, LaRue Ruff, After James Dunster died, Jacob went to live with his brother, James, until that household grew to ten children.  He lived his last ten years with his sister,  Francis and her husband, John Sherman.  They had no children and Jacob was good company for them.  He was buried at his father’s feet in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.

96.  Microfilm # 0026625, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah;  Records of members South Cottonwood Ward, Nov 29, 1891: membership records of James Dunster and family of four, records received from the Sugarhouse Ward, also membership records of Sarah Young Dunster and son, Thomas, records received from Logan 2nd Ward.

97.  Dunster, James L., a great-grandson of James Dunster, phone conversation December 8, 1999, 9436 South 230 East, Sandy, Utah 84070,  (801) 571-4879.  Erickson’s Dairy later occupied part of the land.

99. Microfilm 924617, item 4, High Priest Genealogies, S. L. Stake of Zion, 1890's

100.Deseret Evening News Friday, January 4, 1907, page 2, col 7, “Died: Dunster-at his home in South Cottonwood, Salt Lake County at 8, Jan 4, 1907 of heart failure, James Dunster, formerly of Sugar House.  The deceased was born in Sommersetshire (England) Jan 25, 1829.  Funeral notice later.”  Deseret Evening News, Saturday, January 5, 1907, p 2 col 3 “FOUND DEAD ON BENCH” James Dunster of South Cottonwood Dies Suddenly at His Home, James Dusnter a well-known farmer of South Cottonwood died suddenly at his home.  He was 79 years of age and up to yesterday had enjoyed very good health and his family had no previous intimation that he was afflicted with heart trouble.  Yesterday he left the house and went to do some chores.  He sat down on a bench in the yard to rest and after he had been gone for some time his son instituted a search for him and found him dead on the bench.  The deceased was born in Sommersetshire, England 79 years ago and come to Utah in 1849 where he has resided ever since.  For years he has neen a faithful member of the Church.  He was married twice and had eight children by his first wife.  He leaves a widow and the children referred to above to mourn his death.  Arrangements for the funeral have not yet been made.”

101. TIB, Special Collections Room, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.


Jones, Mary Roberts

Dunster, James Record


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