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Jones, Claudia - Biography

BIOGRAPHY OF CLAUDIA JONES DENNIS

 

(Written by Merling Dennis Clyde, her daughter, of Camp Fort Utah

Daughters of the Utah Pioneers of Provo, Utah)

 

            In a long beautiful valley between the hills where the Taff River runs down, down from “over the hills to Aberdare”, is the city of Merthyr Tydfil, Wales. Here, February 8, 1849 a baby girl was born. They named her Claudia. She was the daughter of Captain Dan, and his first wife, Jane Melling Jones. Captain Jones was there in his native Wales, having been called by Joseph Smith as a missionary from Nauvoo, Illinois in 1843. When Claudia was two weeks old the little family sailed in the ship “Buena Vista” from Liverpool, England, February 25, 1849 with 249 emigrating Welsh Saints on board under the leadership of Captain Jones’ converts of his. He was now bringing them, as Captain of the boat, to Zion.

 

            The old leaky boat did not go down as the British hoped it would. For they landed safety at New Orleans, charted the “Highland Mary”, a river steamer, to take them up the Mississippi-Missouri. It had been a terrible trip across the ocean, and now cholera claimed 60 lives, about one-fourth of the company. They landed at Kanesville, Iowa, May 1849 and started across the plains with ox teams, with Captain Jones as captain of the company, including the company, George Albert Smith Company.

 

            When they came into the valley, they lived west of the Jordan River and in Salt Lake City, also at Black Rock on the shores of Great Salt Lake. Claudia remembered that her father would have her pick up some of the salt, take her finger and rub her gums and teeth until they bled. She had strong, beautiful white teeth until she died. While they were living in Manti, her  mother would put her butter, cheese, grain, etc., in compartments sunk into the wagon bed and with her little girl beside her, drive the ox team to Salt Lake to exchange the produce for cloth, thread, and other things not obtainable there. One night they camped alone in the regular camp ground in Salt Creek Canyon. The Indians had murdered a whole family there the night before. They lay awake most of the night too frightened to sleep, but the team had to be rested and fed.

 

            Claudia saw all the hardships of pioneer life. Her mother went from house to house sewing. She was an expert seamstress and would have her little daughter sit at her knee and make the exact article she was sewing on, so that Claudia, too, was an expert and made everything her eight children wore, even wool suits for the six boys. When her own mother died, her step-mother would make her spin so many skeins of yearn before she could go out to a party or to bed.

 

Her mother died in 1861 in Provo and her father was bedfast suffering from consumption, which so many of the missionaries contracted through exposure. Her father would tie a string to her big toe at night to wake her for what he needed. She had a brother, Dan, five years younger whom she practically raised, as her father died in 1862, eleven months after her mother.

 

Claudia was 12 at this time and from then on went out to work, housework, tending babies and slaving for her step-mother to pay for a meager place for she and her little brother to stay. She used to take him by the hand and together they would walk way out to the Provo City Cemetery and there cry until in later years only sobs choked her when grief stricken. The tear ducts were dry.

 

At 17, she married Hyrum James Dennis, better known as Hy Horner, and when their second child was three months old, they moved with others to the lower settlement of Midway. Her husband was a miller, made the best flour in the valley in the old Burr Mill on Spring Creek. She bore eight children, six of them in Midway. Robert died during the black diphtheria epidemic of 1881. Five more were desperately ill at the time. People were so afraid of that disease that they had to wash and lay out their own dead, dig their graves and bury them.

 

She was a competent nurse. Everyone would send for her. There seemed to be magic in her hands. Children would take their medicine if only they would send for “Claudy Horner.” Loved by all, their home was a Mecca for all their friends, even after they moved to Provo. Claudia died there December 9, 1903 and was buried in the Provo City Cemetery.

Immigrants:

Jones, Claudia

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