HISTORY OF CLAUDIA
In a long, beautiful valley between the hills where the Taff River
runs down, down from “over the hills to Aberdare” is the town of Merthyr Tydfil, Wales. Here on February 8, 1849, a
baby girl was born. Her parents named her Claudia. She was the daughter of
Captain Dan Jones 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 on the ship Buena Vista from Liverpool, England,
February 26, 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 safely at New
Orleans, chartered 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 [Welsh] company that was included in the George Albert Smith
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 the Great
Salt Lake. Claudia remembered that her father would have her pick up some of
the salt, take her finger and rub her gyms 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 campground 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 to wool suits for
the six boys. When her own mother died, her stepmother  would make her spin
so many skeins of yarn 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 [nearly] 13 at this time, and from then on she
went out to work – housework, tending babies, and slaving for her stepmother to
pay for a meager place to stay for herself and little brother. 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 J. 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 Provo
[Claudia Merling Dennis Clyde, the youngest child of Hyrum
James and Claudia Jones Dennis, wrote the foregoing history of her mother. The inaccuracies
that resulted from the lack of resources at the time are corrected in the
Jane Melling Jones and her infant daughter Claudia came
to America on board the Emblem, a ship that left Liverpool on 12
March 1849, two weeks after the Buena Vista left on 26 February 1849. The original
plan formulated back in Merthyr Tydfil was that Jane and Claudia would remain
in Wales until their husband
and father returned on another mission after taking the first group of Welsh
Mormon converts to America.
To get to Liverpool Dan Jones took a steamer from Swansea on 14 February 1849 when Claudia was
less than a week old. But rather than wait for the return of her husband, Jane
decided to take her newborn and follow after him. She caught up with him in Council Bluffs, and they
crossed the plains together.
Dan Jones was the president of the company of 249
Mormons on board the Buena
Vista, but Eben H. Linnell was captain of the ship. Because of
limited space on the Buena Vista
there were over 80 Welsh who had to wait an extra week in Liverpool following
the departure of the Buena
Vista and sail on board the Hartley the following week. Of the combined total of approximately
330 Welsh converts who sailed for America
in 1849 only 84 went directly to Utah
that same year. The remainder either died of cholera along the Missouri River
or settled in St. Louis
and other places.
In reality the Buena
Vista was quite a new ship, having been built at Newburyport, Massachusetts,
The steamboat contracted in New Orleans was the Constitution. A second steamboat, the Highland Mary, was contracted in St. Louis
to take the company along the Missouri River to Council Bluffs.
In the Fall of 1850, at Brigham Young’s request, Dan Jones
moved his family to Manti where he became the first mayor of that town. He left
from Manti on his second mission to Wales about two years later and
returned in 1856.
The stepmother was Mary Matilda LaTrielle, third wife
of Dan Jones.
The younger brother was Joseph Dan Jones, born 4 May
1853 in Manti, and was consequently four years and three months younger than
The marriage took place in Provo on 18 December 1866, just seven weeks
short of Claudia’s eighteenth birthday.
See my The Call of
Zion: the Story of the First Welsh Mormon Emigration [Provo,
Center, 1987] for further details as
to how Dan, Jane, and Claudia Jones came to America in 1849. The book is out of
print, but an electronic version can be accessed by going to http://home.byu.edu/home/, clicking
Academics, then Libraries, then Harold B. Lee Library, then Digital
Collections, then LDS Religion & Church History, then Religious Studies
Center, and then Browse. It is the 11th item on page 3. For further
information about Claudia’s father, Captain Dan Jones, see my website at http://welshmormonhistory.org/ .
Transcription and observations by Ron Dennis (firstname.lastname@example.org), 30 March 2012.]