Question: Who was Jacob Foutz? What was his great contribution to the Church after he was converted in 1834?
Answer: Jacob Foutz was born November 20, 1800 in Franklin County, Pennsylvania to John Foutz and Elizabeth Hinkle. He married Margaret Mann the 22 July 1822, in Green Castle, Franklin, Pennsylvania. Jacob was a farmer and a bricklayer by trade.
Living in Richland County, Ohio, for a short time, he and his wife were converted to the LDS church in 1834. They moved to Caldwell County, Missouri by 1838. Jacob was a survivor of the Hawn’s Mill Massacre at the Hawn’s Mill settlement on Shoal Creek which occurred on October 30, 1838, receiving a gunshot wound in the upper thigh. After Margaret found Jacob, she got him home and eventually assisted him in removing a bullet from his hip with a kitchen knife. She applied a poultice to his wound, and he slowly recovered.
About February 1839, they moved to Quincy, Adams County, Illinois. Here Jacob was appointed second counselor to the Bishop in the Freedom Stake, near Payson, Adams County in October 1840. He served a mission to Brown and Pike counties, Illinois in 1841, and served as second counselor to the Branch President of Moroni branch, near Perry, Pike County.
By 1842, Jacob had moved to Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois, and lived in the Nauvoo Second Ward. He was President of the Bricklayers and Plasterers’ Association in Nauvoo and a member of the Nauvoo Legion. He was appointed Bishop of the Nauvoo Eighth Ward on 20 August 1842. He served a mission to Franklin County, Pennsylvania in November 1842. After returning from his mission, he was called to be Bishop of the Nauvoo 5th Ward. He signed a petition to the U.S. Congress for wrongs committed against church members in Missouri on 28 November 1843, and was ordained a high priest on 7 October 1844.
The persecution was severe and the people were forced to leave their homes. Jacob and his family left on April 10, 1846, with the Edward Hunter/Jacob Foutz Wagon Train Company, Jacob being the Captain of Fifty. When they reached Garden Grove, Iowa, Jacob stayed the summer and fall of 1846, to take care of the wheat they had planted and to harvest it for the hundreds of people coming behind them. When that was done, Jacob and family moved on to Winter Quarters (North Omaha, Nebraska) to stay the winter.
In the spring of 1847, they left Winter Quarters arriving at the Salt Lake Valley 25 September 1847. The people had to live in their covered wagons until houses were built for them. The men were busy planting crops and digging irrigation ditches immediately after arrival.
Jacob was called as Bishop of one of the five wards created, the east half of the New Fort Ward. Jacob and Margaret had twelve children. Jacob’s health was bad, never recovering from his leg wound and suffering from bouts of Malaria since Nauvoo. He was out with a group of men excavating gravel at the gravel pit when he collapsed and died on February 11, 1848, being the first male to die after they arrived in the Salt Lake valley. He was only forty-seven years of age.
Jacob was buried on the corner lot of his property (block 49) of early Salt Lake City. Many years later, his grave site had been lost. In 1987, construction excavation in Pioneer Park revealed human remains. All remains were sent to Forensic Anthropologists Department at the University of Wyoming for identification. The remains were returned and re-entombed individually in newly constructed pine boxes. Jacob Foutz was identified as one of the 32 pioneers buried under Pioneer Park and was re-buried in a newly constructed cemetery, Old Deseret Village Pioneer Cemetery at the Pioneer Trail State Park. A Memorial service was held with reburial 30 May 1987.
Source: The Joseph Smith Papers; FindAGrave; FamilySearch.org.