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Jacob Vernon Hamblin

Question: What is Jacob V. Hamblin best known for?

Answer: Jacob V. Hamblin was born on April 2, 1819, to Isaiah Hamblin and Daphne Haynes, in Salem, Ohio. He married Lucinda Taylor in 1839 and they made their home in Spring Prairie, Wisconsin. Three years later, in February 1842, he attended a meeting where the missionary Lyman Stoddard was preaching. “I shall never forget the feeling that came over me when I saw his face and heard his voice,’ Jacob relates. “He preached that which I had long been seeking for; I felt that it was indeed the gospel.’

Jacob was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on March 3, 1842, at the age of 22. Jacob moved from Wisconsin to Nauvoo, Illinois, where the Saints had gathered. After Joseph Smith’s death, Jacob witnessed the “succession crisis” among the Mormons. He became a supporter of Brigham Young for the leadership of the Church.

In his memoir, Jacob wrote of the moment he decided to support Young: “On the 8th of August, 1844, I attended a general meeting of the Saints. Elder Rigdon was there, urging his claims to the Presidency of the Church…The people, with few exceptions, visibly saw that the mantle of the Prophet Joseph Smith had fallen upon Brigham Young…I arose to my feet and said to a man sitting by me, “That is the voice of the true shepherd—the chief of the Apostles’.”

Jacob and his first wife Lucinda had four children. When Jacob proposed moving West with the Latter-day Saints to the Salt Lake Valley, Lucinda refused to go. In February 1849, Jacob and Lucinda decided to end their marriage, and he continued West without her, taking their children with him. In September, Jacob met and married Rachel Judd, a widow, in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Jacob was a pioneer and in 1850 settled in Tooele, near Salt Lake City. He became well known for creating good relations between the white settlers and Indians. After an altercation, when his gun failed to fire as he shot at an Indian, Jacob said God had revealed he was to be a “messenger of peace” to the Indians, and that if he did not thirst for their blood, he should never fall by their hands.

In 1854, Jacob was called by President Young to serve a mission to the southern Paiute Indians and settled at Santa Clara in the vicinity of the city of St. George, Utah. Jacob’s first home in Santa Clara was destroyed by a flash flood. His second wife, Rachael, saved one of their young children from drowning, but the child died soon after from exposure. Rachael never fully recovered from her exposure. Determined to avoid the risk of flooding, Jacob built a new home on a hill in Santa Clara. (Owned today by the Church, the house is operated as a museum, where missionaries give tours daily.)

In August 1857, Brigham Young made Jacob President of the Santa Clara Indian Mission. In 1858, while he was in Salt Lake City, Jacob was made a sub-Indian agent. That same year he was called on a mission to the Moquis (Hopis) of northern Arizona. He traveled southeast through Pipe Springs, crossed the Buckskin Mountain (Kaibab Plateau), and forded the Colorado River at the Crossing of the Fathers which is now under Lake Powell at Padre Bay. This was somewhat north of the later crossing at Lee’s Ferry which he discovered. Upon his arrival at the village of Oraibi, he was told by the Hopis that it was prophesied that he and his companions would come and bring the Hopi knowledge which they formerly had.

However, they were also told that the Hopi would not cross over the Colorado River to live with the Mormons until the three prophets which had led them to their mesas returned to give them further instructions.

Jacob went home, but returned on several occasions to keep up good relations with the Hopis and the Navajos. Jacob was an invaluable diplomat between the Latter-day Saints and the Native Americans, surviving numerous dangerous encounters between the two. In 1870 he also acted as an adviser to John Wesley Powell before his second journey through the Grand Canyon.

Jacob treated the Native Americans as intelligent equals. He said, “some people call the Indians superstitious. I admit the fact, but do not think that they are more so than many who call themselves civilized. There are few people who have not received superstitious traditions from their fathers. The more intelligent part of the Indians believe in one Great Father of all; also in evil influences, and in revelation and prophecy; and in many of their religious rites and ideas, I think they are quite as consistent as the Christian sects of the day.”

Jacob kept a home in Kanab, Utah (Kanab’s city park is named Jacob Hamblin Park). Jacob started a ranch in the House Rock Valley in the Arizona Strip at the base of the Vermillion Cliffs. Jacob Lake, Arizona, on the Kaibab Plateau north of the Grand Canyon is named after him, as is Jacob Hamblin Arch in Coyote Gulch and Jacob Hamblin Wash along U.S. Highway 89 in northern Arizona.

During one trip to Utah in 1885, Jacob met with Wilford Woodruff, who was president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. President Woodruff recognized Jacob’s unusual abilities with the Indians and wrote him a special certificate. The certificate called him to be a missionary among the Lamanites and gave him the right and authority to go into any part of the United States and Mexico to preach the gospel.

The next summer he paid a visit to the home of his son Lyman in Alpine, Arizona. While there he caught the chills and fever. He felt better after two weeks and wanted to go home. On the way back, he and his grandson camped out in the rain in a leaky shelter. Jacob became soaked and suffered a relapse. They camped out another night, and when they arrived home—now Pleasanton, New Mexico—they found everyone ill with malaria. After three days of illness he died, on August 31, 1886, at the age of 67.

In August 1888, Frederick, Jacob’s youngest brother, took Jacob’s body back to Alpine, Apache, Arizona from New Mexico, so Jacob is buried in the Alpine City Cemetery in Alpine, Apache, Arizona. His tombstone reads, “Peacemaker in the Camp of the Lamanites.’ Frederick commissioned and paid for the headstone.

Today Jacob Hamblin is considered the most influential and successful peacemaker and missionary among the Indian people in the territorial period. He became an official representative to the Native American tribes for the Church under the direction of Brigham Young. It is impossible to count the number of lives saved and battles prevented through his peace making abilities to these people.

Source: Excerpts from Wikipedia;; Ensign, October 1984, “Friend and Brother’ by Marlene Bateman Sullivan;

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