Question: What historic events did John Pack participate in after becoming a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1836?
Answer: John Pack was born of American parents in St. Johns, New Brunswick, lower Canada, on May 20, 1809. His father was George Pack and his mother, before marriage, Phylotte Greene, second cousin to General Nathaniel Greene of Revolutionary War fame. They were farmers, fairly well-to-do, and their children numbered twelve, five sons and seven daughters.
When John was about eight years old the family moved to Rutland, Jefferson county, New York. There he worked on his father’s farm, clearing off timber and doing general farm labor until he was twenty-one. At intervals he attended school and received the education common at that time. His natural inclination was towards farming and stock raising, and he succeeded to the degree that he finally purchased from his parents the old homestead.
John’s early manhood was passed at Watertown, near Rutland, where on the 10th of October, 1832, he married Julia Ives of that place. On the 8th of March 1836, he and his wife were baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Father and mother Pack had previously been baptized. John sent them to Kirtland, Ohio in 1836, and the next year, as soon as he had sold his property, followed them, with his wife and her mother, Lucy Paine Ives, accompanying him. He purchased a farm near the Kirtland Temple and partly built a saw-mill, which he sold at a great sacrifice when he moved, in the year 1838, to Missouri.
John’s parents, as well as his immediate family, settled with him on a farm in Caldwell County, eighteen miles from the city of Far West. They were barely established in their new home when the mob troubles began. Subsequently he and his family were driven by the mob into Far West, and were there when the Prophet, with others, was court-martialed and sentenced to be shot.
In the exodus from Missouri, John proceeded to Pike county, Illinois, where he resided near the town of Perry until 1840, and then moved to Nauvoo. When the Prophet was kidnaped by Sheriff Reynolds of Jackson county, Missouri, John Pack, at the head of twenty-five men, was among those who went to his rescue.
An Elder since the year 1836, John had spent three months as a missionary in Pike county, and subsequently had filled a short mission to the state of Maine. On the 8th of October 1844, he was ordained a Seventy and became senior president of the Eighth Quorum, which had just been organized. Later he was ordained a High Priest. In a military capacity he was a Major in the First Regiment, Second Cohort, Nauvoo Legion, taking rank July 21, 1843. John was on a mission in New Jersey, with Ezra T. Benson, when the Prophet and the Patriarch were murdered.
In the exodus from Illinois, John traveled in Heber C. Kimball’s company to the Missouri river, and in the spring of 1847 left his family at Winter Quarters while he accompanied President Young as a pioneer in his Vanguard Company to the Rocky Mountains. He was appointed major in the military organization of the camp, and with the vanguard entered the Salt Lake valley on the 22nd of July. Next day he returned with Joseph Matthews to meet President Young and report that the other divisions of the company had entered and partly explored the valley. He returned with the President the same season to the Missouri river.
Early in the spring of 1848 John made a small farm on Pigeon Creek, Iowa, but abandoned it the same year in order to come to Utah. He was captain of a company in President Kimball’s division, which left the Elkhorn early in June. While camped on the Horn, the Indians raided their cattle, killing one of John’s oxen in the river. The savages were followed and a skirmish ensued, in which Thomas E. Ricks was shot and left for dead but survived, Howard Egan was wounded in the wrist, and two horses were shot under William H. Kimball.
John tried to yoke in a small cow in place of his dead ox, when a strange ox came and tried to get into the yoke. As no owner could be found for the animal, he was yoked in and driven to Utah, doing excellent service all the way. Afterwards, the ox having shed his hair, the brand U.S. was found upon him. John entered Salt Lake valley on the 19th of October 1848.
John settled in the Seventeenth Ward, Salt Lake City. He labored in the canyons, and hauled logs to a saw-mill in City Creek canyon and to Chasers mill upon the site now known as Liberty Park, thus procuring lumber with which to build. He erected the first dancing hall in Utah, and in this building, Livingston and Kincaid, opened the first store. Later it was used by the University of Deseret. John also kept a boarding house, most of his guests being gold hunters on their way to California.
In the spring of 1849 John plowed new land in Farmington, Davis county, and raised a crop of corn, making a water ditch on the mountain side to ward off the crickets, which he fought daily. Later he procured eighty acres of new land in West Bountiful where he built another home. Before this was finished, however, he went upon a foreign mission, and it was his eldest son, Ward E. Pack, then but fifteen years old, aided by the women and children, who fenced the land, plowed, drove the team and sustained the family during his father’s three-years absence. John started upon his mission October 19, 1849, accompanying Apostle John Taylor and Elder Curtis E. Bolton to France. He returned home in 1852.
During the year 1855 John lost most of his crop by grasshoppers, but unselfishly shared the scanty remainder with his brethren and sisters who had none. In 1856 he helped to settle Carson Valley, which was then in Utah, and was absent upon this mission from April till September. In 1857 he assisted in detaining Johnston’s army at Fort Bridger, and in “the move” of 1858 camped with his family on Shanghai Bottom, south-west of Battle Creek, now Pleasant Grove.
Replica home at This is the Place State Park
In 1861 John procured quite a large piece of land, at Kamas, Summit County, where he built another home. From 1861 to 1865 he was engaged with his son, Ward E. Pack, and Charles L. Russell in the manufacture of lumber; also carrying on the dairying business with his sons from 1863 to 1868. From November 1869 to March 1870, he was absent upon a mission to the Middle and Eastern States. From the time of the organization of the Deseret Agricultural and Manufacturing Society, John was identified with it, doing much to promote its interests and its exhibitions, especially in the live stock department.
John Pack died at his home in Salt Lake City on April 4, 1885. His death was quite sudden, being due to heart failure. He left a numerous family, being the husband of eight wives and the father of forty-four children. He was buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.
Source: Excerpts from “A Biography of John Pack,’ written by Orson F. Whitney, is found in History of Utah, Vol. 4, p. 50, FamilySearch.org; FindAGrave.com
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