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Jonathan Dunham

Question: What position did Jonathan Dunham have in Nauvoo in 1844?

Answer: Jonathan Dunham was born January 14, 1801 in Paris, Oneida County, New York, the son of Jonathan Dunham. He married Mary Kendall in June 1822. They moved to Rushford, Allegany County, New York, by 1830. Three children are listed for them–one boy and two girls, the one little girl dying soon after her birth.

Jonathan was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and by 1836 was ordained an elder. He served a mission to New York in 1836 and was ordained a Seventy by Joseph Young, 20 December 1836, in Kirtland, Ohio.

Jonathan served a mission to the Indians in New York in 1837. He was the Camp Engineer for the Kirtland Camp in 1838. The business of the engineer was to go through the rich settlements and towns where he could buy provisions cheap and bring a wagon load to the camp each night.

Jonathan moved to Adam-ondi-Ahman in Missouri in 1838. He was a leader in the Missouri Latter-day Saint militia. The Silas Hillman autobiography (page 13) relates the final surrender in Missouri, “Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Lyman White and Parley P. Pratt were betrayed into the hands of the mob by Colonel Hinkle under the protection that they wanted to hold a treaty or something of the like…Meantime the mob gathered around us and we were ordered by Colonel Hinkle to lay down our arms, which was done with the greatest reluctance, some throwing their arms down with much vehemence! Captain Dunham breaking his sword in three pieces over his knee before he threw it down, we were then marched back into Far West, surrounded by the mob…’

In 1839 Jonathan served a mission to Indiana, Pennsylvania, and New York, and in 1840 he served a mission to the Indians in present-day Kansas.

By 1841 Jonathan had moved to Nauvoo, Hancock Co., Illinois. He was a member of the Nauvoo Masonic Lodge. He was a Colonel in the Nauvoo Legion in 1842, and construction superintendent for the Nauvoo Legion arsenal in 1843.

Jonathan served a mission to the Indians in Missouri in 1843 and then returned to Nauvoo. In Nauvoo, he was appointed Captain of the Police and wharf master in 1844. Jonathan was among those arrested for the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor press in June 1844.

On the night of June 20, 1844, Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, John Portineus Greene and Captain Jonathan Dunham left Nauvoo secretly and passed over into Iowa, where they remained till the 23rd in the afternoon, when they returned to the city. Joseph Smith wrote, “While I call up in remembrance before the Lord these men, I would be doing injustice to those who rowed me in the skiff up the river that night–who brought me to this my safe, and lonely, and private retreat– Brother Jonathan Dunham, and the other, whose name I do not know. Many were the thoughts that swelled my aching heart, while they were toiling faithfully with their oars. They complained not of hardship and fatigue to secure my safety…’

Jonathan was the acting Major General of the Nauvoo Legion when the Prophet Joseph put the city under the strictest order of Martial Law in June 1844. After the martyrdom, Jonathan was in charge of escorting the bodies of Joseph and Hyrum from Carthage back to Nauvoo.

Jonathan was appointed Brigadier General in the Nauvoo Legion on 14 Sept. 1844. In December 1844, the 13th, 14th, and 15th quorums of Seventy were organized in Nauvoo, with Charles Bird, Jonathan Dunham and John Lytle as senior presidents.

Jonathan was admitted to the Council of Fifty, 1 Mar. 1845. He left Nauvoo on assignment from the Council of Fifty to attend the council of Indian chiefs in Indian Territory, April 1845.

Jonathan died in Newton County, Missouri, while serving there on a mission on July 28, 1845. No other details are known about his death and burial.

(A partial journal belonging to Jonathan Dunham is located in the Historical Department of the LDS Church.)

Source: Biography, Joseph Smith Papers. There are several sources listed in this Biography which give information about Jonathan Dunham. Listed below are just a few of them:

Letter to Emma Smith, 27 June 1844

Military Order to Jonathan Dunham, 10 June 1844

Military Order to Jonathan Dunham, 17 June 1844–A, Willard Richards Copy

Military Order to Jonathan Dunham, 17 June 1844–B, Willard Richards Copy

Military Order to Jonathan Dunham, 22 June 1844

Jonathan’s son, Albert Warren Dunham, born in 1828 in New York, was a member of the Mormon Battalion, as a PVT in Company B. He died on May 11, 1847 (aged 18) in San Diego, San Diego County, California. He was buried in the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego.

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