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Jesse W. Fox, Sr. by Harold L Fox, March 1976

Born 31 March 1819, Near Adams Center, Jefferson County, New York Died Sunday, 1 April 1894, Bountiful, Utah (at home of Georgiana) On his 75th birthday, Jesse W. Fox, Sr., spent some time on Salt Lake Main Street visiting friends. At four o'clock, being late for the Bamberger train to Bountiful, he ran part way to the station (now the site of the Salt Palace grounds). He caught the train and went to Bountiful to visit his daughter Georgiana Fox Young, where he died the next morning. Thus ended the days of one of Utah's finest pioneer surveyors. Jesse W., Sr., wrote of himself that he was the son of a respectable farmer in the State of New York and followed his father's occupation until he was 18. (His parents were Samuel and Lucy Williams Fox.) In the fall of 1838 he attended a literary institution in his own native county. From then until 1844 he was employed in attending schools and in school teaching. He writes: "In the spring of 1844 I emigrated west. After two month's journey I arrived at Nauvoo, the City of Joseph, June 26, the day before the prophets were assassinated. On the following day (June 28) I saw their dead bodies." Jesse was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on 10 July 1844, and was ordained an Elder the same month. He was made a Seventy 10 April 1845, and in the early months of 1846 left Nauvoo for the long trek to Great Salt Lake City. Jesse took with him four orphaned children of his brother David. While at Kanesville (Council Bluffs), Jesse was called on a mission to the Eastern States by Brigham Young. When he returned to Council Bluffs in 1849, he was reunited with a former pupil from his earlier teaching activities in Nauvoo. This former pupil, Eliza Jerusha Gibbs, became Jesse's wife. The apostle George A. Smith married this couple on 2 June 1849, and the wedding supper was served in the open on an ox yoke for a table. Jesse was 30 and Eliza a bride of 18. The new couple then set out for Great Salt Lake City. In October of 1850, Jesse was sent to Manti and carried on his work as a surveyor. Among other surveying, he laid out the plot for the Manti Temple. For the six winter months that he stayed in Manti, Jesse spent most of his time in teaching. Several children of the friendly Indians were among his scholars, one of whom was the young Indian later to become Chief Black Hawk. Jesse was captured during the Black Hawk War (1865 to 1868) but was allowed to go free (with a guard to a point of ssafety) by Chief Black Hawk. In April 1851 Brigham Young visited Manti and had Jesse return permanently to Salt Lake City to succeed William M. Lemmon as the city's principal surveyor. The Life of Jesse W. Fox, Sr., as compiled by F.Y. Fox, reports many other events in the life of this noted and dedicated Utah pioneer. He was appointed Territorial Surveyor of the Territory of Deseret by Brigham Young. He surveyed many of the canals that helped make the desert blossom as a rose. He assisted the architect of the Salt Lake Temple, and together with his son, Jesse W. Fox, Jr., laid out the foundations for the Tabernacle on Temple Square. After the temple was dedicated, Jesse became one of the first officiators in the temple and continued in that activity until his death. At his funeral services, Wilford Woodruff, the President of the Church, was the concluding speaker. President Woodruff's Counselor, George Q, Cannon, and four of the Twelve Apostles spoke at that funeral service (Lorenzo Snow, Franklin D. Richards, Brigham Young, Jr., and Francis M. Lyman). Contrary to the advice in Thomas Gray's "Elegy" -- So farther seek his merits to disclose And draw strength from his faithful life's abode And live that you with Jesse Fox repose: The mansion of his Father and his God. CORRECTION: Jesse Williams Fox, Sr. died at the home of his second wife, Sarah Elizabeth Foss Cowley Fox, in Bountiful, Utah. His daughter, Georgiana Fox Young, came to the Bountiful home from Salt Lake City when she heard her father was ailing. Re-typed from files of Julia Bell Moore

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