Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Henry Joseph James Nielson: In His Own Words, 1897

Henry Joseph James Nielson: In His Own Words, 1897

By: Ardis E. Parshall - March 11, 2009

Huntsville, Weber Co., Utah.
February 12th, 1897.

Editor Juvenile Instructor:

Having see a number of sketches in the Juvenile Instructor I thought I would write a short sketch of my life.

I was born at Huntsville, Weber County, Utah, December 23rd, 1881, which was the date that the Prophet Joseph Smith was born. I was baptized the day I became eight years of age. That day I will never forget, as it was a special fast day for all the Saints of God.

Soon after I was baptized I was taken very ill with scarlet fever. I was very low and lost my speech for a long time. My parents sent for the Elders and through the anointing of oil and the prayer of faith I was healed.

I was ordained a deacon January 8th, 1894, at Huntsville, in which quorum I am still laboring.

My father is on a mission to Denmark. He started on the 25th of January, 1896. A short time after he left I hired out to work to help support him on his mission and to help the family. I have earned my own clothes and sent my father $40.00 to help him, so he could buy tracts and do a good work.

My desire is to live so I can inherit a place in the Kingdom of our Lord.




  1. This would be a good place to cross-link to the recent discussion elsewhere about raising the age of male missionaries because so many of them are still ‘child-like’ (living at home, wearing shorts, playing video games) at age 19.

    Maturity and responsibility are functions of expectations more than culture. ..bruce..

    Comment by bfwebster — March 11, 2009 @ 9:24 am

  2. Oh. It took me a second to realize that the writer was only 16 years old when he submitted this. Wow – very impressive.

    Also, wasn’t David O. McKay born and raised in Huntsville? I wonder if Henry Nielson knew him/of him/his family.

    I also wondered at his description of his baptism date (presumably Dec. 23, 1889) as “a special fast day for all the Saints of God.” Other than being Joseph Smith Jr.’s birthdate, was there something special Churchwide about this date?

    Comment by Hunter — March 11, 2009 @ 9:26 am

  3. I just checked on one of those on-line calculators, and December 23, 1889 was a Monday. A special fast day on a Monday? Hmm. I wonder what Henry Nielson is referring to.

    Anyhow, a great post and I loved seeing what events he felt important to include in his short life sketch.

    Comment by Hunter — March 11, 2009 @ 9:35 am

  4. December 23, 1889 is less than one year before the issuing of the Manifesto — church leaders at all levels were in prison or in hiding, the Edmunds-Tucker law had been in effect for more than a year, meaning that the Church had been legally dissolved; Mormons could not vote or serve on juries, regardless of whether or not they had ever practiced plural marriage; children of plural marriages could not inherit property from their fathers; the law protecting women from being forced to testify against their husbands had been removed; local control over schools (including even the choice of textbooks) had been removed and given to federal appointees — in short, life was pretty bleak for members of the church in 1889.

    The special fast day was to pray for deliverance from those conditions.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 11, 2009 @ 9:59 am

  5. It’s tempting to conclude (longingly) from something like this that life was simpler then, although I know that’s not true.

    Comment by jeans — March 11, 2009 @ 11:02 am

  6. His words truly are touching, and the additional information in #4 adds a poignancy that is easy to miss out of context.

    He was 16. We expect so little of our young men these days. It’s a shame.

    Comment by Ray — March 11, 2009 @ 12:57 pm

  7. I would guess that Henry will inherit what he desired.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — March 11, 2009 @ 2:18 pm

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