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Vienna Jacques: A Glimpse in Transit

By: Ardis E. Parshall - April 10, 2014

Vienna Jacques, one of only two Latter-day Saint women to be mentioned by name in the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C  90), lived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1830, a seeker of religious truth and of a church which she could feel embodied the characteristics of the New Testament. She obtained a copy of the Book of Mormon, read it, and received a confirmation of its divine nature. In 1831 she traveled – alone – from Boston to Kirtland, and was baptized. She then went back to Boston, and in 1833 returned to Kirtland. From then until her dying day, she remained with the body of the Church, donating her hard-won savings to the Church to buy land in Jackson County, moving to Nauvoo, crossing the Plains, and settling in the ward where I now live. She didn’t age well, according to some accounts, becoming a lonely and somewhat difficult old lady; nevertheless, she remained faithful. I’ve visited her grave in the Salt Lake City Cemetery, marked by a small, flat stone nearly buried in the grass.

One of my favorite discoveries from searching old newspapers for Mormon stories is this one, found in a Boston newspaper which reprinted a clipping from another Massachusetts newspaper. The woman quoted in this story is unnamed, but the time, place, and circumstances identify her as Vienna Jacques, returning to Boston following her first visit to Kirtland. While intended to disparage Vienna, it nevertheless preserves the testimony borne to strangers by this remarkable early Latter-day Saint sister:

Courier (Boston, Massachusetts)
10 October 1831

Mormonites

The Hampshire Gazette says – A lady from Ohio informs us that many of the Mormonites in Geauga county have started for the promised land in Missouri; some of them passed through the town in which she resides; their language was – ‘We have left Babylon, and are going to Mount Zion.’ Among those who have embraced the doctrines of these fanatics are two merchants, and some respectable farmers. One man joined them whose property was estimated at 7,000 dollars.

The lady to whom we have alluded found in the Lake steamboat a Mormonite woman on her return to Boston. She said she had made a journey all the way from Boston to Ohio, to investigate the subject of Mormonism, and had satisfied herself that the Mormon bible was a revelation from God, and the leaders true prophets. She stated that others from Boston had become converts to the new system. She believed that the Mormonites could perform miracles. When asked if she had seen any miraculous operations, she replied that she had seen a person who was very sick suddenly restored to health. On other subjects she conversed like a sensible, pious woman. She stated that she was a Methodist when she left Boston.



5 Comments »

  1. What a nice example of the passive-aggressive, underhanded compliment: “On other subjects she conversed like a sensible, pious woman.” Ha!

    So, spelled differently, but no relation to John Jaques is there?

    Comment by David Y. — April 10, 2014 @ 9:24 am

  2. Her name is spelled “Jaques” in Family Tree and on her gravestone, but I don’t see a relationship between her and John.

    Family Tree says she was married to Daniel Shearer, but they had no children. It looks like his only child to survive and travel West, Jane Shearer Wines Snow, was a plural wife of Bishop William Snow of Pine Valley (brother of Erastus Snow) and Jane’s family has done some genealogy for Vienna. Here’s her FindAGrave entry with some notes and links.

    Comment by Amy T — April 10, 2014 @ 2:31 pm

  3. I’ve got a space in my heart for Vienna. That she donated all she had to Zion and immediately saw it all lost is difficult to imagine, and the correspondence with JS. Thanks for the great article.

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 10, 2014 @ 4:30 pm

  4. When Vienna was 91 years old, the Woman’s Exponent wrote about her:
    “She resided in the 12th Ward where she lives “entirely alone, never having had any family does all her own housework, including washing, ironing and cooking, writes many letters, and does a great deal of reading.” She is very familiar with the Scriptures.
    She made sixty-one pounds of butter, and was milking her own cow.”

    Comment by Jeffery Johnson — April 10, 2014 @ 11:03 pm

  5. I hope I don’t have to milk my own cow now, let alone when I’m 91. What an awesome lady.

    Comment by Maurine — April 10, 2014 @ 11:33 pm

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