DEATH OF JESSE W. FOX
Jesse Williams Fox, son of Samuel and Lucy Williams Fox, was born on March 31st, 1819, near Adams Centre. Jefferson County, Now York. He was a tenth child of a family of ten sons and three daughters. He had an academic education and taught school in Jefferson County, New York, and at other places. He was the companion of James Keep in their boyhood. The latter being bound out, was oppressed, when young Fox's sympathies led him to aid him to go to Canada, which was the stepping stone to the renowned Keep's financial power.
He embraced the Gospel early In the forties and reached Nauvoo, Illinois, only in time to see the remains of the martyred Prophet and Patriarch, Joseph and Hyrum Smith, they having previously closed their eyes in death. From this time on he followed his favorite occupation, school teaching, with his co-religionist of the Church, be left Nauvoo and came to Winter Quarters, remaining there until the spring of 1847, when be was sent by President Young to his old home in New York on a mission in hope that the change of climate and scenes would recruit his health. It is not to be wondered that Brother Fox's health had failed, when we realize the scenes of want and suffering through which the people of the Church passed from the hour of the martyrdom to the spring of '47—when we realize the strong sympathies of Brother Fox. The facts are, although possessed of ample means for his own comfort and support, he shared with the afflicted people every thing he possessed and would have died had not the Lord prompted his servant to send him on a mission to New York. As it was, he did a good work, and baptized a number of his kindred and other prominent people into the Church.
In the spring of 1849 he again joined the Saints, journeying westward, at Council Bluffs, where on the 2nd of June of that year be was married to Eliza J. Gibbs by the late Apostle Geo. A. Smith. He was organized in the company of Captain Gully's hundred and William Miller's fifty. When the train reached the Loup Fork they were attacked by the terrible scourge of cholera, which followed in the wake of the California gold seekers, many of whom died on the boats on the Missouri river and on the plains. A number of the Saints became victims of the scourge, among the rest Captain Gully, and were buried on the east side of the river. The company was delayed several days at this point on account of high water, and was only delivered from their peril by the hand of a kind Providence. They had no means of ferrying, while the dread disease was decimating their ranks; they accordingly gave themselves to fasting and prayer, when, to use Brother Fox's own language, the power of God was as manifest in their deliverance as was that wherein ancient Israel was led with safety through their perils in the Red Sea, for a roadway was thrown up during the night, formed of the shifting sands, which gave them safe passage on their way. It was remarkable how the cholera was stayed in its ravages in answer to their prayers.
On reaching the valley Brother Fox aided in the surveys of the city and surrounding settlements, and located for one year at Manti, Sanpete county, where he taught school. Returning to this city he resumed his occupation of surveyor and it was he who surveyed the site and set the stakes for the Salt Lake Temple, as well as for others, afterwards built. He enrolled in the Utah militia and became captain of a company of infantry, minute men; being promoted, obtained several commissions, the last being a position on the staff of the late Lieutenant General D. H. Wells. He was elected by the Legislative Assembly Territorial surveyor general of Utah, which office he held for many years until it was discontinued and he distributed the papers to the several counties. He located and surveyed the principal canals of this county and Territory and was appointed chief engineer of the Utah Central and Southern railroads.
He has been an active member in the Church and of late years filled the station of High Councilor of the Salt Lake Stake and possessed the love of his acquaintances. The unfortunate who knew him always found sympathy, and the distressed obtained relief if it was in his power to relieve them. Among those whom he taught in the school room he was looked upon with the most sincere affection. As an illustration, the terrible Black Hawk chief who made war upon our settlements in the southeast part of our Territory in the sixties—Brother Fox, in his travels, had occupation to pass through his camp and was recognized by the chief, who had been a pupil of his when a lad in Manti. Instead of destroying him, (as he was in the habit of killing every white man that ventured within his lines), he ordered that his old teacher be not only permitted to continue his journey unharmed, but gave him escort to a point of safety.
In the death of Elder Jesse Williams Fox our people have sustained a serious loss, and the poor and the afflicted of our community or of any other class will feel the loss in his absence as keenly as his nearest kindred. He is to be congratulated upon his release from a life of continued toil amid scenes, of want and suffering—he having been accustomed to searching out and relieving the needy and afflicted—in that he has now been permitted to enter into the paradise of God and rejoin his loved wife Eliza and their children and friends who have gone before, assured, if any one is to be favored on account of a well-spent life, he will be one that will partake of God's eternal favor.
The Deseret weekly, Volume 48