Jacob Hamblin

Jacob Hamblin

name =Jacob Hamblin

caption = The Latter-day Saints' "Apostle to the Indians,"
scout, and colonist of American West
birth_date =April 6, 1819
birth_place =Ashtabula County, Ohio
death_date =August 31, 1886
death_place =Pleasanton, New Mexico
spouse =Lucinda Taylor, Rachel Judd, Sarah Priscilla Leavitt, Louisa Boneli

Jacob Hamblin (April 6, 1819 – August 31, 1886) was a Western pioneer, Mormon missionary, and diplomat to various Native American Tribes of the Southwest and Great Basin. During his life, he helped settle large areas of southern Utah and northern Arizona where he was seen as an honest broker between Mormon settlers and the Natives. He is sometimes referred to as the "Buckskin Apostle," or the "Apostle to the Lamanites." [Early Latter-day Saints referred to Native Americans as "Lamanites," believing that they were the descendants of a small group of Israelites who came to the Americas by boat circa 600 B.C.]

Early life

Hamblin was born in Salem, Ashtabula County, Ohio to a family of farmers. He and his wife converted to Mormonism in 1842 in Wisconsin, and soon moved to Nauvoo, Illinois where the Latter-day Saints were then gathered. After the assassination of Joseph Smith, Hamblin was a witness to the "Succession crisis" and a supporter of Brigham Young for the leadership of the LDS Church. He recalls:

"On the 8th of August, 1844, I attended a general meeting of the Saints. Elder Rigdon was there, urging his claims to the presidency of the Church. His voice did not sound like the voice of the true shepherd. When he was about to call a vote of the congregation to sustain him as President of the Church, Elders Brigham Young, Parley P. Pratt and Heber C. Kimball stepped into the stand. Brigham Young remarked to the congregation: "I will manage this voting for Elder Rigdon. He does not preside here. This child" (meaning himself) "will manage this flock for a season." The voice and gestures of the man were those of the Prophet Joseph. The people, with few exceptions, visibly saw that the mantle of the Prophet Joseph Smith had fallen upon Brigham Young. To some it seemed as though Joseph again stood before them. I arose to my feet and said to a man sitting by me, "That is the voice of the true shepherd—the chief of the Apostles".'" [Hamblin, Jacob. Jacob Hamblin: A Narrative of His Personal Experience, 13 (1881).] Hamblin followed the Saints on their migration to Utah, where he settled in Tooele near Great Salt Lake City in 1850. There he became well known for creating good relations between the white settlers and Indians. He claimed that it was revealed to him by God that he was to be a "messenger of peace" to the Indians, and that if he did not thirst for their blood, he should never fall by their hands. ["Ibid", 29.] In 1854, Hamblin was called by Brigham Young to serve a mission to the southern Paiutes and settled at Santa Clara in the vicinity of the modern city of St. George, Utah.

Utah War and the Mountain Meadows massacre

In August 1857, Young called Hamblin to be the president of the Santa Clara Indian Mission. President Young's letter to Hamblin stated that he should, "continue the conciliatory policy towards the Indians which I have ever commended, and seek by works of righteousness to obtain their love and confidence. Omit promises where you are not sure you can fill them; and seek to unite the hearts of the brethren on that mission, and let all under your direction be united together in holy bonds of love and unity." [Hamblin, Jacob. Jacob Hamblin: A Narrative of His Personal Experience, 41 (1881).] However, Young had become aware in July of an approaching United States army which intended to invade Utah Territory to put down a supposed "rebellion" among the Mormons. Anticipating what would become known as the Utah War, he urged Hamblin to "not permit the brethren to part with their guns and ammunition, but save them against the hour of need"." ["Ibid".] He further instructed Hamblin that the Indians "must learn to help us or the United States will kill us both"." [Norman F. Furniss. The Utah Conflict: 1850-1859, 163 (Yale 1960).]

In late August, Hamblin was traveling north to Salt Lake City in company with LDS Apostle George A. Smith. Smith had been dispatched to the southern Mormon colonies to warn of the approaching United States army and recommend that the colonists not trade with any non-Mormons then traveling through their territory. He also counseled that they prepare to flee to the mountains if required. At Corn Creek near Fillmore, Utah, Smith, Hamblin, and Thales Haskell encountered the ill-fated Fancher party, a wagon train of Arkansans en route to California. Upon their questioning about the road ahead and a place to rest their cattle, Hamblin suggested that they stop further south in the grassy Mountain Meadows, where he maintained a homestead. This was a traditional stopping point on the Old Spanish Trail leading from New Mexico to California. Hamblin and company then continued on to Salt Lake City where he stayed for roughly a week to "conduct Indian business and take a plural wife." [Ronald W. Walker. "Save the Emigrants": Joseph Clewes on the Mountain Meadows Massacre". BYU Studies 42, no. 1, n.30 (2003).] This "Indian business" included bringing a delegation of Southern Paiutes to meet with LDS church leaders. These were then authorized to steal cattle from travelers on the road to California as a part of Brigham Young's Utah War strategy. [ [http://byustudies.byu.edu/shop/pdfsrc/42.1Alexander.pdf Thomas G. Alexander. "Review of "Blood of the Prophets" by Will Bagely". BYU Studies 42, no.1, 168 (2003).] ] In Salt Lake City, Hamblin was also informed that the Fanchers had allegedly "behaved badly" and had "robbed hen-roosts, and been guilty of other irregularities, and had used abusive language to those who had remonstrated with them. It was also reported that they threatened, when the army came into the north end of the Territory, to get a good outfit from the weaker settlements in the south." [Jacob Hamblin: A Narrative of His Personal Experience, 42-43.]

On his way home, Hamblin became aware through rumors among the Indians of the slaughter of the Fancher Party in the infamous Mountain Meadows massacre. In fact, on his trail south, he met John D. Lee who was on his way to Salt Lake City. ["Ibid,"43.] In both his autobiography and his testimony at the second trial of Lee for the massacre, Hamblin claimed that to his great distress, Lee admitted to him his role in the killings along with other whites although he placed the blame for the attack on the Paiutes. ["Ibid".] ["See also" [http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/mountainmeadows/leetestimony.html#JACOB_HAMBLIN The Testimony of Jacob Hamblin at the Second Trial of John D. Lee] ] Many accept Hamblin's account of his meeting with Lee as he was well known for honesty. However, others believe that Hamblin either did not give a full accounting of events or his testimony amounted to perjury and was given to implicate Lee while shielding other Mormons. Indeed, in his book "Mormonism Unveiled", an embittered John D. Lee refers to Hamblin as "Dirty Fingered Jake," and spins tales of Hamblin's attempts to waylay non-Mormon travelers in Utah, kill them, and take their property. He relates, "Hamblin was in Salt Lake City when the Mountain Meadows Massacre took place, and he pretends to have great sympathy with and sorrow for their fate. I can only judge what he would have done towards the massacre had he been home by what he did to help the next train that passed that way"." [Mormonism Unveiled: Or, The Life and Confessions of the Late Mormon Bishop, John D. Lee, 270.]

As Hamblin continued south towards Santa Clara, he was told that a band of Paiutes was planning to attack a second wagon train, the Duke party. Perhaps believing Lee's account that the Indians were primarily responsible for the Mountain Meadows massacre, he quickly returned south to prevent another slaughter. He recounts that he did not himself overtake that wagon train, but as he had been traveling very quickly without sleep he sent Samuel Knight and Dudley Leavitt before him. These overtook the train and were able to negotiate with the Paiutes wherein the Indians took the trains' loose cattle (nearly 500 head) and left the train in peace. Knight and Leavitt continued with the company and saw it safely through to California. Hamblin was later able to return that stock not killed to the Duke party after conferring with those Indians involved. [Jacob Hamblin: A Narrative of His Personal Experience, 43-44.] Again, some dispute Hamblin's account and claim that in fact he organized the Paiute raid on the Dukes, though only to gain their cattle and not to harm any of the travelers. Indeed, the taking of cattle and burning army wagons seems to have been the primary Mormon tactic of the Utah War. However, Hamblin's direct complicity seems unlikely as he was traveling from Salt Lake City at the time of the first attacks, and he later returned to the party at least a portion of those cattle taken after writing to their owners in California. Whatever the case may be, Hamblin spent the rest of 1857 and early 1858 shepherding non-Mormons through Utah on the trail to California and Mormons returning to Utah from outlying settlements in order to participate in its defense should the army attack.

After the conclusion of the Utah War, Hamblin claims to have been willing to testify to his knowledge of the Massacre at the behest of Apostle Smith. However, due to the amnesty proclaimed by the President of the United States to the Mormons, the new governor, Alfred Cumming, did not wish to discuss the matter. ["Ibid", 55-56.] He did, however, testify at John D. Lee's second trial for the massacre in 1876.

Later Missions to the Native Americans

In 1858 while in Salt Lake City, Hamblin was made a sub-Indian agent. That same year he was called on a mission to the Moquis (Hopis) of Northern Arizona. He traveled southeast through Pipe Springs, crossed the Buckskin Mountain (Kaibab Plateau), and forded the Colorado River at the Crossing of the Fathers which is now under Lake Powell at Padre Bay. This was somewhat north of the later crossing at Lee's Ferry which he discovered.Fact|date=July 2007 Upon his arrival at the village of Oraibi, he was told by the Hopis that it was prophesied that he and his companions would come and bring the Hopi knowledge which they formerly had. However, they were also told that the Hopi would not cross over the Colorado River to live with the Mormons until the three prophets which had led them to their mesas returned to give them further instructions. ("See" Hopi mythology). The Hopi also questioned why they should cross the Colorado River to meet the Mormons when they would soon have settlements to their south in any case. Interestingly, at the time there were no plans for Mormon settlements to the south of the Hopi, although Hamblin helped found Mormon settlements on the Little Colorado River years later.

Hamblin went home, but returned on several occasions to keep up good relations with the Hopis and the Navajos. In 1862, three Hopi men accompanied him to Salt Lake City to meet Brigham Young. In 1870 he brought a minor Hopi leader, Toova, and his wife across the Colorado River to visit the Mormon settlements in southern Utah. Tuba eventually joined the LDS church, and invited the Mormons to settle near his village of Moencopi where they founded Tuba City, named in honor of their Hopi friend.

Hamblin was an invaluable diplomat between the Latter-day Saints and the Native Americans, surviving numerous dangerous encounters between the two. In 1870 he also acted as an adviser to John Wesley Powell before his second journey through the Grand Canyon. Hamblin acted as a negotiator to ensure safety for Powell's expedition from local Native tribes. Powell related that Hamblin "speaks [the Indians'] language well and has great influence over the Indians in the region round about. He is a silent, reserved man, and when he speaks it is in a slow, quiet way that inspires great awe." [McClintock, James H. "Mormon Settlement in Arizona", 65 (University of Arizona Press 1985).] Said a Native Chief to Powell, "We believe in Jacob, and look upon you as a father...We will tell [the other Indians] that [Powell] is Jacob's friend." ["Ibid".] Hamblin's numerous diplomatic successes can perhaps be attributed to his efforts to consider all situations from the Indians' point of view as well as that of the Mormon settlers, and to his personal integrity.

Hamblin treated the Native Americans as intelligent equals. He said, "some people call the Indians superstitious. I admit the fact, but do not think that they are more so than many who call themselves civilized. There are few people who have not received superstitious traditions from their fathers. The more intelligent part of the Indians believe in one Great Father of all; also in evil influences, and in revelation and prophecy; and in many of their religious rites and ideas, I think they are quite as consistent as the Christian sects of the day"." [ Hamblin, Jacob. "Jacob Hamblin: A Narrative of His Personal Experience: Faith Promoting Series no.5"(1881).]

Hamblin kept a home in Kanab, Utah, and started a ranch in the House Rock Valley in the Arizona Strip at the base of the Vermillion Cliffs. Jacob Lake, Arizona on the Kaibab Plateau north of the Grand Canyon is named after him, as is Jacob Hamblin Arch in Coyote Gulch.



* [http://www.media.utah.edu/UHE/h/HAMBLIN,JACOB.html Jacob Hamblin biography from Utah History Encyclopedia]
* Hamblin, Jacob. Jacob Hamblin: A Narrative of His Personal Experience: Faith Promoting Series no.5 (1881).
* [http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/mountainmeadows/leetestimony.html#JACOB_HAMBLIN The Testimony of Jacob Hamblin at the Second Trial of John D. Lee] .
* [http://library.dixie.edu/info/Collections/Brooks/Jacob%20Hamblin.html Wixom, Hart. Jacob Hamblin: His Own Story (Dixie College 1997)] .

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