The mortal life of Jonathan H. Hale covered a span of only 46 years, 7 months and 3 days. His ministry began, it is safe to say, at his baptism into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and continued uninterruptedly to the day of his tragic death, 12 years later.
In those early days of the infant Church, a tremendous field at once opened before it and the laborers were few. Men of acceptable character and ability were selected and immediately inducted into service. It may not, therefore, be considered strange; but it was, indeed, a special recognition and a high compliment for Jonathan H. Hale to be ordained an Elder and appointed President of the Dover, New Hampshire Branch of the Church within two months after his initiation into the Church. At this time (1834) he was just half past his 34th year of age.
It is an interesting fact to note that the leading characters in the Church were, at that time, all young men: The Prophet Joseph Smith was 29; Hyrum Smith, 34;Oliver Cowdery, 29; Brigham Young, 33; John Taylor, 26; Wilford Woodruff, 27; David Patten, 34; Orson Pratt, 23; Lorenzo Snow, 20; Heber C. Kimball, 33; Parley P. Pratt, 27; Sidney Rigdon, 41; John F. Boynton, 23; and Henry Harriman, 30.
A better insight into his life and ministry may be had, as these pages are perused, if we are presented right here at the beginning with a list of certain positions of responsibility and trust known to have been held by Jonathan H. Hale during his 12 short years with the Church, which we have gleaned from authentic records. Here they are:
An Estimation of the man: One of the most valuable assets in life is the possession of discriminatory powers, so as to clearly differentiate between right and wrong, truth and error. Next to that, is to possess the personal stamina to go forward under the directing influence of the principles of truth and right, in the face of all circumstances. A careful study into the character of Jonathan H. Hale, shows him to be just that kind of man.
To one who has studied the history and course of events in the life of this man, it is at once safe to say that a very useful and a most promising life was tragically cut short in his untimely death. He had rapidly grown in the confidence of his fellows, and he stood high in the councils of the Church. The Prophet Joseph Smith regarded him with esteem and friendship, by whom, as well as by President Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff and other leaders of the Church, he was entrusted with assignments of particular responsibility, requiring versatility, judgment and leadership. Had his life been spared to continue on with the Saints to the Great Salt Lake Valley, it is easily predictable that his growth and influence in the civic and ecclesiastical affairs of the new inland empire would have been prominently observed.
But there is a limit to human endurance, which he seemed not to realize. And there is also a limit to personal sacrifice, which a man might be justified in recognizing, but he did not. He had placed upon the alter of the Church HIS ALL - and he meant it! And that included his time, his mental and physical powers, and all his earthly possessions!
He was a man of strong physique and robust health. His personality was impressive. He was tall - six feet, or slightly under, inclined to be slender, but muscular and powerful. His eyes were dark brown, and his hair was of a darker hue. His movements were quick, and his mind alert and decisive. He possessed a strong religious nature, and when once convinced of the correctness of his position and the righteousness of the cause, he stood fearless and adamant. He was serious-minded and very active and aggressive. He was clean in his personal habits, and virtuous and honorable in conduct. He was motivated by a love and fidelity toward his wife and children that kept them well provided for, and maintained for him an abiding place in their affections and esteem.
This intimate word-picture of his personality is gleaned from a study of his own writings and what has been written about him, together with the family traditions coming down from his own children and his friends who knew him best. It is unfortunate that no portrait of him has yet been discovered.
His wife - Olive Boynton Hale: His devoted wife - Olive Boynton Hale - who was over five years his junior in age - was a sweet, lovely and beautiful woman. She possessed in a marked degree the admirable and perfected qualities of motherhood. She was a blonde and of normal proportions - not large - embodying strength, grace and feminine charm. While possessed of a strong mentality, yet she was cooperative and worked harmoniously with her husband, with whom she was ONE in all things. The sweetness and purity of her own soul, as well as her general personal appearance, may be seen reflected in her lovely daughter, Rachel, who greatly resembles her mother and whose portrait, the only one in existence, is reproduced in Chapter XXI. Likewise, it is said by those who knew him, that Jonathan H. Hale may be seen in a combination of his sons, particularly Alma and Solomon.
Death enters: At the period of his untimely death, he was serving in the several capacities of the following positions and assignments:
There came the cry of a newly-born baby from his tent on the ground; a sick wife and hungry children; days and nights without sleep or rest; the culmination of a long and taxing strain upon a body, which heretofore, had not known exhaustion; suffering and handicapped from a broken leg; contaminated river water and improper food; hundreds about him sick and dying, - all combined in so completely wearing him down and lowering his resistance to a point where the dreaded malaria got in its deadly work, and a manly heart was stilled and a tired body was laid to rest. His faithful, worn and weary wife, with her two baby daughters, soon followed the worn-out father in death - all passing out of this life within two weeks - MARTYRS TO A GREAT CAUSE!
Unfoldment of the story in succeeding chapters: The writer has had in mind here that our readers would appreciate the opportunity of acquiring in the beginning, the foregoing general glimpse in perspective of the whole picture, thus giving them a better idea of him about whom the story will unfold in more interesting detail in the succeeding pages of this little volume.
Then, too, we shall have on hand finally, four young orphaned
exiles: Aroet, Rachel, Alma and Solomon - with hostile mobs back
of them, and a thousand miles of infested plains and the untamed
wilds of the Rocky Mountains ahead of them. Their harrowing experiences
we shall also briefly tell in the final chapters.