Thomas English Daniels journal, 1854-1879
On this day in 1850, Elizabeth Salthouse Daniels, a widow from England, entered the settlement of Peteetneet Town, later to be known as Payson, Utah, with many of her children. The first families in the settlement–the Pace, Stewart, and Searle families, had only arrive roughly eight weeks prior in October 1850, making the Daniels family one of the first to settle this community. Among the children who accompanied Elizabeth was her second oldest son, Thomas English Daniels. This week we spotlight the Thomas English Daniels journal (MSS SC 2056), which is housed in Perry Special Collections and was recently digitized.
Thomas Daniels was born September 29, 1829, in Manchester, Lancashire, England. He was the sixth child of nine children born to James Ephraim and Elizabeth Salthouse Daniels. James was the Methodist parish minister; therefore Thomas was raised in a religious environment. Thomas was nine years old when his father died. His family had been introduced to the Mormon Church shortly before this occurred and after James’ death the entire family were baptized and began planning to immigrate to the United States. The family left England in 1842 on the ship Medford and arrived in New Orleans in the fall, and then traveled up the Mississippi to St Louis, where they stayed the winter.
Thomas worked on the freight boats going up and down the Mississippi River. The other workers gave him the middle name of “English” to differentiate him from another Thomas Daniels who worked on the same boats. Thomas kept that middle name and used it on all his signatures for the rest of his life.
The Daniels family lived in Quincy, Illinois, in 1844, but moved to Nauvoo to help work on the temple. When the saints were driven from Nauvoo, Thomas then moved to Mt. Pisgah, Iowa. He traveled to Utah with the Milo Andrus Company and arrived in September 1850. In December 1850, Thomas and his family moved to Payson, Utah, and they built a homestead three blocks north of the town center. On November 25, 1855, Thomas married Jane Ann Sheffield, and built a two-story adobe house where the couple lived for more than fifty years. Ten children were born to them in this same house. In June 1864, Thomas took a second wife, Annie Olson.
Thomas was very active in the settlement of Payson. He served as ward chorister for forty years, was the city sexton, watermaster, and town councilman. He was also a member of the first dramatic association in the city. During the winters, Thomas would make brooms from the corn husks raised on the family farm, and then take them to Provo to sell.
From 1869-1871, when his children were small, Thomas served eighteen months in the Eastern and Southern States Mission. He was called at the October 1869 general conference by President Brigham Young along with about 200 other missionaries. His daughter Lucia was born while he was away on his mission. Thomas Jr. and James, his eldest sons, took care of the farm with the help of Jane. Thomas was ordained a high priest in May of 1893, by his brother James Daniels.
Thomas English and Jane Ann celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary in November 1905. Before a year had passed, they were both called to the other side. Thomas related how one night shortly before Jane’s death, a vision came to their bed. First, it appeared on his side and then went around the bed to the other side where Jane was sleeping. The angel said, “I want her first, you may wait a short time.” Before a week had gone by, Jane had pneumonia and died quickly on October 18, 1906. On November 6, 1906, at seventy-eight years of age, Thomas answered the death summons as well. They are both buried in the Payson City Cemetery.
You can read more of Thomas English Daniels’ story and the early history of Payson, Utah, by accessing his journal online. The journal housed in L. Tom Perry Special Collections at Brigham Young University dates from 1854-1879, and includes a variety of historical and esoteric information on Daniel’s life. The majority of the journal includes entries from 1866-1879. Entries include an autobiographical sketch of Daniels; comments on weather and farming; events happening in Payson, Utah, and surrounding communities; church events and meetings including general conferences; Daniels’ missionary experiences; and family matters. Daniels attended general conference in the new Salt Lake Tabernacle prior to its completion in 1869. He also makes several entries on the coming of the transcontinental railroad, legislation against polygamy, and other important event in Utah during this period. The journal also includes copies of blessings, including patriarchal blessings, given to Thomas and his family dating from 1854-1875; revelations received by Daniels; songs and poems written by Daniels and others; and newspaper clippings from the era.