Q: Vienna Jaques is mentioned in D&C 90:28-31. She was the only woman mentioned in the Doctrine and Covenants other than Emma Smith. Who was Vienna Jacques and what was the Lord’s promise to her?
A: Vienna Jaques (Jacques) was born in 1787 in Massachusetts. She lived into her 40s in Boston, Massachusetts, as an unmarried woman with considerable financial means. City directories over the years listed her as a nurse, midwife, and laundress. She attended Methodist services in Boston until dissatisfaction with her religion led her to investigate other Christian denominations.
When she first encountered Mormon missionaries in 1831, she was 44 years old. Upon hearing of Joseph Smith, Vienna obtained a copy of the Book of Mormon. One evening she had a “vision of the Book of Mormon” that prompted her to ask the Lord about this new scripture. Subsequently, “she was firmly convinced of its divine authenticity.” Vienna traveled alone to Kirtland, Ohio, to meet the Prophet. After meeting with him, she made the decision to be baptized.
Vienna remained in Ohio about six weeks, returned to Boston, and then rejoined the Saints again in Ohio. She brought with her precious valuables, including fourteen hundred dollars in savings. In March 1833, the Prophet Joseph asked her to consecrate all of her money to the Church, which she did. In return, Vienna was to “receive an inheritance from the hand of the bishop...”
On 4 September 1833, the Prophet wrote to Vienna: “I have often felt a whispering since I received your letter, like this, ‘Joseph, thou art indebted to thy God for the offering of thy Sister Vienna, which proved a savor of life as pertaining to thy pecuniary concerns. Therefore she should not be forgotten of thee, for the Lord hath done this, and thou shouldst remember her in all thy prayers and also by letter’...therefore let your heart be comforted...”
Vienna arrived safely in Missouri and was given the inheritance she had been promised. However, due to the persecution in Missouri, Vienna was forced to leave all of her inheritance. Before leaving Missouri, Vienna married a widower named Daniel Shearer, but this marriage soon ended, and Vienna took back her maiden name. By 1839 Vienna was residing in Nauvoo, where Joseph Smith III remembered her as a “frequent visitor in our home.” On January 22, 1846, Vienna received her temple covenants.
Vienna experienced the persecution in Illinois, eventually resulting in the migration of the Saints to the Salt Lake Valley. Vienna journeyed to the valley, driving her wagon across the plains in 1847 in the Charles C. Rich company. Vienna was given a city lot in the Salt Lake 12th Ward. Here she ultimately was able to “settle down in peace” as promised her in the March 1833 revelation.
In June 1876, “when aged pioneers were honored at an event in Provo, Vienna traveled by railroad with Church leaders John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and Orson Pratt. She was among the featured speakers...” (See “A Gay Excursion Party,” Deseret News, June 21, 1876, 330)
As Vienna moved into her 90s, she remained self-reliant. An article in the July 1878 Woman’s Exponent said of her: “She lives entirely alone, . . . does all her own housework, including washing, ironing and cooking, writes many letters, and does a great deal of reading...This last Spring she has made sixty-one pounds of butter, and milked her own cow.” Vienna died in her own home in Salt Lake City, Utah, on February 7, 1884, at the age of 96. She is buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.
Source: Who's Who in the Doctrine & Covenants by Susan Easton Black; Ensign, June 2016, “Vienna Jaques: Woman of Faith” by Brent M. Rogers, Church History Department.