Question: What was the result of Hosea Stout keeping a daily journal for forty years beginning in 1844?
Answer: Hosea Stout was born September 18, 1810, in Pleasant Hill, Kentucky, to Joseph Stout and Ann Smith. His parents had twelve children, five of whom died young. By 1814, poverty and poor health had forced his parents to place Hosea and his four sisters in a home with other unfortunate or orphaned children, where they were provided with food, clothing, shelter and education. Here Hosea was given a rigid schedule of training, devoid of family ties and affection.
After four years, his father came to retrieve him. At age fourteen, Hosea’s mother died, and he supported himself doing farm work under one master or another, attending school whenever possible and managing as best he could. In the face of great difficulty, Hosea did gain a respectable education and at age twenty-two obtained a teaching position at Ox Bow Prairie in Putnam County, Illinois.
From there he was called to military service fighting the Indians. In 1833, he joined his older sister Anna and her husband Benjamin Jones in the lumber business. Mr. Jones was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and tried without success to convert Hosea, but he did read some of their literature. Hosea’s younger brother Allen Joseph was baptized some two years before Hosea finally joined. In 1834, Hosea met Joseph Smith and other leaders traveling on their Zion’s Camp march. Hosea wrote, “the effect of their preaching was powerful on me … and it was all I could do to refrain from going.”
In 1832, Hosea Stout enlisted with United States Mounted Ranger Battalion under Major Henry Dodge to fight in the Black Hawk War. The U.S. Rangers recruited from frontiersmen who served a one year enlistment and had to provide their own rifles and horses. During the time of the Black Hawk War, Hosea Stout was taught by Charles C. Rich, who later became an Apostle.
In 1837 he sold his business and move to Caldwell County, Missouri where the Latter-day Saints had gathered after their expulsion from Jackson County, Missouri and Kirtland, Ohio. Here he married Samantha Peck. Shortly after this he was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Once Hosea Stout became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he quickly received a number of assignments and duties that brought him into intimate association with the leaders of the Church and their affairs. In 1840 he became Clerk of the High Council. He was an officer in the Nauvoo Legion. Along with his brother Allen Joseph, Hosea served as a bodyguard to the Prophet Joseph Smith. He was a founding member of the Nauvoo police and by 1844, he was named Chief of Police. As such he was responsible for the personal safety of the “brethren” and the general welfare of the members.
In his position following the martyrdom of the Prophet and Hyrum, Hosea was well acquainted with the planning and execution of the exodus of the Saints from Illinois and their travels across Iowa to Winter Quarters and from Winter Quarters to Salt Lake City. In Winter Quarters, Hosea was called by Brigham Young to be Captain of the Guard.
Hosea’s nearly daily journal entries, beginning in 1844 and continuing for the next 40 years, chronicle or ratify many of the most important occurrences in Church history. His writings are repeatedly cited by church historians as accurate accounts of pioneer events. According to Western Historian Dale Morgan, the writings of Hosea Stout are “one of the most magnificent windows upon Mormon history ever opened, an enduring contribution to American history.”
Once Hosea arrived in Utah, he began practicing law and eventually became a circuit judge. He was Attorney General of the State of Deseret and President of the Utah House of Representatives. In addition he served a mission to Hong Kong in 1851, during which he dedicated the land of China to missionary work. Later he was part of the Cotton Mission to Southern Utah.
Hosea was ever willing to follow the council of the Prophet and leaders of the Church. Fleeing as a participant in the Battle of Crooked River, he spent two months in exile, during which time his first wife Samantha Peck died. Later, he lost another wife and numerous children along the trail to Winter Quarters and to Salt Lake City.
The strength of Hosea Stout’s testimony is evidenced within his journal writings. On November 24, 1846, he wrote:
“Today I was employed in moving into my little house now partly finished, it being 12 feet square on the outside.... Tonight myself and family had the pleasure of once more sleeping in our house for the first time since we left Nauvoo on the 9th day of last February, making nine months and fifteen days that we lived without a house. During which time we have under went almost every change of fortune that could be imagined. One half of my family so dear to me has been consigned to the silent grave and we who yet remain have often been brought to the verge of death as often in storms & rains have I stood to hold my tent from uncovering my sick family expecting every moment to see them exposed to the rain & wind which would have been certain death. Often have I lain and contemplated my own sickness & feeble situation, without anything for myself and family to eat with death staring me in the face and could only contemplate what would become of them in case I was called away.
“And worse yet how often have I beheld my family one by one yielding up the ghost & bereaving my of every earthly prospect with the melancholy reflection that there was yet more soon to follow. How often in sorrow & anguish have I said in my heart. When shall my trials and tribulations end. But amid all these adverse changes, these heart rending trials, not once yet have I ever regretted that I set out to follow the council of the people of God & to obey the voice of the spirit to flee from the land of the Gentiles.”
Hosea Stout died on March 2, 1889 (age 78) on his farm in Big Cottonwood Ward, Salt Lake City, Utah, and is buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.
Source: Excerpts from Hosea Stout Biography, Edited by Paul H. Stout, FamilySearch.org; FindAGrave.com