James Stephens Brown papers, 1849-1892  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Brown, James Stephens, b. 1828
James Stephens Brown papers
1849-1892 (inclusive)
1 linear feet
Collection Number
The James Stephens Brown papers (1849-1892) contain transcriptions of five of James Stephens Brown's journals. These journals cover fragments of more than fourty-six years of his life, primarily those devoted to missionary work in Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, Great Britain, Tahiti, and to a missionary settlement south and southeast of the Colorado River.
University of Utah Libraries, Special Collections.
Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library
University of Utah
295 South 1500 East
Salt Lake City, UT
Telephone: 801-581-8863
Access Restrictions

Twenty-four hour advanced notice encouraged. Materials must be used on-site. Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

James Stephens Brown (1828-1902) was born 4 July 1828, in Davidson County, North Carolina, to Daniel Brown and Elizabeth Stephens. He became a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) and was baptized in 1844. He joined the as they were being driven from Illinois. After Brown arrived on the Missouri river he joined the Mormon Battalion and marched to California. In 1847 he was discharged and he and others of the Mormon Battalion found employment with a Mr. Sutter on the Sacramento River, where they discovered gold. In 1848 he arrived in Salt Lake Valley; he was ordained a Seventy and became a member of the third Quorum of Seventy. In the fall of 1849 he was called on a mission to the Society Islands, where he experienced several dangerous hardships. After a time in the Society Islands he was expelled by French authorities. He returned to Utah, and was for a number of years closely associated with Indian missions. 23 September 1862, he returned to Salt Lake City after having filled a successful mission to Great Britain. Soon after his return he met with a severe accident, losing one of his legs, and was thus maimed for the remainder of his days. Although Brown had a very limited education he was said to be an interesting speaker and spent much of his time lecturing in different parts of the Territory. In 1892-1893 he filled another successful mission to the Society Islands. In 1898 he was invited to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the discovery of gold in California; being one of the original discoverers, he was made a guest of honor. Brown married four wives. His first wife was Lybia Jane Tanner. The names of her children were Lybia J., Rachel Elizabeth, Emeretta, James T., Zina May, August, and Valentine. He then married Rebecca Ann McBride in September 1854; the names of her children were Deseret, Daniel, Alveretta, Vantile Mac, Burtina, Pauline, Homer, and Alphonso. O 31 January 1863 he married Elia Lester; she bore him nine children, their names were Leo, Zimania Wilford, Elando, Annie Eliza, Frank Lester, Charles, Sarah-Emma, and Ada. He married Elizabeth Clegg, his last wife, on 4 March 1872; her children were Mary Lillious, Gaurdello, Mark C., Benjamin Joseph, Louetta, and Myrtle J. At his death Brown was survived by three of his wives and twenty-one of the above named children. Brown died 25 March 1902, at his home in Salt Lake City, leaving a large posterity. Before his death he wrote an interesting sketch of his life which was published under the title Life of a Pioneer, being the Autobiography of James S. Brown, in which the details of Brown's life are depicted.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The James Stephen Brown papers (1849-1892) contain transcriptions of five of James Stephens Brown's journals. These journals cover fragments of more than forty-six years of his life, primarily those devoted to missionary work for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). It was his habit to keep several journals at once; hence, the journals at times overlap, and repeat themselves. Their contents are varied, not chronological, and individual journals often include diary entries, reminiscences, and financial ledgers.

This two volume collection contains five major journals. The first section was written from 1857 to 1863; the second in 1866; the third includes entries dated 1849, 1869, and 1875; the fourth was written between 1875 and 1877; and the fifth in 1872 and 1892.

Section I includes an account of Brown's journeys starting in the fall of 1858. In response to a call from the LDS Church he traveled from Salt Lake to Iowa to do missionary work and visit his aging parents. He preached in Iowa, Nebraska, and Missouri until spring, and then returned to Salt Lake as head of an emigration company. In February 1860 he received a call from President Brigham Young to go on a mission in England. Leaving Salt Lake in April 1860, he arrived in New York in July and booked passage for England. He stayed in Great Britain until 1862. Then he returned to Salt Lake with another emigration company in late September. At Brigham Young's request he moved his family from Ogden to Salt Lake City and resumed missionary work throughout the northern settlements. Only sketchy detail is given of his life from 1863 to 1865.

Section II is a weekly ledger of his expenses in 1866, including itemized credits and debits of his team of horses.

Section III includes the blessing given prior to his departure to England, a genealogical history of his father's family made in 1849 and another for his mother's family made in 1869. There is a brief sketch of his mission to the Navajo Indians and a diary of his preparations for that missionary settlement form October 1875 to April 1876.

Section IV begins in September 1975 with a more detailed account of preparations for a missionary settlement south and southeast of the Colorado River, adding detail to the last of Section III and continuing the account through September 1876. The journal then skips to February 1877, giving brief diary entries through August 1877.

Section V is an account of his call to a mission in Tahiti in March 1892, the voyage, and his experiences preaching on the island through November 1892.

The journals preserve the flavor of the life and attitudes of the pioneers. They present an account of the hardships of travel, of making a living, and record the attitudes and impressions of the period, especially the religious devotion which typifies many of the early Mormon missionaries whose personal lives were often set aside in service of their church.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

The library does not claim to control copyright for all materials in the collection. An individual depicted in a reproduction has privacy rights as outlined in Title 45 CFR, part 46 (Protection of Human Subjects). For further information, please review the J. Willard Marriott Library’s Use Agreement and Reproduction Request forms.

Preferred Citation

Initial Citation: James Stephens Brown papers, Ms 10, Box [ ]. Special Collections and Archives. University of Utah, J. Willard Marriott. Salt Lake City, Utah.

Following Citations: Ms 10.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 Journal transcript 1849-1892

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Mormon Church--Indian missions--Navajo
  • Mormon Church--Missions--England
  • Mormon Church--Missions--Iowa
  • Mormon Church--Missions--Tahiti
  • Mormons--Diaries
  • Mormons--Missionary experiences