Jane Telford

by Effie Lenore Wiser and Eunice Tidwell Merrill


Jane T. Telford, a Utah Pioneer of 1851, was born 17 December 1795, in the ancient city of Armagh, in the province of Ulster, Ireland. She was the daughter of Robert Telford and Ann Conn. In this family were her three brothers, Samuel, Robert and Thomas Telford. Jane's father was the eldest son so he inherited the largest share of his father's property and was interested in finance.


Jane was a beautiful girl and used to plenty and her family expected her to make an advantageous marriage. But she was in love with her orphaned cousin, and although her brothers objected to their sister's marriage to a poor man, she would not give up the man she loved. So without their consent and to avoid the displeasure of her family, she and her cousin, John Telford, went to Scotland and were married there in March 1825. After their marriage John secured work, and they remained in Scotland for about two years. They lived just across the channel from Belfast, Ireland.


Their oldest child, Robert, was born in Barrhead, Renfrewshire, Scotland on 8 January 1826. A short time later they returned to Armagh, Ireland, where their two children, Anna and George, were born. Jane and her husband remained in Ireland until about 1830 when they decided to seek new opportunities in America. They, with their three small children, set sail from Belfast for Canada in an emigrant ship.


They were on the water eight weeks. During the long and eventful voyage, small pox broke out on board. Everyone was desperately afraid of this terrible disease and thought it was sure death to anyone who contracted it. When Jane's small 2 1/2 yr. old daughter [Anna] caught it, Jane hid her in one of her large linen chests as she feared some of the panic-stricken people would throw the child overboard if suspected of having the dreaded disease. The chest is still in the possession of someone in the family--a valued relic.


As a result of a violent storm [See John's history], much damage was done to the luggage and other effects of the passengers. Jane was taking a lot of valuable linen and household goods to the New World with her. These and all their papers and clothing were soaked with salt water and much of it was ruined. Much of their bedding was wet; and being unable to dry it, they slept in damp beds. Jane suffered so dreadfully from exposure and cold during this time that she never entirely recovered from the bad effects. She always wore a cap because her head was continually cold. She eventually became hard of hearing.


Soon after landing in Quebec, the Telfords and the Irwins sailed up the St. Lawrence River and settled on the Great Lakes. John and his family lived for a short time in Toronto. Sometime later they and Tom and Jane Irwin and family settled in Essex County on adjoining farms across the river from Detroit, Michigan, where Joseph and Mary Irwin were located. While living in Canada, Jane had two more children born to her--John Dodds Telford and Eliza Victoria Telford.


Here in Essex County, in the Upper Province of Canada [Ontario], the Telford family had a fine sugar-maple orchard of all new trees. When their finances improved, they also built a new house with new furniture throughout. During their short residence in the new land, they had become very



It was eight years after they settled in Canada that the family joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Jane was baptized on 3 January 1838 and John later that month. Then came their first real sacrifice for the sake of their religion when they gave up their young orchard of sugar-maple trees that had been tapped only once or twice. Their comfortable home and possessions were left behind. They went with only the few things allowed by the United States government packed into their wagon and with five small children to cast their lot with the harassed people of their faith, who also were sacrificing all material considerations, every comfort, and often health and even life itself for their religion. 


Jane, John and their family joined the main body of saints at Kirtland, Ohio during that darkest period of the church.  In the early part of 1838, the church suffered much from persecution and apostasy. In 1839, their family was located in Missouri. They suffered much from mob violence as they endured the persecutions, mobbings, and being driven out of Ohio, Missouri and Illinois.


At one time during this distressing period, all of the family except one of the children (Robert) were down in bed with chills and fever. The victims of this fever were very ill every other day. John and Jane were fortunate that their worst times occurred on alternate days, so when one was too sick to get up, it was possible for the other to help take care of the children. On the day the mob came to bum them out, John was so helpless and ill that it aroused the sympathy of one of the mob members. He intervened for the family and got the mob to consent to letting them remain in their home until the next day.


On the morrow conditions were worse. Neither Jane nor her husband were able to get up when the mob returned. This only added to the fury of the men and they threatened to bum them with the house unless they would denounce Joseph Smith as an imposter. This they refused to do, although the mob devised every means to get them to discredit the prophet. When their efforts failed, they prepared to carry out their inhumane threats. The same man who had interceded for them the previous day again championed their cause. When he saw Jane, the mother of those sick children in such a pitiable condition, he defied the mob and told them he had a mother and would not take part in such inhumane treatment. When the mob set fire to the house, he carried them out against the protests and vile threats of the mob and helped them to get away in safety by marching with his drawn gun between the anger-crazed mob and the Telford wagon. Thus they escaped death and fled from their home while their house and crops and all their possessions were consumed by fire.


Sick and destitute, this family of exiles left their stricken community and looked in vain for food and shelter. They could get none because the people in all the surrounding country were threatened with like treatment if they sold food to the homeless saints or assisted them in any way. In one of the outlying districts, John attempted to buy food for his family. The farmer told him that even there the mob had threatened the same violence against anyone who aided the Mormons.  He said: "I pretend to be humane, but I dare not sell you anything or I, too, would be forced to flee with my family."


The farmer was alone and going to the field, but he was more courageous than the others and as he turned to leave he told John that there was meat in the smoke house and flour and potatoes in the bins. With a hurried "Good Day, Sir," he left. So John took a few slices of bacon, a little flour and potatoes, put the money under the door and hurriedly went away before anyone discovered that he had received assistance. It probably was in Missouri where this occurred, as John owned a farm in that state and was in Independence at the time of the Haun's Mill Massacre on 30 October 1838.


Later, Jane, her husband and children went to Illinois and located in Nauvoo. They built a good brick house with a lovely flower gardener Again they had a comfortable home and were prospering, but it wasn't long until persecutions began once again. Jane and her daughter, Anna, talked often of the dark day in Nauvoo when their beloved prophet was martyred. How the leaves on the trees withered and dropped to the ground on the day of the martyrdom on 27 June 1844 was often recalled. The city seemed a desolation to the sorrowing grief-stricken people.


John and their sons continued to work on the Nauvoo Temple until it's completion. In their anxiety to finish the building before they were forced to flee the city, the people worked in all kinds of weather and suffered a lot from cold and exposure. Their oldest son, Robert, worked at the rock quarry and also on the Temple building. One day while working on the top of the structure on the inside, he fell to the bottom. When workmen picked him up and carried him out, they thought he was dead. But when he fell, he struck two men on the bottom floor knocking them down thus easing his fall and saving his life. She, her husband and grown children had the opportunity of receiving their endowments there. They were endowed 24 December 1845.


The Telfords left their home in Nauvoo in February 1846 at the beginning of the general exodus west of over twenty thousand homeless destitute Mormon people. Their younger son, George, had suffered so much from cold and exposure while working on the temple that he died from pneumonia at Garden Grove in 1850 at 21 years of age. Jane's youngest children, Joseph and Emma Jane, were born during these trying times and died in infancy. Jane believed and accepted all the principles of the gospel and was true to her religion. She never complained against the hardships she endured because of the prejudice against her religion.


They left 17 May 1851 and traveled across the plains with the Garden Grove Company. Harry Walton was their captain. During the journey Jane and her daughter, Anna, made four temple suits for burial out of fine linens they were bringing to the valley. They sewed all the time when they were not busy with camp duties. Anna was also making her trousseau. The company arrived in Salt Lake on 24 September 1851. The Telfords settled in Bountiful, Davis County, the second settlement in Utah. Here the family remained except for a short period until June 1881. They moved to Cache Valley where Jane lived with her daughter, Anna Stoddard, in Richmond until her home was completed about 1882.


Jane Telford was a very busy industrious woman.  She worked all the time and taught her daughters to do the same. Jane was a very good singer and sang all the time as she worked around the house. Even in old age she never lost the clear musical tones of her voice. She was a good housekeeper--clean, neat and very economical. Jane was a good seamstress and knitted very well. . She knitted until she was 90 years old making stockings, etc. for herself, her children and grandchildren. She never wore glasses.


She always took an interest in the events of her neighborhood as well as world affairs. She was a bright intelligent and very clever woman. She was blond and very beautiful in her youth. Even in old age she was a fine-looking woman, never losing her erect and slender figure.


She enjoyed good health until her death. She died in her ninety-first year on 5 September 1886. She was interred in the Richmond Cemetery. She was the mother of seven children, five of whom preceded her to the great beyond.


[This was adapted from the histories of John and Jane Telford written by Effie Lenore Wiser, a daughter of Rebecca Ann Telford Wiser, second daughter of Elizabeth, John's second wife.   Eunice Merrill]





Grave Marker

Temple Work







Eliza Victoria

John Dodds


Emma Jane