(By his son Harry A. Dean, as an introduction to Harry A. Dean’s condensation of Joseph Henry Dean’s 78 journals, which are on file in the Church Historian’s Office, Salt Lake City Utah.)

Ancestry & Early Life

Joseph Henry Dean was born in Taunton, Somerset, England, October 16, 1855, (a son of Joseph Dean and Cathrine Knott). He died November 2, 1947, at Vernal, Utah, and was buried in the City Cemetery, Salt Lake City.Joseph Henry Dean


Joseph married Sarah Arnold October 11, 1876, in the Endowment House before the Salt Lake Temple was finished. He also married Florence Ridges in the Logan Temple June 11, 1885. He was the father of twenty-two children, eleven by each of his wives. Of Sarah’s eleven children, five lived to adulthood: Roy, Lucy, Lilly, Harry and Clifford. Of Florence’s eleven children, ten of them lived to adulthood: Jasper, Wilford, Lawrence, Stanley, Stella, Leah, Louise, Charles, Dorothy and Donald.

Father entered into the principle of Plural Marriage (Polygamy). In doing so, it was on the advice and consent of his church leaders. It was the prevailing custom in those days in the Church, and any man with any stature or influence was supposed to enter in to that principle. Every man was not permitted to do so. Because of his entering into this principle, father was imprisoned in the Utah State Penitentiary for six months, along with many others.

Church Service

Father was a very spiritual man by nature. He was intelligent, loyal to his families and his Church, and to those over him in authority. He was never heard criticiz­ing one of his leaders. He maintained that continual fault­finding with the authorities was the first step to apostasy.

Father was well schooled in things spiritual. He filled three missions — one to the Hawaiian Islands, and two to the Samoan Islands, where he opened the Samoan Mission in 1888. He was intimately associated with the leaders of the Church, including two presidents, Joseph F. Smith and Heber J. Grant. While he was in the Peniten­tiary, two of his associates there were apostles, Wilford Woodruff (later President of the Church) and Rudger Clawson. When father moved from Salt Lake City to Mancos, Colorado in 1898, he lost direct contact and association with these brethren. He held many important positions of responsibility in the Church, the last being that of Patriarch, which position he held during the last fifteen years of his life.

Father worked as a stonecutter, cutting granite stones to be used in the construction of the Salt Lake Temple. And, after the dedication of the Temple, he was appointed to be custodian, and worked for years as an ordinance worker.

During the latter part of father’s life, he wrote consider­able poetry and some music (including the hymn “Before Thee Lord I Bow My Head”). His poetry will be included in this history later.

Joseph Dean’s Own Summary of His Life

A fitting preface to this biography is a brief summary of father’s activities, as written by himself when he was 87 years of age. It is written in the first person as follows:

“We left England in 1859, when I was four, on a sailing vessel. It took six weeks to reach America, and three months across the plains by ox team and wagon. Mother was confined three days before reaching Salt Lake City. Baby took pneumonia and died two days after. Body taken to Salt Lake and buried in Salt Lake Cemetery. On reaching Salt Lake, father was told by the authorities to settle in Morgan. First home was a dugout in side of mountain. Farmed nine years. Moved to Salt Lake from Morgan in 1870, and lived in the 19th Ward. On March 26, 1886, I was arrested by a U.S. Marshall on charge of Unlawful Cohabitation. Tried in 3rd District Court. Jury disagreed; was tried later and convicted. Sentenced to six months in prison, and fined $300.00 and costs, which amounted to $470.00. Fellow prisoners were, among others, apostles Lorenzo Snow and Rudger Clawson and several of the leading men of the Church.

Married Sarah Arnold October 11, 1876, and Florence Ridges June 11, 1885. Cut stone for seven years on Salt Lake Temple and, upon its dedication in 1893, I was appointed chief caretaker.

Where We Lived

Moved to Mancos, Colorado in 1898. In 1904, went to World’s Fair and sold Navajo rugs during the life of the fair. Moved from Mancos to Fruitland, New Mexico. Established Fruitland Co-op and built a large brick home there. In 1905, took up 240 acres of public land at Redmesa, Colorado, and established the Redmesa Ward.

In 1913, settled in Shelley, Idaho, and bought Patterson Hotel. Let the family run the hotel while I worked for Utah Idaho Sugar Company as store keeper and later as night watchman. Worked for them some eight years until I was 75, when I felt I was physically incapable, so quit.

Books Printed

On my first mission, translated Jaques Catechism, and added Compendium and Ready References for native elders. (Ka Buka Alakai). This book has been the main Sunday School textbook for many years and has sold through several editions. On my second mission, 1888, translated a lot of tracts (John Morgan’s principally) into Hawaiian, and had them printed as a pamphlet of some 150 pages, and called it “0 Ke Elele Ananalio” (The Gospel Messenger). Got up a pamphlet in the Samoan language, explaining principles of the Gospel, called “0 Le Alamoni e Ali” (The True Way to Salvation).Joseph H. and Florence Dean in Samoa

{Photo taken in Samoa in 1890, showing Florence Ridges Dean holding baby Wilford, Jasper holding father Joseph H. Dean's hand. Courtesy Polynesian Cultural Center, Laie, Oahu, HI.}

On the third mission, 1916-1919, got up Samoan Hymn Book, (0 Pese A Siona) Songs of Zion. Aiding me in this work was my son Harry who was there on a mission, and the native Elder Kipeni Su’apa’ia. The printing of the book was done in Honolulu, 2500 copies, cost $1930.00 which the Church sent me to pay for it. Then I worked up a similar book (hymn book) for the Hawaiian Mission, which was printed in Salt Lake after I came home. I consider these two hymn books as one of the main achievements of my life.


Till was 15, a farmer at Morgan. Used to cut grain by hand with a “cradle” and mow hay with a scythe. Raked the grain into bundles, and bound it into bundles by hand. Threshed it with flails or staked it around a post, and had oxen go round and round and tramp out the grain. Then we would hold it up in the tubs and winnow out the chaff in the wind. Carpenter more or less all my life; school teacher in Centerfield winter of 1875 and 76, and in the 19th Ward in Salt Lake City 1876-77; stone cutter on temple block for eight years off and on; merchant in Mancos, Colorado and Fruitland, New Mexico; traveling salesman, selling Navajo rugs, in Utah, Idaho and Montana; hotel keeper in Shelley, Idaho; choir leader in seven wards I have lived in, and on my mission, the choir in Honolulu. Have taken great pleasure along these lines. I kept a daily journal all my life beginning in 1876. Am still at it in 1941 in my 87th year. City Councilor in Salt Lake City 1885-86. Builder of homes for my families in Millcreek and Redmesa, Colorado. Built my own store in Mancos, Colorado. Built three mission homes, etc. These items only about one-half, but I am tired.

The Rest of the Story

The remainder of this biography of Joseph H. Dean is a condensation of father’s 78 journals, now on file in the Historian’s Office, Salt Lake City. Family members are not permitted to take the journals out of the office, so we had microfilms made from which we read and recorded the main events of father’s life.

(Note by Marie Dean Speakman, Roberta Dean Peterson made copies of the condensation of Grandpa Dean ‘s journals which Harry Dean had made, and many of us, his grandchildren, have copies of those an our possession).

Dean Reunion 1946