George Jarvis

George Jarvis

A Brief Outline Of My Father's Life
by V. Josephine J. Miles


George Jarvis was born in Harlow, Essex, England, March 25, 1823. As a boy and youth, his times was occupied on the farm. Later, he worked in a grist mill, the owner of which had often heard him express a love of the sea. He, through his recommendation and influence, got him a position on a ship-board. He was bound apprentice for four years. At the age of seventeen he started on a voyage to South Australia, visiting China, India, and South Africa. This voyage lasted about a year.

Another voyage was to West Australia, China, and Malay Islands, loaded with tea, and returned to London, being gone twenty-two months. Again loaded with troops for South Africa; then went to Ceylon, thence to Calcutta. He then left the ship to which he had been apprenticed, and went to China in another one; there loaded with tea and returned to London. He then went on a voyage to North America, got a load of lumber and returned to London, being gone three of four months. He then joined the British Navy and went to the West Indies. There he was unfortunate; he lost his big toe, got sick and was blinded in one eye. He was put in the hospital at Jamaica and remained there four months. He was invalided home to London, passed a medical examination by a naval surgeon, was an outdoor patient of the hospital and given sixpence a day for life. (He lost that, however, when he left the country.)

He had previously met Ann Prior, a beautiful girl of seventeen, and they were married September 17, 1845. They went to Woolwich, and he was given the job of ship-keeper in the British Navy and belonged to Her Majesty's Flagship about three years. Here in Woolwich he first met Lorenzo Snow and Franklin D. Richards. He and wife were baptized by Ira Bradshaw, on Christmas Day, 1848. They had previously met Mormon missionaries and believed the Gospel as soon as they heard it, being baptized two weeks after first hearing it.

He then went to work for Ravenhill and Miller, of Blackwall, London, was leading seaman for rigging purchase for lifting machinery. He worked at that off and on for nine years, sometimes going on short voyages. He went on a voyage to China, to get means to emigrate. Was gone a year and soon after returning emigrated to Boston, having a family of five children. With the help of one man, he cooked for eight hundred on the voyage over as the man who had been employed was sea-sick all the time. In Boston he worked at all sorts of things for three years and a half, contending with sickness and poverty. His wife was ill all the time in Boston and was bedfast four months at one time. Two children were born in Boston, Margaret and Elizabeth. The latter died of cholera when four months old.

By selling everything they owned, they raised means enough to emigrate to Florence, Nebraska, the frontier of the emigration, about 1,000 miles from Salt Lake City. Here they met Amasa Lyman, Charles C. Rich, and Francis M. Lyman. Through the intercession of the Apostles, their light luggage was distributed among one of the companies, on condition that they all walk, which they did, to Salt Lake City. A son, Heber, was born two weeks after reaching Zion, in 1860. Father worked in erecting a paper mill in Sugar House Ward. That year President Young, with a company of explorers, came down to the Dixie country. St. George was located, and he volunteered to come but was not so well supplied with the necessary provisions as many others, consequently suffered more in the early days of Dixie. He was the first to move on to a city lot, after it was surveyed.

His arduous labors in the Dixie country are well known to the older residents here. He was Bishop's Counselor in the First Ward for many years, performing the office of Bishop much of the time; was also S. S. Superintendent and Presiding Teacher. He was in charge of all the scaffolding while the St. George Temple was being built. The font was lifted in place under his direction. Three children were born in St. George, Emeline, Josephine, and William.

In 1902 he was ordained a Patriarch by Apostles Clawson and Cowley. He has given several hundred blessings since then and has taken great comfort and joy in his work, expressing himself to me as more pleased with that calling than if a legacy of millions had been left him. He never did crave riches, often quoting, “Riches take unto themselves wings and fly away.” He had accumulated no wealth, yet to my mind he is rich, vastly so, in the record he has made of honesty, temperance, purity of life and integrity to the Gospel. I lived at home until my 29th year and can testify that I never heard or knew of a dishonest act of his. I never heard him utter a vulgar or profane word; he was as modest as a woman. He was always loyal to those in authority in the Church. Never a word of fault-finding in them was allowed in our home. He was the kindest, most indulgent father. Words fail me when I try to express my love and admiration of his character. During an illness he was talking with my brother Brig, who was waiting on him. He said, “Brig, I have traveled all over the seas, have visited many countries, and I thank God I am as pure as the day my mother bore me.”. . .

During the last years of his life, his health was poor and his memory failed him to some extent. Mother faithfully waited on him until her own health was so poor it became impossible for her to give him the care he needed and she asked me to bring him home and take care of him, which I did the last five months of his life, and considered it a privilege. He was full of blessings for us all and behaved like a courtly gentleman. He used very good language and I became still more fond of him. On Christmas, 1912, he seemed to enjoy the day, but the next day he commenced to cough and we could see he was taking LaGrip, which was so prevalent. He rapidly grew worse, and then rallied for two or three days. I thought he would recover, but he became restless on Friday and on Monday, January 6, 1913, he passed quietly away. He would have been ninety years old in March. Although we miss him, we cannot grieve for he was anxious for Father to call him home and there was no pleasure for him in this life. His sight and hearing had failed considerably and he could not do much but sit and wait for the call. On December 19 he asked me the day of the month. I told him, and he said, “Five more days and the call for me will come.” It came, and thus passed one of the noblest men in the Church. When mother realized that father had gone, I am sure she prayed continually that she might soon follow. She had always said that if he went first he must wait on the bank for her. She did not keep him waiting long. At 1:45 A.M., January 10, she followed. They had lived together more than 66 years and were not separated in death.


The above was taken from material found on the Javan Jenson's Family History website, for which we are very grateful.