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  • Writer's pictureAmyanne rigby

Jacob Hofhine, Hofheintz or Hofheins

No matter how you spell his name, his story remains the same. It is a story of faith, endurance, and obedience.


                  A brief History of Jacob Hofheins



          At 18 years of age Jacob Hofheins, a German boy, boarded a ship bound for the new land of America. Perhaps, he was a stow away, a young boy seeking adventure.


          Jacob was the son of Johann Michael Hofheintz and Elizabeth Magdalena Kornmueller.  He had 3 sisters and four brothers.  He grew up in Karlsruhe, the capital of Baden, near the Rhine River.  It is supposed that it is here in his youth that he learned the trade of Mason.   Little did he know what those hands one day might help build.


          Jacob had only one brother, Peter, who came to America as well.   Peter was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day saints on November 15, 1840.  He married Sarah Ann Mode November 25, 1835.  The two made their way to Nauvoo between 1838 and 1844.  Jacob was baptized by the prophet Brigham Young’s brother, John on August 23, 1841 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,


          Little is known of Jacob’s life from 18 years of age to his baptismal date in 1841.  He did marry Mary Ann Elizabeth Stevenson in 1835.  It appears Mary joined the church in 1835 prior to Jacob’s Baptism.  His trade as a stone mason learned in Germany no doubt was a great advantage to him in his new life.


          Jacob was fully committed to his new found faith.  He endured much hardship and persecution.  As a mason, he helped build both the Kirtland and Nauvoo temples.  He was a bodyguard to the prophet Joseph Smith and witnessed his assassination on that ill fated day in June at Carthage Jail.    Following the martyrdom of the prophet and his brother Hyrum, Jacob witnessed firsthand the grieving hearts of the “Mormons.”  But still they pressed forward.


            It was eleven months following the Prophet’s death before the capstone of the temple in  was laid on May 24, 1845. Jacob as a mason must have been engulfed in this work of great frenzy as the persecution of the mobs continued.  The work was not hastened but strengthened.  Every available building became a workshop for the building of the temple.  Jacob received his own endowment here on January 5, 1846 and was sealed to Mary Elizabeth on January 31, 1846.


         



          With the completion of the temple, the great exodus from beautiful Nauvoo began.   En route to Zion in the hill tops of the Rocky Mountains, the same US government which did not aid the Mormons in Nauvoo summoned 500 Latter Day Saints to March to California and defend the United States in the war with Mexico.    On July 16, 1846, at Council Bluffs, Nebraska Jacob Hofheins enlisted in the “B” company.  His feet again moved forward.


          His feet marched with faith against all odds in blistering hot temperature with feet and body worn ragged from the rugged terrain, hot days, and cold nights.  Jacob was made a captain and as such he was paid $50 a month.  This was sure to be of great benefit to his wife Mary who made the trek to the Rocky Mountains alone with the other Saints.  The Batallion arrived in San Diego on January 29, 1847… the war was over.  While some men were tempted by the California Gold Rush of 1848, most heeded the call of duty and religion over the appeal of riches. 


          Jacob was one of those men.   He joined Mary in Salt Lake City where he is credited for building the first adobe house in the valley.  They later went to Parowan where he met and married his 2nd wife, Amanda Lucretia Braffet.    They were the parents of 13 children (I am a descendant of his son John Michael Hofheins). Shortly thereafter, Jacob served a mission in New York .  After completing this mission, he was issued the charge of a company of saints on their journey to Utah.  The colonization of Utah was not easy.  Reaching Utah, was just the beginning of toil, death, disease and war with the Indians.  Life in this dessert was primitive and harsh.   Faith was a necessity of everyday life. 


          Jacob was instrumental in the settlements of 7 town sites including Salt Lake, American Fork, Pleasant Grove, Levan, Salina, Kanosh, and Parowan.


          It was at Levan, or Chicken Creek that Jacob spent the remainder of his days.   Today, the adobe home he built with his own hands still stands.  His body is laid to rest at the Levan Cemetery- the same cemetery for which he was commissioned to choose the site.


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