Joseph Henry James (1855 - 1908)


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by   LaVon Gurr Hansen 

John Blomfield Jr. was born May 2, 1831 in Bungay, Suffolk England to John and Mary Riches Bloomfield.  John was born November 2, 1800 in Bungay to Richard and Elizabeth Smith Bloomfield.  Martha was born September 1, 1801 in Pulham Norfolk, England to Henry and Elizabeth Hanner RIches. 

John Bloomfield Jr. was the youngest child and only son of John and Martha.  His five sisters were: Sarah, christened  April 13, 1834;  Emma, born March 18, 1837: and Maria, christened April 13, 1834, all in Bungay. 

John's Uncle Robert Bloomfield, who was wealthy, having property not only in Suffolk but in London too, was very fond of John and made his will leaving all he owned to him.

When John was 19 his whole life was changed.  He heard the Mormon missionaries preach the gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter Saints and knew that it was true.  John's Uncle Robert told him if he joined the church he would disinherit him.  This was quite a decision for him to make.  He had the choice of being very rich or  being a Mormon.  He chose to join the church and was baptized in Hammers Field, England September 1, 1850  This was to change John's whole life and that of his posterity. 

A short time after he joined the church John got small pox.  He was so bad the doctor told his family that he could not live until morning.  He asked to have the elders come and administer to him.  They came and one laid on each side of him and talked to him a long time, then anointed him all over with olive oil and administered to him.  They promised him that he would recover and  not one scar would be left on his body.  When the doctor came to see him the next morning John was up and walking around.  When the doctor first saw him he thought he was a ghost and was very frightened.  John calmly told him that he was alive and completely well. 

Three months after John was baptized he was ordained a high priest and labored as a missionary in the Norwich Conference.  About two years later while accompaning some saints they were attacked by a mob who had been waiting for them.  They swore to kill John.  Some of the mob threw him to the ground and was choking him with his tie.  When he was about dead, another one of the mob took after them with his walking stick, saying that he had come to have some fun not to murder.  They let loose of John to protect themselves.

In 1854, John and Elder Horace Jackson was to hold a meeting in the old gravel pit.  A short time before their meeting was to start a sectarian minister gathered a large crowd and beat the missionaries to the gravel pit, and began preaching "who's on the Lord's side?"  John and Elder Jackson waited until the minister finished speaking and left singing.  John took the ministers place and used the same subject.  He told the people that those who were on the Lord's side were the ones that kept his commandments and what those comandments were.  As soon as the minister was out of sight  the crowd began throwing rocks at the elders.  Not one rock hit them.  This made one man so angry he filled his hat full of rocks and swore that he would hit them.  He got within a few feet of John and threw the hat full of rocks directly at him.  Still not one rock hit him.  The man crawled to John's feet, picked up his hat and made a hasty retreat.  This ended the disturbance and they continued the meeting.  Thanks to the minister they had a very large crowd to speak to.  Things like this strengthend John's testimony and proved to him that the Lord would protect them who would do His will. 

John labored as a missionary in the Norwich Conference until1856 when with a company of thirty saints left England for America.  They sailed on the ship, Thurston, from Liverpool England.  After a voyage of nearly six weeks they landed in New York on June 17, 1856. 

  John went to Chanceville, New Jersey.  While living here he was ordained an elder by John Taylor.  Here he married Harriet Wikinson on November 11, 1857.  They had a baby daughter, Ellen Maria, born October 10, 1858.  From Chanceville they moved to Omaha, Nebraska to prepare to cross the plains.  They stayed there a year.  While in Omaha their one year old baby Ellen Maria died.  This same winter Harriet's father also died. 

They stayed in Omaha a year before they started to cross the plains.  While crossing the plains they suffered many hardships.  They never had enough to eat and drink and were in constant fear of Indians.  One night when John watched over the camp he heard a wailing noise  At first he thought it was a panther, then was afraid it might be Indians.  He finally decided it was neither and went to investigate.  In a wash a short distance from the camp he found a mother and her new born baby.  The wailing was that of a newborn  baby boy.  The mother was dead and  the navel cord was all dried up but uncut.  He took his pocket knife and cut the cord and wrapped the cold starving baby in his coat and took it back to camp.  Next morning he and two other men went back and buried the mother.  She had no identifacation.  They never knew who she was .  They thought that she had strayed away from another company, had her baby, then hemorrhaged and died.  One  of the ladies had a baby three weeks old and said she had enough milk to nurse both babies.  The baby grew and thrived and was much loved by all.  When they arrived at Salt Lake Valley, the family who took the baby, was sent north to colonize, and he never heard of them any more.   

John and Harriet went on to Hyde Park where Harreiet's relatives had settled.  Here another daughter, Elizabeth Salome, was born to them September 17, 1861.  John's father and mother left England April 23, when they were in their sixties, and arrived in Hyde Park 1862.  They came on the ship, "John J. Boyd", and crossed the planes with Captain Issac Canfield's ox train. 

A dream fo John and Harriet's came true November 14, 1862, when they were able to go to Salt Lake and be sealed  in the Endowment House. 

In 1863 John was commisioned an officer in the Black Hawk Army.  He was sent to Council Bluff to acompany other saints to Utah. 

On January 21, 1864 another daughter, Mary Eliza, was born to them.  Two years later, March 23, 1866, John Parley William was born to them. 

Then two years later John's beloved wife Harriet passed away, January 2, 1868, leaving John with 3 small children to care for.  On November 30, 1868 John's father passed away.  After so many of his loved ones had died he could not of gone on if it had not been for his testimony. 

About this same time John's good friend, Henry Ashcroft, was very ill.  He asked John and Robert Daines, his ward teachers to administer to him.  Henry knew he was dying and asked them to take care of his families.  They promised him they would and Henry died May 9, 1867.  Two years later John married Henry's second wife, Elizabeth Ann Barton.  She had three small sons.  Robert Daines married his other widow, Mary Glover, who had been Henry's first wife. 

John and Elizabeth Ann had three children born in Hyde Park:  Joseph W. November 16,1869;  Richard H. March 6, 1873;  Harriet Martha, July 31, 1875.  Shorly after Harriet Martha was born they were called to help settle Arizona.  They settled first in Obed, now known as the Meadows.  It was so swampy here that every one except Bishop Lake and his wife Mary got sick with the chills and fever.  Some become so ill they could not care for themselves.  Then they were called to Sabolla, New Mexico.  By the time they got to Sabolla all of the families but two or three had gotten so discouraged they left.  They did not stay here very long.  They went back to Sunset, Arizona,  where he was ordained a high priest by Erastus Snow on January 27, 1878. and  Margaret Emma was born  on December 22, 1879.  They then moved to a large valley a short distance from Sabolla, and established a colony.  They called it Navajo.  Some time later President Brigham Young, Francis M. Lyman, Jedediah M. Grant and the presidency of St. John's stake came to visit and encourage the saints.  President Young changed the name from Navajo to Ramah, the name by which Hill Cumorah was known in the Book of Mormon days.  Here he was ordained a high priest   by Erastus Snow January 27, 1878, in Sunset. 

While in Ramah they had two more children;  George Riches born November 28, 1882 and Helena born Decmber 6, 1884. 

On one of their journeys when called to settle a new colony, they were traveling with a company of ox teams.  John had a yoke of oxen, and at night when they made camp the oxen were turned out to graze.  One morning when some of the men went after the oxen they found a steer skull with very large horns.  This gave them an idea how to play a joke on John.  They fitted the horns on one of John's oxen.  They drove them into camp and told John that they couldn't find one of his oxen but they found a stray one.  John looked at it and said it looked like his but his oxen never had such horns.  They told John to hook it up and take it, but he said the Lord would not bless him if he stole.  They had to remove the horns before John would move.  They all had a good laugh. 

In 1880 when so many men were being arrested for polygamy, John decided to go to Mexico with a friend, Peter Nielson, and his families.  They camped first at Colonia Diaz.  Then they rented some land near Cassa Grandes.  They raised a good crop of corn and cane and a rice garden.  The church bought some land near what is now Colonial Juarez.  They moved there and stayed five years.  Here their last child, Alexander Finely, was  born, August 4, 1887.  With John's three children and Elizabeth Ann's three and their seven they now had a large family of thirteen to care for.  During the nine years they lived in Mexico he assisted Apostle George Teasdale  and Alexander McDonald and others with the colonization of Mexico. 

After helping to settle Mexico for nine years they decided it would be best to come back to the USA to raise their children where they would be able to find suitable husbands and wives.  In 1889 they moved back to Ramah.  After living there a short time they moved to Kirtland, New Mexico.  They sold their home there to a son‑in‑law,  Jesse Biggs, and moved back to Ramah where some of their family needed their help.  This was their last move. 

John traveled a lot in his life, going wherever the church called him to go.  Wherever they lived he always made it a practice to plant fruit trees and berry bushes  to teach his children how to take care of themselves, even if they didn't get to harvest the fruit.  John gave up a lot of material things and often didn't have enough to eat and wear.  But he knew the most important thing in this life wasn't material things but to prepare for life after death. 

Elizabeth Ann died September 15, 1913 and John passed away two and a half years later on January 7, 1916.  They raised a good honorable family and he often told them that it was only one step to the great beyond.  So live your lives so I will be proud of you.  Always stand for what you know is right.  Be honest in all your dealings.  Always try to serve the Lord with all your heart, mind and strength, and in doing so you will prepare yourselves for a glory that defies all description of men.


*Source material was taken from two accounts, one by George Bloomfield, a son,  and one by Lucy G. Bloomfield, a granddaughter.  These accounts were combined and rewritten for this account by LaVon Gurr Hansen, a great‑great‑granddaughter.


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