Monday, June 18, 2012

Jude, the Mormon Missionary Horse

When Wilford Woodruff served a mission in Tennessee, a local member from the Chalk Level Tennessee Branch, Samuel West, loaned him the use of a horse in his travels. The horses name was Jude and Woodruff used the horse in his 200 mile circuit from west Humphreys county (now Benton County), Henry County, and Weakley County in Tennessee and Calloway and Graves counties in Kentucky

Woodruff grew close to the horse, and he spoke/wrote of it fondly. Once when crossing a flooded river, the horse became snagged on a submerged tree. Risking his own life, Wilford stayed with the horse until he was able to get him loose. The two swam to shore separately, the horse making it to shore first where it waited for him.

In November 1835 in Henry County, someone the missionaries horses, including Jude, loose though they were able to retrieve them.

In August 1836 while Wilford Woodruff and his companion Abraham O. Smoot were baptizing their most recent convert, opponents of the Church poisoned the two men's horses. Woodruff noticed the horses were sick right away, though they were able to ride them four miles to a friends home. There was speculation among the Elders' friends that the horses were poisoned. Elder Smoot's horse soon recovered, but after two days, Elder Woodruff's horse, Jude, died. To test the poisoning theory, the horses remains were fed to some pigs, which also died. A collection was taken to help Elder Woodruff pay Samuel West for the loss of his horse. A total of $8.56 was donated. Woodruff borrowed a horse from Brother [Emanuel] Murphy in order to continue his circuit with Elder Smoot.

In his journal, Woodruff recorded his feelings about the death of Jude briefly. "Thus ended the life of Jude a beast who had carried thousands of miles to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ"


Ardis said...

This opens up a whole new category of "Latter-day Saint Lives" to research! Fun story, Bruce, thanks for posting it.

Amy said...

Oh, how sad about the poor horse. That is an interesting story! It's always a bonus to find some animal stories included among the historical materials.

BruceCrow said...

Thanks, both of you. I'm actually surprised that I haven't found more stories about horses, given how prevalent they were in the ninteenth century. There are at least two more stories coming, though.

Edje said...

Are any of your stories about racehorses?

BruceCrow said...

That is a cool story. Too bad "Mormon" didn't win.

The only racehorse story I have was from a LDS family who were involved in horseracing before joining the Church. From a post two years ago.