Jacob Foutz

From: “On Measuring Flour and Forgiveness”
BYU devotional, October 22, 1996.

David and Michael Foutz will sing “Lord, I Would Follow Thee,” a hymn that highlights our need to emulate the Savior and, in particular, our need “to refrain from judging unrighteously, to heal and comfort” (Karen Lynn Davidson, Our Latter-day Hymns: The Stories and the Messages [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1988], p. 231). David and Michael are brothers and direct lineal descendants of Bishop Jacob Foutz, who was shot and left for dead at the Haun’s Mill Massacre in Missouri in October 1838. According to an account written by Jacob’s wife, Margaret Mann Foutz, after the massacre Jacob and another brother survived by drawing dead bodies over themselves and feigning death.

Margaret records that these two men thus

saved their own lives and heard what some of the mob said. After the firing was over two little boys that were in the [blacksmith] shop begged for their lives, but . . . one of the mob said [“Nits will make lice,” meaning] ‘they will make Mormons’ and he put the muzzle of his gun to the boys’ heads and [ended their lives]. [Grace Foutz Boulter, History of Bishop Jacob Foutz Sr. and Family, Including a Story of the Haun’s Mill Massacre (n.p., n.d. [February 1944]), p. 7, BYU Harold B. Lee Library Special Collections; for phrase “Nits will make lice” see Leonard J. Arrington and Davis Bitton, The Mormon Experience: A History of the Latter-day Saints, 2nd ed. (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1992), p. 45]

After Margaret found Jacob, she got him home and eventually assisted him in removing a bullet from his hip with a kitchen knife. She applied a poultice to his wound and disguised him in women’s clothes to trick the murderous mob when it returned to exterminate male survivors.

Though physically scarred for life, Jacob did survive, and, what is most important, he thrived spiritually. He was called as a bishop in Nauvoo, served a mission in Pennsylvania, and moved west with the Saints in 1847, continuing to serve as a bishop until his premature death the following year. Although Bishop Foutz sought legal redress for the financial losses he suffered at Haun’s Mill, he did not allow the poisonous venom of hate and vengeance to destroy his spiritual life. Instead he bequeathed to his posterity a legacy of faith and forgiveness that continues to the present generation. David Foutz serves as first counselor in my bishopric, and the hymn that he and his brother will now perform honors the memory of their progenitor and all the pioneers who forgave their persecutors and moved on, geographically and spiritually, to establish a new life in Zion.

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