Biographical Note/Historical Note
James Holt was born on 10 February 1804 in Halifax County, North Carolina, to Jesse and Elizabeth Davis Holt. He married Mary Pain in 1830. She died in 1845 and that same year he married Parthenia Overton. He became a member of the LDS Church in 1839 and moved to Nauvoo in 1840-1841. In 1845 he was chosen to join the James Emmett Company “to go to the Rocky Mountains, to preach to the Indians along the way, and prepare them to receive the Saints in the Valleys of the Mountains.” This company endured severe hardships and dissension arose among its members. The company broke up and many, including Holt, stayed in Iowa to farm. He left for Utah in 1852 settling first in Weber County and eventually in southern Utah, Mountain Meadows area, where he established a ranch and prospered. He died in 1894.
When I was about 8 years old, there was quite an exciting time in religion. Father used to take me to church on horseback behind him, and young as I was, my mind was greatly impressed in regard to religious matters. About this time I had a very remarkable dream.
I dreamed that my father sent me, in company with one of my brothers, to a neighbor’s about three miles distant, on some errand. It appeared that in going we had to travel through a dark and gloomy cave where there was neither light of sun, moon or stars. It appeared that all people traveled through this gloomy cave. After we had traveled in this awful gloom for some length of time, we emerged into the light of day, and great was the contrast. Upon the left I beheld a large building. When we came opposite this building, I saw a man come to the door who I thought was the keeper. He called to me saying “James Holt, you must come in here and be tried for your faith.” There was two or three steps to the building and I thought he took hold of my hand and led me up and into the building where I beheld a hook, somewhat similar to steelyards, suspended to a beam overhead. He said I was to be hanged upon that hook and if I had enough faith in God, I would not fall. But if I did not have faith in God, I would fall down in the dismal hall (pointing to a trap door in the floor) where there was weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. I looked where he pointed and I beheld people in the greatest confusion, some groaning, some shouting, and all in a great turmoil. One person stood up in their midst, saying, “All is well with us. We are all right. We need no more revelation. The canon of scripture is full. We will all be saved. We need not fear.”
After I beheld this, the keeper took me and hung me upon the hook by the back of my vest. It soon began to rip and I began to sink towards the pit, but I began to call upon the Lord to strengthen me and increase my faith. Suddenly, my vest ceased to tear and I hung by the seam of my collar. The keeper now took me down, saying, “Well done. You have got most faith enough to save you and that is all any man will have, no matter how great he may be. They will only have faith enough to be saved, so you can go your way rejoicing.”
Title: Holt, James
Dates: 1881 (inclusive)
Collection Number: UU_Ms0412
Summary: The James Holt Papers (1881) consist of a biographical sketch of Holt titled “Life of James Holt: Early Pioneer.” This is not a journal account, but rather Holt’s recollection of life events written in 1881 when he was 77 years of age. James Holt (1804-1894) was an early member of the LDS Church who settled in southern Utah.
Repository: J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah
Address: J. Willard Marriott Library Special Collections 295 South 1500 East Salt Lake City, Utah 84112-0860 (801) 581-8864