Baptism of Fort Washakie Indians

Pioneer heritage is a great topic! As we study our ancestors we can see wonderful examples of Christ-like service and missionary work. The Zundel family has been a part of the LDS church since 1836 when my Great-Great-Great Grandfather, Johann Jakob  Zundel, was baptized. His son, Isaac Eberhard Zundel is one of my favorite ancestors to learn about. This is an excerpt from his biography written by Elizabeth S. Zundel Gibbs and Alice C. Harding found in “John Jacob Zundel Family Book”.

Isaac Zundel was chosen Bishop over the Shoshone Indians, with Alexander Hunsaker and Moroni Ward as counselors. The white men had learned the Indian language and could converse with them easily. Many of the Indians were now being baptized.

In the summer of 1880 a band of Indians from Fort Washakie came to the Indian farm on Bear River and requested to be baptized. It was not known who converted them, for at that time the Mormon Elders were not permitted to preach the gospel on the reservation. The Indians got permission to go on a hunt for their winter meat. Instead of going on the hunt, they traveled almost day and night, arriving on a Saturday afternoon to tell Isaac Zundel what they had come for. He and the missionaries killed a beef and took them several sacks of flour, which was a customary token of friendship. That evening they held outdoor meetings because the church house was not large enough for the group.

On Sunday afternoon they all assembled by the banks of the Bear River. After a short prayer meeting Bishop Zundel began by baptizing 30 people. Alex Hunsaker and Moroni Ward continued by baptizing 30 Indians apiece. Then 2 of them confirmed and 1 baptized until the ordinance work was completed on all 386 Indians. This was verified by Phebe Zundel Ward, the eldest daughter of Bishop Zundel. She goes on to say, “I can never begin to tell how we all felt. I never again expect to witness the heavenly spirit that was there. It seemed that the spirit of the Heavenly Lord was poured out in great abundance. It was wonderful. When all were baptized the Indians immediately broke camp and left for the reservation.”

Calvin Zundel


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