Jens Nielson: Bishop of Bluff
A Denmark native, Jens Nielson emigrated to Utah Territory in 1856-57. By 1880 he joined the Hole-in-the Rock expedition to settle Bluff, where he served as ward bishop for over two decades.
As much a part of the landscape as the red cliffs, Bishop Nielson helped the town develop the contrasting characteristics that most impressed outsiders: dogged tenacity and kind hospitality. Bluff's settlers were to establish peaceful relations with Native Americans in the Four Corners region and to occupy that are and preempt non-Mormons from settling it.
Nielson and the families who chose to stay came to know each other intimately through their celebrations, mournings, endeavors, and arguments. Modern society would not trade its luxuries with Bluff, but sometimes it longs for what it left behind — the strong community and sense of shared purpose.
This book examines Nielson's life and the community from 1880 to 1906. Bluff's history demonstrates the lengths some Mormons would still go in the late nineteenth century to fulfill the requirements of their faith in a particularly harsh physical and cultural environment.
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