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Newel K. Whitney

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Newel K. Whitney
Newel K. Whitney.jpg
Presiding Bishop
June 6, 1847 (1847-06-06) – September 23, 1850 (1850-09-23)
Called byBrigham Young
First Bishop of the Church
December 4, 1831 (1831-12-04) – June 6, 1847 (1847-06-06)
Called byBrigham Young
End reasonCalled as Presiding Bishop
Personal details
BornNewel Kimball Whitney
(1795-02-05)February 5, 1795
Marlboro, Vermont, United States
DiedSeptember 23, 1850(1850-09-23) (aged 55)
Salt Lake City, Utah Territory, United States
Resting placeKimball-Whitney Cemetery
40°46′22″N 111°53′22″W / 40.7728°N 111.8895°W / 40.7728; -111.8895 (Kimball-Whitney Cemetery)
Spouse(s)Elizabeth Ann Whitney

Newel Kimball Whitney (February 5, 1795 – September 23, 1850,[1] his first name being sometimes found as Newell) was a prominent member and leader in the Latter Day Saint movement and an American businessman. Whitney married Elizabeth Ann Smith in 1822. He owned a store and an ashery in Kirtland, and acquired more property as his business grew. Initially he was part of the Disciples of Christ or Campbellite movement. He joined the early Latter Day Saint church, called the Church of Christ, in 1830 after his Campbellite bishop, Sidney Rigdon also joined the church. Whitney greatly contributed financially to the growing church, paying taxes on its property and paying off the debts incurred by the United Firm. He traveled to other states for business and as part of his duties as a Bishop. In Nauvoo, he was part of the Quorum of the Anointed, consented for his daughter to become a plural wife of Joseph Smith, and participated in plural marriage. He served as the second Presiding Bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 1847 until his death. He died in 1850 of pleurisy.

Early life

Whitney was born in Marlborough, Vermont to Samuel Whitney and Susanna Kimball.[1] He was the second of nine children. In 1803, he moved with his family to Fairfield, Herkimer Co., New York.[2]:75

Early trading career

In 1814, Whitney worked as an army sutler, selling supplies to American soldiers near Lake Champlain during the War of 1812. Whitney lost all of his possessions in the Battle of Plattsburgh, but continued to work as a sutler for the army until they disbanded around Monroe, Michigan. Whitney traded furs and other goods with Native Americans between the great lakes, often stopping in Monroe for supplies, where Algernon Sidney Gilbert had a store. According to Orson F. Whitney, when Whitney refused to sell alcohol to an alcoholic, the customer threatened his life, but a Native American woman named Moudalina saved him. Gilbert and Whitney may have traveled together to New York, and they were friends.[2]:76–79 In 1817, Whitney moved to Painesville, Ohio and worked as a clerk for Gilbert, who taught him bookkeeping.[3]:26


1820–1831: Early business in Kirtland and conversion

The Newel K. Whitney Store in Kirtland, Ohio.
The Newel K. Whitney Store in Kirtland, Ohio.

During his travels, Whitney met Ann Smith, who lived in Kirtland. Whitney moved to Kirtland in 1819 to court Smith,[2] and they married on October 20, 1822 in Geauga County, Ohio.[3]:27 In Kirtland, Whitney set up a small log cabin store in 1821 or 1822. On June 1, 1822, Whitney purchased an apple orchard at the intersection of two main roads in northern Ohio, and by 1824 had built the Red Store there. Whitney bought the lot diagonally opposite the Red Store lot on September 1822, where he made an ashery. The combined businesses helped Kirtland's local economy. Sometimes customers at his store would pay him in wood at the ashery. Wool carders would buy the potash to process their wool. In June 1824 Whitney expanded the ashery and built a home behind the Red Store.[2]:78–87

After the Erie Canal was constructed in 1825, it decreased the price of transportation of goods to Kirtland. In April 1826, Whitney bought the lot east of the Red Store and built a medium-sized store on, which the family called the White Store. By 1827, Whitney entered into a partnership with Gilbert to run a store in Kirtland known as N.K. Whitney & Co. After the White Store opened, the Gilberts probably moved into the Red Store. In 1828, Elizabeth's widowed sister and three children moved to Kirtland and helped to work in the store. Whitney anticipated that he could make more money in the store after the decrease in the price of goods, but he could not afford to support his own family and Gilbert's. He greatly expanded the ashery in 1828. On March 5, 1829, N.K. Whitney and Sidney Gilbert & Co. purchased the southeast corner lot for an unknown purpose.[2]:88–95[1]

Sometime after their marriage, N.K. and Ann joined the Disciples of Christ or Campbellites. Sidney Rigdon was a bishop in the movement and baptized members. Ann worried about how Campbellites did not claim to have the authority to give members the Holy Ghost. N.K. served in the community as an elector and as a vice president of the Tract Society, part of the Grand River Bible Society. N.K. and Ann joined the Church of Christ (Latter Day Saints) in 1830 without having read The Book of Mormon. Many of their neighbors joined the church around the same time, including the Gilberts in 1831. The Whitneys provided their home for at least one congregational meeting, and donated wine for the sacrament. The prophet Joseph Smith and his family came to stay with the Whitneys for several weeks in 1830 before moving to Isaac Morley's house and soon a new house on his property.[2]:95–100

During this time, Ann Whitney had five children. Their eldest, Horace, was born in 1823.[3]:27 Horace later married and is the father of Orson F. Whitney.

1832–1836: Joseph Smith lives in the White Store

Joseph Smith and Whitney were good friends.[4]:226 From 1832–1836, Smith and his family lived in the White Store. The first School of the Prophets was held in an upstairs room there, and Joseph Smith received several revelations there, including the Word of Wisdom.[2]:106–107 During 1832, Smith and Whitney visited Missouri, where Smith received a revelation that Whitney and other church leaders had "equal claim" on his properties for taking care of the poor, which would be the United Firm.[2]:107–109 In 1833, Joseph Smith washed the feet of those in the School of the Prophets, a precursor to the washing and anointings.[5]:xiv

1831–1838: Whitney as Bishop and member of the United Firm

In 1831, Whitney was appointed as a bishop in the church. At the time, Edward Partridge was the only other bishop who had been called. Whitney made personal decisions about how a bishop should support his local community. He continued to operate his store as normal and offered limited support for the poor in an early bishop's storehouse. Two men accused Whitney of being overbearing and disrespectful.[2]:101–103 Whitney supported Gilbert's store in Missouri, which he started in 1831 and abandoned in 1833 when the members of the church were driven out of the state.[2]:103–105 Early in 1832, Reynolds Cahoon was appointed as Whitney's counselor.[3]:35

In 1832, on the way back from Missouri, Whitney broke his leg and foot in a wagon accident, and Smith and Whitney stayed in a public house in Greenville for four weeks while he recovered.[6]:50 Later that year, Newel was assigned to visit church members in New York, Albany, and Boston.[3]:32 Acting as the church's financial officer, the United Firm acquired over 100 acres of land in Kirtland, which Whitney paid taxes on. Whitney's ashery became the site of the Kirtland Temple,[2]:109 whose construction began in 1833.[7]

In 1833, the Overseers of the poor made a warning list of 22 unemployed families that might be expelled from Kirkland for being too dependent on their community. At the time, this was a fairly common practice, although such a long list was unusual. Such a list shows the extent that the church (and Whitney) must have been supporting its members, many of whom were working to construct the temple. The United Firm was dissolved in 1834, with Whitney paying the debts members owed to each other. The United Firm then wrote off over $3,000 of debt, and members decided to do business individually.[2]:111–112 The same year, Sidney Gilbert died of cholera, and N.K. Whitney and Company was dissolved in 1838.[2]:115; 117 Whitney's ashery probably burned in 1834.[2]:118

In 1835, Whitney and Hyrum Smith went to New York to borrow money and buy goods. These goods helped supply new stores established by other church members. Whitney helped Joseph Smith establish a store in Kirtland, but it was disbanded a year later, probably because the town was already well-supplied by Whitney's store.[2]:113–114 On October 31, 1835, Whitney brought his parents to visit Kirtland, where they met Joseph Smith and were subsequently baptized.[3]:34 By 1836, Whitney was giving food to the poor and needy.[2]:115 The Whitneys moved to Missouri in 1838, where Whitney was appointed as a bishop, but persecution drove them to Illinois shortly after their move.[2]:118; 120


While in Nauvoo, Illinois, Whitney was involved in some important developments within the Church. He was part of the Quorum of the Anointed and also joined in the practice of polygamy. On May 4, 1842 when Whitney, along with a group of nine others, met in the upper story of the Red Brick Store. Those who were there, including Whitney, became part of Joseph Smith's Quorum of the Anointed.[8] Later, Whitney's wife, Elizabeth Ann, was added to the quorum. The Whitneys and the other members of the Quorum of the Anointed were "some of the highest ranking and most trusted leaders of the LDS church."[5]:xxiii

In 1842, after being taught the doctrine of polygamy, Whitney and Elizabeth Ann agreed to let their daughter, Sarah Ann, become a plural wife of Joseph Smith.[6] Two years later, Whitney married Olive M. Bishop as a plural wife.[9] Also in 1844, Whitney became a member of the Council of Fifty[1] and became First Bishop when Edward Partridge died.[3]:25 Whitney's "First Bishop" title was changed to "Presiding Bishop" in 1847.[3]:25 In 1845 he married Emmeline B. Woodworth Harris, Almira Elizabeth Pond, Abigail A. Pond, Elizabeth M. More, and Henrietta Keyes. He married Ann Houston in 1846 . Emmeline had married a young man when she was 15, but he deserted her after the death of their son. Whitney married Emmeline when she was seventeen and had two children with her.[9] Later Emmeline married Daniel H. Wells and became a president of the Relief Society. Whitney also was sealed to Isabel Modalena and Melvina C. Blanch.[3]:38

After Joseph Smith's death, Whitney was a trustee-in-trust for the church. Whitney was a member of the Masonic Lodge in Nauvoo. He was an alderman in Nauvoo from 1841 to 1843.[1] From 1846–1847, Whitney led Church members in settling at Winter Quarters.[3]

In 1848, Whitney migrated to Utah, and in 1849 he was the bishop of the Salt Lake City Eighteenth Ward.[1] Whitney helped place new immigrants in communities.[3]:38 He helped Brigham Young locate and plan Ogden, Utah.[4]:223 He died in 1850 of "bilious pleurisy."[2]:121 LDS Church president Gordon B. Hinckley compared Whitney's role in the early church to a Presiding Bishop who oversees the Church's physical assets.[4]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Newel Kimball Whitney – Biography". The Church Historian's Press. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Staker, Mark (2003). "Thou Art the Man: Newel K. Whitney in Ohio". BYU Studies. 42 (1): 74–138. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Van Orden, Bruce A. (2003). "Newel K. Whitney". In Winder, Michael K. (ed.). Presiding bishops. Salt Lake City, Utah: Eborn Books. ISBN 1890718106.
  4. ^ a b c Hinckley, Gordon B. (1997). Heroes of the restoration. Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft. ISBN 9781570082917.
  5. ^ a b Anderson, Devery S.; Bergera, Gary James, eds. (2005). Joseph Smith's Quorum of the Anointed, 1842-1845 : a documentary history. Salt Lake City: Signature Books. ISBN 1560851864.
  6. ^ a b Poulsen, Larry N (April 1966), "The Life and Contributions of Newel Kimball Whitney", Thesis, Brigham Young University: 85
  7. ^ "Kirtland Temple". Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  8. ^ Anderson, Devery S.; Bergera, James, eds. (2005). Joseph Smith's Quorum of the Anointed, 1842-1845: A Documentary History. Salt Lake City: Signature Books. p. 4. ISBN 1-56085-186-4. OCLC 57965858. Archived from the original on 2013-02-02.
  9. ^ a b Quinn, D. Michael (December 1978). "The Newel K. Whitney Family - Ensign Dec. 1978 - ensign". The Ensign. Retrieved 19 October 2017.

External links

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints titles
Position Vacant
May 27, 1840 – October 7, 1844

Preceded by
Edward Partridge
as Bishop of the Church of the
 Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints 
Presiding Bishop
June 6, 1847 – September 23, 1850
First Bishop of the Church
October 7, 1844 – June 6, 1847
Succeeded by
Edward Hunter
This page was last edited on 31 December 2020, at 23:13
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