Joseph Holbrook
 
Joseph Holbrook was born on January 16, 1806, in the township of Florence, Oneida County, New York.(1) He was the first son of Moses Holbrook and Hannah Morton, land owners of Utica, New York. His father died when he was seven years old, and one year later he went to live with his grandparents in Florence. When he was twenty-one, his grandfather generously gave him a note for $100, drawing 6% interest. He made a roll of a few school books and a change of clothing, all he possessed. Then he bade farewell to his relatives and they watched him shoulder his pack and start out, as was the custom in those days, to earn his own way.

His diary discloses several positions that he held and considered of worth during the next few years. In the spring of 1829, Hezekiah Allen hired Joseph at $10 a month and his keep. He also hired Nancy Lampson to help Mrs. Allen spin, churn, make cheese and do the general housework. And there a summer romance began; soon Joseph and Nancy were engaged. Since he was twenty-one, Joseph had amassed the fortune of $600. He started out in search of a home; walking most of the distance of 231 miles to Weatherfield, New York inquiring for a home site as he traveled along. Here he purchased a 100-acre farm with a small house and a barn and about sixty fruit trees. Nancy in her capable way had been busy making bedding and clothing during her spare time. When Joseph returned, she readily consented to hasten arrangements for their wedding and accompany him back to Weatherfield.

On December 30, 1830, Joseph and Nancy, she being the youngest daughter of David and Sarah Lampson, were married at her father's home in Western, Worcester County, Massachusetts,(2) by a minister of the Congregational Church. The bride and groom prepared to move to their home. They purchased a wagon, a yoke of oxen and a horse. Soon their effects were loaded and in January, 1831, they started on their journey. Snow was deep, roads were rugged and travel was difficult. Often their oxen floundered through four feet of unbroken snow. On February 6th they reached their new home four hundred miles in five weeks this was their honeymoon trip. In January, 1833, they were converted and baptized into the Latter-day Saints Church.

The next season I continued to labor on my farm. In the course of the summer many vague reports were in circulation about a certain sect of people who were called Mormonites. In the course of the season my Aunt Phebe Angel and her family moved from Rhode Island to Genesee County about the 1st day of September, 1832. I heard there was to be a Mormon meeting in China, four miles distant. I said I would go and hear this strange sect but upon arriving and waiting some time at the place of the meeting, the Elder John P. Greene sent word by his son Even W. Green and Lorenzo D. Young that he would not be able to attend. Mr. Green had sent by the bearers two of the papers the Evening and Morning Star printed in Jackson County, Missouri, containing the articles of the church and also the prophecy of Enoch which they requested a Mr. Carline, a universal preacher, to read to the congregation. They made a few remarks after they were read which gave me some little light as to Mormonism. I met the young man in the floor of the school house and asked them where I could get a Book of Mormon. They said they did not know. I then told them I would go 50 miles the next day to get one if they could direct me where. They said they could not tell me. I told them where I lived and if they could direct any elder there in the future, they would be welcome as I wished to learn more about this new revelation to man.

About this moment my cousin, Mary Ann Angel heard my anxiety to get a Book of Mormon, and whispered to me and said she had one she would lend me in about two weeks as she had it promised for that time.(3) I said I would go home with her and see it. She said I could do so. I saw the Book of Mormon and read the testimony of the witnesses and looked at some of the gospel. I felt much rejoiced - to think that an angel had come from God and brought such good news. I thanked my cousin for the favor of seeing the book, hoping she would not disappoint me in having the privilege of reading it in two weeks. The weeks passed away and I thought much of Mormonism, I believed all I heard and saw. I felt much to rejoice for the words came often to my mind. "Blessed are ye for ye believe and have not seen." The two weeks brought my cousin Mary Ann Angel with the Book of Mormon to my house with her father James Angel and the Mormon Elder John P. Greene. I spent two or three hours with them while my wife was getting dinner. This was on Friday and I commenced reading that evening, but being brought up not to spend any time on a weekday to read, I thought I must work and as my cart was in the field where I left it the day before where I was digging potatoes, I went to digging potatoes, but soon found I could not content my mind at work.

I returned to the house, took the Book of Mormon, and read for a few hours but as this was so unusual a thing for me to stop work in the daytime, my wife became alarmed and thought I had better be at work than spending the time reading such deception, which called my attention again to my potato digging. I had not dug long before I wished with all my heart I knew all there was in that book. I went out into a large place nearby where the thistles were very large and thick. I knelt down to pray. I no sooner closed my eyes than it seemed as though the whole thistle plantation was in motion. I opened my eyes. I could see nothing the matter. I closed my eyes the second time when it seemed as if there was a whistle wind among the thistles, yet I felt no wind. I continued my prayer for the forgiveness of my sins and for the Lord to lead me right and show me the truth of Mormonism. When I rose, I said I would go to the house and read the Book of Mormon, work or no work. This was the after-part of Saturday. I read that day and night late. On Sunday, I read again. My wife took the child in the morning and went about 3/4 mile to my brother's, saying she would not be in the house and hear such nonsense. I read and prayed a number of times that day, being all alone and marveled much that the thistle should be so troubled at my prayers and my wife should be so disturbed she could not stay at home for she was always fond of sitting down and reading evenings and Sundays. I read the Book of Mormon through in two days and three nights and carried it home on a Monday morning to my cousin, Mary Ann Angel. She asked me what I thought of it. I told her I believed it was true and that God was at the bottom of the work. She said she felt glad for she believed also but had not said much about it. I told her I would like to see some of the Mormon elders. She said she would send them along to my house, if she had an opportunity. I thanked her and told her I was ready to fulfill my promise to her some few years before that I would have religion when the right kind came along and I believed this was the right kind.

These things passed along for some time when Elder John P. Greene called and stayed all night with me. I felt much satisfaction concerning the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr. I became more and more established as to the truth every day of my life as things came to my mind. My connections became much alarmed about my being a Mormon and my grandfather Abraham Morton on my mother's side and my Uncle Benjamin Morton called at my house one day and inquired as to my faith in Mormonism. I told them I believed it was true so far as I could see and I was glad of it.

They then raised their objections which were, I was bringing disgrace upon myself and family and upon my connections which were, they said, there was not another young man in the country for the time had minded the public feelings that I had and they said that if I wanted to be religious they thought I could be as well suited in the Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist or some other as to be led away after vain delusion.(4)

I told them that so far as disgracing myself was concerned I cared but little about it, but for their sakes, I might feel somewhat different. I told them I would say nothing about Mormonism for two or three weeks and try my feelings but if it was true I should know it and embrace it. They went away quite satisfied for they knew my promise was good to be carried out and lived to.

But to me it was a long three weeks for when I was in company and heard derision made of Mormonism my conscience would smite me and say, "You know that it is true," but I kept my word until the three weeks were up and they thought I would never say any more about it. But at the expiration of the three weeks, I was invited to the raising of a frame barn when one of the neighbors said I understand you have given up Mormonism. I told them I had been under promise of friends for a few weeks and that I was free to speak my mind again and that Mormonism was true. My grandfather Morton and uncle were in hearing [distance], and their hopes were blasted. I further said that from that time forth, I would speak of the truths of Mormonism. I felt much relieved from that time forth.

As there had been no meeting in this vicinity, I had to catch what I could from the Bible as the Book of Mormon had been a key to the Bible to me and it was now a new book, having the seals broken, light and life and salvation on its pages.

On Saturday, January 5, 1833, I took my ox team and cart with my wife Nancy, my Aunt Phebe Angel and cousin Mary Ann Angel and went to Warsaw to Elder Aaron C. Lyons to be there on Sunday. Brother Lyons gave us a cheerful welcome on our arrival that night. In the morning I told Brother Lyons and Rich I would like to be baptized if they thought I was worthy as I had brought my clothes for that purpose. So after breakfast I was baptized with my Aunt Phebe Angel by Leonard Rich, Mary Ann having been baptized about one week before. We were confirmed by Aaron C. Lyons about 11:00 o'clock A.M. They had a meeting, the first I had ever been to. Different elders occupied the time during the day and evening. Windsor C. Lyons then spoke in tongues which was the first I had ever heard. My wife became convinced that Mormonism was true. On Monday, the 7th day of January [1833] she was baptized also by Leonard Rich and confirmed by Aaron C. Lyons. I was also ordained a teacher in the Church of Christ under the hands of Aaron C. Lyons, a high priest, and was directed to teach the principles to all who might wish to hear, and received my license.

I returned home on the same day much rejoiced to think that my wife was with me in the faith of the gospel, but found that I got myself into business for I met with opposition on all hands and from every quarter, but this kept me the more faithful.(5) I visited my brother Chandler and his wife and told them there would be a meeting the next week at my house and invited them to attend with sister, and also a meeting at my Aunt Phebe Angel's in China. I continued to go from house [to house] and carry the Book of Mormon to them and try to get them to read it. The result was that my brother, Chandler, and his wife, Eunice, my sister, Phebe, and Dwight Hardin, who was boarding at my house, father Owens and mother and many others in the vicinity were added to the church in the course of a few months. Brother Lyons and Rich and some other elders met with us often until the church in this place numbered about 85 members. Many had the gift of tongues and interpretation with prophesying by the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the church did meet together often to preach, exhort and speak to another of the things of the kingdom which gave them much love for one another, strengthening their faith, etc.

On March 18, 1833, I took a journey on foot to Kirtland, Ohio to see the Prophet Joseph Smith. I visited the prophet's house and found him away from home. I also visited Sidney Rigdon and father Joseph Smith and some other of the elders and gained much strength and faith and hope to the comfort of myself and which I hope hereafter might be to others.

In the course of a few days, Joseph the prophet came home so that I got a chance to see him when he told me much of the work of the last days in which I hope to ever prove of great value to me. Mary Johnson, a sister of Luke and Lyman Johnson, died at the Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr.'s home, age about 15 years, which caused much gloominess at the prophet's house. Yet, I fully believe in the gospel of the kingdom which was being set up in the last days.

The prophet said, "Go and prosper and be faithful and the Lord would help me." I then took my leave of the brethren for home and found all well. I traveled 400 miles.

We (Joseph and Nancy), with their four small children, moved to Nauvoo, Illinois in 1842. Nancy was taken very sick on the 7th of July [1842] and grew worse until she died, being taken sick nine days (July 16, 1842), aged 37 years, 11 months and two days. The disease was cholera merbus and inflammation on the lungs. She had left four children, Sarah Lucretia, Charlotte, Joseph Lamoni, and Nancy Jane. Thus I had in an unexpected moment been deprived of one of the best wives and the best of mothers. She had stood with me in six troubles and in the seventh she did not forsake me. She had passed through the Missouri troubles with all the attendant evils with fortitude and forbearance. Her faith had always been firm and unshaken in the cause of God in those last days without a murmur or a reflection. She had firm hopes in a glorious resurrection for which she had obeyed the gospel and lived and spent her life for, in the most perfect understanding, for almost twelve years. My wife was buried in the east part of the city of Nauvoo in the public burying grounds on block 5, lot 5, grave 2; Nancy Jane on the same block and lot, grave 1. I put up good grave stones at their graves. She had hoped to live and enjoy the society of the Saints and hear the words of our beloved Prophet Joseph Smith, in whom she had full faith. But I am glad that she lived so that she had a good burial in the burying grounds with the Saints, where she may rest until the morn of the first resurrection, is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

The following entry was made in Joseph Holbrook's journal as they were leaving Nauvoo.(6) "The city of Nauvoo now presented one scene of desolation broken down fences with covered wagons, every man making all the efforts in his power to leave his home and a great many of the saints were obliged to go without realizing one cent for their dwellings. Thus the hand of persecution had prevailed over the honest industry of our beloved and-prosperous city. Here in Nauvoo laid buried many of our friends. Our Prophet Joseph Smith who was martyred in Carthage jail June 27 1844, and also his brother Hyrum Smith our patriarch with their father, Joseph Smith Sen. and his sons, Don Carlos Smith, his brother Samuel H. Smith and scores of others with my wife Nancy Holbrook and our daughter Nancy Jane Holbrook with their memories sacred upon our minds we could but dedicate the place of their sepulchers to the God of Heaven hoping that their remains might rest in peace unmolested until the morn of the first resurrection, where all the saints can rest and come forth to meet a full and complete redemption under the counsel of their prophet.. priest and King.

At the head of Echo Canyon we stopped for a few days and went about six miles to the south and picked service berries.(7) I got about six bushels which we dried for our fruit. As we were in advance of the main company we stayed on the Weber River until Brother Brigham's company came up. We came into the valley about the 20th day of September, 1848 and camped northwest of the old fort for a few days. I then obtained permission to go north about ten miles on the River Jordan to cut hay. I commenced cutting hay about the lst day of October. Judson stayed at the adobe yard to make adobes for a house, 18 inches long, 9 inches wide and four inches thick, west of the old fort.

Joseph Holbrook, worked on the Kirtland and Nauvoo Temples. At Nauvoo he was a special policeman, was a member of Nauvoo Legion and took part in the Crooked River Battle. He was a body guard of the Prophet, Joseph Smith. In 1833 he served a Mission to Ohio with Truman O. Angell. He participated in Zion's Camp expedition. He was captain of 50 wagons in President Brigham Young's Company, arriving in the Salt Lake Valley on September 20, 1848. In 1849 he located in Sessions Settlement. He helped in sending teams east to bring the Saints into the valley. Also, he contributed to the Prepetual Immigration Fund. In the year 1860 he commenced to build a substantial and more comfortable house, called the "stone house," for his large family. When the structure was ready for the roof and the materials assembled, a terrible east wind unroofed the Bountiful 1st Ward Tabernacle. Joseph Holbrook loaned his material so that part of the tabernacle could be reroofed. The home was later turned into a school of science, a theater and social center. It was located on the south-east corner of 1st East and Center Street. He was a member of the territorial legislature for two terms. He was a probate judge of Davis county for three terms. He was a counselor in the bishopric of the Bountiful ward. Joseph Holbrook died 14 November 1885.

1. Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 14, p.527-528, Pioneer Heritage Library in the LDS Family History Suite

2. Joseph Holbrook Autobiography, typescript, BYU-S, p.16-18, Pioneer Heritage Library in the LDS Family History Suite

3. Joseph Holbrook Autobiography, typescript, BYU-S, p.18 - p.21, Pioneer Heritage Library in the LDS Family History Suite

4. Joseph Holbrook Autobiography, typescript, BYU-S, p.21-22, and 25. Pioneer Heritage Library in the LDS Family History Suite

5. Joseph Holbrook Autobiography, typescript, BYU-S, p.25 - p.26, p.53-54. Pioneer Heritage Library in the LDS Family History Suite

6. Joseph Holbrook Autobiography, typescript, BYU-S, p.35. Pioneer Heritage Library in the LDS Family History Suite

7. Joseph Holbrook Autobiography, typescript, BYU-S, p.60. Pioneer Heritage Library in the LDS Family History Suite 1