Mary G. Judd
Jedediah M. Grant
Salt Lake City: D. N. Press, 1959
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JEDEDIAH M. GRANT
Pioneer -- Statesman
MARY G. JUDD.
DESERET NEWS PRESS
Salt Lake City, Utah
"Jeddy" was proud of his strength and liked to re- late how, as a young man, he could fell a huge tree single-handed.
Returning to Theda's account, we learn that in the winter of 1829-30 the family moved from Naples to Chatauqua. She distinctly remembered that the move was made by sled. She gives us no further details so we are forced to draw upon our imaginations, and can only hope that the wintry journey was made in comfort. In this automobile age we think of eighty miles -- the distance from Naples to Chatauqua -- as a mere incident, but it must have been a major undertaking to move the Grant family that distance by sled. It is likely that by this time the older sons may have sought their fortunes elsewhere, but, even granted that the three older ones were not in the group, it still leaves the father and mother and nine children whose ages ranged from nineteen to the baby boy who was only two.
Joshua's family had remained at Chatauqua about a year when they left New York State and moved to a small settlement on the shores of Lake Erie, in Pennsylvania. They were near a town the name of which Theda failed to remember. It is disappointing that she had forgotten for, "It was here," so she relates, "that my family first heard of Mormonism."
All their lives Joshua and Athalia Grant had been deeply religious. They belonged to a society called the Christian Church which taught, among other doctrines, that of baptism by immersion. The creed which they had accepted was satisfying so far as it went, but these good people felt that something was lacking and had prayed that the Lord would lead them to the truth.
It was in the Spring of 1832, only two years after the organization of the Church, that two Mormon missionaries knocked at the door of the Grant home. Again we are indebted to Jedediah's younger sister Theda who gives us some interesting details concerning the conversion of the family.
She relates how her mother had been ill for some time with rheumatism which was so painful that at times "she could hardly stand to be touched." When Orson Hyde and Amasa Lyman explained to Athalia that they were duly commissioned Elders of the true Church of Christ, which had been restored to the earth in these last days, and that they held the priesthood of God and therefore had the right to anoint her head with oil and pronounce a blessing upon her for her health, she believed. Following the administration by the laying on of hands, she was healed, got up, dressed herself and prepared food for the missionaries and a room for them to
sleep in. Theda was eleven years old at the time and recalled how she went up the stairs, which were on the outside of the home, and helped her mother to make ready the bedroom for the Elders, which, she stated, was then always available whenever any Mormon missionaries visited in the vicinity of their home.
The healing of Athalia made a profound impression upon the minds of her children; so much so that Theda, as an elderly woman, declared she would never forget it.
Unfortunately, no exact record has been preserved of the baptism of Joshua Grant and his wife Athalia, but there is no doubt that they joined the Church at this time (1832). Theda said that her parents were "soon baptized" and that she thinks some of the other children may have been, but most of the family, Jedediah included, were allowed to make up their own minds as to whether they cared to join the new religion.
Jedediah, at this time, was sixteen years old, and though his parents "had taught him the obligations of a Christian life," he had never seriously reflected upon the subject of religion until he listened to the words of Amasa Lyman and Orson Hyde, both of whom were afterward members of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles of the Mormon Church.
When the Mormon Church was in its infancy, a man would be baptized and almost immediately might be found proselyting the new faith. This
was the case with John F. Boynton, who later also became one of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in the Church. In the Spring of 1833 he and a companion, Evan Greene, were holding meetings in the vicinity of Jedediah's home. The Journal History tells of their speaking at "Sherman Corners" and at "Elm Creek," in Erie County, Pennsylvania.
"On Monday, March 4th, met at the house of Brother Grant to confirm those who had been baptized. They had a splendid meeting. . . . On Tuesday, the 5th, in the evening, a prayer meeting was held and the Saints remained together till a late hour. After the meeting was dismissed, the people were loath to part with each other."
There can be little doubt that the young Jedediah attended these meetings as well as others of a similar nature, for it was in Erie County, Pennsylvania, on March 22nd, 1833, just one month after his seventeenth birthday that he was baptized by John Boynton. "The day was so cold that as he came up out of the river, his clothes froze to his body."
It was natural that Joshua and Athalia Grant should then have a desire to move to some spot where they could enjoy a closer association with the Saints. Thus, soon after Jedediah's baptism, we find them located at Chagrin, a small town five or six miles from Kirtland, Ohio. (This town was afterward named Willowby to honor one of its prominent citizens. )
Michael S. Riggs
"His Word Was as Good as His Note"
John Whitmer Hist. Assoc. Journal 17 1996
AUTHOR'S SYNOPSIS: After fifty-four years of Mormonism in both the Utah and RLDS traditions, Justus Morse was really never able to fit the mold of either faith. This study focuses on the impact his Mormonism(s) had on his nine probable wives, nineteen children and stepchildren, and four siblings along with their families -- many of whom were also in both Restoration movements. This paper also asks the question, "Was blood thicker than church affiliation?" And if so, what would have made that possible?
"His Word Was as Good as His Note":
The Impact of Justus Morse's
Mormonism(s) on His Families
Michael S. Riggs has been researching the early Mormon experience for over twenty years. He has presented papers at MHA, JWHA, and Sunstone West conferences. The oft-cited "The Economic Impact of Fort Leavenworth on Northwest Missouri, 1827-1838: Yet Another Reason for the Mormon War?" was published in Restoration Studies IV. He also has a forthcoming article appearing in Restoration Studies VII which is entitled "From the Daughters of Zion to the Banditti of Prairies: Danite Influence on the Nauvoo Period." A version of the Justus Morse paper upon which this article is based, was presented at the 24th Annual JWHA Conference in Independence, Missouri, on Saturday, September 28, 1996.
While living in Portage County, Ohio, Justus Morse along with Oliver Snow, Simonds Ryder, John Johnson, Ezra Booth, Seymour Brunson, and many other families were exposed to Mormonism especially in 1831, while Joseph Smith resided in the nearby town of Hiram.
[Morse] soon became one of their number, joining the [Mormon] church in 1833. . . . The above meeting would have probably taken place while Morse was still living in Mantua [in 1832], and if so, he still would have been married to Sally Goodwin.
Morse's next wife, Elizabeth . . . (Known as Betsy), joined the Mormon Church along with him in February of 1833, at Elk Creek, Erie County, Pennsylvania.
Almira [a later wife] was born in 1821, so she was only eleven years old at the time Justus moved away in 1832 from Mantua to Elk Creek, Pennsylvania.
[Harvey Morse] was born in 1833, just two weeks after his parents first joined the Mormon Church in Pennsylvania . . .
The author states that "Joshua's family had remained at Chatauqua about a year . . ." This probably indicates that Joshua Grant, his wife Athalia Howard Grant, and their children lived in or near the town of Chautauqua on the west shore of Chautauqua Lake in the NY county of the same name. Living here, between 1830 and 1831, the Grants were the relatively close neighbors of D. P. Hurlbut (who was probably in Jamestown, at the south end of the same lake) and the Ezekiel Johnson family (who were living in nearby Pomfret Twp. until the fall of 1832). Hurlbut and some of the Johnson family may have already become Mormons by the time (probably in the spring of 1832) the Grants moved across the border into Erie Co., PA .
It is likely that either Joshua or Athalia (or both) became Mormons while living near the town of Erie in 1832. The rest of the family were baptized near Sherman's Corners in Erie Co. in March of 1833. This crossroads is in the extreme southeast corner (in section 552) of Springfield Township. The "Elm Creek" mentioned by the author is likely Elk Creek Twp. in Erie Co. Within a few weeks of these latter baptisms the Grant family moved to Chagrin (now Willoughby) in Geauga Co., OH. While they were living in the Erie area, the Grants almost certainly met became acquainted with Mormons like Benjamin Winchester and D. P. Hurlbut.
Jedediah Grant was later tangentially connected with the evolution of the claims for a Spalding-Rigdon authorship of the Book of Mormon. Grant was an assistant of Benjamin Winchester in Philadelphia in 1840 when Winchester issued his Origin of Spaulding Story. Also, Grant's 1844 booklet A Collection of Facts... accused of Sidney Rigdon of having spoken "falsely , in the name of the Lord" when the Saints were still living in Kirtland, and repeated the charges that, in Nauvoo, Rigdon had "a spirit as corrupt as hell," that he was "an evil designing man," and that he had "lied to carry out his theory." Quite obviously the Sidney Rigdon reported in Grant's pamphlet would have not held himself above fabricating or promulgating pseudo-scripture, if that act served to advance his hidden purposes.
Riggs indicates that Justus Morse had already been favorably influenced by Mormonism "while living in Portage County, Ohio." Thus, when he and his wife moved to Elk Creek Twp., in Erie Co., PA, in 1832, the couple brought with them a first-hand knowledge of Kirtland-style Latter Day Saint religion to that place. Mormon missionary activities in neighboring Springfield Twp. had recently been progressing successfully in from an original base in northwest (around the Rudd farm on the lakeshore near OH) towards the southeast (to the vicinity of Sherman's Corners close to Conneaut Creek). LDS missionaries Evan Greene and John F. Boynton crossed over from Springfield Twp. into Conneaut and Elk Creek Twps. late in January of 1833. No doubt they obtained a friendly welcome, meals, and lodging from Mormon sympathizers like the Morse family.
The first LDS baptisms in Elk Creek Twp. took place on Jan. 27, 1833 when Benjamin Winchester and four others joined the Mormons. The date of Justus Morse's baptism is not known, but it was likely in mid-February. While Morse is not known to have been especially prominent among the Elk Creek Saints he was present in the area throughout 1833 and early 1834, and thus would have known Mormons like Benjamin Winchester and D. P. Hurlbut.