Newel K. Whitney

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Newel K. Whitney
Newel K. Whitney.jpg
Presiding Bishop
June 6, 1847 (1847-06-06) – September 23, 1850 (1850-09-23)
Called by Brigham Young
First Bishop of the Church
December 4, 1831 (1831-12-04) – June 6, 1847 (1847-06-06)
Called by Brigham Young
End reason Called as Presiding Bishop
Personal details
Born Newel Kimball Whitney
(1795-02-05)February 5, 1795
Marlboro, Vermont, United States
Died September 23, 1850(1850-09-23) (aged 55)
Salt Lake City, Utah Territory, United States
Resting place Kimball-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[1], 1850) (first name sometimes found as Newell) was a prominent member and leader in the Latter Day Saint movement and an American businessman. He married Elizabeth Ann Smith on 20 Oct. 1822, in Geauga County, Ohio. He served as Bishop of Kirtland, Ohio, Far West, Missouri, and Nauvoo, Illinois. He also 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[edit]

Whitney was born in Marlborough, Windham Co., 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[edit]

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 continues 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


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, and they married on November 6, 1822; 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. Gilbert moved to Mentor, Ohio, which was very close to Kirtland, around 1819, and took out a large loan, which he struggled to pay off until 1826.[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

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 Sidney Gilbert was appointed to start a store in Missouri in 1831, where Whitney and Company purchased land at a central intersection. Whitney probably sent money to help support the store. Gilbert condemned church leaders in a letter in 1832; the church leaders promised Gilbert that God would bless him with prosperity if he was faithful. A mob came to Independence, Missouri in July 1833 and destroyed many things. Gilbert sold what he could before leaving Missouri.[2]:103–105

From 1832–1836, Joseph 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


While in Nauvoo, Illinois, Whitney was involved in some important developments within the Church. One of these occurred 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.[3] Later, Whitney's wife, Elizabeth Ann, was added to that group.

Another development was polygamy; 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.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Newel Kimball Whitney – Biography". The Church Historian's Press. Retrieved 11 October 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Staker, Mark (2003). "Thou Art the Man: Newel K. Whitney in Ohio". BYU Studies. 42 (1): 74–138. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ Poulsen, Larry N (April 1966), "The Life and Contributions of Newel Kimball Whitney", Thesis, Brigham Young University: 85 

External links[edit]

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