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Caleb Baldwin

Question: Was Caleb Baldwin one of the six men in Liberty Jail with the Prophet Joseph Smith?

Answer: Caleb Baldwin was born September 2, 1791 in New York. He served in the War of 1812. On December 7, 1814, he married Nancy Kingsbury. They made their home in Ohio.

Caleb Baldwin was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on November 14, 1830 by Parley P. Pratt. The families of Caleb Baldwin and John Murdock were among the first converts to the church from Ohio. When Mrs. Murdock died following the birth of twins, the Prophet Joseph Smith adopted the twins, and Caleb Baldwin took young John R., who was just five years old, with him to Jackson County, Missouri, where he placed him in the home of Morris Phelps. The Baldwin family moved to Jackson County by 1832 and then to Caldwell County by 1834. Caleb served a mission to Illinois in 1835 with Levi Jackman.

Caleb built a homestead in the Blue River settlement and took part in the Battle of Big Blue. On the 6th and 7th of November 1835, a mob of two or three hundred well-armed men had collected at Independence. A part of that number went above Big Blue for the purpose of driving away the saints. Caleb was whipped so badly he carried the scars as long as he lived. After leaving Jackson County, the Baldwins found refuge in Clay County and then Ray County.

On October 31, 1838, the Church leaders, including Caleb, were betrayed into the hands of the mob. About 80 in all were taken prisoners. On the following night, November 1st, a court martial was held, and the prisoners were sentenced to be shot in Far West on the public square at sunrise, as an example to all Mormons. The order was never carried out. General Doniphan refused and said to do so would be to commit cold blooded murder.

After being taken to Independence they were marched under guard to Richmond and there placed in chains. On Tuesday, November 10th, they were brought before Judge Austin A. King to be tried. The trial lasted two weeks, at the end of which, the majority of the prisoners were released excepting Caleb Baldwin, Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, Alexander McRae, Lyman Wight, and Sidney Rigdon, who were sent to jail at Liberty to await trial for arson, treason, larceny and murder. Imprisonment dragged on during the winter from December 1, 1838 until April 1839.

Judge Tillery was going to have them put in irons and chained to the floor of their cells. Caleb Baldwin said, “Judge Tillery, if you put those chains on me, I will kill you, so help me God!” The Judge left without putting the chains on. On 15 April 1839, the prisoners were allowed to escape. They traveled for ten days and finally arrived in Quincy.

Caleb moved his family to Commerce, Hancock County. The land was drained, and the beautiful city of Nauvoo was built. On January 17, 1840, Caleb Baldwin was ordained a Seventy. On December 18, 1845, Caleb and Nancy received their endowments, and on January 20, 1846, they were sealed as man and wife.

They then left Nauvoo and traveled a distance of 145 miles and settled in a temporary settlement called Garden Grove, Iowa. Brigham Young returned to Iowa in May of 1848 and the second band of saints was organized to go to the Rocky Mountains. Caleb Baldwin was in the second division under Heber C. Kimball. They arrived in Salt Lake City on September 24, 1848.

Caleb Baldwin was 57 years old when he arrived, and his wife was 50. He was not privileged to live long in the Promised Land. He died June 11, 1849. He was the thirteenth person to be buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.

Source: Who’s Who in the Doctrine & Covenants by Susan Easton Black;;

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