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John Murdock

Q: John Murdock is mentioned in the Doctrine and Covenants twice: Sections 52 and 99.  Who was John Murdock and what is his connection to Joseph Smith?

A: John Murdock was born July 15, 1792, in Kartwright, New York, and heard the gospel when missionaries first arrived in Kirtland, Ohio, in 1830.  He was given a copy of the Book of Mormon, which he read and gained a testimony it was true.  He was baptized on November 5, 1830, by Parley P. Pratt.

On April 30, 1831, his wife, Julia, died six hours after giving birth to twins named Joseph and Julia.  Grief strickened, he gave the twins to Joseph and Emma Smith to raise as Emma had lost twins about the same time.  Baby Joseph was ill when the mob attacked the John Johnson home and tarred and feathered Joseph Smith, and he died shortly thereafter.  Baby Julia grew to adulthood under the care of Joseph and Emma and stayed with them from Ohio, to Missouri, to Illinois, and was thirteen when Joseph Smith was murdered in Carthage.

During the winter of 1832-33, John Murdock recorded a wonderful vision of the Savior.    He went on Zion’s Camp, and later moved to Missouri where he served on the Far West High Council.  When the mobs threatened, John again moved with the Saints, arriving in Nauvoo, Illinois, where he was called in 1842 as the Fifth Ward bishop.  He would travel with the Saints to Salt Lake City, Utah, where he served as a high councilor, bishop of the Salt Lake Fourteenth Ward, and as a delegate to the House of Representatives in 1849.  In 1850 he served a mission in Australia for two years. In 1854, he was ordained a patriarch for Utah Valley by Heber C. Kimball, and served until his death, December 23, 1874, at the age of 71 while visiting his son in Beaver, Utah.

Julia would care for Emma during the last years of Emma’s life. Julia died from cancer in 1880, a year after Emma died, and is buried in the Moffit family (who cared for her the last year of her life) section of the Nauvoo Catholic Cemetery.

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

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