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John Streator Gleason

Question: Did John Streator Gleason play a part in the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor?

Answer: John Streator Gleason was born January 13, 1819, in Livonia, Livingston, New York, and when he was three years old moved with his parents to Sparta, Livingston, New York. A large family to support made it necessary for him to work at a young age for neighboring farmers to help his parents.

John was about eighteen or nineteen years old when he first heard of Mormonism, was convinced of its truth, accepted it and was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on July 23, 1838. About this time he was working for Isaac Chase, a farmer, and married his daughter Desdemona on May 8, 1839. His wife lived with her parents while he fulfilled a mission to preach the gospel in the Eastern States and in Canada, where he remained during the year 1840 and part of 1841.

When John returned home he moved with his wife and her father’s family to Nauvoo, Illinois, where the Mormoms had gathered after their expulsion from Missouri. He worked his father-in–law’s farm in 1842, and in 1843 went on another mission to the Eastern States, coming home to Nauvoo in 1844 in the spring. When the Nauvoo Legion was organized, he was appointed Captain of the First Battalion, first Cohort, which office he held until the Legion was disbanded.

John was acquainted with the Prophet Joseph Smith and was active in events which transpired preceding and following the death of the Prophet and his brother, Hyrum. He was with the group of men who destroyed the Nauvoo Expositor press at the order of the Nauvoo City Council and command of Mayor Joseph Smith. The Nauvoo Expositor was the newspaper voice of apostates determined to destroy the Prophet Joseph Smith and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the spring of 1844. After the destruction of the Expositor press, John was thrown into Carthage Jail with others who had helped in the raid. He was eventually released. After the death of the Prophet, John was present at the meeting when the mantle of Joseph fell upon Brigham Young, and John knew in his heart he was the rightful leader of the Church.

During the few years while John was living in Nauvoo, John’s infant son, John S., died in October 1845. John’s sister Esther joined the Church and came to live with him. She died there in Nauvoo in November 1845.

In 1846, John’s family was one of the first families to leave Nauvoo and cross the Mississippi River. He assisted in ferrying others across the river. The following winter, 1846-47, was spent at Winter Quarters, Nebraska. Brigham Young and the Apostles were now the leaders of the Church, and in the spring of 1847, Brigham formed a company of 143 to migrate westward for the purpose of finding a dwelling place for the saints. John went with Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company of 143, leaving his wife behind. They reached the Salt Lake Valley, Utah, on July 22, 1847. He with a few others preceded the carriage of Brigham Young, improving the roads through the mountains. They made it possible for the others to enter the valley with Brigham Young on July 24, 1847.

John did some ploughing and got out some logs for houses. He then went on a return trip on the 16th of August of the same year, reaching home late in the fall. The following year, 1848, he returned to Utah with his family. His son Alvirus Horn Gleason was born on the banks of the Horn River, July 5, 1848.

John settled on Little Cottonwood near Union Fort and stayed there until the fall of 1849 when he moved in to Salt Lake City and ran a saw mill for Father Chase. The old mill still stands in Liberty Park. In 1851 he rented a farm in Centerville but moved from there the following year to Tooele where he was appointed County Commissioner in 1852.

In 1852 he married Eliza Ann Mallen, his second wife, who was of Pennsylvania Dutch descent and of a good family. She made her home in Salt Lake City. In 1853 he returned to Davis County and took up a farm near Farmington. He raised one crop and in consequence of the uprising of the Indians was required with others to move into Farmington.

He was appointed Major of the first regiment of the militia which was organized about this time in Davis County. He began teaching in the public schools when he moved into Davis County, which vocation he followed until 1857, when he went with the handcart missionaries to Florence, Nebraska, and returned in the fall of 1858.

At one time when he was to leave on a mission he had no funds or proper clothing. President Brigham Young blessed him that he should have everything he needed. After he had crossed the plains his shoes were completely worn out, his pants had shrunk in the rains through which he had passed, and he was in a most unpresentable state, but he made a speech so inspiring that the group, to whom he talked, made up a purse for him and one or two of them bought him some clothes. He was a very eloquent, inspiring preacher. Brigham Young said of him, “If he were as good a financier as he is a speaker, he would be one of the wealthy men of Utah.”

In 1860 he once more crossed the plains to serve a mission to England where he remained for three and a half years. Part of the time he was a conference president. At one time in England he raised a child almost from the dead by his wonderful gift of healing. On his return he once more took up farming. He served as justice of the peace in 1864, and the next year was appointed county clerk of Davis County. In 1864 he married Mary Ann Sutherland, whom he had met while visiting at her father’s home in England, and who with her father’s family had immigrated to Utah.

In 1869, John S. Gleason again went on a mission to the East and to Canada. This time he baptized his father into the Church. He visited his brother Alvirus and family in Canada and made many friends while there. He returned home in 1870. Three years later he traded his mine, the Mountain Lion, in the Ophir district, Southwest of Salt Lake City for a farm in Pleasant Grove which he made his home until his death in 1904.

His first wife, Desdamona Chase, raised four children, Alvirus Horn, Johannah Louisa, Joseph Hyrum, and Clara. His second wife, Eliza Ann Mallen raised two children, Elijah Mallen and Amasa Lyman. His wife Mary Ann Sutherland raised three children, Thomas Henry, Eliza Ellen, and Mary Ann. He and his wives lost five children in infancy.

He held positions of trust both religiously and civilly all his life, was ever loyal and true to the faith. He was kind to friend and stranger who entered his gates, and the needy were never turned from his door. He died in Pleasant Grove on December 21, 1904, at age 85, having lived a full rich life. He was buried in the Pleasant Grove City Cemetery.

Source: Biographical Sketch of John Streator Gleason,;

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