Question: What was the special assignment Joseph Holbrook was given by the Prophet Joseph Smith at Quincy, Illinois?
Answer: Joseph Holbrook was born January 16, 1806 in what was then Florence (later Annisville), New York. His parents, Moses and Hannah Holbrook, had moved to New York from Massachusetts. Joseph’s father served in the Revolutionary War, but died when Joseph was seven-years-old. Joseph then moved to Massachusetts to live with his grandfather.
When he was nineteen, Joseph returned to Annisville. Due to his mother having remarried, however, he returned to Massachusetts. He worked as a farm laborer in his grandfather’s household for the next two years and then moved to Nassau, New York where he found work as a farm laborer.
In the winter of 1827-1828 Joseph was a school teacher in Annisville for a three-month term. He then returned to Stourbridge, Massachusetts and worked for a farmer in the general vicinity of where his grandfather lived. In December 1828 he began to work in the lead mines of Stourbridge. He was injured while mining and then returned to farm work, this time for Hezekiah Allen. Allen also had hired a young woman, Nancy Lampson, to help his wife in cheese making, spinning and other household chores. Joseph fell in love with her. He bought a farm in Wethersfield, New York, and then returned to Massachusetts and married Nancy Lampson.
In 1832 Joseph first encountered Mormons. The first messengers of the Gospel he encountered were Evan Greene, a son of John P. Greene, and Lorenzo D. Young, Evan Greene’s uncle. They did not have a copy of the Book of Mormon, which Joseph was interested in reading, but he was eventually able to get one from his cousin Mary Ann Angell. He was baptized by Leonard Rich in January 1833. He was ordained a teacher 7 January 1833 and an elder by Reynolds Cahoon, 12 April 1833.
In April 1833 Joseph served a mission traveling through parts of New York and then onto Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts with his cousin Truman O. Angell. While on this mission, they organized a branch in Providence, Rhode Island.
In 1834 Joseph agreed to join Zion’s Camp. He sold his farm in Wethersfield, and relocated his family to Kirtland, and then left them there as he headed west to Missouri. His family followed soon after. After the completion of Zion’s Camp, he took up farming in Clay County, Missouri and then served a mission to eastern Missouri and the region around Quincy, Illinois.
In 1837 Joseph moved to Caldwell County, Missouri where he settled along Plum Creek about three miles west of Far West, Missouri. Besides farming he worked as a builder, building an office for Bishop Edward Partridge and also building a schoolhouse as well as several homes. He was ordained a seventy by Levi Hancock, 19 May 1838, in Far West. He was also a first lieutenant in the Missouri state militia. He participated in the Battle of Crooked River, near Ray County, Missouri on 25 October 1838.
After the Church was driven from Missouri, Joseph settled for a time in Quincy, Illinois where he worked at making fence rails. He then was assigned by Joseph Smith to buy corn from the county to the north and east of Quincy, process it, and then distribute it to the refugees fleeing Missouri.
Marker at Ramas (Webster), Illinois
He then served as a counselor in the presidency of the LDS branch at Ramus (now Webster, Illinois). Joseph organized a company of the Nauvoo Legion in Ramus. He served as first counselor to President Joel Hills Johnson in the Ramus Stake in 1840.
In the summer of 1842, at the urging of Anson Call, Joseph moved to Nauvoo, Illinois, where he was ordained a high priest. Shortly after they moved there, his wife Nancy died. They had six children, but the last two had died at birth. His daugheter, Nancy, age four had died in 1843. A few months later Joseph married Hannah Flint. She ran a school out of their house in Nauvoo.
Joseph went to Utah in Brigham Young’s company of 1848, along with his wife, Hannah, and children: Charlotte (14) and Joseph (11). His oldest daughter, Sarah, had married and was also with them.
Joseph moved to Bountiful in 1850. From 1851-1859 he served as a judge in Davis County, Utah. He was a member of the Utah Territorial Legislature in 1857 and 1859. He also served as a Bishop’s counselor. Joseph died in Bountiful, Utah Territory on November 14, 1885, at age 79, and is buried in the Bountiful Cemetery.
Source: Wikipedia; FamilySearch.org; The Joseph Smith Papers, Biography of Joseph Holbrook; FindAGrave.