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Lorenzo D. Barnes

Question: Who was the first Latter-day Saint Elder who died while laboring as a missionary in a foreign land?

Answer: Lorenzo D. Barnes was born March 22, 1812 in Tolland, Massachusetts, the son of Phineas Barnes, Jr., a New England farmer, and his wife Abigail Smith.

Around 1816-1818, Lorenzo removed with his parents to Norton, Medina County, Ohio. Here Lorenzo became a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was baptized by Elder Thomas Gordon on June 16, 1833. He was ordained an Elder by Sidney Rigdon July 18, 1833. Soon after which he went to Kirtland, the headquarters of the Church at that time.

While there, he was called on a mission to Western Ohio and left August 1, 1833, in company with Elder Strong. Lorenzo returned to Kirtland in October and during the winter of 1833-1834 he taught school at Norton.

In the spring of 1834, when the call was made for volunteers to go to Missouri, Lorenzo responded and marched as a member of Zion’s Camp, under the leadership of the Prophet Joseph Smith, to Missouri. This company marched on foot nearly a thousand miles for the purpose of assisting the Saints who had been driven from their homes in Jackson County, Missouri.

In the spring of 1835, he was ordained as one of the First Quorum of the Seventy, and commenced preaching throughout several counties of Ohio. In 1835 he took a mission to Virginia, and having a limited education and an impediment in his speech, he was frequently singled out by the sectarian preachers as an object of attack. He held several debates with the clergymen of different denominations and had unusual success, for, the close of every debate was followed by baptisms. By faith and perseverance, he overcame the impediment in his speech and became an orator of superior powers.

In June, 1838, Lorenzo was ordained a High Priest and became a member of the High Council of Adam-ondi-Ahman. In September of that year he was sent on a mission to the Southern and Eastern States, traversing on foot the states of Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Virginia, preaching without purse or script.

In 1839 Lorenzo built up a large branch of the Church in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and established many other branches in different parts of the Eastern States. He continued his labors until the year 1841 when he led a company of Saints to Nauvoo. In the fall of the same year he was sent on a mission to England, and labored for a short season in and about Manchester. From there he went to the Cheltenham conference, in Gloucestershire, where he labored until the general conference, when he received an appointment to preside over the Bradford conference.

Lorenzo labored faithfully until his death, which occurred December 20, 1842 in Bradford, England. Lorenzo D. Barnes was the first Latter-day Saint Elder who died while laboring as a missionary in a foreign land. Lorenzo was possessed of a most untiring perseverance, industry and application, and wore out his life by constant preaching and exposure.

At the following general conference held in England, the American Elders and many of the Saints donated the sum of five pounds five shillings and six pence ($26.00) for the purpose of erecting over his grave, at Holy Trinity Churchyard in Idle, Metropolitan Borough of Bradford, West Yorkshire, England (where his remains were interred) a stone, upon which is found the following epitaph: “In memory of Lorenzo D. Barnes, who died on the 20th of December, 1842, age 30 years. He was a native of the United States, an Elder in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a member of the High Priests’ quorum and also of Zion’s Camp in the year 1834, and the first gospel messenger from Nauvoo who has found a grave in a foreign land.”

The remains of Elder Barnes were subsequently shipped to Utah and interred in the city cemetery in Salt Lake City, and the Second Quorum of Seventy has erected a modest monument over his grave.

Source: Excerpts from Bibliography of Lorenzo D. Barnes, LDS Biographical Encyclopedia compiled by Andrew Jensen;;

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