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Newel Knight

Q: Newel Knight is mentioned in D&C 52:32; 54; 56:6-7; 72; 124:32.  Newel was one of the stalwart Knight family who stood by the Prophet Joseph through many years of persecution. Did Newel make it to Utah?

A: Newel Knight was born in 1800 in Vermont.  He married Sarah (Sally) Coburn in 1825 in New York. Sally and Newel set up housekeeping a few miles from his father, Joseph Knight.

In 1828 Newel Knight wrote that Joseph Smith visited them often and that they “were very deeply impressed with the truthfulness of his statements concerning the Plates of the Book of Mormon which had been shown him by an Angel of the Lord’ (quotations from Newel Knight are from his unpublished journal, Church Archives).  Newel was baptized in May 1830 at the Whitmer farm.

In 1831 Newel and other Saints moved to Ohio, then to Missouri, where Newel served as a counselor to Bishop Isaac Morley. In 1834, Newel’s wife, Sarah, and her baby died in Galatin, Missouri. Newel wrote “Truly she died a martyr to the gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. She was of a frail constitution, and the hardships and privations she had to endure were more than she could survive.’ (Journal of Newel Knight)

On November 24, 1835 Newel was married to Lydia Goldthwaite in Kirtland, Ohio.  It was the first wedding performed by the Prophet Joseph. Newel and Lydia had boarded separately with Hyrum and Jerusha, who then hosted Newel and Lydia’s wedding. Joseph Smith Sr., the Church patriarch, promised Newel and Lydia Knight several blessings, including a large posterity. To Newel, after losing his first wife, Sally, patriarch Joseph Smith Sr. promised that he should “yet raise up children’ and “that thy name may not be blotted out from among men.’ To Lydia Knight, who had lost her only two children before she married Newel, Patriarch Smith promised she would be a mother “of many children’ and “thy heart shall not be pained because of the loss of thy children, for the Lord shall watch over them and keep them.’ The promise held, and Lydia raised her seven children to adulthood. A large posterity came to her–eighty descendants during her lifetime alone. (Hartley)

Prior to his baptism, Joseph Smith cast an evil spirit out from Newel, which is considered by some to be the first miracle performed in the history of the Latter Day Saint movement. Shortly after this, Newel had a vision of heaven.

On the day the Church was organized in April, 1830, one-third of the sixty people there, were Knight relatives from Colesville.  Newel wrote in his journal, “The year 1830 is closing upon us. Great things transpired, too great for pen to paint. To reflect that the closing year has been one to which all future generations will date the rise and organization of the Church of God upon the earth, no more to be thrown down, and to know that I have witnessed the important events with my natural eyes… fill(s) my whole being with gratitude to my Heavenly Father while I write these things which are verily true…’ (Journal of Newel Knight).

      Nauvoo home of Newel Knight - no longer standing

In Nauvoo, in 1843, the Prophet Joseph wrote, “Newel Knight and Joseph Knight, Junior, whose names I record in the Book of the Law of the Lord with unspeakable delight, for they are my friends.’ After the Martyrdom, Newel and Lydia left Nauvoo and headed west, migrating to the Iowa Territory.

Newel died on January 11, 1847 from lung inflammation, at the age of forty-six, in Nebraska.  There is a marker for him in the Ponca Tribal Cemetery, Knox County, Nebraska.

Source: Who’s Who in the Doctrine & Covenants by **Susan Easton Black; A Family Witness of Joseph Smith by William G. Hartley.

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