back Orrin Porter Rockwell (1813-1878) back
The inscription on the monument tells no lies, but it understates Porter’s role systematically:
  • As a trivial example, Orrin Porter Rockwell (with mother Sarah, brother Peter, and sister Caroline) were baptized on the afternoon of April 6, 1830. Within hours of the formal organization of the Church. Not just the same year.

  • That day, he was (at 16) the Church’s youngest member. When he died 49 years later, after a remarkably long career as a frontier scout, lawman, and (yes) gunslinger, he had been a Latter-day Saint longer than anybody else then living.

  • To my mind, Porter’s greatest contribution was not the physical protection he provided to Joseph but his unwavering and unstinting friendship and support. Joseph Smith never lacked for counselors and critics. It may be that he really had only one pure friend.
Porter inscription
As a measure of that friendship, and as one evidence from which I draw that conclusion, I append extracts from some pretty authoritative histories of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Hope Joseph Fielding Smith’s heirs don’t mind. Please notice to whom, and in what terms, and with what tenderness, Joseph first addressed himself after reading Emma’s letter:
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