In 1843, so the story goes, Uncle Orrin Porter Rockwell returned from jail in Missouri and interrupted the Smiths’ Christmas party in the large ballroom. By some accounts, Joseph and Emma
and Hyrum and Mary were hosting fifty couples in ball-gowns and Nauvoo Legion uniforms. Before the evening was out, a weeping Joseph Smith, grateful to his old friend for his loyalty and sacrifice, promised Porter in public that no enemy weapon would harm him, as long as he didn’t cut his hair or beard. Porter lived another thirty-five years as a frontier scout, lawman, and gunslinger and died of a heart attack, with a whole skin and a whole lot of hair.
Returning from jail, Porter was broke and unemployed. Luana, his childhood sweetheart and first wife, moreover, had left and divorced him. Joseph, eager to do something for his oldest friend, set up a bar in the Gentlemen’s Parlor of the Mansion House and hired Porter as bartender. Whereupon Emma insisted that Joseph choose which would depart forthwith: (a) Porter and his bar, or (b) Emma and her children. It was after this that Porter set up a barber-shop (of all occupations!--am I alone in seeing irony here?) between the Mansion House and the Nauvoo House.
In the spring of 1844, our great-great-grandparents, new converts John and
Mary Barr Neff of Pennsylvania, stayed in the Mansion House as guests of the Smiths, receiving their patriarchal blessings from Hyrum about six weeks before the Martyrdom.