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Orrin Porter Rockwell (1813-1878)1
Uncle Orrin Porter Rockwell was born in Belchertown, Massachusetts, and moved to Palmyra, New York as a toddler. He met Joseph Smith the next year (1816), when the Smiths moved from Vermont into the next farm to the south, just over the line in Manchester. From that time, despite the differences in their ages (Joseph was ten, seven years older than Port), they were best friends for the rest of Joseph’s life.

On April 6, 1833, when Porter was 19 and his first wife, Luana Beebe, was pregnant with their first child, the Rockwells hosted the first General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at which the participants (reported to number about 200 officers and members) acknowledged the Church’s birthday; it had been organized just three years earlier, in Fayette, New York.
Their home was the ferry-master’s house at the Church-owned ferry over the mouth of the Big Blue River, where it emptied into the Missouri in Jackson County, Missouri, at the very western edge of the United States. As ferry-master, Port was a Church employee in those days.

In Nauvoo, several years and four children later, Luana left Porter, taking the kids with her, complaining that he spent too much time away from her, doing what Joseph wanted him to do.

Just months before Joseph Smith died, he promised Porter publicly that if he would never cut his hair or beard, no enemy weapon would harm him. In case you were wondering why he was such a hairy uncle.

Port remained single for several years, scouting for Joseph Smith and Uncle Brigham Young and otherwise serving the Church through trial and persecution, through Winter Quarters in Nebraska, and through the exodus to the Rocky Muntains. In 1854, he married our Aunt Mary Ann Neff, Uncle Brigham Young officiating in Salt Lake.

Mary Ann Neff Rockwell (1829-1866)

1Public domain photo from

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