Saturday, March 25, 2017

Amazing Conversion Stories - Margaret Crawford Houston

My third great grandmother, Margaret Crawford Houston, had quite the conversion to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Her experience was recorded and written by, I believe, Gladys Delong Banks, a granddaughter. I have taken Gladys's own words and posted them below, with the exception of the title and some other minor edits for clarification:

The Whitewashed Walls

Margaret Crawford (Houston) was born in Dunsyre Parish, Lanark, Scotland in 1825. When she was a young girl, about 17, a very strange incident happened to her.

Margaret Crawford Houston
1825 - 1912
She had just finished putting chalk, or whitewash, on the walls and hearth stone. They had a large fireplace at one end of a low ceiling room where the family lived and did most of their cooking. In the hills nearby there were large deposits of white clay, or chalk, which if dissolved in water, made a white wash. This was used to paint the walls and the great hearth stone of the large fireplace, often, to keep the house clean and comfortable for the family. It was Margaret's job to do this as she was the oldest girl. She had just finished her task, and she and her mother were admiring the snow-white walls and hoping they would not have to be done again very soon, when a knock came at the door.

Margaret opened the door and let in who seemed to be a beggar. He walked into the room and looked at the girl, then the mother, and the white walls. He stood a moment and gazed steadily at Margaret. He walked to the fireplace and picked up a piece of charcoal and went to the white wall and began to write.

The mother and daughter looked on in speechless amazement. No one uttered a word since the appearance of this strange person. Then both Margaret and her mother began to remonstrate at having the walls all marked up with black charcoal.

But he would not quit and seemed to know nothing of what they were saying but continued writing until he had covered the whole wall from top to bottom. When he finished, he walked from the room never saying a word.

At first, when Margaret looked at the writing, it seemed to be in some strange language and she could not make it out. Then after a time, it was made clear and she read as follows:

"Margaret was going to be visited by a young man who was teaching a new and strange religion. The young man was from the new world and had crossed many waters to teach her this religion. She would accept the new religion and some of her family would accept it, but they would suffer persecution by joining it. The young man was of their own nationality, and would return to his home. Then he would come to her land and take her as his wife across the many waters, and there in the new world they would build a home and have a great posterity."

After the family read this they all laughed and made fun of it and thought it was just some crazy person who was roving around and had written a fairy tale. But Margaret was deeply impressed. They wondered how it would be possible for one of their own nationality to come from the new world.

James Houston
1817 - 1864
Things turned out just as they were written. James Houston, born in Paisley, Scotland, was converted to the [Mormon church] by Samuel Mulliner and went to America [in 1840]. Later, James was called on a mission to his native Scotland, and there, he converted Margaret Crawford [in 1845] whom later he married and took to America where they raised their family and made their home in Utah.

<< End of Gladys's words >>

And Margaret Crawford did have a great posterity. Using, below is a visualization of just six generations that have descended from her. Each particular individual is either a blue square (man) or a pink circle (woman). Gray squares don't represent people. My particular line to Margaret is highlighted in yellow. Except for my own line, living people are not displayed. Otherwise, the only people displayed are those who have already passed away. This means the chart is only a portion of her descendants as of this writing (March 2017), and may be at least a few hundred people.

I am inspired by and grateful for Margaret's conversion to the church. My life would not be the same had she not made such a decision! What an amazing conversion!

Margaret Crawford Houston's Descendants - 6 Generations


Source of story:

Ancestors and Descendants of James and Margaret Crawford Houston, starting page 211

Sunday, March 12, 2017

My 2nd Great Grandfather - Edward Bunker, Jr - What Any Man Should Do for His Brother

This story was adapted by my father, Jim Hartley, which includes some parts from his brother Bill Hartley's (my uncle) work. To me, this story is a good example to learn from regarding charity, kindness and sincere prayer. Below are my father's words:

Edward Bunker, Jr. – What Any Man Should Do for His Brother

Edward Bunker, Jr.
1847 - 1915
Sometime around the beginning of the 20th Century, a young Chicago banker, Thomas N. McCauley, faced a frightening situation that his enormous wealth couldn’t resolve—he was gravely ill. According to his doctor, the only hope for recovery was for the young executive to spend six months to a year in the West, living in the open. Reluctantly, Mr. McCauley entrusted his extensive business affairs to associates and went west, accompanied by his doctor. For months the two men leisurely traveled about the Rocky Mountain regions in a covered wagon.

While on the edge of the Great Basin’s western desert, McCauley suddenly developed a fever of 102 degrees and severe chills. Fearing for his patient’s life, the doctor hurried the wagon to the nearest settlement: Bunkerville, Nevada, a small Mormon settlement near the southwest corner of Utah. For reasons unknown, the doctor harbored bitter feelings toward Mormons. But, the situation was desperate, so he swallowed his prejudices and appealed for accommodations at the humble home of a local farmer. It happened to be the home of Edward Bunker, Jr., the town’s most prominent leader and Mormon bishop, as well as the son of the man for whom Bunkerville was named.

The strangers had not known that the Bunker home often served as a hospital or hotel for people passing through those barren regions. While bishop from 1883 to 1908, Edward Bunker also served as the local doctor, setting about 40 broken limbs, amputating fingers, lancing sores, and once even successfully sewing on a boy’s foot that had been amputated by a mowing machine.

Mr. McCauley and his doctor were instantly made welcome. Their wagon and team were cared for, and the home’s parlor was quickly converted into a makeshift hospital room. Every convenience and comfort available in the little rural community were offered them.

Day after day the doctor and the Bunkers carefully nursed the critically ill patient. McCauley’s progress was slow. During the weeks that passed, the doctor spent his time either with the sick man or off by himself—he kept his distance from the Mormons. But, since McCauley was confined to his bed, he could observe many of the Bunker family’s daily routines. Particularly when the parlor door was left ajar, McCauley could see the family members come and go, interact, have meals, and hold their daily family prayers and devotions.

Eventually, Mr. McCauley’s condition improved enough for the doctor to allow him to resume the journey. On the morning of their departure, the Bunker family arose early as usual. Unknowingly they had awakened their guests, who could not help but overhear the special family prayer offered in their behalf. As was the family’s practice, Edward gathered his wife and children in the dining room where they knelt together. Edward reverently poured out his soul in supplication. Among other things, he fervently thanked God for blessing Mr. McCauley with a great recovery of health, and he invoked a special blessing on him for a full and complete healing. During the prayer, the doctor slipped quietly from the parlor with tears trailing down his cheeks. McCauley himself was nearly overcome with emotion.

After their prayer, the family went off as usual to attend to their daily chores. Edward came into the parlor to say goodbye to his guests. While shaking hands with Mr. McCauley, he expressed his great pleasure at “having been favored with the privilege of rendering an act of kindness,” then wished him and the doctor a pleasant journey.

“I am greatly indebted to you, Bishop Bunker,” said McCauley, “and I desire to properly compensate you for your merciful kindness and care of me, which is responsible for saving my life. I am a man of ample means and to reward you generously would be a great pleasure to me.” Edward kindly refused the offer. “No, I can’t accept anything from you,” he humbly said. “I have only done what any man should do for his brother.”

In response to Mr. McCauley’s continued insistence to grant some kind of compensation, Edward replied: “I am already amply repaid for my helpfulness to you. The only way you can pay me is by doing for some other person as I have cheerfully done for you.”

After returning to Chicago, Thomas N. McCauley was a changed man. He never forgot the debt he felt he owed to Bishop Bunker. In the following years, Mr. McCauley generously used his wealth and influence to help many others, particularly Latter-day Saints who were in need.


Adapted by James E. Hartley from the Edward Bunker Family Association’s Bunker Family History, Vol. 1, 1957 (edited by Josephine B. Walker, Delta, Utah); and William G. Hartley’s article, “Financier and Bishop Bunker,” New Era, November 1976, 10-11.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Miracle of the Flour Bin - Part II

Amanda Williams Clark
1835 - 1920
I shared a story called "Miracle of the Empty Flour Barrel" about a month ago. It is about an event in the life of my ancestors James and Margaret Houston when they were faced with the risk of starvation, along with other pioneers, because of massive crop destruction that occurred in Utah territory. James and Margaret were able to survive the ordeal and were greatly blessed because of their faith, obedience to counsel from church leaders and also because of a legitimate miracle involving flour.

Another ancestor of mine, my third-great grandmother Amanda Williams Clark, also lived in Utah Territory from its beginnings. She also experienced a very similar event involving flour and a miracle.

As background, Amanda arrived in Utah Territory as a teenager, with her mother and siblings, in 1849. She got married in 1850 at the age of fourteen to Riley Clark, and had sixteen children during her life. According to various records, she lived in Utah up until her death in 1920.

In the "Miracle of the Empty Flour Barrel" it is recorded that Brigham Young, the church leader then, had promised that those who had food and divided or shared it with others who did not have food, would not miss what they gave away. That is, they would not go without because of their sharing and charity.

A small entry in Amanda's biography mentions her sharing flour with those in need even when she herself was very low on flour. While the biography does not indicate when the event took place, it appears Brigham Young's promise may have also applied to Amanda. Tucked away near the end of her biography the following is mentioned:

"During her pioneer days, [Amanda's] home was always open to strangers and friends alike. She was a generous woman, dividing her last bit of flour at night with someone and finding the same amount in her bin in the morning; or keeping her last yard of factory muslin that her neighbors in Manti might come in and unravel a few threads with which to sew. Her life was one of sacrifice and charity."

Just as James and Margaret Houston shared their flour until it was gone, Amanda did the same. Her flour would also miraculously return again.

Flour miraculously showing up in a barrel was also not isolated to my own ancestors. While I have no known relation, Warren and Almira Davis experienced a very similar miracle with flour in 1888. They also followed counsel given by Brigham Young and received a similar blessing as my own ancestors. Warren and Almira Davis's own "Miracle of the Flour Barrel" can be accessed here (

These stories help strengthen my faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and they also serve as a good reminder to heed the counsel given by our church leaders.


Amanda William's Biography (login may be required):

Sunday, February 12, 2017

My Grandma Norma Hartley: The Angel with an Apron

Grandma Norma Hartley, 1982
This family story was adapted by my father, James Hartley. I am grateful for the great example my grandmother, Norma Miner Hartley, left about love and caring for others. It has inspired me to be a better person. Here are my father's words:

Norma Hartley: The Angel with an Apron

King Arthur had a magician named Merlin to look after him. Cinderella had a fairy godmother. But, Doug and Joan Carr had their very own real-life guardian angel.

In the fall of 1960, the Carr’s moved to Hayward, California. Doug had just completed his master’s degree and was beginning a teaching career at Arroyo High School in neighboring San Lorenzo. They had four young children, one first grader and three preschoolers. In addition, Joan was pregnant with their fifth child. As the season transitioned into winter, the Carr’s children were plagued with continuing rounds of ear infections, colds, and sore throats. Soon Joan caught a cold from the children, and it quickly went deep into her chest.

The doctor diagnosed her with bronchial pneumonia. Her case had become so severe, in fact, that the doctor wanted to immediately admit her to the hospital. Joan pleaded with him not to do that. They had no insurance, they were struggling financially, and they had no one to care for the children. Very reluctantly, the doctor allowed her to go home—as long as she stayed in bed for ten days or so. 

Joan did what she could to obey the doctor. But, instead of getting better, her condition grew worse. Her fever was intense. Every breath she took was agony and every cough was excruciating. She couldn’t care for herself, let alone for the children and her husband. They desperately needed help. But, Doug couldn’t take time off from his new job. They had no family nearby. Being new to the area, they had no friends they could call on. Frantically, Doug turned to the only other source of help he knew of, his Mormon church. Unfortunately, they were so new in their ward, they really didn’t know anyone. Nevertheless, Doug found out who their ward’s Relief Society president was, described to her their dire situation, and asked if she knew of anyone who could help them.

Bright and early the next morning, there was a knock on the door. There stood Norma Hartley, a woman they had never met before. She wore an apron and had books and crayons under one arm and assorted paraphernalia under the other. Each weekday morning she came before Doug went to work. She would stay for several hours in order to nurse Joan and care for the children. She also fixed lunches and dinners and did a myriad of household chores before Doug came home each afternoon. Then she would return home to take care of her own family. She did this voluntarily for two weeks until Joan had sufficiently recovered.

The stories of King Arthur and Cinderella were, of course, fiction. But, for the Carr’s, Norma was, indeed, their very own real-life guardian angel! They even gave her a nickname: “The Angel with an Apron.”

Adapted by James E. Hartley from an article written by Joan Carr that was included in a booklet published by her LDS ward called "Chicken Soup for the Glenmoore Ward Soul."

Monday, January 30, 2017

Miracle of the Empty Flour Barrel

James and Margaret Houston
1817-1864 and 1825-1912
This is a true story about my third great grandparents, James and Margaret Houston. It has humbled me, encouraged me to be more charitable and also serves as a good reminder to heed the counsel given by church leaders.

James and Margaret Houston arrived in Utah Territory September 1848, a few months after the infamous “cricket war” and when the “miracle of the gulls” happened. During that time, pioneers were threatened with starvation because of severe crop destruction from drought, frost and crickets. Fortunately, James and Margaret arrived with ample provisions and were blessed to make it through the trying times of 1848. However, little did they know that events similar to those of 1848 would come back in later years with a vengeance -- but worse.

A severe drought during 1855 occurred throughout Utah Territory, and it apparently forced massive numbers of grasshoppers into the valleys. The grasshoppers' arrival was quite an intimidating sight:

 "The Deseret News reported one massive appearance in which 'the grasshoppers filled the sky for three miles deep, or as far as they could be seen without the aid of Telescopes, and somewhat resembling a snow storm.' These locusts were known to fly overhead several hours a day for a period of two or three weeks. When they landed they could be even more troublesome."

The noise from the grasshopper swarms was also noteworthy:

"To a person standing in one of these swarms as they pass over and around you, the air becomes sensibly darkened, and the sound produced by their wings resembles that of the passage of a train of cars on a railroad when standing two or three hundred yards from the track."

When the grasshoppers arrived, they fed on practically anything -- grass, wheat, corn, oats, potatoes, etc. Orchards and vineyards were also targets, and the grasshoppers would even eat the bark of trees. Grasshoppers would stay for weeks, even through bad weather.

Heber C. Kimball, a leader in the church and community, wrote describing the extent of the devastation in 1855:

"[...] The grasshoppers have cut down the grain, and there is not fifty acres now standing of any kind of grain in Salt Lake Valley, and what is now standing, they are cutting it down as fast as possible.

In Utah county the fields are pretty much desolate; in Juab Valley not a green spear of grain is to be seen, nor in Sanpete, nor in Fillmore.

In Little Salt Lake they are still sowing, also at Cedar City, that county being so much later the grain is not yet up, but the grasshoppers are there, ready to sweep down the grain as soon as it comes up.

In the north as far as Boxelder the scenery is the same.... and to look at things at this present time, there is not the least prospect of raising one bushel of grain in the valleys this present season.... I must say there is more green stuff in the gardens in G. S. L. City than there is in all the rest of the counties; still there is a great many of the gardens in the city entirely ruined.

Brother Wm. C. Staines told me this morning that he had 500,000 young apple trees come up and they are all cut down to the ground, and many gardens where the peach trees were full of peaches, every leaf and peach are gone."

It has been estimated that 70 percent of the cereals, vegetables, and fruits were destroyed, making 1855 stand out as a year of crippling losses. Research also shows the peak period of grasshopper invasions and devastation was 1855, being the worst year of the entire century. All this put Utah pioneers at risk of starvation and many suffered.

On top of grasshoppers, the winter of 1855-1856 was very severe. Animals such as cattle, horses, and sheep froze to death or died of starvation because of the scarcity of provisions. In various parts of Utah, snow was even measured to a depth of eight feet.

To further complicate things, an influx of 5,000 Mormon immigrants arrived in Utah Territory during 1855 to settle. This was a very large number given Utah's resident population was reported as being 11,380 in 1850. Furthermore, gold hunters en route to California passed through the valleys of Utah in relation to the California Gold Rush. A large number of these gold hunters were also destitute of food and had scant supplies.

The people in Utah Territory were encouraged to exercise faith amidst these challenges. The Deseret News remarked on May 23, 1855 that 'through faith and obedience they can prevail in the grasshopper war, at least as well as they did in the cricket war of 1848.'

The grasshoppers were finally gone by the time James and Margaret planted corn and potatoes on June 10, 1855 on their farmland in Salt Lake City. They were told by others that their crops would not mature. However, the crops did come up, albeit small in size, and they had something to harvest. James and Margaret were among the very few who had anything for the winter.

James and Margaret also had a very young family at this time. On December 1, 1855, Margaret Jr. was born. By the end of 1855, the names and ages (years) of their other children were as follows: Thomas (2), Joseph (4), James Jr. (5), John (7), and Elizabeth (9). 

In spite of the great challenges James and Margaret and other Utah pioneers faced, James and Margaret were generous with their harvest and shared with others:

"The corn was small and only nibbins, but James threw the corn into the loft. Winter came, and Margaret shared with others and still there was more corn. She kept dividing and it was wonderful how it lasted. She made corn cakes also, and divided them with others."

How is it that something like small "nibbins" of corn could sustain a large family through such hard times? How could this humble harvest also be divided among others who were in such great need and distress?

After the trial of faith, came the blessings.

Gladys Banks, a granddaughter of James and Margaret, recorded details of a miraculous event in the form of a skit. It is entitled "The Empty Flour Barrel" and based on a true incident in James and Margaret Houston's life.

<Start of skit>

The Empty Flour Barrel

Scene 1

(Margaret is seen standing at the flour barrel* with a pan in her hand bending over the flour barrel in the act of dipping flour out. Her husband comes in at this time. She is dressed in the pioneer style and as she bends low in the barrel to get the flour her stockings are seen below her skirt.)

(Enter James)

James: Well, well, Margaret. I saw your stockings when you stooped to get flour from the barrel.

Margaret: (Coming forward with a small amount of flour in the pan.). Yes, James, we will be needing some more. This is all we have and still you keep sending our friends in to get some flour or some bread. Only yesterday, I baked three loaves and Brother Black came last night and said you said he could get a loaf as his wife was sick and couldn't bake. Early this morning while you were milking, Sy Perkin's little Pete came and asked for a loaf, he said they had all gone to bed without supper because they did not have any bread. I gave them the second loaf. James, you sure beat the world in giving stuff away.

James: Margaret, do you know that Brother Brigham [Young] told us last night at our Priesthood [church] meeting that if we [who] had food would divide with those that did not have, we would never miss what we gave away? I promise you that as long as we divide our flour with our friends there will always be some in the barrel.

Margaret: James, how impractical you are. When the flour is gone, it's gone. I scraped all there was in the barrel.

James: We shall see my dear. But never let us turn a hungry child from our door.

Scene 2
(Same as Scene 1)

(Margaret making hot cakes and has some piled on a plate)

Margaret: Well, this is the last of the flour. Whatever will we do when it is gone?

(Enter Libbie)

Libbie: Oh, Mother, I am so hungry. May I have a hot cake?

Margaret: Yes, you may have one, but not any more, because Father and John have not had dinner yet.

Libbie: (She takes a cake in her hand and shakes her head as if in deep thought). Oh, maybe I'm not very hungry for I had breakfast this morning but Maggie Jones didn't. May I give this to her if I don't have any?

Margaret: Well, of all things, there it goes again. Yes, of course, Libbie child. (Pats her on the head). Take one to your friend and you have two if you want them. (Libbie takes a cake and starts eating it and joyously runs out with one for her friend).

(Enter John and Billie)

John: Mother, we sure are hungry. Got anything to eat?

Billie: Hmmmmmmm. Them cakes sure do smell good. My Ma can't make any. She hasn't had flour for a long time. My Pa is sick in bed.

Margaret: Yes, of course, John, boys are always hungry. (Shakes her head and looks at both boys as she gives them the cakes). Billie, you say your Pa is sick! Well, you had better take some cakes over to him and your Ma. (She wraps cakes that are left on plate in a clean cloth and gives them to Billie). Run quick, now, and take them to your Ma, Billie.

Billie: Thanks Sister Houston. I know this will make my Pa better.

Margaret: (At her wits end). Well, whatever will I do for bread for James? (She looks at empty plate). Oh, me, Oh, my.

(Enter James)

James: Well, my dear, is supper ready?

Margaret: Yes, when you milk the cow because that is all there is.

James: Where is the bread?

Margaret: You gave it all away and I used the last flour for hot cakes and ours and the neighbor's children ate them.

James: Have you looked in the barrel since you got the last flour?

Margaret: James, how stupid you are!

(Margaret goes to the barrel and scoops out some flour)

Margaret: James, your faith is a wonderful blessing. We will have supper after all.  (She rushes to his side with the coveted flour. They both look glorified).

(Enter Mary Brown)

Mary: Oh, Brother Houston, I wonder if I could borrow some flour. Jack has been working for Brother Knight and he promised to let us have some flour, but we haven't got it yet. We are right out now, but we will pay you back as soon as we can get it. They say you are the only ones in the ward [neighborhood] with flour.

James: Well, Sister Brown, you may get it if I have it. Get the flour, Margaret.

Margaret: James, you saw me scrape the barrel.

James: Margaret, there is flour in that barrel. Get it!

(She goes to the barrel and scoops out some flour which she gives to Sister Brown).

Margaret: The Lord has surely blessed us.

James: We shall never want as long as we divide with our neighbors.

<End of skit>

Overall, the fact that James and Margaret would share under such difficult and trying circumstances is a miracle in itself, to have such character and charity. The other miracle, of course, is that the family did not go without after they shared with others the little they had. Through faith, and obedience to the counsel given by church leaders, miracles were wrought. The empty flour barrel kept on giving and provided life-sustaining nourishment!


Skit Characters:

James Houston -- Father
Margaret Houston -- Mother
John -- a small boy (son)
Libbie -- a young girl (daughter)
Mary Brown -- a neighbor
Billie -- a small boy
Mary -- a friend
Time -- In Salt Lake in early pioneer time
Scene: A pioneer home with a large flour barrel, in corner stove, rude table and chairs. Yet it has an air of hominess about it.

* The flour mentioned in the skit may be referring to either corn flour or wheat flour. It is my opinion the family records point more strongly to the flour being corn flour.


Story adapted and information obtained from the following sources:

James Houston and Margaret Crawford Descendants and Ancestors. Pages 179, 246, 250-251, 283-285, 410-411

"Pestiferous Ironclads: The Grasshopper Problem in Pioneer Utah":

U.S. Census Bureau: Utah Resident Population

"Time Line: U.S. Migration, Mormon Emigration, and the Handcart Experiment"

"Miracles of the Gulls":

"The Grasshopper War of 1855 and the Provo Sugar Miracle":

"The Gold Rush of 1849"

Source of grasshopper images:

Friday, January 20, 2017

My Ancestors Who Personally Knew Joseph Smith

I have come across a number of my ancestor's memories and descriptions of their personal associations with the Prophet Joseph Smith. I am humbled when I read what they wrote, and it helps strengthen my faith in the divine calling of Joseph Smith -- to be the prophet of the restoration of the gospel and church of Jesus Christ.

My ancestors who personally knew Joseph Smith and wrote of their associations were James Houston, Albert Miner, Tamma Durfee Miner, and Moroni Miner:

James Houston
1817 - 1864
James Houston - Next House Neighbor to Joseph Smith

My third great grandfather James Houston (1817-1864) was from Paisley, Scotland. He recorded in an autobiography[1] when he first heard about Joseph Smith and also some personal experiences with Joseph Smith.

When James was around age 18 (the year 1835 or so), Mormon elders came to Paisley preaching a peculiar message. James didn’t have a chance to listen to the elders properly initially. However, he soon spoke with someone else who had listened to the elders, and that person told James about an angel coming to a Joseph Smith and also what this angel had said.

This conversation had a great impact on James. He recorded that when he heard of Joseph Smith and the angel, “the power followed the word -- and it ran through me from head to foot. I began to stand up for it and was surprised at myself.” James continued to learn more about the Mormons and the church. A book entitled '[A] Voice of Warning' was particularly influential on him. He believed what he had read and heard from the Mormons, but he did not yet feel ready to get baptized.

James Houston later sailed for America in October 1840 with a small company of Mormons, even though he himself was not a member of the church. The journey took nine weeks and was described as “pleasant.” James first arrived in New Orleans, Mississippi and then made his way to Springnell, Illinois at the invitation of an Elder Mulliner. Elder Mulliner led the company from Scotland and also had a home in Springnell. There in Springnell in 1841, James Houston was baptized and became a member of the church.

In the spring of 1841, James learned a person was needed to help drive cattle to Nauvoo, Illinois in relation to the construction of the Nauvoo Temple and Nauvoo House the church was involved with. James volunteered and arrived in Nauvoo April 30, 1841. It was there in Nauvoo that James came to meet Joseph Smith personally and lived next to him. James recorded:

“Suffice it to say that I saw the Prophet of the Lord, Joseph Smith. A few days later I took up my abode in the next house to the prophet's. I lived there nine months and I can assure you the Prophet was all he professed to be. I knew he was a true Prophet of God, for I have heard him speak and prophesy as he was led by the Holy Ghost.  He was a good and great man.”

Joseph Smith homestead in Nauvoo, Illinois

Joseph Houston (1851–1935), son of James Houston and my second great grandfather, also recounted
[2] that James Houston “had many, many talks with Joseph Smith. [James] knew him to be a prophet of God.”

Tamma Durfee Miner
1813 - 1885
Albert and Tamma Miner - Close Associates and Bodyguard (Albert) to Joseph Smith

Albert Miner (1809-1848) is a third great grandfather of mine and Tamma Durfee (1813-1885) a third great grandmother. They had close association with Joseph Smith. A lot of information is provided in biographies[3] [4] [5] about Albert and Tamma, so in some instances I have just copied the information verbatim to provide their background and associations with Joseph Smith.

Albert was born in Jefferson County, New York. His family moved to New London, Ohio when he was 6. At age 22 (and still living in Ohio), Albert met Tamma Durfee.  Tamma was interested in the Mormon Church, but she delayed her baptism until after she and Albert were married. They married in August 1831, and Tamma was baptized December 1831. Tamma's parents and most of her siblings had previously been baptized some time before her.

Albert's family was strongly opposed to him joining the Mormon Church. He told them that “the more they had to say, the sooner he would be baptized.”  He ignored the bitterness of his family and was baptized in February 1832.  It was so cold they had to cut a hole in the ice on a river in order to baptize him. He would not wait until spring to be baptized.

Around late 1832 or early 1833, Albert, Tamma and the Durfees moved to Kirtland, Ohio, then the headquarters of the Mormon Church. Albert and Tamma were faithful church workers and were constantly in close communication with the Prophet Joseph Smith. They assisted very materially in building the Kirtland Temple, and attended the dedication ceremony of the temple in 1836 and saw and felt the marvelous [and divine] manifestations that took place.

In the spring of 1834, the Prophet Joseph Smith called for elders to go to Jackson County [Missouri] and redeem Zion. Albert Miner and a certain Dennis Lake decided to draw cuts to see which one of them would go and which one would stay behind in order to take care of both their families. It fell to Albert to stay behind. Dennis Lake went, but he was not strengthened by the experience. When he returned he fell away from the church and sued the Prophet for three months work, or $60. Because of the hatred toward the Prophet, Albert and his brother-in-law, Edmund Durfee Jr., served as bodyguards for Joseph Smith.

Time passed and Albert and Tamma went through many of the hardships and challenges associated with the persecution of Mormons during that era. Tamma recorded in her autobiography[6] about the time when Joseph Smith, and his brother Hyrum Smith, were martyred and also times when Joseph Smith had preached. She wrote:

 "[I] was there in 1844 when Joseph and Hyrum were Martyred. I went and saw them after they were taken to their homes. I had been aquainted with them for 12 years. In May I heard them both preach and talk to the Saints a great many times. I heard Joseph once talk and preach for five hours to a congergation, no one was tired, this was in Kirtland before they built the first temple."

Moroni Miner
1835 - 1935
Moroni Miner - Blessed by Joseph Smith and Lived in Nauvoo with Joseph Smith

Moroni Miner (1835-1935) was a son of Albert and Tamma Miner, so he is a second great grandfather to me. Moroni was born in Kirtland, Ohio. He was blessed as a child by the Prophet Joseph Smith, and his mother Tamma wrote[7] that the Prophet said the following:

"That he would be as great as Moroni of old, and people would flee unto him and call him blessed."

Later in life, Moroni recalled[8] when he was nine years old and living in Nauvoo, Illinois at the time Joseph Smith was martyred. Moroni said:

"Nauvoo was a beautiful city -- so clean and thriving. It seemed that all the women sang all the time. The homes were large and well built, the yards and fences and out-buildings well kept. Truly the city of 'brotherly love.'

Though only nine years old when the Prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum were martyred, I can remember the prevailing sadness of that occasion -- the men gathering in groups about the streets, and my mother and the other women weeping.

I can remember the handsome majesty of the two as they visited with us, preached to us and walked among us.

I remember them leading the Nauvoo Legion. I loved to watch it parade and longed for the time when I would be one of them in a shining uniform.

 I remember them also, as they lay in their coffins, side by side, so still and lifeless."

Lastly, Moroni wrote[9] of his and his parents' association with Joseph Smith:

"I knew that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God.  I have seen him in person.  He came to our home and visited my parents.  My parents were closely associated with the Prophet."