Malatiah Luce

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Malatiah Luce

Birthdate:
Birthplace: North Haven Island, Knox Co, Maine
Death: Died in Salt Lake City, UT, USA
Place of Burial: Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Bethuel Luce and Susannah Luce
Husband of Ruth Luce
Father of Ephraim Grant Luce; Stephen Thomas Luce; Nancy Mary Kent; Sarah G. Perry; Thomas Luce and 6 others
Brother of Abijah Luce; Lydia Cottle; Elijah "Ely" Luce and Uriah Luce

Managed by: Richard Frank Henry
Last Updated:

About Malatiah Luce

Malatiah Luce (1772-1849) His date of birth is variously given as 13 January 1772 (LDS Early Church History), 20 January 1772, 30 January 1772 (LDS Temple Index Bureau; Nauvoo Endowment Register, 1:66), 2 June 1772 (LDS Patriarchal Blessings, 7:380-1; LDS Early Church History), 10 June 1772 and 30 June 1772 (McCourt, 89). He is said to have been born at Tisbury on Martha's Vineyard, or at North Haven Island, Maine.

He was a farmer. His parents seem to have moved to Vinalhaven, Maine about 1765, yet by his own statement, he was born on Martha's Vineyard. (Patriarchal Blessing). It seems possible that he was born during a visit back to their old home.

The 1800 census shows him with a young family: 1 male under 10 (son Ephraim), 1 male 26-45 (himself), and 1 female 16-26 (his wife). There are deeds recorded for him in Hancock County, Maine as early as 1812.

Malatiah and his family undoubtedly witnessed two spectacular astronomical events of their time, both visible across North America. In August 1811 a comet appeared in the sky so large that it's path could be seen for several weeks. Twenty-two years later, on the nights of November 10-12, 1833 the stars seemed to fall from the sky. On the 12th, "The Night the Stars Fell, " beginning about 10 a.m., it became noticeable that there were an unusual number of shooting stars. Between 2 am and 6 am there were an estimated 8,660 to 10,000 shooting stars an hour. Those who witnessed it believed that it was a sign of Christ's Second Coming.

Malatiah converted to Mormonism and was baptized in February 1837 by Joseph Ball. Other members of his family were baptized by Wilford Woodruff later the same year, in November 1837. Malatiah's sons Ephraim and Stephen were among those led by Woodruff from Fox Island, Maine to Nauvoo, Illinois in 1837/38. They settled in Nauvoo in the spring of 1839. Malatiah seems to have remained in Maine until about 1841 with his sons Thomas, Andrew, Daniel and John. They all appear on the 1840 census of Maine. A letter written by LDS missionary William Hyde from Payson, Illinois on 20 May 1841 to Bros. Smith and Thompson says, in part, "I left Nauvoo in company with Elder John Herriett, soon after the conference in April 1840 for the purpose of preaching the gospel in the eastern states, we stopt [stopped] in Freedom N. Y. and held 6 or 7 meetings, and baptized ten; we then went into Allegany [Allegheny] and Livingston Counties, traveled and preached in the two Counties nearly 3 weeks, and baptized twelve, then left and by steam boats, and rail car went to Fox Island. We arrived at the north Island on the Sabbath morning, July 26th, went a distance of 4 miles to brother M. Luce's, a brother that came into the church through the means of Elder Woodruff, and was much rejoiced to find him and his family still firm in the work of the Lord. We tarried at brother Luce's over Sabbath, and then went into the South Island, and commenced our labors. We tarried and preached on the west end of the Island nearly 3 weeks, during which time there were 17 baptized. We then traveled in different places on the two Island, and continued to preach and baptize until the first of Oct., when sickness prevented. On the 9th inst Elder Herriett was taken violently sick with a fever; he had been confined but a short time, when he became sensible that his labors were accomplished. On the morning of the 13th inst, he expired (he died as he had lived) in the triumphs of faith, and could say, with propriety with the Apostle, that he had fought the good fight, and that he had finished his course, & kept the faith." (Nauvoo Times and Seasons, 15 June 1841).

Malatiah's name appears on the membership rolls of the church between 1840 and 1848 (Newell). He was a High Priest in the church hierarchy. The names of David Luce, Lorene Luce, and Samuel Luce also appear, but have not been identified yet with members of Malatiah's family. A Lydia Luce also appears as a member of the Relief Society according to its Minutes 1842-1844 (Newell), but I have not been able to identify her. She was probably the same Lydia who received a Patriarchal Blessing in Nauvoo (Patriarchal Blessings 4:545).

None of Malatiah and Ruth's relatives shared their commitment to the new religion. They and their children appear in church records, but there are no Alexanders, Grants, Kents or Wheelers from Maine on the 1850 census of Utah.

Malatiah appears on the 1842 tax list of Nauvoo, living in Township 6 North, Range 8 West (p. 212), near sons Stephen (p. 231), John (p. 232), and Daniel (p. 212). He lived in Nauvoo's 3rd Ward. In 1843, Malatiah Luce signed a petition to the 28th Congress to redress the "injuries to persons and properties" of Mormons expelled from Missouri in the 1830s, along with his son John G. Luce and daughter-in-law Harriet Luce. Not all adults in Nauvoo signed the petition, not even members of the same household. A signature on the petition does not mean the person lived in Missouri, but only that the person signed in support of others who had. Brigham Young's "Manuscript History" says for the entry dated 15 February 1844, "Visited father Miletiah Luce."

The Mormon prophet Joseph Smith was killed in 1844. The Mormons in Nauvoo rushed to complete their temple and to perform their religious ordinances. By early 1845 church leaders had made the decision to abandon Nauvoo, although this information was kept from the membership at large. Malatiah received his Patriarchal Blessing on 15 February 1845 (Patriarchal Blessings), was ordained a High Priest 16 February (ECH), and was endowed 25 December 1845 all in Nauvoo.

Due to conflicts with their non-Mormon neighbors, the Mormons formally agreed in September 1845 to leave the city the following spring "when water runs and grass grows." Mormon residents put their property up for sale at bargain prices. Relations with their neighbors continued to deteriorate. On 4 February 1846, when the ice broke on the Mississippi River, the Mormons evacuated the city. Malatiah and his family were among those who left. Those who remained were too aged or infirm to leave. On 10 September 1846 mob violence forced the remaining Mormons to leave.

Many secondary sources say Malatiah died in Nauvoo, and his widow's gravestone, a marker erected in the 20th century, says he was buried in Nauvoo. However, he is known to have been in Salt Lake City in 1848. He probably traveled in the Amasa Lyman section of the Willard Richard's Company, with the family of his son Stephen (Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel database). The Amasa Lyman section left Winter Quarters, Nebraska on 30 June 1848, and arrived in Salt Lake City on 10 October 1848 (Journal History Supp. after 31 Dec. 1848, p. 17-20*).

Malatiah made application with the Salt Lake City Recorder's Office in 1848 for a lot of land right next to that of Stephen (plat B, block 13, lots 7 & 8 - lot 7 for Stephen, lot 8 for Malatiah). Malatiah had to be in Salt Lake in order to make this filing and, given his age (76), it seems highly unlikely that he would have returned to Nauvoo to die the next year, especially since the Saints had been driven from Nauvoo in 1846.

Malatiah died during the winter after his arrival in Salt Lake. He was probably among those buried at the old fort, in what is now Pioneer Park.

Sources

  • Justin Swanström
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Malatiah Luce's Timeline

1772
January 13, 1772
North Haven Island, Knox Co, Maine
1799
September 3, 1799
Age 27
North Haven, ME, USA
December 29, 1799
Age 27
Vinalhaven, Knox Co, Maine
1801
July 10, 1801
Age 29
Vinalhaven, Knox County, Maine, United States
1802
December 17, 1802
Age 30
North Haven, Lincoln County, Massachusetts, United States
1804
June 10, 1804
Age 32
North Haven, Lincoln County, Massachusetts, United States
1806
February 14, 1806
Age 34
North Haven, ME, USA
1808
January 1, 1808
Age 35
North Haven, Lincoln County, Massachusetts, United States
January 1, 1808
Age 35
North Haven, ME, USA
1810
July 3, 1810
Age 38
North Haven, ME, USA