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Newel Knight

Birthdate: (46)
Birthplace: Marlboro, Windham, Vermont, United States
Death: January 11, 1847 (46)
(On Plains To Utah), Fort Neobrara, Ponca Camp., NE
Place of Burial: United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Joseph Knight, Sr. and Mary Knight
Husband of Lydia Knight and Sally Knight
Father of Samuel R. Knight; Sally Palmer; James Philander Knight; Joseph Ether Knight, I; Newel Knight and 6 others
Brother of Nahum Knight; Esther Stringham; Anna DeMille; Joseph Knight, Jr.; Polly Stringham and 3 others

Managed by: Arthur Rexford Whittaker
Last Updated:

About Newel Knight


Wikipedia Biographical Summary

"...Newel Knight (September 13, 1800 – January 11, 1847) was a close friend of Joseph Smith, Jr. and one of the first branch presidents in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Born at Marlboro, Vermont, Knight was the son of Joseph Knight, Sr. and Polly Peck. When Newel was about eight years old his family moved to Colesville, New York. He married Sally Colburn on the June 7, 1825..."


The story of Newel Knight:

Knight, Newel, one of the earliest Elders in the Church, was born Sept. 13, 1800, in Marlborough, Windham county, Vermont, the son of Joseph Knight and Polly Peck. Together with his parents he moved into the State of New York when he was nine years old, and lived first in Bainbridge township and later in Colesville, Broome county, N. Y. He continued to live with his father until he was twenty-five years old, and in 1825 (June 7th) he married Sally Coburn, a woman of rather delicate health, who held an honorable position in the choir of one of the most respectable churches in the vicinity. After his marriage Newel went a few miles distant and put in operation a carding machine, which he soon sold, and afterwards engaged in running a grist mill. During this time his wife gave birth to a child which did not live and his wife's sufferings were very great. Newel's own health gradually declined, and being told by a physician that he had consumption, he quit the mill business and moved back to Colesville, settling near his father's place. In settling up his mill business he suffered a heavy financial loss. During this time the Knight family was frequently visited by Joseph Smith, the young Prophet, in whose divine mission Newel became a firm believer. While investigating the principles of "Mormonism" he was attacked by an evil influence which threatened him with destruction, but by the miraculous manifestation of the power of God under the hands of Joseph Smith the Prophet he was relieved. This occurrence is referred to as the first miracle which took place in the Church. Soon afterwards Newel Knight and others were baptized and from that time on Newel was a faithful and staunch member of the Church, continuing thus until the time of his death. He was with the Prophet during his arrest and trial in South Bainbridge, Chenango county, and Colesville, Broome county. In August, 1830, Newel and his wife visited the Prophet in Harmony, Pa., which gave occasion for the appearance of a Heavenly messenger and the revelation on the Sacrament. Soon afterwards Newel moved Joseph and his family to Fayette, New York. Later Newel was ordained to the Priesthood and appointed to do missionary labors. Early in 1831 he and his wife accompanied the Colesville branch on their journey to Kirtland and afterwards to Missouri, where Newel was present at the dedication of the Temple spot Aug. 3, 1831, and afterwards became a participant in all the important council meetings held at Independence during the visit of the Prophet Joseph and other prominent Elders in the Church. While the Prophet Josesph and others returned to Kirtland, Newel Knight and family remained in Missouri, and when the Prophet visited them the next year (1832) he blessed an infant son, which had been born to Newel Knight and wife Oct. 4, 1831. Bro. Knight was present when the Church met together at the ferry at the Big Blue river, Missouri, April 6, 1833, to celebrate the birthday of the Church for the first time. Afterwards he became subject to the terrible persecutions which befell the Saints in Jackson county, and was finally expelled, together with his co-religionists, from said county, in 1833. The Colesville branch, of which Newel Knight and family remained a member, kept together during the persecutions and formed a small settlement on the Missouri bottoms, building themselves temporary houses. While exposed to persecutions and hardships in Clay county, Newel Knight's wife took sick and died Sept. 15, 1834, and Bro. Newel's own health also being poor, he decided to go East, making the best arrangements he could for the care of his little son Samuel and an aged aunt. In company with a number of brethren, he boarded some canoes and floated down the Missouri river. They traveled on said river by day and camped at night on its shore. Newel was hardly able to walk when he started on this journey, but his strength gradually increased and when he arrived in Kirtland, Ohio, in the spring of 1835, he could commence to labor on the Temple, which work he continued until the Temple was finished and dedicated. Nov. 24, 1835, he married Lydia Goldthwait, Joseph Smith the Prophet performing the marriage ceremony.

24 November 1835: Marriage of Newel Knight and Lydia Goldthwaite. "After prayers, I (Joseph Smith) requested them to rise, and join hands...The ceremony was original with me...also pronounced upon them the blessings that the Lord conferred upon Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, that is, to multiply and replenish the earth, with the addition of long life and prosperity." DHC 2:320.

Notes on this marriage:

In 1835 the Mormon Prophet announced a doctrine called "theocratic ethics." He used this initially to "justify his violation of Ohio's marriage laws by performing a marriage for Newel Knight and the undivorced Lydia Goldthwaite without legal authority to do so". Joseph declared, "I have done it by the authority of the holy Priesthood and the Gentile law has no power to call me to an account for it". This was followed by other illegal marriages of undivorced legal spouses, resulting in bigamous, polygamous and polyandrous marriages, and Smith's own secret sexual relationships with polygamous wives as young as fourteen.

After receiving his anointings in the Kirtland Temple, and having witnessed great manifestations of God's power in that sacred edifice, he left Kirtland April 7, 1836, with his wife Lydia, for Clay county, Mo., where they arrived May 6, 1836. Soon after his arrival in Missouri the spirit of mobocracy again manifested itself, and, under the threats made by mobs, the Saints were compelled to leave their possessions in Clay county, and move out upon the prairies of what afterward became Caldwell county. There Newel Knight made a new home for himself and family, but was driven out during the general exodus of the Saints from the State of Missouri in 1839. In Illinois, where Newel Knight and family cast their lot with the Saints, they again passed through many hardships and persecutions and were finally driven into exile once more in 1846. Newel and his family traveled westward in Bishop George Miller's company and wintered among the Ponca Indians on the Running Water in what is now northern Nebraska. Here Newel Knight, exposed to the hardships of the winter, took sick and died Jan. 11, 1847. His wife Lydia describes the end of her husband as follows: "On Monday morning, Jan. 4, 1847, Bro. Knight, whose health had been failing for some time, did not arise as usual, and on going to him, he said, "Lydia, I believe I shall go to rest this winter." The next night he awoke with a severe pain in his right side, a fever had also set in, and he expressed himself to me that he did not expect to recover. From this time until the 10th of the month, the Elders came frequently and prayed for my husband. After each administration he would rally and be at ease for a short time and then relapse again into suffering. I felt at last as if I could not endure his sufferings any longer and that I ought not to hold him here. I knelt by his bedside, and with my hand upon his pale forehead asked my Heavenly Father to forgive my sins, and that the sufferings of my companion might cease, and if he was appointed unto death, and could not remain with us that he might be quickly eased from pain and fall asleep in peace. Almost immediately all pain left him and in a short time he sweetly fell asleep in death, without a struggle or a groan, at half past six on the morning of the 11th of January, 1847. His remains were interred at sunset on the evening of the day he died."

Newel Knight, was the subject of the first miracle recorded in Mormon history. He was praying in the woods for light and guidance in relation to the latter-day Gospel, which he had heard preached, but had not embraced, when he was seized upon by some terrible power, from which he was delivered only after the Prophet had laid hands upon him and rebuked the evil one in the name of Jesus Christ. Newel Knight was one of Joseph Smith's first converts, was always his faithful friend, and held various responsible positions in the Church.

History of Utah by Orson F. Whitney

Volume 1

Chapter IV 1830

During the month of April the Prophet visited Colesville, the home of Joseph Knight, who had ministered to his necessities on a former occasion. Mr. Knight and several members of his family were Universalists. At his home the Prophet held several meetings, which subsequently bore fruit in the baptism of many. The first miracle recorded in the Church,—for it was a gospel of "signs" following the believer, as in days of old, that was being preached by the Elders,—is accredited to Joseph Smith during this visit. It was the casting out of Satan from the person of Newel, son of Joseph Knight. Newel was baptized at Fayette in the latter part of May. Martin Harris, Joseph Smith, senior, Lucy Smith, Orrin Porter Rockwell and other historic names, by this time had also been added to the Church roll of membership.

The first conference of the organized Church convened at Fayette on the first day of June. Thirty members were present on the opening day, besides many others who were investigating the new faith. More baptisms followed, more Elders, Priests, Teachers and Deacons were ordained, and Mormonism began spreading rapidly. As a matter of course it encountered opposition, much excitement at times prevailing over the preaching of its strange doctrines and the exercise of its novel "gifts," and its disciples suffered more or less petty persecution. Still it spread. The smoking flax was everywhere bursting into flame, and all efforts to quench it proved powerless.

Again visiting his home in Pennsylvania, Joseph returned bringing his wife, and in company with her and three Elders repaired to Colesville. There they found many awaiting baptism. It was Saturday, and the Elders constructed a dam in a stream, which they designed using next day for baptizing. That night a party of men, instigated it was believed by ministers of other denominations, tore away the dam, thus preventing the Elders from executing their purpose on the Sabbath. Early Monday morning, however, before their opponents could assemble in sufficient force to prevent, they reconstructed their dam, and Oliver Cowdery, entering the water, immersed thirteen converts to the faith; Emma Smith, the Prophet's wife, being one of the number.

Fierce was the anger of their foes when they learned what had taken place. Fifty strong they surrounded the house of Joseph Knight, to which the Elders had retired, foaming with rage and threatening violence. But Joseph Smith was no coward; neither a physical weakling. Calmly confronting the mob he strove, though in vain, to pacify them. Finally they withdrew to mature their plans, and the Elders, deeming it prudent, departed also, going now to the house of Newel Knight.

That evening, just as they were about to confirm their converts, a constable appeared upon the scene and arrested the Prophet on the charge of being a disorderly person, for preaching the Book of Mormon and setting the country in an uproar. The officer, however, became friendly and informed Joseph that some men were in ambush, not far away, whose purpose was to get him into their power and maltreat him. He added that he was determined to defend him at all hazards. The statement proved true. A crowd of men surrounded the wagon in which the constable drove away with the Prophet, and would undoubtedly have taken him from custody had not the officer plied his whip, given his horse full rein and left them far behind. The two drove on rapidly to South Bainbridge, in Chenango County, where they put up at a tavern. The constable permitted his prisoner to occupy the bed in their room, while he slept with his feet against the door and a loaded musket at his side, ready to defend him against assault.

At the trial, next day, various charges were preferred against the Prophet. Some of them were of a very frivolous character. For instance, he was accused of obtaining from Josiah Stoal, his former employer, a horse, and from one Jonathan Thompson a yoke of oxen, by telling them that he had received revelations that he was to have them. Messrs. Stoal and Thompson, taking the witness stand, testified in the prisoner's favor, and he was promptly acquitted. On leaving the court-room, however, he was re-arrested on a warrant from Broome County, and taken back to Colesville for trial. This time he was in the custody of an officer who treated him with great harshness; subjecting him to the insults of the rabble, refusing him for many hours any refreshment, and finally allowing him for his supper only a diet of bread-crusts and water.

At the Colesville trial Newel Knight was put upon the stand and made to testify concerning the miracle reported to have been performed upon him.

"Did the prisoner, Joseph Smith, junior, cast the devil out of you?" asked the prosecuting attorney of the witness. "No, sir," replied Mr. Knight.

"Why, have not you had the devil cast out of you ?" "Yes, sir."

And had not Joe Smith some hand in its being done?"

"Yes, sir."

"And did not he cast him out of you.

"No, sir. It was done by the power of God, and Joseph Smith was the instrument in the hands of God on the occasion. He commanded him out of me in the name of Jesus Christ."

"And are you sure that it was the devil?"

"Yes, sir."

"Did you see him after he was cast out of you?"

"Yes, sir; I saw him."

"Pray, what did he look like?"

Here the prisoner's counsel informed the witness that he need not answer the question. Mr. Knight, however, replied:

"I believe I need not answer your last question, but I will do it provided I be allowed to ask you one question first, and you answer me, namely: Do you, Mr. Seymour, understand the things of the spirit.

"No," answered Mr. Seymour, "I do not pretend to such big things."

"Well then," rejoined Knight, "it would be of no use to tell you what the devil looked like, for it was a spiritual sight, and spiritually discerned; and of course you would not understand it were I to tell you of it."

A roar of laughter, at the lawyer's expense, shook the courtroom. Mr. Seymour then arose and addressing the court paid his respects in no gentle terms to the prisoner. Among other things he repeated the story of his having been a "money-digger." The defendant, however, was not on trial for money digging, and his counsel having returned the forensic fire of the prosecution, he was again set at liberty.

In the breasts of many, hitherto hostile, a revulsion of feeling now took place. Even the officer who had treated the prisoner so harshly came forward and apologized for his conduct, and offered to help him evade a mob that had assembled outside the courtroom, to "tar and feather" the Prophet and ride him on a rail. Taking advantage of this opportunity to escape, Joseph, rejoining his anxious wife, returned with her to Pennsylvania.

Newel Knight was born to Polly Peck and Joseph Knight Sr.. Newel Knight married first Sally Colburn on June 7, 1825, when Newell was twenty-four-year-old. Sally and Newel set up housekeeping a few miles from his father, Joseph Knight. Newel and Sally would meet Joseph Smith and become members of the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. On September 15, 1834 Sally gave birth to their son, Eli, who died and Sally being sick with fever and ague (probably malaria) died. She left behind a son, Samuel, and her husband Newel. She was buried with her new son, Eli, in a wooden casket among the bluffs in a lovely grove in Turnham's Landing in Clay County.

In October 1835, Newel and Lydia Goldwaite Bailey were both living at the Hyrum and Jerusha Smith's boarding home in Kirtland, Ohio. Lydia described Newel as "tall, had light brown hair, a keen blue eye and a very energetic and determined manner". They married on November 24, 1835, at the Hyrum Smith home by Joseph Smith (Joseph's first marriage he performed). They had seven children: Sally Knight, James Philander Knight, Joseph Ether Knight, Newel Knight, Lydia Knight, Jesse Knight and Hyrum Helaman Knight. On their way from Nauvoo to Salt Lake City Newel died at the Ponca Camp, Nebraska. The Ponca Indians were very friendly and welcomed the Mormons. A sickness spread through the camp and Newel was one that got it. It was like pneumonia. Newel and 10 others died at Camp Ponca.

"Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven."(Matthew 5:10).

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Newel Knight's Timeline

September 13, 1800
Marlboro, Windham, Vermont, United States
May 28, 1830
Age 29
May 1830
Age 29
October 14, 1832
Age 32
Independence, Jackson, Missouri
September 15, 1834
Age 34
Avondale, Clay, Missouri, United States
December 1, 1836
Age 36
Gallatin, Daviess, Missouri, United States
April 29, 1838
Age 37
Far West, Caldwell, Missouri
October 18, 1840
Age 40
Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois, United States