Albert P. Rockwood

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Albert P. Rockwood
Photograph of Albert P. Rockwood
First Seven Presidents of the Seventy
December 2, 1845 (1845-12-02) – November 25, 1879 (1879-11-25)
Called by Brigham Young
Personal details
Born Albert Perry Rockwood
(1805-06-05)June 5, 1805
Holliston, Massachusetts, United States
Died November 25, 1879(1879-11-25) (aged 74)
Sugar House, Utah Territory, United States
Resting place Salt Lake City Cemetery
40°46′37″N 111°51′29″W / 40.777°N 111.858°W / 40.777; -111.858 (Salt Lake City Cemetery)
Spouse(s) Nancy Ruth Haven
Elvira Teeples
Angelina Horn (Orn)
Julianne Sophie Olsen
Susannah Cornwall
Children 22
Parents Luther Rockwood
Ruth Perry

Albert Perry Rockwood (June 5, 1805 – November 25, 1879) was an early Latter Day Saint leader and member of the First Seven Presidents of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Rockwood was born in Holliston, Massachusetts to Luther Rockwood and Ruth Perry, Rockwood.[1] He married Nancy Ruth Haven on April 4, 1827.[2] His interests were temperance, anti-slavery, military tactics and medicine.[3] His wife Nancy Haven[4] was a first cousin to Brigham Young[5] and Willard Richards.[6] In 1836, Brigham Young and Joseph Young stayed at the Rockwood home in Holliston, Mass. (still standing) and left a copy of the Book of Mormon with Albert, who went by "AP," and Nancy.

Soon after Brigham and Joseph's departure, Nancy's cousin Willard Richards came to stay with AP and Nancy. The conversion of cousins Brigham and Joseph Young to the fledgling Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints created a stir and the family gathered at the Rockwood home to discuss this development. Many in the family thought that Brigham and Joseph had gone mad and left behind a copy of the "Devil's Bible." Willard Richards proclaimed that he did not know whether the Book of Mormon was from God or the Devil but he intended to read it to find out for himself. He read the book from cover to cover while staying in the Rockwood home and became convinced that the book was from God.[7]

In 1837, Willard Richards and Brigham Young visited AP and Nancy and encouraged them to convert to the "restored gospel." In 1838, AP traveled to Kirtland, Ohio at the invitation of Brigham Young in order to meet the Prophet Joseph Smith firsthand. Despite hearing many slanders that were circulating about Joseph Smith in Kirtland at the time, AP was convinced that Joseph was a true prophet.[8] Brigham Young baptized him in Kirtland on July 25, 1837.[9]

Notwithstanding AP came from a leading family in the Holliston, Mass. area, his conversion to Mormonism brought persecution upon him. Wilford Woodruff reported visiting AP in jail after charges were brought against him due to anti-Mormon prejudice.[10]

AP and Nancy traveled to Far West, Mo. to join with the "Saints." They had to stay quiet about the fact they were Mormon's to avoid harassment on the way. In Missouri, AP was a member of the "Danite" organization and participated in the Mormon militia that attempted to defend the saints against mob attacks on their settlements. He wrote letters home to Holliston describing events in and around Far West that to this date are some of the most reliable historical sources about the nature of the Mormon Danites and the Missouri mob activities of the time.[11]

When the Mormons were expelled from Missouri during the winter under the extermination order issued against them by Missouri Gov. Lilburn Boggs, AP and Nancy moved to Quincy, Illinois in January 1839 and to Nauvoo by 1841. He was appointed a drill officer for he Nauvoo Legion on March 9, 1841[9] and was the commander of Joseph Smith's bodyguards.

AP Rockwood was trusted by Joseph Smith and there are a few surviving stories of AP trying to protect the prophet. On one occasion AP received intelligence that an enemy of the prophet by the name of John C. Bennett was going to attempt an assassination of the prophet during a drill exercise of the Nauvoo Legion. AP ordered the prophet's body guard to surround him during the entire exercise and the plan was thwarted.[12][13]

On another occasion, a sheriff from the state of Missouri crossed the Mississippi River into Illinois and kidnapped the Prophet Joseph Smith in an attempt to return him to Missouri to face charges. AP led a posse that attempted to recover the prophet.[14]

During the last days of the Prophet Joseph Smith's life, AP was one of a select group of trusted brothers who was helping to hide the prophet on an island in the Mississippi River from the mobs that were seeking his life.

After the mob murder of Joseph Smith, AP remained in Nauvoo where he was put in charge of quarrying the stone used to build the Nauvoo Temple.[15] It was a dangerous occupation and wives of some of the men working in the quarry complained to Brigham Young. AP accepted responsibility to care for the family of any man killed in the quarry. He followed through with his promise by taking two women into polygamous marriages after their husbands were killed in the quarry—Angelina Horn and Elvira Teeples Wheeler whose husband Henry Wheeler was killed in the quarry.

Having been ordained a seventy by Joseph Young January 5, 1839,[9] Young was set apart as one of the Presidents of the Seventy on December 2, 1845.[16][17]

When Illinois mobs drove the Mormons from Nauvoo, AP and his wives and children made the trek from Nauvoo to Winter Quarters near present day Omaha, Nebraska. By virtue of his ecclesiastical position and his relationship to Brigham Young, he served as a leader at Winter Quarters.[18]

When Brigham Young formed the first "pioneer company" to build and map the trail to be followed by Mormon refugees from Winter Quarters to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake, the advance group was divided up into three companies of "100's". AP was appointed as one of the three Captains of 100 who led the first Mormon Pioneer company West.[19]

Rockwood was part of the first group of Mormon pioneers to arrive in the Salt Lake Valley in July 1847. In the party, a few were afflicted with Rocky Mountain spotted fever, including Brigham Young and Rockwood. In order to make them more comfortable, Wilford Woodruff had the two ride in his carriage for the last few days of the journey. Rockwood was in the wagon with Young when Young reportedly made his famous proclamation about the Salt Lake Valley, "This is the right place".

As soon as AP was well enough to ride his horse, he was sent by Brigham Young on a mission to collect tithing from the saints on the East coast to help out the financially destitute church. After fulfilling this mission, AP returned to Winter Quarters where, in 1850, he traveled with his wives and children back out to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake.

In Great Salt Lake City, he was appointed Supervisor of Roads.[20] In his continuing capacity as a General in the Nauvoo Legion, he was involved in the resistance to the U.S. Army sent out to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake to quell the "Mormon Rebellion."[21]

From 1851 to 1879, Rockwood served in the Utah territorial legislature.[9] He was one of the first wardens of the Territorial Prison where he served until the prison was taken over by the federal government after its crack down on polygamy in the Utah Territory. He is remembered for his enlightened views and humane treatment of the prison inmates in his care.[22] He was the first game warden in the state of Utah, earning that distinction because he used prisoners in a project to raise game fish.

Rockwood practiced plural marriage and fathered 22 children. He died in Sugar House, Utah Territory at his home on Elizabeth Street at approximately 1200 East and 2500 in Salt Lake City, Utah (no longer standing) where he was surrounded by his family and friends.[16]


  1. ^ Four Centuries of Descendants of Richard Rockwood, Vivian VaLera, 2000, pg. 322.
  2. ^ Id.
  3. ^ Record of the Descendants of Timothy Rockwood, E.L. Rockwood, 1856, pg. 139.
  4. ^ Betsey Haven in entry for Nancy Haven, "Massachusetts, Births and Christenings, 1639-1915"
  5. ^ Nabe How, "Massachusetts, Marriages, 1695-1910"
  6. ^ Rhoda Richards in entry for Rhoda Richards, "Massachusetts, Births and Christenings, 1639-1915"
  7. ^ The Served: The Richards Legacy in the Church, D. Michael Quinn, Ensign, 1980 and family history related by Willard Richard's great grandson, Phillip Richards in 2003.
  8. ^ Here is Brigham....Brigham Young; S. Dillworth Young
  9. ^ a b c d Biography of Albert Perry Rockwood, The Joseph Smith Papers (accessed May 1, 2012)
  10. ^ History of Wilford Woodruff: From His Own Pen, Millennial Star, Vol. 27, 1865.
  11. ^ The Last Months of Mormonism in Missouri: The Albert Perry Rockwood Journal, Dean C. Jesse, David J. Whittaker
  12. ^ Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
  13. ^ Church History and Modern Revelation, Vol. 2, Joseph Fielding Smith
  14. ^ History of the Church, Period 2, Joseph Smith, Vol. 5, pp. 454-56.
  15. ^ History of the Church, Period 2 Apostolic Interregnum, Vol. 7, p. 381.
  16. ^ a b "Albert P. (Perry) Rockwood". Grampa Bill. Archived from the original on 21 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-06. 
  17. ^ History of the Church, Period 2 Apostolic Interregnum, Vol. VII, p. 538.
  18. ^ Deseret News, February 8, 1947, "100 Years Ago Today."
  19. ^ Deseret News, April 3, 1947, "100 Years Ago Today."
  20. ^ 1850 United States Census, Utah Territory, Great Salt Lake County, Sheet No. 95B, Reel No. M432-919, p. 189, B.H. Young, Transcribed by Channing Galbraith for USGenWeb.
  21. ^ Abstracts from Our Pioneer Heritage, Utah and Idaho, Vol. 1, "The Utah War 1857-58."
  22. ^ A Report with Extracts from the Congressional Acts of the United States Congress, The Legislative Journals and Laws of the Territory of Utah and A Concise History of Utah Penitentiary, Its Inmates and Officers, from the year 1855 to 1878, Compiled for and by the request of Mr. H.H. Bancroft by A.P. Rockwood, Salt Lake City, Jan. 4, 1878.