Almon W. Babbitt, of the First Quorum of the Seventy
and president of the Kirtland Stake of Zion from 1841 to 1843, was the
son of Ira and Nancy Babbitt, and was born Oct. 1. 1813, in Berkshire county,
Almon married Julia Ann Johnson, daughter of Ezekiel and Julia Hills Johnson
November 23, 1833 at Kirtland, Ohio. The couple became the parents of six children.
He joined the Church at an early day, and is first
mentioned in the history of Joseph Smith as a member of Zion's Camp in
1834. At the organization of the first quorum of Seventy, Feb. 28, 1835,
he was ordained a Seventy under the hands of Joseph
Smith and others.
For traducing the character of the Prophet he had
a hearing before the High Council in Kirtland, Dec. 28, 1835; he confessed
his faults and was forgiven. Subsequently he filled a mission to Canada,
from which he returned in 1838, leading a company of emigrating Saints
to Missouri. After passing through the Missouri persecutions he fled to
Illinois, and at a conference of the Church held at Quincy, Ill., May 4,
1839, "Almon W. Babbitt, Erastus Snow and Robert B. Thompson were appointed
a traveling committee to gather up and obtain all the libelous reports
and publications which had been circulated against the Church."
In 1840 he was called to task by the Prophet Joseph
on account of the strange conduct pursued by him in Kirtland, Ohio. His
proceedings were considered by the brethren at Nauvoo and fellowship withdrawn
from him; but he was subsequently restored to fellowship. At a general
conference held at Commerce Oct. 3, 1840, he was appointed a member of
a committee to "organize Stakes" between Commerce and Kirtland. He was
also appointed to preside over the Church in Kirtland with the privilege
of choosing his own counselors.
In the revelation given through the Prophet Joseph
Jan. 19, 1841, the Lord says: "And with my servant Almon W. Babbitt there
are many things with which I am not well pleased; behold, he aspireth to
establish his council instead of the council which I have ordained, even
the presidency of my Church, and he setteth up a golden calf for the worship
of my people." Doc. and Cov., 124:84.)
At a conference held at Kirtland, May 22, 1841, Elder
Babbitt was elected president of "that Stake," with Lester Brooks and Zebedee
Coltrin as his counselors.
For teaching "doctrine contrary to the revelations
of God and detrimental to the interest of the Church" he was again disfellowshipped
until he should make satisfaction. This was done at a conference held at
Nauvoo Oct. 2, 1841. A month later the Prophet Joseph also rejected him,
as Church agent at Kirtland.
Having removed to Illinois, and located at Ramus,
Hancock county, he was appointed the presiding Elder at that place, in
March, 1843. He visited the Prophet Joseph in Carthage jail on the day
of the martyrdom and remained with the Twelve as against the claims of
Sidney Rigdon and others.
He rendered efficient legal service to the Church
during the persecutions and mobbings in Illinois, and when the Illinois
legislature, in January, 1845, was discussing the unconditioned surrender
of the Nauvoo city charter, Elder Babbitt was at Springfield laboring diligently
as a lawyer in defending the rights of his people, but to no purpose; the
charter was repealed. As a member of a committee appointed to formulate
a petition to the Federal Government, in behalf of the Saints, we find
Almon W. Babbitt's name attached to the historical document addressed to
Pres. James K. Polk, dated April 24, 1845. The petition, which was unheeded
by the chief executive asked for redress on behalf of a "disfranchised
and long afflicted people" and asked the president to assist the Saints
to obtain a home where they could enjoy their "rights of conscience and
After the departure of the Apostles into the wilderness,
in February, 1846, the affairs of the Church at Nauvoo were left in charge
of a committee, consisting of Almon W. Babbitt, Joseph L. Heywood and John
S. Fullmer; and after the famous battle of Nauvoo, in September, 1846,
these three men signed the treaty, by which the Saints agreed to surrender
the city to the mob.
Elder Babbitt came to the Great Basin in 1848, and when
a memorial praying for Statehood had been prepared by the Saints, he was,
by a joint vote of the "General Assembly of the State of Deseret," elected
a delegate to Congress to convey the memorial to Washington. He left for
that city in the fall of 1849, and arriving at the capital he "sought the
earliest opportunity to present to Congress the public documents of which
he was the bearer, as well as his own credentials as delegate from the
Provisional State of Deseret;" but Congress would not permit Col. Babbitt
to take a seat, and instead of granting Statehood, as prayed for, the Territory
of Utah was created in 1850.
Elder Babbitt returned to the Valley, and in 1853
he was appointed secretary of the Territory, which position he filled until
his death. Oct. 24, 1856, the report reached Salt Lake City that some of
the Cheyenne Indians had killed some white people on the plains, among
whom was Almon W. Babbitt; also that Mrs. Margetts and child were taken
prisoners by the Indians.
"The savages on the plains," writes Orson
F. Whitney, "became hostile, attacking and robbing trains and killing
travelers. Among the slain were several citizens of Utah, namely: Col.
Almon W. Babbitt (secretary of the Territory), Thomas Margetts, James Cowdy
and others. In April (1856) Secretary Babbitt left Salt Lake City for Washington
on business connected with his office. He was accompanied across the plains
by U. S. Marshal Heywood, Chief Justice Kenney and wife, Apostles Orson
Pratt, Geo. A. Smith, Ezra
T. Benson, Erastus Snow, and others. * * *
The Margetts-Cowdy party left Utah some time later. They were on their
way back to England. In August Secretary Babbitt's train, loaded with government
property for Utah, was attacked and plundered by Cheyenne Indians, near
Wood river, now in Nebraska. Of the four teamsters in charge, two were
killed and one wounded. A Mrs. Wilson was wounded and carried away by the
savages, who also killed her child. * * * Col. Babbitt was not with his
train at the time, but was killed by the Cheyennes east of Fort Laramie,
a few weeks later. For some time his fate was enshrouded in mystery, but
it finally transpired that after leaving the frontier for the west he and
his party were attacked and slain by some of the same tribe that had plundered
his train and killed his teamsters."
Sister Babbitt followed her husband in death Oct. 23, 1857
in Crescent, Pottawattamie County, Iowa.
LDS Biographical Encyclopedia, Andrew Jenson, Volume 1, page
History of the Church; Multiple citations, see index