Lorenzo D. Barnes, the first Latter-day Saint Elder
who died while laboring as a missionary in a foreign land, was born March
22, 1812 in Tolland, Hampden county, Mass., the son of Phineas Barnes,
a New England farmer.
He removed with his parents to the eastern part of
Ohio in 1815 and thence, in 1816, moved to Norton, Medina county, Ohio,
where he became a convert to "Mormonism" and was baptized by Elder Thomas
Gorden June 16, 1833. He was ordained an Elder by Sidney
Rigdon July 18, 1833, soon after which he went to Kirtland, the headquarters
of the Church at that time.
While there he was called on a mission by the council
of High Priests and left Thompson Aug. 1, 1833, in company with Elial Strong.
On this mission to western Ohio they held a number of meetings in Lerado,
Westville, Harmony, Jamestown, Pomfret and Perrysburgh and in the regions
round about. Bro. Barnes returned to Kirtland in October and during the
winter of 1833-1834 he taught school at Norton.
In the spring of 1834, when the call was made for
volunteers to go to Missouri, Lorenzo D. Barnes responded and marched as
a member of Zion's Camp, under the leadership of the Prophet Joseph
Smith, to Missouri. This company marched on foot nearly a thousand
miles for the purpose of assisting the Saints who had been driven from
their homes in Jackson county, Missouri.
In the spring of 1835, he was ordained one of the
first Seventy, and commenced preaching through several counties of Ohio.
In 1835 he took a mission to Virginia, and having a limited education and
an impediment in his speech, he was frequently singled out by the sectarian
preachers as an object of attack. He held several debates with the clergymen
of different denominations and had unusual success, for, the close of every
debate was followed by baptisms. By faith and perseverence he overcame
the impediment in his speech and became an orator of superior powers.
In June, 1838, he was ordained a High Priest and
became a member of the High Council of Adam-ondi-Ahman, and in September
of that year he was sent on a mission to the Southern and Eastern States;
traversing on foot the states of Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Virginia,
preaching without purse or script. In 1839 he built up a large branch of
the Church in Chester county, Pennsylvania, and established many other
branches in different parts of the Eastern States. He continued his labors
until the year 1841 when he led a company of Saints to Nauvoo. In the fall
of the same year (1841) he was sent on a mission to England, and labored
for a short season in and about Manchester. From there he went to the Cheltenham
conference, in Gloucestershire, where he labored until the general conference,
held in England, when he received an appointment to preside over the Bradford
conference, where he labored faithfully until his death, which occurred
Dec. 20, 1842.
Bro. Barnes was possessed of most untiring perseverence,
industry and application, and wore out his life by constant preaching and
exposure. At the following general conference held in England, the American
Elders and many of the Saints donated the sum of five pounds five shillings
and six pence ($26.00) for the purpose of erecting over his grave, at Idle,
Yorkshire (where his remains were interred) a stone, upon which is found
the following epitaph: "In memory of Lorenzo D. Barnes, who died on the
20th of December, 1842, age 30 years. He was a native of the United States,
an Elder in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a member of
the High Priests' quorum and also of Zion's Camp in the year 1834, and
the first gospel messenger from Nauvoo who has found a grave in a foreign
The remains of Elder Barnes were subsequently shipped
to Utah and interred in the city cemetery in Salt Lake City and the 2nd
quorum of Seventy has erected a modest monument over his grave.