This biographical sketch is largely adapted from the LDS
Jacob Gates, one of the First Seven Presidents of Seventies
from 1862 to 1892, was the son of Thomas Gates and Patty Plumbly, and was
born May 9, 1811, in St. Johnsbury, Caledonia County, Vermont. His father
was a farmer, and during the early period of Brother Gates' life he worked
on the farm. He also worked at the carpenter and joiner trade, and his
education was confined to a limited period of time.
He married Millie M. Snow, (Her name is given in
another source as Mary Minerva Snow.) daughter of Levi Snow and Lucinia
Streeter, March 16, 1833. Later in life he practiced plural marriage and
fathered a total of thirteen children of record. He was baptized by Orson
Pratt June 18, 1833, and confirmed a member of the Church the same
day by Zerubbabel Snow. April 11, 1834, with his young wife, he left his
father's house for Missouri, where he arrived June 30, 1834, and located
seven miles west of Liberty, Clay county, which was quite a small village
at that time.
While here Brother Gates was invited to go with Caleb
Baldwin upon a mission, on which he left Jan. 25, 1836. At Flat Branch,
Sangamon county, Ill., on Feb. 18, 1836, he was ordained an Elder in the
Church under the hands of Elder Baldwin, and on the 25th of the same month
he left Edgar county, Ill., to return home to Clay county, in company with
32 souls, who chose Elder Gates as their captain.
In the fall of 1836 Elder Gates moved to Caldwell
county, Mo., a distance of about fifty miles, where he was ordained a Seventy
under the hands of the Prophet Joseph Smith and
Rigdon, Dec. 19, 1838. In the same fall (1838) he had been compelled
to march under a large military escort, in company with some fifty-seven
other brethren, a distance of about forty miles, to Richmond, Ray county,
to which place Joseph and Hyrum Smith had also been taken from, Far
West. Elder Gates' journal says: "It was here that we were tried for all
the capital crimes, save one, before Judge Austin A. King, and we were
imprisoned some three weeks. Finally we went each other's bail and were
released, when we left for Quincy, Illinois."
Not long after this Elder Gates went to Hancock county
and received a commission as ensign in a company of militia. The same month
he left home in company with Chandler Holbrook to preach the gospel, going
as far east as Kirtland, Ohio, and Clay county, Mo., and in the fall returned
home, in company with Wm. Snow he left Nauvoo, July 7, 1843, on a mission
to La Porte, in the northern part of Indiana, and the fall of 1841 he went
south into Marshall county and organized a branch of the Church; a goodly
number were baptized.
In June, 1843, he again left home for a mission to
the New England States, and before going he met the Prophet Joseph. His
health was feeble, but the Prophet said: "Go and fill your mission, and
we will wrestle after you come back." The Prophet and Elder Gates would
often engage in the game for exercise. When Elder Gates returned home from
his mission, May 26, 1844, he saw the Prophet for the last time, a little
distance from him, on his horse, going to his martyrdom.
At the October conference, 1844, he was ordained
and set apart senior president of the fourth quorum of Seventies, under
the hands of Parley P. Pratt and Orson Pratt.
In the autumn of 1847 he came to Utah. He had occasion to meet with Oliver Cowdery in 1849. As they conversed, Oliver said, "Jacob, I want you to remember what I say to you. I am a dying man, and what would it profit me to tell you a lie? I know,' said he, 'that this Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God. My eyes saw, my ears heard, and my understanding was touched, and I know that whereof I testified is true. It was no dream, no vain imagination of the mind-it was real." (Improvement Era, March 1912, 418-19).
In the fall conference of 1849 he was appointed, with several others, to take
a mission to England. He left Salt Lake City Oct. 19, 1849, and embarked
at New Orleans on the steamer "Maine," which arrived in Liverpool April
6, 1850. While on this mission, which lasted three Years, Elder Gates filled
several important positions in presiding over different divisions of the
British mission, and many were added to the Church. On his return home
he was appointed to take charge of a company of Saints which he successfully
brought across the plains, arriving in Salt Lake City Sept. 30, 1853.
During the following few years he traveled throughout
Utah, assisting in the organization of the different quorums of Seventy.
In 1859 he was called on another mission to Europe. To fill it he left
Utah Sept. 19, 1859, and reached Liverpool on the 13th day of December,
Soon after his arrival there he received a letter from Pres. Brigham Young,
informing him that he had been selected as one of the First Council of
Seventies. While upon this mission he traveled with Apostles Amassa
M. Lyman and Charles C. Rich. In 1861 he
returned home; on his way he stopped at the different points and assisted
in the outfitting work of companies of Saints about to cross the plains.
At the October conference, 1862, he was ordained a member of the First
Council of Seventies.
While living in St. George, Washington county, he
served as a member of the county court for several years. He was also elected
a member of the house of representatives of the legislative assembly of
the Territory to represent the district composed of the counties of Washington
and Kane. He was re-elected three times to the same officer, namely, in
the years 1864, 1865, 1866 and 1867. He was also elected a member of the
council of the legislative assembly in 1873, to represent the district
composed of the counties of Kane and Washington. May 12, 1866, he was appointed
brigade aid-de-camp, First Brigade of the Nauvoo Legion Militia of Utah,
in Iron military district, with the rank of colonel of infantry.
After a well spent life Elder Gates died at his residence
in Provo, Utah county, Utah, April 14, 1892, as a true and faithful Latter-day