Our Bennett/Simpson Roots

A Distinguished Heritage


ELEAZER KING (11 Oct 1784 – 14 May 1854)  was born in Williamstown, Berkshire, Massachussetts the son of John King and Sarah Hawkins.

Eleazer married Nancy Fowler 24 May 1804 in Berkshire, Williamstown, Massachussets.  Eleazer and Nancy had eleven children of record.


The small, sleepy village of Williamstown lies nestled in the green hills of Berkshire Co. in the northwest corner of Massachusetts. It was here, during a beautiful autumn season, that Eleazer King made his presence known in this world. The first of thirteen children, he was born to John King and Sarah Hawkins on 11 October 1784.

John had been mustered from the Revolutionary Army with an honorable discharge. He and his bride had settled in this beautiful spot to make a home for their future family.

Life was not easy for those early settlers but their love for the earth kept them working and struggling to provide food and raiment for their families. Many hardwood trees grew in this part of the country, providing fuel for cooking and heat for the homes. Making a living for a large family was no small task. In such humble circumstances as these, Eleazer grew up and took his place in helping to clear trees and stumps from the land, work the ground, cut wood and perform other necessary labor required in those early days.

The Kings owned land in Williamstown, but about 1804 John moved his family to Bennington, Vermont. Eleazer was now at the age where romance plays a big part in a young mans life. On May 27, 1804 he took Nancy Fowler to be his wife, in Williamstown. They evidently went into Vermont with his father’s family and settled in Sunderland, Bennington County. Here they farmed in the rolling, rocky country about 50 miles southwest of Royalton where the Joseph Smith, Sr. family resided at that time.

From the diary of John Morris King, Eleazer’s oldest son, we learn that his grandfather, John, took his family from Vermont, in 1816, and moved into Northumberland, Saratoga, New York. John and Sarah’s family now included all thirteen of their children. Eleazer and Nancy had six young ones. All of them had been born in Sunderland. We don’t know how many of Johns older ones stayed in the upper New York and Vermont area, but Eleazer and his family moved with John, his wife, and youngest children in 1817. This time they went southwest, near the border of Pennsylvania, and settled in Tioga, Owega County, New York. This town is just across the state line and a little west from the spot where Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were baptized in the Susquehanna River. Eleazer purchased property here, but again their stay was short lived.

In 1818 at the age of 51, John, his wife and the children who were still with them, returned upstate to Saratoga. Eleazer’s family migrated northwest past the finger lakes of
New York and put down roots in a place called West Bloomfield in Ontario County. Here farmers were having good luck raising wheat. The King family was now living 15 miles southwest of the Joseph Smith Sr. family who had settled in Palmyra in 1816. If all of the children were still living, Eleazer’s two oldest daughters would have been 13 and 11 years old. The oldest son, John Morris, was 9, Eleazer Jr. had turned 7 and Lorenzo Don was but 3. These were the 6 children born in Vermont. Five more babies were to join this family, swelling the number of siblings to eleven. Alonzo F. joined the family 26 August 1819 and Enoch Marvin on 1 May 1821. They were followed by Huldah on 24 June 1822, Mary about 1824 and Robert, the youngest, two years later.

We don’t know for sure where the last three were born, but the diary says that John Morris lived in West Bloomfield until 21 years of age. It is almost certain that he lived with his parents, so we believe Eleazer’s last three children were also born in West Bloomfield. John Morris left the home in 1830 and went south to Grove, Allegheny, New York where he was married.

Living only 15 miles from Palmyra, the King family must have heard about Joseph Smith, his vision, and the gold plates. The news of these things was common knowledge all around that part of the country. It would be interesting to know how Eleazer and Nancy learned of and joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints but no record has been found concerning this event. We know that this family moved to Kirtland, Ohio in the spring of 1836. The first Latter Day Saint temple was dedicated there on the 27th of March and again on the 31st. It is unknown as to whether Eleazer’s family had arrived in Kirtland in time for that historic event. It is a matter of record that Eleazer King, Sr. received a patriarchal blessing under the hands of Joseph Smith, Sr. at Kirtland on October 14, 1836. He was ordained an Elder in the fall of 1837.

On the 20th of March 1838, the 6th child of this family, Lorenzo Don, died in Kirtland. He was three months short of reaching his 22nd birthday. This must have been a heart rending trial for Eleazer and Nancy to see their son cut down on the threshold of young manhood.

In that same month, the Seventies Quorum at Kirtland held meetings to decide if they would move with their families, in a body, to Farr West, Missouri. It was decided to do so, and the names of Eleazer King, Sr., age 54 years, and his sons, J.M. King, 29 years, and Eleazer Jr., age 27 years, are listed among those who signed the constitution which was drawn up to govern Zion’s camp, as the group of saints was called.

Eleazer Sr. gave 7 souls as the number of members in his family. Five of his children were still under the age of nineteen. Since John Morris makes no mention of the deaths of any of these, they were probably still with the parents. John Morris listed his family as having 4 members which meant 2 children. Eleazer Jr. and his wife had 1 child. This is proof that these two sons were in Kirtland with their parents. The younger Eleazer had joined the church in 1835 but John Morris had not yet been baptized.

Eleazer and his sons, with their families, did not wait until July to journey with Zion’s Camp. They left with another group on June 8, 1838, a little less than 3 months after burying Lorenzo Don. They traveled by way of Cleveland and Norwalk to West Union, Ohio, then turned their direction to the southwest toward Missouri. Zion’s Camp took a more southern route. The recorder of Zion’s Camp made the following entry in his journal: Sat. 22 Sept. 1838— “Eleazer King and sons, who left Kirtland before the camp, came up and encamped with us this night. The air was cool and chilly and towards night uncomfortably cold. We encamped about one-half mile east of Lick Creek in Monroe Co., Missouri.”

Eleazer, and those traveling with him, arrived in DeWitt, Carroll Co., sometime in the latter part of October 1836. While here, with other saints, they were constantly threatened by mobs. The John Morris King diary contains these words: “Arriving in the state of Missouri the people began advising me, with the rest of the company, to return or we would be killed, yet we continued on to DeWitt where we were surrounded by a mob. This was my first experience of this kind. We remained about ten or twelve days and was threatened by the mob everyday. In the course of this time we sent an express to Far West and there was a company came from there, including Bros. Joseph and Hyrum Smith. After a few days we left for Far West, with the promise that if we would go there, they, the mob, would leave us alone. We arrived at the city about the 20th of November but our rest was of short duration. Nothing but strife and trouble attended us until we were forced to leave the state. Many could he traced by the blood of their bare feet over the frozen prairie. I left the state of Missouri about the 27th of February for the state of Illinois, arriving in Quincy about the last of March 1839. Early in the spring of 1840 I moved my family to the city of Nauvoo where we enjoyed more of the society of the saints.”

John Morris was baptized 17 November 1838, so it must have taken place 3 days before they arrived in Far West with the prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum. The diary leads us to believe that all of the King family that went to Missouri, left Far West in February. After spending about one year in Quincy, Illinois, they moved on north, about 45 miles, to dwell at or near the city of Nauvoo. This was in the early spring of 1840. We need to remember that there wasn’t much in that area at that time, only a swampland waiting to be tamed.

They had traversed the Missouri prairie, in the dead of winter, just one year ago. Traveling in wagons, pulled by horses or oxen, provided very little protection from the cold, blustery prairie winds and snow. It had to have been a very arduous journey for everyone, especially the little children. There is no doubt that it took the wholehearted effort of every member of the King family to put up living quarters in this new location. As farmers, they might have lived on the outlying area of the city. The first year, especially must have presented severe hardships for all of them.

The second group of church member immigrants from England arrived in Nauvoo in October of 1840. They traveled down the Mississippi River and were met at the dock by the prophet Joseph Smith and many others. With this group came Mary Bigg Ware. Eleazer’s 5th son, Enoch Marvin, was now a young man in his 19th year. He and Mary met and a short romance culminated in marriage a few months later on March 30, 1841.

The Nauvoo Legion had been organized on February 3rd and John Morris and Eleazer Sr. were members of the Legion Martial Band. They probably served as drummers as Eleazer’s father had done in the Revolutionary War. With all of the unrest in the area and the many accusations against the prophet, the Legion became very well trained and was ready to be called out at any time. Trouble of some kind was brewing in Nauvoo the whole time the Mormons lived there.
A great event took place on the 6th of April 1841. The cornerstones for the Nauvoo Temple were laid to the tune of cannon salutes. B.H. Roberts tells us that the day was clear, balmy and beautiful. The Nauvoo Legion was out in full force to celebrate. A program and band concert was held on the square where the stones were placed in preparation for the construction of the temple. With the large concentration of people that attended, it is likely that most members of the King family witnessed the laying of those stones.

During the years spent in Nauvoo, more grandchildren were born and Nancy must have enjoyed those little ones as she watched them grow and learn. There were probably some back in New York and Ohio, and if so, letters surely went back and forth between them and this grandmother. Nancy never returned to those old home places. She had cut family ties when she left those loved ones behind in the New England states. This is always a heartbreaking experience for any woman.

On Thursday, March 17, 1842, the Relief Society organization was established under the direction of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He said there was “a numerous attendance there.” It is nice to think that maybe Nancy attended that gathering of women with her own daughters and daughters-in-law.

Everyone in Nauvoo was aware of the problems of the Prophet Joseph Smith and of the times that he spent in jail. Surely no one was prepared for the terrible news which reached their ears on the evening of June 27, 1844. The martyrdom of Hyrum and Joseph Smith stunned and practically paralyzed the city of Nauvoo. The Kings, as others, must have found the news hard to believe.

The next day when the bodies of the two prominent men were brought to Nauvoo, the Legion was ordered out and told to meet on the parade ground east of the temple at 10 A.M. From History Of  The Church we read the following:–addresses were delivered and exhortations given to the saints to keep quiet, and not let their violently outrageous feelings get the better of them.’ At 2 1/2 P.M. the corpses arrived at Mulholland St. on two wagons, guarded by a few men from Carthage, and nearly all the citizens collected together and followed the bodies to the mansion.” Yes, our Kings were there to go through the heartache and sorrow of that week’s nightmare in Nauvoo.

Later in that year, Eleazer Sr. was ordained a High Priest on 1 December 1844, by George Miller and N. Packard.

In 1845 there were 12,000 souls in Nauvoo and 5,000 more in the surrounding country. It has been reported that there were 350 men zealously working on the temple at that time. The baptismal font was dedicated on Monday, November 8, 1841 for baptisms to be performed for the dead. This work had been done in the Mississippi River prior to this time.

The fall of 1845 brought sorrow and heartache to the King family once more. This time the reaper took Nancy on November 8th. She was laid to rest at Nauvoo. Her youngest child would have been about 18 years old. This little mother had lived 57 years, 7 months, 8 days.

On Thursday, January 22, 1646, Eleazer, Sr. received his endowments in the Nauvoo Temple. The following week, on Tuesday, January 27, Enoch and Mary received their endowments and were sealed for time and eternity on February 6th. This date is also given as Enoch’s baptism date.

In January and February, some families began to pack their belongings in their wagons to cross the Mississippi River on barges. Brigham Young and the council of twelve knelt around an alter in the temple and dedicated the building to the Lord on February 8th. After this had been accomplished, Brigham took his family and crossed the river. In the next two months many, many families followed him in the bitter cold weather.

In telling of the progress on the temple, B.H. Roberts says, “Externally the building had been completed in the spring of 1846, even to the guilding of the angel and the trumpet at the tip of the spire.” He also stated that some rooms had been completed and dedicated for ordinance work and that on April 30th the temple was privately dedicated. On May 1, 1846, the temple, from basement to dome, was publicly dedicated. It is likely that most of the eligible members of the King family attended that dedication. Enoch’s wife, Mary, told her family that she was present on that occasion. These people had seen the rise and fall of the city Beautiful. Now they prepared to leave their homes once more. With a large group of expelled saints, they left the city on May 6, 1846. After crossing the river, they headed their ox teams westward and journeyed along the trail that so many had already taken.

It is possible that Eleazer traveled with Enoch Marvin and his family and arrived in Salt Lake City on the 24th of September 1849. If he arrived with his oldest son, John Morris, he did not reach the valley until September 15, 1852 with the John Tidwell Company.

This staunch family patriarch later moved from Salt Lake City to Spring City, Utah, about 20 miles north of Manti. It is possible that he lived with his son, Eleazer Jr., and his family. He became ill on May 8, 1854, and died May 14th at Spring City. Here he was buried. He had attained the age of 69 years, 7 months and 3 days.

This progenitor was in the midst of all the persecutions and troubles of the saints from the time that he took his family from Kirtland. He was a farmer throughout his life and records say that he served in the Black Hawk War in Utah.

Sources of information:
Comprehensive History of the Church — B.H. Roberts
History of the Church —- Joseph Smith, Jr.
Diary of John Morris King

Written by — Ruby King Hart
March 1988


One thought on “ELEAZER KING

  1. Daniel King on said:

    As a descendant of Eleazer Sr. and John Morris King I want to thank you for this summary. I have really enjoyed learning about my family history from this time period.

    John Morris had a son named Joseph Hyrum that was born just 36 days after Joseph and Hyrum were killed. Reading about how close they probably were to the tragedy gives a little insight into their grief and what those two brothers meant to the King family.

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