Question: Who did Eleazer Miller baptize who later became president of the Church?
Answer: Eleazer Miller was born Nov 4, 1795 in Albany County, New York, the son of John and Sabra Miller. In 1816 Eleazer Miller married his childhood sweetheart, Rebecca VanZant. Together they would have ten children.
In the spring of 1831 an event took place that would change their lives forever. A friend, Alpheus Gifford, brought to Tioga County, Pennsylvania, five copies of the Book of Mormon which he distributed among his friends. His brother, Levi Gifford, was one of the first to accept the message of the Restoration from Alpheus, and he was eager to share it with his friends. Early in 1831, Eleazer along with Alpheus and his brother Levi, Elial Strong, Enos Curtis, and Abraham Brown, left their homes in Pennsylvania and went to Kirtland, Ohio to see the Prophet Joseph Smith. On June of 1831, Eleazer was baptized by Elder Levi Gifford.
In the fall of 1831, Eleazer, along with others were called to labor as missionaries in New York and Pennsylvania. In early 1832, Alpheus and Eleazer were again called on a mission to New York. They were given hospitality by Phineas H. Young in Victor, New York and immediately held a series of meetings. Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball with other friends went over to Victor to hear them. Here it was that Eleazer bore a strong testimony of the Gospel in a meeting. On April 14, 1832 Eleazer baptized several of the Young family, among who was Brigham Young, who would later became president of the Church.
Brigham Young spoke of this experience some twenty years later in the Tabernacle at Salt Lake City. At the time he referred to the man who baptized him, Eleazer Miller, seated in the congregation.
He said, “If all the talent, tact, wisdom and refinement of the world had been sent to me with the Book of Mormon, and had declared, in the most exalted of earthly eloquence, the truth of it, undertaking to prove it by learning and worldly wisdom, they would have been to me like smoke which arises only to vanish away. A simple, unadorned testimony of a servant of God was more powerful than all the world.” He continued, “When I saw a man without eloquence or talents for public speaking who could only say, I know by the power of the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of the Lord, the Holy Ghost proceeding from that individual illuminated my understanding, and light, glory and immortality were before me. I was encircled by them, filled with them, and I knew for myself that the testimony of the man was true.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 1:90)
In June of 1832, Eleazer along with Phineas and Joseph Young, Elial Strong, and Enos Curtis were the first missionaries called to Canada. They landed in Kingston and labored in Ernest Town and vicinity. There were so many who came to hear their message, they had to meet in groves, houses wouldn’t hold them all. There they started the first branch of the Church in Canada and labored about four months there.
In March of 1833, Eleazer and Elial Strong were called to do missionary work in the Eastern States. Then Eleazer was called to serve in Zion's Camp. “Orson Pratt delivered a sermon on the final restoration of all things and the services concluded with a 'powerful exhortation' by Eleazer Miller.” On Jan 5, 1839, Eleazer was ordained a Seventy at Adam-Ondi-Ahman. After having to leave Missouri, Eleazer and Rebecca moved their family with other members of the Church to Illinois.
During the exodus from Illinois, Eleazer served on the committee to expedite the removal of the Saints. Eleazer left for Utah with Brigham Young’s Company on May 26, 1848 and on June 1 was appointed a captain of fifty as they made their long journey to the Salt Lake Valley.
From 1849 to 1859, Eleazer acted as a member of the High Council in the Salt Lake Stake of Zion and took an active part in Church affairs. Locally, he was an acting teacher in the Twelfth Ward for many years. He also helped run the Church farm. In about 1855 he wrote an article on fruit trees and advised the saints in the valley on how to grow and cultivate them.
Eleazer died April 12, 1876 in Salt Lake City. The Deseret Evening News of that date announced his death as follows: “Father Eleazer Miller of the Twelfth Ward died at 8:00 AM at his residence. He was well known to many Latter Day Saints, having been connected with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints almost from its organization. He was a true and honest man and maintained his integrity to the work of the Lord to his last moments.”
Eleazer Milller is buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.
Source: FamilySearch.org, Summary of the Life of Eleazer Miller; findagrave.com