John P. Greene

Question: As Nauvoo City Marshall, what order from Mayor Joseph Smith and the Nauvoo City Council did John P. Greene carry out?

Answer: John Portineus Greene was born September 3, 1793, in Herkimer, New York, son of John Coddington Greene and Anna Chapman. He married first Rhoda Young on February 11, 1813.

John was a member of Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1828, he joined the Methodist Reformed Church, but being dissatisfied with it, he became the founder of the Methodist Protestant Church and continued as a traveling Methodist preacher. John read the Book of Mormon after his wife, Rhoda’s, insisted. She had received the book from a missionary, Samuel Smith, who was the brother of the Prophet Joseph. John and Rhoda then introduced the book to Rhoda's brother, Brigham Young (who eventually became the second President of the Church).

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Samuel Smith had felt like his mission was not too successful, as he had only been able to give away two books, but this one Book of Mormon he had given to John and Rhoda also helped to convert Heber C. Kimball and, in less than two years, the Greene family, the Kimball’s and the Young’s, together with their households. John joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in April 1832, as did Rhoda and her family, which included Brigham Young. John was baptized by Eleazer Miller and was ordained an elder shortly after. He moved to Kirtland, Ohio in October 1832.

In 1833 John was ordained a high priest and left to serve a mission to the eastern United States. He returned to Kirtland, in the late fall of 1833. He was appointed a member of the Kirtland high council on January 13, 1836. John would serve a total of eleven missions for the Church, serving throughout the eastern United States and Canada.

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John moved to Far West, Caldwell County, Missouri in 1838. He was a member of the Caldwell County militia and participated in the skirmish at Crooked River, near Ray County, Missouri on October 25, 1838. He moved to Quincy, Adams Co., Illinois in November 1838.

In 1839, John presided over church branches in New York and surrounding areas and collected donations for refugee Saints. He was the first president of the Eastern States Mission in May 1839. He published a pamphlet about the 1838 expulsion of the Mormons from Missouri in 1839.

John moved to Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois in the spring of 1840. He was a member of the Nauvoo City Council, 1841–1843. John married second wife Mary Eliza Nelson on December 6, 1841 in Nauvoo. He was a member of the Nauvoo Legion, and was elected Nauvoo City Marshall. He was admitted to the Council of Fifty on March 26, 1844.

Nauvoo Expositor  Building

Nauvoo Expositor Building

On June 10, 1844, John carried out the orders of Joseph Smith and the City Council to suppress the Nauvoo Expositor press. On the night of June 20, 1844, he with the mayor (Joseph Smith), Hyrum Smith, and Captain Jonathan Dunham, left Nauvoo secretly and passed over into Iowa, where they remained until the afternoon of the 23rd, when they returned to Nauvoo.

On the morning of the 24th, he started, in company with Joseph and Hyrum Smith, for Carthage, to give themselves up to the state authorities; and on the 25th, he underwent a mock trial, in company with the others. On the 27th, he obeyed an order given by Governor Ford to go to Nauvoo to keep order when the governor should come into the city, as the governor pledged himself and the faith of the state to protect Joseph and Hyrum and bring them with him to Nauvoo. When Governor Ford arrived at Nauvoo without Joseph and Hyrum, Brother Greene upbraided him for not keeping his promise. On the morning of the 28th, when the news of the massacre reached the city, Brother Greene, was one of the first to visit Joseph's wife, Emma.

From this time on, John's feeble constitution sank down rapidly, and on September 10, 1844, he departed this life, at the age of 51 years and seven days, having been an incessant laborer in the kingdom of God for twelve years and five months. He was buried in the Nauvoo Cemetery.

Even though John and Rhoda are buried in the old Nauvoo burial grounds, there is no headstone there for them and a new headstone was not allowed. A memorial in their honor is in the Salt Lake City Cemetery in their son, Evan Melbourne Greene's, burial plot.

Source: Joseph Smith Papers; Biographical Sketch of John Portineus Greene By his son, Evan M.Greene, This was taken from the L.D.S. Biographical Encyclopedia, Vol.II, Ne. 1, January, 1908; pages 633 to 636; FamilySarch.org.; FindAGrave.com