Q: Orson Hyde is mentioned in several places in the D&C. What was his role in the early days of the Church? What special blessing did the Prophet Joseph give to Orson Hyde?
A: Orson Hyde was born in 1805 in Connecticut, the eighth of ten children. His mother died when he was seven, and his father died when he was seventeen. He affiliated with the Campbellite movement until Sidney Rigdon introduced him to the Church. Orson Hyde was baptized by Sydney Rigdon on October 30, 1831.
Hyde was called on a succession of missions for the church, serving with Hyrum Smith, Samuel H. Smith, and John Gould. In 1832 has was among the first missionaries in Connecticut, Maine and Massachusetts. Upon his return to Ohio, Orson was appointed to teach in the School of the Prophets. He said, “I have once memorized the Bible, and when any one quoted one verse, I could quote the next...” In 1833 he was called to be the clerk to the First Presidency of the Church and is credited with recording the Kirtland revelations from 1831 to 1834.
Orson marched with Zion's Camp in 1834. Returning from this Camp, Orson was ordained an apostle of the Church on February 15, 1835 as one of the original twelve. In 1837 to 1838, he was one of the first Apostles to serve a mission to the British Isles, along with Heber C. Kimball and John Goodson. They were successful in bringing thousands of converts to the faith.
Orson received a special blessing from the Prophet Joseph, "In due time thou shalt go to Jerusalem, the land of thy fathers, and be a watchman unto the house of Israel; and by thy hand shall the Most High do a great work...” The opportunity for fulfilling this blessing came in the 1840s when Orson journeyed from Nauvoo to England and from there through Europe to Palestine. On October 24, 1841, he climbed the Mount of Olives and dedicated Jerusalem for the return of the Jews and building of the temple. In the prayer he petitioned the Lord to, “Let the land become abundantly fruitful when possessed by its rightful heirs.” He then erected a pile of stones as a witness “according to ancient custom.”
Upon returning to Nauvoo, Orson was sent to Washington, D.C., to present a memorial reviewing the persecution of the Saints in Missouri. On June 27, 1844, he felt very heavy and sorrowful in spirit, and days later learned the cause of these feelings was the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum. He helped with the completing of the Nauvoo Temple before joining the Saints in the Iowa Territory. He published the Church newspaper, the Frontier Guardian, at Kanesville (later Council Bluffs), Pottawattamie Co., Iowa, 1849–1852. In 1852 he migrated to the Great Salt Lake Valley.
Orson served as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles from 1847 to 1875. In June 1875 Brigham Young adjusted the seniority of the Twelve and taught if a Quorum member had been disciplined and removed from the council, his seniority should be based on the date of readmission. Orson had left the Church in Missouri for a short period of time but had been reinstated in his original position when he returned in 1840. As a result of the readjustment, John Taylor was moved ahead of Orson and was made President of the Quorum. When Brigham Young died in August 1877, after the Apostolic leadership period, John Taylor became the third president of the Church.
Orson died November 28, 1878, and is buried in the Spring City cemetery. The inscription on his tombstone reads, “Orson Hyde, apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. Defender of truth, preacher of righteousness.”
Orson Hyde Memorial Garden
In memory of Orson Hyde’s visit to the Holy land and dedication for the return of the Jews, the Orson Hyde Memorial Garden was built on a 5.5 acre park on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, Israel. The park was dedicated on October 24, 1979, by President Spencer W. Kimball. The park features a 150-seat stone amphitheater, and is noted for its views of the Kidron Valley and the Old City of Jerusalem.
Source: Who's Who in the Doctrine & Covenants by Susan Easton Black