Joseph Knight, Sr.

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Q: Joseph Knight Sr is mentioned in D&C 12; and D&C 23:6-7.  What would the Prophet Joseph have done without the support of this good man and his family?

A: Joseph Knight was born in 1772 in Massachusetts. In 1795 Joseph Knight Sr. and his wife, Polly, were married in Vermont and had their first five children there. They then moved to New York, where they resided for nineteen years, and had two more children. 

“Father” Knight first became acquainted with Joseph Smith in 1826. They employed Joseph Smith Jr. to help them mill and farm. The Knight family never suspected what tremendous effect the unmarried young man from Palmyra, whom they had just hired, would have on their lives. While lodging at the Knight home, Joseph spoke of his glorious visitations. Joseph and his family believed Joseph Smith and became a great support to him through the years.  When Joseph Smith went to obtain the Book of Mormon plates, it was Father Knight’s horse and carriage he used.

In his journal, Joseph Knight wrote, “I let him have some little provisions and some few things out of the store, a pair of shoes, and three dollars in money to help him a little...I gave Joseph a little money to buy paper to translate.”  Joseph Smith praised Father Knight for his donations that “enabled us to continue the work when otherwise we must have relinquished it for a season.”

When Joseph Knight hesitated about being baptized, Joseph Smith prayed for him and received a revelation in April 1830, “Joseph Knight...you must take up your cross...it is your duty to unite with the true church, and give your language to exhortation continually.” (D&C 23:6-7) In obedience Father Knight was baptized on June 28, 1830 by Oliver Cowdery.

Joseph Knight, Sr. Home - Colesville Branch met here

Joseph Knight, Sr. Home - Colesville Branch met here

Due to persecution, Father Knight then had to leave New York and move to Ohio, then to Missouri, and then, by 1839, to Nauvoo. There Father Knight, now in his sixties, suffered from ill health. His son, Newel, cared for him, and because of his faithfulness to Joseph, the high council donated a house and lot to him.

On January 22, 1842, the Prophet Joseph wrote a tribute to Joseph Knight. “Joseph Knight...was among the number of the first to administer to my necessities...For fifteen years he has been faithful and true, and even-handed and exemplary, and virtuous and kind, never deviating to the right hand or to the left. Behold he is a righteous man...and it shall be said of him, by the sons of Zion, while there is one of them remaining, that this man was a faithful man in Israel; therefore his name shall never be forgotten.” (Hartley)

“From their first acquaintance with him until his martyrdom less than two decades later, they were his followers, as loyal as any who converted during his lifetime. Through fourteen years of Joseph Smith’s public ministry, he and the Knights were trusted friends and co-workers in the cause of the Restoration...The simple but solid Knight family network, who remained loyal to the Prophet longer than anyone but the Smith family, ought not to be ignored. They bear a quiet but adamant witness that their friend Joseph Smith was what he claimed to be.” (Hartley)

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After the death of the Prophet Joseph in 1844, and due to the continued persecution, Father Knight, with the aid of his son, Joseph Jr., gathered with the Saints to Mount Pisgah, Iowa, where he died in February 1847 at the age of seventy-four.

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Source:Who's Who in the Doctrine & Covenants by Susan Easton Black; A Family Witness of Joseph Smith by William G. Hartley.