Joseph Bates Noble

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Question: In 1844, what special gift did the Prophet Joseph Smith give to Joseph Bates Noble as they were on their way to Carthage, Illinois?

Answer: Joseph Bates Noble was born January 14, 1810, at Egremont, Berkshire County, Massachusetts to Ezekiel and Theodocia Bates Noble. Joseph Bates was the second child and eldest son in a family of six girls and five boys.

When Joseph was five years old the family moved to Penfield, New York. At the age of fourteen, he went to work for Mr. Fullom for five dollars a month. He bought a cow for his father and spent the remainder for clothes. During the winter he went to school. When he was eighteen he worked as a miller for eighteen dollars a month. During this time he rendered his parents considerable assistance. He built a log house on seventy acres of land and moved his father’s family there. He helped clear three acres of timbered land for planting wheat. He bought three cows and many other things for the family.

In spite of many religious revival meetings held in the neighborhood at the time, he never connected himself with any of the sects. In 1832, Brigham Young, Joseph Young, and Heber C. Kimble came to Avon, Swingston County, New York where the Noble family resided at the time, and began preaching the fullness of the Gospel. When Joseph Noble heard the gospel, he knew it was true and was baptized a member of the Church by Elder Brigham Young.

In 1833 Joseph went two hundred and fifty miles to Kirtland, Ohio to visit Joseph Smith. He met the Prophet going out to work in the hayfield and worked with him in the hayfield for six of the nine days he spent at Kirtland and learned more about the Gospel.

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As the year 1834 dawned, Joseph Smith made a call for five hundred volunteers to go to Missouri and help mediate the difficulties that had arisen between the Latter-day Saints and the people of Jackson County. Brother Noble was one of two hundred and five who went on the thousand mile trek known as “Zion’s Camp.” They traveled to Clay County, Missouri and during the encampment on Rush Creek, Missouri, cholera broke out. Many were stricken and thirteen died. Joseph accompanied Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball to Liberty, Missouri. While here he was sized with the dreadful malady and became ill for forty-eight hours, losing his speech and hearing and was expected to die at any time. While lying in this painful condition, Elders Brigham Young, Joseph Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, and Peter Whitmer came and formed a ring around him and administered to him. Joseph was almost instantly healed. Two days later he started his return trip to Ohio.

Shortly after his return from Missouri, Joseph left for New York. He had been engaged to Miss Mary Adeline Beman for two years previous. They were married on September 11, 1834. In less than six days they arrived in Kirtland, a distance of two hundred miles.

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The closing months of 1834 found the Saints devoted and untiring in their labors on the Kirtland Temple. From Joseph’s journal he writes, “My wife gave birth to a daughter, Miriam. She lived only two weeks.” In January of 1835, the School of the Prophets was organized...Joseph attended the Elder’s school in Kirtland while he was engaged as a miller in the neighboring village of Willoughby. On February 28, 1834 Joseph Noble was chosen and ordained a member of the First Council of Seventy in Kirtland. Joseph attended the dedication of the Kirtland Temple.

In the early spring of 1838 a meeting of the Seventies was called in the Kirtland Temple. The chief problem for discussion was the moving of that body of Saints to Far West. Joseph Bates Noble listed seven members of his family ready for the journey. On the morning of July 6th, 1838, the Company consisting of five hundred and twenty-nine souls took up their line of march to the West. Thus came into being the Kirtland Camp. The main body of the Saints reached Far West, Caldwell County, Missouri, October 2, 1838.

The Latter-day Saints were to find no peace or security at Far West. The city was already in a state of siege by the mob. Joseph B. Noble took an active part in its defense until he was forced to deliver his arms to the enemy. He visited Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail several times. Then came the extermination order by Governor Lilburn W. Boggs. Thousands of the Saints had to flee the State of Missouri in the depths of winter and take refuge in Quincy, Illinois. Joseph B. Noble made a short stay at Quincy and while there he assisted in removing the family of Hyrum Smith to Commerce.

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The Noble family then located at Montrose, Iowa. Here Elder Noble was sustained as a counselor to Bishop Elias Smith. Here also he was commissioned a second Lieutenant in the Iowa militia. The Noble family moved to Nauvoo about 1841. Here Joseph constructed a brick home. Many Wards were organized and Joseph was ordained a High Priest and sustained as Bishop of the Nauvoo fifth Ward.

Joseph figured prominently as a military man. While living in Iowa, he was commissioned second Lieutenant in Iowa Militia. When Nauvoo was incorporated, the privilege was granted the Latter-day Saints of organizing a military unit known as the Nauvoo Legion. Joseph enlisted in this organization and was commissioned by Governor Ford as a Quartermaster Sergeant. He also served as one of the bodyguards of Lieutenant General Joseph Smith.

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In 1844 enemies of the Church demanded that Joseph and Hyrum Smith be sent to Carthage for trial. On that fateful day in June 1844, when they left for Carthage, Joseph Noble was one of the company. While they were enroute to Carthage, Joseph Noble became ill. The Prophet Joseph told Brother Noble to return to Nauvoo and take a note to his family. In parting he handed him his sword telling him to take it as a token of their friendship. (Joseph Noble brought the sword, together with the one he had used in the Nauvoo Legion, to the Salt Lake Valley in 1847.) When Joseph Noble heard that Joseph and Hyrum Smith had been slain, he wept like a child.

Joseph Bates Noble Carriage House and Outbuildings (Still Standing) with Nauvoo Temple in 1846

Joseph Bates Noble Carriage House and Outbuildings (Still Standing) with Nauvoo Temple in 1846

On one occasion in Nauvoo, when the Prophet was speaking of those who had bestowed kindness and love upon him, he said, “They are men of noble stature, of noble hands, of noble deeds; possessing noble and daring and giant hearts and souls. There is Brother Joseph B. Noble also, I would call up in remembrance before the Lord.”

During 1845 and 1846 every effort was being made to begin the exodus to the Rocky Mountains. Before leaving Nauvoo, Bishop Noble called at the home of Lucy Mack Smith, mother of the Prophet and gave her the deed to his house and lot in Nauvoo as a parting gift.

Soon after the arrival of Brother Noble’s family at Winter Quarters, he was again sustained as Bishop and appointed to preside over one of the Wards. At the home of Bishop and Sister Noble another little child, called Hiram Brigham, died at the age of eighteen months. In the march from Kirtland to Winter Quarters the Nobles had buried six of their seven children.

Bishop Noble was made a Captain of fifty and assigned to the Company of Jedediah M. Grant. On June 21, 1847, the Company was ready to march. Mary Noble was expecting her eighth child as they journeyed across the plains. Somewhere along the rough trail, she gave birth to a baby girl on August 12th, 1847. On October 2nd, 1847 the pioneer caravan reached the Salt Lake Valley.

Joseph’s wife Mary gave birth to her ninth child, a son on July 31st, 1849. He was one of three to grow to maturity. She had endured many hardships and passed away February 14th, 1851 at the age of forty-one years. President Brigham Young preached the funeral sermon in the old bowery.

Bountiful Home

Bountiful Home

During those early years in the valley, Joseph was among the first to hold land in Bountiful, Utah, as early as 1848. In 1862 Joseph built a home and moved his family to Bountiful. When the Davis Stake was organized in 1862, Joseph was called to act as High Councilman, a position he held for many years. Joseph fulfilled numerous special assignments for the Church, one of which was to speak at President John Taylor’s funeral in July of 1887.

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Joseph passed away the 17th of August 1900 at Dingle, Bear Lake, Idaho, while visiting his daughter, Eliza. He was in his ninety-first year at the time of his death. He was buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.

Sources: Excerpts from “Biographical Sketch of Joseph Bates Noble, Pioneer to Utah in 1847" by his granddaughter, Hazel Noble Boyack; “A Brief History of Joseph Bates Noble” by Lorelle Boyson Gurney; “Life Sketch of Joseph Bates Noble” by Ora M. Simmons, her sources were from the Journal History, Historical Record, Noble Genealogy, Biographical Books and family tradition.