Question: What part did Israel Barlow Sr. play in obtaining the land of Commerce, Illinois, for a place for the Saints to settle?
Answer: Israel Barlow Sr. was born September 13, 1806 in the little town of Granville, Hampden County, Massachusetts, to Jonathan Barlow and Annis Gillette. When Israel was a teenager, his father bought land near Palmyra, New York. Jonathan Barlow, died December 16, 1820, leaving his wife Annis to care for the six children, the youngest one being less than one month old.
Israel Barlow, his mother, brothers and sisters became members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on March 16, 1832. They were baptized by Brigham Young and became members of the Mendon, Monroe County, New York Branch. They then moved to Streetsboro, Ohio.
Israel Barlow was a stone carter for the production of the Kirtland Temple. He ferried stone from the quarry to the temple site to be used. One day he was about to set out when Joseph Smith told him. "Israel, on your way to the quarry, stop and buy yourself a whip." Now Israel trusted his horse and didn't carry a whip because he didn't think he had a use for it, but on the way, in obedience to the Prophet Joseph, he bought himself a whip. After picking up his load and turning around to head back to the temple, his horse was spooked and began to bolt toward the edge of a nearby cliff and wouldn't respond to Israel's shouts. Israel grabbed the whip and cracked it over the head of the horse. It was so startled by the new sound that it stopped in its tracks, saving Israel’s life.
Israel was ordained a Seventy by Sidney Rigdon on 11 January 1835, and became an original member of the First Quorum of Seventy and was the senior President of the 6th Quorum of Seventy. He was a member of Zion's Camp and participated in the historic march from Ohio to Jackson County, Missouri.
In 1837 Israel left Kirtland to settle in Far West, Missouri where Joseph and many of the Saints had purchased land. Israel and 32 others left Far West late in 1838. They were counseled by Brigham Young to search for a suitable place to locate the persecuted and expelled 12,000 Saints.
It was through Israel's effort in 1839 that the Prophet Joseph Smith first learned of the availability of land near the city of Commerce, Illinois, which later became Nauvoo. Before the Saints left Far West, Missouri, Heber C. Kimball may have suggested to Brigham Young, Edward Partridge, Israel Barlow, and others to contact his cousins--Hiram, Ethan, and Phineas Kimball who were land agents. It may have been Hiram, Ethan, and Phineas who eventually introduced Israel to Dr. Galland.
Letters from Dr. Galland were given to Joseph in Liberty Jail. “After receiving the papers, Joseph apparently gave much thought to the property, particularly at Commerce, Illinois, and called for an immediate option on the land. On March 22, 1839, he wrote a letter from Liberty Jail to Dr. Galland and stated, “’If Bishop Partridge or if the church have not made a purchase of your land and if there is not anyone who feels a particular interest in making a purchase, you will hold it in reserve for us; we will purchase it of you at the proposals that you made to Mr. Barlow. We think the church would be wise in making the contract, therefore, if it is not made before we are liberated (from jail) we will take it.’”
It was during this period that Israel stayed at the home of William M. Mace in Quincy, Illinois, where he met his wife-to-be, Elizabeth Haven, a first cousin of Brigham Young. Israel and Elizabeth were married 23 February 1846, at Quincy, by Isaac Morley.
Israel and Elizabeth moved to Nauvoo after their marriage, and Israel began to help build the temple there. He also fixed up and sold lots, worked for hours on his farm, and was a member of the Nauvoo Legion. While in Nauvoo, Israel was a bodyguard to the Prophet Joseph and also a member of the Nauvoo Agricultural and Manufacturing Association. After Joseph Smith was killed, Israel was in attendance at the Council of the Twelve meeting on August 8, 1844.
Israel and his family left Nauvoo in the spring of 1846, when the Saints were driven from their homes. He was one of those who remained to assist at Winter Quarters when the first group left for the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. The following year he and his family also made the long journey traveling with Brigham Young’s Company. A year after arriving in Salt Lake, Israel moved his family to Bountiful where he had acquired a farm. They lived in tents and wagon boxes for years until they could get logs from the canyon for a home.
Israel responded to a missionary call to Great Britain, leaving 19 April 1853. He was president of the Birmingham, England, Conference for over a year. During his return in the spring of 1855, he was the Elder in charge of a company of Saints immigrating on the ship Samuel Curling. He traveled on to Utah with the Milo Andrus Company. In the winter of 1856, he was called to help a belated handcart company get to Salt Lake.
Upon returning to Bountiful, Israel was a skillful and industrious farmer, and was widely and favorably known as a nurseryman. His land produced abundantly a wide variety of vegetables, berries, hay, grain corn, sugarcane, carrots, beets, turnips, etc.
Israel Barlow was ordained a Patriarch on December 8, 1882. He died on November 1, 1883 in Bountiful, and is buried in the Bountiful Memorial Park Cemetery.
Source: “History of Israel and Elizabeth Haven Barlow,” FamilySeach.org; FindAGrave.com