Grampa Bill's General Authority Pages
Isaac Morley Isaac Morley

1786 - 1865

  • Born 1786 Montague, Massachusetts
  • Married Lucy Gunn 1812; later practiced plural marriage; ten children
  • Baptized 1830
  • Ordained Elder 1830
  • Ordained High Priest 1831
  • Set apart as First Counselor to Bishop Edward Partridge 1831
  • Ordained Patriarch of Far West, Missouri 1837
  • Released from Bishopric at death of Bp. Partridge 1840
  • Exodus to the west 1846-48
  • Died 1865 Fair View, Utah

    This biographical sketch is adapted from the LDS Biographical Encyclopedia, edited by Andrew Jenson, Volume 1, page 235.
    Isaac Morley, first counselor to Bishop Edward Partridge from 1831 to 1840, was the son of Thos. E. Morley, and was born March 11, 1786, at Montague, Hampshire county, Mass. He was an early settler in the so-called Western Reserve, being one of the men that cut down the woods and introduced agriculture in northern Ohio. He served his country in the War of 1812 from 1812-15, and also held the position of captain in the Ohio militia.

    In June, 1812, he married Lucy Gunn in Massachusetts by whom he fathered seven known children: Philena, Lucy Diantha, Editha Ann, Calista, Cordelia, Theresa A., and Isaac, Jr.

    When Oliver Cowdery and missionary companions passed through Ohio in the latter part of 1830, Isaac Morley was among the first converts. At that time he was the owner of a good farm and considerable property, which he devoted to the establishment of the latter-day work. He was ordained an Elder shortly after Baptism and was ordained a High Priest June 3, 1831, by Lyman Wight, and on the same day set apart as a counselor to Bishop Edward Partridge. This office he filled until the demise of Bishop Partridge in 1840.

    In June, 1831, he was also appointed by revelation to travel to Missouri in company with Ezra Booth, preaching by the way. (Doc. and Cov., 52:23.) During the month of July, 1833, and while in their heated frenzy, the Jackson county mob had demolished or razed to the ground the printing office and dwelling house of Wm. W. Phelps & Co., at Independence, and tarred and feathered Bishop Edward Partridge, Isaac Morley and five others stepped forward and offered themselves as a ransom for their brethren, willing to be scourged or die, if that would appease the anger of the mobocrats, who on that occasion were gathered together to the number of five hundred men, armed with rifles, dirks, pistols, clubs and whips.

    Brother Morley was named 23 June 1834 to receive his "endowment" in Kirtland Temple. It should, of course, be noted that this early ordinance was not the full endowment received by today's saints. He left Missouri for Kirtland in early 1835.

    In 1835, Elder Morley visited the Eastern States on a mission, in company with Bishop Partridge. On their return to Kirtland, in November, Joseph the Prophet wrote: The word of the Lord came to me, saying: "Behold I am well pleased with my servant Isaac Morley and my servant Edward Partridge, because of the integrity of their hearts in laboring in my vineyard, for the salvation of the souls of men." He attended the dedication of the Kirtland Temple in March, 1836, and received his blessings in the same, after which he returned to Missouri and helped to locate the city of Far West, where he settled his family.

    At a general assembly of the Church held Nov. 7, 1837, he was chosen Patriarch of Far West, and ordained to that office under the hands of Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon and Hyrum Smith. He remained at Far West until the arrival of General John Clark and army with the exterminating order of Governor Lilburn W. Boggs, and was one of the fifty-six citizens taken by the military and marched to Richmond, Ray county, to await trial; he was turned over to the civil authorities at that place, where he, after the famous mock-trial, together with others, was discharged by Judge Austin A. King, Nov. 24, 1838.

    Upon the final expulsion of the Saints from Missouri, he located in Illinois, near Lima, Hancock county; the settlement made by him and others was named Yelrome. Here he began to gather round him the comforts of life by his industry, being engaged principally in the coopering business. In the fall of 1845 his houses, cooper's shop, property and grain were burned by a mob, and he was driven from the ashes by his hard-earned home to Nauvoo, where he remained until the expulsion of the Saints from Illinois. Before leaving Nauvoo, Bishop Morley entered into the practice of plural marriage and was sealed to his second wife, Harriet Leonora Snow. The couple had no children. He took as his third wife Hannah Blakesley on 14 January 1846. The couple had three children: Joseph Lamoni, Simeon Thomas, and Mary Lenora a total of ten children fathered by Bishop Morley. Shortly afterward he was driven from Nauvoo to Winter Quarters, where he buried his beloved first wife, Lucy. He emigrated to the Great Salt Lake valley in 1848.

    In the fall of 1849 he took charge of the company which settled Sanpete valley. The winter which followed was very severe, and notwithstanding the supplies of the settlers were barely sufficient to subsist upon, the Indians were not allowed to starve; some of the settlers had to shovel the snow from the grass that their animals might have something to eat. These things nearly disheartened most of the settlers, yet "Father Morley," as he was familiarly called, was never discouraged, but exhorted his brethren to diligence, faithfulness and good works, and encouraged them by telling them that it would be one of the best settlements in the mountains. Bro. Morley supervised the building of the first school house and the first grist mill in Sanpete Valley. He also made the first table and ploughed the first furrow in Sanpete county.

    He lived to see Sanpete valley dotted with thriving villages and termed the granary of Utah. Elder Morley served as a senator in the general assembly of the provisional State of Deseret. In 1851 he held a seat in the legislative council of Utah Territory, as a councilor from Sanpete county, to which office he was re-elected in 1853 and 1855.

    During the last ten years of his life he devoted himself exclusively to the duties of his calling as a Patriarch, conferring blessings upon thousands of the Saints. He died at Fairview, Sanpete county, Utah, June 24, 1865.

    Isaac Morley was of a kind and gentle disposition, unassuming in his manner; and his public preaching and that of his fellow-laborer, Bishop Partridge, was spoken of by the Prophet Joseph, in the following characteristic terms: "Their discourses were all adapted to the times in which we live and the circumstances under which we are placed. Their words are words of wisdom, like apples of gold in pictures of silver, spoken in the simple accents of a child, yet sublime as the voice of an angel." (See also "Deseret News" (weekly), Vol. 14, p. 313.)

    Andrew Jenson, LDS Biographical Encyclopedia,, Vol. 1, p.235
    Lyndon W. Cook, The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.79
    2005 Church Almanac, p.94

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