Grampa Bill's General Authority Pages
No picture available. Wilkins Jenkins Salisbury

1809(?) - 1853

  • Born 1809(?) Lebanon, New York
  • Baptized as a young man
  • Married Catherine Smith 1831; eight children
  • Ordained High Priest 1833
  • Mission to east 1833
  • Zions Camp 1834
  • Ordained Seventy and called to First Quorum of Seventy 1835
  • Excommunicated 1836
  • Died 1853 Plymouth, Illinois

    Researching Wilkins Jenkins Salisbury, a brother-in-law of the Prophet, is a frustrating and ultimately dissatisfying quest. He was born in 1809 or maybe it was 1813 on the sixth day of January or was it June? The birth took place in Lebanon, New York, or was it Lebanon, New Hampshire, or perhaps Rushton, New York? The original records, wherever they might be must abound with ambiguity for the several researchers are unable to agree on the nativity of Brother Salisbury. It s known that he practiced the occupation of a blacksmith.

    Jenkins Salisbury must have joined the Church at a very early date, Perhaps through the teaching of William B. Smith, who he knew from his early youth. It is known that he married Catherine Smith, sister of the Prophet Joseph Smith on January 8, 1831. Whether his baptism predated his marriage is not known. The union would produce eight children.

    Jenkins Salisbury was ordained a High Priest and called to a mission to the east on March 12, 1833. On December 12 of the same year, he was called to a Bishop's court to answer complaints. However the complainant not being present, the charges were dismissed. It would not be the last time Jenkins would face a disciplinary council.

    Returning to Kirtland, in 1834 he joined the Prophet and some two hundred others on Zion's Camp, a relief expedition intended to succor the victims of the Missouri persecutions. George Smith kept a journal of the Camp's movements and leaves us with an incident involving Jenkins Salisbury: "During the day being very much fatigued with carrying my musket I put it into the baggage wagon, which was customary, and when I arrived at camp in the evening my gun could not be found. This circumstance was exceedingly mortifying to me and many of the brethren accused me of carelessness and ridiculed me about losing my gun. Jenkins Salisbury took the most pleasure in ridiculing me for my carelessness. I afterwards learned on passing that way that my gun was pawned for whiskey by one of our company, and have always believed that Jenkins Salisbury, who was very fond of the good creature [whiskey] disposed of it in that way."

    Nevertheless, Jenkins must have displayed a degree of valor and faithfulness or have evidenced repentance for he was selected to be ordained a Seventy and called to the First Quorum of the Seventy in early 1835, an interesting ordination given that he had already been ordained a High Priest.

     However, in 1836 we read disquieting news of Elder Salisbury in the History of the Church: "President Oliver Cowdery having preferred, to the High Council, a charge of unchristianlike conduct against Wilkins J. Salisbury, the Council assembled in the Lord's House, when it was proved that he had so conducted himself as to bring unnecessary persecution on me; that he had neglected his family, leaving them without wood, without provisions, or telling them where he was going, or when he would return; that he used strong drink and had been intimate with other women.

    Elder Salisbury confessed his propensity for tale-bearing, and drinking strong liquor, but denied the other charges. The Council decided that he could no longer be an Elder or member in the Church until there was a thorough reformation."

    It does not appear that Wilkins Jenkins Salisbury ever rejoined the Church.

    Following the martyrdom of the prophet, there was a dispute concerning leadership of the Church. Jenkins' wife Catherine seems to have taken no sides in the matter despite her brother William B. Smith being a disputant. It is known that she remained in good standing in the Church for she afterwards received her endowments in the Nauvoo Temple.

    However when the saints headed west, Catherine was persuaded by William to remain behind along with Emma, the prophet's wife, and Lucy Mack Smith, his mother. Catherine was the last survivor of the Prophet's siblings and died in 1900. Despite her estrangement with the Church, she remained cordial with her Utah relatives over the years. Wilkins' position in all this is not known.

    Wilkins Jenkins Salisbury died November 27, 1853 in Plymouth, Illinois.

    Smith, History of the Church several citations; see index
    Ancestral File
    Times and Seasons, Vol.6, p.961

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