Adapted from LDS Biographical Encyclopedia, Andrew
Jenson, Vol. 4, p.333
Lyman Wight, was a member of the Council of Twelve Apostles
from 1841 to 1849. He was the son of Levi Wight and Sarah Corbon and was
born May 9, 1796, in the township of Fairfield, Herkimer county, New York.
He served the Republic in the war of 1812-15 with Great Britain. He united
with Isaac Morley and others in forming a society in Kirtland, Ohio, conducted
on the common stock principle, being one phase in the rise and progress
of the Campbellite Church.
He was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints by Oliver Cowdery
in 1830, and was soon afterwards ordained to the office of an Elder. He
was ordained to the office of a High Priest by Joseph
Smith, at a conference held at Kirtland, in June, 1831. While at that
conference he testified he had a vision and saw the Savior. He went to
Missouri in 1831, by revelation, and soon after went to Cincinnati on a
mission to preach the gospel. On arriving in that city he called at a hotel
and engaged his board for several weeks. The landlord asked him what his
business was. He replied he was a preacher of the gospel after the order
of Melchizedek. He created so much curiosity that they wished to hear him
preach. He told them that was his business, and if they would open the
court house he would do so willingly. They obtained the house, and he delivered
a series of lectures and built up a branch of the Church, and baptized
upwards of one hundred.
The family of Higbees were among the first baptized;
they were fishermen, and Wight would fish with them through the day and
preach at night. One evening he went from the fish net to the court house,
and stood on the top of a stove barefooted with his trousers, rolled up
to his knees, and his shirt sleeves up to his elbows, and preached two
hours. Some of the people remarked, "He preaches the truth, though he does
not look much like a preacher." Many that he baptized went to Jackson county,
Missouri, and were with him through the persecutions of 1833. During that
persecution he was a dread to his enemies and a terror to evil doers, and
his life was often sought after. He commanded the brethren in Jackson county
in their defense against the mob. In one instance he was chased by seven
men about six miles; they were fully armed and came upon him so suddenly
that he had to mount his horse with a blind bridle, without any saddle
or arms, except a pocket knife. His horse being fleet, he escaped by out-running
them and leaping a deep wide ditch, where none of his pursuers dared to
July 23, 1833, he signed an agreement with others
that the Saints would leave Jackson county before the first day of January,
1834; but before that time they were all driven out. After the Saints were
driven out of Jackson county into Clay county, volunteers were called for
to go and visit the Prophet at Kirtland. Several of the Elders were asked
by Bishop Edward Partridge if they
could go; but they made excuses. Lyman Wight then stepped forward, and
said he could go as well as not. The Bishop asked him what situation his
family was in. He replied, his wife lay by the side of a log in the woods,
with a child three days old, and he had three days' provision on hand;
so he thought he could go very well. Parley
P. Pratt next volunteered, and they went together to Kirtland in February,
On their arrival at Kirtland, the Prophet obtained
the word of the Lord and they were commanded to gather up the strength
of the Lord's house to go up to Zion, and it was the will of the Lord that
there should be five hundred men, but not to go up short of one hundred.
In fulfilment of this commandment, Lyman Wight went through Pennsylvania,
and he attended a conference at Avon, New York, March 15, 1834; he also
went through Michigan, northern Indiana and Illinois, and assisted Hyrum
Smith in gathering up a company of eighteen, who joined Zion's Camp
at Salt river, Missouri, June 8, 1834, where the camp was re-organized,
and Lyman Wight was appointed the second officer. He walked the whole journey
from Michigan to Clay county without stockings on his feet. By the appointment
of Joseph Smith he gave a written discharge to each member of the camp
when they were dismissed.
On July 3, 1834, he was ordained one of the High
Council of Missouri. He was one of the signers of an appeal to the world,
making a proclamation of peace in Missouri, in July, 1834, and spent the
summer of 1884 in Clay county, Missouri. He took a job making 100,000 bricks,
and building a large brick house for Col. Michael Arthur in Clay county;
Woodruff, Milton Holmes, Heman T. Hyde and Stephen and Benjamin Winchester
labored for him through the season.
Being counseled to go to Kirtland and get his endowment,
Elder Wight started in the fall of 1835, and preached his way through to
Kirtland, baptizing such as would receive his testimony. While on the journey
he called at the city of Richmond, Indiana, and gave out an appointment
to preach in the court house. He walked through the city, and, being a
stranger, was unknown; but wherever he went the people were blackguarding
the "Mormons," and many declared they would tar and feather the preacher
when he came to meeting that night. At the time of appointment Elder Wight
was at his post. There being no light provided, he went and bought candles
and lighted the room. The house was soon filled with men who brought tar
and feathers for the "Mormon" Elder. He preached about two hours, reproving
them most severely for their meanness, wickedness and mobocratic spirit.
At the close of the meeting he said, "If there is a gentleman in this congregation,
I wish he would invite me to stay with him over night," whereupon a gentleman
stepped forward and tendered him an invitation, which he willingly accepted.
His host said, "Mr. Wight, it is astonishing how you have become so well
acquainted with the people here, for you have described them very correctly."
He was kindly entertained and furnished with money in the morning to aid
him on his journey.
He spent the winter of 1835-36 in Kirtland, and received
his endowment. He returned to Missouri in 1836. David
W. Patten having preferred a charge against Elder Wight for teaching
false doctrine, he was tried before the High Council at Far West, April
24, 1837. It was decided that he did teach false doctrine. He made the
He opposed the selling of land in Jackson county,
Mo., and considered Wm. W. Phelps and John Whitmer in transgression for
selling theirs. June 28, 1838, he was chosen and ordained second counselor
to John Smith, president of the Stake at Adam-Ondi-Ahman, by Joseph Smith.
Sheriff Morgan, of Daviess county, had agitated the
people of the surrounding counties, by asserting that he had writs against
Joseph Smith and Lyman Wight, which he could not serve without endangering
his life. He invited the people to assemble together in Daviess county,
with their arms, so that he could summon them as a posse comitatus to make
the arrest. The real design was to murder Joseph Smith and Lyman Wright,
as they had not offered any resistance, neither had the sheriff made any
attempt to arrest them.
They went before Justice Austin A. King, at Ragland's
farm, to allay this excitement, and gave bonds in the sum of $250 for their
appearance in court. Elder Wight subsequently went before three mobocratic
magistrates, under the protection of General Atchison's militia, and gave
bonds for his appearance in court, in the sum of $1,000, on a charge of
misdemeanor. This examination was had in Atchison's camp at Netherton Spring,
Daviess county, surrounded by several hundreds of the mob, and about one
hundred militia. His life was repeatedly threatened, and it required the
energy of Generals Atchison and Doniphan to prevent his murder. At the
close of this examination, he asked for thirty writs against members of
the mob, but was refused.
He was commissioned a colonel in the militia of Caldwell
county, previous to his removal to Daviess county, and in that county he
commanded his brethren while defending themselves against the mob. In October,
1838, after learning that Far West was surrounded by a mob, he raised fifty-three
volunteers in Adam-Ondi-Ahman, (25 miles distant), and repaired immediately
to Far West to aid in its defense, where, with Joseph and Hyrum Smith and
others, he was betrayed into the hands of his enemies, by Col. Geo. M.
Hinkle, on the 31st; and was sentenced by a court-martial to be shot next
morning (Nov. 1st) at 8 o'clock. During the evening, Gen. Moses Wilson
took him out by himself, and tried to induce him to betray Joseph Smith,
and swear falsely against him; at which time the following conversation
General Wilson said, "Col. Wight, we have nothing
against you, only that you are associated with Joe Smith. He is our enemy
and a damned rascal, and would take any plan he could to kill us. You are
a damned fine fellow; and if you will come out and swear against him, we
will spare your life, and give you any office you want; and if you don't
do it, you will be shot tomorrow at 8 o'clock."
Col. Wight replied, "Gen. Wilson, you are entirely
mistaken in your man, both in regard to myself and Joseph Smith. Joseph
Smith is not an enemy to mankind; he is not your enemy, and is as good
a friend as you have got. Had it not been for him, you would have been
in hell long ago, for I should have sent you there, by cutting your throat,
and no other man but Joseph Smith could have prevented me, and you may
thank him for your life. And now, if you will give me the boys I brought
from Diahman yesterday, I will whip your whole army."
Wilson said, "Wight, you are a strange man; but if
you will not accept my proposal, you will be shot tomorrow morning at 8."
Col. Wight replied, "Shoot and be damned." This was
the true character of Lyman Wight: he was true as the sun to Joseph Smith,
and would die for his friends. He was taken to Jackson county, with Joseph,
Hyrum and other prisoners. They were chained together and fed on human
flesh in prison by their Christian guards, and he continued to suffer with
his brethren until April 15, 1839, when he started with Joseph and Hyrum
Smith, Alex. McRae and Caleb Baldwin and guard, to go to jail in Columbia,
Boone county, but on the night of the 16th, the sheriff fell asleep, the
guard got drunk, and the prisoners left them, and went to their families
and friends in Illinois.
Oct. 20, 1839, Lyman Wight and Reynolds
Cahoon were appointed counselors to John Smith, president of the Saints
in Iowa Territory. In January, 1841, Elder Wight was called by revelation
to be one of the Nauvoo House Association. At the April conference following
he was called and appointed to be one of the Twelve Apostles, to fill the
vacancy caused by the death of David W. Patten. He was chosen and sustained
in that position on April 8, 1841.
He was also commissioned a brevet major-general of
the Illinois militia, by Gov. Carlin. In 1842 he went to Kirtland, and
rebaptized about two hundred of the cold, dead members of the Church, and
brought many of them to Nauvoo. July 1, 1843, he was examined as a witness
before the municipal court of Nauvoo, and gave a plain, unvarnished account
of the persecution against the Saints in Missouri, and of the sufferings
of Joseph Smith and his fellow prisoners. During the winter of 1843-44,
he was employed in the Pine country, at Black river, Wisconsin Territory,
superintending the procuring of lumber for the Temple and Nauvoo House.
In a letter directed to the Presidency and Twelve,
dated Black River Falls, Feb. 15, 1844, he wrote his views about preaching
to the Indians and going to Texas. In the spring of 1844, he started on
a mission through the Eastern States, and was appointed one of the delegates
of the Baltimore Convention. He delivered a speech on Bunker Hill, on Gen.
Joseph Smith's claims to the presidency of the United States; and on hearing
of the death of Joseph, he returned to Nauvoo with the Twelve.
After his return to Nauvoo, he said, "I would not
turn my hand over to be one of the Twelve; the day was when there was somebody
to control me, but that day is past."
When the Church removed to the Rocky Mountains, Lyman
Wight and Geo. Miller, who both rebelled against the authority of Pres.
Brigham Young, went to Texas with a small company of Saints, and settled
a short distance south of the present site of Austin. Wight and Miller
subsequently dissolved partnership, and Miller returned 130 miles north
with a part of the company. At a meeting held in the Great Salt Lake City
fort, Dec. 3, 1848, fellowship was withdrawn from both Wight and Miller.
Mr. Wight remained in Texas until his death, which occurred March 31, 1858,
in Mountain Valley. He died very suddenly of epileptic fits, having been
sick only five hours. The company of Saints who went with him and Miller
to Texas had been scattered to the four winds. Some of them, however, were
subsequently received back into the Church by rebaptism.
[The tragedy of Lyman Wight is that he seems to have
had a testimony of Joseph Smith rather than of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.]