Latter-day Saint Historic Art | Images of the pioneer, handcart paintings
Latter-day Saint Historic art includes Temple Art and Utah history Gallery Nauvoo selection Latter-day Saint Artists James Christensen, Greg Olsen, J. Kirk Richards, del parson Deseret Book Art
Porter Rockwell Wanted Poster
Porter Rockwell Wanted Poster
This historic hero in Mormon history is depicted on this high detailed print on heavy archival art paper. Rockwell was a great lifelong friend of the Prophet, Joseph Smith. Falsely accused of attempting to assassinate Missouri governor L.W. Boggs Rockwell was held in tortuous conditions for several months before he stumbled into Joseph's Smith's home and found refuge. He went west with the Saints and remained loyal to the Church his entire life. This piece is printed on high quality Acid Free Art Paper.
SIZE: 11 X 14 or 16 X 20
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Orrin Porter Rockwell was born in Hampshire County, Massachusetts on June 28, 1813. His parents were Orin and Sarah Rockwell descendants of famous early immigrant to Massachusetts Colony Edmund Rice. Porter Rockwell's association and life-long friendship with the Prophet Jospeh Smith began as neighbors when Rockwell was a child.
While Jospeh Smith was translating the Book of Mormon and preparing the manuscript for publishing, Rockwell worked picking berries and hauling wood to help pay for it's printing. He was one of the first members baptized in Fayette, New York, on April 6, 1830, the day the church was organized. Always moving and staying with the saints, he married Luana Beebe in 1832 and was endowed in the Nauvoo Temple on January 5, 1846. Porter Rockwell is served as the personal bodyguard to both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.
After eight months in jail on charges of attempting to assassinate Governor Boggs, a very sick and gaunt Rockwell made his way to Nauvoo. Hardly recognizable, he arrived at Joseph Smith's home on Christmas day. When his identity was confirmed, the Prophet said, "I prophesy, in the name of the Lord, that you — Orrin Porter Rockwell — so long as ye shall remain loyal and true to thy faith, need fear no enemy. Cut not thy hair and no bullet or blade can harm thee." The promise echoes that given by an angel to the parents of the Biblical Samson.
He did at one time cut his hair. Upon hearing of a widow who was balding from typhoid fever, he gave up his famous long hair to make the woman a wig. The recipient of the hair was Agnes Coolbrith Smith Pickett, widow of Smith's brother, Don Carlos, and mother of Ina Coolbrith, who grew up to be Poet Laureate of California.
He was also reputed to have killed many men as a gunfighter, as a religious enforcer, and Deputy United States Marshal. It is said that Rockwell once told a crowd listening to United States Vice President Schuyler Colfax in 1869, "I never killed anyone who didn't need killing".
Rockwell had four wives but was never a polygamist.
"But he [Porter Rockwell] was that most terrible instrument that can be handled by fanaticism; a powerful physical nature welded to a mind of very narrow perceptions, intense convictions, and changeless tenacity. In his build he was a gladiator; in his humor a Yankee lumberman; in his memory a Bourbon; in his vengeance an Indian. A strange mixture, only to be found on the American Continent."
Boggs attempted assassination accusationEdit
Rockwell was accused of attempting the assassination of Lilburn Boggs, the former governor of Missouri, who signed Executive Order 44 on October 27, 1838 known as the "Extermination Order" evicting Mormons from Missouri by violent and deadly means. The order was the governor's response to the 1838 Mormon War and to what Boggs termed "open and avowed defiance of the laws, and of having made war upon the people of this State .... the Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State if necessary for the public peace—their outrages are beyond all description." The order was formally rescinded in 1976.
A grand jury was unable to find sufficient evidence to indict Rockwell, convinced in part by his reputation as a deadly gunman and his statement that he "never shot at anybody, if I shoot they get shot! ... " Rockwell denied involvement in oblique terms, stating that he had "done nothing criminal". Some people saw the assassination attempt positively: An anonymous contributor to The Wasp, a pro-Mormon newspaper (though not an official publication of the LDS church) in Nauvoo, Illinois, wrote on May 28 that "Boggs is undoubtedly killed according to report; but who did the noble deed remains to be found out." When investigators questioned Smith as to these accusations and Rockwell's involvement, Smith denied that it could have been Rockwell. When asked how he could be so confident. Smith replied.... "He's still alive, isn't he?" 
Also at about this time, John C. Bennett, a disaffected Mormon, reported that Smith had offered a cash reward to anyone who would assassinate Boggs, and that Smith had admitted to him that Rockwell had done the deed. He went on to say that Rockwell had made a veiled threat against Bennett's life if he publicized the story. Smith vehemently denied Bennett's account, speculating that Boggs — no longer governor, but campaigning for state senate — was attacked by an election opponent. Mormon writer Monte B. McLaws, in the Missouri Historical Review, supported Smith, averring that while there was no clear finger pointing to anyone, Boggs was running for election against several violent men, all capable of the deed, and that there was no particular reason to suspect Rockwell of the crime.
Following the death of Joseph Smith, Rockwell followed Brigham Young and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints(LDS Church) to Utah. In 1849, Rockwell was appointed as deputy marshal of Great Salt Lake City and remained a peace officer until his death. He was well known for his endurance, loyalty and relentlessness.
Rockwell operated the Hot Springs Hotel and Brewery at the southern end of the Salt Lake Valley, in an area known as "Point of the Mountain."
It was Rockwell's fame as a "mountain man" that attracted the explorer Richard Francis Burton to him. In 1860, on his trip across America to the west coast, Burton stopped to explore Salt Lake City and its environs. He stayed with Lysander Dayton (from Ohio) in a village near the city one evening and Dayton invited Rockwell to dinner. Rockwell sent for a bottle of Valley Tan Whiskey and he and Burton drank shot for shot into the night with Rockwell outlining steps that Burton should take for safety during his passage to Sacramento. Rockwell advised Burton to carry a loaded double-barreled shotgun, sleep in a "dark camp" (unlit, miles from where supper was cooked), to never trust appearances, and to avoid the main trail, where "White Indians" (so-called because they were white robbers who disguised themselves as Indians to pass off blame) preyed on travelers.
Rockwell died in Salt Lake City, Utah Territory, of natural causes on June 9, 1878. He was buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery. At the time of his death, Rockwell had been a member of the LDS Church longer than anyone living. His epitaph reads, “He was brave and loyal to his faith. True to the Prophet Jos. Smith. A promise made him by the prophet. Through obedience it was fulfilled.”
At Rockwell’s funeral, apostle and future church president Joseph F. Smith spoke and said the following about Porter – “They say he was a murderer; if he was he was the friend of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, and he was faithful to them, and to his covenants, and he has gone to Heaven and apostates can go to Hell… Porter Rockwell was yesterday afternoon ushered into Heaven clothed with immortality and eternal life, and crowned with all glory which belongs to a departed saint. He has his little faults but Porter’s life on earth, taken altogether, was one worthy of example, and reflected honor upon the church. Through all his trials he had never once forgotten his obligations to his brethren and his God."