Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Alpheus and Anna Nash Gifford

Alpheus Gifford was born 28 Aug 1793 in Barnstable, Barnstable, Adams Township, Berkeshire County, Massachusetts. Anna Nash was born 17 Feb 1800 in Butternuts, Otsego, New York. Anna married Alpheus Gifford on 27 Feb 1817. Their earliest known ancestors were among the early pilgrims to America, born in the late 1500’s and early 1600’s.

Alpheus and Anna had ten children. They lost their ninth, baby Enos Curtis Gifford, at the age of eight months, during the Missouri trials. Their tenth, Heber Chase Kimball Gifford, died at the age of four, less than two years after his father, Alpheus, died.

Their oldest, and grandmother of Mahala Strong Parker (my paternal grandfather’s mother), was Mary Elizabeth Gifford, born 23 Apr 1818, in Butternuts, Otswego, NY. My PAF records show that she was baptized 1 Nov 1848, at the age of 30, after the exodus from Nauvoo.

In summary, Alpheus and Anna Nash Gifford had the following children:

Mary Elizabeth Gifford was born 23 Apr 1818 and died 23 Apr 1880.
Ichabod Bowerman Gifford was born 14 Sep 1819 and died 26 Jun 1902.
Samuel Kendall Gifford was born 11 Nov 1821 and died 26 Jun 1907.
William Pitts Gifford was born 14 Aug 1823 and died 9 Jul 1843.
Henry Dill Gifford was born 28 Apr 1825 and died 5 May 1901.
Rhoda Gifford was born 28 Apr 1827 and died 2 Nov 1904.
Rachel Gifford was born 21 Feb 1829 and died 14 Feb 1846.
Moses Gifford was born 16 May 1833 and died 7 Aug 1854.
Enos Curtis Gifford, born 4 Feb 1837 in Log Creek, Caldwell, Missouri, died Oct 1837.
Heber Chase Kimball Gifford was born 16 Jul 1839 in Yelrome, Hancock County, Illinois. He died on my birthday, 3 Aug 1843, at the age of four, while the family lived in the Morley Settlement outside of Nauvoo.

Samuel Parker, Jr. apparently married Barbara Ellen Daley at some point. But about 1872, at the age of 23, he married Mahala Ruth Durfee, the daughter of Abraham and Ursula Curtis Durfee, and granddaughter of Edmond and Lana Durfee. Since Samuel was a grandson of Alpheus and Anna Gifford, it is noteworthy that this young couple’s grandparents, the Giffords and the Durfees, had been close friends and neighbors.

Samuel and Mahala’s first born, Mahala Strong Parker, was born 10 Aug 1873 in Shoneburg, Washington, Utah. Did she have a twin born eight days later, named Anna Elizabeth, who apparently died after birth? It appears that another little girl, also named Anna Elizabeth, was born nineteen months later, and only lived over four months.

Mahala Strong Parker, my great grandmother, married John William Hepworth on 2 Dec 1891, in St. George, UT. They had my grandfather Joseph Hepworth who married Lona and had my father Joseph Leland Hepworth.

“At the age of eighteen, having scarcely sufficient learning to enable him to read the Bible, he (Alpheus) commenced preaching the Gospel, not for hire, but for the salvation of souls” (HC, Vol. 4, p. 109, footnotes). (See also HC, Vol. 4, p. 484, footnotes – birth stated to be August 25, 1798.)

Alpheus married Anna Nash on 27 Feb 1817. They had “seven sons and three daughters. In the spring of 1831, hearing of the doctrines taught by Joseph Smith, he made diligent inquiry and found they were scriptural and was baptized and ordained a priest; he brought home five books of Mormon which he distributed among his friends; he was then living in Tioga County, Pennsylvania. Soon after he went to Kirtland, Ohio, to see the Prophet Joseph Smith and the brethren, when he was ordained an elder; he was accompanied by his brother Levi, Elial Strong, Eleazer Miller, Enos Curtis, and Abraham Brown, who were baptized. On returning to Pennsylvania he preached and baptized many, among whom was Heber C. Kimball.

Vilate Kimball’s autobiography contains additional detail, starting with, “Into Victor, home town of Vilate Murry Kimball, in the summer of 1831, there walked five young men. They said they were from Columbia, Bradford County, PA and had the message of the restored gospel to offer. They said they represented the Church of Jesus Christ and introduced themselves as Eleazer Miller, Elial Strong, Alpheus Gifford, Enos Curtis, and Daniel Bowen. They were given hospitality by Phinehas H. Young, and immediately held a series of meetings. The Youngs and Kimballs with other friends went over to Victor to hear them. What was partially known to Phinehas through his visit the Solomon Chamberlain the previous year was now given to all of them with added emphasis.

“What the missionaries said was stirring and convincing. They talked of a ‘holy angel who had been commissioned from the heavens, who had committed the Everlasting Gospel and restored the Holy Priesthood unto Joseph Smith as at the beginning.’ They declared the nature of Joseph Smith’s calling as a Prophet, ‘that all men were now called on to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins, and receive the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost; they said that these things should follow those that believe, viz: they should cast out devils in the name of Jesus; they should speak with new tongues…’ The reason they gave for the necessity of this restoration was that the people had ‘transgressed the law, changed the ordinances, and broken the everlasting covenant.’

“Brigham and Heber sat through the series of meetings deeply stirred in their feelings. To their complete satisfaction these young men answered most of the questions which rose silently within their souls, without ever the questions being given voice. Their faith was increased when they heard the missionaries speak by the gift of tongues as the ancient saints had done, and then give the interpretation with the dignity of their calling. This was no idle babble. It was the pure gift as promised by the scriptures.

“At the end Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball were constrained to bear witness that the visitors spoke the truth. Heber said that when they did this ‘the power of God rested upon us.’

“There were other events which caused their bosoms to burn and their wonder to increase. One day John Young, Joseph, Brigham, and Heber C. Kimball went to the woods to get wood for Phinehas. While they were gathering the wood they pondered the events of the past weeks and talked over what they had been told by the five missionaries concerning the new doctrine of the Saints gathering to Zion. As they talked the ‘glory of the Lord’ shone upon them, and they saw the gathering of the Saints to Zion, and the glory of that would rest upon them, and many more things connected with that great event, such as the sufferings and persecutions which would come upon the people of God, as well as calamities and judgments which would come upon the world. The glory of this vision caused ‘ such great joy to spring up on our bosoms, that we were hardly able to contain ourselves; and we did shout aloud, Hosannah to God, and the Lamb.’” (Autobiography of Vilate Kimball)

The Millennial Star 26 (1864), p. 488, Heber Kimball Journal, contained the following, written by Heber. “About three weeks after I joined the Baptist church, five elders of the Church of Jesus Christ came from Pennsylvania to the house of Phinehas H. Young in Victor. Their names were Eleazer Miller, Elial Strong, Alpheus Gifford, Enos Curtis, and Daniel Bowen. Hearing of these men, curiosity prompted me to go and see them, when for the first time, I heard the fullness of the everlasting gospel.” On p. 504 of the that same Heber Kimball Journal, he wrote, “April 14th, 1832, Brigham Young went forward and was baptized by Eleazer Miller, and the next day, or the day following, Alpheus Gifford came into my shop while I was forming a vessel upon the wheel, and while conversing with me upon the subject of this work, I said, ‘Brother Alpheus, I am ready to go forward and be baptized.’ I jumped up, pulled off my apron, washed my hands and started with him with my sleeves rolled up to my shoulders, and went the distance of one mile where he baptized me in a small stream in the woods. After I was baptized I kneeled down and he laid his hands upon my head and confirmed me a member of the Church of Jesus Christ, and said unto me, ‘In the name of Jesus Christ and by the authority of the holy priesthood receive ye the Holy Ghost,’ and before I got up off my knees, he wanted to ordain me an elder but I plead with him not to do it, as I felt myself unworthy of such a calling, and such an office.”

Alpheus’ wife Anna was baptized sometime in the 1830-32 range, according to the record compiled by Susan Easton Black.

The gifts of the Gospel were enjoyed by many, signs followed those who believed; devils were cast out; the sick were healed; many prophesied; some spake with new tongues; while others interpreted the same. Mr. Calvin Gilmour, with whom Brother Gifford had previously been associated in preaching, heard him speak in tongues and interpret. Gilmour declared he understood the languages and that they were interpreted correctly, and that he knew Gifford had no classical learning; but that he would rather be damned than believe in Mormonism” (HC, Vol. 4, p. 109, footnotes).

“One morning, happening upon the Kimballs as they knelt in family prayer, Brigham (Young) silently joined them. Serving as voice was Alpheus Gifford, the Pennsylvania missionary who had done most to convert the Youngs and the Kimballs. Gifford suddenly began to speak in an unknown tongue. ‘At that instant,’ said Brigham, ‘the spirit came on me like an electric shock to speak in an unknown tongue, and though I was kneeling in an opposite direction, the same moment I turned round on my knees towards him and spoke in tongues also.’ Those present were awed by this rare phenomenon in Mormonism” (Lenoard J. Arrington, Brigham Young: American Moses, p. 32).

In June, 1832, Brother Gifford started for Missouri; traveled to Cincinnati and wintered there with a few Saints, who had been baptized by Lyman Wight. He arrived in Jackson County, MO, in March, 1833, where he preached much. He was driven with the Saints in the fall of that year. He removed to Clay County.

Alpheus attended a high council meeting, held 6 Aug 1834, in Clay County, Missouri. Leonard Rich substituted for Parley P. Pratt and Amasa Lyman substituted for William E. McLellin. W. W. Phelps “reads letter of recommendation for the four brethren assigned at the last council.” David Whitmer addressed the four brethren "to visit the Churches,” saying “you are not sent to preach the gospel to the world for the world will not hear it in this place But to instruct the disciples in things pertaining to their everlasting happiness as well as temporal peace & prosperity &c (sic).” Lyman Leonard and Hiram Page shared some testimony, and Alpheus Gifford “testifie(d), to many things which had been given in by other witnesses.” (Far West Record 93n4)

He subsequently went to Kirtland, Ohio, and attended the dedication of the Temple and received the ordinances there administered. He returned to Missouri, and removed with the Saints to Far West, Caldwell County.

In the Quarterly Conference in Far West, MO on October 6, 18__, Alpheus accepted the call to “go into the vineyard and preach,” (HC, Vol. 3, Ch. 11, pp. 153-154).

In the winter of 1839 he was driven from Missouri. He located in the Morley Settlement near Lima, Ill, and subsequently removed five miles above Nauvoo, where he died 25 Dec 1841. (Portions taken from a sketch of his father’s life by Samuel K. Gifford, furnished the Church Historian in November, 1861, and filed in the History of the Church, December, 1841.)

In 8 April 1840 Conference Report, it was reported that Alpheus, with Stephen Perry, had ordained 31 brethren to be Elders in the Church (HC, Vol. 4, Ch. 5, p. 109). It was at this conference presided over by President Hyrum Smith, that Frederick G. Williams humbly asked forgiveness for his conduct while in Missouri.

He was ordained a High Priest 7 April 1840. He died 25 Dec 1841, in Morley Settlement, Hancock County, Illinois. According to HC, Vol. 4, Ch. 28, p. 484, he “died at his home some five miles above Nauvoo.” Anna, a widow for almost 38 years, died 5 Sep 1879 in Springdale, Washington County, Utah, and was buried 8 Sep 1879 in Shonesburg, Washington County, Utah.

High Council Meeting of August 6, 1834

Charge to the peace missionaries. More testimony about the Hulet Branch's practice of the gift of tongues and the gift of seeing. Members believed even Joseph's teachings were subject to ratification by the gifts they exercised. They expected to be persecuted by their brethren in Clay county. Branch members were deceived by the devil. Amasa Lyman and Simeon Carter are assigned to labor with them. Twenty-one volunteer for missions.

Spelling of names has been standardized.
Date August 6, 1834 Far West Record, 88–93.

Location Clay county
Open "Open in prayer as usual."
Substitute members
Substitute high council members: Leonard Rich for Parley P. Pratt, Amasa Lyman for William E. McLellin
History of Amasa Lyman

History of William E. McLellin

Letter of recommendation for four peace missionaries
W. W. Phelps reads letter of recommendation for the four brethren assigned at the last council.
Simeon Carter, John Corrill, Parley and Orson Pratt. ¶ Conference of July 31, 1834.

Charge to peace missionaries
David Whitmer addresses the four brethren "to visit the Churches, as follows: saying "you are not sent to preach the gospel to the world for the world will not hear it in this place But to instruct the disciples in things pertaining to their everlasting happiness as well as temporal peace & prosperity &c.

Expected persecuted by Clay county brethren
Said they received the word of the Lord while they were in Jackson County; that they were to be persecuted by their brethren in Clay County and now it had come—also said that the heads of the Church would have to come down and receive the gifts as they did—

Hiram Page testimony
Hiram Page testifies:
"The notes here are in abbreviated form and unclear." Far West Record, 93n4.

Lyman Leonard expected persecution in Clay
Lyman Leonard said if it was necessary to lay aside the gifts for a season they would receive a knowledge of it through the gifts. The Church said that there was a prophecy delivered through the gifts while in Jackson County that they were to come over into Clay Co. and there be persecuted by their brethren & said the prophecy must be fulfilled, and carried the idea as though it was now fulfilling.

Hiram Page.

Alpheus Gifford
Alpheus Gifford "testifies, to many things which had been given in by other witnesses."

Adjourn for 45 minutes.
Reconvene with prayer.

Brigham Young prophet, seer and revelator of the Mormon church, spoke "in tongues". Speaking in tongues means talking Adamic.
"As soon as we arose from our knees the brethren flocked around him, and asked his [Brigham Young's] opinion concerning the gift of tongues that was upon me. He told them it was the pure Adamic language. "
"The members of the branch in Pennsylvania were the first in the Church who received the gift of tongues."
"Brother Alpheus Gifford commenced speaking in tongues. Soon the Spirit came on me, and I spoke in tongues, and we thought only of the day of Pentecost, when the Apostles were clothed upon with cloven tongues of fire. "
" We exhorted them and prayed with them, and I spoke in tongues.


  1. Thank you for posting this. You seem to have done a lot of research. Anna Nash and Alpeheus Gifford are in my direct line but I do not have a lot of information about them. Do you have any more information about Anna Nash after she came to Utah? Trying to collect all the information about ancestors is hard because there is so much of it now. My e-mail is if you want to e-mail me.

    1. She followed her son Samuel Kendall Gifford (My direct ancestor) to Manti Utah, and then down to Springdale Utah on the Dixie cotton mission. She lived at the mouth of Zion National Park.

  2. Alpheus Was a pretty amazing guy. I have a copy of a letter sent from Spencer W. Kimball thanking our family for baptizing his ancestor into the church. I wished it would let me post pictures here. email me if you would like a copy.