Timeline: The Life of Lorenzo Snow

2013-04-04T00:00:00Z Timeline: The Life of Lorenzo Snow Daily Herald
April 04, 2013 12:00 am

Lorenzo Snow, the fifth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is featured in the "Teachings of Presidents of the Church" manual for Relief Society and priesthood quorum lessons this year. Following are some of the significant milestones in Snow's life.

April 3, 1814: Birth of Lorenzo Snow, fifth of seven children born to Oliver and Rosetta Leonora Pettibone Snow, at Mantua, Portage County, Ohio. As his parents' eldest son, Snow had many responsibilities on the family farm growing up, including clearing land and taking charge of the farm whenever his father was away on business.

1831: Joseph Smith takes up residence in Hiram, Ohio, just 4 miles from Mantua. Some months later, Lorenzo Snow heard the Book of Mormon read in his home (the Snows were Baptists, but open to religious discussion) and briefly met Smith in Hiram.

Though widely read, the young Snow had little interest in religion, and remained indifferent to Mormonism even after the baptism of his mother and his two eldest sisters, Leonora Snow and Eliza R. Snow.

1835: After being granted a lieutenant's commission by Gov. Robert Lucas of Ohio, Lorenzo Snow delays a long-planned military career to complete his formal education at newly founded Oberlin College, a Presbyterian school. Snow was disappointed with the religious community there and remarked in a letter to Eliza R. Snow, "If there is nothing better than is to be found here in Oberlin College, goodbye to all religions."

1836: At the urging of Eliza R. Snow, Lorenzo Snow moves to Kirtland, Ohio, to study Hebrew with a teacher hired to instruct LDS Church leaders. Meeting Smith a second time left a deep impression on Snow, and he began to study Mormonism and observe Mormons, eventually agreeing to baptism in June. Snow was baptized by early apostle John Boynton.

Not long after being baptized, Snow received a powerful confirmation of his decision while praying in the woods, as recorded in his journal: "I heard a sound, just above my head, like the rustling of silken robes, and immediately the Spirit of God descended upon me, completely enveloping my whole person, filling me, from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet(.)"

Spring 1837: Eager to share his new convictions, Lorenzo Snow embarks on a year of missionary service in and around Ohio. He later wrote, "I shouldered my valise and started out like the ancient missionaries, 'without purse or scrip,' on foot and alone, to proclaim the restoration of the fullness of the Gospel of the Son of God(.)"

October 1838: Energized by his initial missionary experience, Lorenzo Snow sets out on a second mission, traveling to Missouri, Illinois and Kentucky. After concluding his missionary labors, he taught school in Shalersville, Ohio, from fall 1839 to spring 1840.

Spring 1840: While listening to a sermon in the home of H.G. Sherwood, Lorenzo Snow receives a personal revelation about the divinity of man, expressed in the couplet, "As man now is / God once was / As God now is / Man may be." A few years later, Snow confided his revelation in Joseph Smith, who confirmed it, saying, "Brother Snow, that is true gospel doctrine, and it is a revelation from God to you."

May 1840: After briefly reuniting with family in Nauvoo, Ill., Lorenzo Snow accepts a third mission call, this time traveling to Great Britain. In the course of spending three years there, Snow helped church membership in London to dramatically increase and was received at the court of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, presenting the monarchs with individual, specially bound copies of the Book of Mormon.

At the end of his time in Great Britain, Snow returned to the United States aboard the sailing vessel Swanton, making the passage with 250 Latter-day Saint converts.

Spring 1844: On assignment from Joseph Smith, Lorenzo Snow travels to Ohio to supervise Smith's presidential campaign there. Snow remained in Ohio until learning that Smith had been assassinated at Carthage Jail in Illinois on June 27.

1845: A bachelor until age 31, Lorenzo Snow accepts the principle of plural marriage and is sealed to four women in the Nauvoo temple: Charlotte Squires, Harriet Amelia Squires, Sarah Ann Prichard and Mary Adaline Squires. By the end of his life, Snow had become husband to nine different women and fathered 42 children, the last of whom, a daughter, was born in 1896 and lived until 1976.

1848: After living in a small settlement at Mount Pisgah, Iowa, for nearly two years, Lorenzo Snow leads a company of Latter-day Saints to Salt Lake City in the Utah Territory, arriving there in September.

Feb. 12, 1849: At age 34, following Brigham Young's reorganization of the First Presidency, Lorenzo Snow is ordained an apostle, joining the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles the same day as Charles C. Rich, Franklin D. Richards and Erastus Snow (a distant cousin).  

October 1849: Returning to the mission field, Lorenzo Snow embarks on a three-year mission to Italy. While in Europe, Snow supervised the translation of the Book of Mormon into Italian, and expanded the missionary labors of the church to India and Switzerland.

1853: At the instruction of Brigham Young, Lorenzo Snow moves his family to northern Utah to preside over a small, struggling settlement there. Snow reinvigorated the settlement, later naming it Brigham City in Young's honor, and lived there for many years afterward.

1864: After traveling to Hawaii to discipline an apostate church elder, Lorenzo Snow is apparently lost to drowning while attempting to go ashore in a small boat. According to firsthand accounts, "(H)is body was stiff and life apparently extinct" when Snow was pulled from the water. Snow's body remained lifeless for nearly an hour before mouth-to-mouth resuscitation revived him.

August 1885 to October

1885: Lorenzo Snow travels to Wyoming and adjoining territories to organize missionary work and establish the church among several American Indian groups.

March 12, 1886, to February 8, 1887: Arrested for his practice of plural marriage, Lorenzo Snow is imprisoned for nearly a year at the territorial penitentiary in Sugar House.

March 9, 1891: Informed while speaking at a church conference that one of his nieces, Ella Jensen, had died from scarlet fever, Lorenzo Snow leaves the meeting, goes directly to her bed and administers a priesthood blessing in which he commands the young girl to "come back and live."

Snow then returned to his meeting, promising the girl's parents that all would be well. A short time later, she revived, asking for Snow and reporting that he had called her back. Ella Jensen later married and became a mother to eight children.

1893: Following the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple, Lorenzo Snow is appointed the temple's first president.

Sept. 2, 1898: Upon the death of Wilford Woodruff, Lorenzo Snow becomes senior apostle and presiding authority in the church. Acting on revelation, Snow established a new precedent by reorganizing the First Presidency immediately and began serving as president of the church, with the sustaining vote of the Quorum of the Twelve, just 11 days later.

May 17, 1899: After arriving in St. George, Lorenzo Snow receives a revelation and, the following day, begins to preach strict adherence to the law of tithing, a defining principle of his presidency.

Oct. 10, 1901: Death of Lorenzo Snow from pneumonia, age 87, in Salt Lake City.

Sources: "Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow," "Prophets and Apostles of the Last Dispensation" by Lawrence R. Flake, "Presidents of the Church" by the Church Educational System, "Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow" by Eliza R. Snow. Photos: Intellectual Reserve, Wikimedia Commons

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