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Newel Knight autobiography

 Item — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 8414

Scope and Contents

Contains photocopies of Newel Knight's original autobiography. The autobiography was prepared by Knight's wife, Lydia, in 1871, twenty-four years after Knight's death. The manuscript covers material from 1800 to 1846, but it mostly focuses on events between 1830 and 1846 when members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were living in the East Coast and the Midwest. The autobiography contains information about the early Church, traveling west in 1846, and Knight's own family as well as Knight's own handwritten copies of patriarchal blessings, letters, and revelations. Dated 1871.


  • 1871


Conditions Governing Access

Open for public research.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from the Newel Knight autobiography must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.

Biographical History

Newel Knight (1800-1847) was an early Mormon convert, and friend of Joseph Smith.

Newel Knight was born on September 13, 1800, in Marlboro, Vermont, to parents Joseph Knight and Polly Peck. Joseph Smith worked on the Knight's family farm in 1826 and he would tell the family about his experiences and teach them the gospel. This led to Knight's baptism into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1830. He was baptized by David Whitmer, one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon. Knight was also the subject of the first miracle performed in the Church when an evil spirit was exorcised from him by Joseph Smith. He mostly worked as a miller and merchant.

He married Sally Colburn on June 7, 1825, and they had two children together. After Colburn died in 1834, Knight married his second wife, Lydia Goldthwaite Bailey; they had seven children together. Knight was the president of the Colesville branch of the Church in 1831. He also served on the first high council of the Church in Clay County, Missouri in 1834 as well as four other high councils during the next twelve years. In 1846, he was sent by Brigham Young to lead a wagon company west.

Knight died at the Ponca Encampment at Grand Island, Nebraska, on January 11, 1847, during the Mormon exodus to the West.

Biographical History

Lydia Goldthwaithe Bailey Knight (1812-1884) was a Mormon boardinghouse operator, weaver, and teacher in Utah.

Lydia was born on June 9, 1812, in Sutton, Massachusetts to parents Jesse G. Goldthwaite and Sally Burt. On October 27, 1833, she was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by Joseph Smith Jr. at Mount Pleasant. She first married Calvin Bailey in 1828, but she was deserted by him. She remarried Newel Knight on November 24, 1835, at Kirtland, Ohio. While in Ohio, Lydia helped Jerusha Smith, Hyrum Smith's wife, run a boardinghouse in Kirtland. She also worked as a weaver and teacher throughout her life. In Nauvoo, she became a member of the Relief Society in 1842.

Together, Newel and Lydia moved to Missouri, Ililnois, and began the Mormon exodus to the West. After Newel died in 1847, Lydia completed the trek to the West and finally settled in the Salt Lake Valley in 1850. There she married John Dalton in 1852, but they divorced five years into their marriage. Her final marriage was to James McClellan in 1864 at Payson. Lydia served a colonizing mission with McClellan to Santa Clara, Utah. She was also appointed to serve in the temple at St. George, Utah.

She died on April 3, 1884, in St. George, Utah.


2 boxes (0.75 linear ft.)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

Materials were found in Harvard Heath's office after his retirement and inventoried by Chelsea Dyreng in October 2001.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Harvard Heath; 2001.


LDS cultural, social, and religious history (19th Century Mormon and Western Manuscripts collection development policy 1.V, November 2013).

Existence and Location of Originals

Newel Knight autobiography, circa 1871 (MS 19156); Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; 15 East North Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84150; 801-240-2272.

Related Materials

See also Newel Knight autobiography (MSS SC 2769).

Processing Information

Processed; Zoë Brimhall, student manuscript processor, and Ryan K. Lee, curator; 2014.

Register of Newel Knight autobiography
Zoë Brimhall
2014 March 17
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States