In August 1832 Henry was baptized and ordained an elder. Two years later, he was residing in Kirtland, Ohio with the Saints of God and anxiously engaged in building the temple. On April 5, 1836 he was given an elder’s license and called to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Southern States. A brief report of his missionary labors in Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee appeared in the Messenger and Advocate: “I travelled among the several branches, endeavoring with my best ability to set in order the things then wanting, and to teach the ways of God more perfectly.”1 At the conclusion of his missionary labors, Henry was called to serve on the Kirtland high council. This calling he faithfully fulfilled until threats of mob violence forced him from the vicinity.
By summer of 1839 Henry was residing in a tent in the swamplands of Commerce, Illinois. By all accounts, he was stricken with malaria and “nigh unto death.” As he lay in a helpless state, the Prophet Joseph Smith “stood in the door of his tent and commanded him in the name of Jesus Christ to arise and come out of his tent, and he obeyed him and was healed.”2 Henry’s immediate renewal of health enabled him to give even greater service to the Church and his community. He was a marshal in Nauvoo and a clerk and member of the Nauvoo high council. For this faithful service and subsequent mission to New Orleans, the Prophet Joseph named Henry in a group of faithful men and said, “My heart feels to reciprocate the unwearied kindnesses that have been bestowed upon me by these men.”3
Lorenzo Snow was a frequent guest in Henry’s home in Nauvoo. It was in his home that Lorenzo received a revelation about the connection between God and man: “The eyes of my understanding were opened,” Lorenzo said, “and I saw as clear as the sun at noonday, with wonder and astonishment, the pathway of God and man. I formed the following couplet which expresses the revelation, as it was shown to me. As man now is, God once was: As God now is, man may be.”4
Henry was present when the Prophet Joseph said, “I am going like a lamb to the slaughter, but I am calm as a summer’s morning. I have a conscience void of offense toward God and toward all men. If they take my life I shall die an innocent man, and my blood shall cry from the ground for vengeance, and it shall be said of me ‘He was murdered in cold blood!’”5
Henry’s faithful service in the Church continued after the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. He traversed across Iowa with the Latter-day Saints and joined the vanguard company of Brigham Young in 1847. After the company arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, Henry was asked to survey the City of Salt Lake. Lacking paper of suitable size, he drew the survey of Salt Lake City on a tanned sheepskin.
In September 1852 Brigham Young called Henry and his family to settle in San Bernardino, California, where the Church had purchased a large ranch. Henry was asked to lay out the plan for the mile-square city of San Bernardino. He did as directed and named streets—Kirtland, Far West, Nauvoo, Independence, Salt Lake, and Utah.
In 1855 Henry’s decades of faithful Church service ended when a conflict between him and Church leaders arose in San Bernardino. Unable to reconcile differences, Henry forsook his membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the late 1850s he was an agent for the Pony Express Company. In the 1860s he was a resident of San Bernardino.
1. Messenger and Advocate 3 (August 1837): 550.
2. Smith, History of the Church, 4:4.
3. History, 1838-1856, volume D-1 [1 August 1842-1 July 1843]. Joseph Smith Papers.
4. Lorenzo Snow quote, in Eliza R. Snow Smith, Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow(Salt Lake City: Deseret News Company, 1884), p. 46.
5. Smith, History of the Church, 6:555.