Monday, March 1, 2010

The Porter Rockwell Attraction

Those of you who have been following my blog have most likely figured out by now that I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (you call us Mormons). I don't think it's possible to be a member of the church and not be fascinated with church history.

Most people, however, are fascinated by Joseph and Emma Smith, Brigham Young, Parley Pratt, etc. If you ask any Mormon who they are most fascinated with when they study church history, I'm betting they are not going to say Porter Rockwell. So why does this man have such a hold on me?! When I die, the first person I want to meet (after the reunion with family members, of course) is Porter Rockwell. I want to know what makes this person tick.

Porter Rockwell was the self-appointed body guard for Joseph Smith. Later, it became his calling. He was quite an interesting man, and nothing like the "executive secretaries" with dark suits, white shirts, ties, and an ear piece who protect our living prophet, President Monson. Porter Rockwell was a gun toting, rough and tumble kind of guy who may not always have been on the right side of the law, but was always on the right side of the prophet.

Why was he so loyal to Joseph Smith? Was he ever perplexed by the controversy surrounding him? Did the controversy ever bother him? How did he reconcile the controversy in his mind? Did he ever have regrets? Did he understand his important role in the restoration of the gospel by protecting Joseph Smith, or did he protect Joseph out of boyhood friendship and because he was the prophet?

When studying history, it is always important that we don't judge people by modern day standards. Standard behavior in 2010 is not the same standard by which people in the 1830's and 1840's lived. Most men did carry guns, and they had no problem protecting their loved ones by using them. It was the Porter Rockwell types in this country who made it possible to settle the west.

Maybe my fascination with the man is because he was a rebel. I'm certainly a rebel. He was misunderstood. I can relate to being misunderstood. Porter marched to the tune of a different drummer. My sister once told me that my theme song should be, "I've Gotta Be Me." Rockwell was as loyal as they come. My friends know that if they want more loyal a friend than me, they better get a dog.

Yep. I have a whole lot of questions for Brother Rockwell. Maybe he'll be my "escort" when I meet Joseph and Emma Smith and Brigham Young. I wonder if I can put in my order now.

Picture available through Wikipedia. Wikipedia reports copyright has expired.


  1. Porter Rockwell, is your hero, but you find fault with your siblings toting guns.....there must be a lesson here....somewhere....

  2. Uhh, Cheri, I only find fault with the siblings whose hands shake like rubber carrying guns. I saw you redecorate a wedding cake once, remember? You went at it like a drunk surgeon. Parkinson's and guns go together about as well as oil and water.

  3. She can time her shots between her tremors.