Bliss, Orley Dwight


Orley Dwight Bliss was born 25 July 1840 in Palermo, New York.* His parents, Norman and Mary Bliss, joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints soon after his birth. After the family gathered with the Latter-day Saints at Nauvoo, Illinois, Orley’s parents separated. In 1842 Norman Bliss was called on a mission to New York, and young Orley accompanied him.

After the murders of Church leaders Joseph and Hyrum Smith in 1844, Orley and his father returned to Illinois, but mob activity forced them to flee to Winter Quarters, Nebraska. Norman Bliss remarried, but had separated from his second wife by the time he and eight-year-old Orley crossed the plains to Salt Lake City in 1848 in the Brigham Young Company.

Orley records that he crossed the plains at least five times. He also traveled to California with his father during the Gold Rush, worked as a scout in the Utah Expedition, and served a mission to southern Utah in 1861.

In 1867 Orley married Harriet Josephine Lee, a native of Salt Lake City. They had 12 children. The Bliss family lived in Iron, Kane, and Grand Counties while Orley pursued farming. Orley also led the local church choir and band for some time, living all of his life as a faithful member of the Latter-day Saint faith. He died 9 May 1930 at the age of eighty-nine in Moab, Utah.

*While Orley records his birth as 1837 at one point in his journal, the available censuses of 1880, 1900, and 1920 state that he was born in 1840.


1860 Utah Census (Norman Bliss, SaltLakeCounty, 224).

1870 Utah Census (Norman Bliss, KaneCounty, 465).

1880 Utah Census (Orley Bliss, Springdale, KaneCounty, 428C).

1900 Utah Census (Orley Bliss, La Sal Precinct, San Juan County, E.D. 118, sheet 4).

1920 Utah Census (Orley Bliss, Moab, Grand County, E.D. 80, sheet 8).

Grand Memories. Salt Lake City: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, Grand County, Utah, 1972.