Heywood, Joseph Leland


Joseph Leland Heywood was born on 1 August 1815 in Grafton, Massachusetts. As a boy he worked on his father’s farm, but at the age of twenty-two he left farming behind to work as a merchant in Illinois. Three years later, on 25 June 1841, Joseph married Sarepta Blodgett.

The couple settled in Quincy, Illinois. When Joseph visited Nauvoo, Illinois the following year to hear the prophet Joseph Smith preach, he immediately believed and was baptized in the Mississippi River in December 1842.

Joseph and Sarepta continued to live in Quincy until 1845, when they moved to Nauvoo. Joseph acted as a trustee for the property of the Church, whose leaders had been forced to flee the state. He also fought against the mobs which continued to threaten any remaining Latter-day Saints. In 1848 the Heywoods left Nauvoo for Salt Lake City in the Willard Richards Company, the last emigrating company of the season.

Joseph played an important role in Utah’s political and religious life for the next fifty years. He traveled twice to Washington, D.C. to carry out Church business and obtain supplies for the territory. The federal government appointed him as postmaster of Salt Lake City in 1849, and two years later Millard Fillmore selected him as U.S. Marshal for Utah.

Joseph served as a bishop and was called as a Patriarch in 1874. He helped settle the town of Nephi, and in 1861 he was called to help colonize southern Utah. In all of this Sarepta and three plural wives assisted Joseph: Sarah Symonds, Martha Spence, and Mary Bell. Martha, for one, crafted hats to support the large family, which eventually included twenty children.

Joseph died on 16 October 1910 in Panguitch, Utah, survived only by Mary Bell.


Brooks, Juanita, ed. Not by Bread Alone: The Journal of Martha Spence Heywood, 1850–56. Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1978.

Esshom, Frank. Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah. Salt Lake City: Western Epics, 1966.

Ipson, Kathryn H. The Life of Joseph Leland Heywood: Merchant, Convert, Trustee, Salt Lake City Postmaster, 17th Ward Bishop, Early Pioneer in Salt Lake City, Nephi, Dixie, and Panguitch. Cedar City, UT: Kathryn H. Ipson, 1999.

Jenson, Andrew. Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia.Vol. 1. Andrew Jenson History Company, 1901.

Romney, Thomas C. The Gospel in Action. Salt Lake City: Deseret Sunday School Union Board, 1949.