George Miller (Latter Day Saints)
George Miller was a prominent convert in the Latter Day Saint movement
Latter Day Saint movement
The Latter Day Saint movement is a group of independent churches tracing their origin to a Christian primitivist movement founded by Joseph Smith, Jr. in the late 1820s. Collectively, these churches have over 14 million members...

 and was the third ordained bishop in the Latter Day Saint church.

Early life

Miller was born at Standardville, Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 and was raised in Virginia and Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

. He was trained as a carpenter
A carpenter is a skilled craftsperson who works with timber to construct, install and maintain buildings, furniture, and other objects. The work, known as carpentry, may involve manual labor and work outdoors....

 and worked in Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

, Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

, Kentucky, and Virginia. Miller assisted in building a number of buildings on the campus of the University of Virginia
University of Virginia
The University of Virginia is a public research university located in Charlottesville, Virginia, United States, founded by Thomas Jefferson...

 in Charlottesville
Charlottesville, Virginia
Charlottesville is an independent city geographically surrounded by but separate from Albemarle County in the Commonwealth of Virginia, United States, and named after Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the queen consort of King George III of the United Kingdom.The official population estimate for...

. By 1834 he had purchased a 300 acres (1.2 km²) farm in McDonough County, Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

. Sometime before 1827 Miller married Mary Catherine Fry.

Conversion to Mormonism

In 1839, Miller learned of Latter Day Saint refugees arriving in Illinois from Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

. He allowed some of these exiles to temporarily reside on his farm. Miller eventually converted to Mormonism
Mormonism is the religion practiced by Mormons, and is the predominant religious tradition of the Latter Day Saint movement. This movement was founded by Joseph Smith, Jr. beginning in the 1820s as a form of Christian primitivism. During the 1830s and 1840s, Mormonism gradually distinguished itself...

 and was baptized
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

 by John Taylor on August 12, 1839.

Shortly after his conversion, Miller moved to Lee County
Lee County, Iowa
-2010 census:The 2010 census recorded a population of 35,862 in the county, with a population density of . There were 16,205 housing units, of which 14,610 were occupied.-2000 census:...

, Iowa
Iowa is a state located in the Midwestern United States, an area often referred to as the "American Heartland". It derives its name from the Ioway people, one of the many American Indian tribes that occupied the state at the time of European exploration. Iowa was a part of the French colony of New...

. By September 1840 he had become a high priest in the Latter Day Saint church. He assisted many Latter Day Saints in settling Nauvoo
Nauvoo, Illinois
Nauvoo is a small city in Hancock County, Illinois, United States. Although the population was just 1,063 at the 2000 census, and despite being difficult to reach due to its location in a remote corner of Illinois, Nauvoo attracts large numbers of visitors for its historic importance and its...

, Illinois, and he moved there himself in November 1840. In late 1840 and early 1841, Miller served as a church missionary
Mormon missionary
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is one of the most active modern practitioners of missionary work, with over 52,000 full-time missionaries worldwide, as of the end of 2010...

 in Lee County, Iowa and Hancock County, Illinois
Hancock County, Illinois
Hancock County is a county located in the U.S. state of Illinois. According to the 2010 census, it has a population of 19,104, which is a decrease of 5.1% from 20,121 in 2000. Its county seat is Carthage. Hamilton is the largest city in Hancock County, with Carthage being the second largest...


Bishop and other service

On January 19, 1841, Joseph Smith, Jr. received a revelation
In religion and theology, revelation is the revealing or disclosing, through active or passive communication with a supernatural or a divine entity...

 that stated that Miller should be made the second bishop of the church and a member of the committee charged with organizing the construction of the Nauvoo House
Nauvoo House
The Nauvoo House in Nauvoo, Illinois is a boarding house that Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, began constructing in the 1840s. The boarding house was never completed, but the structure was later converted into a residential home and renamed the Riverside Mansion...

. In 1841, Miller became the Worshipful Master of the Nauvoo Masonic
Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation that arose from obscure origins in the late 16th to early 17th century. Freemasonry now exists in various forms all over the world, with a membership estimated at around six million, including approximately 150,000 under the jurisdictions of the Grand Lodge...


In 1843, Miller served a mission to Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

 and Alabama
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

 with Peter Haws. He became a member of the Council of Fifty
Council of Fifty
The Council of Fifty was a Latter Day Saint organization established by Joseph Smith, Jr...

 on 11 March 1844, and later that year was sent to Kentucky to campaign for the election of Joseph Smith to the office of President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....


Succession crisis and break with Brigham Young

Upon hearing about the death of Joseph Smith
Death of Joseph Smith, Jr.
The death of Joseph Smith, Jr. on June 27, 1844 marked a turning point for the Latter Day Saint movement, of which Smith was the founder and leader. When he was attacked and killed by a mob, Smith was the mayor of Nauvoo, Illinois, and running for President of the United States...

, Miller returned to Nauvoo. A succession crisis ensued whereby a variety of men vied for the leadership of the Latter Day Saints. The majority of Latter Day Saints accepted the leadership of Brigham Young
Brigham Young
Brigham Young was an American leader in the Latter Day Saint movement and a settler of the Western United States. He was the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1847 until his death in 1877, he founded Salt Lake City, and he served as the first governor of the Utah...

 and the Quorum of the Twelve
Quorum of the Twelve
In the Latter Day Saint movement, the Quorum of the Twelve was one of the governing bodies of the church hierarchy organized by the movement's founder Joseph Smith, Jr., and patterned after the twelve apostles of Christ In the Latter Day Saint movement, the Quorum of the Twelve (also known as the...

, and Miller provided luke-warm support for this decision. Because he was one of two bishops in the church, Miller was appointed by Young to be a legal trustee-in-trust for the church on 9 August 1844, Miller was sustained
Common consent
Common consent is a democratic principle established by the Latter Day Saint movement's founder, Joseph Smith, Jr., who taught in 1830 that "all things must be done in order, and by common consent in the church, by the prayer of faith." As it is most frequently used by the Church of Jesus Christ of...

 as the president of Nauvoo high priests quorum and the "Second Bishop of the Church" on 7 October 1844.

In 1845, Miller submitted to Young a proposal to construct a building for the high priests quorum in Nauvoo. Young, who by then had plans to lead the Latter Day Saints away from Nauvoo, rejected Miller's plan outright. This signalled the start of cool relations between Miller and Young which eventually led to Miller's abandonment of the organization led by Young. Although Miller left Nauvoo under Young's instructions in 1846 and came as far as Winter Quarters, Nebraska
Winter Quarters, Nebraska
Winter Quarters was an encampment formed by approximately 2,500 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as they waited during the winter of 1846–47 for better conditions for their trek westward. It followed a preliminary tent settlement some 3½ miles west at Cutler's Park. The...

, Miller informed Young in January 1847 that he would not follow him to the Salt Lake Valley
Salt Lake Valley
Salt Lake Valley is a valley in Salt Lake County in the north-central portion of the U.S. state of Utah. It contains Salt Lake City and many of its suburbs, notably West Valley City, Murray, Sandy, and West Jordan; its total population is 1,029,655 as of 2010...

, as Young had planned. Rather, Miller accepted the leadership claims of Apostle Lyman Wight
Lyman Wight
Lyman Wight was an early leader in the Latter Day Saint movement. He was the leader of the Latter Day Saints in Daviess County, Missouri in 1838. In 1841, he was ordained a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. After the death of Joseph Smith, Jr...

 and emigrated with Wight and his followers to the Republic of Texas
Republic of Texas
The Republic of Texas was an independent nation in North America, bordering the United States and Mexico, that existed from 1836 to 1846.Formed as a break-away republic from Mexico by the Texas Revolution, the state claimed borders that encompassed an area that included all of the present U.S...

. Brigham Young disfellowshipped Miller from the church on 3 December 1848, but he was never formally excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Later life

By 1849, Miller had become convinced that Lyman Wight and his "Wightite" church were apostate. He became convinced that James J. Strang was the true successor to Joseph Smith, and in 1849 he left to join Strang's followers Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

. Miller arrived in Voree, Wisconsin
Voree, Wisconsin
Voree is an unincorporated community on the outskirts of present-day Burlington, in Walworth County, Wisconsin, United States, in the town limits of Spring Prairie. It is best known as the historic and current headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints , a denomination of the...

 on 4 September 1850, and shortly thereafter moved with Strang and his followers to Beaver Island, Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

. In Beaver Island he was an active member of Strang's Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite)
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is a denomination of the Latter Day Saint movement with around three hundred members as of 1998...

. When Strang was assassinated in 1856, Miller left Beaver Island with the other departing "Strangites". Miller died in the second half of 1856 in Marengo, Illinois
Marengo, Illinois
Marengo is a city in McHenry County, Illinois, United States. The population was 6,355 at the 2000 census.- Geography :Marengo is located at .According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of , all of it land.-Major Streets:...

; he was en route to California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 at the time.


Miller's first wife, Mary Fry, was sealed to him in the Nauvoo Temple
Nauvoo Temple
The Nauvoo Temple was the second temple constructed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, commonly known as the Mormons. The church's first temple was completed in Kirtland, Ohio, United States in 1836. When the main body of the church was forced out of Nauvoo, Illinois in the...

 on 13 January 1846. Miller practiced plural marriage
Plural marriage
Polygamy was taught by leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for more than half of the 19th century, and practiced publicly from 1852 to 1890.The Church's practice of polygamy has been highly controversial, both within...

, and he was sealed to Elizabeth Bouton and Sophia Wallace on 25 January 1846.

Status in LDS Church: Presiding Bishop?

There is debate as to whether Miller should today be accepted as a former presiding bishop
Presiding Bishop (LDS Church)
The Presiding Bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a priesthood calling with church-wide authority. The Presiding Bishop is the highest leadership position within the church's Aaronic priesthood.-Presiding Bishopric:...

 of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The office of presiding bishop was not established as such in the church until the tenure of Edward Hunter. Nevertheless, Edward Partridge
Edward Partridge
Edward Partridge was the grandson of Massachusetts Congressman Oliver Partridge, Esq., and a member of a family noted for commercial, social, political, and military leadership in Western Massachusetts. One of the first converts to the Latter Day Saint movement, he was baptized in or near Seneca...

, the first bishop of the Latter Day Saint movement, is usually regarded as the first presiding bishop of the LDS Church. On the same day that MIller was sustained as the "Second Bishop" of the church, Newel K. Whitney
Newel K. Whitney
Newel Kimball Whitney was a prominent leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and an American businessman. He served as Bishop of Kirtland, Ohio, Far West, Missouri, and Nauvoo, Illinois. He also served as the second Presiding Bishop of the Church from 1847 until his death...

—who was the second ordained bishop in church history—was sustained as the "First Bishop" of the church; therefore, Whitney is usually recognized by the LDS Church as the de facto
De facto
De facto is a Latin expression that means "concerning fact." In law, it often means "in practice but not necessarily ordained by law" or "in practice or actuality, but not officially established." It is commonly used in contrast to de jure when referring to matters of law, governance, or...

 presiding bishop until his death in 1850, with Miller as a subordinate or assistant to Whitney until his break with the LDS Church in 1848.

External links

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