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Orrin Porter Rockwell

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Copyright: 1993
Trim: 6 x 9
Pages: 440 pp.
Illustrations: 7 illus., 5 maps


Orrin Porter Rockwell

Man of God, Son of Thunder

Harold Schindler

Mormon Studies

The legend of the Destroying Angel of Mormondom was well established by the time of his death, of natural causes, in 1878. Travelers sang ballads about him as they gathered around their campfires at night. Mothers used his name to frighten children into obedience. He was accused of literally hundreds of murders, all in the name of the Mormon Church.

Yet behind all the myth was a man, a human being. Orrin Porter Rockwell believed in his prophet, Joseph Smith. He spent most of a year chained in an Independence dungeon for his belief, then walked across Missouri to Nauvoo, stumbling into Joseph’s house on Christmas Day. Joseph said to him then, “Cut not thy hair and no bullet or blade can harm thee,” and the legend was born.

Rockwell continued to serve the leaders of his church—as hunter, guide, messenger, scout, guerilla, emissary to the Indians, and lawman. He traveled thousands of miles, raised three families, accumulated land and wealth—and favorably impressed almost everyone who met him. But although he walked with presidents and generals, scholars and scoundrels, in a life lived at the center of many of the great events of the American frontier, he has remained an enigma, a source of continuing controversy.

Harold Schindler’s remarkable investigative skills led him into literally thousands of unlikely places in his search for the truth about Rockwell. Dale L. Morgan, one of the west’s foremost historians, called the first edition “…an impressive job of research, one of the most impressive in recent memory, in the Mormon field. Mr. Schindler has shown great energy and sagacity in dealing with a difficult, highly controversial subject; and he has also made maximum use of the latest scholarship and newly available archival resources.”

But the author was not satisfied until he had probed even more deeply, and this revised and enlarged second edition contains greatly expanded documentation as well as textual additions that flesh out the characters and events of this classic drama of early America.

Harold Schindler has been associated with the Salt Lake Tribune in various capacities since 1945. Shortly after the first edition of this book was published, he became a found (and charter Vice-President) of the Utah Westerners, an organization of scholars, writers, and dedicated enthusiasts founded upon fellowship and a commin interest in the history of Utah and the heritage of the west. In 1967 Orrin Porter Rockwell was awarded the prestigious Award of Merit of the American Association for State and Local History.

Dale Bryner, whose stunning illustrations continue to enhance the narrative of this second edition, is a professor of art at Weber State College in Ogden, Utah. He is a photographer, painter and designer as well, who has worked and studied abroad during seven extended visits, including an entire year's sabbatical in Japan. Recently he has created a number of architectural glass designs for business establishments throughout the Salt Lake Valley.

Table of Contents:

Preface to the Second Edition

1. Valley of the Big Blue
2. The Sons of Dan
3. The City of Joseph
4. The Destroying Angel
5. Leg Irons and Vermin
6. "The Deed Is Done Before This Time"
7. A Prophet Avenged
8. The Plainsman
9. Zion
10. Sam Brannan
11. Peacepipes and Gunsmoke
12. Mail, Money, and Murder
13. A Call to Arms
14. Six Fine-Looking Men
15. Zion Invaded
16. Of Death and Dying
17. Slaughter at Bear River
18. Myth and Man
19. The Gathering Twilight
20. Trail's End


Praise and Reviews:

“Will expose a new generation of history buffs to the enigma of Rockwell. Significant in many respects.”
—The Salt Lake Tribune

“In this balanced biography, Harold Schindler paints the thrilling portrait of a genuinely colorful individual, a unique man of the frontier west.”

—Wisconsin Bookwatch


American Association for State and Local History Award of Merit

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