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25 Dec 1841 | Nauvoo IL
Alpheus Gifford was born in Adams township, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, August 28, 1793. At the age of eighteen, having scarcely sufficient learning to enable him to read the Bible, he commenced preaching the Gospel, not for hire, but for the salvation of souls. In 1817, he married Anna Nash, who bore him seven sons and three daughters. In the spring of 1831, hearing of the doctrines taught by Joseph Smith he made diligent inquiry and found they were scriptural and was baptized and ordained a priest; he brought home five books of Mormon which he distributed among his friends; he was then living in Tioga County, Pennsylvania. Soon after he went to Kirtland, Ohio, to see the Prophet Joseph Smith and the brethren, when he was ordained an elder; he was accompanied by his brother Levi, Elial Strong, Eleazer Miller, Enos Curtis, and Abraham Brown, who were baptized. On returning to Pennsylvania he preached and baptized many, among whom was Heber C. Kimball. The gifts of the Gospel were enjoyed by many, signs followed those who believed; devils were cast out; the sick were healed; many prophesied; some spake with new tongues; while others interpreted the same. Mr. Calvin Gilmour, with whom Brother Gifford had previously been associated in preaching, heard him speak in tongues and interpret. Gilmour declared he understood the languages and that they were interpreted correctly, and that he knew Gifford had no classical learning; but that he would rather be damned than believe in Mormonism.
In June 1832, Brother Gifford started for Missouri; traveled to Cincinnati and wintered there with a few saints who had been baptized by Lyman Wight. He arrived in Jackson county, Missouri, in March, 1833, where he preached extensively; he was driven with the Saints from that county in the fall of that year. He removed to Clay county, enduring the persecution incident upon settling in, and final expulsion from, the same. He went to Kirtland, Ohio, and attended the dedication of the Temple and received the ordinances there administered. He returned to Missouri and was driven with the Saints to Far West, Caldwell county. In the winter of 1839, he was driven from Missouri. He located in the Morley settlement near Lima, Illinois, and subsequently five miles above Nauvoo, where he died December 25, 1841. (Addenda, Ms. Church History, Book "C" 2. Also page 404.)
1831-1832 | Victor NY
Alpheus married Anna Nash on 27 Feb 1817. They had “seven sons and three daughters. In the spring of 1831, hearing of the doctrines taught by Joseph Smith, he made diligent inquiry and found they were scriptural and was baptized and ordained a priest; he brought home five books of Mormon which he distributed among his friends; he was then living in Tioga County, Pennsylvania. Soon after he went to Kirtland, Ohio, to see the Prophet Joseph Smith and the brethren, when he was ordained an elder; he was accompanied by his brother Levi, Elial Strong, Eleazer Miller, Enos Curtis, and Abraham Brown, who were baptized. On returning to Pennsylvania he preached and baptized many, among whom was Heber C. Kimball.
Vilate Kimball’s autobiography contains additional detail, starting with, “Into Victor, home town of Vilate Murry Kimball, in the summer of 1831, there walked five young men. They said they were from Columbia, Bradford County, PA and had the message of the restored gospel to offer. They said they represented the Church of Jesus Christ and introduced themselves as Eleazer Miller, Elial Strong, Alpheus Gifford, Enos Curtis, and Daniel Bowen. They were given hospitality by Phinehas H. Young, and immediately held a series of meetings. The Youngs and Kimballs with other friends went over to Victor to hear them. What was partially known to Phinehas through his visit the Solomon Chamberlain the previous year was now given to all of them with added emphasis.
“What the missionaries said was stirring and convincing. They talked of a ‘holy angel who had been commissioned from the heavens, who had committed the Everlasting Gospel and restored the Holy Priesthood unto Joseph Smith as at the beginning.’ They declared the nature of Joseph Smith’s calling as a Prophet, ‘that all men were now called on to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins, and receive the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost; they said that these things should follow those that believe, viz: they should cast out devils in the name of Jesus; they should speak with new tongues…’ The reason they gave for the necessity of this restoration was that the people had ‘transgressed the law, changed the ordinances, and broken the everlasting covenant.’
“Brigham and Heber sat through the series of meetings deeply stirred in their feelings. To their complete satisfaction these young men answered most of the questions which rose silently within their souls, without ever the questions being given voice. Their faith was increased when they heard the missionaries speak by the gift of tongues as the ancient saints had done, and then give the interpretation with the dignity of their calling. This was no idle babble. It was the pure gift as promised by the scriptures.
“At the end Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball were constrained to bear witness that the visitors spoke the truth. Heber said that when they did this ‘the power of God rested upon us.’
“There were other events which caused their bosoms to burn and their wonder to increase. One day John Young, Joseph, Brigham, and Heber C. Kimball went to the woods to get wood for Phinehas. While they were gathering the wood they pondered the events of the past weeks and talked over what they had been told by the five missionaries concerning the new doctrine of the Saints gathering to Zion. As they talked the ‘glory of the Lord’ shone upon them, and they saw the gathering of the Saints to Zion, and the glory of that would rest upon them, and many more things connected with that great event, such as the sufferings and persecutions which would come upon the people of God, as well as calamities and judgments which would come upon the world. The glory of this vision caused ‘ such great joy to spring up on our bosoms, that we were hardly able to contain ourselves; and we did shout aloud, Hosannah to God, and the Lamb.’” (Autobiography of Vilate Kimball)
The Millennial Star 26 (1864), p. 488, Heber Kimball Journal, contained the following, written by Heber. “About three weeks after I joined the Baptist church, five elders of the Church of Jesus Christ came from Pennsylvania to the house of Phinehas H. Young in Victor. Their names were Eleazer Miller, Elial Strong, Alpheus Gifford, Enos Curtis, and Daniel Bowen. Hearing of these men, curiosity prompted me to go and see them, when for the first time, I heard the fullness of the everlasting gospel.” On p. 504 of the that same Heber Kimball Journal, he wrote, “April 14th, 1832, Brigham Young went forward and was baptized by Eleazer Miller, and the next day, or the day following, Alpheus Gifford came into my shop while I was forming a vessel upon the wheel, and while conversing with me upon the subject of this work, I said, ‘Brother Alpheus, I am ready to go forward and be baptized.’ I jumped up, pulled off my apron, washed my hands and started with him with my sleeves rolled up to my shoulders, and went the distance of one mile where he baptized me in a small stream in the woods. After I was baptized I kneeled down and he laid his hands upon my head and confirmed me a member of the Church of Jesus Christ, and said unto me, ‘In the name of Jesus Christ and by the authority of the holy priesthood receive ye the Holy Ghost,’ and before I got up off my knees, he wanted to ordain me an elder but I plead with him not to do it, as I felt myself unworthy of such a calling, and such an office.”