JOEL SHEARER (1791-1859), was born "to Revolutionary parentage" in Stillwater, Saratoga County, New York -- north of Albany. Joel's father was William Shearer (1752-1847), a soldier in the Revolutionary War, and his mother was Lutitia Langdon (1751-1812). Both were from Dutchess County, New York -- William Shearer probably of German ancestry, and Lutitia Langdon of mixed Dutch and English ancestry. William and Lutitia were married 18 May 1773 in the Dutch Reformed Church in Dutchess County, New York, and soon afterwards they moved to Stillwater, about 150 miles to the north, where William enlisted as a soldier in the Revolution. Joel was the 11th of his parents' 12 children; 9 boys (including two sets of twins) and 3 girls. Joel had a twin brother named Daniel, and these two and their families were apparently the only Shearers who joined the LDS Church among their immediate family.
Born and raised in northern New York state, after reaching manhood, Joel and some of his brothers moved to Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. His parents remained in New York for the remainder of their lives. Joel's father, William Shearer, died at age 95, in 1847, in Crown Point, Essex County, northern N.Y. state. This is near Fort Ticonderoga, just north of Lake George, near the Vermont border. This region of New York state (where the Shearers and also the Tanners lived) had been strategically significant in many battles. During the French and Indian wars (1689-1763); the Revolutionary War (1775-1783), and again in the war of 1812 (1812-1815), major battles were fought at Lake George, Lake Champlain, Crown Point, and Fort Ticonderoga.
Joel Shearer married Phoebe Blackwell (1799-1845) in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania around 1819, when he was 27 and she was 19 years old. Joel was a school teacher. He taught school six miles from their home (in Bradford County, Pennsylvania). In 1830, the year the Church was organized, the Shearer family heard of the "strange Mormon religion." They went to hear the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the parents joined the Church in November of 1830. Since the children born between 1825 and 1832 were born in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, it is supposed that the family was baptized there, and thus belonged to the branch Brigham Young visited while investigating the Church in 1831 or 1832. (Apparently around 1824 or 1825, the Shearers had moved from Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, about 70 miles north to Bradford County, Pennsylvania). They lived there until after 1832, when they moved west to gather with the Saints. The Susquehanna River runs right through Bradford County; this county is along the boundary with the state of New York, and just west of Susquehanna County, where the translation of the Book of Mormon and the restoration of the priesthood had taken place in 1829. Joseph Smith lived in Harmony, Pennsylvania from December 1827 to June 1829, about 60 miles east of where the Shearer family lived.

"They loved the Gospel, for it brought joy into their lives. Grandma would tell of how her father would read a chapter from the scriptures every morning, then the family would sing a hymn, as her mother was a very pretty singer. After this they would have their family prayer. They found time for such a wonderful devotion every day.
"Four years after the Church was organized, in 1834, Joel Shearer started for Missouri with Zion's Camp, and went as far as Indiana. It was here that seven of the brethren took sick with cholera, so they remained there for five weeks, living in their wagons and tents."

(There is no mention in Church History books of cholera striking Zion's Camp in Indiana, so it is not clear whether the author of this sketch was accurate ... but perhaps this happened like she said, and these seven men dropped out of Zion's Camp; Joel Shearer among them. Alternatively, if she was mistaken in the details, perhaps Joel Shearer marched all the way to Missouri, where, in the end of June 1834, cholera struck about 68 members of the camp, killing 14 of them, after they had reacted in anger to the commandment which the Lord gave to Zion's Camp through Joseph Smith, that after their long march they should not fight their enemies after all, but were to disband peacefully and seek other solutions to recover their lands in Jackson County).

"Being unable to reach Jackson County, Joel Shearer settled (with his family) in Indiana, where they remained for two and a half years (Lutitia's brother Thomas Jefferson Shearer was born in Vigo County, Indiana in April of 1834. Vigo County is on Indiana's western boundary, near the Wabash River); then they started again for Missouri. They reached there just as the mob was driving the Saints out of Clay County (in the summer of 1836). They camped for weeks, waiting for the committee to come and tell them where to go."

According to Church history books, after the Saints had been driven out of Jackson County, Missouri, in late 1833, they lived in relative peace in Clay County for two and a half years, during which time they continued to petition government authorities for assistance to re-enter Jackson County and regain their property, but all of their attempts proved futile. The Saints intended their stay in Clay County to be only temporary, but when they were unable to recover their lands in Jackson County, and their numbers kept increasing because of immigrating Saints who continued to arrive, a crisis again developed. Clay County residents began to be alarmed, and to fear that the Mormons would settle in their county permanently.
On 29 June 1836, a mass meeting was held in the Clay County courthouse in Liberty, to discuss objections to the Mormons remaining in the area. They feared that the crisis would erupt into a civil war, and at this meeting the Missouri citizens discussed and spelled out their objections to the Mormons:

They were poor
Their religious differences stirred up prejudice
Their Eastern customs and dialect were alien to the Missourians
They opposed slavery
They believed that the Indians were God's chosen people, destined to inherit the land of Missouri with them.

After the meeting, the leaders presented a petition to the Mormons suggesting that they move to Wisconsin, and promising to control any violence until they could leave the area. The Church leaders in Missouri had already sent two exploring expeditions in the spring of 1836 to northern Ray County, which was mostly uninhabited, and they began purchasing land along Shoal Creek, where a church member named Jacob Haun had already built a mill and started a small settlement in the summer of 1835. In July 1836 Joseph Smith and the leaders in Kirtland, when they learned of the situation in Missouri, sent letters urging members of the Church to preserve the peace and leave Clay County, but not to settle in Wisconsin; and in a letter to the Clay County committee, they said that they had advised the Saints to avoid bloodshed and to move from the county.
But as soon as citizens in Ray County learned that the Saints intended to move there, opposition began to surface in that county also. The Saints proposed to move only to the uninhabited prairies to the north, and to apply for their own county, with a six- mile buffer zone between the counties as a "no-man's land" where neither Mormon nor non-Mormon could settle. For a time it was not certain whether their proposals would be accepted, and meanwhile many Saints were already camped along the Crooked River in lower Ray County, waiting for directions from their leaders on where they should go. The Shearers were probably among this group. The Church History manual says that many of these people were ill, and most of them were without funds to purchase either provisions or land. Citizens in Ray County threatened them with violence if they did not leave.
After an emergency high council meeting on 25 July 1836, direction was given for the Saints who were camping along the river to scatter among the people in the settlements of Missouri and find temporary lodgings and work. About a week later, W.W. Phelps and John Whitmer located a site for a city twelve miles west of Haun's Mill, which they called Far West. As soon as the Saints heard this news they began flocking there. Lutitia's brother George Washington Shearer was born 15 Oct 1836 in the area of Far West, in what was to become Caldwell County, Missouri.
In the December 1836 session of the Missouri State Legislature, Alexander W. Doniphan, a friend to the Saints, introduced a bill to create two small counties, Daviess and Caldwell, out of the northern part of Ray County. Caldwell County, the location of Far West and the Shoal Creek settlements, was to be exclusively for Mormons, and they would be allowed to send representatives to the state legislature. This segregation of the Latter Day Saints was considered an excellent solution to the "Mormon problem," and the newly elected Governor, Lilburn W. Boggs, signed the bill creating the two new counties on 29 December 1836.)
According to the biography of Lutitia Shearer written by her granddaughter, Lutitia's family and Eleazer Miller's family were the first two families to move into Caldwell County, Missouri, but this is doubtful, since Haun's Mill had been established in 1835, and several Mormon families had settled there independently even before the Church leaders scouted out the location.
The Shearer family was driven out of Missouri during the winter of 1838-1839, along with the rest of the Saints, and they suffered much. The Prophet Joseph Smith encouraged all of the Saints who had lost property in Missouri to petition the government for redress, and among those who did were Joel Shearer and his twin brother Daniel Shearer. On p. 535 of MORMON REDRESS PETITIONS: DOCUMENTS OF THE 1833-1838 MISSOURI CONFLICT (1992, Religious Studies Center, BYU; vol. 16 in the Religious Studies Center Monograph Series, edited by Clark V. Johnson) is a petition reading:

 "January the ninth ano Domini one thousand Eight hundred and forty
 personally came Joel Shearer before me Elisha Petty one of the
 Justices of the peace in and for the County of Pike in the State
 of Illinois and being by me Sworn, Deposeth and Saith that he
 the Said Shearer Suffered loss and Damage in the State of Missouri
 in the years ano Domini one thousand eight hundred and thirty eight
 and nine that he being a Resident of the State of Missouri in
 Caldwell County was ordered by the Authorities of Said State
 to leave Said State within Six months on pain of Death and that
 he Said Shearer was not individually accused of any neither
 collectively Accused of any misdemeanor against the Laws of Said
 State and he the Said Shearer further Saith that he is not Conscious
 of ever having offended against the laws of the State of Missouri
 or these United States and that he is a Natural Born Citizen of
 the State of New York and being compeled to sell his Real and
 part of his personal estate at a Reduced price Viz one hundred
 and Seventy Acres of land lying in Caldwell County on which he
 the Said Shearer Suffered loss according to the best of his
 k(n)owledge and belief eight hundred Dollars.
    the above land he Says was Entered and partly improved by himself
    for his own use.
    he further says he thinks he Suffered one hundred and fifty
    Dollars loss on personal property including time and Expence &C 
    of leaving the State of Missouri.
                      Loss on land              $800.00
	                   on personal property  150.00
			               total    $950.00

					     (signed) JOEL SHEARER

    (Sworn to before E. Petty, J.P., Pike Co., Ill. 9 January 1840)

(Note: This petition was one of those submitted with the Saints' second appeal to Congress, in December of 1840. The original petitions are in the National Archives in Washington, D.C.)
On p. 336-337 of the same book is Daniel Shearer's petition:

 Quincy Ill May the 7th 1839
              The State of Missouri to Daniel Shearer Dr.         

 To mooving from New York to Missouri                        $150.00
  "    "     "   Missouri to Illinois                          50.00
 loss on lands                                                300.00
 loss on town property                                        500.00
 in time & months & Board                                     240.00
 for unlawful & false imprisonment (of self)                  150.00
  "     "     "   "       "        of my Son N.B. SHEARER
   (detaind in the jail at Richmond Ray County
    and one half of the time in the dungeon
    five months & 24 dayes at $100.00 per month)              585.00
 Damiges of Vienna Jakes* now my wife in being driven from
    Jackson County in the State of Missouri & Mooving from
    the State of Massa(c)husetts to Missouri                  250.00
 for being forced out of the State of Missouri Contrary to
    law, to the Constitution of the United States, & Justice 1000.00
 1 pr. pistols taken from my house by a man Calling himself
    Colonel Jones                                               4.50
					        total      $3,129.50

 I herby Certify the above to be a true coppy of the Damiges Sustaind
 by me in the State of Missourie
 			       (signed) DANIEL SHEARER

   (Sworn to before C.M. Woods, C.C.C., Adams Co., Ill  7 May 1839)

(Note: This petition was one of those submitted with the Saints' first appeal to Congress, in Nov-Dec 1839, in which Joseph Smith personally led the delegation to Washington D.C. and presented the petition before Congress and to the President of the United States. The original petitions are now in the LDS Historical Dept. in Salt Lake City.)

The "Vienna Jakes, now my wife" mentioned in Daniel Shearer's petition was the same as Vienna Jaques, mentioned in D&C 90:28-31. She was born June 10, 1787 in Beverly, Essex, Massachusetts, and joined the Church near Boston in July 1832, at the age of 45 (she was an older, unmarried woman). She arrived in Kirtland in 1833 with $1400, and worked for the Prophet Joseph Smith for a short time. On March 8, 1833, the Prophet received a revelation directing her to consecrate all she had, and to receive money to bear her expenses to go up to the land of Zion (Jackson County, Missouri), where she was to receive an inheritance. She was obedient to this commandment, and traveled to Jackson County, experiencing much tribulation on her journey and also after she arrived in Zion. She wrote a letter to the Prophet Joseph detailing her experiences. He wrote a letter back, dated 4 Sep 1833 in Kirtland, Ohio, giving her words of comfort and counsel (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 26-27, also Documentary History of the Church, p. 407-409).
Apparently Vienna Jacques married Daniel Shearer sometime between late December 1833, when she was driven out of Jackson County, and early 1839, when he made his petition. She would have been nearly 50 when she married him, so they had no children. It is not certain how long their marriage lasted. Vienna received her endowment in the Nauvoo Temple on Jan. 22, 1846 (Daniel Shearer received his on Feb. 3, 1846).
Vienna came to Salt Lake City in one of the pioneer companies of 1847, and on March 28, 1858 in Salt Lake City she was sealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith by proxy, so apparently she and Daniel Shearer had been divorced by then, since he had more or less left the Church. During the summer of 1876 it is mentioned that Pres. Wilford Woodruff "assisted in blessing Vienna Jacques, who is spoken of in the Doctrine and Covenants. At that time she was ninety years old." She died 7 Feb 1884 in Salt Lake City, at the age of 96.

Daniel Shearer (twin brother of our ancester Joel Shearer) was four years younger than Vienna Jacques. He earlier had married

    (1) MARY WILKIE (who apparently died young), and
    (2) JANE McCUTCHEON in 1818 in Saratoga County, New York.

Daniel and Jane had two children,

    JANE MARIA, b. 12 Feb 1819, 
    NORMAN BARBER SHEARER, b. 10 Apr 1821, 
       both in Luzerne, Saratoga County, New York.  

Jane McCutcheon died in 1823.
It is not certain, but perhaps Daniel Shearer took his two young children and moved to Pennsylvania, near where his twin brother Joel lived. It is not certain just where or when he joined the Church, but both brothers came to Missouri with their families and settled near Far West. Daniel Shearer and his son Norman B. Shearer are prominently mentioned in Church records in Missouri during the Far West period.
Joel Shearer had joined the Church in 1830, had served in Zion's Camp, and had been taken prisoner by the mobs in Missouri. But he later apostatized or became disaffected from the Church (during the 1840's in Illinois). From the family's history, it appears that he did not have a firm testimony of the restored gospel -- at least three different times he had gathered with the Saints for a few years, then separated himself and his family again, settling a distance away from the church members. He did not come to Salt Lake City with the Saints.
In the book DIVERGENT PATHS OF THE RESTORATION, it is mentioned that Joel Shearer was second in command of a church which split off from the LDS Church under the leadership of a man named Francis Gladden Bishop. The headquarters of this church was located in Iowa, near Council Bluffs. In 1856 Joel Shearer was living in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and wrote a 30-page pamphlet entitled, "The Mysteries of Godliness." He sent a copy to Heber C. Kimball and other church leaders in Salt Lake, and a copy was preserved in the Church Historical Department.
Joel Shearer died in 1859 in Council Bluffs, Iowa. His daughter Lutitia Shearer Warthen Curtis was apparently the only member of her family who stayed active in the Church.

Information Compiled
by Karen Bray Keeley

INTERNET Adaptation
by Sandra S. Bray