JOSEPH WARTHEN was born 1 Dec 1811 in Washington, Licking Co., Ohio, the son of Alban (or Albert) S. Warthen (1788-1833), an innkeeper and farmer, who had been born in Maryland, and Elizabeth Vance (1793-1884) from Rockingham Co., Virginia. Elizabeth Vance was the daughter of Handel Vance, Jr. (1755-1821) of Pennsylvania Deutch (German) extraction. He was the son of Johann Diel Wentz (abt. 1728-1797) who had come from Germany to Pennsylvania as a young man, and anglicized his name to Handel Vance. Joseph Warthen was the only member of the Warthen family to join the L.D.S. Church -- he had been baptized in August of 1838, when he was 26 years old, but the circumstances of his conversion are unknown.
Joseph Warthen married Lutitia Shearer on March 11, 1841, in Atlas, Pike County, Illinois, when she was nineteen years of age and he was 29. Their first son,

    ALBERT BURGESS WARTHEN, was born there on 31 March 1842.

They moved to Nauvoo some time after this. The persecution was going on, and they endured very much. Their second son,

    BRIGHAM HEBER WARTHEN, was born in Nauvoo on 27 May 1845.


In Nauvoo, Joseph Warthen owned a meat shop (butcher shop), and also loaned out horses and carriages (perhaps had a small livery stable). He is mentioned over 30 times in the diary of Hosea Stout, who was in charge of the police or guard in Nauvoo. Hosea Stout frequently borrowed carriages and horses from Joseph Warthen, got meat from his meat shop, was in a Mercantile Association with him (a cooperative between businessmen). Also Joseph Warthen helped to guard the city and the Nauvoo temple. Here are some of the entries from Hosea Stout's diary:

"January 30, (1845), Thursday ... Brothers Scovil and Worthen came to me desiring that I would join with them and form a mechanical and mercantile association ... I concluded to join with them and went with Brother Worthen to see some other brethren on the subject..."
"January 31, Friday ... At one o'clock met at the Seventies' Hall with some others for the purpose of forming a mercantile and mechanical association ... The meeting proceeded to elect twelve trustees, who were to govern the association; whose names were Daniel Carn, Samuel Bent, Shadrach Roundy, Charles C. Rich, John D. Lee, Lucius N. Scovil, Joseph Worthen, Joseph Horn, Hosea Stout, Edward Hunter, Gustavius Williams, and Charles A. Davis."
"February 18, Tuesday ... All the Board were present. Elder John Taylor and some others met with us ... requested, that inasmuch as Brothers Bent, Rich and Hunter of our board was appointed in the Board of Twelve who were called the "Living Constitution" (a group within the Council of Fifty) that we would release them from our Board which was done, and Levi W. Hancock, Erastus Snow, and James Mendenhall were appointed in their place."
"February 25, Tuesday ... At nine o'clock went to take a list of Brother Worthen's property for the association."
"Saturday, July 19. Early this morning I went to Warthan's to get a horse and buggy and went with my wife and child to the Steam Mill about a mile below Nauvoo to get some lumber and came home about noon."
"Tuesday (July) 31 ... I went to Warthan's to get some meat..."
"August 1, Friday ... at evening I met the police and came home by Warthan's and gave him a lesson on his duty (as a guard), got some meat and came home at nine o'clock."
"(August) 19, Tuesday ... went on guard with J.D. Parker and J. Worthan until near midnight..."
"Friday (August) 22. Went to Warthan's and got a horse and buggy and took my wife to Brother Maudsley's to have her portrait taken."
"(August) 25 Monday ... went to the temple and then went on patrol guard with Parker, (Shadrach) Roundy, (Joseph) Warthan, (James) Pace (whom the town of Payson was later named after), two of the Mechams, and Langley; was out nearly all night..."
"(September) 3, Wednesday ... as there was a storm rising I went with some others of the police to Warthan's meat shop and stayed till the storm was over. This was one of the severest hailstorms I ever saw. It rained very fast and the hail fell in large lumps and was blown with such force that all the windows in the North and West of the houses in the city I believe was broken..."
"(September) 4, Thursday ... met the police at the temple ... Warthen came and brought me home in a buggy and then took me down to see Brigham Young who gave me the advice which I wanted..."
"(September) 7, Sunday ... went with Warthan around through the city, saw Brigham Young; he told me to see to the picket guard out of the city as the mob was threatening again."
"(September) 11, Thursday ... Early went to Warthan meat shop and got some beef and saw S. Earl on my way who told me that the mob had commenced burning houses at Lima."
"(October) 3, Friday ... took my horse and went to Warthan's (at) five and there saw Brother (Shadrach) Roundy, who informed me that he had orders from President Brigham Young to raise and fit out a company of one hundred for emigrating to California..."
"(October) 14, Tuesday. Before day this morning Brothers Hunter and Warthan came to my house on their way to their hiding place..." (many of the leaders whom the mob were after, had been told by Brigham Young to go into hiding).
"(October) 21, Tuesday ... went to Lathrop's Store and Warthan told me there was a writ out for me and others..."

In 1850 the family came to Salt Lake. They had previously left Nauvoo and had been staying in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Two more children had been born in Council Bluffs.

    HARRIET LUTITIA WARTHEN (b. 1 May 1847)
    MARY ANN OLIVE WARTHEN (b. 23 Mar 1849)

They lived in Salt Lake for a time, where another son,

    WILLIAM HENRY JOSEPH WARTHEN, was born 2 Oct 1851.

"Grandfather was always kind to the poor. His house was open to all. At one time George A. Smith and his wife were taken into their home, where they stayed for several weeks until Mr. Smith could get work. Grandfather bought clothes and shoes for the Smith family while at his home. They were very grateful for the kindness Grandma and her husband had shown them.


Joseph Warthen had been ordained a Seventy in Nauvoo and endowed in the Nauvoo Endowment House 20 January 1846, but hadn't been sealed to his wife Lutitia. Apparently his faith had faltered somewhat. Lutitia had been given a blessing saying that she would be a savior of her father's family. Since they had strayed from the Church, it was up to her to do the temple sealings for her relatives. She didn't know how this would come about, since her husband did not ever consent to take her to get her endowments and have her sealed to him, and the children sealed to them.
In 1852 the family moved to Provo. Soon after locating in Provo, Joseph Warthen began talking of moving his family to the west coast, and going to sea. He wanted to take his oldest son, who was then 10 years old, and teach him to be a sailor. This was a great trial to Lutitia. She had come to Zion for the Gospel's sake; she had suffered and endured so much. She could hardly stand the thought of leaving the Saints again. Her husband seemed determined, but "God moves in a mysterious way." Grandma and her children were permitted to stay among the Saints, but she was called to experience a very sad trial, that of losing her husband. He was shot in bed beside her, soon after they had gone to bed, about 11:00 o'clock at night. Perhaps it would be of interest to learn of the circumstances that would lead up to such an act.

"In the neighborhood lived a man by the name of Hicks, who was going to move his family to California. There was one in his family who did not want to go. She was keeping company with a young man who was a Mormon. She desired to remain with him, even though her father would not consent. Mr. Warthen was a kind, generous hearted man who owned several teams and carriages, or operated a livery stable of sorts. All who knew him felt free in asking a favor of him, so the young man came, asking to borrow a horse and buggy, telling Joseph that he had no money, but needed to go south to Nephi, to visit some relatives. Joseph Warthen, favoring all men alike, would have gladly done the same and more for anybody, as he never refused a favor to any man. Questioning the young man no further, he loaned him the team and carriage, and the young man and his sweetheart eloped that night. Warthen knew nothing of the family row, but the father of the girl, upon discovering the next day that Joseph Warthen's carriage disappeared the same time as his daughter, was convinced that Joseph had helped the young man in his plan to elope. Mr. Hicks came to Joseph Warthen's home, and hot words were exchanged, but Joseph invited him inside, saying they shouldn't quarrel, but that he would help find the girl. From the time the man entered the house until after he left, Joseph's wife Lutitia had cold chills and a horrid feeling pass over her, "even to the extent that the hand of the destroyer seemed present." She saw that the man looked around and took note of the position and situation of everything in the room before leaving, and he turned to Grandpa and said, "I will have revenge for what you have done."
"It was a very small house, and all of the family, the parents and five children, slept in one room. The children were Albert (10), Brigham (6), Harriet (4), Mary Ann (3), and William (6 months). At night they would spread quilts on the floor for the children to sleep on, close to their own bed, and the baby William Joseph slept between them. Every evening, before going to bed, they threw a log on the fire, as this gave them both light and warmth. About eleven someone came to the window and called Mr. Warthen. He raised on his elbow answering, "Hello, come in, my friends," just as a shot was fired through the window. He fell back in bed by the side of his wife and child. The doctor lived about twelve miles away. Grandma tried to get the hired man to go for help, but he was so frightened and overcome that she had to go herself for the doctor. Joseph Warthen lived three days after he was shot, but he died 28 April 1852. Evidence that Hicks was there was found, and he was arrested and tried in Salt Lake City. The day after the murder, he had been caught by a posse north of the point of the mountain, and his horse was very tired and sweaty. However, his brother swore that Hicks had been at his house in Salt Lake on the night of the murder, and had been hurrying to return to Provo when he was caught, so Hicks was given his liberty.


This incident is also mentioned in the journal of Hosea Stout:

"Tuesday 27th April 1852 ... Last night Joseph Worthen was shot while lying in bed with his wife and children. The ball entered his hip just above the joint fracturing the bone the ball lodged in the opposite groin. He is not expected to live."
"Wednesday 28th April 1852 ... Mr. James Keel and Willis Morse were arrested to day and brought before Elias Smith Probate Judge, for and examination on the charge of shooting Jos Worthen. They were acquited (sic)...."
"Thursday 29th April 1852 ... I learn that Joseph Worthen has died of the wound he recieved (sic) on Monday night. No trace of the assassin yet "

(Note by Juanita Brooks, editor):
There is no account of Worthen's death or of this shooting in the Deseret News of either May 1 or May 15 following, or in any of the church records.


Strangely, Joseph Warthen's father Alban Warthen (1788-1833) had also been murdered and the killer was never caught. He had been an innkeeper and businessman in Utica, Licking County, Ohio, and was ambushed on the road returning from a business trip to a neighboring town, in 1833.
There is a grave marker for Joseph Warthen in the Springville Cemetery. His wife Lutitia Shearer Warthen Curtis, who outlived him for more than fifty years, is buried there, as is their youngest son William Joseph Warthen (1851-1880), who had been the baby in bed beside him when he was shot. The first husband of their daughter Mary Ann, William W. Davis (1834-1869) is also buried nearby.


Information Compiled
by Karen Bray Keeley

INTERNET Adaptation
by Sandra S. Bray