Lost Apostles


Lost Apostles: Forgotten Members of Mormonism’s Original Quorum of the Twelve

Of Joseph Smith’s original Quorum of the Twelve, nine members either left or were excommunicated from the church. Lost Apostles tells their stories as struggle to redefine themselves both within and outside Mormonism.

May, 2014

SKU: 978-1-56085-228-5 Category: Tags: , , Author: H. Michael Marquardt, William ShepardProduct ID: 1405


Before the LDS Church was organized, Joseph Smith received a revelation telling him that twelve men would be called as latter-day apostles. Their assignment would be to warn men and women that the end was near. Although the determination of who would fill these positions was delayed for five years, when it finally happened, God reiterated that these men were to “prune the vineyard for the last time” because the Second Coming was nigh. Of the twelve men selected, nine would eventually be pruned from the vineyard themselves, to varying degrees. Seven were excommunicated, one of whom was reinstated to his position in the Twelve. Of the other six, the subjects of this book, none returned to the apostleship and four never came back to the Utah-based church at all. Those who left faded into obscurity except for when they are occasionally still mentioned in sermons as cautionary tales.

Luke Johnson and John Boynton would make their way outside of Mormonism, becoming successful businessmen and prominent members of their respective communities. Thomas B. Marsh and Luke Johnson would wander for a time, only to rejoin the largest branch of Mormonism and make their way to Utah, though they were not always treated well. William McClellin and William Smith would flit from one offshoot of Joseph’s church to another, struggling to find their place and occasionally leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. Their lives illuminate as many similarities between themselves as they do differences, and they tell of just how harrowing the journey to remain a part of Joseph’s church could be.

William Shepard is a past president of the John Whitmer Historical Association and has published in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, the John Whitmer Historical Association Journal, and the Journal of Mormon History. An elder in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite), he is active in the Burlington, Wisconsin, branch that was founded by James Strang in 1844. Shepard is a retired school teacher, holds a master’s degree in history, and is a former sergeant in the U.S. Air Force.

H. Michael Marquardt is an independent researcher and writer, the author of The Book of Abraham Revisited, Inventing Mormonism: Tradition and the Historical Record, The Joseph Smith Revelations: Text and Commentary, and compiler of Early Patriarchal Blessings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day

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5 reviews for Lost Apostles

  1. John G. Turner

    In this meticulously researched book, William Shepard and Michael Marquardt lift out of obscurity the lives of six Mormon apostles, men whose experiences reflect the tempestuous and tumultuous nature of the church they helped build. The authors rightfully contend that one cannot fully understand the earliest years of Mormonism without including a reckoning for how it was that so many leaders chosen by Joseph Smith found themselves outside the fold, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, temporarily or for the remainder of their lives.

  2. Mark A. Scherer

    Two skilled historians give clear voice to the “lost apostles” who were silenced not only by the church leadership but also through the passing of time. In this masterfully researched volume, the reader will hear these early ministers speak to us through their words and actions regarding questioning authority, the nature of apostasy, and especially personal integrity. In good time, this book will become as memorable as its message. This is an outstanding read!

  3. Linda Thatcher

    William Shepard and H. Michael Marquardt have written a well-documented narrative surveying the lives of Thomas B. Marsh, William E. McLellin, Luke S. Johnson, William B. Smith, John F. Boynton, and Lyman E. Johnson. The authors discuss how these early converts climbed to substantial leadership roles in the church and helped shape the direction of the Restoration Movement, as well as their eventual, collective fall from grace. This is an important contribution to the field of early Mormon historical investigation.

  4. Polly Aird

    Lost Apostles carries us to the tumultuous founding days of Mormonism. Of twelve original apostles, six departed, disillu-sioned or excommunicated, their stories subsequently forgotten or intentionally ignored. They left because of internal conflicts that played out dramatically against the backdrop of the American frontier. Through meticulous research and clear writing, the authors bring these early church leaders out of the stereotype of “apostate” to full life in a transformed but chaotic world. I highly recommend this book.

  5. Roger D. Launius

    We have all heard of the original members of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles who departed the church over different beliefs, priorities, and prerogatives. But until now we have not fully grasped their lives and careers, their strengths and foibles, their accomplishments and struggles. Authors Shepard and Marquardt have marshalled in-depth research to tell fascinating stories about individuals who once held prominence in the first-generation church but have been lost to history. This is a fine discussion of those six who dissented from the Latter Day Saint movement during its earliest years.

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