I've always been fascinated by Porter Rockwell. He's a character unique to Mormonism and unique to the American West. Bodyguard, gunfighter, US Deputy Marshall, and (possible) Danite are just a few of the titles that have been given to him.

After spending eight months in jail, a filthy and emaciated Rockwell traveled to Nauvoo, where he crashed a Christmas party at Joseph Smith's home. When his identity was confirmed, Smith was moved to say, "I prophesy, in the name of the Lord, that you — Orrin Porter Rockwell — so long as ye shall remain loyal and true to thy faith, need fear no enemy. Cut not thy hair and no bullet or blade can harm thee." Yeah, he was a modern day Samson.

My grandpa would tell me stories he heard about Porter Rockwell as a child in rural Utah. They usually began "Porter Rockwell was a mean son of bitch."

But the man could be generous. According to Wikipedia, when Rockwell found out that a widow was balding because of typhoid fever, he cut his long hair so she could fashion a wig.

Anybody know any good stories about Porter Rockwell?

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This may be just in the realm of hearsay, but I seem to remember hearing that he would sometimes wear a double-thick bearskin coat that was a frontier version of a bulletproof vest. I seem to remember that coming from a biographical book written by Lee Nelson.
I have several books on Porter. He's a hero of mine. I have a fascination with the history of the American west. So naturally Orrin Porter Rockwell stands out. He was a participant in several major historical events of Westward expansion. One of my favorite stories is when the saints were being chased by a group of Missouri "wildcats" Porter had had enough. He drew his two Colt .32 caliber pistols, that had the trigger guards filed off, out of his pants pockets. He wheeled his horse around, put the reigns in his teeth and spurred his horse straight into the the angry bunch, firing as he rode. He shot them down and drove them away without a scratch. Many sources have verified the event. Now that's freaking manly!

He ran the Pony Express out of Rockwell Station in modern day Draper Utah. He was bodyguard to two prophets. Many historians believe that Orrin killed more men as a territorial U.S. Marshal than any other wild west marshal. After his death the ever so anti-Mormon Salt Lake Tribune editorialized that he "participated in at least a hundred murders. Even his enemies said Porter was an honorable man.

I happen to have family members that were quite intimate with OP Rockwell. Just by happenstance, I am reading, again his biography . After all real men read real good books and this one is the best book on Ol' Port. it is Porter Rockwell The definitive Biography by Richard Lloyd Dewey
My father lent this to me ages ago and I have just never got around to reading it. Quite a formitable book.
I found this old ballad about Porter Rockwell that cowboys used to sing around campfires:

Old Port Rockwell looks like man,
Witha beard on his face and his hair in a braid,
But there's none in the West but Brigham who can
Look in his eyes and not be afraid.

For Port is a devil in a human shape,
Though he calls himself "Angel," say vengence is sweet;
But he's black, bitter death, and there's no escape,
When he wails through the night his dread war cry, "Wheat!" "Wheat!"
Somewhere a wife with her babes kneels to pray,
For she knows she's a widow and orphans are they.

The war cry "wheat" is in reference to a phrase Rockwell would say to that something was "good." Example: "That saddle is wheat." Basically, it was a 19th Century way of saying something was cool.
I'm going to start saying things are "wheat." That is the wheatest word I've heard in a long time.
I just remembered that I also heard that after he cut his hair for that widow, he blamed his subsequent foul language and pleasure of whiskey on the fact that he'd partially gone against Smith's mandate.
I used to know quite a few stories of Porter Rockwell that my grandfather told, and those that I had read in various biographies. Among these were the night he broke out of jail with Joseph Smith with an ensuing wagon chase by the prison guards, and his involvement in the "Mormon War" and the "Utah War" (the latter took place when President James Buchanan sent federal forces to reorganize and quell Utah and specifically Salt Lake City).

The biography that Kerry mentioned by Richard Lloyd Dewey is a good one, and to that may I offer another book by him on the same topic: "Rockwell: A Novel"


This is a hard to find novel that isn't a biography or historical narrative, but is actually the highlights of this man's life told in the form of a great story (such as the one's listed above) with of course, Rockwell as the main character. It's an easy read, and a great book to pick up and get into if your into the exploits of this man.

On a final note, I also heard a story where Joseph Smith told him that as long as he kept his hair long, no bullet or harm would ever befall him. Can't say I ever heard of a story where one did...
I am the great-great-great grandson of Porter. I've read everything there is to read on the man and the history of the Church. Although most stories can't be validated, since he was nearly illiterate and could not read or write, there are also many that are recorded on his behalf from reputable sources. There is also one record from his own lips in VOLUME 6 of THE HISTORY OF THE CHURCH, telling of his experience spending nine months in a Missouri jail, for the attempted assassination of former Governor Boggs.

One piece says: "Smallwood Nowlin was the first who proposed to hang me on the spot, when Reynolds gave me a push towards the crowd, and said, "Do what you d-mn please with him." Nowlin's son in-law (by marrying one of his mulatto wenches), a Mexican, stepped up to me to lay hold of me, when I told him to stand off, or I would mash his face. He stepped back."

And my favorite from that experience: "About the time that Joseph was arrested by Reynolds at Dixon, I knew that they were after him, and [yet had] no means under heaven of giving him any information. My anxiety became so intense upon the subject, knowing their determination to kill him, that my flesh twitched on my bones. I could not help it; twitch it would. While undergoing this sensation, I heard a dove alight on the window in the upper room of the jail, and commence cooing, and then went off. In a short time, he came back to the window, where a pane was broken: he crept through between the bars of iron, which were about two and-a-half inches apart. I saw it fly round the trap-door several times: it did not alight, but continued cooing until it crept through the bars again, and flew out through the broken window."

As for other stories, my advice is to be careful. Historians seem to take any piece of garbage for gold because it was written in history despite the author's intentions or perception of an incident. For example. It is recorded in the history of the Church that when Sampson Avard began organizing a secret society of "Danites" the Prophet aptly ex-communited him and anyone that stood with him. However, through the decades of anti-Mormon propaganda many members of the Church believe to this day the Danites were not only real, but that Porter was their Chief.

If anyone desires to study Porter's life, I highly recommend Dewey's "PORTER ROCKWELL: A BIOGRAPHY", this book does a great job in presenting Rockwell as the Latter-day Saint Joseph Smith and every other Saint loved and trusted. Dewey also wrote 4 novels and a single previous novel on Porter but these books are more for flair than truth. Lee Nelson's Storm Testament book on Rockwell has about every piece of fact, fiction, and more fiction than I ever could imagine. Schindler's "Man of God, Son of Thunder" has a mix of some truth about 75% anti-Mormon garbage.

But since we're on the subject of MANLINESS, here is one story from the Prophet Joseph's own journal: "While at Hamilton’s Hotel, Chauncy Higbee (an enemy of the Church), offered some insulting language concerning me to Brother Porter (and in turn was knocked out senseless), Rockwell had resented Higbee's words - nobly - as a friend ought to do.”

hi ;i hope someone can help me with this . i am looking for a novel on porter rockwell; in the book there is a part about an old gun fighter who teaches him how to use a gun .can anybody help me with this ?

Whatever calling Porter Rockwell had, I want it.

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