Jesse C. Little

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Jesse Carter Little was a member of the Presiding Bishopric of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served as second counselor from 1856 to 1874, when he resigned.

Little was born on September 26, 1815, in Belmont, Maine. He was educated at Ipswich Academy in New Hampshire and worked for a year as a school teacher. He was a farmer, blacksmith, and wagon and sleigh builder. He also worked as a dry good store clerk.

He was baptized in 1845, was ordained a high priest by Parley P. Pratt and then served as president of the Church’s missions in the New England and middle states of the United States. While in the East, Little acted at the request of Brigham Young to create sympathy on behalf of the plight of the members of the Church and to seek assistance from the federal government for the Mormon Pioneers fleeing the mobs.

On a visit to Washington, D.C., he learned from US president Polk of the intention of the government to raise a battalion of men to march to California as part of the Mexican-American War. Little suggested that since the Latter-day Saints were expecting to locate in the near future in Upper California, this battalion company should be drawn from among the Mormons encamped on the banks of the Missouri River. This led to the formation of the famous Mormon Battalion in 1846. Little started immediately for the camps of the Saints by way of Nauvoo and Winter Quarters, to consult with the authorities of the Church. He assisted in organizing the battalion and accompanying the enlisted brethren as far as Fort Leavenworth and then returned to the East to resume his mission.

In 1847, Little acted as adjutant to Brigham Young. After arriving in Salt Lake with the company, he returned to the East and continued his service as mission president until 1852, when he moved his family to Utah Territory. There he worked as an attorney, sexton, tax appraiser, fire chief, military officer, and marshal. He opened a hotel at Warm Springs in Salt Lake City and was successful for many years. In 1885, he agreed with Samuel Brannon to colonize a part of Northern Mexico, but the effort failed.

Little settled in Morgan County, Utah, in Littleton, a town named after him. He died on December 26, 1893, and was buried in Salt Lake City.

Little practiced polygamy and had three wives and twenty-seven children.