John F. Boynton

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John F. Boynton, former Mormon apostle

John Farnham Boynton was born on September 20, 1811, in Bradford Massachusetts, the son of Eliphalet Boynton and Susannah Nichols. He was a member of the first Quorum of the Twelve Apostles established by the Prophet Joseph Smith. John’s education far surpassed the norm of the day, having attended school at Columbia in New York as a teen and attending medical school in St. Louis by the age of twenty.

Baptized at age twenty, John was serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by age twenty-one in the eastern states and Canada, where he experienced great success. At the age of twenty-three John was ordained to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

The financial downfall in Kirtland, Ohio, in 1837 proved detrimental to John’s faith and membership in the Church. When the bank established by the Prophet Joseph Smith failed, John declared that Joseph was a fallen prophet. He quickly joined with others who had fallen away in demeaning the Prophet and all those who remained faithful to the Church. Along with other dissidents, he took weapons into the recently finished Kirtland temple and claimed control over the building, threatening to “blow out the brains of the first man who dared to lay hands on him.”[1] On September 3, 1837, he was dismissed from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as a result of his actions. He exhibited an apologetic attitude, and was reinstated one week later. However, his behavior did not change, and he was again dismissed in December 1837, after which he was excommunicated on April 12, 1838.

Following his excommunication, John had no more to do with the Church or any other religion, focusing instead on science as a traveling lecturer. He followed the mass move west for the call to gold, but was unsuccessful in finding his fortune there. He was, however, successful in obtaining numerous patents for inventions. Among them was a soda fountain, a vacuum process extracting gold from ore, a method for coloring buttons and glassware, and several small electrical appliances.

He was featured in a New York City newspaper when his second marriage took place in a balloon over New York City.

He passed away at the age of seventy-nine after being diagnosed with a burst blood vessel in his chest, dying on October 20, 1890, in Syracuse, New York.


  • Susan Easton Black, Who’s Who in the Doctrine & Covenants, pp. 32-35.
  1. Eliza R. Snow, Biography of Lorenzo Snow, as cited in CHC 1:406