John R. Winder

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John Rex Winder was a General Authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having served as both Second Counselor (1887–1901) in the Presiding Bishopric and First Counselor (1901–1910) in the First Presidency, serving with President Heber J. Grant.

Winder was also a successful businessman in several ventures, including Winder Dairy, which continues to be a successful family business today. He served on several corporate boards. Frank Y. Taylor said of Winder, “He succeeded as a butcher, attained prominence as a banker, and was interested in the leading industrial, manufacturing, and mercantile institutions of our state.[1] He served Salt Lake City as a city councilman, assessor and collector, and as city water master. He worked for many years with Wilford Woodruff as a director of the Utah Agricultural and Manufacturing Society.

The militia and politics were part of his life. He led the Nauvoo Legion in the Utah War of 1857 to stop the advance of Johnston’s Army. He served as Adjutant General in the Utah Black Hawk War (1865–1872) and was the chief aid to General Daniel H. Wells.

Winder served as the People’s Party chairman and was a delegate to several state constitutional conventions. He was instrumental in helping the Utah Territory receive statehood. He helped modernize the political system in the territory, changing it from a church-dominated system to a two-party system similar to the national political system.

Winder was born on December 11, 1821, in Biddenden, England. As a youth, he tried a few trades until he found his niche as a shoe and leather man in London. After his marriage to Ellen Walters in 1845, he accepted a management position at a shoe store in Liverpool. While there, he joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He and his wife and their three children left Liverpool in February 1853 to join the Saints in the Utah Territory. He contracted smallpox on the journey and had to be quarantined.

He served as a Church General Authority during key historical events. After the passage of the Edmunds-Tucker Act in 1887 banning plural marriage and disincorporating the Church, Church leaders went into hiding and church assets were distributed to avoid seizure. Church property was placed in his care, and he assisted many people avoid arrest or post bail. His Poplar Farm near the south of Salt Lake City served as a temporary Church headquarters for President John Taylor. Pressure from the government stopped when the Manifesto was published and announced, which President Wilford Woodruff asked Winder, Charles W. Penrose, and George Reynolds to review and edit (now canonized as Official Declaration 1 in the Doctrine and Covenants). Winder managed the work on the interior of the Salt Lake Temple and served as first assistant to temple president Lorenzo Snow, and continued serving in the temple presidency until his death. Winder joined in the legal fight to seat Reed Smoot as a U.S. senator. In 1909, the First Presidency published a proclamation called “The Origin of Man,” which clarified the Church’s position on human evolution and reaffirmed that men are the children of God and were created by Him.

Winder practiced plural marriage and had four wives: Ellen Walters, Hannah Thompson, and Elizabeth Parker; he married Maria Burnham in 1893 after he had become a widower. He was the father of twenty children. He succumbed to pneumonia on March 27, 1910.