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John Milton Bernhisel

John Milton Bernhisel
John Milton Bernhisel.jpg
Delegate to the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Utah Territory's at-large district
In office
March 4, 1851 – March 3, 1859
Succeeded byWilliam H. Hooper
In office
March 4, 1861 – March 3, 1863
Preceded byWilliam H. Hooper
Succeeded byJohn F. Kinney
Personal details
Born(1799-06-23)June 23, 1799
Tyrone Township, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedSeptember 28, 1881(1881-09-28) (aged 82)
Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.
Resting placeSalt Lake City Cemetery
40°46′37.92″N 111°51′28.8″W / 40.7772000°N 111.858000°W / 40.7772000; -111.858000
Political partyIndependent
Alma materUniversity of Pennsylvania

John Milton Bernhisel (born John Martin Bernheisel)[1] (June 23, 1799 – September 28, 1881) was an American physician, politician and early member of the Latter Day Saint movement. He was a close friend and companion to both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. Bernhisel was the original delegate of the Utah Territory in the United States House of Representatives (1851–59, 1861–63) and acted as a member of the Council of Fifty of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).


Bernhisel was born at Sandy Hill, Tyrone Township, near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. His name at birth was John Martin Bernheisel, which he changed as an adult.[1] He graduated in medicine from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 1827,[2] and began practicing medicine in New York City. After becoming affiliated with the Latter Day Saint movement, he moved to Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1843. Bernhisel served as the personal physician to Joseph Smith, and lived in his home. He delivered some of Emma Smith's children.

In June 1844, Bernhisel accompanied Joseph Smith to the Carthage Jail and spent some time with Smith and his brother Hyrum in the jail, but Bernhisel was not present at the time of Joseph Smith's death at the hands of a mob.

After Smith's death, Bernhisel followed Brigham Young and moved west with the majority of the Latter-day Saints. He settled in Salt Lake City, Utah Territory, in 1848 and continued the practice of medicine.

Bernhisel was selected by Young to represent the interests of the Latter-day Saints before Congress when the Mormon settlers began to consider an application for statehood as the State of Deseret. He was selected to the Thirty-second and to the three succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1851 – March 3, 1859). After returning briefly to his medical practice, he also ran and served in the Thirty-seventh Congress (March 4, 1861 – March 3, 1863). Bernhisel also served as regent of the University of Utah.

Bernhisel was a bachelor until he was 46 years old (March 1845), when he married Julia Ann Haight, the widow of William Van Orden and mother of five children. The couple had one child, also named John Milton Bernhisel (born in 1846). Like some early LDS Church members, Bernhisel went on to practice plural marriage. He was married to seven women, but by 1850 all of them but Elizabeth Barker had left for various reasons. He died in Salt Lake City on September 28, 1881, and is interred at the Salt Lake City Cemetery.

See also


  1. ^ a b Richard S. Van Wagoner and Steven C. Walker, A Book of Mormons (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1982) s.v. "John M. Bernhisel".
  2. ^ "Penn and the U.S. Congress Roster of Alumni, Faculty and Trustees 1774 to the present Surnames beginning A through C". Penn Notables. University of Pennsylvania. Archived from the original on January 12, 2015. Retrieved April 20, 2015.


Further reading

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
office created
Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives
from Utah

Succeeded by
William H. Hooper
Preceded by
William H. Hooper
Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives
from Utah

Succeeded by
John F. Kinney

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