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John R. Winder
First Presidency in 1901 L–R: John R. Winder, First Counselor; Joseph F. Smith, President; John Henry Smith, Second Counselor
Full name John Rex Winder
Born December 11, 1821(1821-12-11)
Place of birth Biddenden, Kent, United Kingdom
Died March 27, 1910 (aged 88)
Place of death Salt Lake City, Utah
LDS Church General Authority
Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric
Called by William B. Preston
Start of term April 8, 1887 (aged 65)
End of term October 17, 1901 (aged 79)
End reason Called as First Counselor in First Presidency
First Counselor in the First Presidency
Called by Joseph F. Smith
Start of term October 17, 1901 (aged 79)
End of term March 27, 1910 (aged 88)
End reason Death

John Rex Winder (pronounced /ˈwɪndər/, December 11, 1821 – March 10, 1910) was a leader and general authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). He was Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric from 1887 to 1901, and First Counselor in the First Presidency to Church President Joseph F. Smith from 1901 until his death. He was well-known for his business abilities, and influenced Heber J. Grant. He was also active in politics and the militia, fighting in the Utah War and the Black Hawk War (Utah). When the church came under heavy persecution for their belief in plural marriage, he held the church's assets to keep them from being seized by the federal government.


Early life

John Rex Winder was born December 11, 1821 to Richard and Sophia Collins Winder in Biddenden, England. He worked in several trades as a youth, settling into a position as a shoe and leather man in his twenties in London. There he married Ellen Walters in 1845. There also he was recruited to manage a shoe store in Liverpool.

In the shoe store, he discovered The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and joined as a member. In February 1853, he and his wife set out to Utah to join the church there. He traveled across the Atlantic Ocean, nearly succumbing to smallpox on the way. He then traveled via steamboat up the Mississippi River to St. Louis, Missouri, where he caught another boat leading up to Keokuk, Iowa. From there he traveled with a company of members heading towards Utah under Joseph W. Young. They arrived safely on October 10, 1853.

Utah Life

Engaged in leather work, he was quite successful in several ventures. His business sense became recognized and eventually he found seats on several corporate boards. Of his ventures, one remains today: Winder Dairy. John R. Winder was generous with his wealth. The poor, orphans, and widows benefited greatly from his efforts.

John R. Winder also became a figure in politics and the militia in the territory. He led the Nauvoo Legion to stop the advance of Johnston's Army in the Utah War of 1857. In the Black Hawk War (Utah), he fought as Adjutant General. He was the chief aid to General Daniel H. Wells, and wrote up the expense report submitted to congress at the conclusion of the conflict.

John R. Winder also served as chairman of the People's Party. His efforts to modernize the exercise of politics in the territory led from the church-dominated system to a two-party system much like the national political system. Serving as a delegate to several state constitutional conventions, he was an instrument in Utah Territory achieving statehood.

General authority

Church President John Taylor called John R. Winder to serve as Second Counselor to Presiding Bishop William B. Preston on April 8, 1887. During this time, the federal government began to antagonize the church for its practice of plural marriage. After the passage of the Edmunds-Tucker Act in 1887, church leaders went into hiding and church assets were distributed to be kept from being seized. John R. Winder assisted many people on the run from the federal government, by helping to hide them or to post bail. His poplar farm on the south of the city served as a temporary Church headquarters for President John Taylor.

Church President Wilford Woodruff approached John R. Winder, Charles W. Penrose, and George Reynolds to review and edit the manuscript of the 1890 Manifesto. With the publication and announcement of the manifesto, federal persecution stopped.

Another significant contribution of John R. Winder during his tenure as Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric was his work on the interior of the Salt Lake Temple. He managed the interior work to be done, and completed it much ahead of schedule. That earned him praise from leaders of the church. After the dedication, John R. Winder served as First Assistant to Temple President Lorenzo Snow. He remained in the presidency of the temple until his death.

He was called to the First Presidency as First Counselor to President Joseph F. Smith on October 17, 1901. One of the notable efforts of that administration was the legal fight to get Reed Smoot seated as a senator in the Smoot Hearings. They also published a proclamation called The Origin of Man in 1909 that clarified the Church's position on human evolution and reaffirmed that men are the children of God and were created by him.

Winder died on March 27, 1910 in Salt Lake City, Utah of pneumonia.[1] Anthon H. Lund succeeded him as First Counselor in the First Presidency.


Having never been a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles prior to his call to the First Presidency, a rarity, there has been some dispute as to whether or not Winder was ordained an Apostle at the time of his appointment as first counselor. The LDS Church has no record of Winder being ordained to the office of Apostle.

Family life

John R. Winder married Ellen Walters in London in 1845. With her consent, he married Hannah Thompson in Salt Lake City in 1855, Elizabeth Parker in 1857, and later, Maria Burnham in 1893. Through these women he bore 20 children.

Maria Burnham was from Fruitland, New Mexico Territory, where the LDS Church congregation was named the Burnham Ward because of her family's prominence in the early history of the area.[2]

Headstone of John R. Winder.
Family monument of John R. Winder.


  • Michael K. Winder (1999). John R. Winder: Member of the First Presidency, Pioneer, Temple Builder, Dairyman. Horizon Publishers. ISBN 0-88290-676-3.  


  1. ^ State of Utah Death Certificate
  2. ^ Jenson, Andrew. Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia. (Salt Lake City: Jenson Historical Company, 1901) Vol. 1, p. 244

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