The following biographical sketch is excerpted from the LDS Biographical Encyclopedia.
Erastus Snow was a member of the Council of Twelve Apostles from 1849 to 1888. He was the son of Levi and Lucina Snow, and was born at St. Jonsbury, Caledonia county, Vermont, Nov. 9, 1818. His father's family was among the early settlers of the Massachusetts colony.
At an early age Erastus Snow was much impressed with religion, his mother being a member of the Wesleyan-Methodist church. In the spring of 1832 Elders Oren Prattand Luke S. Johnsen visited Vermont and commenced to preach the fulness of the gospel. William and Zerubbabel, two elder brothers of Erastus, were the first of the Snow family who were baptized. Erastus, who was only fourteen years of age, believed the testimony of the Elders when he first heard it, and was baptized by his elder brother. William, Feb. 3, 1833.
Immediately after his baptism, he commenced to search the scriptures diligently and soon became very desirous to preach. Consequently, he was ordained to the office of a teacher, June 28, 1834, by Elder John F Boynton. At that time he worked on his father's farm at St. Johnsbury, where a branch of the Church had been organized. Erastus met regularly with the Saints on Sundays and visited them in their houses. He also made several short missionary trips to the neighboring villages, in company with his cousin Gardner Snow and others. He was ordained by his brother William to the office of a Priest, Nov. 13, 1834, after which he extended his missionary labors into the States of New York and New Hampshire, holding meetings and baptizing quite a number. After being ordained an Elder by Elder Luke S. Johnson, Aug. 16, 1835, he continued his mission with increased zeal in New Hampshire and Vermont, in company with William E. M'Lellin, his brother Willard and others. Nov. 8, 1835, he left St. Johnsbury together with Elder Hazen Aldrich and traveled to Kirtland, Ohio.
After a hard journey, during which they came near being shipwrecked on Lake Erie, they reached their destination Dec. 3rd. In Kirtland Elder Snow met the Prophet Joseph Smith for the first time and lived with him several weeks.
The next spring he was ordained a Seventy, called into the Second Quorum of Seventy, and received his patriarchal blessings under the hands of Joseph Smith, Sen. After the endowments in Kirtland, the Elders went out preaching with greater diligence than ever, and Elder Snow started on a mission to Pennsylvania April 16, 1836. He was absent over eight months, during which time he traveled 1,600 miles, preached 220 sermons, baptized 50 persons, organized several branches of the Church in western Pennsylvania, and returned to Kirtland, Dec. 29th.
With Elder Bosley as a missionary companion, he started on another mission to the East, May 9, 1837. After seven months' absence, he returned to Kirtland, Dec. 5, 1837, having labored faithfully in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland, preached 147 sermons and baptized about forty people.
Jan. 2, 1838, he started from Kirtland on yet another missionary tour. A couple of days later he attended a conference of Elders at Milton, fifty miles south. There he was challenged for a debate by a Mr. Hubbard, a Campbellite preacher, who denounced the Book of Mormon as false. Elder Snow suggested to the congregation that he would produce as much proof for the divinity of the Book of Mormon as his opponent could for the Bible. With this the people seemed to be entirely satisfied, and a meeting was appointed for the following day. But when the hour of meeting arrived, none of the six Campbellite preachers, who were present, would abide by Elder Snow's proposition. Being anxious to use every opportunity that presented itself to lay the truth before the people, Elder Snow finally consented to other arrangements, and the debate was continued until 11 o'clock at night. As usual, the truth was triumphant, although Elder Snow was abused in various ways.
In the latter part of May he received a message from Kirtland, notifying him to return to Ohio, for the purpose of going to Missouri. With joy he complied with this call and arrived in Kirtland June 3, 1838, after five months' absence. In Kirtland he met Elders Heber C. Kimball and Orson Hyde, who had just returned from their missions to England, and were now preparing for a journey to Missouri. Most of the Kirtland Saints were also preparing to remove to Missouri because of apostasy and persecutions in Ohio. Together with forty or fifty others, Elder Snow started from Kirtland June 25th and traveled by land to Wellsville, on the Ohio river, thence with steamboats down that river, 950 miles, and up the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, 550 miles further, to the Richmond landing in Missouri. From this place the company traveled forty miles northward to Far West, in Caldwell county, where they arrived July 18th.
Elder Snow married Artemesia Beman Dec. 3, 1838, and taught school the following winter in Far West. In the following February (1839), together with other brethren, he was sent by the Church at Far West as a messenger to Liberty, Clay county, where Joseph, the Prophet, and fellow-prisoners at that time were incarcerated. When the jailor on the evening of Feb. 8th brought supper to the prisoners, the visiting brethren were permitted to enter the cell. That same evening the prisoners, agreeable to an arrangement made the day previous, made an attempt to escape, but failed. When the jailor went out, Hyrum Smith took hold of the door, and the others followed; but before they could render the assistance needed, the jailor and guard succeeded in closing the door, shutting in the visiting brethren as well as the prisoners.
The jailor immediately gave the alarm, and the greatest excitement followed. Not only the citizens of the town, but a great number from the surrounding country, gathered around the jail. Every mode of torture and death that their imagination could fancy, was proposed for the prisoners, such as blowing up the jail, taking the prisoners out and whipping them to death, shooting them and burning them to death, tearing them to pieces with horses, etc. The brethren inside listened to all these threats, but believing that the Lord would deliver them, laid down to rest for the night. The mob finally became so divided among themselves that they were unable to carry out any of their numerous plans. That night, while some of the visiting brethren spoke about their being in great danger, the prophet Joseph told them "not to fear, that not a hair of their heads should be hurt, and that they should not lose any of their things, even to a bridle, saddle, or blanket; that everything should be restored to them; they had offered their lives for their friends and the gospel; that it was necessary the Church should offer a sacrifice and the Lord accepted the offering."
In the beginning of May, Elder Snow visited Commerce, in Hancock county, which had been selected as a gathering place for the Saints. Here he commenced a new home, and in the following June removed his family to Montrose, on the opposite, side of the river, where he had secured a small hut for a temporary dwelling. July 4, 1839, he started on a mission, to which he had been called at the conference held in Quincy two months previous. He traveled through several counties in Illinois, held a number of meetings and administered to the sick, until it was revealed to him in a dream that his family was sick and needed his presence.
When President Joseph Smith returned from Washington in March, 1840, he told Elder Snow that his labors were much needed in Pennsylvania. Wishing to act upon this suggestion, he at once prepared for a mission to that State. But as the protracted illness to which he and his family had been subjected had reduced him to the depths of poverty, he had no means wherewith to defray traveling expenses, and he was too weak to undertake the journey on foot. After preaching several times in Quincy and attending the April conference at Commerce, where he received some means from kindhearted Saints, he finally took leave of his family April 28, 1840, and started on his mission with Elder S. James as a companion. They traveled down the Mississippi and up the Ohio rivers, a distance of about fourteen hundred miles, to Wellsburgh, in Virginia, where they landed May 7th and commenced their missionary labors. After having held a two days discussion with a Campbellite preacher (Matthew Clapp), Elder Snow continued to Philadelphia and afterwards visited New York and Brooklyn.
He continued to preach and baptize in Philadelphia and vicinity, and also in New Jersey, until towards the close of September, when he received a letter from Nauvoo to the effect that his mother-in-law, with whom his wife resided, was dead. Concluding under these circumstances to bring his wife to Pennsylvania, he left Philadelphia Sept. 30th and arrived at Nauvoo Oct. 21st, having been absent about six months and traveled 5,650 miles. After a stay of seventeen days in Nauvoo, he started for Pennsylvania Nov. 7, 1840, taking his wife with him.
Finally he happened to meet Elder George A. Smith, who was returning from his mission to England, and also Elders John E. Page, Dr. Galland, William B. Smith, Hyrum Smith, William Law and others from Nauvoo. The two last named brethren had visited the New England States, and meeting Elder Snow on their return they desired that he should go to Salem, in Massachusetts, to open the gospel door. In a revelation given in 1836 the Lord had said that He had much people in that city. Although Elder Snow had expected to return to Nauvoo in the fall, and he also knew that his long absence would affect his temporal affairs considerably, he made up his mind to go to Salem, after making the subject a matter of sincere prayer.
He reaped the first fruits of his work in Salem Nov. 8, 1841, by initiating the first five persons into the Church by baptism, and before the close of February, 1842, the number of baptized had increased to 35. March 5, 1842, he held a conference meeting in the Masonic Hall, and organized a branch of the Church, consisting of 53 members. He also ordained an Elder and a Priest. Subsequently he extended his field of labor to Boston, where he assisted Elder Nickerson in organizing a branch of the Church, and to Marblehead, Bradford, Lynn, Petersboro (in New Hampshire) and other places. In April, 1842, he visited Philadelphia, Penn., where he attended a five days' conference. After his return to Salem, his first son was born, May 1, 1842.
Having set the branch in order and appointed a brother to preside, Elder Snow left Salem March 9, 1843 and arrived in Nauvoo April 11th.
At the general conference held at Nauvoo in April, 1844, Elder Snow was again called to go on a mission to the Eastern States. Consequently, about three weeks later (April 30th), he took a memorable leave of his family and the Prophet, whom he never saw again in this life, and commenced his journey. After having visited the branches in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, he, in company with four of the Twelve, held a conference in Salem, Mass., in July. About this time the sad news of the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith reached him, and he concluded to return home. When he arrived at Nauvoo July 25th he found the Saints bowed down with grief over the loss of their beloved leaders. Elder Snow attended the special meetings on Aug. 8th, at which the Twelve Apostles, with Brigham Young as president, were acknowledged as the highest authority in the Church, notwithstanding Sidney Rigdon's claim to the leadership.
Elder Snow was present in the general council of the Church, held in Nauvoo, where General Warren, Judge Douglas and other State dignitaries, sent by Governor Ford, were present, and where the Saints agreed to leave the State early the following spring. From that time the Saints doubled their efforts in completing the Temple, in order to receive their blessings before leaving for the wilderness.
In the beginning of December the attic story was dedicated for giving endowments, Elder Snow and his wife received their anointings Dec. 12th, after which he was called to administer in the Temple, and he remained there night and day for six weeks, together with the Twelve and others who were called to officiate in a similar manner.
On Jan. 23, 1846, Elder Snow yielded obedience to the principle of plural marriage, by having not only his wife Artimesia, but also a second wife, Minerva, sealed to him for time and all eternity. They also received their second anointings. During the winter the difficulties with the mob continued to loom up, and when it was decided in council to commence the emigration westward in February, Elder Snow was sent to Quincy to lay in supplies for the pioneer company.
Elder Snow writes: "Many interesting episodes occurred on the journey, but among trying and affecting ones was the appearance of the mountain fever among us. This affliction detained us so that, with the labor on the roads through the Wasatch Mountains, we were unable to reach Great Salt Lake valley until the 21st of July, when Orson Pratt and myself, of the working parties, who were exploring, first emerged into the valley and visited the site of the future Salt Lake City, and when we ascended Red Butte, near the mouth of Emigration canyon, which gave us the first glimpse of the blue waters of the Great Salt Lake, we simultaneously swung our hats and shouted, Hosannah! for the Spirit told us that here the Saints should find rest.
Elder Snow continues: "Soon after our arrival in the valley, I was appointed one of the presidency of the Stake, and during the following winter (Feb. 12, 1849), I was called and ordained into the quorum of the Twelve Apostles, together With Charles C. Rich, Lorenzo Snow and Franklin D. Richards. In my ordination, President Brigham Young acted as spokesman. I continued to labor in the ministry, in common with my brethren, though all were obliged to labor with their hands during the week, in opening up farms and building houses for our families.
We all wintered in the Old Fort, which had been commenced and partly built by the Pioneers, using our wagon beds chiefly for our sleeping rooms. During the spring of 1849, we began to move out on our lots, divided the city into Wards, and began to fence by Wards. During the summer, I built chiefly with my own hands, two rooms on my lot, one of adobe, the other of logs, separated from each other for a shed between, and got my family moved into them, with some wagon beds by the side of them for sleeping apartments.
This year the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company was organized, and the system of emigration inaugurated, which has so largely contributed to the gathering of our people and the building up of Utah Territory. I was appointed one of the committee of three in gathering funds to put into the hands of Bishop Hunter to send back to our poor brethren left on the Missouri river. At that time our settlements extended only to Provo on the south and to Ogden on the north. We gathered about $2,000. About this time, also, I participated in the organizing of the provisional government of the State of Deseret."
At the semi-annual conference held in October, 1849, I was appointed on a mission to Denmark.
I sailed from Boston on the 3rd of April on a Cunard steamer, for Liverpool, where I landed on the 16th. We visited many of the churches in England, Scotland and Wales. During the next four weeks I received many contributions in aid of our missions. I landed in Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, June 14, 1850, in company with Elders George P. Dykes and John E. Forsgren—the former an American and the latter a native of Sweden. We were met at the wharf by Elder Peter O. Hansen, a native of that city, who had embraced the gospel in America, and had left Salt Lake City with us, but had made his way in advance of us to his native land. Brother Peter O. Hansen conducted Elders Snow, Dykes and Forsgren to a hotel, where, after being shown an upper room they all kneeled together and offered up thanksgiving to God, dedicating themselves to His service.
Apostle Snow baptized fifteen persons in the clear waters of the beautiful Oresund, near Copenhagen, Aug. 12, 1850. Ole U. C. Monster was the first man and Anna Beckstrom the first woman baptized. These had all been members of Mr. Peter C. Monster's reformed Baptist Church. August 14, 1850, the first confirmation took place in Denmark, and on the 25th the Sacrament was administered there for the first time by divine authority in this dispensation. On the latter date the first ordination to the Priesthood also took place, Brother Knud H. Bruun being ordained to the office of a Priest. After the first baptisms, many others came forward and followed the example, and on Sept. 15, 1850, the first branch of the Church in Scandinavia was organized in Copenhagen, with fifty members.
In September, 1850, Apostle Snow wrote an interesting pamphlet entitled "En Sandheds Rost" (A Voice of Truth), explaining the first principles of the gospel in a very plain and forcible manner. Over 200,000 copies of that little work have since been published in the Danish and Swedish languages. "Remarkable Visions" by Orson Pratt and a number of other pamphlets were subsequently translated and published in Danish.
It is here also worth recording that none of the missions established by the Elders in this last dispensation, save the British, has been so fruitful as the one rounded by Apostle Snow in Scandinavia.
Apostle Snow, taking an affectionate leave of his flock, sailed from Copenhagen March 4, 1852, accompanied by nineteen emigrating Saints. These, together with nine others, who had embarked a few weeks previous, were the first direct fruits of the gospel from the Scandinavian countries. They have been followed by more than twenty-five thousand others. After spending a few weeks in England, attending to the organization of the Deseret Iron Company and other matters, Apostle Snow embarked from Liverpool May 8, 1852, in company with Franklin D. Richards, and arrived safely in Salt Lake City Aug. 20th, following, having been absent from his mountain home nearly three years.
When the anti-polygamy crusade commenced, Elder Snow, like many of his brethren, became an "exile for conscience sake," and the hardships he was forced to endure as such undoubtedly shortened his days. After a most remarkable and useful life, fraught with great events and crowned with many blessings, he departed this life at his home in Salt Lake City, May 27, 1888, a little under the age of three score and ten. Apostle Erastus Snow was kindhearted and benevolent, a man of fine appearance and strongly built. Like all great men he had his peculiarities. He was a deep thinker, and at times, so swallowed up in profound thought, that he took but little notice of things around him. Sometimes, when asked a question, he would not answer it until the next day, or perhaps still later. Frequently, some would think that he did not hear their question, but he seldom failed to answer it at some future time. He was an honest man, a true husband and a kind father, a wise counselor, an efficient pioneer and colonizer, a great statesman and, in every sense of the word, truly an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. His name and his works will live forever in the generations of the Saints who loved and respected him as their friend and counselor."