Thomas Grover was born 22nd of July 1807 in Whitehall, New York. His family lived on the northern end of Whitehall which was at the south end of Lake Champlain. At this time moving goods by water ways was big with the Erie Canal. In 1820, Thomas (age 13) was cabin boy on the barges that operated on Lake Champlain. By 1930-31, he had advanced to the position of Captain of the Shamrock, a freight and passenger vessel operated on the entire waterways from Quebec to New York City or Albany westward to Buffalo.
He married Caroline Whiting in 1828, and moved west to Freedom, New York. While living there he learned of the new “Mormon” Gospel. He became interested, investigated it to his complete satisfaction and became a member of it. He was baptized in September 1934 by the Prophet Joseph Smith and Elder Sidney Rigdon.
In late 1835 his family moved to Kirtland to join the Saints and helped work on the temple. They were driven out of Kirkland a year later finally going to Nauvoo. His family had grown to seven children by 1840. His wife Caroline died along with their youngest daughter later that year. He met and married Caroline Eliza Nickerson (a widow). With the revelation given to Joseph Smith, the practice of plural marriage was given Thomas accepted the practice. He was married to six women but never had more than four wives at one time.
Upon joining the Church, Thomas made a gift of considerable size of money to Joseph Smith. He was a member of Zions Camp; he suffered the persecutions of the Mormons in Missouri and was with the prophet in prison a number of times. He fulfilled three missions for the church (in New York State, Canada, and Michigan). He was a member of the first High Council of the Church in Nauvoo (D&C 124:132). He was one of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s bodyguards. When the Prophet was kidnapped, Thomas was one of the men who rescued him.
Thomas was among the first 143 men to go with President Brigham Young in 1847. He left his family with enough provisions to last two years. On the north side of the Platte River it became necessary to build a boat to cross the Platte. President Young called the camp together to ascertain the best plan. Young gave his plan to build a raft but Thomas said, “It will not work”. Young said, “I think it will”.
Thomas again said it would not work in that kind of stream and they went to bed. The next day President Young got his boat into the water and it sank. President Young turned to Thomas and said, “My plan has failed, what is yours?” Thomas soon built another boat but differently than President Young’s. When ready Thomas asked for a large 6000 pound prairie schooner to be loaded on to the boat and then floated the raft across the river. President Young then appointed Thomas and 13 others to remain and run the boat ferry to help other wagon trains cross the river.
He was asked to help settle some business for the Saints in California that had arrived on the sailing ship “Brooklyn”. Then to bring tithing gold dust worth $3000.00 and $1280.00 in coins back to Salt Lake City. In 1850, went back east to Iowa and Missouri to purchase cattle to bring west. Around the spring of 1854, he bought a farm and moved into two log houses. Next spring planted wheat in the warm weather but this was the year of the crickets that came into the area. However, the grain had ripened before the crickets had a chance to do much damage. They harvested 700 bushels which was life-saving for many.
Thomas was in the Utah legislature which was located in Fillmore in 1855 and 1856 of which he served three terms. He moved to a farm in Farmington of which he gave part of the farm ground for the Farmington meeting house. He was appointed to the high council and served until his death. When the Perpetual Emigration Fund was ask for in 1861, he sent one yoke of oxen and a wagon, and sent two yoke of oxen and two wagons each year afterward until the railroad was completed.
Thomas and his family spent the remaining years in the Farmington. One Sunday, upon returning home from Fast meeting, where he had borne a stirring testimony to the truthfulness of the gospel and the Mission of Joseph Smith, he stated he didn’t feel well. He went to bed. He passed away a few days later on February 20, 1886.
Thomas Grover can be known as a Cabin Boy, Boat Captain, Body Guard, Pioneer, Father, Trusted Friend, Cattle Herder, Boat Builder, Farmer, Legislator, Emigration Supporter, and much, much more.