In the early 1820s, Newel K. Whitney set up his first store in Kirtland, Ohio, in a little log cabin (fig. 1). From such humble beginnings he created a thriving business that would later become central to the early history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, over time the holdings and contributions of the Whitney family in Kirtland were largely forgotten. It was in Kirtland where Joseph Smith arrived and reportedly said to Whitney, whom the Prophet had never met before, "Thou art the man."
The fortunes of the Whitneys were intertwined for a time with those of Sidney Gilbert, Whitney's partner for several years in a firm called N. K. Whitney and Company. Whitney rose above many hardships during the Church's turbulent early years. This article chronicles Newel K. Whitney's activities leading up to and connected with the firm of N. K. Whitney and Company, as well as the company's impact on the Church in Ohio.