Harvey H. Cluff was born in Kirtland, Ohio in 1836, one of the 12 children of David and Elizabeth Cluff. His father David had come to Kirtland to learn more about the Church and to meet with Joseph Smith. The family had joined the Church and followed the Saints to Jackson County, Missouri; then to Springfield and Nauvoo, Illinois. Following the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph, Harvey and his family were among the first emigrants to follow Brigham Young to Utah.1
Immediately following the October 6, 1856 General Conference, in which Brigham Young sent out a call for rescuers to aid the Martin and Willie handcart companies, Harvey volunteered to join the rescue party. 22 teams were loaded and ready to go by the next morning. Riding east, the party had covered nearly 250 miles by October 19, when they were stopped by a sudden blizzard only miles from the stranded handcart company.
Though Harvey was not a leader in the rescue company, and was just twenty, he had an inclination to place a sign by the main road to alert passers-by of the rescue party’s location. Though the storm raged, Harvey followed the promptings of the Holy Ghost, and later wrote, “I had only been back to camp a short time when two men [rode] up from Willie’s handcart company. The signboard had done the work of salvation…The handcart company was then 25 miles from our camp, and they [Willie and Elder] had traveled that distance without food for themselves or horses and no bedding, they must have perished. I have always regarded this act of mine as the means of their salvation.”2
In 1857, Harvey married Margaret Ann Foster. The couple had four children, but all died in childhood. Despite the hardship, Harvey went on to become one of Utah’s leading businessmen and community leaders, serving three terms on the Provo City Council in addition to being on the original board of trustees for Brigham Young Academy. He remained strong in the Church, serving a mission in the United Kingdom from 1865 to 1868, as mission president of the Hawaiian Mission, and as bishop of the Provo 4th Ward. He died in 1916, leaving behind a body of work that benefited countless others and an unwavering testimony:
“Every youth should contemplate upon the character he wishes to form and diligently maintain through life and then work to that end. No intelligent person in youth or old age should merely drift along. Look the world squarely in the face, listen and learn and not pass along, in life, indifferently, for there are grand lessons before you every minute. Don’t let it be said of you that life has been a failure. The royal path of life has been marked out for you by Jesus Christ himself. He that walketh therein, builds upon the foundation that withstands the winds and floods.3”
1Harvey H. Cluff, Wikipedia.org
2Willie and Martin Handcart Companies, Wikipedia.org
3Autobiography of Harvey Harris Cluff, Prelude. Cluff