Nathaniel H. Felt Home, Salem, Massachusetts
Nathaniel Henry Felt was an early convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was president of the Salem Branch and Brigham Young sent his daughter, Vilate Young, to live with the Felt family while she attended college.
Nathaniel and his family eventually traveled west to Salt Lake City where he became a highly respected member of the community serving as Salt Lake City alderman and Utah Territorial representative.
The Mormon Historic Sites Foundation and the Nathaniel H. Felt Family Association provided funding for the plaque.
The plaque reads as follows:
HOME OF NATHANIEL H. FELT
This house, formerly located at 10 Liberty Street, was once the home of Mormon pioneer and local church leader NATHANIEL HENRY FELT (1816-1887).
Born and raised in Salem, Nathaniel and his brother John ran a tailoring business at 217 Essex Street. In 1839, he married Eliza Ann Preston, also of Salem. In 1843, they joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , and along with 120 new converts, began a small branch of the Church in Salem. Because of Nathaniel’s position as branch president, this house became an important Mormon meeting place.
In the late spring of 1844, Brigham Young sent his fourteen-year-old daughter Vilate to live with the Felt family while she attended finishing school in Salem. Later that summer, Brigham Young visited Salem several times while campaigning for Joseph Smith (LDS Church founder), a U.S. presidential candidate. It was on one of these visits to the area that Brigham Young and local Church members first heard news of Smith’s murder at Carthage, Illinois, on June 27, 1844.
One year later, Nathaniel Felt, his family, and Vilate Young left from this house to embark on the arduous journey west, eventually settling in what would become Salt Lake City, Utah. There, Nathaniel became a highly respected member of the community, with a public career that included service as Salt Lake City alderman and Utah Territorial representative.
Plaque donated by the Mormon Historic Sites Foundation and the Nathaniel H. Felt Family Association.
Articles & Resources
An Essex County Man's Silver Cord, Nathanial H. Felt
Author(s): Fred E. Woods & Jonathan C. Felt
Publication Date: October 2004
Old Salem home once a place of gathering
Author(s): Shaun Stahle
Published in: Church News
Publication Date: October 23, 2004
A few members of the Church in Salem, Mass., joined with city officials and representatives of the Peabody-Essex Museum Oct. 16 to dedicate a plaque at the home of Nathaniel H. Felt, a once-prosperous tailor and influential businessman who was branch president in the 1830s.
The plaque commemorates the central role the home played in the early days of the Church when it was used as headquarters for new converts and departing missionaries. A daughter of Brigham Young, Vilate, also stayed there while attending college.
During the plaque ceremony, Salem Mayor Stanley J. Usovicz told an audience gathered at the Phillips Library of the Peabody-Essex Museum that Nathaniel H. Felt was a man who “followed his beliefs…and this is what has made America great.”
During the ceremony, Jonathan C. Felt gave a biographical sketch of his great-great-grandfather, describing how his ancestor gave of his means to build the Church, including furniture used to decorate the Nauvoo Temple.
In his comments, Kim R. Wilson, chairman of the Mormon Historic Sites Foundation, referred to Doctrine and Covenants 111 and said Salem’s treasure was its people.
The plaque was unveiled by Brother Wilson and Joseph F. Cutler, vice president of the Nathaniel H. Felt Family Association. President H. Kent Bowen of the Cambridge Massachusetts Stake then dedicated the plaque.
The Mormon Historic Sites Foundation and the Nathaniel H. Felt Family Association funded the plaque.
After the dedication, Nicole Benvie, a local member of the Church, presented a first-person interpretation of Vilate Young who lived there during the 1840s. Another local member, Fred Brown, then portrayed Brigham Young.
The Peabody-Essex Museum displayed several artifacts from the era, including the register which was signed by Joseph Smith when he visited Salem in 1836.
Jonathan C. Felt, left, great-great-grandson of Nathaniel H. Felt, and Kim R. Wilson display newly dedicated plaque on Felt home.
Photo courtesy Fred E. Woods
This home became part of the prominent museum in 2001 when museum officials began researching the history of several old homes on the property. After discovering its rich historical past, the museum moved the home to a more advantageous location where it has been used as part of the museum. Future plans call for a Salem Heritage Center/Nathaniel H. Felt Museum to be developed in the home where New Englanders may come for family history research.
Nathaniel Felt was baptized in the fall of 1843 after careful investigation of the Church. Shortly thereafter, he was called to preside over the Salem Branch. During this period he became acquainted with several leaders of the Church, including Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball and Orson Pratt, who frequently visited his home in Salem.