Having been instructed by the Lord to "go to the Ohio" (D&C 37:1), Joseph and Emma Smith, accompanied by Edward Partridge and Sidney Rigdon, went to Kirtland in early February 1831.
Upon his arrival in Kirtland, Joseph met Newel K. Whitney, who later would receive three significant callings: First Bishop of Kirtland, First Bishop in the Church, and Presiding Bishop.Joseph Smith's History of the Church, Vol. 1, contains an account recorded in the Whitney family folk lore. According to that account, Joseph went into the store of Gilbert and Whitney and, extending his hand to the junior partner, exclaimed, "Newel K. Whitney! Thou art the man!"
Whitney, it is reported, replied, "You have the advantage of me. I could not call you by name as you have me."
"I am Joseph the Prophet," said the stranger. "You have prayed me here, now what do you want of me?"
The Prophet, it is said, had seen the Whitneys in vision, praying for his coming to Kirtland.
After discovering the identity of his visitor, Whitney escorted Joseph and Emma across the street to his house on the corner, where he introduced them to his wife, Elizabeth Ann Smith Whitney. Joseph and Emma lived with the Whitney family for several weeks, and, according to the Prophet, "received every kindness and attention which could be expected, especially from Sister Whitney."
Sister Whitney told her husband that the Prophet's visit to their home "was the fulfillment of the vision we had seen of a cloud, as of glory, resting upon our house."
The Prophet received a number of revelations while living in the Whitney home.
On Feb. 4, 1831, just a few days after the Prophet arrived in Kirtland, Newel K. Whitney was called as a bishop in the Church. He was sustained as Presiding Bishop of the Church April 7, 1851.
In LDS Biographical Encyclopedia, Andrew Jenson wrote: "He WhitneyT was one whom Joseph SmithT trusted implicitly, not only in monetary matters, in which he often consulted him, but with many of his most secret thoughts, which he could confide but to few."