John W. Woolley’s first wife was Julia Seales Ensign, they married March 20, 1851 and from whom came his six known children, John Ensign, Franklin, Lorin Calvin, Julia Adarena, Mary Emma, and Amy Irene. Seven days after the 1886 revelation was given, On October 4, 1886, John Taylor sealed him to Ann Everington Roberts, widowed mother of B. H. Roberts, he was 56. On March 23, 1910 John married Annie Fisher. LDS President Joseph F. Smith performed the wedding. John was active in the LDS Church up until 1914. He was excommunicated by the church Apostles in 1914, and died 24 years later, December 13, 1928 at age 96.
“John Woolley said that his brother Samuel told him if he did not live this law, he would not have his first wife. President Young taught him that, and others, and he did not believe it. But the Lord told him, and he believed Him. (He then told of how John Woolley’s wife was shown to him in the temple and the Lord told him so, etc., and how Joseph F. Smith married them.) Joseph F. Smith was hounded and died a martyr. Orson F. Whitney died a martyr, and others.” (John Y Barlow June 11, 1944)
“I can see a few faces here that were with us a few years ago. When we used to go up to Uncle John Woolley's and Lorin Woolley's, they would tell us of things -- how the Savior and Joseph Smith came to their place and what he told them to do to keep this principle alive. I have heard those men testify to that many times. I have been called into their Council and told of these things -- tutored up. I used to live just a little way from Uncle Lorin Woolley, and I knew Uncle John Woolley; and I heard the neighbors say that Joseph F. Smith used to go up and visit with him. They said that Joseph F. thought a lot of him, that he went up and pled with him and pled with him. Yes, he did -- he counseled with him, but he wasn't pleading with him as they thought he was doing.” (John Y Barlow 9/13/42)
[In 1928]… I visited Brother John W. Woolley who was then head of the Priesthood -- God's chosen servant in the earth. He was the first to hold the presidency after John Taylor in this line of Priesthood. My brother [Price] took me to see him, introduced me to him. I sat down on the couch after shaking hands with Brother Woolley. He looked a hole through me for a moment. I thought, "Oh, this man is going to tell me of all the trials and tribulations I have had." He startled me by saying, "Get up, young man, and come over here. I want to feel your hand again." I don't know whether I was shaking or whether I wasn't. I know I had a feeling that I was being tested. He looked me in the eye and said, "My boy, you'll do. You'll do." He told me to go and sit down, and I did. He says, "Now I know that I am among friends." And he opened up and told me of the revelation of 1886 and the eight-hour meeting.” (Leroy S Johnson 6/3/1978)
“When brother Price Johnson was talking of Brother John Woolley, I thought many are the hours I have spent with him. Many things were shown to me then. We have seen many of those things literally fulfilled” (JYB 5/25/41)
"I did not have the privilege of having a personal acquaintance with Uncle John W. Woolley, but my Father and brother Richard brought me many stories of his remarkable character and instructions; and knowing them to be honest and that they did not lie, I was privileged to believe what they related to me. We lived in Millville, Utah, at this time, and in the early 1920's, my father and older brothers worked in Salt Lake City, at the Baldwin Radio Plant, where Uncle Lorin Woolley worked also.
My father related that Uncle John Woolley said that the Church authorities were about to cut President Joseph F. Smith off the Church. President Smith reported to his senior, John W. Woolley, who said, "No, Joseph, let them cut me off the Church." Later, members of the Twelve required President Smith to recant his position before the people. He asked by phone if he should do so, and John W. Woolley said, "If you do, that will be the last speech the Lord will let you make." Uncle Lorin told us that President Smith sweat blood on his garments, who explained, "I would rather do this than have my blood on my brethren's hands."
I remember hearing the news of Uncle John Woolley's passing and I felt very sad. He died December 13, 1928, at the age of 97, when I was eighteen years old." (Fred M. Jessop)
Olive Woolley Coombs (daughter of Lorin Woolley): Grandfather was really a different individual. At the age of 90 he got our and chopped and thinned beets for two or three hours a day and was very, very accurate with them. He was very healthy, and I remember he got up very early in the morning. He ate only two meals a day-noon and night- and then went to bed very early—by 7pm every night. He ate very simple meals. The thing I remember most was bread and milk and cheese; and honey was always on the table at my Grandfathers home.”
Rhea Allred Kunz- When my husband and I met him, your grandfather was very forthright. He didn’t mince words with anyone. His mind was clear as a bell.
Olive- No he didn’t. He was very alert even the day he died. You see he died just a few days before his 97th birthday.”
Rhea- As I recall, we saw him just about a week to ten days before he died. He sat erect with a long flowing beard. We were in the very room where the Savior visited Pres. John Taylor on that memorable night of September 26-27, 1886. He talked with us on how the room had been changed since that time—two other doors having been added and this sort of thing.
Olive- “Father had a much more severe life in things that take the physical body down, such as being gored by a bull and the riding he did for John Taylor…when father was a minute man for John Taylor, he did a lot of riding in the cold. However, Grandfather had a hard life too, being in the army as he was. He was in the Nauvoo legion, you know. He had a rough life too, but he seemed to be a little more hale and hearty than my dad. Dad was a little more frail.”
Rhea- There is something that I recall you told me about long ago….You had asked him a certain question. By his skillful manipulations, he had helped you work out the answer yourself. Then he finally said, when you had it right, “You are too smart for your own britches.”
Olive- “You might be talking about President Joseph F Smith when he came out of the tabernacle at Bountiful. I was a child of seven—I well remember my age. Daddy had taken me over to the Stake Conference in Bountiful. We had taken Grandfather with us. They had disfellowshipped Grandfather before this time. That didn’t stop Grandfather from going to church. It didn’t stop Grandfather from preaching the Gospel. It didn’t stop him from any of this. Father and I were standing in front of the Tabernacle after the meeting, waiting for Grandfather to come out. He liked to say hello to this one and that one. Joseph F Smith was the General Authority present at the conference. He walked up to us just as Grandfather walked up, and Pres. Smith put his arm around Grandfathers arm and said, “John, I’m very sorry about what has been done. I want you to know it wasn’t my will. It was voted. But I have the assurance that if you will come back into the Church secretly we are ready and willing” And he. Grandfather, said, “I appreciate that very much, but since I was taken out publicly, the way you must take me back is publicly, because I feel I have done nothing wrong, and my Lord, I’m sure, agrees with me.” That was all there was to it, but it was quite a thing to a little kid standing there.”
“I should mention the firesides Grandfather had at the old home. It included the Barlow’s, and the Jessop’s and everybody that used to come out there to Grandfather’s. They would talk and enjoy the scriptures and have songs and have a regular wonderful visit of friends.”
"I was acquainted with Brother John W Woolley back in 1928. He sealed my first plural wife to me under very wonderful circumstances. There is an incident about his death that not too many people are really acquainted with. On the morning that he was to leave this earth, he got all cleaned up and told his wife to leave the house. She hesitated, and he said “I want you to go; you MUST go.” So she left the house under these strange circumstances; and when she came back later, he was lying on the floor dead. He had previously indicated to certain people that Joseph Smith and others were coming for him very, very soon.
… At this particular time, to find authority was one of the most difficult things that you could ever imagine. I had no idea where I should go, or what to do. So that started another period of fasting and prayer to know where to go. One day, out of the clear blue sky, when I was working alone in my own little shop, a perfect stranger walked in. I happened to have my Doctrine and Covenants laying there on the bench. He walked over and said, “What are you searching for?” I told him. He says “Okay I’ll help you.” This was brother Worth Kilgrow. He said “I’ll take you to the man.” I said “Okay” So, even at that particular time in the Church, this whole thing had been going on. If you wanted to be sealed, you had to go and talk to the man and he might make you wait as long as six months. And another thing—He would NEVER perform a sealing without revelation. This I testify to, here and now. There is NO sealing’s without revelation, whether anybody here on this earth knows this or not, but that’s a FACT of the matter. So I took my wife and this young lady, Hilda- she was the same age as I, and we went there. I left her outside and went in to talk to him. I had no sooner walked in than he said, “You are Carl Jentzch, yes?” I said yes, and I had never seen the man. He said “Where is the girl?” I never even asked him. I said, “Oh, she’s out in the car.” He said, “What’s she doing out there? Why don’t you bring her in? “ I asked “Now?” You know, I had never told her. I had said “Well, we’re going to have to figure on a six month’s wait; that’s all there is to it. Brother John Woolley won’t do it.” So I went and said “Hilda, he wants to talk to you” I took her by the hand and we walked into the house. I’ll never forget that man’s face. He had a beautiful face—his eyes were piercing. He could look right through you. He could read your thoughts just as if they were written on a page. And his eyes pierced through me and I just faltered, like two hot pokers, you might say. He questioned both of us, and then turned to me and said, “The only thing I can’t understand is what took you so long to get here. I have been waiting for months for you. I’m only talking here so that you’ll be at ease. All right, I’m going to seal you two together now
… He told me something else, too. I’ll try to put it in his own words: “One thing, there’s no bargain counter into heaven; you will pay the same price that Abraham paid, or any other man” I said “What do you mean?” “The sacrifice of all things, If you are not willing to sacrifice all things, you are not worthy of the Kingdom.” (Carl Jentzch)
John Wickersham Woolley died December 13, 1928 seventeen days before his 97th birthday. He outlived all of his known children except Lorin Calvin Woolley.