Orrin Porter Rockwell, a colorful figure of the Wild West and an early law man in the Utah Territory, is the subject of a new documentary just released on DVD. Nicknamed ‘Old Port’ and known to some as “the Destroying Angel of Mormondom”, during his lifetime Rockwell was as famous and controversial as Wyatt Earp or Pat Garrett.
Porter Rockwell was a character of contrasts. He was said to be generous to a fault, even to strangers. Once, upon hearing of a widow who was balding from typhoid fever, he gave up his famous long hair to make the woman a wig.
On the other hand, he was reputed to have killed many men as a gunfighter, a Deputy United States Marshal, and as the bodyguard of prophets. He famously told a crowd listening to Vice President Schuyler Colfax in 1869, “I never killed anyone who didn’t need it.”
A boyhood friend of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Rockwell was among the faithful band present at the founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 6, 1830, in New York State.
Although his death of a heart attack in 1878 deprived numerous outlaws of the honor of taking his life, it fulfilled a prophecy given him by Joseph Smith many years earlier — that, if he remained faithful to the Gospel, neither bullet nor blade would ever harm him.
To view a trailer of the film, “Stories from the Life of Porter Rockwell,” click on the graphic above or on the link here. The DVD, along with a companion hardcover volume, is available at Deseret Book.