This is my personal summary of John Tanner's conversion story. He is #48 on the Foote Family Tree.
In 1823, John Tanner and his family of 13 moved from Greenwich, New York to Bolton, New York. While in Bolton, he had one more son. After the birth of their last son, John’s wife Lydia Stewart died. He later married a third wife named Elizabeth Beswick. While living in Bolton, John Tanner acquired great wealth and much influence. He was well known in New York and the surrounding states. While in New York, John Tanner contracted a leg disease that was extremely painful and, to all seven physicians they consulted, incurable. For six months after contracting the disease, John Tanner suffered and never lowered his leg from a 90 degree angle or let his foot touch the ground.
In early September, 1832 it was circulated in the community that two Latter-day saint elders would preach on the Book of Mormon, not far from where John Tanner was currently living. John Tanner was very conversant with the Bible and felt that he was qualified to discuss this “false” doctrine and prove it false. While listening to these missionaries, he felt that a new light was shed on his religious life and teachings. With these new feelings about these missionaries, Simeon and Jared Carter, John Tanner invited them to his house. After he and his wife listened to the missionaries more that night, John announced that he wanted to be baptized, but will be unable to partake of the ordinance. When the missionaries asked why, John explained that his lame leg would not allow him to walk into the water to be baptized. The elders then asked if John Tanner believed that Jesus Christ healed diseases to which he replied in the affirmative. They again asked if he believed that one could be healed in these latter-days of all ailments. John Tanner stated that such a thought had never occurred to him, but that he believed that he could be healed. Elder Jared Carter then stood up and commanded John Tanner in the name of Jesus Christ to arise and walk. From his diary, John Tanner states, “I arose, threw down my crutches, walked the floor back and forth, praised God, and felt as light as a feather.” That night he walked three-quarters of a mile to Lake George and was baptized by Simeon Carter. For the rest of his life, he praised God and gave his whole life to the service of Him and His church. Later in life, he gave all of his fortune to the church in return for a slip of paper from Joseph Smith promising payment in the future. John Tanner never received this payment, as the church was incapable of paying him back. It is recorded that John Tanner ripped up the note himself and Joseph Smith promised him that as long as his family lived righteously they would always have the means of providing for themselves and would never suffer for money in their lives. I have seen this promise come true in my life and the lives of my extended family. John Tanner’s sacrifice has blessed my family in many ways.