Born in 1795, a full ten years before Joseph Smith Jr., the first Prophet of the Church, Newel Whitney grew up in Vermont, but as an adult would move to Kirtland, Ohio and open a general store having some success in business.
In the late 1820's, Newel and his wife, Elizabeth Ann Whitney were on a spiritual journey of sorts. They were looking for a church to join, and for a while were active in the Campbellite movement, though eventually returned to their search. In late 1830, just months after the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had officially been founded, the Whitneys were visited by the missionaries, who brought with them a copy of the Book of Mormon. Elizabeth Whitney heard the missionaries' message first, and was deeply moved, getting baptized into the Church November of that year. Newel still wasn't convinced though, and continued to pray for an answer.
In February of 1831, Joseph Smith himself journeyed to Kirtland, Ohio and showed up unannounced to Newel K. Whitney's store. Joseph marched right up to Newel and proclaimed, "Newel K. Whitney, thou art the man!"
Whitney had never seen Smith in his life, and didn't know what the Prophet was talking about, or how he knew his name. Smith explained, "I am Joseph the Prophet. You prayed me here; now what do you want of me?" This was exactly the witness that Whitney needed.
Soon Newel K. Whitney would join the Church, and in time became one of the greatest leaders in the history of Mormonism. When he died in 1850, he was the Presiding Bishop of the Church. He left a great legacy, and one that continues to today. His family and descendants shared his trait of hard work and faith, and continue to bless the world through their service.