I believe investigating the history of the Crypto and Converso Sephardic Jews has the capacity to impact how we view the history of the Church. For example, from the Utah History Encyclopedia, published by the University of Utah:
There is a popular myth that Orson Hyde was of Jewish ancestry, but careful investigation has uncovered no evidence this is true.
In contrast, an excerpt from the book by Ivan J. Barrett Joseph Smith and the Restoration:
In 1832 only a handful of Jews lived in Palestine, and those who did had no rights under Turkish rule. The roots of Zionism in the Jewish communities of Europe were barely stirring and the thought of Jews gathering at all was virtually unheard of let alone a return of the Jews to the Land of Palestine. But from that very time on, the spiritual stirrings of the Zionist movement began in earnest. God was about to give special ‘key’ to modern prophets as he had done with ancient ones; ‘keys’ to move the nations. In 1831, only a year after the Church was organized by Joseph Smith, another young man with a prophetic call by the name of Orson Hyde, age 26, of JEWISH ANCESTRY, was confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by the Prophet Joseph Smith. When Joseph laid his hands on the head of Orson Hyde he gave him a unique blessing where in he prophesied the following: “In due time thou shalt go to Jerusalem, the land of thy fathers, and be a watchman unto the House of Israel; and by thy hands shall the Most High do a great work, which shall prepare the way and greatly facilitate the gathering of that People.”
Drawing on what we have learned about the history of the Sephardim here. The influence the Sephardim had on the world here and here and here. Converso and Crypto Sephardic Jews found their way to North America here and here. After the Converso/Crypto Sephardim emigrated to the American Colonies, they sought peace on the frontier here. They established closed communities here. The Sephardic Jews have unique illnesses here. The descendants of the Sephardic Jews changed or modified their surnames to reflect their new homeland, but occasionally they gave their children given names which reflected their Sephardic heritage here.
I took the liberty to checking out Orson Hyde’s ancestry by looking at familysearch.org. The Hyde family maintains they have Jewish ancestry. The name clues are there. Daniel HIDE/HYDE, Orson HYDE’s g-grandfather and his wife Deborah PERRY, a known Sephardic Melungeon name, have the following children: Nehemiah, Abijah, Elihu, Eliakim, Martha, Deborah, John, Daniel and Eunice. Elihu is Orthodox Jewish. Eliakim is Hebrew Sephardic from France and North Africa.
Besides his PERRY/PEREIRA line, Orson HYDE has classic Melungeon surnames in his genealogy such as: CROW and MILLER ancestors. Even more interesting, Orson Hyde also has FOX, a Ashkenazi (European Jew) name. He was married to a JOHNSON, also classic Melungeon. HYDE also married a PRICE and LYONS, both Jewish surnames. Also I noticed cousins intermarrying; evidence demonstrating the typical closed society of the Converso and Crypto Sephardic Jews. In a addition to his direct line ancestors, Orson Hyde’s related lines show scores of Sephardic and Hebrew given names. Here is a sampling of the names I found:
ELIPHALET (Sephardic Hebrew) FOX (Ashkenazi FUCHS) 1644
BENONI ( Hebrew) FOX (Ashkenazi FUCHS) 1678
ELEAZAR (Hebrew) PERRY (Sephardic PEREIRA) 1680
AZUBAH (Hebrew) Tuttle 1683
ELIPHALET (Hebrew Sephardic )Judson 1688
ELEAZAR (Hebrew Sephardic) PERRY (Sephardic PEREIRA) 1706
JEHIEL (Hebrew) Hawley 1712
ELDAD (Sephardic Hebrew) PERRY (Sephardic PEREIRA) 1712
ADONIJAH (Hebrew Sephardic) Maxom/Maxham 1720
AZUBAH (Hebrew) FOX (Ashkenazi FUCHS) 1722
AGUR (French/Spanish/Moorish) Judson 1725
ANNAH (Persian) Hawley 1736
ELIPHALET (Hebrew Sephardic) Burr 1739
JEPTHA (Hebrew) Hawley 1740
ABITHER (Hebrew-Sephardic) Robinson 1750
ZADOCK (Hebrew Sephardic) Hurlbut 1755
AGUR/AGER (French/ Spanish/Moorish) Hide/Hyde 1757
ADAH/ANAH (Hebrew) Burton 1758
Sophia ZERVIAH (Hebrew) Harris 1760
OZI (ancient Greek) Baker 1761
ABIJAH (Hebrew) Hyde 1763
TINTE (Spanish w/ racial overtones/coloring) Hyde 1769
OZIAS (Sephardic Hebrew)Jennings 1770
ELIPHALET (Hebrew Sephardic) Burr 1773
ABIJAH (Hebrew) Gandy 1791
KEZIAH (Sephardic Hebrew) Harris 1802
SALMON (Sephardic Hebrew) Jennings 1802
AMI (Sephardic) Hyde 1809
AMMI (Sephardic) Bradford Hyde 1826
ALONZO (Spanish Sephardic) Farham Jennings 1831
ALVA (Spanish Hebrew) Jennings 1833
ELAM (Persian) Burton 1839
ALONZO (Spanish Sephardic) Eugene Hyde 1846
ALONZO (Spanish Sephardic) MARTIN (Spanish) Jennings 1849
ALONZO (Spanish Sephardic) Brinkerhoff 1864
In conclusion, I believe Utah History Encyclopedia is wrong in asserting there is no evidence to show Orson Hyde had Jewish ancestry. It appears to me the Utah History Encyclopedia authors, are unfamiliar with the broad diversity and expansive history of the Jewish peoples. Perhaps, like many, they only know of the Ashkenazi Jews who came from Russia, Poland and Germany; looking thru a narrow scope, they only see Jewish people as “Fiddler on the Roof” Jews.
I propose instead, Joseph Smith was correct in declaring Orson Hyde’s Jewish ancestry. The surnames in his line, and related lines, reflect Sephardic and Ashkenazi heritage. I assert, as a descendant, of not only the Ashkenazi, but also the Sephardim; Hyde’s lineage qualified him to be the One, to fulfill the prayer of promise, to dedicate the land of Israel, for the gathering and return of the Jews to Israel the land of their forefathers.
UPDATE: Orson Hyde is a Messenger descendant thru Sarah Messenger (1644) daughter of Andrew Messenger (1615).