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Early life and family
Ivins was a cousin of Heber J. Grant, his father and Grant's mother being brother and sister. In 1878 Ivins married Elizabeth A. Snow, a daughter of Erastus Snow. They had nine children. His son Antoine R. Ivins also served as a general authority.
Politics and public service
On his return to St. George from an 1877 mission, Ivins was appointed a constable. He later served on the St. George city council, and a prosecuting attorney for Washington County, Utah.
After his mission to Mexico City, Ivins served as Mohave County, Arizona Assessor, as special Indian Agent for the Shivwits band of Southern Paiutes, and as a delegate to the 1894 Utah State Constitutional Convention.
Ivins was an avid Democrat, and was active in the Utah Democratic Party.
In 1875 Ivins was part of an exploratory mission that found many sites in New Mexico and Arizona which were later colonized by the Mormons. In 1877 he served a mission to New Mexico, where he focused much of his attention on the Native Americans, but also preached to people of Mexican descent for the first time.
In the years immediately after his marriage, he served as a member of the Stake High Council in St. George. In 1882 Ivins was called on a mission to Mexico City, where he served for about the next two years. He next served as the first Stake president in Colonia Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico. The Juárez Stake was the first stake in Mexico. He served in this position until his call to the Quorum of the Twelve in 1907.
Ivins was ordained an Apostle and joined the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on October 6, 1907, after the passing of George Teasdale. He was succeeded by Alonzo A. Hinckley. In 1921, Ivins was called as second counselor in the First Presidency, and in 1925 he became the first counselor in the First Presidency.