Zera Smith Cole, Veteran of Zions Camp and member
of the First Quorum of the Seventy, was born April 20, 1805 in Middlebury,
Vermont, the son of John Cole and Cynthia Smith.
Zera was introduced to the Gospel at an early date,
for by 1834, he was participating in Zions Camp, the expedition from Kirtland,
Ohio to Missouri to provide succor to the saints who were suffering persecution
at the hands of the mob.
Years later Zera S. Cole related an incident of Zions
Camp to Elder O. B. Huntington as the two were at work for the dead in
the Logan Temple. We quote from George Q. Cannon, Life of Joseph
Smith the Prophet, p.531-532: "Brother Cole was with the Camp of
Zion which went up to Missouri in 1834. While traveling across a vast prairie,
treeless and waterless, they encamped at night after a long and wearisome
day's march. They had been without water since early morning, and men and
animals suffered greatly from thirst, for it had been one of the hottest
days of June. Joseph sat in his tent door looking out upon the scene. All
at once he called for a spade. When it was brought he looked about him
and selected a spot, the most convenient in the camp for men and teams
to get water. Then he dug a shallow well, and immediately the water came
bubbling up into it and filled it, so that the horses and mules could stand
upon the brink and drink from it. While the camp stayed there, the well
remained full, despite the fact that about two hundred men and scores of
horses and mules were supplied from it.
After Zions Camp broke up and the various parties
began to make their way back to Kirtland, Ohio, Brother Cole traveled in
the company of Elder Heber C. Kimball who related, "June 30th I started
for home in company with Lyman Sherman, Sylvester Smith, Alexander Badlam,
Harrison Burgess, Luke Johnson and Zera Cole. They elected me their
"We proceeded on our journey daily, the Lord blessing
us with strength and health. The weather was very hot, but we traveled
from thirty-five to forty miles a day, until about the 26th of July, when
we arrived in Kirtland; having been gone from home about three months,
during which time, with the exception of four nights, I slept on the ground."
-Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball.
A year later, in 1835 Zera was ordained a
Seventy and called into the First Quorum of the Seventy, a quorum equal
in authority with that of the First Presidency and the quorum of the Twelve.
He must have taken his leave from the Kirtland area and settled in Missouri
for we find that he was among those who filed redress petitions seeking
compensation for the losses sufferered at the Missouri mobsters and mobocrats.
Like the other saints, Elder Cole received no redress. And like other saints,
he was expelled from Missouri, probably settling with the body of the saints
near Nauvoo, Illinois.
When the saints likewise were expelled from Nauvoo,
Zera made the trek west, where March 2, 1864 he married Lydia Ann Childs.
No children are listed from this union. Although Zera was almost fifty-nine
at the time of this marriage, we find no earlier marriages.
We know that Father Cole as he became known in his
older years remained active in the Church and was anxiously involved in
temple work for the story of Joseph and the well was related within the
walls of the Logan Temple where he was performing ordinance work.
We quote from Andrew Jenson, Church Chronology,
that on "February 14, 1886 (Sunday) Elder Zera Cole died in Salt Lake City."