Grampa Bill's General Authority Pages
William D. Pratt. William D. (Dickinson) Pratt


1802 - 1870


  • Born 1802 Wooster, New York
  • Baptized by 1834
  • Zion's Camp 1834
  • Ordained Seventy and called to First Quorum of Seventy 1835
  • Married Hannah Ward 1837; later practiced plural marriage
  • Made trek west with saints
  • Died 1870 Salt Lake City, Utah

    Eclipsed somewhat by the accomplishments of the shining luminaries who were his younger brothers, William Dickinson Pratt became a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and thus a General Authority in his own right. We believe that with the exception of Joseph Smith, Sr. and Lucy Mack, the Jared Pratt and Charity Dickinson family is the only family in Church history to have produced three General Authorities among their children, the three, of course, being William D. Pratt, Parley P. Pratt, and Orson Pratt.

    According to the Ancestral File, William was born September 3, 1802 in Wooster, Ostego, New York. The History of the Church gives the county as Otsego. Since neither the town nor the county appear on current maps of New York, we are left to speculate. There is an Oswego County and this is almost certainly the county intended. Less clear is whether the town of Wooster is a misspelling of Worcester (which is pronounced Wooster) and named for the English shire of the same name, or was a town named for the Wooster family, a family of some note in New York.

    William was introduced to the Church at an early date, likely by the ministrations of his younger brother Parley, the first of the family to learn of the Church and accept the Gospel. By 1834 William is listed as among those who accompanied the Prophet Joseph Smith on the expedition to Missouri known as Zion's Camp. The stated purpose of this encampment was to provide relief to the saints in Zion who were suffering persecution at the hands of the Missouri mob. While that purpose was not achieved, what did occur was a sifting and refining of those who went. The next generation of Church leaders came almost exclusively from the veterans of Zion's Camp.

    In early 1835, William was ordained a Seventy and called to take his place in the First Quorum of the Seventy, a quorum the Lord declared equal in authority to that of the First Presidency and the Twelve.

    As such, William would have become a most eligible bachelor and on January 1, 1837 took to wife Hannah Ward. The Ancestral File gives some erroneous information concerning her and we simply do not know the truth of the matter. It states that she died three years later in 1840 but also that she gave birth to five children, the youngest being born in 1851. Since some of the same children are also listed as being born to William's second wife, Wealthy Eddy, we believe the death date and that Hannah bore him only one child.

    After Hannah's death, Elder Pratt married on March 1, 1841, Wealthy Eddy. Ancestral File lists seven children (at least one of whom appears to be a duplicate) of this marriage but since two are listed as Shumways, (the name of her first husband) again confusion abounds. It also states that the marriage ended in divorce. The date of the divorce is not given.

    In April of 1844 William is listed among those to serve a mission in New York, and on April 5 and 6 of 1845 presided at the quarterly conference held in Greenwood, Stuben County, New York. He preached several discourses there and sent a report of the conference which was published in the Times and Seasons.

    After the expulsion of the saints from Nauvoo and the exodus to the west, we next find Elder Pratt in Salt Lake City, Utah marrying Jane Hawley on August 24, 1857. Whether this is after the divorce from Wealthy Eddy or a plural marriage is not clear. One child came from this union.

    Clearly, Elder Pratt's marriages to Catherine Margaret FREDRICKSON (AFN: 1M4C-LC) on October 4,1863 with no children listed; to Azubah Deseret COX (AFN: 17RD-CF) on July 27, 1867, with one child listed; and to Sarah Jane HISCOX [HICKOX?] (AFN: 1M4C-DB) with no date given and no children listed, are plural marriages.

    Elder William D. Pratt departed this life on September 15, 1870 at Salt Lake City, Utah, and if Ancestral File is correct, was buried on the same day.

    Grampa Bill is indebted to Sister Sherral Hancock, a great-great grand daughter of Elder Pratt, for the picture provided. She also sent the text of an undated obituary which we provide in full:

Deseret News

19:396

WILLIAM DICKINSON PRATT

    In this city, at twenty minutes past one p.m. today, Elder William D.Pratt, eldest living brother of Elder Orson Pratt, died aged 67 years.

    The deceased has been a member of the Church for the past thirty nine years.

    The funeral ceremonies will be attended to at 1 o'clock p.m., tomorrow, at the residence of Elder Orson Pratt, in the 19th Ward.

    Relatives and friends are invited to attend.

    The reader will note that the obituary indicates the burial took place the day following Elder Pratt's death. We believe this is more likely than the Ancestral File entry, which indicates a same-day burial.

Bibliography
    History of the Church; Multiple Entries, see index
    Ancestral File
    Correspondence from Sister Sherral Hancock, a great-great grand daughter of Elder Pratt.
    Official Site of the Jared Pratt Family Association, Extensive collection of photos and biographies of extended Pratt family.

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