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
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
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:
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.
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
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.