Willard Richards was born to Joseph Richards and
his wife Rhoda Howe June 24, 1804 in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. He took
up the practice of medicine near Boston. It was while so engaged that a
copy of the Book of Mormon came into his hands. Captivated, he read
it completely through twice in ten days, settled his business affairs and
journeyed to the Church in Kirtland, Ohio.
He was baptized by Brigham
Young December 31, 1836 and was ordained an Elder some two months later.
Shortly after his ordination, he undertook a three month Mission to the
Eastern States. The day after his return he was sent on a longer mission
to Great Britain.
While on his mission to Great Britain, Elder Richards
took his first wife, marrying Jennetta Richards, daughter of the Reverend John Richards
on September 24, 1838. Later he praciced plural marriage. The Ancestral
File lists some eighteen wives but with certainty five of them are
duplicates. And another one appears to be a duplicate so we can say with
relative assuredness that Elder Richards had at least twelve wives.
While still in England, Elder Brigham Young ordained
him an Apostle on April 14, 1840.
He was with the Prophet Joseph Smith
and Hyrum Smith in Carthage, Illinois
when the two were murdered at the hands of a bloodthirsty mob but survived
to bear solemn testimony against the devilish fiends .
In 1847 President Young selected him to be the Second
Counselor in the newly reorganized First Presidency . He served with honor
and distinction until his death March 11, 1854 in Salt Lake City, Utah.