Grampa Bill's General Authority Pages
No picture available. Leonard Rich

abt. 1800 - ?

  • Born about 1800
  • Baptized in 1834 or earlier
  • Zion's Camp 1834
  • Ordained Seventy and called to First Quorum of Seventy 1835
  • Presidency of the Seventy 1835
  • Dropped from Seventy 1837
  • Shown as an Apostate by 1838

    This biographical sketch adapted from the LDS Biographical Encyclopedia, Andrew Jenson, Vol. 1, p.189 and other sources.
    Leonard Rich, one of the First Seven Presidents of Seventies from 1835 to 1837, joined the Church at an early day. [He was probably born about 1800 in the north-eastern United States as almost all of the earliest converts had similar origins. He is said to have been married to Keziah      ?     but dates and other family members are lacking. ]

    His name is first mentioned in the history of Joseph Smith, in connection with a council of High Priests and Elders, held in Kirtland, Ohio, Feb. 12, 1834, where he was called in question for transgressing the Word of Wisdom and for selling the revelations at an extortionary price while "journeying east with Father Lyons." Brother Rich confessed and the council forgave him upon his promising to do better and reform his life. [The forgiveness seems to have been genuine for in August of the same year Elder Rich sat in on the High Council as an alternate member in trying the case of Sylvester Hulet and the Hulet Branch and the spurious use of the gift of tongues.]

    Later, he marched to Missouri as a member of Zion's Camp, and after his return to Kirtland he was ordained one of the first Seventies in the Church Feb. 28, 1835, under the hands of Joseph Smith and others. Soon afterwards he was chosen one of the First Seven Presidents of Seventies and took an active part in the public affairs of the Church for some time.

    Joseph Smith, in his history of Dec. 9, 1835, writes: "I would remember Elder Leonard Rich, who was the first one that proposed to the brethren to assist me in obtaining wood for the use of my family, for which I pray my heavenly father to bless him. * * * And I shall ever remember him with much gratitude for his testimony of benevolence and respect." In a letter written by the Prophet in September, 1837, the following occurs: "Leonard Rich and others have been in transgression, but we hope they may be humble, and ere long make satisfaction to the Church; otherwise they cannot retain their standing."

    [In 1836, Elder Rich undertook a mission to Niagra County, New York, which he reported to the Messenger and Advocate resulted in nine baptisms.]

    Having been ordained a High Priest prior to his ordination to the office of a Seventy, he was counseled to identify himself with the High Priests. His place among the Seventies was filled April 6, 1837, by the appointment of James Foster as one of the First Seven Presidents.

    Rich is said to have left the Church by 1838. This almost certainly is concerned with the failure of the Kirtland Anti-banking Safety Society. Certainly, by 1845, Rich was not with the main body of the saints in Nauvoo but rather in Kirtland, Ohio where he is listed as among the leaders of a mob which broke into the Temple and took posession of same. The mob also attempted to take possession of the Church Farm in Kirtland.

    In 1847, this vile apostate affiliated with William E. M'Lellin. This formed a church which they styled as the "Church of Christ." Closely aligned with David Whitmer, the organization seems not to have lasted past 1849 but these malcontents were among those who continued to give rise to other splinter apostate groups including the Reorganites.


Bibliography
    Smith, History of the Church, multiple citations; see index
    Andrew Jenson, LDS Biographical Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p.189 (principal source)
    2005 Church Almanac, p.70

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