Zera Pulsipher

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Zera Pulsipher
Photograph of Zera Pulsipher
First Seven Presidents of the Seventy
March 6, 1838 (1838-03-06) – April 12, 1862 (1862-04-12)
Called byJoseph Smith
End reasonReleased for performing unauthorized plural marriages
Personal details
Born(1789-06-24)June 24, 1789
Rockingham, Vermont Republic
DiedJanuary 1, 1872(1872-01-01) (aged 82)
Hebron, Utah Territory, United States
Zerah Pulsipher Signature.jpg

Zera Pulsipher (also Zerah) (June 24, 1789 – January 1, 1872) was a First Seven Presidents of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). In that capacity, he provided leadership to the early Mormon community, most notably in the exodus of a large group of Saints from Kirtland, Ohio. He was also an active missionary who baptized Wilford Woodruff into the LDS Church.

Ancestry and youth[edit]

Pulsipher was born in Rockingham, Vermont, to John and Elizabeth Pulsipher. He came from a heritage of New England settlers and patriots, including a father and grandfather who fought in the Battle of Bunker Hill.[1] He spent much of his childhood working on his parents’ farm. During his early twenties, Pulsipher attempted to study to become a doctor, but decided to return to farming. He married Mary Randall in 1810 and they had a daughter together. Mary died after a year of being married. Pulsipher married Mary Brown a few years later and they raised a large family together.[2]

Religious experience[edit]

The Pulsipher family was introduced to the Latter Day Saint church while living in Onondaga County, New York, and Pulsipher was baptized on January 11, 1832, by missionary Jared Carter.[3] For the next two years, Pulsipher presided over the branch of the church in that county[4] and served a number of missions to preach his new-found faith. During one of these missions he taught and baptized future LDS Church president Wilford Woodruff.[5] In 1835, the Pulsiphers moved to church headquarters at Kirtland, Ohio, where Pulsipher was ordained as a First President of the Seventy on March 6, 1838, replacing Salmon Gee, who had been released.[6] After the highest leadership of the church fled Kirtland in 1838, Pulsipher and the other First Presidents of the Seventy organized the bulk of the remaining adherents to travel to Far West, Missouri, the new church headquarters. This group of over 500 Latter Day Saints was known as the Kirtland Camp and was one of the earliest concerted efforts of mass Mormon migration.[7]

Pulsipher and his family followed the main body of the church membership as they settled in Far West, Nauvoo, Winter Quarters, and Salt Lake City. He also helped settle Southern Utah in his later years. In each of these areas, Pulsipher provided leadership including helping to locate the settlement of Garden Grove, Iowa;[8] leading a company of 100 to Utah;[9] serving as a city counselor in Salt Lake City for a number of years;[10] and presiding over the settlement of Hebron, Utah, from 1863 to 1869.[11]

Pulsipher misused the sealing authority by performing two unauthorized polygamous marriages for William Bailey during the years 1856 and 1861,[12] and was brought to answer before the First Presidency on April 12, 1862. At the meeting, Pulsipher was instructed to be rebaptized, released as one of the Seven Presidents of the Seventy, and was given the option to be ordained a high priest.[13] Pulsipher was later ordained a patriarch,[14] and died in Hebron, Utah, in early 1872 as a member in full fellowship in the church.


Pulsipher married four wives over the course of his life and had 17 children:

  • Mary or Polly Randall (1789–1812), married November 6, 1810. One child: Harriet Pulsipher.
  • Mary Brown (1799–1886), married August 1815. Eleven children: Mary Ann, Almira, Nelson, Mariah, Sarah, John, Charles, Mary Ann, William M., Eliza Jane, and Fidelia.
  • Prudence McNanamy (1803–1883), married July 12, 1854. No known children.
  • Martha Hughes (1843–1907), married March 18, 1857. Five children: Martha Ann, Mary Elizabeth, Zerah James, Sarah Jane, and Andrew Milton.[15]


  1. ^ See Journal History, Jan. 1, 1872, LDS Church Historian's Office, p. 2; "Zera Pulsipher Autobiography" in Pulsipher Family Book, comp. Terry Lund, Nora Hall Lund, Ivin L. Holt (1953), p. 10.
  2. ^ Lloyd M. Turnbow, "History of Zera Pulsipher", BYU Research Paper, (Provo, Utah: [publisher not identified], 1958), copy at LDS Church History Library M270.1 P982h.
  3. ^ Lund, 1953, p. 12.
  4. ^ Mormon History Gazetteer for New York (1831–1839)
  5. ^ Journal of Wilford Woodruff, introduction; Deseret Evening News, March 1, 1897, 1; Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff (Salt Lake City, Utah: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2004) pp. xx, 37-38.
  6. ^ Lund, 1953, p. 13; Baumgarten, James N. "The Role and Function of the Seventies in L.D.S. Church History. Archived October 6, 2014, at the Wayback Machine" Thesis [M.A.]—Brigham Young University. Dept. of History, 1960, pp. 93-94.
  7. ^ See Lund, 1953, pp. 13-15, 47-48, 64-65; S. Dilworth Young, "The Seventies: A Historical Perspective,", Ensign, July 1976; Journal History, July 6, 1868, LDS Church Historian's Office, p. 3.
  8. ^ Turnbow, 1958; Lund, 1953, pp. 20-21.
  9. ^ Zera Pulsipher--Mormon Overland Travel Index, 1847-1868 Archived May 15, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Andrew Love Neff, History of Utah, 1847-1869 (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret News Press, 1940) p. 888; Andrew Jensen, The Historical Record vol. 6 (Salt Lake City, Utah: 1887) p. 305.
  11. ^ W. Paul Reeve. "Cattle, Cotton, and Conflict: The Possession and Dispossession of Hebron, Utah." Utah Historical Quarterly 67 (Spring 1999) pp. 156, 168.
  12. ^ Frederick Kesler letter to Brigham Young, February 7, 1862, Brigham Young office files, LDS Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
  13. ^ Scott G. Kenney, ed., Wilford Woodruff's journal, 9 vols. (Midvale, Utah: Signature Books, 1983) 6:39.
  14. ^ See BYU Biographical Registers Archived September 5, 2012, at the Wayback Machine; Joseph Young Sr., Pamphlets, History of the Organization of the Seventies (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret News Steam Printing Establishment, 1878) p. 6; Andrew Jensen, Latter Day Saints Biographical Encyclopedia, vol. 1 (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret News Press, 1901) p. 194; Wilford Woodruff Journal, 12 April 1862
  15. ^ See BYU Biographical Registers

External links[edit]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints titles
Preceded by
Salmon Gee
Member of the First Seven Presidents of the Seventy
March 6, 1838 – April 12, 1862
Succeeded by
John Van Cott