Zerah Pulsipher

  Wife: Mary Brown
11 Children:
Mary Ann Pulsipher (1816-1816)
Iona Almira Pulsipher (1817-1868)
Nelson Pulsipher (1820-1824)
Mariah Pulsipher (1822-1892)
Sarah Ann Pulsipher (1824-1909)
John Pulsipher (1827-1891)
Charles Pulsipher (1830-1915)
Mary Ann Pulsipher (1833-1913)
William Pulsipher (1838-1880)
Eliza Jane Pulsipher (1840-1919)
Fidelia Pulsipher (1842-1846)
Father: John Pulsipher
Mother:Elizabeth Dutton
Show Pedigree
Zerah Pulsipher was born 24 Jun 1789 at Rockingham, Vermont, to John and Elizabeth Dutton Pulsipher, being one of seven sons and three daughters. At about age 21 he married Mary (Polly) Randell who died the next year after having one daughter, Harriet. He was anxious about her status and records, "in a few weeks she came to me in vision and appearing natural looked pleasant as she ever did and sat by my side and assisted me in singing a hymn beginning thus, 'That glorious day is drawing nigh when Zion's light shall shine.'"

In 1814-15 he moved to Susquahannah Co., Pa., built a mill, cleared a farm, and married Mary Brown on 18 Aug 1815. He stayed there about eight years, rafting the river, and then moved to Onondaga Co., N.Y., where his only son [so far] Nelson was killed at age 4 by a falling tree in 1824. Sarah was born in November, 1824.

In 1831 he heard a minister mention an ancient record "which remark struck me like a shock of electricity...many times I had remarked that the pure church with its gifts and graces was not on the earth, if so I had not found it." He obtained a copy of the Book of Mormon in the fall of 1831 and read it twice and believed it was true. In early 1832 Jared Carter came and preached about it and asked afterwards for remarks. "I arose and said to the congregation that we had been hearing strange things and if true they were of the utmost importance to us. If not true it was one of the greatest impositions and ... I had just as good a right to obtain that blessing as he, therefore ... from that time I made it a matter of fervent prayer."

"I think about the seventh day as I was thrashing in my barn with the doors shut, all at once there seemed to be a ray of light from heaven ... which caused me to look up. I thought I saw the angels with the Book of Mormon in their hands in the attitude of showing it to me and saying 'this is the great revelation of the last days in which all things spoken of by the prophets must be fulfilled.' ... I called the church together [he was the minister] and informed them of what I had seen. I told them of my determination to join the Church of Latter-day saints which I did and a large body of my church went with me." He and his wife Mary were baptized by Jared Carter with about 20 others, Zerah was ordained an Elder, and was left to preside over the branch and baptized more.

Zerah went preaching and baptized Wilford Woodruff at the end of 1833, who later became the President of the LDS Church. In the spring of 1835 he moved to Kirtland, Ohio, and helped build the temple there. After a mission to Canada in 1837, he returned in 1838 and was ordained one of the seven presidents of the Seventies. Then great persecutions arose and he stayed after most Mormons had left in Kirtland. He found himself a co-leader of the last 600 poor people that needed to go 1,000 miles to Missouri. When they prayed for help, "I saw a messenger apparently like an old man with white hair down to his shoulders. He was a very large man near seven feet high, dressed in a white robe down to his ankles. He ... said, 'Be one and you shall have enough.' This gave us great joy." Zerah said the mob was determined not to let them leave but that the mob leader had a vision that caused him to tell the mob not to harm 'a hair of our heads.' They left 5 Jul 1838 and arrived in Adam-ondi-ahman, Mo., on 3 Oct 1838, thinking at last they could settle down.

They stayed about a month, but the mobs again formed to drive them out. "In the time I was there I assisted to build sixteen houses and the longest that I lived in one of them was four days." Then they heard that a mob of 3,000 was on its way and that the Prophet Joseph Smith had advised them to lay away their arms and submit to the mob. Zerah went to a grove and prayed for help and got the answer, "Be still and know that I am God." He told the company, 'Have no fear for God will provide a way for our escape.' They submitted themselves to be prisoners of the mob who took their weapons and gave them ten days to get out. They moved to Far West and spent the winter, where his mother died. She saw a light over her bed which she said was 'to light me through the valley of death' and then died without a struggle or groan.

Then they moved to Bear Creek Woods, in Illinois to escape the persecution. He sent his daughter Mariah to Nauvoo to help care for the sickness caused by the swamp land there. She got sick too and he was called to her bed as she was breathing her last. "At that instant the Spirit of God came upon me. I said, 'Mariah, do you want to live to raise a family, keep the commandments of God and do all you can to build up Zion?' She opened her eyes and said she did. I said to her, 'Then, you will live.' That hour she sat up in bed and immediately got well, as did also my sister. After two years they moved to Nauvoo.

Zerah describes the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph in 1844 and how the mobs again began persecution so that they were forced out of Illinois. He began to lead a group on 2 Feb 1846. He went ahead and helped establish a place called Winter Quarters. There they stayed through the next winter with much suffering. Indians stole their cattle and one of the mob from Missouri, who had been elected to the Senate, demanded the saints send all young men on the Mormon Battalion to defend the United States. When his son John was dying, he too was healed by Zerah and they started for Salt Lake. Zerah went with Parley and Orson Pratt ahead and named a place Garden Grove which became a settlement. They arrived in the Salt Lake valley 23 Sep 1847.

He build a grist mill and also a saw mill, and a 30 x 34' house. After the first hard winters, they did so well that President Brigham Young preached that they were growing rich and careless. Then the United States sent out Johnson's army to destroy the Mormons, but discovered that they had believed lies and called it off in time. Zerah said the army attracted speculators who brought a lot of supplies, but also a lot of evils that had been kept from the valley till then. Zerah was on the city council most of the time he was in Salt Lake City.

In 1862 his family moved to Shoal Creek in southern Dixie at the request of President Young. He was instrumental in building up the town of Hebron there, where he died 1 Jan 1872. Here is the advice he left for his family:

"When a man has a number of good children he loves all of them. If the destroyer comes to take one of them, which will he give, most likely the one he cannot keep, of course. Which child can't you keep by the prayer of faith and the authority of the Priesthood? Pray mighty to God. Let your thoughts be raised to God day and night, that you may have the spirit of the Lord to be with you. Never speak till you know what your are going to say. Never whip a child in anger, be sure that the spirit of the Lord dictates to you when you groom your children. Never let your girls go with men that you do not know for some men have the fever of seducing, therefore, beware who they go with.... I beg of you mothers to take care of your children while they are with you."

From the autobiographies histories of Zerah Pulsipher and Mary Brown in Pulsipher Family History Book, Terry/Nora Lund, SLC, 1953, pp. 10-32.