Question: What relation was Arza Erastus Hinckley to Ira Hinckley, Gordon B. Hinckley’s grandfather?
Answer: Arza Erastus Hinckley was born to Nathanial Hinckley and Lois Judd Hinckley 15 August 1826, in Leeds, Upper Canada, (Now Ontario). Arza’s father had poor health and was not able to take care of his family, so Arza and his older brothers Harvey and Levi were sent to live with relatives.
Arza, who was named for his grandfather Arza Judd, went to live with him. Nathaniel died when Arza was five, so the older children stayed with relatives and the young mother kept little two-year-old Ira Nathaniel (grandfather of Gordon B. Hinckley) and baby Rhoda with her.
In 1836 missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came to Arza Judd’s family, and they were converted and baptized, including his grandson, Arza Hinckley. In the meantime, Arza’s mother Lois had married again, this time to her cousin, Levi Judd. They, too had been visited by the missionaries and had joined the church. The whole family would be reunited in Illinois, but in 1838, Arza moved with his grandfather Judd’s family to be with the Saints in Far West, Missouri.
As friction grew between Saints and Missourians the Saints had to post a guard around the city of Far West because of the fear of harassment by mobs. Arza was one of the boys permitted to go past the guards each day and bring the cows into the town. Arza’s grandparents then moved to Adams County, Illinois.
In 1842, Arza went to Nauvoo and three years later, he worked on the temple there. Friction was growing between the Saints and the people Illinois. Mobs again came against them and they had Joseph Smith arrested and taken to Carthage. There Joseph was murdered, and the Saints decided to leave their homes again and move so far west the mobs couldn’t bother them.
On the 26th of April, 1846, Arza started west, driving a team for Joel Ricks, as far as Mount Pisgah. From there to the Missouri River, he drove a church team for William Clayton. From the new settlement, Kanesville, (now Council Bluffs), Arza drove a team and wagon loaded with harnesses and feather beds back to Missouri to trade for provisions. Then he returned to Kanesville and helped ferry people across the Missouri River.
About this time war with Mexico broke and the government asked the Mormons to supply a battalion of men to march to California. Arza joined the Mormon Battalion on 16 July 1846. The first day out of Santa Fe, a sick detachment was sent north to Pueblo Colorado, and Arza was among them. When spring came, the Battalion detachment went to the Platte River where they intended to meet Brigham Young’s group. He had reached there ahead of them, so they followed the “Mormon trail” into the Salt Lake Valley, arriving there just five days after Brigham Young.
The following fall, Arza went back to Winter Quarters, where he stayed for three years with his brother Ira and their mother. He returned to Salt Lake City in a freight wagon train. Then he worked as a teamster under Daniel H. Wells. He was a teamster for Brigham Young and traveled with him throughout the Mormon Settlements. Arza also acted as a guard for Brigham Young’s home.
Arza was ordained a Seventy in the 27th Quorum and also served as President of the Quorum. At one conference in 1856, the meeting was interrupted with word that handcart companies were stranded in the snow in Wyoming. President Young called for volunteers to relieve them. Arza volunteered and went out twice, traveling 400 miles to meet one company, and 280 miles for the second.
In April 1862, Arza joined Lot Smith’s Company of mounted volunteers who were called by President Abraham Lincoln to protect the telegraph lines from the Indians. He was a member of the cavalry in 1866 when it went to Southern Utah to put an end to Chief Black Hawk’s harassment of the settlements there.
During all these activities, Arza’s family was growing. In 1853, he married Amelia Woodhouse, and in 1857, Temperance Ricks. Amelia died in January 1861 at the birth of her fifth child, who also died. In April of that year, Arza married Mary Heiner. In all, Temperance had 10 children and Mary had eight. These, added to Amelia’s five made a total of 23 children by 1880.
When the Coallvile Stake was organized, July 1877, Arza was ordained a High Priest by Elder John Taylor, and he also set him apart as one of the High Council. From Summit County, Arza moved his family to Cove Fort in 1877. There he worked with his brother Ira in maintaining a place where travelers could stop, where the stagecoach could get fresh horses, and where there was a US Post Office. When Ira received another mission call, Arza stayed and ran the Fort.
In 1882, when Arza was in Salt Lake City, he was called on a mission to the Indians in Arizona, Joel Ricks, father of Arza’s wife Temperance, offered to care for the family while he was gone. So Arza moved with his family to Cache Valley. Arza’s wife Mary had died in 1879, so Temperance had all the unmarried children to care for.
The summer of 1884, Arza returned to Utah with the intention of moving his family to Arizona, but was asked by the church authorities to move to Rexburg, Idaho, in support of Thomas E. Ricks, Temperance’s brother. Arza took his son Silas the first winter to build a two-room log cabin to house their family of twelve. Arza had real estate in Summit County which he traded for livestock. In the spring, his son, Silas drove the cattle and horses to Rexburg, and Arza took the household goods in wagons.
In Rexburg, Arza was a member of the board of directors of the Rexburg Irrigation Company and a supervisor on the road built north of the town. The crowning point in Arza’s life was when he was ordained a Patriarch in the church August 21, 1887, when he was 61 years old.
Arza Erastus Hinckley had lived to see the church exodus from Missouri, from Illinois, to the West, and to see the settlement of many parts of the West, and he played a part in much of it. He died at age 75 on 18 February 1901, at Rexburg, Idaho. He and Temperance are buried in the Rexburg Cemetery.
Arza and Temperance Ricks Hinckley with the living children from all three wives.