Q: Edward Partridge is mentioned in several places in the D&C. Who was Edward Partridge and what special quality did the Lord say he had?
A: Edward Partridge was born in 1793 in Massachusetts. He married Lydia Clisbee in 1819, and they were the parents of six children. By 1830, Edward had became a journeyman hatter and had his own shop in Painesville, Ohio.
In the fall of 1830 when Edward heard the Mormon missionaries preach, he was skeptical but obtained a Book of Mormon and cautiously accepted its truth. In the winter of 1830 he traveled with Sidney Rigdon to meet the Prophet Joseph Smith in New York. After listening to a discourse by the Prophet, he was ready to be baptized. The Prophet Joseph baptized him the next day, December 11, 1830. Edward asked the Prophet what the Lord would now have him do. The answer came that “you are called to peach my gospel…’ (D&C 36:1).
Edward returned to Ohio, and three days afer his arrival, was called to be the first Bishop of the Church, “and this because his heart is pure before me, for he is like unto Nathanael of old, in whom there is no guile’ (D&C 41:11).
Marker at Edward Partridge home site in Independence, Missouri, with the Community of Christ Temple in background.
At the fourth general conference, Edward was commissioned to journey to Missouri with other Church leaders. He bid farewell to his family and journeyed to Independence, Missouri. His family later joined him, and they lived there for two years. When the discontent grew, angry Missourians threatened the Saints, and in July 1833, Edward was tarred and feathered by the mob. “I bore my abuse with so much resignation and meekness, that it appeared to astound the multitude, who permitted me to retire in silence..and as to myself, I was so filled with the Spirit and love of God, that I had no hatred towards my persecutors or anyone else.’
Edward’s return to Kirtland in 1835 included a mission with Thomas B. Marsh. They traveled across Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana on their way to Ohio. He then joined Isaac Morley preaching in the eastern states. The Lord recognized the faithful contributions of these missionaries: “Behold I am well pleased with my servant Isaac Morley, and my servant Edward Partridge, because of the integrity of their hearts in laboring in my vineyard.’
Edward returned to Missouri and moved his family to Far West, but he was taken prisoner there and then moved to Richmond Jail where he joined the Prophet and other leaders to await trial. He was released in November 1838 and quickly returned to Far West to be with his family, but he was soon forced to leave and flee to Illinois. In March 1839, the Prophet wrote from Liberty Jail to the Saints, and to Bishop Partridge in particular, sections 121, 122, and 123 of the Doctrine and Covenants.
Edward moved to Nauvoo, where he was appointed bishop of the upper ward. He expended much of his wealth in support of the Church. Unfortunately, his service in Nauvoo was brief. While building a home outside of town and attempting to move furniture, he collapsed from exhaustion and was forced to bed. About the same time, his youngest daughter, Harriett, unexpectedly died.
Edward died ten days after his daughter, on May 27, 1840 at the age of forty-six. In D&C 124:19, the Lord revealed that he had received Edward Partridge “unto myself.” Joseph Smith suggested that Partridge’s death could be attributed to the stress and persecution which he and other Mormon settlers in western Missouri were subjected to in the 1830s.
He is buried in the Old Pioneer Burial Ground in Nauvoo, Illinois.