Question: Where did William Perkins Vance spend the last twelve years of his life, after having served in Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company in 1847?
Answer: William Perkins Vance was born on October 20, 1822, in Jackson County, Tennessee, to John and Sarah Perkins Vance. William’s mother, Sarah, died on December 18, 1836 and his father then married Elizabeth Campbell.
The John Vance family was among the first converts to Mormonism in McDonough County, Illinois. William was baptized on 15 April 1839. In 1840, when a school was started in the Mormon town of Ramus, William and his sister, Nancy Ann, attended. He remembers: “I went to school in a little town of our people called Ramus…’
During the fall and winter of 1841, William lived with the Prophet Joseph Smith as one of his family. Years later William, then 76, wrote in a letter to the editor of the Deseret News: “I witnessed a great deal of the man, [Joseph Smith] both in public and private, for some four or five years. During this time I was passing from my 17th to my 22nd year of age. I watched the Prophet closely. I was anxious to know whether he was in fact what he professed to be… and so far as a conclusion could be arrived at by me from, I might say, natural evidence, thus presented, he stood fair in my mind as being the man, if not more, than he professed.’
In 1844 William was called on a mission to Tennessee along with Abraham O. Smoot. Upon his return, he regularly worked on the Nauvoo Temple. Just before the Saints fled from Nauvoo, William, now a Seventy, was endowed on 6 February 1846. He then began, with his parent’s family, the long trek across Iowa. In Winter Quarters his father, John, was called to serve as a bishop over two wards, as well as a bishop to look after several Mormon Battalion families.
Almost a year after his arrival in Council Bluffs, William was selected by Brigham Young as a member of the Vanguard Company and arrived in the Salt Lake Valley with the advance guard a day or two ahead of the main company. William was a member of Captain Charles Shumway’s sixth ten, of which Erastus Snow was also a member. He did not return to Iowa, as his father’s family was part of Jedediah M. Grant’s Company which began arriving in the Valley the end of September of 1847.
William received a patriarchal blessing from John Smith (Joseph Smith’s uncle) on 29 October 1849. He was also a member of numerous exploring parties. In November of 1849 he was selected by Parley P. Pratt to explore the southern part of the Great Basin and was in the first ten of this party. When Parowan was settled in 1851 he was among those called to Iron County under the leadership of Apostle George A. Smith. This group left Great Salt Lake City on 7 December 1850 and arrived at Center Creek (now Parowan) on 13 January 1851. Here he remained as a resident and active explorer for several years.
William was the first probate judge of Summit County when the county was organized on January 13, 1854. His stay in Summit County was interrupted, when at the April General Conference of the Church in 1856, he was called as a member of the first company to colonize the Las Vegas Mission. Here he remained until the mission’s termination in February of 1857, when under the threat of Johnston’s Army, President Young called the missionaries home and closed down the fort.
William returned to Summit County where he resumed his judicial duties and on 4 March 1861, he was directed to organize Summit County as an independent county, which he did. William, 42, who had never been married, finally on 10 March 1865, took Ann Hudson Richardson to be his wife. Ann had been married previously and had children. This marriage did not last and there was no issue. However, nearly ten years later on 19 October 1874, William (52) married Ann’s daughter, Hannah Richardson, (19) who was 33 years his junior. Seven children were born to them.
In 1883 William moved his family to Utah’s Dixie, settling in St. George. He was ordained a high priest on 10 March 1893 by William Fawcett. William lived in St. George and Pine Valley for almost ten years. He owned the Kane Springs Ranch, eight miles northeast of Pine Valley but would spend his winters in Pine Valley in order that his children could attend school there.
William would make his final move in 1902, when he moved to the White River Valley and settled in Lund (named for LDS Apostle Anthon H. Lund), Nevada. He would live there for the final twelve years of his life. He died on December 8, 1914, eight years shy of his hundredth birthday in Lund, Nevada, and is buried there.