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Zera Pulsipher: From Baptist Minister to Mormon Pioneer

Q: Zera Pulsipher is mentioned in D&C 124:138. Did Zera have something to do with the conversion of Wilford Woodruff and the settlement of the town of Hebron, Utah?

A: Zera Pulsipher was born on 24 June 1788 in Rockingham, Windham, Vermont. His father and grandfather fought in the Battle of Bunker Hill. Zera was a Baptist minister in Onondaga County, New York. In the summer of 1831, Zera “heard a minister [speak of] an ancient record or Golden Bible in Manchester near Palmyra which remark struck me like a shock of electricity, at the same time thought it might be something that would give light to my mind upon principles that I had been thinking of for years.”

Several months later, Jared Carter came to preach to the area. Anxious to know the truth, Zera fervently prayed for an answer. His answer came as he was threshing in his barn: “All at once there seemed to be a ray of light from heaven…another light came over my head 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.’”

Zera held a meeting with his Baptist congregation and announced that he was determined to join the “Church of Latter Day Saints,” and a large body of his church members joined with him. After being ordained an elder, Zera immediately began his missionary efforts.

Wilford Woodruff

Wilford Woodruff

While preaching in the vicinity, he baptized Wilford Woodruff. Wilford recorded in his journal that “I believed all that he said. The spirit bore witness of its truth.”

In the spring of 1835, Zera gathered with the Saints in Ohio. He helped build the Kirtland Temple and received his endowment there.

During the ensuing years, he served a mission to Canada and later to New York before being ordained one of the Seven Presidents of the Seventy on 6 March 1838. In this position, he helped the Kirtland poor journey to Missouri, a group of over 500 Latter Day Saints who became known as the Kirtland Camp. He settled in Adam-ondi-Ahman, but due to persecution, he fled with his family from Missouri to Nauvoo. Illinois, and then to the territory of Iowa. He helped to locate the settlement of Garden Grove, Iowa. In the spring of 1847, he started for the Salt Lake Valley in a company of fifty wagons. With ten of the wagons, he went ahead of the company to assist in making roads.

1888 Hebron, Utah Church Building

Back row, L-R: Jonathan Hunt, Jim, Lamond Huntsman, John Hunt, Nephi Hunt, George Hunt, Libbie Barnum, Emery Huntsman, Mansfield, Nora Huntsman, Renza Barnum, child 1, & child 2.

Middle row, L-R: Jacob Truman, Joe Hunt, Henritta Barnum, Ellen Hunt, George O. Holt, Jacob Hunt, child 3, child 4, child 5, & child 6.

Front row, L-R: child 7, child 8, child 9, child 10, child 11, child 12, child 13, child 14, child 15, child 16, and child 17.

In April 1862, he was released from his Seventy calling and served as a patriarch for the next ten years. He resided in Santa Clara, Washington County, before helping pioneer the town of Hebron. His two sons, John and Charles, explored the land and were favorably impressed. They decided it would be a good place to settle with their families. Zera moved there in the fall of 1862 and became the local presiding officer.

Zera died in Hebron on January 1, 1872, at the age of eighty-two.

Hebron is now a ghost town located on Shoal Creek. It was inhabited from 1862 until 1902 when the already-declining town was mostly destroyed by a large earthquake. The present-day city of Enterprise, six miles to the east, was settled largely by people leaving Hebron.

Source: Who’s Who in the Doctrine & Covenants by Susan Easton Black

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