Welcome to the Pulsipher Papers Project: a blog all about Zerah Pulsipher and his family. Posts will cover topics about their lives and typescripts produced from documents written by the Pulsipher family members themselves.

Zerah Pulsipher was a First President of the Seventy in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was born on June 24, 1789, in Rockingham, Vermont, to John and Elizabeth Pulsipher. He was born into a family with a history of New England settlers and patriots, including a father and grandfather who fought in the Battle of Bunker Hill. In his early twenties, Pulsipher attempted to study to become a doctor but decided to return to farming. He married Mary Randall in 1810, but she died after a year of being married. Pulsipher married Mary Brown a few years later, and they raised a large family together.

The Pulsipher family was introduced to the Latter-day Saint movement while living in Onondaga County, New York, and Pulsipher was baptized on January 11, 1832, by missionary Jared Carter. For the next two years, Pulsipher presided over the branch of the church in that county and served a number of missions to preach his new-found faith. During one of these missions, he taught and baptized future president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Wilford Woodruff.

In 1835, the Pulsiphers moved to church headquarters at Kirtland, Ohio, where Pulsipher was ordained as a First President of the Seventy on March 6, 1838, replacing Salmon Gee, who had been released. After the highest leadership of the church fled Kirtland in 1838, Pulsipher and the other First Presidents of the Seventy organized the bulk of the remaining adherents to travel to Far West, Missouri, the new church headquarters.

Pulsipher and his family followed the main body of the church membership as they settled in Far West, Nauvoo, Winter Quarters, and Salt Lake City. He also helped settle Southern Utah in his later years. In each of these areas, Pulsipher provided leadership, including helping to locate the settlement of Garden Grove, Iowa, leading a company of 100 to Utah, serving as a city counselor in Salt Lake City for a number of years, and presiding over the settlement of Hebron, Utah, from 1863 to 1869.

Pulsipher misused the sealing authority by performing two unauthorized polygamous marriages for William Bailey during the years 1856 and 1861, and was brought to answer before the First Presidency on April 12, 1862. At the meeting, Pulsipher was instructed to be rebaptized, released as one of the Seven Presidents of the Seventy, and was given the option to be ordained a high priest. Pulsipher was later ordained a patriarch and died in Hebron, Utah, in early 1872 as a member in full fellowship in the church.

Pulsipher married four wives over the course of his life and had 17 children.

Additional Reading:

Zerah Pulsipher: A Pioneer Day Reflection

“There is never but one on the earth at a time”

“Instituted for travelling Elders”

“Exhortation to the churches”

Hero Worship and Persecution: Zerah Pulsipher and the Utah War

Zerah Pulsipher – The Man Who Baptized Wilford Woodruff

The Life and Documents of Zerah Pulsipher and Family