This biographical sketch adapted from the LDS
Biographical Encyclopedia, compiled and edited by Andrew Jenson, Volume
1, page 236.
Leonard Wilford Hardy, first counselor to Bishop
Edward Hunter from 1856 to 1883, and to William
B. Preston in 1884, was born Dec. 31, 1805, in Bradford, Essex county,
Massachusetts, [the son of Simon Hardy and Rhoda Hardy Hardy]. He married
Elizabeth Harriman Nichols October 22, 1826. Later he practiced plural
marriage, taking four additional wives, three of whom were sisters. Elder
Hardy fathered eighteen children of record;
Leonard Hardy was baptized Dec. 2, 1832, by Orson
Hyde. He was soon afterwards ordained an Elder and labored faithfully
in the ministry so far as he had opportunity.
On December 6, 1844, in company with Apostle Wilford
Woodruff and wife, Milton Holmes, Dan Jones and wife and Hiram Clark
and wife, Brother Hardy went on board the "John R. Skiddey," William Skiddey,
captain, for Liverpool, to fill a mission in England. They had a very rough
passage, but arrived in safety Jan. 4, 1845, being 26 days on the voyage.
After landing and holding a conference in Liverpool, Elders Hardy and Holmes
labored awhile in the Manchester conference, after which Elder Hardy took
charge of the Preston conference, being appointed to preside March 9, 1845.
On his arrival there he was placed the first night
in a bed, where a person had just died of the smallpox, and the linen of
which had not been changed. The result was an attack of the disease, and
he passed through a severe stage of sickness. Through the administration
of the Elders his life was preserved. He attended the various conferences
in England with Apostle Woodruff and the other brethren during the time
he spent in England, and labored faithfully, baptizing many into the Church.
He presided over the Preston conference until the 31st of August, after
which he labored in various conferences in England until Oct. 19, 1845,
when he and Elder Holmes took passage for the return to New York.
Before he left, Elder Hardy requested Elder Woodruff
to lay his hands upon his head and give him a blessing. Elder Woodruff
consented, and in the blessing told him that he should arrive home to his
family and friends in safety, and be gathered to Zion. He told him also
he should spend his last days as one of the leading Bishops in the land
of Zion. At the close of the blessing Elder Hardy remarked: "Brother Woodruff,
I always thought you were a man of truth. I can comprehend arriving home
in safety, but I cannot comprehend being a leading Bishop in Zion." And
he says it came nearer trying his faith than anything that ever happened
to him in the flesh. Elder Woodruff told him to wait and see, and if it
did not come to pass, he would acknowledge that the spirit that dictated
it was not the spirit of truth. The future events of his life showed that
it was correct.
On the return of the Pioneers from the Valley in
1847, Brother Woodruff was sent in the spring of 1848 to Boston to gather
up the Saints, who still remained in the East. Elder Woodruff, leading
the last company himself toward the Rocky Mountains, was joined by Elder
Hardy and his family at Boston, who left there April 9, 1850, with a hundred
Saints. In the organization of the company on the frontiers for crossing
the plains. Elder Hardy was appointed captain of the first fifty. The cholera
visited all the traveling camps that season, and their camp did not escape.
Eleven members of the company died; Elder Hardy was attacked by the disease,
and the day that he was in his lowest condition the camp had a severe stampede,
the excitement attending which was so great that it came near costing his
life. The administration of the Elders, however, again preserved him.
He passed through all the labors, cares and vicissitudes
of the camp from Boston to Salt Lake City, arriving on Oct. 14th, having
been on the road 188 days. After his arrival in the Valley, Elder Hardy
was ordained a Bishop April 6, 1856, and called to preside over the 12th
Ward, Salt Lake City; and on the 21st of June he was also appointed by
Pres. [Brigham] Young to preside pro tem over
the 11th Ward.
He was afterwards called to be Presiding Bishop Hunter's
first counselor, being set apart Oct. 12, 1856, and officiated as such
up to the death of Bishop Hunter, when he was appointed first counselor
to Bishop Wm. B. Preston, and acted in that capacity up to his own death.
Nov. 20. 1869, he started on a short mission to the
East. He spent most of his time on this mission in Massachusetts, his native
State and returned in March, 1870, having held a number of meetings and
baptized two persons.
Almost his entire life after he joined the Church
was one continuous mission of unceasing activity. Even after the destroyer
laid his ruthless hand upon him and the dread warning was given that death
would shortly claim his own, the energetic spirit of the man would allow
him no peace unless he was at his post in the Bishop's office; and there
he might have been seen every day when he was really unfit to leave his
Bishop Hardy died in Salt Lake City July 31, 1884.
In his obituary, published in the Deseret News, the following occurs:
"Three important virtues have characterized the life of Bishop Leonard
W. Hardy, and these are honesty, truthfulness, and virtue. That he was
also a strictly temperate man his wonderful preservation and hale appearance,
notwithstanding his great age, amply testify. Of the honest, noble qualities
of his heart little need here be said. His name is known throughout the
land as a synonym for kindness, benevolence and charity. His cheering tones
will live long in the memory of the poor and low-spirited, and his readiness
to extend assistance to the needy will never be forgotten by the host of
Saints who learned to love him as a father. His long life has been wisely
and well spent, and the peaceful slumber of his weary body is but a fitting
preparation for his glorious awakening on the resurrection morn."