Grampa Bill's General Authority Pages
No picture available. Elias Hutchings

1784 - 1845

  • Born 1784 Winchester, New Hampshire
  • Married Sarah (or Sally) Smith or Cox 1816
  • Baptized 1830
  • Ordained Seventy and called to First Quoum 1835
  • Seventh (Senior) President of Third Quorum of Seventy 1844
  • Died 1845 Nauvoo, Illinois

    Elias Hutchings arrived during the nation's period of anxious anticipation when the new government of the United States was being formed. He was born to Abigail Stowell and Asa Hutchings on 20 Feb. 1784 at Winchester, New Hampshire. When Elias was four years old, New Hampshire, where he lived, became the ninth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution, thereby putting it into effect.

    By the time Elias was 18 years old one sister and six brothers had been born into the family. His father, Asa, died at this time. Shortly after this Elias crossed the Connecticut River to the Vermont side and went to live with his uncle.

    "I then went to the state of New York," Elias wrote, "and lived in different parts of the state until 1815. My occupation since leaving the land of my nativity was that of hunting, trapping, and fishing in the season thereof."

    All America was his! What a profusion of wild life and raw nature surrounded him. He had no game wardens and rangers to tell him where he could set his traps.

    Keeping the homemade buckskin pouch filled with powder for his musket, and food for his stomach were the biggest concerns of the day. Ferocious animals, savage Indians and battling the elements were daily concerns. He loved the challenges which the natural habitat provided. The leather pouch that swung from his shoulder by a leather strap, also contained a bull's born used for convenience in filling the flintlock musket which was sparked by using a flintstone hammer. His expeditions in hunting and trapping took Elias into many states.

    Quoting from Historical and Biographical Record it says, "Elias Hutchings is well known all over the country as the discoverer of the famous Mammoth Caves in Edmonson County, Kentucky which he accidentally found while hunting and trapping in that state while following wounded game into the cave."

    In the History of Kentucky it says, "The Mammoth Cave in Edmonson Co., Kentucky by about eighty-five miles southwest of Louisville, was discovered in 1809 by a hunter named Hutchings while in pursuit of a wounded bear."

    Elias must have been astonished when the bear he was chasing suddenly disappeared into that mammoth chamber of eternal darkness. Little did he realize at the time what a vast discovery he had made. Today, the central Kentucky cave is an extraordinary thrill of surprises. In 1936 it was made into a national park, covering more than 79 miles of hill country containing waterfalls, rivers, and two lakes. In addition to its fantastic rock formation, it is a place of amazing wonderment. For example, one of the many unique marvels of the cave is the fish without eyes.

    Elias Hutchings was married to Sarah (or Sally) Smith (or Cox) in the town of Avery, Huron, Ohio on 29 Dec. 1816. Little is known of the parentage of Sarah Smith. We know that her mother's name was Amy Smith and that she later married John Cox. This maternal grandmother could have been married twice, Smith being the name of the first husband, or Sarah could have been raised by her mother's parents, the Smiths.

    After the marriage of Elias and Sarah, they settled about 15 miles south of Huron at Norwalk where their first four children were born: Hovey in 1817, Shepherd Pierce in 1818, Erwin in 1820 and Elias in 1821. In 1821 they moved to Chagrin in the county of Geauga, about 5 miles north of Kirtland, Ohio.

    Shepherd Pierce wrote in his history, "My father, being cramped much with hard times was poor, destitute, and unsuccessful. His property, when he could get some, was continually being seized by law and sold for little or nothing. So the Gentile law framed that the poor and unfortunate man was trampled down with impunity for debt. He might be locked in jail and fed on bread and water, deprived of his family circle, and still that would not pay the debt. My father was never confined in jail but spent many days behind the doors to keep away from the officers."

    Those were difficult days in those early years along the Chargin River. Two little boys, Erwin, 17 months, died and Elias Jr., 13 months old, died a year later. They had six more children: William, Willard, Joseph, Samuel, Lyman, Sally, Lovina, and twin girls Mary and Martha.

    In 1830 Elias and Sarah were taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Quoting from his writing he said, "On Nov. 17, 1830, 1 and my wife went down to the river of Chagrin, and were baptized by Priest Caleb Baldwin, and were confirmed by Elder John Murdock into the L.D.S. Church

    In the early spring of 1834 there was a great crisis for the Saints in Jackson County, Missouri. False word had been spread among the non-Mormons of the country that the "Mormons" were crossing the Missouri River to take possession of their lands and nearly all the country turned out to prepare for war. The Missourian leaders issued a warning to their people: "All who will not take up arms," they declared, "and fight the Mormons will have to leave the country!"

    Through false promises, the Jackson County Saints had been deprived of their arms six months before. (Let that be a lesson to you: Don't ever give up your arms!]

    As a result of this invasion of the Missouri mob, about 170 buildings were destroyed by fire. Homes and holdings were plundered, and the Saints were beaten and driven north into Clay County.

    The Prophet Joseph Smith, learning of the plight of the church members in Missouri, at once set about organizing a company of men, called "Zion's Camp" to go to Missouri in defense of the branch there.

    Elias wrote, "May 5, 1834 I started as one of the Camp of Zion with my brethren afoot to the state of Missouri to lay down my life, if required, in defense of my brethren that were driven out of Jackson County, Missouri by ruthless mobs. I stayed about nine months and returned on Feb. 3, 1835.

    After Elias Hutchings left with Zion's Camp to make its thousand mile march to Missouri, the responsibility for the care of the family fell upon the shoulders of the two oldest sons, Hovey and Shepherd.

    In his journal Shepherd stated, "This summer I and my brother Hova (sic), who was one year older than myself, had to work exceedingly hard to sustain the family. We chopped and cleared land, fenced, dug wells, and in fact, though we were only 16 and 17 years old, we felt old and bowed down. Our backs were so lame we could hardly stand erect."

    Although a permanent peace was not accomplished by the Zion's Camp movement, the worth of the 1000 mile trek was proved to be one of the most worthwhile endeavors in the early history of the Church. Nothing so completely reveals the worth of worthlessness of characters as an expedition of this description. Men are thrown into such relations with each other, that all that is in them, good or bad, comes to the surface. It was a testing time for 205 men. From this expedition of "sifting the wheat from the chaff' the Twelve Apostles and Quorum of Seventies were chosen.

    Elias Hutchings was rated as "wheat" in that expedition because he was chosen to be one of the First Quorum of Seventies ordained under the hands of the Prophet Joseph Smith with his two counselors, Sidney Rigdon and Oliver Cowdery on 28 Feb. 1835.

    Elias wrote, "After I returned home I went to Kirtland. On the 15th day of Feb. I received a Zion's blessing pronounced upon my head for going up to Zion, under the hands of Joseph Smith, Jr., Joseph Smith, Sr., and Sidney Rigdon at Kirtland, Geauga, Ohio

    Elias Hutchings continued, "In April 1, 1836, 1 started East on a mission traveling through the state of New York and Pennsylvania and through part of Canada. I returned from my mission of about five months, baptizing nine into the church.

    On Sept. 5, 1838, 1 left with my family for the state of Missouri and stopped in Illinois on account of the trouble in Missouri. In May 1840 we left for the Territory of Iowa. In 1844 1 was ordained Senior President to the Third Quorum of Seventies.

    Although Elias never mentioned the conditions and circumstances that surely surrounded his destitute family, that period of time, and years to come, were indeed difficult for the Hutchings family. They, along with other Latter Day Saints endured many trials and persecutions. They were driven, robbed and their property destroyed.

    "It seemed as if all Hell had burst asunder!" said Shepherd Pierce.

    The summer of 1839 Elias moved his family from Naples, Illinois to Iowa Territory up the Des Moines River to a little town called Bonapart. The family was sick with fever and ague. Three of the little girls died with canker, the twins, age eight and Lovina, past nine.

    We have his work that he left Iowa the 10th of Nov., 1844 for Hancock County, Illinois. Here he died on Monday, 13 Jan. 1845 and was buried Tuesday, with other saints in the Nauvoo Cemetery. Family records say that he was taken ill about 3:00 a.m. Sunday morning, Jan. 12, with cold chills and vomiting and lost his speech, and died the following morning.

    Sarah was left a widow in Nauvoo at the age of 51. Only five of her eleven children lived to adulthood.

    Sarah, with her son Lyman Smith Hutchings crossed the plains to Utah in 1849 in the company of Ezra T. Benson.

    Shepherd Pierce, William Willard and Hovey Hutchings built their mother a little house in the 17th Ward in Salt Lake City. Here she lived the rest of her remaining life in the comfort of her little home. Her name is entered on the old church record as a faithful member meeting her church obligations, such as paying her tithing by knitting stockings and mittens.

   Sarah died 28 Sept. 1863 at the age of 69 years and was buried in the Salt Lake Cemetery. Just in recent years, a great granddaughter, Irene Croft, and her husband, Russell, placed a little gravestone to mark the spot of her final resting place.

   History of the Church, vol.2, pp.184, 203
   Times and Seasons, Vol.6, p.876
   Brewster, Verlean Davis; The Trunk of the Tree: It's Roots and Branches

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