This biographical sketch adapted from the LDS Biographical Encyclopedia, Andrew Jenson, Vol. 1, p.189 and other sources.
Leonard Rich, one of the First Seven Presidents of
Seventies from 1835 to 1837, joined the Church at an early day. [He was
probably born about 1800 in the north-eastern United States as almost all of the earliest converts had similar origins. He is said
to have been married to Keziah ?
but dates and other family members are lacking. ]
His name is first mentioned in the history of Joseph
Smith, in connection with a council of High Priests and Elders, held in
Kirtland, Ohio, Feb. 12, 1834, where he was called in question for transgressing
the Word of Wisdom and for selling the revelations at an extortionary price
while "journeying east with Father Lyons." Brother Rich confessed and the
council forgave him upon his promising to do better and reform his life.
[The forgiveness seems to have been genuine for in August of the same year
Elder Rich sat in on the High Council as an alternate member in trying
the case of Sylvester Hulet and the Hulet Branch and the spurious use of
the gift of tongues.]
Later, he marched to Missouri as a member of Zion's
Camp, and after his return to Kirtland he was ordained one of the first
Seventies in the Church Feb. 28, 1835, under the hands of Joseph
Smith and others. Soon afterwards he was chosen one of the First Seven
Presidents of Seventies and took an active part in the public affairs of
the Church for some time.
Joseph Smith, in his history of Dec. 9, 1835, writes:
"I would remember Elder Leonard Rich, who was the first one that
proposed to the brethren to assist me in obtaining wood for the use of
my family, for which I pray my heavenly father to bless him. * * * And
I shall ever remember him with much gratitude for his testimony of benevolence
and respect." In a letter written by the Prophet in September, 1837, the
following occurs: "Leonard Rich and others have been in transgression,
but we hope they may be humble, and ere long make satisfaction to the Church;
otherwise they cannot retain their standing."
[In 1836, Elder Rich undertook a mission to Niagra
County, New York, which he reported to the Messenger and Advocate
resulted in nine baptisms.]
Having been ordained a High Priest prior to his
ordination to the office of a Seventy, he was counseled to identify himself
with the High Priests. His place among the Seventies was filled April
6, 1837, by the appointment of James Foster
as one of the First Seven Presidents.
Rich is said to have left the Church by 1838. This
almost certainly is concerned with the failure of the Kirtland Anti-banking
Safety Society. Certainly, by 1845, Rich was not with the main body of the
saints in Nauvoo but rather in Kirtland, Ohio where he is listed as among the
leaders of a mob which broke into the Temple and took posession of same. The
mob also attempted to take possession of the Church Farm in Kirtland.
In 1847, this vile apostate affiliated with
William E. M'Lellin. This formed a church which
they styled as the "Church of Christ." Closely aligned with
David Whitmer, the organization seems not to have
lasted past 1849 but these malcontents were among those who continued to
give rise to other splinter apostate groups including the Reorganites.