Franklin Dewey Richards was born in Richmond, Massachusetts, on April 2, 1821, to Phinehas and Wealthy Dewey Richards. Phinehas and his brothers, Willard and Levi, were cousins of Brigham Young. In the summer of 1836, Brigham, thenone of the Twelve Apostles, and his brother Joseph brought the gospel to the Richards family in Massachusetts. Franklin was not immediately converted, taking two years to study and reflect before joining the Church. On June 3, 1888, the fiftieth anniversary of his baptism, Franklin recorded, “Fifty years ago today about 4 or 5 o’clock p.m. my Father Phinehas baptized me in Mill Creek, sometimes called Markham’s Creek in the town of Richmond, Berks Co, Mass, after having spent the day mostly with Edwin D. Peirson & myself explaining the scriptures & removing our seeming objections.”
Once baptized, Franklin committed himself to his new church. He was serving his second mission in 1844 when he heard of the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He returned to Nauvoo and was soon busily engaged in building the temple. As the Saints prepared to leave for the West, Franklin and his brother Samuel were called to return to England to complete their mission, leaving their wives in the care of the pioneer group going west as they headed east to England. His heart was broken when he belatedly learned of the premature birth and death of his first son, soon followed by the death of his precious little daughter, Wealthy—his only two children at the time.
In February 1849, between missions to England, Franklin was called as to be an Apostle as a young man of twenty-eight.
He had returned to the States to join the final 1848 migration to the Salt Lake Valley. He and his little family weathered their first winter living in their covered wagon while Franklin built a small cabin. By 1868, as he returned from England from his final foreign assignment, he had fulfilled seven missions, all without purse or scrip. Three of his missions were in the United States, while the other four were in Europe. He presided over the British Mission or European Mission three times. By his calculation, he was “absent on distant missions 12 years less 14 days.”…