Willard Richards

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(This is an excerpt from the book A Family of Faith compiled and edited by Kent F. Richards.)

I was baptized at Kirtland under the hand of Elder Brigham Young December 31st, 1836 after the sun had set in the West. From this time I enjoyed uninterrupted peace of mind and continued improvement of bodily health until the eve of the 6th of March, 1837, when I was ordained to the office of an Elder in the Church of “Later Day Saints” under the hand of President Beman and Counsel at his house.

January 8 1837 Partook of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. I was confirmed in the Church by the laying on the hands of Elder Cahoon when I received such a measure of the Spirit…

June 12 Made a few calls. Met with Elder K. in the St. when he said Elder Richards I am now ready to fulfil my engagement with you. You recollect it don’t you. I start for England tomorrow and you may go with me. Get ready &c…June 23 Engaged passage in ship Garrick, 2nd cabin.

June 24 This day 33 years old.

July 16 Sabbath. Elder Hyde preached on the aft Quarter Deck. Was on deck and heard the Sermon but was severely afflicted with pain in the head & different parts of the body so that it was difficult for me to stand. Brethren Kimball & Hyde laid their hands on me and prayed. Then E. K. took me by the hand & in the name of Jesus Christ told me to “arise” which I immediately did and found myself quite comfortable. Thanks be to the Lord for his special healing power which has been repeatedly manifested toward me.

July 20 Awoke this morning in the utmost horror. It appeared to me that evil spirits or devils had fastened on every muscle of my body, punishing it so severely as completely to stop the circulation of the fluids & Satan himself held me so close by the throat that I was gasping for the last time. Doubtless it would have gratified the prince of the power of the air if he could have strangled me. But the Lord suffered him not. I had long desired that I might be the first (next to the Twelve) to set my feet on a foreign shore to carry the fullness of the everlasting gospel to the honest in heart. We anchored in the Mersey & took to the small boat & hauled to the shore. Elder Kimball first landed, next Elder Hyde, myself & E. Goodson. Yes we were the first who landed from the Garrick after a prosperous voyage of 20 days from N. York, & we sought the first opportunity to unite our hearts in thanks to our Heavenly Father for his protection.

July 22 Went to Preston & put up at private lodgings in Wilford St.

July 23 Sabbath. Brother Heber opened the mission (in Mr. James Fielding meetinghouse) followed by O. Hyde.

Aug 2 Elders J. Goodson and W. Richards, Elders of the Church of “Later Day Saints” arrived in Bedford, Aug 2, 1837 direct from Preston from whence they were directed by Elder HC Kimball and O. Hyde (two of the Twelve) with instructions to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Lord willing, build up a Church of “Later Day Saints” in Bedford. After repeated preachings, teachings, warnings and testimonies to the people Mrs. Ann Braddock, Mrs. Ann Lee, Rhoda Coleman, Ann Brown and Caroline Braddock were Baptized…

Sept 18 Kept this as a day of fasting and prayer that God would restore me to perfect health, give me humility & meekness, wisdom & the Spirit of Prophecy & wholly prepare me for his will & service & that he would make known to me his mind & will about the people of Bedford. 4 P.M. much refreshed by the Spirit of my Father.

October 1 Sabbath meeting morn at Bro Smiths, having been moved by the Spirit for a week to attack Satan in his stronghold. I this day preached repentance and baptism to the congregation at St. Pauls Church as they came out of the door at 1 o’clock.

Nov 9 Lodgings surrounded through the night by 100’s yelling &c.

Jan 1 [1838] Baptized Sarah Lavender. Prayed that I might baptize one soul per day on an average the present year—with some assurance…

March 22 Jennetta Richards came in the room & I walked with her & Mrs Parker to Ribchester, & attended meeting with Bro H. and K. at Bro Clarks. While walking with them down the fell I said Richards was a good name. I never want to change it, do you? Said I to Jennetta. “No I do not” was her reply & I think she never will.

April 6 Preston. Letter from America containing the death of my mother.

June 27 Jennetta came with Bro. K. in cart. Was with her much of the time as she lodged at Sister Daorus & had a most interesting & delightful visit for which I praise my Heavenly Father. It was all his doings. He shall have the praise. Gave her the Wedding Ring. We acknowledged each other husband and wife & sealed it with our mutual kisses. My Heavenly Father sanction it in heaven & bless our union to the fulfillment of the design for which marriage was instituted for Christ’s sake. Amen and amen.

Sept 24 Married to Jennetta at 8 in the A.M. Most truly do I praise my heavenly father for his great kindness in providing me a partner according to his promise. I receive her from the Lord &hold her at his disposal. I pray my heavenly father he will bless us forever. Amen.

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