|Wealthea Bradford Hatch|
Wealthea was the second of ten children in a family descended from seven Mayflower colonists, including Governor William Bradford and William Brewster, and she was mindful of her heritage. Her name is spelled variously as Wealthea, Wealtha, Weltha, Welthea, Wealthua, and Wealthy.
Wealthea was tall and slender, with a fair complexion, light brown hair, and blue eyes. She and her husband Ira farmed in western New York among the Cattaraugus Indians, and she was a good friend to them. In 1830, Oliver Cowdery, Parley Pratt, and others served a mission to the Indians in western New York, and Wealthea, who had a keen interest in the origin of the “red men,” obtained a copy of the Book of Mormon and received a testimony. One family story says that she read the Book of Mormon to her Indian friends.
She desired immediate baptism. Ira and her family urged caution, but then related that "Wealtha stood head and shoulders above the crowd when it came to vision and courage.” Disregarding their concerns, but with Ira’s consent, Wealthea “entered the waters of baptism through a hole cut in the ice in early 1832. Following confirmation she became the first in the Hatch family to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the second in the area in Farmersville, New York. To her everlasting credit let it be said that she had the courage to break the ice in more ways than one.” She had just given birth to her fourth child, and is one of our earliest converts.
Ira later visited Joseph Smith in Kirtland, gained a remarkable testimony of his divine calling, and was baptized in 1834. Wealthea received her patriarchal blessing from Joseph Smith Senior. Wealthea and Ira shared their newfound love of the gospel and waited in vain for other family members to embrace the faith. They remained in New York to comfort Ira’s declining father, and at last they moved to Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1840. There Wealthea gave birth to her seventh and last child, but never regained her health after the delivery. She rested most of the summer on Eton Farm, twenty miles outside of town, then moved to Nauvoo for the winter, but did not improve. She died in a cholera epidemic, accurately prophesying before her death that her “husband and family would be driven with the Saints from Nauvoo and find a home in the Rocky Mountains.”
Her husband was “unconsollable” at her death, and her young son Ira cried himself to sleep for many a night. No doubt her teenage son Orin also missed his mother. One descendant recently tried to locate her exact gravesite, hoping to move her remains to be by her husband in Bountiful. He has so far been unsuccessful in determining where, in the many possible acres of farmland, she was buried.
|plaque honoring dead in Nauvoo|
I would give her the trip across the plains--perhaps someday, a descendant will walk the handcart trek in her honor.