Friday, December 2, 2011

Happy 213th Birthday, Hezekiah Hatch (1798-1843)!

Nita Welch's great-great-grandfather; Lorenzo Hill Hatch's father

An intelligent, educated, faithful man, who was murdered by an evil doctor in Nauvoo.
Hezekiah was a miracle child, the answer to his mother Elizabeth's prayers: the first living baby to survive after thirteen stillbirths. He had one older adopted sister and three younger brothers, and a Revolutionary War vet father. Hezekiah was of medium height with jet-black hair, and was raised in a Vermont home of great religious devotion as well as education and secular scholarship.

As a newlywed, Hezekiah bought an uncleared, heavily timbered farm from his father, where he eventually planted an orchard of several hundred trees.  He was a great reader who enjoyed histories of other nations and peoples, and served as a representative in the Vermont legislature for eight terms.  By 1840, Hezekiah had also compiled a manuscript of his own sermons and writings on religious topics entitled “Universal Salvation.”  He destroyed this once he learned of the gospel’s true teachings.

His mother had promised to dedicate her son to the Lord like Hannah of old, and Hezekiah learned of the gospel from his own teenage son, Jeremiah. After baptism, Hezekiah was set apart as a missionary on November 7, 1840. He brought the gospel to his parents, who received it gladly, and his wife Aldura and children also joined the Church.

Tragedy followed as first Hezekiah’s young son died, and next Aldura contracted “black tongue” from the missionary’s daughter she was caring for. Her death prompted an anti-Mormon backlash as neighbors questioned the family’s belief in healing. The Hatch family had gone from being prosperous and respected community leaders to outcasts. As the family prepared to move to Nauvoo, their oldest son, John, a promising scholar at Vergennes College, became ill and was left behind with an aunt and uncle where he died. 

The Hatches moved west with eight other convert families, a total of 52 travelers. Hezekiah took six good horses, two wagons, and a cook. On their way to Nauvoo, they stopped in Kirtland and gained a testimony of temple work, and noted passing through the village of Chicago. In Nauvoo, Hezekiah bought a farm six miles east of town, as well as a corner lot on Mulholland and Barnett Street, two blocks east of the temple. He built a fine two-story brick house with a front porch, and the family was able to hear the gospel preached by Joseph and Hyrum Smith and Brigham Young. Hyrum Smith gave Hezekiah a blessing in which he promised, “Your name shall not be forgotten but be continued and perpetuated from generation to generation.” This was fulfilled as a son, a grandson and at least two great-grandsons were named after him. Lorenzo recorded that “Hyrum said he had very singular feelings when he blessed father which were in consequence of the shortness of his life, and this was in fulfillment of a dream which my father had in Vermont concerning the Prophet.”
Hezekiah's account book listing his temple building

Hezekiah worked on the Nauvoo temple, hauling loads of stone from the Mississippi River. He was ordained a patriarch in 1843, and never slacked in his endeavors. He fenced farm property outside of Nauvoo, working nearly one hundred acres of land.  He was planning to remarry, when he became ill with bilious fever and died on his intended wedding day. Brigham Young preached at his funeral and Hezekiah was buried in the Masonic Order. Hezekiah’s younger brother Jeremiah (who taught Latin and Greek in Nauvoo but never joined the Church, married Sidney Rigdon’s daughter and became an apostle under Rigdon’s splinter church) took charge of the estate, sold everything, and defrauded the children.

Hezekiah’s daughter Adeline was ten years old at her father’s death, and years later had a vision about events she was too young to have been involved in. Her brother Lorenzo gave this vision great weight and recorded it. Adeline was shown that Dr. Robert Foster helped to murder the prophet Joseph Smith and also poisoned her father. Lorenzo remembered that Dr. Foster was called in to make Hezekiah’s will when he was sick, and asked for the trunk in which Hezekiah kept his papers. While looking for writing paper, Dr. Foster found a promissory note for money he owed Hezekiah. Lorenzo saw Dr. Foster take some papers out of the trunk, including the note and some cash.  Dr. Foster then told Hezekiah he could cure him, gave the nurse some powders in little parcels, and told her to give them every half hour.  Hezekiah died shortly thereafter, and when the family tried to collect the money Foster owed them, he claimed he had paid it and the note was gone. Hezekiah’s account book verifies this story, as several pages are ripped and accounts cut out in the Nauvoo section of his records; Dr. Foster is listed at the end of the account book as having purchased an item at the estate sale.

evidence: pages torn from Hezekiah's account book

Despite the family heartbreaks, Hezekiah had not wavered in his gospel commitment and left a strong legacy for his children.  Hezekiah is our common ancestor with Senator Orrin Hatch (Orrin is Unita Welch’s third cousin).  

I would give him Excel to help with his account books!

1 comment:

  1. What a story! I'd give him a novel about his life.