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biosww (Wilford Woodruff ** )

 A biographical overview of the life of Wilford Woodruff,
the fourth President and Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ 

Following is a summary of some major events in the life of Wilford Woodruff, who served as the fourth President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


  • Wilford Woodruff was born on March 1, 1807 in Avon (Farmington), Connecticut to Aphek Woodruff and Beulah Thompson Woodruff. He was the youngest of three sons. These three sons lived to the ages of 87, 89, and 91, respectively!
  • His occupation was farmer and miller.
  • Wilford quickly recognized the true gospel of Jesus Christ when he heard it. He was baptized just 2 days after he heard Elders Zera Pulsipher and Elijah Cheney preach a sermon. He was baptized by Elder Pulsipher on December 31, 1833 in an icy stream near Richland, New York.
  • He served his first mission to the Southern United States from 1834 to 1836 (age 27-29). Elder Woodruff gave this fascinating summary of his mission in these words: “I traveled 3,248 miles, held 170 meetings, baptized 43 persons, assisted Elder Parrish to baptize 20 more, confirmed 35 persons, organized 3 branches, ordained 2 teachers and 1 deacon, procured 30 subscribers for the Messenger and Advocate, procured 173 signers to the petition to the Governor of Missouri for redress of wrongs done to the Saints in Jackson County, had 3 mobs rise against me (but was not harmed), wrote 18 letters, received 10, and finally, closed the labors for the year 1835 eating johnny cake, butter, and honey at Brother A.O. Smoot’s.”
  • He was ordained an elder in 1835, and a seventy in May of 1836.
  • On April 13, 1837 he married Phoebe Carter. She died in 1885.
  • He served his second mission in the Eastern United States and Fox Islands from 1837 to 1838 (age 30-31).
  • On April 26, 1839 (age 32) he was ordained an apostle of the Lord by Brigham Young.
  • He served his third mission to Great Britain from 1839 to 1841 (age 32-34). He converted over 1800 people during this mission.
  • From 1843 to 1844, he served his fourth mission in the Eastern United States (age 36-37).
  • He served his fifth mission in 1845 and 1846 as he presided over the European and British missions.
  • In 1847, at age 40, he crossed the plains and entered the Great Salt Lake Valley with Brigham Young on July 24.
  • From 1848 to 1849 (age 41-42) he served his sixth mission in the Eastern United States and Canada.
  • In 1880, he became the President of the Quorum of the Twelve (age 73).
  • In 1887, he became the leader of the Church as President of the Quorum of Twelve due to the death of John Taylor on July 25. Elder Woodruff was 80 years old.
  • In 1888 (age 81) he dedicated the Manti Temple.
  • On April 7, 1889, he was sustained as the President of the Church of Jesus Christ (age 82). He chose as his counselors George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith.
  • On September 24, 1890, he delivered the Manifesto, a revelation and declaration instructing the members of the Church that no more plural marriages would be performed and that the Church would be in compliance with the laws of the land.
  • On April 6, 1893, he dedicated the Salt Lake Temple, one of the crowning events of his long life. He was 86 years old at the time.
  • Utah became a state during the administration of President Woodruff (1896).
  • President Woodruff passed away on September 2, 1898 in San Francisco, California.  He had gone to California in hopes that the change in climate would have a salutary effect on his health.
  • States in which Elder Woodruff had residences: Connecticut, New York, Missouri, Ohio, Illinois, Utah.
  • As can be seen from the above information, Elder Woodruff’s nickname of “Wilford the Faithful” was well deserved.
  • The life of Wilford Woodruff was always in the hand of the Lord, as can be seen from the following list of serious accidents from which he was spared mortal or permanent injury:
    • Fell in a cauldron of scalding water
    • Fell on his face from a hayloft
    • Fell down a stairwell and broke his right arm
    • Was trampled by a raging bull
    • Fell from a porch and broke his left arm
    • Fractured his leg in a carriage mishap
    • Was kicked in the abdomen by an ox
    • Was trapped and smothered under a dislodged load of hay
    • Was thrown out of a runaway wagon
    • Was knocked unconscious by falling 15 feet out of a tree
    • Nearly drowned in the Farmington River
    • Nearly froze to death when he was trapped in a blinding snowstorm
    • Split his left instep in half with an axe (the injury took 9 months to heal)
    • Was bitten by a rabid dog
    • Broke 2 leg bones and dislocated both of his ankles when thrown from a runaway horse
    • Suffered a fractured sternum and several broken ribs when a falling tree crushed him (his life was spared only by the power of the priesthood)
  • A few of the major trials Elder Woodruff faced in his lifetime: the death of his mother when he was but 15 months old, the numerous accidents and injuries enumerated above, participation in Zion’s Camp, crossing the plains numerous times, being exiled from his family and associates during the time that federal officials were incarcerating the leaders of the Church due to the polygamy issue, the challenges surrounding the issuance of the Manifesto.
  • No finer tribute could be paid to this wonderful leader than by the following by Elder George Q. Cannon: “President Woodruff was an unassuming man, very unaffected and childlike in his demands. He did no man an injury, nor was he too proud, even in his apostolic calling, to toil as other men toiled. His traits and characteristics were ennobling and so energetic was he, that nothing was too burdensome for him even in his advanced years. He was of a sweet disposition and possessed a character so lovely as to draw unto him friends in every walk of life. …He was free, sociable, and amiable in every respect. No jealousy lurked in his bosom. He looked upon all mankind as his equals… He was gentle as a woman and his purity was like unto that of the angels themselves.” — The Presidents of the Church, by Preston Nibley, page 169.
  • Read a personal testimony and witness by President Woodruff by clicking here.

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