William Cowdery, Jr. (1765 - 1847)

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Birthdate:
Birthplace: East Haddam, Middlesex, Connecticut, United States
Death: Died in Kirtland, OH, USA
Managed by: Peter Speelmon
Last Updated:

About William Cowdery, Jr.

William Cowdery, Jr. (1765-1847) was born on September 5, 1765 in the village of East Haddam, Middlesex County, in the British Colony of Connecticut. He married Rebecca Fuller (1768-1809) in about 1787. Rebecca's Grandfather was John Fuller (c. 1656-1726) and John Fuller's brother was Shubael Fuller (c. 1684-1748). Shubael's Granddaughter, in turn, was Lydia Gates (1732-1818), mother of Lucy Mack Smith. In other words, Rebecca Fuller and Lydia Gates were full cousins, both born in East Haddam. The two Granddaughters no doubt knew each other and their respective children, Oliver Cowdery and Lucy Mack Smith, almost certainly knew of each other prior to their supposed initial meeting in Manchester, Ontario, NY in the fall of 1828.

Some sources say that the William Jr. Cowdery and Josesph Smith Sr. knew each other as members of a "fraternity of Vermont rodsmen" as early as 1800. William Jr. probably married Rebecca Fuller in East Haddam in 1786 or 1787. The couple were in Wells, Rutland, VT by 31 Aug 1788 when their first child (Warren) was born. Lucy Mack moved to Tunbridge, Orange, VT in about 1789, shortly after the death of her sister Lovina. There she met Joseph Smith Sr. and they were married 24 Jan 1796 in Tunbridge. Between 1796 and 1816 William Sr. and Prudence Cowdery were living within 20 miles of their relatives Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith. William's brother, Dr. Jabez Cowdery, lived in Tunbridge within walking distance of the Smith family. There is no proof showing that Joseph Smith Sr. ever visited William Cowdery Jr.'s family in neighboring Rutland Co., but William Jr. certainly visited his father (and perhaps his Uncle Jabez) who lived much closer to the Smiths -- (see enlargement map).

William Jr.'s family lived in Wells, Rutland, VT from about 1787 until shortly after the death of Rebecca Fuller Cowdery on 3 Sep 1809. Early in 1810 William married Keziah Pearce, who had recently become a widow following the death of her first husband (a Mr. Austin, possibly Samuel Austin). Their son, Silas Austin, was probably born about 1808 -- in 1836 he was living in Franklin Co., OH near Columbus. William and Keziah moved to Williamson, Ontario (after 1823 Wayne) Co., NY, perhaps leaving some of William's younger children and Keziah's son, Silas Austin, in the care of relatives in VT. Keziah's first Cowdery child, Rebecca Marie, was born in Williamson on 10 Dec. 1810 and William was recorded in Ontario Census earlier that same year. Perhaps his sojourn to NY was made in connection to his cousin Jacob M. Cowdery's temporary relocation in Canandaigua, Ontario, NY.

William Jr. and Keziah returned to Rutland Co., VT prior to 3 Jun 1814 when their second daughter Lucy Pearce Cowdery was born in Poultney. Their third daughter, Phebe L. Cowdery was born in Middleton, Rutland Co. in 1817 and in August of 1818 they had all three daughters baptized at what would later be Ethan Smith's Congregational church in Poultney. In 1820 William was recorded as living in Poultney in the Rutland Census. Not too long after that he and Keziah they moved their family back to Ontario Co., NY, probably to Arcadia, where William's son Lyman Cowdery was living. In 1823 Wayne Co. was created and thereafter William Jr. Cowdery, his son Lyman, and other family members resided in Arcadia, Wayne, NY, the township immediately east of Palmyra.

If William Jr. was an early acquaintance of Joseph Smith, Sr. in VT, there is no record of his renewing their friendship after he and Keziah moved to the Palmyra area. Their son Lyman had dealings in neighboring Palmyra at least as early as 1825, however, and he apparently knew who the Smiths were at least by the fall of 1828 when he got his brother Oliver a schoolmaster's job in Manchester, Ontario Co. William is not known to have taken any interest in his son's activities in the founding of Mormonism, nor did he join the LDS Church until about 1835. At that time he moved to Kirtland and remained there until his death in 1847. His wife Keziah remained behind and resided in Ellery, Chautauqa, NY until her death in 1861.

After the excommunication of his sons, Oliver and Warren, from the LDS Church in 1838, William Jr. appears to have joined with the dissident Mormons at Kirtland and eventually supported the leadership claims of James J. Strang.

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William Cowdery, Jr.'s Timeline

1765
September 5, 1765
East Haddam, Middlesex, Connecticut, United States
1788
October, 1788
Age 23
Poultney, Rutland, VT, USA
1796
August 13, 1796
Age 30
1806
October 3, 1806
Age 41
Wells, VT, USA
1810
December 10, 1810
Age 45
Williamson, NY, USA
1814
June 3, 1814
Age 48
Poultney, Rutland, VT, USA
1817
January 17, 1817
Age 51
1847
February 26, 1847
Age 81
Kirtland, OH, USA
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