Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Bodyguard: Zachariah Hardy

I just finished reading a book about the prophet Joseph Smith that made me want to learn a little bit more about my ancestors, from both sides of my family, who were all tied up in his history, sometimes in surprising ways. I love knowing that my ancestors lived in such a glorious/impossibly difficult time and that they came through it all that much stronger. Even more, though, I love finding connections. It is natural as part of the human family to love connections. Don't we always ask people if they know so-and-so from such-and-such a place, as soon as we find out they've been there, too?

It fascinates me to no end to know that some of my ancestors, from different branches of the family, knew each other and were going through the same experiences, living in the same places at the same time. My family members even knew my husband's family members way back then (he is descended from some of the more well-known members of the church, such as Edward Partridge, the first bishop and Amasa Lyman, one of the first apostles.) I love the happy glow I get when it's a small world after all. I've known about Joseph Smith all my life, and believe wholeheartedly that he really talked to God and restored his church. Of course I'm going to be excited if I can make a personal connection to this man.
Enough gushing, on with the story.
(Me->Dad->Grandpa Happy Jack->Pearl Drake->Mary Jane Cheney->Lucy Elzada Hardy->Zachariah Hardy)

The book I was reading mentioned the Mansion House in Nauvoo, so I was thinking about Lucy Elzada Hardy Cheney, who worked there as a teenager for the prophet's mother, giving tours of the mummies and Egyptian artifacts .
The Mansion House was part home of Joseph Smith's family (including his mother) part hotel. When I learned that two other young ladies working at the Mansion House--the Partridge sisters--actually married Joseph Smith under Emma's sanction, I must admit I had to give a passing thought to how things could have worked out so differently for our Lucy.

I am happy to announce that I found Lucy Hardy Cheney's picture, as a much older woman, of course. Isn't the internet wonderful? Then, in the course of my search, I also found this lovely biography about her father and mother, who I had known basically nothing about, other than that her mother, Eliza Philbrook Hardy was a seamstress for the Prophet's family. Whaddayaknow, Lucy's father, Zachariah Hardy was actually one of the Prophet Joseph Smith's bodyguards. (For all you gentiles, this is a little bit like finding out your ancestor was a bodyguard for Abraham Lincoln or George Washington.) I feel that much closer to the history of the man who changed the world, and my life, forever. I also wonder what kind of personal blow it would have been to Zachariah when the Prophet was martyred, knowing that he was going to his death willingly and that there was nothing he could do about it, even though it was his calling to protect him. Zachariah also gave his life to the cause not long after.
The following is part of the Hardy history I found at the Rootsweb Freepages, posted by Linda Hardy.

"Zachariah Hardy

BIOGRAPHY: Zachariah Hardy was a martyr to the cause of the Latter-Day-Saints in Nauvoo, Illinois. He ferried wagons across the Mississippi River dieing from exposure to cold on February 13, 1846. We don't know all of the facts; that is, how many days it took to ferry the Saints across the river, but we do know that the first wagons crossed February 4th and continued into March. Zachariah was dead nine days after February 4th. He was 47 years old. Here is a copy of the records passed down to us, by the great-grandchildren of Zachariah and his wife Eliza Philbrook.
Three generations of the Hardys lived in Camden, Maine and in the islands off the coast of Maine. Zachariah Hardy, was born in Belfast, Waldo, Maine on 12 March 1779, and died 13 February 1846 in a small town called Montrose, Iowa just across the river from Nauvoo, Illinois. He was the son of Joseph and Betsy (Elizabeth) Thorndyke Hardy who were also born in or near Belfast, Maine. Zachariah married Eliza Philbrook of whom we have very little records, however of little consequence, it was known that she could knit and did for a living when she came out West with the Saints. Eliza was born 25 July 1807 in Belfast, Maine and died in Hooper, Utah 5 January 1881. Joseph Hardy was a sea captain in a large fishing and trading or freighting vessel which traversed the Eastern seacoast from New York to Maine, sometimes being away from home for many months. He was also a carpenter and ship builder and in these trades his three sons became very expert and followed these until they left their native home to answer the call of the West. In 1840 the last of the oldest generation, Joseph Hardy, who was almost 100 years old, died. His death made it possible for the next two generations to migrate to Nauvoo, Illinois. They first heard the Gospel preached by Elder William Hyde, in Searsmont, Maine, a little town near their home and where they afterwards moved to. Elder Hyde's sermon impressed them very deeply and they were soon converted and baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints in August 1840. Early the next year they joined a company of Latter-Day Saints who were going west to Nauvoo, Illinois to be with the main body of the church. They left farms, comfortable homes and all they possessed, taking with them only what they could haul in wagons.
....The first person they met upon their arrival at Nauvoo was the Prophet Joseph Smith with whom they became intimately acquainted. Zachariah Hardy was chosen to be a body guard for the prophet and held this position until the Prophet's death.

.... At the time of the martrydom Zachariah was among the first to reach the scene of the tragedy. This event threw the saints into grief and confusion until Brigham Young took command of the Church, determined to lead them west. Immediately they were caught up in preparation to move. Part of the preparation was building flat boats large enough for horses and wagons to board. These flatboats had to be ferried across the river. Originally because the Hardy's were carpenters and shipbuilders, Zachariah was called to go with the first company as rafts and bridges were needed to cross the many rivers going west which would be swollen in the early spring, but later because of his seamanship skills Brigham Young asked him to stay and run the ferry boat across the river to assist the fleeing saints who were being driven and persecuted by angry mobs.
On February 9, 1846 with the wagons lined up down Parley Street, his own family among them he began ferrying the wagons across the mighty Mississippi. He ran the ferry day and night for three days as he could not depend on help. On the night of February 11, 1846, a terrible storm arose. The chilling winds of winter swept down upon them with a force that rivaled the terror of the mobs. Zachariah never wavered from this calling. The next morning when the ferry had not returned, the found him lying on the ferry, his beard and hair matted with ice. He had a very bad cold which developed into pneumonia from which he died on the river bank with only a wagon bed covered and placed on the ground as a means of protection. In this same wagonbed lay his sick wife, who had there delivered a baby five days earlier and their other five children, the wagonbed being the only shelter the young family had.
As they dared not return to Nauvoo in the daytime, his brothers, Joseph and Lewis and brother-in-law, Abiah Wadsworth and a son, William took his body and buried it at night. This left his wife along with six children to provide for, with very little to live on until spring. Emma Smith,the prophet's wife, opened her home and cared for them until she was able to travel and then said, if she would give up her trip west with the saints she could have a home with them, but Eliza refused.
Lewis took his family with the rest of the Hardy's and Wadsworth's to a small town about fifty miles farther on. Here they remained until the spring of 1849 when the moved to Council Bluffs. They started their journey west on the 10th of May 1851. Eliza's oldest son, William now being 16 years old they joined Captain Day's company, consisting of about 50 persons. Eliza had a small team and an old wagon in which she had all her earthly possessions. William drove most of the way, while the older children walked and pulled a cart and the two younger ones rode in the wagon.
It was a long tiresome trip and Eliza was often so tired and footsore at night that she found sleep impossible, but she was never heard to complain of her sad lot, always ready with a smile and cheer for those around her. Their trip was uneventful, although they were troubled by some wandering tribes of Indians and they often had to stop and repair bridges or build rafts to cross the swollen streams. All went well with them and they reached Salt Lake Valley which to them was indeed the "Land of Promise," September 18, 1851."
I wasn't able to find a picture of Zachariah Hardy--he died so early on that there may not be one, but I did find a picture of his wife Eliza the seamstress who crossed the plains with her whole brood. I think it is a fine picture. She looks strong and wise to me. And isn't it ironic that their granddaughter, Mary Jane Cheney, ended up being married to a man who eventually protected the life of a different president...Teddy Roosevelt....when he came to Ogden with his Rough Riders? But that's another story, another connection, for another time.


  1. Thanks for the story I have been researching Zachariah's grandfather so please tell me any information you find. I also have a picture of Zachariah that I can send to you.

    1. If you have any pictures or additional info on Zachariah you can add them to his profile on Thanks so much!