Wealtha Bradford, daughter of Simeon Bradford and Martha True, was born at Turner, Androscoggin County, Maine, November 1, 1804. Wealtha’s father was a great-great-grandson of William Bradford, the second governor of the Plymouth Colony. Her parents, former residents of Kingston, Massachusetts, moved to Farmersville, New York. They were among the very earliest settlers there. Some evidence points to Simeon Bradford building the first good frame home where the Farm Station now stands, but it was later abandoned.
Little is known about Wealtha’s childhood. She is described as being tall and slender, with a fair complexion, light brown hair, and blue eyes.
We first find her living in the sparsely settled, heavily wooded western part of New York State at Farmersville, Catteraugus County, as the wife of Ira Stearns Hatch, married January 26, 1824. The newlyweds set up housekeeping near his father’s farm and began their family. Ira and his father and brothers began to build up a modestly prosperous farm. Their farm was not a palace nor a mansion but they were ambitious and thrifty. Their time seems to have been fully occupied at this time by clearing of the land and the planting of the crops.
The weather was always unpredictable and sometimes very devastating. The family depended upon the skills of Wealtha to preserve enough of the harvest to last through the winter. Ira and his sons were of necessity good hunters.
Life in Farmersville was not all work. Wealtha and Ira were often drawn to social occasions such as annual election day, town meeting, quilting bees, and temperance meetings. Traveling was sometimes tedious but everyone looked forward to being together on these occasions.
Wealtha and Ira also looked forward to the visits of traveling peddlers who came seasonally. These men brought eagerly awaited news of family members left behind in other parts of the territory.
There were many Indian tribes camped around Farmersville, but there was a friendly truce between them. Wealtha and Ira always treated the Indians kindly and dealt with them fairly. Wealtha was very interested in her Indians friends and listened to stories of their traditions and heritage. She often would talk to them concerning their origin. Their origin was a fascinating one, but there were few written records which she could read.
Wealtha and Ira also seemed to survive the ever present threat of sickness and epidemics that went through the community, often leaving neighboring families grieving over the loss of loved ones.
By 1830 Wealtha had borne three sons, Meltiar, Ransom, and Orin, who required much of her time. Wealtha was ever mindful of her heritage and of the responsibilities which fell to her to maintain the purpose of life by providing a happy home for her husband and children. Wealtha was the perfect helpmate.
Church activity in Farmersville did not seriously being until around 1830. Up to this time Ira and Wealtha had not connected themselves with any church. Wealtha had always said, “No, there were none on the earth that agree with my conviction.” At this time, Elders Oliver Cowdrey, Peter Whitmer, Jr., Ziba Peterson, and Parley P. Pratt were in the vicinity visiting the Catteraugus Indians, preaching with a book which represented a history of their progenitors, the Indian race. Wealtha obtained a copy of the book and was not long in reading it. she said, “That’s what we have been looking for.” Being thoroughly convinced of its origin, she desired to be baptized immediately.
Upon the insistence of her husband and her nearby relatives, she decided to wait a short time. Wealtha hoped that by her waiting, more of the immediate family would be converted. Although most favorable to the idea, none of the other relatives were ready to join the unpopular sect. Wealtha and Ira stayed in Farmersville to be a help and comfort to Ira’s father, who was in declining years.
Early in 1832 Wealtha applied for baptism. The rite was performed after a hole had been cut in the ice of the river. Wealtha was confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at this same time. Wealtha became the first in the Hatch family and the second person in the neighborhood to join the Church. The year Wealtha joined the Church, a new baby girl, Rhoana, was born to her and Ira.
Ira did not join the Church until 1834. He was cautious about joining the Church because of the persecution. He decided to go to the headquarters of the Church in Kirkland, Ohio, where he could examine their leader, Joseph Smith. When Wealtha and Ira saw the man Joseph Smith, Ira’s impression and testimony of the prophet’s divine mission was so great that it became of great assistance to him in withstanding the trials and hardships that were to be his lot and that of others who had joined the Church in those days.
Both Ira and Wealtha hoped that Ira’s parents and brothers and sisters would join the Church, but they did not. Ira’s father said that, “A man without religion stood equal chance with the religious man with the Lord for salvation.” When Ira and Wealtha decided to leave the family farm and follow the “Saints” west, it caused a great deal of distress and uproar in the family. The brothers, to whom Ira and Wealtha had sold the farm, said they would give the farm back if they would stay. But Ira shook his head and replied, “No, I will go West.”
So soon after the birth of Ancel in 1840, Ira and Wealtha loaded their household furnishing in two wagons and traveled the distance across Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana, to the western side of Illinois. They joined the saints at Eton’s Creek, some twenty miles from where Nauvoo was being built.
Wealtha’s joy became full, for she was at last with the saints and her family. But one day Wealtha shivered and hugged her shawl, suddenly she realized she had grown cold and weary. In this weakened condition she told Ira and the children that they would find a home in the Rocky Mountains, but she would not. Wealtha and many of the other saints were strickened with cholera, which was prevalent at the time. She died on November 3, 1841.
Wealtha’s devotion to the Church was an inspiration to her family. Her spirituality was ingrained in the characters of the young children she bore. She endured the persecutions and trials of pioneering, and yet always held steadfastly to the Church.
Source: “Wandering Home, Stories and Memories of the Hatch Family”, Ira Stearns Hatch, Meltiar Hatch and John Henry Hatch, and their wives and children, with historical-genealogical and biographical data on their ancestry and descendants. By The Hatch Historical Committee, Community Press, Provo, Utah, 1988. This book was a single printing of the history of the Hatches. Thanks to Dan Hatch for typing and sending this to us.
Available at: http://www.geocities.com/familyquilt/game/card/wb1802c.html (Last visited May 20, 2007).