William Draper Sr.

Brief Life History of William

"William Draper, son of Thomas and Lydia, was born in the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania, on the 6th of September, 1774. "Being fond of the study of the Scriptures, and early convinced of the necessity of baptism for the remission of sins, he yielded to his convictions, and, according to the best light he then had, was baptized, and became a member of the Baptist church. In 1796 he married Miss Lydia Lathrop in [Rome, Oneida County], New York, and removed from that State to Upper Canada, in 1807. "After full fellowship with the Baptists for about 15 years, he began to be faulted for believing that the scriptures were to be understood in accordance with their obvious purport, and that the prophecies would be literally fulfilled, and Israel gathered. He continued in this frame of mind until 1833, when he heard President Brigham Young preach the gospel, and was by him baptized, confirmed, and ordained into the lesser, or Aaronic priesthood in June, in the township of Loughborough [now South Frontenac Township, Frontenac County, about six miles north of Kingston, Ontario]; and was ordained an elder, under the same hands, before the expiration of that month. "In 1835 he immigrated to Kirtland, Ohio; and in 1836 went, in company with John E. Page, on a mission to Canada, where they baptized many persons, and organized a large branch of the Church. He received his endowment in the Temple at Kirtland, and in 1837 was ordained a high priest under the hands of Don Carlos Smith and his counselors. In 1838 he started to immigrate to Missouri with the Kirtland Camp, but stopped in Sangamon County, Illinois, until the fall of 1839, when he moved to Pleasant Vale, Pike County, Illinois, where he assisted in building up a large branch of the Church. "In 1841 he moved to Green Plains, Hancock County, Illinois, and was driven from there by a mob in 1845, and sought safety in Nauvoo, but in 1846 was again driven by a ruthless mob, and in August crossed the Mississippi river in search of a peaceful asylum in the West. "Soon after crossing the river, his first wife, borne down by the hardships attendant upon a relentless persecution, fell asleep in the triumphs of the Latter-day faith, and her body was laid to rest on the right bank of the Mississippi river, there to await a glorious resurrection with the just. "In 1847 father Draper resumed his westerly march, and reached Council Point, Iowa, where he married the widow of his eldest brother [in 1847]; and in 1848 [he] was ordained a Patriarch under the hands of Elder George A. Smith, by order of the First Presidency. Having by his industry accumulated an outfit, he started for, and arrived in these valleys in 1852, and in April 1854, united with the High Priests Quorum in G. S. L. City. [He] has administered about 250 patriarchal blessings. "Not withstanding his age, and the many severe scenes he had been called to pass through, he continued to labor with his hands to within a short period of the time when he was summoned to pass behind the veil, which happened at Draperville, in G. S. L. County, on the 24th of December, 1854, at the advanced age of 80 years, 3 months, and 18 days. He went calmly to his rest, as only the faithful can, and his works will follow him; and his spirit is rejoicing and operating in a wider sphere of intelligence; preparatory to receiving a glorious body in the morning of the resurrection." The above Life Sketch is set forth in quotes as it is 98% verbatim from the obituary published in the Deseret News on February 22nd, 1855, but I (Barry Wood) have made minor corrections mostly based on contemporaneous documents, such as to change the place of birth from "Susquehanna County" Pennsylvania to "Luzerne County," because there is no "Wyoming" in Susquehanna County. EDIT: Luzerne County was not formed until 1786 according to it's own website. On September 25, 1786, Luzerne County was formed from part of Northumberland County. This means that William Draper would have been 10 years old by then. So Luzerne County is not accurate. The Wyoming Valley was a large area later sectioned off into counties. At the time the obituary was written, the family may have been confused about that as a function of the numerous events in Church history that took place in Susquehanna County. Note that the obituary gave his birth date as September 6, which accords with William's statement on the Nauvoo Temple endowment record. However, a handwritten list of the names and birth dates of William and his siblings, apparently by his brother Clark Draper, possibly in his own hand, gives the date as September 9. (The style of handwriting is that of someone educated around 1790 so I trust its authenticity - but I deem William's own information as given to the temple worker in 1845 as more authoritative.) The prior version of this sketch said, rather in the stilted style of Ancestry.com: "When William Draper was born on September 9, 1774, in the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania, his father, Thomas, was 34 and his mother, Lydia, was 23. He married Lydia Lathrop on December 24, 1794, in Rome, New York. They had 11 children during their marriage. He died on December 24, 1854, in Draper, Utah, having lived a long life of 80 years, and was buried there." However, that marriage date and even the place may be in error; see the detailed notes by AllenLois1 under the "Collaborate" tab. A significant question not answered by any source (to my knowledge) is how the Thomas Draper family escaped (or survived) the Wyoming Valley Massacre of 1778. Another issue is why William chose to move to Rome, New York. His father's distant cousin James Draper of Granville, Washington County, New York owned property nearby (in the Town of Floyd) but that might not have been the connection. On the other end of William Draper's life, I would also note that William Draper is listed on the 1850 federal census of Pottawatomie County, Iowa (page 145) as a "chair maker." So perhaps William found work making chairs in Rome? As of 1800 it was not yet the industrial center it later became, but there was certainly work for a strong and handy young man. -- Barry Wood 23 October 2109

Photos and Memories (104)

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Family Time Line

William Draper Sr.
Lydia Lathrop
Marriage: 24 December 1794
Charles Thomas Draper
Phebe Draper
Carson Draper
Lucretia Mae Draper
Fannie Adelia Draper
William Draper Jr.
Lydia Draper
Zemira Draper
Marvin C. Draper
Alfred Rogers Draper

Sources (39)

  • Wm Draper, "United States Census, 1850"
  • Legacy NFS Source: William Draper Sr. - Church record: birth-name: William Draper
  • William Draper, "Iowa, County Marriages, 1838-1934"

World Events (8)


Thomas Jefferson's American Declaration of Independence endorsed by Congress. Colonies declare independence.


The Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776. The liberty bell was first rung here to Celebrate this important document.

1800 · Movement to Washington D.C.

While the growth of the new nation was exponential, the United States didn’t have permanent location to house the Government. The First capital was temporary in New York City but by the second term of George Washington the Capital moved to Philadelphia for the following 10 years. Ultimately during the Presidency of John Adams, the Capital found a permanent home in the District of Columbia.

Name Meaning

English: occupational name for a maker and seller of woolen cloth, from Anglo-Norman draper (Old French drapier, an agent derivative of drap ‘cloth’). The surname was introduced to Ulster in the 17th century. Draperstown in County Londonderry was named for the London Company of Drapers, which was allocated the land in the early 17th century.

Dictionary of American Family Names © Patrick Hanks 2003, 2006.

Possible Related Names

Story Highlight


William Draper Sr. was born Sept. 6, 1774, the second son of Thomas and Lydia Rogers Draper, in Susquannah Co. Pennsylvania. (Another history records William as being born on September 9, 1774 in Lit …

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