Frederick Granger Williams

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Frederick G. Williams, leader in the early Church of Jesus Christ

Frederick Granger Williams was a physician and an early leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often known as the Mormon Church.

Born October 28, 1787, in Suffield, Connecticut, the son of Warren Williams and Ruth Granger, Frederick suffered an accident at an early age that affected his health for the rest of his life. He and a group of friends were left stranded on a floating block of ice that had broken free from the mainland. It wasn’t until the next day, having been spotted by a boat captain, that they were rescued.

Frederick fought against the British in the war of 1812 near Lake Erie and afterward became a boat pilot from Buffalo to Detroit. It was there that he met his wife, Rebecca Swain, who was one of his passengers.

Frederick took an early interest in medicine and herb-based studies. He practiced medicine as an adult and was a physician to the Prophet Joseph Smith and his family. One of Joseph Smith’s sons was even named for him: Frederick Granger Williams Smith.

It was while serving as Justice of the Peace in Kirtland, Ohio, that Frederick and Rebecca heard the message of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as preached by traveling missionaries. Rebecca was quick to join the Church, while Frederick studied both the messages of the Book of Mormon and the Bible before joining in October of 1830. He was ordained an Elder that same month and left with the traveling missionaries to continue preaching about the church he had so recently joined.

In 1832, he was called to be a counselor to the Prophet Joseph Smith. In addition to performing his physician’s duties, he also acted as personal scribe to the Prophet, organized the printing firm F. G. Williams and Company and was an editor of the Northern Times, an early newspaper printed by the Church.

In 1834, Frederick joined Zion's Camp and served as paymaster until the men were discharged. He continued to serve faithfully for the next several years and was among the privileged few who saw angels appear in the Kirtland Temple on the day of dedication. He said that an angel came and sat “between Father Smith and himself, and remained there during the prayer.” [1]

Frederick was one of those who became disillusioned with the Church following the Kirtland financial disaster and persecution in Missouri. There are few accounts regarding his membership and faithfulness, although a court was held to discuss his actions on May 29, 1837. However, it is found in the Prophet Joseph Smith’s own writings that he was re-baptized on August 5, 1838. [2]

The Prophet also said of him, “Brother Frederick G. Williams is one of those men in whom I place the greatest confidence and trust, for I have found him ever full of love and brotherly kindness. He is not a man of many words, but it ever winning, because of his constant mind. He shall ever have place in my heart. God grant that he may overcome all evil. Blessed be Brother Frederick for he shall never want for a friend; and his generation after his shall flourish.”[3]

Frederick Granger Williams passed away in October, 1842, at the age of 54, in Quincy, Illinois, of a lung hemorrhage.


  1. History of the Church, 2:427
  2. History of the Church, 3:55
  3. Nancy Clement Williams, After 100 Years! Meet Frederick Granger Williams, p. 77.

Bibliography: Susan Easton Black, Who’s Who in the Doctrine & Covenants, pp. 32–35.