William B. Preston
William B. Preston was called to serve as Presiding Bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by Church president John Taylor and served from April 6, 1884, until December 4, 1907. He resigned his position when his health became poor. He died the following year on August 2.
Preston was born in Halifax, Virginia, on November 24, 1830. He worked on his family farm until the age of 19 when he became a store clerk. At the age of 22, he embarked on a journey to see the state of California via the Panama route. He soon settled in Yolo County (near Sacramento) where he became a farmer and stock raiser. His neighbors, the Thatcher family, were members of the Church and through them he was introduced to the gospel. He was baptized into the Church by Elder Henry G. Boyle in February 1857. Soon after, he served as a missionary in the Pacific Coast Mission but was called home when President Brigham Young called members of the Church home to Utah due to the invasion of Johnston’s army. Preston traveled with a group that included the Thatcher family. Preston’s company, headed by Henry G. Boyle, traveled to Utah through Los Angeles and southern Utah and arrived in Salt Lake on January 1, 1858. On February 24, Preston married Harriet A. Thatcher.
After a trip back to California in the spring of 1858 to acquire goods and merchandise for the Saints, Preston intended to settle in Payson. After another trip to California to purchase clothing and merchandise for his father-in-law’s store, Preston settled in Cache valley instead. He was called to serve as bishop of Logan on November 14, 1859. He helped construct the Logan and Hyde Park canal and in the spring of 1860 he helped the surveyor lay off the city of Logan. He began serving in the Utah territorial legislature in 1862.
Preston served as a missionary in England from 1865 to 1868. After his service, he continued to serve as bishop. He worked as a subcontractor on the Union Pacific Railroad, a member of the territorial legislature again (1872-1882), and as vice-president of the Utah and Northern Railway. He also served in the Cache Stake presidency with his brother-in-law, Moses Thatcher, as president. He served as stake president from 1879 to 1884.
He was director of the Logan Cooperative Mercantile Institution, on the board of trustees of Brigham Young College and subsequently became chairman of its executive committee. From 1870 to 1882 he served as the second mayor of Logan. He served for three terms.
Preston later married Birthe Marie Andersen and was the father of ten children.