William Kay was born April 11, 1810 in Chaigley, Lancastershire, England the son of William and Elizabeth Kay.1 He spent his early years in Lancastershire and when he was twenty-seven years old he joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Shortly after his LDS baptism, William was ordained an Elder and accepted a call to be a missionary for the LDS Church with a companion named Thomas Richardson. William was a missionary in England off and on for about four years.2 However, in January of 1844, he decided to leave England for America. He traveled to Liverpool, England and boarded a sailing ship called the Fanny of Boston. William was the leader of a group of two hundred and ten LDS converts and the ship sailed for America on January 23, 1844.3
The Fanny sailed to New Orleans, Louisiana where it arrived safely on March 7, 1844. The LDS passengers of the Fanny then traveled up the Mississippi River to Nauvoo, Illinois on the paddle wheeler Maid of Iowa. They reached Nauvoo on April 12, 1844.4
In 1845, at the age of thirty-four William married Mary Wattis Bennett.5 While living in Nauvoo, William and Mary became acquainted with the Phillips and Green families. They had farms near each other and became very close friends. William and Mary lived in Nauvoo until the expulsion of the Latter-day Saints from that place and they traveled by ox drawn wagon to Winter Quarters in Nebraska Territory.
On July 3, 1848, the Kays left Nebraska Territory in the Willard Richards wagon train Company. There were approximately five hundred and twenty-six pioneers in this Company and the wagon train’s journey began from an outfitting post in Winter Quarters, Nebraska Territory. The Kays were in the Franklin D. Richards fifty and William was the captain of the first ten of that group. The Company arrived in the valley of the Great Salt Lake on October 10-19, 1848. After living for a few months in Great Salt Lake City, William and Mary decided to follow Edward Phillips and John Hyrum Green to a spot along Sandy Creek where they could establish a homestead.
On January 27, 1851, William Kay was set apart as the first LDS bishop of what came to be called Kays Ward. Edward Phillips and John Hyrum Green were his counselors.6
Following the creation of an LDS ward, the settlement and stream where the Phillips, Green and Kay families settled came to be called Kays Ward and Kays Creek. Later the settlement’s name was changed to Kaysville, but the name of the stream survives today.
In 1853, William married Mary E. Nelson and he resided in Kays Ward until 1856 when he was called on a mission to help settle the country near Carson City, Nevada Territory. He was a builder of the settlement of Genoa and farmed there for about two years. When the Utah War loomed, the settlers of Nevada Territory were recalled to Great Salt Lake City and William and his family returned to Utah Territory eventually settling first in Ogden, Utah. Later he moved his family to West Weber but returned to Ogden in 1864. He resided in Ogden until his death, which occurred on March 25, 1875.7
His obituary in the Ogden Junction said of him: “He was a man of unflinching integrity and labored unremittingly in the gospel and during his ministerial career he bapatized nearly a thousand persons into the church. He was the father of sixteen children (two of the sixteen were step-children), twelve of whom survive him.
“In all of his relations as a husband and a father he was noted for his affection and kindness. He was universally respected by his brethren and lived and died in the full faith of a glorious resurrection with the just.”8
William Kay was buried in the Ogden City Cemetery.9
1LDS Church, Family History Library, Ancestral File, Family Group Sheet—William Kay.
2Ogden Junction, Obituary, March 31, 1875, p. 6.
3LDS Church, Mormon Immigration Index, ship Fanny, 1844.
4Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, manuscript, History of William Kay.
5LDS Church, Family History Library, Ancestral File, Family Group Sheet—William Kay.
6Bancroft, Hubert, History of Utah, p. 315.
7Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, manuscript, History of William Kay.
8Ogden Junction, Obitary, March 31, 1875.
9Ogden City Cemetery Records.