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John Van Cott
John Van Cott 1846.jpg
John Van Cott in 1846
Born September 7, 1814(1814-09-07)
Place of birth Canaan, New York
Died February 18, 1883 (aged 68)
Place of death Salt Lake City, Utah Territory
LDS Church General Authority
First Seven Presidents of the Seventy
Called by Brigham Young
Start of term October 8, 1862 (aged 48)
End of term February 18, 1883 (aged 68)
End reason Death

John Van Cott (September 7, 1814 – February 18, 1883) was a prominent member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints serving as a member of the Quorum of the Seventy, as one of the Seven Presidents of the Seventy, and also as president of the Scandinavian Mission.


Early life and conversion

John Van Cott was descended from a Dutch settler named Claes Cornelissen Van Cott who came from Holland to what is now New York [Nieuw Amsterdam] in 1662. His father died of consumption when he was 10 years old. He first heard of The Book of Mormon and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from his cousin LDS Apostle Parley P. Pratt who was seven years his senior. (John's mother, Lovina Pratt and Parley's father, Jared, were siblings.) Some accounts put this first introduction as early as 1833 but, unlike his cousin, he did not join for some time. In 1835 he married Lucy Sackett and they had four children in Canaan, New York. Some members of the van Cott family confuse their family name to a famous old Van Cats family of Holland. There is no official proof of the connection, nor has any claims of the connection between these two different family names been accepted by any dutch officials.

Rendering of John Van Cott time uncertain

In 1843, Lucy joined the church. Historical material is somewhat sketchy here as most sources say that Van Cott himself was baptized by Pratt in Nauvoo in 1844 or 45, but others imply that the family moved to Nauvoo after he was baptized. Records are consistent in saying that the family was in Nauvoo in 1846 and stayed for a time at Pratt's home and that Van Cott donated about $400 towards the completion of the Nauvoo Temple.

Pioneer and church servant

The winter of 1846 was spent at Winter Quarters, where Van Cott became well acquainted with Brigham Young. According to historical records, he was chosen to be a bishop at this time to watch after the families of men who had joined the Mormon Battalion. He was ordained a Seventy on February 25, 1847.

As a Mormon pioneer, John made the "trip across the plains" multiple times. In 1847 he, his wife, two children (their two other children died in New York), and 59 year old mother traveled with the Daniel Spencer/Perrigrine Sessions Company, wherein John was appointed to be a "captain of 10" and a marshall. They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on September 25.

After arriving in the valley, at the behest of Young, Van Cott went back out on the trail to assist other companies who were having difficulties. He assisted in the exploration of the new land. He was chosen to be the first marshal of Salt Lake City.

John Van Cott in his older years

In 1852 Van Cott began a four year assignment as the president of the Scandinavia Mission, headquartered in Denmark. He was called to the same assignment again in 1859 and served for two and a half years. He became proficient in Danish as a result of his work there.

On the journey home to Utah, Van Cott led a group of church members from Scandinavia to the United States aboard the ship Waldemar, and then on the journey across the midwest to Salt Lake. He is listed as being the President of the Madsen and Liljenquist companies, leading a group of Scandinavian Saints to Salt Lake in July–Sept 1862. This may be the same group he led on the Waldemar, but further information is needed.

In 1862 Van Cott was sustained as one of the Seven Presidents of the Seventy. He died at his home a short distance south of Salt Lake City, February 18, 1883, after a lingering illness of several months.


Like several church leaders of his time, John Van Cott was instructed to practice plural marriage. He had 5 wives and many children. His oldest child was born in 1844, his youngest in 1878. Some did not live to see adulthood, others did and some became prominent members of their communities. There are 25 children listed here, but many narratives say had had 28. He has thousands of descendants

His wives and children with each of them.

Lucy Lavina Sackett

July 17, 1815 Stephentown, Columbia, NY USA – January 31, 1902 Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Ut USA.

  • Mary Van Cott February 2, 1844 Elmira, New York, USA – January 15, 1884 Salt Lake City, UT (married Brigham Young)
  • Martha Van Cott February 29, 1838 in Canaan, Columbia, New York, USA - 25 Mar 1908, Salt Lake city, Salt Lake, Utah, USA (Married William Price)
  • Fannie Van Cott April 18, 1850 Salt Lake City – December 21, 1930 Colonia Dublan, Chihuahua Mexico, Married Alexander Findlay Macdonald
  • Lucy Van Cott December 16, 1839 in Canaan, Columbia, NY – September 9, 1843 Canaan, Columbia, New York, Buried near her Brother, John Losee Van Cott, and their grandfather, Losee Van Cott.
  • John Losee Van Cott January 16, 1842 in Canaan, Columbia, New York, USA - November 6, 1843, Canaan, Columbia, New York. Buried there near the Van Cott family farm.
  • Losee Van Cott August 23, 1847 Independence, Rock, Wyoming – March 18, 1851, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Byron Van Cott March 2, 1852 Salt Lake City – November 19, 1853.

Jemima Morris

August 4, 1831 North Coleford, Gloucestershire, England – March 23, 1851 Salt Lake City

  • Morris Van Cott

Laura Lund

February 26, 1843 Amaya, Denmark – December 1, 1913 Salt Lake City

  • Waldemar Van Cott December 11, 1859 Salt Lake City – January 15, 1940 Salt Lake City
  • Frank Victor Van Cott August 7, 1863 Salt Lake City – August 17, 1938
  • Lucy May Van Cott May 5, 1869 Salt Lake City – September 28, 1957
  • Ernest Van Cott December 18, 1875 – August 27, 1924.

Caroline Amelia Pratt

June 20, 1840 in Detroit, Wayne, Michigan, USA – October 10, 1915 Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Ut USA.

  • Orson Van Cott April 21, 1859 Salt Lake City – May 8, 1859.
  • Anson Van Cott born and died on April 21, 1859 Salt Lake City
  • Viola Van Cott June 19, 1860 Salt Lake City – May 17, 1931 in Salt Lake City
  • Oscar Van Cott September 17, 1863 Salt Lake City – June 7, 1955 Salt Lake City
  • Marlon Van Cott October 10, 1867 Salt Lake City – July 29, 1941 Salt Lake City
  • Ray Van Cott October 27, 1869 Salt Lake City – March 18, 1944
  • Harold Van Cott Jul 1873 Salt Lake City – May 15, 1934
  • Edith Van Cott March 25, 1875 Salt Lake City – August 22, 1941 Los Angeles, CA
  • Lovina Van Cott January 15, 1877 in Ephraim, San Pete, UT – October 27, 1964 Salt Lake City

Caroline Lena Cassia Erickson

June 27, 1833 Brevik, Skaraborg, Sweden – November 14, 1901 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Ut USA.

  • Selma Van Cott November 12, 1863 Salt Lake City – December 5, 1935 Salt Lake City (married William Whitaker Taylor, son of John Taylor)
  • Nephi Van Cott February 25, 1865 Salt Lake City – September 18, 1865
  • Albert Van Cott December 25, 1868 Salt Lake City – November 10, 1959 Salt Lake City
  • Olive (or Olivia) Van Cott April 27, 1875 Ephraim, San Pete, UT – August 27, 1935 Salt Lake City
  • Enoch Van Cott Jan 1878 Salt Lake City – August 12, 1952.


Other People named John Van Cott

  • According to historical records, a John Van Cott was "elected" a fireman in Brooklyn, NY on April 1, 1788. He held the post for 3 years. See this external link
  • John Waldemar Van Cott, a grandson of John Van Cott was a professor at Brigham Young University and an author; among his books is "Utah Place Names."

External links



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