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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – 1902

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Priesthood, 1902.” You can view other years here.

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1902:    2 Jan.:  Manner in which new Elders should be sustained.

“The First Presidency and Apostles met in Council Meeting in the Temple.

Bro. George F. Gibbs brought before the Council in an informal way, the custom adopted by the Presidency of the Salt Lake Stake in voting upon brethren recommended to be ordained elders.  He said that at the last stake priesthood meeting he had asked Prest. Angus M. Cannon if it were understood by the Stake Presidency that the young men who were that night (as well as those who were being regularly recommended to be ordained elders) had been voted upon as worthy of this office in the wards from which they came; that Prest. Cannon answered in the negative; and he thought it strange that this custom should now be questioned seeing that it had been the custom for the last twenty five years.  Bro. Gibbs also said that since then he had taken it upon himself to ascertain the custom adopted in other stakes of Zion, and that thirty nine had responded, thirty three of which vote in the wards; one had no uniform method; five followed the practice of our {Salt Lake} stake, but one of the five (Jordan) had already concluded to change the practice; two of the five had followed the practice adopted by the Salt Lake Stake, but were now in doubt as to its correctness.  This resulted in a motion by Bro. John Henry Smith to the effect that the First Presidency issue a circular letter instructing stake Presidents generally that persons recommended to be ordained elders should first be voted upon in the wards in which they live, and thus establish a uniformity of practice, which became the sense of the Council.”  (JH 2 Jan., 1902)

15 Jan.:  Obligation of Priesthood holders to act.

“We have been told of an incident which occurred a few weeks ago, when a Bishop’s counselor (and therefore a High Priest,) from a remote settlement, while visiting Salt Lake City, refused to administer to his sister’s child who was dangerously sick, for the reason that he was outside his own ward.

This brother must have had a misunderstanding of the authority of his office or he was over diffident.  Whatever the cause he ws not justified in his refusal.  His authority to bless in the name of the Lord was not confined to his ward; no Elder’s opportunity for doing a purely good deed should be confined to a ward or any other limit, and when he went into a house and the head of that household made such a request of him it was clearly not only his privilege or right but his duty to comply.  Indeed, we believe that every man holding the Priesthood, in good standing in the Church, who owns a home, is supreme in his own household, and when another brother enters it and he requests the latter to perform any duty consistent with his calling the latter should accede to his wishes; and if there should be anything wrong he who makes the request as the head of the house into which the brother has come, is responsible therefor.  If that head of a household asks anything to be done which for the sake of Church discipline, or to fulfill the revelations of the Lord should be placed on the records of the Church, he should see to it that the necessary details are supplied and recorded.

We further believe that the rights of fatherhood in all faithful, worthy men are paramount, and should be recognized by all other men holding positions or callings in the Priesthood.  To make this idea plainer we will say, as an example of our idea, we do not consider it proper in a Bishop or other officer to suggest that the son of such a man (the son himself not being the head of a family but living with his father) be called upon a mission without first consulting the father.  The Priesthood was originally exercised in the patriarchal order; those who held it exercised their powers first by right of their fatherhood.  It is so with the great Eloheim.  His first and strongest claim on our love, reverence and obedience is based on the fact that He is the Father, the Creator of all mankind.  Without Him we are not, and consequently we owe to Him existence and all that flows therefrom–all we have and all that we are.  Man possessing the holy Priesthood is typical of Him.  But as men on earth cannot act in God’s stead as His representatives without due authority, appointment and ordination naturally follow.  No man has the right to take this honor to himself, except he be called of God through the channels that He recognizes and has empowered.

Returning to the thought expressed in our opening paragraph, we recognize that there is a side to the question that must not be lost sight of, as to ignore that view would be to encourage a condition in the midst of the Saints pregnant with confusion.  We have found occasionally that men blessed with some peculiar gift of the Spirit have exercised it in an unwise, shall we say, improper manner.  For instance, brethren strongly gifted with the power of healing have visited far and near amongst the Saints (to the neglect sometimes of other duties,) until it has almost become a business with them, and their visits to the homes of the Saints have assumed somewhat the character of those of a physician, and the people have come to regard the power so manifested as though coming from the man, and he himself has sometimes grown to so feel, and not that he was simply an instrument in the hands of God of bringing blessings to their house.  This view is exceedingly unfortunate when indulged in, and is apt to result in the displeasure of the Lord.  It has sometimes ended in the brother possessing this gift, if he encouraged such a feeling, losing his power to bless and heal.  Departures from the recognized order and discipline of the Church should therefore be discountenanced and discouraged.  Not, however, from any feeling on the part of the presiding officer that his domain is being invaded, or that his individual authority is imperilled because a stranger brother administers by invitation therein; but because nothing should be done that would bring discredit on the cause of truth or dishonor on the name of our God, for the honor and the glory are His and must ever be accorded to Him.”  (Joseph F. Smith, JI 37(2):50-51, 15 Jan., 1902)

15 Jan.:  Brethren decide if Smoot should be Senator.

“[Meeting at the Temple] Pres. Smith stated that the object of the meeting was to take into consideration the question as to whom we would favor as next United States Senator from Utah–whether a member of the quorum of Apostles, a member of the church or a gentile.”  (Rudger Clawson diary, 15 Jan., 1902)

19 Jan.:  Church courts.

“The speaker [Apostle John Henry Smith] urged the brethren and sisters who have grievances against one another, to exhaust every means consistent with truth and honor to settle their difficulties among themselves, and not make such grievances a matter of Church record.  If difficulties exist which cannot be settled outside of the Church tribunals, such matters should be taken before them as directed in the Doctrine and Covenants, not ignoring the Bishops’ courts and occupying the time of the High Council and others in settling difficulties that need not have reached even the Bishops’ court.  Apostle Smith inveighed against the practice of Bishops’ courts in compromising differences, instead of passing righteous judgment, the practice of some was to split the difference in claims between brethren.  This should not be. . . .

[Joseph F. Smith speaking] My brother John Henry Smith spoke to you about your taking your difficulties before the authorities of the Church if you cannot settle them yourselves.  I want to tell you, Latter-day Saints, that ninety-nine cases out of every hundred can be settled without going to the tribunals of the Church, if you would but humble yourselves one to another and seek the spirit of forgiveness, but when your cases do come before the Church tribunals there should not be any compromise expected for justice must be dealt out in all cases.  A Latter-day Saint’s word ought to be as good as his bond, and when his word is given to any contract he should live up to it in every respect.”  (Minutes of Weber Stake Conference, 19 Jan., 1902, in JH 19 Jan., 1902)

29 Jan.:  Salaries for stake presidency.

“George Parkinson was down from Preston and we put the salaries of the Presidency there at one thousand dollars Two hundred less than they have received but the Stake is a compact one and there is not much traveling to be done there.”  (Anthon H. Lund diary, 29 Jan., 1902)

30 Jan.:  Selection process for a new Stake Presidency.

“Meeting of First Presidency and Apostles at the temple. . . .

Bro. John Henry Smith reported the visit of himself and Bro. Teasdale to Rexburg to attend the Fremont Stake conference, which was held Saturday and Sunday last.  They met with the priesthood the stake for the purpose of reorganizing its Presidency on the Saturday afternoon, and invited the brethren present to each write of a slip of paper the names of three men of their choice for Stake President.  He said that he told the brethren he wanted to ascertain if their spirit on this question was in harmony with the First Presidency.  The result was that twenty one names were written in all, and Bro. Bassett’s name appeared on all the slips excepting six, and Bro. Webster’s name appeared on all the slips excepting fifteen.  Bro. Thomas E. Bassett was chosen to be president, and he selected James W. Webster and Charles H. Woodmansee as his counselors.”  (JH 30 Jan., 1902)

Jan.:  When and how counsel should be sought.

“We often find instances where the counsel, advice and judgment of the priesthood next in order is entirely overlooked or completely disregarded.  Men go to the president of the stake for counsel when, in reality, they should consult their teachers or bishop; and often come to the First Presidency, apostles, or seventies when the president of their stake has never been spoken to.  This is wrong, and not at all in compliance with the order of the Church.  The priesthood of the ward should never be overlooked in any case where the stake authorities are consulted; nor should the stake authorities be disregarded that the counsel of the general authorities may be obtained.  Such a course of disregarding the proper local officers is neither in conformity with the Church instructions and organization, nor conducive to good order.  It creates confusion.  Every officer in the Church has been placed in his position to magnify the same, to be a guardian and counselor of the people.  All should be consulted and respected in their positions, and never overlooked in their places.”  (Joseph F. Smith, “Editor’s Table,” IE 5(3):231, Jan., 1902)

1 Mar.:  Were David Whitmer and Martin Harris Apostles?

“We have been asked, ‘Did David Whitmer and Martin Harris hold the Apostleship at the time (February, 1835) that they ordained the Twelve Apostles, if so, when did they receive it?’

We answer that David Whitmer and Martin Harris were both High Priests at the time the quorum of the Twelve Apostles was organized in these latter days.  

The history, in brief, of this important event in the annals of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is as follows:  In June, 1829, at Fayette, Seneca Co., New York, the Prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation making known that twelve Apostles would be called in this dispensation (Doc. & Cov. Sec. 18).  In it Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer were empowered to ‘search out the Twelve’ (verses 37-39).  It must be remembered that this revelation was given before the Church was organized.

Nearly six years after this revelation was given, the Prophet Joseph, at a special meeting held at Kirtland, (February 14, 1835) blessed Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris, the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon, to select twelve brethren to be ordained Apostles.  This they did that same day, and that same day several of those selected were ordained.  The ordinations were performed by the Prophet Joseph and the three witnesses.

This proceeding is strong evidence of the fact that the Priesthood is greater than any of its offices; and further, that any man who has received the holy Melchizedek Priesthood is empowered by and through the possession of that Priesthood to perform any ordinance connected therewith when called upon to do so by the proper authority.  For this reason we find in the history of the Church that Apostles have presided over stakes of Zion, at other times they have acted as traveling Elders in the foreign missions of the Church when a High Priest or Seventy has presided therein.  It is the duty of a High Priest to preside at home, but High Priests are often called to labor as missionaries abroad, while Seventies, whose special mission is to preach the Gospel to the outside world, are occasionally called to preside at home.  Again Seventies have been authorized to ordain High Priests and High Priests, Seventies.  All these apparent deviations from the usual procedure were regular and proper because every man holding the Melchizedek Priesthood has within him the latent power to do all things that that Priesthood authorizes, no matter what office he holds; but he has no right to depart from the limitations prescribed for his office unless he is specially called upon and appointed to do so, either by the Lord through revelation or by the Lord’s representative, or by one holding an office in the Priesthood whose calling clearly authorizes him to give such instructions and special authority.

The case in point is one of the evidences of the truth of our position.  Here the Lord by revelation and by the instructions of His mouthpiece calls upon three men, two of whom are High Priests, to choose twelve men to form the quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and then to ordain or set them apart for this most responsible and exalted calling.  He did so because they had the Melchizedek Priesthood and in that Priesthood was embraced the necessary authority to perform this duty.  We admit that even if it did not, that the Lord Himself could, if he so pleased, give these men extraordinary and unusual powers on any occasion.  We have no desire to limit the powers of the Lord.  But this is not the way He usually works.  He observes order, and recognizes the rights of His duly authorized servants.  He does not, as a rule, call upon men to do things that they have not authority under the law of His Priesthood to do.  Indeed there is no need for it.  In this case David Whitmer and Martin Harris had within them the necessary authority, and it only required the word of the Lord to give them the right to exercise it.

Speaking of the Melchizedek Priesthood, the Lord says, (Doc. and Cov., Sec. 107, verses 5, 8.)

All other authorities or offices in the Church are appendages to this Priesthood. * * *

The Melchizedek Priesthood holds the right of Presidency, and has power and authority over all the offices in the church in all ages of the world, to administer in spiritual things.”

(JI 37(5):142-144, 1 Mar., 1902)

1 Mar.:  Unnecessary departures from established order.

“We have, however, met instances in the Church which we have thought were unnecessary departures from the established order of the Priesthood.  For instance we have found a Seventy acting as a counselor to the president of a Priests’ Quorum, the president of course being a Bishop.  Again, we have heard of Seventies being called to preside over Teachers’ and Deacons’ quorums.  This is not according to the order of the Priesthood.  The only quorum in the Priesthood where a Seventy rightly presides is in a quorum of seventy, unless he is specially appointed to do so by the Presidency of the Church; and then he would preside as an Elder rather than as a Seventy.”  (JI 37(5):144, 1 Mar., 1902)

1 Mar.:  In home, priesthood authority always in father.

“In the home the presiding authority is always vested in the father, and in all home affairs and family matters there is no other authority paramount.  To illustrate this principle a single incident will perhaps suffice.  It sometimes happens that the Elders are called in to administer to the members of a family.  Among these Elders there may be presidents of stakes, Apostles, or even members of the First Presidency of the Church.  It is not proper under these circumstances for the father to stand back and expect the Elders to direct the administration of this important ordinance.  The father is there.  It is his right, and it is his duty to preside.  He should select the one who is to administer the oil, and the one who is to be mouth in prayer, and he should not feel that because there are present presiding authorities in the Church that he is therefore divested of his rights to direct the administration of that blessing of the Gospel in his home.  (If the father be absent, the mother should request the presiding authority present to take charge).  The father presides at the table, at prayer, and gives general directions relating to his family life whoever may be present.  Wives and children should be taught to feel that the patriarchal order in the kingdom of God has been established for a wise and beneficent purpose, and should sustain the head of the household and encourage him in the discharge of his duties, and do all in their power to aid him in the exercise of the rights and privileges which God has bestowed upon the head of the home.  This patriarchal order has its divine spirit and purpose, and those who disregard it under one pretext or another are out of harmone with the spirit of God’s laws as they are ordained for recognition in the home.  It is not merely a question of who is perhaps the best qualified.  Neither is it wholly a question of who is living the most worthy life.  It is a question largely of law and order, and its importance is seen often from the fact that the authority remains and is respected long after a man is really unworthy to exercise it.”  (Joseph F. Smith, JI 37(5):146-147, 1 Mar., 1902)

6 Mar.:  Proposed Bureau of Info., staffed by Seventies.

“Meeting of First Presidency and Apostles was held in the temple.

A Letter was read from the First Council of Seventy, enclosing a communication from Elder Richard W. Young, setting forth the following:  That Salt Lake is one of the chief tourist points of our continent; that many come here with a desire to learn all they can concerning us as a community, and they make it a point to attend Sabbath meetings in the tabernacle.  And having in view the education of the Seventies in the work pertaining to their special calling, he suggested that a piece of improved property be purchased on Main Street in which to hold nightly meetings under the auspices of the several quorums of Seventies located in this city; and that ultimately a bureau of information might ultimately be found to be expedient.

President Smith remarked that the subject of doing something by way of establishing a bureau of information had been talked about by the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Board for some time past.

On motion of Prest. Winder this communication was referred back to the Seventies with the request that they look into the matter, and act upon the suggestion themselves as they may deem advisable; also that they consider the matter of organizing a bureau of information for the purpose of imparting correct information to tourists.

Motion seconded and carried.”  (JH 6 Mar., 1902)

6 Mar.:  Bishop acting prior to ordination.

“Meeting of First Presidency and Apostles was held in the temple. . . .

A letter was read from Prest. Wm. H. Seegmiller, dated 18th ult., stating that the High Council had accepted the resignations of Bishop William R. Stevens of Aurora Ward, and Bishop Hans Rasmussen of Redmond Ward; and that that body recommended Christian Christiansen be Bishop of Auroroa Ward, and Martin Jensen be Bishop of Redmond Ward.

This was read for the information of the Council, as the First Presidency had already written on the 21st ult. authorizing Prest. Seegmiller to install these brethren in the positions to which they had been called, with the understanding that they would receive their ordinations later under the hands of one of the Apostles.”  (JH 6 Mar., 1902)

11 Mar.:  Witnesses at baptisms.

“Editor Deseret News:

Will you kindly answer the following question, which came up in connection with the subject of baptism as treated in the Manual:  Are two or more witnesses required to every baptism?  Those who have been on missions of late way that this is the rule, but earlier missionaries were not instructed in this way.

We do not see why any question of the kind mentioned should ‘come up in connection with the Manual.’  There is nothing that we can find in that work which states that witnesses are required to every baptism.  We think a great deal of discussion is held when the subjects treated in the Manual are under consideration, that is not warranted by anything to be found therein.  We presume the idea of two or more witnesses is derived from the requirement as to baptism for the dead, spoken of in the Doctrine and Covenants.  In the baptism of the living, it is better to have witnesses when they can be obtained, but there is no revelation or rule or counsel that we know of which makes that essential.  Many persons have been baptized into the Church and confirmed by the water’s side, without any persons being present other than the baptizer and the baptized, and we have never heard the validity of those administrations brought into question.  If the subjects presented in the Manual are considered along the lines suggested in the questions that are prepared, a great deal of profitless contention would be avoided.”  (Deseret News editorial, 11 Mar., 1902, in JH 11 Mar., 1902)

12 Mar.:  Was MP held after the days of Moses?


We have been requested to state whether the Melchisedek Priesthood was held on the earth after the days of Moses the Prophet, and previous to the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh.  We suppose the question has arisen because of the statement in the Doctrine and Covenants:

Now this Moses plainly taught the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God; but they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence, therefore the Lord in his wrath (for his anger was kindled against them) swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory.  Therefore he took Moses out of their midst, and the Holy Priesthood also; and the lesser Priesthood continued, which Priesthood holdeth the key of the ministering of angels and the preparatory Gospel.–Sec. 84, 23-26.

We understand, by this statement about the Holy Priesthood being taken from Israel, that the people who rejected the higher law were placed under the lesser law and the lesser Priesthood.  They did not have the benefit of those administrations which appertain to the higher or Melchizedek Priesthood, but were placed under ‘the law of carnal commandments.’  Moses, who held the keys of that higher authority, was taken away and with him the keys that he held, but there were individuals left who held that Priesthood, and there is no doubt that it was transmitted to others, and was held by the prophets who administered in the higher things of the kingdom, when the Lord revealed himself to them and gave them instructions.

It is evident from Sec. 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants that Nathan, and others of the prophets, officiated in the Melchizedek Priesthood, and that its power was made manifest in the Temple which Solomon was permitted to build.  But Israel, as a nation, was under the Aaronic or lesser Priesthood, until Christ came and was called of God to be a Priest after the order of Melchisedek.  He restored the higher law of the Gospel, and called and ordained His apostles and placed upon them similar authority in the Priesthood to that which He held Himself.  the Church which He established was delivered from the yoke of the lesser law and raised to the liberty and blessings of the higher.

In the restoration of the Gospel in the latter days, both Priesthoods–the Aaronic and the Melchisedek–were conferred upon the first Elders of the Church, and that authority has been continued.  The keys held by Moses were bestowed upon Joseph Smith, and have descended to his successors.  This we hope will make the matter plain to our correspondent and to others interested in the subject.”  (Deseret News editorial, 12 Mar., 1902, in JH 12 Mar., 1902)

13 Mar.:  No quick ordinations to Bishop or Patriarch.

“[Meeting a the Temple; Joseph F. Smith:] . . . some of the brethren of the quorum, under a sudden inspiration, would ordain a man a Patriarch or perhaps a Bishop. He did not feel that this method of procedure was exactly right, as it infringed upon the principle of common consent.”  (Rudger Clawson diary, 13 Mar., 1902)

15 Mar.:  Relationship between Priesthood and scriptures.

“Question:  What relationship does the living Priesthood bear to the written Scriptures?

Answer:  They who bear the Holy Priesthood are the earthly representatives of the ever living God.  They are his living constitution.  Inspired by His divine Spirit, they are the channel of communication between heaven and earth, and the interpreters, the expounders and the administrators of His law.  They are ever present in His Church, they are inseparable from His kingdom; without them neither the one nor the other can exist in the midst of the children of mortality.  They are the stay, the strength, the power, the force, the vitality of heaven’s work upon earth.  Jesus says, ‘Is it not written in your law, I said, ye are Gods?  If he called them Gods unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken.’

But besides the living oracles, the Church possesses the written word of revelation and divine commandment; upon which all men are forbidden to put any private interpretation.  Should a difference of opinion arise among the brethren on any point of doctrine or principle contained in the Scriptures of divine truth, the way of bringing about a union of sentiment that God’s servants may see eye to eye, is plainly marked out in modern revelation.  The way is that he who holds the keys or authority to call down this blessing should go before the Lord and enquire of Him; and inasmuch as the desired knowledge is sought in humility and honesty of heart, it will be given.  But it is no man’s prerogative to add to, diminish or deviate in the slightest degree from the written word, without divine revelation, and that through him who holds the keys and Presidency of the Holy Melchisedek Priesthood.  This applies equally to small as well as to greater things, as seemingly trivial deviations are the stepping stones to more important errors?

Were every member of the Holy Priesthood living in the full enjoyment of the spirit of revelation, as is his privilege, there would be but little need of the written word.  Only as a means of strengthening the Saints through the record of God’s past dealings with His children, and as a manifestation of the harmony of the principles of the Gospel in all ages and to all people.  But individually man is frail, and though the Holy Priesthood is all that we have claimed for it, yet through the frailty of humanity, many helps in government have been instituted by the Lord to aid in the accomplishment of His holy purposes.”  (JI 37(6):174-175, 15 Mar., 1902)

17 Mar.:  Procedure for settling disputes with Bishops.

“The Deseret News will not undertake to decide any question of dispute between members of a ward and its Bishop.  The Presidency of the Stake wherein that ward exists should be appealed to, in any case of that kind.  If satisfaction cannot then be had, the matter can be laid before the Presidency of the Church, who will see that justice is done and that right prevails.

The First Presidency, however, should not be pestered with original complaints.  Local matters should be disposed of locally whenever that is possible.  Members should not jump over the heads of their Bishops to the First Presidency, or to the Presidency of the Stake, but settle such affairs as belong to the Bishopric with the Bishop and his counselors first.  There is a proper order to be observed in the Church and it should be strictly adhered to.

Individual cases ought not to be presented to the Deseret News for a decision or an opinion.  Each case has some difference to that of others.  There are also two sides, at least, to every question and both must be heard before a just judgment can be rendered.  It is not the province of this paper to settle such disputes.  We can give information and explanation on general principles, when they are of sufficient importance to engage public attention.  But the Bishop’s courts and the High Councils are organized for the purpose of settling difficulties, and they must be respected in the positions to which they have been appointed.”  (Deseret News editorial, 17 Mar., 1902, in JH 17 Mar., 1902)

1 Apr.:  The Melchizedek Priesthood anciently.

“Question:  Did Lehi, Nephi, Alma and other Nephite prophets hold the Higher Priesthood? or does the Doctrine and Covenants, section 84, verses 25 and 26, refer especially to the Israelites upon the eastern continent?

Answer:  In answering the foregoing we suggest a careful consideration of the second question and the quotation given from the Doctrine and Covenants which reads, ‘Therefore He took Moses out of their midst, and the Holy Priesthood also; and the lesser Priesthood continued, which Priesthood holdeth the key of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel.’

There is undoubtedly misapprehension amongst some members of the Church as to the meaning of these words, and hence the following references are submitted.

In a revelation given through the Prophet Joseph, September, 1832, the Lord declares ‘This greater Priesthood administereth the Gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the Kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God * * * and without the ordinances thereof and the authority of the Priesthood, the power of Godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh; for without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.’  (Doc. and Cov. 84:19-22)

By virtue of this Priesthood, Adam and the patriarchs communed with Jehovah; Enoch ‘walked with God;’ Noah received revelations from Him, Melchisedek and Abraham held this authority and God revealed Himself to the latter and declared ‘I am the Almighty God.’  Genesis 17:1.

Moses received the Holy Priesthood under the hand of his father-in-law, Jethro (Doc. Cov. 84:6); and he, too, was permitted to talk with God ‘mouth to mouth’ (Num. 12:8).

And what shall we say of Aaron, Nadab, Abihu and seventy elders of Israel who ‘saw the God of Israel?’  (Exodus 24:9, 10).  Though the house of Aaron was chosen to minister in the lesser Priesthood (Doc. and Cov. 84:27) it is evident that the brother of Moses was privileged to minister in the High Priest’s office, and therefore was commanded to enter the Holy of Holies once a year ‘before the Lord,’ and special preparation and qualification were enjoined that ‘when he cometh out he die not.’ (Exodus 28:35).  Hence Paul declares of this ‘Holiest of all’ that the ‘High Priest went alone every year.’ (Heb. 9:3, 7.)

Remember also that ‘Aaron saw the God of Israel.’  Moses was also commanded to gather together seventy men of the elders of Israel and the Lord declared ‘I will come down and talk with thee there and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.’  And Moses did as God commanded him and when they were thus gathered together ‘the Lord came down in a cloud and spake unto him and took of the spirit that was upon him and gave it unto the seventy elders, * * * and when the spirit rested upon them they prophesied and did not cease.’ (Numbers 11.)

Subsequent to the days of Moses numerous references are made to high priests and elders ministering unto the people.  Isaiah saw God, (Isaiah 6:1), Jeremiah was ‘ordained’ by Him ‘a prophet unto the nations,’ (Jer 1:5), and Elijah and others undoubtedly held the High Priesthood after the order of the Son of God.

What explanation then shall we offer to the quotation from the Doctrine and Covenants section 84, referred to above?  The following is contained in an editorial published in Times and Seasons, volume 4 page 25, December 1, 1842, (Elder John Taylor, editor.)

The Melchisedek Priesthood was, therefore, taken from them, as a nation, and Moses was taken out of their midst and instead of their being a ‘Kingdom of Priests’ they had only one high priest that went into the presence of God once a year, where he atoned for his own sins and the sins of the people.  They were stripped of the greater blessings connected with the Melchisedek Priesthood. * * * With the exception of a few isolated individuals who were scattered here and there, the children of Israel were destitute of the Melchisedek Priesthood.

The Prophet Joseph often addressed the Saints upon this important topic and the following extracts from his sermons are very pertinent:

The spirit, power, and calling of Elijah is that ye have power to hold the keys of the revelations, ordinances, oracles, powers and endowments of the fullness of the Melchisedek Priesthood and of the Kingdom of God upon the earth.

The spirit of Elias is first, Elijah second, and Messiah last.  Elias is forerunner to prepare the way, and the spirit and power of Elijah is to come after, holding the keys of power, building the temple to the capstone, placing the seals of the Melchisedek Priesthood upon the house of Israel and making all things ready; then Messiah comes to His Temple which is last of all.’  (Compendium, pages 281, 282, 283.)

Answer to the question, ‘Was the Priesthood of Melchisedek taken away when Moses died?’–‘All Priesthood is Melchisedek, but there are different portions or degrees of it.  That portion which brought Moses to speak with God face to face was taken away; but that which brought the ministry of angels remained.  All the prophets had the Melchisedek Priesthood and were ordained by God Himself.’  (Compendium, page 287.)

From the foregoing we readily perceive that even upon the eastern continent there were many prophets, elders and high priests holding the Higher Priesthood who ministered unto Israel and especially so in connection with the temples of the Most High God.

‘Did Lehi, Nephi, Alma and other Nephite prophets hold the Higher Priesthood?’

Undoubtedly.  ‘All prophets had the Melchisedek Priesthood.’  The Prophet Joseph, no doubt, referred to those who were leaders amongst the people and acknowledged as God’s mouthpieces, and hence Lehi and Nephi were prophets and received divine manifestations.

Alma taught the people and ‘was their High Priest, he being the founder of their church.’  (Mosiah 23:16.)  His son ‘Alma was consecrated a High Priest over the people of the Church’ (Alma 4:4, 18.) ‘having power and authority from God to do these things’ ‘according to the holy order of God.‘ (Alma 5:3, 44; 16:5; 30:21, 22, 23; 43:2.)

‘Helaman and the High Priests did also maintain order in the church,’ and ‘the word of the Lord was declared unto them by Helaman and Shiblon and Corianton and Ammon and his brethren, yea, and by all those who had been ordained by the holy order of God.’ (Alma 46:38; 49:30.)

Israel, upon the western continent was ministered to by men of God holding the holy Melchisedek Priesthood and were fully conversant with the ordinances and blessings pertaining thereunto; and Alma’s address (Alma 13) on High Priesthood will be profitable reading on this important subject.”  (JI 37(7):206-208, 1 Apr., 1902)

1 Apr.:  Do you need permission to move to another ward?

“Question:  Are members of the Church justified in resigning a position or duty in order that they may move to some other ward with a view to improving their health or bettering their financial condition, or should they wait until the local authorities take notice of their circumstances and advise them to move?

Answer:  That depends upon circumstances.  If persons are duly called to reside in a particular place or ward they should not remove to other parts without consulting the authority that called them, and obtaining an honorable release; and at all times it is wise, safe and consistent to counsel with the local authorities before taking such a step.  There is, of course, no reason why any person who wishes to change his place of residence, for any ordinary cause, should not take the initiative and present his wishes and the reasons thereof to his Bishop or President.”  (JI 37(7):208-209, 1 Apr., 1902)

4 Apr.:  Responsibility of 70s.

“I believe that God Almighty has placed the responsibility of preaching this Gospel upon the shoulders of the Seventy; that it is their peculiar calling; that the Lord expects men who have received this appointment to be in preparation for the accomplishment of the labor that specially belongs to them; and I do not think that the Presidents of Stakes and Bishops, when required to furnish missionaries, should look to the young men only, but they should look into the quorums of Seventy and be anxious to fill the calls made upon them from time to time from the ranks of the Seventy to a greater extent than they are now being filled.”  (Joseph W. McMurrin, 4 Apr., 1902; CR Apr., 1902, p. 5)

“I desire to call the attention of the Presidents of Stakes and the Bishops of wards to the fact that 50 letters were sent out yesterday, under the direction of the First Council of the Seventy, asking that the first 50 quorums in the Church each furnish two Seventies to fill missions.  I think we were explicit enough in telling them the kind of missionaries we wanted, and I hope they have them.  While we acknowledge that you cannot grind men over, neither can you fix their heads, we have asked for men of a certain kind.  There are seven presidents to every quorum of Seventy in the Church, and there are 142 quorums, numbering 9,500 Seventies; and if they cannot find 284 missionaries out of 142 quorums, then I suggest that they sell out and let someone else run the business.”  (J. Golden Kimball, 4 Apr., 1902; CR Apr., 1902, pp. 8-9)

4 Apr.:  All members share responsibilities of 70s.

“[General Conference] Prest. Rulon S. Wells:  Responsibility of the 70 is shared by every member of the Church.”  (Anthony W. Ivins diary, 4 Apr., 1902)

4 Apr.:  Home missionaries.

“We are doing a great missionary work at home.  In every stake of Zion home missionaries are sent out among the people to preach, and we preach, and we preach, and we preach most eloquently.”  (J. Golden Kimball, 4 Apr., 1902; CR Apr., 1902, p. 10)

4 Apr.:  Formal training for missionaries.

“As has been remarked by my brethren of the Seventies, many missionaries are being called and sent into the field.  We have at the present time between 1,300 and 1,400 young men scattered throughout about twenty missionary fields.  While there are less at the present time than we have had in times past, we believe that as a rule the Elders are better equipped now than formerly; for they have better opportunities to school themselves and to gain the information that will qualify them to meet the vicissitudes and the obligations that missionaries have to face in the midst of an unbelieving world.  Looking to this better equipment, the Presidency of the Church have established missionary classes in most of the leading institutions of learning in the various Stakes of Zion.  In Arizona there is a Latter-day Saints academy in the St. Joseph Stake, which Stake is presided over by Prest. Andrew Kimball, and it seems to have been his ambition and determination to make that institution, with the aid of his brethren and the Latter-day Saints of that Stake, an institution where the young people can be educated and advanced along the lines of proper education, thus fitting and preparing them for missionary labor and for the duties that will devolve upon them as they grow to riper years.  In the Brigham Young Academy at Provo is established another missionary class; also one in the Snow academy, of South Sanpete Stake, and another large class in the Latter-day Saints University of the Salt Lake Stake of Zion, and still another in the Weber Stake Academy and in the Brigham Young College at Logan.  In these missionary classes the young men are taught the principles of the Gospel.  They are also taught good manners.  They are introduced to a system of study, and required to prosecute it, along particular lines, so as to prepare them for the duties of missionaries, and fit them to meet the people the people of the world in a proper manner and spirit.  In is enjoined upon these missionaries, when they go out into the world, that they not only bring to bear the power that they may gain by having a knowledge of the Gospel and a witness of the Holy Spirit in regard to its truth, but that they shall approach people in a proper, gentlemanly manner, and never be guilty of tearing down or pulling to pieces other people’s religious raith.  They are shown how to make friends with strangers, and how to induce people to receive them kindly, by creating a friendly feeling in the hearts of those whom they approach.  About thirteen weeks ago it was proposed in this stake of Zion that there should be a night school for missionaries established.  President Paul, of the Latter-day Saints University, had an interview with the Presidency of the Church, and they assigned the management of this class to the Council of the Seventies.  Immediately the class was organized, and teachers were chosen to give this night class instruction.  Brother Ben Goddard was chosen as instructor for the first six weeks; Bishop Iverson of the Second ward was chosen for the next six weeks; and those two brethren are just closing their labors with this night class.  I wish to say in their behalf that they have manfully, earnestly and profitably conducted this class; they have been devoted, and they have done a good work among the youth of this stake of Zion.  They are worthy of great praise and commendation for the devotion they have exhibited in this work.  Brother J. M. Tanner, superintendent of Church schools, and a professor of marked ability in the education of the youth of Zion, is going to take charge of the chass for the next six weeks.  We see already good results from the training of these brethren.”  (Seymour B. Young, 4 Apr., 1902; CR Apr., 1902, pp. 16-17)

6 Apr.:  Restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood.

“Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery had received the Aaronic Priesthood under the hands of John the Baptist.  Afterwards they received the Melchisedek Priesthood under the hands of Peter, James and John.  This, no doubt, was in the summer of 1829.  We do not know the exact date, but the Prophet Joseph tells us that the Lord commanded him that when the Church was organized he should ordain Oliver Cowdery an Elder, and Oliver Cowderly should ordain him an Elder.  Mind you, they held the Melchisedek Priesthood, but the office of an Elder was to be given them when they could be sustained by the Church.  Before they were ordained, they laid this matter before the members of the Church, who sustained them by their votes; then they ordained each other to this office in the Melchisedek Priesthood.  They held the Melchisedek Priesthood before, but to be the presiding Elders of the Church they must have the consent of the members, and it was granted.”  (Anthon H. Lund, 6 Apr., 1902; CR Apr., 1902, pp. 87-88)

7 Apr.:  Must have recommend when moving to another ward.

“[General Conference] President Jos. F. Smith:  Parties moving from one ward to another must present recommends.  If they persistently neglect or refuse to present a recommend the bishop may disfellowship him and report his case to High Council.”  (Anthony W. Ivins diary, 7 Apr., 1902)

7 Apr.:  Can Counselors conduct meetings if Bishop is present?

“Priesthood meeting of General Authorities, stake and ward authorities, &c., was held this morning in the Assembly Hall. . . .

Question:  Is it in accordance with the order of the priesthood for a Stake President or Bishop to take turns with their counselors in presiding over meetings when the President or Bishop is present?

Answer:  [Joseph F. Smith speaking] I do not know of any such thing as such presiding officers delegating their right when they themselves are present.  The President or Bishop may say to his counselor, you give out the hymn, or ask someone to pray, but the presiding officer must be responsible for what is done.”  (JH 7 Apr., 1902)

7 Apr.:  Proxy baptisms for 8 year-olds.

“Priesthood meeting of General Authorities, stake and ward authorities, &c., was held this morning in the Assembly Hall. . . .

Question:  If a child becomes eight years of age in the winter months, and his baptism is postponed until warmer weather, and the child dies in the meantime, would it be necessary to have the child baptized for by proxy?

Answer:  [Joseph F. Smith speaking] The Lord has fixed the age of responsibility at eight years, and the parents, under those circumstances, should see that its baptism is attended to by proxy.”  (JH 7 Apr., 1902)

7 Apr.:  Temple recommends and secret societies.

“Priesthood meeting of General Authorities, stake and ward authorities, &c., was held this morning in the Assembly Hall. . . .

Question:  Is it right to recommend to the temple those who have joined secret societies?

Answer:  [Joseph F. Smith speaking] Members of the Church who have been taught to the contrary, that is, that they should not join such societies, but have done so, should not be recommended to the temple.  If a member join ignorantly of the instructions of the Presidency and manifested a willingness to cut loose, whenever it might be wise for him to do so, I would be merciful to such a man.  But there is no cast iron rule, and to all rules there may be exceptions.  The letter kills but the Spirit giveth light.”  (JH 7 Apr., 1902)

15 Apr.:  Secret societies.

“A delegation of brethren from Bountiful waited on the First Presidency.  They were members of the A.O.U.W., a secret society, which they had joined, for the sake of insurance.

After hearing them at some length President Smith said he did not wish to crowd them because of their connection with this organization; at the same time he showed them the danger of allowing their feelings and hearts to go out to this institution or any other institution out side the pale of the Church.  And he advised them to do all they honorably could to withdraw from the society, and thus show by example that they have a desire to respect the counsel of the First Presidency.”  (JH 15 Apr., 1902)

18 Apr.:  Is Priesthood above Offices in Priesthood?

“In the President’s Office we had an article under discussion which is to be published in the Era.  It asserts that the Priesthood is above the Offices in the Priesthood.  There were a few points that we thought would be better not to print, in order to avoid stir up the discussion of questions that are not profitable.”  (Anthon H. Lund diary, 18 Apr., 1902)

24 Apr.:  Lack of uniformity in MP ordinations.

“[Meeting at the Temple] Apostle Clawson called attention to the fact that there is a lack of uniformity in the church in ordaining men to the Priesthood, for example some of the brethren in ordaining a man to be a High Priest would first confer uon him the Melchizedek Priesthood and then ordain him a High Priest, while others would follow the usual procedure, i.e., ordain him a High Priest conferring upon him all the keys, powers and blessings pertaining to that calling in the Melchizedek Priesthood.”  (Rudger Clawson diary, 24 Apr., 1902)

“Meeting at the temple [1st Pres. and 12]. . . .

Bro. [Rudger] Clawson remarked that he observed the lack of uniformity in ordaining to the priesthood.  Some of the brethren in ordaining a High Priest, for instance, would confer on him the Melchizedek priesthood and then set him apart to labor in the office of High Priest.  Others would ordain them High Priests and confer upon them all the blessings and keys pertaining to that office in the Melchizedek priesthood.  This subject was freely discussed by the Council some time without final action.

Bro. John Henry Smith moved that it be the practice to confer the priesthood and set apart to the office.  Seconded by Bro. Smoot.

Bro. Woodruff said he failed to see any serious difference between the form contemplated in the motion and that generally used, and he did not like the idea of making a ruling on the question.

President Smith said he did not think it a good thing to do either, that is, to make rules excepting where necessity existed for doing so.  He preferred uniformity of action without a ruling.  But to his mind, the straight, simple way of ordaining was to confer the priesthood, and then ordain and set apart to the offices.  He further said in the discussion on this subject, that an office in the priesthood could not consistently be conferred for the reason that the authority vested in the office is derived from the priesthood itself; in fact, as set forth in the revelations are merely appendages.  When the priesthood was conferred on Joseph and Oliver, it was conferred in its entirety without respect to offices, which authorized them to ordain others and set them apart to the various offices, when there was need of them; buit this need did not occur until the Church was organized, and after that time they became necessary for the government of the Church.  But it was immaterial, he said, which form was used in ordaining, as long as it was thoroughly understood that a man cannot hold a part or portion of the priesthood.  For instance, it should be understood that the fact that man is ordained to an office in the Melchizedek priesthood in the usual way pre-supposes that the Melchizedek priesthood is conferred.  In this connection President Smith used a figure referred to by President Lund for the purpose of illustrating his meaning, as follows: A man cannot become an office holder under the government of the United States unless he is first clothed with citizenship; and on the same principle a man cannot hold an office in the church unless he holds the priesthood of which the office is an appendage.  He thought however it would be well not to discuss this subject outside the Council; but at the same time it was of course important that a clear understanding should be had on the subject, and that all should understand it alike.

Bro. John Henry Smith now withdrew his motion.”  (JH 24 Apr., 1902)

Apr.:  Can father w/AP bless child in meeting?

“‘Does a father, holding the office of teacher or deacon, have the authority to bless his child in a fast-meeting, and give it a name by which it shall be known while it lives on the earth?’

Attention is called to the Doctrine and Covenants, sec. 20, paragraph 70, page 128 which answers the question:

Every member of the church of Christ having children, is to bring them unto the elders before the church, who are to lay their hands upon them in the name of Jesus Christ, and bless them in his name.

From this, we consider that only elders, or others holding the Melchizedek priesthood, can officiate in this calling of blessing children before the Church.  If a father is called upon, who does not hold the Melchizedek priesthood, he cannot officiate as mouth in the blessing of his children before the Church.”  (“Editor’s Table–Questions and Answers,” [Joseph F. Smith and Edward H. Anderson, editors], IE 5(6):475, Apr., 1902)

1 May:  Should bishop and counselors take turns conducting

“Question:  Is it in accordance with the order of the Priesthood for a president of a stake or a bishop of a ward to take turns with his counselors in presiding or taking charge of meetings when said president or bishop is present?

Answer:  No.  The officers mentioned preside; though, if they deem it desirable, they can request their counselors to take charge of the services, give out the hymns, etc.; but the presidency is with them, and whenever they wish to resume charge of the meeting they can do so.  There is no such thing as taking turns in the presidency by any right possessed by the respective counselors when the president or the bishop is present.”  (JI 37(9):273, 1 May, 1902)

22 May:  Dissatisfaction with Bishop.

“Meeting of First Presidency and Apostles. . . .

Bro. [Marriner W.] Merrill reported attendance at Providence Ward conference on Sunday.  Good attendance.  Some trouble had existed between some of the people and the Bishop for some time, and on this account the desire was expressed for Bro. Merrill to visit them.  He sent word to those who could not reconcile themselves with the Bishop that he was coming and for them to be present at the meeting, but they failed to appear.  He had a private talk with the Bishop who acknowledged that he had been somewhat unwise and lacking in courtesy to the people.  A feeling existed among the people that he is not progressive enough, and fully one fourth present at the meeting declined to vote for him.  Bro. Merrill believed however that his visit would be productive of good, as he had also talked with the Bishop’s critics who manifested a feeling of reconciliation.”  (JH 22 May, 1902)

28 May:  Women in heaven.


‘Are there any women in heaven?’ is the almost silly question asked by one Mr. A. D. Kinsman, said to be a Bible student of Erie, Pa.  And then, after some consideration of the various phases of the subject, he arrives at the stunning conclusion that women, after having passed through their probation on earth, become men.

According to a synopsis of his argument, given in the San Francisco Call, Mr. Kinsman finds support for his theory in the Bible.  Nearly all absurdities can be covered with Bible texts, if these are handled to suit the emergency.  So there is nothing new in that.  He argues: ‘We know that the members of the Trinity are always spoken of as men, and the disciples of Jesus were all men.  In both the Old and New Testaments, when occasion offered to speak of one who had passed to the other side, it was always a man who had been so fortunate.  And, likewise, when a prophet, saint or disciple had occasion to mention any one who had reached heaven the name of a man was chosen.’

Angels, too, he invariably finds to be of the masculine gender.  And so are the spirits of evil, and further, a man when departed, is in Biblical language always spoken of as ‘gathered unto his fathers,’ not unto his ‘mothers.’

Then, he puts the question, what becomes of the women at death?  Are they annihilated?  Or, do all human beings become sexless after death?  Or, do the women, after death, become men?  The theory suggested by the last of these questions he considers the most plausible.  ‘It is,’ he says, ‘a theory which merges the mysteries of love and life into those of death and resurrection.’

The reasoning is valuable as a specimen of the absurd conclusions to which a false conception of the Deity, and our relationship to God, may lead logically.  When much of the Bible teaching is rejected, as is the case in the ‘Christian’ world, and all stress is laid upon other parts, merely for the sake of establishing a theory, error is the inevitable result.  And that is just what is commonly done.  The Bible is studied, not as a divine teacher, to be heard and believed, but it is read for the purpose of finding support for already formed theories.  That is, this is too often the case.  People are ‘critics,’ rather than students.  They accept what they can use and reject the rest.

As to the subject under consideration, the Bible expressly states that God created man in HIs own image, and lest someone should misconstrue the word ‘man’ here to mean only Adam, the historian adds:  ‘Male and female created He them,’ thus including both our progenitors in the statement that ‘man’ was created in the image of God.

The English language is at a disadvantage not having a separate word to denote all human beings.  The word ‘man,’ is therefore ambiguous.  But when it is said ‘man’ is mortal, it is well understood that ‘man’ means both men, women and children, and in the same way when we are told in Genesis that ‘man’ was created in the image of God, the word includes both male and female.  But if the divine image, to be complete, had to reflect a female as well as a male element, it is self-evident that both must be contained in the Deity.  And they are.  For the divine Spirit that in the morning of creation ‘moved upon the face of the waters,’ bringing forth life and order, is in the original language of the sacred historian represented in the feminine gender, whatever modern theology may think of it.

But apart from this, when the Scriptures represent God as ‘our Father,’ does that not of necessity imply a mother?  There are some words, the meaning of which necessarily implies that which other words denote.  Such are, child and parent, husband and wife, father and mother, etc.  A man may exist alone, and so may a woman, but there can be no fatherhood without motherhood, no husband if there is no wife.  Is an exception to be made in the case of Him who is called ‘the Father of spirits’?

As to the angels, it is true that they are generally referred to as in the masculine gender.  And that is not surprising.  For invariably, when there is occasion to mention any of them, it is in connection with some work they were to accomplish of such a nature as properly belongs to the so-called stronger sex.  They are engaged in warfare, ‘or pouring out vials of wrath,’ or announcing the decrees of the Almighty.  The work of warriors, of executors of justice, of heralds, etc., is on earth, too, assigned to men, but that does not argue that there are no women on earth.  There may be something in the old hypothesis that the chrubims and seraphims of the Scriptures, really denote two different sexes among the hosts attending the heavenly courts.

But an important truth is undoubtedly taught in the fact that in the apocalyptic revelations given to John the Revelator, the Church of Christ and the church of the world are both represented as women–one clothed with the sun and crowned with stars, and the other sitting upon a scarlet-colored beast.  We may well say that this representation would be eminently absurd, were woman’s role so insignificant, so transient as to last but a moment and then pass away.  Christ gave Himself for His Church, and when He wanted to represent the glory, the splendor, the triumph of that Church, He chose to do so under the image of a woman arrayed in light.  In the same way, a fallen woman was the fit representation of the other church.  If this does not prove the importance of womanhood in the affairs of the world both here and hereafter, it has no meaning at all.  It is simply an absurd picture.

But there is no need of further argument.  The explicit teachings of the Scriptures is that neither man, nor woman, is without the other in the Lord.  And that condition death cannot change.  They are both equally needed for the future glory, development and exaltation.  They both are in the image of God.  Such are the Scripture doctrines, which, however, must remain more or less of a mystery, as long as theologians refuse to accept the God of the Bible, preferring an image of their own creation.”  (Deseret News editorial, 28 May, 1902, in JH 28 May, 1902)

May:  Priesthood greater than its offices.

“The leading fact to be remembered is that the Priesthood is greater than any of its offices; and that any man holding the Melchizedek Priesthood may, by virtue of its possession, perform any ordinance pertaining thereto, or connected therewith, when called upon to do so by one holding the proper authority, which proper authority is vested in the President of the Church, or in any whom he may designate. . . .

Every man holding the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood may act in any capacity and do all things that such Priesthood authorizes, it makes no difference what office in that Priesthood he holds, providing he is called upon by proper authority to so officiate; but he would have no right to depart from the limitations of his office, unless he is specially called upon by one whose calling, from those over him up to the head, would clearly authorize him to give such instructions.  It is always to be presumed, also, that order will be observed, and that the servants of the Lord will not depart from that order, and call upon men to do things which the law of the Priesthood and the nature of their office, does not authorize, unless there is special occasion for it.  The Lord says that all things are governed by law.  (See Doctrine and Covenants, section 88:42)  It is not consistent, for instance, to imagine that the Lord would call upon a deacon to baptize.”  (First Presidency, May, 1902, IE 5:549-551) 

8 Jun.:  Home Missionaries in Salt Lake Stake.

85 Home Missionaries were sustained in the Salt Lake Stake Conference.  (JH 8 Jun., 1902)

9 Jun.:  Bishopric mediates separation agreement.

“This am. I Called on Sister Sarah A Pierson Stevens & talked with her in relation to the pending difficulty between her and Bro Stevens, her husband.  

Bro. Stevens was called in and we discussed the situation and after listening to short statements by both he & his wife I asked the question whether they thought a reconciliation were possible.  Sister Stevens said it would be exceedingly difficult for Bro Stevens to regain her confidence.  She was willing to be reconciled if counseled so to do.  Bro. Stevens stated that he thought reconciliation impossible, in fact he said that unless converted he was unwilling to undertake to live with his wife again.  It was then suggested that Bp. Whitten his counselor Vance Shaffer & Bro. A. F. Macdonald decide what financial assistance Bro. Stevens shall render his wife in case of a separation.  The brethren refered to above met at the school house a short time later and after discussion the following conclusion was reached.  Bro Stevens is to give Sister Pierson the following property

2 lots with the house & corrals & barn where she lived $700.00, 20 acres of land $200.00 [tokens?] wagon & horses.

An agreement was written out which both Bro. & Sister Pierson signed in which they pledge themselves to abide the decision.”  (Anthony W. Ivins diary, 9 Jun., 1902)

29 Jun.:  Secret societies can’t give blessings of Priesthood.

“Pres. Jos. F. Smith:  Asked for assistance of our faith and prayers.  Secret societies are wrong.  Mormonism is sufficient.  No need to go outside of the organization of God.  Had found persons who belonged to such organizations who have protested as to their loyalty to the Church.  They have done this so vigorously that he commenced to doubt their protestations.  They told the good things of their club such as help to the poor and sick and said the Church did not look after the poor and sick so well, putting their secret organizations ahead of the Church. The 2000 dollars may prove a curse to the widow instead of blessing.  If we do not look after the widow and fatherless then we are neglecting our duties.  The secret society has nothing to give you outside of insurance.  They can not give you the Priesthood nor spiritual blessings.  If a man persists when warned in fostering such organizations he can not be recommended to the Temple.”  (Anthon H. Lund diary, 29 Jun., 1902)

15 Jul.:  Advantage of constructing baptismal fonts.

“The most common reason for postponing the ordinance of baptism is the inclemency of the weather during the winter season.  There are perhaps not more than three or four months of the year when the temperature of the water in our streams makes the ordinance comfortable.  Conditions, however, are changing so rapidly that baptismal fonts can be constructed without very great expense, and they are much to be preferred, even during the summer season over the common practice of baptizing in the open streams.  It is to be hoped that the day is not far distant when every town of any considerable size will have its baptismal font, and where theyre are small towns within a distance of from six to ten miles, a font might be very properly located at a central place for the accommodation of all.  Proper dressing rooms can be arranged and conveniences may be had for the performance of the ordinance.  Various devices may be arranged for the heating of water and the general comfort of the children who receive the ordinance and of the parents whose duty it is to give it their personal attention.  If baptismal fonts were generally provided throughout the settlements of the Church, a day could be set apart each month for the baptism of children.

The Saints are earnestly advised to give this matter their attention, and it is to be hoped that the authorities in every stake will realize the growing necessity of baptismal fonts and construct them at their earliest possible convenience.”  (Joseph F. Smith, JI 37(14):432-433, 15 Jul., 1902)

19 Jul.:  Secret societies.


The head of the dominant church in Utah has given notice to his people that men who belong to secret societies will not be received in fellowship in the church.  This is in the face of the fact that the whole Mormon church, if not a secret society, has secret attachments much more profound than have any of the societies against which the chief of the church inveighs, and if most direct evidence can be believed, oaths are administered and taken in the Mormon Temples much more terrible than were ever heard in any lodge or any secret society in America, except some of those in which the Anarchists and canaille of our great cities congregate.

We know of no secret society that interferes with any man’s worship of God.  If this is true and we do not think it will be denied, then it is an unwarranted piece of insolence and despotism for President Smith to seek to interdict the personal liberty of any man who desires to join a secret society whose objects are friendship, charity and a closer drawing of man to his fellow men.”  (Goodwin’s Weekly, 19 Jul., 1902, in JH 19 Jul., 1902)

4 Aug.:  Who presides in the absence of the Bishopric?


We are requested to give ‘a clear and definite’ answer to this question, so that ‘there will be no doubt on the matter:’

In a Ward meeting in the absence of the Bishopric, whose right is it to preside?

The ‘clear and definite’ reply to this is:  Whoever the Bishop may designate.  he may appoint any Elder in the Ward to take charge during the absence of the Bishopric.

It is of very rare occurrence that a ward meeting is held when neither the Bishop nor one of his counselors is present.  If they should all be absent and no person is appointed to take the lead of the meeting, the oldest Acting Priest or Teacher could properly conduct the services.

This questions, however, is one that should have been referred to the Bishop of the ward from whence it comes.  Failing to obtain a satisfactory answer from that officer, it should have been sent to the President of the Stake.  Each Stake of Zion with its presidency and high council has power to regulate its own affairs, under its own rules, which of course, must not be out of harmony with the doctrines and discipline of the Church.

We wish our friends in all the Stake of Zion would understand the rights of the local authorities.  Questions that relate to the government of the respective Wards and Stakes should be submitted to the local authorities, instead of to a public journal or to the general authorities of the Church.  If there are subjects too deep for local settlement, the Stake Presidency can refer them to higher authority.

The Deseret News is willing to expound and explain the principles of our faith and the order of Church government, in reply to questions on matters of general interest, but we receive too many queries on matters that should be settled by the Bishops, or Presidencies of Stakes, and we strongly advise our friends everywhere not to ignore the local Church officers, by leaping over their heads to some other source of information.” (Deseret News editorial, 4 Aug., 1902, in JH 4 Aug., 1902)

15 Sep.:  Baptism shortly before eighth birthday?

“Question:  There are in the Church children who have been baptized before they were quite eight years of age, the time varying from a few days to a month.  Should such baptisms be considered valid, or should they be set aside and the ordinance repeated?

Answer:  In reply we will say that it has been decided by the general authorities of the Church that such baptisms are valid; but they advise that all children should be baptized as near as possible when they are eight years old.  It occasionally happens that the monthly baptism day comes a day or two before the eighth birthday of certain children, in which case their parents, eager to have their children baptized, have the ordinance performed.  Some children are more advanced, both mentally and bodily, even at seven than others are at eight years old, consequently in our opinion a few days either before or after the eighth birthday makes but little, if any difference.  Indeed we would prefer to have a child baptized a few days before its eighth birthday than to have it go without the ordinance being attended to for some indefinite time after it had reached that age.  None of us know what a day may bring forth, consequently we do not feel that it is wise or proper to put off or postpone any known duty.”  (JI 37(18):559, 15 Sep., 1902)

15 Sep.:  Witchcraft vs. priesthood.

“The reason for these words of admonition and counsel to the Saints will appear from the following extract taken from a letter of one of the stake presidents, dated August 9th, 1902:

‘In the —– Ward of this stake there lives a sister who has been confined to her bed in sickness for nearly six years, and recently her father, who is a prominent and a very good man in that community, was persuaded to believe that his daughter was bewitched, and through the persuasions of friends in Logan and Salt Lake consulted a woman in Salt Lake City, who informed him that his daughter was bewitched, and assumed to describe the persons who had placed the spell upon her.  The description seemed to agree exactly with that of a brother and sister residing in the ward, both of whom are considered among the best people of the Church in that community.  This brother seemed to doubt the statements of the woman, and in order to satisfy him perfectly she proposed to show him their faces in her “glass” or “peepstone,” which she did with the desired result.  He was convinced, and on returning home explained matters in detail to his family and friends, and the sensation spread steadily until now the ward is greatly agitated and the story is being told and to some extent believed in other wards in this stake as well as in —–.  The persons accused of this dreadful thing object to the stigma and have entered a complaint in the Bishop’s court against the father of the sick lady.  I made them a visit recently, heard the matter fully, and strongly advised all parties concerned against believing in such a false theory as that known as witchcraft, but the matter seemed to have gained such a stronghold upon many that it appears difficult to root it out; and yesterday another lady came from the same ward to see me about her husband, who has been sick for about a year, and she says the people tell her he is bewitched.’

After all the horrors, persecutions, and cruelties that have been brought about by the senseless belief in witchcraft, it seems strange in this age of enlightenment that men or women, especially those who have received the Gospel, can be found anywhere who believe in such a pernicious superstition.  The Bible and history alike conclusively brand the superstition as a child of evil.  In ancient times God required the Israelites to drive the Canaanites from their land, and witchcraft was one of the crimes which He laid at the door of the Canaanites, and for which they were adjudged unworthy of the land that they possessed.  Reference to this effect will be found in the 18th chapter of Deuteronomy, verses 9-14 inclusive.  They read as follows:

‘When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.  There shall not be found among you anyone that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.  For all that do theese things are an abomination unto the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee.  Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy God.  For these nations which thou shalt possess hearken unto observers of times, and unto diviners; but as for thee, the Lord thy God hath not suffered thee so to do.’

Witchcraft has not infrequently been the last resort of the evil doer.  Men bereft of the Spirit of God, when the voice of the Lord has ceased to warn them have frequently resorted to witchcraft, in the endeavor to learn that which Heaven withheld, and the people of God from very early days to the present have been troubled with superstitious and evil-minded persons who have resorted to divination and kindred devices for selfish purposes, and scheming designs.  In the middle ages it rested like a nightmare upon all Christendom.  Even such a man as John Wesley, the great reformer, in 1768, wrote: ‘The giving up of witchcraft is in effect giving up the Bible.’  There are many now who undertake to predicate their practice of this superstition upon the authority of the Bible, and use Saul and Baalam as examples.  The spirit of witchcraft is destructive of the spirit of enlightenment, and no men or women who indulge in it can enjoy the Spirit of God.  It is not only the enemy of religion, but it is the enemy of civil liberty.

This country in the years 1691-2 had a taste of its destructive influence in the Salem witchcraft epidemic.  According to the laws of the Church and the laws of the land, men and women are entitled to meet their accusers, and before aught can be proved against them, trustworthy witnesses must be produced.  The gospel and the laws of the land alike guard men and women against accusations of secret origin and from the superstitious practices of witchcraft or necromancy.  Church discipline will not tolerate that men or women accuse their brethren upon no higher authority than the superstitious cunning of a man or woman who practices the occult art of witchcraft.

There are doubtless some in our larger cities who would gladly play upon the superstitions and ignorance of those of our brethren and sisters who are weak-minded enough to consult those who deal in magic.  The sooner our people cease the practice of consulting these pretended magicians, either to have their fortunes told, or to get information from an unknown world, by which to accuse their brethren and sisters of bewitching people, the better it will be for the peace of those communities afflicted by such superstition and ignorance.  A believer in witchcraft and a few credulous followers in a community can make no end of trouble.  If belief in witchcraft ever did one particle of good in the world, there might be a little ploausible excuse for its existence.  From the beginning it has been destructive of human happiness and human progress, and the Saints must not permit its baneful influence to sap the foundations of their belief in God and in the authority of His Priesthood.

Let it not be forgotten that the evil one has great power in the earth, and that by every possible means he seeks to darken the minds of men and then offers them falsehood and deception in the guise of truth.  Satan is a skillful imitator, and as genuine gospel truth is given the world in ever-increasing abundance, so he spreads the counterfeit coin of false doctrine.  Beware of his spurious currency, it will purchase for you nothing but disappointment, misery and spiritual death.  The ‘father of lies’ he has been called, and such an adept has he become through the ages of practice in his nefarious work, that were it possible he would deceive the very elect.

Men and women, so-called wizards and witches, fortune-tellers, clairvoyants and necromancers, who have become subject to the powers of the devil and are leagued with him in the work of deception among their fellows, do possess a power, which, gauged by the more common of natural laws, appears supernatural.  The weak and doubting ones are dazzled by these manifestations of super-human agencies, and are readily made to believe that such are of divine origin.

One of our people, a man of scientific thought and training, recently made an examination of some of the ‘peep stones’ employed by necromancers in this community, including the stones used by the woman referred to in the foregoing communication.  He found some of these marvellous stones to be ordinary quartz crystals, while one was an irregular lump of common glass.  He questioned the users of the ‘peep stones’ and investigated their methods of procedure, and demonstrated to his own complete satisfaction, as well as that of others, who were present, as also to the discomfiture of the ‘mediums,’ the deception that was being practiced and the evil power there manifest.

Those who turn to soothsayers and wizards for their information are invariably weakening in their faith.  When men began to forget the God of their fathers who had declared Himself in Eden and subsequently to the later patriarchs, they accepted the devil’s substitute and made for themselvs gods of wood and stone.  It was thus that the abominations of idolatry had their origin.

The gifts of the Spirit and the powers of the holy Priesthood are of God, they are given for the blessing of the people, for their encouragement and for the strengthening of their faith.  This Satan knows full well, therefore he seeks by imitation-miracles to blind and deceive the children of God.  Remember what the magicians of Egypt accomplished in their efforts to deceive Pharaoh as to the divinity of the mission of Moses and Aaron.  John the Revelator saw in vision the miracle-working power of the evil one.  Note his words: ‘And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; * * * and he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men.  And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles,’ etc. (Rev. 13:11-14).  Further John saw three unclean spirits whom he describes as ‘the spirits of devils working miracles.’ (Rev. 16:13-14).

That the power to work wonders may come from an evil source is declared by Christ in His prophecy regarding the great judgment: ‘Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name?  And in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me ye that work iniquity.’ (Matt. 7:22-23_.

The danger and power for evil in witchcraft is not so much in the witchcraft itself as in the foolish credulence that superstitious people give to the claims made in its behalf.  It is outrageous to believe that the devil can hurt or injure an innocent man or woman, especially if they are members of the Church of Christ–without that man or woman has faith that he or she can be harmed by such an influence and by such means.  If they entertain such an idea, then, they are liable to succumb to their own superstitions.  There is no power in witchcraft itself only as it is believed in and accepted.”  (Joseph F. Smith, JI 37(18):560-563, 15 Sep., 1902)

4 Oct.:  Jurisdiction of stake presidents.

“[General Conference, Joseph F. Smith speaking] We expect the presidents of the Stakes of Zion to preside over their stakes.  Difficulties should be adjusted in the stakes and not carried to the Presidency of the Church.  The Presidency of a Stake have jurisdiction over every bishop in their stake and the bishops are ameable to them.  If bishops, or High Priests or Patriarchs or Apostles do not behave themselves it is the duty of Prests. of Stakes to see to it that they do.”  (Anthony W. Ivins diary, 4 Oct., 1902)

4 Oct.:  Every boy in wards should be in a quorum.

“[General Conference] Bp. William B. Preston: Every boy the wards should be attached to some quorum of the priesthood.  Priests quorums should be organized, even if they are not used.”  (Anthony W. Ivins diary, 4 Oct., 1902) 

4 Oct.:  More harm than good if unworthy sent on missions.

“[General Conference] Prest. Lund: Men who are not worthy should not be sent on missions.  They do more harm than good.  Boys who are not good at home should not be sent on missions.”  (Anthony W. Ivins diary, 4 Oct., 1902)

4/5 Oct.:  Deacons to collect fast offerings.

“[General Conference, Anthon Lund speaking]:  Fast offerings should be paid, no matter whether there are poor in our midst or not.  Deacons should be appointed to collect fast offerings from house to house.”  (Anthony W. Ivins diary, 4 Oct., 1902)

“In many parts of the Church, especially in the outlying districts, the fast offerings are mostly paid in flour and produce of various kinds, and where such is the case, I would ask the Bishops to have the Deacons call upon the people every month for these offerings, and let them take what they gather to a place where it will be kept and cared for.  In this way let the people be reminded every month of the requirement that is made of them.  I understand that in Salt Lake City and one or two other large towns where they handle nothing but cash, the offerings are paid at the fast meeting.  Where it can be done in this way, it is all well and good; but in the great majority of the wards of the Church we feel that the Bishops should see that the Deacons collect the fast offerings.”  (Reed Smoot, 5 Oct., 1902; CR Oct., 1902, p. 25)

5 Oct.:  HC visits wards once a month.

“The members of the High Council of the Stake are good men.  They all keep the Word of Wisdom, I think, and are devoting their time and attention to the ministry.  They meet once a month, as a High Council, and attend to any business that may come before them.  [Does this mean the meet separately from the Stake Presidency?]  Most of them visit the various wards of the Stake on Sundays, and also on other days, keeping up the organizations and encouraging the Saints in the work of the Lord.”  (George C. Parkinson, President of the Oneida Stake, 5 Oct., 1902; CR Oct., 1902, p. 44)

5 Oct.:  Acting vs. Ordained Teachers.

“Something may be said in relation to the acting Teachers of the Church, who are called to act as Teachers in the lesser Priesthood.  The ordained Teachers are usually young men from fourteen to eighteen or perhaps twenty years of age, who are not of themselves quite qualified to go out and teach the families of the Saints.  Hence men are called to be acting Teachers, whose duty it is to take these young men with them in their visits to the people, that they may gain experience and become qualified to perform the functions of their office.  If there is any duty neglected in the Priesthood, I think you will find it among the acting Teachers of this Church, who in many places fail to meet this responsibility.”  (Rudger Clawson, 5 Oct., 1902; CR Oct., 1902, p. 50)

5 Oct.:  The duties of Deacons.

“I believe that it is the duty of presiding officers in the Church to see that there are no Deacons neglected in the Church.  We ought to be sure, as Bishops of wards, that we have the organizations of the Deacons’ properly perfected.  If we take hold of them at the right age and see that they attend their meetings and are trained properly in the duties assigned to them, I believe we will have less trouble to organize our Teachers’ and our Priests’ quorums.  I think we ought to begin young with the boys, nurse them along kindly, and try to implant within them a testimony of the faith that we have espoused.  We ought to put them to work; teach them to act as doorkeepers in our meeting houses, to open the door when people come in and to act as ushers in taking the people to their seats, and showing them to the front, so that the late-comers will not have to pass a crowded place at the back to get to empty seats in the front.  I tried this when I was a boy.  I remember that of all the duties I had to perform in this Church, there is none that has given me greater pleasure than to act as a Deacon.  The Bishop of the ward where I grew up used to honor the Deacons in their place.  We had to look after the door and to seat the people in their places.  He honored us in our positions to the extent that he expected people to conform to the rules of the house and to take the seats we assigned them.  We had a trial of that down in our stake the other day.  We had a conference of the Lesser Priesthood, and I believe it was one of the most profitable meetings we have ever held in our stake.  In that meeting we gave the boys a practical illustration of their duties.  We had Deacons that had been previously trained stationed at the door, and no boy was allowed to open the door.  The door was opened for him very courteously and nicely, and as he stepped in the vestry a Deacon tapped him on the shoulder and led him to a seat in the proper place.  We instructed them that they were to take the seat assigned them.  We had places for our Bishops and High Councilors, and the Deacons knew just where to take them.  During the meeting one of our Bishops came in late.  He had been accustomed, I presume, to take any kind of seat he wanted; but I had instructed the Deacons that it would make no difference whether it was a Bishop or myself, they were expected to assign the seats.  The Deacon and the Bishop walked up the aisle, and the Deacon had got clear to the stand before he noticed that the Bishop had taken a seat of his own choosing.  Then I had to get up and remind the Bishop that we expected him to honor these boys in their place.  I believe we ought to honor our Deacons, and encourage them in the start, so that they may grow up to understand the duties pertaining to the Priesthood, and not have to wait until they are twenty years of age and then have to be humiliated, when they want to get married or something of the kind, because they have to go through the order necessary for them.  I thank the Lord we had a Bishop that took hold of me when I was a little fellow and trained me in the duties pertaining to the Lesser Priesthood, because if there is any strength in me it is due to the training that I received when a little boy.  I think this is the time we ought to start in matters of this kind.”  (Frank Y. Taylor, President of the Granite Stake, 5 Oct., 1902; CR Oct., 1902, pp. 57-58)

5 Oct.:  Acting Teachers shouldn’t be necessary.

“There is another thing that is lacking; at least, it is with us.  It seems to me that there ought to be in every ward, where possible, a quorum of Priests, a quorum of Teachers, and they ought to be active in the performance of the duties pertaining thereto.  If we get these quorums thoroughly organized and attending to their duties, we will not have much trouble with acting Teachers.  The great trouble is, the Bishops cannot get the Teachers to do their work; but if we get the boys started early and train them aright, we will have little trouble in regard to this.”  (Frank Y. Taylor, President of the Granite Stake, 5 Oct., 1902; CR Oct., 1902, p. 58)

5 Oct.:  Role of Teachers in settling disputes.

“Where there are differences between brethren and sisters, they ought to try and settle them in the way indicated by the Savior–between themselves, in the spirit of prayer; not with a determination to show how wrong your brother is, but in the Spirit of the Lord seek to be reconciled with your brother.  If this will not accomplish it, then call in the Teachers of the Ward, and let them act as peacemakers.  And when the Teachers find a difficulty in a family, they have no business to tell it to anybody else or to circulate it on the streets.  They ought to guard such things with the utmost sacredness.

The Lord has laid down His law on this subject, as well as on all other subjects affecting the welfare of the Church.  In Section 42 of the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, it is written:

And if thy brother or sister offend thee, thou shalt take him or her between him or her and thee alone; and if he or she confess, thou shalt be reconciled.

That is, it shall not be harped upon or talked about after it has been settled.  Every man ought to esteem himself as put upon honor, after a difficulty is settled, not to stir it up or resurrect it among the people of God, but let it be settled forever.  When Teachers find difficulties existing in families that they can settle without reporting them to the Bishop, it is not a duty in the sight of God that the Bishop even should know of them.  In fact, I do not suppose the Bishop wants to know the failings of the people, if they can be rectified without his knowledge.”  (Mathias F. Cowley, 5 Oct., 1902; CR Oct., 1902, p. 60)

6 Oct.:  Families should be visited at least once a month.

“I fear there is a lack, my brethren and sisters, with regard to the labors of the Lesser Priesthood.  I fear this because I know from experience that it requires a constant labor and a constant watchcare on the part of the Bishop to keep the Lesser Priesthood in good working order.  Now, every family in the Church, and every family in the district, whether they are in the Church or not [!!], ought to be visited.  They are the Lord’s children, and they ought to be looked after.  They ought to be visited at least once a month.”  (Marriner W. Merrill, 6 Oct., 1902; CR Oct., 1902, p. 64)

6 Oct.:  More attention needed for Lesser Priesthood.

“I have also been gratified to hear the counsel given regarding the betterment of the quorums in the Lesser Priesthood.  I acted for a number of years in the Bishopric and I know the difficulties the Bishops have to contend with.  I have been a short time in the presidency of the Stake, and I comprehend also the difficulties that I have to be surmounted in that calling.  I believe that we should get nearer to the Lesser Priesthood.  We prepare, say the Seventies, to go abroad to preach the Gospel.  Our Mutual Improvement associations tend toward this; our Sunday schools in some respects tend toward this.  But we find very little done for those who officiate in the Lesser Priesthood.  I have rejoiced to see that a movement is now being undertaken to make more effectual the religion classes.  I hope the brethren will pay some attention to this.  The brethren who hold the offices in the Lesser Priesthood need to have personal attention.  They need to come in personal contact with the Teacher.  The trouble is I think, we talk to them at too long a range.  They ought to be trained in their duties, the Deacon to be trained in his office, the Teacher in his.  If the Teacher is a young boy, put him in care of some experienced man, and let him be taught the practical as well as the theoretical part of his calling.  If our young men can be put through this system of training and education, the result will be, when they arrive at manhood they will be capable of going among the people and giving them good advice in their homes.”  (Joseph B. Keeler, 6 Oct., 1902; CR Oct., 1902, p. 78)

15 Oct.:  Public confession of adultery required.

“At President’s Office Bro. Goff had a sad case of a Bro. Angus Q. Beckstead 23 years old and wife Mathilda M. Peterson 18 years old who were married 2 years ago.  While he was at the sheep camp she ran off with a man by name Perry and stayed 3 days.  She has confessed she had sexual intercourse with him.  She is now repented and her husband is willing to forgive her.  I told Bro Gough to have acknowledge her fault before a council of the Ward and if they forgive her let her renew her covenants.”  (Anthon H. Lund diary, 15 Oct., 1902)

15 Oct.:  Church Tribunals.


In a Swedish paper published in this city called the ‘Korrespondenten,’ under date of October 10, appears an address ‘To The Swedes In Zion.’  It states that a meeting of about forty Swedes was held in Salt Lake on the previous Sunday, at which a decision, recently rendered by the Bishopric of the Twelfth Ward of this Stake of Zion on a case that had been tried therein, resulting in the disfellowshipping of the accused, was attacked and denounced by the meeting.  Resolutions were also passed, that a committee of seven be appointed to draft a letter to the First Presidency of the Church protesting against the said decision, and that when the protest is ready, a mass meeting be called to hear the letter and appoint a deputation to wait upon the First Presidency and express the desires of the Swedes.

In the same article ‘The Committee,’ whose names are not given, announce that their purpose is to have the case ‘tried by the First Presidency of the Church,’ and they urge the Swedish Saints ‘wherever they are living,’ to send representatives to the mass meeting when it shall be called, and to prepare to support them by their signatures to the letter when it is ready.  The article also states that one purpose of the mass meeting is to secure from the First Presidency recognition of the right of the Swedes in Zion to have an organization for the purpose of holding Swedish meetings.

As the Presidency of the Salt Lake Stake of Zion, we, the undersigned, feel it our duty to warn our Swedish brethren and sisters against participating in a movement, so contrary to the order and discipline of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as that contemplated, and announced in the addressed published in the ‘Korrespondenten.’  The case which was tried in the Bishop’s court of the Twelfth Ward of this Stake, has been formally appealed by the accused to the High Council of the Salt Lake Stake of Zion, and a time has been set for the hearing of said appeal.  Pending this investigation, it is highly improper to take any such steps as those described in the address referred to above.

There is an order established in the Church for the trial of offenses and the rectification of wrongs.  If there is anything unjust or improper in the Bishop’s decision, the High Council of this Stake is the proper tribunal to hear an appeal therefrom and to decide upon its merits.  Any Latter-day Saints who take part in the proposed mass meeting for the purposes announced, will show that they are either uninformed as to the means to be employed in such cases as that in view, or that they desire to treat with contempt that order which has been established in the Church by revelation from God.

The Swedish Saints should also understand that the question of the propriety of a separate organization for members of the Church of their nationality has nothing to do with the case tried before the Bishop’s court of the Twelfth Ward and now on appeal to the High Council.  Incidentlaly it may have been made to cut some figure in the case, because the accused was charged with having treated with contempt a decision rendered by the High Council of this Stake some time ago, which required him to desist from opposing the union of the Scandinavian Saints in holding meetings together, under the presidency of meetings as sustained in Stake Conference.  The question of the right or wrong, the expediency or inexpediency of a separate organization of the Swedish Saints is not a feature of the case now pending.  It is a separate matter entirely.

It is manifestly improper to agitate in public meetings the question of the injustice or otherwise of the decision of a Bishop’s court in a case pending before the High Council, and we therefore caution our Swedish brethen and sisters against taking part in any such proceedings, as they are unauthorized by anyone holding authority in the Church, and are contrary to the spirit and genius of the Gospel and to the rules and regulations of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Your Brethren in Christ,




(Deseret News editorial, 15 Oct., 1902, in JH 15 Oct., 1902)


In every organized body of religious worshippers there are rules and regulations for the conduct of members which they are expected to observe, and for the violation of which they are rendered subject to church discipline.  In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints these are made definite and explicit.  They are simple and of general application throughout the Church.  In cases of difficulty between members, (and this term covers all its officials, for they are members as well as officers,) there is a course of procedure, which is universally taught.  First, the aggrieved person should sek directly to effect reconciliation with the offender.  When this cannot be done, the teachers who visit the latter, or someone specially selected, should endeavor to bring about a satisfactory settlement.  When this means fails, a charge may be preferred before the Bishopric of the ward to which the offender belongs.  Both sides are entitled to a fair hearing, in person and with witnesses who are Church members.

When a decision is rendered, if it is not satisfactory to either party an appeal can be taken to the Presidency and High Council of the Stake of Zion in which that ward is situated.  This body will proceed to investigate the matter, and after hearing both sides carefully, will affirm or set aside or modify, the decision of the Bishop’s court and render justice to the parties involved.

If it appears that even then either party to the suit is wronged, the First Presidency of the Church may be appealed to, who will inquire into the case and pass upon the matter and decide whether it is entitled to a rehearing or otherwise.  In case of improper and unchristian like conduct on the part of any memberr of the Church, a charge with specifications may be made to the Bishopric or his or her ward, and the same procedure be followed.

The tribunals mentioned are rqruuied to act in all patience, fairness and equity, without regard to personal feelings or ends, and with a view to render strict justice according to the evidence presented.  There is ample opportunity given always for the presentation of both sides to a charge or a difficulty, and there is no better, or fairer, or more satisfactory method for the purpose in any society, community or nation than that established in this Church by revelation from the Most High God.

There is no need for any member of the Church to take steps for the settlement of disputes, the correction of wrongs and the adjudication of offenses so far as they relate to membership in the Church, outside of these established regulations.  If they do so, such means are not recognized by the Church or any of its authorities, and there is no necessity for them, unless it may be in matters that can only be settled in a secular civil or criminal court.  There are some land affairs, for instance, to settle the question of titles and similar causes, which can only be adjudicated in a court of law.  Violations of the laws of the land, too, require proceedings before criminal tribunals.  The law of God recognizes them in their sphere, and the courts of the Church do not attempt to invade their prerogatives or to interfere with their decisions.  The tribunals of the Church and those of the State are separate and distinct and one should not and does not infringe upon the other.

These are simple matters with which all well-informed Latter-day Saints are familiar.  We refer to them now so that there may be a general understanding concerning them, as some people do not pay sufficient attention to them, and therefore are liable to be led astray by designing persons and thus take a course which is contrary to the law of the Lord, the discipline of the Church and the straight line of rectitude and common sense.  We also desire to impart this much of information concerning the subject, for the enlightenment of people outside the Church who are not acquainted with its manner of conducting Church trials and the settlement of disputes between Church members.”  (Deseret News editorial, 17 Oct., 1902, in JH 17 Oct., 1902)

30 Oct.:  Swedish mass meeting.


A ‘mass meeting of Swedes’ has been called for Sunday afternoon–that is, on Fast day–and there is some discussion as to the prime movers in this matter.  According to statements in a Salt Lake paper, Otto Rydman, whose case before his Bishop and the High Council has been decided adversely to him, is not responsible for the attempt to get up the meeting, which, in its nature, is opposed to the teachings and order of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The gentleman whose name has been published as the author of the call for the meeting, is one K. H. Nordberg, and we understand that he claims membership in the Church.  In order that his status may be established, we present herewith a certificate from the clerk of the Cache Stake of Zion, giving particulars of his excommunication from the Church on April 30th, 1897.  We do this that his fellow countrymen may not be deceived as to his standing, and that he may not be permitted to continue to sail under false colors.  People who desire to follow such leadership of course have that liberty, but we do not think any member of the Church in good standing, and with ordinary knowledge of the rules and spirit of the Church, will wish to be counted as one of his followers: . . .”  (Deseret News editorial, 30 Oct., 1902, in JH 30 Oct., 1902)

3 Nov.:  Swedish mass meeting.


A meeting was held in the Grand Theater on Sunday afternoon at which a large number of people of various nativities, languages and beliefs assembled, some out of curiosity to see and hear what was to be done, others imbued with the idea that the matters to be presented were of great importance, and some who were not connected with the ‘Mormon’ Church, to aid by their presence, sympathy and applause, anything that might be said or done antagonistic to that Church.  A synopsis of the proceedings will be found in another part of this issue of the ‘News.’

The person who figured as the leader in the movement and who made the principal address, is not recognized as a member of the Church, he having been excommunicated by the High Council of the Cache Stake of Zion more than five years ago.  The reference made at the meeting to the then president of that council, as having cut that person off the Church, was entirely misleading, as was the reference in the same manner to the president of the Salt Lake Stake of Zion, as having decided the case against Otto Rydman, because no one man can do anything of the kind.  It was the High Council of twelve men, presided over by three presidents, who in each case, acted unanimously after hearing the evidence and judging it impartially.

There is no fairer or more righteous tribunal on the face of the earth than a High Council in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  It is composed of twelve High Priests presided over by three Presidents, all of whom are chosen for the purpose, and sustained by the body of the Saints at a conference of the Stake in which they are called to act.  All parties to a case before that body are given ample opportunity to present anything bearing upon the matter in dispute.

In an appeal from a Bishop’s court there are two modes of procedure, either of which may be followed as the council decides, after hearing the minutes of the Bishop’s court.  One is to take the minutes of the trial, and after they have been canvassed and accepted by both sides as correct, to pass judgment as to the justice and wisdom or otherwise of the decision of the Bishop and his Counselors; to affirm it, or reject it, or modify it as the council may determine.  The other course is, if the minutes are objected to by eithe of the parties, to hear the case de novo, on its merits, going over the whole case from its beginning.

In the Rydman case the minutes of the Bishop’s court were acknowledged to be correct, for a number of sessions had been held, and at each succeeding meeting the minutes of the former meeting were read and accepted, by all parties, and corrections made in one instance before acceptance.  The accused had full opportunity to present before the High Council everything he had introduced in the Bishop’s court.  He read a voluminous manuscript, commented upon all the testimony that had been given, read from his paper, the Korrespondenten, a number of extracts, and at the close of the proceedings made the final speech, in his own behalf, going over the ground of his defense, and using strong language to enforce his opinions and express his anger against his accusers.  He aided strongly in proving the charges against him, which were of unchristianlike conduct in assailing, misrepresenting, and cartooning a number of his brethren, of causing dissension among the Swedish Saints, and of acting contrary to a decision rendered by the Presidency and High Council of this Stake at his former trial.

The people who at the mass meeting signified their support of his course, and thus sat in judgment upon the Bishop’s court and the High Council that acted on his case, did so simply on a one-sided presentation, made by him and his associates, without knowing anything of the evidence adduced against him, much of which he virtually acknowledged and emphasized at the trial.  They therefore showed great lack of wisdom and consistency.  They were also led astray by the introduction of a matter which is separate and distinct from the subject of the decision against him.

The petition adopted by the meeting contains a number of grave errors of fact, and the appeal to the First Presidency in reference to the case of Otto Rydman is entirely out of place, seeing that he has expressed his intention of asking the First Presidency to review the proceedings of the High Council, and has the right to do so, while a meeting of the character disclosed in the utterances of the speakers is entirely out of order, is unnecessary and mixes up subjects that are irrelevant, and that have nothing to do with the case in point.

The First Presidency may order up the minutes of the High Council in the Rydman case for review, but that body does not sit as a tribunal to hear and decide such cases.  The Presidency would act just as quickly and justly on a single appeal of any member of the Church from the decision of the High Council, as if made by a million.  Indeed, the interference of individuals acting on impulse and sympathy aroused by friends of the accused, who are not parties to the dispute, is, if anything, damaging to the cause of the appellant, because, it is entirely out of harmony with the order and discipline of the Church.

The question of the propriety of making a separate organization in Zion of the people of any one nationality within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, need not be discussed for a moment.  It is palpably preposterous.  One of the very objects of gathering people of all nations here is to make them one people,  Latter-day Saints religiously, and Americans politically.  Meetings have been permitted in some of the stakes of Zion, notably in Salt Lake City, for the special benefit of people from Scandinavia, that is, from Sweden, Denmark and Norway, who do not understand the English language.  Ample opportunities have been afforded to the Swedes to receive instruction in their own tongue.  This we have heretofore fully explained.

It will be found that most of the persons who are now trying to mix this matter up with the Rydman case are able to speak, or at least to understand English, and do not attend the meetings where the Swedish language is spoken and services are held in that tongue.  They have therefore no special cause for excitement.  The authorities of the Church have regulated this matter according to their best wisdom.  If occasion requires a change, there is no doubt in the minds of faithful Latter-day Saints that it will be made by the proper authority and at the proper time.  It will not be hastened by intemperate language, attacks upon prominent officers of the Church or other members thereof, or indulgence in sensational and turbulent outbursts.

The matter under consideration is very simple when divested of extraneous questions.  It is merely whether Otto Rydman has been fairly tried and decided against by a High Council of the Church, and whether a person claiming membership in the Church shall be permitted to malign, falsely accuse and ridicule his brethren, repeatedly, in a public print, cause dissension, rebel against recognized authority, without being called into question, and if found guilty required to make proper amends.  That is all there is to it.  It is to be hoped that it will soon be settled and this cyclone in a teacup be ended without further ado.”  (Deseret News editorial, 3 Nov., 1902, in JH 3 Nov., 1902)

18 Nov.:  Rebaptism w/o excommunication; reuse of garments.

“Sister Libbie Willard, late wife of Elder John W. Young, called [upon the First Presidency].  She is here on her way to New York to appear as a witness in the trial of her son, William Hooper Young, who is charged with murder in the first degree, she having been summoned by her son’s attorney.  She called at the office yesterday and told President Winder that for the last three years her mind had been greatly wrought upon in regard to her standing in the Church, and she had fervently prayed that the Lord would open up her way so that she might do whatever might be required of her to be worthy of the fellowship of the Latter-day Saints.  When she had felt this way she had not mentioned it to her husband, Dr. Willard, fearing that he might not like it.  But since she had been summoned to New York, and determined to make an effort to respond to it, she made up her mind to speak to her husband and tell him how she felt, and to her great joy and satisfaction he had encouraged her to obey the mandates of her conscience.  She said that when she lived with Bro. John W. Young she was not in possession of a testimony of the truth of the gospel, but that the Lord had given her a testimony and that it was the only thing that supported her in her present condition.  Her son, John Wesley Young, wrote, under date of December 24th, 1900, inquiring what steps his mother ought to take in order to regain whatever standing she might have lost in the Church.  President Snow answered this letter in effect that after inquiry he learned that his mother’s standing in the Church was not questioned, but suggested that inasmuch as she had drifted off from the body of the Church that she renew her covenants by baptism; and he also told her that in case she had cast off her garments, she would be entitled to put them on again after renewing her covenants.  This letter was shown to President Smith, and President Smith advised that President Snow’s counsel be adhered to.  Sister Willard was invited to go to the temple and have this attended to.”  (JH 18 Nov., 1902)

20 Nov.:  Priesthood procedural questions/ACTING TEACHERS.


A friend in one of the southern settlements of Utah writes to the ‘News’ asking three questions.  The first is in relation to a little book that has been published, explaining the mode of procedure in Bishop’s courts, and it is asked whether the book is endorsed by the Church or by the First Presidency.

It has been repeatedly published that the written standards of the Church are the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price.  Other works stand as the writings of their respective authors and on their individual merits.  This ought to be sufficient on that head.  The manner of conducting Bishop’s courts and High Councils is understood by the presiding officers in the wards and Stakes of Zion, and there is no need to go outside of them for explanations.  The revelations contained in the Doctrine and Covenants are sufficiently plain as a written guide, and whatever is published in strict conformity with them is, of course, authoritative and beneficial.

The second question is as to disfellowshipping, or excommunicating, a Church member without a trial.  That is not in harmony with the revealed order of the Church.  Every accused person is entitled to a fair hearing, to be confronted with witnesses against him, to introduce his own witnesses and to speak in his own defense.  Witnesses in Church trials must be Church members.  Cases must be determined upon evidence.  Judgment must be rendered in righteousness, without prejudice and free from personal motives and considerations.  When charges are preferred and the accused is summoned to appear and he refuses to respond, justice will not be balked because of his non-appearance.  It is only in such instances that a member can be disfellowshipped or excommunicated in his absence.  A trial, however, always precedes judgment.

The third question is:  ‘Should the teachers appoint one of their number to preside as stated in Doc. and Cov. Sec. 107 v. 62, or should the Bishop always preside at the teachers’ meetings?’  We think our corresopndent has been somewhat ‘mixed’ in this matter.  There are in every ward a number of brethren selected to be acting teachers, under the direction of the Bishopric.  These are usually men holding the Melchisedec Priesthood, but called to act in the lesser or Aaronic Priesthood for visiting and teaching purposes.  They are appointed as aids to the Bishop, and he or one of his counselors presides at their meetings.

The teachers’ quorum referred to in the section quoted from the Doctrine and Covenants, is another body entirely.  It consists of twenty-four ordained teachers presided over by three of their own number.  They do not hold the higher or Melchisedek Priesthood.  They act in the capacity of teachers in the ward to which they belong when called to do so under the direction of the Bishopric.  Their meetings are held for instruction in the general duties of their office and in the principles of the Priesthood.  The Bishop may and should attend their meetings when possible, as he is in charge of the lesser Priesthood of his ward, including the Priests, the Teachers and the Deacons.

But the two bodies of teachers should not be confounded.  The acting teachers selected by the bishopric as their aids do not form a quorum at all.  They have no fixed number, or distinct ordination as teachers.  They are sometimes erroneously mentioned as the teachers’ ‘quorum,’ but that ought not to be.  The teachers’ quorum is, as we have described it, and is a distinct body of ordained teachers with its own presidency like any other quorum in the Church.

All these matters are very clear to careful readers of the revelations to the Church.  If there is any misunderstanding concerning them, all doubts may be usually dispelled, by seeking instruction from the local authorities in the organized wards and stakes of Zion.”  (Deseret News editorial, 20 Nov., 1902, in JH 20 Nov., 1902)

20 Nov.:  Still using Acting Teachers.

“There are in every ward a number of brethren selected to be acting teachers, under the direction of the Bishopric.  These are usually men holding the Melchizedek Priesthood, but called to act in the lesser or Aaronic Priesthood for visiting and teaching purposes.”  (DN 20 Nov., 1902; quoted in Hartley, “Ordained and Acting Teachers in the Lesser Priesthood, 1851-1883,” BYU Studies 16(3):394, Spring, 1976)

10 Dec.:  Avoid any organizations outside the Church.


We take the following article on the subject indicated above from the December issue of the Improvement Era.  It is addressed specially to the Latter-day Saints.  Coming from the earthly head of the Church it should receive particular attention.  It touches on several important points and ought to prove a guide to all members of the Church, who are in any doubt concerning them:

There is a great danger in division.  The Savior declared, concerning His Church:  ‘There shall be one fold and one shepherd,’ a declaration implying the absolute need of union.  Union has been a powerful feature in the establishment of the Church in these times; the same spirit has actuated all who have yielded obedience to the initiating ordinances of the Gospel.  It has been possible to establish the Church and unify the people, because of the spirit and testimony enjoyed by all who have received the Holy Ghost.  Different peoples, speaking different tongues, have yet enjoyed the same spirit and testimony to such an extent, that what has been accomplished seems marvelous in the eyes of men and women who do not understand the force that has bound the Saints together, and assimilated their thoughts and actions.

The chosen of Israel from many nations have been gathered into one, at the gathering place of the Saints, the Zion of our God, and thenceforth all were one in Christ with the Church in all things.  Organizations for Church services, for training of children and young people, and for edification in the word of God, have been established, that all might be blest and built up in their faith under the leadership and tuition of the Priesthood.  Even amusements have been and are being so conducted.  Whatever of old traditions and false notions remained with the converts, the Gospel largely assisted them in overcoming, and they became a people of one language and one spirit, enthusiastically bent upon accomplishing their part in the great work of the latter-days, of which they had received a strong testimony of the Father.

There is no selfishness in this work.  Neither is there policy.  No class, nor party, nor faction, nor family, is recognized.  It is contrary to the spirit of the Gospel for any man to seek power, and strength, and advantage, and prestige, by separating any number of people into a faction, and then use such factional organization or number as a whip over the whole body to command his personal wishes.  These things may be common in politics, much to the detriment of the people and state or nation, but can never obtain in the Church.

The Church is provided with so many Priesthood organizations that only these can be recognized therein.  No outside organization is necessary.  There is no call for individuals to organize clubs, or special gatherings in social, educational, or national capacity, in order to express wishes or desires for reforms that can always be expressed in the organizations that already exist in the Church.  There is enough to do in the general ward organizations under Church control, to fill all requirements, to satisfy all righteous ambitions, and to develop the latent talent of the people.  It is neither proper nor necessary to establish further public organizations under individual leadership, unsanctioned by the Church authorities.  If further public organizations are required, they will be founded by proper authority, when it can be proved that there is indeed any need for them.  Such separate action leads to clannishness, conflict and disunion, and is not pleasing in the sight of God.

Where men are ambitious to show their ability and fitness as leaders, teachers, organizers, champions of a righteous cause, or saviors of men, let them develop these qualities in the many suitable organizations now existing in the Church, which are waiting–yea, often crying aloud–for men with just such superior ability.  This course, pursued with the right spirit, will do good, and meet the blessings of the Lord; while the other, by playing upon their pride of nationality, their natural desire to conquer, and their sectional clannishness, will lead to schisms among the people that will finally cause them to lose the spirit of the Gospel.

No member of the Church should be led away by men who under any pretext seek to induce them to become members of any organization, secret, social or otherwise, outside of the control of the Church.  When solicited to so join, ask yourselves if such action leads to peace and union, or to strife and dissensions.  When you have thought the request over, ask yourselves if consent leaves you with a peaceful, good spirit, and love for your brethren, or with hatred and contention rankling in your breast.  Then, don’t hurry about action, till you have asked the Lord, or sought the counsel of your brethren in authority.  No man’s selfish aims should become your standard of right and wrong.  It is easy for selfish men to find plausible excuses for their grievances, and to erect them as criterions of justice.  There is a proper way to settle all grievances, and it is not by taking the law in one’s own hands; neither is it by abusing the brethren and laying before the world their sins, faults and failings, of which, for aught you know, they may hve repented sincerely, and obtained forgiveness of God–even as all hope, who repent.

Paul gives the Romans some good advice on this subject, which is very appropriate for the Latter-day Saints, and I trust we may all lay it to heart and learn wisdom therefrom:  ‘Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.  For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.’  Let us not be simple, but let us continue to be united and to serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

JOSEPH F. SMITH.”  (Joseph F. Smith editorial in the Improvement Era, reprinted in a Deseret News editorial, 10 Dec., 1902, in JH 10 Dec., 1902.  Note:  Read this as a preamble to the 1906 prophecy on priesthood quorums.)

24 Dec.:  Over-use of the word “Apostle.”

“[Meeting at the President’s Office] There was some further discussion on the propriety of using the word Apostle too frequently and a motion prevailed that we discourage its too common use, that the Twelve be referred to in print as Elders and that we address each other as brother.”  (Rudger Clawson diary, 24 Dec., 1902)

“Meeting of First Presidency and Apostles.  The subject of using the word Apostles as a title was considered, and Secretary Geo. F. Gibbs brought to the attention of the Council the minutes of a meeting held December 22, 1892, at which meeting this subject was considred with a view to correcting a practice which had then recently sprung up, using the word Apostle as a title, and a motion made by the late President Woodruff, and carried by the Council, that the use of the word Apostle, as a title, be discontinued, and that it be substituted by that of Elder, which applies, as a title, to all men holding the Melchizedek priesthood.

After the reading of these minutes, President Smith remarked by way of comment that he had felt for some time that there was too great a tendency among us to use the word Prophet, and Prophet, Seer and Revelator, and Apostle, by way of addressing or speaking of the President of the Church and members of the quorum of the Twelve; and he added that when he came to think about it this was not so in earlier days; and that when he made his remarks he knew nothing at all about the action taken by the Council in December, 1892, he having forgotten all about it.

The consideration of this subject resulted in a motion by Bro. John Henry Smith, which was seconded and carried, that the title of elder be hereafter used with reference to the apostles, in keeping with the action of the Council in regard to this matter, dated December 22, 1892.”  (JH 24 Dec., 1902)

1902:  History of early Mormonism/B of M/Attempted miracles.

“A short History of the Foundation of the Mormon Church, based on personal memories and facts collected by Hartwell Ryder, Hiram, Ohio, at the age of 80 years.

Joseph Smith, author and proprietor of the Book of Mormon, was born in Sharon, Vermont, on the 23rd of December, 1805.  When Joseph was 10 years of age his father moved to Palmyra, N.Y. , where he lived 4 years.  From thence he moved to Manchester Township, Ontario County, N.Y., where Joseph lived and worked with his father on the farm until he was 21 years of age.

He is said to have been a very religious boy, often found in his father’s grove in meditation and prayer.  When he was 10 years old, one day while engaged in prayer he claimed a light shone round about him above the brightness of the noonday sun, and that an angel of the Lord appeared unto him and told him that he was to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord to make known the new institutions which God was about to establish in the world, and that he would find golden plates hidden in the hills of Manchester.

He commenced digging in the hills, working for three years, but failed to find the plates.  When 21 years of age, while engaged in prayer the Angel of the Lord brought to him the golden plates written over with Egyptian hieroglyphics and with them a pair of stone spectacles which were called Urim Shumnim.  By looking through these the Angel told him he would be able to translate the inscriptions into the English language.  Before he began the translations, he chose eleven men as witnesses that is[he] had the plates; of these, three were divine witnesses – Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris.  They claimed that while engaged in prayer the Angel of the Lord brought them the plates and they saw them, hefted them and saw the inscriptions, and God told them they were to be true witnesses of these things.  The other eight witnesses all belonged to the two families of Whitmers and Smiths.  They testified that Joe Smith delivered them into their hands and that they saw them, hefted them, and knew they were true gold plates.  These plates were 6 by 8 and made a book 6 inches thick, held together by 3 rings.

We are indebted to David Whitmer for the manner of translation.  He says it was in a small house of two rooms of which Smith occupied one, and Whitmer, Cowdery and Harris the other.  There was a curtain hung at the door between the two rooms so that they could not see Smith.  He would read off a sentence by looking through the spectacles, translate it and read it to Cowdery who wrote it down.  In this way they spent three years writing the Book of Mormons.  It was delivered at the printer’s office at Palmyra, N.Y., sometime in the winter of 1830, so that in February the first copy of the Book of Mormons was issued.

The forgoing ins the Mormon side of the story.  There is another which is perhaps the more correct one.  In Pennsylvania there lived a certain educated Presbyterian minister, Solomon Spaulding by name, who wrote a novel in which he attempted to show where the Moundbuilders of this country and South America and the Indians of the West came from.  He laid the scene at the confounding of the language at the Tower of Babel, from which time a tribe started on a journey through Asia, and falling in with the Ten Tribes of Israel they traveled together for 1020 years, crossing to this country through Behring Straits.  The first named tribe was the origin of the Moundbuilders and the Indians the descendants of the Ten Tribes.

After the work was completed he sent it to a printing house in Pittsburgh and died before the book was published.  At that time Sidney Rigdon was an employee in the Pittsburgh publishing house.  After reading the book he got possession of it, [page 2] and with Joe Smith formulated the Book of Mormon.

On April 12, 1830, the first church was organized in Manchester, N.Y.  Soon others were formed in that community.  Notice went out that a new religion was being given and churches sprang up all over the country.  In the fall of 1830 two young men, their saddle bags full of Mormon Bibles, came to the house of Sidney Rigdon, a Disciple minister at Kirtland.  Soon they began preaching the Mormon doctrine at Kirtland, and by winter had a large number of converts.  The same fall Joe Smith came to Kirtland with all the witnesses to the Book of Mormons.  A little later in the fall, Joe Smith and others came to Hiram and began to preach in the south school house, gaining several converts.  Mr. Johnson and wife, living in what is now the Stephens homestead, and Mrs. Booth with her husband Ezra Booth, a Methodist preacher of great influence in the community, at this time became members.  In the winter a notice of a great convention to be held at Kirtland, identical with the Pentecost recorded in the Book of Acts.  Mr. Johnson and wife, of Hiram, Mr. Booth and wife of Mantua, Dr. Bright of Windham, and Symonds Ryder of Hiram, went to Kirtland to attend the meeting.  I am indebted to my father, Symon Ryder, for the account of what took place there.

The meeting began by the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  Its effects were different on different persons.  Some fell down in a stupor; some spoke in strange tongues; one became paralyzed and was in such great pain that they became alarmed until Joe Smith came to the rescue by a revelation that the paralytic was not under the influence of the Holy Spirit but the spirit of the Devil and that they must cast it out.  So by prayer and the laying on of hands he was restored.  One arose and spoke in a language none could understand.  Thinking this to be the Indian tongue they passed him by.  Then they began to cure the sick and afflicted.  Mrs. Johnson, of Hiram, was afflicted with rheumatism so she could not raise her hands to her head.  Some one therefore proposed that she go forward to be cured, but before we had decided to go Joe Smith came around through the crowd and taking her by the hand said, “In the name of Jesus Christ  I pronounce you whole”, and sure enough her arms were limbured and returning home was able to do her own work for some time thereafter.

The reason for mentioning this is because I find it to be one of the greatest miracles of the Mormon Church.

Miracles. They claimed to receive power to perform miracles by the laying on of hands, and young men often went out to preach who claimed to have performed miracles but none of these could ever be found.  Once a young Mormon went from  Hiram to preach at a small town on the Lake Shore, and upon returning to Hiram told of a wonderful miracle he had performed there.  Jason Ryder, doubting this, went on horseback to the place and found that the people knew nothing about it.  They often tried to perform miracles which failed.  A noted instance of this is the attempt by Joe Smith to walk on the water.

(A friend reminded me of this instance while in conversation a short time ago.)  At Chagrin Falls, having given out notice that he would walk on the water on a certain day, he had some chestnut slabs, supported on long legs, laid across the Chagrin River just a few inches under the water.  On the night before the miracle was to be performed, some boys who knew about the slabs removed one in the middle of the stream.  When Smith fell in, they went in after him but told him that if the [page 3] Angel of the Lord was helping him they would leave him alone, but if it was Joe Smith alone they would help him.  He said it was he alone and begged of them to help him.  When he began to walk, the people became excited and he began to walk faster, and when he came to the end of the slabs, in he went, and when he arose to the top he called for help.

Two young Mormon missionaries called on me last summer (1901) with whom I spent some time in conversation.  The subject turned on miracles and I asked them if they could raise the dead.  They said that they could and could cure the blind and heal all manner of diseases.  Saying also, “You ought to know for there was a noted miracle performed here”, and cited the case of Mrs. Johnson.  I told them I remembered of a greater miracle than that which took place here, and told them of my grandmother, a woman of 80 years, who lived just across the street and who had been confined to her bed for some time with rheumatism.  One day upon hearing that my mother was sick, jumped out of bed, dressed and was half way across the street before she thought of her rheumatism. She felt for it but it was gone.

In April of the spring of 1831, by the invitation of Messrs. Johnston and Booth, the Mormons came to Hiram.  The object of their coming was to make Hiram their “New Jerusalem”.  Mr. Johnston owned several log house which he offered to them to occupy.  Joe Smith and wife settled in part of what is now the Stevens home.  Sidney Rigdon and family settled just across the street in a small log house, the Whitmers, Smiths, Cowderys and Poomans occupied another house.  They soon began preaching and gained many converts.  They built a dam across the creek on the property now owned by Mr. Vaughn, and thither they went to baptize converts, sometimes to the number of 15 or 20.

Their manner of baptism was by immersion, after which they knelt on the banks of the stream, when the Administrator laid his hands on their heads and they received supernatural powers, except the power of prophecy which could only come by the use of the Sear’s Stone or Urim Snumnim.  As an example of the sue of the Sear’s Stone to foretell the future, the following instance might be cited.  Oliver Cowdery, one of the witnesses, had one of these which after his death went to his daughter.  During the Rebellion, on the eve of a skirmish between the Regulars and Bushwhackers, in Missouri, after looking through the Seer’s Stone, she predicted that her cousin, John Page, would be killed on the following day by the Bushwhackers.

In the fall of 1831 the church in Hiram became very large.  In June, preceding, my father, Symonds Ryder, united with them, and soon Smith had another revelation, that he was to act as Elder of the Hiram Church, but in spelling his name the Lord made a mistake and he began to doubt.  A little later in the fall, Smith had a revelation that 12 men must go from Hiram to Independence, Jackson Co., Missouri, to lay the foundation of the Mormon Temple.  These men were to go in twos, to take nothing with them but to get their living as they went.  When they reached Missouri, Mr. Booth said that were anything but honest men and he began to doubt.  Besides the laying of the corner stone was so foolish that he lost all faith and returned.  While they were gone, those left behind found the papers of the church and among them was a revelation that all who had property should give it over into the hands of Smith for the good of the Hiram Church.  When Mr. Booth returned from Missouri, he called on my father and after talking together they began to undo what they had done in the way of influencing people to join the Mormons.  In a short time there were only a few professed followers of the Mormon religion left in Hiram.  These, however, still continued their meetings at the Johnston house.

They had already had notice that they would be mobbed.  Accordingly in a [page 4] meeting held at the Johnson house on the 27th of February, 1832, to arrange for a great day in the following spring, Smith dared anyone to touch a Mormon saying that that anyone who should do so would be stricken by the Lord.  But the people did not believe this, for on the night of the 4th of March, 1832, a band of 60 men met in the brickyard belonging to Benjamin Hinkley, and on the property now owned by Cyrus Moore.  Dividing into two parties they quietly marched to the Johnston house where they found Smith sleeping in the back room with his two children who were sick.  Smith was thrown out to those waiting outside who took him into a lot back from the struct where he was introduced to tar and feathers.  The others in like manner took Sidney Rigdon up the street where the “Old Oak” now stands and administered the same remedy to him.  This had the desired effect, for they left Hiram, going to Kirtland where they remained for a number of years.

The next morning after the leaders were tarred and feathered, my father went past the Johnston house from which the Mormons came out like bees from a hive and accused him of being the leader of the mob.  At the jubilee Convention at Hiram in 1900, L. A. Chapman told me that when going to California two years before he had stopped at Salt Lake City and had attended a meeting at the Tabernacle on Sunday, they had been very kind to him and had shown him the Book of Records.  In looking down the index he saw the account of the Tar and Feathering of Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, at Hiram.  In that account Symonds Ryder, a Cambellite preacher, is given as the leader of the mob and says further that he preached on the following Sunday in the south school-house and glorified in the fact that he had been an instrument in the hands of the Lord in driving the Mormons out of the country.  But this account is incorrect, for I can well remember that my father was sick in bed that night and that from early in the evening he did not leave his bed until late the next morning.

At Kirtland they established a bank and went into the common stock business, but all who went into it failed.  They became so obnoxious to the people at Kirtland that they were compelled to leave the place, going to Independence, Jackson Co., Mo., where by Divine revelation they were to build a magnificent temple, the plan of which was to be revealed from on High.  The foundation of this temple had been laid long before.  They were evidently soon driven from the State by an armed mob.

At this time there was a great defection in the Mormon church.  The witnesses of the Book of Mormons left them and formed the Whitmer branch of the Church of Jesus Christ.

In 1838 or 1839 they went to Illinois where on the banks of the Mississippi they built the flourishing city of Noveau.  In this city Smith was mayor, president of the the church, and commander of the military organizations.  In 1843 Smith had a revelation from God that all who could support more wives than one could have as many as they could support.  This caused a division in the Mormon ranks.  In the exposition of Smith and Rigdon, 16 women went before a magistrate and took oath that they had been approached by the leaders of the Mormon church to become their spiritual wives.  Foster and La[   ], who printed the affidavits of these women, were mobbed and their printing houses destroyed.  They were forced to flee to Carthage, Ill., where they obtained warrants for the arrest of Joe and Hiram Smith and several others.  On the evening of June 7, 1844, a mob attached the jail and both Joe and Hiram Smith were shot dead.  The excitement became so great that in 1844-5 they found that they could no longer remain in Noveau, and accordingly in a solemn council it was decided to abandon their homes and to seek some sot in the wilds of the west, where they could worship according to the principles of their religion.  Accordingly, in February, 1845, after exchanging such property as they could for animals, wagons and provisions, a large number of them crossed the Mississippi and started on a journey for Council [page 5] Bluffs.  Here they remained for two years.  Before they crossed into Iowa, however, an officer of the state presented himself with a requisite for 500 men to serve in the Mexican war.  This demand, though sudden and unexpected, was promptly complied with, but the expedition was broken up for that season.  Those that remained were principally old men, women and children, and they prepared to pass the winter in the wilds of Indian country.  By cutting hay, erecting log and sod huts, and digging as many caves as time and strength permitted, they were able to pass the winter; but on account of the severity of the weather and the scant provisions, many died.  Besides, the Indians stole many of their cattle, so that they were reduced to a very poor condition.  In the following April, 1847, the company consisted of 143 men, 72 wagons, 175 head of horses, oxen and mules, with rations for six months, agricultural implements and seed grain.

In this condition they once more set out for a home beyond the Rockies.  On the 24th of June they reached the Salt Lake Valley.  They consecrated a part of this, broke it up and planted it.  Thus was formed the nucleus of the of the Territory of utah.  A short time after the arrival of this company, Salt Lake City was laid out under the direction of Brigham Young who was accepted as President of the Mormon Church in 1848.

In the following October a company of three or four thousand, led by Pres. Young was added to their number.  They worked diligently and in a short time nearly 6000 acres were laid down in crops.  They established a provisional state called “State of the Desert”, of which Brigham Young was appointed Governor.  He held this office for three years, at which time this territory was ceded to the United States, and continued as such from 1850 to 1857.

Copied by Minnie M. Ryder in 1903-4 from the manuscript written by her uncle, Hartwell Ryder.”  (Hiram College Library, Hiram Ohio, ca. 1902)