Monday, July 29, 2013

Doctrine and Covenants Lesson #31 "Sealed...for Time and for all Eternity"

The lesson in the manual is really great.  In addition, there is a fun article in the July 1989 Ensign on "The Honeymoon Trail" about the great efforts early saints took to be married in a temple.  Just for fun, I'm including this supplementary material I researched about a particular temple.  You may want to use some of this in the lesson, or use it as a supplementary family home evening lesson.


1.       Which temple was struck by lightning shortly after it was built?
2.       Which temple was the first completed after Nauvoo?
3.       Wilford Woodruff was the first president of which temple?
4.       In which temple were the first endowments for the dead performed?
5.       Of the temples designed by Truman Angell, which was the first completed?
6.       In which temple did Wilford Woodruff do the work for the founding fathers?
7.       Which temple was the only one in the west to be finished while Brigham Young was still alive?

Well, the answer to each of these questions is the St. George, Utah temple.  

 Photo from

Although St. George is an awesome place today, popular with both vacationers and retirees, J. Golden Kimball said that if he had a house in hell and a house in St. George, he’d rent out the one in St. George. Settling St. George before the days of air conditioning was an incredible trial, as the temperature is frequently over 100 degrees in the summer, so why was it chosen for the first temple?

In 1855 while traveling through Southern Utah, Heber C. Kimball declared that a wagon road would be made from Harmony over the Black Ridge, and a temple would be built in the vicinity of the Rio Virgin. No LDS people lived in the vicinity. (New Harmony is just on the other side of the Dixie National Forest from St. George, about 30 miles north, and the Virgin River flows out of Zion National Park, right through St. George and into Arizona.) The first LDS colonists were sent to the Dixie mission in 1861. It was a very hard mission call. From the diary of one of those called:

Well, here I have worked for the last seven years through heat and cold, hunger and adverse circumstances, and at last have got me a home, a lot with fruit trees just beginning to bear and look pretty. Well, I must leave it and go and do the will of my Father in Heaven, who overrules all for the good of them that love and fear him. I pray God to give me strength to accomplish that which is required of me in an acceptable manner before him.
-Charles Lowell Walker, quoted in Our History, p. 88

The St. George Temple was announced by Brigham Young in a letter in 1871; it was begun in November of that year.

Although the Salt Lake Temple had been started in 1853, 18 years earlier, it was less than halfway built. President Young wanted to see another temple completed before he died. Despite Utah's "Dixie" being very small in population, and nearly destitute as well, St. George was chosen for several reasons:
  1. The warmer climate allowed year-round construction (which was causing a lot of delay on the Salt Lake Temple)
  2. The location was far removed from government intervention (which was causing a lot of delay on the Salt Lake Temple)
  3. John Taylor later said, “There was a people living here who were more worthy than any others…God inspired President Young to build a temple here because of the fidelity and self-abnegation of the people.”(Journal of Discourses, Vol. 23, p. 14)
I am 82 years old tomorrow. I am the only living person, so far as I know, who heard and saw what I am about to relate. At the time of which we shall speak, I was a lad of 11 years, all-seeing and all-hearing, and drove a team hitched to a scraper.

President Brigham Young had written to Robert Gardner, president of the stake high council. In this letter he expressed a wish that a Temple be built in St. George. Also, that Brother Gardner select a few leading brethren, and, as a group, visit sites where it might be best to build the Temple. This they did, visiting spots each thought might be best. They could not agree, and so informed President Young.

President Young, arriving later, somewhat impatiently chided them, and at the same time asked them to get into their wagons, or whatever else they had, and with him find a location.

To the south they finally stopped.

“But, Brother Young,” protested the men, “This land is boggy. After a storm, and for several months of the year, no one can drive across the land without horses and wagons sinking way down. There is no place to build a foundation.”

“We will make a foundation,” said President Young.

Later on while plowing and scraping where the foundation was to be, my horse’s leg broke through the ground into a spring of water. The brethren then wanted to move the foundation line 12 feet to the south, so that the spring of water would be on the outside of the temple.

“Not so,” replied President Young. “We will wall it up and leave it here for some future use. But we cannot move the foundation. This spot was dedicated by the Nephites. They could not build it, but we can and will build it for them.”

To this day the water from that very spring is running through a drain properly built.

I make this statement of my own free will and choice, and without any fear of misgiving.
[signed] E. Ernest Bramwell, 85 C St., Salt Lake City, Utah
Quoted in Janice F. DeMille, The St. George Temple:  First 100 Years, p. 20-21)

EXCAVATION FOR FOUNDATION (Begun November 9, 1871)

The groundbreaking ceremony was November 9, 1871. The brethren began the excavation that very afternoon.

In digging[,] the greater part we found to be very wet and soft, so much so that it was necessary to dig a frame around the outside within 12 feet of building a little east of square tower. It was so soft in places that a fences pole could be pressed in from 12 to 15 feet with ease. This caused considerably anxiety as to the best way of making it substantial enough to sustain the enormous weight of the building.
--Edward Perry, Chief Mason (DeMille, p. 26)

In the end, 17,000 tons of rock was used in the construction of the temple.

 Photo from

BUILDING THE FOUDNATION (Completed February 21, 1874—2 years and 3 months)

Since the temple site did not furnish a solid foundation, it was necessary to make a firm foundation on which to build. Once the excavation was completed, it was necessary to fill it in with rock. For this purpose they had to use some type of rock which would not decay; the action of minerals in the soil would decay both sandstone and limestone.

The problem was solved by using black volcanic rock from a long, black ridge west of St. George. First they had to build a dugway, in order to quarry the rock. The size of the rocks varied from small pieces to boulders weighing several tons.

Next arose the problem of getting the rock pounded into the ground solidly enough to provide a firm foundation. Once again, these pioneers invented a way to accomplish a task which seemed impossible. They made a pile driver from a cannon brought back from California with the Mormon Battalion. They filled it full of lead; it weighed 800-1,000 pounds. William Carter constructed a device by which they could lift the cannon 30 feet into the air by horse power, and then drop it. In this way, the volcanic rock was driven deep into the soft ground.

The pile-driver crew asked Charles L. Walker, Dixie’s “poet laureate,” to write a poem about their task. He wrote the following poem, which served as a great morale booster. They sang it to the tune of “Cork Leg.”

Pounding Rock Into the Temple Foundation

Now, I pray you be still and all hush your noise,

While I sing about Carter and the Founder and boys.

How the old hammer climbed and went toward the skies,

And made such a thump that you’d shut both your eyes.

“Go ahead now, hold hard, now snatch it again,”

Down comes the old fun, the rocks fly like rain;

Now start up that team, we work not in vain,

With a rattle and clatter, and do it again.

Slack up on the south, the north guy make tight

Take a turn around the post, now be sure you are right;

Now stick in your pars and drive your dogs tight,

Slap dope in the grooves, go ahead, all is right.

Now, right on the frame sat the giant Jimmy Ide,

Like a brave engineer, with the rope by his side,

“Go ahead, and just raise it,” he lustily cried,

“I run this machine and Carter beside!”

I must not forget to mention our Rob,

Who stuck to it faithful and finished the job;

The time it fell down and nearly played hob,

He n’er made a whimper, not even a sob.

Here’s good will to Carter, the Pounder and tools,

Here’s good will to Gardner, the driver and mules,

Here’s good will to the boys, for they’ve had a hard tug.

Here’s good will to us all and the ‘little brown jug.’
(DeMille, p. 28-29)

At Pioneer celebration, the St. George Choir sang a song written by Charles L. Walker. Later it was sung throughout the state as a rally-rouser to raise funds for the temple.

Lo! A temple, long expected, in St. George shall stand;

By God’s faithful saints erected, here in Dixieland.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Let Hosannas ring,

Heaven shall echo back our praises, Christ shall reign as king.

The noble task we hailed with pleasure—coming from our head—

Brings salvation—life eternal, for our kindred dead.

Holy and eternal Father, give us strength we pray,

To thy name to build this temple, in the latter day.

Oh! How anxious friends are waiting, watching every move,

Made by us for their redemption, with a holy love.

Long they’ve hoped thru weary ages, for the present time;

For the everlasting gospel with its truths sublime.

Lo, the prison doors are open, millions hail the day;

Praying, hoping for baptism, in the appointed way.

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Let the structure rise,

Rear aloft these noble towers pointing to the skies.

Photo from CES online.


Robert Gardner, a Scottish convert, was in charge of finding lumber. Most of the lumber came from Mt. Trumbull, in northern Arizona, 70 miles away. Its elevation (8,028 feet) is over 5,000 feet higher than St. George  (2,880 feet). First they had to build a road, of course. Most of the lumber used in the temple came from Mt. Trumbull, sometimes only 2 large logs on one wagon.

One of the most dangerous parts of the road was down the Hurricane Hill which borders the present site of the town. Before assaying the steep descent, the drivers tightened the binding on the loads and the rough-locked the rear wheels to act as a brake on the freighters’ wagons. Even with rough-lock the heavily laden running gears came down the hill too rapidly for comfort.
--A. Karl Larson 
(DeMille, p. 38)


While plastering, John Burt fell from a scaffold 70 feet high. Some of the workers administered to him. It was considered a miracle that he lived.

The Deseret Evening News reported that Thomas Crane undertook to come down from the top of the building by one of the ropes, but halfway down his arms gave out, and he fell about 30 feet. He was seriously injured, but lived.

BAPTISMAL FONT (Dedicated August 11, 1875)

The font was made in sections in Salt Lake City, and assembled and bronzed in the temple after shipment. It was oval shaped. The Deseret News reported that the bottom piece weighed about 2,900 pounds, and the sides one ton.

56 years ago this month I was one of a company of young men who delivered the baptismal font for the St. George temple…

We were instructed to guard our loads carefully and not to exhibit them to anybody except the bishops of the wards along the way, and people the bishops might permit to see them.

My load contained the bottom of the font…

We traveled along with soldiers going to Beaver on foot. We passed and repassed them often and almost had to fight to keep them from snooping in our wagons. Some of them believed we were loaded with cannon. The John D. Lee trial was on at the time and there was a great deal of excitement and many wild rumors. But we held to our course and carried out our instructions…

Some of the way it was so hot that we traveled at night for the benefit of our oxen. It reached 119 degrees in the shade. Our oxen nearly died. Every time they heard a stream of water we had all we could do to keep them from stampeding.

We did not leave for the return trip till we saw the font safely in place. As fast as they unloaded us, the pieces were put in place and bolted together. Apostle Orson Hyde went in and saw the font in place and came out weeping with joy. He thanked God that he had lived to see another font in place in a temple of the Lord. He said this people would never be driven from the Rocky Mountains. I believed him, for I had heard prophecy before.

Respectfully, C. L. Christensen, Moab, Utah 
(Demille, p. 40)


January 9 baptisms for the dead were begun, and January 11, endowments for the dead were performed for the first time in this dispensation in any temple.


Letter sent from the General Tithing Office, April 3, 1874 to Brother Smoot in Utah County

…You will doubtless rejoice with us to learn that the temple in St. George is progressing very satisfactorily…No mission since the organization of the Church has had so many natural barriers to overcome, so much costly labor to perform, nor such a length drain on the faith, perseverance, and pockets of the people, than the one usually called the “Dixie Mission.” The last and heaviest drain upon their resources is the building of the temple, and never was a call made that met with a more universal and happy response, but their utter inability to complete such a gigantic labour with the means they had at command, necessitated a call for help from their Northern Neighbors. Hence we in this city have had the privilege of raising several thousand dollars through the various wards for that purpose, and should the members of  your county feel desirous of enjoying the same privilege that [all] may share in the blessings of that temple when completed, we hereby extend to all such a cordial invitation to participate; let neither the rich nor the poor be slighted, but everyone in  your entire district have a chance to donate something towards the first erected temple in Utah Territory, not even refusing the widows of 5 or 10 cents, which in the sight of God is equal to the rich man’s $50 or $100. Those who have no money might wish to turn in some grain or stock…

[signed] Ed W. Hunter, L.W. Hardy, J.A. Little (Presiding Bishopric)
(DeMille, p. 43-44)

At General Conference, the First Presidency would call for volunteers from the rest of the state to go to Dixie and work on the Temple for 3 months or so at a time. Hundreds went each year, some on their way to settle Arizona. Special housing and a bakery had to be provided for them.

As the St. George Temple was being built, in addition to monetary donations, wagons would go through the wards in the state accepting food, furniture, cloth, chickens, whatever. A group of men would go through announcing the drive, and in a few days, the wagons would come for the donations.

The temple cost an estimated $800,000 to build.

DEDICATION, April 6, 1877, in conjunction with General Conference.

 Very few photos depict the St. George Temple
with its original tower.


The temple was originally designed as depicted above.  Brigham Young didn’t like the short and squatty tower (really--who would?), and asked the saints to change it to be taller. They were so disheartened after all their sacrifice, that they didn’t do it. President Young died 5 months after the dedication, at age 76. Not long afterwards, a bolt of lightning struck the tower during a thunderstorm and burned it to its base, miraculously leaving the rest of the temple without damage. The feeling among the saints was that President Young was getting the final word. Accordingly, they rebuilt the tower the way he had wanted it.



When Howard W. Hunter became the president of the Church, he asked us to “establish the temple of the Lord as the great symbol of [our] membership.” (Oct. 94 Ensign, p. 2) He said the temple was the “supreme mortal experience.” (Feb. 95 Ensign, p. 5) Why? (Class answers. Put into two columns on board; add category headings afterwards.)


DO                             FEEL
Covenants                   Peace—something that you make
Service                       Love—your own main role in life
Learn                          Joy—your ultimate purpose
Seek comfort              Hope—in achieving Celestial Kingdom
Purify self, etc.

(Use whichever of the following quotes are applicable to class members’ ideas.)

Armed with Power
We ask thee, Holy Father, that thy servants may go forth from this house armed with thy power, and that thy name may be upon them, and thy glory be round about them, and thine angels have charge over them.
--D&C 109:22

Earth joined with Heaven
It is in the temple that things of the earth are joined with the things of heaven.
--President Hunter, Oct 94 Ensign, p. 2

It is a place of peace where minds can be centered upon things of the spirit and the worries of the world can be laid aside.

--President Hunter, Oct 94 Ensign, p. 2

Sanctity and Safety
We should go not only for our kindred dead but also for the personal blessing of temple worship, for the sanctity and safety that are within those hallowed and consecrated walls.
--President Hunter, Feb 95 Ensign, p. 5
As we attend the temple, we learn more richly and deeply the purpose of life and the significance of the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.
--President Hunter, Feb 94 Ensign, p. 5

All of our efforts in proclaiming the gospel, perfecting the Saints, and redeeming the dead lead to the holy temple. This is because the temple ordinances are absolutely crucial…
--President Hunter, General Conference, April 1922

When the saints built the Nauvoo temple, completion was their goal. Once they achieved that goal, they had to abandon the temple, and the Lord was satisfied. But that was the last time that building the temple was the end goal. With the St. George temple, and every one of the 100+ since, we have been allowed to keep our temples; now we may use the temples, not only to build our eternal families, but to build ourselves.

What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
--1 Corinthians 6:19-20
And the spirit and the body are the soul of man.
--D&C 88:15

If we could make our souls (body and spirit) as holy as a temple, we could experience these products of the spirit [refer to chart] more of the time, and they would be a great blessing to us, as they are so essential to our purpose. In addition, our experiences when we attend the temple will be greatly magnified, since the only thing that restrains the spirit in the temple is our own selves—either our sins, or our own states of mind—and we would gain greater power there. How can we do this? Just like they built te St. George Temple. (Post wordstrips.)

  1. DESIRE. Be eager. Begin immediately. In St. George, they began to build the temple the very afternoon of the ground-breaking, with very little idea how to proceed and very few resources.
  2. START WHERE YOU ARE. We have to go with what we have, but we can learn from St. George that a sure foundation can be laid anywhere.
  3. BUILD ON THE ROCK, despite the obstacles. Physical disability, mental illness, childhood abuse, sin, divorce, whatever the bog or mire, it is possible to resolve these problems and build a sure foundation on Christ. No one is hopeless.
  4. WORK AND SACRIFICE. Expect that it will take considerable and continual effort.
  5. MAGNIFY YOUR STRENGTHS. Use your own talents, spiritual gifts, and physical body to their best. The St. George saints only had red rock, but they plastered and painted it.
  6. SEEK/ACCEPT HELP. There is strength in church membership; we are all blessed by helping each other.
  7. DEDICATE YOURSELF NOW. They dedicated and used one room at a time in these early temples. You don’t need to wait until you are perfect and complete to serve. As you grow and develop in your abilities, you can contribute more.
  8. CHANGE COURSE AS ADVISED. No matter how much effort you have put into the direction you are going, if the prophet says you should change, do it.
  9. KEEP WATCH. The St. George Temple is the longest continuously operating temple. Remember Samuel Rolfe, the assistant doorkeeper? When the Saints left the Kirtland and Nauvoo temples, and no longer monitored the entrances, they became just buildings. If we are going to be a temple people, we need doorkeepers to our souls to watch what we allow in physically (Word of Wisdom), mentally (media), and emotionally.

[Satan] would have us become involved in a million and one things in this life—probably none of which are very important in the long run—to keep us from concentrating on the things that are really important…
--Elder Marvin J. Ashton, Oct 92 CR

We are half-hearted creatures…like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea…We are far too easily pleased.
--C. S. Lewis, A Mind Awake, p. 168

We are at a time in the history of the world and the growth of the Church when we must think more of holy things and act more like the Savior would expect his disciples to act… May you let the meaning and beauty and peace of the temple come into your everyday life more directly…
--President Hunter, Oct. 94 CR

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Doctrine and Covenants Lesson #29 Building the Kingdom of God in Nauvoo

"In 1847 a visitor to the abandoned town [of Nauvoo] described it from the tower of the temple as a 'city in the centre of an apparently boundless wilderness.  To the east lay in perfect beauty the grand Prairie of Illinois, reaching to the waters of Michigan; to the North and South faded away the winding Mississippi; and on the west, far as the eye could reach, was spread out a perfect sea of forest land.'"  (George W. Givens, In Old Nauvoo, p. 18)
Colonol Thomas L. Kane, who later became a great friend and advocate of the Mormons (who named Kanesville, Iowa for him), visited it soon after they all left.  "I was ascending the last hillside upon my journey, when a landscape in delightful contrast broke upon my view.  Half encircled by a bend of the river, a beautiful city lay glittering in the fresh morning sun; its bright new dwellings, set in cool green gardens, ranging up around a stately dome-shaped hill, which was crowned by a noble marble edifice, whose high tapering spire was radiant with white and gold.  The city appeared to cover several miles, and beyond it, in the background, there rolled off a fair country, checquered by the careful lines of fruitful husbandry.  The unmistakable marks of industry, enterprise and educated wealth, everywhere, made the scene one of singular and most striking beauty.

"It was a natural impulse to visit this inviting region.  I procured a skiff, and rowing across the river, landed at the chief wharf of the city.  No one met me there...I walked through the solitary streets.  The town lay as in a dream, under some deadening spell of loneliness, from which I almost feared to wake it.  For plainly it had not slept long.  There was no grass growing up in the paved ways.  Rains had not entirely washed away the prints of dusty footsteps.

"Yet I went about unchecked.  I went into empty workshops, ropewalks, and smithies.  The spinner's wheel was idle; the carpenter had gone from his workbench and shavings, his unfinished sash and casing.  Fresh bark was in the tanner's vat, and the fresh-chopped lightwood stood piled against the baker's oven...I could have supposed the people hidden in their houses, but the doors were unfastened; and when at last I timidly entered them, I found dead ashes white upon the hearths, and had to tread a tiptoe, as if walking down the aisle of a country church, to avoid rousing irreverent echoes from the naked floors" (p. 17-18).

I visited Nauvoo for the first time as a 13-year-old with my parents when the foundation was all that remained of the temple and a few houses were rebuilt, then again with my husband and our older children when much more was restored, and then again with our younger children when the temple was fully rebuilt.  I have loved watching the resurrection of Nauvoo, a place where some of my ancestors lived.  For this lesson, rather than focusing on the trials, the doctrine or the history, I'm just going to have a little fun telling you about the culture, customs, and times of Nauvoo the Beautiful, in case you are not as fortunate as I and unable to go there in person.  (For a complete doctrinal lesson on Nauvoo, I suggest Bill Beardall's wonderful website, The Gospel Doctrine Class.)

"The Reverend Samuel Prior, a Methodist minister visiting Nauvoo in the spring of 1843, revealed his amazement in his report on the city of the Saints:

"'At length the city burst upon my sight, and how sadly was I disappointed.  Instead of seeing a few miserable log cabins and mud hovels, which I had expected to find, I was surprised to see one of the most romantic places that I have visited in the West.  The buildings, though many of them were small and of wood, yet bore the marks of neatness which I have not seen equalled in this country" (p. 10).


Nauvoo was inhabited by the saints for only a few years, from 1839 to 1846.  A census taken in August 1844 gave the city proper a population of 11,057.  An estimated 1/3 more lived in the suburbs.  New families kept arriving, even as the saints were being forced out.  The official Church estimate from the time of the exodus is 20,000.  The city was highly civilized, especially for a frontier town, sporting 91 miles of stone sidewalks and no boardwalks.


"The chief source of news in Nauvoo was the newspaper.  The Saints had published newspapers in Missouri and Ohio. During the siege in Missouri, Church leaders buried the printing press used for the Elders' Journal.  It was recovered in 1839 and brought to Nauvoo where it was used to print the Times and Seasons..."  (Church History in the Fulness of Times Institute Manual, p. 246)

"The first thing that strikes the stranger [about newspapers] is their extraordinary number...almost every town, down to communities of 2,000 in number, has not only one but several daily papers...many families are not contented with one but must have two or more"  (Alexander Mackay, a British visitor to America in the 1840s).

Americans in the 1840s were quite literate.  "Americans have the glory of every citizen being a reader and having books to read" (Harriet Martineau, foreign visitor to America, quoted in Givens, p. 248).  "Newspapers were the most popular reading material.  The 1840s have been called the 'Golden Age' of American journalism" (Givens, p. 263).

"Throughout the country, respect for the printed word was strong and the influence of newspapers more powerful than it is today.  Paradoxically, despite this respect, there was widespread criticism of the moral content of newspapers, just as there is today of television" (p. 267).

Newspapers did not intend to be impartial; they were a place for editors to express their views, and often strongly.

Newspapers of the era are, surprisingly, not a good source for historians.  They did not report local news.  "News seemed to be valued in proportion to the distance from which it came--the greater the distance, the greater the value" (p. 270).


Mailing a letter in the 1840s was very expensive (25 cents--a quarter of a days' wage!), and quite unreliable.  Postage was paid per page, per mile, sent folded over without an envelope, and the receiver had to pay.  Hence this interesting notice posted by Joseph Smith in the newspaper:  "Dear Brother [in other words, Dear Editor]--I wish to inform my friends and all others abroad, that whenever they wish to address me through the postoffice, they will be kind enough to pay the postage on the same.  My friends will excuse me in this matter, as I am willing to pay postage on letters to hear from them; but I am unwilling to pay for insults and menaces; consequently must refuse all unpaid.  Yours in the Gospel, Joseph Smith, Jun." (p. 73).

To save on the cost of postage, senders would often write across the paper horizontally, then turn the page and write over top of that vertically, and then write across both of those diagonally, thus getting three pages worth of writing out of one page.  It was called crosswriting.  So when a person wrote in his journal that "the family spent the evening reading a letter from Uncle George," it was quite literally the project of the entire evening.  Try to read this letter!


Americans were extremely hardworking, according to British visitors.  "For the average family, economic activities took up 12 to 16 hours per day in the summer and 10-12 hours in the winter"  (Givens, p. 153).  The Protestant work ethic was to work nonstop.  "The new doctrine that 'men are that they might have joy' was hard for many of the early Saints to accept, but it was made easier when the recreation was given an early stamp of approval by their young Prophet" (p. 154).

There were many social rules for the common form of recreation: going for a walk.  You were to converse in low tones, never laugh out loud, not stare at people, not turn around, not go out without gloves, not swing your bag, untie your bonnet or call to a friend.  There were more rules to "walking out" than to sports in the day.  In truth, there wasn't any sport in that era, outside of plain old violence.
Other popular recreations were shooting, circus exhibitions, and phrenology ("professionals" telling one's personality and future by feeling the bumps on the person's head).  The results of phrenology readings were daily published in newspapers.  The Wasp published the readings of Willard Richards' skull, claiming he was "very partial to the opposite sex," "attached to a place of long residence," having "indistinct notions of time, of ages, dates, events", and being "without fluency."  This for the man who became the official church historian, editor of the Deseret News, and church recorder! Something tells me it wasn't an accurate assessment.


One of the reasons for gathering the saints was the education of their children.  Although education was not necessarily favored in frontier America, due to the physical labor needed from the children for the farm, it was a priority for the saints.  A First Presidency Message of 1838 said, "One of the principle objects then, of our coming together, is to obtain the advantages of education; and in order to do this, compact society is absolutely necessary" (p. 237)  There were at least 81 teachers in Nauvoo over the few years, and 1,800 students.  Schools were often only open for a few weeks or months, but the school day might be 8 hours long (Church History in the Fullness of Times, p. 245).


Nauvoo was an unusual frontier town in another aspect: the number of women equaled the number of men.  Views expressed by Mormon leaders regarding women were quite ahead of their time.  As John Taylor wrote in the Mormon secular newspaper, the Nauvoo Neighbor, "Make it an established rule to consult your wife on all occasions.  Your interest is hers; and undertake no plan contrary to her advice and approbation...Your wife has an equal right with yourself to all your worldly possessions"  (Givens, p. 235).

Although a woman had to apply to become a member of the Relief Society at that time, membership was very popular.  At the time of the Prophet's death, Relief Society members numbered over 1,300  (Church History, etc., p. 249).


An understanding of the crime rate of the day sheds some light on the abuse the saints suffered from their enemies.  "One noted authority on the history of American violence believed that 'the period of the 1830s, 1840s, and 1850s may have been the era of the greatest urban violence America has ever experienced.'  Another authority concluded that from 1830 through the 1850s, 'mob violence not only increased markedly but also became a feature of American life--not urban life, or southern life, or western life--but American life'" (Givens, p. 103).  

However, Ann Pitchforth, wrote to relatives in England of the Nauvoo saints, "There is universal love among them.  They are all kind to one another and very few houses indeed have either locks or bolts.  All leave everything outside their houses with the greatest of safety."  Another visitor to Nauvoo reported that he heard of no crime during the two weeks he was there, and he saw no beggars or paupers because laws prevented it and the Relief Society took care of it.  Joseph Smith, while sitting in a court meeting, saw two boys fighting across the street.  He left the meeting, ran over and grabbed them by the arms, told them not to fight, and then chewed out the onlookers for not stopping them.  Fisticuffs were not entertainment and were not tolerated in Nauvoo (p. 101).

Lawyers in New York City were making up to $10,000 a year, the truly great ones making $5,000 a case, but lawyers in the nine Nauvoo law firms had to moonlight at other jobs because of the low crime rate and lack of lawsuits.  Lawyers were not well-looked-upon in Nauvoo.  Hyrum Smith said lawyers "were made in gizzard making time, when it was cheaper to get gizzards than souls" (p. 109).  (Maybe he would change his mind today, since several of our present-day apostles were lawyers.)

However, due to threats and atrocities from the outside, Nauvoo had to set up a defensive militia.  At the time of the Prophet's death, the Nauvoo Legion boasted 5,000 men, the "largest trained soldiery in the United States, excepting only the U.S. Army" (p. 134).  300 Nauvoo militiamen rescued Joseph from kidnappers in 1843, chasing a riverboat on both water and land, traveling 500 miles in seven days. 

Although the governor suppressed the Nauvoo Legion, it kept the city safe for five years, and kept the mobs at bay after Joseph Smith's death until the exodus.  Companies of 20 to 40 cavalry patrolled the county, chasing mobbers, protecting Mormons and non-Mormons alike, and rescuing those burned out of their homes to safety.


Mormon leaders often invited visiting ministers of other religions to speak to the people, as it was a common form of entertainment in the day. A visiting Methodist minister wrote,  "In the evening I was invited to preach and did so.  The congregation was large and respectable they paid the utmost attention.  This surprised me a little, as I did not expect to find any such things as a religious toleration among them" (p. 143).

There were no meetinghouses in Nauvoo until the bottom floor of the temple was built and used as such.  Meetings were held outdoors.  Church was held every Sunday at 10:00 in "the grove" gathering place.  The congregation sat on split-log benches or on the grass.  If the weather did not permit it, meetings dispersed to homes or businesses.  Women were allowed to speak in church at times.  The center of religious worship, however, was the home.

The building of the $1 million temple provided focus for all the saints, and a livelihood for many, employing 600 wood- and stonecutters, and 200 builders.  This expensive project received much criticism from outsiders, but Joseph Smith said, "Some say it is better to give to the poor than build the Temple.  The building of the Temple has sustained the poor who were driven from Missouri, and kept them from starving; and it has been the best means of this object which could be devised" (p. 151).


At one time or another, there were 35 general stores in Nauvoo, 1 farmer's market, 5 drug stores, 8 tailor shops, 9 dressmakers or milliners, 14 shoe shops, a watch shop, a daguerreotype photographer, John Browning's gun shop, 5 horsebreeding companies, a bakery, 5 livery stables, 11 grist mills, 3 lumberyards, a cleaners, at least 2 hotels, and a match factory (owned by Emma Smith's future second husband, and later becoming the famous Diamond match company).

Scovill Bakery


Missionaries left Nauvoo for service all over the world.  The twelve apostles went on missions to Great Britain. Orson Hyde went to Palestine in October 1841. Missionaries went to the Pacific Islands where 1/3 of the island kingdom of Tabuai was baptized (300 miles south of Tahiti).  The Seventies Hall was the Mission Training Center.


Heber C. Kimball's gorgeous Nauvoo home

There were no short-timers in Nauvoo.  Despite having been cast out of previous communities, time and again, its citizens lived as though it would last forever.  People bought and sold and planted trees right up until the end.  Heber C. Kimball and Willard Richards completed construction on their beautiful brick homes in 1845, although mob action was making an exodus inevitable.  Individual rooms of the temple were dedicated as they were completed.

The Nauvoo saints would be pleased to see the continuation of their legacy: Restoration of the city itself, the worldwide growth of missionary service and church membership, the continuance of the Relief Society, the rapid multiplication of temples and temple work (the doctrine and ordinances of the redemption of the dead having been introduced in Nauvoo), and the rebuilding of their own homes and temple.

Each of these Nauvoo saints was just an ordinary person, living an ordinary life, but their influence has been felt for over 250 years now.  The ultimate question for the church history student then is, What will be my legacy? 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Doctrine and Covenants Lesson #27 "They Must Be Chastened and Tried"


"The Prophet Joseph and those who accompanied him to Missouri in the summer of 1831 were joyful to learn that Jackson County was the location of the latter-day Zion.  They did not realize that within two years the Saints would be driven from their homes in western Missouri...

"The year 1833 was one of tribulation for the Saints in Jackson County, Missouri.  Irreconcilable conflicts developed with their neighbors over several issues...

"By the end of 1832 there were 800 Saints gathered into five branches in Jackson County.  New people were arriving almost every week..."

Although there was Church leadership set up in Jackson County by the Prophet, "Some members, however, tried to circumvent the Church leaders in Missouri by ignoring their authority to preside...

"Other difficulties arose in Zion.  Petty jealousies, covetousness, light-mindedness, unbelief, and general neglect in keeping the commandments of God came to the attention of the Prophet.  Some people in Zion even charged Joseph Smith with 'seeking after monarchical power and authority' and said that he was purposely putting off settling in Zion...

"The Prophet wrote back in the spirit of peace and sent a copy of the 'Olive Leaf' (D&C 88)...

"Following receipt of the Olive Leaf revelation, a council of high priests met on 26 February 1833 and called for solemn assemblies to be held in each of the branches (see D&C 88:70).  David Pettigrew wrote in his journal that Bishop Partridge appointed them 'as a day of confession and repentance.'"...The Lord was pleased with this new spirit...(D&C 90:34)

Peace began to prevail.  A "school of elders," like the Kirtland "school of prophets" was organized.  Prophecies were being publicized in the Church newspapers and The Book of Commandments was being printed.  The plan for the City of Zion was drawn up, which included dwellings for 15,000-20,000 people in 1 square mile with a complex of 24 temples (probably more like the Kirtland Temple--meetinghouses/temples--as the fulness of temple worship wasn't instituted until the Nauvoo Temple).  Farmers and merchants alike would live "in town," the farmers commuting to work outside town each day.

"The happy and favorable circumstances of the Saints in Jackson County ended suddenly in July of 1833.  The original inhabitants of the area became increasingly suspicious as the number of Church members in Jackson County grew rapidly...

"Jackson County's residents were a rough-and-ready group who had come from the mountainous regions of several southern states to the western edge of the United States to find freedom from societal restraints...Many of them indulged in profanity, Sabbath-breaking, horse-racing, cock-fighting, idleness, drunkenness, gambling, and violence...

"By July 1833 the Mormon population in the county was almost 1,200 with more arriving each month.  Some members boasted that thousands more were coming to live in the county...

"Protestant ministers...resented the Mormon intrusion" into their territory.  "In addition, Mormon merchants and tradesmen successfully took over a portion of the lucrative Santa Fe Trail trade previously dominated by the Missourians...

"The Missouri frontiersmen feared and hated the [Native Americans]" who were being settled nearby by the government.  "The first Mormon missionaries came into this tense atmosphere declaring the prophetic destiny of the native Americans.  The old settlers were afraid the Saints would use the [Native Americans] to help them conquer the area for their New Jerusalem...

"The conflict between the Saints and the old settlers came to a head over the slavery issue.  Missouri had come into the Union as a slave state...Some of the Saints brought abolitionist sentiments from the North and East...Missourians were highly aroused early in 1832 by rumors that the Saints were trying to persuade slaves to disobey their masters or run away."  (Quotes are all from Church History in the Fulness of Times, p. 127-132)


Refer to the pdfs in Lesson #28 if you want to see detail on the persecutions of Missouri.  The information is a little more applicable to that lesson, so I put it there.


Parley P. Pratt and Lyman Wight took an arduous journey from Jackson to Kirtland to report the persecutions to Joseph Smith, arriving on February 22, 1834.  The Prophet said he would go to redeem Zion and the High Council ratified this decision.  30-40 of the men present volunteered.  "That same day Joseph Smith received a revelation concerning the recruitment and size of this army...They were to recruit a company of 500 men if possible--but no fewer than 100...(see D&C 103:11,15,22,29-40)"  Pairs of missionaries headed off to the branches in the eastern states to recruit.  The result was not favorable.  Joseph was displeased.  Better success was found in Kirtland.  On the appointed day, May 1, only 20 people were ready to go on the 1,000-mile march.  They started off.  May 5, over 80 joined them with Joseph Smith as commander.  They mustered a few more recruits on the way, and by the time the various camps joined on June 8th, there was a total of 207 men, 11 women, 11 children and 25 baggage wagons.

The march was as challenging as most army marches:  The men walked beside the wagons carrying packs and guns.  They often marched 35 miles a day in the oppressive heat and humidity.  They suffered hunger, thirst and blisters.  They woke at 4:00 a.m. to the bugle call.  Feeding and watering the group was very challenging.  Sometimes the best they had was rancid butter, maggot-infested bacon, rotten ham, cornmeal mush...Sometimes they had to drive swamp water full of mosquito larvae, which they strained with their teeth.  (Ewww!)  Although they drank milk while marching through an area that was infected with "milk sickness" and "puking fever," the Prophet promised they would not get the sicknesses and they didn't.

Often they were frightened by the threats of enemies around them.  They tried to keep their identity and purpose a secret.  When marching through Indianapolis under great threat, the Prophet promised they would be safe.  They divided into small groups and all got through the city undetected.

"Potential enemies notwithstanding, quarreling and contention within the camp became its most vexing problem..."  (Church History in the Fulness of Times, p. 141-145)

The following are some notes on the bickering and fighting that occurred within the camp:

"Sylvester [Smith] is remembered for his quarrelsome spirit on the march with Zion’s Camp. His criticism of camp leaders for the way in which they prepared for the journey, and his complaints about the strain on the men and teams pulling the heavy wagons, sparked dissension."  (Susan Easton Black, Who's Who in the Doctrine and Covenants, Sylvester Smith entry.)

Levi Hancock, Wilford Woodruff: The Prophet confronted him about it…[and] Sylvester defiantly replied that “even if Joseph Smith was a prophet he was not afraid and would contradict him in the face of all present.” (Autobiography of Levi Hancock, and journal of Wilford Woodruff, quoted in Black, Who’s Who in the Doctrine and Covenants, p. 298)

George A. Smith: On Wednesday, 14th of May, we had been unable to obtain sufficient baking and cooking utensils, and as our commissary had been disappointed in getting a supply of bread…we began to be straitened for the staff of life. Men were sent on to Bellefontaine to have a supply baked by the time we should arrive, and although every measure practicable had been taken, Sylvester Smith  murmured against the Prophet because the Camp was not supplied with bread…

May 16th: During the day being very much fatigued with carrying my musket I put it into the baggage wagon, which was customary, and when I arrived at camp in the evening my gun could not be found. This circumstance was exceedingly mortifying to me and many of the brethren accused me of carelessness, and ridiculed me about loading my gun. Jenkins Salisbury took the most pleasure in ridiculing me for my carelessness. I afterwards learned…that the gun was pawned for whiskey by one of our company, and have always believed that Jenkins Salisbury, who was very fond of the good creature, disposed of it in that way. (George A. Smith, “My Journal,” The Instructor, 81, [1946] 78, 95)

Wilford Woodruff: We were followed by spies hundreds of miles to find out the object of our mission. We had some boys in the camp. George A. Smith was among the youngest. When they could get him alone they would question him, thinking that he looked green enough for them to get what they wanted out of him. (Smith, History of the Church, 2:67)

Joseph Smith: The 17th of May we crossed the state line of Ohio, and encamped for the Sabbath just within the limits of Indiana, having traveled about forty miles that day…We had our sentinels posted every night, on account of spies who were continually striving to harass us, steal our horses, etc.

This evening there was a difficulty between some of the brethren and Sylvester Smith…Finding a rebellious spirit in Sylvester Smith, and to some extent in others, I told them they would meet with misfortunes, difficulties and hindrances and said, “and you will know it before you leave this place,” exhorting them to humble themselves before the Lord and become united, that they might not be scourged… On Sunday morning [the following], when we arose, we found almost every horse in the camp so badly foundered that we could scarcely lead them a few rods to the water. The brethren then deeply realized the effects of discord. When I learned the fact, I exclaimed to the brethren, that for a witness that God overruled and had His eye upon them, all those who would humble themselves before the Lord should know that the hand of God was in this misfortune, and their horses would be restored to health immediately; and by twelve o’clock the same day the horses were as nimble as ever, with the exception of one of Sylvester Smith’s, which soon afterwards died. (HC 2:68-69)

George A. Smith: The Prophet Joseph took a full share of the fatigues of the entire journey…While most of the men in the camp complained to him of sore toes, blistered feet, long drives, scanty supply and provisions, poor quality of bread, bad corndodger, frozen butter, strong honey, maggoty bacon and cheese, etc., even a dog could not bark at some men without their murmuring at Joseph. If they had to camp with bad water, it would nearly cause a rebellion, yet we were in the Camp of Zion, and many of us were prayerless, thoughtless, careless, heedless, foolish or devilish, and yet we did not know it. Joseph had to bear with us, and tutor us, his children. (Memoirs of George A. Smith, p. 25)

Heber C. Kimball: June 3rd: While we were refreshing ourselves and teams, about the middle of the day, Brother Joseph got up in a wagon and said that he would deliver a prophecy…the Lord had told him that there would be a scourge come upon the camp in consequence of the fractious and unruly spirits that appeared among them, and they would die like sheep with the rot; still if they would repent and humble themselves before the Lord, the scourge in a great measure might be turned away, “but, as the Lord lives, this camp will suffer for giving way to their unruly temper. (Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, p. 47-48)

Joseph Smith: At the commencement [of the cholera attack], I attempted to lay on hands for their recovery, but I quickly learned by painful experience, that when the great Jehovah decrees destruction on any people, and makes known His determination, man must not attempt to stay His hand. The moment I attempted to rebuke the disease I was attacked, and had I not desisted in my attempt to save the life of a brother, I would have sacrificed my own. (HC 2:114)


Although Zion was not redeemed, because the Saints clearly were not ready, and Zion's Camp returned home apparently unsuccessful, the future leadership of the Church was refined and purified through the march.  Nine of the Twelve Apostles and all of the Seventy were chosen from Zion's Camp.

As Joseph Smith said, "Brethren, some of you are angry with me, because you did not fight in Missouri; but let me tell you, God did not want you to fight.  He could not organize His kingdom with twelve men to open the Gospel door to the nations of the earth, and with seventy men under the direction to follow in their tracks, unless He took them from a body of men who had offered their lives, and who had made as great a sacrifice as did Abraham"  (HC 2:182)