Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Brigham Young in the Southern Settlements, 1864

One of the modern wonders of the field of documentary editing is the work of LaJean Purcell Carruth.

The Church History Library has recently released LaJean's transcription of remarks made by Brigham Young during a trip to Southern Utah in 1864. His remarks tended to be rather practical; in Fillmore he told the people about the continuing nature of revelation:
I say to you, as I can to the whole world, there has not yet been a revelation given to this people from the time Joseph commenced to receive revelation but what would be [altered] provided the people were capable of receiving more. The Lord has to speak to the people according to their capacity, not according to his capacity. We are not prepared to receive all the heavens has for us. The Lord gives revelation upon revelation, here a little and there a little. Those precepts he gives we should improve upon them. . . . The Lord is laboring and has been for long time to prepare a people to receive blessings. He sent his gospel, called Joseph, gave the Book of Mormon, to prepare us to . . . receive all the blessings the earth can bestow, and the blessings of eternity. You and I believe alike with regard to the fullness of his power and goodness. He has blessings and wants bestow them on the whole human family. We believe alike. Why are we not blessed then? We are not ready to receive the blessings.
In Beaver, the teams were all hitched up to leave when Brigham Young turned and walked into the bowery [1] and said, "I want the attention of the congregation. I shall not stop to have singing and prayers. Do your praying when you get home and sing when you please. I have a few words to say [and] I am going to say them."

He told the people of Parowan to beautify their town, and the children of Parowan to "learn your letters, to spell your single syllables, to learn to put together letters [and] syllables to make words, and words [to make] sentences, and then to make subjects, until you become [a] man and woman worthy of the character of intelligent beings."

On September 14, he told the people of St. George gathered in the new Bowery[2] to keep working at developing their water supplies.
It is the will and pleasure of the Almighty [that] he change the veins of this water in the mountains and causes them to come out in springs when he pleases. And if we will work with our might and in good faith the Lord will work and he will preserve us from those that would overrun. He had not the place for us to go to prepared, but he had these mountains, and until he has, he will preserve us in these mountains. He will withhold the [frost] and send the [rain] that the Latter-day Saints may not be afflicted.
The people of St. George were working hard to build the St. George Tabernacle, started the previous year as a public works project to keep the people from starving to death in the desert, and as Brigham Young spoke, they were moving into a period of great food shortages and severe hunger and malnutrition.

His comments the next day emphasized the fact that the people listening to him were new members of the Church. Several people in the congregation would have been members since the 1830s, but most had been baptized in the 1840s or 1850s, and needed to be trained in the practicalities of Mormon religious life. He said:
When you come to a meeting like this and one of servants of God get up to pray, let every man and woman be in silence. . . . When a man [is] engaged in praying and we are looking away, and they are looking at the bonnet of one, and how the collar of another sits [and thinking] I wonder where my cattle is, and how my meat is I put in the stove, and how the children are doing, and the mind[s] of the people are all over creation, the Lord can’t bless such a people. . . . Mothers: take this lesson and carry it home with you, and when the father is engaged in prayer have the children kneel down with you, and have them pray and teach them to pray as their father prays, and ask for the things he asks for, and when a word is spoken keep that in your heart. If the people can do this with their eyes staring around, they can do what I can’t do.
Charles Lowell Walker did not report on the conference at the time, but later he noted,
Bro Brigham and a number of the twelve Apostles and others paid us a visit about the last of Sept and spent three days with us and gave us some very good instructions and doctrine on our present condition, and future hapines. We had a time of rejoiceing and were comforted by the rich teachings they imparted unto us. And I must confes I felt sorry and even lonesome when they left us. I felt in my heart to bless them for their kindnes and good will towards us on the mission. (245)

After Brigham Young left St. George, he traveled through Gunnison and Manti.[3] His final comments were in Mount Pleasant on September 27. He said:
 [It is] a little over 500 miles that we have traveled from the north to the south to visit the saints this season. Settlement after settlement, [we have] gathered the people together under a bowery like this, and you would think you was in Salt Lake City at headquarters. [We] see the faces of those that is familiar to us, and see the large congregations of the saints. It cheers and comforts and stimulates the brethren, and they feel they are not forgotten. The elders went and preached to them in foreign lands and gathered them, and now they are not forgotten, [but] still [they are prayed] for and preached to and presided and led and guided and counseled and directed. What for? The building up the kingdom of God for the establishment of the kingdom that Daniel saw and wrote about.
Well, that was a lot of text of his remarks, and you can read the rest of them at the Church History website, but what a great addition to the historical record to have these comments, since they were taken down in shorthand and previously unavailable.

[1] A bowery was a temporary structure built of posts with a covering of tree boughs.

[2] Since the Saints had just begun construction on the Tabernacle, they would have met in the Bowery. The first St. George Bowery was directly south of the Tabernacle, but a new Bowery was built for Brigham Young's visit, as the short-lived newspaper Veprecula noted, "on the block north of the public square, between the tithing office and the St. George Hall. It is 85 feet long, 45 feet wide, and 14 feet in height. The center of the roof is a deck 11 feet wide, supported by stupendous cedar and pine pillars 8 feet apart, with sawed lumber joints bolted firmly to each one of them." (Diary of Charles Lowell Walker, 244.)

[3] Things remained interesting in St. George for a few days after the visit: on Sunday Orson Pratt, Jr., publicly separated himself from the Church and was excommunicated. See more in Richard and Mary VanWagoner, "Orson Pratt, Jr.: Gifted Son of an Apostle and an Apostate," Dialogue 21:1. The VanWagoners note in the article that the portrayal of Pratt and his family in The Giant Joshua is off base. (Of course that can be said about many of the people in that book.)

The map is the 1870 Gamble map from David Rumsey Maps.

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