Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Envied by a King: Mormon Boys, 1916-17

Envied by a King: Mormon Boys, 1916-17

By: Ardis E. Parshall - March 29, 2009

Kind friends, as here I stand to sing,
So very [strange] I feel,
That now I’ve made my bow, I fear
I don’t look quite genteel;
But, never mind, for I’m a boy
That’s always full of joy –
A rough and ready sort of chap –
An honest Mormon boy.

A Mormon boy, a Mormon boy,
I am a Mormon boy;
I might be envied by a king,
For I am a Mormon boy.

Scouts from Monroe, Utah, on the sumit of Mount Baldy, 1916

I’m proud to know that I was born
Among these mountains high,
Where I’ve been taught to love the truth,
And scorn to tell a lie;
Yet I’ll confess that I am wild,
And often do annoy
My dearest friends, but that’s a fault
Of many a Mormon boy.

A Mormon boy, a Mormon boy,
I am a Mormon boy;
I might be envied by a king,
For I am a Mormon boy.

My father is a Mormon true,
And when I am a man,
I want to be like him, and do
Just all the good I can.
My faults I’ll try to overcome,
And while I life enjoy,
With pride I’ll lift my head, and say,
I am a Mormon boy.

A Mormon boy, a Mormon boy,
I am a Mormon boy;
I might be envied by a king,
For I am a Mormon boy.

— Evan Stephens

Whether they were Primary boys, Scouts, deacons, young men in MIA, or missionaries, the rough and ready Mormon boys of 1916 and 1917 were busy having a good time, or rendering service, or doing both at once:

Missionaries in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 1916


MIA Boys’ Band of the Salt Lake 9th Ward, 1916


Elder V.L. Pingree of Salt Lake City, serving as a missionary in Pennsylvania
and volunteering labor in a local war garden, 1916


Richfield, Utah, scouts practicing first aid, 1916
(Scoutmaster Roy Chidester is named in the original caption. I knew Roy as an old man in the 1960s,
a friend of my grandmother, who let me feed dandelion greens to his pet turtle)


Waterloo Ward (Salt Lake) Boy Scouts, 1916
Working in a war garden


Deacons and teachers of Idaho Falls, 1917


Boy Scouts of Roosevelt, Utah, 1916


Boy Scouts of Provo, Utah, hiking to Utah Lake, 1916


Trail Builders of Price, Utah, 1916


Scouts and Beehive Girls of Sigurd, Utah, 1917


A Scout demonstration, 1916, in the Deseret Gymnasium, Salt Lake City


High school cadets, most of whom were LDS, marching in a “preparedness” parade in Salt Lake City, June 1916


Scouts from Tooele, Utah, in the Great Salt Lake, 1917


Waterloo Ward (Salt Lake) Scouts on Temple Square, April 1916.
The Scouts assisted conference visitors in finding boarding places in the city


Missionaries, West Virginia, 1916
Each of these four Mormon boys stood over six feet tall


Boy Scout rally in the Deseret Gymnasium, 15 February 1917


Raft River, Idaho, male quartet, 1916
Winners in Church-wide MIA singing contest


The Scouts of Pioneer Stake (Salt Lake) visiting the state capitol


Trail Builders of the Richards Ward (Salt Lake), 1916,
displaying a flag they sewed themselves
(with help from the Relief Society in cutting the stars)


Maori Agricultural College (1913-1931) football team, 1916
(The MAC was succeeded in 1953 by the Church College of New Zealand
which is scheduled to close this coming November)


Scouts of Duchesne, Utah, on a 1916 overnight camping trip


Provo, Utah, Scouts learning outdoor cooking, 1916


Menan, Idaho, MIA boys studying potato culture, 1916



  1. These are all awesome. But is that guy in the Sigurd picture standing on his horse? That can’t be safe.

    Comment by J. Stapley — March 30, 2009 @ 10:08 am

  2. J., I’ve been to Sigurd (sad to say) and there is nothing else to do there, so people stand on their horses for entertainment. Heck, the only pop machine in downtown(?) Sigurd was jammed!

    Comment by Brian Duffin — March 30, 2009 @ 10:26 am

  3. I was surprised to see the missionaries in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in 1916. Although the Netherlands remained neutral in World War I, I thought that the Church had removed all missionaries from Europe. Getting into and out of the Netherlands would have been dangerous since the whole North Sea was considered a war zone.

    Comment by Steve C. — March 30, 2009 @ 1:51 pm

  4. Steve, it’s possible that the photo was taken in 1915 and not published until 1916 (I’ve used the date of publication for these photos when I haven’t had anything else to go by), but still, you would expect the elders to be gone by 1915, too, given what was going on in Belgium. Unfortunately, I have no other information, but now that you raise the issue I’ll be alert to anything that might explain it.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 30, 2009 @ 2:58 pm

  5. Standing on a horse is no big deal, says someone who saw much more interesting stunts back in the day.

    Ardis, for some reason, the following statement just struck me as a great example of why I love this blog – a wonderful combination of history and personal observation:

    I knew Roy as an old man in the 1960s, a friend of my grandmother, who let me feed dandelion greens to his pet turtle.

    Comment by Ray — March 30, 2009 @ 3:32 pm

  6. Glad you like the personal touch, Ray. :) I have the same feeling whenever Researcher mentions a connection to an ancestor, or you mention the farmers you knew in Utah County, or Mark B. calls up his father to pump his memory, and every other time a commenter makes a personal connection.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 30, 2009 @ 3:56 pm

  7. These really are awesome. Keepa turns the hearts of the children to the fathers (and mothers).

    Comment by Tatiana — March 30, 2009 @ 6:52 pm

  8. The ghost of Thomas Bowdler is alive and well and stalking the hallowed halls of Keepa.

    Next thing we know, someone will outlaw singing this song as if it were written “A Marmon Boy.”

    Comment by Mark B. — March 30, 2009 @ 10:43 pm

  9. I didn’t want the conversation to go in that direction from the very first words, Mark. Guilty as charged.

    The word I’ve typed as “[strange]” (the way it is sung today, when it’s sung at all) was originally “queer,” all you Marmon boys (or “b’hoys,” which would be still more Marmon).

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 30, 2009 @ 10:54 pm

  10. All this and Beehive Girls too! Boy Scout Troop 18 in Schenectady had no such, er, auxiliary organization.

    Comment by Bill MacKinnon — March 30, 2009 @ 11:21 pm

  11. Re ##3,4, from what I’ve read (K. Warner’s thesis, Improvement Era articles), the vast majority of American missionaries left the Netherlands in 1914, but a small group of Americans served in the years after 1914, including W.B. Hanks, B.A. Anderson, and R.J. Sperry (plus Presidents LeGrand Richards and John Butterworth).

    Comment by Justin — March 31, 2009 @ 1:27 pm

  12. These are some great old photos. Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Brother Smyth — July 13, 2009 @ 9:25 pm

  13. I’m glad you enjoyed them, Brother Smyth. It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted a collection of pictures like this — it’s about time for another one. More Scouts, maybe? Fathers and sons outings? What’s your pleasure?

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 13, 2009 @ 9:37 pm

  14. Great photos! I was searching out the history of the song, “A Mormon Boy,” and ran across this. Thanks for the collection. Scoutmaster Dunne, Salem, Oregon.

    Comment by James Dunne — March 27, 2010 @ 4:16 pm

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