Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » How to Be Brave, Sturdy, and Have the Greatest Number of Good Thoughts

How to Be Brave, Sturdy, and Have the Greatest Number of Good Thoughts

By: Ardis E. Parshall - April 22, 2009

Or so offered this 1913 advertisement in the Juvenile Instructor:



  1. That is interesting. I didn’t know where Newcastle Utah was until I googled it. Then I realized I must have driven through it at leasat 3 or 4 times without knowing.

    We still hear echoes of this sentiment. Even general authorities still like to tell about “that humble farm in Cache valley” where they grew up and apparently learned many of life’s lessons. I understand that many mission presidents also would rather have Idaho farmboys than elders who are city kids.

    By the way, those are some big guns at the bottom of the page. I recognize the names of the sitting governor and an apostle.

    Comment by Mark Brown — April 22, 2009 @ 7:38 am

  2. Newcastle, Utah. Boy, the garden spot of Southern Utah. It’s on the road between Cedar City and Panaca, two other garden spots of the Western United States.

    And yeah… from the satellite image, it really looks like they have ample water and 20,000 irrigable acres. (Newcastle is on Street View, so you can wander around the town, if you’d like.)

    Very interesting advertisement, actually. Forty years earlier, the church would have called a group of young couples and families to settle the area rather than a development company trying to recruit them with slick ads. It doesn’t look like the net result was much different, though.

    Comment by Researcher — April 22, 2009 @ 8:19 am

  3. The Bureau of Reclamation formed a few years before this had the charge to build dams to provide irrigation for arid lands — Strawberry dam and reservoir is, I think, the last such functioning system in Utah. Dams either weren’t built, or didn’t survive, or the river flows couldn’t sustain the predictions, and a number of settlements, like New Castle, that were begun with the greatest of expectations based on the best available projections eventually failed. At least New Castle still exists, to some extent. The one I’m most familiar with is the ghost town of Spry (hmm — where did I just read that name?) at the northern end of Garfield County, near Highway 89. They actually had a community going there, with substantial buildings, some of which remain, but eventually the government bought the property of settlers because they couldn’t keep their promise to provide irrigation.

    We do still hear the glories of farm life and labor extolled from the pulpit, don’t we? I know some terrific men who came from ranching and agricultural backgrounds, too — but they all *came* from there, couldn’t/wouldn’t *stay* there.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 22, 2009 @ 8:41 am

  4. I heard Marty Bradley give a beautiful paper once on the tension in Mormon culture between “the Garden of Eden” represented by ads and experiments like this, and “the City of Zion” model that is just as much a part of our heritage.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 22, 2009 @ 8:43 am

  5. “We Moderns are again raising the cry of back to the farm.” But not just turn-of-the-20th century Moderns (and not just General Authorities). There’s also Thomas Jefferson, and in our day, to an extent, Michael Pollan . . .

    No matter how true or false the claim may be, you have to admit that Cato’s description of a farm’s benefits is absolutely exquisite: “Farming makes the bravest men . . ., and those who are busy with it have the fewest bad thoughts.” [sigh]

    Comment by Hunter — April 22, 2009 @ 9:17 am

  6. My “farm” consists of three raised beds, each six feet by twelve. I suppose I should go pull weeds or watch the peas grow–but, alas, I have to stay at my desk, attempt to practice law, and have a lot of bad thoughts.

    Comment by Mark B. — April 22, 2009 @ 10:42 am

  7. My summers spent on the farm run by my Grandfather and uncle remain some of my fondest memories, but when Cato says “Farming makes the bravest men…”, I recall doing or witnessing a number of things that all took bravery.

    One of the bravest things I witnessed is my uncle putting a two foot piece of rubber garden hose down a cow’s throat , put a rather large pill in the end, and then try to blow harder than the cow that was bellowing, to get the pill down the cow’s throat. That was bravery.

    Comment by kevinf — April 22, 2009 @ 10:44 am

  8. “came from there, couldn’t/wouldn’t stay there”

    So true, you’ve accurately described me and many others I’m sure. But it is where we learned the value of hard work and so much more.

    Another good example of a large agricultural mostly Mormon ghost town is Metropolis Nevada (12 miles northwest of Wells). It had the largest and grandest hotel between Salt Lake and Reno in 1915.

    Comment by JimQ — April 22, 2009 @ 11:44 am

  9. Metropolis is one I haven’t even heard of JimQ — sounds like there are some stories waiting to be uncovered and told. [puts on deerstalker cap and picks up magnifying glass]

    Having read James Heriot’s books, kevinf, I think there must have been some equally brave acts performed at the other end of the cow, on occasion.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 22, 2009 @ 12:12 pm

  10. I have only good thoughts in my IT job.

    (Still waiting for the first ex-IT guy to become a GA and speak fondly of his IT career in conference…)

    Comment by queuno — April 22, 2009 @ 1:00 pm

  11. When he does, queuno, I expect to hear scripture along the lines of “And he shall turn the thumb drives and the databases of the children to their fathers …”

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 22, 2009 @ 1:10 pm

  12. I realized that I could never, ever be a GA because I have no ranch experience. I’m disqualified.

    I always laugh at how each GA relates learning lessons on the ranch (Shari Dew modified–on a Kansas farm). I find it especially delightful when the particular GA grew up in SLC and somehow weaves a farm experience/life lessons point into his talk somehow. :-)

    I’m looking for the IT GA as well.

    Comment by Steve C. — April 22, 2009 @ 2:15 pm

  13. Interesting ad, Ardis, especially in light of a bit of the back history of the Newcastle Company and its dispute with neighboring Enterprise, UT. The Newcastle Company, desperate for water, filed on the water of the Enterprise reservoir, or at least the water that would be trapped when the Newcastle Company completed the dam the Enterprise folk had not yet finished. Newcastle people claimed that Enterprise stockholders had abandoned the dam and they proposed to step in and finish it. In doing so, the Newcastle company would allow Enterprise stockholders all the water in the reservoir equal to the portion of the dam which they had built, but would claim all additional acre feet for itself.

    Enterprise folk secured the aid of Anthony W. Ivins, newly ordained apostle (in 1907) who negotiated with the Newcastle group in 1909. Part of his tack was to tell Newcastle people that the local St. George LDS leaders had supported the Enterprise project from the beginning and that Newcastle should back down. Ironically, Newcastle company officials responded, crying fowl over “church interference” in behalf of Enterprise.

    The two sides compromised in 1909, but Newcastle renewed its filing in 1912, prompting Ivins to write the Newcastle company that “If any representative of your company goes on that ground [the Enterprise Reservoir] without authority from a court we will eject him, forcibly if necessary, as we would a man who comes into our home, for the land is ours. We will fight this thing in the office of the state engineer, in the US land Office, in the courts, and if necessary at Washington.”

    More than any of you wanted to know about water disputes in southwestern Utah, I know, but how often does one get to talk about Enterprise and Newcastle, Utah?

    Comment by Paul Reeve — April 22, 2009 @ 2:25 pm

  14. I can’t help but think of J. Golden Kimball, and how his character traits had been attributed to tha hardship of “ranch life.” Of course, he became a GA anyway.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — April 22, 2009 @ 2:25 pm

  15. uh, crying “foul”, not “fowl”. Chirp, Chirp.

    Comment by Paul Reeve — April 22, 2009 @ 2:30 pm

  16. Seeing the D.O. McKay was a “Newcastler” and A.Ivins was an “Enterpriser” did that have any affect on their ecclesiastical relationship? Just wondering.

    Comment by Steve C. — April 22, 2009 @ 3:17 pm

  17. Gee, maybe I should look for a competing or oppositional Enterprise ad in the magazines right after this one? Who knew there was such a history?!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 22, 2009 @ 4:26 pm

  18. As long as you’re correcting typos, how about “tack” for “tact”?

    Or is it tactless of me to suggest that?

    This comment brought to you by the International Association of Sailors, Old Tars, Buccaneers, and Somali Pirates, Old Sailing Terms Preservation Subcommittee.

    Comment by Mark B. — April 23, 2009 @ 9:39 am

  19. Steve, I don’t know what impact the water struggle might have had on relations between McKay and Ivins. I’ve only looked at the Ivins correspondence with the Newcastle co., which in my memory does not name McKay, but some of which, as quoted, is strongly worded. I might add that I was hired by the city of Enterprise to write its centennial history. I wrote about this exchange and characterized the Newcastler’s as somewhat aggressive capitalists in their moves against Enterprise. Some people in Enterprise were not pleased with my choice of words because they reminded me that McKay was involved with the Newcastle project. We compromised on “zealous capitalists” as acceptable language.

    Comment by Paul Reeve — April 23, 2009 @ 10:14 am

  20. Ardis, doubt you’ll find it. The Enterprise reservoir was a local, home grown project that grew out of the abandonment of Hebron, Utah. Settlers said, “let’s build a reservoir to get water to new land so we and our children can have a place to live.” Newcastle was designed to make money. Newcastlers built a lavish hotel and wined and dined potential investors. The biggest coup for Enterprise was getting Ivins to buy $5,000 worth of stock in the project so the settlers could finish the dam.

    Comment by Paul Reeve — April 23, 2009 @ 10:15 am

  21. Mark, very tactful. Correct away.

    Comment by Paul Reeve — April 23, 2009 @ 10:16 am

  22. Aaarr, Matey, the deed be done!

    Paul, isn’t it fun to have to edit your words to suit the wounded feelings of a sponsor? I’ve had to do that a few times with family history and varying memories, and usually manage to find terms like yours that are a second choice but still kinda sorta convey the idea. It isn’t always pretty.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 23, 2009 @ 11:14 am

  23. I have only good thoughts in my IT job.

    (Still waiting for the first ex-IT guy to become a GA and speak fondly of his IT career in conference…)

    Yeah, me too. He doesn’t even have to speak fondly of his IT career; I’d just like to see an ex-geek up there. ..bruce..

    Comment by bfwebster — April 23, 2009 @ 11:23 am

  24. I can see it now … all those black suits against the dark red chairs … and you guys in the back, looking for signs of pocket protectors and white socks …

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 23, 2009 @ 12:11 pm

  25. Yeah, me too. He doesn’t even have to speak fondly of his IT career; I’d just like to see an ex-geek up there. ..bruce..

    Although, I don’t hold out any hopes that it comes from a current Church IT executive.

    As someone said elsewhere, the Church may be true, but its software isn’t…

    you guys in the back, looking for signs of pocket protectors and white socks

    Oooh. Low blow. :) Some of us are good dressers, when we have to be. I think there are more modern geeks going sockless with leather sandals, shorts, sunglasses, and a Che teeshirt with a woven South American bag, than those nerds in the white shirts and taped glasses… Even at your more buttoned-down IT consultancies, you find more people likely to at a concert with Joni Mitchell cover singers than looking like a character out of office space…

    Comment by queuno — April 26, 2009 @ 7:19 pm

  26. Wow, Ive lived in Newcastle my whole life and i never knew any of that. I should brush up on my history.

    Comment by E from Newcastle — June 25, 2009 @ 1:12 pm

  27. I read the title and had to read this!

    Every time I get bored (and face it, convalesence and physical therapy and Dr visits ARE boring as a life style. No matter how much good they are doing you, no matter how lucky you KNOW you are, etc, etc, etc) I just wander through Keepa’s Topical guide. I always find something funny, thoughtful that I missed or have forgotten…

    I hope you can do this forever Ardis!

    Comment by Diane Peel — July 22, 2010 @ 10:01 pm

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