Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » “There Shall Be a Record Kept Among You”

“There Shall Be a Record Kept Among You”

By: Ardis E. Parshall - April 28, 2009

So said the Lord through the Prophet Joseph Smith on the day the Church was organized. We have been a record-keeping people ever since, to a phenomenal degree – not that we have notes on everything to the level of detail we might sometimes want, but the records available for searching, whether held by the Church Archives or deposited in other repositories (university libraries, state archives, historical societies, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, the archives of other Restoration churches, etc.), or remaining in private hands provides such an abundance of ever-accumulating material that we may never fully assimilate all there is to understand.

For the past two weeks, and continuing on into May and June, the holdings of the Church Library and its Archives are being carted – by dolly, by library cart, by fork lift – from their old location in one wing of the Church Office Building through underground corridors and tunnels to their new home in the just-completed Church History Library just east of the Conference Center and just north of the Relief Society Building. The new building has been specially built as an archives building, balancing the competing interests of state-of-the-art technology to preserve and protect this wondrous but fragile heritage, with the need for access by students, scholars, and the interested public.

One part of the enormous collection which the staff has spent the past months tagging and boxing and shrink-wrapping on pallets to prepare for this move, is the set of books known as “locality records” – minute books, reports, and other records from every branch, ward, stake, district, mission – and whatever other words can be used for a unit – in the Church, dating back to the mid-19th century. These are mostly handwritten minutes, recorded in usually hard-bound notes and ledgers of every possible size, from tiny pocket memorandum books to huge membership ledgers that require a six-foot-long table to support them when they are opened.

In these books are recorded the institutional life and much of the personal history of our people from the time a branch began down to our own era. It’s often where the best untold stories lie.

Depending on the time and place, these locality records include membership records, indications of tithing paid and courts held (although both such types of records have generally been pulled into a separate collection, large pockets of such notes remain buried in ward minutes here and there), and – best of all, for me, and the point of this post – the minutes of all kinds of meetings, held by the ward, the priesthood quorums, and the various auxiliaries.

Church minutes of the 19th and early 20th century are the mother lode of local and family history. Not only do they record the dates of meetings and the general outline of songs, prayers and talks, they very often record summaries of talks and testimonies, detailed notes of assignments and presentations, and records of dues paid and donations received. If you have Mormon ancestors, or are researching the life of almost any figure from Mormon history, these are the records to search: In them I have read humble testimonies given by women who otherwise leave no personal trace on church records; angry encounters between brothers or ward members competing for control that would leave any of our Bloggernacle snark far in the dust, records of the donation of eggs to a temple fund and carpet rags to a project to relieve the poor, the titles of poems recited by ancestors at ward fund raisers, the titles of books borrowed from ward libraries, assignments given to individuals for talks or welfare work or roles in ward dramatic presentations, along with reports of the fulfillment (or non-) of those assignments.

To illustrate, here is an image from the minutes kept in 1888 by the Huntsville (Utah) Ward’s Second Quorum of Deacons. It’s a typical minute book, and you see a typical spread here – handwritten but generally legible (if the reproduction were large enough), densely written from margin to margin. If you spend a few moments getting used to the handwriting, you’ll soon begin to pick out words and names. In some cases, the name is a very familiar one: David O. McKay.

The future Church president appears in the minutes here as a 15-year-old deacon (and in the accompanying picture as a 16-year-old), the second counselor to his quorum’s newly sustained president. Can you pick out the entry on 6 December 1888 (top of the lefthand page) where the young second counselor tells his brethren that he “felt his inability to fill his position when he could see others that were more capable to occupy it than himself”? Nevertheless, you see that he “felt to press on with the help of the Lord.” Reading through the rest of the minutes, you’ll see Deacon McKay’s name pop up repeatedly – giving a talk about the Bible, giving a talk about Joseph Smith.

In later pages, you would find entries recording that he gave a short sketch of his own life, that he spoke about the Book of Mormon (with a record of the actual scriptural stories he chose to illustrate his talk). He conducts meetings. He admonishes the boys that if they did not attend their quorum meetings with the desire to learn, they would get no benefit from their attendance. He keeps the minutes, he takes the roll, he teaches classes.

No one knew, when these minute were recorded, the position that David O. McKay would eventually hold, although it seems obvious even then that he was destined for some kind of leadership role. These are precisely the same kinds of notes that appear in the minute books for every active church member of the past – some took part more than others, some attended more often than others, some clerks and secretaries were more diligent than others, but if you’re interested in the life of a Mormon of the past, the minute books are a source of personal glimpses like no other. Even if your great-uncle wrote what everyone considers as the definitive family history, chances are he did not go through these minute books, so there is still much for you to uncover yourself.

If you visit the Archives to do research for an historical project or family history, leave plenty of time for the minute books. The professional staff can help you identify which wards your family lived in, which will narrow down the search considerably, but because these books are not indexed and requite that you skim page by page looking for the names that interest you, it can be a slow process. Rewarding when you find your grandfather playing the role of a pirate in an MIA play, or your grandmother reporting on her Relief Society assignment, but slow.

It seems to me today a long time from now until June 22 when the new Archives will open. I almost obsessively imagine the records being packed, transported, and unpacked, ready for use again. Truly, the Church Archives, the best kept secret in the Church, are also the Church’s crown jewels.



  1. Another top notch entry, Ardis. What I’d give to be able to have the time to pour over the minutes of ward meetings, which is where the best history lies untapped.

    I think the Church, though, considers the crown jewels to be the records of the dead encased in granite a few miles from downtown Salt Lake (D&C 128:24). I hope I’m not speaking blasphemy, but while names and significant dates are of prime importance, a close second are the stories behind those names and dates as contained in these minutes, the historical record.

    Comment by Easton — April 28, 2009 @ 9:21 am

  2. Amen and Amen.

    What makes me sad is that our children’s children won’t have the same luxury.

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 28, 2009 @ 10:55 am

  3. What an interesting and useful post, Ardis. Thanks.

    You do realize that this post about “the best kept secret in the Church” is the equivalent of giving up your favorite fishing hole or hunting spot, don’t you? [grin]

    One serious question: you say, “Church minutes of the 19th and early 20th century are the mother lode of local and family history.” How long into the 20th century do the minutes retain “mother lode” status? In other words, at what point into the 20th century do the minutes begin to peter out?

    Comment by Hunter — April 28, 2009 @ 11:04 am

  4. Semantics, Easton, semantics! 😉

    J.’s used ’em; J. knows whereof I speak.

    Hunter, I used to fret about newspapers being put online and about revealing my favorite fishing holes in the Archives, but no longer. It turns out that I get more business than ever when people learn there is an available source they never thought of, and in reality very few people will actually use an available source. I’m convinced Bruce Crow would, if geography were not an obstacle, and Researcher (same obstacle), and probably a few other readers. But most are content just knowing these records exist, the way I’m content to know that other people really do know how to repair diesel engines and grow Brussels sprouts.

    In the 1930s, some of the auxiliaries started printing forms to use for minutes, and the recordkeeping quality started going way down. If a form asks me to list those bearing testimonies, but doesn’t provide blanks for me to summarize testimonies, then I’m going to list only names, right?

    Then the Church started requesting annual reports (by preprinted form), and clerks got ever more sloppy. When a form asks for “significant historical events in your unit during the year” and gives four or five lines, too many clerks didn’t bother to try to remember, and wrote down something like “nothing significant.” As recordkeeping expertise dwindled, even the free-form books dropped in quality: “We held a wonderful Relief Society bazaar this year. Everybody worked hard and made a lot of interesting things. We made some money for the building fund, and a good time was had by all.”

    Then, with the growth spurt of the Church in the 1970s, many kinds of records were dropped by the Church altogether, under the feeling that there was simply too much paper, taking entirely too much time to create, handle, and store. This is the era when they even stopped recording the name of the priesthood holder who baptized you or ordained you to the priesthood. In the 1990s, President Hinckley recognized the ever-widening gap in our knowledge of critical facts concerning the Church (i.e., the individual members who had been requested repeatedly to record the essential facts of their own lives were, in fact, NOT keeping personal records), and he reinstituted some of the most critical practices, including the recording of the names of those doing ordinances.

    But the detailed minute books of the past are now entirely a thing of the past. Some statistics may be gathered, some stray details may be preserved in the recent campaign to write ward and stake histories, but it’s unlikely, as J. says, that your children and grandchildren will be able to learn about your life through the Church records. It’s now up to you to write your journal and life history, and to pass down the details you think they would like to know. (In most cases, those are the same details you would like to know about your own grandparents.)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 28, 2009 @ 11:22 am

  5. Another source I need to consider as I investigate the story of the failed 1873 Arizona Mission and my great-grandparents part in it. I hope to get down to SLC this summer and spend a day or two at the archives after they reopen in June. I hadn’t considered these records, because I didn’t really know about them, and I may find some good stuff there.

    I’m also saddened that there is not the same kind of record being kept these days, and much useful information that seems trivial to us now is potentially lost forever to our descendants, gems that will never be found.

    I will try and remember to write in my journal tonight, if I can just find which folder I saved it in on my PC.

    Comment by kevinf — April 28, 2009 @ 11:27 am

  6. Fantastic follow-on, Ardis. Thanks!

    Comment by Hunter — April 28, 2009 @ 11:28 am

  7. Cursed geography!!!

    Comment by Bruce Crow — April 28, 2009 @ 12:08 pm

  8. I’d love to meet you when you come, kevin. And to make searching the minutes as easy as possible, try outlining the members of the families you’ll be searching so that you know when they moved from one place to another, and when there would have been members of the family of the right age to be in one of the auxiliaries. You’ll have a blast … after some significant tedium, of course.

    You’re welcome, Hunter. It’s Post, Part 2.

    :) ! Bruce, it’s the price you pay for being able to use “y’all” legitimately, and not having to write it as “you-all” the way I usually do.

    Actually, although who knows when it will ever come to be, the Church is exploring ways to take the archives to the membership, rather than requiring the members to come to the archives — it hardly seems fair that the advantage of using the records is limited to a handful of locals like me, or those with the leisure and wherewithal to schedule trips here. Wouldn’t it be great if this stuff were scanned and put online, accessible to you by password?

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 28, 2009 @ 12:29 pm

  9. Thanks, Ardis. I’m gonna have to, some day, take a peek at these things. As a newly baptized member/father of 3, my grandfather was ward clerk in the Mesa 4th Ward, along ’bout 1943 or so. My own dad, a recent convert/father of 3 himself in his mid 20s was a ward clerk in the late 1960s, and I can remember him keeping the minutes up on the stand. He died in 1971, and finding anything written by him at all — even a list — would be a treasure. Someday…

    Comment by Coffinberry — April 28, 2009 @ 6:19 pm

  10. I hope you find something, Coffinberry. I understand how the smallest scrap can have the greatest meaning when you start with very little.

    My undercover spy friend at the library tells me they have completely transferred and set up the open stacks part of the Library, and that all the rest of the books for other divisions of the Library/Archives have been carted over and are being unpacked and shelved by employees (who are wearing their jeans these days instead of their suits). There are so many divisions of the collection and the various projects and offices that I can’t guess what proportion of the whole has been completed, but certainly progress is being made in that huge job. I heard from a different source last Friday that as of that date they were running slightly ahead of schedule.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 28, 2009 @ 8:38 pm

  11. I have mentioned before, I think, that my husband and I are on a committee to write our stake history. After five years, we are finally winding down. He and I have coordinated the research of the committee and have done most of the writing. I’m posting this as an example of what we have researched in the church archives, based on the information given by Ardis.

    Manuscript Histories of the stake from 1901, when it was organized, to 1977.
    Historical Record of the stake from 1978 to the present. (Some of the stake histories are not in the archives, but we have a wonderful stake clerk who has combed the stake offices and found folders with the missing records up to 2008.)
    Manuscript Histories of the stake Relief Society, Young Men, Young Women, Sunday School, and Primary.
    Miscellaneous Minutes of the stake, including minutes of the genealogical committee.
    General Minutes of the stake.
    Manuscript Histories of each ward which was part of the stake at different times.

    These are just some of the records we have researched in the Church Archives and Library, and only part of the records overall that we researched in various repositories.

    Comment by Maurine — April 28, 2009 @ 8:43 pm

  12. I need to make another comment. Often when I am working at Library/Archives, I have witnessed people wanting information on an ancestor. These individuals have been told that the information is there at the Library or Archives and all they have to do is ask and it is handed to them. I saw one person who was really put out when she learned that she had to search through the records by herself. Not only that, she was on her lunch hour and didn’t have any more time than that.

    These people don’t realize that the rewarding part of research is digging through the records and finding previously unknown family stories, not just having the information handed to them.

    Comment by Maurine — April 28, 2009 @ 8:53 pm

  13. Great post, Ardis. I have been privileged, once or twice, to be the first person in modern times to read certain Church minutes, and the connection with these people is immediate and intense. Your description of the process of moving the Archives inspires me to share a similar memory from the 1970s, when we moved the vault, in Special Collections at BYU’s library. The old vault was a fair-size walk-in room, but the new vault would probably be three times that size (3rd level, then-north wing of the Harold B. Lee Library). During the renovations and expansion of the library, the time came that the old vault had to be demolished. Up until that day, Chad Flake continued to work at his desk, just in front of the vault door. Chad was a peevish sort, with an almost deliberate whiny, nasal voice beloved to all. As workmen were banging down walls in the next room, Chad hollered out,

    “Quiet! We’re trying to do technical bibliographic work here!” A young fellow in white overalls (and hair too long to qualify for BYU dress & grooming standards) walked over curiously to Chad’s desk and asked,

    “How old are those books?”

    Well, that’s all it took. Chad Flake, Curator of Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, was transformed. He changed demeanor immediately, and began telling the workman all about the books, then took him on a tour of the vault, with its fantastic treasures.

    Soon, it was time to move the vault. Only full-time employees were allowed to participate, and only the top shelf of each book cart would be used, so that we could keep our eyes on every single item, every second. Slowly, the solemn parade began, and every item was transported across the hall to room 451. The door was re-keyed, with keys given to only three of us, as I recall (Chad, Dean Larsen, and I). For months, this amazing repository was protected by only one wooden door with a regular lock – and the fact that the public did not know what lay behind said door.

    As the last book cart was loaded and taken out, we could hear the sledge hammers starting to bank on the outside of the vault walls. Retentive Rick, ever over-careful, decided to do one last check of every shelf of the vault. However, the top shelves were above even my 6’2″ viewing level. So, I did a sort of jumping jack routine up and down every range of shelves. As I came to the very last shelf of the last range, I did my jump, and there spied a flat piece of paper in a folder lying on the top shelf. I reached up, felt for it, and pulled down an original eighteenth-century document signed by George Washington.

    “I was wondering,” drawled Chad in his nasal tones, “where I had put that thing . . .”

    There’s a lot more to tell, but this comment has probably out-spanned its welcome already!

    Comment by Rick Grunder — April 28, 2009 @ 10:29 pm

  14. Rick,
    What a great story. Thanks.

    Comment by Maurine — April 28, 2009 @ 11:26 pm

  15. Maurine said it. Rick, you have a standing invitation to write guest posts or comments as long as it takes to recordmemories like that!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 29, 2009 @ 4:34 am

  16. Maurine, I have chipped away at several tedious digging projects one lunch hour at a time. When your free time and the hours that an archive are open overlap by just that one hour, you make it count.

    Rick, Wonderful! Sometimes in the interest of time I have skipped over very long comments (never on this site). Now I know when I see your name to make sure to read it.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — April 29, 2009 @ 7:48 am

  17. I agree that it would be nice to have days and days to work on history projects, but find, like Bruce, that if the motivation is great enough, the projects can get done in bits and pieces.

    Thanks for the enjoyable glimpse into another archives move, Rick.

    Comment by Researcher — April 29, 2009 @ 7:57 am

  18. Bruce and Researcher, the difference between you and Maurine’s observed patron is that both of you actually do chip away at your projects, stealing whatever minutes you can find from your already full schedules. Neither of you, I’ll bet, has ever misunderstood the function of a library and expected the librarian to hand you your completed primary research.

    I remember reading how Juanita Brooks accomplished her work (and she did so much more than her Mountain Meadows Massacre) by reading while she was ironing, and using her oven door as a desk for her typewriter after everyone else had gone to bed.

    Juanita, and Bruce, and Researcher — not bad company to keep. Not bad at all.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 29, 2009 @ 8:07 am

  19. I wanted to say thanks for this post, but am not sure I can adequately explain why- but I’ll give it a go :-)

    Last year, after what I had thought was 30 years of being the only member in my family (besides those whose temple work I had arranged, of course)I discovered my very own ‘crossed the plains’ pioneer ancestor. The sister of my great x 3 grandfather, nothing had been found after her death, so I assumed she had died, and as she wasn’t a direct line, left her alone. Imagine my surprise when, about this time last year, I received an email from a fellow family researcher in Australia (not LDS), informing me that she had discovered our joint relative had married in Salt Lake City in 1855, a long, long way from home. This of course, set the old alarm bells ringing, and I hit the net with a vengeance. Using online resources,(and a very knowledgable friend), I discovered that she married (polygamously) in the Office of the First Presidency (I’d never heard of that before) aged 51.She died, still childless, 4 years later in 1855; the Des News archives provided her death notice which confirmed her maiden surname and birth details. I then found the online census info for her husband and his other wives and children in 1860- how I wish she had lived long enough to appear on the census!

    There are still many gaps. I haven’t been able to find out when she joined the Church, as her baptism isn’t listed on the IGI. I haven’t been able to find out when she crossed the plains, or in which company.The descendants of her sister wives have done much research on the family lines, but because Katharine died childless, she seems to have been forgotten.By 1860, her husband was listed as having real wealth of $1000, and personal wealth of $200, so I hope he looked after her, as she had obviously left her family and homeland at an advanced age, as a single woman to travel to Zion. I’ve never yet been able to visit Salt Lake, but knowing that this is probably the only place where I can find out more about Katharine and her journey gives me greater incentive to try to make it happen.

    If ever we need proof that the worth of each and every one of us is of immense significance to our Heavenly Father, it is found in the injunctions we have received to be a record-keeping people. The details of how so many ‘ordinary’ people lived lives of heroic content should be preserved and shared, to enable us to learn from the examples of those who have gone before.

    sorry this is so long.

    Comment by Anne (UK) — April 29, 2009 @ 11:46 am

  20. Oh, Anne, that’s wonderful! Do you mind giving Katharine’s full name? If I can find her grave, I’ll take her flowers and send you a picture.

    (And like Rick, you have a standing invitation for guest posts or comments — however long — with stories like this.)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 29, 2009 @ 12:02 pm

  21. thank you, Ardis!

    Katherine was baptised into the Baptist Church, Eythorne, Kent, England 1 Aug 1804; parents Thomas Gambrill and Elizabeth. Her death record in the Des News archive reads as follows:

    “Died in this city, Oct 8th 1859, Catharine, daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Gambrell,of Eythorn, England, and wife of Charles Ford, aged 54 years”.

    (isn’t that just a gift of a death notice for a family historian?!)

    Charles Ford was still in Salt Lake for the 1860 census.He died in 1864 in Washington, Washington County, Utah. He was also English, and had emigrated to the US with his first wife in 1839; they converted in 1844, and took out live endowments in Nauvoo that year. Katharine was three years older than Charles; he seems to have favoured Scandinavians for his (much younger) other wives. I can’t help but wonder what circumstances led him to marry Katharine;who exactly,sealed them in the Office of the First Presidency, and also what his original wife felt about it all, so far away from home.

    That’s just one little family, one small unit in eternity.The records you describe in your original post will contain thousands of similar stories. I once had the privilege of reading the microfilmed records of a local branch here which emigrated en masse in the 1850’s. The records covered the years leading up to their departure. Meticulously recorded blessings, Minutes of meetings, records of disciplinary procedures, names scored through and through so that they were literally ‘blotted out’. It was spine-tingling stuff.

    Comment by Anne (UK) — April 29, 2009 @ 1:43 pm

  22. Thank you for your kind words, Ardis. (Rank flattery, to list me in the same sentence as Juanita Brooks (!), but kind of you, nonetheless.)

    Comment by Researcher — April 29, 2009 @ 1:58 pm

  23. Researcher,

    Yes, it is undeserved flattery, I certainly don’t have the credentials Juanita Brooks had. She was a accomplished educator before she started her family. But staying up at night to write after the family has gone to bed hits pretty close to home.

    As for geography hindering our access to the archives, I think Anne has us beat.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — April 29, 2009 @ 3:47 pm

  24. Anne, what a wonderful discovery!

    There’s a hint–tantalizing, but just a hint–in the Pioneer Overland Travel database. In the Richard Ballantyne company in 1855, there was a Charles Ford–there’s no indication there that he had a family.

    Is it possible that she too was in that company? The listing of the company in the Deseret News names heads of household groups, followed by a number–but no names. So, she could have been counted in one of those other family groups.

    Next hunting ground: ships manifests!

    On a random unrelated note, my wife’s 3rd great-grandfather (I think I have the number right) and his wife and their baby, born in Kansas after a short pregnancy, were also in the Ballantyne company. Their wedding was performed by the captain of the ship “Charles Buck”–maybe Miss Gambril was on that ship

    Comment by Mark B. — April 29, 2009 @ 4:06 pm

  25. Ardis-

    Interesting, as always. Thanks for your reminder that church minutes can be a treasure trove of historical information.

    Comment by Brandon — April 29, 2009 @ 4:13 pm

  26. I really didn’t mean it as empty flattery, you two. The comparison I was making is one that I really value: the motivation to keep working at something important no matter how inconvenient it is. Do you think it’s easy for me to get up every morning and write a post that nobody makes me write? Even the fun I have with you-all isn’t quite enough to make me do that on mornings when I’d really rather go back to sleep. But it’s discipline, the kind of discipline that I have to have if I’m going to make it as an independent historian, and I want that bad enough to get up and get started. Every day. So I appreciate that self-starter quality in others whose main day’s work is something very different from the research and writing that we share.

    C.S. Lewis’s essay “Learning in War-Time” is one of my favorites:

    There are always plenty of rivals to our work. We are always falling in love or quarreling, looking for jobs or fearing to lose them, getting ill and recovering, following public affairs. If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work. The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavourable. Favourable conditions never come.

    I have the sentence “The only people who …” embroidered as a motto.

    So, yeah: Juanita, and Bruce, and Researcher, and Anne, and me, and whoever else is in our boat.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 29, 2009 @ 4:15 pm

  27. Thanks, Ardis. One of the historians I have looked to for inspiration is Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. While she had children at home, she would get up in the early morning hours to write. I’m not a morning person (if I’m up in the wee hours, I tend to be doing other things like wringing my hands over some current concern) so I find other bits of time throughout the week. Now I also have Juanita Brooks to look to for inspiration. Thanks! (Although if I have to take up ironing, I’ll just forget the entire subject of history.)

    Very interesting discussion on Anne’s family. I have a history of one of my ancestors in my files written by an Englishwoman who started to research her genealogy, found out she was a descendant of a person who was the only child in a family not to join the church and move to Utah in the 19th century. The author ended up joining the church, joining the DUP, and writing a nice ancestor biography explaining all of that.

    Comment by Researcher — April 29, 2009 @ 5:15 pm

  28. Mark B.,

    oh! OH! oh! (doing the happy dance at 1am- my laptop is playing up so I have been backing up files all night (Just In Case).

    Well, there’s a thought. Same company, she married in 1855, person of the right name…. I do know they quite often sent British members back home to serve a ‘mini mission’ amongst their families, and then escort new pioneers to Zion. Was Richard Ballantyne en route home from his mission to India at that stage?

    Are ships manifests online? I’ll hunt tomorrow (later today).

    By way of another thread jack, when looking at all this last year and digging through BYU’s wonderful digital archive, I came across the diaries of Robert Lang Campbell, a man of whom I bad never heard yet he lived and worked not a minute’s walk from where I sit typing this.No-one in the ward here had heard of him; I was absorbed for days reading his stories of conversion here, missionary and church work in Scotland, then emigrating and his life as a scribe to the Brethren and an educator in Utah. There are truly so many gems sitting in the archives.

    Comment by Anne (UK) — April 29, 2009 @ 6:22 pm

  29. Robert L. Campbell? This Robert L. Campbell? No way. I mentioned him recently on my blog. He was a dear friend of my great-great grandfather who moved to Utah in the 1860s as a “gentile,” and started a school with Robert Campbell’s encouragement, then was baptized by Campbell later that same year. I’m currently blogging about this ancestor at great length. I would love to know more about Robert Campbell. I would love to include a post on him! Could I ask you a question or two off-blog, Anne? (Like whether you’d be willing to write a post on Campbell? :-) )

    Comment by Researcher — April 29, 2009 @ 6:55 pm

  30. Hey, now! No poaching! If Anne writes a post on Bro. Campbell, Keepa wants it, too! (Researcher, I’ll send your email address to Anne.)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 29, 2009 @ 6:58 pm

  31. By the way, the O.H. Riggs listed just below Robert L. Campbell in Researcher’s link is David O. McKay’s father-in-law (who left the LDS church and his plural wives to join the RLDS, and spent the rest of his life in the Midwest).

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 29, 2009 @ 7:00 pm

  32. Re Post #18 to Bruce Crow and Researcher from Ardis. Ardis said it well, but I will clarify. I have found myself in Salt Lake at the archives with only one hour to spare and have tried to be efficient with that small window. I also do a lot of research in bits and pieces.The thing that frustrated me with the women I mentioned in post #12 was that she had never been in the archives before, and she was clearly upset with the person at the desk for not handing over the data she needed. She also wasn’t willing to go through the required interview process by an archivist or to find out what records were actually there which would have given her wonderful history. She was just mad that she couldn’t just get the information she wanted right then.

    Comment by Maurine — April 29, 2009 @ 9:39 pm

  33. Researcher- google chrome didn’t like that link much- it’s taken me to a book page concerning Utah Schools? certainly Robert Lang Campbell (former child employee of mill, and solicitor’s writing clerk) ended up as Utah Superintendent of Schools, so maybe we have the same guy. Correct time frame. I’ll email you (thanks for the addy, Ardis).

    Comment by Anne (UK) — April 30, 2009 @ 2:30 am

  34. I am putting together a CD of my husband’s Ford relatives and googled Charles Ford. I found your blog and Anne’s comments. My husband is a direct descendant of Charles Ford thru the first wife Hannah Steventon. I saw that Charles married Katherine Gambrell but since there was no info on her I ignored her. I have Charles Ford history from when he was born in Owlpen, Glous, England Nov 4, 1806 – came to Indiana in 1839, joined the church there in 1843, went to Nauvoo, crossed the plains in 1848 with his family. He died in Washington, Utah in 1964 of lung fever. He was a good man and helped build up the pioneer city of Salt Lake. The Charles Ford who came in 1855 and then went to in Cedar City, Utah for a winter returned to England on a mission and then promptly left the Church saying he only accepted the mission to get back to England. This is from the Millennial Star, Saturday January 17, 1857. He also wrote a letter to Brigham Young August 6, 1856 from New York telling of his travels .

    Comment by Joan Ford — June 20, 2009 @ 7:52 pm

  35. I was looking for information on my GG Grandfather Charles Ford w/wife Hannah When I ran across your information. I was searching for the ship he came over on, which I found however I learned he was not a member of the church until sometime after he arrived and later moving to Nauvoo. This is where I would like more information on them, is there time in Nauvoo and their journey to Utah.

    Comment by Gloria — August 9, 2009 @ 1:54 pm

  36. I am also looking for information on my Great great great grandfather Charles Ford. I’d love to see the information on the CD that Joan Ford put together. Anyway of getting in touch with her?

    Comment by Preston Ford — August 21, 2009 @ 12:08 pm

  37. You can contact me at

    Comment by Joan Ford — September 27, 2009 @ 10:10 pm

  38. I was most interested to see your conversations about Charles Ford (bn. Owlpen, Gloucester 1802, dd. washington county 1864). I am decsended from one of his youngest sisters who remained in England (Syndoniah Ford). My great Aunt told me of Charles when I was a child, although noone knew what had become of him after he left for America. I have since been able to trace that he had made his way to Salt lake City, had may wives and a most interesting life. I have often marvelled that 5 generations on, I have been able to find out what hapened to Syndoniah’s eldest brother yet she must always have wondered. I do know that in the 1830’s,the area of the Cotswolds that they were from suffered a decline thanks to the end of the napoleonic wars and the rising of the northern cotton mills because it killed off the weaving industry which had been the town’s trade since the Elizabthan times at least. Most of the inhabitants emigrated to the US, Australia and Canada overnight to avoid starvation. The Ford’s left without their parents (I was told they had died although this is not proven)to move north to the industrial midlands where work was readily available although in somewhat squalid conditions. The family ebcame involved in the hardeeest and poorest of professions- coal mining. After marrying (Hannah Steventon), Charles left from Wolverhampton and then Liverpool for America and was later joined by his wife and 2 sons in 1839 or so. The rest I think may be well documented. The rest of his brothers and sisters (originally 17 of them were born) remained in the midlands where I was born and bred! Any further info on this most interesting life would be wonderful.

    Comment by jayne lea — November 6, 2009 @ 3:59 pm

  39. Robert Lang Campbell is my husband’s 3rd great-grandfather. We have loved sharing the story of his conversion and later life with our four children. We are so grateful to now have access to his missionary journal online, thanks to BYU. Since he was a well known person in Salt Lake City and a church historian his papers seem to be stored in various locations making it a challenge as descendants to find and gain access to them. We are grateful that they are being so well preserved. I plan to send my two kids living in Salt Lake City over to the University of Utah to look at his collection stored there.

    Comment by Marie Campbell — November 10, 2009 @ 4:09 pm

  40. Cool! Here’s a bit of information on Robert Lang Campbell.

    Comment by Researcher — November 10, 2009 @ 7:28 pm

  41. I appreciate that this is an old thread but here goes…
    I’ve been trying to track down all the children of William Ford and Sarah Dauncey and would be really grateful if the lady who is descended from Syndoniah would contact me at [edited] as I have been unable to trace where she went.
    Many thanks

    Comment by Sara Ford — August 2, 2013 @ 5:38 pm

  42. Sara, I’ve edited your email address to spare you the mountains of spam that would come from posting it here, but I’ll write to the address left by the other commenter and send her your address and question. Fingers crossed!

    [Added: The message has been sent. – AEP]

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 2, 2013 @ 5:54 pm