Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Guest Post: Secrets of the Cornerstone — Revealed

Guest Post: Secrets of the Cornerstone — Revealed

By: Joseph Soderborg - September 08, 2009

For the first chapter in this drama, see here.

Saturday, September 5th, 2009.

The closer it got to the start of the celebration, the more nervous I became. There really is no way to predict how an event like this will run.

We were setting up a few finishing touches on the decorations when people began to arrive – exactly one hundred years since the box was sealed and the cornerstone was set. One lady who came was four months shy of her 100th birthday. I’m glad we had someone with a camera to interview her. Many former members came back, and a lot of curious people from the community helped us celebrate.

At 6:30 the crowd swelled to over 320 at the southeast corner of the building, spilling into the parking lot. The box had been put in place and the stone was covering it, ready for the ceremony. The TV cameras rolled and this wonderful piece of theatre began. The night was coming off well.

The bishop stood on a stepladder to address the crowd. Everywhere you turned people were ready with their cameras and eyes and memory to record the event from every angle.

The bishop read from the 1909 news article I had given him and announced the expected contents of the box.

President D. Robert Hennefer of the Park Stake climbed up and hefted the stone down while the crowd inched forward. Shutters clicked and TV cameras rolled but could not capture the excitement hanging in the air like a wispy cloud. When the bishop pulled the box out and held it up with a flourish, the people clapped and cheered.

He tilted it forward to give everyone a glimpse, and then started holding up the items one by one and giving the crowd a long look before passing them to Scott Christensen (from the Church archives), who put them in a display case. Scott and I carried the case inside and talked excitedly about the treasures. I started taking pictures furiously with my camera and the people began to flow in and “disappeared” the cake.




There were ten items in the box:

1. A Holy Bible sealed with a one-hundred-year-old elastic band. Nobody dared try to remove it because it was so fragile (this must be the sealed portion of the scriptures).

2. A 1908 Book of Mormon, the first edition of that small size (Scott says they’re quite rare).

3. A Doctrine and Covenants, copyright 1910. Its inclusion in the box suggests it was one of the very first copies off the press.

4. A hymnal – lots of hymns not in use any more.

5. Names of the 1909 bishopric on a piece of Salt Lake Temple stationery. The engraving is exquisite.

6. Names and ages of the priests in the ward, written on a piece of paper.

7. A Tenth Ward Sunday School roll book – a unique item, for sure.

8. A Liberty Stake directory. 1909 is really early for a directory like that, and this could be an important document for local history.

9. A short history of the ward, three pages, written by “EMC.”

10. The business card of the man who built the box. Nothing wrong with promoting your business – I hope it helped him after 100 years!

Sunday after our meetings, Bishop Berger let me get a closer look at the documents. I asked Kai Jorgensen and his sister Alissa, both very bright and eager young scholars, to help with these photos. They were thrilled to hold a bit of history and see the artifacts close up. Thank you to them.










If any of you were there and took pictures please send me a copy for inclusion in a collection to be put in the Church Archives. (jsoderborg21 [at sign] hotmail [dot] com) — include your name, and please identify as many of the people in the shots as you can.

See here for a gallery of additional photographs.



  1. Great stuff! Good work Joseph, and thanks Ardis for posting this.

    Comment by Mark B. — September 8, 2009 @ 10:30 am

  2. This is wonderful. Thank you for sharing it with us!

    Comment by J. Stapley — September 8, 2009 @ 11:25 am

  3. What a cool adventure! Way to go Joseph. So, what’s in the Sunday School roll book? List of names only, or other identifying information?

    Comment by Paul Reeve — September 8, 2009 @ 11:49 am

  4. Wow, that is so interesting!

    Comment by Michelle Glauser — September 8, 2009 @ 12:04 pm

  5. Thanks, Joseph and Ardis, for the nice update. I like the advertisements in the stake directory.

    Comment by Justin — September 8, 2009 @ 12:37 pm

  6. Paul, the Sunday school book contains names and marks for attendence in some kind of simple code. Some of the pages are blank.

    Comment by Joseph Soderborg — September 8, 2009 @ 12:37 pm

  7. Code? did somebody say code? I’m on it, Chief.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 8, 2009 @ 12:39 pm

  8. What a great read! Thanks. And the comment about the business card made me howl.

    (Anyone going to transcribe the 3-page history of the stake?)

    Comment by Hunter — September 8, 2009 @ 1:18 pm

  9. Hunter, Yes, I’m working on that getting it transcribed. As history goes its not earth shaking but its a good try. I’m really interested to find out who EMC is. so far his/her initials don’t match any from the two ward lists I’ve compiled- 1874 and 1880. I’m hoping I can find someone who fits the initials in the “Liberty Stake Directory” which was in the box.

    Comment by Joseph Soderborg — September 8, 2009 @ 2:45 pm

  10. I was hoping that Joseph and Ardis would put this on her blog. In fact, I checked on Sunday and Monday, almost giving up. I love seeing the pictures of the artifacts and hearing about the event. I’ll bet that Rick Turley is happy he arranged for the man to carefully remove the cornerstone to make this possible.

    Comment by Maurine — September 8, 2009 @ 3:16 pm

  11. Thanks for the comment Maurine. The man who removed the Stone was John Lambert a master craftsman who not only really knows stones and cement and power tools but a nicer guy would be hard to find. He is a descendent of stone masons from Great Britain who came to Utah in the Mormon migration. He donated his time for the project and should be commended. I’m glad Rick Turley put him in touch with us.

    Comment by Joseph Soderborg — September 8, 2009 @ 3:55 pm

  12. I didn’t make the connection until today when I was reading this and couldn’t picture where this church was. When I looked up the aerial, I remember that my grandma was born in a house on 4th South by that Phillips 66 gas station (9th East). I called her up and told her about this and she was really excited. She just turned 85 and said she was blessed as a baby in the 10th Ward. Anyway, are there any Baileys or Strongs in that ward directory? Keep up the good work!

    Comment by Bill West — September 8, 2009 @ 7:54 pm

  13. dude! that rocks.

    Comment by r Jensen — September 8, 2009 @ 8:08 pm

  14. Simply fabulous. When I saw the news story about the celebration, I didn’t see the details, but I did think of you, Ardis.

    Thanks to you both for sharing this. Off to share this….

    Comment by m&m — September 8, 2009 @ 10:24 pm

  15. Bill, There are 5 Strongs on my ward list of 1879-80
    They are:
    J.T. Strong Farmer
    Mrs. A. Strong Widow
    William Strong Farmer
    Hiram Strong Teamster
    Mrs S. Strong Widow

    There are no Baileys for that year

    Comment by Joseph Soderborg — September 8, 2009 @ 10:37 pm

  16. Joseph, thanks for thinking of me. The pictures were wonderful and your comments were well written, and let us feel the drama of the day. Reminded me of Wilford C. Wood opening the cornerstone of the Nauvoo Masonic Hall in 1954.

    Comment by J. Taylor Hollist — September 9, 2009 @ 1:45 am

  17. Wow–incredibly cool. Thanks for putting this up.

    Comment by Kevin Barney — September 9, 2009 @ 9:54 am

  18. Thank you Joseph. Those are some of my relatives. I really should know more family history.

    Comment by Bill West — September 9, 2009 @ 10:06 am

  19. What treasures! Thanks, Joseph!

    Comment by Ben Pratt — September 9, 2009 @ 10:13 am

  20. The 10th Ward was the home ward for most of the Keddington families in Salt Lake. Trying to read your list of names of the Priests, it looked like one of them was a Keddington name. Did I just imagine it or was I right? Thanks for your work on this project. The 10th ward is a wonderful historical building of Salt Lake.

    Comment by Kris Latham — September 11, 2009 @ 9:28 pm

  21. This was really interesting. Thanks for posting this.

    Comment by danithew — September 12, 2009 @ 1:07 am

  22. Kris, That’s right about the Keddingtons. The name on the Priests list is Rammah Keddington. There are also 2 other Keddingtons in the Liberty Stake Directory:
    Samuel Keddington President of the Teaches Quorum
    and his younger brother, Darrell who was 1st Counselor in the Deacons Quorum They lived at 837 East 5th South.

    Comment by Joseph Soderborg — September 12, 2009 @ 1:16 am

  23. Hi Joe, That’s really interesting to be opening a piece of history. And even for it to survive 100 years of weather. I liked the comment about the business card!

    Comment by Zoe Leong — September 12, 2009 @ 7:19 pm

  24. Thanks Joseph, I just read through your write up and think you did a great job. You need to do more of that. Most of us can’t recount an event as well as you did.

    Comment by D.Williams — September 18, 2009 @ 4:32 pm

  25. Wow! This is very enjoyable to read. Kinda like a peek back in time. Nice job on this article Joseph!

    Comment by Matt Abney — April 11, 2010 @ 2:09 pm