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Rochester, New York Hears from Elders Millward and Driggs, 1925

By: Ardis E. Parshall - April 02, 2010

This brief article reporting an LDS street meeting in Rochester, New York appeared in the Democrat and Chronicle, the newspaper of that city, in late 1925 (exact date not available). I love its description of the two missionaries – Andrew Selden Millward, of Berkeley, California (left), and Golden Kenneth Driggs, of Phoenix, Arizona (right) – in their personal appearance and physical movements, and the fair, interested tone of the writing.

Not many miles from the hill on which the founder of their sect, Joseph Smith, Jr., is claimed to have received the first visitation from the angel Moroni, two earnest young men this week are pleading earnestly for converts to the Mormon faith.

It was more than a hundred years ago that Smith, the founder of the Mormon church, dug up the golden plates on Cumorah hill, between Palmyra and Manchester, the translations from which were written into the Book of Mormon. A small Mormon colony was formed which, much troubled by religious persecutors, in time migrated west, to become established ultimately in Utah.

The young men who have come back to the country of the birthplace of their religion to attempt to win new converts spoke early in the week at Front and Main streets and their oratorical efforts, if not the philosophy of their religion, evoked considerable interest. There was something deeply tinged with the dramatic about the manner of the two young apostles of the faith that seldom failed to attract – and hold – an audience. They were fearless and unequivocal in their convictions, loud of voice and vigorous of gesture.

In appearance the young men did not resemble the average street corner preachers. Their clothes were of the “clever, college cut.” The hair of one was smoothed back with an ointment for such purposes popular with the young men of today; one wore a colored shirt with a quite Collegiate tie. They were fresh, clean-cut appearing young men, whose earnestness was beyond questions.

Moving about the fairly large circle, ringed by spectators, with the rapidity and vigorousness of a man shadow boxing, the first of the young preachers declared that his people, the people of the Mormon church, were the “most contented and happy people in the world.” His voice rang loudly into Main Street as he announced that they had “seen the light” and were content to follow the path of the great founder of their faith who, early in the last century, had received an immortal visitant on Cumorah hill. He gestured wildly, raising his hands above his head, leaned backward and then thrust his hands forward with a punching movement, implored with voice and gesture a tolerance for and a greater understanding of the sect he represented and when he finished, quite breathless and physically spent, he bowed his “comrade” into the circle, and the second speaker took up the chain of the argument and engagingly carried it forward for another fifteen minutes, while the luncheon hour of a couple of hundred rapt listeners slipped away.



9 Comments »

  1. I like it. In the picture, one of the missionaries has a mustache. The discription in the article states that one wore a colored shirt. How would that be? Facial hair and a colored shirt?

    Comment by Steve C. — April 2, 2010 @ 7:17 am

  2. I find the description of the missionaries appearance fascinating. And it begs the question what did the “average street corner preachers” look like in 1925?

    Comment by Bruce Crow — April 2, 2010 @ 9:10 am

  3. I found the style fascinating and the fact that it attracted many listeners. How would that be? I wonder how often they did this.

    Comment by Martin — April 2, 2010 @ 2:54 pm

  4. In 1925 Heber J. Grant was president of the church, and he, along with most of the Brethren, wore a beard. David O. McKay was the first prophet since Joseph Smith not to have facial hair.

    Comment by Bookslinger — April 3, 2010 @ 4:46 pm

  5. Thanks Ardis for this entertaining and enlightening article. Golden Driggs is my great uncle, and I immediately recognized the picture–his facial features and countenance carried into his old age. I’m not surprised by the characterization of wild gesticulations, he was a very engaging speaker in his senior years too. His hilarious rendition of Cinderella who “slopped her dripper” was a staple of extended family gatherings.

    Comment by Taylor Driggs — April 4, 2010 @ 11:12 am

  6. Golden Driggs is my Grandpa. This article really means a lot to me. My Grandpa had such an enthusiasm about life that I know he was preaching about the happiness the gospel gave him in his life. The picture of him looks just like his son, Ken Driggs. I feel that the gifts I have as a seminary teacher come largely from him. He was a gifted teacher who could touch people. I am truly grateful for all he did.

    Comment by Jon West — April 6, 2010 @ 8:05 am

  7. Andrew Selden Millward was my father. He served under President B. H. Roberts and was the President of the Rochester District. He often talked of his experiences of singing “Oh My Father” on street corners to attract a crowd. Then he and Elder Driggs would speak to the crowd. I have additional photos of his mission and of Elder Driggs. If any of Elder Drigg’s relatives are interested in what I have please contact me at miltez@cox.net.

    Comment by Gerald Millward — January 21, 2011 @ 8:41 pm

  8. Comments 5, 6, and 7 prove once again why the web is one of the greatest tools of our time. Cheers to you Ardis!

    Comment by Tod Robbins — January 21, 2011 @ 10:12 pm

  9. I wrote to both of Elder Driggs’s family members to send them Gerald Millward’s unexpected offer, and felt like Santa Claus while I was doing it! Thank you, Bro. M.

    (You too, Tod.)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 22, 2011 @ 2:33 am

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