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The Best Beards in Mormon History

By: Ardis E. Parshall - October 08, 2010

[Update, 26 July 2011: Apparently PollDaddy polls go away after some period of time although the vote tallies are still visible to me behind the scenes. I’m adding those tallies to these posts. I wish newcomers could still vote, though!]

Twenty-first century conventions aside, Mormon men have sported some dandy beards over the years. Whose was the best, though? I dunno — you help me figure it out by picking your favorite in each category. In a week or so, we’ll have a run-off with the winners in each category to determine Best in Show.

(Please forgive any kludgy formatting and errors in style classification — neither is my specialty.)

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The Patriarchal Beard

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George Goddard – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Brigham Young

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Lorenzo Snow – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Joseph F. Smith
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The Patriarchal Beard

Joseph F. Smith: 176 (45%)
Lorenzo Snow: 116 (30%)
George Goddard: 58 (15%)
Brigham Young: 42 (11%)

Juncos

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George Albert Smith – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – John R. Murdock

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Elias Morris – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – John Sharp

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Juncos

George Albert Smith: 145 (40%)
John Sharp: 137 (38%)
John R. Murdock: 71 (20%)
Elias Morris: 7 (2%)

Great Goatees


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E.F. Sheets – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – John S. Davis

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Seth M. Blair – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – James E. Bromley

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Great Goatees

James E. Bromley: 122 (34%)
E.F. Sheets: 106 (29%)
John S. Davis: 78 (22%)
Seth M. Blair: 54 (15%)

Soul Patches and Chin Strips

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John H. Gibbs – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Amos Milton Musser

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Angus M. Cannon – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Moses Thatcher

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Soul Patches and Chin Strips

Amos Milton Musser: 144 (41%)
John H. Gibbs: 123 (35%)
Angus M. Cannon: 59 (17%)
Moses Thatcher: 29 (8%)

Chin Curtains

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Lorin Farr – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Thomas H. Woodbury

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Jedediah M. Grant – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – William Clayton

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Chin Curtains

William Clayton: 129 (37%)
Lorin Farr: 110 (31%)
Thomas H. Woodbury: 89 (25%)
Jedediah M. Grant: 25 (7%)

Dignity in Simplicity

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John R. Winder – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Heber J. Grant

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William Budge – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Thomas E. Ricks

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Dignity in Simplicity

Heber J. Grant: 253 (71%)
William Budge: 50 (14%)
John R. Winder: 37 (10%)
Thomas E. Ricks: 15 (4%)

The Beard You’d Least Like to Meet in a Dark Alley

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William Hickman – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Porter Rockwell

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Orson Hyde – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Mormon Blogger BHodges

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The Beard You’d Least Like to Meet in a Dark Alley

Porter Rockwell: 273 (74%)
William Hickman: 65 (18%)
Mormon Blogger: 25 (7%)
Orson Hyde: 4 (1%)

Subbing for Santa

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Edward G. Cannon – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – William H. Hooper

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John D.T. McAllister – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Orson Pratt

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Subbing for Santa

Orson Pratt: 282 (78%)
William H. Hooper: 37 (10%)
John D.T. McAllister: 35 (10%)
Edward G. Cannon: 7 (2%)

Free Style

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Samuel Brannan – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Benjamin F. Johnson

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Albert Carrington – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – William Whitehead Taylor

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Free Style

Benjamin F. Johnson: 165 (47%)
Albert Carrington: 135 (38%)
William Whitehead Taylor: 28 (8%)
Samuel Brannan: 24 (7%)

The series:

The Best Beards in Mormon History
The Best Beards in Mormon History: Best in Show
The Best Beards in Mormon History: Results Show



59 Comments »

  1. OK, we just have to say that this was so much fun. My boys and I cracked up while doing this. However we do have Brother Santa in our ward and so he really gets our vote for that one… and we vote that John Taylor totally rocks the Neck Beard. We’ve always felt that way. (Neck Beard is just way more fun to say than “chin curtain”, though that does cause some interesting mental visuals!)

    Comment by Lady Ozma — October 8, 2010 @ 7:15 am

  2. wow, we’re so dull these days…

    Comment by Dan — October 8, 2010 @ 7:22 am

  3. this is just awesome Ardis

    Comment by Randy B. — October 8, 2010 @ 7:46 am

  4. I was just telling my seminary class yesterday about Orson’s beard. Now I’ve got the picture to prove it!

    Comment by Dane — October 8, 2010 @ 7:52 am

  5. Wow. Nice job! Nowadays a beard will keep you from getting a calling with a lot of responsibility. Well, it has worked for me so far.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — October 8, 2010 @ 8:04 am

  6. Orson Pratt’s is beyond awesome. The Mormon Blogger is pretty scary looking.

    Comment by Chris H. — October 8, 2010 @ 8:10 am

  7. This was the most fun I’ve had in starting my day in a long time. The categories were great and the beards were priceless.

    Comment by Morgan D — October 8, 2010 @ 8:10 am

  8. Thank you so much for this post! Ir really brightened my morning.

    Comment by kew — October 8, 2010 @ 8:18 am

  9. I really appreciated this post!

    Comment by Joseph Smidt — October 8, 2010 @ 8:26 am

  10. Ardis, whatever this cost you as you created and formatted was worth every bead of sweat and more. I can’t remember having this much fun in a poll!

    Comment by ellen — October 8, 2010 @ 8:45 am

  11. This is awesome. Well done, Ardis. I’m a fan of Albert Carrington’s.

    Comment by Christopher — October 8, 2010 @ 8:45 am

  12. Ardis, don’t let me forget to nominate this for break-through historical analysis niblet of the year!

    Comment by Matt W. — October 8, 2010 @ 9:03 am

  13. I think you ought to put Orson Pratt and Bejamin Johnson in the “Dark Ally” category.

    You ought to have the best Keepaninny category as well. We could send you some of our best beard photos.

    I agree with Bruce Crow. I nice “biker” beard is a sure way to avoid getting called as EQ president or into the Bishopric.

    Comment by Steve C. — October 8, 2010 @ 9:04 am

  14. I had never before today seen Orson Pratt’s beard. Wow. (My own is so tame by comparison…)

    Comment by Paul — October 8, 2010 @ 9:07 am

  15. I surely glad that I don’t have to enter this contest! The few times I’ve gone two weeks without shaving–long camping trips, etc.–have suggested that I wouldn’t succeed in any of your categories. Maybe if you added a Ho Chi Minh category . . .

    And, kudos to you Ardis for coming up the category names!

    Comment by Mark B. — October 8, 2010 @ 9:10 am

  16. You’re teh Awesome Ardis! I love the titles you came up with too.

    Comment by Tracy M — October 8, 2010 @ 9:23 am

  17. This was so fun Ardis! When I saw the post my first thought was, “she MUST have Orson Pratt in there somewhere.” I kept scrolling and scrolling…hoping…and in the end you didn’t disappoint :) Is there a vote for Best All Time Beard/Hair? OP all the way!

    Comment by Meghan M. — October 8, 2010 @ 9:28 am

  18. Wonderful!

    Comment by Eric Nielson — October 8, 2010 @ 9:35 am

  19. Loved it!
    Not a fan of facial hair, though, so I hope none of these will be coming back soon.

    Comment by Bored in Vernal — October 8, 2010 @ 9:38 am

  20. BiV,

    What do you have against facial hair. Are you dissing Blair? :)

    Comment by Chris H. — October 8, 2010 @ 9:42 am

  21. My husband’s beard would go well in the Dignity category. I am a huge fan of facial hair, and hope it comes back. (:P BIV — I think our opinions cancel each other out.)

    Great post, Ardis!

    Comment by Coffinberry — October 8, 2010 @ 9:53 am

  22. Patriarchal == ZZTop

    This is an extraordinary collection of awesomeness.

    Comment by J. Stapley — October 8, 2010 @ 10:31 am

  23. Hey Coffinberry, I am a sucker for beards. My husband had a red beard (like BHodges) when I met him. He grew it every winter and shaved it in the spring. One day it came in grey and he quit on the beard and has had a moustache ever since. He was a counselor in two bishoprics and on the high council with his beard, but that probably wouldn’t fly today. When I see a guy in our ward with a great beard, I have to restrain myself from going up and putting my cheek against it or rubbing my hand over it. I never do, but Gary watches me really closely around beards on men other than my son, who shaved his beard five years ago as a counselor in a bishopric, but was released two weeks ago and is growing it back.

    Comment by Maurine — October 8, 2010 @ 10:39 am

  24. I don’t mean to be all nitpicky, but it sure seems like a notable beard was omitted.

    Comment by Scott B. — October 8, 2010 @ 11:19 am

  25. ORSON PRATT FTEternalW! WOW. Thank you so much Ardis!

    Comment by Tod Robbins — October 8, 2010 @ 12:10 pm

  26. Orson Pratt FTW!

    Boy you can’t beat Heber J. Grant for impeccable taste. What a lovely necktie and well-groomed beard.

    Comment by sister blah 2 — October 8, 2010 @ 1:09 pm

  27. Two others I would nominate:

    John Smith (pictured next to Joseph F. Smith)

    Lot Smith

    I should mention Reed Smoot as well. Beard or mustache, he looked good.

    Comment by Justin — October 8, 2010 @ 1:28 pm

  28. #27: Whoa, crazy jacket alert! (first link, “Sacred Grove, 1905″ photo)

    Comment by sister blah 2 — October 8, 2010 @ 1:32 pm

  29. Fun fact: that jacket was made using JFS’s own beard hair.

    Comment by Justin — October 8, 2010 @ 1:37 pm

  30. This is hysTERical, Ardis. I was laughing so much! I have to agree that it’s Orson Pratt FTW!

    Comment by meems — October 8, 2010 @ 1:40 pm

  31. J: I like the ZZ Top=Patriarchal beard.

    Comment by Steve C. — October 8, 2010 @ 1:43 pm

  32. Ardis, I don’t want to pile on, but you’re a historical force to be reckoned with. I’ve thought this before, but this post puts you over the top.

    Comment by CJ Douglass — October 8, 2010 @ 1:46 pm

  33. After J’s ZZ Top reference, I keep hearing “Sharp Dressed Man” whenever I look at these pictures. Most fun I’ve had in the bloggernacle all week! I’ll have to show these to my wife and see if she wants me to grow mine back. It has been about 25 years.

    Too bad we can’t share pictures of the beards of some of our ancestors here. My greatgrandfather had a nice free-style!

    Comment by kevinf — October 8, 2010 @ 2:10 pm

  34. Benjamin Johnson looks like one of those monsters from Sesame Street

    Comment by J. Paul — October 8, 2010 @ 2:34 pm

  35. How many of these brethren have beard cards?

    Oh, How I wish we could go back to the olden days

    Comment by Abertawe — October 8, 2010 @ 2:39 pm

  36. The thing that always impresses me about OP’s beard is the vertical width of that mustache. Incredible. He has it combed sideways and it still looks like there are three inches between his upper lip and the bottom of his nose.

    Comment by Jacob J — October 8, 2010 @ 2:51 pm

  37. Orson Pratt should get Best In Show. The whole presentation is astounding!

    Comment by Mina — October 8, 2010 @ 4:23 pm

  38. Ardis, You are my hero in so many ways, but this was genius piled on genius. So cool.

    But you brought a single tear to my eye, because working at BYU means I cannot ever, ever have a cool awesome beard. Deep sigh.

    Comment by SteveP — October 8, 2010 @ 4:43 pm

  39. As a side note, Elijah F. Sheets was a set apart healer in the Salt Lake Temple. I’ve come across him many times but never knew what he looked like. Now I’m going to imagine all those saints making pilgrimages to the Temple to be healed by man with an astounding goatee.

    Comment by J. Stapley — October 8, 2010 @ 4:58 pm

  40. Absolutely magnificent post and magnificent beards.

    Comment by Researcher — October 8, 2010 @ 5:37 pm

  41. Wonderful! Niblet nomination pending…

    Comment by Kevin Barney — October 8, 2010 @ 7:17 pm

  42. This post is a bag full of pure awesome.

    Comment by Mike Parker — October 8, 2010 @ 7:49 pm

  43. Don’t worry, SteveP. I can’t ever have a cool awesome beard either!

    I always wanted my dad to wear a great Einstein hairdo after he retired. He totally could have done it too! But, alas, Mom vetoed it. =(

    I loved Orson Pratt’s beard best of all, as so many others have said. I was surprised how often in other categories I picked a sleeper, though.

    Totally a Nibletworthy post, too! Way to go, Ardis!

    Comment by Tatiana — October 8, 2010 @ 8:49 pm

  44. Seeing this makes me wish I was a man… just so I could grow an awesome beard. Leg hair just doesn’t give the same options.

    Comment by StillConfused — October 8, 2010 @ 8:53 pm

  45. Marvelous–many thanks!

    Comment by Moniker Challenged — October 8, 2010 @ 10:02 pm

  46. Orson even has the rosy cheeks down. Best in show is exactly right. His entire being is happy to see you.

    LOL StillConfused (#43). Give it a shot?

    Comment by Ben Pratt — October 8, 2010 @ 11:17 pm

  47. Can’t wait for round two.

    Comment by David Y. — October 9, 2010 @ 1:01 am

  48. I love this. I’m married to a man with an awesome beard!

    Comment by pinkpatent — October 9, 2010 @ 1:19 pm

  49. Ardis, you missed my goatee. It kind of looks like George Albert Smith. Great post, love it!

    Comment by Geoff B — October 9, 2010 @ 5:08 pm

  50. I didn’t know the name of the Monopoly guy until now. Amos M. Musser. Seriously, all he needs is a top hat

    Comment by J paul — October 9, 2010 @ 7:11 pm

  51. And the winner: Orson Pratt, by a whisker (or two).

    Comment by Mark B. — October 10, 2010 @ 7:49 am

  52. Great post. I was feeling pretty good about my knowledge of Mormon history until I realized I had heard of less than half of these gentlemen. In any case, Viva La Barba!

    Comment by Clark — October 10, 2010 @ 2:19 pm

  53. This is such a great post. I love the beards and from the sound of it, everyone else loves the beards too. It’s such a shame the BYU won’t depict BY with a beard.

    Comment by Steve C. — October 10, 2010 @ 4:08 pm

  54. Great we got the beards voted on, now do one on hair styles. Ha!

    Comment by Ray Ray — October 11, 2010 @ 6:27 pm

  55. Hilarious. I guess I misunderstood what we were voting on, because I went for the ones that I would most likely allow on my spouse. (“The lesser evil,” I guess it would be called.) But when I clicked on the results, people seemed to pick other ones. Thanks for this, Ardis, it made my day, especially the “Free style” and the “Beard You’d Least Like to Meet in a Dark Ally.” Ha ha ha.

    Comment by Michelle Glauser — October 12, 2010 @ 11:49 am

  56. I found this today and thought it would fit in.

    http://www.worldbeardchampionships.com/category/compete/

    How would some of our contestants fair?

    Comment by Steve C. — January 15, 2011 @ 10:52 am

  57. Oh. My.

    I have an idea for an elders quorum activity …

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 15, 2011 @ 10:53 am

  58. A friend sent this and I’m so glad. This was fun, thank you!

    Comment by Gloria Braathen — September 6, 2013 @ 9:34 pm

  59. I’m all for the Porter Rockwell look, but since working on the Beard Utah project I guess it’s important to look respectable. http://user.xmission.com/~wake/beardmen.html

    Comment by Paul — October 13, 2013 @ 3:02 pm

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