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“I Have Not Seen or Heard an Elder or a Member of the Church for Over Seventeen Years”

By: Ardis E. Parshall - February 14, 2011

This letter was forwarded to Northwestern States Mission President John G. Allred in 1926:

Dear sir and brother: –

You will no doubt be very much surprised to receive this letter from an entire stranger, but I am hungry to hear from an elder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and would walk as far as I could to hear one preach the Gospel. I was baptized into the Church twenty-two years ago in the state of Wisconsin, by Elder James Shawcroft from La Jara, Colorado, but have not seen or heard an elder or a member of the Church for over seventeen years.

Couldn’t we have an elder out here? I know he would be received right. The people round about are anxious to hear the Gospel; they know little about religion. Once in a great while a minister comes down in this part and preaches a sermon, but they don’t seem to make much impression.

Years ago I used to get the Liahona regularly and enjoyed it so much, and I also had a nice lot of Church books; but we lost everything in a fire, so I have no books or papers now, but would like the address of the Liahona, and also a Sunday school paper for children, and the main newspaper of the Church.

If there is anyone that can spare the time I would be so glad if they would write to me. And please send us some one to preach the gospel to us. Surely you can spare one man to do God’s work out here.

Mrs. Flora Englesby,
Morwick P.O., Sask., Canada

Flora Isabel South was born in Sunrise, Minnesota, on 10 November 1874, and baptized in Wisconsin on 18 October 1903. She married Harrison Washington Englesby in Clay County, Minnesota, in 1895, but he was not baptized along with her.

Evidently President Allred did send elders to her almost immediately; her husband and two of her daughters were baptized in the summer of 1927. Some of her other children were baptized many years later,  while others of her children did not join the Church. Flora had her deceased parents baptized in Cardston in 1928, and she and Harrison were sealed in the Cardston Temple in 1938 (after Harrison’s 1931 death). She died on 11 March 1957, in Penticton, British Columbia.



18 Comments »

  1. Excellent stuff, Ardis. Another wonderful story from the ungathered Saints.

    Comment by Christopher — February 14, 2011 @ 7:39 am

  2. La Jara? That’s one of the towns in the Mormon settlements in the San Luis Valley in Colorado, but Shawcroft doesn’t sound like a Southern name.

    Let’s see. James Shawcroft would be James Nathan Shawcroft (1879-1958), son of John and Maria Jensen Shawcroft. His father was from Derbyshire and his mother was from Denmark. James was born in Sanpete County in 1879.

    I can’t find anything about James N., but here’s a history of his brother John William, that refers to James as “Nathan,” and mentions that the family was called to settle in the San Luis Valley by President John Taylor in the early 1880s.

    Comment by Researcher — February 14, 2011 @ 7:55 am

  3. I like stories with a happy ending.

    Comment by Clark — February 14, 2011 @ 9:31 am

  4. Once again Researcher lives up to her moniker! Thanks.

    Chris, Clark, thanks. I am repeatedly amazed at learning about people whose faith and loyalty endured despite isolation, and despite what was very likely a short period of teaching before baptism in the first place. Makes me wonder who we lost touch with permanently, and grateful for those who, like Flora, reestablished contact on their own.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 14, 2011 @ 9:51 am

  5. I wondered where on earth Morwick P.O. might be, so searched on the name Morwick, Saskatchewan. The only result was a lake of that name about 600 miles north of Saskatoon–nobody would have moved up there, even from Minnesota!

    With a bit more digging I found a website for Natural Resources Canada which searches place names, both current and former. “Morwick” turned up a place much closer to civilization, at 52° 42′ 00″ N 104° 43′ 02″ W–or about 175 km ENE of Saskatoon. That might have been the place were the good sister Flora lived–but it would nice to corroborate that somehow.

    It’s perhaps not too surprising that no elders had been out there–even now the closest branch of the church appears to be in Melfort–30 km away. And I’d be surprised if there were any branches closer than Saskatoon in 1926.

    Comment by Mark B. — February 14, 2011 @ 10:33 am

  6. Mark, in trying to respond to your work on the location of Morwick, I found two bits of mission reports that pertain to the Englesbys and answer the question (and, incidentally, required me to modify the OP a bit — Flora and Harrison didn’t go to the temple in 1938; Harrison had died in 1931, so the 1938 date was a sealing between a living Flora and a deceased Harrison). You’re right on the money with the Morwick that’s near Melfort:

    Reporting from the South Saskatchewan district just before 20 September 1927, an elder writes to the Liahona:

    Pres. [Henry E.] Giles and Elder John A. Ward have just returned from a successful tour of the northern part of the province. Many good meetings were held and two baptisms performed. They visited Sister Englesby, who had been administered to by the elders three months before for coughing spells, and she reported that she had not been troubled with them since them.

    and just before 7 July 1931 an elder notes:

    Due to the sickness and death of Brother Harry Englesby at Melfort, Elders Archie R. Wright and J. Victor Peterson were sent to take charge of the funeral services, which caused their absence from the conference.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 14, 2011 @ 10:55 am

  7. Sheesh. I was so moved by the idea of a Latter-day Saint living the gospel on her own all those years that I rushed to post this letter way too soon. Had I done my homework first, this would have figured prominently in the OP:

    Writing to the Liahona in 1908, Flora bears her testimony:

    I was baptized October 18, [1903] and know of a surety that the gospel taught by the “Mormon” elders is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I am also assured that the Book of Mormon is the word of the Lord I am the only Saint in this county, I believe. It is very hard to bring my children up right. But I grow stronger in the faith every day, and the Lord is blessing me in various ways. – Mrs Flora Englesby, Saskatchewan, Canada.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 14, 2011 @ 11:01 am

  8. Thanks, Ardis. Great additions to the OP. (And I’m relieved to see that the Canadian government has got that location right–or at least close.)

    Again, a remarkable woman of faith. Let’s hope one of her descendants finds this post!

    Comment by Mark B. — February 14, 2011 @ 12:28 pm

  9. Couldn’t we have an elder out here?

    Awesome.

    Thanks for the great post, Ardis.

    Comment by J. Stapley — February 14, 2011 @ 9:49 pm

  10. I live in the next Province over from Sask. It has the Temple in Regina and two stakes, membership is small but awesome people! About ten years ago now there was the Saskatoon Stake that I believed covered all of the wards and branches and Elder Nelson of the Twelve visited the Stake for their conference and to everyone’s surprise and to his apparently he created the Regina Stake, so good things are happening there!

    Comment by Cameron — February 15, 2011 @ 12:10 pm

  11. Good to hear, Cameron. I’d like to think the members of those stakes knew about their pioneers, especially this woman who asked for the first missionaries to please come to that part of the Province.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 15, 2011 @ 1:12 pm

  12. My father-in-law, John Alma Ward, was one of the first four missionaries in Saskatchewan.

    The Church Almanac 2007, page 326, states: “The first missionaries sent to work in Saskatchewan in the summer of 1925 were Raymond L. Allen and Alma Ward. They were assigned by the North Central States Mission to work in Saskatoon and Leo E. Nelson and Theodore Reynolds who were assigned to work in Regina.”

    Dad’s missionary journal gives more information about his mission. He left Salt Lake by train on Wednesday, Jul 8, 1925.Saturday, July 18 in Winnepeg the elders had a meeting with Presidents Clawsen and Allred, “In this meeting Elder Nelson and I was sent to Saskatoon as the first Elders to labor there.”

    Their first day in Saskatoon was Tuesday, July 28, 1925. They spent a lot of time cleaning up and looking around the city. The next day he got bitten by a dog.

    I have a picture of John Alma and one identified as Leo Nelson, also one with three other elders, but with no identification.

    Comment by Maurine Ward — February 15, 2011 @ 10:18 pm

  13. I didn’t even make the possible connection when I typed the name John A. Ward!

    Does his diary cover late summer 1927 and the when he and Elder Giles visited Flora Englesby?

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 15, 2011 @ 10:35 pm

  14. John Alma Ward, 1925-27, from Maurine Ward:

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 15, 2011 @ 10:42 pm

  15. Ardis, John Alma Ward’s missionary journal (at least the one we have) ends July 25, 1926. I can’t find any reference to Flora Englesby. I do have a photo of him with Elder Giles who went up north with him when they visited with Flora.

    Comment by Maurine Ward — February 16, 2011 @ 9:29 am

  16. John Alma Ward and Henry E. Giles, courtesy of Maurine Ward:

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — February 16, 2011 @ 10:36 am

  17. Well, I am quite familiar with this story – you see, Grandma Englesby is my Grandma.

    Grandma was tough – she had to be, and I know it wasn’t easy for her living so far from the Church, however, she endured. Grandma and grandpa had three daughters – two of them remained very active for the rest of their lives. I’m not really certain if any of my uncles joined the Church. but I do know that if they did, they didn’t stay with it.
    Elders Ward and Giles gave grandma their picture and I have it to this day – it is in very good shape!
    President Heber J. Grant sent a book to grandma entitled “Prince of Peace” with a greeting written on Church letterhead.
    I have to mention our great province of Saskatchewan – it is wonderful, and I was in attendance at the Conference when Elder Nelson, who had come to create a district because the stake was being split, announced with great joy that Saskatchewan would have two stakes! It was a great spiritual feast that evening.
    In closing I would also like to add that Grandma Englesby – a stalwart pioneer – has left a legacy – she has 40+ direct descendants who have served or are now serving the Lord as missionaries.

    I am proud to have personally known my grandma and also to be one of those 40+ presently serving the Lord!

    Marlene

    Comment by Marlene Breti — April 24, 2014 @ 1:57 pm

  18. What a wonderful followup, Marlene! I’m glad you found this post and took the time to comment. Your grandmother is the kind of Latter-day Saint I like to read about,, and it’s even better when you confirm what her life was like as a whole. Thank you.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 24, 2014 @ 3:06 pm

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