Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » In Her Own Words: Carolyn Wright Snow, 1930

In Her Own Words: Carolyn Wright Snow, 1930

By: Ardis E. Parshall - August 26, 2011

Carolyn Wright Snow (1917-1946) was 12 years old when she gave this talk in the Detroit Branch, Michigan.

I live in Royal Oak, one of the city suburbs in what is known as Greater Detroit. When my parents moved to Royal Oak ten years ago, Mormonism was, in that locality, little known and less approved. In fact, some members of our family were told that the people did not desire our religion brought into the community and especially the schools.

The family of my present teacher of history became interested in our Relief Society and other church functions, and when our history text required a report on Mormonism, my teacher said to the class, “Carol Snow is a little Mormon and can therefore, perhaps, give us the most correct report on the subject in hand. Carol, how much time do you wish?”

I replied, “I think I can cover the subject in an hour.”

I was accordingly assigned an hour for the subject on the following day.

I thought the students would be most interested in the story of the westward hike of the pioneers under leadership of Brigham Young, but soon discovered that they wanted to know all about the story of Mormonism from its beginning, so I started with the story of the boy prophet, his desire to gain knowledge, the discovery of the plates, showing pictures of the hill Cumorah and the Sacred Grove. I told of the Vision, the organization of the Church and then led my audience with the Saints to Kirtland, Ohio, describing the temple and explaining the purpose of its erection.

Many questions were asked about the dimensions and appearance of the plates, of the engravings thereon and of their translation. I was thankful indeed for the technical knowledge I had obtained of the plates and facts connected with their translation, from my Sunday School teachers, and for the opportunity I had had conducting meetings and discussions in our home night programs, so that I could keep that large class in order while still allowing them the freedom of speech and asking questions to the subject.

From Kirtland we journeyed to Zion’s Camp, a description of the rise and fall of beautiful nauvoo, organization of the Camp of Israel with its hardships blazing the trail westward.

The incident of the lone grave of Pioneer Rebecca Winters, marked by a wagon tire, and of the Pacific Railroad monument to her memory, with pictures of the same, was most interesting to them, as was also the description of entrance into the Salt Lake Valley, mentioning the outstanding characteristics of the Prophet Brigham Young, Orson Pratt and my grandfather Erastus Snow.

I told of the great project of irrigation as introduced by Brigham Young, fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah in making the “waste places to blossom like a rose,” concluding with the prophecy of Joseph Smith in 1842, that the Saints would continue to suffer persecution but that they would build up a great commonwealth in the midst of the Rocky Mountains, and become a mighty people.

I responded to three different requests to present this subject to the history classes of the Royal Oak Junior High School, each of one hour duration.



  1. Very eloquent for a 12-year-old! It would be fascinating to know if anyone ever joined the Church as a result of hearing her speak.

    Comment by Alison — August 26, 2011 @ 8:26 am

  2. Whoa. An hour presentation with one day’s notice? That is impressive!

    Comment by HokieKate — August 26, 2011 @ 8:42 am

  3. ‘s what I thought, too. This was one prepared Beehive Girl, not only with knowledge but with confidence in teaching and classroom management.

    Reminds me of 7th grader Clarissa’s response to the Mormon chapter in her class’s reading of Jules Verne a few years ago.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 26, 2011 @ 9:06 am

  4. That’s what it reminded me of, too, Ardis. I’ll have to point this post out to her.

    Comment by Researcher — August 26, 2011 @ 9:49 am

  5. I may have known relatives of this girl when I lived in that county. There is one of your regular commenters who has known them much longer and could say better if there’s a relation.

    Comment by John Mansfield — August 26, 2011 @ 10:12 am

  6. This was a bonus post for me!

    I have a longstanding interest in memorials and markers of all kinds. While I’d heard of the Rebecca Winters grave, I’d never seen a photo of it. Today’s Keepa post prompted me to Google it and I learned the sweet story of its preservation by the Railroad, as well as its various re-locations after that. In the course of this Googling, as often happens, I stumbled upon another tiny bit of information relating specifically to Mormon grave memorials that I’d long had in my notes to eventually track down.

    Tiny bits, to be sure, and applicable only to possible future projects, but this is how things eventually get done.

    Comment by Mina — August 26, 2011 @ 11:10 am

  7. “In 1913, the Church sent the Arthur Snow family from Utah to Michigan in order to manage the Church’s salt mine business in Detroit. The Snows and the Archie Alger families became the nucleus of the Detroit membership.”

    An obituary for Arthur Snow’s son Jonathan:

    Comment by John Mansfield — August 26, 2011 @ 12:14 pm

  8. OK, this 2004 obituary for Jonathan Snow’s wife, Marba Andersen Snow nails it for me, as it names the children who survived her:

    Note the last line, “Services and interment will take place in Royal Oak, Michigan.” The nearly century long continuity of this family with the Church in Wayne County, Michigan is heartening to think about.

    Comment by John Mansfield — August 26, 2011 @ 12:24 pm

  9. What courage for a junior high student to make an hour-long presentation of the Church. I wounder how many of our young men and women (even priests and laurels) could acquit themselves so well.

    One sign that she’s far above the average found in my ward is that she didn’t begin her talk to the branch by saying, “When Bro. so-and-so called last week and asked me to speak…”

    Comment by The Other Clark — August 26, 2011 @ 1:22 pm

  10. As happens so often when readers start contributing ideas, this simple post has opened some new thoughts for me — I’ve done some work on the lives of Saints who left Utah to make new homes in New York City; I know of the same sources that will tell me something about Saints who went to Chicago, Detroit, Washington, and other key cities in the early 20th century. John’s information on the Snow family makes me want to explore the longevity of families associated with some of these cities.

    Mina, take a look at this Keepa photo here in connection with the Rebecca Winters grave.

    Glad to see that others of you were as impressed as I was with this young girl’s presentation!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 26, 2011 @ 2:26 pm

  11. WOW! That is an outstanding photo, Ardis! Thank you so much for linking me to that!

    Comment by Mina — August 26, 2011 @ 2:37 pm

  12. I can’t think of many twelve-year-old girls or boys that could handle that responsibility on a day’s notice. It is a credit to her parents for teaching her so well.

    Comment by Maurine Ward — August 26, 2011 @ 4:52 pm

  13. I agree Maurine. But I think its also a credit to her Sunday School teachers (*cough* pre-correlation *cough*) and her educational situation in general (pre-No Child Left Behind, pre-teaching to the test, more emphasis on reading history and geography and finally, plenty of experience giving oral reports in school).

    Many of the college students I teach today can not even read aloud. And most of them balk at speaking in public, claiming they are “too shy.”

    Not to take anything away from Miss Snow, whose presentation sounds wonderfully delightful and impressive, but I suspect her abilities were encouraged and supported by resources not as easily available to children and students today. We all need more Miss Snows.

    Comment by Mina — August 26, 2011 @ 5:13 pm

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