Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » A Few Minutes in the Missionary Class at St. Johns, Arizona,1903

A Few Minutes in the Missionary Class at St. Johns, Arizona,1903

By: Ardis E. Parshall - July 17, 2013

Around the turn of the 20th century the Church began encouraging “missionary classes” for men – mostly young, but of any age – to prepare for full-time missionary service. Classes could even be taken by correspondence at one period. These classes focused on gospel principles and Church history that missionaries would need in the field, and also included general (secular) education and etiquette and other subjects that rural and frontier men may have missed in their youth, designed to help missionaries present themselves in respectable company.

The minutes presented here emphasize Church history. I’ve skimmed through the minutes for several years’ classes at the St. Johns Academy. The class read and discussed much of the Book of Mormon one year, and looked at a few New Testament parables another year. Perhaps 95% of the class material for these years, though, were Church history lessons.

5 January 1903

Song Redeemer of Israel. Opening Prayer by Fred Neilsen.

There being no lesson assigned at last class, Bro F.A. Hinckley made some explanations etc. Made arrangements for boys to go home to study. Changed time of class from 4 P.M. to 1 P.M.

Lesson assignment etc.

Benediction by Henry Jones.

6 January 1903

Song page 53 The Time Is Far Spent. Opening prayer by Jos. Burk.

Prophecy on the Saints being driven to the Rocky Mountains – T.R. Lee.

A Breathing Spell by Leroy Lesueur.

Joseph’s Anticipation of his Sacrifice – Henry Jones.

Many prophecies – Wm. Laney

Wrestling & Other Manly Sports – Thos. Adair

Teachings of the Prophet by J.E. Crosby

Attack on Nauvoo Charter – Wm Patten.

The Lull was Brief by John Earl

Benediction A.O. Schreeve

7 January 1903

Song p. 8. Come all ye Sons of Zion. Opening prayer E.I. Whiting.

Prophecy concerning move to Rocky Mountains (from Manual) given by Fred Nielsen.

Celestial Marriage (L.J.S.) Jos. Burk.

Eternity & Plurality of the Marriage Covenant by Fred Nielsen.

Revelation written and given to High Council by Elva Heap

Joseph, Hyrum & others obey it – J. Sorrensen

Benediction T.R. Lee

8 January 1903

Singing What Was Witnessed. Opening prayer by Prof F.A. Hinckley.

Bert Shreve spoke on Joseph Smith running for presidency of U.S.

Jas. McFate spoke on same subject.

Specific Address by the Prophet by Roy Lesueur.

The Work of Massacree by Wm Laney.

Looking to the West by John Earl.

Sublime Sermon by Jos. Burk.

Joseph Indicted for Poligamy by Wm. Pattin.

The above subjects were taken from Chap. 6 L.J.S. Apostates and their Work by Oscar Freeman.

Benediction by Wm Pattin

9 January 1903

Singing, O What Songs of the Heart. Opening prayer was offered by Thos. Adair.

The following subjects were treeted on from the 62nd Chap. (L.J.S.)

Josephs Dream by Thos Adair.

His Last Public Address by O.F. Lewis.

Conciousness of His Impending Fate by L. Maxwel.

His love for His Bretheren by Jessie Marbel.

The following subjects were taken from 63 chap (L.J.S.) Pontius Pilates Enterance upon the Scene at Carthage, by E.I. Whiting.

The Old Cry of “Crucify!” by Roy Lesueur.

Josephs Final Effort to Avert Danger from Noveau [Nauvoo], by Elva Heape, who also gave Lack of Faith and Suspicions of Cowardice.

A Fatal Blindness by J.F. Nielson.

Like Lamb to the Slaughter by Jas. Sorensen.

At Carthage by Oscar Freeman.

Bro. Hinckley spoke a short time on Spiritual Gifts.

Closed by singing We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet. Benediction by John Earl.

12 January 1903

Opened by singing “High on the Mountain Top a Ban[n]er is Unfurled.” Prayer by Jessie Marbel.

Henry Jones spoke on Return of O.P. Rockwell to Noveau (L.J.S.)

Some of the sayings of the prophet Joseph Smith were rehe[a]rsed by some of the members of the class.

Elva Heap spoke on The Conversation Between Joseph and Gov. Ford.

Singing Now Let Us Rejoice. Ben. By James McFAte.

13 January 1903

Opened by singing. Joseph Smiths First Prayer. Prayer by James Sorrenson.

Wm Pattin spoke on, Church under Brigham Young, Chap. 1. (B.H.C.)

Questions were ask[ed] and answered on above Chap.

Jessie Crosby put outline on Board.

Instructor B.F. Hinckley made outline on board of moves of Church from organization to expulsion from Ill.

Singing, “We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet. Ben. Oscar Freeman.

14 January 1903

Singing, “Songs of the Heart.” Prayer by Wm Pattin.

The following subjects were treated as follows.

Sidney Rigdon’s claim to Presidency by Lorenzo Maxwel.

Church under Brigham Young Chap. 1 (B.C.H.) was reviewed by Joseph Burk.

Expelled form Ill. By Roy Lesueur.

Wm Laney put outline on board of mooves of Joseph Smith from 1825 to 1830.

Benediction by Jessie Crosby.

15 January 1903

Opened by singing, “Come, Come Ye Saints.” Prayer was offered by instructor F.A. Hinckley.

O.F. Lewis recounted some of the moves of the Prophet Joseph.

Jessie Crosby reviewed the Life of Joseph Smith from 1815 to 1825.

Wm Pattin continued with the review from 1825 to 1830.

O.F. Lewis reviewed yesterdays lesson. Also questions were ask[ed] and answered, on events hap[p]ening in year 1846 (B.H.C.) p. 105.

Jessie Crosby gave an account of Wm Smiths claim to first presidency

Singing, O Say What is True. Benediction by Wm Laney.

16 January 1903

Opened by singing, “Ye Elders of Iserael.” Prayer by E.I. Whiting.

O.F. Lewis recounted the moves of the Prophet Joseph from birth to 1830.

Wm Laney spoke concerning Joseph’s visit to Jackson Co. Mo.

Bert Shreve gave a account of Zions Camp.

J.F. Nielson spoke concerning Move of Ohio saints to Mo.

O.F. Lewis spoke concerning Expulsion from Clay Co.

Lorenzo Maxwel[l] concerning Move to Ill and Iowa.

E.I. Whiting traced moves of saints from organization to settlement in Noveau Ill.

Moves of the saints were traced by verious member[s] of the class.

Thos Adare reviewed some of yesterdays lesson.

Bert Shreve spoke concerning Pioneers and First Companys (B.H.C. p. 117.)

Questions were ask[ed] and answered on above subject.

Closed by singing The Time is Far Spent.” Benediction by Elva Heape.



  1. Lorenzo Maxwell was the son of my great-great grandfather, William Bailey Maxwell. He would have been 21 years old in January of 1903. Should we infer that “the boys” did most of the speaking, after having been sent home to study?

    Comment by Mark B. — July 17, 2013 @ 7:57 am

  2. Yes, I think all those speakers were class members learning to speak in public.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 17, 2013 @ 8:13 am

  3. Lots of familiar names there, with the exception of Prof. Hinckley, who must have been brought in to teach at the Stake Academy (high school).

    There was lots of talk about plural marriage, undoubtedly an  important topic for missionaries-in-training, since it’s something they would need to be prepared to discuss. The persecution narrative is also a notable theme, but that’s no surprise, considering the history of St. Johns and the Little Colorado settlements and the very real and onerous persecution they experienced, although much of it would have happened while these prospective missionaries were small children.

    Comment by Amy T — July 17, 2013 @ 8:50 am

  4. Interesting to see the emphasis on persecution and the expulsion from Illinois. One question, are the initials “L.J.S.” and “B.H.C.” references to specific books? I am guessing that “L.J.S.” might be “History of Joseph Smith, by His Mother, Lucy Mack Smith,” but unclear on the other.

    Also, I am glad to see that they were teaching “wrestling and other manly sports” so that the missionaries could “present themselves in respectable company.” Nothing like a good wrestling match to liven up a parlor meeting.

    Comment by kevinf — July 17, 2013 @ 10:03 am

  5. L.J.S. would indeed be “Life of Joseph Smith” (Lucy’s book). B.H.C. would be Edward H. Anderson’s “Brief History of the Church,” available at Internet Archive (at least, the 1920 version is).

    I’ve been hunting up material on the missionary class (not this specific one, but the general church program) and found a number of the textbooks used, which have somehow mysteriously appeared on my bookshelves thanks to the good fairy This one is on its way …

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 17, 2013 @ 10:12 am

  6. Wow — what detailed topics. Fascinating! (What’s ‘The Work of Massacree’? (Jan 8 lesson))

    Comment by David Y. — July 17, 2013 @ 10:25 am

  7. David, just guessing, but I suspect it was a talk on the Martyrdom, with an emphasis on the evil deeds of the mob.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 17, 2013 @ 10:47 am

  8. You’re probably right, Ardis. Thanks.

    Comment by David Y. — July 17, 2013 @ 12:51 pm

  9. Very interesting.

    Comment by Edje Jeter — July 17, 2013 @ 2:43 pm

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