Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » A Few Minutes in Curtis, Arizona, 1897

A Few Minutes in Curtis, Arizona, 1897

By: Ardis E. Parshall - August 23, 2013

What were Church meetings like in Curtis (now known as Eden), Arizona, in 1897? A ward clerk whose hand apparently never wearied gives us a glimpse of the words and music of that ward for the month of December 1897. The Fast Day meeting on 5 December was, incidentally, the first meeting held after Fast Day was moved from Thursday to Sunday throughout the Church.

5 December 1897

Minutes of Ward Sunday Meeting held at the usual hour 2. P.M. Dec. 5″ 1897. – Bishop L.M. Colvin presiding – Bro. Charles Mathews present on the stand. – Choir sang hymn on page 224, “Once more my soul &c.” Prayer by bro. Stephen F. Wilson, singing on 38 “What was witnessed in the heavens,” &c. The Sacrament was admin[is]tered to by bros. Chas. W. Smithson and Alva S. Porter. Sacrament hymn on page 403, was then sung by the Choir.

Sister Martha M. Fuller was unanimously sustained as president of the Y.L.M.I. Association also Sister Eliza B. Porter as First, and Sister Hannah Kempton as Second counselors, and Sister Annie Plumb as secretary and Joanna Curtis as Asst. and Treasurer. A child named Martha Irena daughter of Rilla Oliver and Ami J. Curtis was then blessed by bro. Chas. W. Smithson.

The Bishop then called on the saints to bear their testimony as it was Fast Day, but as no one responded, bro Chas. Mathews was called to address the congregation. He said that a little experience enabled him to combat the evils of the world. The promises will not be fulfilled if we do not fill the conditions. A tree is known by the fruit it bears. The gifts and blessings follow the believer. I have seen the sick healed when they were given up to die. The Mormon church is not a corrupt church.

Bro. Moses Curtis said when he first heard the gospel he felt that it was true. We neglect many of the duties the gospel requires of us. I bear my testimony, May the Lord bless us Amen.

Bro. Alva S. Porter was then called to speak, and said our careless example before our children will result in evil. Those who profane cannot be Christians much less Latter Day Saints. It grieves me to hear profanity. I pray we may cease those evils – Amen.

The Bishop Lachoneus M. Colvin said he was pleased with the remarks of the brethren. It is not the hearers but the doers of the word that will get the reward. I do not live my religion as I ought. We ought to have the key of prayer with us continually. If we will keep the commandments we will escape the judgements. We should pay our tithing and fast offerings &c.

Bro. Truma[n] Tryon announced Y.M.’s meeting to-night at 7. P.M. Choir sang page85, “The gospel standard high is raised &c.”

Benediction by bro. Truman Tryon.

12 December 1897

Minutes of Ward Meeting, held in Curtis Ward, Graham Co., Arizona Sunday 2. P.M. Dec. 12″ 1897. Bishop Laconeus M. Colvin presiding. Elder Geo. Skinner, also bros. John Nash and Frank Preston of Pima were on the Stand. Choir sang hymn on page 265 “The great and glorious gospel light &c.” Prayer by bro. Stephen F.Wilson.singing119,”Praise ye the Lord my heart shall join &c.” Sacrament administered by bros. Truman Tryon and Samuel N. Higgins. Sacrament hymn on page 125 “How sweet communion is on earth &c.”

The Bishop then gave a portion of the time to bro. Geo. Skinner. He spoke on the subject of the sacrament, and refered to the 1st Chap. of John on baptism. Mormonism had its origin in the State of New York. The 19th Chap. of the Acts, for the subject of faith which is dead without works, God bless you, here is a sack of flour, is a living faith. Genuine repentance is forsaking of sin. God is an unchangable Being. The just shall live by faith. he spoke about Annanias and Sapphia, 3rd Chap. of John, also on the subject of laying on hands to confirm a member in the church also for the healing of the sick. I will have to meet what I have said – amen.

Bro. John Nash said he was here in the interest of the Elders and to encourage them. He said if we did not do our duty as elders we would go backward. We should all try to follow the example of the Savior not that of Satan. I want to see the Elders at the close of this meeting. I bear my testimony.

Bro. Frank Preston then took the stand, and said bro. Nash told me there was five minutes left for me. Well five minutes is enough for me, for I am no preacher, but I can bear my testimony. I am thankful for and appreciate the remarks of bro. Skinner. We must do our duty. We should not condemn.

Bishop Laconeus M. Colvin said, I bear my testimony that the angel that John saw flying through the midst of heaven &c has come and delivered the everlasting [gospel] to Joseph Smith the Prophet. The sects have not the authority to preach the gospel.

Choir sang 30. Benediction by bro. Truman Tryon.

19 December 1897

Minutes of Ward Meeting. Bishop L.M. Colvin presiding. Choir sang page 266, “The happy day has rolled on, e[t]c.” Prayer by Moses Curtis.Singing107, “Hark the song of jubilee, &c.” Sac administered by Bp. L.M. Colvin and Wm. W. Hawkins. Sacrament hymn on page 202, “Behold the Savior comes.”

The Bishop then spoke about Christmas. Bros. Chas. W. Smithson and Thomas A. Fuller, Martha M. Fuller, Martha Tryon and Ann Colvin were sustained as committee of arrangements for celebrating Christmas. Brother Chas E. Walton was then requested to speak. He said we should be thankful that we had the true gospel for it is not a Myth. The Holy Ghost tells us that the gospel is true. Lucifer is a very intelligent being and often takes advantage of us. Joseph Smith was a true Prophet. It is a sacrafice to live Mormonism. Some of the Authorities estimated that there were 700 evil spirits to every person. Lucifer has no body of his own.

Bro. Joseph S. Fackrell bore his testimony and said parents ought to teach their children to pray – I pray the Lord to bless us amen.

Bro. Alva S. Porter said there is a tendency to infidelity among the Latter Day Saints, because we are becoming lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. It was by faith and the word of God that the worlds were created. Faith without works is dead. The gospel is true and we should obey it. Let us study the scriptures. If we will do His will and keep his commandments we will know the gospel is true. I pray the Lord to bless us amen.

The Bishop said many in the church would fight and die for the church and the gospel but would not live for it. Our religion is an every day work. We should at all times try to do His will. Let us pay our tithing. May the Lord bless us amen.

Choir sang on page 303, “Ye gentile nations cease your strife, &c.” Benediction by bro. Wm W. Hawk

26 December 1897

Minutes of Ward Meeting Sunday 2 P.M. Dec. 26″ 1897. Bishop Lachoneus M. Colvin and Counselor M.M. Curtis presiding. Choir sang on page 194, “Let us pray gladly pray &c.” Prayer by bro. Moses Curtis. Singing on page 198. “Now let us rejoice in the day of Salvation &c.”

The Bishop said something celebrating New Years, and was glad to see so many present. Counselor M.M. Curtis said there was a time to all things. We have not gained much in the gospel in the last ten years. We are not living up to our covenants in full. The Lord will scourge us in order to found us up. We must not be negligent and indolent much longer. Let us do better in the New Year.

Bro. Wm. Hawkins said coming here is fulfilling one of the requirements of the Lord. We are natural enemies to God. I have seen the sick healed. I know this is the kingdom of God. Let us seek for the spirit of the Lord.

The Bishop said I am pleased to see so many out to-day and with the remarks of the brethren. A man must set a good example. The earth will be destroyed by fire as it was by water. The elders are warning the nations. We will have to answer for what we know and do not do. The Savior will come before long in person. The prophesies will all be fulfilled. Let us live right in the new Year.

Bros. Truman Tryon, Isaac Palmer, and John Busby were sustained as a committee on New Years Eve dance and exhibition New Years night for the benefit of Bro. A.B. Kempton who is on a mission to England.

Choir sang on p. 51, “Come let us anew &c.” Benediction by bro. S.F. Wilson. [S.F. Wilson was the ward clerk who recorded these detailed minutes.]



  1. 700 evil spirits per mortal person?! No wonder getting up in the morning can sometimes be so difficult …

    Comment by Gary Bergera — August 23, 2013 @ 8:55 am

  2. Gary, for the win.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 23, 2013 @ 9:51 am

  3. The Fast Sunday meeting is interesting, as “no one responded” to the invitation to bear testimonies. My wife’s brother lived in a ward for a while where the bishop made a habit of writing down peoples names on paper and having the bishop’s messenger (ie, a deacon) deliver them to the people he wanted to bear their testimonies. I believe it devolved to the point where no one got up to bear their testimony unless they got a note from the bishop. It was weird.

    Always fun to see these minutes.

    Comment by kevinf — August 23, 2013 @ 1:27 pm

  4. I have been looking forward to this post, since Curtis was full of my family.

    The Moses Curtis who bore his testimony on Dec 5 was my 3rd great grandfather. He with his family had been converted in 1832 when he was a teenager, reportedly at the preaching of Joseph Smith and Jared Carter. His father-in-law Levi Jackman and brother Lyman Curtis were two members of Brigham Young’s pioneer company in 1847. He had served as a Branch President in Pondtown (now Salem) before being called in 1877 to settle Arizona. At the time of this meeting he was elderly,(about 81) but lived another 10 years after this meeting.

    Joanna Curtis, sustained as assistant and treasurer of the YLMIA, was one of his younger daughters; she would have been about 16 at the time.
    Annie Plumb, the secretary, was a niece of my great-great grandmother. She would have been about 17.

    The infant Martha Irena who was blessed was his great-granddaughter.

    Truman Tryon who gave the benediction on Dec 5 and Dec 12, was Annie’s uncle; the Martha Tryon appointed on Dec 19 to the committee to oversee the Chrismas celebration was probably his wife and her aunt.

    M. M. Curtis, the counselor to the Bishop, was Moses Monroe, the son of Moses Curtis, and was the grandfather of the infant who had been blessed earlier in the month. He is considered the principal founder of settlement, so it is not surprising that so many of the Curtis family show up in the ward.

    Two of my great-great grandparents had been married two years before and were probably in the congregation. By this time, they had two infant daughters.

    Comment by Confutus — August 23, 2013 @ 7:36 pm

  5. That’s great grandparents.

    Comment by Confutus — August 23, 2013 @ 7:41 pm

  6. Confutus, I think you take the all-time prize for finding most connections in a single post! And for me, it adds a new dimension to recognize just how interconnected the people in this little ward were — thanks.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 23, 2013 @ 9:40 pm

  7. The life of “Wm Hawkins” who spoke on Dec 26 is one of those interesting intersections of American and LDS history. William Wesley Hawkins was a member of John Wesley Powell’s first Colorado River expedition through the Grand Canyon in 1869. He thereafter hung around southern Utah, met a Mormon girl, the rest is you-know-what.

    Comment by Steve Rizley — August 24, 2013 @ 9:50 pm

  8. I actually gasped out loud reading this. Colvins, Porters, Prestons – all names from my history. Thank you for this little window into their church lives.

    Comment by Melissa — August 30, 2013 @ 1:39 pm

  9. Truman Tryon is my 3rd great grandfather. I would live any more information you have about Eden or the families that came down after founding Pond Town (now Salem, UT). Thanks!

    Comment by Mike Haire — April 6, 2014 @ 2:37 pm

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