Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Brigham ‘n’ Ethel 4Ever

Brigham ‘n’ Ethel 4Ever

By: Ardis E. Parshall - August 31, 2008

A woman — or, perhaps, a group of men and/or women — bent on a practical joke and signing her letter as “Ethel,” once wrote to Brigham Young from St. Louis to propose marriage. Ethel was so taken by a description of Salt Lake City, she claimed, that she was inspired “with an irresistable desire to embrace your religion, and become one of your number.”

Her qualifications were legion: “I am beautiful in form and feature, of medium height, possess a loving disposition, and am not inclined to jealousy.” She was young — just 23. She was rich — “I make a good living from the interests of a fortune in the Bank of England which I inherited from my father,” who, as luck would have it, had died and would pose no obstacle to their bliss.

“Now, to disclose the object of this letter — to come to the point at once: — I want to become one of your own dear wives, and share my future life with you and yours. Will you grant me this happiness — this longing desire to be with you? If so, I will come to marry you in your blessed city, as quick as limb, steam, and horse can carry me. Anxiously awaiting your answer, I am Yours Devotedly.”

Impertinent spoof though it was, this letter would have been impossible without the peculiarities of Mormonism. What other marriage proposals or pickup lines have you heard — or used — with the unmistakeable flavor of This People? C’mon, dish!


Well, there are innumerable Hormone Revelations (as one of my BYU bishops used to call them) that I heard about while attending BYU. You know, when a guy tells a girl he’s received a revelation that they should get married.

And I’ve always thought that “Will you be my helpmeet?” was kinda romantic too.

Lastly, this isn’t a pickup line, but I could never understand why the street looping around the Provo Temple was the #1 park-and-make-out location for BYU students.

Comment by Andrew — 9/13/2007 @ 5:28 pm | Edit This

So . . . did Brigham reply?

Comment by Kaimi Wenger — 9/13/2007 @ 5:34 pm | Edit This

Ardis Parshall,

Please provide more background on this letter. Where did you get it? How did Brigham Young respond to it?

Comment by California Condor — 9/13/2007 @ 5:36 pm | Edit This

C’mon yourself. Of course we are all going to be dying to know: What was Brigham’s reply?

Comment by Jacob J — 9/13/2007 @ 5:37 pm | Edit This

Kaimi, no response was committed to paper. I suspect there may have been some oral commentary, if not by Brigham then by the clerks in his office …

Jacob, I’ve told you mine. Now you tell me yours.

Comment by Ardis Parshall — 9/13/2007 @ 5:39 pm | Edit This

It wasn’t a pick-up line, but my missionary companion described his girlfriend like this

Comment by Jacob M — 9/13/2007 @ 5:45 pm | Edit This

Jacob M, that might be the funniest description I have ever heard.

How about a Mormon proposal line? I have a twisted sense of humor, so my favorite was form a friend: “Your body is a temple. May I interview for a recommend?” Obviously, this friend knew his girlfriend well, since she accepted the proposal without decking him first.

Comment by Ray — 9/13/2007 @ 6:03 pm | Edit This

Ahahahaha “Girl, you are tight! Like unto a DISH!”

Comment by Miles — 9/13/2007 @ 6:12 pm | Edit This

Sorry Ardis, I’ve got nothing. It’s too bad we don’t have Brigham’s reply though. Pretty much whatever he said would have been classic, I feel sure.

Comment by Jacob J — 9/13/2007 @ 6:18 pm | Edit This

I believe BY wrote it himself, left it where his wives could read it, just to keep them in line.

Comment by Bob — 9/13/2007 @ 6:19 pm | Edit This

Haven’t we all gotten letters like this? I have a shoe box full.

Comment by Bob — 9/13/2007 @ 6:43 pm | Edit This

“You wanna ride on the Celestial Train?”
“You have the most beautiful garment lines I’ve ever seen!” (But that only works on former missionaries)
“Your skin is white above all the other whiteness of the earth!” (Only say that to those of European descent)

I’ll probably have some more, soon.

Comment by Jacob M — 9/13/2007 @ 6:45 pm | Edit This

Delivering as promised

“I can help you become a god[ess]!”
“I’m offerin’ the fruit of the knowledge of goodness, baby!” (This would be a marriage proposal! NOT a pick-up line!)

I’m not sure if I should keep going . . .

Comment by Jacob M — 9/13/2007 @ 7:09 pm | Edit This

Has anyone asked you to stop?

Comment by Ray — 9/13/2007 @ 7:15 pm | Edit This

Not only are the streets around the provo temple prime make out territory, that wide field right beside the MTC is…. flowing with hormones whenever the weather is right.

Hmmm… Mo pickup lines

Hey baby, do you want to hold the priesthood? (Ok, Ok, so it was in The Singles Ward)

Do you want to be my godess?

Oh! and that annoying story in the YM manuels about the man who claimed that he took the hump-back from his wife in the pre-existence so she would be beautiful…. Maybe it was an 1990\’s thing, but that one always irritated the heck out of me

Comment by Brett Williams — 9/13/2007 @ 7:24 pm | Edit This

Thanks, Ray!

One of my thoughts is “Your seed was planted on goodly soil,” but there are some connotations to that which should be left to husbands and wives.

Connected with that one: “Come reap the whirlwind!”

I’ll keep y’all posted.

Comment by Jacob M — 9/13/2007 @ 7:36 pm | Edit This

When I was a freshman in college, my roommates, concerned about the paucity of my social life, fixed me up on a blind date with a recent RM. As I recall, we grabbed a hamburger and went to a Disney movie. It was a pleasant enough evening, but soon took a sinister turn. RM pulled into the dorm parking lot, turned off the engine, turned to me and said, “MLE, don’t you think you’d be happier if you gave up physics and became the Queen of a Home?”

I said, “No”, opened my own door, got out, and walked into the dorm.

Two weeks later, he was engaged to a freshman home ec major from our ward.

Comment by MLEH — 9/13/2007 @ 7:43 pm | Edit This

A missionary proposed to me in the MTC, but I can’t recall his exact wording. Surely, considering the atmosphere of the MTC, it was odd.

So I don’t have a good pick-up line from our culture, but here’s the funniest “dump” line I ever received at BYU. As a freshman I attended a dance at the Wilkie and wound up slow-dancing with a 3rd year law student. He casually did the “whereareyoufromwhat’syourmajor” thing and then asked what I planned to do after graduating. Remember, I was 18. I said, having given it very little thought at the time, “oh, I don’t know. Maybe I’ll go to graduate school.”

He literally *stopped* dancing, but his hands on his hips, said, “What? Do you just HATE children?” and stomped off. I couldn’t stop laughing for a good 5 minutes.

Comment by Janet — 9/13/2007 @ 7:50 pm | Edit This

JacobM–oh great, now every time I read that Scripture I’m going to wind up giggling pruriently. My husband is bad enough with his risque revisions of primary songs…

Comment by Janet — 9/13/2007 @ 7:52 pm | Edit This

I just thought of another one about being bound if you do what I say, but I realized that could be REALLY misconstrued!!!

“The rich blessing in store for you has just arrived!”

A common way to refer to a good looking guy or girl is to call them a “choice spirit!” So choice!

Unfortunately, now I have to go somewhere. But I will add more tonight if I have the time.

Comment by Jacob M — 9/13/2007 @ 8:13 pm | Edit This

JanetGW (18),

Bad move. That guy is probably raking in the cash as a partner at a big prestigious law firm.

Comment by California Condor — 9/13/2007 @ 8:19 pm | Edit This

Janet, my jaw just hit the floor. Are our husbands related?

Comment by Mi — 9/13/2007 @ 8:21 pm | Edit This


Shortly after returning from my mission, I began studies at BYU, where my first job was as a janitor in the JKHB, doing bathrooms and recyclables. I loved that job, and sang as I walked the halls. I eventually met and befriended most of the faculty and staff (what can I say, I’m friendly!)… among them an 18 year old girl, fresh from home. She got a crush on me — which I thought was weird — and it intrigued me, so I asked her out. On the proscribed night, we met at the Varsity Theatre to catch a movie. We were a little early, so we sat outside in the courtyard (this was before the WILK was remodeled). We sat at one of those rubberized café tables, and I sat facing her. Before I had the chance to say anything, she put her hands under her chin, cocked her head to one side and said:

“So… what are you looking for in a wife?’

To which I replied, without skipping a beat:

“A returned missionary.”

Her flickered for a split second…

“Well, that’s not fair… what if you find the right girl and she’s not a returned missionary?”

“I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.”

She was engaged a couple weeks later and they had a honeymoon baby.

My first kiss was at the gate of the Brigham Young personal grave yard… we had just finished talking about the sad circumstances of his grave… and how — after having such an enormous family — he ended-up being buried practically alone. I then walked him to his car, and floated down the hill to the convenience store in the ground floor of the building President Hinkley lives in. As I picked-up a couple things, I thought about the kiss … and about how fun it would be to run into the prophet and his wife.

Comment by Silus Grok — 9/13/2007 @ 8:42 pm | Edit This

* Her countenance flickered…

Comment by Silus Grok — 9/13/2007 @ 8:47 pm | Edit This

I received a family newsletter describing in painstaking detail the events surrounding a cousin\’s marriage proposal. Apparently she was won over by \”will you be my Eve in Eden?\” Delivered in the celestial room in the temple, of course.

Comment by CMP — 9/13/2007 @ 9:22 pm | Edit This

My closer: “We can ever have a Free Reception on the basketball court, plus some sheet cakes from the RS! It worked every time for me!

Comment by Bob — 9/13/2007 @ 9:55 pm | Edit This

Best scriptural dump line: Genesis 13:9

Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.

Comment by JimD — 9/13/2007 @ 10:17 pm | Edit This

California Condor: not at all. I married a fabulous guy whose pick-up line consisted of “do you want to have dinner with my sister and her 2-week old baby?” That sounds terribly intimate and crazy for a first date (and I actually couldn’t go) but for me, it was the perfect date invitation. Plus, in addition to being out-of-the-ballpark smart, ascerbically funny, devoted to God, me and our little baby “Muffin,” he’s a doctor. (Actually was very afraid of money when we hitched–since we’re still in residency I haven’t had to face the fear yet!)

Plus I bet the other guy, what with his stellar logic and personal skills, only *might* have passed the bar and if so, just has his face on a parkbench in Elko, NV.

Comment by Janet — 9/13/2007 @ 11:14 pm | Edit This

Mi–why do you ask? I didn’t marry that dude, after all :). (Yeah, I’m the same person as JanetGW, just can’t get my handles straight.)

Comment by Janet — 9/13/2007 @ 11:15 pm | Edit This

Janet, your story got an out-loud laugh from me. Wow.

Comment by m&m — 9/13/2007 @ 11:32 pm | Edit This

Janet, I thought my husband was the only dedicated, faithful member of the Church who composes risque versions of primary hymns, scriptures, adult hymns and other things that only I end up hearing. I have stopped blushing after all these years, but they really are hilarious, and he knows they make me laugh and lower my stress.

It’s interesting. When we were dating, they were highly romantic – exactly what I needed. Now they are hilarious – also exactly what I need. He makes me laugh daily. It’s a wonderful gift.

Comment by Mi — 9/13/2007 @ 11:33 pm | Edit This

Janet, I thought my husband was the only dedicated, faithful member of the Church who composes risque versions of primary hymns, scriptures, adult hymns and other things that only I end up hearing . . .

*whistles innocently*

Comment by Kaimi Wenger — 9/13/2007 @ 11:47 pm | Edit This

Mi–apparently Kaimi confirms that there are at least 3 Muskateers! What really used to crack me up: as newlyweds I lead the primary music and he played the piano. We’d start a song (to which he had alternate lyrics) and he’d shoot me this wink or glance and it was all I could manage not to pee my pants laughing in front of the children, or accidentally singing the wrong words! Heh.

Comment by Janet — 9/14/2007 @ 12:27 am | Edit This

Janet, that is scary. Mardell could have written your entire comment, verbatim.

Comment by Kaimi Wenger — 9/14/2007 @ 12:30 am | Edit This

and my husband has been the primary pianist, as well. Wow.

Comment by Mi — 9/14/2007 @ 1:04 am | Edit This

There are many songs that I can not keep a straight face on during church. I have even sung some of the wrong while being primary chorister, and yes Kaimi was the pianist. This is kinda twilight zoney, we must have all married clones of the same man.

Comment by Mardell Wenger — 9/14/2007 @ 1:53 am | Edit This

Did we have a thread about risque lyrics once before? You know…er, “High on a Mountaintop,” that sort of thing? Maybe that was on BCC.

Comment by Russell Arben Fox — 9/14/2007 @ 10:11 am | Edit This

I don’t know if you remember or not, but we met in the pre-existence!

Oh, yes! I DO remember, and the answer is STILL no!

Comment by Raphael — 9/14/2007 @ 1:48 pm | Edit This

My favorite version of the “I’ve received a revelation” proposal comes from a co-worker who once received a “revelatory” marriage proposition. Her reply:

“I don’t know what God you’ve been praying to, but it’s obviously not the same one I do.”

Comment by Bonjo — 9/14/2007 @ 3:24 pm | Edit This

“Woe is me for I am undone!”
Isaiah 6:5

Comment by ronito — 9/14/2007 @ 3:42 pm | Edit This

To “God told me” – “Next time, put him on speaker-phone.” or “I use e-mail; tell Him to cc: me next time.”

Comment by Ray — 9/14/2007 @ 5:26 pm | Edit This

I was friends with a guy once who liked to just sit and talk to me for hours, and he’d always want to drive up to the LV temple to sit outside and talk. He told me later he thought it would get me in the mood. ?? For what exactly?? Certainly not a good NCMO tactic, if you ask me. (I still have no idea what he was thinking.) That’s probably why we stayed firmly just friends…

Comment by Sue — 9/15/2007 @ 2:40 am | Edit This

Oh dear, we are going to have to trade lyrics over email (perhaps cyberspace is not the best forum–too far?).

Comment by Janet — 9/15/2007 @ 1:24 pm | Edit This

These revelatory marriage proposals we\’re all rolling our eyes at — they differ from Joseph\’s plural marriage proposals to young teenagers in what way, exactly?

Comment by Anon for this — 9/17/2007 @ 3:35 am | Edit This

Re: Jacob M., #6 who said a missionary companion quoted Ether 2:17 when describing his girlfriend, and

Re Miles, #8: Ahahahaha “Girl, you are tight! Like unto a DISH!”

Actually, that wasn’t the part of the scripture in Ether that caught my eye. The part that caught my eye was “peaked at both ends …” What, was she a Conehead?! ;-D

Re Ardis, #5: But mysteriously, there is a page missing from Brother Brigham’s copy book, exactly where this letter should be … right? Hah-hah-hah-hah-hah-hah-hah! ;-D

Re Janet, #18: A missionary proposed to me in the MTC …

Oh, dear! I’ll bet you told him, “No, no, Elder, that’s not what they meant when they said we should be anxiously engaged!” (I might as well have proposed to someone in the MTC, though; I couldn’t have had any worse luck THERE than I’ve had in my social life in the nearly 20 years SINCE! ROFL!)

Re Mardell Wenger, #36: This is kinda twilight zoney, we must have all married clones of the same man.

Eh, what? There’s more than “one” of you, Kaimi? (Ken ducks to avoid incoming grenade …)

Comment by Ken — 9/18/2007 @ 10:07 pm | Edit This

This was published at another blog on 13 September 2007


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