Newbury Weekly News
4 November 2005
NEWBURY WEEKLY NEWS WAS A 19TH CENTURY MIRACLE
Copy of Newbury Weekly News Dating Back to 1884
Is Held in Utah as a Mormon ‘Holy Relic’
This week 13 million Mormons across the world learnt a lesson about church history and the importance of family, but for believers in West Berkshire it had a special significance – this lesson places the Newbury Weekly News at the centre of a 19th Century miracle.
The story holds such significance that an original copy of the Newbury Weekly News, dated May 15, 1884, is preserved in the church headquarters’ archive in Salt Lake City, Utah – as the Mormon equivalent of a holy relic.
The remarkable story revolves around the May 15, 1884 edition, which Mormons maintain, miraculously crossed the Atlantic in only three days – arriving in the hands of Bishop Henry Ballard in Utah on May 18. As this is a feat which would have been impossible in a time before air transportation when mail took several weeks to get to Western America, the goes that its delivery was the work of Angels or those ‘on the other side.’
The paper was brought to the Bishop by his nine-year-old daughter who had been approached by two elderly men who handed her the newspaper and told her to take it to her father.
The Brief History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints records that “the next day Bishop Ballard took the newspaper to the temple and told the story of its arrival to Marriner W. Merrill, the temple President. “President Merrill declared, ‘Brother Ballard, someone on the other side is anxious for their work to be done and they knew that you would do it if the paper got into your hands.”
The tale of the Newbury Weekly News is used to emphasise the importance of the work the Mormon Saints were performing for the dead.
This story forms the core of a lesson which will have been taught to 13 million Mormons during Sunday School last weekend as part of a four year cyclical curriculum issued from the church’s headquarters.
the church places great emphasis on genealogy and tracing family history and the paper contained details of the births, deaths and marriages of around 60 of Bishop Ballard’s family and acquaintances as he had emigrated to Utah from Berkshire.
Hungerford has always had particularly strong links with Mormonism and at one time had a very large congregation. A memorial stone by the banks of the Kennet and Avon Canal remembers James E. Talmage who was born in Hungerford in 1862, moved to Utah in 1876 and became one of only 12 Apostles of the church.
With its local link the story has a special significance for around 50 local church members who meet at the Mormon chapel in Pinchington Lane. Colin Williams, a church member from Kingsclere said: “The paper has a particular significance to church members because it is tangible evidence of a miracle and for us it is one story that is so close to home.”
President of the local branch Colin Williams said: “Genealogy and family history have so much significance. if there are people that are interested in learning about them the church all over the world is almost the best resource for this.”