Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog

The Trials of Cora Birdsall: part 11

By: Ardis E. Parshall - September 15, 2014

In the spring and summer of 1905, Isaac Birdsall took steps to have his daughter Cora declared by the state court to be insane. When that declaration was made, Cora’s mother Mary, in company with the county sheriff, took Cora to the State Hospital in Provo, Utah, where she was confined. No records of her treatment there survive. An article in the 2010 Utah Historical Quarterly1 gives some idea of general conditions at the hospital. In particular, this photograph haunts me. It pictures a “Utica bed,” a cage-like bed meant to restrain combative patients – as Cora surely was – by restricting bodily movement and enforcing “rest.” Such was the state of medical treatment for the mentally ill in 1905.

One condition of Cora’s confinement was the determination by the state court that she was not indigent, meaning that she was responsible for paying the costs for her confinement and treatment in the hospital … which brings us to another, perhaps the primary, reason for Isaac’s efforts to have Cora declared legally insane: He sought to be named her guardian. As guardian, he would have control over her property, able to pay her bills to the State, and also to bring suit against James E. Leavitt to have Cora’s 1904 deed set aside and Cora’s land returned to her, through Isaac, as her guardian.


  1. Janina Chilton, “A Photographic Essay of the Utah State Hospital,” Utah Historical Quarterly 78:2 (Spring 2010), 134. []

Andrew Sproul, Missionary: June, 1842

By: Ardis E. Parshall - September 14, 2014

June 5th, 1842, Sunday Morning

A camp meeting was held at Bridge of Weir of the branches in the west. E.G., D. Weat, & E. McAulay were present on the occasion & prayer meeting opened by E. McAulay. He then gave an account of the rise & organisation & progress of the work of God.

E.G. Hamilton next addressed us & in connection with the rise of the work the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, showing from the scripture that the prophets spake of such a book coming forth for the purpose of gathering the children of Israel.

E.D. Wilken was next called upon to speak on the plan of salvation. He said that men can come to a knowledge of these things for themselves by obeying this plan according to the directions of Christ.

E.T. Jaap was called upon to speak on the gifts & blessings which follow them that go forth & obey this plan & how that the Saints rejoiced in those blessings in ancient times. The meeting then broke up till 3 o’clock that the Saints might have a refreshment.


Saturday Remix, 1936

By: Ardis E. Parshall - September 13, 2014

“Laying” Down on the Job

The football soared through the air and fell in the barnyard right at the rooster’s feet. A look of wonder came into his eyes as he surveyed it from all sides. Then he gravely pushed the ball into the henhouse and faced his harem. “I’m not complaining, Ladies,” he said, with an all-inclusive bow, “but I just want you to see for yourselves the work that is being done in the other yard.”


The Ice-Cream Pie

By: Ardis E. Parshall - September 12, 2014

From the Relief Society Magazine, March 1956 –

The Ice-Cream Pie

By Florence B. Dunford

I am afraid I have always been the timid sort. “Do people like me?” seems always to be my question. And, “How much can I do for them?” And, “Do people really like you to do things for them?” Things like that. Matters of friendliness.

A couple of years before, we had moved to this new neighborhood. At first everyone made an obvious effort to be friendly, to get acquainted. But then the Jennings on the east of us seemed to find out that Tim and I didn’t really travel in their class after all. The neighbors directly across the street from us were a trifle old for me, I felt. Besides, she was a club woman and gone all day. And Dr. Walton was older even than his wife. By evening all he wanted was to settle down with TV.


“I Take Up My Pen”: Ogden-Utah Knitting Co., 1932

By: Ardis E. Parshall - September 12, 2014



To LDS Servicemen in Italy: February 1945

By: Ardis E. Parshall - September 12, 2014

Four LDS chaplains (Americans) in Italy toward the end of World War II – including Eldin Ricks, the chaplain who dedicated the Chapel Built by Cigarettes – issued an occasional mimeographed newsletter for the LDS servicemen in Italy as the war approached its end. Here’s the issue for 1 February 1945:

L.D.S. Headquarters

1 February 1945

Dear Brethren and Sisters:

At the time of this writing the war news looks better than it has at any time since 1939. The possibility of one day awakening to hear that war has ceased appears less remote than it did a month ago – though previous disappointments suggest that we be not too optimistic now. Whether the cessation of hostilities be soon or not it is well, when that long awaited day does arrive, that we keep in mind the counsel of the prophet and president, Heber J. Grant, and his councillors, J. Reuben Clark and David O. McKay, that the celebration at the end of the war be “of a character that would not grieve or wound the feelings of those whose mother country is one of the enemy states.” such a celebration is “essential” they have pointed out, because “the church is world-wide, with many thousands of our members citizens of the enemy country – members who deeply love their own homeland, and who individually are no more responsible for this terrible holocaust than we have been.”



Nauvoo Band

By: Ardis E. Parshall - September 11, 2014

Nauvoo Band

By Eva Willes Wangsgaard

Above the plains that knew the hungry howl
Of preying wolves, the Redman’s warring scream,
And honk or swishing wings of migrant fowl
Ascended notes that wove a stranger theme,
For when the refugees from sad events
Disposed of jewelry and tableware,
Musicians did not barter instruments –
They would as soon have thoughts of selling prayer.
they knew that music has the power to lift
Discouraged hearts, bowed heads, the dragging limb;
And, nightly, with the campfire smoke, would drift
Quadrille and schottische, anthem, or grateful hymn.
Though hands and lips are stilled, a city grew
For every tune beyond their lost Nauvoo.


“I Take Up My Pen”: Station K-S-L, 1932

By: Ardis E. Parshall - September 11, 2014



Charles Lowell Walker: Said With Propriety

By: Amy Tanner Thiriot - September 11, 2014

To the relief of the people of St. George, July 24, 1873 dawned slightly cooler than the day before. Work had been progressing on the Temple — as much as possible during a heat wave — but stopped for Pioneer Day. To celebrate the occasion, Charles Lowell Walker had composed an anthem, a poem about the Relief Society, and some toasts.

PH 8601 CHL StGeoTemple Booth crop

Like his song “Marching to Dixie,” Charles set the anthem to music about General Sherman, in this case the hymn “Hold the Fort,” performed below by a choir from Ottowa, Illinois, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first Lincoln-Douglas debate. (more…)

John A. Widtsoe Has Joined Facebook (Updated)

By: Ardis E. Parshall - September 10, 2014

Sort of.

Somebody (okay, me) has been reading a lot of Widtsoe lately, and several times a day I’ve posted very short clips as Facebook updates. The response has been positive enough that I’ve created a John A. Widtsoe page on Facebook. You’re invited to “like” that page if you’d like a once or twice daily soundbite from one of Mormondom’s wisest, funniest, most courteous historical figures.

UPDATE: Keepa’ninnies who don’t use Facebook can follow the clips and photos on a behind-the-scenes page here at Keepa. See “Widtsoe on Facebook” in Keepa’s blogroll (see our sidebar) for a convenient link.

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