From the Children’s Friend, June 1941 —
For the past week, Emily Grover has been posting on Facebook about some of her favorite pioneers, and I begged her to let me share them here. Together they make a very long post – Emily was wise to post them once a day – but you’ll enjoy reading through them, maybe at different points during your Pioneer Day, whether it’s a holiday for you or just another workday. Incidentally, I think informal writings like these are a fun and valuable way to “do” history – choose subjects that interest you personally, and share the results in a casual forum like Facebook, or Family Home Evening, or wherever you talk to friends and family. – Ardis
No. 1: Ruth May Fox
July 24 is Mormon Pioneer Day, when Utahns celebrate pioneers arriving and settling in the Salt Lake Valley. So I’ve been thinking about some of my favorite pioneers and thought I would highlight a few this week. Today I’m thinking about Ruth May Fox (1853-1958—YES! She lived to be 104! Can you imagine?), who was born in England, where her parents converted to Mormonism, and found herself traveling across the American continent via covered wagon to the Utah settlement when she was 14 years old. Other cool stuff that I like about Ruth May Fox:
Wash Day Reverie
By Irene McCullough
Have you ever done a washing
And hung it on the line?
If you really haven’t,
You’re missing something fine.
All those white fine linens
Out on dress parade,
Swaying with the breezes
Stern and unafraid.
Then silks and dainty lingerie
So shy and neat and trim,
Bowing their heads in modesty
For fear of meeting him.
Next comes an array of ginghams
In a gorgeous color scheme,
Vying with each other
And growing stiff with self-esteem.
By two and two comes marching
Like soldiers on review
An army of straight legged stockings
Of every size and hue.
Last, but still quite useful,
Their dignity all gone,
Are strung a row of dusters
Who feel they have been wronged.
Some of you will see this on the She Shall Be an Ensign Facebook page. I’m cross-posting it because I don’t want non-Facebookers to miss anything.
In the fall of 1939, Agnes Gillespie (1914-2004) was a young woman of Belfast, Northern Ireland. Like everyone else in Europe, she was concerned about the outbreak of World War II only a few weeks earlier. Still, she was determined to carry on as well as she could.
For Agnes, that meant continuing to teach her Sunday School class, a class for older teens and young adults preparing to be member missionaries. All of her class members, apparently, were young women. She taught a lesson from the manual one Sunday early in September. “We had a good deal of discussion,” she said, “and then one of the girls dropped a bombshell in our midst by saying she doubted quite a lot about Mormonism lately. Her statement seemed to set the rest of the girls off.”
The girls’ concerns were all centered around the recent withdrawal of missionaries from the British Isles.
This photo was taken at a 1904 reunion, in Salt Lake City, of missionaries who had served in Tahiti. (I need to have the mission record in front of me before I struggle to decipher the names. If one of them is your grandpa, though, you no doubt can read his name anyway.)
Around the turn of the 20th century, the Church was faced with adapting from its frontier patterns to the needs of Latter-day Saints in a changed world. The most obvious evolution was the transition from polygamy to monogamy, but there were many others: In the small, almost self-contained world of 19th century Utah, tithing paid in kind (cattle, hay, wheat, vegetables, eggs) could always be put to good use – but in the 20th century, with members flowing out from the Mormon heartland, cash became far more needed and useful. Fasting and meeting on Thursdays, which had been the norm for decades, became impossible for members who worked for non-Mormon employers or who had only a short dinner break to clean themselves up, get to Fast meeting, and return to work. Growing awareness of modern hygiene brought about a call to change from the shared Sacrament cup to individual cups. My list of such small (well, most of them are small) and incremental steps between the frontier Church and the modern Church continues to grow.
Here’s another one:
At the turn of the 20th century, your Church membership could and usually did remain with your home ward when you were temporarily away from home, even if that temporary absence grew to years. That is, if you left Provo to go to school at any of the Eastern or Midwestern universities, you retained your membership in the Provo 3rd Ward, and you generally didn’t attend Church with the local Saints of Chicago or Ithaca or Cambridge. You could if you wanted to, but you generally did not, and nobody faulted you. If you paid your tithing, you sent it back home for credit on the books of your own ward – you didn’t pay it in the local branch or even send it to the mission president.
Look, I would be as happy as the next Mormon to have men come into the Quorum of the Twelve, or the First Presidency, from backgrounds other than the western United States. President Uchtdorf is one of my favorite General Authorities – and while I hope that favor is based chiefly on more important factors, I cannot deny that part of his charm is his accent.
But let’s not forget what the role of the Quorum of the Twelve is. The Quorum is not a congress, and the apostles do not represent constituents. Their position is not an inward-facing one, they are not tasked with delivering the concerns and hopes of members in the stakes and missions for discussion and solution in the centers of ecclesiastical power.
An apostle is “one who is sent” – not from the people, bearing petitions, but from the Lord, bearing witness. “And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach.” Send them forth. Apostles don’t represent or speak only to the people from which they spring; they represent the Lord to all peoples: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” In this dispensation, the Lord instructed his apostles that “Whithersoever they [the First Presidency, not the people] shall send you, go ye, and I will be with you.”
By Celia A. Van Cott
On the Trail of the Killer
Billy lay rigid and still. The creature sniffed around him, blowing his hot breath across Billy’s face. After a while it moved quietly away on its soft padded feet only to return after a short interval to snuggle close by his side.
Billy stiffened with fright. He tried to scream but his voice seemed paralyzed and would not come. The hot breath of the animal fanned across his face and down his neck. It seemed hours before a pale shaft of silver light filtered through the tops of the trees.
Someone in camp stirred. Billy heard footsteps coming toward his bed. Uncle Christopher awakened Jed, then turned his flashlight on Billy and laughed aloud.
“Did you choose Renard for a bed partner to keep you warm last night, or did he break his leash and choose you?”
Shirley Young Clawson (1881-1929) and Chester Young Clawson (1883-1962)
Brothers; grandsons of Brigham Young
Pioneer Mormon Movie Makers
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