July 11, 2008

Heber Proposes New Church Calling: The Complaining Committee

Heber C. Kimball
October 7, 1852

During the early settlement of the new Great Basin home for members of the exiled Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Brigham Young called various Saints to establish communities throughout the valley, especially spreading south into what would later be called St. George, Manti, Las Vegas, and as far as San Bernadino, California. By 1852 various "mission" settlements had been established largely for economic reasons (iron works and traveling way stations were uses for such settlements, for example). In that year, leaders called Saints to settle at Harmony, Utah, about 300 miles south of Salt Lake. Some of the Saints were understandably reluctant to follow this counsel, and Heber C. Kimball stood before a body of Saints acknowledging that Church leaders had heard "considerable feeling manifested upon this matter" of moving south; "there are a great many persons in this valley, who are working against this operation." According to him, some Saints who had received city plots of land upon arriving in the valley were attempting to speculate by slicing up their lots (which they received for next to nothing) and selling portions to new emmigrating Saints, thus reaping a profit. They were also sad to leave the land they helped develop into a growing, bustling city.

Heber listed other reasons many didn’t want to leave Salt Lake. Most had already trekked across the country to get to Salt Lake in the first place, and settling the dry, dusty desert was not an appealing lifestyle. Also, a Temple was being built; and Heber said Saints were "reason[ing] among themselves, saying, 'If we go to Iron County, or to Millard County, we shall perhaps lose our blessings, our sealings, and our endowments, and many other privileges.'" Some Saints were said to have openly complained about being asked to settle elsewhere. Heber said those who would stay in order to enjoy a completed temple would be better off going south:

I will tell you that stay here for this purpose, you will not get your blessings as soon as those will who go and settle where they are counseled. For none of you can have these blessings until you prove yourselves worthy, by cultivating the earth, and then rendering to the Lord the firstfruits thereof, the firstfruits of your cattle, of your sheep, and of all your increase. This is how I understand it. Now go and get farms for yourselves while you can.[1]
Heber also counseled those who would stay and build up the "Kingdom" in Salt Lake to farm, pay tithing, and donate time and means toward public works, including construction of the Salt Lake Temple, reflecting the combination of interests of the Territory of Utah with the interests of the Church. Using a provincial metaphor he counseled all Saints to
take hold together, and do as you have been told...

We will fill up these mountains, take up the land and...become thicker on the mountains than the crickets ever were. If you can once break up the ranks of the crickets, it breaks up their calculations, and under such circumstances they never will undertake a war upon your crops. In like manner we have to become one, and build a Temple, that we may learn the principles of oneness more fully, to prepare for all things to come, that when we become fixed for war, we may whip out all the enemies of truth, and never yield the point, neither man, woman, nor child that is in Israel.
As the crickets conquered together, so could the Saints; unity was the key. But Heber recognized an enemy of unity and proposed a rather sarcastic idea. Give the complainers something productive to do. I can’t be certain, but it seems he was using a little humor to chasten the complainers:
As for murmurers and complainers and fault-finders, we want to give them some employment, and we shall attend to that part of the business before long. After meeting we will lay the thing before them, and all the murmurers, and complainers, and fault-finders, et cetera, we want they should raise their right hand to do some good. If they want to vote, we will appoint a meeting at the Council House directly after Conference, and organize them into companies, and appoint a building committee to build brother Brigham a house, and the person who murmurs the worst shall be the President.

We will give him the same right which we gave to Father Sherwood; but it was a tie between him and Zebedee Coltrin[2] which should preside; but Father Sherwood's tongue being more limber, he whipped out Coltrin, and got the Presidency. 
We will organize a company of males and females, for we calculate to give females an office in that company, and they shall be upon an equal footing with the men. Now there's a chance for you women who seek to be equal with your husbands...But I believe I will stop speaking for the present (JD 1:294-297).
The prototypical complainers, Laman and Lemuel, murmured throughout the record of Nephi, who pin-pointed the root of their murmuring: “And they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them” (1 Nephi 2:12). As a contrast, Nephi was told by Lehi he would be blessed for his lack of murmuring (1 Nephi 3:10). Nephi believed a lack of understanding, faith, patience, eternal perspective and faith in God, led to murmuring.

Not only does murmuring effect personal attitudes, it tends to be contagious. Even Lehi and his wife Sariah found themselves joining in the murmuring when things looked rough. Murmuring is a quick way to lose the influence of the Holy Ghost, as Elder Neal A. Maxwell explained:

Murmuring can also be noisy we enough that it drowns out the various spiritual signals to us, signals which tell us in some cases to quit soaking ourselves indulgently in the hot tubs of self-pity! Murmuring over the weight of our crosses not only takes energy otherwise needed to carry them but might cause another to put down his cross altogether.[3]
Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball were serving in the Quorum of the Twelve in the late 1830s when they heard Thomas B. Marsh murmuring against the prophet Joseph Smith. They tried to persuade Marsh to repent but it wasn't until much later, long after the dust had settled, that Marsh realized he had been in error and asked forgiveness. His recollection, though it doesn't list his grievances both justified and exaggerated, gives insight into the attitude of constant complainers, those who look for the evil:
I must have lost the Spirit of the Lord out of my heart...I became jealous of the Prophet, and then I saw double and overlooked everything that was right, and spent all my time in looking for the evil. and then, when the Devil began to lead me, it was easy for the carnal mind to rise up, which is anger, jealousy, and wrath. I could feel it within me; I felt angry and wrathful; and the Spirit of the Lord being gone, as the Scriptures say, I was blinded, and I thought I saw a beam in Brother Joseph’s eye, but it was nothing but a mote, and my own eye was filled with the beam...

I got mad and I wanted everybody else to be mad. I talked with Brother Brigham Young and Brother Heber C. Kimball, and I wanted them to be mad like myself; and I saw they were not mad, and I got madder still because they were not.
Brother Brigham, with a cautious look, said, "Are you the leader of the Church, brother Thomas?" I answered, "No." "Well then," said he, "Why do you not let that alone?" (JD 5:206-207).
President Henry B. Eyring explained the way to overcome the tendency to murmur. He said we must learn to decrease or control our wants while increasing our gratitude and generosity. As we do, we will receive the Holy Ghost more fully, leading us closer to God and others. We won’t murmur; we’ll even work to avoid it:
Remembrance is the seed of gratitude[4] which is the seed of generosity. Gratitude for the remission of sins is the seed of charity, the pure love of Christ. And so God has made possible for you and me this blessing, a change in our very natures [as the Book of Mormon explains]:

“And the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God” (Moroni 8:26).[5]

Heber's complaining committee seems to have never come to pass. Patience, gratitude, hope, cheerfulness, service, the Holy Ghost; all are interconnected in overcoming the tendency to murmur and avoiding a call to the Complaining Committee.



For more on the various settlements, see Leonard J. Arrington, "The Mormon Cotton Mission in Southern Utah," The Pacific Historical Review, Vol. 25, No. 3 (Aug., 1956), pp. 221-238. Arrington discusses the reason behind the settlements, as well as some of the accounts of those who settled there. From what I understand, many of these "mission calls" to settle other areas were given from the pulpit, where people were essentially told where they would be assigned to settle, to be released when they die. I recall accounts where wives and children wept when they heard their father's called, knowing they would be moving. I'm looking for the specific sources, so if anyone knows, let me know.The St. George Temple was the first completed in Utah, dedicated April 6, 1877 shortly before the death of Brigham Young. Long before that, however, endowments were given in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City.

Zebedee Coltrin was an early convert to the church, he was baptized, ordained an elder, and serving a mission in the year 1831. He was ordained a High Priest, marched with Zion’s Camp, ordained a seventy, owned considerable stock in the Kirtland Safety Society, attended the School of the Prophets, including the temple dedication, in Kirtland, settled in Nauvoo but returned to Kirtland to serve in the Stake Presidency there, assisted in the rescue of Joseph Smith after the Dixon arrest, moved back and forth from Winter Quarters to Salt Lake after 1847, and finally settled in Spanish Fork in 1852 where he was ordained a patriarch by John Taylor. I couldn’t find any information related to him being a complainer, and it seems Heber may have been giving an old friend a hard time; though I could be wrong, as Coltrin was assigned to move to Spanish Fork relatively close to this talk by Elder Kimball. I can only hope Heber's comments were given largely in jest, though I cannot be sure. Settling the outlying areas was difficult, dangerous, and for some, heartbreaking.

Neal A. Maxwell, “Murmur Not,” Ensign, Nov. 1989.

Ezra Taft Benson:

The Prophet Joseph said at one time that one of the greatest sins of which the Latter-day Saints would be guilty is the sin of ingratitude. I presume most of us have not thought of that as a great sin. There is a great tendency for us in our prayers and in our pleadings with the Lord to ask for additional blessings. But sometimes I feel we need to devote more of our prayers to expressions of gratitude and thanksgiving for blessings already received. We enjoy so much (God, Family, Country, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974, p. 199).

Henry B. Eyring, “Remembrance and Gratitude," Ensign, Nov. 1989.

Orig. posted 7/11/07, edited for clarity and content 7/11/08

July 9, 2008

Newspaper Publishing Without Purse or Scrip

Brigham Young
August 31, 1856

On August 31, 1856 Brigham Young took the stand following the testimonies of a few missionaries who had returned from the field, assuring them he was "thus far perfectly satisfied with [their] labors... I am highly gratified with the doings and labors of those Elders" (JD 4:33-34).

In the mid-1850s these missionary efforts included establishing four newspapers throughout the United States in order to offset antagonistic press accounts regarding the Church. One such paper, The Mormon, had been started a year earlier (1855) by John Taylor; then-apostle and president of the LDS Eastern States mission. He sought to disabuse the public mind on the peculiar aspects of Mormonism, the newspaper mast boldly  proclaiming: "IT IS BETTER TO REPRESENT OURSELVES THAN TO BE REPRESENTED BY OTHERS."[1]Here Brigham Young mentioned the success of Elder Taylor's efforts in establishing The Mormon:

With regard to brother John Taylor, I will say that he has one of the strongest intellects of any man that can be found; he is a powerful man, he is a mighty man, and we may say that he is a powerful editor, but I will use a term to suit myself, and say that he is one of the strongest editors that ever wrote. Concerning his financial abilities, I have nothing to say; those who are acquainted with the matter, know how The Mormon has been sustained. We sent brother Taylor, and other brethren with him, to start that paper without purse or scrip, and if they had not accomplished that object, we should have known that they did not trust in their God, and did not do their duty.
Much early LDS missionary folklore revolved around the concept of preaching the gospel "without purse or scrip," as Elder Taylor set up his newspaper enterprise.[2] Regarding Taylor's establishment of The Mormon, Brigham said:

It is one of the smallest labors that I could think of to establish a paper and sustain it in St. Louis, New York, Philadelphia, Boston, or any of the eastern cities. I wish to say this much, for the information of those who think it a great task to establish and sustain a paper; though I am not aware that any of the brethren think so.
The founding of The Mormon called to Brigham's mind his own experience in setting up a paper during his mission to England in the 1840s amidst sickness, poverty, with only a blanket for a coat; he said he was sent to “a strange land to sojourn among strangers.” Upon arrival in England the apostles wanted to start a paper, but had no money. Brigham reports he bought passage to Preston and a hat to replace the one his wife had made him from an old pair of pantaloons. He described the financial situation of the England mission as follows:
I wrote to [Parley P. Pratt, first editor of the Star] to publish two thousand papers, and I would foot the bill. I borrowed 250 pounds of sister Jane Benbow, 100 of brother Thomas Kington, and returned to Manchester, where we printed three thousand Hymn Books, and five thousand Books of Mormon, and issued two thousand Millennial Stars monthly, and in the course of the summer printed and gave away rising of sixty thousand tracts. I also paid from $5 to $10 per week for my board, and hired a house for brother Willard Richards and his wife...and gave 60 pounds to brother P. P. Pratt to bring his wife from New York. I also commenced the emigration [of LDS converts from England] in that year.

I was there one year and sixteen days, with my brethren the Twelve and during that time I bought all my clothing, except one pair of pantaloons, which the sisters gave me in Liverpool...I told the brethren, in one of my discourses, that there was no need of their begging, for if they needed anything the sisters could understand that. The sisters took the hint, and the pantaloons were forthcoming.

I paid $380 to get the work started in London, and when I arrived home in Nauvoo I owed no person one farthing. [Those who had lent Brigham money were repaid from proceeds of the printed books].

We left $2,500 worth of books in the Office, paid our passages home, and paid about six hundred dollars to emigrate the poor who were starving to death, besides giving away the sixty thousand tracts; and that too though I had not a sixpence when we first landed in Preston, and I do not know that one of the Twelve had.

I could not help thinking that if I could accomplish that much in England, in that poor, hard country, it could not be much of a job for a man to establish a paper in New York. I thought that to be one of the smallest things that could be; I could make money at it (JD 4:33-42).[3]
Historian Eugene E. Campbell noted that on 30 October 1856, about two months after this discourse was given, the First Presidency sent a letter to John Taylor in New York criticizing him for his financial activities. Campbell does not give specific details but notes that Taylor was instructed to "start a reformation" among his missionaries and members of the Church in his mission:
Arouse yourself first, get the Holy Ghost, and be filled with it and pour it out on the people. Preach evenings, make appointments in various branches and fill them, make the elders feel the fire in you and make them labor. Ordain elders and send them out to every ward of the city, to every nook and corner thereof. Humble yourself before the Lord and cause all the saints to do likewise. Preach life and salvation unto the elders and unto the people and then make them do the same. Be lively in things of God and make all the elders do the same.[4]

By this time the "Mormon Reformation" was underway, which will be discussed in an upcoming post.


The Mormon ceased publication in 1857 when Taylor returned to Utah to help during the Utah War. B.H. Roberts noted the tenacity of Elder Taylor, even in his selection of a location for the paper:

The Mormon office was situated on the corner of Nassau and Ann Streets, with the offices of the New York Herald on one side, and those of the Tribune on the other. Elder Taylor was thus in the very heart of Gotham's newspaper world. Selecting such a stand is evidence enough that he did not intend to assume a shrinking or apologetic attitude (Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church, vol. 4 pp. 62-63).
A sample issue of The Mormon of Saturday, July 12, 1856, can be found at Uncle Dale's Readings in Early Mormon History, Newspapers of New York, accessed 7-2-2008. 

"Folklore" is used here not as referring to fables or falsehoods, but in the academic sense of "traditional beliefs, practices, customs, stories, jokes, songs (etc.) of a people, handed down orally or behaviorally from individual to individual" (from About.com). These can be based on truth or imagination. For more on preaching without purse or scrip see "Without Purse of Pig: Brigham's Misionary Wage" and "Without Purse or Scrip: Brigham's Bottomless Trunk."

For more on the England mission, see James B. Allen, Ronald K. Esplin, David J. Whittaker, Men With a Mission: The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the British Isles, 1837-1841..

In an future expansion of this article I would like to explore the operating costs of a newspaper in the 1850s, as well as gathering more information on the history of the publications. For example, Brigham mentioned another precedent setter in publishing without purse or scrip; a nephew of John Taylor named George Q. Cannon who was called as the California mission president in 1856. There he helped translate and publish "a large and handsome edition" of the Book of Mormon in the Hawaiian language, and started a weekly publication based in San Francisco called the Western Standard. Cannon, according to Brigham, "paid for the press and the type, and paid his board and clothing bills, though he had not a farthing to start with, that is, he went without purse and scrip, so far as I know" (JD 4:42). For a list of LDS periodicals see wikipedia.


Eugene E. Campbell, Establishing Zion: The Mormon Church in the American West, 1847-1869 (Signature Books; Salt Lake City, Utah,1988) p.195. Unfortunately, Campbell does not give the source/location of the letter he cites. Taylor continued faithful, apparently, as he maintained a prominent role in the Quorum of the Twelve, and upon being called back to Utah for the "Utah War" he continued to write vigorously in defense of the Church and Brigham Young particularly. (See Leonard Arrington, Brigham Young: American Moses, p. 374.)

July 7, 2008

Without Purse or Scrip: Brigham's Bottomless Trunk

Brigham Young
August 31, 1856 

 Early LDS missionaries were often called with little notice (even in dire circumstances) to leave their families and preach the gospel. Missionaries believed that if they followed the call of the prophet the Lord would bless and prosper them. Such was the case in 1839 when Joseph Smith called Brigham Young and other members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on a mission to England. Brigham described the situation:

If we do His will, He will take care of us as a people, and as individuals.

One proof of this, is in my own life and experience. When I left my family to start for England, I was not able to walk one mile, I was not able to lift a small trunk, which I took with me, into the wagon. I left my wife and my six children without a second suit to their backs, for we had left all our property in possession of the mob. Every one of my family were sick...
Joseph [Smith] said, "If you will go, I promise you, that your family shall live, and you shall live, and you shall know that the hand of God is in calling you to go and preach the Gospel of life and salvation to a perishing world." He said all he could say to comfort and encourage the brethren.
This was our situation, and I say, with regard to the remainder of the Twelve, they had all been driven like myself, and we were a band of brethren about equal. My family lived. When I left them they had not provisions to last them ten days, and not one soul of them was able to go to the well for a pail of water. I had lain for weeks, myself, in the house, watching from day to day for some person to pass the door, whom I could get to bring us in a pail of water. In this condition I left my family, and went to preach the Gospel.
As for being cast down, or at all discouraged, or even such thoughts entering in my heart as, "I will provide for my family, and let the world perish," these feelings and thoughts never once occurred to me; if I had known that every one of them would have been in the grave when I returned, it would not have diverted me from my mission one hour. When I was ready to start, I went and left my family in the hands of the Lord, and with the brethren. I returned again in two years, and found that I had spent hundreds of dollars, which I had accumulated on my mission; to help the brethren to emigrate to Nauvoo, and had but one sovereign left (JD 2:19).[1]
Heber and Brigham left Nauvoo and traveled without purse or scrip through Indiana to Kirtland Ohio before going on to New York and then England. Together they had $13.50 in donations which Brigham kept in his trunk. Brigham described returning to the trunk again and again, each time finding sufficient funds for the next leg of the journey, much like the widow's cruse of oil and flour in 1 Kings 17. When they arrived in Kirtland, Brigham noted:
I had a York shilling left; and on looking over our expenses I found we had paid out over $87.00 out of the $13.50 we had at Pleasant Garden, which is all the money we had to pay our passages, to my certain knowledge, to start on. We had traveled over 400 miles by stage, for which we paid from 8 to 10 cents a mile, and had eaten three meals a day, for each of which we were charged fifty cents, also fifty cents for our lodgings.[2]
Heber C. Kimball added:

Brother Brigham often suspected that I put the money in his trunk or clothes, thinking I had a purse of money which I had not acquainted him with, but this was not so. The money could only have been put in his trunk by some heavenly messenger who administered to our necessities daily, as he knew we needed. [3]
Similarly, when Brigham left Kirtland to New York with George A. Smith they decided to travel by steamboat, then by stage. Brigham reports they ran out of funds and wouldn't be able to afford the last 5 miles fare, but again were provided for; the captain of the steamboat they had used was in their stage as well:
When we left the coach, I said to the captain, "will you have the kindness to pay this gentleman's passage and mine?" I had had no conversation with him during the day, only in interchanging the common and usual compliments, but when we left him he greeted us cordially, and said that he had paid our stage-fare with the greatest pleasure, and shook our hands as heartily as a brother, saying, “May God bless and prosper you in your labors” (JD 4:36).
In New York the apostles decided to hold meetings and raise funds for their passage to England. They separated, some going through New York state, Long Island, New Jersey, and even Philadelphia. Rather than meeting with all the branches, Brigham wanted to preach among non-members only. After about two weeks he reported they had held about fifty meetings, preached to and baptized, soon gathering "means enough to defray the expenses of our passage to England, principally from those who were the fruits of our own labors" (JD 4:36). 

The mission had just begun; they had managed to pay for the voyage to England. From 1839 to 1841 Brigham and the others labored there building up churches, establishing a large printing enterprise, and organizing Saints to gather to Nauvoo. There missionaries would rely on donations in addition to tithing funds. In the next post Brigham talks a little about the printing enterprise.

Heber C. Kimball, Brigham's traveling companion, described leaving his family in similar circumstances. Both he and Brigham and their families were terribly ill. Heber explained:

"It was with difficulty we got into the wagon and started down the hill about ten rods; it appeared to me as though my very inmost parts would melt within me, leaving my family in such a condition as it were, almost in the arms of death. It seemed to me as though I could not endure it. I said to the teamster, `Hold up.' Said I to Brother Brigham, `This is pretty tough, ain't it? Let's rise up and give them a cheer.'

We arose and, swinging our hats three times over our heads, we cried, `Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah for Israel!'

Vilate [Kimball] hearing the noise arose from her bed and came to the door; she had a smile on her face and she and Mary Ann Young cried out to us, `Good bye, God bless you.'

We returned the compliment and then told the driver to go ahead. After this I felt a spirit of joy and gratitude at having the satisfaction of seeing my wife standing upon her feet instead of leaving her in bed, knowing as I did that I should not see them again for two or more years" (Heber C. Kimball, Journal Excerpts and Letters, reprinted in Helen Mar Kimball Whitney, "Life Incidents," Woman's Exponent 9-10 (1880-1881).
See Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 1801-1844, ed. Elden Jay Watson (Salt Lake City: Smith Secretarial Service, 1968) Nov. 3. See also Leonard J. Arrington, Brigham Young: American Moses, p. 77; Eugene England, “Brigham Young As a Missionary,” New Era, November 1977, 30.
Journal Excerpts and Letters of Heber C. Kimball compiled by Helen Mar Kimball Whitney, "Life Incidents," Woman's Exponent 9-10 (1880-1881) and "Scenes and Incidents in Nauvoo," Woman's Exponent 11 (1882-1883). 

The photograph is "Brigham's Trunk," from the Religious Education Image Archive, BYU Digital Collections, 2002. I am not sure if this is the trunk mentioned in the story or not, but note the initials "BY" on the lid.