Author: Ardis E. Parshall

John Alvon Glauser: Face to Face with History

Michelle Glauser is a young Mormon American woman living in Germany. I’ve long read her blog, Circles and Dots and Other Distractions, which is a riot of activity — she may be based in Leipzig, but she’s just as apt to be blogging about her trip through Turkey, or Switzerland, or Poland, as she is to be describing life as an ex-pat in a German university. Her recent master’s thesis is a serious study of the surprising meanings of blogging, especially mommy blogging.

Van Camp’s Pork & Beans

A 1904 magazine advertisement for Van Camp’s Pork and Beans features a photograph of the Stonewall Andrew Jackson equestrian statue in New Orleans. Two cartoon children dressed in Dutch costume gaze at the monument, above this verse:

Telling the Truth About the Past

Once upon a time — long enough ago that the specific issue and personality no longer matter — I took exception to an opinion-piece-qua-historical-article in the Salt Lake Tribune that, I believed, resorted to unethical manipulation of the historical record, distorting the past for humor in a way that also cast living people in a dangerously false light.

Josephine Marie Augustine de la Harpe Ludert Ursenbach: From the Tsar’s Court to the Kingdom of God

It will be seen by obituary notice in another column, that Sister Ursenbach died this morning. She was a lady of superior education and attainments, and true to her integrity in the work of the Lord. She leaves one son, who is now in New York, employed as a scenic artist at one of the leading theatres. She has also two daughters in St. Petersburg, Russia. Deceased was a native of Switzerland, but resided for some time in Russia. – Deseret News Weekly, February 27, 1878

“Aviva Levine”: The God of Her Fathers

”Aviva Levine” is the pseudonym used by a woman who told of her conversion to the Church almost 50 years ago. Because I do not know her real name, I cannot update the story she told in 1964, and can only hope that her new life continued as it began. [UPDATE: Justin identifies her as Annette Tilleman Lantos, whom Researcher recognizes as the widow — still LDS — of U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos.] Aviva was born in Hungary in 1932, the daughter of an observant Jewish father and a non-religious, possibly Gentile mother.

I Have a Question, 1891

These questions and answers are from the Juvenile Instructor of 1891. Some of them appear in columns headed “Editorial Thoughts,” some of which are explicitly signed The Editor, marking them as the work of George Q. Cannon.

En Route to the Field: Missionaries Aboard the S.S. Vestris, 1928

David Henry Huish, born in the Mormon colony of Morelos, Sonora, Mexico in 1906, and Keith Wynder Burt, born in the Mormon colony of Cardston, Alberta, Canada in 1908, met in the Mission Home in Salt Lake City late in 1928, after both young men had been called to serve missions in South America. After finishing their few days’ training in Salt Lake – which did not include language training – the two young men traveled together by train, via Denver, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., to New York City. They spent two and a half days exploring New York, then boarded the S.S. Vestris, a ship of the Lamport & Holt Line (British registry), which specialized in service to South American ports.

(Beehive) Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – 1916

In 1916, the Beehive Girls were Latter-day Saint young women ages 14 and 15 (the 12- and 13-year-olds were still in Primary). Older teens, and even the mothers of Beehive Girls, could learn the same skills and earn the same badges of honor, if they chose to. Beehive Girls from Thatcher, Arizona

Jensine Hostmark Grundvig: Zionward

Jensine was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1837, her parents’ youngest child. Her father died when she was 4, her mother when she was 12; she probably spent her youth in the household of one of her much older brothers. In1857 Jensine was married to Frants Christian Grundvig, a young joiner who had come to Copenhagen a few years earlier to learn his trade.

Monument to the Restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood

While uncounted thousands of visual artists have contributed their skills to building Zion, the Fairbanks dynasty holds a special place in the world of Mormon art history: John B. Fairbanks (1855-1940) was one of the art missionaries sent to Paris by the Church, who came home to paint murals for the temples. His sons J. Leo (1878-1946) and Avard T. (1898-1987) have a catalog that must amount to a hundred or more Mormon-themed works:

Laura Rees Merrill: Replacing Fear with Peace

Laura Liona Rees was born in Brigham City, Utah, in 1876, to LDS parents (her father had emigrated as a convert from England; her mother was born at Council Bluffs). With only an eighth grade, district school education, she studied for and passed the test to be licensed as a grade school teacher. Then she became one of the first women to attend Utah State Agricultural College (now Utah State University) at Logan.

“You Can’t Go to Heaven in Cologne Water”: A Missionary Talk by J. Golden Kimball

If you’re going to be disappointed by a J. Golden talk that doesn’t fit the swearing-elder stereotype, stop reading now. This isn’t that kind of J. Golden story. It is a talk the future Seventy gave to a small South Carolina branch in 1891 during a period when local members – including a woman – had been whipped and shot at, their homes ransacked, and the missionaries ordered out of the county at gunpoint.

Confidential: Have I Got a Deal for You

The original Keepapitchinin printed this “editorial” in 1870: Confidential. We have received the following letter: ”Dear Sir: – a confidential friend having notified us that you can be relied on we send you the enclosed circular.”

The Ashtabula Horror

The train known as the Pacific Express (No. 5, Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway) pulled out of Erie, Pennsylvania on the afternoon of December 29, 1876, headed toward Chicago. Two locomotives, christened “Socrates” and “Columbia,” towed its two passenger cars, three sleeper cars, two baggage cars, two express wagons, a smoker, and the caboose. The Pacific Express reached Ashtabula, Ohio, early on that snowy evening. When it pulled out of the Ashtabula station, 159 passengers and crew members were aboard.

If You Had Been a Mormon Boy Born in 1915 …

… and if you had lived in the Mormon Corridor or somewhere else with a fully organized Primary, you would have become a Trail-Builder when you turned 10 in 1925, and you would have received one of the new “First Year Books” to track your progress during the year as your learned to do some really cool boy stuff. Your handbook was decorated with the pine tree, your class emblem, and you learned how this tree represented the kind of boy you were learning to be:

A Child’s-Eye View of the Mormon Silk Experiment

Utah’s 19th century silk industry was one of those projects encouraged by Brigham Young to stimulate home production and reduce Mormon dependence on a hostile world. Period literature is heavy on sermons advocating sericulture, treatises on raising worms and the mulberry trees they fed on, and praise for the quantities and artistry of finished articles. What I’ve never seen before is the memoir of a child who assisted in the enterprise.

“The ‘Wild West’ Has Ceased to Be”

David G. at Juvenile Instructor (the blog, not the periodical) has just posted Mormonism’s Unbroken Past: Transcending the 1890 Rupture, noting that 1890 is as historically significant to the Mormons as that year is to the wider history of the West: For us, the 1890 Manifesto marked as great a shift in outlook, traditional Mormon historical thinking goes, as the 1890 “closing of the frontier,” declared in 1893 by Western historian Frederick Jackson Turner, signaled in the development of all that was distinctively American.

The Dennis Wendt Jr. Post*: Undercover for the Lord

2 August 1888: Elder Alma P. Richards, ten months into his missionary service and working without a companion, stopped at a hotel in Meridian, Mississippi and made arrangements with a porter to keep some books and clothing until the elder’s return, expected to be a few days later. Richards, on foot, left Meridian to visit friends just over the state line in Jasper County, Alabama. He was never heard from again.

One Hundred Thousand – WINNER DECLARED

Within the next few hours, T&S’s spam filter is going to announce that it has spared us from 100,000 offers of recreational pharmaceuticals, links to images of anatomically correct models in morally incorrect situations, promises of guaranteed wealth, solemn pleas from 12,394 persons of good moral character who need your help kindly Christian sir to transfer funds out of war-torn countries for to do the good Lord’s most benificent charitableness, and warnings that we will surely be cast down to the uttermost depths of hell unless we renounce our false Jesus and transfer allegiance to the god of the loving soul who has so blasphemously cursed us to bless us. You know what I mean.

The Case of the Missing Pioneer

Most people with even a general sense of the Mormon pioneers are familiar with their “roadometer,” a set of cog wheels fastened to a wagon wheel, which measured and recorded distance traveled without the need for a human observer to count the revolutions of the wheel.

“Well Known Facts”

This week while we’re hearing lurid tales from Tom Green County, Texas, it is worthwhile to remember exactly how ugly were the lies once printed about our own people, some of them told unashamedly by federal appointees and officers of the 19th century court.