excerpt – Nauvoo Endowment Companies

The third floor of the Nauvoo temple was the site principally of the administration of washings and anointings, endowments, marriage sealings, adoption sealings, and second anointings. It also housed the offices of the church's presiding authorities and quorums. Drawing by Lisle G Brown; original in private possession; used by permissionFOREWORD

Richard S. Van Wagoner

From my earliest years I have been blessed with an inquiring mind. Exploring new frontiers of thought has been a life-long passion. Reading, in particular, has been high adventure. It occurred to me long ago that men and women of sufficient curiosity and intensity of thought can make valuable, even undreamed of discoveries. I believe this is especially true in the field of Mormon studies.

Ironically, in a culture for which “the Glory of God is Intelligence,” such intellectual endeavors as asking important questions and sharing new ways of thinking have not always been appreciated or encouraged. In fact, many elements of our Mormon past cry out for more attention. Buried treasures remain hidden, spectral voices demand amplification, veils need parting. Mormon history should not be a mystery.

Devery S. Anderson and Gary James Bergera, in this absorbing book, reveal a crucial chapter of the Mormon past which has been, for the most part, concealed from view. Their intensive and seemingly exhaustive research is revelatory, a veritable treasure trove of information respecting the activities of the endowment companies of the Nauvoo, Illinois, temple. Readers will find insightful commentary as well as chronological entries embodying every available primary source listing members of the endowment companies and related activities of the Nauvoo temple from December 11, 1845, to February 8, 1846.

Nauvoo Mormons were compelled to receive their temple endowments as quickly as possible pending exodus from the city. Life beyond the horizon was a vision of uncertainty. The Saints, once again forced to abandon their proclaimed Zion, hungered for the promised spiritual power and protection of the temple endowment. Abundant faith assured them they could endure the trials ahead as they bid adieu to their homes and beautiful city to start anew elsewhere.

Genealogists will find a wealth of demographic information in this book respecting family members who were officiators and/or participants in the Nauvoo endowments and other temple ordinances. The general LDS reader will be aroused to thought and dialogue, both compelling reasons why we unsettled, curious souls will read and appreciate good books like this one.


The Mormon sojourn in Nauvoo, Illinois, which lasted from 1839 to 1846, is important for many reasons. Among others, it marked the end of the Joseph Smith era in Latter-day Saint history, thus elevating the significance of the doctrines and practices established there. Besides plural marriage, which the prophet introduced to a select group of followers, he also revealed the temple ordinances to various men and women between 1842 and his death on June 27, 1844.

The relevance of these temple rites was made clear in October 1840 when a general conference of the church approved plans to build a temple in Nauvoo. Three months later, a revelation to Joseph Smith, which historian Glen M. Leonard calls “the Prophet’s most significant recorded [revelation] in nearly three years,” gave further sanction to the new edifice.1 Building upon earlier revelations of sacred ordinances performed in the church’s “House of the Lord” in Kirtland, Ohio, it declared:

[Verily I say unto you, how shall your washings be acceptable unto me, except ye perform them in a house which you have built to my name? For, for this cause I commanded Moses that he should build a tabernacle, that they should bear it with them in the wilderness, and to build a house in the land of promise, that those ordinances might be revealed which had been hid from before the world was. Therefore, verily I say unto you, that your anointings, and your washings, and your baptisms for the dead, and your solemn assemblies, and your memorials for your sacrifices by the sons of Levi, and for your oracles in your most holy places wherein you receive conversations, and your statutes and judgments, for the beginning of the revelations and foundation of Zion, and for the glory, honor, and endowment of all her municipals, are ordained by the ordinance of my holy house, which my people are always commanded to build unto my holy name. And verily I say unto you, let this house be built unto my name, that I may reveal mine ordinances therein unto my people; For I deign to reveal unto my church things which have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world, things that pertain to the dispensation of the fullness of times. (D&C 124:37-41)

The design of the new temple was soon drafted by William Weeks, a young architect trained in New England.2 Weeks’s plans revealed a temple that tripled the size of its Kirtland predecessor, which was dedicated in 1836 and abandoned in 1838. To oversee the project, Joseph Smith organized a Temple Committee consisting of Reynolds Cahoon, Alpheus Cutler, and Elias Higbee, who managed construction and costs until the temple’s completion in 1846.3

In February 1841, actual construction of the temple began with excavating space for a basement and, the next month, laying the foundation stones. On April 6, 1841, Joseph Smith, with the Nauvoo Legion in attendance, presided over the cornerstone ceremony.4 Seven months later, the first ordinances were performed in the basement—baptisms for the dead, a ritual Smith had broached publicly in Nauvoo in August 1840—in a temporary font dedicated in November 1841.5

Six months later, on May 5, 1842, as construction continued, the prophet began for the first time to introduce washings, anointings, and the endowment ceremony to trusted associates on the second floor of his Red Brick Store, thereby forming the foundations of the Quorum of the Anointed. It was this ceremony, with some alterations, that would be performed in the Nauvoo and subsequent LDS temples. The next year, on September 28, 1843, during a meeting of the Anointed Quorum, Joseph Smith “was by common consent and unanimous voice chosen President of the quorum and anointed and ord[ained] to the highest and holiest order of the priesthood (and companion).” Smith’s companion was his first wife, Emma Hale Smith.6 This ordinance, called the second anointing (also the “fullness of the priesthood”),7 was first performed on this occasion and marked the admission of women into the Anointed Quorum. The sixty-six men and women who received these ordinances during Smith’s lifetime met numerous times from 1842 to 1844 in the Red Brick Store and other locations around Nauvoo. After Smith’s death, the Anointed Quorum—joined by new initiates—continued to meet under the leadership of Brigham Young until the temple opened in December 1845. Young increased quorum membership by some twenty-four members during the eighteen-month period preceding completion of the attic level of the temple.8

When Joseph and Hyrum Smith were murdered in mid-1844, construction of the temple was halted for almost two weeks. But despite the shock and sorrow, construction resumed on July 8,1844. However, other issues occupied the attention of church leaders. With Joseph Smith’s death, they faced the issue of presidential succession, primarily the assumption of Sidney Rigdon, who had been Smith’s first counselor in the First Presidency, that he was the “guardian” of the church. The majority of Saints accepted instead the leadership of the Twelve Apostles, Brigham Young asserting de facto supremacy because of his status as president of the quorum. On August 18, forty-three-year-old Young addressed the church and admonished members:

I discover a disposition of the sheep to scatter, now the shepherd is taken away. I do not say that it will never be right for this people to go from here or scatter abroad; but I do say wait until the time comes, or until you are counseled to do so … I wish you to distinctly understand that the counsel of the Twelve is for every family that does not belong to the [Wisconsin] Pine company to stay here in Nauvoo, and build up the Temple and get your endowments; do not scatter; “united we stand; divided we fall.”… If we do not carry out the plan Joseph has laid down and the pattern he has given for us to work by, we cannot get any further endowment—I want this to sink deep into your hearts that you may remember it. If you stir up the flame of dissension, will you get an endowment? No!9

Construction on the temple progressed steadily and Brigham Young easily foresaw the day when the Saints would benefit from it. His mention of the “Pine Company” referred to a committee, headed by Mormon bishop George Miller, established in 1841 to harvest Wisconsin timber for the temple. By 1844, they had processed over 1.5 million feet of lumber. Young presided over the capstone ceremony at the temple site on May 24, 1845. The following October, with the lower floor enclosed but still unfinished, the Saints held their first meeting in the building.10

Interestingly enough, the rooms that would receive the most attention were located on the upper, or attic, level. The architect’s design designated the attic story as office space with a large room called the Council Chamber in the center, but Young had decided as early as January 1845 that temple ordinances would be performed there.11 After the roof was finished in September 1845, members of the Anointed Quorum, which for the previous three and a half years had performed the ordinances outside of the temple, held their first meeting in the building on November 29. “[W]e did not Clothe ourselves [in temple robes],” wrote Apostle Heber C. Kimball, “as others wished to be with us the first time in the Lords Hous[e] when we should offer up the the sign[s] of the Holy Preasthood.”12 The next day. Young dedicated the attic for the administration of endowments.13

The attic story included twelve offices, six on the north side, six on the south. Each was 14 feet square, except for two rooms located at the west entrance which were slightly smaller.14 Each room was numbered, those on the north side given even, and those on the south side odd. In the center of the floor, the Council Chamber measured 88 feet 2 inches long and 28 feet 8 inches wide. According to Nauvoo temple historian Lisle G Brown, “The Council Chamber was fully carpeted, painted white, and heated by two iron stoves.”15

After the November 30 dedication of the attic, preparations were made to fashion the Council Chamber into separate departments for administering the various stages of the endowment. As temporary rooms, each department was separated by canvas curtains hung from the ceiling. This material was purchased by Elder Orson Hyde the previous June and was intended to be used in erecting a large tent, or tabernacle, in Nauvoo, which was never realized.16 On December 2, Heber C. Kimball and son William brought potted plants to dress the department designated as the Garden of Eden. Tubs for washings and anointings were donated by Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball. The Celestial Room, representing the highest heaven, was decorated with donated and borrowed furnishings. Church bishop Newel K. Whitney brought the veil to the temple on the morning of December 4, which Brigham Young hung on the 10th between the terrestrial and celestial compartments. Women were instructed on how to sew ceremonial temple clothing. When everything was ready, Young, Kimball, and Apostle Willard Richards “entered the celestial room for prayer” on December 10.17 Later that day, several members of the Anointed Quorum were washed and anointed, then re-endowed, being the first to receive the sacred ordinances in the Nauvoo temple. Ceremonies for previously endowed members continued until 3:30 a.m. Brigham Young and others spent the night in the temple, sleeping only one and a half hours before beginning the first day of introducing the endowment to new initiates.

As the process of endowing the general adult membership of the church began on December 12, it greatly increased what had already become an intense, time-consuming endeavor. William Clayton commented on the demanding schedule from December 10 through 12: “During the whole of the three days already spent in the endowment, President Brigham Young presided and dictated the ordinances and also took an active part in nearly every instance except when entirely overcome by fatigue through his constant labors to forward the work.”18

Over the next two months, the administration of endowments and other temple rituals occurred almost every day, and the number of initiates grew rapidly. The reason for the urgency was because the Saints were being threatened by outsiders and were preparing to leave their city and begin the trek west. As an indication of the increased resentment toward the Mormons throughout Illinois, the Nauvoo city charter was repealed in January 1845. With that action, the Saints realized their time in Nauvoo was limited. In fact, scouting parties were sent to begin exploring areas for possible future settlement, including the region of the Great Salt Lake. Mob violence the following fall added to the urgency to consider a new home, and preparations to leave Nauvoo began in earnest. After talks to sell their property (including the temple) failed, a committee was empowered to dispose of the church’s and members’ properties after the main body of Saints had left.19

Prior to their departure in early 1846, over 5,000 men and women received their endowments between the temple’s preliminary opening on December 10, 1845, and its closing two months later on February 8, 1846. This was an exhausting task accomplished during a turbulent time, and the large number of people endowed demonstrates the sense of purpose and urgency church leaders felt.

In summarizing the endowment and its place in the spiritual lives of the Latter-day Saints, Glen Leonard explains: “It [i.e., the endowment] consisted of the ordinances of washing and anointing, followed by instructions and covenants setting forth a pattern or figurative model for life.”20 Perhaps the most helpful—and LDS church-sanctioned—description of the endowment, as performed later in Utah, was provided to, and by, nineteenth-century American historian Hubert Howe Bancroft in his history of Utah, subsequently reprinted in Salt Lake City by LDS publisher Bookcraft. “The ceremony of Endowment, or as it is termed, going through the endowment house,” explained Bancroft,

occupies usually about eight hours. It has been described at length by several persons who have experienced it, and I give herewith a condensation of the most reliable accounts. Minor changes have been introduced since the days of Joseph Smith, but, in the main, the rites are as they were in the beginning. Certain days in each week, throughout the year, are set apart, upon which candidates present themselves at the endowment house, as early as seven o’clock A.M. Each is required to bring a bottle of the best olive-oil, and supposed to bring his robes also, although it is common to borrow the latter from friends, for the first appearance, after which every good Mormon possesses his own. These garments are described as follows: The temple robe, alike for both sexes, is a long, loose, flowing garment, made of white linen or bleached muslin, and reaching to the ankle. It is gathered to a band sufficiently long to pass around the body from the right shoulder underneath the left arm, thus leaving the latter free. A linen belt holds it in place. The women wear a head covering made of a large square of Swiss muslin, gathered in one corner so as to form a sort of cap to fit the head, the reminder falling down as a veil. For the men, a round piece of linen, drawn up with a string and a bow in front, something after the fashion of a Scotch cap, is used. The under garment, which is also alike for both sexes, is a sort of jacket and trousers together, something like the night-dresses made for children; and is worn night and day. When changed, only an arm or a leg must be removed at once, the fresh garment being thus put on as the other is taken off. This garment protects from disease, and even death, for the bullet of an enemy will not penetrate it. The prophet Joseph [Smith] carelessly left off this garment on the day of his death, and had he not done so, he would have escaped unharmed. Over the inner garment the men wear an ordinary shirt, and the women a white skirt. White stockings and a pair of white linen slippers complete the costume. Entering the building, the candidate’s own name and age are registered, and also the names of the parents. The candidates hand in their oil, remove their shoes, and pass with their bundles of clothing into a bath-room divided down the middle by a heavy curtain which separates the sexes. Here the ceremony of purification is performed, the women being washed by women, and the men by men. The person washed is informed that he or she is now cleansed from the blood of this generation, and if faithful, shall never be subject to the plagues and miseries which are about to come upon the earth. Next follows the anointing. The oil is poured from a large hom into the hand of the person officiating, and applied to the crown of the head, eyes, ears, mouth, and feet of the candidate. The eyes are touched, that they may be quick to see; the ears, that the hearing may be sharp; the mouth, to bestow wisdom upon speech; and the feet, that they be swift to run in the ways of the Lord. Then a new name, •which is rarely to be mentioned, is whispered into the ear, and all are marched into room No. 2, where they are seated, the sexes on opposite sides of the room, and facing each other. Here they are told by a priest that any person not strong enough to proceed may retire; but if any portion of the ceremony is disclosed, the throat of the person so offending will be cut from ear to ear. Those faltering, if any, having retired, the remainder are taken into room No. 3, where a representation of the creation, the temptation, and fall is given. Each candidate then puts on over his robe an apron of white linen, upon which are sewn pieces of green silk representing fig-leaves, and also the cap or veil. All good Mormons are buried in their endowment robes, and the veil worn by the women covers their faces when they are consigned to the grave. In the mom-ing of the resurrection, this veil is to be lifted by the husband; otherwise no woman can see the face of the almighty in the next world. This ends the first degree; and the initiated are now driven out of Eden into room No. 4, which represents the world, where they encounter many temptations, the chief of which is the false gospel preached by methodists, baptists, etc. Finally St James and StJohn appear and proclaim the true gospel ofMormonism, which all gladly embrace. After this they receive certain grips and pass-words, and all are arranged in a circle, kneel, and the women lower their veils. Then, with the right hand uplifted, an oath is taken to avenge the death of Joseph Smith, jun., upon the gentiles who had caused his murder, to teach the children of the church to do likewise, to obey implicitly and without murmur or question all commands of the priesthood, to refrain from adultery, and finally, eternal secrecy concerning all that transpired in the endowment house is promised. Then comes an address, after which another room is entered, leading from which is a door with a hole in it, covered with a piece of muslin. The men approach this door in turn and ask to enter. Then a person behind the door reaches through the opening, and with knife in hand cuts a certain mark on the left breast of the shirt, another over the abdomen, and one over the right knee, which marks are faithfully copied by the women in their own garments after returning to their homes. The man then mentions his new name, gives the grip of the third degree, and is permitted to pass in. This is called going behind the veil. When the men are all in, each woman is passed through by her husband, or having none, by one of the brethren. This concludes the ceremony[.]21

The majority of Saints who received their endowment in Nauvoo viewed the experience as a source of spiritual strength and comfort. Those who had been endowed under Joseph Smith recognized, and were not disturbed by, modifications in the ceremony administered under Brigham Young: “I and my wife received our Endowment having formerly received it in the Days of Joseph and Hyram,” wrote Joseph Fielding in his journal, “but it is now given in a more perfect Manner because of better Convenience, the 12 are very strict in attending to the true and proper form.” In fact. Smith had charged Young with making alterations as needed. L. John Nuttall, Young’s secretary, recorded Young’s 1877 reminiscence:

Bro[ther] Joseph [Smith] turned to me [Brigham Young] and said: “Brother Brigham this is not arranged right, but we have done the best we could under the circumstances in which we are placed, and I wish you to take this mat[t]er in hand and organize and systematize all these ceremonies with the signs, tokens, penalties and key words.” I did so and each time I got something more; so that when we went through the Temple at Nauvoo, I understood and knew how to place them there. We had our ceremonies pretty correct.22

As reconstructed from the available first-person accounts, church members experienced the Nauvoo endowment ceremony as follows: First, they were invited to appear at the temple at a specific time by a man appointed as a messenger. This usually occurred the night before. Prospective initiates were also instructed to cleanse their bodies before arriving at the temple. Upon entering at the designated time, they climbed the stairs to the attic story. Men and women separated and were taken into examination areas to be questioned regarding their worthiness and character. They were then escorted to rooms for the initiatory ordinances: the women to the northwest room, the men opposite the main hall to the southwest room. There they disrobed and waited to receive the ordinances of washing and anointing. When called upon, they passed through a canvas curtain and entered a tub where they were washed from head to foot. Those performing the ordinance spoke words of blessing as part of the ceremony. Then they were anointed with consecrated olive oil poured over their heads from a horn. This was usually done by another officiator, and similar words were repeated. Men performed these rites for men, women for women (see appendix 1). As part of this ceremony, initiates were given a new name and an undergarment, on which special markings were cut into the fabric. Prior to leaving this room, initiates were ordained to become kings and queens in eternity. Their names, birth dates, and places of birth were also recorded.

After the washing and anointing, initiates dressed, and the men were guided into a room representing the Creation. Each man took on the role of Adam in the ensuing drama. According to Leonard, “The teachings began with a recital of the creation of the earth and its preparation to host life. The story carried the familiar ring of the Genesis account, echoed as well in Joseph Smith’s revealed book of Moses and book of Abraham.”23 Evidently unlike Joseph Smith’s endowment ceremony, the Nauvoo temple account of the Creation was narrated by three heavenly beings: Eloh(e)im, Jehovah, and Michael conversed over the six days of the Creation process from behind a curtain. Up to the formation of Adam, the women waited in a room across from the Creation Room. They joined the men at the point in the drama when woman was created from Adam’s rib, the women thus assuming the role of Eve.

From the Creation Room, the entire company entered the Garden Room, which was adorned with plants, trees, shrubs, and flowers in a setting representing the Garden of Eden. According to William Clayton: “In this apartment is also an altar. Here the man and woman are placed and commandments given to them in addition to what is given in the creation.”24 Next a serpent, as portrayed in the Book of Genesis, entered the room to tempt Adam and Eve, encouraging them to partake of the forbidden fruit (in most endowment sessions, William W Phelps played this role). Clayton added, “Here also after the man and woman has eaten the forbidden fruit is given to them a charge at the Alt[a]r and the first and second tokens of the Aaronic Priesthood.”25 The serpent is cursed and leaves the room, slithering on its stomach. The men and women are banished from the Garden for their disobedience.

From the Garden Room, the company entered the Telestial Kingdom, which represented a post-Edenic world. According to Clayton: “In the telestial kingdom, after the man has proved himself faithful[,j he receives the first signs and tokens of the Melchizedek priesthood and an additional charge. Here also he vouches for the conduct of his companion. They are then left to prove themselves faithful.”26 Leonard expanded on this topic: “The disobedience and expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden set the stage for an explanation of Christ’s atonement for that original transgression and for the sins of the entire human family. Also included was a recital of mankind’s tendency to stray from the truth through apostasy and the need for apostolic authority to administer authoritative ordinances and teach true gospel principles.”27 Then, Clayton continues, “they are admitted into the terrestrial kingdom, where at the alt[a]r they receive an additional charge and the second token of the Melchizedek Priesthood and also the key word on the five points of fellowship.”28

The apostolic authority Leonard alluded to was portrayed dramatically in the ceremony and reflected important developments incorporated under Brigham Young. On the day the general church membership began attending the temple, December 12, 1845, Young and others added the roles of New Testament apostles Peter, James, and John to the drama. “Eloheem gives the charge to Adam in the Garden and thrusts them into the telestial kingdom or the world,” wrote Clayton. “Then Peter assisted by James and John conducts them through the Telestial and Terrestrial kingdom administering the charges and tokens in each.”29

In summarizing these charges and instructions, Leonard has written:

Participants were reminded that in addition to the Savior’s redemptive gift they must be obedient to God’s commandments to obtain a celestial glory. “Within the context of these gospel instructions, the initiates made covenants of personal virtue and benevolence and of commitment to the church. They agreed to devote their talents and means to spread the gospel, to strengthen the church, and to prepare the earth for the return of Jesus Christ. Through personal promises to their Heavenly Father made in the Nauvoo Temple, the Saints expanded the meaning of being a covenant people.30

In concluding the endowment, according to Clayton, “after [they have] received all the tokens and words and signs [,] they are led to the veil where they give each to Eloheem through the veil and are then admitted into the Celestial Room.” A prompter at the veil assisted each member by helping them repeat these words and gestures. After entering the room representing the Celestial Kingdom, the newly endowed Saints were greeted with a beautifully decorated room representing the highest heaven. This room was adorned with mirrors, paintings and portraits—most of them of church leaders and other prominent Nauvoo Saints—maps of the world, of the United States, and of Nauvoo. Against one of the walls was a brass clock. “In the centre and body of the Celestial Room are two splendid tables and four splendid sofas,” wrote Clayton. “Also a small table opposite the large Window on the East end of the room on which stands the Celestial and terrestrial Globes.”31

The length of time required for an endowment session varied, depending in part on the number of people going through at any one time. Companies could be as small as a dozen or fewer people, but before the temple closed in February 1846, some companies had more than quadrupled in size. One, on February 6, 1846, numbered over eighty-five. Sessions could be as short as one and a half hours or as long as five or more hours, depending on the size of the group.

Such large numbers receiving their endowments just prior to the temple closure was explained by Brigham Young on February 4, 1846. Young had met with the apostles and other leaders the day before and had decided “that it was imperatively necessary to start as soon as possible” for the west, and he therefore decided to close the temple.32 However:

Notwithstanding I gave out word that we would not attend to these [temple] matters [anymore]—yet the House was thronged all the day. The anxiety are so great that the Brethren would have us stay here & continue the endowments until our way will be Hedged up & our enemies intercept us—but I tell you Brethren that it will not do—this is not the last Temple that we will build—in this house we have been payed well if we were to receive no more—& I tell [you] that there will be double the anxiety manifest to build the next[,] that there was to Ericte [erect] this—then be satisfied—I am going to load up my waggon & be away from this place immediately—I walked off some little distance from the Temple soposing the crowd would disperse—but on returning to the Temple again—I found the House thronged to overflowing[.] [L]ooking upon the multitude & knowing the anxiety of the Brethren—that were thirsting & hungering for the word—we commenced sealing & anointing & continued & continued [sic] also the washings Night & Day—putting through from 2[00] to 300 Persons within 24 hours & spent the night.33

On just a single day alone (February 6, 1846), 512 people in eight different companies received their endowments. The next day, “upwards of six hundred received the ordinance of first anointment of the Priesthood, this being the last day for administering them, for the present.”34

In addition to administering endowments, much of the activity in the temple during its two months of operation focused on other equally important ordinances. On January 8, 1846, the second anointing was administered for the first time since the days of Joseph Smith. As with the administration of the first endowments a month earlier, those who first received the second anointing in the Nauvoo temple had received it previously from Joseph Smith or under his direction. Leonard described this higher blessing as a “crowning ordinance” and “a promise of kingly powers and of endless lives. It was the confirmation of promises that worthy men could become kings and priests and that women could become queens and priestesses in the eternal worlds.”35 During the ordinance, explained LDS historian Lyndon W. Cook, a husband was “ordained a priest and anointed a king unto God,” while wives were “anointed priestesses and queens unto their husband.”36 “In actual practice the second anointing as performed for couples by an officiator was the first of two parts comprising the fulness of the priesthood ceremony,” wrote David John Buerger in his study of the ordinance. “The second part was private, without witnesses, and involved only the husband and wife. Its significance related to the resurrection of the dead … In this part of the ordinance, the wife symbolically prepared her husband for his death and resurrection, a ceremony that gave the wife a claim on her husband for herself in the resurrection.”37

Several diaries and reminiscences elaborated on the second portion of the second anointing, such as the following recital from Lewis Dunbar: “At the temple at Nauvoo she [i.e.. Nancy Wilson] received her washings and anointings even to become a queen and a priestess, after which time she attended to one other ordinance which was to wash the feet of her husband [i.e., Lewis Dunbar] and anoint him to be her king and priest and Savior, that she might have claim on him at the resurrection[.]”38

Over the course of a month, at least 594 people—172 men and 422 women–received their second anointing, including nine men by proxy. Unlike its administration by Joseph Smith, this higher ordinance now extended to plural wives. Based on a tabulation using original and derivative temple records, eternal marriage sealings performed during the years 1842 to 1846 for both the living (monogamous and plural) and by proxy (again, monogamous and plural) totaled 1,303, of which 206 were by proxy, while adoptions (children sealed to their parents, and men, with their families, sealed to senior church leaders) numbered 294, of which 202 were of the latter type. The total number of endowments performed during the same period reached 5,583.39 (See table 1, p. xxviii.)

The daily record William Clayton kept for Heber C. Kimball made clear that plural marriage was an important part of the temple and played a role in the endowment ceremony itself. When taken through the veil into the Celestial Room, the men were received by Eloh(e)im, the women by their husbands. Single women, who did not have a husband to receive them, were brought through the veil by a male volunteer. But a closer look at these instances where men received a woman of a different surname through the veil reveals that the men were often, in fact, receiving their plural or prospective plural wives. On December 16,1845, as an example, Heber C. Kimball received sisters Abigail and Laura Pitkin through the veil. He married them in the temple a short time later, on January 7 and February 3, 1846, respectively. John Parker, who took Sophia Roundy through the veil that same day, married her as a plural wife on February 3.40 The next day, Orson Hyde received Martha R. Browett and Mary Ann Price through the veil, women he had already married polygamously in 1843. He was sealed to them in the temple on January 11, 1846.41 On December 29, 1845, Brigham Young received four plural wives through the veil; Kimball, three; Parley P. Pratt, one; George A. Smith, three; and William Clayton, one. These women were all members of the same endowment company,42 and the men were sealed to them in January and February. Husbands and prospective husbands continued to receive women through the veil and to participate in polygamous sealings until the temple closed.

The administration of endowments, sealings, second anointings, and adoptions was fatiguing, but fulfilling, to those officiating in the ceremonies. Yet occasional obstacles could be frustrating as temple officiators sought to continue the work. For example, on December 19, 1845, less than ten days after the work began, Brigham Young complained that “we have been thronged to that extent that it was almost impossible to move without running against some fifteen or twenty persons who were gawking round where they had no buissness & lauling [lolling?] & breaking down Mahogany chairs worth $5[.]00 and tearing open the curtains & gazing in where they had no right.”43 On January 23, 1846, a non-Mormon named Milburn, who had helped to construct the temple, attempted to receive his endowments. He did this, according to John D. Lee, “in order as he told a confidential friend to find out what was going on there, that he might reveal it to the world. Of course he did not get admission.”44 However, at least five recipients of the Nauvoo endowment did publish exposes of the temple ceremonies after their departure from Mormonism.

More disruptive occurrences, however, involved officers of the law who came to the temple in search of church leaders. On one occasion, marshals arrived to arrest the Twelve on charges of counterfeiting. In the daily record kept for the Seventy, John D. Lee recorded on December 23, 1845:

Some 8 or 10 officers came in with writs from Springfield [Illinois] for the Twelve [apostles] & many others[.] they denied having any rits[,] but in order to attempt [to divulge] their corruption President] Young sent down a man in disguise with a cloke on verry much like his own (B[righam]. Y[oung].) President] J[edediah]. M. Grant—who acompanyed the man in disguise to the carriage [which] stood near the Temple [and] that was expected to convey President] Young away[, said that] on reaching the carriage [he,] pres Grant[,] said to Br[other] W[illia]m Miller who was the man in disguise. [“] President] Young the weather is growing colder[“]–at this the officers surrounded the carriage & drew out a writ & read [it] & said [“]Mr Young you are my prisoner[.”] the Prisoner[,] apparently unconcerned[,] invited them to get into the carriage [,] or some of them, which some 2 or 3 did & Drove to the Mansion & finally started to Carthage [Illinois] being elated to the highest glory in immagination. still they are gone & we hope all will be well—& that they will soon find out their mistake [.] we intended that they should have found out their blunder before they left the city but in this we have been mistaken [.] they may take him to Springfield before they discern the prank.45

Miller was released and returned to Nauvoo the next day. Three days later, however, on December 27, another attempt was made to arrest Brigham Young. According to William Clayton’s notes for December 27, 1845:

At 15 minutes past 10 o’clock the United States Deputy Marshall, from Springfield, by the name of Roberts, came to the Temple in company with Almon W. Babbitt, — He was freely admitted to every part of the Temple; to which he desired access. He went into the tower, on the roof, and into the Attic Story, passed through the various departments into the east room, where he very intently examined the portraits, and made enquiries as to whose they were, severally[,] but obtained no correct information on the subject. He was requested to take off his boots in the preparation room, which request he complied with.

After remaining about half an hour he departed — At about 2 o’clock he returned in company with Sheriff [Jacob] Backenstos, and a gentleman whom the Marshall introduced as from New Orleans — They visited the Middle room and the tower, and departed after about half an hour.46

The following day Heber C. Kimball, speaking of attempts to capture the Twelve, worried that the marshals might even kill them. In return, “we don’t want to kill them,” Kimball insisted, “but if they attempt this we will not say to the Boys hold still—but go your length[.]”47 With tensions still high the next day, John D. Lee recorded that “an alarm though false reached the Sacred apartments that the governors People were below at the outer Door, & had expresed a determination to enter in Search of the hogs that were said to have been stolen, the evening previous [,] from Mr. Hibbard[,] one of his Apostate citizens[.]” This occurred during the presentation of an endowment ceremony. According to Lee:

Brigham Young said[, “]Bro. Lee[,] come go down quickly & see that they do not enter[,”] furnishing me with a six shooter well loaded[.] at the Same time I ran downstairs to the outer door where I met the Porter Tho[ma]s Woolsey … who informed me & those that were with me that the alarm was false in part[.] I then gave the tyler [door monitor] instructions to let no officer pass that Night at the peril of his Life[.j I returned and corrected the rumor[.]48

By January 14, Lee noted, “public prejudice is so great against us, and the excitement is so alarming that we may not be able to continue giving the endowment more than three weeks longer; therefore it is determined that we continue night and day in the administration of the ordinances of endowment.” 

[the introduction continues on for another twenty pages, along with charts and tables]



1. Glen M. Leonard, Nauvoo: A Place of Peace, A People of Promise (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2002), 235.

2. See J. Earl Arrington, “William Weeks, Architect of the Nauvoo Temple,” BYU Studies 19 (Spring 1979): 337-59.

3. Leonard, Nauvoo, 245.

4. Ibid., 233-36.

5. The ordinance of baptisms for the dead underwent at least two stages. Beginning in September 1840, members performed proxy baptisms in the Mississippi River. In October 1841, Joseph Smith announced that such baptisms would be suspended until they could be performed in the temple. The following month, a temporary font was constructed and dedicated in the temple basement, and ordinance work resumed. At least 11,500 proxy baptisms were performed between 1840 and 1845. See M. Guy Bishop, ‘”What Has Become of Our Fathers?’ Baptism for the Dead at Nauvoo,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 23 (Summer 1990): 85-97. See also Alexander L. Baugh, ‘”For This Ordinance Belongeth to My Temple’: The Practice of Baptism for the Dead Outside the Nauvoo Temple,” Mormon Historical Studies 3 (Spring 2002): 47-58.

6. Joseph Smith, Diary, Sept. 28, 1843.

7. For a discussion of this ordinance, see David John Buerger, “‘The Fulness of the Priesthood’: The Second Anointing in Latter-day Saint Theology and Practice,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 16 (Spring 1983): 10-44.

8. For more on the Quorum of the Anointed, see the editors’ introduction to Devery S. Anderson and Gary James Bergera, eds., Joseph Smith’s Quorum of the Anointed, 1842-1845: A Documentary History (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2005).

9. Qtd. in History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Period II: From the Manuscript History of Brigham Young and Other Original Documents, ed. B. H. Roberts (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1932), 254-55 (This is the seventh volume of Roberts s History of the Church series). The term “endowment” was used generically by Latter-day Saints to refer to a pentecostal outpouring, or gift, of God’s spirit. For instance, members were promised, and indeed experienced, an “endowment from on high” (D&C 105:34) at the inaugural worship service in the Kirtland temple in 1836, without any of the rituals now associated with the more specific use of the word “endowment.” Few in the audience on this occasion, when Brigham Young spoke, knew that such a ritual existed; so Young’s argument would not have been persuasive if he had not been able to draw on the broader definition.

10. Leonard, Nauvoo, 252-53.

11. Ibid., 253.

12. “Brigham Young allowed an unendowed person to see them performing signs of the priesthood,” writes historian D. Michael Quinn (The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power [Salt Lake City: Signature Books in association with Smith Research Associates, 1994], 514), “but not to see them. dressed in their endowment robes.”

13. Leonard, Nauvoo, 253.

14. See Lisle G Brown, “The Sacred Departments for Temple Work in Nauvoo: The Assembly Room and the Council Chamber,” BYU Studies 19 (Summer 1979): 368.

15. Ibid., 367-68.

16. Ibid., 370. Hyde had purchased over 4,000 yards of canvas for $1,056.56, later used for tents and wagon covers when the Saints began their trek west. See Elden J. Watson, “The Nauvoo Tabernacle,” BYU Studies 19 (Spring 1979): 420.

17. Brown, 370-71.

18. William Clayton, Diary, Dec. 13, 1845.

19. Roberts, History of the Church, 565, 569. See also Lisle G Brown, ‘”A Perfect Estopel’: Selling the Nauvoo Temple,” Mormon Historical Studies 3 (Fall 2003): 61-85.

20. Leonard, Nauvoo, 258.

21. Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of Utah, 1540-1886 (Salt Lake City: Book-craft, 1964; 1st ed. 1889, vol. 26 in Bancroft’s History of the Pacific States of North America Series), 357-58n17. The First Presidency of the LDS church issued the following endorsement of Bancroft’s project in 1884:

We call your special attention to a subject of import to this community. Mr. Hubert H. Bancroft, the celebrated historian, is publishing an extensive work entitled History of the Pacific States. It is a work of much more than ordinary value and is the result of many years arduous labor, and the expenditure of large sums of money. The collection of original manuscripts and books and documents of reference constitute an immense library of themselves. From this mass of data Mr. Bancroft has, by the aid of many able writers, under his personal supervision, condensed into presentable form the history of all the states and territories on the Pacific slope including Mexico. The work, when completed by his own hands, will form a succinct yet comprehensive history of the western part of the American continent. It will, no doubt, find its way into all the chief libraries of the civilized world, and will be a standing monument to the authors genius.

Utah is to receive special attention: one whole volume will be devoted to this territory, and the people and church which have founded and established it. This volume it is confidently expected will be authentic and calculated to extend a knowledge of the true condition of our affairs. We there fore, commend the work to your support and patronage. John Taylor and George Q. Cannon, Letter to Presidents of Stakes and Bishops, Nov. 1, 1884, LDS Archives.)

According to Elder Franklin D. Richards, LDS officials subsequently “decided to purchase 1000 copies [of Bancroft’s History of Utah] for distribution by the Church—James Dwyer to canvass for the work in & throughout Utah and … an agency be established here for the sale of the work outside of Utah” (Franklin D. Richards, Diary, May 9,1889).

22. L. John Nuttall, Diary, Feb. 7, 1877, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.

23. Leonard, Nauvoo, 258.

24. Clayton, Diary, Dec. 11, 1845.

25. Ibid.

26. Ibid.

27. Leonard, Nauvoo, 258.

28. Clayton, Diary, Dec. 11, 1845.

29. Ibid.

30. Leonard, Nauvoo, 259.

31. Clayton, Diary, Dec. 11, 1845.

32. Roberts, History of the Church, 578.

33. Brigham Young, Diary, Feb. 3, 1846.

34. George A. Smith, “History of George Albert Smith,” Feb. 7, 1846.

35. Leonard, Nauvoo, 260-61.

36. Lyndon W Cook, Joseph C. Kingsbury: A Biography (Provo, UT: Grandin Book, 1985), 94.

37. Buerger, ‘”The Fulness of the Priesthood,'” 26.

38. “Record of Lewis Dunbar Sr. and Nancy Ann Wilson,” entry dated Jan. 21, 1846, LDS Archives.

39. Nauvoo Sealings, Adoptions, and Anointings: A Comprehensive Register of Persons Receiving LDS Temple Ordinances, 1841-1846 (Salt Lake City: The Smith-Pettit Foundation, 2005), Appendix I. For different totals, see Richard O. Cowan, Temple Building Ancient and Modern (Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1971), 29.

40. Clayton, Diary, Dec. 16, 1845; George D. Smith, “Nauvoo Roots of Mormon Polygamy, 1841-46: A Preliminary Demographic Report,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 27 (Spring 1994): 50, 54.

41. Clayton, Diary, Dec. 17, 1845; Smith, “Nauvoo Roots of Mormon Polygamy,” 48.

42. Clayton, Diary, Dec. 29, 1845. For a fuller record of known polygamous marriages and sealings in Nauvoo, see Smith, “Nauvoo Roots of Mormon Polygamy,” 37-69.

43. “General Record of the Seventies, Book B,” Dec. 19, 1845, photocopy in editors’ possession, original in LDS Archives.

44. Ibid., Jan. 23, 1846.

45. Ibid., Dec. 23, 1845.

46. Clayton, Diary, kept for Heber C. Kimball, Dec. 27, 1845. See also “General Record of the Seventies,” Dec. 27, 1845.

47. “General Record of the Seventies,” Dec. 28, 1845.

* * * * * 

Chapter 1

Early December

Thursday, December 11,1845

This morning I [Brigham Young] came early to the [Nauvoo] Temple[,] went and took breakfast with bro[ther] Joseph Kingsbury[,] returned to the Temple [and] found several of the brethren there,1 … spent some time acting as Eathloheim [Eloheim] [after] having joined been occupied with bro[ther] H[eber]. C. K[imball] until 3. O[‘clock]. PM. in anointing[.] [T]he brethren in the [Holy Order] met in council2 and [I] laid before the brethren S[amuel]. Brannons letter3 & other matters[.] staid in the Temple this night[.]

—Brigham Young, Diary.

I [William Clayton] will now give a description of the way the attic Story is finished. The main room is 88 feet 2 inches long and 28 feet 8 inches wide It is arched over, and the arch is divided into six spaces by cross beams to support the roof[.] There are 6 small rooms on each side the main room about 14 feet square each. The last one on the West end on each side is a little smaller. The first room on the South side beginning on the East end is President Brigham [Young’]s Room the second E[lde]r H[eber]. C. Kimball, the third George A Smith and others of the Twelve ^P[arley]. P. Pratt and Orson Pratt ^4 the fourth John Taylor, and others of the Twelve, ^ Amasa Lyman, J[ohn]. E. Page & G[eorge] A. Smith ^ the fifth Joseph Young and presidents of Seventies. The sixth is a preparation room for the male Members.

On the North side, the first from the East end is for Bishop Whitney & the lesser Priesthood; the second for the High Council. The third and fourth president George Miller and the High Priests quorum [,] The fifth the Elders Quorum and the sixth the female preparation Room.

The main room is divided into apartments for the ceremonies of the endowment. Beginning from the door at the West end is an alley about 5 feet wide extending to about 3 feet beyond the first Beam of the arch[.] on each side of the Alley is a small room partitioned of where the saints receive the first part of the ceremony or where the man is created and a help mate given to him. From these rooms too the third partition in the Arch is planted the garden, which is nicely decorated and set off with shrubs and trees in pots & Boxes to represent the Garden of Eden. In this apartment is also an alter. Here the man and woman are placed & commandments given to them in addition to what is given in the creation. Here also after the man & woman have eaten the forbidden fruit is given to them a charge at the Alter and the first and second tokens of the Aaronic Priesthood, They are then thrust out into a room which is dark being the one on the North side between the fourth and fifth division of the arch which represents the telestial kingdom or the world. Opposite to this is another apartment of the same size representing the terrestrial kingdom and between these two is an alley about 4 feet wide. In the telestial kingdom, after the man has proved himself faithful he receives the first signs & tokens of the Melchizedek priesthood and an additional charge. Here also he vouches for the conduct of his companion. They are then left to prove themselves faithful, after which they are admitted into the terrestrial kingdom, where at the alter they receive an additional charge and the second token of the Melchizedek Priesthood and also the key word on the five points of fellowship.

There are words given with every token and the new name is given in the preparation room when they receive their washing and annointing.

After [they have] received all the tokens and words and signs they are led to the vail where they give each to Eloheem through the vail and are then admitted into the Celestial Room.

The Celestial room occupies the remainder of the main room being the space between two divisions of the Arch. This is adorned with a number of splendid mirrors, paintings and portraits. On the East wall are the following Portraits viz. in the centre President]. B[righam]. Young and next to the left H[eber]. C. Kimball, Orson Hyde. To the right, Willard Richards John Taylor and George A. Smith.

On the East side of the first division of the Arch in the centre is the portrait of L[ucius]. N. Scovil,5 next to the right is George A. Smith, next John Smith the Patriarch To the left is Barsheba [Bathsheba] Smith, and Mother Lucy [Mack] Smith.

On the West side of this partition in the centre is the portrait of[,] to the left[,] H[eber]. C. Kimball & Caroline Smith6 To the right W[illia]m Cottier7 John L. Smith.

On the East side of the second division in the centre stands a brass clock over which there is a splendid portrait of the late Hyrum Smith and next to the right C[harles]. C. Rich, George Miller & Clarissa Smith. To the left sister [Sarah] Rich, next Mary Catherine Miller and last Leonora A. Taylor.

There are also a number of maps. A large map of the world hangs on the North side wall, and three maps of the United States and a plot of the City of Nauvoo hangs on the West partition. On the South wall hangs another large map of the United States, besides a number of large mirrors and paintings.

In the centre and body of the Celestial Room. are two splendid tables and four splendid sofas. Also a small table opposite the large Window on the East end of the room on which stands the Celestial and terrestrial Globes.

All the rooms are nicely carpeted and has a very splendid and comfortable appearance. There are a number of handsome chairs in it.

This morning B[righam]. Young & wife, H[eber]. C. Kimball and G[eorge]. A. Smith, also sister Mary Smith, Mercy R. Thompson, W[illiam]. W Phelps and his wife tarried in the Temple all night, We only obtained about an hour and a half sleep. In the morning sister Young and the other sisters went home. B[righam]. Young and myself went to Joseph C Kingsburys and eat breakfast. We there had an interview with Willard Snow who has just returned from his Mission to Boston. From thence we returned back to the Temple and found several of the brethren had come in with the expectations of receiving their anointings These following viz. Alpheus Cutler Reynolds Cahoon, Orson Spencer, Joseph Young, Isaac Morley, and Wm Clayton also Lucy Morley, Lois Cutler, Tirzah Cahoon, Catherine C. Spencer, Ruth Clayton, and Permelia Lott, each received their washings and anointings. We commenced a little before one o clock. George A. Smith and myself8 washed the brethren and B[righam]. Young and Amasa Lyman anointed them assisted by George Miller. Sister Vilate Kimball and Elizabeth Ann Whitney attended to washing the females. At 2 o clock they also washed and anointed Mercy R. Thompson[.]

At 1 o clock E[lde]r Orson Pratt came up into the room while we were attending to washing and anointing. He has just returned from his mission to the East and brought with him $400 worth of six shooters.

See 4 pages back. The men were washed by G[eorge]. A. Smith & John Taylor, and anointed by myself9 and B[righam). Young. The sisters were washed and anointed by sister Whitney Mary Ann Young and Mary Smith —————- Elizabeth Ann Whitney.

About half past 1 o clock mother Lucy [Mack] Smith arrived. The weather is cold and some inclined to snow.

A Little before three Sister Elizebeth Ann Whitney and My wife10 got through washing the sisters about half past 3 [and] the following were taken through all the ordinance & ceremony viz Alpheas Cutler & Lois Cutler Reynolds Cahoon & Tirzah Cahoon Isaac Morley & Lucy Morley Orson Spencer & Catherine C. Spencer William Clayton & Ruth Clayton Cornelius P. Lott & Permelia Lott also mother Lucy [Mack] Smith and John Smith with her as proxy ^Also John M. Bernhisel^ Mercy R. Thompson with whom brother John Taylor acted as a proxy [.] President Young officiated as Eloheem P[arley]. P. Pratt as Jehovah and George A. Smith as Michael[.]

The first charge was given in the garden by President Young, the other two charges by H[eber]. C. Kimball, who also received most of them through the vail and Amasa Lyman received the remainder.

Immediately after all these were taken through, myself11 and George A. Smith washed and anointed David Candland and John D. Lee. Sisters Elizabeth Ann Whitney and Mary Smith washed and anointed their wives whose names are Aggatha Ann Lee and Mary Ann Candland. They were assisted by Vilate Kimball. It was about 5 o clock PM, when they commenced washing and anointing these.A little before six we commenced taking them through the ceremonies Heber C. Kimball acting as Eloheem George A. Smith as Jehovah Orson Hyde as Michael W[illiam]. W Phelps as the serpent[.] We were also assisted by P[arley]. P. Pratt.President [Young] having gone out some time ago returned while we were in the garden. The signs & tokens were all given by H[eber]. C. Kimball. He also received them through the vail. It was about half past seven when we got through Those last who were taken through were then instructed farther regarding the signs by E[lde]r Orson Hyde.

The President then called all those who were present into the Celestial room. We formed a circle, offered up the signs, and then offered up prayers for the sick; for our families and that the Lord would frustrate the plans of our enemies. E[lde]r John E. Page being mouth.

After we got through president Young called the following persons into Hebers Room viz. H[eber]. C. Kimball, P[arley]. P. Pratt, J[ohn]. Taylor, O[rson]. Hyde, John E. Page, George A. Smith, Amasa Lyman, Newel K. Whitney, George Miller and W[illia]m. Clayton. The President then stated that he had received a letter from Samuel Brannan saying that he had been at Washington12 and had learned that the Secretary of War13 and the heads of the government were laying plans and were determined to prevent our moving West, alleging that it is against the Law for an armed body of men to go from the United States to any other government. They say it will not do to let the Mormons go to California nor Oregon, neither will it do to let them tarry in the States and they must be exterminated from the face of the earth.14

We offered up the signs of the Holy priesthood and prayed that the Lord would defeat and frustrate all the plans of our enemies and inasmuch as they make plots and lay plans to exterminate this people and destroy the priesthood from off the earth that the curse of God may come upon them even all the evil which they design to bring upon this people. And that the Lord would preserve the lives of his servants and lead us out of this ungodly nation in peace.

After we got through there was a unanimous feeling that the Lord would answer our prayers and defeat our enemies. Pres[iden]t. Young said we should go away from. here in peace in spite of our enemies.

It was now a little after 9 o’clock and we soon after retired to our homes. President Young and Amasa Lyman tarried in the Temple all the night.

—William Clayton, Diary, kept for Heber C. Kimball.

. . . . . . . . . .

A.M. went to the [Nauvoo] Temple around 9 o clock. Pres[iden]t. [Brigham] Young and H[eber]. C. Kimball were going out to breakfast. They continued to work untill half past 3 o clock this morning. After I [William Clayton] left they took the following through President Brigham Young & Mary Ann Young, William W Phelps & Sally Phelps, Parley P. Pratt & Mary Ann Pratt, Amasa Lyman & Mariah Loisa Lyman, George Miller & Mary Catherine Miller, John Taylor & Leonora Taylor, Lucian Woodworth & Phebe Woodworth, John E. Page & Mary Page, Joseph C. Kingsbury, Mary Smith, widow of Hyrum Smith, Agness Smith, widow of Don Carlos.

I spent the forenoon writing the history of these proceedings in E[lde]r Kimballs Journal also gave a description of the upper room. At 12 Pres[iden]t. Young said I could go and fetch my wife [Ruth] if I had a mind to. I immediately went down and returned with her at 1 o clock. I then went into the preparation room and was washed by E[lde]r H[eber]. C. Kimball & George A. Smith, and then anointed a priest and a king unto the most High God by Pres[iden]t. Young and Amasa Lyman and pronounced clean from the blood of this generation.

Those who were anointed at the same time were Alpheus Cutler, Isaac Morley, Orson Spencer, Reynolds Cahoon, myself and Joseph Young. Amongst the females were Lucy Morley, Lois Cutler, Thirzah Cahoon, Catherine C. Spencer, Ruth Clayton and Permelia Lott. Brother [Cornelius P.] Lott was washed and anointed last evening. Sister Jane Young is sick and unable to attend. After washing and anointing we all passed through the ceremonies together with Mother [Lucy Mack] Smith, Mercy R. Thompson and brother Lott. It was about half past seven when we got through. Afterwards those present offered up the signs of the Holy Priesthood and had prayers John E. Page being mouth.

Pres[iden]t. Young then called the following persons into brother Kimballs room viz. H[eber]. C. Kimball, P[arley]. P. Pratt, O[rson]. Hyde, John Taylor, Amasa Lyman, George A. Smith John E. Page, N[ewel]. K. Whitney, George Miller and myself. The Pres[iden]t. stated that he had received a letter from brother Samuel Brannan stating that he had been at Washington [D.C.] and had learned th[at] the Post Master General15 and Secretary of War were making preparations to prevent our going West, alleging that it is against the Law for an armed body of men to go from the States to another government. They say the Mormons must not be suffered to remain in the State and neither will it do to let us go to California and there is no other way but to exterminate them and obliterate them from the face of the earth. We offered up the signs and asked our heavenly father to overrule them and inasmuch as the heads of this government are plotting the utter destruction of this people that he will curse them and let all the evil which they design to bring upon us come upon themselves.

Pres[iden]t. Young said we shall go out from this place in spite of them. All the brethren felt agreed that God will deliver us from the grasp of this ungodly and mobocratic nation.

At 9 o clock me and my wife went home thankful for the blessings and privileges of the day.

Before we had prayers however John D. Lee, Aggatha Ann Lee, David Candland & Mary Ann Candland were washed and anointed and taken through the vail.

—William Clayton, Diary.

The following are the Records of the washings and Anointings of the Seventies begining with the first Presidency (of the Seventies) [:]

Thursday 1 o’clock, P.M. President Jos[eph]. Young was washed by George A. Smith and anointed by President Brigham Young & Amasa Lyman — And Jane Young his Wife was washed and anointed by Eliza[beth] A. Whitney. …

—Seventies Record, Book B.

[A]t 5 PM … myself [John D. Lee] and wife received our washing & anointing, we being [having been] previously notified by President] B[righam] Young to go home[,] When I was first engaged in the Temple or rather at the close of the same, & [to] purify our hearts by fasting & prayer & dense our bodies by washing in clean water. After passing through the sacred ordinances of the House of the Lord President] B[righam] Young then informed me that my services was needed all the while here in the Temple during the time of giving Endowments^] I accordingly returned home about 10 at night with feelings of gladness & joyful acclamations of Praise to the Giver of All Good.

—John D. Lee, Diary.

Elder Heber C. Kimball and I [Brigham Young] went to Joseph Kingsbury’s and ate breakfast and returned to the [Nauvoo] Temple. …

I officiated in the Temple with the brethren of the Twelve [apostles]. We administered the ordinances of endowment to:

Isaac Morley and his wife, Lucy;
Orson Spencer and Catharine C.;
Joseph Young;
Alpheus Cutler and Lois;
Reynolds Cahoon and Thirza;
William Clayton and Ruth;
Cornelius P. Lott and Permelia;
Mother Lucy [Mack] Smith and Mercy R[achel]. Thompson.

At eight p.m., we assembled for prayer. Elder John E. Page was mouth. After which I called the Twelve [apostles] and bishops together and informed them that I had received a letter from Brother Samuel Brannan, stating that he had been at Washington [D.C.] and had learned that the secretary of war and other members of the cabinet were laying plans and were determined to prevent our moving west; alleging that it is against the law for an armed body of men to go from the United States to any other government.

They say it will not do to let the Mormons go to California nor Oregon, neither will it do to let them tarry in the states, and they must be obliterated from the face of the earth.

We prayed that the Lord would defeat and frustrate all the plans of our enemies, and inasmuch as they lay plans to exterminate this people and destroy the priesthood from off the earth, that the curse of God may come upon them, and all the evil which they design to bring upon us, may befall themselves; and that the Lord would preserve the lives of his servants and lead us out of this ungodly nation in peace.

I said we should go out from this place in spite of them all, and the brethren all felt that God would deliver us from the grasp of this ungodly and mobocratic nation.

Brother Amasa Lyman and I tarried in the Temple all night.

—”Manuscript History of Brigham Young,”
in History of the Church, 7:543-44.

In the order of Endowment, a list is made out the day previous, of those who wish to take their endowments. Every person is required to wash himself clean, from head to foot. Also to prepare and bring a good supply of food, of the best quality, for themselves and those who labor in the house of the Lord. In the latter about twenty-five persons are required in the different departments to attend to the washing, anointing, blessing, ordaining, and sealing. From twenty-five to fifty persons are passed through in twenty-four hours.

I was among the first to receive my washings and anointings [on December 11, 1845], and even received my second anointing [on January 14, 1846], which made me an equal in the order of the Priesthood, with the right and authority to build up the kingdom in all the earth, and power to fill any vacancy that might occur. I have officiated in all the different branches, from the highest to the lowest. There were about forty men who attained to that order in the Priesthood, including the twelve Apostles and the first presidency, and to them was intrusted the keeping of the records. I was the head clerk; Franklin D. Richards was my assistant clerk. My office was in room number one, at President [Brigham] Young’s apartments.

I kept a record of all the sealings, anointings, marriages and adoptions.

I was the second one adopted to Brigham Young. I should have been his first adopted son, being the first that proposed it to him, but always ready to give preference to those in authority, I placed A[lbert]. P. Rockwood’s name first on the list. I also had my children adopted to me in the Temple. Brigham Young had his children adopted to himself, and we were the only ones, to my knowledge, that had our children so adopted at the Temple at Nauvoo [Illinois]. As time would not permit attending to all the people, the business was rushed through day and night.

—John D. Lee,Mormonism Unveiled; or The Life and Confessions of
the Late Mormon Bishop, John D. Lee (St. Louis, Missouri:
Bryan, Brand & Company, 1877), pp. 169-70.

Nauvoo temple endowments performed on this date:

First Company: Alpheus Cutler, Lois Cutler, Reynolds Cahoon, Thirza Cahoon, Isaac Morley, Lucy Morley, Orson Spencer, Catherine Spencer, William Clayton, Ruth Clayton, Cornelius P. Lott, Permelia Lott, Lucy Mack Smith, and Mercy R. Thompson.

Second Company: David Candland, Mary Ann Candland, John D. Lee, and Aggatha Ann Lee.

Nauvoo Temple Endowment Register: W December 1845
to 8 February 1846, compiled by the Temple Index Bureau of the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1974, under date.

Friday, December 12, 1845

This morning bro[ther]. H[eber] C. K[imball]. & I [Brigham Young] anointed b[r]o[ther] Joseph Young had a council at 12. 0[clock]. I acted as E[l]ohiem[.] took dinner at bro[ther].J[oseph]. Kingsbury’s[.] returned to the Temple[.] officited at the vail16 at about 20[.]

—Brigham Young, Diary.

This morning I again went up to the Temple with my wife.17 The morning is very fine but cold. We arrived at a quarter to 10 and found several of the brethren all ready arrived and preparing for the washings of others who have been notified to attend. At quarter after 10 A.M. we again commenced the washings and anointings to the presidents of the seventies and their wives and also to Elder Orson Pratt and his wife. The names of those washed and anointed this morning are as follows.

Levi W Hancock, Henry Herriman, Zerah Pulsipher, Jedidiah M. Grant
Albert P. Rockwood, Benjamin L. Clapp. These were
washed by George A. Smith & P[ariey]. P. Pratt and anointed by
B[righam]. Young and H[eber]. C. Kimball.
The names of the females are as follows
Jane Young washed and anointed by Elizabeth A. Whitney
Clarissa Hancock do do [ditto] by V[ilate]. Kimball
Clarissa Herriman do do [ditto] by Mary Smith
Caroline Grant do do [ditto] Elizabeth]. A[nn]. Whitney
Nancy H. Rockwood do do [ditto] V[ilate]. Kimball
Mary Clapp do do [ditto] Mary Smith

Sister Pulsipher is sick and unable to attend. After these were all washed and anointed E[lde]r Orson Pratt and Sarah Marinda Pratt came in. He was washed and anointed by George A. Smith and Amasa Lyman who did the washing and Pres[iden]t. Young and H[eber]. C. Kimball attended to anointing.

Sarah Marinda Pratt was washed and anointed by V[ilate]. Kimball. [A]t half past 12 o clock all things being prepared to take these through the remaining ceremonies they commenced Pres[iden]t. Young acting as Elohee [Elohim], P[arley]. P. Pratt as Jehovah Orson Hyde as Michael W[illia]m W. Phelps as the serpent H[eber]. C. Kimball assisted through the whole. President Young gave all the charges and received Orson Pratt through the Vail. The remainder of the men were received through by O[rson]. Hyde the females by their husbands.

The names are as follows who are now admitted through the vail. Orson Pratt & Sally [Sarah] M. Pratt

Joseph Young & Jane Young
Levi W Hancock & Clarissa Hancock
Henry Herriman & Clarissa Herriman
Zerah Pulsipher.
Jedidiah M. Grant & Caroline Grant.
Albert P. Rockwood & Nancy H. Rockwood
Benjamin L. Clapp & Mary Clapp

At a quarter after 3 P.M. Pres[iden]t. Young H[eber]. C. Kimball, N[ewel]. K. Whitney & Vilate Kimball went to J[oseph]. C. Kingsburys to dinner [.]

About 2 o clock the following were washed and anointed, viz James Allred, Charles C. Rich, William Felshaw, George W. Harris, William Meeks, Truman O. Angel. The washing and anointing of these was done by Newel K. Whitney, George Miller, Amasa Lyman, George A. Smith & John Taylor[.] About the same time the wives of the foregoing were washed and anointed as follows Elizabeth AUred by Elizabeth]. A[nn]. Whitney

Lucinda Harris by Mary Smith
Polly Angel by Lois Cutler
Sarah D. Rich by Mary Smith
Mary H. Felshaw by Lois Cutler
Caroline Meeks by Lois Cutler.

Hannah Fielding was also washed and anointed at the same time by Mary Smith but her husband is not yet washed and anointed[.]

At 20 minutes past 3 P.M. all things being ready the ceremonies were commenced to take the above through in the following order.

John Taylor acting as Eloheem
George A. Smith ” Jehovah
George Miller ” Michael
W[illia]m W Phelps ” the Serpent

All the charges were given by E[lde]r John Taylor. He also received the brethren through the vail and they each received their wives through[.]

At 20 minutes to 5 the following were admitted to pass the vail being those who were washed and anointed at 2 oclock. E[lde]r Taylor officiating at the Vail and John M. Bernhisel first was blessed through [?] to correct his memory[.]

James Allred & Elizabeth Allred
Charles C. Rich & Sarah D. Rich
William Felshaw & Mary H. Felshaw
George W. Harris & Lucinda Harris
William Meeks & Caroline Meeks
Truman O. Angell & Polly Angell

At 5 o clock Pres[iden]t. Young, H[eber]. C. Kimball N[ewel]. K. Whitney, Vilate Kimball and Elizabeth Ann Whitney returned. At a quarter after 4 the following men were washed and anointed viz Joseph Fielding — Noah Packard

William Snow — Samuel Rolfe
Norton Jacobs — Willard Snow
Erastus Snow — William W. Player
Aaron Johnson

These were washed by George Miller and Orson Hyde and anointed by Amasa Lyman and Parley P. Pratt. At the same time the wives of the foregoing were washed and anointed in the following order Polly Zariah Johnson by Mary Smith

Lidia Snow by Mary Smith
Sophia Packard by Lois Cutler
Malvina Snow by Lois Cutler
Emily Jacobs by Lois Cutler
Zillah Player by Phebe Woodworth
Elizabeth Rolfe by Phebe Woodworth

Artimcnia ^ Artimetia ^ ^Artimesia ^ Snow by Loisa M. Lyman At 16 minutes after six oclock P.M. all things being prepared the foregoing persons together with Hannah Fielding were taken through the ceremonies of the endowment. The following persons officiating

Orson Hyde as Eloheem
Orson Spencer as Jehovah
George A Smith as Michael and

W[illia]m W. Phelps as the Serpent. All the charges were given to them by Elder O[rson]. Hyde together with much good instruction. They were received through the vail commencing at 14 minutes after 8 o’clock by President B[righam]. Young, (see next page [i.e., next manuscript page].)

At half past 6 o clock Pres[iden]t. B[righam]. Young H[eber]. C. Kimball and Newel K. Whitney retired to the Bishops room and consecrated for the endowment 14 bottles of oil which had previously been prepared by Bishop Whitney. They returned and undressed at 20 minutes to seven.

At 5 minutes to 7 P.M. the following persons were washed and anointed viz.

William Huntington Sen[io]r. & Lydia I luntington Henry G. Sherwood & Jane I Sherwood William Crosby — Lucian R. Foster and Miles Romney. These were washed by George Miller and Charles C. Rich and anointed by Amasa Lyman and Isaac Morley assisted by Benjamin L. Clapp. At the same time the wives of the foregoing were washed and anointed as follows.

Jane I.. Sherwood by Loisa M. Lyman
Sally Crosby by Loisa M. Lyman
Ann Mariah Foster by Loisa M. Lyman

Elizabeth Romney by Loisa M. Lyman Lidia Huntington was washed and anointed by Tirzah Cahoon and blessed by all the sisters present.

At 14 minutes after 8 o clock [we] ^ commenced receiving^ the following were received through the vail being those who were washed at a quarter after 4 this afternoon, viz

Joseph Fielding & Hannah Fielding.
Noah Packard & Sophia Packard.
William Snow & Lidia Snow.
Samuel Rolfe & Elizabeth Rolfe.
Norton Jacobs & Emily Jacobs.
Willard Snow & Malvina Snow.
Erastus Snow & Artemesia Snow.
William W Player & Zillah Player.
Aaron Johnson & ^Polly^ Zeriah Johnson.

President Young received Noah Packard through who is quite sick. Joseph Fielding, William Snow, and Erastus Snow were received through by E[lde]r H[eber]. C. Kimball and the remainder by E[lde]r Orson Spencer. Each man receiving his own wife through after he himself was admitted.

At about 25 minutes to 11 o clock the last one of these were received through the vail.

E[lde]r Orson Pratt acted as prompter while President Young and H[eber]. C. Kimball officiated at the vail, and Isaac Morley acted as prompter while Orson Spencer officiated. At 25 minutes after 9 o clock every thing being prepared[,] the ceremony of receiving those who were lately washed was commenced in the following order. Pres[iden]t. B[righam]. Young as Eloheem

H[eber]. C. Kimball as Jehovah
Orson Hyde as Michael
W[illiam]. W Phelps as the Serpent

They were also assisted by E[lde]r P[arley]. P. Pratt[.] Pres[iden]t. Young gave the first charge in the garden & E[lde]r P[arley]. P. Pratt the second in the Telestial Kingdom. E[lde]r Pratt also continued and gave the charge in the Terrestrial Kingdom.

At 10 minutes after 11 o’clock [we] commenced receiving the following through the vail[,] being those last washed & anointed[;] Their names are as follows, viz.

William Huntington Sen[io]r. & Lidia Huntington
Henry G. Sherwood &Jane J. Sherwood
William Crosby & Sally Crosby
Lucian R. Foster & Ann Mariah Foster
Miles Romney & Elizabeth Romney.

President B[righam]. Young received L[ucian]. R. Foster, and W[illia]m Huntington through. E[lde]r H[eber]. C. Kimball received W[illia]m. Crosby through and Joseph Young recei[ve]d Henry G. Sherwood & Miles Romney. each man receive[d] his own wife after he himself was admitted. At a quarter past 1 o clock the last one was admitted all the brethren being much fatigued by the labors of the day.

At half past 10 o clock Elder H[eber]. C. Kimball made a selection of brethren to assist in the endowment tomorrow. He made a selection of those who were willing to volunteer freely whose names are

Charles C. Rich Benjamin L. Clapp
Jedidiah M. Grant Orson Spencer
Isaac Morley Erastus Snow
W[illia]m. W. Phelps Willard Snow
Aaron Johnson Joseph Young

These are selected in addition to the members of the quorum of the Twelve apostles.

At a quarter after 1 o clock President B[righam]. Young, A[masa]. Lyman, G[eorge]. A. Smith, C[harles]. C. Rich, W[illiam]. W Phelps, J[ohn]. D. Lee, P[arley]. P. Pratt, O[rson]. Pratt, &O[rson]. Hyde clothed and offered up the signs and prayers, E[lde]r George A. Smith being mouth. After prayers the following took their blankets and lay down to rest on the floor of the Temple where they tarried over night, viz.

Pres[iden]t. B[righam]. Young. Amasa Lyman
George A. Smith W[illia]m W. Phelps
Charles C. Rich John D. Lee
David Candland

E[lde]r Joseph Young and his wife tarried in his own room over night.

During the whole of the three days already spent in the endowment, President Brigham Young presided and dictated the ordinances and also took an active part in nearly every instance except when entirely overcome by fatigue through his constant labors to forward the work.

Perfect peace and harmony prevail during the whole time, except in one case which happened this afternoon, wherein Phebe Woodworth interfered with business which did not belong to her, and in the presence of those who are higher in authority than her, and undertook to dictate and control those who were legally and righteously appointed to superintend and administer the ordinance of washing and anointing of the females.

—William Clayton, Diary, kept for Heber C. Kimball.

Pres[iden]t. [Brigham] Young presides and controls the whole business [of temple work] and take[s] a very active part himself.

—William Clayton, Diary.

A condensed Table form for Record Keeping
[See page 17 for excerpted portion.]

—Seventies Record, Book B, under entry
dated December 11, 1846.



1. For the past twelve days, the Quorum of the Anointed, or Holy Order (those who had been previously washed, anointed, and endowed), had been readying the attic level of the temple for the general church membership, which began arriving the next day (see our Joseph Smith’s Quorum of the Anointed, 1842-1845: A Documentary History; also note that the present volume repeats the last dated entry of the previous volume—that of December 11,1845—for context and continuity).

2. In the Nauvoo temple endowment drama, church members portrayed characters—Eloh(e)im, Jehovah, and Michael—drawn from the Bible and Book of Abraham and introduced into the Creation/Garden of Eden stories, including the role of the serpent or tempter.

3. Samuel Brannan (1819-89) migrated to Kirtland, Ohio, in 1833 and worked as a printer. He presided over the Saints in the eastern states (1845-46) and then led a group from New York to San Francisco by ship (1846-47). In June 1847, Brannan met Brigham Young near Ft. Bridger and tried to convince him to settle in California rather than Utah. Failing, Brannan returned to the Bay Area. He was excommunicated in 1851. Although he went on to become a successful entrepreneur and California’s first millionaire, he lost most of his property by the time of his death. He also published the first newspaper in San Francisco, the California Star. For more on Brannan’s letter, see the entry of William Clayton on page 6, note 12.

4. As used throughout this book, carets ( ^ ^ ) refer to text added interlinearly.

5. According to art historian Jill Major: “Because of the scant time the first Nauvoo Temple was open for sacred ordinances, portraits of prominent Nauvoo citizens were borrowed to adorn the temple walls.” Scovil’s portrait may have been hung because of its availability but also to recognize his work on the committee that oversaw construction of the Nauvoo Masonic Lodge and for helping prepare Joseph Smith’s Red Brick Store for the endowment. For more on the temple portraits, see Jill C. Major, “Artworks in the Celestial Room of the First Nauvoo Temple,” BYU Studies 41 (2002), 2:47-69.

6. Caroline Amelia Grant Smith (1814-45) was the wife of apostle and Church Patriarch William Smith and sister-in-law of Joseph Smith.

7. William Cottier (1820-?) was one of the Nauvoo temple’s stone cutters. He received his endowment in December 1845. He

later joined the followers of Mormon dissident Sidney Rigdon.

8. William Clayton probably means Heber C. Kimball.

9. Probably Heber C. Kimball.

10. Probably Heber C. Kimball’s wife, Vilate.

11. Probably Heber C. Kimball.

12. At the time he wrote the above mentioned letter to Young, Brannan was in Washington, D.C., hoping to obtain money to finance his expedition to California. Neither Brannan’s letter nor Young’s response survives. See Will Bagley, ed., Scoundrel’s Tale: The Samuel Brannan Papers (Spokane: Arthur H. Clark, 1999), 108, 117.

13. This was William L. Marcy (1786-1857), who served under U.S. President James K. Polk from 1845 to 1849. He would later direct the Mexican War and serve as Secretary of State under U.S. President Franklin Pierce.

14. LDS church leaders had asked for support in securing U.S. government contracts to construct blockhouses or to carry mail on the Oregon Trail.

15. This is Cave Johnson (1793-1866), who served under U.S. President James K. Polk from 1845 to 1849. He introduced the use of postage stamps into the U.S. postal system.

16. Those officiating at the veil were also called prompters. Their role was to ensure that each person repeated the phrases and performed the gestures correctly prior to entering the Celestial Room.

17. It is not clear if “I” refers to Heber C. Kimball or William Clayton or if “my wife” refers to Vilate Kimball or Ruth Clayton.