excerpt – History’s Apprentice: The Diaries of B. H. Roberts
On 13 March 1882, a twenty-five-year-old from a small Utah town serving an LDS mission in rural Tennessee recorded the following plaintive confession:
Perhaps one-half of my life has passed away–and what have I done? But little of anything, either of good or evil; my misdeeds are like my talents–on the small order. I have made attempts to accomplish something in various directions, but “miserable failure” is written across the face of each of them. …
I can but choose to regret the past when looking over it, but as I cannot call it back to amend it, or straighten out the crooks which appear in the path I have trod, I will look to the present and future, trying to profit by the experience of the past. …
The author of this diary entry was of course B. H. Roberts, who would become a household name in some circles and would live a remarkably full and productive life by anyone’s standard but his own. In the half century between March 1882 and Roberts’s death in September 1933, his achievements surpassed those of most of his contemporaries in religion, politics, and scholarship. Still, he remained somewhat dissatisfied with himself and occasionally suffered bouts of depression.
After his mission, Roberts cut his teeth as a writer and opinion maker at the Salt Lake Herald, followed by an assignment as an editor of the church’s overseas publication, the Millennial Star. Years later, his more mature histories and biographies would receive wide critical praise as the definitive works of LDS history and apologetics. In fact, these studies are still read today and continue to be held in high esteem.
Although largely self-educated, Roberts read the scholarly texts, polemics, and apologetics of his times. When he was in his twenties, he came to regard himself as someone destined for the world of literature, words, and ideas. His diaries show him to be the type who enjoyed an evening at home playing chess and reading Dante. Yet, he was also a man of action who was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives, although he was subsequently refused his Congressional seat because he was a practicing polygamist.
In many ways, Roberts represented a new generation of Mormons, born after the trials of Nauvoo, Illinois, and the trek to the Great Basin, who sought to understand and chronicle the historical and theological importance of their faith. As noted by Sterling McMurrin, like Roberts himself an important scholar of Mormon history and thought:
Roberts lived during a crucial period for Mormonism. The original prophetic and sectarian impulse was waning, the major feats of pioneering were accomplished, and the struggles with the federal government and their aftermath were taking a severe toll of human energy and threatening the economic and institutional life of the church. More than anything else, the church needed defenses that would justify its existence, establish its moral and intellectual responsibility, and guarantee its own integrity.1
There were other issues, including the struggle for statehood, the creation of a different political culture in the state for both Mormons and Gentiles, and the challenges posed by science and secular thought. Roberts, McMurrin elaborated, “entered into the[se debates] with quite remarkable energy and dedication and with the self-assurance and determination of those whose commitment and faith are firm.”2
Scholars of Roberts’s life enjoy a fairly vast reservoir of sources for understanding this complex, contradictory, and gifted man. To begin with, there is The Autobiography of B. H. Roberts, edited by Gary James Bergera.3 Roberts composed this reminiscence in the last year of his life, dictating 473 double-spaced pages to his secretary, Elsa Cook. He apparently consulted his diaries during the dictation. Where he referred to himself in third person, Bergera standardized the voice and smoothed out some of the punctuation to provide a more coherent and readable book. As Bergera noted, the autobiography is valuable but not without problems.
Although it is not as definitive or thorough as one would hope for, the autobiography does reveal some of the complexity of the man. For example, Roberts insisted that he loved his mother deeply, yet it is apparent that he was “devastated as a child when she abandoned him” and that “Roberts’s later relationships with women, especially his three wives … were probably colored by the conflicting emotions he felt toward his mother.”4
Despite some errors of fact and detail which Bergera notes, the volume remains a “moving, insightful, sometimes painfully honest account … of one of Mormonism’s most important figures.”5 From my perspective, Bergera paved the way for subsequent studies, while making my own job of editing the diaries much easier.
The same can be said of Truman Madsen’s biography, Defender of the Faith: The B. H. Roberts Story.6 With access to published and family sources and recollections from Roberts’s associates and to at least some of these diaries, Madsen presents a fairly full picture of Roberts, arguing, in part, that Roberts’s life was “a series of frustrated entitlements” wherein Roberts felt that he was “denied what he merited and had within his grasp.”7 These frustrations are detailed, along with the personality quirks and predispositions on Roberts’s part that helped create them, to demonstrate how this sense of unrealized entitlement emerged. On balance, I think that Madsen is correct that Roberts’s ambitions were matched by the “tensions and sometimes the paradoxes of his personality.” Indeed, just consider the origins of the self-educated street waif who came to be such a polished writer and scholar, as well as the fact that, as a boy, Roberts experienced privations and saw the raw side of humanity. One begins to understand the older man and the genteel world of books and ideas he had adopted but was not born to. Early on, Roberts exhibited signs of physical strength, accentuated by his apprenticeship as a blacksmith, but suffered chronic ailments such as migraines, diabetes, and depression. He had seen the destructive influence of alcohol when he was young and then spent a lifetime struggling against the same vice. In short, Roberts was never able to completely shed the baggage of his origins, however hard he tried to reinvent himself.
Of Roberts’s voluminous writings, his best known include The Life of John Taylor (1892), Outlines of Ecclesiastical History (1893), The Rise and Fall of Nauvoo (1900), and a three-volume New Witnesses for God (1895-1911).8 He produced the much acclaimed historical records of Mormonism, the seven-volume History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1902-12) and the six-volume Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1930). Moreover, his posthumous works are important to any discussion of his written legacy: Studies of the Book of Mormon9 and The Truth, the Way, the Life.10
Brigham D. Madsen, editor of Studies of the Book of Mormon, accurately calls Roberts’s interest in Mormon scripture a lifetime obsession. Evidence of this is contained in these diaries. In February 1881, Roberts engaged in a series of debates with the Rev. A. H. Alsup “of the Campbellite faith” to consider the charge that “the teachings of Mormonism contradict the Common Bible known as the King James Version.”
Over the course of the next four days, Roberts and Alsup debated this question for a total of fourteen hours. Roberts’s efforts not only received attention in the local press in Tennessee and were talked about by Mormons and non-Mormons alike, but were reported by Roberts and published in a letter to the editor of the Deseret News.
Similarly, Roberts indicates on 20 November 1884 that he spent the day studying scripture in preparation for a discourse on the Book of Mormon that evening. He calls the subject “intensely interesting” and argues that the “amount of evidence one can bring forth to prove its Divine Authenticity is considerable.” Moreover, in the same entry, Roberts comments that “I have always observed when speaking on this subject I have enjoyed great liberty of spirit[,] perhaps more than when speaking on any other subject.”
Roberts’s interest in the Book of Mormon did not diminish over time. He chaired the manual committee of the Mutual Improvement Associations and personally wrote some manuals that marshaled evidence in support of Mormonism’s central scriptural work. In Brigham Madsen’s words, Roberts believed that “proving the Mormon scripture true was, after all, the proper job of a Mormon theologian.”11
In the 1920s, Roberts requested and received permission from church president Heber J. Grant to explore more thoroughly a number of issues pertaining to the Book of Mormon. While not published in his lifetime, Roberts’s work circulated in limited form until it was brought together in a comprehensive collection in the mid-1980s. Its appearance created a stir and a difference of opinion among students of Roberts.
Some held, with Brigham Madsen, that Roberts had identified “internal contradictions and other defects” which could suggest that the Book of Mormon “might not be of divine origin.”12 Madsen and others deduced that Roberts had changed his mind on the traditional view of the book’s origin. Other scholars, equally forcefully, asserted that the important body of public statements by Roberts over the last decade of his life would lead one to a different conclusion.
The question may never be answered conclusively. Yet, anyone assessing Roberts will recognize, along with Brigham Madsen, Roberts’s
fierce independence, his forthright honesty, his deeply imbedded integrity, and above all, his fearless willingness to follow wherever his reason led him. He could be abrasive in his defense of stubbornly held beliefs, but he had the capacity to change his views when confronted with new and persuasive evidence.13
Roberts’s other major work, The Truth, the Way, the Life, was published in two separate editions in 1994. According to McMurrin, Roberts considered this “to be the crowning achievement” of his life. In reality, McMurrin wrote, the manuscript was “a summary” of Roberts’s “theological work, setting forth in considerable detail, and often with extensive commentaries, his understanding of the basic doctrines of the LDS Church.”14
In the words of Stan Larson, who edited one of the publications of The Truth, the Way, the Life, Roberts made the “life and mission of Jesus the Christ” the central theme of his book. In so doing, Roberts nevertheless reordered the phrasing of John 14:615 and gave preeminence to truth over “the way” of salvation. Accordingly, the book “summarized and synthesized the distinctive doctrines of Mormonism” by seeking first to illuminate the truths of the world and the importance of revelation, followed by the way of salvation and eternal life for all people, and lastly the life of Christ and the nature of Christian witness.
On two occasions, surveys of Mormon academics have named Roberts the most “eminent intellectual” of the LDS tradition.16 Coming so many years after Roberts’s death, the surveys confirm the enduring relevance of Roberts’s writings, at least for scholars. Professor McMurrin commented, when the two editions of The Truth, the Way, the Life were published, that it seemed to signal that the ideas Roberts had raised were being brought “to the full attention” of another generation “seriously inquiring into the nature and meaning of Mormonism.”17
For anyone who can identify with the spirit of that statement, there are other resources they may want to consult to better understand Roberts’s views. These include Brigham D. Madsen’s The Essential B. H. Roberts18 and Lynn Pulsipher’s compilation of historical and theological writings in two volumes: Scrapbook: B. H. Roberts.19 In addition to these, Chad Flake’s path breaking A Mormon Bibliography, 1830-193020 and Studies in Mormon History, 1830-1997: An Indexed Bibliography by James B. Alien, Ronald W. Walker and David J. Whittaker21 contain bibliographical data and clues for finding additional material on similar topics.
About RobertsBefore discussing the diaries themselves, it may be helpful to review Roberts’s life. He was born Brigham Henry Roberts on 13 March 1857 in Warrington, Lancashire, England, to Benjamin and Ann Everington Roberts.22 His parents were converts to Mormonism, but Ann’s commitment was stronger than Benjamin’s. This, along with Benjamin’s “intemperate habits and wild craving for independence,” convinced Ann to leave her husband and immigrate to the United States in 1862. Taking two of her children, Annie and baby son Thomas, who died on the trek west, she left her teenage daughter, Mary (“Polly”), with a relative, Martin Pye, and five-year-old Brigham (“Harry”) with a Mormon couple named Tovey.23
All was not well for the Roberts children, especially since the two families lacked the means to support them. Polly earned her keep working at the kiln that Pye operated. Harry’s life was even more Dickensian. He said he was barely fed and clothed and worked alongside Mr. Tovey in the stone sawyer trade where he learned to prepare sand for marble polishing and to carry a water bucket on his head. At the end of a tiring day, he came home to a scanty meal and slept on a bare floor with no covers.
Over the years, the privations continued. The Toveys tried several times to rid themselves of their young burden by apprenticing him or signing him up to be a drummer boy in the army. Each time, Harry ran away until the threat had passed and then returned home. In good times, Mrs. Tovey read out loud to him the dramatic stories of the martyred prophet Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum. Roberts said that this opened to him the world of books and history and sparked his life-long passion for literature. Eventually, local Mormons procured the means through the church’s Perpetual Emigration Fund to rescue Harry and Polly from their circumstances. The children departed from Liverpool for America in April 1866 on board the John Bright.
Two months later on 6 June, Roberts was in Old Castle Gardens on the upper bay of New York harbor, waiting along with a large “company of Mormon emigrants” to “embark [on] the zig-zag route across the United States, through Canada, for the distant valley of Salt Lake, Utah.” More than sixty-five years later while dictating his autobiography, this scene and the emotions surrounding it were still vivid in Roberts’s mind:
I was a boy of no prepossessing appearance. In the first place I was clad in just a pair of barn-door trousers and jacket (made from the old trousers of an English policeman), a pair of iron-rimmed wooden clogs, and on my head was what was supposed to be a jaunty Scotch cap, faced with bright plaid around the rim and ending in two black streamers behind—a headgear I heartily despised. … On the whole I was stolid, and sober-faced. There was no joy in boyhood in my appearance, no disposition to mill round with the seven hundred other emigrants thronging the Old Castle Gardens. I seemed to be without companions and [they] doubtless would have been repulsed by me if they [had] manifested friendliness. I was a boy evidently accustomed to being alone—apart from the throng. I was not restless, but rather solemn and gloomy.24
In mid-July that same year. Harry and Polly joined William Henry Chipman’s wagon train west and arrived in Great Salt Lake Valley two months later. The memory again remained distinct in Roberts’s mind as he recalled that “the train, falling into its old line, swung down the low foothills until they struck a well-defined road leading into the city.” As Captain Chipman’s immigrants traveled down “Emigration Street” (today’s Third South) and turned onto Main Street, young Harry found himself
at the head of the lead yoke in that team, walking up the principal street of the city, the rest of the team following. Here the people had turned out to welcome the plains-worn emigrants and were standing on the street sides to greet them. … Along the road, … I saw … a bright-colored, dainty, charming little girl approaching me in the middle of the street. It was a strange meeting, we two.25
Though the “dainty little lady” was timid in approaching Harry, who by his own admission was an “ugly duckling” and unkempt—his clothes ill fitting and with a shock of “unmanageable” hair— she offered him a fruit basket of peaches, plums, and grapes. Roberts took what he supposed was a “reasonable portion,” shared them with his sister, and then resumed his place at the front of the train and “marched on until the head of Main Street was reached.”26 It is a captivating, illuminating scene. One senses that for the first time in his life, despite a few anxious moments while his mother tried to locate him and his sister, Roberts was finally at home. This sense of belonging, geographically and spiritually, marked him the rest of his life. Despite the conflicts, defeats, and disappointments he would encounter, he was at core a Latter-day Saint and a Utahn, even if by adoption rather than by birth.
The siblings accompanied their mother to her small, unfinished house in Bountiful, north of Salt Lake City. During their absence, she had married English convert John William Nichols (1821-1865) and had given birth to another daughter, Elizabeth Audrey, then her husband had died in a farm accident and she was left to raise Elizabeth and Annie alone. A year later, a new stepfather, Seth Dustin, baptized Harry into the LDS faith. Despite the financial stability Dustin contributed to the family, the union proved as ill fated as Ann’s other marriages. From the beginning, Harry felt uncomfortable in his new family around Dustin’s “grown-up sons who were ignorant in their manners [and] boisterous in their conduct.”27 He worked for his stepfather grading a railroad bed between Salt Lake City and Ogden—learning how to handle an ox team and grader and proving himself adept at doing “the work of a man.” His wages were applied to the Perpetual Emigration Fund for “passage from England to Utah.”28
Henry29 also accompanied his stepfather in search of coal in the Wasatch Mountains and prospecting for silver in Dry Canyon near Ophir. Roberts learned the ways of miners, including fights, gun play, profanity, gambling, and “the company of men … of very irregular habits.”30 He was again in the presence of the demon alcohol which had previously trapped his father, the Toveys, and others in his life, unaware that it would become a frequent companion of his own in the future. After resisting offers to imbibe, he remembered that it was near sunset one day when he
yielded to the solicitation and drank a half tin cup full of the fiery liquor. Its effect upon me, unpracticed in that kind of beverage, can be imagined. I was soon in the swirl of intoxication, with a reckless dare-devil spirit that had been awakened.31
At some point, Roberts decided to turn his life around and accepted an apprenticeship with a Centerville blacksmith, James Baird. This allowed him to associate with boys of better upbringing at the Young Men’s Club of Centerville, a forerunner of the Young Mens Mutual Improvement Association. He not only found better companionship, the club also had a sizeable library of historical and theological volumes. Over time, intellectual pursuits began to replace the tendency to live life on the margins. Before long, Roberts was attending the University of Deseret in Salt Lake City; courting, then marrying Sarah Louisa Smith, the daughter of a prominent Davis County family; and teaching school in Centerville. In the wake of changes, Roberts received a call to serve his first mission, which was the initial step in a long career of church service.
The diaries cover the years 1880 through 1898 when Roberts moved from Davis County to his first mission in Tennessee, his subsequent missions to the South and England, his career in history and writing for the LDS church, a call to be an LDS General Authority, and an active political life. Roberts applied his talent for writing at the Salt Lake Herald and then at the Millennial Star. Upon returning from England, he edited the church’s youth magazine, the Contributor. His decisions during this period took him on a path that eventually saw a dozen solid historical and doctrinal works find their way into print.
In his position as a church leader, Roberts became a tireless defender of the faith, as suggested by the title of Truman Madsen’s biography. Nowhere was this more evident than in his defense of polygamy and his own practice of it. He married Louisa Smith in 1878, then married two other women: Celia Dibble in 1884 and Margaret Shipp in 1890 or 1891. He escaped federal prosecution for polygamy in 1886 by jumping bail and escaping to England for two years. Immediately upon his return in 1888, he was called to the First Quorum of Seventy. A little over a half year later, he served his six-month sentence at the Utah Territorial Prison.
While Roberts was on the First Council of Seventy, he began supporting the fledgling Utah Democratic party, which brought him into conflict with some members of the church hierarchy who favored the Republicans. He nevertheless continued his political activity, serving as a delegate to the Utah Constitutional Convention in 1895—leading the anti-suffrage forces at the convention—and running unsuccessfully for Congress in 1895, again as a Democrat. Three years later, Roberts ran again and this time won the U.S. Congressional seat, although he was prevented from assuming office because he was a practicing polygamist. For the rest of his life, he continued to champion the Democratic cause. It was this three-fold identity as church leader, writer, and politician that comprised his overall career until his death on 27 September 1933.
A few terms
In order to fully appreciate the diaries, readers will need to know some of the terms that were current in Roberts’s day, as well as some of the nomenclature of Mormonism. I have explained some terms in the annotations, but an overview of the names of the books of Mormon scripture, the titles of church officials, and the basic administrative organization of the LDS church may prove helpful to some readers.33
Roberts makes reference to the three sources of LDS church doctrine—the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price—in addition to the Bible, all of which are considered authoritative. Latter-day Saints see these four volumes as the inspired products of revelation. Roberts devoted considerable time to studying and commenting on these scriptures, and his previously mentioned works. Studies of the Book of Mormon and The Truth, The Way, The Life, represent his views on their contents and significance.34
Members of the church hierarchy are known as “General Authorities.” This term was first used in 1834 (Doctrine and Covenants 102:32), and in Roberts’s day the General Authorities were the First Presidency, the Presiding Patriarch to the Church, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the First Council of Seventy, and the Presiding Bishopric.
The First Presidency consisted of the church president and his counselors, generally three individuals but often in Roberts’s day more than two counselors. The presidents of the church in Roberts’s lifetime were, in order of succession, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Lorenzo Snow, Joseph F. Smith, and Heber J. Grant. Roberts worked closely with all except Young.
The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is sometimes referred to as the Council of the Twelve or simply the Twelve. It was created within five years of the church’s founding when Joseph Smith ordained twelve close associates to serve as apostles in 1835. The Twelve oversaw missionary activity outside the areas where the church had been formally organized. In the wake of Smith’s martyrdom in 1844, the Twelve assumed the general church governance until Brigham Young was named president in 1847. Still, the prestige that had accrued to the Twelve during the interregnum persisted. On a personal level, the apostles exerted influence over Roberts as friends and colleagues and sometimes as opponents.
In 1835 Joseph Smith also instituted the office of “Seventy.” The First Quorum (later Council) of Seventy was presided over by seven presidents whose authority was equal to that of the Quorum of the Twelve (Doctrine and Covenants 107: 24-26), although with an emphasis on missionary work within, rather than outside of, the organized areas of the church. Subsequent quorums of Seventy—the 2nd Quorum of Seventy, the 3rd Quorum of Seventy, and so on—were organized throughout the church. Each quorum had a presidency which reported to the First Quorum of Seventy at church headquarters. Interestingly, these regional quorums, often consisting of only a handful of members in a given geographic area, acted independently of the ecclesiastical leaders in their areas—one reason why Roberts was often on the road visiting outlying areas. Roberts enjoyed his position as a General Authority and seemed to have found his place in the church in this role. He counted among the other six presidents of Seventy some of his closest friends and associates, and he devoted considerable time to researching the office of the Seventy and defending it against intrusion from the Quorum of the Twelve.35 Despite his efforts, the First Council of Seventy waned in influence during this time.
The Presiding Bishopric consisted of a Presiding Bishop and two counselors whose responsibility it was to look after the church’s finances and physical property and to care for the poor. For most of Roberts’s life, the bishops, in order of appointment, were Edward Hunter, William B. Preston, and C. W. Nibley. Roberts knew and worked closely with all of them.
During the period the diaries cover, the Presiding Patriarch to the Church was John Smith, a nephew of church founder Joseph Smith and known to be a man who smoked and drank coffee, contrary to the church’s advice on such matters. Irene Bates and Gary Smith write that “John was not unlike the beloved J. Golden Kimball and B. H. Roberts who, as general authorities, struggled with the same problem” in regard to coffee. As with the First Council of Seventy, the patriarch slowly declined in status vis-a-vis the Quorum of the Twelve.36
Administratively, the church consisted at the local level of “wards,” which are the rough equivalent of a Catholic parish. In Roberts’s time, wards were informally organized, defined geographically and presided over by a bishop who was often a prominent business or civic leader and who exerted influence over almost every aspect of a community’s organization and social cohesion. The bishop was the most direct contact with the church hierarchy. Even so, the apostles and other General Authorities regularly visited the wards to expound on church doctrine and policy. A bishop and his two counselors comprise what is called a bishopric.
Above the wards are “stakes,” each under the direction of a stake president and two counselors, the stake presidency. As with nineteenth-century bishops, stake presidents and their counselors frequently served missions, sometimes multiple missions, without losing their ecclesiastical position at home. Some of the General Authorities served as stake presidents and commuted to church headquarters for quorum meetings.
In addition to the various ecclesiastical divisions within the church, there were also auxiliary organizations which occupied much of Roberts’s attention, especially the Mutual Improvement Association (MIA). In 1871 the Young Ladies Department of the Cooperative Retrenchment Association was formed to answer a call from Brigham Young for young women to “retrench” in dress, speech, and diet. There was concern for the young men, as well, and President Young appointed Junius F. Wells to organize the YMMIA in 1875. Beginning in Salt Lake City’s Thirtieth Ward, fifty-seven young men’s associations were organized throughout the church within one year. Church membership at the time stood at about 1,200. As a friend of Wells, Roberts was involved with the YMMIA almost from its inception.
A note about Roberts’s families. He had fifteen children by two of his three wives. He married his first wife, Sarah Louisa Smith, when he was a few weeks short of his twenty-first birthday. Louisa, the daughter of William Reed and Emeline Leavitt Smith, gave birth to seven children: Adah (1879-1946), Thomas (1881-1881), Benjamin (1883-1954), Louisa Emeline, (1886-1941), Luna (1889-?), Hortense (1891-?), and Katharine (1892-1935). She preceded her husband in death by nearly a decade on 21 May 1923.
Roberts’s second wife, Celia Ann Dibble, married him on 2 October 1884 in Salt Lake City. She was the daughter of Philo and Antoinette Cleveland Dibble, born on 3 August 1864 in Centerville. The couple had eight children: Lena (1885-1898), Harold (1890-1982), Hazel (1893-1962), Naola (1895-1953), Georgiana (1897-1970), Joanna (1897-1963), David (1902-1969), and Lawrence (1902-1982). She outlived her husband by nearly three years and died on 21 March 1936 in Centerville, where she is buried.
The marriage to Margaret Curtis Shipp, Roberts’s third wife, occurred either in April 1890, according to some, or 1891 after the Manifesto, according to others. Born on 17 December 1849, Margaret had been previously married to Milford B. Shipp and had four living children.37 She was seven years Roberts’s senior and was held in esteem in the community as a physician, having studied in the East and obtained a degree in obstetrics. Of all his wives, Roberts seemed to prefer Margaret’s company and conversation, and this created some trouble with Roberts’s other families—although B. H. continued to have children by his other wives. Indeed, Celia’s two sets of twin—Georgiana and Joanna and David and Lawrence—were delivered by Margaret.38 B. H. and Margaret would not have children. She died on 13 March 1926.
The diaries in this volume are held in two repositories, as previously noted. Many of the diaries relate to activities and thoughts for only part of a year, and there are gaps in the record within and between the diaries. Nor do the journals record every key event in Roberts’s life. For example, the 1884 diary does not cover the period when two Mormon elders and two church members were murdered in Cane Creek, Tennessee, or Roberts’s effort to obtain the missionaries’ bodies and return them home for a proper burial. The fact that there is no diary for 1890 makes it difficult to determine when Roberts married his third plural wife. Because the 1898 diary stops early in the year, we are denied his thoughts as he ran for, and was elected to, the U.S. House of Representatives. On the other hand, the years from late 1880 through mid-1882 and the year 1893 are chronicled in some detail. It is worthwhile to consider the diaries in the context of their individual formats.
The diary entries for 1880-81 are contained within a 6 1/2- by 4-inch maroon leather volume stamped “Ledger” in gold on the front cover. The pages are five-column ruled, preceded by a few pages with letters of the alphabet on tabs. Roberts began with the tabbed sheets and continued uninterrupted through 178 pages. A photograph of the first page of this diary (see photograph section) will give readers an idea of Roberts’s writing and legibility which varied from volume to volume, as well as of the kinds of books Roberts adapted for his use.
For the years 1882-83, a brown leather ledger measuring approximately 5 by 8 inches was utilized. The volume includes a written price of 75 cents and the tide “Diary—January 1, 1882—of B. H. Roberts, Tennessee.” Roberts labored in Tennessee through 15 May 1882, and this diary continues the period covered in the first volume. Roberts arrived home in mid-May, and neglected to make entries for a short while, but introduced a brief retrospective summary and then resumed daily entries again on 29 March 1883. The journal includes prayers, quotations, and poetry and ends abruptly with an entry dated 17 October 1883.
A small, 3 1/2- by 5-inch black, leather-bound volume with “Record” stamped in silver contains the entries from 4 October 1884 to 6 March 1885. Roberts signed the fist page and added the notation “Centerville, Utah, 1884 & 1885.” Unlike the volume containing the account of 1882-1883, this small book has printed page numbers. The writing begins on page 1 with an entry for 4 October and continues through 27 November. After skipping pages 72-94, Roberts resumed his daily entries on 26 January 1885. The diary ends abruptly on 6 May 1885.
The brief notes for 1886 and 1887 are found in another small, 4- by 6 3/4-inch, black, leather-bound volume. This diary is labeled on its first page, “Journal, 1886-87,” and is not paginated. It contains many blank pages and non-diary accounts and four pages from a small notebook titled “The Scripture Testimony to the Christ: Especially the Testimony of St. John.” One of the most interesting notations is on the last page: “Married Lena 23 Jan 1884 Wednesday Etc. She is 23/ 3d Aug ’87.” This seems to refer to Roberts’s marriage to Celia Ann (“Lena”) Dibble, although the traditionally accepted date was 2 October rather than 23 January 1884. Roberts correctly identifies her twenty-third birthday as 3 August 1887.
The years from 1890 to 1893 are contained in one volume measuring 5 1/2 by 8 1/2 inches, a maroon, leather-bound, paginated book with the word “Record” in gold letters on the front. The account begins on page 5 with an entry for 3 November 1890 and runs to page 28, the entry for 11 December 1890. Without skipping a page, Roberts then began a retrospective for 1891-1892, noting that he had commenced this entry on 10 February 1893. The narrative runs to page 54, where Roberts skipped a page and a half for quotations on political topics from church leaders he had apparently intended to include. The retrospective continues on pages 56 through 73. After skipping pages 74-100, the account for 1893 begins with an entry dated 15 January and continues with entries through page 217.
For 1 January through 4 February 1898, Roberts chose a 5 3/4- by 3 1/4-inch date book with printed pages for each day of the year but without pagination. It is a red leather volume with “Excelsior Diary, 1898” stamped in gold on the front. Roberts noted on the page marked 5 February that the “Journal ceases here, Rest of the Bk. devoted to scraps etc.” Pages 6-7 February are missing. The rest of the volume is interesting because it contains Roberts’s notes on everything from Julius Caesar to the Philippine Insurrection, revealing the breadth and depth of his interests. However, the entries are impersonal and lack interpretation, so they have not been included in this compilation.
In many ways, these diaries are the day-to-day record of the kinds of activities that any missionary of the day might have been involved in: trading, visiting members, and worrying about home. The difference in proselytizing, then and now, is that in Roberts’s day, instead of knocking on doors, he and his companions tended to book a public hall and post notices that they would be speaking and hope for a crowd, which more often than not materialized. In a pre-media era, people attended lectures, especially if they were promised a debate with a local minister. The elders also held informal meetings in the evenings at people’s homes and otherwise seemed to have the daytime to themselves to read and prepare for evening appointments or walk to the next destination. This interesting view of nineteenth-century missionary work is augmented by Roberts’s information about specific baptisms and the incipient church organization in the South, for which there is little other documentation.
Roberts is straightforward in his prose and only occasionally shares something of his feelings for his family, for instance. There are appropriate notes about his family’s health and childbirths, much more staid in tone than his letters. For instance, when he had been away from his family for about two years, he wrote to Louisa on 10 February 1882 about an incident in Nashville:
After leaving our valises at the boarding house, we took a walk. As we were going round a corner, three ladies steped in front of us: I noticed one of them was about your hight, and as she turned her face to look across the street I caught a side view of her face—there was your nose, eyes, and mouth! [M]y breath came fast. I could scarcely keep from rushing forward and pressing her to my throbbing heart! [B]ut knowing you were far away in the west, I concluded it could not be you, so held my self; but I tell you now, it would hardly do for me to run on you unawares—it wouldn’t do, wouldn’t do.39
Roberts included a short, romantic poem and said that his heart was filled with “joy and love,” that he missed his wife “much at twilight.” He was growing tired, he wrote, and was about to seek the solitude of his “lonely chouch [couch].” The letter is signed to his “two precious gems,” then more formally as “Yours Most Truly, B. H. Roberts.”
The most intimate information in the diaries concerns Roberts’s dreams. He dutifully noted what he considered to be significant themes and mined them for insights and inspiration. One evening, he writes, he returned to his hotel and received a gruff reception from the hotel keeper, which reminded him that he had
dreamt the night before of fighting a snake, and it gave me some trouble, but I finally began hitting and it became smaller & smaller until it dwindled to nothing[,] and this man was this [dream] fulfilled, for he gave me some trouble but finally he sold himself and ceased to contend with us.40
On another occasion, Roberts’s dream contained “a snake, and a word of warning”:
Last night I dreamt that I was cut in various parts of my body. One large cut in my breast from which I could see the blood oozing out and flowing over my body. I awoke and asked for a repetition of my dream & the interpretation–this followed. I was walking along the road, I heard noises in the brushes, presently I heard the rattle of a snake and saw coming from behind a large stone a snake with two heads. I threw at it several times but did not seem to hurt it. I took up two stones and prepared to throw at him when I awoke. I shall be obliged to see what it means.
While Roberts did not specifically record the meaning of this dream, he made note of the troubles “raging on Spring Creek & Lick Creek” two days later. Informed that the Ku Klux Klan and others wanted to rid the county of Mormons, and having heard his friend Walter Weems say that nothing “but buck shot” would save the church members, Roberts decided to withdraw rather than risk throwing stones at a two-headed snake.
In addition to dreams, Roberts received premonitions that directed his activities in times of difficulty. On several occasions he recorded these promptings in his diary. They document not only his spirituality, but also his recurring depression, or melancholy, which marked his life, and how he dealt with it.
As we know from both the diaries and from other sources, Roberts was never far from alcohol. His father seems to have been a heavy drinker, as were the Toveys who had charge of him for four years. As Roberts recalled:
[N]otwithstanding their church membership, they [the Toveys] were both addicted to periodical heavy drinking, and as I afterwards remembered, most of their evenings were spent in country taverns and city saloons, ending frequently in absolute drunkenness. To these taverns and saloons, they dragged me with them, who curled up under the tables where the drinking went on and slept.41
Roberts took a drink when he was prospecting in Utah, as previously noted—beginning the most reckless period of his life. On 28 January 1881, as he recorded in his diary: “I feel bad because my old weakness still is not overcome, but I am still determined to overcome.” Two years later, in an entry dated 20 September 1883, he seemed to contradict himself when he noted that because he was “suffering much from headache,” he took a “dram of rye whiskey—the first I ever took while on a mission.” The whiskey deadened the pain, but Roberts was still suffering the next day and felt “about as ill as ever I was in my life.” After the elders administered to him, he “fell into a sleep … from which I awoke much better, but far from well.”42
While the Toveys introduced Roberts to English drinking establishments, they opened another world to him, as well—one that became a major force in his life. One day, while hiking “through a beautiful country side of England” and resting with Mrs. Tovey in the “shade of a hedgerow,” Roberts noticed a few pages of a newspaper and
I rushed out and gathered them up and brought them to the old lady, begging her to read to me. And here should be said that this matter of the old lady reading to me was something of a passion with me. She read the scriptures to her husband when evenings were spent at home[,] and … I listened, very often entranced. Sometimes the church paper called the Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star was read. Somewhere about this time an anti-Mormon book was published in England, Samuel Mosheim Schmucker’s History of the Mormons. … [It] is usually conceded to be the fairest anti-Mormon account of Joseph Smith and the religion he founded that existed up to that time. His discussion of the martyrdom of the prophet at Carthage, Illinois, was vivid as also were the engravings illustrating it. This was a choice section of the book to me, and I pleaded frequently for it to be read to me. Old Mrs. Tovey was kind enough to do this.43
And so began a largely self-taught education with an emphasis on literature and history. Roberts often mentions with pride the volumes he bought while traveling, the books he read, and the influence of ideas. He recorded extracts from the works of famous men (mostly omitted from this publication). In the LDS church archives, his personal library includes some thousand volumes with everything from theological treatises to partisan political bromides. Moreover, the diaries contain a hint of another passion in his life: the desire to be a writer and the early evidence of his growing ability in this area.
Another interesting aspect of the diaries is the importance of travel, which was a pleasant byproduct of the mission experience. In the nineteenth century, proselytizing was the only means the LDS church had to increase the fold. But for Roberts, a mission, although clearly predicated on religious duty, provided an ongoing education that Roberts appreciated. One senses that while he missed hearth and home, he nevertheless enjoyed the camaraderie, the diversity, and the excitement he experienced in England and elsewhere. The mission brought him close to culture and ideas which were unavailable in Davis County. While on his sojourns, he visited the homes of his favorite writers, toured historic sites, attended other churches’ services, and enjoyed plays and musical performances. This gave him and other nineteenth-century missionaries a broader, if not always enlightened, world view. In this regard, one need only compare his glowing accounts of England in 1887 with his condescending attitude for the unsophisticated and disorganized ways of some of the Mexicans he encountered in 1893. Arriving in El Valle, Chihuahua, at the end of a “most disagreeable day,” he tried “with some difficulty” to arrange for lodging and supper:
It was getting dusk when I managed to make a dirty[,] half naked one eyed Mexican understand that I wanted supper. His wife … got it for me. The supper itself was not so bad—eggs, beef stake & onion & peas, biscuit, beans—a staple in this country & black coffee, and if I did not see the cook preparing it I should doubtless have eaten it with a relish, but the black, bare footed, one eyed repulsive Mexican thro[ugh] whom I had ordered it insisted upon waiting upon me. Why is it that the deformed, the maimed and even the ugly are so repulsive to me[?] I sympathize with the unfortunate, & to see one that is hurt, hurts me. But while I sympathize with them I cannot endure their presence and they always affect my appetite when eating. I love the beautiful almost to adoration. It is a constant pleasure to me to behold it either in nature or in art, and to the extent that I love the beautiful & to that extent I abhor the ugly or deformed. Please God I’ll have my world beautiful.44
This Mexican “ogre” continued to be Roberts’s “bane at supper[.]” He built Roberts a “pleasant” fire from corn cobs and offered fawning thanks to his ungrateful guest. Roberts made a feeble attempt to dismiss the man in phonetic Spanish in order to, in Roberts’s words, be left alone with “my books & my thoughts.”
While a mission afforded the chance to travel and to grow personally, Roberts, like any missionary then or now, experienced doubts and a strong desire to return home. On 18 February 1881, he wrote the following:
The last few days have let my mind run upon the things of this world, and in consequence thereof I have become somewhat restless. My mind has been planning how I am to make money in the future, but my business now is to preach the Gospel and I trust God will aid me to keep my mind upon my minestry.45
An issue that was uppermost in the minds of Mormons in the nineteenth century, all but forgotten today, was the doctrine of gathering to Zion. Roberts took part in the major migration to Utah from 1840 to 1890, during which time more than 85,000 converts arrived in America from Britain, Scandinavia, and continental Europe. Even though most of Roberts’s missionary years were spent in the United States, he nevertheless urged converts to immigrate to the West. For the Southern converts, the destination was often the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado. A stake had been organized there in 1883, about six years after the first Mormon settlers arrived. On 5-6 January 1881, Roberts and his companion Joseph Ford counseled Bro. John Adams and his family, who were in “some distress” and “somewhat perplexed” over whether to gather with the Saints. Roberts urged Adams to “continue his efforts to go.”
Not only are the diaries valuable for such explicit explanations of doctrine and missionary activities, they are sometimes telling for what they do not say. Although Roberts spent the greater part of five years in the South, some of that in the deep South, he made almost no reference to blacks, segregation, or to post-Civil War reconstruction. On 12 January 1881, he observed that half the population of Murfreesboro was “colored,” but only as a fact, not as a springboard for any interpretation or speculation. This differed from Roberts’s autobiography. For example, as he recalled from his journey from Iowa to Tennessee:
That season there had been a large exodus of the Negro race from the South, and now under the pressure of the intensity of the cold weather, that migration was leading southward. At one point some distance from St. Louis at the close of the first day of delayed travel, the train was boarded by an immense number. In fact, all that could be crowded into the car of river men and Negroes took place.46
To that point, the coach had been “occupied wholly by a young southern man from Kentucky on his way home and me.” As the crowding began, the young man came to Roberts and “proposed an alliance between us—offensive and defensive—against this onrush” so that their throats would not be cut and their bodies not be thrown from the train. Admitting that he had not thought to carry a firearm, Roberts welcomed the alliance. At a layover, the pair sought shelter from the cold in a crowded lodging house. A young black boy in the office informed them of an available room that was occupied by a “colored man.” Roberts told the young clerk not to “disturb that man of color” and instead opted to huddle “on the chairs and tables of the office.”47
So, the record is mixed. One could wish that Roberts had paid attention to the social conditions in Tennessee and elsewhere while he was laboring there. But he made no mention of preaching to or tracting among black residents, even though the surnames he identified—Huddleston, Sanders, etc.—were shared by black and white families. One suspects that if Roberts had visited “colored” people, he would have mentioned this.
Another interesting aspect of the mission that unfortunately goes unmentioned but which seems evident from the diaries is that Roberts and his associates kept to the rural parts of the South and avoided the larger cities. Whether they were better received in rural areas or intimidated by the level of education and culture of urban dwellers is unknown. In any case, when Roberts is in the country, he preaches to LDS congregations and attends their services; when he is in the cities, he limits himself to visiting other denominations and sight-seeing.
This was an unfortunate strategy in that it brought the missionaries and church members into close contact with the Ku Klux Klan. We learn of the Klan’s efforts to harass Mormons during this period, and the diaries give a feel for the kind of violence Mormons experienced, including a foreshadowing of the tragedy at Cane Creek in 1884—one of the most difficult chapters of Roberts’s life.48
Roberts could not restrain himself from commenting on plural marriage, either theologically or in terms of its practical considerations. When the diaries begin, he is married to Louisa, and he includes interesting details about this marriage. Along the way, we learn of his relationships with his second wife, Celia Dibble, and third plural wife, Margaret Shipp. His first reference to Margaret is in the retrospective section for 1891-92 even though the account for 1890 begins in November. As noted above, Truman Madsen has argued that Roberts’s third marriage occurred in 1890 approximately six months prior to President Woodruffs Manifesto and the ostensible end of plural marriage.49 But in his study of the church leadership, The Mormon Hierarchy, D. Michael Quinn stated that this marriage took place in 1891 after the Manifesto. If Quinn is correct, it is significant that Roberts confided his struggle in accepting the Manifesto–that he could find no good reason to obey it to the letter of the law.
Indeed, this ambivalence is important of itself. In the 1891-92 retrospective, Roberts notes that he was on an “extended tour” of southern Utah when he learned of the Manifesto. In fact, he learned of it by reading the newspaper headlines:
[N]o sooner had I read them, than like a flash of light all thro[ugh] my soul the Spirit said—”That is all right,” so it passed. Then I began to reflect upon the matter. I thought [of] all the Saints [who] had suffered to sustain that doctrine; I remembered my own exile, my own imprisonment; I thought of others. I remembered what sacrifice my wives had made for it; what others had made for it. We had preached it, sustained its divinity from the pulpit, in the press, from the lecture platform. Our community had endured every kind of reproach from the world for the sake of it—and was this to be the end?50
Roberts expressed misgivings to a traveling companion, Apostle John W. Taylor, who “seemed to share them to some extent.” When others in their party reached them, Roberts found himself in “quite an exasperated mood and felt crushed and humiliated.” He was reassured by Elders John Henry Smith, Abraham W. Cannon, and Frances M. Lyman, but derived little comfort from their comments and spent the rest of the journey in private reflection.
He began to feel somewhat reconciled to the state of affairs as General Conference approached. But at conference, President Woodruff stood and asked the church membership for its ratification:
I saw that movements were on foot to have the whole people support [it,] a proceeding I viewed with alarm. When the crisis came I felt heart-broken but remained silent. It seemed to me to be the awfulest moment in my life, my arm was like lead when the motion was put; I could not vote for it, and did not.
He continued to be “plagued” by this issue over the next two years, but he also remembered the flash of light that had come to him when he first learned of the Manifesto, and “at last my feelings became reconciled to it.” Confiding that he had perhaps “transgressed” in not heeding his first impression, and while “allowing my own prejudices, and my own shortsighted, human reason to stand against the inspiration of God,” he nevertheless could not detect “the purposes” behind the Manifesto. He solicited “earnestly the spirit of God for a testimony” that the document was correct. He eventually reached an accommodation with the church policy, but he continued to believe that plural marriage was an integral part of Mormonism and that, along “with all other truth,” it would “eventually prevail and be established on the earth.” Perhaps this is the conviction that led him to take his third wife, Margaret, during this period.
The diaries provide insight concerning Roberts’s associations with several church leaders, including those mentioned above. He elaborates on how much he admired them and enjoyed their company. No doubt, he derived from them a sense of what his own calling and place in the church hierarchy were. Nevertheless, he found himself at odds with these men on more than one occasion.
In summary, the diaries reveal the stages of growth and development of a young man who was not only representative of his time and place, but whose accomplishments were remarkable. We see his character and outlook mature between 1880 and 1898. As the callow young missionary we encounter on the first page of the diaries gradually fades, another more confident and somewhat worldly individual appears, in turn to be replaced by another man—a highly respected church leader. Roberts’s greatest contributions were still in the future at the time he discontinued keeping a diary, but by this time he had already served several missions, written numerous articles and books, and played an active role in politics. We see evidence of change in him on his thirty-sixth birthday, in contrast to his account of his twenty-fifth birthday, cited above. Roberts imagined that he was
one step down from the summit of my life so far as time is concerned, that is if we count 70 y[ea]rs as the time alloted to man. I shall not live that alloted time. … But these sad thoughts aside—thoughts which ever come whenever I think upon this subject, I hope that I shall live long enough to do much more than has yet been done by me. … To thee Almighty God, do I dedicate [this] year of my life. … Accept—it is thine as I will endeavor to make all the years that shall follow it … but in this not my will but Thy will be done; I am thine to do even as Thou will; only this I ask, keep me from … deadly sin that I may not mar the hopes I have of Eternal life.51
The handwriting in these diaries is legible compared to many diaries of the same period, which is not to say that Roberts’s writing was particularly polished. In fairness, he sometimes wrote on the fly with whatever writing implement was at hand. His punctuation and capitalization are unpredictable, but this is also to be expected, considering the time period. I have silently changed capitalization where it would otherwise impede understanding. I have also added terminal punctuation where it was missing. I have otherwise edited lightly and preserved the idiosyncracies that capture the flavor and personality of the original manuscripts. Where I thought it was necessary to add a missing word or letter, I did so [within brackets]. If Roberts himself added material above or below the line, I put this within <diamond brackets>. Material crossed out by Roberts is so rendered.
Readers will immediately notice Roberts’s phonetic approach to orthography, in common with the times. I have left the misspellings where the word choice is obvious. Among other things, readers will see how Roberts probably pronounced such words as “altogather,” an example of a word he consistently misspelled.
I have standardized the dates for each entry. Sometimes Roberts listed a full date and at other times he gave a fragmentary date. Internal evidence indicates that he occasionally neglected his diary and caught up later, but the bulk of the entries seem to have been entered on a regular basis.
Beyond stylistic issues, I have provided readers with clarifications and additional details I thought might be helpful for understanding the context. I have emphasized people, places, and key events. Readers will notice that many of the people with whom Roberts associated on his missions would remain close friends of his for life. A few of them became colleagues within the church hierarchy. I have devoted the greatest amount of attention to people who were significant in Roberts’s life. A good source for additional information is Andrew Jenson’s four-volume LDS Biographical Encyclopedia and his Encyclopedic History.52
Otherwise, much of the biographical information comes from the federal census, especially that of 1880, and the LDS Church and Family History Library’s wonderfully helpful on-line records at FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org). These sources have their limitations, but they offer basic biographical information that allowed me to add some texture to Roberts’s accounts of people he encountered in small towns and elsewhere. Readers should keep in mind that much of this information is contingent upon the accuracy of a census taker, for instance, or on the reliability of information submitted to FamilySearch by descendants, the result occasionally being multiple entries for the same person with different vital statistics. Add to this the problem of the 1890 federal census, which was partly destroyed by fire, and one can see the difficulties in trying to reconstruct who lived where and when. Despite these pitfalls, the sources do shed light on the people Roberts met even casually while proselytizing in Tennessee and while traveling in England.
For more than a half century, B. H. Roberts sought to expand his talents as a writer, historian, politician, church leader, and theologian. He was controversial in his own day, but no one doubted his sincerity and many were persuaded by his honesty. He was partly admired, partly misunderstood, sometimes revered, and at other times repudiated both then and in the course of the seventy years that have elapsed since his death. It is fortunate that history has left us a somewhat detailed record of his travels and views. Despite the work of Truman Madsen and others, I suspect that there will be more discoveries in the future that will add details to Roberts’s life. My hope is that these diaries will be of assistance to future researchers.
I would have liked to look for additional diaries, letters, and reminiscences of Roberts’s missionary colleagues and other acquaintances to compare with Roberts’s accounts, which is something I recommend to future researchers. My suspicion is that a systematic search of records in Tennessee and elsewhere would produce documents of importance, not only to Roberts’s life, but also to the story of Mormonism in the south.
In that spirit, my work was guided by something Roberts recorded early in his diaries. Admitting to doubts about his abilities and accomplishments, he expressed a commitment to “look to the present and future, trying to profit by the experiences of the past.” For those looking to understand, not only Roberts’s time, but also our own, one could do worse than to adopt such a guiding principle. Aware that I was neither the first nor would I be the last to ponder the subject, I forged ahead.
1. Sterling McMurrin, foreword, in Gary James Bergera, ed., The Autobiography of B. H. Roberts (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1990), vii-xiv.
2. Ibid., ix.
3. See above.
4. Bergera, ed., Autobiography of B. H. Roberts, xvi.
6. Truman Madsen, Defender of the Faith: The B. H. Roberts Story (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1980).
7. Ibid., 384.
8. The first volume was published in 1895 as A New Witness for God (Salt Lake City: George Q. Cannon and Sons). The second two volumes were published as lesson manuals for the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association in 1903 and 1904, then all published together in 1911 as New Witnesses for God (Salt Lake City: The Deseret News).
9. B. H. Roberts, Studies of the Book of Mormon, ed. Brigham D. Madsen (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1985).
10. Published in two separate editions, B. H. Roberts, The Truth, the Way, the Life: An Elementary Treatise on Theology (1927-28), ed. John W. Welch (Provo, Utah: BYU Studies, 1994); B. H. Roberts, The Truth, the Way, the Life: An Elementary Treatise on Theology; The Masterwork of B. H. Roberts, ed. Stan Larson (San Francisco: Smith Research Associates, 1994).
11. Madsen, ed., Studies of the Book of Mormon, 13.
12. Ibid., 30.
14. Larson, ed.. The Truth, the Way, the Life, xiii. See note 10.
15. When asked by Thomas, “How can we know the way,” the scriptures record that “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh to the Father but by me.”
16. See Stan Larson, “Intellectuals in Mormonism: An Update,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 26 (Fall 1993): 187-89.
17. Madsen, ed., Studies of the Book of Mormon, xxv.
18. Brigham D. Madsen, ed., The Essential B. H. Roberts, Classics in Mormon Thought Series No. 6. (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1999).
19. Lynn Pulsipher, comp., Scrapbook: B. H. Roberts, 2 vols. (Provo, Utah: Pulsipher Publishing, 1989, 1991).
20. Chad Flake, A Mormon Bibliography, 1830-1930 (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1978).
21. James B. Alien, Ronald W. Walker, and David J. Whittaker, eds. Studies in Mormon History, 1830-1897: An Indexed Bibliography (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2000).
22. Benjamin Roberts was born on 3 May 1826 in Kent, England, to William and Mary Roberts. Ann Reed Everington was born on 18 December 1826 in Norfolk, England, to William and Elizabeth Reed Everington. Benjamin and Ann married on 15 June 1848 in Middlesex, England. In addition to Brigham Henry, the couple had five other children. Three of the six died before they reached the age of five. It is unclear when the Robertses divorced, but Benjamin died in 1898 and Ann died in Bountiful, Davis County, Utah, on 15 January 1910.
23. Robert identifies the man as John, but his wife’s name seems to be lost to history. Sometimes John used the surname Gaily, apparently as a cover.
24. Bergera, ed.. Autobiography of B. H. Roberts, 3.
25. Ibid., 40.
26. Ibid., 41.
27. Ibid., 48.
28. Bergera, ed., Autobiography of R. H. Roberts, 47. Officially created in 1849 by Brigham Young, the Perpetual Emigration Fund (PEF) assisted immigrants, who were in turn expected to repay the fund, thus making it perpetual. Indications are that the PEF assisted over 50,000 immigrants in the period from 1849 to 1887 when it was dissolved by the Edmunds Tucker Act, which dissolved the church as a corporation.
29. Roberts was known as “Harry” or Henry, in later years as “B. H,” and signed his letters to his mother as either “Harry” or “Brig.” See, e.g., Roberts to Ann Dustin, 25 April 1883, 29 October 1884, box 3, folders 7, 8, B. H. Roberts Papers, Special Collections, Marriott Library, University of Utah.
30. Ibid., 48.
32. Madsen, Defender of the Faith, 76.
33. In compiling this overview, I have relied greatly upon Arnold K. Garr, Donald Q. Cannon, and Richard O. Cowan, eds., Encyclopedia of Latter-day Saint History (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2000), and Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism 4 vols. (New York: Macmillan, 1992).
34. A good, concise overview is found in Sterling M. McMurrin’s biographical essay in Madsen, ed., Studies of the Book of Mormon.35. Thomas G. Alexander, Mormonism in Transition: A History of the Latter-day Saints, 1890-1930 (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1986), 104; Sterling M. McMurrin, “Remembering B. H. Roberts,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 26 (Fall 1993): 74; Richard D. Ouellette, “Seventies Quorums: 1835-1986,” Sunstone, January 1987, 35-38.
36. Irene M. Bates and E. Gary Smith, Lost Legacy: The Mormon Office of Presiding Patriarch (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1996), 134-42.
37. Margaret’s children were Walter (1869-1914), Carl (1872-1873), Milfordetta (1874-1964), Louisa (1876-1914), Margaret (1878-1893), Morgan (1880-1881), Gross (1882-1883), Wallace (1883-1888), and Theodore (1885-1889).
38. Millie Neville Holyoak, “Dr. Margaret Roberts: A Biography,” photocopy of typescript in my possession.
39. Roberts to Louisa, 10 February 1882, box 3, folder 3, Roberts Papers.
40. See diary entry for 24 January 1881.
41. Bergera, ed., Autobiography of B. H. Roberts, 10.42. See diary entries, 28 January 1881 through 20-21 September 1883.
43. Bergera, ed., Autobiography of B. H. Roberts, 15.
44. See diary entry for 27 February 1893.
45. See entry for 18 February 1881.
46. Bergera, ed., Autobiography of B. H. Roberts, 113-14.
48. For an interesting overview of this question, see Gene A. Sessions, “Myth, Mormonism, and Murder in the South,” South Atlantic Quarterly 75 (1976): 212-25.
49. Truman Madsen notes in Defender of the Faith that “official records place the marriage at about six months prior to the Manifesto,” though without documenting or otherwise elaborating on this statement. In her typescript, Millie Nevelle Holyoak claims the marriage took place in April 1890 and was performed by Daniel H. Wells. If Wells did perform the marriage, it had to happen before 24 March 1891 when Wells died.
50. See Roberts’s retrospective “diary” for 1891-1892.
51. See diary entry for 13 March 1893.
52. Andrew Jenson, Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia: A Compilation of Biographical Sketches of Prominent Men and Women in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 4 vols. (Salt Lake City: A. Jenson History Co., 1901-1936); Encyclopedic History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Publishing Co., 1941).
* * * * *
VII. A Fondness for Colorado
[November 3, 1890] Rose early — 5 A.M.1 Beautiful day, clear & cloudless.
Wrote an article for Semi-w[ee]kly Herald on the inconsistancy of our opponents wishing to disfranchise the people of Utah for believing that God would eventually establish his Kingdom on Earth.2 Went to Salt Lake City on ten-30 train returned on 2 P.M. train, engaged in afternoon <in> various odd jobs about home. In the eve[ning] attended political meeting at the Centerville Tabernacle. Occupied principal part of time on the issues of election tomorrow between for Delegate to Congress. The other speakers were Tho[m-as] F. Howells & Greenwood.3 Large audience — pretty fair liberty — good attention. Met mother and [my] sister Byrnina4 there. My Father in Heaven, grant that thy people may tomorrow win a glorious victory over those who would politically disinherit them; and may they long enjoy the liberties, and have them enlarged, that are guaranteed to them in the institutions of their country, Amen.
November 4, 1890] Rose at 6 A.M. Fine day. Fine Indian Summer Weather.
Worked on [the] Hist[ory] [of] Pres. Taylor5 and about home. Election went off quietly in our place, large majority for People’s Candidate [John Came].6 Spent the eve[ning] at Henry Rampton’s home with Bishop [Aaron] Porter and wife & others W[illia]m Evans & wife, Mrs. R[ampton] was present, enjoyable time. Retired [at] 12 [midnight].
[November 5, 1890] Rose late — 8 A.M., result of keeping late h[ou]rs. Fine day though little cloudy.
Spent the day on Pres. Taylor’s Hist[ory] &: in work about home in garden. Spent eve[ning] very pleasantly with family. [L]earned that [John] Caine was elected with probable majority of 5,000. Retired early.
[November 6, 1890] Rose early 6 A.M. Wrote art[icle] for Semi-W[eekly]. H[erald] on relative position of Catholic & Ch[urch] of J[esus] Christ as to human laws. Went to City on 10-30 train. Met there Elder Jacob Gates7 and Brother C[hristian]. D. Fjelsted, both of the First Council of Seventies. This is the first time I have met Elder Fjelsted since I became a member of the Council, as he has been absent from the body of the Ch[urch] preaching the gospel in the Scandinavian countries for the past four years; and for two years presided in that mission. I met Elder Fjelsted but once before and that was down in Fort Ephraim some seven years ago at a public meeting. He is a man about 60 yrs old short of stature, but heavy build. His hair, which is thick plentiful, and neatly dressed, is white almost, as is also his heavy, neatly trimmed beard. Complexion florid, and a very pleasant expression of countenance, and quiet, and gentlemanly address.
Usual business of Council attended to Sister Gates8 was on the train to whom I was introduced. Just before arriving in [the] City — saw that Lorenzo Snow Pres[ident] of the Twelve Apostles was abroad, passed a pleasant greeting with him.
Met with Council at 11 A.M. Usual business of Council attended to rep[or]ts etc. Took dinner with Bro. [John] Morgan, at whose house I remained answering letters during afternoon. Accompanied Bro. Morgan to sister De Lamars to adminester to her daughter sick of typhoid fever. Returned home on 8 P.M. train: helped children with lessons, retiring early — for me.
[November 7, 1890] Fine day — but hazy.
Worked all day on Hist. Pres. Taylor. Aunt Becky Chamberlain — wife’s Aunt spent day with my family. In eve[ning] Louisa drove me in carriage to D. & R. G. depot at Woods Cross,9 took train for Coalville10 to attend conference in Summit Stake agreeable to ap[pointmen]t of the council. Arrived Coalville late at n[igh]t. Stayed at the home of Pres. [William] Cluff.11
[November 8, 1890] Attended conference in Cluff s Hall[,]12 not more than thirty five present. The Saints seem cold & indifferent in this stake. Three months before Apostle [Francis] Lyman,13 &myself President] Gates and myself attended Conference here, and it was same way then. [H]ad hoped the counsel & warning given at that time would have reformed the people, but it seems that it did not. Pres. C[luff] occupied most of the time in forenoon, I followed. Took dinner with Bro. [Alma] Elderidge.14
Attendance some larger. I occupied principle part of time, but had but little liberty; the fal fault is either in me or the people, perhaps both. I confess to you, dear journal, that my life is not always what it should be and that fact robs me of very much of the Spirit of the Lord, that as his servant I ought to enjoy. When, oh, when shall I be free of folly; of sin [?] O, God! If I may dare a lifted eye to Thee, Thy nod can still bid the tempest cease to blow and still the tumult of the raging sea — with that controling power assist e[v]en me[,] these held long furious passions to confine for all unfit I feel my powers to be to guide [.] To guide their torrent in the allowed line, O’ aid me with thy help, Omnipotence divine!15In the eve[ning] called upon Miss Kate Chase at Hoytsville.16 [P]leasant time in her company & the family with whom she stays.
[November 9, 1890] Took train this A.M. for Farmington17 where I had an ap[pointmen]t. with [the] 56[th] Quorum [of] Seventies. Arrived at 12-30. Attended afternoon service occupied part of time in a discourse on the wonderful features of work of God in last days — related items of experience on Custom House steps [in] Belfast.18 At four P.M. met with 56[th] Q[uorum] and gave general instructions on a number of topics: among others advised the meeting of the president] of [the] Q[uorum] in council for consultation on matters pertaining to q[uorum] affairs — had the mem[bers] of council sustained by q[uorum]. Ordained E. A. Cottrell19 & A. L. dark20 presidents in council of 56[th] qu[roum], & Franklin D. Welling21 a Seventy. Louisa came up with the children in the carriage to take me home. Called on sister Wealthy dark22 [for] a few minutes. She was rejoicing with her babe, born to them her after 11 y[ea]rs of married life. She gave her husband another wife some y[ea]rs ago & I believe the Lord accepted her sacrifice and blessed her with this son. She is a woman of great faith, a daughter of Apostle F[ranklin] D. Richards. The drive home was fine[,] the western horizon a perfect sea of glorious light above which rose the somber gray of the clouds and approaching n[igh]t [which was] spent there with Louisa & little ones. Adah our eldest daughter attended a lecture in church.
[November 10, 1890] Glorious morning. Rose at five. Wrote art[icle] for Semi-Weekly] H[era]ld. “The Jews”. Sent it to City by B[isho]p Porter. Spent rest of day until late in afternoon on Hist. [of] Pres. Taylor. Late in afternoon drove to Farmington. Obtained receipt for $9.10 for Miss [Kate] Chase of Mrs. [Laura] Cottrell. Enjoyed drive. Attended meeting of taxpayers of two school Districts] to consider propriety of uniting two districts in to one. I favored union as did also the most of the brethren present. It was opposed by Th[omas] Brandon.23 Committee a[ppointed]t to draft petition for dm uniting. Refused ap[pointmen]t on it because I expect to be absent.
[November 11, 1890] Rose late for me — 7 A.M. Cloudy & chilly. Worked on Pres. Taylor’s Hist[ory] until ten A.M. Took 10-30 train for Salt Lake City. Called on Pres. Morgan and with him waited upon Presidents] Woodruff, Cannon and Smith. The object of my visit was that sometime before I had written a letter to the Presidency telling them that of my labors during the past six months and asking them to make an appropriation of six hundred dollars to aid me in my straightened financial circumstances. I also asked them what their wishes were in respect to my future labors in the ministry. Did they wish me to hold myself in readiness to attend conferences, meetings etc, devoting the major part of my time to the ministry as hitherto looking to occasional appropriations from them; or was I at liberty and would they prefer me to find other business for myself and merely attend to labors in the ministry as I found it convenient. I had addressed this letter to the brethren because my affairs Fe financial had reached that point when something must be done [toward] looking to my relief in those matters. I have two wives and six children, and I find that to provide for them under the circumstances, living as one wife and two children do in the state of Colorado,24 and the others in Utah, requires considerable means and fills one occasionally with anxiety fra <for> the future. It was As they had not replied to this letter and it must have been in their hands some time, at the suggestion of my friend, Pres. Morgan, I made this call. The brethren were extremely busy, but I learned that they had considered my letter, and had decided to giv make the appropriation, and release me to look after my own affairs, and <only> do what I could in the ministry without inconvenience to myself. Pres. Cannon remarked that a man’s first duty was to his family — a remark evidently made without reflection and on the spur of the moment. At best it is not one on which I have worked, as I have often sacrificed my family, and its interests to labor in the interests of the Kingdom of God, believing in the scriptures: “Seek first the Kingdom of God <and its righteousness> and all other things shall be added unto you.” My faith is that such will be the case. He has blessed me and my family. We have up to date lac[ked] neither food nor reiment nor a good habitation in which to dwell. Friends have been raised up to us when we have needed them; and I have always said that when the Lord denied me fortune he gave me friends which is much better. O, Lord, in Thee will I trust! Open up the way before me and that I may still labor in thy vineyard and for the good of my fellow man rather than for gold or ought it can buy. And what is of still more concern, help what ever may be my fortune, or wherever I may wander, help me to be worthy to be thy servant and to find my place in life. The other brethren of the Council of Seven Presidents] of Sev[enty] had sent in a request for similar appropriations. The Presidency referred to this it but had not yet acted upon it. Am of the opinion that while present request may be granted it to the brethren will be[,] so far [as the present communication indicates,] relieved from ministry as to look after their own affairs & receive no assistance from Ch[urch]. Took dinner at Bro. M[organ’]s, after which went to Historian’s] Office25 and assisted Apostle A[braham] H. Cannon26 & Pres. Morgan setting some 30 Elders apart for missions to foreign lands, quite a number for Samoa in the Pacific. The manager of the S[alt] L[ake] Theatre [Charles Burton]27 meeting me on the st[reet] proffering presented me with two tickets to theatre which I accepted. and Invited my old office friend Mac (Duncan McAllister),28 to accompany me to the “show,” Carlton’s opera Co.29 Had a pleasant eve[ning]. [S]tayed at Morgans.
[November 12, 1890] Pleasant morning. Up at seven. Took train 8-10 A.M. train for home, and took Sister Roberts to City to do fall shopping. Attended [to] several items of business. Paid $130.00 tithing & settled several bills. Returning home I prepared for work; but sisters Ada Randall and Amy Woolley30 came in to see me. Had pleasant eve[ning] with them. After they left I went to work on art[icle] for semi-weekly] H[era]ld. which I did not finish until one o’clock.
[November 13, 1890] Up at five. Fine day. After several items of business among which was payment of $100.00 to W. H. Streeper.31 I took morning train for Col[orado]. Spent the day in reading — principally D’Aubegin[e’s] Hist[ory] of [the] Reformation.32 On board we had <a> Mrs. Saulsbury33 — evidently a resident of S.L.C. but a bitter anti-M[ormon] judging from her conversation with an Ex-Governor [Alvin] Saunders34 of Nebraska, at present a member of the Utah Commission35 on his way to Omaha. In their conversation they were about evenly divided in their sympathy & contempt. They little know that of all people the Saints are above both pity & contempt.
[November 14, 1890] Train delayed by snow storm — did not reach Denver until late in the afternoon. Had expected to secure a pass to Antinito36 & return to Denver but the best I could do was to get V2 rate $13.70. Bought some experience37 in Denver — stayed all n[igh]t at the American House; good hotel.
[November 15, 1890] Fine day. Left on 8 A.M. train for the south. Reached Pueblo[, Colorado,] at 12 noon. The time on all the roads is being changed th and all calculations as to time of reaching destination knocked out of all calculation. Put up at Southern Hotel. Wrote in afternoon an art[icle] for Semi W[eekly] He[ra]ld on folly of Christians opposing Mormonism on ground of its humble origin. Spent n[igh]t while waiting for train writing up journal & letters. Left for Alamosa[, Colorado,]38 at 3 A.M.[
November 16, 1890] Fine day — arrived at Alamosa at 11 A.M. No train out further south & had to lay over all day. Spent time in reading. In eve[ning] attended service at [the] Presbyterian Church. Mr. Palmer, a young man the minester. Good service.[
November 17, 1890] Splendid day — Rose at six. Took train at 7 A.M. arrived opposite Manassa about ten and was soon home.39 Met Found my wife [Celia] and children in perfect health, for which I am truly thankful unto thee O, Lord. Attended conference in the stake house. Met a number of personal friends, some of whom I had preached the gospel to in the South some years ago. They always seem glad to see me. Also met Apostle F[rancis] M. Lyman, my friend and brother. He was pleasant to meet me and it is always a pleasure for me to be in his company. At his request I occupied the principal part of the afternoon in speaking to the saints. Had moderately fair liberty. A number of friends called at my house in the eve[ning]. Among them Bishop [John C.] Dalton & wife, [Hannah]40 and Brother & sister Lyman. Bro. Lyman invited to me to go with him to the [San Juan] stake41 conference — starting Thursday A.M. Promised to go.
[November 18, 1890] Fine day, rose early and spent the day in writing letters and an editorial for Semi-W[ee]kly He[ra]ld — subject plain people. Spent the eve[ning] at home.
[November 19, 1890] Another fine day. Began an article on the Labors of the Prophet Joseph Smith for the Dec[ember number] of the Contributor.42 In the morning sister Morgan43 came in and at some length detailed her family troubles to me — a thing that is very unpleasant. She is the wife of my brother & friend John Morgan, and though he may have made mistakes, he is a good man and his wife should forgive him his errors.
Bro. [Francis M.] Lyman came in while she was there and gave her much good advice. He invited sister R[oberts] and myself to take dinner with him. We went to his house at 3 P.M. Met a number of sisters there and Bro. Pres. Elias Smith44 and bro. Madsen. Had a very enjoyable time in conversation and singing etc. Returned home early and resumed work on art[icle] for Contributor].
[November 20, 1890] Up at five, finished article for Contributor]. Made preparations for going to San Juan [stake].45 In company with Apostle Lyman boarded the train at below Manassa, Pres. [Silas] Smith & Bishop Dalton taking us to the track; train passed at noon. The distance to Durango[, Colorado,] is 170 miles through the m[ountain]s.46 The scenery in places is awful in its grandeur: especially is that the case at the Royal Gorge near the summit, where a monument has been erected to the memory of the late President Garfield. We arrived at Durango about 10 P.M. and put up at the Blaine House.
[November 21, 1890] A clear beautiful day. Took stage at 7-30 P.M.[,] Bro. Lyman on the outside, myself and 2 other men on the inside. One was a Mr. Carlile a rail-road contractor then building an extension to the Durango division of the D[enver] & R[io] G[rande] Railroad]. He was a profane man. The other was a young fellow who had enlisted in the army and was on his way to Fort [blank]47 which we reached about ten o’clock. At the first station where we changed horses Bro. Lyman came on the inside which made it more pleasant, as I was freed from a companion who continually profaned & had one whose spirit blends with mine. Brother Lyman is a large man, standing fully six feet, and of heavy build. He weighs about 240 Ibs and has weighed as high as 280. He is of a light, ruddy complexion, has a light blue eye, rather severe in its expression, oval face, and tawny beard. He is a man of commanding, noble presence, gives way to no light mindedness and is the embodiment of the righteousness. Strictly obeys the word of wisdom and as strictly enjoins it upon others as he does all the other righteous laws of the gospel. About 2 p. m. we arrived at a settlement of the Saints on the Mancos River, known as the Mancos Ward[, Colorado].48 The stage stops at hotel kept by a Bro. W[illia]m Hyde49 of Salt Lake City. There we met Pres. [Frances] Hammond50 of the San Juan Stake formerly B[isho]p of Huntsville, Weber Co[unty,] Utah. Stayed all n[igh]t at Pres. Hydes.
[November 22, 1890] Conference began at 10 A.M. good attendance. Pres. Hammond & Bro. Lyman occupied time.2 P.M.
Bishop reports. Presented authorities of Ch[urch]. I spoke short time subject — Faith the foundation of Righteous — bredth of foundation for faith widened by B[ook] ofM[ormon,] de the witnesses to book etc. 7 P.M. Young peoples meeting programme. Both Bro. Lyman & self spoke short time. Stayed all n[igh]t [at] Bp. [George] Halls.51 The country here abouts is rolling even in the valleys & covered with growth of pinion pine & cedar made me think [of] some parts of South — understand there are numerous ruins of clift dwellers some 8 or 10 mi[les] away.
[November 23, 1890] A beautiful day. Meeting 10 A.M. Brot[her] [William] Halls,52 1st Councilor] to Hammond, Bro. Platte D. Lyman53 — [brother] to the Apostle, and a fine young man, and Apo[stle]. Lyman occupied time excellent spirit. At 2 P.M. met at the union School House where a <large> number of strangers were present as well as the Saints. Self occupied principal part of time. Subject What is Mormonism — What it is not — first principles. Fair liberty. Apost[le] Lyman followed[,] fine testimony to truth of what had been said. He had good liberty in testifying. Supper at Bro. Hyde’s. A meeting in eve[ning] at Bp. Halls with Pres. of stake High Council & the bps b[isho]ps [for an] enquiry as to tithing[,] w[ord] of w[isdom], honesty etc. Splendid spirit present — good time[,] all covenanted to do better wherein had been out of the way — retired late.
[November 24, 1890] Walked some 2 mi[les] with Bro. Lyman to late breakfast with br brothers & sisters of Bro. Lyman. One of the pleasant things of this trip has been to wit. the love that all the relatives of Bro. Lyman have for him — surely he is a prince in his father’s house. Attended Primary54 conference at 9-30 programme. [F]irst primary ever attended, good. Made few remarks as did Bro L[yman]. Bid adieu to our friends and started on return home. A sister [Mary] Roberts — wife of dark Roberts]55 bro[ther] to Boliver R[oberts]56 [of] Provo — took us by team to Durango. 1/2 way our horse took lame — slow trip arrived at D[urango] 7-30 put up at Blaine House. Took long walk through town — pleasant talk with Bro. L[yman].
[November 25, 1890] Weather still fine. Took train at 7-15 for home. Pleasant day conversation with Bro. L[yman. H]e related to me much of his travels in Mexico in 1885, and other experiences. Arrived at Manassa about five P.M. Found B[isho]p Dalton ready with carriage to take us home. Found family well except Harold, suffering from teeth. Spent eve[ning] reading papers.
[November 26, 1890] Rose early — fine day. Wrote art[icle] for Herald on weakness of Christian ministry. Wrote up journal to date. Rest day spent reading.
[November 27, 1890] Thanksgiving today. Beautiful day. Spent early hours of morning reading [and] at 10 A.M. attended service at Stake house. Met Bro. Lyman, occupied part of time— good freedom. Afternoon and early eve[ning] at Pres. [Silas S.] Smith’s where we ate Thanks Giving dinner. Large company — splendid feast — good time. Late eve[ning] at home reading.
[November 28, 1890] Still fine. Worked all day on Pros. T’s history Drove wife & children to Antinito to do some shopping. Sat. 20 Eve[ning] spent in reading & wrote art[icle] for Herald. Bro Lyman left for S.L.C.[
November 29, 1890] Beautiful day — worked all day on Pres. T[aylor]’s Hist[ory].
[November 30, 1890] Fine day — spent morning reading. Service at 2 P.M.; and again at 6-30. Spoke short time in afternoon.
[December 1, 1890] [The weather c]ontinues fine. Worked all day on Pres. T[aylor]’s Hist[ory], art[icle] for Her[a]ld in eve[ning].[
December 2, 1890] Sunshine — Pres. <T[aylor]’s> Hist[ory] all day and art. for Herald in eve — good days w[or]k. Attended Seventies Meeting eve[ning] & conducted class exercise. Also ordained James Patterson57 seventies 92 quorum. He is a Lamanite of the <Catawba> Chicksaw tribe comes from So[uth] C[arolina] — late eve[ning] read papers.
[December 3, 1890] Spent day at home [in Manassa and] worked on Pres. T[aylor]’s Hist[ory.]
[December 4, 1890] Ditto. Had company in afternoon <Pres. Smith & wife, sisters Grant, Smith & [Clara] Lyman58 wife of apost[le] of that name.> Snowed in night.
[December 5, 1890] Ditto — and in eve[ning] I lectured to good sized audience on The New Witness (B[ook] ofM[ormon]. Good liberty)
[December 6, 1890] Worked part of all day on Pres. Taylor’s hist[ory] and on art[icle] for He[ra]ld.
[December 7, 1890] Attended Y.M.[M.]I.A. Conference at 10 A.M. Took sister McKay home with me to dinner. Pleasant time. Leaving children, Lena [Celia], sister McKay and self went to meeting at which it was arranged that I should continue the subject began on Friday eve[ning]. Had good liberty. The Lord truly blesses me more than I deserve. Great is his mercy. Spent the [early] eve[ning] with sister R[oberts] at the house of Bro. Madsen, Bro. & sister Christensen & sister Lyman present. Dreams visions interpretations etc., the topics of conversation.
[December 8, 1890] The day had ap[pointmen]t to return to Utah forenoon. Spent in making preparations. At 4 P.M. bid my wife and little ones good bye. Bp. Dalton kindly drove me to train. Had to drive fast breach point. Enroute home read several books — trash!
[December 10, 1890] Arrived home [Centerville] at 5 P.M. Found Louisa and children all well[,] though little Luna had been a little unwell[,] now better. I thank thee O, Lord for thy goodness to me and to mine. Ever protect and guard us. Pleasant eve[ning] with children & wife.
[December 11, 1890] Attended Council [of Seventy] Meeting in S.L.C. at 11 A.M., six presidents present. The council seemed worked up about my being released from ministry — regretted it very much and think complications will grow out of it. I pray O, Lord that no difficulty may occur through it. Help thy servant to keep the path direct, neither turning to the right or left. And in as much as thou wilt enable me to sustain my family I will devote myself to the ministry to the extent that Thou wilt give the ability to do so. Thou O, Lord cans’t do as seemeth Thee good in these matters[,] that I know[,] therefore I will trust in thee. Here is my hand lead me wheresoever Thou wilt and I will gladly follow. Show thy Servant out of these <&> all other difficulties and he will praise thy name for ever through the name of Jesus thy Son — Amen.
1. Roberts is in Centerville, Utah. Since August 1887, he has returned home (late September-early October 1888); assumed a position as one of the First Seven Presidents of Seventy (ordained 7 October 1888); served a four-month prison sentence (May-September 1889) for cohabitation with his plural wife, Celia; and married—or will soon marry—a third wife, Margaret Curtis Shipp. See Truman G. Madsen, Defender of the Faith: The B. H. Roberts Story (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1980), 180, 186, 199.
2. Only a handful of issues of the Semi-Weekly Herald still exist, and apparently none are extant from 1890.
3. It is not clear who Greenwood was. Roberts was active in this campaign, speaking in various places in Davis County and elsewhere. For example, on 31 October he spoke in Farmington alongside Deseret News editor and future apostle Charles W. Penrose. See the Deseret News, 1 Nov. 1890.
4. Roberts refers to Byrnina Ann Dustin (1872-1951), his half-sister born to his mother, Ann, and her husband Seth Dustin.
5. B. H. Roberts, Life of John Taylor, Third President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: George Q. Cannon and Sons Co., 1892).
6. The election was for a territorial delegate to Congress. The vote in Centerville reflected the high Mormon population there, 50-4 in favor of John T. Caine—the People’s Party being the LDS political organization and its challengers corning from the non-Mormon Liberal Party. When the parties dissolved in 1891 and 1893 respectively, Mormons gravitated to the Democratic Party while non-Mormons became mostly Republicans.
7. Jacob Gates (1811-1892) was sustained as one of the First Council of Seventy on 6 April 1860 and was set apart to that office on 8 October 1862.
8. Jacob Gates had four wives, three of them still living in 1890. It is unclear which one Roberts refers to.
9. Woods Cross is immediately west of Bountiful, a few miles southwest of Centerville.
10. Coalville is about twenty-seven miles east of Centerville on a branch of the old immigrant trail south of Echo Canyon on the east side of the Weber River.
11. William Wallace Cluff was born in 1832 in Willoughby, Ohio, to David and Elizabeth Hall Cluff. He married Ann Whipple (1842-1927) in 1863 in Pine Valley, Utah. A member of the 22nd Quorum of Seventy, he served missions to the Sandwich Islands, 1854-58, and Denmark, 1859-63 and 1870-73. He was the first mayor of Coalville, served in the Utah legislature, and was president of the Summit stake from 1877 to 1901. He died in 1915 in Salt Lake City.
12. Presumably, Roberts refers to the Coalville Tabernacle begun in 1879 and under construction for twenty years. It was a grand Victorian Gothic structure with stained glass windows and ceiling paintings, among the impressive details, and cost $55,000. Where Roberts comments on the low attendance and lack of enthusiasm in the stake, this may hint at the possible meaning of “Cluffs Hall.” See, e.g., Thomas Wood and Douglas Hill, “The Coalville Tabernacle: A Photographic Essay,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 2 (Summer, 1967), 62-75.
13. Francis Marion Lyman was born in 1840 in Goodhope, Illinois, to Amasa Lyman and Louisa Maria Tanner, his father being a future member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, as were both Francis and one of Francis’s sons, Richard; in 1903 Francis would became president of the Quorum of the Twelve. Francis married Rhoda Taylor in 1857, Clara Caroline Callister in 1869, and Clara’s sister Susan in 1884, and served a three-month prison sentence for polygamy in early 1889. He died in 1916 in Tooele, Utah.
14. Alma Elderidge (1841-1925) was a counselor to President Cluff. Roberts defeated Elderidge, the Republican candidate for Congress, in 1898.
15. Robert Burns, “Stanzas Written in Prospect of Death,” stanza 3.
16. Located in Summit County between Coalville and Wanship, the town had been known earlier as East Plymouth and Unionville.
17. Farmington is a few miles north of Centerville.
18. The nature of Roberts’s reference to his experience in Belfast, Ireland, seems to be lost to history.
19. Edward Abraham Cottrell was born in 1857 in London, England. A plasterer by profession, he married Laura Lovena Steed (1860-1924) in 1881 in Salt Lake City and Delina Frances Peacock O’Neal (1875-1947) in 1928 in Farmington, Utah. He died in 1938 in Farmington.
20. Amasa Lyman Clark, brother-in-law of E. A. Cottrell, was born in 1865 in Farmington, Utah, to the prominent family of Ezra T. and Mary Stevenson dark. Amasa married Alice Charlotte Steed (1867-95) in 1885 and Susan Jane Duncan (1872-1965) in 1897. He died in 1968 in Salt Lake City.
21. Franklin David Welling was born in 1867 in Farmington, Utah. He married Polly Estella Secrist (1874-1909) in 1890 and Emelia Marie Madsen (1877-1961) in 1911. He died in 1932 in Salt Lake City.
22. Wealthy Richards Clark was born in 1861 in Farmington, Utah, to Franklin D. and Mary Thompson Richards. As Roberts mentions, Wealthy’s father was an LDS apostle. Wealthy married Edward Barrett Clark (1859-1955) in 1879 in Salt Lake City, and Roberts refers to her son Edward Franklin Clark (1890-1972). Wealthy died in 1940 in Farmington.
23. There were two Thomas Brandons in Centerville in 1890: Thomas Jefferson Brandon (1832-1916) and his son Thomas Jefferson Brandon (1858-1941).
24. Originally, Celia lived just a block away from Roberts’s other wife, Louisa, in Centerville. While B. H. was on the underground, Celia moved seven times through Utah and Idaho, then to what B. H. refers to as “a little cottage” in Manassa, Colorado, before returning to Centerville. Celia’s children were five-year-old Lena and nine-month-old Harold; Louisa’s children were eleven-year-old Adah, seven-year-old Benjamin, four-year-old Louisa Emeline, and one-year-old Luna (Thomas died shortly after birth in 1881). Celia would later give birth to Hazel, Naola, Georgiana, Joanna, David, and Lawrence; Louisa to Hortense and Katharine. Margaret had four children by a previous marriage. See Defender, 182, 185, 186, 276-77 (where the list of children duplicates the name Lena, omits Luna, and uses the nicknames “Josie,” “Loa,” and “Lola” for Joanna, Louisa Emeline, and Naola. Madsen’s index also erroneously lists an additional “son,” “Newell,” who is nevertheless not mentioned in the text of the book; see p. 453); Gary James Bergera, ed., The Autobiography of B. H. Roberts (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1990), 180; diary entry for 26 Jan. 1893.
25. This was the old Historian’s Office, a three-story building mid-block on South Temple between State and Main Streets on the south side of the street—across from where the current Church Administration Building stands. Next door to the east was the Gardo House where the First Presidency had its offices.
26. Abraham Hoagland Cannon (1859-1896), the son of George Q. Cannon, was sustained a member of the First Council of Seventy in 1882 and ordained an apostle in 1889.
27. Charles Samuel Burton was born in 1855 in Salt Lake City. He served a mission to Australia in 1875-77 and married Julia Young (1859-89) in 1878 and Josephine Y. Beatty (1874-1942) in 1893. In addition to managing the theater from 1887 to 1907, Burton was the business manager of the Salt Lake Herald from 1885 to 1887. He died in 1923 in Salt Lake City.
28. Duncan M. McAllister (1842-1921) was the business manager of the Church Mission Office in Liverpool when Roberts was serving there in 1887.
29. According to ads in the Deseret News, the company styled itself the “largest, strongest and best” comic opera company in America. That night’s performance was “Erminie,” a three-act comic opera by Harry Paulton based on Benjamin Antier’s “L’auberge des Achets.”
30. Julia Adarena Woolley Randall and Amy Irene Woolley Cherry were sisters, both daughters of John Wickersham and Julia Searles Ensign Woolley. Ada was born in 1859 in Centerville, Utah. She married Orrin Harley Randall (1850-1918) in 1877 and died in 1921 in Centerville. Amy Woolley was born in 1868 in Centerville, married Thomas Cherry (1870-1936) in 1893, and died in 1921 in Victor, Idaho. Roberts’s mother, Ann, was a plural wife of John Wickersham Woolley, marrying him on 4 October 1886.
31. William Henry Streeper was born in 1837 in Philadelphia. He married Mary Amelia Richards (1849-1920) in 1867 in Salt Lake City and died in 1930 in Centerville, Utah.32. Roberts refers to Jean Henri Merle d’Aubigne (1794-1872) whose History of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century was one of the best known and widely published nineteenth-century accounts.
33. Probably Margaret Blaine Salisbury (1860-1921) who came to Utah as the young bride of businessman O. J. Salisbury in 1881. By 1893 her contacts with Mormon women leaders, especially after the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, brought her into close friendship with Emmeline B. Wells and others. After her death, the Salt Lake Tribune called her a “gracious hostess, a brilliant leader of society and an earnest and hard worker in charitable and benevolent undertakings.”
34. Alvin W. Saunders (1817-1899) was a supporter of Abraham Lincoln who served as territorial governor of Nebraska from 1861 to 1867. As a U. S. senator, 1877-1883, he chaired the Committee on Territories. He was appointed to the Utah Commission in 1889 and served until 1893.
35. The five-member Utah Commission, formally known as the Board of Registration and Election in the Territory of Utah, was established by Congress in the wake of the Edmunds Act of 1862. Its charge was to vacate Mormon office holders and prevent polygamists from voting. The commission’s powers were expanded in 1887 with the passage of the Edmunds-Tucker Act, which further limited Mormon voting. The commission was formally dissolved after Utah became a state.
36. Antonito, about fifteen miles south of LaJara, was created by the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad in 1880 when the nearby Mexican town of Conejos refused to give land to the railroad company for a terminal. Conejos was settled in 1843 (although it was temporarily abandoned) and boasted a governor’s palace, courthouse, cathedral, flour mill, and general store. However, by 1890 Antonito had already grown to over 300 inhabitants to Conejos’s 500.
37. Apparently Roberts uses the word “experience” to mean that the time and money spent trying to get a complimentary pass had not been worth the effort.
38. Alamosa is in the San Luis Valley about fifteen miles north of LaJara. It was founded in 1878 as a railroad town.
39. Roberts refers to his home in Manassa.
40. John Cranmer Dalton was born in 1857 in Parowan, Utah. He married Hannah Daphne Smith (1857-1939) in 1876, served as bishop of Manassa, Colorado, for more than two decades, and died there in 1906.
41. Organized in 1883, San Juan stake was located in the Four Corners area and initially included parts of Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico.
42. B. H. Roberts, “Joseph the Prophet,” Contributor 12 (Dec. 1890): 57-60. Upon arriving home from England in 1888, Roberts was named editor of the Contributor, for which he also wrote articles albeit pseudonymously. He was succeeded by Abraham H. Cannon of the First Council of Seventy in 1892. See Defender, 180, 182; Richard S. Van Wagoner and Steven C. Walker, A Book of Mormons (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1982), 41.
43. Morgan’s first wife, Annie, was living in Manassa.
44. Elias Asahel Smith was born in 1857 in Salt Lake City. He married Laura Lurena Nebeker (1856-86) in 1882 and Emily Catherine Weiler (1861-?) in 1892. Smith was a high councilor in the Salt Lake Stake and a member of the territorial legislature—serving as president of the legislative council, which is why Roberts refers to him by that title. Smith died in 1942 in Salt Lake City.
45. The stake boundaries should not be confused with the two San Juan counties in southwestern Utah and southeastern Colorado; Roberts and company will travel to Montezuma County, Colorado, which lies between the two San Juan counties.
46. Roberts was basically right that “Durango is 170 miles” (about 120 miles) “through the mountains,” meaning that it was closer than the trip itself would be. In fact, they would have to travel north to Alamosa, veer out of their way to the northeast to Pueblo, turn west to cross the famous suspension bridge over the 1,000-foot Royal Gorge, and continue on through Salida and Montrose before turning south to Durango–a total of over 500 miles.
47. Roberts does not identify the fort, but it was likely Fort Lewis.
48. Organized as a branch in 1884 and a ward in 1887, Mancos was some twenty-five miles west of Durango.
49. William Hyde was born in 1832 in Marion, Illinois. He married Angeline Harris (1834-93) in 1852 and Mary Ann Green (1838-1912) in 1858. In 1880 he settled in Mancos, where he established a trading post. He died there in 1894.
50. Frances Ashbury Hammond was born in 1822 in New York. He married Mary Jane Dilworth (1831-77) in 1848 in Salt Lake City, followed by marriages to Alice Howard (1845-73) in 1864 and Martha Marcusen Holmes (1826-?) at a later date. Hammond served as a missionary to the Sandwich Islands, 1850-1855, and as bishop of the Huntsville, Utah, ward, 1856-1884. He was president of the San Juan Stake from 1884 until his death in a carriage accident on 27 November 1900.
51. George Halls was born in 1846 in Orsett, England. He came to Utah in 1862, settling in Huntsville; married Mary Moiselle Hammond (1857-1934) in 1876; moved to Mancos in 1886; and served as bishop of the ward from then until 1911. He died in 1917.
52. William Halls, older brother of George Halls, was born in 1834 in Orsett, England. He married Louisa Carritt Enderby (1840-1911) in 1861 in Hull, England; Johanne Marie Frandsen (1855-1913) in 1871 in Salt Lake City; and Eleanor Howard (1838-?) in 1880. He came to Utah in 1861 and settled first in Kaysville, then moved to Huntsville where he was a counselor to Bishop Frances Hammond from 1862 to 1885, whereafter he moved to San Juan. He died in 1920 in Mancos, Colorado.
53. Platte DeAlton Lyman was born in 1848 on the banks of the Platte River near Goshen, Wyoming, to Apostle Amasa M. and Eliza Maria Partridge Smith Lyman. Platte married Adelia Robinson (1848-1909) in 1867 and Annie Maud Clark (1860-1908) in 1879, both in Salt Lake City. He was a counselor in the San Juan stake presidency, 1897-1901, and briefly served as stake president from l June 1901 until his death on 13 November that year in Bluff, Utah.
54. In 1878 Aurelia Spencer Rogers of Farmington, Utah, sought a way to provide religious, physical, and social education for children. After consulting with Eliza R. Snow, president of the Relief Society, Rogers was appointed to begin such an organization, called the Primary Association, in Davis County. Shortly afterwards, a chapter of the association was created in the Salt Lake Stake. In 1880 it became a churchwide auxiliary, and it continues to this day. See Carol Cornwall Madsen and Susan Staker, Sisters and Little Saints: One Hundred Years of Primary (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1979).
55. Mary Knowlton Coray (1848-1923) married Orville dark Roberts (1833-1912) in 1868 in Provo, Utah.
56. Bolivar Roberts was born in 1831 in Winchester, Illinois. He married Emma Parnella Benson (1842-?) in 1868 in Salt Lake City and died in 1893.
57. James Goodwin Patterson was born in 1849 in Chester, South Carolina. He married Elizabeth Missouri White (1849-1934) in 1868 in York, South Carolina; he died in 1931 in Sanford, Colorado.
58. Clara Caroline Callister Lyman was born in 1850 in Salt Lake City. She married Apostle Francis M. Lyman (1840-1916) in 1869 and died in 1892 in Manassa.