On the Potter’s Wheel
The Diaries of Heber C. Kimball
Stanley B. Kimball, editor
Although unlearned and barely literate, Heber Chase Kimball (1801-68) enjoyed a highly developed sense of history and of the importance of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To that end he dutifully kept a number of diaries. In some instances they are the best, and occasionally the only, contemporary account of the events they chronicle. While his penmanship, spelling, and grammar were distinctly minimal and idiosyncratic, Kimball possessed an exceptional memory. And he was, in his own right, an important figure in early Mormon history—one of the original twelve apostles, an intimate confidant of both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, and the first LDS missionary to England. He was, as one New York writer termed him in 1863, five years before his death, the quintessential “Mormon.” No other LDS leader since has exceeded Kimball’s devotion to Mormonism.
Stanley B. Kimball is a great-great-grandson of Heber C. Kimball. He graduated from Columbia University with a Ph.D. in 1959 and is Professor of History at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, where he has taught for twenty-seven years. He is the author of four books and numerous articles of Mormon history, including Heber C. Kimball: Mormon Patriarch and Pioneer (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1981), which won a best book award from the Mormon History Association. He currently serves as historian of the Mormon Pioneer Trail Foundation. He and his wife, Violet, have four children.